Record Review 

Anyone who picks up the Codetalkers' self-titled debut hoping for a sampling of what makes Col. Bruce Hampton a legend will instead hear a disc that lacks true musical voodoo. For the uninitiated, the zenith of Hampton's career thus far is the Aquarium Rescue Unit, which had a nice run in the early '90s as a featured band on the H.O.R.D.E. tour with Widespread Panic and Phish. Hampton actually co-organized that tour, helping to bring the jam scene from the underground to the not-quite-above-ground.

As for his latest project, all the elements of another great Hampton-led band are there -- impeccable musicianship, lack of concern for genre. But the hypnotic factor that informs his best collaborations is absent. The music is mostly passable country rock and occasional stabs at jazz -- suitable for middle-act status at the Star Bar on a Saturday night, sure. But this is the Colonel. Fans expect more.

But is this really a Col. Bruce band? Hampton sings only three of the 10 songs. The rest are sung by guitarist Bobby Lee Rodgers. And keep in mind: This is the Codetalkers with Col. Bruce Hampton. Maybe he's just dropping in to be nice. If so, he's absolved of all blame.


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