VAN MORRISON - Roll With The Punches (2017)
Anytime you have the great Van Morrison covering strong material with excellent musicians you know you’re in for treat. Morrison follows 2016’s strong release Keep Me Singing with his 37th studio album, which he self-produced. The album contains ten covers of old blues and soul classics along with five songs written by Morrison. The album was produced by Morrison. Van’s voice is still an incredible instrument, and he brings passion to these blues songs, whether cover or original. Morrison has stated that from a very early age he connected with the blues. A strong group of collaborators join him on the album including Chris Farlowe, Georgie Fame, Jeff Beck (who contributes to seven of the songs), Paul Jones and Jason Rebello.
"From a very early age, I connected with the blues. The thing about the blues is you don't dissect it – you just do it. I've never over-analysed what I do; I just do it. Music has to be about just doing it and that's the way the blues works – it's an attitude. I was lucky to have met people who were the real thing – people like John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter & Mose Allison. I got to hang out with them and absorb what they did. They were people with no ego whatsoever and they helped me learn a lot." - Van Morrison
TRACKS: 01. Roll With The Punches 02. Transformation 03. I Can Tell 04. Stormy Monday Lonely Avenue 05. Goin' To Chicago 06. Fame 07. Too Much Trouble 08. Bring It On Home To Me 09. Ordinary People 10. How Far From God 11. Teardrops From My Eyes 12. Automobile Blues 13. Benediction 14. Mean Old World 15. Ride On Josephine
HUBERT SUMLIN - About Them Shoes (2004)
Hubert Sumlin's About Them Shoes is a refreshingly pure blues recording which comes at a time when others are distorting the genre with various "contemporary" elements. The songs are from the repertoire of Muddy Waters -- seven tunes written by Waters (McKinley Morganfield), four by Willie Dixon, one from Carl C. Wright, and a beauty by Sumlin to close things out. Dixon's "I'm Ready" starts things off with Eric Clapton on lead guitar and vocals, the drums of Levon Helm, and Paul Oscher's oozing harmonica filling in nicely with David Maxwell's piano. It's bouncy and shows a side of Clapton not often present on his own albums. Sumlin's lead is tasty, giving way to Oscher's equally gritty wail. Waters' own "Still a Fool" has Keith Richards on lead vocals and sharing the guitar chores with Sumlin. It's got that Rolling Stones-ish ragged edge that producer Rob Fraboni knows so well; Fraboni's guiding hand never gets in the way of the musical process that flows across the CD. James Cotton's harp comes in to spice up "She's Into Something," which features percussionist George Recile on lead vocals and Helm back on the skins. Helm plays drums on eight of the 13 tracks, Recile on four, with the final number, Hubert Sumlin's only original, "Little Girl, This Is the End," closing the set without percussion. "Little Girl" features a charming interplay between Keith Richards and Sumlin's guitars, while Paul Nowinski adds a full-bottom bass to round things out. It's Sumlin's only vocal contribution to the disc, and that voice swims in Fraboni's mix of upfront guitars. This particular song was premiered on Holly Harris' Blues on Sunday program on December 15, 2002, a few months before the album's release, and played next to the remastered "Love in Vain" from Let It Bleed, one could see why the distinctive Richards style is such an important component of the Rolling Stones' success. The two Keith Richards tracks as well as the two contributions from Clapton will get immediate attention, and they do not disappoint, but Blondie Chaplin's vocal on "Look What You've Done" as well as Paul Oscher's on "Come Home Baby" deserve to not get lost in the shuffle. Nathaniel Peterson and George Recile also get to take the mic (with David Johansen about to add some vocals at press time), but none of the changing voices disrupt the vibe or take away from the fun. These blues aren't sad, they are charging, energetic performances from musicians who catch the groove and drive it for all it's worth. Maxwell's piano on Waters' "Come Home Baby" adds frills behind the guitars of Sumlin and Bob Margolin, while Oscher's harmonica just screams. It's a stunning blend of tension and dynamite, and one of the disc's highlights. About Them Shoes could have taken the marquee talent and gone for a glitzy platform to bring Hubert Sumlin into the mainstream. Instead, they dive headfirst into what this music is all about, and in doing so have come up with a mini-masterpiece. It's one of those records that can run endlessly in the CD player and keep entertaining. Hopefully it will expand the audience of this deserving virtuoso.
