Late May 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.

Late May Short Takes

Postby blueswriter » Sun May 29, 2005 4:18 pm

[updated:LAST EDITED ON May-29-05 AT 05:58 PM (EST)]Hello again...

Here's a handful of short-take reviews of some new and recent material deserving of attention. There's more on the way so please stay tuned. As always, my thanks to everyone who participates. ;)


Al Basile
Blue Ink
Sweetspot (2005) 5212

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13 tracks, 57 minutes. Recommended. Unlike his previous offerings, Al Basile decided to leave his horn (a cornet) at home for most of this session. Basile goes back to the very early stages of Roomful Of Blues and brought in old friend Duke Robillard to produce and play guitar. As can be expected, Robillard (in addition to Jerry Portnoy's raspy harp, Matt McCabe's piano, and bass and drums from Marty Ballou and Mark Teixeira) provides fire to the proceedings with Basile delivering solid, workmanlike vocals on a set of all original material. Whether it's a Muddy Waters-influenced stop-time groove (I've Got To Love And Be Loved), a slow burner (The Catch-Up), the back-porch approach (Hooray For Me And To Hell With You), or a rhumba recalling New Orleans (Stop Knockin'), Basile's songwriting shines while his voice gets the job done without any fanfare or over-the-top attempts. He knows his range and he sticks with it, and the band, an all-star cast, sticks to the frontman like hot rubber to a sun-baked Southern roadway.

Al Basile - Blue Ink: http://www.albasile.com/blue.html


James Cotton
Extended Versions
BMG Special Products (2004) 489222

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10 tracks, 42 minutes. Good. Budget labels can often be either a blessing or a curse - the disc under review happens to be both. This 'live' set of James Cotton stems from the 1970s while the cover art depicts Cotton in the 1960s with Luther Tucker and others. Strong versions of Mojo, Boogie Thing, Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Help Me and more show Mr. Superharp in fine form but this is little more than a truncated Live And On The Move with ten tracks missing. The Extended Versions title is also quite misleading as it accounts for nothing more than a few additional seconds of audience applause. With a budget pricetag it's surely not going to break the bank, and with the original product out-of-print, it's a fair way to grab some potent middle-period Cotton. Just don't allow yourself to be bamboozled into thinking this is an essential addition to your collection.



John Lee Hooker
Hooker & The Hogs
Silverline (2003) 288136-9

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11 tracks, 42 minutes. DVD Audio. Excellent. Recorded in 1965 with Tony McPhee & The Groundhogs, John Lee Hooker is in muscular form with solid, unobtrusive backing including from McPhee's guitar, Tom Parker on piano, and a rhythm section consisting of Pete Cruickshank's deep bass and Dave Boorman's steady drumming. While some aggregations of American blues artists with British bands could be over-the-top and plodding, Hooker was comfortable with The Groundhogs and all acquit themselves well. John Lee's guitar and vocals are top-shelf on I'm Losing You, Little Girl Go Back To School, Bad Luck And Trouble, Don't Be Messin' With My Bread, Little Dreamer and six more. The 5.1 surround-sound gives this much more of a 'being there' feel compared to earlier issues - some which had overdubbed horns tossed in. Liner notes are of the viewable on-screen type and provide a brief look at Hooker's career. This plays in all DVD units but is NOT a DVD documentary or movie.

Hooker & The Hogs: http://www.silverlinerecords.com/j_lee_ ... s_main.asp


EG Kight
Takin' It Easy
Blue South (2004) BSR 0904

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12 tracks, 48 minutes. Excellent. A totally captivating and inspired vocalist, EG Kight delivers a strong, blues-infused stew on Takin' It Easy. Special guests include Greg Piccolo (sax on When You Were Mine) and Ann Rabson (Saffire The Uppity Blues Women) who offers her polished piano on I Don't Wanna Start Over and Coming Out Of The Pain. Backing throughout consists of a revolving door of exceptional talent and Kight sounds just as comfortable on Duke Ellington's easy rolling I Ain't Got Nothin' But The Blues as she does working Southbound (from Richard Betts via The Allman Brothers) to fever pitch. Her voice is similar in power and range to Phoebe Snow's with plenty of grit when called for. Another solid platter from EG Kight deserving attention.

