Thursday, June 30, 2005

Interesting Articles

The International Herald Tribune has an article about saxophonist Joshua Redman, focusing on his new album Momentum:
International Herald Tribune
The 36-year-old Redman is a word man. "Language is an exciting thing to me," Redman said in an interview. "I am always running up against the limits of my own language. I am always searching for the right way to express things."

The Lakeland Ledger has a very interesting article that traces the careers of the Adderley Brothers, Cannonball and Nat as they left their native Florida to make jazz history:

On June 19, 1955 -- 50 years ago today -- the brothers entered Cafe Bohemia as unknowns, "country boys" newly arrived in the hotbed of jazz. But before the night was over, Julian "Cannonball" Adderley and his brother Nat set the New York jazz world ablaze with dazzling performances that caused mouths to drop and word to spread.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Scott Amendola Band – Believe (Cryptogramophone, 2005)

Drummer Scott Amendola is comfortable and active in a number of musical areas. He used to be the drummer for Charlie Hunter’s band, backs the Billie Holiday-ish singer Madeleine Peyroux, and also leads a couple of bands of his own – one groove based, and then a more experimental outfit. The experimental group is documented here, where Amendola is joined by Nels Cline and Jeff Parker on guitars, Jenny Scheinman on violin and John Shifflett on acoustic bass. The music is all over the map, from aching ballads to over the top blowouts.

The disc kicks off with the title track “Believe” which features light percussion and some processed guitar, creating a very Bill Frisell like sound. Both Parker and Cline have worked with electronics and guitar effects in the past. Some violin sneaks in to add to the texture of the composition. “Oladipo” starts out funky with the violin stating the melody over an insistent beat. Again, some processed guitar gives everything a funky fusion feel, which moves into an extended guitar solo with driving drums underneath. “Shady” has a quiet solo guitar opening, again taking it’s inspiration from Bill Frisell’s tone and plays off against the violin as it enters. Scheinman takes a wonderful violin solo which is at the same time melodic and folk-ish, much like the violin players that used to join Albert Ayler during his mid 60’s romps through folk and old-time melodies.

“If Only Once” is a ballad with some beautiful, longing violin work. Jenny Scheinman has really been making a mark for herself in the jazz world both with Bill Frisell and her solo albums on Tzadik. Her work on this CD is particularly impressive. Amendola keeps the thunder at bay on this song to add some gentle and subtle brushwork. Then for something completely different, “Buffalo Bird Woman” begins in an abstract way with deeply plucked bass. Grinding country-ish violin and snarling twin guitars give the music a Neil Young and Crazy Horse feel. The disc is rounded out with “Resistance” which is an epic blowout in which the two guitarists stretch out and howl. Amendola is deeply opposed to the Iraq war, and this song is reminiscent of the version of “Masters of War” he recorded on his last Cryptogramophone CD. This is a well-done and album full of creative music. The sound of two electric guitars with violin is a unique one and this really makes the band stand out in the competitive creative music scene.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, June 27, 2005


Sunday, June 26, 2005

Interesting bittorrent download

I've been a big Kinks fan since I was a kid, but lately the Davies brothers haven't been up to much as circumstances have conspired against them. First Ray was shot in New Orleans during a botched robbery attempt, and then Dave suffered a mild stroke. But, in this bittorrent download I found of a Ray Davies solo concert from Denmark, he sounds quite good and rips through both electric and acoustic versions of Kinks favorites and some songs from a planned solo album. Backed with a solid group he's able to bring the old snarl to rockers like "Where Have All the Good Times Gone" and "Low Budget." Some gentle acoustic guitar is perfect for the most beautiful pop song ever written, "Waterloo Sunset."

The new material is quite interesting as well. Ray tells the story of the shooting as "life repeating art" and then plays his new song "The Tourist." I'm not sure if "Stand Up Comic" is a new song or not (my friend John will surely tell me) but regardless, it's a typically Davies-ish scathing attack on British culture. It's great to hear that Ray can still do the deed after all these years, I hope he and Dave have many more in them. God save the Kinks!

Send comments to: Tim

Saturday, June 25, 2005

Richard Thompson - Live in Austin, TX (New West, 2005)

Richard Thompson is one of the most consistent live performers in the rock and folk music worlds today, so it was just a matter of time before he released a live album. Here he's backed by just bass and drums performing a mix of newer material and popular favorites both electrically and acoustically.

