Bubba Mac Blues Band – Just Life

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The Bubba Mac Blues Band is a nine-piece ensemble that hails from New Jersey and appears weekly at the Bubba Mac Shack in Somers Point, New Jersey. Their disc Just Life released in 2001 features 14 originals contributed by various members of the group. With Bubba on guitar/vocal and second guitarist Richie Baker also handling vocals along with Terry Showers and Karen Logan the female vocalists the band’s four-part harmony, in addition to the instruments creates a “fat” sound, not often heard in today’s leaner approach to blues. The overall feel of the album is an easy to listen to harmony filled tour of life’s moments. An understated approach to the use of the instruments lends a powerful presence to the songs. Touches of slide guitar (Mr Runaround Town) and violin (Walking with My Baby) are subtly unexpected and interesting.As mentioned, Bubba handles vocals and adds to the proceedings as one of three guitarists along with Richie Baker and Lew London on lead. Mike Conti and Nick Marion anchor the rhythm section on bass and drums. With Charlie Winters on harmonica and Chris Sooy on keyboards; add the two ladies on vocals and the sound with all nine players contributing is a full on auditory treat. Some of the material covered on this disc includes a tribute to the sixties in 60’s Generation, non-smoking: Designated Smoking Area Blues and a woman’s good man with: My Man. This is a thoroughly enjoyable disc featuring a wide variety of blues styles and music that has in some cases little to do with blues music styles. It offers a refreshingly big sound in a time when some productions are inclined to try to do more with less.

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Etta James – The Definitive Collection

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How do you cover an artist with nearly 50 years worth of recorded material
on one disc? Use this as an example. With so many different collections of artists like Ms. Etta James out there, it can be a complicated task of what to choose. Others may focus on one particular area of her recording career, but this one goes all the way back to her 1955 smash of “The Wallflower (Dance With Me Henry)” all the way up to a 2004 recording of a blues recording “The Sky Is Crying” in which her sons take part in the production. Many of the well known Argo/Cadet sides from the ’60s are represented like “At Last”, “Something’s Got A Hold On Me”, and “Tell Mama” and then moving on to her gutsy and gritty rendition of “Take It To The Limit” from 1978, which was so chilling and moving, and ending up in the ’80s and ’90s with some Nashville recordings containing a country tinge to them as well as a Gershwin tune “The Man I Love”, and Otis Redding’s “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long.” Etta had such a versatile style from cool, refined, and seductive to passionate, gutsy and rollicking. If only some young female singers today could take a lesson from her; she could do it all, and is still doing it today. That’s why this package can do wonders for somebody who wants to know which great artists from the past are still performing today and wants to see a dynamic balance and mix of different material in a career-spanning perspective. This one certainly has it. With so much material from her earlier years, some things may be missing, but as stated before, with one disc in a complete career overview theme in mind, the debate rests on what really is essential in representing the artist’s entire career. All 23 tunes are very enjoyable. If you’re new to Etta, this a great place to start.

Nuno Mindelis – Freeblues

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Nuno goes from good to better to best on an album that mixes blues and rock classics… while kicking in a few of his own songs. Both as a guitarist and singer, Nuno is sort of reminiscent of Clapton while his low key, understated and bluesy singing style is sort of a reminder of a modern J.J. Cale… Free Blues will have you coming back for more”.