The Ice Queen By Sue Foley

December 18, 2018

The Ice Queen Cometh (Last March 2nd to be precise)!

Canadian Sue Foley had received numerous music awards in her home country. Now based in Texas, she has recorded her newest album, The Ice Queen, with the help of a number of Texas legends such as Billy Gibbons of ZZ Top, Jimmie Vaughan, Charlie Sexton, and the Texas Horns among others.

She has stayed close to her musical foundation for her new release, combining rock, blues, roots, and even a little flamenco into a contemporary amalgam of sound.

She wisely mixes up the styles and tempos. She thunders through “81,” “The Ice Queen,” “”Fool’s Gold” with Billy Gibbons, and “a horn drenched “If I Have Forsaken You.” She steps forward with her vocals and guitar on a bluesy cover of Besse Smith’s classic “Send Me To The ‘Lectric Chair.”

As good as the full-throttle songs are; sometimes simple is best. “Death Of A Dream,’ with only bass and drums in support, is a mellow jazzy journey.

The final two tracks are just Foley, her guitar and voice. “The Dance” is an interesting fusion of the blues and an acoustic flamenco style. The final track is again her solo with a nice rendition of the Carter Family’s “Cannonball Blues.”

Sue Foley is a mature musician who has found a home in Texas. The Ice Queen is a fine collection of Canadian blues and roots music; Texas style.


Double Standards By Mick Kolassa And Friends

December 18, 2018


Artifact: The Unreleased Album By The Choir

December 18, 2018

In a time long long ago, in a city that would host the future Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame, The Choir was born and lived a short life.

The Choir was an American band formed during the mid-1960’s, who were influenced by the British Invasion. During their five years of existence they would undergo a number of personal changes and only release a few singles. Yet, their reputation was such that they opened for the likes of The Who, Blues Magoos, Hermans Hermits, and Yardbirds.

During 1969, one of the last incarnations of the band recorded enough material for an album, but their dissolution left the tapes in storage until a couple of years ago. Now 48 years after their creation, they have now been remastered with modern technology and released under the title Artifact: The Unreleased Album.

They may have a British Invasion vibe but think early Procol Harum rather than the Beatles, Rolling Stones or Dave Clark Five. They are more pop than rock and roll and there is a subtle nature to their music.

Songs such as “Anyway I Can,” “Have I Know Love To Offer,” “Boris’ Lament,” and “I Can’t Stay In Your Life” are quintessential 1960’s rock and pop. They may seem a little primitive almost half a century later but if taken in context, they make one wonder why the band was not more successful.

The various members of the band went in a number of directions but drummer Jim Bonfanti and guitarist Wally Bryson grabbed the brass ring as members of the Raspberries. They and a dozen or so other musicians left behind a wonderful look into not only a mid-sixties American band just on the cusp of commercial success but some excellent music.


Muddy Gurdy By Muddy Gurdy

December 18, 2018

I like to try different types and styles of music and Muddy Gurdy fits that category and then some.

First a definition: A hurdy-gurdy is a French instrument. It is played with a hand-cranked wheel, which functions like a violin bow as it rubs against the strings.

Muddy Gurdy is a French blues Band consisting of Tia Gouttebel (guitar and vocals), Gilles Chabenat (hurdy-gurdy), and Marc Glomeau (percussion). They recently travelled to Northern Mississippi to create and record their second album.

Using local musicians and recording is rustic places with little technology, they have created a unique album of basic blues. Ranging from the classic delta blues of Mississippi Fred McDowell’s “”She Wolf,” to the Chicago blues of Mudding Waters “Rollin’ And Tumblin,” to the traditional “Glory Glory Hallelujah;” they have stripped the blues to an elemental level.

The self titled Muddy Gurdy is for the blues aficionado who wants their music basic and a little different.


Rollin’ With It By John McNamara

November 22, 2018

Someone once dubbed the Flamin’ Groovies as “the best rock & roll band you never heard of.” Formed in 1965 as a classic San Francisco underground psychedelic rock band by Cyral Jordan; they incorporated some power pop into their sound with the addition of Chris Wilson during the early 1970’s. They have now released their first studio album in over two decades with Fantastic Plastic. 

