When I hear the name Ron Keel my thoughts go back to the American band Steeler where the singer worked together with a guitarist called Yngwie Malmsteen who at that time (around 1983) just moved to America and was advised by Mike Varney to join that band as a learning process. Varney himself released the album on his Shrapnel label. The partnership did not last long, as egos started to clash so Malmsteen moved on to Alcatrazz, the band of singer Graham Bonnet (Alcatrazz will release a new album at the end of July, by the way). After the demise of Steeler Ron Keel continued under the name Keel releasing several albums. One way or another I never managed to get into Keel as the singer was not that good in my opinion. Still, it must be said that Ron Keel has stamina as he is still there and has kept releasing albums throughout the years. Since a few years he has been working with the Ron Keel Band, releasing the album ‘Fight Like A Band’ in 2019. While recording and rehearsing for that album the group regularly played some southern and country rock covers and they were recorded just for fun. A bit later, listening back to those tapes the musicians realised that the results were far from bad so the idea to release a real southern and country rock record suddenly seemed to be far from stupid or foolish. Less than a year after their latest album the Ron Keel Band is back with a cover album paying tribute to the bands that are being considered as the most important groups of the genre: Blackfoot, The Rossington/Collins Band, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Marshall Tucker Band, Outlaws, Molly Hatchet, 38 Special and of course The Allman Brothers Band. And to my surprise Ron Keel and his boys have done a very decent job. Not that Ron has the ultimate voice for southern rock and country but he pulls it off and his band really goes to town on tracks like ,,Train Train’’, ,,Don’t Misunderstand Me’’, ,,Red, White & Blue’’, ,,Ramblin’ Man’’, ,,Homesick’’, ,,Rockin’ Into The Night’’, ,,Ghost Riders In The Sky’’ and ,,Flirtin’ With Disaster’’. The band and their singer decided to stick as close as possible to the original versions recorded by those legendary groups all those years ago and hey, it has worked out just as the live recorded Creedence Clearwater Revival medley at the end of the record. The Ron Keel Band nowadays even look like a real southern rock band with the cowboy hats and clothing and on ‘South X South Dakota' they have reproduced that good old sound in a very satisfactory manner as well! A pleasant surprise indeed and it may even inspire the band to work on a similar record with original songs perhaps.
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