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Fresh Biscuits! New Releases Round-up

Welcome back ladies and gentlemen. It is new releases round-up time again. There is a wide variety of new blues and blues related music out recently. We start off with a pair of albums we overlooked in recent new releases features.

Ana Popovic recently released an album with her father Milton. Speaking about the album, Ana recently reminisced “My dad Milton is the reason I’m into music. It was his impressive blues and soul collection and nightly jam sessions in our modest apartment on the 11th floor in New-Belgrade, Serbia that kept me awake at night and drawn to this great form of American art. I wanted to record the songs we use to play together while I was still living at home. As a memory of my youth days but also to give people, who are into my music, an idea of how and where things started. It took ten years to convince him to record an album together. At last I got him to the studio with an argument he could not reject: ‘Just do it for your grandchildren.’ He did.” It’s just in time for Father’s Day and makes a perfect gift for those Blues loving Dads out there.

Another one we missed recently is Otis Taylor’s Hey Joe Opus – Red Meat. The album is centered around Taylor’s musings on how decisions can change the lives of those affected by the choices. The album is designed to be listened to as a single piece of music in ten parts, with the song “Hey Joe” as its overarching theme. “Hey Joe” is performed twice, each with contrasting instrumentation. The music incorporates spacey textures and interlocking guitars, with additional accents provided by violins and cornets. Four notable guests lend their talents to the proceedings including Gov’t Mule’s Warren Haynes, acoustic guitarist Bill Nershi from The String Cheese Incident, and singer/songwriter/guitarist Langhorne Slim. Once again Taylor is creating undefinable music and this one certainly seems like it may be pretty intense.

Charles Wilson is the nephew of the late great blues legend, Little Milton, and has been tagged as “The Crown Prince of Soul.” He has been nominated for two W.C. Handy awards (now Blues Music Awards) and returns now with another blues focused disc called Sweet & Sour Blues. The Kentucky Headhunters and Johnnie Johnson teamed up again back in 2003 for a bluesy romp which is just now seeing the light of day on Alligator Records which has me pretty excited. As you may know, Johnnie Johnson was the piano player in Chuck Berry’s band and the man responsible for all those swinging sixths riffs that Chuck churned out on the guitar. Johnnie may not be remembered as the father of Rock & Roll but he was definitely the cool uncle who taught his brother everything he knew! Thankfully these recordings are finally coming out.

Here’s what to look for this week…

Ana & Milton Popovic

Ana & Milton Popovic Blue Room

Otis Taylor

Otis Taylor Hey Joe Opus – Red Meat

The Kentucky Headhunters and Johnnie Johnson

The Kentucky Headhunters and Johnnie Johnson Meet Me In Bluesland

Charles Wilson

Charles Wilson Sweet & Sour Blues

Travis Haddix

Travis Haddix It’s My Time Now: Best Of

Ken Tucker

Ken Tucker Look My Way

Chuck Willis

Chuck Willis My Story: All The Hits & Other Classic Tracks

Daddy Mack Blues Band

Daddy Mack Blues Band Bluesman Looks At Seventy

Fresh Biscuits! Thorbjorn Risager And The Black Tornado CD Review

ThorbjornRisagerTooManyRoadsThorbjorn Risager and The Black Tornado

Too Many Roads

Ruf Records

CD Review by Todor Kenov

One doesn’t need a Master’s Degree in Music to safely state that Thorbjorn Risager and The Black Tornado is one of Denmark’s most successful music exports today. The band was formed by now 42-year old Risager back in 2003. Known for his distinctive powerful and gravelly voice he was first introduced to the blues by a neighbor and friend of his parents, a middle-aged gentleman who played him records by the likes of B. B. King and Ray Charles. Risager started playing the saxophone at the age of 12 and then moved on to guitar while the singing was more of a coincidence at first. By the time he went to high school he was already playing paid gigs.

Thorbjorn Risager studied to be a school teacher and even worked as such for several years. Later on he graduated from the Rhythmic Conservatory in Copenhagen, all the while composing songs, singing and playing with various local musicians. He started his own seven piece band in 2003, composing most of the band’s music himself. Mixing styles from blues, soul, gospel, rock and R&B to funk was his deliberate choice as was the distinctive sound of the band with its horns, individual solos and rolling, almost big-band like grooves.

The Thorbjorn Risager Band released its first album back in 2005 and toured extensively throughout Europe. As of 2013 the band has performed in no less than 17 countries and has released seven successful albums. In 2013 the band, with its name changed to Thorbjorn Risager and The Black Tornado, signed a record deal with Ruf Records, a Germany based label founded by Luther Allison’s manager, Thomas Ruf, placing Risager and company among the rows of other famous artists such as Royal Southern Brotherhood, Ana Popovic and Canned Heat.

The new album from Thorbjorn Risager and The Black Tornado, Too Many Roads, was released in March 2014. The album was recorded by Thorbjorn Risager – guitar and vocals, Peter Kehl – trumpet and background vocals, Kasper Wagner – saxophones, Martin Seidelin – drums and background vocals, Peter Skjerning – guitar and background vocals, Emil Blasgaard – keyboards and Soren Boigaard – bass. This time the band chose to self-produce the album.

So far Risager and his band mates have been famous mainly in Europe and the new album is their first attempt to bring their music to a non-European audience. The album comprises twelve songs melting together blues, rock, soul and more than a pinch of New Orleans sound. The general feeling is that of well controlled energy and tight interplay, all the arrangements being the result of teamwork. All in all, the listener gets the typical “Risager sound.”

The album opens with “If You Wanna Leave,” a dynamic rocker about being left by the one you love but being able to cope with this sad situation. As far as influences go, look no further than Bob Seger and his Silver Bullet Band. Another notable song is “Drowning,” which describes the devastating feeling after a break-up, where there’s simply nothing left but sorrow. The distinctive New Orleans vibe helps convey the general feeling of the song.

“Long Forgotten Track” is a ghost story, while the music is in the vein of the late great and sadly missed J. J. Cale. “Through The Years” is a song about a man looking back to a long lost love. It brings together B. B. King’s style of guitar playing and tone, paying tribute to one of Risager’s blues heroes as well as the soul music of the 60’s. “Rich Man” is a socially charged ode to the financial crisis and all those who are profiting from it. The song is characterized by a rich big-band sound. “Play On” closes the album by paying tribute to classic Jerry Lee Lewis style rockabilly.
All in all, Too Many Roads is an album that will appeal not only to blues aficionados, but also to the general music-loving public with its varied moods and styles and brilliant musicianship. Could the next blues sensation come from Denmark? We will live and see.

Meanwhile, you can preview, buy and download the album at Amazon and iTunes.

Amazon.com: Blues: Prime Music

Amazon Prime launched its new streaming music service for Amazon Prime members. There is a surprising amount of blues music available for streaming. From newer music from Tedeschi Trucks Band & Ana Popovic to classic Robert Johnson sides, Junior Wells, and one that caught my eyes and ears – Fast Fingers by Jimmy Dawkins. Check it out blues fans.

Amazon.com: Blues: Prime Music.

Amazon.com: Blues: Prime Music