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  • GLENN KAISER, Cardboard Box, CD review, Grrr Records
    indignity of living on the streets Such a personal honest account could only come from first hand experience Singer Ami Moss and harp great Joe Filisko make cameo appearances Moss on The Protest and Filisko on Poverty Blues and the title track Cardboard Box Kaiser s approach while spartan is not entirely acoustic Loud electric guitars drive a couple of the tracks and the stinging power of the electric is commanding and fierce when Kaiser wields it as a solo instrument The combination of Filisko s electrified harmonica and Kaiser s guitar on Cardboard Box are persuasive weapons indeed If Son House had an electric in 1930 he may have sounded very similar The tales of raw life on the streets that are found on Cardboard Box startlingly real and poignant The CD contains a dozen tracks each of which serves as reminder of life lived under the radar screen These are stories of humanity off the books Glenn Kaiser s familiarity with this material is obvious and is borne of his lifelong commitment to the ministry to the homeless and indigent in Chicago s Uptown neighborhood He is the leader of the Cornerstone Community Outreach center CCO which is an oasis of hope and change for thousands of Chicago s needy In a world where finger pointing and scapegoating pass for political action Kaiser selflessly has put his money literally where his mouth is and is making a difference One man can do much if he decides to make a difference in this world Through Glenn The Jesus People USA Evangelical Covenant Church and the CCO center are making that difference The material accompanying the CD is as powerful as the music itself featuring photographs of the CCO s visitors and residents each of which serve as a reminder

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/glenn-kaiser-cd/glenn-kaiser-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Ray Manzarek & Roy Rogers, Translucent Blues, CD review
    Roadhouse Blues to such tracks as Been Down So Long and Cars Hiss By My Window from their final album with Morrison L A Woman the Doors always included blues in their varied repertoire Translucent Blues brings these two musicians together with Steve Evans on bass and Kevin Hayes on drums As with his most famous band Manzarek has sought out poets for a few of the tunes beginning with the album opener Hurricane with the lyrics supplied by the late Jim Carroll Carroll who was best known for his autobiographical novel The Basketball Diaries and as the lead singer of the Jim Carroll Band provides lines such as Like Moses in Egypt and the blood stains Like Moses and Pharaoh and the blood stains The song chugs along with Manzarek s vocals and divergent keyboard playing which is brought back down to the blues level by Rogers slide guitar This style is a common theme throughout the recordings Another Chicago native the late great Warren Zevon is credited as a co writer of the lyrics on the next track River of Madness which mentions the deaths of River Phoenix and Marilyn Monroe Rogers sings lead on this one as he wrote the music another common theme All of the music save for one song was separately written by either Manzarek or Rogers Rogers is generous to his collaborator on this song by stepping back for his piano solos Yet that makes his own slide guitar solos all the more vivid Manzarek returns to another poet beat writer and close friend of Jim Morrison s Michael McClure for Kick This is one of the feeblest numbers even with McClure s drug referencing lyrics as Manzarek s playing turns it into lounge music Rogers does not appear to be present instead

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/ray-manzarek-roy-rogers-cd/ray-roy-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • TAB BENOIT, Medicine, CD review
    creates modern songs that do the memory of Memphis hey day proud without sounding dated or cheesy Tab sings to the satellite passing overhead in the night sky begging it to convey his message of longing to his far away lover Evoking the long night drives and lonely life of the professional musician is one of Tab s strong suits Those who ve enjoyed his live performances are familiar with his When a Cajun Man Gets the Blues Sunrise fits into that master file of great picture painting songs that make Tab a perennial favorite with fans Two later tracks on Medicine Nothing Takes the Place of You McCall Robinson and Next to Me Malone Magnie are also lovely R B ballads that allow Tab to both channel his Otis Redding singing chops and ably demonstrate his guitar prowess Tab Benoit is not one of those shredding speed demon guitarists that are so in vogue rather his playing is emotional soulful and muscular He s got great phrasing pleasantly dirty tone and he understands the importance and nuance of a good rhythm part Having heard his recordings and seen his live shows I can honestly say I was completely entertained and didn t miss the loud superfast showboats one has come to associate with modern blues Tab s tireless conservation efforts on behalf of his native Cajun country have earned him national recognition among environmentalists Medicine s third offering A Whole Lotta Soul returns us to the slow drag groove of the first track Its five and a half minutes are spent complaining about how the land is treated Maybe we should move the mountains maybe we should drain the sea he sings sarcastically ending with the question How will you feel when it s your back yard This is the attitude of Tab s Voice of the Wetlands project an outgrowth of his VOW festival held yearly in his hometown of Houma LA to give voice to the region s musicians and raise awareness of the plight of Louisiana s disappearing and distressed wetlands Come and Get It an infectious rocking dance tune is quickly followed by Broke and Lonely a classic blues idea written by Johnny Otis and Johnny Guitar Watson about a guy who had all the women until he lost all his money now set to a New Orleans second line drum beat I hear that Memphis influence with a dollop of funk casting Broke and Lonely as a satisfying re invention of Chicago blues that could only have been crafted south of the Mason Dixon line Another song of lost love Long Lonely Bayou is sung in the quavering baritone that makes his female fans swoon It s produced with eerie quietude and aching lone notes on an acoustic guitar picked along with the mournful sigh of Michael Doucet s fiddle that moves like a ghost over the same bare terrain in this haunting song of regret Bringing Brady Blades brilliant second line drumming and

