Archive for July, 2013

Moreland And Arbuckle review…July 29, 2013…

MORELAND AND ARBUCKLE

7 CITIES

TELARC INTERNATIONAL   34329-02

QUIVIRA–KOWTOW–THE DEVIL AND ME–TALL BOOGIE–BROKEN SUNSHINE–RED BRICKS–STRANGER THAN MOST–ROAD BLIND–BITE YOUR TONGUE–EVERYBODY WANTS TO RULE THE WORLD–WASTE AWAY–TIME AIN’T LONG–MODERN BOY

Legend has it that Spanish explorer Francisco Coronado searched for the fabled Seven Cities of Gold in what is now Kansas, the home state of blues duo Moreland and Arbuckle.  Altho the riches were never found, Aaron Moreland and Dustin Arbuckle have taken this historical thread and made it the common theme throughout their latest album for Telarc, “7 Cities.”  There are eight band originals among the thirteen cuts, and all follow the duo’s vision of using the blues as the foundation for their sound, and also incorporate elements of classic rock, Americana, and roots music within their scope.

If you are familiar with their earlier works, there is a decidedly rawer, edgier sound to “7 Cities.”  They normally produce their own records, but this go-round they were teamed with Seattle-based Matt Bayles, and several cuts do have that grunge-y, crunchy-guitar sound to propel things.  Add to that a newcomer on drums, Kendall Newby, who not only keeps a strong beat, but also adds harmony vocals and contributed to the song arrangements.

The tone is set in the opening cut, “Quivira.”  Aaron’s strong riffs over Dustin’s harp and vocals punctuate the tale of Coronado’s quest for “gold growin’ on the trees,” and his eventual downfall after no riches could be found.  “The Devil And Me” has a roots-rock vibe, with some mighty tasty guitar over the story of a man who “keeps bad company” with “no redemption for my wrong.”  Josephine Howell brings the high-end harmony vocals to this one, too.  “Kowtow” and “Stranger Than Most” go in a blues-rock direction, while “Tall Boogie” and “Road Blind” take John Lee Hooker’s “endless boogie” to a higher plane, with the fellows playing at a frenetic, hellhound-on-my-trail pace.  They also do a sweet cover of Tears For Fears’ Eighties’ hit, “Everybody Wants To Rule The World,’ as another nod to Coronado’s quest for power.

We had two favorites, too.  “Red Bricks” is a Delta-inspired instrumental that has Aaron layin’ down some great National steel work, over Dustin’s Phil-Wigging-ish country-blues harp.  And, a man who’s facing his own mortality is the (anti-) hero of “Time Ain’t Long,” done in by a life of excesses and drowning “in a flood of my creation.”  Aaron’s  acoustic guitar is stellar, as is Dustin’s world-weary vocals.

Coronado may not have found the mythical “7 Cities,” but Moreland and Arbuckle have found a wealth untold within the grooves of this powerful set.  They get better with each new project, and continue to grow their unique sound while remaining firmly rooted within the blues.  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

 

Randy Scott review…July 28, 2013….

RANDY SCOTT

OUT OF THE BLUE

FAVORED NATION RECORDS  FN-2770

RAMBLIN MAN BLUES–WHISKEY FROM THE BOTTLE–NOTHIN BUT A THANG–CAN’T QUIT ON YOU–NEVER ENOUGH–MEAN-HEARTED WOMAN–DON’T CALL IT LOVE–KISSES LIKE CHERRIES–TALKING MY BABY DOWN–FIRE–OUT OF THE BLUE–HELL TO PAY–TOMMY’S TUNE

 

Randy Scott was born and raised in Detroit, drawn to the guitar thru his dad’s vinyl collection, and graduated from the Guitar Institute.  However, frustrations and disillusionment with the music business led him to give up playing altogether.  That is, until the day he wandered into a local Guitar Center and picked up an axe.  The manager encouraged him to enter that chain’s “King Of The Guitar” contest, which he would end up winning.

