May 15, 2018
If you want a quick lesson in what soul music is all about; “When A Man Loves A Woman” by Percy Sledge is a place to start.
The song has sparse instrumentation with Sledge pouring out his heart over the top.
It debuted on the Billboard hot 100 April 9. Seven weeks later it was number one for the first of two weeks. It would prove to be double hit as it topped the R&B chart as well.
He would never have another top ten pop hit, but his one huge hit was eternal.
May 15, 2018
Leonard Griffie is a musician who explores a number of styles and sounds but in the end he is grounded in the blues. He has released a new album titled Better Late Than No Time Soon. It is an album of original material which fuse the modern with the traditional.
Griffie is a musician who is able to change tempos effortlessly. There are silky ballads, gritty rhythm & blues, and explosive blues/rockers.
He is one of those artists who tends to float under the radar. despite producing very listenable blues. Hopefully Better Late Than No Time Soon will bring him some well deserved commercial success to go along with the respect he has already earned.
May 15, 2018
Eilen Jewel is as much historian as she is a blues musician. Her new album, Deep Hearted Blues, reaches back in time for songs by the famous; Willie Dixon and Memphis Minnie, and some who have been swallowed by the mists of time; Fiddlin John Carson.
She has taken a somewhat convoluted journey to releasing her first blues album. She has issued two albums of original material, recorded two gospel albums with the Gospel Shakers, and even recorded an album of Loretta Lynn covers.
Despite her search for the perfect blues material, she adds her own personal touches ranging from rockabilly to the twang of old-time surf music.
She has a wonderful soulful voice that traverses a number of keys. Every once in a while she comes close to jazz territory.
Three Willie Dixon songs form the heart of the album. “You’ll Be Mine,” “Crazy Mixed Up World,” and “You Know My Love” take on new textures curtesy of a modern day female blues approach. Minnie Lawler’s “Nothing In Rambling” is a unique take on a classic blues tune. Also of note is her resurrection of the old blues ditty “The Poor Girl’s Story” by the aforementioned Fiddlin John Carson.
Eilen Jewel continues her journey through American music with her blues laden Down Hearted Blues. It is a journey of surprises worth taking with her.
May 15, 2018
Over four decades ago Al Basile was the trumpet player for the Rhode Island jump-blues band Roomful Of Blues. These days, he surfaces every so often with a new solo album. He has explored a number of styles and rhythms but Quiet Money comes close to the classic sound of Roomful Of Blues.
He brings along many of his usual cast of characters. Former bandmate, producer, and brilliant guitarist Duke Robillard is on board as are former buddies from Roomful Of Blues, plus an assortment of musicians from Robillard’s current band.
In addition to being a superb trumpet and cornet player, it is his ability as a songwriter that pushes his music beyond the norm. He is a poet who regales the listener with thoughtful and incisive stories set to melodic blues music.
When you get to a certain age, your thoughts and approach to life begin to change. “Not Today” and “Who’s Gonna Close My Eyes” explore the passage of time. “Put Some Salt On It” is a humorous take of classic blues with hidden meanings lurking in the lyrics.
Quiet Money is an excellent dollop of modern-day blues from a sometimes unappreciated master.
May 15, 2018
There are super groups and then there are sort-of super groups. John Cowsill of the 1960’s pop group the Cowsills, Vicki Peterson of the Bangles, and Bill Mumy, producer, singer, and child actor of Lost In Space “Danger Will Robinson Danger,” have combined their talents to produce the album Angels Hear by their newly formed group, Action Skulls.
While the music is modern sounding, in many ways it contains a retro approach harping back to the 1970’s California and west coast sound. They basically produce shiny pop music that travels in a number of directions. There is the up tempo toe-tapper, “The Luckiest Man Alive,” a maudlin “I’ll See You In Another World,” the acoustic “Map Of The World,” and the bluesy “Feed My Hungry Heart.”
The harmonies are not only well-crafted but interesting. Their voices are very different but they blend together well. Whether the style is laid back or energetic, the harmonies which can be subtle or soaring and remain the foundation of their sound.
Angels Hear was about four years in the making. Eight songs were recorded, when original member, bassist Rick Rosas passed away. That loss and their own schedules put everything on hold for several years. Whether the Action Skulls ever record another album remains to be seen; but Angels Hair is an excellent album of well-crafted pop that proves musicians from different backgrounds can create very listenable music together.