Their new release is a guitar album at its foundation. Wilson and Jordan are both excellent guitarists and producer J. Jaffe contributes some steel and slide guitar as well.

The album is graced by ten new compositions cutesy of Jordan and Wilson. They wisely do not try to re-invent themselves but build on their past.  “What The Hell’s Goin’ On” is emblematic of their guitar driven rock approach with the vocals piled on top and is easily recognizable to anyone who has followed the band. “Just Like A Hurricane” finds them moving in a blues direction. Songs such as “I’d Rather Spend My Time With You,” “Let Me Rock,” and “Crazy Macy” are all well written and produced rock and roll.

There are two cover songs in addition to the ten original compositions. They move NRBQ’s “I Want You Bad” in a pop direction. The Beau Brummels were another unappreciated band from the era and they put some energy into their “Don’t Talk To Strangers.”

All of the songs are concise and have a tightness and have little wasted effort.

The original artwork by Cyril Jordan is a tribute to Mad Magazine writer Jack Davis. I wish I could see it on a regular vinyl side album as it is a wonderful nostalgic trip back to another era.

The Flaming Groovies have always deserved better commercially. Fantastic Plastic picks up where they left off as it presents high quality rock and roll.


Fantastic Plastic By The Flamin Groovies

November 22, 2018

Someone once dubbed the Flamin’ Groovies as “the best rock & roll band you never heard of.” Formed in 1965 as a classic San Francisco underground psychedelic rock band by Cyral Jordan; they incorporated some power pop into their sound with the addition of Chris Wilson during the early 1970’s. They have now released their first studio album in over two decades with Fantastic Plastic. 

Their new release is a guitar album at its foundation. Wilson and Jordan are both excellent guitarists and producer J. Jaffe contributes some steel and slide guitar as well.

The album is graced by ten new compositions cutesy of Jordan and Wilson. They wisely do not try to re-invent themselves but build on their past.  “What The Hell’s Goin’ On” is emblematic of their guitar driven rock approach with the vocals piled on top and is easily recognizable to anyone who has followed the band. “Just Like A Hurricane” finds them moving in a blues direction. Songs such as “I’d Rather Spend My Time With You,” “Let Me Rock,” and “Crazy Macy” are all well written and produced rock and roll.

There are two cover songs in addition to the ten original compositions. They move NRBQ’s “I Want You Bad” in a pop direction. The Beau Brummels were another unappreciated band from the era and they put some energy into their “Don’t Talk To Strangers.”

All of the songs are concise and have a tightness and have little wasted effort.

The original artwork by Cyril Jordan is a tribute to Mad Magazine writer Jack Davis. I wish I could see it on a regular vinyl side album as it is a wonderful nostalgic trip back to another era.

The Flaming Groovies have always deserved better commercially. Fantastic Plastic picks up where they left off as it presents high quality rock and roll.


Pop Art Live By The Rasberries

October 2, 2018

The Raspberries were formed in 1970 and for five years and four albums produced an early form of power pop based on perfect harmonies and melodies. In some ways there sound was almost to perfect for the era as they never received the  complete respect of the rock audience of the day.

On November 26, 2004, the lights were turned back on the the Raspberries. The four original members, guitarist/vocalist Eric Carmen, lead guitarist Wally Bryson, bassist David Smalley, and drummer Jim Bonfanti reunited for the opening of the the Cleveland branch of the House Of Blues. That performance has now been released as a two disc set titled Pop Art Live.

For a band that had not performed together in three decades, the Raspberries are in fine form. Hit songs such as “Go All The Way,” “Let’s Pretend,” and “I Wanna Be With You,” are still examples of pure melodic pop.

In addition to their well-known material, they did a little deeper into their catalog plus present covers of songs by the Beatles and the Who. The Beatles “Baby’s In Black,” “Ticket To Ride,” and “No Reply” are transformed into American pop songs. Likewise the Who’s “I Can’t Explain” is filled out with tight harmonies.

My only criticism, there appears to have been a bit of overdubbing after the fact, which takes away from the purity of the live performances.

The Raspberries are one of those artists that are more appreciated after the fact. Pop Art Live is a nice modern day presentation of what you have missed for the last 40 years or so.