Live At The G Spot By David Honeyboy Edwards

July 10, 2017

David “Honeyboy” Edwards, (1915-2011), may have been the last of the original Delta Bluesmen. He was born in Shaw, Mississippi, in 1915, and left home at the age of 14 to play the blues. He traveled with Robert Johnson for a number of years and was present when he drank poisoned liquor. He continued to perform until his death at the age of 96.

Omnivore Recordings has now released his last recorded concert as a two-disc DVD and CD set. At 95 years of age, Honeyboy performed a nine song set at the G Spot in Los Angeles, September 4, 2010. Backed by Jeff Dale & The South Woodlawners, he gave one of the last authentic concerts of the Delta Blues.

The CD and DVD contain the same material with two notable exceptions. The CD contains an extra band version of ‘That’s Alright.” The DVD includes twenty minutes of Edwards telling stories about music, Johnson, Charley Patton, and more.

The recording equipment was modern day, so the sound and video quality are excellent. The performance was filmed for release, so it has a cohesive feel. His song-set is a mix of originals and covers that span the decades. The backing band is capable and is wise enough to stay out of his way, although by just being there they lesson the primitive aspect of his original music a bit.

Edwards was 95 years old at the time of the performance and his voice, while not as powerful as in his prime, remains effective. His guitar technique is still evident and the film pays some attention to this part of his legacy.

“Ride With Me Tonight,” “Little Boy Blue,” “Catfish Blues,” and “Sweet Home Chicago” are stripped to their essence. While Edwards may need a little more help than in the past, his roots are still on display.

I’m Gonna Tell You Somethin’ That I Know is about as modern as Honeyboy Edwards ever gets. It is an album for people who long for music from a different and now by-gone time.


50 Years With Peter, Paul And Mary (DVD) By Peter, Paul And Mary

June 19, 2017

Peter Yarrow, Paul Stookey, and Mary Travers, better known as Peter, Paul & Mary, sold tens-of-millions of records during the early 1960’s pre-Beatles era and enjoyed a career that lasted until Mary’s death in 2009.

The trio formed in 1961 and they quickly became an important part of the folk revival movement. Their smooth style helped to make folk music a part of the American musical consciousness. Their early hits, “Blowin’ In The Wind” and “Don’t Think Twice It’s Alright” introduced Bob Dylan to the American public.

50 Years With Peter, Paul & Mary is a retrospective of their career as seen through concert footage, news clips, and interviews. Most of their well-known songs are presented. There is early footage from a long-lost BBC program, the famous performance of “Blowin’ In The Wind” at the 1965 Martin Luther King march on Washington, the poignant farewell to Mary Travers nostalgic memorial, and everything in between.

They are forever linked with the Civil Rights and Anti-War movement. Today their songs such as “Puff (The Magic Dragon),” “If I Had A Hammer,” “Leavin’ On A Jet Plane,” and “Stewball” may seem a little quaint and may have lost some of their impact but they are a reminder of a simpler era of the early 1960’s that quickly changed to a far more complicated one by the end of the decade.

The video and sound tend to of varying quality depending upon the date and whether it was originally meant for general release.  Everything has been cleaned up as much as modern technology allows but much of it is still not up to the standards of the day.

There are probably better instructions to their music such as any of their compilation releases or any 0f their early 1960 albums. However, if you want to understand their career, then 50 Years With Peter, Paul And Mary is a good place to start.


Live In Concert At The Capital Theatre By Justin Hayward

February 22, 2017

b2

I recently reviewed Justin Hayward’s new compilation album All The Way. It contained some good music but an odd song selection and only included half the tracks of the MP3 version.  A companion release by Hayward is much more fulfilling. Live In Concert At The Capital Theatre is a 117 minute performance that presents Justin Hayward at his best.

