On The Way Downtown: Recorded Live At Folk Scene (CD) By Peter Case

April 23, 2018

You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why, Elvis Presley is coming to town (again).

Christmas is less than three months away and another batch of Elvis Presley music has been re-imagined. The latest in the Elvis sweepstakes is 13 of his Christmas tunes, now being backed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Elvis Presley’s three Christmas albums have sold a combined 24,000,000 copies and his original 1950’s Christmas album remains his biggest selling album. The original release is one of the better Christmas releases in that it combines rock, sacred, and gospel with some gritty and in several cases bluesy vocals by the king. It is just about the perfect Christmas album.

As Jim Croce wrote, “And you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger,” and you don’t mess around with the perfect Christmas album.

In many ways the background orchestra takes away from the power of Elvis’ vocals. When the orchestra is reduced to the distant background and the vocals are more upfront, it is just a better listen such as “Merry Christmas Baby.”

If you have not heard or want to obtain some of Elvis’ Christmas music, seek out a copy of his original first album. It is readily available. If you are an Elvis fan who has to have everything, then go ahead.


Elvis Christmas With Royal Philharmonic (CD) By Elvis Presley

April 23, 2018

You better watch out, you better not cry, better not pout, I’m telling you why, Elvis Presley is coming to town (again).

Christmas is less than three months away and another batch of Elvis Presley music has been re-imagined. The latest in the Elvis sweepstakes is 13 of his Christmas tunes, now being backed by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra.

Elvis Presley’s three Christmas albums have sold a combined 24,000,000 copies and his original 1950’s Christmas album remains his biggest selling album. The original release is one of the better Christmas releases in that it combines rock, sacred, and gospel with some gritty and in several cases bluesy vocals by the king. It is just about the perfect Christmas album.

As Jim Croce wrote, “And you don’t tug on Superman’s cape, you don’t spit into the wind, you don’t pull the mask off the old Lone Ranger,” and you don’t mess around with the perfect Christmas album.

In many ways the background orchestra takes away from the power of Elvis’ vocals. When the orchestra is reduced to the distant background and the vocals are more upfront, it is just a better listen such as “Merry Christmas Baby.”

If you have not heard or want to obtain some of Elvis’ Christmas music, seek out a copy of his original first album. It is readily available. If you are an Elvis fan who has to have everything, then go ahead.


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.


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.