Some Reviews - More coming...

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.

Some Reviews - More coming...

Postby blueswriter » Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:36 am

BARRELHOUSE CHUCK
25 Years Of Chicago Blues Piano - Volume 2 - Instrumentals
Viola (2006) VR-05232

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16 tracks, 43 minutes. Recommended. If there's anyone more qualified or determined to carry the torch of Chicago's lofty blues piano history into the future, you'd have a difficult time convincing the growing mass of supporters who would cast votes for Barrelhouse Chuck Goering. Having learned at the side of such legendary figures as Sunnyland Slim, Little Brother Montgomery, Jimmy Walker and others too numerous to mention, Goering continues to dish out well-crafted Chicago blues from behind a piano or Farfisa organ like nobody's business, and make no mistake, Chuck is all-business. The 16 tracks are culled from a number of discs and feature the combined efforts of Billy Flynn, Rich Kirch, or Hash Brown on guitar, Frank Bandy or Calvin Jones on bass, with drumming provided by Kenny Smith or his father, Willie, Sam Lay, and S.P. Leary, along with a smattering of tough harp. The rotating cast lays down prime Chicago blues and boogie instrumentals and the telephone messages from Chuck's circle of friends are humorous, touching, and a sad reminder of how many greats have passed on in recent years.

Barrelhouse Chuck


BARRELHOUSE CHUCK
Blues Calling - Solo Piano
Viola (2006) VR-04221

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10 tracks, 25 minutes. Excellent. The one minor complaint to lodge with this otherwise solid and worthwhile disc is its short playing time as the 10 tracks here showcase the commanding piano work and wonderful vocals of Barrelhouse Chuck, alone and in top form covering Leroy Carr (Barrelhouse Woman/Ain't Got No Money Now/Six Cold Feet In The Ground), Little Brother Montgomery (I Keep On Drinking), Robert Nighthawk (Anna Lee), Pinetop Perkins (Gigolo) and top-shelf originals like Blues For Little Brother Montgomery, Iza Mae, She's Gone Blues, and Half Of A Pint Boogie (with help from Erwin Helfer). While the all-too-short 25 minutes pass quickly, there's little question as to what Barrelhouse Chuck has to offer blues fans - he's a respected master of a dwindling art - the evidence lies in his growing catalog.

Barrelhouse Chuck

BARRELHOUSE CHUCK & The All-Star Blues Band
Got My Eyes On You
The Sirens (2006) SR-5014

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13 tracks, 49 minutes. Highly recommended. It's almost impossible to imagine (or find) modern blues this good in a time when it seems as though the art form has been all but forgotten by the dwindling cast who manage to play the music with its dynamic beauty still intact, but tossing Barrelhouse Chuck in a recording studio with the likes of Kim Wilson, Joel Foy, Eddie Taylor Jr., Calvin Jones, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith was nothing short of brilliant on the part of producer Steven Dolins. Although the CD bears Chuck's name as the featured artist, he is a gifted accompanist and sideman first and foremost - one who knows what subtlety brings - and he plays brilliantly here with Wilson's harp, the buzzing guitars, and drilling rhythm section as much to the fore as Goering's wonderfully traditional keyboard work and vocals. Whether covering Floyd Jones (Floyd's Blues/School Days), Detroit Junior (Call My Job), Sunnyland Slim (It's You Baby), Big Moose Walker (The Bright Sounds Of Big Moose), Big Smokey Smothers (Got My Eyes On You), and Muddy Waters (Just To Be With You) among others, this all-star gathering delivers one of best blues discs of 2006 without question. Essential, smoldering, and lowdown!

Barrelhouse Chuck
The Sirens Records


KATHERINE DAVIS & The Chicago Boogie Ensemble
Rock This House - Live!
The Sirens (2006) SR-5013

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12 tracks, 67 minutes. Excellent. With a voice as large as Chicago's big shoulders, Katherine Davis debuts on The Sirens label with a live performance from January of 2006 recorded at Chicago's Old Town School of Music backed by a respected cast including Erwin Helfer on piano, Lurrie Bell handling guitar, sax from John Brumbauch and Willie Henderson, with John Whitfield's bass and Kenny Smith's drums comprising the rhythm section. Bell's guitar work is nicely restrained on this outing and it's great to hear him sounding this good while Helfer's piano commands as much attention as Davis' belting voice. Romance In The Dark, Going Fishing, Rock This House, Make Me A Pallet, You Got To Know How, and more.

The Sirens Records

THE HOLLYWOOD BLUE FLAMES
Road To Rio
Delta Groove (2006) DGPCD107

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2 Cds, 27 tracks, 117 minutes. Highly recommended. Disc one makes up the Road To Rio portion of this 2-CD set gathering the talents of Big Al Blake, Fred Kaplan, Larry Taylor, and Richard Innes (four-fifths of the original Hollywood Fats Band) with Kirk "Eli" Fletcher providing guitar for the Flames' sophomore outing for Delta Groove. From driving shuffles (Everybody's Blues/Sharpest Man In Town/Gone Away) to in-the-alley blues, (Coffee Grindin' Man/Black Chili Pepper), The Hollywood Blue Flames dish out solid originals and nicely-chosen covers - Junior Watson guests. Vintage 'live' material from The Hollywood Fats Band makes up the second disc and it's a blessing to have with bootlegs having surfaced ages ago. Fats was a guitar wunderkind and the 1979-80 recordings here feature the original band as well as them backing Eddie "Cleanhead" Vinson (Cleanhead Blues/ Kidney Stew) and Roy Brown (Love For Sale/Boogie Woogie Blues) on four tracks. Although the sound quality is less-than-pristine on disc two (these are vintage club recordings), the sonics aren't at all distracting and hold up well. Two killer guitar instrumentals (Fats Fries One and Freddy King's Sidetracked) plus Billy Boy Arnold's Rockinitis, A.C. Reed's This Little Voice, and Arthur Gunter's Baby Let's Play House are featured.