EG Kight: http://www.egkight.com/


The Lee Boys
Say Yes!
Arhoolie (2005) 516

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11 tracks, 56 minutes. Highly recommended. Similar to Robert Randolph & The Family Band, The Lee Boys are another outfit consisting of three brothers; Alvin on guitar with Keith and Derrick on providing vocals, plus nephews Emanuel Roosevelt Collier on pedal-steel, Alvin Cordy on bass, and Kenneth Earl Walker's drumming, all providing another fine look at the continuing "sacred steel" tradition. Collier's pedal-steel work soars on Joyful Sounds, Come On Help Me Lift Him Up, Tribute To Calvin Cooke, and a rousing version of You've Got To Move. Adding funk, hip-hop, and R&B flavors make for some wonderfully exciting listening. Perfectly suitable for driving to and from church, weekend barbeques, and any other day of the week, The Lee Boys deliver with all cylinders wide open.

Arhoolie Records: http://www.arhoolie.com/


Miss Angel
That's The Way I Tumble
Electro-Fi (2005) 3389

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11 tracks, 48 minutes. Excellent. Previously heard on Mel Brown's Neck Bones & Caviar disc, Mississippi-born Miss Angel steps forward on her first solo outing, and justifiably, Mel Brown & The Homewreckers provide the tight backing throughout. Whether chugging through the shuffling Country Man, a funky That's The Way I Tumble, or the strutting 747 Blues, Angel's vocals are powerful and completely unaffected, if at times a bit unpolished and under-developed. Her power and conviction prove stronger on the 'live' and driving Hipshake with the rest of the album being a well-produced studio effort. Brown's stirring guitar proves a perfect foil from beginning to end, and based on her initial effort, let's hope Miss Angel steps up again in the near future to belt out some more blues.

Electro-Fi Records: http://www.electrofi.com/


Finis Tasby
That's What My Blues Are All About
Electro-Fi (2005) 3390

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12 tracks. 64 minutes. Recommended. Pretty much under-the-radar until the last few years, Finis Tasby is showing himself as a force to be reckoned with, and this new disc amply displays his rich and soulful voice as well as his powerful songwriting. Four of the twelve tracks are sizzling covers (Baby Please/Mean Old World/I Don't Want No Woman/Ugly Woman Blues) with the balance consisting of creatively potent originals. The swamp feel of Back In Love Again and the grinding Blues From Down Under are just two of many highlights. Guitar is supplied by Mel Brown on a few (plus a few more on keyboard) and relative newcomer Enrico Crivellaro (who proves he's no slouch either), while David Rotundo's harp is very effective with a gritty and overdriven approach. Finis Tasby is a joy to listen to, and whether on his own or making appearances with The Mannish Boys (among others), his hearty style is completely satisfying - especially so on What My Blues Are All About.

Electro-Fi Records: http://www.electrofi.com/


© 2005 by Craig Ruskey
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RE: Late May Short Takes

Postby doc williamson » Sun May 29, 2005 7:57 pm

BW ~ As always, I enjoy your reviews and your poignant and informative posts. I am so happy to see your review of The Lee Boys. Walter Tore first told me about Sacred Steel and I purchased a few of Arhoolie's compilations and others by The Campbell Brothers and Robert Randolph. Most traditional Christian music does not move me, Sacred Steel does. It is Sacred Steel and Sonny Rhodes that inspired me to play Lap Steel. Thank you for your reviews.

http://www.DocWilliamson.com

"I chose to sing the blues." Ray Charles
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"I chose to sing the blues." Ray Charles
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RE: Late May Short Takes

Postby blueswriter » Sun May 29, 2005 10:01 pm

Thanks Doc. I appreciate the kind words and feedback. And as I mentioned elsewhere, a nice job on your Sonny Rhodes review.
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