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Fresh Biscuits! Weekly CD Reviews

This week, Devon Allman announced he’ll be leaving Royal Southern Brotherhood. RSB is one of my favorite bands of the last few years and the second to crumble after a few short years (Black Country Communion was the other). RSB will be continuing to make music, adding Tyrone Vaughan – son of Jimmie Vaughan – to the lineup. The front line will now feature founding member Cyril Neville, Tyrone Vaughan, and Mike Zito’s replacement, Bart Walker. In light of these developments we decided to take a look at the most recent Royal Southern Brotherhood album, and the Ruf Records debut of new member Bart Walker.

heartsoulbloodRoyal Southern Brotherhood

heartsoulblood

Ruf Records

Release Date June 10, 2014

Royal Southern Brotherhood was put together by Thomas Ruff of Ruf Records. His idea was to bring together members of two of the most respected musical families in the South and see if they could revive the spirit and soul of Southern music in the modern era. The main players were Cyril Neville of the Neville Brothers, Devon Allman – son of Gregg Allman and leader of Honeytribe, and bluesman Mike Zito who is an old friend of Allman’s from their days working in bands and at Guitar Center in St. Louis. The rhythm section features musical titans as well. Drummer Yonrico Scott is from Derek Trucks Band, and bassist Charlie Wooton is a veteran of the Louisiana music scene and started out playing with Zydeco icon Chubby Carrier. Their debut record, the self-titled Royal Southern Brotherhood, garnered rave reviews and their following road work turned them into a formidable live band. Earlier this year Mike Zito announced his departure from RSB to focus on his solo career. This week, Devon Allman announced the same. Thus their second studio album as a unit has become this line-up’s swansong.

heartsoulblood is the name of the recent disc and it also describes the vibe of the album. It’s almost like they knew this would be it for them and they poured everything into it. The record opens with “World Blues” which is a bayou stomping, greased lightning slide-guitargasm celebrating the universality of Blues. World Blues seems to be the music they are creating as a band as well. The percussive elements are drawn all around the world. Neville and Scott are percussionistas. They weave and their parts together and their inner clocks merge into one heart that beats under all the music Royal Southern Brotherhood creates. This is clear especially in “Here It Is” which showcases Cyrille Neville’s stripped down funk. The focus is dialed in on the rhythm section and Neville’s hypnotic vocal. Bassist Charlie Wooton and drummer Yonrico Scott lock into a zesty groove and sparse guitars give the tune a lot of room to breathe.

“Rock And Roll” is a barnstorming Rock and Roll song about Rhythm & Blues. The guitar tandem of Zito & Allman blow the roof off every Chitlin circuit joint left standing from Memphis to Macon, Georgia. Devon Allman leads the group through a beautiful wall of sound called “Groove On.” The dense arrangement is so unobtrusive you almost don’t realize how much you’re hearing. This effect is expertly achieved and is a testament to the talent of the band and producer Jim Gaines. “Callous” tells how a hard life will leave a callous on your soul, over an echo drenched, clean-tone riff that sounds like a mix of Cream’s “Crossroads,” Beatles’ “Come Together” and Albert King’s “Born Under A Bad Sign,” but mostly “Come Together.”

“Ritual” is a Hoodoos-and-Voodoo-on-the-bayou bit of nasty business involving a whip and a snake. This must be some kind of fertility ritual. The tune is dense as a Bitches Brew and twice as creepy, unless your motto is “Sticks and stones may break my bones but whips and snakes excite me.” “Let’s Ride” is an ode to bikers but it seems way too mellow for a Harley Rally. If you’re looking for a tune to help you relax while you’re parked at the Crazy Horse monument whilst taking a break from your trip to Sturgis, this is the one. “She’s My Lady” has some sweet soul vocals. It’s a mellow love song, with a Detroit via Nawlins vibe and some Grant Green style guitar playing. It sublimely showcases the vocal skills of the band and the signature harmonies that may be lost without Allman and Zito. Album closer “Love And Peace” seems to express the band’s motto. Even the guys who quit have proclaimed their love for the band and the individuals therein. There’s no acrimony, just well-wishing to all involved.

