KENNY WAYNE SHEPHERD - 10 Days Out [Blues From The Backroads] (2006) & Live! In Chicago (2010)
10 Days Out may well be Kenny Wayne Shepherd's most important and intriguing album, even though the guitarist is hardly the featured artist on any of these tracks, working instead more as a sideman and facilitator for the impressive cast of venerable blues players who get a chance to shine here. Make no mistake about it, this recording belongs to such senior citizens as Henry Townsend, Etta Baker, Pinetop Perkins, and Henry Gray, and Shepherd's presence (and the presence of Stevie Ray Vaughan's Double Trouble rhythm section of bassist Tommy Shannon and drummer Chris Layton) simply helps to focus the attention on these veteran blues players. Shepherd embarked on a ten-day journey into the American South in 2004 with a documentary film crew, a portable recording studio, and Double Trouble as a house band in an effort to catch the blues in its natural habitat of living rooms, kitchens, porches, back yards, and local watering holes, and the performances that resulted are priceless. Here is one-armed harp player Neal Pattman and blind guitarist Cootie Stark turning in a joyous, ramshackle version of "Prison Blues." A little later, Stark delivers further on a delightful song called "U-Haul," complete with a marvelous improvised rap over the tune's run-out coda. Here, too, is the then-96-year-old Henry Townsend turning in a poignant "Tears Came Rollin' Down." Etta Baker, then 93, shows that age hadn't slowed her as a guitarist at all as she delivers an elegant "Knoxville Rag." Shepherd wisely stays in the background on cut after cut, allowing these amazing musical treasures to unfold naturally and without intrusive elements. There are absolutely no hotshot guitar histrionics anywhere on this disc, which speaks to Shepherd's sincere vision for this project. He's after the preservation of blues history with 10 Days Out, and as if to underscore that aim, five of the album's participants (Neal Pattman, Cootie Stark, Gatemouth Brown, George "Wild Child" Butler, and Etta Baker) passed away before the album and concurrent documentary film were finally completed and released in 2007. Shepherd's name may be above the title, but he knows full well to whom this album belongs, and to his immense credit, those are the voices he lets speak the loudest.
First off, Kenny Wayne Shepherd was 33 years old at the release of this album, so he’s not a kid playing hot guitar anymore, he’s a grown man doing it. And he does play a hot lead guitar that, in a nutshell, is what he does. But over the years he’s also learned that the blues isn’t just about blazing lead licks, it’s also about letting the song say its say and on Live! In Chicago he does that. This is a concert full of songs and not just a bunch of guitar leads broken up by someone singing for a bit. Shepherd is also fully aware of the history of the blues and he honors some of his heroes here by playing with blues legends like Hubert Sumlin, Willie “Big Eyes” Smith, Bryan Lee and Buddy Flett and he doesn’t step all over them with his guitar playing he supports them. The concert grew out of the tour Shepherd put together in support of 10 Days Out: Blues from the Backroads project, a DVD/CD documentary that featured Shepherd traveling around the country on a ten day trip interviewing and playing with icons from the blues world, including the surviving members of Muddy Waters' and Howlin' Wolf's bands, making this show, recorded at the House of Blues in Chicago, a kind of culmination. It’s all crisp and sharp, full of fine keyboard work by Riley Osbourn and, of course, stinging guitar from Shepherd, but there’s a lot of love and respect here, too. This isn’t just about the blues it’s about living to play it. The whole disc is really of a piece, but among the highlights are a jaunty version of B.B. King's "Sell My Monkey," the blues ballad “Deju Voodoo,” and the scorching take on Slim Harpo's “I’m a King Bee” which closes things out. This isn’t a live album from some teenaged savant it’s an album from a grown man proud and honored to be playing the blues with some of his heroes. It also rocks.