Unlike his last release, the song selection makes sense. He moves effortlessly between some classic Moody Blues songs to exploring all periods of his solo career. Simple Versions of “Tuesday Afternoon,” “Question,” “Your Wildest Dreams,” and the eternal “Nights In White Satin” provide nice nostalgic interludes.

When Hayward digs into his solo catalogue; there are a number of treats to be enjoyed. “December Snow,” “I Dreamed Last Night,” “The Eastern Sun,” and “Forever Autumn” benefit from being performed live without any studio tracks. Guitarist Mike Dawes and keyboardist/backing vocalist Julie Ragins provide a good foundation for Hayward’s music.

Hayward’s voice has lost little with the passage of time as it remains a smooth instrument. The sound and video quality are up to modern standards and the fact that it is a complete concert provides a nice flow to the release.

Two bonus tracks, “Blue Guitar” and “Who Are You Now” are enjoyable but not essential to the concert experience. The bonus music video of “The Wind Of Heaven” introduces one of the better songs of Hayward’s solo career.

Justin Hayward has just turned 70 and Live In Concert At The Capital Theatre is a nice look at an artist celebrating a career at the half-century mark. A must release for any fan of Hayward or the Moody Blues.

 


Brian Wilson And Friends (CD + DVD) By Brian Wilson And Friends

February 14, 2017

c1

The new live release by Brian Wilson and Friends is bittersweet. Wilson is now 74 years old and one has to wonder about his future. His voice is not of the caliber of his prime, so the emphasis on many of the tracks centers on his friends. In some ways he becomes the sideman. On the other hand he is one of the recognized genius’ of American pop music and his compositions remain a nostalgic part of American culture.

His friends include former Beach Boys Blondie Chaplin, Ricky Fataar, and Al Jardine who oddly is not mentioned anywhere in the liner notes but is a dominant figure in the music. Other friends include She & Him and Nate Ruess, the lead singer of the pop group Fun.

The sound and the DVD quality are both excellent. There are set differences. “California Girls” and “”California Saga” only appear on the CD. The DVD adds nine additional songs including the classic ballads “Don’t Worry Baby” and “God Only Knows.”

The concert was recorded at the Venetian in Las Vegas;. The music is a microcosm of Brian Wilson’s and the Beach Boys career. Al Jardine steers the band through “Wouldn’t It be Nice,” “Help Me Rhonda,” and the underappreciated classic “All Summer Long.” Chaplin and Fataar shine on “Marcella,” “Wild Honey” and “Sail On Sailor.” Ruess has a wonderful voice and he takes the lead on “Hold On Dear Brother,” “Darlin,’” and “Saturday Night.”  Beach Boy staples such “Heroes  And Villains,” “Dance Dance Dance,” “Fun Fun Fun,” and “Good Vibrations” are group efforts, which work well given Wilson’s vocal limitations.

His solo material is more reflective and runs counterpoint to the early Beach Boys songs. The two bonus songs, which close the DVD; “Pacific Coast Highway,” and “Summer’s Gone” are the statement of an aging musician looking back on his career and life.

While Brian Wilson takes a back seat to his friends many times; it is his music that is front and center and ultimately carries the album. It is a ride through the decades of the eternal summer that Brian Wilson created so many years ago.

 


Live At Montreux (CD + DVD) By Toto

February 14, 2017

aa21

Toto may not be a band that comes to mind when one thinks of the legendary Montreux Jazz Festival, but back in 1991, they were there, front and center. They would make a return appearance in 2015.

Quincy jones had always been a fan of Toto and he invited the band to appear. The core members of the group at the time were Steve Lukather, David Paich, Mike Porcaro, and Jeff Porcaro. Jeff would pass away shortly after their performance and Mike followed in 2014 before their return to the festival.

Toto is mainly known for their series of melodic rock hits during the late 1970’s and early 1980’s that featured tight harmonies. Songs such as “Hold The Line,” “Rosanna,” and the number one “Africa” sold millions of copies and made the band a consistent concert draw.

