Sweet Release (CD) By Reese Wynans And Friends


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Sweet Release

Reese Wynans And Friends

J&R Adventures

Review by David Bowling


If ever an album and artist deserves commercial success; it is Sweet Release by Reese Wynans. He is a rock and blues artist that you probably have heard but may not recognize his name.

Wynans is a member of The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame due to his membership in Stevie Ray Vaughn’s Double Trouble. He has supported such stars as Buddy Guy, Martina McBride, Captain Beyond, John Mayall, Ana Popovic, and Jon Bonamassa among others. What he has not done in his 50 year old career is release a solo album, until now.

Sometimes it is the company you keep and for his new album Wynans draws on a number of artists from past associations. Jon Bonamassa produces and plays guitar and former Double Trouble bandmates Tommy Shannon and Chris Layton are on hand. Add in such luminaries as Sam Moore, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, Warren Haynes, Vince Gill, Keb Mo, Doyle Bramhall II, Bonnie Bramlett, Jimmy Hall, and more, and you have the makings of one of the best rock/blues albums of the year so far.

The only song he co-wrote is a rocking blues track that is a tribute to Stevie Ray Vaughn. “Crossfire” features former Double Trouble band members Chris Layton and Tommy Shannon but it is the combination of Kenny Wayne Shepherds guitar, Wynans keyboards, and Sam Moore’s bluesy vocal that drives the track.

Three Stevie Ray penned songs are included. “Say What,” “Hard To Be,” and “Riviera Paradise” are a guitar connoisseur’s delight with Joe Bonamassa and Kenny Wayne Shepherd, exchanging licks.

“Shape I’m In” and the Beatles “Blackbird” demonstrate different sides of Wynans approach. The first is a barrelhouse rocker that traces its roots to the blues. “Blackbird” is just Wynans and his piano. It can best be described and an improvisational jazz piece. It is a simplistic approach that is very different from the other tracks but may be a style he may want to explore in the future.

Reese Wynans has had half-a-century to prepare for his debut album and it was time well spent. Sweet Release is an excellent album by a veteran bluesman who has a lot of friends.




Hell Bound For Heaven By Manx Marriner Mainline



Hell Bound For Heaven

Manx Marriner Mainline

Stony Plain 2019

Review by David Bowling


So who or what is a Manx Marriner Mainline?

Harry Manx and Steve Marriner are multi-instrumentals who have shared the stage together for a number of years. Manx is an expert slide guitarist and a practitioner of the Mohan Veena, which is a 20 string Indian instrument that he has incorporated into his blues style. He has 15 solo album to his credit. Marriner is a long-time member of the band MonkeyJunk. They have now combined their talents to release their debut album Hell Bound For Heaven.

They have produced primarily a roots album that incorporates strong elements of blues and gospel. Manx’s exploration of fusing Indian music and American blues are muted as they take a more traditional approach.

Their debut together consists of six original and four cover tunes. The title track, the only one to feature the Mohan Veena, has creative interplay with Marriner’s twelve-string guitar and is representative of the fusion of sounds and styles that combine to create their brand of roots music. “My Lord” is just Marriner on guitar, harmonica, and vocals, which proves that sometimes simple is best.

The covers run the gamete from Reverend Gary Davis’ “Death Have No Mercy In This Land” to the traditional “This Little Light Of Mine.” Right in the middle is Charlie Patton’s “Rattlesnake Blues” with Manx revving up his slide guitar for some straight-forward blues.

Harry Manx and Steve Marriner have combine their talents to release an album that explores many facets of what can be defined as roots music. Hell Bound For Heaven is an album that invites repeated exploration.

Rating: ***


Clean Up The Blood (CD) By The Atomic Road Kings


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Clean Up The Blood

Atomic Road Kings

Big Tone 2019

Review by David Bowling


There are probably thousands of bands all vying for a piece of the blues pie. Each is trying to find that magic ingredient that sets them apart and hopefully leads to commercial success. Enter the Atomic Road Kings and their new album Clean Up The Blood.

Jon Atkinson is a competent vocalist and excellent guitarist, especially when he is in slide guitar mode but it is harpist Eric Von Herzen that makes the difference. His melodic excursions create a deep, rich, and dark sound.

The harmonica and guitar sound play off of each other and form the foundation of the band’s music. They do not have a light touch but rather attack their songs with intensity and energy.

