New Reviews

Your chance to write big-time blues reviews. Only two rules: First, if you're connected to the band or artist, go to Shameless Promotion; Second, don't write a book -- keep it relatively short and simple, no 1,000+ word epics.

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New Reviews

Postby blueswriter » Mon Apr 25, 2005 10:05 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-25-05 AT 06:06 PM (EST)]Howdy Folks...

Here are some new 'short takes' for your reading (and soon hopeful) listening pleasure. There's more on the way so stay tuned, and, as always, thanks for reading the posted reviews. ;)

THE HOLLYWOOD BLUE FLAMES
Soul Sanctuary
Delta Groove (2005) DGPCD 102

http://www.stlblues.net/VV/hollywood_blueflames.jpg

13 tracks, 47 minutes. Highly recommended. With over a quarter-century having passed since The Hollywood Fats Band debuted offering their only recording in 1979, Al Blake, Larry Taylor, Richard Innes, and Fred Kaplan have continued to play blues in the years following the band's demise. While this recording doesn't mark the first get-together of the remaining quartet (Michael "Hollywood Fats" Mann died of an overdose in December of 1986) it surely marks a strong return as highly worthwhile, and based on this effort, it's hopeful more will come in the future. The once youthful exuberance has now been replaced with a mature and refined swagger that often comes with age, and Kirk "Eli" Fletcher's guitar work stands as some of the finest in blues circles today. Laced with plenty of Big Al Blake's harp and solid vocals (with ridiculously good phrasing), Fred Kaplan's keyboard prowess, and the water-tight rhythm section of Taylor and Innes, it makes for exceptional listening. A mostly original set with a few well-chosen covers; L.C. McKinley's Nit Wit and St. Louis Jimmy's Soon Forgotten), has everyone in the groove for a fine outing. Kim Wilson's guest appearance on guitar for the Jimmy Rogers gem You're Sweet is top-shelf and comes as an interesting lowdown acoustic ride, and the fine instrumentals Flambed, Jo Angelyn, and Soul Sanctuary put each of the participant's talents well to-the-fore.

http://deltagrooveproductions.com/


MITCH KASHMAR
Nickels & Dimes
Delta Groove (2005) DGPCD 103

http://cover6.cduniverse.com/MuzeAudioA ... 549882.jpg

13 tracks, 54 minutes. Excellent. Although the name Mitch Kashmar may not be known currently by many in blues circles away from the West Coast, his considerable talents as a songwriter, vocalist, and harmonica master should hopefully bring him wider recognition in the near future. Aided by the considerable efforts of Junior Watson's guitar and the rhythm section of Ronnie James Weber and Richard Innes (bass and drums respectively), plus guest spots from Abu Talib (formerly known as Freddie Robinson) and Arthur Adams, Kashmar delivers a rousing set of smoldering blues. His crafty originals; Dirty Deal, Just Show It To Me, New York Woman, Becky Ann, We're Sittin' Home Tonight, Runnin' Off At The Mouth and the title track stand up easily against Abu Talib's Lizzy Mae and Knock 'Em Dead from the pen of Arthur Adams, or creative readings of Johnny "Guitar" Watson's Gettin' Drunk, Lou Donaldson's Whiskey Drinkin' Woman, Willie Dixon's I Don't Play and Bernard Roth's Who (both familiar from Little Walter's catalog). While Mitch Kashmar may be somewhat off the radar screen for a good majority of the blues world, he's definitely deserving of far more respect - as this outing generously portrays.

http://deltagrooveproductions.com/


ROY BROWN
Good Rockin' Tonight - Live In San Francisco
Acrobat (2004) CMCD 4043

http://image.com.com/mp3/images/cover/2 ... 7t4lmw.jpg

7 tracks, 36 minutes. Very good. Following his massive success as a standup blues/R&B shouter with a string of charted hits in the later 1940s and early 1950s, Roy Brown retired from performing and made a living for a time selling encyclopedias. His return some years later proved his voice still had amazing power and this live performance (circa 1979) sells that point strongly enough. There are considerations though; Ron Thompson's guitar shows too much of a rock-blues approach, and the rhythm section is often lacking the necessary jump/swing vocabulary to back Brown, which unfortunately leaves some of his houserocking style sounding rather pedestrian in comparison to earlier recordings. Pee Wee Crayton guests on the medley of Losing Hand/Tin Pan Alley, and Brown's vocals do raise the stakes on Hard Luck Blues, Love For Sale, Let The Four Winds Blow, and more. Sound is less than pristine but the short set still offers some fairly good bang for the buck.



GROOVE HOLMES & JIMMY WITHERSPOON
As Blue As They Want To Be
Acrobat (2004) CRCD 120

http://www.streetsonline.co.uk/product_ ... 830114.jpg

12 tracks, 72 minutes. Recommended. Richard "Groove" Holmes' Hammond B-3 work was some of the best ever (along with that of McGriff and Smith) while the vocal power and phrasing of Jimmy Witherspoon had very few challengers. This lengthy set marked Holmes' final session - from February of 1991 (he would die a few short months later) but it remains a solid offering with plenty of creative organ and 'Spoon singing seven tracks; California Blues, What A Wonderful World, Walking On A Tightrope, Slow Blues In G, My Friend, Danger Zone Is Everywhere, and The Time Has Come. Odetta offers her fine vocals on Lonesome Road Blues. While Witherspoon's voice does exhibit some occasional signs of weakness here, there's little question he still had amazing strength in his seventies, and Groove Holmes was nothing short of a masterful genius - high marks indeed for As Blue As They Want To Be.



