V.A. - Chimes of Freedom: The Songs of Bob Dylan (2012) [4CD]
Designed as a celebration for Amnesty International's 50th Anniversary, Chimes of Freedom is the mother of all tribute albums: a four-disc salute to Bob Dylan that runs some 73 songs performed by singers from all corners of the globe. Apart from Lennon/McCartney - the former of which was the subject of producers Jeff Ayeroff and Julie Yannatta's previous 2007 collection Instant Karma: The Amnesty International Campaign to Save Darfur - no other songwriter of the rock & roll era could attract so many different artists from so many different genres as Dylan, something that is a testament to the resilience of his catalog. From the very start of his career, Dylan saw his songs covered by all manners of artists, ranging from colleagues and peers to longhair rock bands, easy listening outfits, and weirdos like William Shatner, so the absurd abundance of Chimes of Freedom in a way fits into the grand pattern of history: his songs were always up for grabs, they've survived terrible misguided covers, they've been performed with loving faith, they've been reinvented once and again. Given its monumental length, it should be of no great surprise that Chimes of Freedom has songs that fall into each category, although it is surprisingly bereft of awfulness. Not even Miley Cyrus' painful-in-theory straight-ahead cover of "You're Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go" is awful: she may not know who Verlaine and Rimbaud are, but she focuses on the melody and winds up selling the song in the process.
Most of the artists here perform a similar trick, choosing love songs over protests, keeping things intimate instead of anthemic. Naturally, there are exceptions to the rule, but the scales on Chimes of Freedom are tipped toward pretty stripped-down sincerity - even Ke$ha abandons Auto-Tune for a nearly a cappella interpretation of "Don't Think Twice It's Alright" - an aesthetic that's easy to digest and helps make the artists that do something different pop out dramatically: Flogging Molly's Pogues-ian run through "The Times They Are A-Changing," Bryan Ferry's eerie reading of "Bob Dylan's Dream," Elvis Costello adding spikes to "License to Kill," Sinéad O'Connor tearing up "Property of Jesus," and Queens of the Stone Age tapping into Bob's rowdy side with a tremendous "Outlaw Blues." After a parade of faithful salutes ranging from Billy Bragg's impassioned "Lay Down Your Weary Tune" to Lenny Kravitz's absurd re-creation of "Rainy Day Women #12 & 35," it's great to hear actual re-interpretations of Dylan's songs - after all, even Bob himself doesn't always sing the same song the same way twice. - allmusic.com
BOB DYLAN - Triplicate (2017)
Triplicate, is the new three disc studio album from Bob Dylan. The collection features 30 brand-new recordings of classic American tunes and marking the first triple-length set of the artist's illustrious career. With each disc individually titled and presented in a thematically-arranged 10-song sequence, Triplicate showcases Dylan's unique and much-lauded talents as a vocalist, arranger and bandleader on 30 compositions by some of music's most lauded and influential songwriters. The Jack Frost-produced album is the 38th studio set from Bob Dylan and marks the first new music from the artist since Fallen Angels, which was released in early 2016.
For Triplicate, Dylan assembled his touring band in Hollywood's Capitol studios to record hand-chosen songs from an array of American songwriters such as Charles Strouse and Lee Adams ("Once Upon A Time"), Harold Arlen and Ted Koehler ("Stormy Weather"), Harold Hupfield ("As Time Goes By") and Cy Coleman and Carolyn Leigh ("The Best Is Yet To Come"). The titles of the individual discs are 'Til The Sun Goes Down, Devil Dolls and Comin' Home Late. According to Bob Dylan, "I am finding these great songs to be a tremendous source of inspiration that has led me to one of my most satisfying periods in the studio. I've hit upon new ways to uncover and interpret these songs that are right in line with the best recordings of my own songs, and my band and I really seemed to hit our stride on every level with Triplicate."
Dylan's two previous album of classic American songs, 2016's Fallen Angels and 2015's Shadows in the Night, were both worldwide hits and garnered Grammy Award nominations in the category of Best Traditional Pop Vocal Album. Both albums received worldwide critical acclaim, with Randy Lewis writing of Fallen Angels in The Los Angeles Times, "[Dylan] immediately liberates songs from the big band/big orchestra world from which they emerged, and in which they are most frequently revisited…. [He] reaches to the blues at the core of many of these songs. Thus, they elicit the ache of romantic yearning and loss that often gets subsumed by swelling orchestral forces, background choirs or by singers who are more focused on crafting elegant vocals than finding emotional resonance." The Telegraph's Neil McCormick awarded Shadows in the Night five out of five stars and described the work as "spooky, bittersweet, mesmerizingly moving [with] the best singing from Dylan in 25 years." Jon Pareles wrote of that album in the New York Times, "Mr. Dylan presents yet another changed voice…a subdued, sustained tone….Shadows in the Night maintains its singular mood: lovesick, haunted, suspended between an inconsolable present and all the regrets of the past."
BLACKBERRY SMOKE - Leave A Scar: Live North Carolina (2014) & Like An Arrow (2016)
Building on the Lynyrd Skynyrd Southern rock template with a good dose of outlaw honky tonk country and a little bit of bluegrass, gospel, and R&B mixed in, Blackberry Smoke (singer/guitarist Charlie Starr, guitarist/singer Paul Jackson, bassist/singer Richard Turner, keyboardist Brandon Still, and drummer Brit Turner) formed in Atlanta, Georgia in 2000 and quickly built a loyal fan base on the Southern tour circuit, opening for top-tier acts as Lynyrd Skynyrd, ZZ Top, the Zac Brown Band, George Jones, and others. The group released a debut album, Bad Luck Ain't No Crime, in 2004 on Cock of the Walk Records, then followed it with the self-released EP New Honky Tonk Bootlegs in 2008. A second EP, Little Piece of Dixie, appeared from Big Karma Records that same year. A full-length album, this one also called Little Piece of Dixie, was released in 2009 by BamaJam Records. The band then signed with Zac Brown's Southern Ground Records, which released The Whippoorwill in 2012. The Whippoorwill was picked up by Earache, who formally signed the band in 2013. A deluxe live audio and video package entitled Leave a Scar: Live North Carolina was issued in the summer of 2014. Later that year, BS left Brown's label and signed a deal with Rounder in the U.S. (Earache remained their European label). Taking a short break from touring, they entered the studio with producer Brendan O'Brien and emerged less than two weeks later with Holding All the Roses, then went straight back to working on the road. The album was released in February of 2015, debuting at number one on the Billboard Country charts. Blackberry Smoke returned in the autumn of 2016 with Like an Arrow, their second album for Rounder.