Atkinson and Von Herzen wrote 11 of the 12 tracks and songs such as “In Arms Reach,” “My Way Back Home,” “Back Down South,” and the title track are all prime examples of what modern day blues should be like.

Rating: ***


All We Have (CD) By Taylor Scott Band


All We Have

Taylor Scott Band

Mark Pucci Media 2019

Review by David Bowling


The Taylor Scott Band has returned with a new album titled All We Have. They are a basic modern day electric blues band with rock and roll overtures.

The band consists pf guitarist/vocalist/songwriter Taylor Scott, keyboardist Jon Wirtz, bassist Chris Harris, and drummer Lem Williams. They form a formidable unit who wisely do not try to re-invent the blues.

They music keys off Scott’s guitar. He is an adept technician who is able to create a clear sound. The band fills in the background. They may not be ground breaking but songs such as “Somebody Told Me,” “Carry Me Away,” “Wishing Well.” and “The Walk” are sure to please any aficionado of modern days blues.

The Taylor Scott Band’s music is basic and sometimes that is the best way to play the blues.

Rating: ***

It’s About Time (CD) By Susan Williams & The Wright Groove Band


It’s About Time

Susan Williams & Wright Groove Band

Susan Williams & Wright Groove 2019

Review by David Bowling


Susan Williams is a veteran vocalist/songwriter/bassist who fronts the Wright Grove Band. They have now released their debut album titled It’s About Time.

Williams and her band are a blues band with a twist. She is a cocomposer who has written 10 of the 11 tracks. She also has an excellent, husky voice that fits a blues style well. The twist is their use of two basses, which gives the music a funky element.

Lead bassist Darryl Wright, Guitarist Mike Gallemore, drummer Rob Davis, and on 6 tracks, keyboardist Michael Cruse fuse their rhythms with classic blues. Their unique approach makes for an interesting listen.

It’s About Time is a blues album that travels a different road and is well-worth exploring.

Rating: ***




Joint Effort (CD) By Humble Pie


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Joint Effort

Humble Pie

Dead Line 2019

Review by David Bowling


Humble Pie was and is an English Rock band formed in the late 1960’s by guitarists Steve Marriott and Peter Frampton. They were well received in their home country and the United States and released seven studio albums between 1969 and 1974. Their crowning achievement was their live 1971 release Rockin’ The Fillmore, which captured the essence of the band and in some ways the era.

By 1974 the band was on life-support but went into the studio to support an American tour. The result was Street Rats, which was by far the worst album of their career. A second album’s worth of material was purportedly never released until now.

There are some good and bad issues with the release. Many of the tracks were issued in 1999 as a part of the Running With The Pack release, so the material was not truly lost. Secondly, Peter Frampton is pictured and this is misleading as he was long gone from the band. Also their company did not see fit to release the album in 1975, and this fact, combined with the musicianship of the released album, does not bode well for the newly released Joint Effort.

What we have is an album for Humble Pie completists. The album revolves around Marriott and bassist Greg Ridley. Marriott seemed to record what he wanted without any restraints. His rocker “Charlene” and Ridley’s bluesy “A Minute Of Your Time” come the closest to Humble Pie’s better material. There is a loopy rendition of the Beatles “Rain” and an excellent vocal by Marriot on James Brown classic “Think.”

There are a number of misses as well. The sound is average at best and there seems to be a lack of energy throughout the release. The band members would separate after the recording sessions, although there have been a number of reunions, albums and tours.

Joint Effort is stuck in time and is what it is. The essay that is included is excellent, and good, bad, or indifferent; Marriot, who died in 1991, was a musical genius at times, so any rare material is always appreciated. But, buyer beware, there are better places to start.

Rating: **



Amour (CD) By Colin Linden & Luther Dickinson


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Colin Linden & Luther Dickinson

Stony Plain 2019

Review by David Bowling


Colin Linden and Luther Dickinson are two veteran guitarist who have joined forces to create the album Amour. They have basically selected some of their favorite songs, invited some friends to contribute the lead vocals, and the result is a laid-back, personal album of love songs.

Colin Linden’s career is close to the 50 year mark. He has been a noted session guitarist for Bob Dylan, Lucinda Williams, and The Band among others, and currently balances a solo career with being a member of Blackie and The Rodeo Kings.

Luther Dickinson is currently the lead guitarist for the North Mississippi All Stars but it was his four year stint as a member of the Black Crowes that helped define his career.

