Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie By Lindsey Buckingham & Christine McVie

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Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie

Lindsay Buckingham & Christine McVie

Warner 2017

Review By David Bowling

 

Fleetwood Mac went into the studio to create a new album, but countless delays and Stevie Nicks not being available due to her solo career finally pushed Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie to change direction and issue a self-titled duo effort. Mick Fleetwood and John McVie comprise the rhythm section, so in actuality four-fifths of Fleetwood Mac were involved in the project. The only other musician was keyboardist Michael Froom.

McVie and Buckingham complement each other well. McVie tends to keep Buckingham’s solo excesses under control and Buckingham brings out the best in McVie and gives her music a little more bite.

Lindsey Buckingham Christine McVie is an album that grows on you. Many aspects of the Fleetwood Mac sound are present but there is a sparseness to the sound in many places. The elimination of Nicks from the equation enables McVie to be the main vocalist and allows them to create their own music without including just a vocalist.

They are at their best when it is McVie’s melodies and voice and Buckingam’s guitar tying everything together.

Christine McVie centers the key tracks. “Red Sun” is an up-tempo ballad that has McVie providing a wistful vocal, while Buckingham creates simple but effective guitar lines that fills in the gaps. “Too Far Gone” has a rock foundation curtesy of bassist John McVie and drummer Mick Fleetwood, but the vocal by Christine McVie is finds her reaching back to her Chicken Shack days with a blusey performance. “Game Of Pretend” is basically McVie and her piano.

Buckingham has always been an under rated guitarist. He shines on many of the tracks, plus his voice combines with McVie’s to create exquisite harmonies in places.

Lindsay Buckingham Christine McVie probably would have made a very good Fleetwood Mac album. Due to external circumstances, it ends up as a brilliant release by Lindsey Buckingham and Christine McVie.

Rating: ****

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Kind Of Blues By Adam Holt

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Kind Of Blues

Adam Holt

Zenith Label 2019Review by David Bowling

 

It’s amazing what an old Ampex tape machine and a few guitars can produce.

The CD cover picture makes Adam Holt look like an old and grizzled bluesman, which in many ways is correct. However, it belies his soulful, and almost gentle voice.

His new album, Kind Of Blues, is a personal release, that moves outward from a blues foundation toward country, Americana, and some good old rock and roll. The nine original compositions trace his personal journeys through life, set to music. Separation, corporate America, equality, and ultimately faith. all combine together to form  relevant and well thought-out album of music.

Adam Holt has produced another sold album of music. Kind Of Blues is recommended for anyone who likes their music introspective and passionate, plus has a little bounce to it.

Rating: ***

Twist The Knife By The Forty Fours

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Twist The Knife

Forty Fours

Rip Cat 2019

Review by David Bowling

 

Somethin old, something new, from the Forty Fours. It has been seven years since their last album, and in the mean time, vocalist/guitarist leader Johnny Main has assembled an entirely new lineup. Main and harmonica player Eric Von Herzen, bassist Kike Hightower, drummer Gary Ferguson, and guitarist Junior Watson have now released Twist Of Fate.

Their new album contains only one original song, “Cutting Deep,” written by Main. The other seven tracks are covers of songs by Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, Lightnin’ Hopkins, and Albert Collins.

Main leads his band through 33 minutes of energetic blues with rock and roll elements. There is a raw feel to many of the tracks but Main’s guitar work and Von Herzen’s harp center the music and provide enough sophisticated elements to keep it interesting.

The reconstituted Forty Fours have released an album that keeps the music simple and sometimes that is best. Twist Of Fate is a solid effort and well worth a listen.

Rating: ***

Live At The Fillmore Auditorium – San Francisco By Chuck Berry

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Live At The Fillmore Auditorium – San Francisco

Chuck Berry

Mercury 1967

Review by David Bowling

 

Chuck Berry may not have invented rock and roll all by himself, but he was there at the beginning. He established the guitar as a viable lead instrument and combined a number of styles and rhythms, which formed some of the foundations of rock and roll.

