Alan Price & The Electric Blues Company – A Gigster’s Life For Me


A part of the Sanctuary Blues Masters series, former Animal keyboardist Alan Price has never remained inactive. Whether doing soundtrack work, playing in his own blues bands, or doing arranging or session work, he’s been more active than any other member of his former band; he also has the distinction of playing piano on Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put a Spell on You.” This set — recorded in 1995 after Price’s band, the Electric Blues Company, had already played over 2,250 shows — feels as if it’s a live show caught on tape, when, in fact, it is a phenomenally recorded studio performance. There’s not a lot of overdubbing here, though — performances were done in complete takes. The material is a mixture of the classic and the somewhat more contemporary — at least Price’s contemporaries. This is Brit blues done with all the style, vinegar, and soul the Brit blues are capable of. At its best, it rivals some of the finest of John Mayall’s recordings. At its worst, it’s not quite boring but rather uncommunicative emotionally. Price’s bandmates — who include Zoot Money, Bobby Tench, Peter Grant, and Martin Wild — are all seasoned veterans of the Brit blues scene. There are some genuine treasures here: the radical reworking of “I Put a Spell on You,” so that it sounds more like the Animals’ version of “House of the Rising Sun”; the Pete Bardens/Bobby Tench original “Good Times/Bad Woman,” which, with its slippery guitars and keyboards, feels more like Peter Green’s mid-period work; and a killer read of Boz Scaggs’ “Some Change,” which is more driven and funky (thanks to hand percussion) than the original. Price includes celebratory takes of John Lee Hooker’s “Boom Boom Boom Boom” and the Smith/Vincent nugget “Rockin’ Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu.” Then there’s the reggae-blues of the title trick, which swings out of a jazzy backbeat into a rootsier Inner Circle-type groove. “Old Lover,” the Eric Clapton/Robert Cray cover, is literally a dumper; the song sucks anyway, and this version does nothing to make it more tolerable. The album closes with an elaborately long (11 minutes and five seconds) version of Jackson Browne’s “Say It Isn’t True,” which, given the less-comfortable surroundings these musicians have found themselves in over the decades, in many ways rings more genuine than the original. Price and Money are both fine interpretive singers in the same vein and deliver knockout performances throughout. This album is far better than listeners had any right to expect, and by its strengths it proves that the vintage British blues are alive and well, even if they are relegated to the margins of obscurity. Terrific.

Malted Milk – On Stage Tonight!


Since their debut album under Dixiefrog Records licence, MALTED MILK continues to grow up and the band is, now, considered as a real new soul attraction. Today they have invited, on their damn Live album, 20SYL from the national acclaimed HOCUS POCUS band (with the hit band C2C in the top of the European and worldwide charts) plus some other guests as the fresh young female singer and guitarist NINA ATTAL or KARL W. DAVIS. With this first live recording,
MALTED MILK takes a real turn in its carreer and becomes a huge and concrete French value in the afro american music style!
True, the great Soul sounds of Black America have rocked our lives for the past fifty years, but it doesn’t mean that this precious musical heritage shouldn’t be revitalized, that its groove couldn’t be reinvented!
Malted Milk’s unrivaled soulfulness is more than a sign of their respect for this glorious past.
The boundless energy you will find on their albums is a mere sample of their ability, a glimpse of their electrifying potential on stage.
Blues purists, funk freaks and avid listeners alike will testify to the authenticity of Malted Milk’s musical might. Inspired compositions, precise arrangements, elegant vocal harmonies, and clever production… who could ask for more? Chances are their artistic honesty will conquer new adepts among those whose ears haven’t yet been polluted by artificial pop sounds.
You can bet on it, Otis Redding, Wilson Pickett, Solomon Burke and Howard Tate wouldn’t have remained unmoved by these recordings. But this is not the least of Malted Milk’s achievements, who have managed to impose their soul-drenched repertoire in Europe. With so many dull imitators and usurpers around, this insistence on originality sanctions the work of creators who insist on making their way, regardless of the commercial consequences of their musical acts.
And if you still entertain any doubts about the worth of these superlative players, try a simple experiment: let yourself be drawn by the strong pull of their dazzling horns and impeccable tempo… A handful of seconds should be enough; you will end up begging for more.
“C’mon, get some! You won’t regret it!”

Jose Feliciano – The Best of


The first Latin singer to “cross over” to the English music market, Jose Feliciano is not only a singer/songwriter, but also an acclaimed guitarist. Feliciano has received many awards throughout his career, including nods for Best Pop Guitarist and Greatest Living Guitarists, and is considered by many in the industry to be a living legend. This  set features Feliciano’s greatest hits as well as his most famous Latin tunes!


Andre Williams & The Diplomats of Solid Sound – Aphrodisiac


Since reawakening the world to his outsize talents with the raw and raunchy blast of 1998’s Silky, R&B legend and self-described “Mr. Rhythm” Andre Williams seems to have gone out of his way to prove just how freaky he can deaky on each subsequent album. But Williams pulls back the reigns a bit on 2006’s Aphrodisiac  and the disc shows he can groove a bit easier and still keep the party going. Williams’ backing band for this set is Iowa City’s latter-day organ groove merchants the Diplomats of Solid Sound who, as expected, don’t generate the same sort of noisy attack as the garage rock upstarts he’s most frequently been teamed with in recent years. The result is a more laid-back and funky groove that’s soulful but potent at the same time, fusing ’70s blaxploitation sounds, Jimmy Smith-style jazz figures, and Booker T.-influenced R&B workouts into one solid package. Williams gives as good as he gets on these sessions, and if his voice is a bit frayed around the edges, the old-school toasting of “Uptown Hustler,” the potent lovers’ pleading of “I’m Not Worthy” and “I Don’t Need May (Juana),” and the post-Hurricane Katrina lament of “Three Sisters” confirm the spirit is still more than willing. Williams has certainly sounded more physically powerful than he does on Aphrodisiac, not surprising for a man of 70 years, but he’s still capable of getting on the good foot, and this album’s biggest drawback is its running time — at a mere 29 minutes, this album doesn’t fuel the party as long as it could or should, though the quality outweighs the quantity.

James Brown – Funk Power 1970 A Brand New Thang


The period during which Brown was backed by the original J.B.’s (with Bootsy and Catfish Collins) was extremely brief, lasting only a year. But it was also an extremely important and influential phase of Brown’s career, when he moved from soul-funk to hard funk, stretching out the grooves and putting more stress on the bottom than ever before. This 78-minute disc is the cream of his recordings from the Bootsy Collins era. The nine tracks (the tenth is a brief public-service annoncement) include some of his core funk workouts — “Get Up I Feel Like Being a Sex Machine” (two versions), “Super Bad,” “Give It Up or Turn It Loose,” “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing,” “Get Up, Get Into It, Get Involved,” and “Soul Power.” It’s not for those who find Brown’s funk phase too monotonous, and indeed the grooves do get a bit similar when experienced all at once. But it’s unquestionably the best of Brown’s ’70s recordings, and indeed some of the hardest funk ever waxed by anyone at any time. As a bonus, the CD has previously unreleased complete versions of “Soul Power” (12 minutes) and “Talkin’ Loud and Sayin’ Nothing” (14 minutes), as well as a previously unreleased version of “There Was a Time.”

Putumayo Presents Louisiana Gumbo


The folks at Putumayo got it right on this one. The easiest trap to fall into when putting together a Louisiana compilation is to go for the tourist stuff — the Dixieland jazz , the second-line horn bands, or zydeco. There’s nothing the matter with any of those traditions, but they’re so obvious. What this compilation focuses on is New Orleans R&B, a tradition as rich as the others but not unique to the area and therefore not typically marketed aggressively by chambers of commerce and travel agencies. Louisiana Gumbo starts off strong, with Charles Sheffield’s “It’s Your Voodoo Working” and the even better “Door Poppin'” by Carol Fran and Clarence Holliman — and then it gets even better. The late pianist James Booker is at his best on the spicy “African Gumbo” (the secret ingredient of which is the legendary drummer John Boudreaux), and there are equally fine contributions from Johnny Adams, Clifton Chenier (okay, they did include some zydeco) and, especially, Percy Mayfield, whose strange but brilliant “Festis Believe in Justice” is the album’s highlight track. Highly recommended.

Captain Beefheart & The Magic Band – Bluejeans And Moonbeams


About the best one can say about 1974’s Bluejeans & Moonbeams is that it’s not as bad as his other release of the year, Unconditionally Guaranteed. In fact, there are two tracks, the pretty reverie “Observatory Crest” and the stomping blues-rocker “Party of Special Things to Do,” that are actually quite good. The rest of the album, however, is fairly dire. Recorded with anonymous studio musicians who are clearly out of their league and glossed to a soul-less polish by producer Andy DiMartino, Bluejeans & Moonbeams never catches fire even at its best, and its worst tracks — those would be “Pompadour Swamp” and the utterly wretched proto-disco “Captain’s Holiday” — are the worst things that have ever borne the Captain Beefheart name. Captain Beefheart would eventually return with the revitalized Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller) in 1978, but Bluejeans & Moonbeams sounds like a tired and cynical make-work project.

Bruce Katz Band – Crescent Crawl


Amazing is the only way to describe Bruce Katz piano and Hammond B-3 organ playing. He has awesome technique along with that important something extra – soul. The Bruce Katz Band also features Lorne Entress, drums; Mary Ballou, bass; Kevin Barry, guitar; and Bob Malach, sax. A wildly exciting and energetic trip. This is roots music at its best. Strictly a must buy.
After many years as a side man, Bruce Katz stepped out on his own in 1992 to record Crescent Crawl. Although it is an all-instrumental album, Katz is the “frontman” on this recording, taking the spotlight — and most deservedly so — on both piano and Hammond B-3 organ. Crescent Crawl blurs the line between blues and jazz (the utilization of an upright bass assists in this effort). The title tune has — as you would expect — has a New Orleans groove. “Contrition” appeared on Ronnie Earl’s Still River a few years later when Katz was a member of Earl’s band, although this version is a bit more understated. Both “Contrition” and “BK’s Broiler” feature Katz on the B-3. “Buzz Cut” is essentially a swing tune, but one with a funky feel thanks to guitarist Kevin Barry’s rhythmic backing. Billy Preston’s “Will It Go Round in Circles” is superb. Katz closes with a harmonically complex solo piano version of “Just a Closer Walk With Thee,” a tune he also included in every live gig in the early ’90s. This disc is about loose definitions of blues and jazz, strong grooves, and, first and foremost, improvisation