It's hard to call the Georgia quartet Blackberry Smoke Southern Rock revivalists. Rather, they work in a tradition carved out by Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers Band back in the '70s. Gregg Allman sings on "Free on the Wing," the closing track on Like an Arrow, the band's first album for Thirty Tigers, and Skynyrd is often used as a comparison point for the band, but Like an Arrow makes it plain that Blackberry Smoke is a close cousin of the Black Crowes -- a band that sifts through the past to pick its favorite rock, not necessarily pledging allegiance to sounds made south of the Mason-Dixie line. Often what impresses on Like an Arrow are the songs and passages that don't sound strictly Southern - dexterous, wah-wah-fueled breakdowns, lean three-chord rockers, and sun-kissed ballads designed for a Sunday afternoon. The latter reveals one of the tricks in Blackberry Smoke's quiver: whether they're writing a brawny rocker or a delicate ballad, they're good songwriters, sculpting sturdy songs that can withstand both the road and the years. That's why Like an Arrow doesn't quite feel fresh, despite a few funky flairs: it's a record that's deliberately part of a tradition, so it seems like it could've been released at any point in the past four decades. That is also its strength - from the songs to the slyly sinewy performances, Like an Arrow doesn't simply feel like it's built to last, it feels like it's been kicked around the block a few times and has emerged all the stronger for it.
V.A. - Classic Piedmont Blues from Smithsonian Folkways (2017)
With a selection of indelible recordings made over 70 years, Classic Piedmont Blues captures the essence of this fascinating blues tradition. Originating in the foothills of Southern Appalachia, the Piedmont blues served as a breeding ground for cross-pollination between traditions: rural and urban, black and white, country and coastal. Swept up on the tide of the Great Migration, it was carried from the Carolinas and Virginia, north and east through Maryland and Washington, D.C., to New York City and back again. Featuring influential artists like John Jackson, Cephas & Wiggins, Sonny Terry & Brownie McGhee, and many others, this collection offers an illuminating overview of the Piedmont style. 64 minutes, 36-page booklet with extensive notes. The 21-track set was compiled from the vast archives of Smithsonian Folkways and annotated by music historian Barry Lee Pearson. Pearson, a professor at the University of Maryland, previously produced three other titles in the Classic Series: Classic African American Songsters, Classic Harmonica Blues, and Classic American Ballads. As with every compilation in the Smithsonian Folkways Classic Series, Classic Piedmont Blues explores the breadth and depth of a genre with incredible and unforgettable music. It also includes liner notes that offer insight into the cultural and historical contexts of each selection. During the last 10 years, Smithsonian Folkways has released Classic compilations of ballads, blues, children’s music, old-time fiddle, and protest songs, among others.
V.A. - Bed Spring Poker: Meat In Motion 1926-1951 (2002)
Four dozen rare, highly-collectable risque' blues sides, appearing here for the first time on CD. Features such major blues luminaries as Lightnin' Hopkins, Leadbelly, Bessie Smith, John Lee Hooker, Champion Jack Dupree, Lonnie Johnson, Big Bill Broonzy & Tampa Red. Lyrically-laden with innuendo, double-entendre & down right vulgarity! Two cd's each over seventy minutes long. The recordings are for the most part clean and clear-much better than you would think. The artists range from well known ( Lightin' Hopkins, Bessie Smith) to somewhat obscure(Dan Pickett, Ralph Willis) but the songs are always entertaining. This area of blues music is somewhat small but is important in an overall view of the genre. The styles of music range from traditional blues to hokum to r&b. It is surprising that so many women recorded music of this kind. This is a good companion to Bill Wyman's collection Rude Dudes that was released a few years ago.
V.A. - The Late Great Daniel Johnston: Discovered Covered (2004)
Despite its title, this 2004 tribute/best-of collection finds singer/songwriter Daniel Johnston alive and relatively well. (Johnston has strled with mental illness that sometimes leads to erratic behavior.) The first part of this two-disc ... Full Descriptionset presents a remarkable array of admiring artists, including Tom Waits and Death Cab for Cutie, covering Johnston's songs. Some renditions--particularly Calvin Johnson's vocals-and-percussion-only "Sorry Entertainer," Beck's Dylan-esque acoustic "True Love Will Find You in the End," and M. Ward's gorgeous "Story of an Artist"--stick closer to Johnston's minimal arrangements. Other versions opt for a much fuller sound, particularly Mercury Rev's dreamy take on "Blue Clouds," and "Go," a wonderful Sparklehorse/Flaming Lips collaboration that highlights the notable similarities between respective frontmen Mark Linkous and Wayne Coyne. The second disc features Johnston's original recordings of every song on the first disc, along with a new tune, "Rock This Town." Although some may find Johnston's high-pitched yelp and rudimentary guitar and piano playing bewildering, his quirky, unaffected aesthetic is exactly what drew the aforementioned performers to contribute to this excellent compilation in the first place.
The first disc features covers of Daniel Johnston songs by a variety of different artists. The second disc features the original versions of these eighteen songs, as well as "Rock This Town", a previously unreleased Johnston track.
WILSON PICKET - 4 X 2ON1 (1966 - 1970) [2016, Remastered]
Of the major '60s soul stars, Wilson Pickett was one of the roughest and sweatiest, working up some of the decade's hottest dancefloor grooves on hits like "In the Midnight Hour," "Land of 1000 Dances," "Mustang Sally," and "Funky Broadway." Although he tends to be held in somewhat lower esteem than more versatile talents like Otis Redding and Aretha Franklin, he is often a preferred alternative of fans who like their soul on the rawer side. He also did a good deal to establish the sound of Southern soul with his early hits, which were often written and recorded with the cream of the session musicians in Memphis and Muscle Shoals.
Before establishing himself as a solo artist, Pickett sang with the Falcons, who had a Top Ten R&B hit in 1962 with "I Found a Love." "If You Need Me" (covered by the Rolling Stones) and "It's Too Late" were R&B hits for the singer before he hooked up with Atlantic Records, who sent him to record at Stax in Memphis in 1965. One early result was "In the Midnight Hour," whose ching horn line, loping funky beats, and impassioned vocals combined into a key transitional performance that brought R&B into the soul age. It was an R&B chart-topper and a substantial pop hit (number 21), though its influence was stronger than that respectable position might indicate: thousands of bands, black and white, covered "In the Midnight Hour" on-stage and record in the 1960s.
Pickett had a flurry of other galvanizing soul hits over the next few years, including "634-5789," "Mustang Sally," and "Funky Broadway," all of which, like "In the Midnight Hour," were frequently adapted by other bands as dance-ready numbers. The king of that hill, though, had to be "Land of 1000 Dances," Pickett's biggest pop hit (number six), a soul anthem of sorts with its roll call of popular dances, and covered by almost as many acts as "Midnight Hour" was.
Pickett didn't confine himself to the environs of Stax for long; soon he was also cutting tracks at Muscle Shoals. He recorded several early songs by Bobby Womack. He used Duane Allman as a session guitarist on a hit cover of the Beatles' "Hey Jude." He cut some hits in Philadelphia with Gamble & Huff productions in the early '70s. He even did a hit version of the Archies' "Sugar, Sugar." The hits kept rolling through the early '70s, including "Don't Knock My Love" and "Get Me Back on Time, Engine Number 9."