Down through the years Toto has been a musically consistent bad. One album flows into another and if you like one, you will probably like them all. That is what makes their set at Montreux so interesting. “Rosanna” and “Africa” are both there but the rest of their performance digs a little deeper into their catalogue, plus they stretch out a bit and cover some songs not usually associated with their style.

They take on the Jimi Hendrix classic “Red House” and Sly Stone’s “I Want To Take You Higher” and while the originals may be preferable, the energy is there and it is interesting to see and hear the band outside their comfort zone and taking some chances.

The CD and the DVD contain the same song set. Both the sound and video are excellent as they have been remasterd with modern technology. The booklet gives a succinct history of their performance.

Live At Montreux: 1991 is a nice addition to the Toto legacy and should please any fan of the band.

 


Live At The NEC By Deep Purple

January 10, 2017

a20

Deep Purple founding member Jon Lord announced his retirement from the band in 2002. He had other projects in mind after nearly 35 years with the group and he was feeling his age. He would pass away in 2012. The baton was officially passed on September 14, 20012, when Deep Purple took the stage at the NEC in Birmingham, England. New keyboardist Don Airey played with the band for the first half of the show and was then joined on stage by Lord for the second half.

This seminal concert by Deep Purple has only been available as part of the massive and pricey box set Around The World Live. Now the 109 minute performance has been issued as a stand-alone DVD.  The video is clear and the sound crisp as it presents the modern day version of Deep Purple at its best.

Given the historic nature of the concert, the set list is made-up of their well-known songs. “Fireball,” “Woman From Tokyo,” “Space Truckin,’” “Speed King,” Smoke On The Water,” ”Hush” “Black Night,” and “Highway Star” are a trip through the first two decades of their career.

The transition occurs with Airey’s keyboard solo at the conclusion of “Speed King,” when Lord comes on stage to join him as they move into “Perfect Strangers. “ Whether Airey, Lord, or both; the music is straightforward. At this point in their existence, they take few chances but give the fans what they want with passion and energy.

The concert provides a dividing line in the career of Deep Purple. The music would remain the same but Lord’s absence took a major presence out of the mix. Live At The NEC is a historic concert for the band in that it both a farewell and a look toward the future.


Totally Stripped (CD + DVD) By The Rolling Stones

December 15, 2016

a6

The massive Voodoo Lounge tour may have been a little too much for even the Rolling Stones. Their next project, 1995’s Stripped album and documentary, went in a different direction as they cut out a lot of the frills and extras and returned to basics.

Now a little over two decades later, they have returned to that project with the release of Totally Stripped, which gathers live tracks from their club performances in London, Amsterdam, and Paris and combines them with a re-worked documentary. Please note that there is a deluxe version with four DVD’s, which presents each show in its entirety but this review is for the basic release.

The CD is a nice presentation of the obscure and the well-known. Songs such as “Not Fade Away,” “Dead Flowers,” “Like A Rolling Stone,” and “Rip This Joint” combine with “Honky Tonk Women,” “Street Fighting Man,” Midnight Rambler” and “Brown Sugar” to give it a career spanning experience.

The music is not as stripped back as the title would suggest. Bassist Darryl Jones, keyboardist Chuck Leavell, a full brass section featuring sax player Bobby Keys, and backing singers Lisa Fischer and Bernard Fowler are all on hand. It is the small clubs venues that give the music a laid back and intimate feel and when Ronnie Wood switches to acoustic guitar; it all takes on a very different feel.

The documentary is one of the better ones the band has produced. The banter finds the members relaxed and the music is truly stripped back to basics. Songs such as “The Spider And The Fly” and “Wild Horses” are very different from their usual presentation. The film is a nice look into a band moving in a different and creative direction.

Totally Stripped is a nice look at a short and unique period in the career of the Rolling Stones. The production is crisp, the music excellent, and the band is engaged. It is a nice trip back in time.