 

The release of his debut album, “Out Of The Blue,” coincides with the April debut on the MAVTV network reality show, “Chasing The Dream,” which stars Randy and chronicles his life on the road.  It also serves as a good metaphor for his life since his resurgence as a bluesman.  These thirteen originals are a riff-filled trip full of blues, rock, and a bit of jazz, incorporating all of his influences.

 

As we listened to this set, the comparisons to Robben Ford were inevitable, both in his style of playing and his vocal delivery.  And, Randy is backed by two of Ford’s band members, Gary Novak on drums and Travis Carlton on bass, plus Jeff Robko on keys, from Larry Carlton’s outfit, so the jazz-rock parts are well in place.

 

The set starts with an acoustic intro that gives way to a killer blues attack in “Ramblin’ Man Blues,” Randy’s tale of always trusting the road if things start getting to intense with his love interests.  He breaks off a frenetic electric solo at the bridge, before closing with another acoustic outro.  “Never Enough” gives a lover the big kiss-off, as Randy brings the vocal over some tricky chord changes, going from funky to some accelerated rockin’ blues.  “Don’t Call It Love” finds him and his lover using each other until they literally use each other up, while Randy wears his heart on his sleeve on the pondering tale of young and restless love that ended much too soon, “Kisses Like Cherries.”  There are two really cool instrumentals, too.  The first one is full of the bombast of arena-rock and the heyday of Journey and Neal Schon, “Fire.”  The second one closes the set, an all-acoustic affair named “Tommy’s Tune” that cops a feel from virtually every great riff on all his Pop’s records.

 

We had three favorites, too.  Losing your girl ain’t so bad, especially if you are drinkin’ “Whiskey From The Bottle,” sung over a blistering boogie shuffle.  And, legend Albert Lee adds guitat on another hot rocker, “Mean Hearted Woman,” and again on Randy’s tale of comin’ home late from the bar one night, and knowing there’ll be plenty of “Hell To Pay.”

 

Randy Scott has opened for the likes of Edgar Winter, Paul Rodgers, and Robben Ford, to name a few.  With “Out Of The Blue,” he has hit on the good-time album of the summer!  Drop your top, put this one in, crank ‘er up and hit the road!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

Pristine No Regret review…July 25, 2013…

PRISTINE

NO REGRET

PRIS CD 1001

CARRY YOUR OWN WEIGHT–SHE WON–TELL ME–THE OCCASIONAL WIFE–ONE GOOD REASON–NO REGRET–PISTOLS AND PETTICOATS–ONE GOOD REASON (ACOUSTIC–FEAT. BJORN BERGE)–BEYOND RETREAT

We were first introduced to Norway’s Heidi Solheim and Pristine during their incredible run at the IBC’s in Memphis a few years back with their initial album, “Detoxing.’  They are back and are fully-engaged with a second scorching set of blues-rock, this one entitled “No Regret.”  Heidi and her incredibly-fiery vocals lead the way over these nine originals that indeed bring out a more vulnerable yet still rough-edged side of her and the fellows.

 

Backing Heidi once again are stalwarts Espen Jakobsen and his unbelieveable guitar chops, Anders Oskal on B-3, Asmund Eriksson on bass, and Kim Karlsen on drums.  They have really done their homework, as the Hendrix-Zep-Cream-Allman influences fit Heidi’s song ideas perfectly throughout on this one.

 

The set kicks off with the hummable riff of “Carry Your Own Weight,” dealing with what the old folks used to say, “what goes around comes around.”  Heidi shows her deep, soulful side on this set, and the title cut is a great example.  “No Regret” traces her pain as she realizes all too late that her years invested in a love affair have been for naught, having reached that “point of no return.”  She continues in that vein to close the set, with the somber “Beyond Retreat.’

 

There’s a great deal of rockin’ blues to be heard on this one, too.  “She Won” details the eventual winner in a lover’s battle of cheating and lying, with the interplay between Espen’s guitar and Anders’ B-3 meshing nicely.  “One Good Reason” is presented in two versions, the first as a full-on amplified account of betrayal and the consequences thereof.  The second has Heidi singing it as a country-blues, Delta-fied number, over the slide mastery of guest Bjorn Berge.