...new KWS album soon...May 31
THE LONG RYDERS - Psychedelic Country Soul (2019)
The founders of alt-country, The Long Ryders, release their first new album in over thirty years on February 15 2019 when "Psychedelic Country Soul "hits the airwaves and enters the shops. Featuring the classic line-up of Sid Griffin, Stephen McCarthy, Tom Stevens and Greg Sowders, it makes the day after Valentine's Day as much a romantic celebration. The stunning new album follows hot on the heels of the deluxe reissue treatment given to two classic Long Ryders long players, "State of Our Union" and "Two-Fisted Tales". The band featured Sid Griffin on guitar, autoharp, and harmonica, Stephen McCarthy on guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, and banjo, Tom Stevens, bass, and Greg Sowders, playing drums and percussion. With a sound reminiscent of the Buffalo Springfield and The Flying Burrito Brothers, but with a harder edge, they anticipated the alternative country music of the 1990s by a decade..Featuring eleven new Long Ryders compositions and a tribute cover of the late great Tom Petty's song 'Walls', this is a Long Ryders for the 21st century; kicking off with the anthemic 'Greenville', a track which proves the band haven't lost any of that magic guitar interplay. 'Molly Somebody' is an eclectic pop tune that doesn't neglect any of their country and rock sensibilities, while the likes of 'What the Eagle Sees' reflects the energy of early punk and power pop that so informed them in the early days. You can still hear their personal connection with the music of the 1960s', but as ever The Long Ryders aren't a band who live in the past. Album closer 'Psychedelic Country Soul' is the greatest testament to that, performed like the previous 11 songs, with precision and fire; the guitars weave and harmonicas build and ebb, the song spreading like wildfire.
FLINT - Flint (1978)
Interesting that when former Grand Funk producer Todd Rundgren adds his guitar to the mix, the album comes to life. "Too Soon to Tell," track three on side one, has that Columbia R&B/rock sound that Santana and Journey made famous. Vocalist Don Brewer hit number one five years prior to this with "We're an American Band," giving Flint a unique edge. In a world where the lead singer or guitar star is all, these remnants of Grand Funk moved on when guiding light Mark Farner went solo, retaining a voice that audiences could identify. That's something the latter-day Guess Who should have considered had Chad Allen joined them when Burton Cummings left, but impossible for the Doors, Bowie's Spider's From Mars, Cooper's Billion Dollar Babies, and so many other casualties. Opening side one with a respectable version of "Back in My Arms Again," well, Brewer can't reinvent the Supremes the way the J. Geils Band did with "Where Did Our Love Go." Without Mark Farner, it is sad to say, Craig Frost, Mel Schacher, and Brewer sound like your average bar band. Guitar work from Frank Zappa on "You'll Never Be the Same" and "Better You Than Me," backing vocals by White Lightnin', and saxophone from Jimmy Hall make for great, slick musicianship. But Todd Rundgren playing guitar on "For Your Love" sounds more like a rock star jamming with the local rock group than the magic you've come to expect from the wizard who recreated vintage sounds so perfectly on his Faithful album. The production by Brewer, Frost, and Shacher is as faceless as this music. Rather than be a new version of Rare Earth, which is exactly what this is what is it about singing drummers? Flint should have pursued the direction they touched upon in the aforementioned "Too Soon to Tell." Definitely more hip than Atlanta Rhythm Section, remember, these cats are from Grand Funk, not the Classics IV. A once mighty arena rock band turning the volume in the wrong direction. All the excess and grittiness found in Grand Funk Railroad's dynamic version of "Gimme Shelter" is forgotten here, traded for slick '70s power rock. Too calculated, too diluted. Rundgren adds something to "Keep Me Warm," Zappa's cosmic guitar lines are the highlight of "Better You Than Me," but even a good stompin' tune like Brewer's original "Rainbow" is desperate for Jimmy Ienner or even, dare it be said, Terry Knight production. "You'll Never Be the Same" is a mini-epic, with shades of the Boston band New England, and superb Zappa guitar work. It is the second best track on a disc that is almost, but not quite.
CD reissue of this 1978 album. When Grand Funk Railroad disbanded in 1976, the individual members created new bands. One of those bands was Flint, formed by Don Brewer and Craig Frost. The album features guest appearances by Todd Rundgren and Frank Zappa. Funk fans will flip over this one!