Delta Groove

MITCH KASHMAR
Wake Up & Worry
Delta Groove (2006) DGPCD109

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12 tracks, 48 minutes. Recommended. Wake Up & Worry is the second Delta Groove waxing for Mitch Kashmar following 2005's well-received Nickels & Dimes and Mitch once again displays a wide variety of approaches as an accomplished harp player, singer, and songwriter. Like its predecessor, this latest disc is mostly a blues outing with covers including Little Walter's Dead Presidents and Up The Line with a mix of potent originals that run the gamut from rhumbas (Green Bananas), to jazz-infused instrumentals (Funky Dee) and stomping Chicago blues and boogie (Night Creeper/You Dogged Me/The Waddle) with a few other stops along the way. While Kashmar may remind some of the late William Clarke from both a vocal and instrumental standpoint, he is solidly in his own territory without being a slave to imitation, no matter who may have preceded him. The formidable Junior Watson, Rusty Zinn, Rick Reed, Richard Innes, Fred Kaplan and others offer tough and sympathetic support.

Delta Groove

JACKIE PAYNE / STEVE EDMONSON BAND
Master Of The Game
Delta Groove (2006) DGPCD110

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13 tracks, 51 minutes. Recommended. Although Master Of The Game is only the second disc for the dynamic singer, Jackie Payne, and his stirring guitarist Steve Edmonson, both names should be on the radar for many blues listeners as Payne worked with Johnny Otis for over a decade while Edmonson put in a handful of years with The Dynatones. Payne is as solid and convincing as singers come proving easily that he handles blues as well as deep soul or dyed-in-the-wool R&B just as surely as Edmonson's guitar work cuts a wide swath. Whether it's a West Side Chicago edge on Sweet Landlady, the broomdusting boogie of Woman In Kansas City, the slow and gritty Wake Me Up In San Francisco, or Brook Benton's gem I'll Take Care Of You, these partners work seamlessly with a tight rhythm section and driving horns adding great support. Hats off to Delta Groove for going above and beyond the call of duty in keeping blues alive with fresh, solid recordings like this and many others.

Delta Groove

PHANTOM BLUES BAND
Out Of The Shadows
Delta Groove (2006) DGPCD111

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15 tracks, 60 minutes. Excellent. While gaining recognition as the solid backing unit behind Taj Mahal on a number of projects, the Phantom Blues Band combines the talents of guitarist Denny Freeman and sax from Joe Sublett (both Texans with decades of work alone to their credit), Larry Fulcher's bass, and Tony Braunagel on drums along with more able assistance from Johnny Lee Schell (guitar), Mike Finnigan (keyboards) and Darrell Leonard (trumpet) with vocals being evenly split between Fulcher, Finnigan, and Schell. Jon Cleary and Taj Mahal (harp on I Only Have Love For You) guest. Leo Nocentelli's Do The Dirt, Lowell Fulson's My Aching Back, Don and Dewey's Big Boy Pete, Chuck Berry's Havana Moon, and Jimmy McCracklin's Think headline the wide cross-section of well-done covers.

Delta Groove

All discs reviewed are available from the provided links as well as at Frank Scott's Roots & Rhythm website.

All reviews © 2006 by Craig Ruskey
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Postby dcblues » Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:54 am

Craig, it's good to see you here. It's been a while. I recently got back on the Roots & Rhythm mailing list (I forgot to give them my new address when I moved) and it's always nice to see your reviews there.

My latest great cd find is George Smith & Bacon Fat, The Complete Blue Horizon Sessions. It was on back order when I called, but R&R got it for me a couple of weeks after I ordered it.

I'll have to check out the new Mitch Kashmir cd.
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Postby blueswriter » Wed Jan 03, 2007 12:21 pm

Thanks DC... it's a pleasure writing for Frank. He's got a lot of history and knowledge and (in my opinion) the best roots music website/outlet going. Check the link for on-line listings as those are updated pretty regularly. I'll re reviewing the Bacon Fat Blue Horizon disc soon. Thanks for reading. :wink:

And I know I haven't been around for awhile but I'd like to congratulate you on your lengthy stay at the Big Road - I can't say that I've seen anyone else who has a membership dating back to New Year's Eve in 1969.
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Postby dcblues » Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:19 pm

Until you pointed that out, I didn't realize that I joined five months before I was born. :)
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Postby david » Wed Jan 03, 2007 1:36 pm

Welcome back Bdub.

I've been missing your reviews. Its hard to keep up with what's coming out and you always give me some ideas. (No telling how much money you've cost me over the years!)
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Postby allanlummox » Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:15 pm

Alright, now where's that fatted calf?

Craig, hope you've been enjoying good health and all.
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Postby blueswriter » Wed Jan 03, 2007 2:39 pm

Thanks folks! I'll try not being such a stranger. Lots more reviews coming later today. Happy New Year to all and please stay tuned...
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Postby ricochet » Wed Jan 03, 2007 4:09 pm

Happy New Year, BW!
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Postby bosco » Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:28 am

Happy New Year, BW!

Here, Here...great to hear from you again my friend.

Bosco
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Postby blueswriter » Thu Jan 04, 2007 3:47 am

Thanks, brother and back-atcha! I tried Yahooing you early this AM but methinks you wuz still sleepin' off that New Years headache. Good to see everyone! More reviews are on the way so stay tuned folks.
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