Saturday, December 31, 2011

11 cool whatevers of 2011

Various things in completely random order:

New (to me) discoveries:
Sharon Jones & the Dap Kings - I Learned the Hard Way / Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears - Tell 'em What Your Name Is & Scandalous and insane Gospel discovery: Isaiah Owens - You Without Sin Cast the First Stone

Good R'n'R Reads:
Patti Smith - Just Kids / Sonic Transmissions - Tim Mitchell / There's Something About Jonathan - Jonathan Richman and the Modern Lovers - Tim Mitchell / Diary of a Rock'n'Roll Star - Ian Hunter

Guitar of the year (that I bought in 2011):
Epiphone 5102TE

Best Local restaurant (if you have some money to spare for an exceptional experience):

Best Las Vegas bands (that we've seen, which I admit has not been all that many):
Tinglerz - amazing garage/punk'n'roll (and damn nice guys)/ The Las Vegas Nines (ultra cool instrumental rock ala Booker T & the MGs)

Best Live Shows by out of town bands
Love Me Nots Dec 10, 2011 headlining the Double Down Saloon/ The Loons Oct 17, 2011 at Las Vegas Country Saloon, opening for the Flamin' Groovies

Best new(ish) r'n'r band:
Jim Jones Revue / Burning Your House Down

Best Blues DVD:
The American Folk/Blues Festival - The British Tours 1963-1966

Coolest Gallery in Las Vegas:
Gamma Gamma Gallery

Hippest new place to hang and play in Las Vegas:
Motor City Cafe

Most fun I've had in years (thanks Mel & Lenny!)
The Swamp Gospel

Happy New Year and let's see what 2012 brings!

Friday, December 30, 2011

Wishbone Ash - Argus

Definitely one of my guilty pleasures, which is sure to get me kicked out of the "cool club", is Wishbone Ash! Having first heard and seen them in the mid-70's, I have always been attracted to their twin-guitar and vocal harmonies. Few bands have ever concentrated on both to such a degree. And, of course, my memories are helped by having made out with my first girlfriend innumerable times to their music!

This CD has many of the songs that I know best (mostly from their live album), including the beautiful "Blowin' Free", "The King Will Come", "Warrior", "Throw Down Your Sword", and, as bonus tracks, live takes of "Jail Bait", "Pilgrim" and "Phoenix".

No, this is not raw, raucous rock'n'roll. But this is cool pop music with excellent vocals and amazing guitar interplay. Nice stuff!

Thursday, December 29, 2011

The American Folk-Blues Festival - The British Tours 1963-1966

Wow - this DVD is nothing short of phenomenal! The British learned to appreciate American legends long before we did in our own country and they managed to bring some major superstars over on tours to supremely appreciative audiences. The performances on this DVD show just how breathtaking these masters were!

This set is a who's-who of American blues! Starting out with Sonny Boy Williamson, decked out in a bowler hat and umbrella as a caricature of a proper British gentleman - except for his missing teeth! - he blows his harp sideways and through his nose, and still remains a genius at the instrument! He later returns in a suit made of alternating squares of material, like a crazed blues Two-Face! Muddy Waters is the handsome prince of the genre, Lonnie Johnson amazes with his acoustic guitar licks, and Big Joe Williams is literally breath-taking and he mercilessly pounds his 9-string (!) guitar! I immediately picked up my laptop and ordered a CD of his after seeing this - incredible!

Lightnin' Hopkins is suave and dapper and Sugar Pie Desanto is raucously and blatantly sexy as hell. Howlin' Wolf is larger than life, even on screen - what a presence! Man, I can't even imagine what it must have been like to be in the same room with this cat! And he brought along Hubert Sumlin & Willie Dixon, along with Sunnyland Slim on piano and Clifton James on drums to back him up.