Like the South itself, the band has a beguiling laid back charm that draws you in with its warmth, salt water breezes, home cooking, and hospitality. Their music has a natural flow to it. It feels good to listen to this kind of music. I only hope the loss of Allman and Zito won’t change the dynamic too much. Allman provides the classic rock grit and soaring Les Pauls, and Mike Zito brings the swampy blues and fiery slide work. Both will be missed as vocalists, and if you’ve seen them live, you know their friendship and musical brotherhood ratchets up their stage presence considerably. We wish them both the best in their solo careers and we hope the Royal Southern Brotherhood continues to make engaging, positive music for years to come. We’ll always have their heartsoulblood and that alone might be enough.

 

BartWalkerWaitingOnDaylightBart Walker

Waiting On Daylight

Ruf Records

Release Date March 12, 2013

In 2012 Bart Walker represented Nashville at the Blues Foundation’s annual International Blues Challenge in Memphis. Bart and his band came in second overall and he won the top guitar title. The ES-335 Gibson Custom guitar he won for his efforts appears on his latest album, Waiting On Daylight. Waiting On Daylight may not have happened if Ruf Records owner Thomas Ruff wasn’t in the audience at the IBC. Ruff signed Walker to a contract and brought him together in the studio with the legendary Jim Gaines who has produced a long line of terrific albums for musicians like Stevie Ray Vaughan, Buddy Guy, Santana, and John Lee Hooker. Armed with a slew of songs and the guidance of a veteran like Gaines, Bart Walker has made a blistering record. This is tough, loud, gritty blues mixed with a little Nashville inflection, some hard rock drive, and down home storytelling.

“It’s All Good” opens the record in a hopeful way. The singer is content with his lot in life – maybe because he such a damned good slide player. The licks are so clean I had to rewind and see if I heard fretting in there. His intonation is sure-handed and he effortlessly mixes it up with fretted notes, not just in this song but in several on Waiting On Daylight. For instance, his slide power is all over J.B. Hutto’s “Hipshake It” which boasts a relentless riff and soaring slide licks giving the ladies all the incentive they need to shake what mama gave ‘em. “99%” is a fiery populist tune about the disparity between the haves and have-nots in our society. Walker’s playing matches the intensity of the anger and disgust felt in his vocals. “Waiting On Daylight” has soaring leads accenting Walker’s heartfelt vocals. Bart Walker is a guitar slinger and a hell of a player, but he can sing too. And not just the “somebody had to do it vocals” a lot of guitarists slip past us. Bart is a bonafide vocalist. It is an instrument he skillfully uses to present his songs.

Closing the album, Bart delivers a clever revision of The Allman Brothers Band’s “Whipping Post.” Gone is the bombastic bass rumble and quick stepping rhythm. In their places are a quarter time feel with guitars playing arpeggios instead of chords under the verses. Gregg Allman did a similar reworking on his solo album Searching For Simplicity, which is an arrangement his solo band still plays. Bart Walker took it a few steps further by removing any kind of signature riff, instead focusing on the voice and the rip roaring solos he fires off seemingly effortlessly. If you’re going to cover a classic song, this is the way to do it.

In many ways, Bart Walker’s approach to “Whipping Post” is apropos of his entire approach to making music. He mixes classic ingredients from tones and lyrical themes, to song structure and guitar licks, but he makes his own recipes. His sense of dynamics, powerful but friendly voice, and endless guitar chops fortify each tune making them something more than a random mash of influences. Clocking in around 48 minutes, Waiting On Daylight leaves the scraps on the cutting room floor and delivers 100% lean and mean blues.

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases For November 11, 2014

It’s been a while since we did a new releases roundup. October was a slow month but as the holiday shopping season approaches, labels like to get all their stuff out for you to buy for yourself and your music loving friends and family. This week we’ve included a few items from last week, this week and next week. At the bottom we have a few items for the vinyl fans out there too. We featured two of the new releases in our reviews last week so please check those out as well – Dana Fuchs & Mike Zito reviews.