LESLIE WEST - Mountain (1969) & The Leslie West Band (1976) + The Great Fatsby (1975) 
Leslie West is an American rock guitarist, vocalist, and songwriter. He is best known as a founding member of the hard rock band Mountain. His musical career began with the Vagrants, an R&B/blue-eyed soul-rock band influenced by the likes of the Rascals that was one of the few teenage garage rock acts to come out of the New York metropolitan area itself (as opposed to the Bohemian Greenwich Village scene of artists, poets and affiliates of the Beat Generation, which produced bands like The Fugs and The Velvet Underground). The Vagrants had two minor hits in the Eastern US: 1966's "I Can't Make a Friend" and a cover of Otis Redding's "Respect" the following year. Some of the Vagrants' recordings were produced by Felix Pappalardi, who was also working with Cream on their album Disraeli Gears. In 1969, West and Pappalardi formed the pioneering hard rock act Mountain, which was also the title of West's debut solo album. Rolling Stone identified the band as a "louder version of Cream". With Steve Knight on keyboards and original drummer N. D. Smart, the band appeared on the second day of the Woodstock Festival on Saturday, August 16, 1969 starting an 11-song set at 9 pm.
Mountain is the debut album by American rock guitarist and vocalist Leslie West, released in July 1969 by Windfall Records. Mountain is West's first solo album after several years spent as a member of the Vagrants. The album was recorded with bassist and producer Felix Pappalardi, who shortly after formed the band Mountain (named after the album) with West; this has given it the reputation of being the band's first album.
The Great Fatsby is the second album by American rock guitarist, singer and songwriter Leslie West. It was released on Bud Prager's Phantom Records in March 1975 and distributed by RCA Records. The album features Mick Jagger on rhythm guitar.
The Leslie West Band is the third album released by American rock guitarist Leslie West. The album, recorded at Electric Lady Studios in New York City, was released on Bud Prager's Phantom Records in 1976 and features Mick Jones of Foreigner on guitar.
DETROIT with MITCH RYDER - Get Out the Vote - Live at the Hill Auditorium - April 1, 1972 (1997)
Detroit was a latter-day incarnation of Mitch Ryder's Detroit Wheels; formed in 1970 after the singer returned to the Motor City following a stint in Memphis recording with Booker T. and the MGs, the new group reunited Ryder with his former Wheels drummer John Badanjek, and also featured guitarists Steve Hunter and Brett Tle, bassist W.R. Cooke and organist Harry Phillips. An energetic, R&B-influenced outfit firmly in the tradition of Ryder's past projects, Detroit issued their lone self-titled LP on Paramount in 1971, scoring a major radio hit with a gritty rendition of Lou Reed's "Rock and Roll" which so pleased its writer that he later recruited guitarist Hunter to join his own backing band. As throat problems began plaguing Ryder more and more, he was forced to quit singing in 1972, and his relocation to the Denver area a year later dashed any hopes of a second Detroit album; local singer Rusty Day then assumed control of the group, guiding the unit until its 1974 break-up.
On April 1, 1972, Detroit (the band, not the city), led by Mitch Ryder, performed at a Get Out the Vote rally in Ann Arbor, Michigan. This is a tape of the performance, which is listenable but rough around the edges, with a muffled quality that no amount of modern-day tweaking could fix. Ryder is in energetic form, but considerably hoarser voice than he was on the classic Detroit Wheels hits; you can believe it when the liner notes say he quit singing three months later rather than face a possible throat operation. The set is dominated by covers of Lou Reed ("Rock & Roll"), Chuck Berry, the Stones, Smokey Robinson, and Edgar Winter, as well as a reprise of the "Devil with a Blue Dress On"/Good Golly Miss Molly" hit by the Detroit Wheels; Steve Hunter, later to work with Lou Reed and Alice Cooper, plays lead guitar. It's good-time R&B-infused rock & roll, and no doubt was a good time indeed for those attending the event. But it's merely a souvenir when heard on disc, and not a recommended alternative to Detroit's official album.