Big Joe Turner belts it out with none other than Otis Rush on guitar, Little Brother Montgomery on piano, Fred Below on drums and the super-cool Jack Myers on bass. Junior Wells does his best James Brown impression (kind of a bummer that he's not playing harp, but he is an entertainer!) and then the bonus tracks include more Muddy Waters and the ultra-talented Sister Rosetta Tharpe!

Not a bad note on here and some stellar performances! Absolute must-have!

Wednesday, December 28, 2011

Mott the Hoople – All the Way from Stockholm to Philadelphia – Live 71/72

This 2-CD set shows just what a difference a hit record can make! The first CD is pre-All the Young Dudes and the 2nd is post. While the first CD is hard-hitting, biting, energetic and sounds like they are pissed and gonna make the audience dig them whether they like it or not, the 2nd shows that they are on their way to being stars and have a real confidence. Funnily enough, the Philadelphia show was recorded on the tour that Ian writes about in Diary of a Rock’n’Roll Star, that I just ranted about. (I'll have to go back and see what he said about this show).

I’ve gone on & on about how great the band’s early albums are and this all-too-short set is a testament to their strengths. They do a terrific cover of Mountain’s “Long Red” (they were all fans of Leslie West and even considered having him join the group when Mountain broke up!), then, oddly, slow it down to a crawl for “The Original Mixed Up Kids” (a cool tune, but unusual for a 2nd number), blast back with “Walking With a Mountain”, give tribute to Sonny Bono with their hip take of “Laugh at Me”, and power through “Thunderbuck Ram” and “Keep a Knockin’”. Fantastic!

The 2nd CD concentrates almost entirely on tunes from their then-current hit album – from the opening one-two punch of “Jerkin’ Crocus” and “Sucker” which then slows down for “Hymn For the Dudes” (that would be on their follow up album, Mott). Mick Ralphs is featured on lead vocals on “Ready For Love” (with its cool vocal trade-off with Ian) and guitar on its “epilogue” “Afterlights”, which has a really nice, dynamic build at the end. “Sweet Jane” moves nicely and then Ian’s ballad “Sea Diver” which prefaces Brain Capers’ “Sweet Angeline”, which became a much harder song in a live setting. A song that was always a hard rocker is “One of the Boys” (Ralphs later re-wrote it for Bad Company’s breakthrough hit “Can’t Get Enough”) and this is fantastically rockin’ here! Another tune from Brian Capers, “Midnight Lady” closes the set nicely before the guys come back for their encore of “All the Young Dudes” (with Bowie singing backup) & “Honky Tonk Women” (to finish on their own).

This is simply excellent all around – nice contrasts in gigs, good sound, great tunes. Another essential for any MTH fans!

Mott the Hoople - Original Mixed Up Kids

This essential CD showcases the original line-up of MTH (with Verden Allen and Mick Ralphs) and highlights just how powerful their music was even before they became stars with the help of David Bowie. The songs are pulled from BBC sessions and a concert at the Paris Theater in or around 1970.

Both sides of the group are displayed, though this concentrates mostly on their heavy power - from the the opened "Whiskey Women" to the brooding "Darkness, Darkness" to "The Moon Upstairs", "Thunderbuck Ram" and "Death May Be Your Santa Claus". Ian's more delicate moments shine, as well, such as the title cut, "Your Own Backyard" (with it's heavy ending) and his epic, "The Journey".

While I love pretty much everything that Mott did (up through the album The Hoople, anyway), the pure rawness and energy (even on the ballads) of the pre-Bowie Mott always speaks to me. All fans should own this!

Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Newport Folk Festival – Best of the Blues 1959-68

The Newport Folk Festival was more than a concert to many of the musicians who played here – this was a place where careers could be made, or at least re-born for a new audience. White college kids were discovering the blues and enthusiasts were tracking down legends – many of whom were thought of as long dead. Record executives would come to the festival and would hand performers contracts as they came off the stage. Modern rock bands would cover their material, thus ensuring the writers some sense of financial security. This collection highlights many of the legends who appeared at this important festival.