One of the corollaries of '60s soul is that if a performer rose to fame with Motown or Atlantic, he or she would produce little of note after leaving the label. Pickett, unfortunately, did not prove an exception to the rule. His last big hit was "Fire and Water," in 1972. He continued to be active on the tour circuit; his most essential music, all from the 1960s and early '70s, was assembled for the superb Rhino double-CD anthology A Man and a Half. It's Harder Now, his first new material in over a decade, followed in 1999. Pickett spent the early part of the 2000s performing, before retiring in late 2004 due to ill health. He passed away on January 19, 2006, following a heart attack.
RICK WAKEMAN - Piano Portraits (2017)
Piano Portraits is a studio album by English keyboardist Rick Wakeman, released on 13 January 2017 on Universal Music Group. The album was made following the positive reception to Wakeman's live radio performance of his piano arrangement of "Life on Mars?" by David Bowie following the singer's death in January 2016, and a subsequent single of the track released in aid of Macmillan Cancer Support released in 2016. After Wakeman received offers from several music labels to produce an album of piano arrangements, he chose Universal and chose songs that were his favourites, he played on as a session musician and as a member of Yes, classical music pieces, and original material. Upon release, the album reached number 6 on the UK Albums Chart, becoming Wakeman's highest charting album in the UK since 1975. Wakeman will support the album with a 10-date tour of the UK from May to July 2017.
TRACKS: 01. Help 02. Stairway To Heaven 03. Life On Mars 04. I'm Not In Love 05. Wonderous Stories 06. Berceuse 07. Amazing Grace 08. Swan Lake 09. Morning Has Broken 10. Summertime 11. Space Oddity 12. Dance Of The Damselflies 13. Clair De Lune 14. I Vow To Thee My Country 15. Eleanor Rigby
DEEP PURPLE - Limitless: An Exclusive Deep Purple Collection (2017)
01. Time For Bedlam
02. All I Got Is You
03. All The Time In The World (Radio Mix Version)
04. First Sign Of Madness
05. No One Came (Live In Gaevle)
06. Strange Kind Of Woman (Live In Wacken)
07. Perfect Strangers (Live In Tokyo)
08. Black Night (Live In Milan)
This is an excellent little comp, cover mounted on the latest edition of Classic Rock Mag to celebrate the upcoming release of Purple's latest studio offering 'Infinite' which drops on April 7th. What you get are a couple of tracks from the forthcoming album plus some rare B-sides and live tracks, a welcome edition to any Purple fans collection.
COCO MONTOYA - Hard Truth (2017)
The old Willie Dixon adage, “blues is truth,” perfectly describes the searing, passionate contemporary blues-rock of world-renowned guitarist and vocalist Coco Montoya. Taught by the “Master of the Telecaster,” Albert Collins, but with a hard-edged sound and style all his own, Montoya mixes his forceful, melodic guitar playing and passionate vocals with memorable songs, delivering the blues’ hardest truths. He earned his status as a master guitarist and soul-powered vocalist through years paying his dues as a sideman with Collins (first as a drummer) and then with John Mayall’s Blues Breakers, before launching his solo career in 1993. Five years of constant touring with Collins and 10 years with Mayall turned him into a monster player and dynamic performer. Montoya has released eight solo albums - including three for Alligator between 2000 and 2007 - and has played at clubs, concert halls and major festivals all over the world. Returning to Alligator with his new album, Hard Truth, Montoya delivers 11 career-topping performances, the music immediately ranking among the best he’s ever recorded.
TRACKS: 01. Before The Bullets Fly 02. I Want To Shout About It 03. Lost In The Bottle 04. Old Habits Are Hard To Break 05. I'll Find Someone Who Will 06. Devil Don't Sleep 07. The Moon Is Full 08. Hard As Hell 09. 'Bout To Make Me Leave Home 10. Where Can A Man Go From Here 11. Truth Be Told
JULIAN SAS - Feelin' Alive (2017)
In his genre, Julian Sas is one of the best artists ever to come from the low-lands and as a guitarist he belongs to the absolute top of Europe. Julian Sas made name and fame with a series of strong, critically acclaimed albums but especially as an excellent live performer. Feelin’ Alive is a live CD that features a renewed band in top form. Without doubt the best Julian Sas band so far and consequently Feelin’ Alive is his best live record so far. Winner European Blues Award 2016 Best Musician (Performance). "Here we are again, burning down highways, making it groovy, rocky, bluesy and everything in between… The spirit of Rock ‘n Roll is captured on this live album. That is how we feel it and we hope you do to! We called this one Feelin’ Alive, because that is what playing in this band, with these guys, is all about. Night after night, the moment we walk on that stage, we feel alive… we love playing and delivering the goods."- JS
TRACKS: 01. Jump For Joy 02. High And Low 03. Did You Ever Wonder 04. Fear Of Falling 05. Mercy 06. Coming Home 07. Helping Hand 08. Highway 61 Revisited 09. Bullfrog Blues
SHERYL CROW - Tuesday Night Music Club (1993) & Sheryl Crow [Special Edition] (1997)
Tuesday Night Music Club is the debut album from American singer/songwriter Sheryl Crow, released on August 3, 1993. The lead single "Run, Baby, Run" was not particularly successful. However, the album gained attention after the success of the third single, "All I Wanna Do," based on the Wyn Cooper poem "Fun" and co-written by David Baerwald, Bill Bottrell, Sheryl Crow, and Kevin Gilbert. The single eventually reached number two on the Billboard Hot 100, propelling the album to number three in the US Billboard 200 album charts, selling over 5.3 million units there as of January 2008. On the UK Album Chart, Tuesday Night Music Club reached #8 and is certified 2× platinum. It is listed as one of 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.
TRACKS: 01. Run, Baby, Run 02. Leaving Las Vegas 03. Strong Enough 04. Can't Cry Anymore 05. Solidify 06. The Na-Na Song 07. No One Said It Would Be Easy 08. What I Can Do For You 09. All I Wanna Do 10. We Do What We Can 11. I Shall Believe
"Sheryl Crow" is the second studio album by the American singer Sheryl Crow, released on September 24, 1996 by A&M Records. Unlike its predecessor Tuesday Night Music Club, which was written by a casual collective formed by Crow and several other musicians, "Sheryl Crow" was entirely produced by Crow, who wrote most of the songs alone or with only one collaborator. Most of the album was recorded at Kingsway Studio in New Orleans, Louisiana. The album covers topics of American life, relationship breakups, and moral and ethical issues, while encompassing a variety of music genres such as rock, blues, alternative rock, country, and folk. "Sheryl Crow" was a commercial success, being certified 3× platinum by the RIAA and 3× platinum by the BPI. It also reached No. 6 on the US Billboard Top 200 chart and produced five singles, including the international hit "If It Makes You Happy". The album received very positive reviews from critics, who praised its intricate production and Crow's louder and more assured singing. At the 39th Annual Grammy Awards, the album was awarded Best Rock Album and Crow received the Best Female Rock Vocal Performance award for "If It Makes You Happy". Retrospectively, it is often regarded as one of Crow's best albums.