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/tab-benoit-cd/tab-benoit-medicine-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • STEVIE J, The Diversity Project CD review, Blue Skunk Music
    with Malaco Records There is significance to the album s title covering both bases Disc One is the straight blues disc while Disc Two is closer to the chitlin circuit soul scene he came up in While both discs have unnecessary attempts at modernization Married Girlfriend on Disc Two even has him singing through Autotune this is still a respectable attempt all the way around Even so Disc Two is the better half After you get covers of Funkadelic s Cosmic Slop and John Mayer s Gravity plus the Autotune trifle out of the way what you have is a pretty good example of Mel Waiters ish soul blues Some of it might venture too far into contemporary soul if your tastes are grounded in 12 bar shuffles one track even has a guest rapper but if you have a taste for modern cheating songs electronic drums and all this is right in the wheelhouse Disc One isn t exactly for purists either to call it this disc is more in a Kinsey Report new blue blood bag Like Donald Kinsey Stevie J possesses a smooth pleasant voice as well as hot guitar skills There is no denying his passion

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/stevie-j-cd/stevie-j-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • JOE MOSS BAND, Drive Time -- Live at Chan's, Hit Brothers Records
    like Zora Young Charles Wilson Lil Smokey Smothers Lefty Dizz Magic Slim A C Reed and Billy Branch Moss decided it was time to front his own band Surprisingly the organ is an integral part of the sound of The Joe Moss Band Greg Sefner s keyboard work is outstanding while Dave Wood and Dana Thompson hold the groove and find room for some swaggering solos as well Moss sings with a lot of feeling and his music has a funky blues style that s impeccably executed Drive Time was recorded live at Chan s in Woonsocket Rhode Island on March 5 2010 I love to hear blues bands play live because it strips away the studio magic and presents the real musicianship of the players This is a true concert recording with stage introductions small talk and applause With only one exception these blues and R B inspired songs are Moss originals Black Boots the only new song on the CD is a riff heavy blues that gets the disc off to a flying start Its funky groove and sizzling solos showcase the band s extraordinary musicianship Sefner s organ playing makes you believe this is his band right up until the last 2 minutes when Moss cuts loose with an inspired solo to finish the song The CD slows it down a bit for a deep groove I Am Feeling You features a great extended guitar solo by Moss The next two songs speed it up a bit My Life lets Sefner stretch out and Lost My World spins out as a quicker tighter romp with Moss guitar solo taking on some Allman Brothers style flair Need Your Love is a deceivingly low key song that actually pulses with compressed energy Maricela s Smile is Moss slow bluesy

