Archive for January, 2015

Blue Lunch review…Jan. 15, 2015….

BLUE LUNCH

ABOVE THE FOLD

RIP CAT RECORDS  RIC 1117

AIN’T TRYING TO KILL NOBODY–ONE FINE DAY–EVERYBODY’S ON THE PHONE–THE LONG GAME–WOMAN I BLEED–NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT–SEVEN TIMES–WHERE DO YOU THINK IT’S GOING–LAKE ERIE HIGHBALL–VENITA–LOVE ME NO MORE– –ALL I NEEDED–TOSSIN AND TURNIN AND BURNIN ALL UP INSIDE–KATT’N AROUND WITH MOE–GOOD NEWS

The premise behind Rip Cat Records has always been to let the musicians create great music without any outside interference.  And, nowhere is this more evident than wih the Cleveland-based outfit, Blue Lunch.  Led by guitarist Bob Frank and harp man Pete London,  who both handle vocals, they head up a sweet eight-piece band who can play anything in any style imaginable.  Their latest, “Above The Fold,” is a multi-genre romp thru cuts that cover blues, jazz, New-Orleans-styled R & B, and, even gospel.

The party starts with the jump-blues swing of “Ain’t Trying To Kill Nobody,’ then segues’ into the breezy soul of tenor sax man chris Burge’s original instrumental, “One Fine Day.”  “Seven Times you walked out on me” is a good example how the fellows can bring it on the classic soul sound, while the brush-stroked drums and barroom piano gives the slow-blues of “Venita” that “last call at 3 AM” feel.

There are two great gospel cuts, too.  Evelyn Wright adds vocals on the “John The Revelator”-influenced “Where o You Think It’s Going?”  And, the set closes on a brilliant note–the fellows sing the gospel favorite, “Good News, the chariot’s coming,” completely a cappella, further showcasing their versatility.

We had two favorites, too.  Pete channels his inner Rice Miller with the swagger of “The Long Game,” while the predilection in today’s society to depend upon cell phones for just about everything is rather humorously detailed thru the rockin’ swing of “Everybody’s On The Phone.”

Blue Lunch has done it again—in their own words, they have made “Above The Fold,” an album “no one else could make!”  If you want a cool shot of something just a little bit different, then give this one a spin!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

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Sean Costello review..Jan. 15, 2015…

SEAN COSTELLO

IN THE MAGC SHOP

SCF/VIZZTONE  VTSCF-01

IT’S MY OWN FAULT–CAN’T LET GO–HARD LUCK WOMAN–TRUST IN ME–FEEL LIKE I AIN’T GOT A HOME–YOU DON’T KNOW WHAT LOVE IS–CHECK IT OUT–I WENT WRONG–YOU WEAR IT WELL–TOLD ME A LIE–MAKE A MOVE–FOOL’S PARADISE

Sean Costello left this world way too soon on April 15 2008, on the eve of his 29th birthday, after a lengthy battle with addictions, and a life-long battle with bipolar disorder.  As a teen, he set himself apart from some of the other phenoms thru his soulful, expressive singing, and, later thru his songwriting.  One can feel the young man coming of age in this previously-unreleased studio album from 2005, entitled “In The Magic Shop.”  It was produced by Sean’s long-time friend Steve Rosenthal, in his new York studio, The Magic Shop.

Sean Costello had a firm grip on several genres’ of music, and managed to keep them all rooted in the blues.  Listen to his version of Bobby Womack’s “Check It Out” and Fenton Robinson’s “You Don’t Know What Love Is,” giving each of these classics a bluesy workout with his vocals and blistering guitar.

“Make A Move” ventures into some fine, funky territory with the poignant lyric, “we all have troubles in our life,” and the set closes with a somber “Fool’s Paradise.”  Sean shows off more of his versatility on the sweet ballad, “Trust In Me,” and a too-cool-for-school take on “You Wear It Well” with Jimi Zhivago on twelve-string National guitar.

Our favorite was easy.  Sean always expressed himself most deeply thru his guitar, and the extended opening of “It’s My Own Fault” shows what a player Sean was–that passion and power that only he could conjure up is all over this cut and his ultra-bluesy vocal finishes it off.

Sean Costello was a huge talent who left this mortal coil battling a disease that even today is not fully understood.  All proceeds from the sales of “In The Magic Shop” will benefit the Sean Costello Memorial Fund For Bipolar Research.  Sean, we miss you, man….Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

Sauce Boss review…January 12, 2015…

THE SAUCE BOSS

BILL WHARTON

100 % PURE

BURNING DISK 009

ZIPPER BIRD–MARQUIS DE SWAMP–GONNA BE ALL RIGHT–CHAINS–DELTA 9 BLUES–PECKERWOOD–CHICAGO COMBAT ZONE–CADILLAC OF A WOMAN–HEY WILBUR–SUN-SONG OF THE IRISH BAND–OUTLAW BLUES

Bill Wharton, better-known to food connoisseurs and blues aficionados alike as The Sauce Boss, has been turning out good gumbo and good blues for several years now.  He’s blended blues and swampadelic grooves and has done so in a basically “one-man band” format.  His latest album is entitled “100 % Pure,” and carries on Bill’s tradition of blues-based songs that include touches of humor, as well as venturing over to the dark side, and, even songs based on his true life stories.  But, throughout, the groove is the thang!