GROUNDHOGS - The Best Of (1997) & TONY McPHEE & FRIENDS - Me And The Devil (1968) + I Asked For Water... (1969) 
The Groundhogs were not British blues at their most creative; nor were they British blues at their most . They were emblematic of some of the genre's most visible strengths and weaknesses. They were prone to jam too long on basic riffs, they couldn't hold a candle to American blues singers in terms of vocal presence, and their songwriting wasn't so hot. On the other hand, they did sometimes stretch the form in unexpected ways, usually at the hands of their creative force, guitarist/songwriter/vocalist T.S. (Tony) McPhee. For a while they were also extremely popular in Britain, landing three albums in that country's Top Ten in the early '70s. The Groundhogs' roots actually stretch back to the mid-'60s, when McPhee helped form the group, naming it after a John Lee Hooker song (the band was also known briefly as John Lee's Groundhogs). In fact, the Groundhogs would back Hooker himself on some of the blues singer's mid-'60s British shows, and also on an obscure LP. They also recorded a few of their very own obscure singles with a much more prominent R&B/soul influence than their later work. In 1966, the Groundhogs evolved into Herbal Mixture, which (as if you couldn't guess from the name) had more of a psychedelic flavor than a blues one. Their sole single, "Machines," would actually appear on psychedelic rarity compilations decades later. The Groundhogs/Herbal Mixture singles, along with some unreleased material, has been compiled on a reissue CD on Distortions. After Herbal Mixture folded, McPhee had a stint with the John Dummer Blues Band before re-forming the Groundhogs in the late '60s at the instigation of United Artists A&R man Andrew Lauder. Initially a quartet (bassist Pete Cruickshank also remained from the original Groundhogs lineup), they'd stripped down to a trio by the time of their commercial breakthrough, Thank Christ for the Bomb, which made the U.K. Top Ten in 1970.
The Groundhogs' power trio setup, as well as McPhee's vaguely Jack Bruce-like vocals, bore a passing resemblance to the sound pioneered by Cream. They were blunter and less inventive than Cream, but often strained against the limitations of conventional 12-bar blues with twisting riffs and unexpected grinding chord changes. McPhee's lyrics, particularly on Thank Christ for the Bomb, were murky, sullen anti-establishment statements that were often difficult to decipher, both in meaning and actual content. They played it straighter on the less sophisticated follow-up, Split, which succumbed to some of the period's blues-hard rock indulgences, favoring riffs and flash over substance. McPhee was always at the very least an impressive guitarist, and a very versatile one, accomplished in electric, acoustic, and slide styles. Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs! (1972), their last Top Ten entry, saw McPhee straying further from blues territory into somewhat progressive realms, even adding some Mellotron and harmonium (though the results were not wholly unsuccessful). The Groundhogs never became well-known in the U.S., where somewhat similar groups like Ten Years After were much bigger. Although McPhee and the band have meant little in commercial or critical terms in their native country since the early '70s, they've remained active as a touring and recording unit since then, playing to a small following in the U.K. and Europe.
Tony McPhee was part of the first generation of young British blues disciples influenced by Cyril Davies and his band Blues Incorporated. A member of the same generation of young blues buffs as Mick Jagger, Keith Richards, and Brian Jones, he never ascended to the heights achieved by the future Rolling Stones, but has recorded a small, highly significant body of blues-rock.
You had to hand it to Liberty Records when it came to blues, they owned more treasures than they ever realized. While Canned Heat were busy burning up the charts in the United States, over in England Tony McPhee and some talented friends including Jo Ann Kelly, Steve Rye, Andy Fernbach, and Dave Kelly were generating this exceptional (mostly) acoustic blues record, which sounds live in the studio and is about as fine a blues revival record as ever came out of the Sceptered Isle. The slide guitar and acoustic guitar stylings alone are worth the price of admission, and the vocals are mighty strong, too. And Steve Rye's harmonica work and Bob Hall's piano blues are worth more than one listen as well indeed, this record deserves to be at least as well known among blues fans as any of Eric Clapton's much-vaunted output from the same era.