They have selected songs from country, blues, folk, and rhythm & blues. Their guitars meld together in supporting vocalists Billy Swan, Rachel Davis, Ruby Amanfu, Sam Palladio, and Jonathan Jackson.

The old Ray Price hit “For The Good Times” is transformed into a Smokey blues number, curtesy of the lead vocal by Ruby Amanfu. Billy Swan’s composition became a classic R&B hit for Clyde McPhatter. Now Swan turns it back in a more country direction. “Crazy Arms” with Sam Palladio handling the lead vocal duties, find Linden switching to electric dobro.

The only original composition is the album opening “Careless Love.” This instrumental establishes the tone and style of what will follow as Linden’s dobro and Dickinson’s electric guitar create a love song without words.

Sometimes it is enough for a musician, or two musicians in this case, to just have some fun and create an album of appealing music. Their guitar playing is both subtle and technical. A good album for late at night when the lights are low.

Rating: ***

Jackpot (CD) By The Vegas Strip Kings



Vegas Strip Kings

Gutbukit Records 2019

Review By David Bowling


Vegas Strip Kings is an apt name for this band. Their approach and sound is that of an ultimate lounge act. Their energetic approach would be welcome at just about any casino lounge in America.

Guitarist/vocalist Al Eck, keyboardist/accordion player Billy Truitt, upright bassist Rob Edwards, drummer Justin Truitt, and saxophonist Jimmy Carpenter produce a simple fusion of blues and rockabilly.

Self-penned songs such as “Rotgun Run,” “Jesus On The Dash,” “Back To You,” “Life Of Me,” and “Pawnbroker” are all representative of their approach

The Vegas Strip Kings are not a laid back listening experience. They are toe tapping, vigorous, and at times, an almost out of control band. They may not be smooth but they will always get your attention.

Rating: ***

The Curved Air Rarities Volume 3 (CD) By Curved Air



The Curved Air Rarities Series Volume 3: The Second British Rock Meeting 1972

Curved Air

CRVE 2019

Review by David Bowling


Cured Air was, and still is, a progressive rock band. They formed in 1970 and combined electronics with some classical and folk influences. They had a unique approach as they used a violin as a lead instrument. They released six studio albums during their first incarnations. They were far more popular and influential in the home country of Great Britain and Europe, than in the United States, where they were more of a cult band.

The Curved Air Rarities Volume 3: The Second British Rock Meeting 1972 the best of the three releases of rarities. It presents possibly the earliest live performance of the band in existence. In addition, the sound is extraordinary for an early 1970’s concert recording.

The album consists of their set performed at The Second British Rock Meeting Festival, Germersheim, Germany, May 22, 1972. They were a band that was much better live than in the studio as they could improvise at will. The best example of their prowess as an improvisational band is a 31 plus minute jam of “Vivaldi,” that highlights the convergence of violin, synthesizer, and guitar.

The six song set presents about an hour of music that is different from much of what was being produced at the time. Lead singer Sonja Kristina vocals float in and out. She was and remains unique as a female front woman for a progressive rock band.

Curved air travelled a different road in creating their sound. The concert remains an interesting intergration of various sounds that creates a number of textures and layers. In some ways it is a product of its era and the early development of progressive music, but it also points to the future.

Rating: ***1/2

Prime Cuts: The Very Best Of The Beast From The East (CD) By Popa Chubby



Prime Cuts: The Very Best Of The Beast From The East

Popa Chubby

Ear Music 2019

Review by David Bowling


Popa Chubby’s career is approaching the three-decade mark and to celebrate the occasion; he has released a retrospective of his career titled Prime Cuts: The Very Best Of The Beast From The East.

He is basically bluesman, whose sound spreads out in a number of directions. His new compilation album provides a good glimpse of the various sides of his music; more so than any of his regular releases. “Light Of Day” has a R&B vibe, while “Caffeine And Nicotine” has some jazz elements. “Grown Man Crying Blues” is eight minutes of what he does best; improvising on his guitar whole while wailing away on vocals.

Thirteen of the 15 tracks are originals but the two covers are excellent. “Hey Joe” is a basic rendition, while he twists Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah” all out of shape.

Popa Chubby may be raw at times but his music is engaging. Prime Cuts: The Very Best Of The Beast From The East is a good starting point to experience his music.

Rating: ***