Mike Zito

Mike Zito and The Wheel Songs From The Road – Live in Texas (CD + DVD)

Dana Fuchs

Dana Fuchs Songs From The Road (CD + DVD)

Ruf Records 20 Years Anniversary

Various Artists Ruf Records 20 Years Anniversary

Otis Taylor

Otis Taylor Otis Taylor Collection

Magnus Berg

Magnus Berg Cut Me Loose

Maggie Cocco

Maggie Cocco Get Me

Jeff Chaz

Jeff Chaz Chronicles

Erin Harpe & Delta Swingers

Erin Harpe & Delta Swingers Love Whip Blues

Eric Bibb

Eric Bibb Blues People

Danny Green

Danny Green Road Leading Home

Bruce Katz

Bruce Katz Homecoming

Blues Karloff

Blues Karloff Ready For Judgement Day

For the fans of those twelve inch black CDs, there are several recent vinyl releases and reissues for your eyes and ears this month.

VINYL:

Keb' Mo'

Keb’ Mo’ Bluesamericana

Howlin' Wolf

Howlin’ Wolf Howlin’ Wolf (180 Gram Audiophile Vinyl)

John Lee Hooker

John Lee Hooker Boogie Chillun

Blues Brothers

Blues Brothers Briefcase Full of Blues

Fresh Biscuits! Three For The Road – New CD Reviews

This week we have Three For The Road featuring new live albums from Dana Fuchs and Mike Zito, plus a look at the new 8 disc Rory Gallagher Irish Tour ’74 40th Anniversary Deluxe Edition. All these are a treat for live music fans. I hope you enjoy this week’s reviews and find something interesting for your ears!

DanaFuchsSongsFromTheRoadDana Fuchs
Songs From The Road
Ruf Records
Release Date: November 11, 2014

Dana Fuchs hit the streets of New York City at age nineteen. Almost twenty years later she is something of a local hero. Some know her for her portrayal of Janis Joplin in the off-Broadway musical Love, Janis. Some know her from her mesmerizing role as Sadie in the film Across The Universe. But after three acclaimed albums and thousands of performances, most people know Dana for her own body of work and dynamic shows. When it came time to capture one of those shows on tape and film, Dana Fuchs naturally chose to do so in front of a New York City crowd. The new live CD/DVD Songs From The Road was recorded at Highline Ballroom on March 14, 2014. It captures the dynamic performer and her road-tested band at the height of their power.

Dana’s voice is in fine form and it is indeed Dana’s voice. There are hints of Janis Joplin, sure, and a little Aretha and Otis Redding too, but she blends the familiar into her own natural phrasing and intonation. And you’ll notice on the DVD that Dana Fuchs leaves it all on the stage. She gives you every ounce of energy she has. The band is tight and delivers the goods in every song. Guitarist Jon Diamond is a former session player who met Dana shortly after her arrival in New York. They have a distinct chemistry which has led to a highly successful and satisfying songwriting partnership. From Stonesy rockers like “Set It On Fire” and “How Did Things Get This Way” to the heartbreaking ballad “So Hard To Move” and the hopeful Gospel groove of “Sad Salvation.” The band also features Matt Beck on guitar, Jack Daley on bass, Pete Levin on keyboards and Joe Daley on drums. Back up vocalists known collectively as the Screaming Sirens, featuring Elaine Caswell, Nicki Richards and Bette Sussman, intertwine with Dana voice creating a beautiful quilt of sound that will warm you to your soul.

Together, these musicians cover a lot of ground. “Tell Me I’m Not Drinking” and “Sad Salvation” reach back to the debut album Lonely For A Lifetime. From 2011’s Love To Beg they bring out “Set It On Fire,” “Summersong” and an intense cover of Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” 2013’s highly acclaimed Bliss Avenue is represented by “Livin’ On Sunday,” “Handful Too Many,” “So Hard To Move,” “Vagabond Wind,” and the incendiary show-opener “Bliss Avenue.” For fans of her work in Across The Universe, Dana closes with a gutsy, soul-stirring “Don’t Let Me Down.”

Inexplicably, the running order on the CD and DVD are different. The song “Love To Beg” appears only on the DVD, while “Keep On Walkin’” is only on the CD. The DVD avoids the ADHD frame transitions of the MTV era. You get a clear view of the energy Dana brings to each song and which she shares with her audience. On stage she is part temptress, part whirling dervish. She is a full body singer, drawing power from her entire being. She has presence, fortitude, and stirring voice. She is visual, visceral, and versatile. Songs From The Road is a tour de force for the Dana Fuchs Band and leaves you wanting more.