DISC 1 - Sheryl Crow: 01. Maybe Angels 02. Change Would Do You Good 03. Home 04. Sweet Rosalyn 05. If It Makes You Happy 06. Redemption Day 07. Hard To Make A Stand 08. Everyday Is A Winding Road 09. Love Is A Good Thing 10. Oh Marie 11. Superstar 12. Book 13. Ordinary Morning 14. Sad Sad World 15. Hard To Make A Stand (alternate version)
DISC 2 - Live From Shepherd's Bush Empire: 01. If it Makes You Happy 02. Leaving Las Vegas 03. Hard To Make A Stand 04. Can't Cry Anymore 05. Everyday Is A Winding Road 06. On The Outside
GARY WRIGHT - The Dream Weaver (1975) & Ring Of Changes (2016)
Gary Wright is an American singer, songwriter and musician, best known for his 1976 hit songs "Dream Weaver" and "Love Is Alive", and for his role in helping establish the synthesizer as a leading instrument in rock and pop music. Wright's breakthrough album, The Dream Weaver (1975), came after he had spent seven years in London as, alternately, a member of the British heavy rock band Spooky Tooth and a solo artist on A&M Records.
Best known for his hit single ‘Dreamweaver’ in 1976, and his time in Spooky Tooth, Gary Wright’s ‘Ring Of Changes’ was made in 1972 but, in spite of a single release (included as a bonus track), the album was shelved by A&M. After leaving Spooky Tooth for the first time, Wright played with George Harrison on his ‘All Things Must Pass’ album and the Quiet One returned the favour on Wright’s second solo album ‘Footprint’ and here on the song ‘Goodbye Sunday’. The album also features future Foreigner titan Mick Jones who co-wrote most of the material. In overall feel this album looks across the Atlantic and aligns to the likes of Leon Russell and Little Feat with a mix of harder (note the excellent ‘Lovetaker’) and softer rock, sometimes with a late-sixties Procol Harum-ish vibe. There is read across to what Eric Clapton was doing in the early 1970s including his work with Delaney & Bonnie. I can understand why Wright’s albums were popular on FM radio in the States and it seems criminal that this album has remained in the vaults for over forty years. Wright’s organ interjections are a joy throughout and the album merits further attention than merely its Foreigner/Beatle associations.
At a time when punk rock and new wave were sweeping the music charts, Birmingham, England-based quintet, City Boy, produced melodic, hook-laden, progressive rock tunes. Despite placing two songs, "5-7-0-5," and "The Day the Earth Caught Fire," the title track of their 1978 album, in the British Top Ten, the band failed to capitalize on their commercial success and disbanded in 1981. According to The Gibraltar Encyclopedia of Progressive Rock, City Boy is remembered for their "strong identification with progressive rock and funk-oriented tracks." The inspiration for City Boy was sparked in the early '60s when lead vocalists Steve Broughton and Lol Mason met in prep school. In 1964, Mason befriended 12-string guitarist and bongo player Max Thomas.
Two years later, Broughton, Mason, and Thomas recorded an acoustic album. left school and began writing songs together. When Thomas left to attend Suffolk University shortly afterwards, he lost touch with Broughton and Mason. By the time they reestablished their relationship, in 1969, Thomas had suffered several nervous breakdowns and was confined to the psychiatric ward of a hospital. Broughton, Mason, and acoustic guitarist Chris would pick him up each evening to spend the night jamming together. As an acoustic group, "Back-in-the-Band," the musicians began playing semi-regularly in a folk club, The Cherry Trees. In 1973, the group, renamed City Boy, was signed by the Vertigo label with the stipulation that they add an electric guitarist (Mike Slamer) and a drummer (Roger Kent).
Their debut album, Mark I, was released three years later. Their first single, "Hap-Ki-Do," reached number 32 on the British charts. Kent was replaced by Roy Ward in 1978, shortly before the band embarked on a four-month tour of the United States as opening act for Hall and Oates. Although they signed with Atlantic for U.S. and Canada distribution, the days of City Boy were practically over. Despite moving to New York State, the band began to splinter with the departure of Broughton and Chris. Shortly after releasing a single on their own City Boy label in 1982, the group disbanded.
CHUCK BERRY - The Ultimate Collection (2007)
Legendary musician Chuck Berry dies at age 90. - RIP
Of all the early breakthrough rock & roll artists, none is more important to the development of the music than Chuck Berry. He is its greatest songwriter, the main shaper of its instrumental voice, one of its greatest guitarists, and one of its greatest performers. Quite simply, without him there would be no Beatles, Rolling Stones, Beach Boys, Bob Dylan, nor a myriad others. There would be no standard "Chuck Berry guitar intro," the instrument's clarion call to get the joint rockin' in any setting. The clippety-clop rhythms of rockabilly would not have been mainstreamed into the now standard 4/4 rock & roll beat. There would be no obsessive wordplay by modern-day tunesmiths; in fact, the whole history (and artistic level) of rock & roll songwriting would have been much poorer without him. Like Brian Wilson said, he wrote "all of the great songs and came up with all the rock & roll beats." Those who do not claim him as a seminal influence or profess a liking for his music and showmanship show their ignorance of rock's development as well as his place as the music's first great creator. Elvis may have fueled rock & roll's imagery, but Chuck Berry was its heartbeat and original mindset. Because when it comes down to his music, perhaps John Lennon said it best, "If you were going to give rock & roll another name, you might call it 'Chuck Berry'."
RAY DAVIES - Other People's Lives (2006) & Working Man's Cafe (2007)
As the leader of one the most vital and volatile bands of the British Invasion, Ray Davies may also have been one of the genre's most underappreciated, often playing second fiddle to the likes of Lennon, McCartney, and Jagger, but never failing to reignite the flame on a now-legendary songwriting caldron. More than a decade since the Kinks' last release, Davies makes his virgin foray into solo artistry with 13 songs that reverberate with the wistfulness and introspection that have forever been his trademark. It doesn't take long to detect, as the guitar/bass crescendo and tomorrow-will-be-better lyrics make "Things Are Gonna Change (The Morning After)" a singalong halfway through its 4:21. And then the world once again is put under Davies's uncanny surveillance: his pal Mr. Brown in the country-singed "Next Door Neighbour," "The Tourist" hobnobbing in New Orleans (where Davies makes an American home), and eras of lost acquaintances in "All She Wrote," a Kinks-ish acoustic rocker. They are reminders of what we've missed - and hopefully what's yet to come - from a remarkable artist whose return is undoubtedly being celebrated from the streets of a restored Big Easy to the barstools of Muswell Hill.
