Reviewed by Margaret Moser, Fri., Dec. 2, 2011
Live & Deadly (Armadillo Records)
Consider Live & Deadly a snapshot of the moment in Austin music: It's November 1979; the decade is turning. Here's the mighty Cobras, the band of mostly-Dallas refugees that picked up old-school blues in Austin in the early 1970s and set the standard followed by the Fabulous Thunderbirds and Double Trouble. The band's legacy as a mixed-race R&B outfit spins full-tilt on the Armadillo stage, in effect an aural history of the band (minus its most famous alumnus, Stevie Ray Vaughan) and its greatest hits. Cobras founder Paul Ray comes on smooth and creamy on "Cryin' Towel," "Further on up the Road," and soul singer Larry Williams' brief tenure in the band shimmers on "Heartbreak" and "House Party." That's also where Denny Freeman, the once and future lead Cobra, steps up and wraps his guitar muscle around the big blues band sound of the brass and rhythm sections, featured on "Can Opener" and "Theme From Peter Gunn." The addition of Angela Strehli ("Boogie Like You Wanna") gives the recording a classic – and classy – big-band-revue feel. The only thing wrong with this disc? It came out 30 years late.