MikeZitoSongsFromTheRoadMike Zito & The Wheel
Songs From The Road
Ruf Records
Release Date: November 11, 2014

Mike Zito has been steadily building his audience, building a career in music, and playing honest songs to devoted fans around the world. A few years ago he co-founded a new band called Royal Southern Brotherhood with Devon Allman and Cyril Neville. RSB took off like a rocket and threatened to derail the hard won solo career Mike had developed. Staying true to his heart and his art, Mike announced his departure from RSB this year. His studio albums have gone from strength to strength with 2013’s Gone To Texas being one of the best yet. Zito and the Wheel put on powerful, passionate shows and it seemed like it was time to capture the road show on tape. The new live album, Songs From The Road, was recorded on January 10th, 2014 at Dosey Doe in The Woodlands, TX. The Wheel features sax man Jimmy Carpenter, bassist Scot Sutherland, keyboard wiz Lewis Stephens and drummer Rob Lee. When speaking about the band recently, Mike Zito said “We’re all on the same page. We’re not interested in solos, we want to play together.” On the CD and DVD, you hear and see this is a true band. The songs and performances are the stars, with the whole group of musicians giving everything to serve them.

Mike Zito & The Wheel hit their stride in the live environment. The interplay gets intense on several occasions. Sax player Jimmy Carpenter sometimes manages to sound like a horn section unto himself. He and Zito go toe to toe and it reminds me I’m really going to miss Mike Zito’s guitar dueling with Devon Allman in RSB. Carpenter is perfect sparring partner though and together they make extraordinary music. Lewis Stephens is the keyboard filled center of this sweet jelly donut, adding flourishes, layering tones, and holding everything together. He is a master at work. It’s a shame we don’t get to see all their performances on the DVD or hear them on the CD. Between the CD and DVD, Songs From The Road features 17 songs. Appearing on the CD only are “C’Mon Baby,” a stark, earthy, melancholy version of Prince’s “Little Red Corvette,” and the uplifting and rockin’ “Rainbow Bridge.” Appearing only on the DVD is the poignant “I Never Knew A Hurricane,” plus “One Step At A Time,” “Let Your Light Shine On Me,” “Natural Born Lover,” and “Texas Flyer.”

Don’t miss the bonus features on the DVD. Along with fan interviews, you get six Storyteller style performances from Mike Zito. He talks about the songs and sings them to his own acoustic guitar accompaniment. The stripped down versions of these songs draws out the quality of Zito’s writing and plaintive expression in his voice. The stories are honest and informative too. Mike goes into great detail, describing the events that led to the song “Greyhound” which in turn influenced “Gone To Texas.” He relates his love of history and the fact that “Gone To Texas” is an old slang expression indicating someone left to get their head together, which turns out to be exactly what happened to Mr. Zito. The bonus material is as compelling as the main show and makes this set comprehensive in its presentation of Mike Zito as a writer, instrumentalist, and singer.

RoryGallagherIrishTour74DeluxeRory Gallagher
Irish Tour ’74 – 40th Anniversary Expanded Deluxe Edition Box Set
Sony Music/Capo/Eagle Records
Release Date: October 21, 2014

By 1974, Rory Gallagher had been performing around the world for the better part of a decade. He had been in the big Irish show bands in the mid 60’s, played Isle Of Wight with his trio Taste, was courted by The Rolling Stones when Mick Taylor left, and had been the subject of a rumored Jimi Hendrix quote about the best guitar player in the world. Still, he and his band were slugging it out night after night, playing anywhere that would have them. They found fame on the European continent and amassed a rabid following. In winter 1973 and 1974, they headed back to their home country of Ireland for a string of highly anticipated sold-out shows with Tony Palmer in tow to document the trek.

While Rory had accomplished a great deal and was at a career high point, Ireland, and specifically Belfast had been taking a beating. The political climate of Northern Ireland left Belfast ripped apart from what many consider the most destructive violence in the country’s history. This era of unrest came to be known as The Troubles and didn’t really end until 1998’s Good Friday Agreement. The Troubles divided the Irish people along religious, ethnic, and political lines and by winter 1973, when Rory embarked on his now famous tour, Belfast was decimated. Roy Hollingworth, noted writer with Melody Maker described the city as “a shattered, deserted and frightened place.” Live music was pretty much absent in Belfast but Rory Gallagher was willing to bring his show to his beloved city, an endeavor which forever won him the hearts of people across the country no matter their political views. About the decision, Rory was very matter-of-fact and plain spoken, as he usually was, “I see no reason for not playing Belfast. Kids still live here.” And so, Rory and his band, bassist Gerry McAvoy, drummer Rod De’ Ath and keyboardist Lou Martin set out on a tour in Ireland when almost no one else would, and gave the people momentary respite from The Troubles.