This 3-CD set is broken down into three section – Delta Blues, Country Blues and Urban Blues. The men who are showcased (and it was all men – despite the number of female blues musicians in the past, this was a very chauvinistic period for the blues) are now, at least mostly, well known and renowned.

The Delta Blues disc includes Mississippi John Hurt (actually more folky to modern ears than traditional blues), Skip James, Son House, Bukka White, Mississippi Fred McDowell and Muddy Waters. Who today could imagine seeing all of these masters at one time in one place?

On disc 2, the Country Blues, there are some musicians that are a little less well known, but still legendary, nonetheless. Robert Pete Williams (who had recently been released from jail where he did time for murder) starts off with some terrific guitar work, making me want to look further into his discography. Mance Lipscomb is another great, followed by the more light-hearted Jesse Fuller (and his kazoo solos), the ever-amazing Reverend Gary Davis, Brownie McGhee & Sonny Terry and closing with Sleepy John Estes.

The final disc, featuring Urban Blues, showcases bluesmen that are likely the most famous of this package. Starting with the solo work of Lightnin’ Hopkins (though Samuel Lay joins him on percussion for “Shake That Thing”), he is followed by the boogie of John Lee Hooker, who is also uncharacteristically accompanied by bassist Bill Lee (Spike Lee’s father) on a couple of numbers. It wasn’t just guitarists who came to Newport and pianist Memphis Slim and his quartet thrilled the crowd with his boogie-woogie, rockin’ blues and Otis Spann dueted with Muddy Waters on a couple of fantastic numbers.

Another very cool tune is the Chamber Brothers (years before their hit with “Time Has Come Today”) doing a gospel/blues version of “See See Rider” – really different and truly phenomenal. The Paul Butterfield Blues Band takes the stage to what sounds like one person half-heartedly applauding, but they give a terrific, traditional blues set. Of course, just the fact that they were an electric band was enough to put off some purists who didn’t realize that by this time, bluesmen had been playing electric for years (though it does sound as if they won over the crowd).

This set shows the many faces and sounds of the blues and preserves concerts that were pivotal to the blues and to popular music in general. A fine collection!

Monday, December 26, 2011

Ian Hunter - Diary of a Rock'n'Roll Star

I have owned several copies of this book over the years, but they seem to keep disappearing, or at least getting lost among all of the other books, magazines and what-have-you that we own. But, it is always worth finding again and re-reading, because it is a true r'n'r classic.

Ian decided to keep a diary on this short American tour at the end of 1972, just after Mott the Hoople had released All the Young Dudes and were just starting their rise to fame. In America they were still opening most shows and here he tells the tales and travails of a band that were only at the beginning of their notoriety.

Of course, they had been to the states before (by this time the group had been together for at least 4 years, released 4 albums out and had almost broken up completely) but here they are getting some of the gain for their pain. But, it is still reasonably new to all of them and Hunter has a refreshing naivete about travel, American hotels, the sites of the cities and the excitement of the chase for guitars via local pawnshops. Presciently, he talks of Mosrites and Gretschs gaining popularity in the future and that young musicians should not shy away from such models (he played a Guild at the time and sings its praises, as well). Ha! I wonder if he has looked back at these musings and realized just how right he was!

Of course, the real charm of the book is the amazingly truthful and accurate way he talks of being on the road. From the boredom to the last minutes rushes to the re-routing due to weather (they were traveling commercially and at the mercy of the major airlines) to the bad sound checks to the gigs that they thought were going to be abysmal that turned out to be terrific. The one thing that I found odd was the number of gigs that they were willing to cancel - for good reasons, but with a willingness to disappoint fans with a no-show rather than a poor performance. Having missed all too many bands that I really wanted to see because of no-shows (that were either never rescheduled or I could not get to the new gig), this seems a bit callous, regardless of the reasons.

