Stick Fingers Live By The Rolling Stones

April 8, 2018

A decade or so ago, The Rolling Stones were becoming obsolete. Now, due to a strong retro studio release, expanded versions of some of their classic albums, and their live From The Vault series; they have re-emerged as a force of rock music.

Their latest release is Sticky Fingers Live At The Fonda Theatre 2015. Recorded May 20, 2015, at the beginning of their two month North American Zip Tour, in the intimate Fonda Theatre in Los Angeles; it was historic as it is to date the only time the Stones have performed their entire Sticky Fingers album live.

The Rolling Stones, in the twilight if their career, have managed to create just about the perfect live album. The clarity of the video and particularly the sound are superb. The guitars of Ronnie Wood and Keith Richards are out front and the clarity not only shows their guitar talent but how intricate the structure of many of the songs actually is.

The three opening songs are powerful rock and roll. “Star Me Up,” “When The Whip Comes Down,” and “All Down The Line” is rock and roll at its best, played by the greatest living rock and roll band.

Many of the songs from Sticky Fingers emerge modernized and definitive. “Bitch” and “Sister Morphine” are still edgy and painful. “Dead Flowers” and “Wild Horses” are different from most of the Rolling Stones catalogue. “I Got The Blues,” “Can’t You Hear Me Knocking,” and “I Got The Blues” re-introduce rarely played Stones classics. An extended version of “Brown Sugar” closes the regular part of the concert and leaves you limp.

The encore consists of “Rock Me Baby,” “Jumpin’ Jack Flash,” and a funky “I Can’t Turn You Loose,” which bribgs the concert to a satisfying end.

The Stones have delivered what may be the defining concert album of their career. If there is a better one in the vault, it is going to be spectacular.

Advertisements

American Mojo By Robert Cline Jr.

April 8, 2018

American Mojo is an album of an artist in search of self and song. It is also a chronicle of Robert Cline Jr.’s evolution as a songwriter and musician as he traveled throughout the United Stated being exposed and assimilating various styles and types of music.  What emerges is a traveling autobiography.

Cline’s music is taken from a number of genre’s but lands somewhere between roots and blues. Songs such as “Wichita Kansas,” “Leaving This Town,” “Pillar On My Pillow,” “Professional Guest,” and “The Boys From Muscle Shoals” explore faith, meeting his wife, playing music for a living, and just having a good time; all in story form.

Cline seems to be an artist who needs to be stimulated. It will be interesting to see what his next journey holds.


The Last Shade Of Blue Before Black By The Original Blues Brothers Band

April 8, 2018

Who knew? Almost 40 years ago the Blues Brothers film starring John Belushi and Dan Ackroyd was released to huge commercial success. The backing band was appropriately called The Blues Brothers band. Now, almost four decades later, The Original Blues Brothers Band, is still touring the world and has just released a new album titled The Last Shade Of Blue Before Black.

The Blues Brothers originally were and remain a band that plays the blues while having some fun along the way. That philosophy remains intact as guitarist Steve Cropper and sax player Lou Marine, along with their old band mates and assorted guests, romp through 14 tracks of original tunes and classic blues covers.

The original band was somewhat limited by Belushi and Ackroyd. Now, some of the best musicians working today are fronted by vocalists  such as Eddie Floyd and joe Louis Walker.

The band burns though Eddie Floyd’s original composition, highlighted by his vocals, “Don’t Forget About James Brown” and then morphs into the Paul Schaffer produced “Sex Machine.”

Jimmy Reed’s “Baby What You Do To Me,” Delbert McClinton’s “Cherry Street,” and Willie Dixon’s “Don’t Go No Further” continue the band’s trend of introducing new listeners to the blues.

“You Left The Water Running” and the old rock classic “I Got My Mojo Working” plum the essence of the band. Basically recorded live, they are sprawling pieces that one can envision in a smoky bar late at night. The Lou Marini title track album ender is seven minutes of proving that the band is still relevant.

For those of use who were actually around in 1978 when the Blues Brothers debuted as a one-time skit on Saturday Night Live, it’s good to have them still around. And be sure to turn up the volume.