 

We had two favorites, one rocker and one for the soul.  We have absolutely no idea what passes for a roadhouse or a juke joint over in The Land of the Midnight Sun, but the chunka funk that is “Pistols And Petticoats” would sho’ nuff tear the roof off the sucker!  And, Heidi channels her inner Etta James on the love story-in-song that lets her  vast vocal talents deliver the story of the heroine’s pain and struggle for redemption in “The Occasional Wife.’

 

Pristine bring their A-game in their live shows, which went a long way in impressing the IBC judges.  With “No Regret,” they do a great job in re-creating that energy onto the album.  These young folks are poised to break out in a big way!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Little G Weevil review…July 24, 2013…

MOVING

LITTLE G WEEVIL

VIZZTONE LABEL GROUP  VTLG-01

SHOOK IT AND BROKE IT–ON MY WAY TO MEMPHIS–MEAN AND DIRTY–BOOGIE THROUGH MY TROUBLES–LET SOMEONE ELSE DO ALL THE WORK–DEEP BOW–ADVICE–MOVING–NO MAN IN MY BED–FASTEST MAN–LET’S TALK IT OVER (COME BACK BABY)–SWING IN THE MIDDLE

 

Little G Weevil is a completely self-taught guitarist, specializing in the old-time string and country blues sounds of the pre-WWII masters.  He started his first band in his European home land in 1998, garnering enough successes to move to Memphis in 2004.  He was a resident of the Beale Street scene for some time, busking in that vibrant district.  He moved to Georgia in 2009, but made a hugely-triumphant return to the Bluff City for this year’s IBC, winning the whole thing in the Solo/Duo category, as well as the Best Solo Guitarist overall.  He has turned that success into the release of “Moving,” his debut for the Vizztone label.  There are eleven originals and one scintillating cover that show his prowess as a traditional bluesman, picker, and storyteller.

The set is predominantly Little G and his guitars, but there are a few “band cuts” that utilize Bruce Nazzaro on harp, Danny Vinson on rhythm guitar, Dustin Sergeant on bass, and Adam Goodhue on drums.  However, no amps were used, making this a truly acoustic set.

G starts the show with “Shook It And Broke It,” a tale of a run of bad luck at love.  “Boogie Through My Troubles” is a sprightly, country-blues-flavored take on keeping a positive outlook.  “On My Way To Memphis” finds G headin’ “Down on Union,” not to play music, but to see “that sweet woman of mine.”  The title cut traces G’s life as a troubadour, and the set closes with “Swing In The Middle,” a tongue-in-cheek look at “too much month at the end of the money.”

We had three favorites, too.  The lone cover is the traditional “Let’s Talk It Over (Come Back Baby)” and G’s haunting vocal is the epitome of the pleading lover.  G’s slide gets a workout on the slyly-clever “No Man In My Bed,” which takes a different look at coveting thy neighbor’s wife.  And, G tells us all that Lance Armstrong was “the Fastest Man” on two wheels, but is not to be judged, for “whatever’s done is done,” and he is “not the only one” with flaws.

It’s easy to see why the judges at the IBC were so impressed by Little G Weevil.  He is a charismatic performer with a full grasp on the deep, passionate sounds of the Delta masters, and “Moving” allows his intense creativity to shine through!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, Nashville Blues Society

Studebaker John review…July 20, 2013…

STUDEBAKER JOHN’S MAXWELL STREET KINGS

KINGSVILLE JUKIN’

DELMARK RECORDS  DE-830

MISSISSIPPI TO CHICAGO–WHEN THEY PLAYED THE REAL BLUES–SHE’S ALL RIGHT–SHAKE IT DOWN NOW–THE REST IS UP TO YOU–I AM THE HOUSEROCKER–HOWLIN’ IN THE MOONLIGHT–IN CASE OF FIRE–RIDE AGAIN–KINGSVILLE JUKIN–WICKED SOUL–COLD BLACK NIGHT–MOJO HAND–SHAKE SOME FOR ME–RIGHT TONIGHT–BAD GASOLINE

 

Back in the day, John Grimaldi tooled around Chicago in a Studebaker Lark, working for his father’s construction firm as a plumber’s assistant.  Exposed to the thriving blues scene that was the daily soundtrack down on Maxwell Street, John soon was good enough on guitar and harp to sit in at clubs all over the South and West Side to sharpen his skills.