But, Ian is honest throughout, retaining several embarrassing moments of drunkenness and sloppiness and even - after innumerable complaints of fans not respecting his privacy - a funny tale of a drunken visit to Graceland after the final gig of the tour and literally sneaking into Elvis' house! He doesn't meet the man, but was thrilled to have done it, rather than being chagrined.

This is a great r'n'r read and one that you don't want to end. I only wish that he kept similar diaries on the subsequent tours - I would love to see the comparisons! This should be required reading for any musician!

Albert King - Live Wire Blues Power

This 1968 release was King's first ever live recording from a gig at the Filmore West, featuring a group of session musicians who none-the-less manage to cook behind the King. Not quite the MG's that backed many of Albert's Stax recordings, but they hide their unfamiliarity with the material and keep a solid backing.

King is the main man, of course, and his wild string-bending solo work is as great as ever - this man was a huge influence on Eric Clapton and you can see why from his playing here. The tunes are his stock soul/blues numbers and his singing and slinging certainly rocked the Fillmore.

I haven't found any faults with any of Albert's releases and this is no exception - yet another fine blues album from one of the best of the 60's.

Jimi Hendrix - Hendrix in the West

This record was initially a posthumous live release attempting to capitalize of the then-recent departure of this amazing talent. Luckily, long-time Hendrix engineer Eddit Kramer was involved in the project and it was a quality record.

Oddly, though titled Hendrix in the West, the original vinyl included two songs from England's Royal Albert Hall, which led to lawsuits from the company that was working on a film from that concert. The two tracks in question, "Voodoo Child (Slight Return)" and "Little Wing", have been replaced on this CD release with other live versions of the same songs. Also included on this release that were not on the original record are takes of "Fire", "I Don't Live Today" (both of which I am sure were released on other live records since) as well as an extended "Spanish Castle Magic", with a nod to "Sunshine of Your Love" in the solo section (which the Experience used to occasionally cover, due to Jimi's great respect for Clapton).

Among the other titles here is an interesting pairing of the British anthem (here simply called "The Queen") with "Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band", "Red House", a super-charged "Johnny B. Goode", "Lover Man" and an oddly slowed down and subdued "Blue Suede Shoes", taken from a sound check.

Of course my love for Hendrix makes almost every release essential to me, but more casual fans should always start with the official releases. This, though, is a fine example of the beauty and insane noise that this man could conjure up in a live setting. It's very reasonable price tag makes it something that every fan should own.

The Black Keys - The Big Come Up

Since I rarely (if ever) listen to the radio and don't keep up much with modern music, I know very little about the Black Keys. I knew they are a guitar/drum duo who were sorta blues influenced, but had never heard their music until I got the Black Snake Moan movie soundtrack, which featured one of their tunes. I was intrigued enough to pick up Attack and Release at the library which made me interested in hearing their earlier tunes. This is their debut release and is highly blues influenced, to the point of them making direct steals here and there - not unlike the original lues artists did.

Apparently this was all recorded live on an 8 track recorder which to me enhances this style of music. As best as I can tell, this is all just guitar and drums, with an occasional overdub, but mostly the group live as a duo. The guitars are raw and noisy and the drums are solid and the two worked together to make their own cohesive sound.

A version of the Beatles "She Said, She Said" is the most out of the ordinary track on the record, though still cool and made to be reasonably bluesy with a nice slide part.

Whoever handles publishing for these cats obviously do a great job, as they are featured on innumerable TV shows, commercials and movies, which has certainly helped their popularity. They do manage to overcome the restriction of their minimal line up and create a distinctive and rockin' sound. I am still surprised at the popularity that acts like these cats and the White Stripes have gained - who could ever have imagined this when garage bands were toiling away in small clubs in the 80's and horrible hair metal was ruling the airwaves? Are peope's tastes improving or is it simply a matter of mass marketing? Either way, it is a welcome relief from the drek that the radio normally plays!

This is a very hip and different and modern (while still sounding fairly primitive) take on the blues and I dig it a lot! I will certainly be checking out more from this prolific duo.