BLACK COUNTRY COMMUNION - BCCIV (2017)
This is the band’s first studio album since 2013’s ‘Afterglow’. Just like its three predecessors, ‘BCCIV’ was overseen by Kevin Shirley, whose catalogue of hit records for Led Zeppelin, Iron Maiden, Aerosmith, Journey, The Black Crowes, has made him the hottest producer that rock music has to offer.
Shirley, who originally had the idea of putting Hughes and Bonamassa in a band after seeing them jamming together onstage in Los Angeles back in November 2009 – is the group’s unofficial ‘fifth member’.
Black Country Communion is an earth-shattering combination of American and British rock influences—a bona fide super group that conveys to the world a simple but important message: These four icons prove that Hard rock is alive and well in the 21st century. Their communion together forms something that is greater than the sum of its parts, creating a legacy being cemented within the halls of music history. The initiative for the new album came from Joe Bonamassa, who contacted the band in 2016 to see if they would be up for going back into the studio to write and record a fourth album.
10cc - Before, During, After - The Story Of 10cc (2017)
10cc are an English rock band founded in Stockport who achieved their greatest commercial success in the 1970s. The band initially consisted of four musicians – Graham Gouldman, Eric Stewart, Kevin Godley, and Lol Creme – who had written and recorded together for some three years, before assuming the name "10cc" in 1972. Every member of 10cc was a multi-instrumentalist, singer, writer and producer, and the writing teams frequently switched partners, so that Godley/Gouldman or Creme/Stewart compositions were not uncommon. After Godley and Creme left the band in 1976, Gouldman and Stewart were the main creative forces behind 10cc. Stewart left the band after 1995 and Gouldman continues to lead a touring version of 10cc. Most of the band's albums were recorded at their own Strawberry Studios (North) in Stockport and Strawberry Studios (South) in Dorking, with most of those engineered by Stewart. 10cc was co-managed by Ric Dixon and Harvey Lisberg at Kennedy Street, who had represented the individual members of the band since the mid-1960s.
The Story of 10cc, a new 10cc four-CD box set curated with input from the band to “detail each and every chapter of their musical story”. The box features the band together and apart and therefore features work from artists like Paul McCartney, the Art of Noise, Wax and Godley and Creme. CD one is basically a 10cc ‘best of’ while the second disc is dubbed ‘What We Did Next‘ and here’s where it gets interesting. Eric Stewart co-wrote six songs on Paul McCartney‘s 1986 album Press To Play and one of these tracks, Pretty Little Head, is included on disc two. However, it’s the single mix that features here, which was radically remixed by Larry Alexander for the seven-inch single. This version has never been issued on CD, so this is a genuine rarity. The other two discs are ‘And Friends‘ which features collaborations and production work, while the final CD ‘Before 10cc – The Early Years‘ which has work from early beat group The Mindbenders which featured Eric Stewart and Graham Gouldman and Hotlegs which was an early incarnation of 10cc.
SANDY DENNY - Who Knows Where the Time Goes? (1985)
Known Stateside principally as the female voice on Led Zeppelin's "Battle of Evermore" and the author of the Judy Collins- covered "Who Knows Where the Time Goes," Sandy Denny's stature has continued to grow since her accidental death in 1978. This three-CD set has been distilled into a single disc (The Best of...) that makes for a great first date with the Brit folk goddess, but her artistry demands the depth of a box. Cherry-picked from her solo recordings and stints with the Strawbs, Fairport Convention, and Fotheringay, this collection beautifully balances her reworkings of trad songs ("Tam Lin," "Banks of the Nile"), covers (from Bob Dylan, Richard Farina, and Ernest Tubb), and meditative originals. This magnificently produced multi-disc boxed set presents a complete portrait of Sandy Denny, the haunting singer, the melodic, mournful songwriter, and the mesmerizing bandleader of Fairport Convention and Fotheringay. Much of the material is previously unheard, but it's all of a piece with Denny's accomplished work on her solo albums and in her groups. The album makes the case for Denny as a major folk artist.
PAUL RODGERS - The Royal Sessions (2014)
Recorded at Royal Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, The Royal Sessions sees classic rocker Paul Rodgers, first known as the lead singer of Free, best-known as the frontman of Bad Company and later a Freddie Mercury substitute in Queen, paying tribute to his beloved '60s Southern soul. Rodgers set up camp in Memphis and surrounded himself with many veteran Memphis soul musicians, cutting a collection of deep soul covers, primarily tunes released or recorded at Stax, sometimes songs that were made at Muscle Shoals, that remain faithful to the spirit and arrangements of the originals. This familiar sound pushes the spotlight onto Rodgers' vocals and he's in good form, never pushing the songs too hard but retaining his signature raspy swagger. The Royal Sessions makes clear just how much Rodgers learned from classic soul, there are phrasings and runs reminiscent of songs he cut with both Free and Bad Company, but the lighter setting shines a different light on these comfortable moves, making them fresher while also illustrating his debt to this style. Most of all, The Royal Sessions is enjoyable: it sounds like Rodgers is having a good time, so it's easy to have a good time too.
