Billy Hector ROCK NIGHT in JERSEY

Billy Hector
Rock Night in Jersey
Ghetto Surf Music

Bodacious Blues Rock That Errs on The Side of R.O.C.K …. But is Only a 5 or 6 on The Richter Scale!

I first uncovered Billy Hector two albums ago with his OLD SCHOOL THANG release in 2015; and if pulling them out of the cupboard for accompaniment on long car drives makes me a fan; then …. I’m a fan!
Two things I need to tell you before I go any further; a) Billy used to be Hubert Sumlin’s tour guitarist and b) While this is Blues Rock music that errs on the side of R.O.C.K …. it’s only a 5 or 6 on the Richter Scale; which is all I can cope with these days.
The magnificent I Know How To Party gets the show on the metaphorical road; with Billy and cohorts showing the kids how to ‘do it’ both in deed and music.
This is followed by the slow burning She Don’t Love Him Anymore, which leads into some glorious slide-work from the Maestro that will live in the memory long after the album has been replaced by his next release.
There’s a ‘slick cool’ to many of the songs here; and I’m pleased to tell you that the songs themselves take precedence; and the intricate and even revolutionary at times; fretwork and super-pro backing, take a secondary position; regardless of how good it is …. and it’s Damn Good BTW.
Too many ‘famous’ guitarists these days concentrate on guitar fireworks; forgetting that the words in their songs are just as; if not more important than their technical showing off …. which certainly isn’t the case with Billy’s writing on and in Doctor, Doctor and the funkalicious Lazy Man which has a groove so good, Mrs Magpie looked on in disbelief as I boogied around the kitchen to it one night!
There also two covers here too; and while I didn’t recognise either, the choices really are exemplary; Hector does to Leadbelly’s Poor Howard what the Cream did to Crossroads 50 years ago; and the other is actually one of my favourite songs here; France Chance which features some genuinely sizzling guitar work and industrial style powerhouse backing from Sim Cain and Wilbo Wright was actually written by Mississippi Joe Callicott in 1967 on a long forgotten album of his own, that sounds nothing at all like this. I have no idea how a musician can hear Folk Songs like these; and then turn the words and melody into pumping Rockers ….. it’s witchcraft methinks!
Speaking of Favourite Tracks here, I’ve eventually narrowed it down to three (not including France Chance); with the horn section turned up to 8; the slinky Tell Me What You Want has a big band feel to it, with hints of both BB and Freddie King in there too; then there’s the feisty Ms Martha where Billy not just growls his vocals but makes his Strat growl too!
Which only leaves the actual winner; Rockstar Betty, which I fell in love with the first time I played it. More laid back than most songs here; but the bodacious story and supercool refrain; made it an obvious choice, even though the others ran a very close race.
I hear quite a few albums ‘like this’ every year, but there’s ‘something special’ about Billy Hector’s way with words and geetar playing that appeals to me over many more ‘famous names’ on the circuit these days ….. and I can only hope against hope that he visits NE UK sometime soon …. as the audience is ready and waiting.

Released April 2022
https://billyhector.com/

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RMHQ Radio Show Ep:5 at Nova Radio NE

RMHQ Radio Show Ep:5
Nova Radio NE
Sunday 13th June 2022

Thanks everyone for tuning in; the figures are already 3 x what listened to our first show a month ago; and the ‘Listen Again’ is booming too …. everyone at HQ is over the metaphorical moon.
This week’s show was another mix of what we call Roots, Blues and Americana … even pushing the boundaries with a couple of edgy songs.
As is becoming ‘usual’ the final tracks I played bore very little resemblance to what I set out to play …. hey ho ….I really enjoyed it all and hope you found something that either intrigued you or made you want to buy a song or too.

#Buiy Don’t Spotify
https://ondemand.novaradio.co.uk/od/TheRockingMagpie/

Allman BrosRamblin’ Man
Allman Betts BandSouthern Accents
Elizabeth CookEl Camiino
Eric Burdongto
Alan PriceSavaloy Dip
Davina & The VagabondsSugar Kisses
Billy Bragg & Joe HenryRock Island Line
Jim WhiteErnest T Bass
Big Harp GeorgeUptown Cool
Blinddog Smokin’Bayou Lady
Drive By-TruckersThoughts and Prayers
Elles BaileyCheats and Liars
Green On RedTime Ain’t Nothing
Los LobosFlat Top Joint
Los PacaminosRaised on Margaritas
Dale WatsonAin’t That Livin’
Rob Heron & Tea Pad OrchestraSoul of My City
Rod PicottMark of Your Father
SimpleswanGhosts
Larkin PoeHorseshoes and Hand Grenades
Billy Bob ThorntonPrivate Radio
Nev ClayLeaving Do
Bo DiddleyRoadrunner
Chuck BerryRock & Roll Music
SWEATY LAMARRAbbey I’m sorry I stole your man
Jason RingenbergGod Bless The Ramones
Speedbuggy USALast Train to Clarkesville
Angaleena PresleyMotel Bibles