Black Joe Lewis and the Honeybears - Scandalous

Scandalous' "Living in the Jungle" opens this record with a soulful horn line that breaks down to a guitar driven tune in the realm of the Spencer Davis Group's "I'm a Man" (the hit white r'n'b number, not the Bo Diddley/Muddy Waters blues tune) and tells you immediately what you are in for here - a blast of groove-ridden rock'n'soul.

"I'm Gonna Leave You" gets slow and sexy before "Booty City" rocks back in sounding like Sly and the Family Stone doing Edwin Starr's soul tune, "25 Miles", complete with wailing guitars and group vocals. "Black Snake" is a soul/dance number which is sure to get you moving - rockin', raw harmonica work, too!

The title track comes down a bit for an Issac Hayes-styled seduction before moving into "Messin'", a spot-on country blues acoustic guitar revival. Then they smack right back in with the energetic jumping' soul groove of "Mustang Ranch", based on a true story of traveling through the Nevada deserts.

Some of the punkier influences come through in "You Been Lying", which would fit right at home on modern punk/r'n'b band Dollhouse's releases, though this is a little more 70's soulful, as well. A cool, uptempo blues guitar groove propels "Ballad of Jimmy Tanks", which is far from a balls, though "Since I Met You Baby" is very much of one, with an interesting trumpet solo, conjuring up images of a heavier Herb Albert (at least in my demented mind) - though a surprisingly heavy guitar solo (for a ballad) reminds me of J.Geils sitting in!

This selection concludes with the pure garage funk of "Jesus Took My Hand", which meshes everything they are about all in one - bluesy, funky, raw, garage-y and totally groovy, in every sense of the word!

I don't know many modern bands doing funk music, but these cats do it absolutely righteously - with unashamed nods to the past yet with plenty of spunk and originality. This release sports a bit more variety than their debut and maybe slightly more polished (but only slightly and not in a bad way), but everything works and everything rocks in an r'n'b/soul kinda way! Absolutely recommended!

Black Joe Lewis & The Honeybears - Tell 'em What Your Name Is

I came across BJL by happenstance when I picked up his latest release, Scandalous, at my local library. This knocked me out (surprisingly, I haven't written about that yet, which I will have to rectify) and my wonderful wife was good enough to get my this, his debut, for Xmas.

When I first heard Scandalous I wasn't sure if this was a modern artist or a rough-edged 60's or 70's group, but as I listened (and read up on him) I realized that this cat was mixing everything from funk, soul, blues and even punk rock into a fabulous modern brew. This debut is even rawer than the new record and the guitars bite and growl, though the excellent horn section can smooth over some of the harshness.

The musicians are all excellent and create quite a sonic storm. The music is full of punk energy and attitude with the dance-ability of funk and the raw emotion of the blues. Another great release that gives me hope for modern music!

Betty Davis - Betty Davis

I'm not sure when I first discovered Betty Davis, but I know it was fairly recently, so I have not known much about her other than that she was a cool, stylish funk singer who had once been married to Miles Davis. This re-release of her first album has an extensive booklet along with several bonus tracks and lots of information and lots of great music!

Betty grew up with a love of music - her parents and grandparents apparently had an exceptional blues collection - and, unusual for a female, black solo singer, she started writing her own music at about 12 years of age. According to the booklet, she wrote every song that she recorded and arranged the tunes and even helped to produce them!

The musicians on this album are all exceptional and include members of Sly & The Family Stone, Santana, The Pointer Sisters and even Sylvester, among many others. The music is high-energy funk with rock'n'roll power and Betty's unique soulful growl on top of it all. Some people disparaged her singing, but I think she has a fantastic sound - not unlike modern music such as the BellRays at times. She dug a wide variety of music herself, from jazz to soul to funk to rock (she was a friend to many musicians, including Jimi Hendrix) and it all comes together is her tunes.

