Archive for August, 2013

Lazer Lloyd review…August 10, 2013…

LAZER LLOYD

LOST ON THE HIGHWAY

SOLO RECORDINGS

BLUESLEAF RECORDS   BL 9852

LOST ON THE HIGHWAY–HIGHER GROUND–BEEN TRYING–WORLD FALLEN–SWAMP MEDITATION–MIRROR–POLITICIAN–TALK–TO LOVE–MAN–LANDLORD BLUES–BACK PORCH–RIVERSIDE

 

Lazer Lloyd was born in Connecticut, and started playing guitar at the age of fifteen.  He studied at Skidmore College at the urging of his mother, eventually returning to Connecticut and playing with his group called The Last Mavericks.  He created enough of a buzz that he was indeed headed to Nashville to work with E Street bassist and producer Gary Tallent, until fate intervened.   A request to play with Shlomo Carlebach, better known perhaps as the “Singing Rabbi,” was enough to persuade Lloyd to relocate to Israel, where he has resided since 1994, marrying his wife Elena and raising their five children in Beit Shemesh.

A staunch fixture in the Israeli Blues Society, he has just released “Lost On The Highway : The Solo Recordings,” for the BluesLeaf label.  It is rather a “book-end” follow-up to his critically-acclaimed all-electric affair, “My Own Blues,” from 2012.  This solo set is  thirteen originals that feature only Lloyd on vocals, his acoustic guitar, and occasional harp.

Lloyd’s guitar skills are impeccable, with a rich, deep vocal delivery that really unleashes the power of these songs.  Many of the characters in Lloyd’s songs do indeed seem to be lost, misguided souls who seek inner peace, forgiveness, and redemption.  The hero of the opening title cut has repented from his life of excesses, and is “goin’ down to the station to buy my ticket home.”  It features a brilliant extended fingerpicking solo towards the song’s climax.  “Been Trying” is a sweet, Fifties-inspired ode to our constant struggle to do what’s right.  “World Fallen” is Lloyd’s plea to the Lord for help in coping with life, again with some deep, resonant picking sequences.  “Now is the time To Love” encourages peace and harmony, while the set closes with the inspiration of gathering “down by the Riverside” for one’s ultimate reward.

We had two favorites, too.  “Back Porch” is a unique instrumental that successfully melds the sounds of the Delta with Lloyd’s newfound homeland.  And, as you listen to “Politician,” you’ll see why it would be easier for that proverbial camel to pass thru the eye of a needle than for one of them to make it into the kingdom of Heaven.  Lloyd utilizes a cool, stop-time rhythm pattern and some fine harp as backup.

Lazer Lloyd has expanded his horizons with this fine acoustic set, capturing the feel of the old-time Delta masters.  A consummate musician, writer, and storyteller, his “Lost On The Highway” shows the power one man can wield thru just his guitar and his voice.   Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

 

Little Mike And The Tornadoes review…August 7, 2013…

LITTLE MIKE AND THE TORNADOES

FORGIVE ME

ELROB RECORDS  ER 13231

OPELOUSAS RAIN–WAIT A MINUTE BABY–NOTHIN’ I WOULDN’T DO–TELL ME BABY–WALKED ALL THE WAY–FOOL TOO LONG–YOU DON’T LOVE ME–FORGIVE ME BABY–MY LITTLE THERESE–THE HIT–TRAVELING BLUES

 

The blues has always been about the hard times and good times of the working class.  Little Mike and the Tornadoes have always maintained that ethic, as each of the band members are from working-class families and neighborhoods, and many of their fans are those same blue-collar working stiffs that appreciate tough, honest, no-frills blues.

Such is what you will find on their latest album, “Forgive Me,” eleven Little Mike or band originals that keep alive their tradition of good-time blues that they’ve been playing over the last twenty-five or so years.  Yep, this ain’t Little Mike’s first rodeo, by any means.  He played on and produced Pinetop’s  debut for Blind Pig, “After Hours,” back in 1988, and did the same for Hubert Sumlin on “Heart And Soul” a year later.  (Trust us–these two albums, still in print, are classics, and well worth checking out!)