The now famous album Irish Tour ’74 says it was recorded on tour in Ireland but we now know most of the tracks came from the Cork City Hall shows on January 3rd and 5th 1974. The new box gives us eight unreleased tracks from these Cork shows, plus 35 more unreleased tracks over the course of the next five discs. Discs three and four were recorded at Dublin Carlton Cinema on January 2nd 1974, five and six were recorded at Belfast Ulster Hall on December 28th and 29th 1973, and disc seven is a wonderful revelation comprised of music recorded on the afternoon of January 4th 1974 in Cork City Hall during an extended jam session held to get the sound levels right for recording. On disc seven the band is relaxed and having fun. There’s no pressure and they are playing for the pure joy of it. They absolutely tear it up on “Just A Little Bit” and they stomp their way through a previously unreleased version of Muddy Waters’ “I Can’t Be Satisfied.” Rory’s deft touch on slide is stunning.

Rory was a product of the show bands of the sixties and as such he played similar sets every night with his own band. Most bands of the era did the same. They rehearsed an hour and a half of songs and that was it. What this means to we people of the future in 2014 is there’s a lot of repeated tracks on the Deluxe Edition. This should not scare you away. The band may have played the same songs, but each performance has something special to recommend it. Rory and his band were tremendous improvisers and the nature of their repertoire meant every night would be different. As lead guitarist, Rory especially had the opportunities to stretch his solos, change his tones, modify his attack, and keep everything fresh.

The Belfast shows are especially exhilarating and it’s a wonder they were captured at all. Rory’s brother and manager Donal Gallagher tells the story in the extensive booklet that comes with the set. “For the opening shows at Belfast’s Ulster Hall, the booked Ronnie Lane mobile unit had failed to turn up, citing insurance difficulties.” Apparently it would have been parked on a street nicknamed Bomb Alley and the insurance company was having none of it. Donal continues, “in order that the audio could still be recorded, we utilized the two fold-back monitor channels on our newly designed German ‘Stramp’ audio desk.” The audio quality did suffer a little and gets a little noisy but the performance more than makes up for any hi-fidelity issues. Rory and the band feed the music-starved Belfast crowd and create a continuous loop of energy between the stage and hall. “Cradle Rock” is furious, “Tattoo’d Lady” is poignant especially since Belfast could be considered the land of the musical circus Rory ran to as a teenager, “Million Miles Away” is soaring, and Rory’s slide work and finger picking during “In Your Town” are propelled by the monstrous power of Gerry McAvoy and Rod De‘ Ath. Just when you think they couldn’t have any more to give the raving Belfast crowd, the band finishes with the eleven and a half minutes of frenzy known as “Bullfrog Blues.” The Catholics and Protestants could all agree that Rory gave them everything he had.

The band is ferocious throughout this set. Keyboardist Lou Martin gets a lot of soloing time and keeps up with Rory all the way. Gerry McAvoy was with Rory from 1971 to 1991 and is a sadly under-rated bassist. His parts on these tracks alone are enough to earn him legendary status and on the DVD you can see how his energy and spirit powered the band and drove Rory to keep playing better and better. Rod De‘ Ath was a drum titan and known well to musicians everywhere. He had power when needed and subtlety often required for blues. The Rory Gallagher Band was a force to be reckoned with on any night, but during this Irish tour they were as dangerous as the streets of Belfast. All their energy is captured in these tapes and the Tony Palmer film included as disc eight.

RoryGallagherIrishTour74ExpandedOne last thing I have to mention is the packaging. The booklet is well done, very informative, and has lots of pictures. However, the construction of the box is entirely too flimsy. The spine of the set is a thin piece of cardboard that gets no support from the flaps that fold in to create the square. Since many brick and mortar retail outlets, especially in the US, won’t have this set in-store you will most likely have to get it shipped to you. The cheap cardboard spine and outer sleeve will not hold up well in shipping if they just put it in a padded envelope as Amazon did with mine. Buyer beware. The music, on the other hand, stands up strong and proud 40 years on. This set is a must have for Rory fans, guitar fans, blues fans… oh Hell, this is just great music by great musicians and everyone should have a copy.