Hank Williams Jr RICH WHITE HONKY BLUES

Hank Williams Jr
Rich White Honky Blues
Easy Eye Sound

Outlaw Country Meets Even Badder Blues at a Ramshackle Honky Tonk.

I had/have a dilemma here.
Genuinely I knew next to nothing about Hank Jr. before receiving this album, yet something nagged away in the back of my mind as I listened across the first couple of days.
By then; I loved the album – Country infused Blues, or vice versa, which is right up my street, that’s for sure.
So; possibly a bit too late I got in touch with a couple of friends who like Outlaw Country; then posted a question about him on the Twitter ….. the general consensus was that “I shouldn’t like him because of his Right of Centre politics” and “Great music but awful man!”
Too late‘ was the cry though; I already loved the album and my adage for the website is, that “It’s all about the music” … which it is; don’t ya think?

So ….. here goes ….
Tracks for the album were all recorded ‘as live’ in one take on the floor; starting with the grizzly ‘break up’ song; .44 Special Blues which could be about Ruby; (who took her love to town)’s daughter if she was of the same persuasion as her Mother; but Hank Jr is a lot less forgiving than Kenny Rogers.
The tempo is cranked sky high on the next song; RL Burnside’s Georgia Women; which sees the band playing like their lives depended on it while Williams gives his all on a first class Southern Rocker that has the propensity to scare the neighbours if played loud enough!
As I said earlier; I know nought about Hank Jr’s previous releases; but this certainly sounds like he and the band are having a Helluva blast in the studio; especially on another sizzling RL Burnside song; Fireman Blow The Whistle, which is a fuller sound than the original; but loses nothing at all in this format; and Big Joe Turner’s TV Mama too, sounds like the type of Blues that has more Rhythm than a horny catholic on a Friday night!
Somehow; and I’m guessing it’s the sheer professionalism from all concerned; but somehow Williams and band make these songs sound raw and ramshackle; while never missing a single beat … anywhere!
As well as ‘rocking out’ Hank Jr can do slow and sultry with just as much elan; and I’m thinking Jimmy Reed’s Take Out Some Insurance Baby; which they dust down and polish just enough to make it contemporary without losing a note or nuance from the original.
Short Haired Woman; is one of those songs that I own several versions of, with each being significantly different from each other; and this sleazy variation stands shoulder to shoulder with the best of them.
In many ways this is a clever compilation of songs; mixing some minor Blues Classics with a few originals that fit in just perfectly; so much so I had to Google a couple of song titles; only to find they were brand new Hank Williams Jr. tracks just for this album; and of them the title track Rich White Honky Blues is an absolute belter; which will no doubt about it go down exceptionally well with his fan base in concert.
Where to go for a Favourite Song?
They Call Me Thunderhead; apparently a redo of an old song of his called “My Name Is Bocephus” and is now as low down and dirty a Southern Blues Rocker as I’ve heard in many a year; and I’ve heard a few too ….. and again it’s going to be a sure fire hit for live gigs; especially as Bocephus name checks his musical mentors you will ‘get’ where this album is coming from;
I learned from Marshall Tucker, B.B. King and Bobby “Blue”
This is the country boy, I do Southern rock and I do some kinda blues
.”
Then there’s a Gospel song (seriously!); Lightnin’ Hopkins’ Jesus Won’t You Come Back Here, which closes the album and is played straight as a dye, without any tongues in cheeks ….. but then again, we all need some redemption don’t we?
But; there is one other Lightnin’ Hopkins re-make that trumps it …. My Starter Won’t Start which at face value is presumably about the singer’s car ….. but it just may or may not be a metaphor for his love life …. but that might just be my dirty mind 😉
Well my starter won’t start this morning, no my motor won’t even turn
No my starter won’t start this morning, Lord my motor won’t even turn
I’ve been running with a fast class of women
Caused my Cadillac to ruin
You know that does happen
Got to slow down sometime
.”