PERCY MAYFIELD
Live In San Francisco
Acrobat (2004) CMCD 4044

http://www.louisianamusicfactory.com/im ... t/4261.jpg

5 tracks, 29 minutes. Very good. Although this is a disappointingly short set from the remarkable blues poet Percy Mayfield, he still had strong and well worthwhile moments late in his life. Recorded sometime in the early '80s (as with other recent live offerings on Acrobat - details are scant at best) Mayfield hands in worthy readings of Cried Last Night/Baby Please, Two Years Of Torture, Strange Things Happening, and the classic Please Send Me Someone To Love while Charles Houff hands in the vocals on a strong Three O' Clock In The Morning. Pee Wee Crayton (listed as Clayton) and Ron Thompson tackle guitar duties while Mark Naftalin takes piano chores (perhaps a clue that it was recorded at one of his frequent Blue Monday gatherings). A sonic masterpiece it's not, but it has its strong points, which make up for the shortcomings in the audio quality and length departments.


MUDDY WATERS
Screamin' And Cryin' - Live In Warsaw 1976
Acrobat (2004) CMCD 4045

http://www.mtv.com/shared/media/images/ ... 2uy58r.jpg

16 tracks, 79 minutes. Very good - with reservations. There's a glut of live Muddy Waters currently available and this is no recently-unearthed rarity as it's been previously issued on a handful of below-the-radar bootleg labels. This is strong McKinley Morganfield as we came to know him in his Blue Sky years with sidemen Bob Margolin, Jerry Portnoy, Luther "Guitar Junior" Johnson, Pinetop Perkins, Calvin Jones and Willie Smith, and while a good outing musically, the deficiencies in sound are often stronger points than the solid material and blues skills on display. Mastering is pretty much non-existent with random peaks and valleys in levels and distortion often ruins Pinetop's piano solos - along with Muddy's voice on occasion. If it's late-period efforts from Chicago's blues king you're in the market for, grab the recent reissues from Sony; Hard Again, I'm Ready, King Bee and Muddy "Mississippi" Waters Live, all which now include bonus tracks and solid remastering. Those four choices are far more sound purchases than this sonic abomination.


JOSH WHITE
Wanderings
Sanctuary (2005) AJA 5551

http://cover6.cduniverse.com/MuzeAudioA ... 545536.jpg

25 tracks, 78 minutes. Excellent. Josh White has often taken a beating in certain circles over the years due to his transformation from a highly worthwhile Pre-war blues artist to the folksy cafe crowd-pleaser he would become in later periods. Regardless of your leanings and reservations, these sessions (recorded between 1945 and 1951) show him as a brilliant, soulful, and talented musician. From the catalogs of Blue Note, Asch, Decca, V-Disc, Apollo and other labels, White traverses torch songs, folk ballads, and muscular blues with ease. Sonny Terry, Brownie McGhee, and Sidney Bechet show up and a small rhythm section appears on the final nine tracks. With about half of this lengthy disc made up of tense blues or songs that easily cross blues and folk borders; Evil Hearted Man, Trouble, Strange Fruit, Sometime, Dupree, I'm Gonna Move To The Outskirts Of Town, Like A Natural Man, Hard Times Blues, Lonesome Road, and Free And Equal Blues), the occasional low points (Bon-Bons, Chocolate And Chewing Gum among others) are easily overshadowed with stellar offerings.

© 2005 by Craig Ruskey
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RE: New Reviews

Postby trey » Tue Apr 26, 2005 12:53 am

Excellent reviews as always BW, I'm going to look of for that Hollowwood Flames LP, sounds right up my alley. How do they compare to the Mannish Boys? Same style or diffrent?
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RE: New Reviews

Postby blueswriter » Tue Apr 26, 2005 2:08 am

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-25-05 AT 10:10 PM (EST)]"Excellent reviews as always BW, I'm going to look of for that Hollowwood Flames LP, sounds right up my alley. How do they compare to the Mannish Boys? Same style or diffrent?"

Thanks for reading and commenting, Trey. To answer your question; similar, to a point, as both discs are that West Coast style, but The Hollywood Blue Flames have a little more of a down-home approach. If you like The Mannish Boys CD, it's a safe bet you'll enjoy the Blue Flames as well. While on the subject... do you have The Hollywood Fats Band on disc? It's been available in a few forms; Black Top (long out-of-print), Aim (from Australia), and most recently on Crosscut (an import).
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RE: New Reviews

Postby trey » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:10 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-26-05 AT 04:13 PM (EST)]"Thanks for reading and commenting, Trey. To answer your question; similar, to a point, as both discs are that West Coast style, but The Hollywood Blue Flames have a little more of a down-home approach. If you like The Mannish Boys CD, it's a safe bet you'll enjoy the Blue Flames as well. While on the subject... do you have The Hollywood Fats Band on disc? It's been available in a few forms; Black Top (long out-of-print), Aim (from Australia), and most recently on Crosscut (an import)."