Recorded in Nashville, Working Man s Café is Davies second solo album, following his solo debut Other People s Lives, released in 2006. Working Man s Café, focuses on the plight of the worker, the every day man around the world. It is Davies American record (many of the songs were written and all produced in the US) describing the changes he s seen in this country since he first started visiting in the 60s. In a recent four star Mojo Magazine review Davies is described as having a tourist s blend of enchantment and bafflement when writing about the United States.
TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND - Live From The Fox Oakland (2017)
Live From the Fox Oakland captures the band firing on all cylinders at their Sept 9, 2016 show that fans and band members regard as one of their finest performances to date. The band’s commitment to making the best sounding live recording possible is evident throughout. There aren’t many acts that can shift from riveting blues standards to soulful renditions of Leonard Cohen classics to digging deep into the catalogs of artists as disparate as the Beatles and Miles Davis, bringing their unique style and approach to each. Aside from the Tedeschi Trucks Band, there may not be any. As impressive as the sprawling 12 piece is in the studio, this talented aggregation is made for the improvisational freedom the live setting encourages. Hence the group’s second double concert CD in five years doesn’t feel like the contract fulfiller its presence might imply, even if six of its 15 tracks originate from last year’s Let Me Get By. Besides the music, most impressive is that these performances are taken from one show (9/9/2016), not cherry-picked from dozens of dates. That provides the same natural rhythm to the recording as being there. Additionally, extra care is taken in tweaking the mix, especially important for this expanded outfit, which boasts two drummers, a three-piece horn section and backing vocals. The double CD (also available with DVD or Blu-ray video) puts you in the middle of the music, making this the perfect way to absorb the impact of the Tedeschi Trucks Band firing on all cylinders in their natural habitat.
JAMES COTTON - Living The Blues (1994)
Blues harmonica virtuoso and onetime Muddy Waters sideman James Cotton died on Thursday at a medical center in Austin of pneumonia. He was 81. - RIP
James Cotton was an American blues harmonica player, singer and songwriter, who performed and recorded with many of the great blues artists of his time and with his own band. He played drums early in his career but is famous for his harmonica playing. Cotton began his professional career playing the blues harp in Howlin' Wolf's band in the early 1950s. He made his first recordings in Memphis for Sun Records, under the direction of Sam Phillips. In 1955, he was recruited by Muddy Waters to come to Chicago and join his band. Cotton became Waters's bandleader and stayed with the group until 1965. In 1965 he formed the Jimmy Cotton Blues Quartet, with Otis Spann on piano, to record between gigs with Waters's band. He eventually left Waters to form his own full-time touring group. His first full album, on Verve Records, was produced by guitarist Mike Bloomfield and vocalist and songwriter Nick Gravenites, who later were members of the band Electric Flag. In the 1970s, Cotton played harmonica on Waters's Grammy Award–winning 1977 album Hard Again, produced by Johnny Winter.
BRYAN LEE - The Blues Is... (1991) & Live at the Old Absinthe House Bar... Friday Night (1997)
Bryan Lee is an American blues guitarist and singer based in New Orleans, Louisiana. He is also known by the nickname braille blues daddy and has been a fixture on Bourbon Street scene since the 1980s. Lee completely lost his eyesight by the age of eight. His avid interest in early rock and blues was fostered through the 1950s by late night listening sessions via the Nashville-based radio station WLAC AM, where he first encountered the sounds of Elmore James, Albert King and Albert Collins. By his late teens, Lee was playing rhythm guitar in a regional band called The Glaciers that covered Elvis Presley, Little Richard and Chuck Berry material. Through the 1960s, Lee's interest turned to Chicago blues and he soon found himself immersed on that scene, opening for some of his boyhood heroes. In 1979 he released his first album named Beauty Isn't Always Visual. In January 1982, Lee moved to New Orleans, eventually landing a steady gig at the Old Absinthe House on Bourbon Street becoming a favorite of tourists in the city's French Quarter. For the next 14 years, Lee and his Jump Street Five played five nights a week at that popular bar, developing a huge following and a solid reputation.
MUNGO JERRY - Adults Only (2004) & Cool Jesus (2011)
Can there actually be anyone who doesn't know or recognise the song In The Summertime? I doubt it, as thanks to the regular use of the song on TV commercials In The Summertime is one of those instantly recognisable songs. That hit in 1970 was the start of a major career for the band Mungo Jerry who went on to have a number of further hits throughout the seventies and while founder member and leader of Mungo Jerry, Ray Dorset acknowledges his illustrious past, like many artists he has moved on and produced a fine and respected body of work that in addition to the many Mungo Jerry releases includes recording an album with Fleetwood Mac legend Peter Green and Vincent Crane (Katmandu) and writing songs for the likes of Elvis Presley, Dr. Feelgood, Bob Dylan, Elton John and many others. In the early days of gigging as a band before they were called Mungo Jerry, Ray played in the same London pubs as bands like the Rolling Stones and in the early days as Mungo Jerry musicians such as Jimi Hendrix and Frank Zappa could be found in their audience. Over thirty five years on from the bands emergence things have almost come round full circle with Mungo Jerry's latest release Adults Only. The band is still led by Ray Dorset [also known as Mungo Jerry hence the aka title] and the band are still in high demand for live concerts more recent proof being the inclusion of Ray Dorset on the Legends Of R&B tour. Ray's band on that particular tour included musicians with the highest credentials and included a rhythm section that comprised bassist Colin Hodgkinson (Back Door, Alexis Korner, Whitesnake) and drummer Colin Allen (John Mayall, Stone The Crows, Focus). Mungo Jerry will support the release of Adults Only with a world tour that takes in America, South Africa and Australia and beyond into 2005 back into America.
Ray Dorset's present backing band (of Martin, Luederwaldt, Troike) creates faithfully here the good time music & sounds that Mungo Jerry first came out with in the early 70s. The recordings were made under live studio conditions which produces a beautiful vibe. There were a couple of the pure skiffle type offerings that I was not so keen on, but otherwise there are many excellent pieces here. There's nothing particularly new about it, but there is enough variety from jug band to rock'n'roll to 50s doo-wop to pure pop to rock to folk protest to skiffle, plus with an overall excellent performance like this, manages to straddle all age groups & countries. Certainly you can imagine this sounding forth from a German beer festival along with the sounds of thumping beer glasses. Less blues orientated than Mungo's previous album from 2003, & though there is still that, here it is really back to pure Mungo (Dorset's guitar playing & vocals seem ageless) & whose more purist fans should surely love.
THE SAVAGE ROSE - The Savage Rose (1968) & In The Plain (1968) & Travelin' (1969) & Your Daily Gift (1971) [The First 4...]
The Danish Legend, The Savage Rose, alias Annisette & Thomas Koppel. Not only Bjork has mentioned The Savage Rose among her major influences; They are intensely loved throughout Europe and by their ten thousands of dedicated fans around the world. Annisette’s name equals total integrity and honesty, absolutely unique stage performance and vocals, making her “one of ‘pop music’s most unique and powerful vocalists” - Archie Patterson, Eurock, USA.