Davis was a lovely, sexy woman (she was one of the first African-Americans to break into modeling because she was so striking, though she didn't stick with it for long since it did not foster her own creativity) with a distinctive sound and her own vision and this record is a definitive funk milestone. Get it!

Sunday, December 25, 2011

RIP Sean Bonniwell

Of course, I loved "Talk Talk" as a kid when it came out, but also my first band in LA, the Unclaimed, based their entire look on this band - though we didn't don the gloves - too hard to play in, I guess.

But, what a talent Bonniwell was! Fantastic songwriter, conceptualist and producer. Way ahead of his time. I was lucky enough to meet him a couple of times (he even came to see the Unclaimed once - said we sounded more like the Seeds than the Music Machine!) and he was super nice guy, as well as being talented.

So sad to see him go as the too young age of 71.

See the MM lip-syncing on Where the Action Is.

Sunday, December 11, 2011

Saturday, Dec 10th, Las Vegas, NV

We didn't know how far we were going to get this night considering that we went out the night before for another anniversary dinner and then to the "Santa Rampage" on Fremont Street, but we ventured out to start the night at Second Saturday at Gamma Gamma Gallery at Emergency Arts in downtown LV. What once was a lonely hallway at EA has become the happening spot to hang, talk art and party! A fun time was had by all. And, of course, Krystal Ramirez's fine show Control was on display.

From EA we moved across the street to the Las Vegas Beauty Bar to catch our pals, the Tinglerz and, as usual, they did not disappoint! Action-packed garage-y/Heartbreakers-y punk'n'roll with super cool tunes by some of the best in LV! Catch 'em if you ever get the chance!

We stuck around long enough to see some of Deadhand (yes, a terrible name) and was impressed by their brand of pop-punk, high-energy, musicianship, songs and low-slung guitar! Good stuff!

Then off to the Double Down Saloon to catch the terrific garage-rock band, the Love Me Nots. Hot chicks, rockin' guys, plenty of fuzz'n'Farfisa and fantastic tunes - these cats'n'kittens are always a blast! They are a constant blur of motion, especially lead singer Nicole Laurenne who has an amazing voice and can man-handle her Farfisa with fab licks while dancing up a storm! Michael Johnny Walker calls up a whirlwind of fuzz while returning drummer Jay Lien pounds the skins like a Clem Burke clone and new chick on the block Sophie O anchors everything down while adding some extra vocals. Incredible band, a wild show and a fabulous way to celebrate our anniversary weekend and take the edge off of the X cancellation. Thanks to the Love Me Nots and the Double Down for a cool night of rock'n'roll!

Friday, December 09, 2011

Genya Ravan - Lollipop Lounge - Memoirs of a Rock and Roll Refugee

A daughter of Polish immigrants who - barely - escaped the Nazi Holocaust, Genya came to America and learned to love the country and, especially, its rock'n'roll. A lovely woman, she eventually started doing "cheesecake" modeling to make money and then, after sitting in with a band in Greenwich Village, decided to start her own group. But not just any band, she wanted an all-female band! And so, Goldie and the Gingerbreads were formed. This was in the early 60's and this was so unusual (obviously long before the Runaways or even Fanny) that they had no trouble getting gigs, despite having problems keeping members. They became the toast of NYC and even moved to England for a while, playing with - and screwing - some of the biggest stars of the time. Eventually the band split up, moved back to the states and Genya decided to start a jazz-influenced group, Ten Wheel Drive.

While 10 Wheel Drive did quite a lot and played some huge shows, Genya was never completely happy since this was someone else's concept. Of course, having an affair with one of the main guys in the band wasn't the best idea, either, and, after a couple of years, the group split apart. From there she attempted a solo career, but had bad luck with producers and management and was not happy. Eventually she learned record production and made a name for herself with that.

One of her most well-known productions is the Dead Boys' Young, Loud and Snotty, though she worked with quite a few other NYC punk/new wave groups and even produced Ronnie Spector's Siren LP with many of those same NYC rockers as session players. She has some very unkind words for Ronnie, supposedly in retaliation to comments made by Spector in her auto-biography.