Your review was honestly the first time I heard of the Hollywood Fats, and the Mannish Boys were my first true intorduction to the West Coast style. But I'll be on the lookout for both those records, should be nice additions to my ever expanding collection...Are any of those releases better than the others, I know that often the fidelity from release to release leaves something to be desired...
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RE: New Reviews

Postby blueswriter » Tue Apr 26, 2005 8:27 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-26-05 AT 04:32 PM (EST)]Trey, The Hollywood Fats Band at its best is available on the Crosscut label. When originally issued (on LP back in 1979 on PBR) it was a masterpiece that had a similar effect on bands that the early Fabulous Thunderbirds had as far as re-focusing attention on off-the-wall material (as opposed to the generic blues top forty) and the old approach to playing blues.

When it came out on CD (I think Black Top was the first label to reissue it), it had a few bonus tracks. The Aim label (Australia) was pretty similar to the Black Top issue with (if I remember correctly) another bonus track. When Crosscut put it out in 2002, it became a full two-disc set. The first disc is the original LP while the second disc contains thirteen tracks and finally puts together all the outtakes and material left off earlier CD issues.

Here's a link to it at CD Universe - I don't know where you're located, but if not in the US, it's a safe bet you can find it at almost any online music retail outlet.

http://www.cduniverse.com/productinfo.a ... =243790262

http://cover6.cduniverse.com/CDUCoverAr ... 421069.jpg

And if you aren't aware of Kid Ramos or James Harman, check them out sometime soon. Kid is another West Coast phenom who's made a hell of a lot of racket as a guitar player, and Harman is one of the strangest (yet most-dedicated) West Coast blues artists you'll ever have the pleasure of hearing.
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RE: New Reviews

Postby bighollowtwang » Tue Apr 26, 2005 9:30 pm

Hollywood Fats is one of the most underrated (well....by most) electric blues guitarists.

>And if you aren't aware of Kid Ramos or James Harman, check
>them out sometime soon.

I'll add Junior Watson, Rick Holmstrom and Nick Curran to that list.
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RE: New Reviews

Postby trey » Sun May 01, 2005 12:10 am

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Apr-30-05 AT 08:16 PM (EST)]Thanks fro the help guys, I appreicate it. That link to CD Universe was also great help, B Dub. I had been using Amazon to buy most of my CDs before, but CD Universe is cheaper AND has a better selection of the stuff I'm after.

The Holloywood Fats Band, and Kirk Fletcher's Shades of Blue are on thier way to my doorstep!



EDIT:
just listened to a few of the cuts on Kid Ramos' House Party, and that is EXACTLY the kind of playing I was looking for. I'm really starting to dig this West Coast style. So much to learn and hear, and so little time...
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RE: New Reviews

Postby blueswriter » Sun May 01, 2005 12:40 am

"... That link to CD Universe was also great help, B Dub. I had been using Amazon to buy most of my CDs before, but CD Universe is cheaper AND has a better selection of the stuff I'm after.

The Holloywood Fats Band, and Kirk Fletcher's [i]Shades of Blue
are on thier way to my doorstep!

EDIT:
just listened to a few of the cuts on Kid Ramos' House Party, and that is EXACTLY the kind of playing I was looking for. I'm really starting to dig this West Coast style. So much to learn and hear, and so little time..."[/i]

Let us know what you think when you get your new CDs. Just curious... did you order the 2-CD set of The Hollywood Fats Band? And West Coast House Party is another great disc loaded with super players!
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RE: New Reviews

Postby trey » Sun May 01, 2005 12:22 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON May-01-05 AT 08:23 AM (EST)]"Let us know what you think when you get your new CDs. Just curious... did you order the 2-CD set of [i]The Hollywood Fats Band? And West Coast House Party is another great disc loaded with super players!"[/i]


I got the CD that you linked too, not sure if it was one or two discs...
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RE: New Reviews

Postby blueswriter » Sun May 01, 2005 4:53 pm

"I got the CD that you linked too, not sure if it was one or two discs..."

That'd be the two-disc set on Crosscut. It's a far better set than the single disc on Aim. I'm pretty sure you'll be wrapping your ears in that for a while when it lands!
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RE: New Reviews

Postby trey » Fri Aug 05, 2005 9:55 pm

Well BW, I finally got the two disc collection of the Hollywood Fats Band, today. Took me a few monthes, but better late than never, eh.

Great understated playing, and I love his use of doublestops. Another tragic loss of overwhelming musical talent. I can hardly believe his was still in his 20s when he laid down those tracks, gives me hope that I just may be able to call myself a guitarist one of these days.

I also got Little Charlie and the Nightcat's Deluxe Edition, Charlie Baty is another great guitarist.

Keep the reviews coming BW, they are a great help to me and my ever expanding CD collection!
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