Fresh Biscuits! Friday Fast Four CD Reviews – September 19, 2014

Well folks, it’s been a crazy week and I’ve been busy with all sorts of non-blues stuff. I do have a day job you know. Two, actually! Unfortunately, Friday is running out and I only had time to write up four reviews. I know, I know, you were really looking forward to that fifth review. What could it have been? Devon Allman? Duke Robillard? Norman Taylor? Bob Eike? Well, maybe you’ll find out next week if I do Fast Six. It kinda kills the alliteration though and that’s going a little too far right? Maybe not.

This week does mark the 44th anniversary of the death of Jimi Hendrix. He died on September 18, 1970, just weeks before I was born. Somehow, his music has moved me since before I was a teenager. So, this week I offer a run down of his first two posthumous albums, which were reissued on Tuesday September, 16th. Also featured is a hot new disc from a guy I never heard of before, and a live album from a modern blues guitar hero who is under-rated for his vocal talents. I hope you enjoy them and find some music you want to explore.

 

JimiHendrixTheCryOfLoveJimi Hendrix

The Cry Of Love

Experience Hendrix/Sony Legacy

Released September 16, 2014

 

The Cry Of Love was long regarded as the most accurate approximation of Jimi Hendrix’ intended final album. After Jimi’s death, Mitch Mitchell and Eddie Kramer compiled the completed tracks they had been working on for the Electric Ladyland follow up. While Hendrix had been hoping to put out another double LP, The Cry of Love is a single disc distillation of what was finished for the project. Naturally, Jimi could have changed any of these tunes or re-recorded them, as he often did, up until the album went to press but it’s generally accepted that he was satisfied with these as presented. The Cry of Love was available on CD until 1992 and all of the tracks re-appeared in re-mastered form later on.

The Cry of Love is a curious album and shows how diverse the planned double LP would have been. In 1997, Experience Hendrix attempted to create the double album and issued First Rays Of The New Rising Sun. Hendrix mention the First Rays name in a few interviews, but the last written title found on one of Jimi’s hand-written track lists, was Strate Ahead. Instead, the record was named for the last tour Jimi Hendrix and Mitch Mitchell did together, along with bassist Billy Cox, who also plays on the bulk of the album. The tracks range from the revved-up R&B of “Freedom” to silly blues jamming like “Belly Button Window.” Hendrix shows he hasn’t lost his touch with backwards guitar on “Drifting,” unleashed the funky Heavy Metal thunder on “EZY Rider,” and gave us the poignant ballad “Angel.” Over all, Jimi’s music was taking a turn toward R&B and funk, and his playing is less incendiary than on previous records but is no less masterful. His sonic palette was expanding rapidly and his ability to layer disparate guitar parts into an improbable whole was unparalleled. Just listen to all the parts in “Freedom.” His rhythm as lead style is prominent on “Drifting” and he adds Buzzy Linhart on vibes to the layers of forward and backward guitars. It creates an illusion of a sparse arrangement, yet it’s quite densely packed.

VH1 recently called The Cry Of Love the greatest posthumous classic rock record of all time. I can’t agree with them, but it is damned good. All the hallmarks of Jimi’s playing are here, his voice sounds great, and his guitar harmonies are soaring. It has been said that Jimi’s last year was directionless and frustrating as he tried to explore scattered arrays of new music but was stifled by his management, stressed by his legal battles, and irritated by touring demands. Jimi may have been looking for a new direction for his music but unfortunately he didn’t realize his music was the new direction. He brought it all together and that’s why it resonates with us over 40 years later. The Cry of Love reminds us all of what was lost on September 18, 1970.

 

 

JimiHendrixRainbowBridgeJimi Hendrix

Rainbow Bridge Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Experience Hendrix/Sony Legacy

Released September 16, 2014

 

Rainbow Bridge was the second posthumous Jimi Hendrix release and has been out of print for quite some time. While nominally a soundtrack from the horrible Rainbow Bridge file, to which Hendrix was loosely tethered when Hendrix’ manager Michael Jeffery realized his film project was dying a slow death. Hendrix, Mitch Mitchell, and Billy Cox appear briefly in the film, mostly through live concert footage filmed in Maui. None of the Maui concert is featured on Rainbow Bridge. None. Only about 17 minutes of highly edited footage of the concert made it into the film itself. So what is on Rainbow Bridge Original Motion Picture Soundtrack? Well, most of the songs on the soundtrack appear as incidental music in the film. Most of the music was intended for the planned sprawling double LP follow up to Electric Ladyland.