Most all the cuts are driven by Bill’s wild man, Delta-fied slide attack that, at times, borders on the primal.  Check this out on “Chains,” a tale about holding down the ones we love.  “Delta 9 Blues” finds Bill craving a little “reefer to clear my mind,” while the set closes with the true account of being jailed in 1984 for the growing of marijuana.  This one has a grungy,  Hill-Country-stomp feel.  Acoustic dobro is the instrument of choice as Bill recounts the dangers of being a three-year-old living with his parents in the South Side of Chicago, “Chicago Combat Zone.”  At the other end of the spectrum is “Hey Wilbur,” done for pure fun.

We had two favorites, too.  “Cadillac Of A Woman” is sweet, Christmas-themed ballad dedicated to that special love that comes only from our mothers, who are all “a diamond deluxe.”  And, “Peckerwood” is another stompin’ shot of fun and the backwoods girls who love that “grass that is all the colors of the rainbow!”

The Sauce Boss has served up another delicious helping of foot-stompin’ good blues with “100 % Pure.”  Get yo’self a big serving of this gumbo and…ENJOY!!!   Until next time…..Sheryl and Don Crow.

 

Tommy Talton review…Jan. 8, 2015…

TOMMY TALTON

UNTIL AFTER THEN

HITTIN THE NOTE RECORDS  7-27908-04886-5

UNTIL AFTER THEN–REAL SUGAR–MR. LOVE–DISTANT LIGHT–MY O MY–I KEEP MY MIND ON YOU–SHE WAS THERE–THE MAN FROM DOWN NEAR WACO–LOVE U A LITTLE–YOU GOT A FRIEND–SURFIN THE LEVEE (BONUS TRACK)

Tommy Talton’s name is synonymous with classic Southern rock, as a co-founder of the group Cowboy.  They were discovered by Duane Allman, who introduced them to Capricorn head Phil Walden, who paired them with producer Johnny Sandlin, who produced several albums for them during the Southern rock heyday.

Tommy’s guitar style is rooted in rhythm and blues, something you had to have to make a name for yourself in those early days.  His latest album is entitled “Until After Then,” and these eleven original cuts are each unique in their own way, with different sounds, time signatures, or subject matter.

A punchy horn section and accordion drives the jangly pop of a story of youg love “surrounded by a clear white fire,” “I Keep My Mind On You.”  The breezy, ethereal “She Was There” and “Distant Light” both describe a true love that is “always there.”  “Love U A Little” utilizes a marching backbeat over Tommy’s acoustic dobro and acoustic, barrelhouse piano from Rick Hirsch.  “You Got A Friend,” with its slide guitar and backing chorus and instrumentation, revisit the halcyon days of when Southern rock ruled the radio dial.

We had two favorites, too.  The bonus track is entitled “Surfin The Levee,” and has that eerie, psychedelic feel reminiscent of Zep’s version of the traditional “When The Levee Breaks.”  And, Tommy declares he doesn’t want any MSG or mononitrates, just “give me some Real Sugar!”  This one has some cool wah-wah guitar from Kevin Holly in this funky tale where “I don’t want my real world watered down!”

Tommy Talton continues to show everyone why he was so sought-after and revered back in the day.  And, a diverse set such as “Until After Then” is one to be enjoyed again and again!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Donald Ray Johnson review…Jan. 7, 2015…

DONALD RAY JOHNSON

THESE BLUES–THE BEST OF DONALD RAY JOHNSON

MAR VISTA RECORDS  MV 7

AIN’T NO FUN TO ME–GONE SO LONG–THESE BLUES–ALWAYS ON MY MIND–SLOW DOWN BABY–HERE TO STAY–ME AND JACK (DANIELS)–LAST TWO DOLLARS–NO GUITAR–IT AIN’T EASY BEING BLUE–THRILLING YOU, KILLING ME–WORKING GIRL BLUES–IT’S TIME

Super soul man Donald Ray Johnson won a Best New Artist Grammy back in 1979 with the group A Taste Of Honey.  (“Get down,  Boogie Oogie Oogie,” anyone?).  Since that time, he’s moved to Alberta, Canada, and released six albums on his own.  His latest release is a career-spanning overview of thirteen of his favorite performances, entitled “These Blues.”  which embraces his love for blues, soul, and R & B.