As time passed. Berry developed two bad habits when playing live. He tended to rely on his series of hits recorded during the 1950’s and he travelled without a backing band, instead relying on local bands. This made most of his concerts have a sameness and many of the local groups were inferior musically.

These issues were not present in 1967, when he performed the Fillmore in San Francisco. His set was comprised of mostly blues numbers and light on the usual hits. In addition, he shared the bill with the Steve Miller Band, who remained on stage as his backing band.

Live At The Fillmore Auditorium – San Francisco was released in 1967 and has been reissued a number of times. This is one of those occasions when the original release is better off without the bonus tracks.

It is blues tunes that dominate the performance. There is a lot of improvisation rather that just rote performances. There are also a number of slow blues tunes and laid back tempos, which were rare from Berry. In addition The Steve Miller Band with Miller on backing vocals, guitar, and particularly harmonica pushed Berry into one of the better recorded live performances of his career.

“Everyday I Have The Blues,” “Driftin’ Blues.” “Wee Baby Blues,” and “Hoochie Coochie Man” all meander along with some tempo twists and turns. “Everyday I Have To Cry Some” is a brilliant excursion through some Chicago blues.

The rock tunes have a tightness. His own “Feelin’ It” and “Rockin’ At The Fillmore” crackle with energy as he dig’s a little deeper into his catalogue. Even the album ending “Johnny B Good” comes across as a guitar based romp.

Chuck Berry’s career lasted more than six decades and as time passed he was many times taken for granted. If you want a quick lesson into his contributions to rock and roll; any of his Greatest Hits releases will due. If you want a look into his musical soul; then check out Live At The Fillmore Auditorium – San Francisco.

Rating: ****

 

Road Dog Dharma By Reverend Freakchild

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Road Dog Dharma

Reverend Freakchild

Reverend Freakchild 2019

Review by David Bowling

 

It’s time for the faithful to gather around as The Reverend Freakchild is back in the pulpit. Road Dog Dharma is his new album and it continues his approach of combining the blues with bits of country and psychedelic music. It all adds up to an idiosyncratic but ultimately interesting album.

Road Dog Dharma is Reverend Freakchild’s personal journey throughout the United States. Twelve of the 26 tracks are snippets of conversation and interviews, which are interspersed among the music tracks.

Musically, he covers a lot of territory but it all makes sense within the context of his theme. “Roadtrance” Live In Concert, the solo acoustic “Dial Me In,” “Hippie Bluesman Blues,” “Keep On Trucking,” and “The Fish Line” are all looks into his imagination and mind.

Even the cover material fit the theme well. Townes Van Zandt’s “White Freightliner Blues,” J.J. Cale’s “Call Me The Breeze,” and ZZ Top’s “Jesus Just Left Chicago” are all performed with a blues foundation, as they contribute to the overall experience of the album.

Reverend Freakchild has issued his most thoughtful and well-thought out album. Road Dog Dharma is an excellent introduction to his music and one of his best.

Rating: ***1/2

Ape Shifter II By Ape Shifter

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Ape Shifter II

Ape Shifter

Brainstorm Records 2019

Review by David Bowling

 

Ape Shifter is a basic, no nonsense instrumental hard rock band. Led by guitarist Jeff Aug; he is backed by the solid rhythm section of drummer Kurty Munch and bassist Florian Walter.

Aug was born in Washington D.C. and raided in Maryland but has lived in the Alps of Southern Germany for the past 20 years. He has fused American music sensibilities with European rock. What has emerged is an intense brand of rock and roll.

An instrumental band always has the added challenge of making their music interesting without words. Ape Shifter overcomes this issue by placing the focus on Aug’s guitar. He attacks songs such as “Mask Of The Ancient Warrior,” “American Eagle,” “Matilda,” and “Jiggy Jiggy Boom Boom” with a fierceness and lack of restraint.

Ape Shifter is a band that needs to be played loud to be appreciated. The album is also available on vinyl if you are so inclined.