His third album for Delmark, entitled “Kingsville Jukin,” is sixteen originals that capture John and his band at their raw, powerful best.  John is on huitar, harp, and vocals, and is joined by Rick Kreher on guitar, Bob Halaj on bass, and Steve Cushing on drums.

In listening to this album, one gets the feeling of what it must’ve been like to walk down Maxwell Street in its heyday, with the blues buzzin’ all around.  John heard the greats, such as John Lee Hooker and Robert Nighthawk, and the obscure, such as one-armed harpist Big John Wrencher, one of John’s early influences, so much so that this set is dedicated to him.And, he captures their intensity within these grooves, and does so convincingly.

That infectious, rolling, Hooker boogie is at the fore on the biographical “Mississippi To Chicago,” and again on the freight-train rumble of “The Rest Is Up To You,” with John firing off some cool call-and-response harp.  “Howlin’ In The Moonlight” has John doing his best Howlin’ Wolf calls, over a killer background riff.  “Shake It On Down” is dedicated to Fleetwood Mac’s Peter Green, while the tough-as-nails swagger of “I Am The Houserocker” goes out to the long-time member of Hound Dog Taylor’s band, Brewer Philips, and John lets his hell-hound slide wail on this one.  The title cut is a classic harp-driven, boogie-fied instrumental, while John gets his mojo workin’ and tells everybody that this “highway king is gonna Ride Again!”

 

We had two favorites, too.  John’s got his eye on a voodoo woman, and looks for a “Mojo Hand,” a black cat bone, and the always-popular John The Conqueroo to get on her good side!  It’s set over a stop-time beat, with killer harp fills.  And, the set-closer, “Bad Gasoline,” was cut on a vintage Wilcox Gay Recordio and waxed straight to a 78 RPM!  It’s just John and his slide, and it’s as decadently-raucous as you’d want, full of double-entendres’ regarding “gettin’ no spark from your coil,” and the nightly need to “check your oil!!”

 

Studebaker John will tell you right off that he’s old-school and proud of it, but he “ain’t no fool” when it comes to layin’ down a solid groove “that’ll give you such a thrill that you just can’t get your fill!”  “Kingsville Jukin” is a set that is sho’ nuff keepin’the faith!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Gino Matteo review…July 18, 2013…

GINO MATTEO

SWEET REVIVAL

RIP CAT RECORDS  RIC 1111

HERE COMES THE LORD–PULPIT IN THE GRAVEYARD–COMING CLEAN–TAKE A CHANCE ON ME–CHILDHOOD GAMES–GRANDMA TOLD ME–THE LONGEST NIGHT–WE CAN FIND A WAY–LISTEN TO YOUR MOTHER

For his Rip Cat Records debut, “Sweet Revival,” Gino Matteo wants to “let people all the way in,” and allow listeners to interpret the meanings of his lyrics in their own way.  He’s a purveyor of spreading positive energy, but, as one can hear on these nine originals, he does so without preaching or trying to force his views or any one particular style on his audience.

He’s got a sweet “soul man’s” vocal style, and he can bring the blues, the funk, and the gospel with ease.  Also deft on guitars, he and co-producer Joey Delgado keep the strings percolatin’ throughout.

The opener is a great example.  “Here Comes The Lord” builds from an acoustic intro into a full-on blues assault to spread its message that “we all have the Devil,” but “there are many good things that come from the Lord.”  On this cut, Gino’s vocals and guitars evoke memories of another great West Coast bluesman, Joe Louis Walker.  Gino urges a lover to “Take A Little Chance On Me,” in this ethereal ballad, then gives another lover the heave-ho for her incessant, emotionally-scarring “Childhood Games.”  Gino brings the funk on “Coming Clean,” and gets a great assist on harp from Jason Ricci.