I Asked for Water features more acoustic blues stylings from Tony McPhee and some equally talented friends, but is not quite a repeat of the prior album -- the playing is more incisive and the boldness is ratcheted up at least half a notch, vocally as well as instrumentally. The overall effect, at times, is one of the "blackest"-sounding blues albums ever generated by white Englishmen (and Englishwomen), even if the presence of drums does present a slightly modernistic intrusion. This is distinctly a more late-'60s record at times, in sound and intent, than its predecessor, but that's not a problem when you're dealing with talent this prodigious, because it's all honest and unaffected.
THE LONG RYDERS - Final Wild Songs (2016)
The Long Ryders were formed by several American musicians influenced by Gram Parsons and the Byrds, with country and punk rock influences. The band featured Sid Griffin on guitar, autoharp, and harmonica, Stephen McCarthy, guitar, steel guitar, mandolin, and banjo, Des Brewer, bassist, (later replaced by Tom Stevens) and Greg Sowders, playing drums and percussion.
With a sound reminiscent of The Clash meeting Buffalo Springfield, but with a harder edge, they anticipated the alternative country music of the 1990s by a decade. This 4-CD career overview has been compiled with both Sid Griffin and Tom Stevens from original tapes (where they exist) – the entire band has contributed a track by track breakdown for the set. The set features all the original albums as well as demos, singles and rare live recordings. Re-mastered by Andy Pearce the recordings and in Sid’s opinion have never sounded so good. A new booklet designed by Phil Smee contains many rare photos and memorabilia.
BOB DYLAN - The Real... Bob Dylan (2012)
Bob Dylan's influence on popular music is incalculable. As a songwriter, he pioneered several different schools of pop songwriting, from confessional singer/songwriter to winding, hallucinatory, stream-of-consciousness narratives. As a vocalist, he broke down the notion that a singer must have a conventionally good voice in order to perform, thereby redefining the vocalist's role in popular music. As a musician, he sparked several genres of pop music, including electrified folk-rock and country-rock. And that's just the tip of his achievements. Dylan's force was evident enough during his height of popularity in the '60s the Beatles' shift toward introspective songwriting in the mid-'60s never would have happened without him but his influence echoed throughout several subsequent generations, as many of his songs became popular standards and his best albums became undisputed classics of the rock & roll canon. Dylan's influence throughout folk music was equally powerful, and he marks a pivotal turning point in its 20th century evolution, signifying when the genre moved away from traditional songs and toward personal songwriting. Even when his sales declined in the '80s and '90s, Dylan's presence rarely lagged, and his commercial revival in the 2000s proved his staying power.
UK three CD set from the Folk/Rock icon containing 44 of his best known tracks gathered together on one set.
ERIC ANDERSEN - Beat Avenue (2003)
Eric Andersen is an American folk music singer-songwriter, who has written songs recorded by Johnny Cash, Bob Dylan, Judy Collins, Linda Ronstadt, the Grateful Dead and many others. Early in his career, in the 1960s, he was part of the Greenwich Village folk scene. After two decades and sixteen albums of solo performance he became a member of the group Danko/Fjeld/Andersen. Since the late 1990s, he has resumed his solo career.
Beat Avenue is 60-year-old Eric Andersen's most ambitious album, a 90-minute tour de force that encapsulates his musical and lyrical concerns over a lifetime. The music is often-dense rock dominated by a rhythm section led by guitarist Eric Bazilian of the Hooters. Equally dense is Andersen's highly poetic versifying, which he sings in his gruff baritone. Andersen is world-weary in these songs, roaming the globe haunted by the past and fearful of the future. He confesses to a reckless youth, but acknowledges that he can no longer afford such license. "What once was Charles Bukowski," he sings in "Before Everything Changed," referring to the free-living beat poet, "is now Emily Dickinson." The ballads and love songs "Song of You and Me," "Shape of a Broken Heart," "Under the Shadows," and "Still Looking for You" are rendered tenderly, but they are also full of regret and loss, past-tense reflections that recount memories of love long gone. The first disc of Beat Avenue is complete and formidable unto itself, but there is a second CD consisting of two lengthy songs. The title track, running more than 26 minutes, is a beat poem with jazzy accompaniment by Robert Aaron in which Andersen recalls a poetry reading he attended as a 20-year-old on the day President Kennedy was assassinated. Beat writers such as Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac come up in his reminiscence, along with friends and fellow musicians, as he conjures up the sound and feel of the early '60s in San Francisco and pinpoints a moment when history changed, revealing how it felt for one young observer. This isn't folk music of the type with which Andersen is generally associated, and it can be demanding of the listener, but it is also a compelling transformation of memory into art song.