TRACKS: 01. I Thank You 02. Down Don't Bother Me 03. I Can't Stand The Rain 04. I've Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now) 05. That's How Strong My Love Is 06. Walk On By 07. Any Ole Way 08. It's Growing 09. Born Under A Bad Sign 10. I've Got Dreams To Remember 11. Shake 12. Walk In My Shadow 13. Wonderful World
JAMES DEWAR - Stumbledown Romancer (1998)
James Dewar (1942 – 2002) was a Scottish musician best known as the bassist and vocalist for Robin Trower and Stone the Crows, the latter having its beginnings as the resident band at Burns Howff in Glasgow. Dewar's career began with Lulu and the Luvvers in the early 1960s. His career eventually reached its zenith with Robin Trower, a British rock power trio, after the 1974 release of the album Bridge of Sighs. Dewar made his mark as an acclaimed blue eyed soul singer, performing in front of sold-out stadiums and concert halls at the crest of the 1970s classic rock era. The Scot had a rich, powerful voice, with a soulful timbre, and has been regarded by critics as one of the most under-rated rock vocalists. His vocal sound was deep, gritty, and resonating, his style shows the influence of Ray Charles and Otis Redding. Like Paul Rodgers and Frankie Miller, his voice evoked a bluesy, soul-inspired sound. Dewar recorded his one solo album, Stumbledown Romancer, during the 1970s, at the height of his career, but it was not released until two decades later.
TRACKS: 01. Out of Time 02. Goodbye Love 03. Stumbledown Romancer 04. Bright Lights 05. Hosanna 06. Love's Melody 07. Sands of Time 08. Heartbeat 09. Lay Down the Night 10. Dance with Me 11. Nature Child
BON SCOTT & FRATERNITY - Complete Sessions 1971-72 (1996)
Before he found his way into AC/DC in 1974, Bon had been the lead vocalist with two leading Australian bands. The first, dispensing crisp bubble-pop, was The Valentines. The second, turning out expansive, intriguing, underground 'head' music on one hand & hard-rockin' boogie on the other, was Fraternity. With Fraternity, Bon toured Australia & Britain, & recorded two albums & a handful of small-run indie label singles. He also went through the experiences which would shape his attitude & performances in AC/DC (and supply him with the content of a number of his early songwriting efforts for that band). His highly distinctive vocal approach set Fraternity apart as one of the most powerful & acclaimed musical units to emerge from the lower continent in the early 1970s. A handful of Fraternity tracks have been released on Scott history CDs but the bulk of the band's output has long been out of reach (the original vinyl albums - Livestock & Flaming Galah - fetch many hundreds of dollars). Complete Sessions 1971-72 gathers together all of Fraternity's recordings, most of which feature Bon Scott, who would later gain fame as the lead singer of AC/DC. Fans of that hard-rocking group will be disappointed if looking to find kindred spirits here though, as Fraternity was a hippie band inspired by rock of the prog, country, and boogie variety. And while Scott's vocal is unmistakable, there is a vibrato present that was ultimately shaved off for the stripped-down AC/DC. Oftentimes Fraternity sounds like a group unable to decide if they wanted to be the next Procol Harum or Australia's version of the Band, resulting in an unusual hybrid of prog rock and country-rock. They would also delve into the blues on occasion, which is when the closest comparisons to AC/DC can be made. This double-disc collection also includes Fraternity's first single (recorded before Scott joined), previously unreleased tracks, and two excerpts from Bon Scott radio interviews conducted during the late '70s.
GRAND FUNK RAILROAD - Trunk Of Funk Vol. 1 & 2 (2017)
There have been many Grand Funk Railroad compilations released over the years but these two sets put the albums in the well named Trunk of Funk and releases them in two bite sized chunks. For Grand Funk fans looking to replace their vinyl with remastered CDs, these two Trunk of Funk boxes are a good way to start. Included are the group’s first four albums - their 1969 debut, On Time, and their 1970 trio of releases; Grand Funk, Closer to Home, and Live Album - plus previously unreleased tracks. The original Dave Tedds masters have been used and each box has an essay by Malcolm Dome as well as original album credits.