Basics By Harold Loomis

April 8, 2018

Hamilton Loomis is another one of those musicians who floats under the radar. Years of touring and recording have honed his skills as a guitarist, songwriter, and performer. His latest release, Basics, is another album of solid blus and rock.

The album’s title signifies the approach on his latest release. He keeps it simple with a basic guitar, bass, and drums with a sax added here and there. The chord progressions are simple and the melodies memorable.

“Sugar Babe,” “Candles And Wine,” “Cloudy Day,” and “Come And Get Me” continue his use of short and incisive guitar solos with little wasted effort.

Basics is a solid release that will appeal to the ear, mind, and soul.


I Am The Cosmos By Chris Bell

February 14, 2018

Since Alex Chilton’s death, everything Big Star and everything associated with Big Star is being reissued. The latest entry in the Big Star sweepstakes is a two-disc expanded version of Chris Bell’s I Am The Cosmos.

Bell was a founding member of Big Star but left the band after their first release. His contributions helped establish the sound that made the band a cult favorite. His solo career came to an abrupt end in 1978 at the age of 27 when he died in motor vehicle accident.

Recently his pre-Big Star material was gathered together and issued as Looking Forward. It was a hit or miss affair of a young artist leaning his craft. I Am The Cosmos is a fully realized release. It finds Bell experimenting, not always successfully, and looking to the future, which never came. As such, it remains his best album and a treat for any fan of Bell or Big Star.

It is an album that moves in a number of directions. “Speed Of Sound,” “Get Away,” “I Don’t Know” and “I Got Kinda Lost” fit the Big Star sound and would have fit any of their albums. “You And Your Sister,” both the single version and the acoustic version find him moving in a different direction and show off his guitar work. The title track is a well thought out and mature recording of his thoughts at the time.

There are some misses but they are apart of a musician moving from a band setting to becoming a solo artist.

The second disc is comprised of 19 alternate versions of songs, unreleased material, and outtakes. It all holds together well and hints at what his musical future may have looked like.

Chris Bell remains an artist whose career was cut all too short. I Am The Cosmos is a look at his defining moment.


Rhythmland By Dennis Johnson & Mississippi Ramblers

February 14, 2018

I have a soft spot in my musical heart for slide guitarists. They are individualistic and each have their own unique sound.

One of the current leading proponents of the slide guitar style is Dennis Johnson, who with his backing band, The Mississippi Ramblers, has returned with their latest album Rhythmland.

What makes Johnson unique is while he has an easily identifiable sound, he is able to adapt it to a number of varied styles. Whether it be touches of folk, rock, roots, Americana, or straight blues, he is able to add his slide guitar sound over and through their rhythms. His approach is interesting in that he approaches a song from the basic rhythms and builds his leads from there.

Nine of the ten tracks are original and like any good blues artist they deal with life’s journeys through a story. The only non-original track is a unique interpretation of “Walkin’ Blues,” enhanced by his 12 string dobro. A counterpoint to that track is the laid-back acoustic performance on the jazz laden “My Love Is Here For You.”

Johnson is one of those master musicians who many times floats under the radar to all but a select few blues and slide guitar aficionados. He is also one of those guitarists who creates the illusion of playing the rhythm and lead parts on the same guitar.

Rhythmland is a creative piece of blues presented through the slide guitar sound. It is well worth exploring.


Milligan Vaughn Projct By The Milligan Vaughn Project

February 14, 2018

It all starts in Texas, at least for the Milligan Vaughan Project. Vocalist Malford Milligan and guitarist Tyrone Vaughan are Texans to their core and their joining together serves up a helping of dynamic rock and blues with their debut album MVP..

Milligan has a soulful voice and when it joins together with Vaughan’s guitar work, the sound emerges as a fusion of rock and blues.

The album was recorded in the studio except for the last two live tracks. “What Passes For Love” and the classic Freddy King song “Palace Of The King” represent the heart of their sound, which has been honed by constant touring.

They travel in a different direction with the ballad “Here I Am,” which is a nice counterpoint to their usual upfront, in your face approach.

MVP is a fine debit album from two music veterans who compliment each other well. Recommended for anypne who likes their modern days blues powerful and Texas style.