He kicks things off with the Al Green classic, “Ain’t No Fun To Me,” with some sweet harp and B-3.  This sets the tone for the rest of the album, such as the swingin’ “Gone So Long,” where Donald has a lover who seems to have a lot of friends, who all happen to be men!  “No Guitar” is a cool slow-blues dealing with payin’ your dues, while Donald shows his soulful, smooth chops on “Always On My Mind,” “Here To Stay,” and the venerable “Last Two Dollars.”  The set closes with the ultra-seductive “It’s Time to make sure love is right.”

We had two favorites, too.  In “Me And Jack (Daniels),” Donald finds himself in a losing battle after seven rounds with the Tennessee whiskey man.  And, a scorching guitar drives Donald’s biography of sorts, “These Blues are all I own.”

The Disco Era may be long past, but true talents such as Donald Ray Johnson  go on and on.  His “best of” retrospective, “These Blues,” shows a true bluesman at the top of his game!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.

Altered Five Blues Band review…Jan. 4, 2015….

ALTERED FIVE BLUES BAND

CRYIN’ MERCY

OMNIVORE RECORDS

DEMON WOMAN–I’M IN DEEP–FIND MY WINGS–STAY OUTTA MY BUSINESS–COUNTERFEIT LOVER–I GOT YOU–WHO’S YOUR LOVER–MOVE HOUSE–HERE’S YOUR HAT, WHAT’S YOUR HURRY–URGENT CARE–BACK BUTTON

The Altered Five Blues Band has been one of Milwaukee’s finest contemporary blues quintets since their formation back in 2002.  Fueled by the powerhouse vocals of Jeff “JT” Taylor, and the equally-impressive guitar attack of Jeff Schroedl, their latest release is eleven original cuts that channel blues, soul, and funk, entitled “Cryin’ Mercy.” The set was produced by Tom Hambridge, and the whole thing has that live-in-the-studio feel.

Check out the scorching solo from Jeff on the leadoff “Demon Woman,” whose “looks may be divine, but you are the devil’s kind!”  JT learns the hard way in the jazzy “I’m In Deep,” about spending all his money on a woman “who can’t be pleased,” then has the same thing happen with a “Counterfeit Lover” whose lies “fooled me time and again!”

A woman addicted to “hit and run” relationships keeps JT on edge as Jeff’s guitar pulls it al together in “Here’s Your Hat, What’s Your hurry,” while the set closes with JT asking for a “Back Button” to get himself out of “some of the messes I’ve made,” as the backing chorus chants “reset, reset” over the vocal.

We had two favorites, too.  JT’s vocals are as rich and pure as can be on the beautiful ballad, “Find My Wings,” that offers a message of hope for those looking to find a way.  And, Jeff Schroedl turns up the heat on the slow-blues of “Move House,’ the sly-and-sexy tale that has JT looking to move into a house with “a great front balcony and a nice back porch!”

It is no wonder why The Altered Five Blues Band has been one of the hottest bands in the Midwest for the last twelve years or so.  Their distinctive originals, great musicianship, and quality production makes “Cryin’ Mercy” one that will stay in heavy rotation once it hits your player!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow, The Nashville Blues Society.

 

Peaches And Crime review…Jan. 1, 2015…

PEACHES AND CRIME

DO BAD THINGS

PC-03

WELCOME–ALIBI DANCER–DEATH ROW SWING–HERSCHEL GANEV–MATCH MAKER–SELF MADE MAN-VERY HAPPY POLKA–GREATEST LOVE STORY NEVER TOLD–CUANDO YO ESCAPO–YOU CAN’T KEEP A GOOD WOMAN DOWN–VENTRILOQUISM SKIT–BRINGING HELL TO BROOKLYN–KICK AROUND, KICK BACK–IT’S A GOOD THING

Peaches And Crime are the brainchild of Daniel Schwartz and his wife Angela.  Their three-part harmony evident throughout is completed by the dynamic voice of Angie Diamond.  Their third release, “Do Bad Things,” is a fine ensemble piece that spins tales of love lost and found, crime and punishment, and many varied musical styles from jazz and blues, to even polkas and a klezmer song!  These variations in styles make the whole set come across as an old-time vaudeville show committed to wax!

Highlights for us were the leadoff “Alibi Dancer,” given the full-on “torch” treatment from Angie, the beautiul ballad, “The Greatest Love Story Never Told,” while the women reprise a “Weekend At Bernie’s” scenario with “Cuando Yo Escapo”and the disposing of a dead body!!

The loss of her lover leads our heroine to start “Bringing Hell To Brooklyn,” with revenge as the motive in this minor-key masterpiece where “Satan better step aside!”  And, on a related note, actions and their consequences are documented in the somber call-and-response of the “Death Row Swing!”

Peaches And Crime and “Do Bad Things” bring to life a bygone era where there is an ensemble cast of players who all get in on the act.  This is indeed a unique, unusual set that is well-worth checking out!!  Until next time…Sheryl and Don Crow.