Extremely popular during the 1970s, American rock band Grand Funk Railroad, sometimes known as Grand Funk, toured extensively and played to packed arenas worldwide. David Fricke of Rolling Stone magazine once said, “You cannot talk about rock in the 1970s without talking about Grand Funk Railroad!”. Although Grand Funk was to enjoy their biggest commercial success a few years down the line (1973’s We’re an American Band), it’s the group’s early era that is often considered its peak by the headbanging crowd. And it’s easy to understand why after hearing the Black Sabbath-esqueSin’s a Good Man’s Brother, the turbo-charged Are You Ready, and the drum solo showcase T.N.U.C.
THE DOORS - The Singles (2017)
The Singles shows the creative chemistry shared by drummer John Densmore, guitarist Robby Krieger, keyboardist Ray Manzarek, and vocalist Jim Morrison; four brilliant artists who made The Doors one of America’s most iconic and influential rock bands. The collection includes the single versions from all six of the landmark studio albums the quartet released between 1967 and 1971, including classics like “People Are Strange,” “Love Her Madly” and “Riders On The Storm.” Also included on the CD versions are four mono radio versions of some of the band’s biggest hits, such as “Hello, I Love You” and “Touch Me,” which have never been made available anywhere after being sent to radio around their original release. The B-sides – many of which are making their CD debut – add another dimension to the band’s legacy with such stellar tracks as “Who Scared You,” which appeared in March 1969 as the flipside to “Wishful Sinful,” and a cover of Willie Dixon’s “(You Need Meat) Don’t Go No Further,” which was paired with the 1971 smash “Love Her Madly.” The Singles also features several songs released after Morrison’s passing in 1971. Among those recordings are tracks the surviving trio recorded together (“Tightrope Ride” and “The Mosquito”), as well as live selections from posthumous releases (“Roadhouse Blues” and “Gloria.”) The Blu-ray disc that accompanies the expanded version of THE SINGLES features a high-resolution Quadraphonic mix of The Best Of The Doors. This 11-song compilation, available on Blu-ray for the first time, was remixed specifically for Quad in 1973 and offers a unique sonic experience on songs like “Soul Kitchen,” “Moonlight Drive” and “Love Me Two Times.”
LIZZ WRIGHT- Grace (2017)
Lizz Wright is an American jazz and gospel singer. For the new album Grace, Joe Henry collected about 70 songs for Lizz Wright to cover. She selected the ones she felt best mirrored her past and present state of consciousness. Wright took on well-known songs like “Stars Fell on Alabama” and “Southern Nights”, offered her versions of cuts by Bob Dylan and Ray Charles, went spiritual on Sister Rosetta Tharpe and Carol Jackson’s “Seems I’m Never Tired Lovin’ You” yet never lost continuity. Every song links to the others somehow. The thread that ties the ten songs together largely can be found in Wright’s blessing of a voice and in the way Henry frames it. There is a Southern elegance to the music. One can almost touch the Spanish moss. The songs are most frequently languid and sensual. Wright imaginatively transforms familiar sounding lyrics such as “I never planned in my imagination / A situation so heavenly” into an intimate declaration of love. Sometimes her love is for the Lord or humankind in general rather than for an individual, but there is a corporal feeling even in the most spiritual songs.
V.A. - German Rock Classics - Original Album Series [5CD boxset] (2015)
Udo Lindenberg is one of the most influential German rock singers of all time. Developing a unique style mixing straight-ahead rock with occasional jazzy or symphonic influences and witty lyrics, he was the first to show that rock music with German lyrics was acceptable and could even be internationally successful.
Setting German lyrics to a mixture of delta blues, boogie woogie and electric urban blues arrangements, Das Dritte Ohr (translated: The Third Ear) helped to introduce German audiences to American blues. More than three decades after they first came together, the group remains one of the most influential bands in Germany.
Interzone is a German blues/rock/heavy metal band from the early 1980s, headed by vocalist Heiner Pudelko.
The Boots were a German outfit formed on the model of such British Invasion blues-based outfits as the Yardbirds, the Pretty Things, and Them.
Kin Ping Meh is a German rock band originally active from 1970 to 1977, and reformed in 2005. Their name is derived from Franz Kuhn's German translation of the Chinese novel, Jin Ping Mei.
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