Little Mike handles the harp and vocals, and is backed by Troy Nahumko on guitar, Cam Robb on drums, Chris Brzezicki on bass, Jim McKaba on keys, and Sonny Landreth on lap steel.  They get things started with a breezy, loping instrumental, “Oopelousas Rain,” which gets everyone involved.  Then, a little later, they get downright funky and nasty on “The Hit,” another instrumental that recalls the glory days of the Excello label, so much so that one halfway expects ol’ Slim Harpo himself to jump up and holler, “Baby, scrastch my back” during this one.

“Tell Me Baby” utilizes Sonny Landreth’s considerable slide skills, and Ace Moreland backs up Mike’s vocals on this dance floor burner, reminiscent of Hound Dog Taylor’s best sides.  Mike tells a lover that he’s had it, and been a “Fool Too Long” in this uptempo rocker with fine piano from Jim.  Mike gets into a soulful groove with the help of the horn section and Warren King’s subtle guitar on “Nothin’ I Wouldn’t Do.”

As much as we like Mike and the fellows at their houserockin’ best, our favorite cut was a slow blues.  “My Little Therese” is an eleven-minute, classic slow-burner in the vein of Junior Wells, and it features some serious piano and harp interplay between Mike and Jim, and shows Mike’s deep love for the tradition of the guys he grew up listening to, and he’s obviously havin’ fun throughout this set.

Little Mike And The Tornadoes will always carry the torch for the workin’ man, and will always bring the best in down-home, Chicago-style blues, which is something we can never get enough of!  “Forgive Me” is a sho’ nuff hit from a bona fide blues master!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow

Snarky Dave review…August 3, 2013….

SNARKY DAVE AND THE PRICKLY BLUESMEN

BIG SNARK

SELF-RELEASED

SNARKYDAVE.COM

CAUCASIAN BLUES–BITCHIN’–BIG GIRL–MOTHER AND I–DOGGONE FOOL–PICK IT UP–MIKE SULLY’S BOOGIE–MAKES NO SENSE–CAUCOUSTIC BLUES

When we got this CD for review, we were intrigued by the man who considers himself a “true snarky-ass.”  However, after repeated listenings to his latest CD, “Big Snark,” we found Delaware’s David Brenton to be a thoughtful, crafty songwriter who writes about events in his life as well as the ups and downs of life that the average Joe can relate to.

Davi is also a fantastic singer and picker, with a substantial collection of Taylor guitars, hand-crafted by Bob Taylor.  He’s surrounded by an A-list of backing players, too.  The Prickly Bluesmen are Rick Beck on the B-3, Bobby Barr on bass, Chris Foltz on percussion,  Tony Robinson on drums, and Jay Heath on sax.

The set kicks off with the ‘lectrified licks of “Caucasian Blues,” and tells the tale of “an old guy who is white, sinngin’ blues.”  He’s the middle-aged victim of corporate downsizing, and is left “drinkin’ whisky out of old Mason jars.’  On top of that, his Material Girl up and leaves him when the bucks run out!  This song is reprised in acoustic form to close the set, cleverly done as “Caucoustic Blues.”  For us, we preferred the latter version, simply because there is nothing stronger than a man, his guitar, his voice, and a backing sax to bring the meaning of this song to life.  He does have some snark in him, tho, and it is directed to the powers that be.  In “Makes No Sense,’ Dave cuts loose on all the game-playing and finger-pointing going on in society these days, making the truth impossible to discern.  “Big Girl” has a rockin’ roadhouse feel, and is an ode to those women who are “plump, cuddly, and soft.”  On a related note is another rocker, “Mike Sully’s Boogie,’ dedicated to one of Dave’s  childhood friends, and deals with the nightly “hit it and quit it” scene in virtually every bar anywhere you go.

We had two favorites, too.  Dave gets downright poignant on a song that obviously had a deep, personal meaning to him, trying to explain away a broken home to an inquisitive youngster and make him understand why Mommy won’t be home tonight.  It’s called “Mother And I,” and it might even bring a tear to your eyes.  At the total polar opposite is our other favorite, and it is full of snark.  But, the snark doesn’t come from Dave–it comes from the three females (Tina Werner, Diane Kendrick, and Justine Huey) and they belabor poor Dave on everything he says and does if it’s not to their liking.  This one is a REAL hoot, and damn near every man on this earth can say he’s been in Dave’s shoes.