“Dolly Dagger,” “Earth Blues,” “Room Full Of Mirrors,” and “Hey Baby (New Rising Sun)” all turned up on Experience Hendrix’ 1997 effort to construct the great lost Jimi Hendrix album First Rays Of The New Rising Sun. “Pali Gap” and “Look Over Yonder” turned up on South Saturn Delta, the studio version of “Star Spangled Banner” was included on The Jimi Hendrix Experience box set, and “Hear My Train A Comin’” has been featured on Blues in 1994 and Voodoo Child: The Jimi Hendrix Collection in 2001, each with slightly different edits of Jimi’s introduction. If it seems like you need a scorecard, you’re right; especially if you have this album on vinyl and wanted a digital version.

There are plenty of reasons to want this album in its original configuration. It has no less than two now classic Hendrix tunes – “Dolly Dagger” and “Room Full Of Mirrors” – and an absolutely scorching version of “Hear My Train A Comin’” which was recorded live during the first show at Berkeley Community Center on May 30, 1970. In just under twelve minutes Jimi lays the groundwork for all the major blues heroes of the modern era. From Stevie Ray Vaughan to Eric Gales, it’s all here. If there is any doubt about Hendrix as bluesman, he crushes all your arguments in the first few minutes. The production on this live track is incredible too. Producers Mitch Mitchell and Eddie Kramer expertly meld it with the studio cuts. The whole album is surprisingly cohesive and there are no replacement musicians to be found as there are on Crash Landing and Midnight Lightning. Mitchell did do some drum overdubs however, but who’s to say those wouldn’t have been done anyway. Kramer and Mitchell were Jimi’s closest musical confidants and their love of Jimi and the music the made together comes through in the creation of this album. It’s nice to have it back in its initial form once again.

 

HarpdogBrownWhatItIsHarpdog Brown

What It Is

Dog Breath Records

Released March 4, 2014

 

I hate shrill harmonica. In fact, it kept me away from harmonica bands for a long time. I owe my new found love of harmonica bands to Dustin Arbuckle of Moreland & Arbuckle. I love his tone. But this is not about Dustin, or me for that matter. It’s about the glorious harp tone that opens What It Is by Harpdog Brown. It’s rich, thick, gritty, and grooving. Harpdog has been in the Blues business for thirty years and you hear them all in the opening moments of “Doncha Know I Loves Ya.” The first four bars are the mission statement, buy in, and hostile takeover. It kicks off an hour of blues from the gut that will hit you where it counts on every track.  

I don’t know how this guy from Vancouver sounds like he was raised in Mississippi but he does. The whole band melds styles from Chicago to Austin, and L.A. too. Guitarist Jordan Edmunds has a west coast blues feel, like a mix of T-Bone Walker and Little Charlie Baty, with just enough Texas shuffle to keep you guessing. John R. Hunter on drums and George Fenn on bass swing with delight, drop down low for the gutbucket shuffles, and march with pride. “If You Wanna Grow Old” sounds like the soundtrack to a train robbery murder mystery. Thematically it’s quite different. Harpdog relates lessons in moderation he’s learned in his quest to keep having birthdays. “No Money In The Till” talks about the hardships and travails of the 99% over a “.44 Blues” style riff. “Blue Lights” is a tour de force instrumental with Harpdog showing off how he earned his name. “Headin’ Out” closes the record with a definite Howlin’ Wolf vibe that was alluded to throughout the disc.

What It Is comes chocked full of classic blues tones, Harpdog’s robust vocals, colorful wordplay, and top notch playing. I admit I never heard of Harpdog Brown before last week, but I’m hooked now. This is honest, deep earth blues. These guys feel it; there is nothing forced. The blues seem to flow from these Canadians. Hail Canada, the new home of the Blues! What It Is is a harmonica lover’s dream. Harpdog digs deep, swings hard, and rocks the house. Hopefully it will find a home south of the border and worldwide.