Rating: ***

 

Ear Worms By Duke Robillard

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Ear Worms

The Duke Robillard Band

Stony Plain 2019

Review by David Bowling

 

Duke Robillard’s career has passed the 50 year mark and is still going strong. One of the founders of Roomful Of Blues and a member of The Fabulous Thunderbirds for a number of years; he has always maintained a solo career as well. He is a blues guitarist extraordinaire and his 30 plus solo albums have explored the blues idiom from a number of directions.

Ear Worms is his latest release and it is an appropriate title. Twelve of the 13 tracks are songs that have styed in his head, or his ears, for decades. Songs by Brenda Lee, The Neville Brothers, Link Wray, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry, and more, are re-imagined after staying with him for years. It adds up to a passionate, personal, and unique album by one of the great living blues guitarists.

Emblematic of his personal approach is his cover of the pop tune “Everyday I Have To Cry.” The Arthur Alexander tune is best remembered for versions by Steve Alaimo and Dusty Springfield but it is obscure British pop artist Julie Grant’s recording that he remembers. He found Grant and had her provide the vocal, while he gave the guitar sound a modern feel.

Link Wray’s “Rawhide” has been a favorite of guitarists for several generations. It is unadulterated rock and roll. Another reach back into rock and roll history is ‘Sweet Nothin'” by Brenda Lee. Sunny Crownover’s lead vocal gives it an authenticity and Robillard moves it in new directions with his guitar. “Yes We Can” is a cool psychedelic jam type piece.

The only original tune is also a reach back into his personal history. “Don’t Bother Trying To Steal He Love” was written during the 1980’s and has been re-recorded once. Now it reaches its final form as a rhythm & blues tune.

Ear Worms is a personal journey through Duke Robillard’s  musical roots, with some modernization along the way. One of his better and more interesting recent albums.

Rating: ****

Esoebo VI By Esoebo

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Esoebo VI

Esoebo

Knot Reel Records 2019

Review by David Bowling

 

Every once in awhile, its nice to try something a little bit different and the music of Esoebo (E-So-Bo) may fit the bill with their new album titled Esoebo VI.

Songwriter/acoustic guitarist/vocalist Chuck McDowell and cello player/harmony vocalist Gail Burnett formed Esoebo (Eclectic Selections of Everything but Opera) as a vehicle to bring McWilliams visions and some judicial covers to fruition.

Everything begins with McDowell’s songwriting ability. He is one of those artists who is able to layer his lyrics, giving the songs deeper meanings to be explored. He also provides the foundation with his vocals and acoustic guitar. Burnett fills in some of the blanks with her cello and backing vocals. Their backing band fills in around the edges.

The center of their style is rockfish folk and Americana. It is the added instrumentation that gives the music its different and creative nature. It is both simple and cerebral.

Esoebo is travelling a different musical journey. Their new album deserves to be explored, especially if you want something a little out of the ordinary.

Rating: ***

For Love & Money (CD) By Harpdog Brown

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For Love & Money

Harpdog Brown

Dog Hose Records 2019

Review by David Bowling

 

Harpdog Brown is a Canadian bluesman whose heart may be north of the USA border but his musical soul has drifted south toward New Orleans and the Southern Delta.

Brown’s new album, For Love & Money, merges southern swing with some elements of Louie Armstrong’s New Orleans Jazz and blues. It has a more developed sound than many of his past releases as he adds a horn section and tones down the guitars in favor of his harmonica and vocals.

Consisting of several original tunes and a well-selected group of covers, Brown takes the listener on a journey through some modern day blues, while remaining in touch with traditions from the past. Original songs, “Reefer Lovin’ Woman” and “Stiff” plus covers Blue Light Boogie,” “Buzzard Luck,” and “The Comeback” are all blasts of blues delight.

Harpdog Brown is now four decades into his career. For Love & Money is a well thought out and structured album that provides some interesting twists and turns within a blues setting. A good buy for any fan of the blues.

Rating: ***1/2

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.

Rating:****1/2