Gino’s “message” songs served as our favorites.  “We Can Find A Way to get together” is his “battle call,” asking everyone to teach our children the meaning and message of peace.  It’s set over an old-school soul arrangement, with a killer guitar solo at the bridge.  The set closes with a somber reminder to “Listen To Your Mother,” as she’ll always be your angel.  The brush-stroked drums and Jason’s harp give this one a country-blues feel.  And, the powerful “Grandma Told Me,” set over a Latin beat, is the poignant story told from the soul of a man who leaves this mortal coil waaay too soon, done in by his own excesses.

As our nation comes to grips with its own fears and shortcomings, Gino Matteo and “Sweet Revival” could not have come at a better time.  For those who seek solace thru the power of music as a way to deal with the difficult times in life, this set is a great place to start.    Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

Lurrie Bell review…July 16, 2013…

LURRIE BELL

BLUES IN MY SOUL

DELMARK RECORDS  DE 829

HEY HEY BABY–BLUES IN MY SOUL–I FEEL SO GOOD–SHE’S A GOOD ‘UN–‘BOUT THE BREAK OF DAY–GOING AWAY BABY–24 HOUR BLUES–MY LITTLE MACHINE–I JUST KEEP LOVING HER–T-BONE BLUES SPECIAL–JUST THE BLUES–SOUTH SIDE TO RIVERSIDE–IF IT’S TOO LATE–BLUES NEVER DIE

 

Enough has been written about the “trials” of Lurrie Bell (as he so aptly calls them), that we are not going to rehash them here.  We will say, tho, for a man who lost not only his life’s partner and their twin babies, as well as his beloved father, harp legend Carey Bell, all during 2007, he has literally lived every note of the blues that he wrings from his guitar.  And, Lurrie has not let these hardships overtake him–in fact, he has not only risen above them all, but he’s become a stronger person and performer since those difficult days.  For the first time since 1999’s “Blues Had A Baby,” Lurrie is back as the frontman for a Delmark album.  It is entitled “Blues In My Soul,” and features Lurrie going back to the thing he’s always done best–giving his all in playing the real-deal Chicago blues.  He hand-picked the covers for this set, as well as writing three originals to add to the mix, all done with Lurrie’s indelible stamp of perfection.

He’s joined by his favorite cast of “go-to” guys, too.  Roosevelt Purifoy is on keys, Melvin Smith is on bass,  Willie “The Touch” Hayes is on drums, and Matthew Skoller lays down the old-school harp.  Add in the horns of Marques Carroll, Chris Neal, and Mark Hebert, and this is one sweet ride ’round the South Side!

The party starts with Lurrie’s jazzy, uptown licks carrying the T-Bone Walker classic, “Hey Baby.”  The horn section punches this one up, and does so again a little later on the funky original instrumental, “South Side To Riverside.”  Lurrie’s trademark single-note flourishes are prevalent on the West Side strut of “She’s A Good ‘Un,” and dedicates a spirited original, “24 Hour Blues,” to good friend Magic Slim and recorded on February 21, 2013, the day of Slim’s untimely passing.   Matthew’s harp adds to the Delta feel of “Goin’ Away Baby,” while the set closes with a powerful Otis Spann cover, the slow-burn of “Blues Never Die,” where Lurrie reminds us that in hard times, “the blues is a man’s best friend.”

We had two favorites, too.  You can almost feel the joy in his voice on his take of “I Feel So Good,” and his deep-blues guitar is on full display on the Junior Wells chestnut, “come see me early in the morning, baby Bout The Break Of Day.”

Lurrie sings it best on the title cut.  He’s in a very comfortable place now, and, as always, “I feel the blues all the way down in my soul.”  He’s an inspiration to us all, and “Blues In My Soul” is one of the best albums of his storied career.  He and the band are fully-engaged on this one, an excellent journey into some serious Chicago blues.   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.