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/joe-moss-cd/joe-moss-drive-time-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • Marcia Ball, Roadside Attractions, Alligator Records, CD review
    finds moments of transcendence in the small stuff of existence In Roadside Attractions however her voice gets grittier both sweeter and rougher as if she is cutting deeper into the meat of the music But let s not get all existential here these are tunes at home in a get down and dirty bayou bar as well as any Austin college hangout With the able guitar work of Colin Linden a standout on the title track backing vocals by Wendy Moten and guitar by Mike Schermer bass by Don Bennett and drums by Damien Llanes Ball and producer Gary Nicholson who also co wrote some of the songs keep things rolling Sometimes the songs seem to bookend contractions the tribute to young love that that takes chances in We Fell Hard is followed by the cautionary lyrics of Look Before You Leap The rancor in I Heard it All comes before the tribute to the give and take of a successful relationship in Believing in Love On Everybody s Looking for the Same Thing Ball trots out that old metaphor of the lovesick hound dog on the hunt But she gives that old dog a new metaphorical bone thus turning the tune into a sassy upbeat saga And channeling the spirit of Billie Holiday in Mule Headed Man Ball aims to stick by her hard living self destructive man who would rather have his whiskey than live But with the merest flicker of cool intelligence she turns the song into an anthem for Al Anon and a woman who gets what she wants The track also gives Marcia a chance to cut loose on the piano and for Schermer on guitar Yet despite the album s upbeat thrust the best song is the darkest I Heard it All in which

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/marcia-ball-cd/marcia-ball-roadside-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • BIG HEAD BLUES CLUB, 100 Years of Robert Johnson, CD review
    Though not regarded as a blues band they have shifted their talents to celebrate Robert Johnson s music with dramatic and exceptional results Recorded in less than a week at the renowned Ardent Studios in Memphis last year with production by Chris Goldsmith Big Head Blues Club presents the Monsters putting their own exclusive stamp on Johnson s tunes They show the necessary respect for the songs but also vary them to gratifying degrees The album opens with a gritty version of Come On in My Kitchen setting the stage for what the listener can expect in how Johnson is presented Mohr lays down some notable licks and solos turning the song into an easygoing but durable jam accented by Lawton s organ and the unquestionable harmonica abilities of guest Charlie Musslewhite The improvisational groundwork is cemented by Nevin s rollicking drums and Squires bass riffs The group is joined for Ramblin on My Mind by the duo of Lightnin Malcolm on electric slide guitar and Cedric Burnside grandson of R L Burnside on acoustic guitar The pair interplay nicely as Mohr performs only the vocals in a higher pitch than he usually employs paying homage to Johnson s style without copying it Malcolm returns on guitar with a boogie version of When You Got a Good Friend that would have made John Lee Hooker proud Coincidentally the Monsters recorded a rocked up take on Hooker s Boom Boom with the man himself for their 1997 album Beautiful World On Good Friend Malcolm is accompanied on guitar by the aforementioned Hubert Sumlin and Lawton switching to lap steel Mohr again just sticks to the vocals with help from Texas singer Ruthie Foster She also duets with Mohr on Kind Hearted Woman adding a 1920s classic blues woman touch to the

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/big-head-blues-club-cd/big-head-blues-club-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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  • DAMON FOWLER, Devil Got His Way, Blind Pig, CD review
    into a heady mix that is pretty much instantly attractive Fowler s latest release Devil Got His Way continues on in this tradition blending roots influences with skillful and memorable songwriting to create a set of songs that is a lot more than your typical blues album Sometimes straight blues CDs in an effort to remain respectful to the greats of the past stick a little too close to the playbook of the old masters and get a little generic Fowler s fearless use of all of the music in his head keeps him out of this trap and listeners get a real sense of his musical personality and not just his record collection Fowler is obviously a skilled instrumentalist but it is his songwriting that truly stands tall on Devil Got His Way The album takes Fowler fans on a journey through his musical world and doles out helpings of swampy rock soul gospel ballads and blues that all go down smoothly Fowler who is not even 30 years old has been quoted as saying that he wants to make roots music for his own generation and that is really what all of this feels like The elements are all familiar but they are filtered through a younger mans sensibilities and attitudes and while obviously well versed in the past Fowler is clearly looking towards the future There are really no clunkers on the disc but a list of recommended songs would have to include Don t Call Me We ve Got A Good Thing After The Rain and the title track Damon Fowler represents to this reviewer anyway a glimpse of the future of roots based music He knows all about tradition but is not confined by it He is taking the best parts of 20th century American

    Original URL path: http://www.chicagobluesguide.com/reviews/cd-reviews/damon-fowler-cd/damon-fowler-devil-cd-page.html (2016-02-16)
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