CHELSEA - Chelsea (1970) 
Chelsea was an early 1970s band from New York City, best known for being the band of drummer Peter Criss before he joined Kiss. They released one album, the self-titled album Chelsea in 1971 and then collapsed during the recording of their unreleased second album. In August 1971, the band became Lips (a trio consisting of Criss and his Chelsea bandmates Michael Benvenga and Stan Penridge). By the spring of 1973, Lips was just the duo of Criss and Penridge and eventually disbanded completely. Their sound has been compared to the Moody Blues and Procol Harum. In 1973, Pete Shepley & Mike Brand recorded an unreleased album which included post-Chelsea Michael Benvenga, a pre-Kiss Peter Criss, and on two songs Gene Simmons as session musicians. It was titled Captain Sanity.
PETER CRISS - Peter Criss (1978) & Out Of Control (1980)
Peter Criss is the 1978 debut solo album by Peter Criss, the drummer of American hard rock band Kiss. It was one of four solo albums released by the members of Kiss on September 18, 1978. The album was produced by Vini Poncia, who went on to produce the Kiss albums Dynasty (1979) and Unmasked (1980). Criss covered "Tossin' and Turnin'", which was a #1 hit for Bobby Lewis in the U.S. during the summer of 1961. The song was subsequently covered by Kiss on their 1979 tour. Much of the material on the album was originally written in 1971 for Criss's pre-Kiss band Lips. These include "I'm Gonna Love You", "Don't You Let Me Down", "That's the Kind of Sugar Papa Likes", and "Hooked on Rock 'n' Roll". The album also includes a cover of the song "Tossin' and Turnin" by Bobby Lewis.
Out of Control is the second solo studio album (his first being his 1978 self-titled) released by former Kiss drummer Peter Criss. Recording for the album began in March 1980, when Criss was still officially a member of Kiss. The album sold very poorly, and was not re-released on CD until 1997, as the Kiss reunion tour was underway. The lone single from the album, "I Found Love", failed to chart. The album also features a hidden bonus track of a cover of As Time Goes By. Criss sang the first two lines, "You must remember this, a kiss is still a kiss." The album also included a cover of the song "You Better Run" by The Young Rascals.
WHITESNAKE - Slide It In (1984) [35th Anniversary Edition, 2019]
Whitesnake scored its first platinum-selling album in 1984 with Slide It In, a release that has sold more than six million copies worldwide thanks to hard-rocking songs like “Love Ain’t No Stranger,” “Slow An’ Easy” and the title track. The classic album turns 35 this year and Rhino / Parlophone is celebrating with several new versions, including an enormous 6CD + 1DVD boxed set. The 6CD/DVD collection includes newly remastered versions of both the U.K. and U.S. mixes of the album as well as the 35th Anniversary Remixes from 2019, plus unreleased live and studio recordings, music videos, concert footage, and a new interview with Whitesnake founder and lead singer, David Coverdale.
“SLIDE IT IN was always meant to be a structured, more electric modern take on the classic blues-based hard rock that Whitesnake were famous for, but our new Hook City Hooligan, Mixer Extraordinaire Christopher Collier, has hand-tooled this classic record for the 21st century,” says Coverdale. “Hearing all the performances so fresh and so clear after 35 years was amazing. Mel, Cozy and Jon’s playing on the record is as vital now as it was all those years ago. All the featured players shine. Not only did Christopher get the best out of the recording, but, he gives the album a fresh coat of sonic paint bringing it right up to date. I’m personally thrilled with it.
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