Thomas Koppel’s name is synonymous with stone original composing and producing and enormous versatility: effortlessly moving from the mind-blowing songs of The Savage Rose to film music, symphonic works, musicals ballets and more. As noted in Miller-Freeman’s US book ‘The Unknown Legends Of Rock’n'Roll, they are among the rare true originators of the music of today. However, as noted by Rolling Stone’s David Fricke, The Savage Rose 2003 are far from nostalgia, they’re “not prisoners of history because they never stopped making it”. They are continuously at the very front edge of contemporary music, effortlessly combining elements of jazz, hip-hop, R&B, Alternative, and World Music into a unique, highly spicy and sensual pop, embracing audiences of all ages, nationalities, and ethnicities.
They have released 20 original albums; toured most of the world including prestigious festivals like The Newport Jazz festival (now the JVC Jazz Festival), the Montreux festival, the Molde Festival, Ragnarock and the Roskilde Festival. Their ballet “Triumph Of Death” is the greatest success of The Royal Ballet ever, with hundreds of sold-out performances worldwide, including the Metropolitan Opera in New York. Thomas has created symphonies, ballets, film music, an opera, music dramas, and, with Annisette, the painfully beautiful and controversial musical ‘Bella Vita’ on homeless children.
AL KOOPER - Rekooperation (1994) & Soul of a Man: Al Kooper Live (1995)
The best of all of Al Kooper's studio albums, Rekooperation is a mostly instrumental album, on which the artist (playing organ and piano, and occasional guitar) and a band including Jimmy Vivino, Harvey Brooks, and Fred Walcott, among others, roar and pound their way through a baker's dozen of R&B, rock & roll, and soul classics. Everything from chestnuts like "Soul Twist," "Honky Tonk," "Johnny B. Goode," "Clean Up Woman," and " "Don't Be Cruel" to originals such as "Downtime" and "Alvino Johnson's Shuffle" without a notable gap in quality between them, are included - and the one vocal number, "I Wanna Little Girl," contains one of the finest singing performances that Kooper has ever turned in on record (but is also played so well, that it would work as an instrumental too). In many ways, this recording is a distant cousin to Blood, Sweat & Tears' Child Is Father to the Man, and was his first attempt at leading a band since that 1968 venture, which was sort of fitting since it led to Soul of a Man, Kooper's live-in-concert career retrospective album, the next time out.
A gift from heaven is the only adequate way of describing this superb double-CD set, which comes in a slipcase with a neat little booklet. It is the definitive Al Kooper solo project, and a career reconsideration and retrospective, but it's also damn close to definitive as a document of the Blues Project and the original Blood, Sweat & Tears as well. At three February 1994 gigs at New York's Bottom Line, Kooper got together the original members of both bands (with BS&T billed as "Child Is Father to the Man") and his own Rekooperators, including John Simon and Harvey Brooks, with John Sebastian sitting in on harmonica, to perform new versions of 33 years' worth of repertory. The eerie thing is that it sounds like Kooper didn't skip a beat between the last shows of any of those bands and these gigs - his voice is better than ever, and the performance on "I Can't Quit Her" (a song he introduces by saying he hates playing it "except with these guys" - the original BS&T) and the rest of the '60s repertory has all of the energy one could wish for, and more precision than the group might have achieved in 1968 (and certainly better sound).
TIM HARDIN - Tim Hardin 1 (1966) & Tim Hardin 2 (1967) 
Raven presents two seminal folk-rock albums on one CD from renowned American singer / song writer Tim Hardin: Tim Hardin 1 (1966) and Tim Hardin 2 (1967). A gentle, soulful singer and brilliant song writer, Hardin combined folk, blues and jazz to become a popular performer on the American East Coast folk circuit. After his success at the 1966 Newport Folk Festival he signed to Verve Records for his debut album Tim Hardin 1 produced by Erik Jacobsen, followed by Tim Hardin 2 a year later. These timeless albums remain two of the most powerful, compelling and startling original works of the folk-rock era. Featuring acoustic guitar-based arrangements and subtle string accompaniment they are packed with "confessional folk-rock songs of considerable grace and emotion". Bob Dylan called him "the country's greatest living song writer". Dozens of performers have covered songs from these albums, including Johnny Cash and June Carter ('If I Were a Carpenter'), Bobby Darin ('If I Were a Carpenter'), Rod Stewart ('Reason to Believe'), Scott Walker ('Lady Came from Baltimore'), Fred Neil ('Green Rocky Road'), the Nice ('Hang on to a Dream') etc. Hardin performed at Woodstock in 1969 and recorded several more albums before his death in 1980. This essential 2-for-1 CD includes seven bonus tracks and captures the very essence of Tim Hardin, one of popular music's greatest singer / song writers.
Tim Hardin 1 (1966): 01. Don't Make Promises 02. Green Rocky Road 03. Smlin' Man 04. How Long 05. While You're On Your Way 06. It'll Never Happen Again 07. Reason To Believe 08. Never Too Far 09. Part Of The Wind 10. Ain't Gonna Do Without 11. Misty Roses 12. How Can We Hang On To A Dream
Tim Hardin 2 (1967): 13. If I Were A Carpenter 14. Red Balloon 15. Black Sheep Boy 16. Lady Came From Baltimore 17. Baby Close Its Eyes 18. You Upset The Grace Of Living When You Lie 19. Speak Like A Child 20. See Where You Are And Get Out 21. It's Hard To Believe In Love For Long 22. Tribute To Hank Williams
Bonus Tracks: 23. Lenny's Tune (Live) 24. Turn The Page (Live) 25. Airmobile 26. Danville Dame 27. I Can't Slow Down 28. You Got A Reputation 29. Keep Your Hands Off Her
GOLDEN EARRING - Complete Studio Recordings (2017) [29CD Box Set]
From their debut Just Ear-rings from 1965 till the tribute to their hometown The Hague from 2015 – all 26 studio albums by Holland’s most legendary rock band are collected in a monumental box Complete Studio Recordings, augmented with no less than three CDs full of non-album tracks.
Rinus Gerritsen and the little bit younger George Kooymans as kids live in the same area of The Hague and in 1961 decide to start a band. The two inspired musicians take on three band members and soon are ready to conquer the world as The Golden Earrings. In 1965 they get their first record deal with the prestigious Polydor label and soon after that their debut album Just Ear-rings is released containing the first hit single Please Go. In the ‘60s they continue to score many hits and in doing so lead the way for all Dutch Beat bands that follow. The Earring has some line-up changes in their first years, but when Cesar Zuiderwijk joins Barry Hay, George Kooymans and Rinus Gerritsen in 1970, finally the line-up is perfected: this formation rocks harder than ever before and it won’t take long before they travel around the world with their monster hit Radar Love.
