Frank Goldwasser with The Alastair Greene Band – North

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Singer, guitarist and songwriter Franck Goldwasser is no stranger to those who have been paying attention to the West Coast blues scene over the last two decades. Born in Paris, France in 1960, his initial blues inspiration came from Hound Dog Taylor, Brownie McGhee and T-Bone Walker. After working his first professional gig at age 21 supporting Sonny Rhodes, Rhodes invited him to move to the San Francisco Bay Area. With the commitment of a true believer, Franck packed his bags and moved to the Bay Area within a year, whereupon he was immediately hired by Troyce Key (who gave him the stage name of Paris Slim) to play in the house band at Key’s legendary Eli’s Mile High Club in Oakland. He eventually assumed leadership of the group while Key took a professional hiatus, and became deeply immersed in the area’s still-vibrant blues scene.

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.

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”.

Charlie Musselwhite & The Dynatones – Curtain Call Cocktails

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Rockin’ R&B laced with Chicago blues. An early lineup of the rock-and-soul Dynatones backs up veteran bluesman Charlie Musselwhite in a live set at the Belly Up Tavern in Solano Beach, California from 1982. Curtain Call Cocktails album by Charlie Musselwhite was released Feb 09, 1999 on the Westside label. Original 1982 live album, inc. 4 never before released cuts.

 

 

 

 

 

Georgie Fame – On The Right Track

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There have been several Georgie Fame compilations over the past decade, but it is this one on Raven that boils all of it down to the essence of his contribution to the Brit R&B beat-crazy scene of the 1960s and early ’70s. Here are the singles, the hits, the near misses, and the worthy album cuts compiled to show the audacity, imagination, and wild, swinging toughness of Fame. Fame’s earliest influences were Fats Domino and Little Richard, but by the time he cut his first album, Rhythm and Blues at the Flamingo, live at Great Britain’s notorious jazz club, he was deeply under the sway of Mose Allison’s Back Country Suite. And does that ever come across here. Fame was raw, in the moment, and always presenting his tracks with a slightly out of control feel. The 28 cuts here range from the jumping R&B of “Yeh Yeh” and Allison’s classic “Work Song” to his stellar read of Titus Turner’s “Get On the Right Track,” a smoky version of Milt Jackson’s “Bluesology,” a deeply soulful take on the John Mayall/Jon Mark groover “Something,” and the catchy pop ditty “The Ballad of Bonnie and Clyde,” which reached number seven on the American charts. (It didn’t hurt that the tune came out at the same time as the infamous movie starring Warren Beatty and Faye Dunaway.) All of these are in the first half of the set and recorded before 1967! But Fame could croon, too, as evidenced by this beautiful version of Little Willie John’s “Need Your Love So Bad,” with strings. The camped-up R&B move on Willie Dixon’s “Seventh Son” takes Allison’s version a step further, his horn-heavy rolling stroll on Bob Dylan’s “Down Along the Cove,” with a female backing chorus, completely reinvents the tune, and his jazzed-up New Orleans groove consciousness does the same on “I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight.”

In all, this is an indispensable collection for anyone seeking to get acquainted with Fame outside of his work with Van Morrison or interested in the finger-poppin’ beat madness of swinging London in the ’60s.

Chris Farlowe – Hungary For The Blues

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One of the great British R&B voices, this year Chris Farlowe celebrates 50 years in the business! He has worked with Jimmy Page, Mick Jagger, Eric Burdon and remains a favourite special guest of Van Morrison’s live shows and is most famous as a solo artist for his massively successful 1966 number one single Out Of Time.
Born John Deighton in Essex on 13 Oct. 1940, Chris Farlowe began his musical career with The John Henry Skiffle Group (inspired by his hero Lonnie Donegan) but after adopting a new name the band soon evolved into the R’n’R combo Chris Farlowe and The Thunderbirds (Farlowe being a nod to guitarist Tal Farlowe). The band recorded 5 singles on EMI’s Columbia Records but success came only after a move to Rolling Stones manager Andrew Loog Oldham’s Immediate label. Accordingly Farlowe got to record a lot of Jagger/Richards compositions including Think and his huge hit single Out Of Time with Jagger even sitting in as occasional producer. Also recorded on Immediate was the original Handbags And Gladrags, written by Manfred Mann’s Mike d’Abo for Chris. During 1965-1970 Farlowe was Immediate’s most prolific singles artist. Subsequent years saw him play with prog rockers Colosseum and the acclaimed Atomic Rooster before reforming The Thunderbirds. Chart success was achieved once again in ’75 with the re-release of Out of Time and the 80s, 90s and 2000s saw Chris guest on albums such as Jimmy Page’s celebrated Outrider as well as release his own albums The Voice, Glory Bound and 2003’s Farlowe That.
Hungary For The Blues was recorded live at the Gastroblues Festival Parks, Hungary on June 18th 2000, while tracks 13 & 14 were recorded live at Charlys Musickkneipe, Oldenburg on October 8th 2004. Joining Chris on Hungary For The Blues are Norman Beaker (Guitar), John Price (Bass), Paul Burgess (Drums, ex-10cc), Lenni (Saxophones) and Dave Baldwin (Keyboards), except for tracks 13 & 14 which feature Damian Hand (Saxophone) and Andy Kingslow (Keyboards).