 

 

CocoMontoyaSongsFromTheRoadCoco Montoya

Songs From The Road

Ruf Records

Released on July 8, 2013

 

Astonishingly, Songs From The Road is the first live release from the dynamic Coco Montoya. Coco has probably logged millions of miles and thousands of shows from his days with Albert Collins and John Mayall to his stellar solo career. Coco has been out there playing the blues for decades. Recently Ruf Records has been putting out these live Songs From The Road sets, usually featuring one CD and one DVD. Here we get two CDs recorded on two nights, almost a year apart. The result is like getting a full Coco Montoya show on tape and it is glorious.

The spirit of Coco’s mentor Albert Collins is alive and well in album. The set opens with Collins’ “I’ve Got A Mind To Travel” and it makes the perfect icebreaker, giving Coco and keyboardist Brant Leeper plenty of room to stretch out with their solos and get loosened up. Also on disc one is a cold fusion tribute to Albert called “Love Jail.” It’s a classic Collins Shuffle, complete with Jimmy McGriff style organ and a walking bass line that Albert loved to have underneath his blistering solos. Coco Montoya shows what he learned from the Master Of The Telecaster blending it skillfully with his own style. The tune is a ten minute foray into blues jamming that makes you forget the inane love jail lyrics.

Disc two has an extended 15 minute take on the tender ballad “Good Days, Bad Days.” Bassist Nathan Brown plays a sweetly melodic solo. Coco’s guitar work on this tune reminds me of Mark Knopfler. It is delicate, precise, tone rich, and perfect for the song. He builds his solo into a sizzling frenzy and reins it back in to finish with gentle tones and volume swells. If this one doesn’t make you want to see the band live you might be agoraphobic. It should be noted that the liner notes and back cover have incorrect running orders for disc two. “Good Days, Bad Days” and “I Need Your Love In My Life” are reversed, as are “My Side Of The Fence” and album closer “You’d Think I’d Know Better By Now.” This is of course not reflective of Coco Montoya. This is a record label mistake.

There may be some printing issues with Songs From The Road but the playing is top quality. Coco’s band is locked and loaded, ready to follow Coco anywhere. Coco Montoya gets accolades for his guitar playing but his smooth, soulful voice is a major asset. He sings with authority and finesse. He also wrote all but two of the tunes on Songs From The Road. The album gives a great overview of the band’s talents, Coco’s abilities, and his deep catalog of songs. Songs From The Road has been a long time coming but it showcases an artist at the top of his game. Go out and get it!

Fresh Biscuits! New Releases For September 9, 2014

What does the new release schedule have in store for us this week?

This week’s new releases include Mike Zito & The Wheel’s live CD/DVD combo (only ten bucks on Amazon). Zito recently announced he’s leaving Royal Southern Brotherhood which really “Hurts My Heart” but I’ll get over it. RSB is picking up Bart Walker which should be an interesting combination.

Danny Bryant has a new disc out. Danny has been busy fronting Walter Trout’s band whilst Walter recovers from a liver transplant. There’s also a T-Bone Walker collection and an interesting collection contrasting and comparing God’s gospel and the Devil’s blues. We have a photo of the back cover so you can check out the 37 tracks.

 

Mike Zito

Mike Zito And The Wheel Songs From The Road – Live In Texas

Rob Stone

Rob Stone Gotta Keep Rollin’

Danny Bryant

Danny Bryant Temperature Rising

T-Bone Walker

T-Bone Walker Ultimate Collection 1929-57

Absolution

Absolution Dusty Road

Brownie McGhee
Sonny Terry

Rev. Gary Davis, Brownie McGhee, Sonny Terry, Louisiana Red, Jemima James and Bob Malenky The Blues & Salvation

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.

Fresh Biscuits! | Royal Southern Brotherhood – heartsoulblood

heartsoulbloodThe new RSB CD heartsoulblood is out today. These guys keep getting better and better,  and they’re prolific too! Since the debut they have put out a live CD/DVD, and Devon Allman, Cyril Neville, Yonrico Scott, and Mike Zito have all put out superb albums of their own, plus, most of the band played on Black Wind Howlin’ – the new Samantha Fish CD. Let’s give bassist extraordinaire Charlie Wooten some love too. He is a master musician.