Throughout the years Golden Earring released no less than 26 studio albums. Next to that, dozens of songs were released but not on official albums including classics like That Day, Sound Of The Screaming Day, Another 45 Miles, Holy Holy Life and hard to find songs, like So You Want To Be A Rock’n’Roll Star / L.A. Woman and You Gun My Love. In total no less than 307 songs, that for the first time are compiled in this box set Complete Studio Recordings, including extended liner notes per album by respected music journalist Tjerk Lammers. So turn the volume up to 11 and hear how a little beat band from The Hague turned into the biggest and best Dutch rock band ever!
BOX: Disc 01 - Just Ear-rings (1965) Disc 02 - Winter Harvest (1967) Disc 03 - Miracle Mirror (1968) Disc 04 - On The Double (1969) Disc 05 - Eight Miles High (1969) Disc 06 - Golden Earring (1970) Disc 07 - Seven Tears (1971) Disc 08 - Together (1972) Disc 09 - Moontan (1973) Disc 10 - Switch (1975) Disc 11 - To The Hilt (1976) Disc 12 - Contraband (1976) Disc 13 - Grab It For A Second (1978) Disc 14 - No Promises … No Debts (1979) Disc 15 - Prisoner Of The Night (1980) Disc 16 - Cut (1982 Disc 17 - N.E.W.S. (1983) Disc 18 - The Hole (1986) Disc 19 - Keeper Of The Flame (1989) Disc 20 - Bloody Buccaneers (1991) Disc 21 - Face It (1994) Disc 22 - Love Sweat (1995) Disc 23 - Paradise In Distress (1999) Disc 24 - Millbrook U.S.A. (2003) Disc 25 - Tits’ n Ass (2012) Disc 26 - The Hague (2015) Disc 27 - Non-album tracks 1 (1965 – 1969) Disc 28 - Non-album tracks 2 (1969 – 1980) Disc 29 - Non-album tracks 3 (1982 – 2003)
RHIANNON GIDDENS - Freedom Highway (2017)
Rhiannon Giddens has always been keenly aware of the arc of American history - the Carolina Chocolate Drops, the 2000s band she once led, was designed as a critique of the darker moments of Americana - but Freedom Highway, her second solo album, puts her intent into perspective. Where her 2015 solo debut, Tomorrow Is My Turn, was essentially a covers album, gaining its importance through context, Freedom Highway relies on originals, but the past is never far behind. This should be expected from Giddens, who is at her core a folk artist building upon - and expanding - tradition, but it's still startling to realize how she establishes a vernacular at the outset of Freedom Highway, then explores all of the possibilities of African-American folk music on the album. "At the Purchaser's Option," the song that inaugurates Freedom Highway, explicitly evokes slavery, and it's spare and haunting, standing in contrast to the title-track closer, a funky number that illustrates how far African-Americans have traveled during the course of the history of the United States. Throughout Freedom Highway, Giddens plays with this idea - how oppression gave way to freedom - and it's not just through her lyrics, but how the music expands as the album reaches its conclusion: at the outset, it seems austere, but by its conclusion it's a robust celebration of all the weird, wonderful parts of America. This isn't an accident. Freedom Highway draws upon deep American traditions, and while its form may be a throwback, it speaks to a time when the phrase "Black Lives Matter" can be seen as controversial and, in doing so, it illustrates how these issues are deeply ingrained in American life and cannot be forgotten.
TRACKS: 01. At the Purchaser's Option 02. The Angels Laid Him Away 03. Julie 04. Birmingham Sunday 06. We Could Fly 07. Hey Bébé 08. Come Love Come 09. The Love We Almost Had 10. Baby Boy 11. Following the North Star 12. Freedom Highway
ELIZA NEALS - 10,000 Feet Below (2017)
“10,000 Feet Below,” is spelunking the new depths of the Blues with Eliza Neals as your fearless guide. Cavern’s of sound well up through Eliza’s supernatural voice and piano driven songs, as Howard Glazer’s guitar pierces the echo with honest tone. Breaking and entering an abandoned temple of blues-rock left long ago, descending each rung carefully to uplift your musical soul. Producer Eliza Neals rigged the journey, surveyed then mapped the suffocating walls, while finding soulful keys through narrow fissures of sound.
Cascading guest guitarists Paul Nelson (Johnny Winter, Grammy 2015) and Billy Davis (Jimi Hendrix, Rock n Roll HOF) cast light on adventurous dark paths. Colossal drummers Skeeto Valdez (Les Clay Pool), Demarcus Sumter, Brian Clune, Rubin Nizri and John Medeiros supply a profound rumble to orientate your feet. As the ceiling drops, blasting bassists Paul Randolph, Johnny Abraham, Mike Griot (SMIBF founder) and Lenny Bradford (Joe Louis Walker) resonate through the crawlspace. Eliza Neals unflinchingly dives headfirst to underwater eyelets that only a skilled writer can reach. Falling lower to get washed up on golden grotto beaches, a new entrance to blues once left undiscovered, 10,000 Feet Below…
TRACKS: 01. Cleotus 02. Another Lifetime 03. Burn The Tent Down 04. 10,000 Feet Below 05. You Ain't My Dog No More 06. Cold Cold Night 07. Hard Killing Floor 08. Call Me Moonshine 09. Down Hill On A Rocket 10. Merle Dixon 11. At The Crossroads
KARLA BONOFF - Karla Bonoff (1977) & Restless Nights (1979)
Karla Bonoff is an American singer-songwriter, primarily known for her songwriting. As a songwriter, Bonoff's songs have been interpreted by other artists such as "Home" by Bonnie Raitt, "Tell Me Why" by Wynonna Judd, and "Isn't It Always Love" by Lynn Anderson. She grew up in Los Angeles and briefly attended UCLA. Emerging from the Monday night hootenanny scene at the Troubadour nightclub, she was a member of Bryndle, a folk-rock group also featuring Wendy Waldman, Andrew Gold, and Kenny Edwards, that formed in 1969, signed to A&M, and cut an album that was never released. Edwards, a former member of the Stone Poneys (a band featuring Linda Ronstadt), and Gold were later part of Ronstadt's backing band, and they brought Bonoff to her attention.
Ronstadt recorded three of Bonoff's songs on her 1976 album, Hasten Down the Wind, leading to a recording contract for Bonoff and the release of three albums on Columbia Records, the last of which, Wild Heart of the Young (1982), featured the Top 40 hit "Personally." Bonoff worked on movie soundtracks during the '80s, notably on Footloose (1984) and About Last Night (1986). She released her fourth album, New World, in 1988.