Dave sings about drinkin’ out of Mason jars, but there’s something down to earth and inherently cool about that.  That’s what you’ll hear from Snarky Dave And The Prickly Bluesmen on “Big Snark”—strong, down-home blues written from the heart and soul!  Until next time….Sheryl and Don Crow.

Buddy Guy review…August 2, 2013…

BUDDY GUY

RHYTHM AND BLUES

RCA SILVERTONE RECORDS   88883-75780-2

RHYTHM:  BEST IN TOWN–JUSTIFYIN’–I GO BY FEEL–MESSIN WITH THE KID (FEAT. KID ROCK)–WHAT’S UP WITH THAT WOMAN–ONE DAY AWAY (FEAT. KEITH URBAN)–WELL I DONE GOT OVER IT–WHAT YOU GONNA DO ABOUT ME (FEAT. BETH HART)–THE DEVIL’S DAUGHTER–WHISKEY GHOST–RHYTHM-INNER GROOVE

BLUES:  MEET ME IN CHICAGO–TOO DAMN BAD–EVIL TWIN (FEAT. JOE PERRY, STEVEN TYLER, AND BRAD WHITFORD)–I COULD DIE HAPPY–NEVER GONNA CHANGE–ALL THAT MAKES ME HAPPY IS THE BLUES–MY MAMA LOVED ME–BLUES DON’T CARE (FEAT. GARY CLARK, JR.)–I CAME UP HARD–POISON IVY

 

With a prestigious Kennedy Center honor earlier this year for a lifetime of great blues, Buddy Guy is literally on top of the world of contemporary blues, and one might think he’d rest on his considerable laurels.  But, instead, Buddy has just released one of the best albums of his storied career.  “Rhythm And Blues” is twenty-one cuts of Buddy at his best over two discs.  And, he’s once again teamed with long-time friend and collaborator Tom Hambridge as producer, and a killer list of guest artists that spur Buddy to some outstanding guitar work over the course of the whole set.

Let’s get to the music.  The “Rhythm” disc is punctuated by a smokin’ horn section on several cuts.  There is some excellent stuff on this one, too.  Buddy’s minor-key ode to a blind bluesman, aptly-titled “I Go By Feel,” has a soulful, Staples Singers vibe.  He’s joined by Beth Hart on a tale of two lovers who aren’t necessarily ready to throw in the towel on “What You Gonna Do About Me,” while the subdued, somber duet with Keith Urban reminds us that nothing is guaranteed, and we should never wish “One Day Away.”  And, kid Rock joins Buddy for a free-for-all on “Messin’ With The Kid!”  (Attention, DJ;s–it’s NOT FCC clean!)  But, for us, the best of this disc kicks it off–Buddy’s swagger is on full display as he tells everyone “you don’t have to be the Best In Town–just be the best until the best comes around!”

Disc Two, the “Blues” disc, is just that–real-deal Chicago blues from arguably one of the best to ever play them.  It starts with an homage to the Windy City, the guitar-fest that is “Meet Me In Chicago.”  He employs some sweet acoustic work on the sly “I Could Die Happy,” then plays some deep, slow-burning notes on his ode to lost love, “All That Makes Me Happy Is The Blues.”  The guest stars shine on this set, too.  “Evil Twin” is another classic slow-blues about a cheatin’ babe, and teams Buddy with Steven Tyler, Joe Perry, and Brad Whitford of Aerosmith.   And, Gary Clark, Jr. joins in on the uptempo “Blues Don’t Care,” because the blues is “the middle finger on the hand of fate!”

Buddy Guy is enjoying the fruits of his fifty-year career.  He’s got Grammys, Blues Awards, and a Rolling Stone nod as one of the  100 Greatest Guitarists of all time.  With “Rhythm And Blues,” it’s easy to see why he’s stood the test of time!   Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow