Universal Soldier 45 by Donovan

March 31, 2011

Before Donovan became a full fledged star during the mid to late 1960’s, he released a series of gentle folk singles for the Hickory label. “Catch The Wind,” “Colours,” and “Universal Soldier” all received some chart action in The United States.

The third of the three singles, “Universal Soldier,” was written by folk icon Buffy Sainte Marie and was released September 25, 1965. It would reach number 53 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

While I have never like the abrupt ending, the song is a biting anti-war song that has been covered by numerous artists down through the years. Donovan was wise to present it in a stripped down version.

While not as well know as many of his hits, it remains one of his finer performances.

The Wind Cries Mary 45 by Jimi Hendrix

March 30, 2011

“The Wind Cries Mary” was the third single issued by Jimi Hendrix in The United States. It was issued May 5, 1967, and failed to chart.

It was one of my favorite tracks from his legendary ARE YOU EXPERIENCED album.

It may not have received any chart action as a single, but ROLLING STONE MAGAZINE ranked it as one of the 500 Greatest Songs Of All Time. Fair Enough!

No Help Coming by Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs

March 29, 2011

Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs are about to release their fourth album, although Holly herself has been a part of close to 15 albums both as a solo artist and as a part of various groups, during her 20-year career. She received her moniker from her mother, who named her after a character in the film, Breakfast At Tiffany’s. Her real name is Holly Smith, which I have to admit dies not sound as good. Just for the record, she is not connected to the comic book artist of the same name.

Holly and The Brokeoffs are actually a duo. She is joined by multi-instrumentalist/vocalist/songwriter Lawyer Dave. Together they form one of the more eclectic groups or duos on the music scene today.

Their music is basically a garage sound that contains elements of country, pop, rock and even a little rhythm & blues. It is catchy and entrancing in an odd sort of way. The lyrics are often witty while the music is melodic. Holly’s vocal style is an acquired taste. Lawyer Dave, who provides the lead vocal on several of the tracks, is more mainstream in approach. Together they co-wrote nine of the 12 tracks. My only criticism of the release is I would have appreciated some liner notes telling fans about the band and their music.

The uptempo material seems a better fit than the ballads and the album’s lead track is a perfect example of that fact. “No Help Coming” has a chuga-chuga beat with sparse production that fits the duo’s sound well. The second track, “The Rest Of Your Life,” is an odd song. If you are familiar with the ’60s girls group, The Shangri-Las, just imagine them singing while under the influence of hallucinogenic drugs.

The old rhythm & blues song, “Here Lies My Love,” is given an ominous feel that is straight out of the American blues. Lawyer Dave’s vocal on “You’re Under Arrest” is strong and pleasurable.

The album’s best track is the old Bill Anderson country song, “Lord Knows We’re Drinking,” and fits their style well. The lyrics are tongue-in-cheek, and their dual vocals are an excellent fit. They maintain the song’s basics but modernize it in a good way.

The album’s final track is a cover of Wavy Gravy’s “L.S.D. (Rock and Roll Prison),” which brings the affair to a fitting close.

No Help Coming is a nice introduction to the quirky nature of Holly Golightly and The Brokeoffs. If you are in the mood for something different and are willing to take a chance, this is an album for you.

Read more: http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-holly-golightly-and-the1/#ixzz1I0P48ttx

I Know A Place 45 by Petula Clark

March 28, 2011

Petula Clark was in her early 30’s before she had her first hit in the United States. “Downtown” would top the American singles charts for two weeks weeks during early 1965.

If at first you succeed, then go to the well again. She released “I Know A Place” on March 20, 1965, and it would reach number three. It was the same type of up-tempo pop as “Downtown.” It had a catchy melody and the song stayed with you. It was perfect for AM radio in the United States at the time.

“I know A Place” would cementt her status as a female superdstar of the 1960’s. She would have 19 chart hits before the decade ended.

Her sixties material, including “I Know A Place,” remains an enjoyable listening experience nearly 50 years later.

One Way Out by The Allman Brothers

March 28, 2011

One Way Out is a two disc live album released by The Allman Brothers on March 23, 2004. It was recorded during a two night stand at the Beacon Theatre in New York City, March 25-26, 2003. It is the first live album to feature current guitarists Derek Truck and Warren Haynes together. It is also the last Allman Brothers album to date.

The album is a chronicle of the band’s career as both old and new material is included. The songs are both tight and loose extended jams, with five of the tracks clocking in at over tem minutes and two more falling just short of that mark.

While Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes will always be compared to Duane Allman and Dickey Betts, they need to be evaluated on their own terms. When that happens, they emerge as one of the finer guitar combinations working together today. I also like the fact that Trucks’ guitar comes out of the left speaker and Haynes’ from the right.

The four man rhythm section of drummers Jaimoe and Butch Trucks, percussionist Marc Quinones, and bassist Oteil Burbridge are one of the best in the business. When you add in Trucks, Haynes, and keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Allman, you have a solid unit of seven excellent musicians.

The Allman Brothers, whether their classic Duane Allman lineup or their 21st century aggregation, have always been more adept live than in the studio.

I have always been attracted to their longer pieces, especially in a live setting, as it gives the band a chance to stretch out and be spontaneous. The album’s longest track is the 16 minute plus “Instrumental Illness.” While I thought the studio version was okay, this live presentation is classic Allman Brothers at their best. Haynes and Trucks trade solos and everything is connected by a five minute drum solo. Their 15 minute version of “Whipping Post” may not be the equal of its storied past, but it is a very good modernization of this classic song. Gregg Allman steps forward on 13 minute “Desdemona.”

The shorter tracks are tighter and more structured, but are also very good. “Statesboro Blues,” “Midnight Rider,” “Come and Go Blues,” “Trouble No More,” and “High Coast Of Low Living” are all given nice work-outs. They also give a gritty performance on the classic blues tune, “Good Morning Little School Girl.”

The Allman Brothers are one of the great survival stories in rock history, as they have overcome death, addictions, and personnel changes. Their current group may not have the finesse as that of their classic predecessors, but they are probably more powerful. It’s been seven years since their last release, so it’s about time for another.

Alum as first published by me on http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-the-allman-brothers-one/page-2/#ixzz1HxMZGSEX

Hittin’ The Note by The Allman Brothers

March 28, 2011

The Allman Brothers released Hittin’ The Note, March 18, 2003. It was their first studio album in nearly nine years and a lot had changed for the band. Guitarist Warren Haynes and bassist Allen Woody had left to form Gov’t Mule. They were replaced by bassist Otiel Burbridge and guitarist Derek Trucks. Next, Dickey Betts was fired from the band he helped to form. Allen Woody passed away and Haynes decided to rejoin the band. Finally they added conga player Marc Quinones as a third percussionist. If your keeping track, The Allman Brothers now consisted of Haynes, Trucks, Burbridge, Quinones plus original members, keyboardist/vocalist Gregg Allman and drummers Jai Johnny Johanson and Butch Trucks.

Allman and Haynes were now the dominant members of the band and they formed a surprisingly adept songwriting combination and here they co-wrote five of the eleven tracks. Allman’s voice is in fine form and his keyboards are more front and center than in the past. Haynes co-wrote an additional 3 tracks with other partners for a total of eight, plus acted as co-producer for the release.

Trucks and Haynes now occupied the twin guitarist’s role and they brought the band into the 21st century. How they are compared to the classic combination of Betts and Duane Allman is up to the listener, but I tend to take them on their own terms, and their quality is very high. All four guitarists made the Rolling Stone Magazine list of the Greatest Guitarists of all Time. While I miss Betts and his country leanings, Trucks brought a bluesy sound to the band which was a nice change.

One of the positive attributes was the album was basically recorded live in the studio. There were a few overdubs after the fact, but what they played is basically what you get.

There is a lot to like about this album. “Firing Line,” “Maydell,” and “High Cost Of Living” are all very good rock/blues pieces. “Desdemona” at over nine minutes, gives both Trucks and Haynes a chance to provide solos.

“Instrumental Illness” was a Haynes/Burbridge instrumental composition, which will always be compared to the Betts catalogue of instrumentals. It was more solo oriented and not as melodic as the Betts material, but did receive two Grammy nominations. At over 12 minutes, both Derek Trucks and Warren Haynes string together a series of solos that are both creative and memorable.

Hittin’ The Note is a fine modern day Allman Brothers album. The songs are well written, the band tight, and the musicianship is exemplary. It remains an excellent listening experience and a treat for fans of the band

Article first published as Music Review: The Allman Brothers – Hittin’ The Note on Blogcritics.

Land Of A 1000 Dances 45 by Cannibal and The Headhunters

March 27, 2011

Cannibal and The Headhunters were a Mexican/American group out of Los Angeles, California. They were lead by Frankie “Cannibal” Garcia. Other members include Robert Jaramillo, Joe Jaramillo, and Richard Lopez.

On February 27, 1965, they released one of the great garage rock songs of the mid-sixties. “Land Of A Thousand Dances” was an infectious, up-tempo rock song. It may have had a raw sound, but it made you want to get up out of your seat and dance. It would rise to number 30 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart. It would be the only hit of their career.

Garcia would pass away at the age of 49, in 1996. He would leave behind one of the great singles of its era.

Beach Boys Medley 45 by The Beach Boys

March 27, 2011

Back during the early 1980’s, medley releases were all the rage. Any group that had had a number of hits put together one of these medley releases, and a few had hit singles.

Enter The Beach Boys. They combined their classic hits “Good Vibrations/Help Me Rhonda/I Get Around/Shut Down/Surfin’ Safari/Barbara Ann/Surfin’ USA/Fun Fun Fun” into one medley and issued it as a single on July 25, 1981. It rose to number 12 on the BILLBOARD MAGAZINE Pop Singles Chart.

It was one of the better medley releases of the era, which is probably due to the Beach Boys having a better catalogue of songs to draw from than most artists.

The best thing was it introduced a new generation to some of their best material.

Shake ‘Em On Down by Rory Block

March 26, 2011

Any new release by Rory Block is like a breath of fresh air or, to be more precise, a fresh breeze from the southern Delta — the original home of American Blues.

Aurora Block was a child of the sixties and the Greenwich Village folk scene. Leaving home as a teenager, she traveled to California and began playing the club and coffeehouse circuit. She also immersed herself in the Delta Blues, setting out to meet and play with some of her heroes, including Mississippi John Hurt, Skip James, Bukka White, Reverend Gary Davis, and Mississippi Fred McDowell.

Now four decades into her career, she is recognized as one of the premier female blues artists in the United States. She has won five prestigious W.C. Handy Awards or Blues Music Awards as they were re-named in 2006. She has also won twice for Traditional Blues Female Artist and three times for Acoustic Blues Album Of The Year.

She has now returned with what I think is her 30th album. Lately she has been issuing tributes to her old Delta Blues idols. Albums dedicated to Robert Johnson and Son House have now been followed by Shake ‘Em On Down, which is a tribute to her old mentor Mississippi Fred McDowell.

It is both a traditional and non-traditional tribute album. She covers seven of McDowell’s well-known songs but also includes four original compositions which channel his style and praise him as a musician, as well as one autobiographical song that talks about her encounter with him while she was a teenager. The last track is a rollicking cover of the old Sonny Boy Williamson classic, “Good Morning Little School Girl.”

The best of the McDowell tracks is “What’s The Matter Now,” which is perfect for her guitar style and voice. She’s added a second guitar part which fill in the gaps nicely. Also of note is the title song, which is one of those smoldering and sexual Delta Blues tunes which were prevalent back in the early 20th century. “Kokomo Blues” is just an effortless cover of the early blues at its best.

The albums best track, though, is her autobiographical “Mississippi Man.” It deals with her encounter with McDowell as a 15-year old and whets the appetite for more. She mentions in the liner notes that the full story is contained in her autobiography, which I have got to check out. She also presents a great story in the traditional style of the Delta Blues. The album’s first track is her “Steady Freddy,” which contains excellent examples of her acoustic and slide guitar prowess.

The album is presented in the spirit of Block’s love for the Delta Blues. She strips the sound back to basics as she plays all the guitar parts and provides all the vocals. The only variance is her playing both guitar parts, which is a nod to modern technology.

Shake ‘Em On Down is the latest in a long line of superior blues releases by Rory Block. She continues to invite her listeners back to visit the origins of the blues and it is a journey worth sharing with he her.

Article as first published on http://blogcritics.org/music/article/music-review-rory-block-shake-em/page-2/#ixzz1HqjGGFfP