QUINN SULLIVAN - Midnight Highway (2017)
01. Something For Me
02. Tell Me I'm Not Dreaming
03. Midnight Highway
04. Crazy Into You
05. Eyes For You
06. Lifting Off
07. She Gets Me
08. Rocks (bonus track)
10. Graveyard Stone (bonus track)
11. Big Sky (bonus track)
12. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
13. Buffalo Nickel
The seventeen year-old guitarist from Massachusetts first gathered attention when he appeared on The Ellen DeGeneres Show over ten years ago. But it was when legendary Chicago blues man Buddy Guy took him under his wing that Quinn’s musical chops started turning heads. In the decade since, Quinn has played all over the world with the elite of the music universe. Clapton, Richards, The Roots, Tedeschi-Trucks, Bonamassa, are just some of the royalty with whom Quinn has shared the stage. B.B. even let Quinn share a ‘conversation’ with “Lucille.” Mighty heady stuff for a seasoned artist and definitely a mind-blowing adventure for someone trying to survive being a teenager. Quinn Sullivan’s third album, Midnight Highway is a big step forward for Quinn in terms of expanding his comfort zone. The album is still blues oriented but moves into the rock and pop genre. He is also upping his songwriting game with writing credits on three of the tunes on the album.
PETER KARP - Alabama Town (2017)
01. Alabama Town
02. 'Til You Get Home
03. That's How I Like It
04. Blues In Mind
05. I'm Not Giving Up
06. Her And My Blues
07. The Prophet
08. Kiss The Bride
09. Nobody Really Knows
10. Lost Highway
11. Y'all Be Lookin'
12. I Walk Alone
13. Beautiful Girl
Award winning singer-songwriter, slide guitarist, pianist Peter Karp was raised both in the swamps of New Jersey and trailer parks in Alabama, Karp crafts music fueled with a Yankee-Rebel juxtaposition with plenty of humor and candor.
Alabama Town is Peter Karp’s eighth CD featuring his original songs. Produced by Peter and multi Grammy Award winning producer Dae Bennett (Tony Bennett). It was inspired by the music he heard growing up in Enterprise, Ala in the 1960s and is dedicated to his African American step mom Ruth Turner (1925 - 2016).
ERIC CLAPTON - From The Cradle (1994) & Me And Mr Johnson (2004)
For years, fans craved an all-blues album from Eric Clapton; he waited until 1994 to deliver From the Cradle. The album manages to re-create the ambience of postwar electric blues, right down to the bottomless thump of the rhythm section. If it wasn't for Clapton's labored vocals, everything would be perfect. As long as he plays his guitar, he can't fail -- his solos are white-hot and evocative, original and captivating. When he sings, Clapton loses that sense of originality, choosing to mimic the vocals of the original recordings. At times, his overemotive singing is painful; he doesn't have the strength to pull off Howlin' Wolf's growl or the confidence to replicate Muddy Waters' assured phrasing. Yet, whenever he plays, it's easier to forget his vocal shortcomings. Even with its faults, From the Cradle is one of Clapton's finest moments.
Ten years after his first all-blues album, From the Cradle, Eric Clapton released Me and Mr. Johnson, an album-length tribute to his hero, the legendary bluesman Robert Johnson. Not that this is the first time Clapton has paid tribute to Johnson. Throughout his career, Clapton has not only drawn on Johnson for inspiration, but he has covered his songs at pivotal moments: "Ramblin' on My Mind" on his classic album with John Mayall, Bluesbreakers; "Four Until Late" on the first Cream album; and, most memorably, the rampaging cover of "Crossroads" on Wheels of Fire that became his anthem and arguably his defining moment. Considering this long history, perhaps a full-length tribute was inevitable, yet Me and Mr. Johnson still is welcome, in part because it's been a long time since this guitarist has sounded so comfortable and relaxed, as if he was having fun making music. With the possible exception of the spotty yet charming B.B. King duet album Riding With the King, this is simply the most enjoyable record he's made since From the Cradle, and in some respects it's a better blues album than that since it never sounds as doggedly serious as that guitar-heavy affair. Given the somber, sometimes chilling lyrics Johnson wrote - Clapton admits that "At first [his music] scared me in its intensity," an accurate summary of the haunting nature of those 29 sides the bluesman cut in the '30s - it's a little ironic that this tribute winds up being fun, not somber, but the light touch makes for a better album. That lightness comes from the deep love Clapton holds for this music, since the enthusiasm and enjoyment he and his band - all the old regulars like Andy Fairweather-Low plus Billy Preston on keyboards - give the performance results in the album's light, infectious feel. While that does result in versions of "If I Had Possession Over Judgement Day" and "Hell Hound on My Trail" that sound anything but haunted, they do sound nicely next to the up-tempo rave-ups of "They're Red Hot," "Last Fair Deal Gone Down," and "Stop Breaking Down Blues" since all of them sound like Clapton is having a hell of a good time. Some might take issue with this, and others may find the album too slickly produced - admittedly, blues albums should never boast a credit for Pro Tools, as this does - but this is a heartfelt tribute that's among Clapton's most purely enjoyable albums.
DEREK DAVIS - Revolutionary Soul (2017)
01. Revolutionary Soul
04. Think About It
05. Love And Abuse
06. Nobody Knows You When You're Down And Out 1
07. Vicious Heart
08. Woman's Gotta Have It
09. King Of Fools
10. Picture Of Love
11. Stop! Wait A Minute
12. All The Roads
Derek Davis, former Arista Records recording artist and Babylon A.D. front man follows up the successful reception of his first solo debut Revolt with his new 12-song release, Revolutionary Soul - a diverse collection of songs in which Davis pens nine, plays all instruments, sings, arranges, and produces. Davis’s exploration of combining old school R&B, Funk, and Hard Rock is awe-inspiring and leaves the listener wanting more. The funk driven, hard-hitting title track “Revolutionary Soul” delivers the angst and vocal delivery he is known for. Both lyrically and musically the track speaks to the frustration and passion of the forgotten man in today’s ever changing world. The second track “Rapture” is a sensual tale of a cat and mouse encounter between the sexes with an infectious groove. A brand new version of the Amy Winehouse hit “Valerie” shows Davis can take any song and turn it on its head to make it his own.
SHARON LEVIS & TEXAS FIRE - Grown Ass Woman (2016)
01. Can't Do It Like We Do
02. Hell Yeah!
03. Chicago Woman
04. They're Lying
05. Don't Try To Judge Me
06. Old Man's Baby
07. Grown Ass Woman
08. Walk With Me
10. Call Home
11. Home Free Blues
12. High Road
13. Why I Sing The Blues
14. Soul Shine
Sharon Lewis unleashes another extraordinary Delmark album; Grown Ass Woman features 12 new original songs with special guest appearances by Sugar Blue and Joanna Connor. In a review of her first Delmark album Rosalind Cummings-Yeates said 'The Real Deal' qualifies as one of the best blues albums of the year' - Illinois Entertainer, December 2011. The new album kicks off with 'Can't Do It Like We Do' a tribute to the current Chicago Blues sound and scene. 'Hell Yeah!' is a total party jam, there's plenty of soul like 'They're Lying' and 'Call Home', and 'Freedom' is a timely song which points out that 'freedom cannot be freedom until freedom means freedom for everyone!'. Special guest appearances by Sugar Blue and Joanna Connor.
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