Starting off with a couple of tunes from recent studio LP's, "Cooksferry Queen" and "Walking the Long Miles Home" stick with a mid-tempo groove and Thompson sings in his deep tenor. He then shifts gears into some slower material, the darkly nostalgic "Al Bowly's in Heaven" about an aging British pensioner looking back on his life and the brooding "Mingus Eyes." Of the new material, "Mr. Rebound" hits the mark, another one of Thompson's bitter tales of lost love and longing. "Dry My Tears and Move On" covers much the same material from a ballad perspective.

Thompson's striking guitar playing is stangely muted during this disc. But, longtime fan favorite "Shoot Out the Lights" does bring forth a brief snarling electric solo, and "1952 Vincent Black Lightning" features some deft and intricate acoustic playing. These are just quibbles, actually. With a tight band playing these great songs, it's hard to criticize anything here. Thompson may be in a holding pattern at the moment, but he's certainly not standing still.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Wayne Shorter – Beyond the Sound Barrier (Verve, 2005)

This is the latest disc by legendary saxophonist and composer Wayne Shorter who has formed one of the best working bands in the business with Danilo Perez on piano; John Patitucci on bass; and Brian Blade on drums. A sequel to 2003’s Footprints Live, this disc was recorded live in a variety of venues over the past couple of years. The music is accessible, yet abstract (as is Shorter himself) but it seems that the band has grown even tighter over the past couple of years, and the empathic relationship between Shorter and Perez has become a deep musical bond.

“Smilin’ Through” opens the disc and like many Shorter compositions it is oblique and not easily resolved. Mostly a dialogue between Perez’s lush piano playing and the leader’s saxophone. There is a haunted, graceful feeling here, and when the drums kick in late in the performance, Shorter’s soprano moves into high gear. “As Far as the Eye Can See” has a jaunty piano trio opening, with some high-pitched saxophone squeals – he’s back on the tenor and playing with a little fire in the belly. The music builds to an intense crescendo and then slowly fades out on a piano vamp. “On the Wings of Song” has some graceful soprano saxophone, and the theme has an innocent children’s rhyme type feel. Perez is featured, playing a solo at a relaxed, unhurried tempo.

“Tinker Bell” is a short feature for bowed bass, and is used an in introduction to “Joyride” where Patitucci goes back to the plucked bass with spare percussion and piano. Shorter enters tentatively with quick bursts before the full band comes together in a way that only hints at the song’s melody. Shorter’s snake-charmer saxophone weaves in and around the other instruments creating a self-contained world of sound. This is a truly impressive performance. “Over Shadow Hill Way” has a gentle opening on soprano and piano, where things gradually develop into a melodic statement. Shorter’s soprano playing seems much more pointed and direct here, as opposed to some of the semi-noodling that has dogged him in the past. The group is very tight during this performance, Blade gets a little solo space, but his biggest impact comes from his ensemble playing which is deeply in the pocket at all times.

The disc wraps up with the title track which is an excellent summation of the music on this disc and the direction this band has taken. Deeply abstract, but listenable and not especially daunting, using percussive piano to raise the tension to an ominous fever pitch while Shorter swoops and dives like a daredevil pilot. This band has come together as a deeply powerful unit, and the interplay between Shorter and Perez is truly amazing, so much so that I almost long to hear the two make a duo album. But in the end, it is the entire band that shares in this success, and this is an excellent example of what they have accomplished.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Interesting Bittorrent Concert

Ornette Coleman and Prime Time – Hartford, CT August 1985 – This torrent comes from an Ornette Coleman festival held in Hartford. This was a very well recorded concert with Coleman on alto saxophone, with some trumpet and violin thrown in for good measure; backed by the electric Prime Time ensemble. The music is densely packed as befits Coleman’s “harmelodic” theory of composition and improvisation. Although it is dense, the music does keep a groove and even becomes funky at times – especially when the band kicks into Coleman’s classic theme from his first electric album, Dancing in Your Head, which the crowd clamors for during breaks in the performance. The band and Coleman erupt into the sing-song theme of that piece and then use it as a springboard to jump into an interesting extended improvisation. Coleman’s Prime Time ensembles have never quite gotten the respect of his “classic” quartet, but as this music shows, the band was and is a formidable unit.

Send comments to: Tim

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

The Best of Big Joe Turner (Rhino, 1998)

Singer Big Joe Turner had quite a career, starting as a blues belter and bartender in the rough and tumble speakeasies of prohibition era Kansas City. Then, with hardly a change in his style, he took part in the birth of rock ‘n’ roll music, scoring a string of hits for Atlantic Records in the 1950’s. Finally, he eased off into the sunset performing at jazz and blues festivals around the world until his death in 1985.

This disc is a collection of Turner’s best-known singles on Atlantic Records, which vaulted him to middle aged rock and roll stardom. “Shake, Rattle and Roll” blasted Turner onto the national stage, but there are a number of interesting variations on that theme that were popular as well, like the bluesy “Flip, Flop and Fly.” Atlantic was always on the lookout for pop hits, but it’s interesting that Turner never had to truly change his style, popular taste just came around to him.

There are a number to Turner collections available on compact disc, including a five disc JSP collection that covers his early years, and different Rhino three disc set that is a career wide retrospective. But for fans of jump blues or early rock ‘n’ roll who are interested in getting the hits, this makes for a great primer on Big Joe Turner.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, June 20, 2005

More Bittorrents

Chris Potter - Malmo, Sweden 3/7/05 - This is the first concert I've heard from tenor saxophonist and composer Chris Potter this year and it marks a fascinating shift for his music away from mainstream post-bop and toward an angular type of jazz fusion. Potter had shown interest in this type of music before, as his last two Concord albums featured electric guitar and his excellent Verve album traveling Traveling Mercies had electric guitar plus fender rhodes and some synth to boot.

On this concert the guitar boost is provided by fusion guitarist Wayne Krantz who really makes his presence felt in the music. The rhythm team is Fima Ephon on bass and Ari Hoenig on drums. Three long improvisations and one shorter one make up this hour long performance (except for "Morning Bell" none of the other titles are announced) and it's interesting how Potter's tone has grown much more muscular over the past few years and now instead of having the pastel voice of the fender rhodes piano beside him, he has an equally muscular voice in the rock-influenced sound of Krantz's guitar. It's an interesting shift in the direction of Chris Potter's music, and although much of his time is taken up with his duties in the Dave Holland Quintet and Big Band, I hope this new group will go into the studio to record a disc soon.

Send comments to: Tim

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Interesting Articles

The New York Times has an article about how Bob Dylan has been staying busy on the road, but also playing some unusual or out of the way locations:

He plays some of his best-known songs, but often in contrarian, almost unrecognizable versions, as if to dampen their anthemic qualities. He highlights recent compositions more than most of his 60's coevals, but these, too, are delivered as highly stylized, singsongy chants. He strives to play as many kinds of places as possible, even playing successive nights in different theaters and clubs in large cities.

Bruce Lee Gallanter has a review on the Downtown Music Gallery web site of the Victoriavill Festival of avant-grade jazz:

This year, there were some 25 sets of immensely diverse music (avant-jazz, experimental, noise, lower-case improv, world) and it is challenging for those with open ears and minds to see and hear it all.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, June 17, 2005

Bittorrent boogie

Wayne Krantz Trio – Stockholm 7/20/00 – This is a very nice sounding FM stereo recording of Wayne Krantz on electric guitar, Tim Lefebvre on bass, and Keith Carlock on drums. The music stays on the funky edge of fusion, in fact, Krantz announces at one point during the concert that the group was actually billed as the “Wayne Krantz Funk Trio” in the festival program. The leader employs some electronic processing to his guitar, giving the funky numbers a sort of John Scofield-ish feeling. Krantz is now performing in Chris Potter’s group, so it will be very interesting to see what develops from that partnership.

Carlos Santana – Wayne Shorter Band – Barcelona 7/26/88 – It’s something of a mindblower that none of these concerts have ever been officially released. Both of the principles in this group really inspired one another; after leaving Weather Report where he had been pushed a little bit to the side at the end of their run Wayne Shorter really cut loose on this tour playing some great tenor and soprano. Santana plays very well too, he is obviously inspired by playing with a jazz legend. This very long concert is made up mostly of group and solo improvisations, but never lags… it’s about time for Legacy to get off its butt and make this stuff more readily available.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, June 16, 2005

James Blood Ulmer – Birthright (Hyena, 2005)

James Blood Ulmer’s career was in a bit of a mid-life crisis before his abrupt switch from Ornette influenced avant-garde jazz musician to grizzled bluesman. To be fair though, the blues had always played a part in Ulmer’s music (as had funk and soul) and his shaky, world weary vocals had appeared on a few prior albums as well. On this disc, Ulmer strips his music to the bone. Armed with only an electric guitar and flying solo, he interprets some blues standards and his own originals, some of which present some hard-hitting and honest views about race in America.

Things start off in a pretty mellow vein as Blood displays his gospel roots in “Take My Music Back to the Church.” “I Ain’t Superstitious” goes the cover route with a well-known song that has been recorded by many bluesmen. Things start to get really interesting with Ulmer’s songs that display his views on race relations. He has always had an element of social criticism in his music as some of his album titles like Are You Glad to Be in America and America, Do You Remember the Love? show and “White Man’s Jail” on this disc is certainly no different. “Geechee Joe” is a song that appears to be about Ulmer’s grandfather who “didn’t want to work unless he was boss, ‘cause he didn’t want to work for the white man.”

A performance of the ancient standard “Sitting of Top of the World” and a couple more gospel-ish rave-ups close out the disc. Ulmer is too advanced a guitarist for the music to be less than interesting, and his lyrics are fascinating at times. Although I did enjoy this disc, I wish he had recruited a full band that he could interact and improvise with. That said, there’s no denying the immediacy and power of the music here.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, June 15, 2005

White Stripes - Get Behind Me Satan (V2, 2005)

The White Stripes new album is bound to be a bit of a surprise for both longtime fans and newcomers, breaking away from their minimalist guitar and drums motif to release an album with acoustic guitar, piano, and mallet instruments holding down much of the action. It's an interesting transition, with Jack and Meg White branching out into new territory. For the most part their experiments are quite successful and produce what is possible their deepest and most mature album yet.

Of course it's not all marimba's and bluegrass music. "Blue Orchid" blasts the album out of the gate with overprocessed guitars and some pseudo Freddy Mercury vocals. It's a great single, but things get more interesting with the next several songs. Marimbas and percussion open "The Nurse," a dark tale where the woman who is supposed to be healing him instead pours salt in Jack's cuts. "My Doorbell" is a "Hotel Yorba" - ish sunny pop tune. Jack and Meg don't completely stray from their roots, "Instinct Blues" brings their trademark power blues guitar and pounding drums back to the fore.

The second half of the album does get back into some more varied musical structures and interesting lyrics, particularly "Take, Take, Take" where the narrator meets actress Rita Hayworth, asks for an autograph and then asks for even more in a creepy escalating song about the perils of the dark side of fame. A countryish, acoustic tune "I'm Lonely (But I Ain't That Lonely Yet)" is a lighthearted but charming "searching for love" song and ends the disc on an upbeat note. While it's not perfect, the album is quite good and the music offers much more variety then did their previous discs. This is the sound of a great band growing and maturing with time.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, June 13, 2005

Love - Love Story 1966-72 (Rhino, 1999)

Love was one of the great psychedelic bands of the 1960's. Based on the West Coast (naturally) and led by the talented but enigmatic Arthur Lee, the group is somewhat forgotten today, despite having a couple of hit albums and singles during their day. Love's music combined folk, blues and a classical sensability along with the ability to rock out like a garage band when the need arose. Combine this with Lee's trippy, acid-tinged lyrics and they made for a formidable group.

Early Love mined both their folk and R&B roots with songs like "Signed D.C." which is one of the most potent and emotional anti-drug songs ever written. The band could rock as well, covering every garage band's favorite "Hey Joe" with reckless abandon. As the band continued to develop, their sound became more and more intricite. Forever Changes is considered a milestone in rock and roll music, combining strings and orchestral arrangements with a framework of rock music to create hybrid compositions like "Stephanie Knows Who" and their top ten hit "7 And 7 Is."

After this triumph, Lee broke up the original incarnation of Love and hired new musicians in search of a heavier, more rocking sound. He found it on the album Four Sail which contained an extended R&B improvisation on "Singing Cowboy." Love stumbled along for a few more years as Lee suffered drug and personal problems that would dog him for many years took hold. Since the band released very few albums during their career, this two disc set is able to capture most of the high points and a few rarites. Also included is a well done booklet with a short history of the band and several photos. This is a well done collection that shines some much needed light on an unjustly forgotten band.

Send comments to: Tim

Saturday, June 11, 2005

Top 5 Mingus Albums

I have been spending a lot of time listening to the new album from the Mingus Big Band, which features famous (and not so famous) compositions that the great man made over the course of his career. I have a lot of Mingus records and CDs and this is the list I came up with of my favorites:

1. Mingus Ah-Um: One of Mingus' most well known albums, This top to bottom masterpiece features some of the bassists finest compositions like "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat" and "Better Get It in Your Soul." But everything is wonderful here.

2. Charles Mingus Presents Charles Mingus: This one isn't as well known since it was one of Mingus self-produced projects and spent many years out of print. A mock live set, recorded in an empty club with a pianoless quartet featuring Eric Dolphy. His telepathic performance with Mingus on "What Love" must be heard to be believed.

3. Mingus at Carnegie Hall: Mingus' health troubles kept him out of action for much of the late 60's but he made a strong comeback in the early 70's. This is built around two side-long versions of a couple of Ellington tunes "C-Jam Blues" and "Perdido" giving the soloists a chance to stretch out at length and Mingus to sit back and drive. Rahsaan Roland Kirk in particular is awe inspiring, with a couple of epic tenor saxophone solos.

4. Blues and Roots: Mingus takes his gospel and R&B influences to town on this wonderfully emotional record. Mingus blasts the band along on bass and also with shouted encouragement. "Wednesday Night Payer Meeting" is one of the most intense jazz performances ever recorded.

5. The Black Saint and the Sinner Lady: This album presents some of Mingus most intricate composing and arranging. Overdubbing and re-arranging parts on the fly, this brings in everything from classical music to flamenco, creating intricate, beautiful music that references Ellington, Stravinsky and everything in between.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, June 10, 2005

Interesting Article

I'm not quite as bad as this guy (really,) but honestly, what's so bad about listening to music 14 hours a day?

They are -- Cabrera and his ilk -- the musicholics: disengaged folks with small, sleek digital players in their hands or pockets who, to varying degrees, need music like they need oxygen. They carry CD players and MP3 gadgets. Many depend on Apple iPods: 10 million have been sold since the device was introduced in November 2001. And there are more and more portable satellite radios and music-playing cell phones showing up on store shelves every day to feed the musical habit.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, June 08, 2005

Interesting articles

The Village Voice has a very amusing review of the new White Stripes album Get Behind Me Satan in their latest issue:

On the first four tracks of Get Behind Me Satan an emissary from the unfair sex discolors Jack's flowers, salts his wounds, leaves his doorbell unrung, and allows "everybody's reactions" to distract her from his undying love.

NPR has an audio review of the new Dizzy Gillespie bipgraphy:

A jazz legend's influence on the genre is detailed in Donald Maggin's book Dizzy: The Life and Times of John Birks Gillespie. Dizzy Gillespie's contributions to jazz included the flavor of Afro-Cuban rhythms and be-bop.

Send comments to: Tim

Tuesday, June 07, 2005

Delightful Downloads

David Murray and the Gwotet Masters – Willsau Jazz Festival 2003 As a big fan of David Murray’s ethnic jazz projects, I was excited to find this, which is a performance by Murray with musicians from Guadeloupe and some Americans like the drummer Hamid Drake. This music has a deep rhythmic quality as the many percussionists keep varied beats going for the main soloists like Murray and an electric guitarist whose name I can’t recall to improvise over. Finally, sung lyrics and vocal chants complete the picture. This must have been one hot band to see live.

Mooney Suzuki – London 4/13/05 – The Mooney Suzuki is a sleazy New York City garage rock band that took their name from a combination of the names of the singers in the legendary Krautrock band Can. Slashing guitars, pounding drums and belting vocals recall “Nuggets” era 1960’s rock and roll. This isn’t exactly Mozart, in fact it’s closer to the “stoopid” rock of the Ramones or the Troggs, as most of the songs are about women, cars and music as they sing about so eloquently on “In a Young Man’s Mind.” Still, for blasting rock and roll, stripped to the bone, it’s hard to beat these guys.

Send comments to: Tim

Monday, June 06, 2005

Max Roach - Percussion Bitter Sweet (Impulse, 1961)

Max Roach was at the height of his powers as a percussionist, composer and social activist in the late 50's and early 60's and brought together a "you-gotta-be-kidding-me" lineup of musicians including Eric Dolphy, Clifford Jordan, Abbey Lincoln (his wife at the time) Julian Priester and Mal Waldron to cut this classic album for Impulse. Most of the songs have politically oriented titles, because Roach was highly involved in the civil rights movement.

Wonderful playing abounds on this record, all of the musicians have a chance to solo, but a couple of spots really stand out. Dolphy gets a wonderfully idiosyncratic alto saxophone solo on "Mendacity" and Lincoln sings very strongly on the same tune. Priester takes a great leadoff solo on "Man From South Africa" which sets the stage for another deeply original Dolphy solo with Waldron comping underneath. Roach solos very few times, but his presence is always felt, not just in the strength of the compositions, but in the different rhythms he juggles, varying the tempo and keeping everybody on their toes. This is a wonderful record, and one of the finest political statements in all of jazz, that deserves a place in everyone's collection.

Send comments to: Tim

Sunday, June 05, 2005

Interesting Articles

The New York Times has a profile and interview with saxophonist and composer Matana Roberts. I've never heard of her, but her music sounds quite interesting:

Ms. Roberts isn't just mildly curious to expand her medium: she seems driven to do it. But rather than her group sound, it is her own instrumental voice, a calm, melodically organized way of playing, that may do the job first.

I boycotted the Red Bank Blues and Jazz Festival this year because they had Kenny G (Kenny Fu---ng G!) headlining the shebang. Yes I'm a complete snob:

The CD 101.9 Red Bank Jazz & Blues Festival has featured many popular guests in its 19 years, but a special one helped attract more than 40,000 people to Marine Park on Saturday.

Send comments to: Tim

Friday, June 03, 2005

Zappa/Beefheart/Mothers - Bongo Fury (Discreet, 1975)

Old compadres Captain Beefheart, Frank Zappa and one of the last incarnations of the Mothers of Invention hook up for this live album cut in Austin, TX in 1975. Zappa had produced Beefheart’s classic Trout Mask Replica LP and the two had collaborated on some other projects like Zappa’s own Hot Rats LP. In some ways however, this album documents an uncomfortable collaboration with those concerned clearly heading in opposite directions musically. Beefheart mines his own personal brand of blues and R&B deeply while spinning off some surrealist poetic spoken word such as “Man With the Woman Head.”

On the other hand, Zappa’s satirical bent is evident in his spotlighted parts, continuing to write songs about groupies and sex with “Debra Kadabra” and “Carolina Hard Core Ecstasy” as he had been doing many times, particularly on the older Flo and Eddie material. His guitar is fresh and fiery, however and the Mothers back him very well and this makes up for some of the more self-indulgent lyrics that Zappa spins. “Advance Romance” allows Zappa to stretch out on guitar with the band egging him on. It’s interesting to hear these two great American musical eccentrics perform together, but in the end the whole is less than the sum of its parts.

Send comments to: Tim

Thursday, June 02, 2005

Interesting Articles

The Village Voice has a special "Jazz Supliment" this week with several articles. Amongst these is an interesting write-up by Francis Davis about a subject dear to my heart - used record shopping:

At the risk of intellectualizing what is probably a compulsion (if it wasn't records, it would be something else), my urge to collect stems in part from a fascination with the process by which a mass-produced object can eventually become so scarce it's vied for.

Also included in this issue is a useful directory of independent jazz labels by Tom Hull:

So virtually all new jazz comes out of independent companies. What follows is a sample of some of the larger and/or more interesting ones, but there are many more—over 800 without getting into single-artist outfits. For each I've provided a founding date, country, approximate album count, and finally a single pick hit.

Send comments to: Tim

Wednesday, June 01, 2005

The Blasters Collection (Slash, 1991)

There was a hot minute back in the 1980’s when it looked like retro rock and roll was making a comeback with the Stray Cats blasting out rockabilly and the Blasters bringing back 50’s style greaser rock and roll. The Blasters were an excellent outfit bringing together old time rock and roll, r&b and jump blues led by the brothers Phil and Dave Alvin. This collection brings together the singles and key album tracks from their three Slash albums recorded during the 1980’s.

The Blasters played a few covers but also wrote songs that fit into the “classic” rock and roll canon before that genre was corrupted with the likes of 80’s hair bands. “Marie Marie” and “No Other Girl” lead the collection off with some blasting (no pun intended) rock and roll while “American Music” and “Border Radio” mine nostalgia in the best possible way making songs of lasting beauty while never resorting to cheap sentimentality. Their covers are delivered with as much aplomb as their originals with versions of Big Joe Turner’s “Roll ‘em Pete” and the traditional “Samson and Delilah.” This wonderful disc makes for an excellent introduction to this great American band.

Send comments to: Tim