Blind Spot By The Lucky Losers

September 19, 2019

Cathy Lemons and Phil Berkowitz, professionally known as The Lucky Losers, have just issued their latest album titled Blind Spot.

The album features 11 original compositions that explore various facets of their life’s journey. Whether its the subject of love, the lack of morals and ethics around them, or simply getting through life; their vocal duet approach presents the songs with passion and finesse.

Their music is blues centered but it extends into soul and Americana. Backed by veteran musicians, their approach and sound is a reminder of days past.

The Lucky Losers have spun some new tales to be explored and appreciated. Blind Spot is worth while stop on their continuing journey through the highways and byways of life.

Live At Lafayette’s Music Room By Big Star

September 19, 2019

Since the death of Alex Chilton, there is been a proliferation of Big Star releases, both solo and as a band.

There has not, however, been many live releases by Big Star. Nine years ago Live At Lafayette’s Music Room was a part of a box set. It now returns as a stand alone and remastered release.

Big Star’s first album had been a commercial failure. Founding member Chris Bell promptly left the group. The three remaining members, guitarist/vocalist Alex Chilton, bassist Andy Hummel, and drummer Jody Stephens considered dissolving but decided to honor several live commitments. Several of those commitments took place in early in 1973, at the Lafayette Room in Memphis.

The 19 tracks set draws on material from their first album and unreleased second. The interesting dynamic is they performed as a trio and so had to compensate for Bell’s absence. It gave the music a different twist as the three musicians had to stretch to create their signature sound.

Another interesting dynamic  is they were the opening act for the soul group Archie Bell & The Drells. The sparse audience was a soul crowd and the reaction to Big Stars set was minimal.

The harmony parts are a stretch at times as there is a voice missing. The lead vocals are fine and the band compensates for the missing guitar parts. They wisely add in covers by the Kinks, Todd Rundgren, The Flying Burrito Brothers, and T. Rex, which are geared to the three of them.

The sound has been remastered but it is what it is. Why this odd and obscure concert was recorded in the first place remains a mystery.

Live At Lafayette’s Music Room is a glimpse into an unusual period of the Big Star Story. It should be a fan pleaser but for an introduction to the band, any of heir early studio albums is superior.

The Self-Contained Trilogy

September 19, 2019

Peter Banks, one of the founding members of Yes, has been gone for five years. In recognition of the fifth anniversary of his passing The Peter Banks Musical Estate released two albums. The first, Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky, (reviewed previously), was a jumbled affair, taking songs from various periods of banks career.

The second release is much more cohesive and necessary for any fan of banks. The Self-Contained Trilogy gathers together his three 1990’s solo albums into one set.

Instinct, Self-Contained, and Reduction create a complete picture of his musical thoughts and visions during a particular period of his career. He produced creative progressive rock that tended to float just outside the mainstream.

Peter Banks tended to move from project to project but The Self-Contained Trilogy covers one of the more settled periods of his career. It contains a lot of music worth exploring.

Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky: The Anthology By Peter Banks

September 19, 2019

Peter Banks, 1947-2013, was a musical everyman who missed the brass ring early in his career.

During the mid 1960’s, Banks was a part of a number of mostly forgotten bands; The Nighthawks, Devil’s Disciples, and Syn. By the time he migrated to Mabel Greer’s Toyshop, his bandmates were vocalist Jon Anderson, drummer Bill Buford, and keyboardist Tony Kaye. It was an easy jump to the formation of Yes. Banks left during the recording of their second album die to creative differences and the rest, as they say, is history, at least for Yes.

Banks would eventually settle into a solo career that produced cutting edge and creative progressive rock, that was just outside the mainstream. While he remained widely respected, large commercial success would elude him.

Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky is a two disc, 30 track release to mark the fifth annivsary of his death. While it is a compilation drawn from his solo career, the song selection is eclectic, bordering on odd at times. The release lacks cohesiveness, which helps regulate it to a niche release, primarily pf interest for fans of Banks.

There are a number of tracks that just feature Banks on guitar. “All Points South,” “Fogbound,” and “No Place Like Home” have a raw feel but demonstrate his style. When he is backed by a band, the music has a more finished feel, “Knights (Reprise)” with Phil Collins, Steve Hackett, and John Wetten and “Knights (Revisited)” with Tony Kaye, Billy Sherwood, and Jay Schellen present his musical visions.

Much of the second disc find him playing all the instruments with varying degrees of success.

During his career Banks released a lot of interesting music but continually seemed to be searching. Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky is an album of bits and pieces that that has individual high points but is never consistently satisfying.