June Short Takes

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.

Oh .. and make it fun.

June Short Takes

Postby blueswriter » Wed Jun 15, 2005 9:38 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON Jun-15-05 AT 08:03 PM (EST)]Hello gang...

Here are some short takes of some newer items for your perusal and consideration. There's more on the way with new discs from The Fabulous Thunderbirds, Doug Jay & The Blue Jays, Marco Pandolfi & The Jacknives, Paul Oscher, and Richard Ray Farrell. Please stay tuned, and as always, your participation, comments, and questions are most appreciated.

Nine Lives
Alligator (2005) 4902

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13 tracks. Excellent. While the rhythm section for Little Charlie & The Nightcats has been somewhat like a revolving door over the years, Charlie Baty and Rick Estrin have been joined at the hip for what seems a lifetime. From slow, minor key blues (Circling The Drain) with guitar well to the fore, to jumping chromatic harp (Handle With Care), and solid Latin grooves (Got To Have A Job), The Nightcats once again deliver a strong and muscular disc that touches all the blues bases. Estrin's vocal affectations can often be more of an acquired taste (and often a distraction), but as a songwriter, his wittiness and sense of humor are almost always striking. Rusty Zinn and a handful of others (including horns) make appearances rounding out Nine Lives.


Do What'cha Do
Trust My Baby (2005) 1950

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11 tracks. Recommended. Lil' Ronnie Owens is a solid harp player and songwriter and his (and the band's) efforts are shown to good effect on this disc produced by Anson Funderburgh. Vocals are split between Owens and guitarist Michael Dutton with both coming across as convincing and potent. They effortlessly roll through slow blues (Sugar Babe, Just Like A Woman, and Just A Fool) and up-tempo cookers (Take A Chance and Long Distance Lover) with ease. The band is fleshed out with keyboards, upright bass, and drums and for a handful of tracks, horns fill out the sound. If you've yet to hear Lil' Ronnie & The Grand Dukes, the new Do What'cha Do is as good a place to start as any.


The Ultimate Collection
Geffen (2005) 385402

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21 tracks. Recommended. While you might be wondering if there's any need to retrace another career collection of B.B. King, this one succeeds as it gathers a solid cross-section of Riley's work for a number of labels. RPM, Kent, ABC, and MCA are represented making it a much less-expensive propositon than a costly full-fledged box set or an under-the-radar label where sound quality is often less than listenable. Late-period guest performances with Eric Clapton, Stevie Wonder, and U2 are included as well as the early years. Three O'Clock Blues, Please Love Me and You Upset Me Baby cover the younger B.B. King, his middle stretch is touched on with a few choice cuts from Live At The Regal, and other meaty guitar blues include Paying The Cost To Be The Boss, Don't Answer The Door, and The Thrill Is Gone. Nicely done.


Atom Bomb
Real World (2005) 63959

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10 tracks. Recommended. With Clarence Fountain, Jimmy Carter, George Scott, Bobby Butler, Ricky McKinnie, and Joey Williams singing, the guest artists (and there are a number of them) don't clutter the proceedings at all. Billy Preston, David Hidalgo, Charlie Musselwhite, and The Gift Of Gab (adding some rap and hip-hop flavor) all step in adding considerably to a well-versed collection of great gospel. The Blind Boys offer solid readings of Norman Greenbaum's Spirit In The Sky and the Eric Clapton/Blind Faith gem, Presence Of The Lord and could make listeners forget the original versions, and they also delve into their earlier style on Old Blind Barnabas and Talk About Suffering. Wonderful production, occasional solid blues underpinning, and brilliant vocals abound making this a hands-down winner for gospel fans.


Deep Freeze
Recall (2005) SMDCD538

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2 CDs, 18 tracks. Excellent. Disc one stems from an Albert Collins performance at the Fillmore West in 1969 while disc two represents another 'live' setting from the El Mocambo in 1973. Crackling, trademark instrumentals Thaw Out, Deep Freeze, Backstroke, and Frosty are included as well as Albert singing well on How Blue Can You Get, Things I Used To Do, and I've Got A Mind To Travel, plus others. While this material has seen issue previously (often in unauthorized form), it's a gritty two-disc set of the Iceman. Granted, it won't win any sound quality awards but it does represent Collins nicely showing him to be an exceptional performer shortly before he signed with Alligator, where he finally hit stride and widespread acceptance after years of struggling relative obscurity on the West Coast.

http://www.snappermusic.co.uk/Labels/Sn ... rt+Collins[/URL]

© 2005 by Craig Ruskey
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RE: June Short Takes

Postby nizer » Thu Jun 16, 2005 12:00 am

Thanks BW. Excellent as usual. Can't wait for the next batch.
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RE: June Short Takes

Postby blueswriter » Thu Jun 16, 2005 3:00 am

Thanks for reading. The new reviews should be up some time tomorrow - if not all of them - most will be and there's always more to follow.
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