Genya also had another shot at a solo career with one of her best known records, Urban Desire, but record company, management and promotional problems caused another crash and burn and contributed to her alcohol and drug abuse, which got out of hand at this point.

She wasted a number of years of her life on drugs and alcohol and, in a sickly ironic twist, once she began to recover from substance abuse, she discovered that she had cancer. This almost killed her, but she learned of her own inner strength that she didn't know that she had and, with the help of friends and family, beat the cancer and regained her life.

This is a story with many ups and downs - lots of fun times with r'n'r music and stars as well as desperate times of addiction and sickness. This shows the reality of the music business from someone who lived most aspects of it and lived it in its most interesting times. A very cool read.

Wednesday, December 07, 2011

Supersuckers Live at the Las Vegas Country Saloon Tuesday, December 6th, 2011

When the Supersuckers first appeared on the scene, their simplistic songs and egomaniacal schtick really didn’t do much for me and I thought that they were highly overrated. But, these days, with so little good rock’n’roll in the world (or at least in the LV music scene), the band’s twin Les Paul/Marshall attack was a welcome relief - and their tunes have grown on me over the years.

We were extremely disappointed when the Blasters cancelled their slot on this show (oddly, opening for the Supersuckers) since neither of us had seen them in years and years, and we got to the club late (LV clubs are notorious for not giving any kind of realistic set times) so we missed 3 Bad Jacks (other than a sappy, acoustic closing number), but made it for the main event!

The ‘Suckers were in fine form, with all of their prerequisite bravado, posturing, chant-along songs and LOUD guitars (one of the louder shows we have been to in a long time). The guitars riffed constantly, the drummer was terrific (didn’t catch his name, but he was a monster) and Eddie Spaghetti still has a cool r’n’r voice while holding down the bass – keeping it basic so that everyone else can noodle on top of it!

They did their “hits” – “Born With a Tail”, “Double Wide” and many more, along with a number of good new tunes as well as a fun cover of Thin Lizzy’s “Cowboy Song” (yes, a lot of others have already done this, but still rockin’).

Overall, well worth venturing out for, even on a cold, Las Vegas Tuesday night! Maybe not the “greatest rock’n’roll band in the world”, as Eddie repeatedly claimed, but still a good time!

Sunday, December 04, 2011

very sad - another highly influencial, major talent gone

Chicago bluesman Hubert Sumlin, guitarist for Howlin’ Wolf, dies at 80
Besides playing on some of the most amazing and influential blues songs of all time - his work with Howlin' Wolf is especially majestic - Sumlin released a solo album not long ago that is truly solid. Very sad to see him go at the too-young age of 80.

Friday, December 02, 2011

Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac Live at the BBC

Long before the ladies came into the picture, Fleetwood Mac was an all-male, hard-drivin', heavy blues band. Led by guitar virtuoso Peter Green (along with two other terrific guitarists, Danny Kirwan and Jeremy Spencer and, of course, the rhythm section of John McVie and Mick Fleetwood), this group was known for high energy blues, original blues romps like the fantastic "Rattlesnake Shake" (much later covered by Aerosmith) and the superb "Oh Well" (along with tunes such as "Black Magic Woman", not included here, but, of course, made famous by Santana).

This set does show other sides of the band, as well, from 50's covers and steals (Elvis, Buddy Holly, Everly Brothers - which all makes that much more sense when you remember their "alter ego" band, Earl Vince and the Valiants, known for their amazing "Somebody's Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight") to cool instrumentals to soft ballads. But the blues is where they shine and numbers like both Robert Johnson's and Son House's "Preachin' Blues", "Blues With a Feeling", "Sweet Home Chicago" and many others show why this line up is still revered today.

Lots of variety and lots of great music - definitely a cool find (and highly recommended by Steven Tyler in his book)!