It’s a bit ‘sweary’ here and there and knowing what I now know about him; I don’t know if this album is going to be a ‘guilty pleasure’ of mine; but in my defence; if it’s good enough for Producer/guitar player extraordinaire Dan Auerbach ….. then it’s good enough for me … and you too!

Released June 17th 2022
https://hankjr.com/
https://store.easyeyesound.com/

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Pete Feenstra, Muddy Manninen & Marcus Malone BLACK PEARL

Pete Feenstra, Muddy Manninen & Marcus Malone
Black Pearl
Redline Music

Slick and Classy 21st Century A.O.R With a Blues Rock Cutting Edge.

Apparently this album started life as a ‘songwriting project’ between two old friends (Pete Feenstra and Muddy Manninen) and eventually took on the metaphorical ‘life of its own’ when they asked Marcus Malone to sing a couple; culminating with an actual album of complete songs that straddle Blues Rock and Americana.
Things get started with the punchy and claustrophobic sounding Angel Town; loosely based on their experiences in Los Angeles over the years and now one of those songs that could easily find its way onto a Cop Drama on TV.
This is followed by the sleazy Cheap Perfume, which features some sizzling slide guitar and a bass line that Jack Bruce or Andy Fraser would have been proud of; especially as Marcus Malone’s vocals have a hint of the young Paul Rogers here and there.
In fairness there are lots of obvious and less obvious influences on show here; which shouldn’t come as a surprise when you know the pedigree of the three main players on this recording.
Just when you think you’ve got them figured out; the trio drop in the funkalicious Mexican Romance which showcases some strange and memorable guitar licks as Malone shows us his soulful side; without making the song sound out of place on a Blues album.
I want to use the word ‘slick’ to describe the production and the way the album has affected me; but ‘slick’ has negative connotations these days; but trust me here; it is ‘slick;’ but that’s only because the band members are all tried and trusted professionals who are creating music for adults with expensive stereo systems.
Bittersweet Love Songs like Price on Love, With My Baby By My Side and Delivery Man are the songs I’m thinking of …… erring on the side of AOR but directed at an aging demographic that understands the nuances in a relationship as much as they do about songs on that subject.
Don’t get me wrong; these cats can R.O.C.K whenever they want, but they know that there’s more chance of this album and especially Luxury Girl, Natural Light and She Knows My Every Move, being played inside an air-conditioned Tesla or at a Saturday night BBQ when the quality of the wine on offer is more important than the state of the world outside those gates; than there is it being played in a souped-up Honda Civic outside a burger joint.
I’ve got another word, ‘classy’ to describe the two songs that have eventually tied for the accolade of RMHQ Favourite Song ….. Moment of Regret reminded me of a Boz Scaggs song that I can’t remember the title of; and yet again will fit perfectly onto the soundtrack to my imaginary TV Cop drama.
The other is actually the title track, Black Pearl; slow and slinky which allows you to wallow in the gorgeous melody and of course; the words in a rather fabulous song too.
I suppose I can sum up by saying this is a Grown Up album made by Grown Up musicians and squarely aimed at Grown Up music lovers who appreciate great musicianship and songs that make sense.

Released May 1st 2022
https://www.feenstra.co.uk/
https://www.marcusmalone.com/
http://www.muddymanninen.com/

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Robert Cray Band at O2 NEWCASTLE CITY HALL

Robert Cray Band
O2 City Hall
Newcastle
Friday 6th May 2022

Unlike many of my peers; I’m not as enthralled with ‘live music’ these days as I should be … and that’s not just a Post-Covid ‘thing;’ as I felt the same way three or more years ago.
To some degrees it’s a health ‘thing’ as I’m no longer able to stand for three or more hours; so the opportunity to not just see Robert Cray and visit the newly revamped City Hall; which was my ‘go to’ venue as a young man was a night that couldn’t be missed.
We were still looking for our seats when the support act appeared on stage and if my eyes didn’t deceive me; it was Welsh duo …. Zervas & Pepper!
Last seen at the SummerTyne Festival 4 or 5 years ago; they immediately seemed a strange choice as support; but the knowledgeable audience instantly fell in love with their style of Laurel Canyon drenched Americana.
Opening with Living In a Small Town that led into the really rather good Silver To Chrome; which had a punchy Folk Rock edge to it.
Without pointing fingers; I think it’s fair to say that the ‘soundman’ didn’t do them any favours tonight; with Paul Zervas rich voice regularly being pushed down in the mix and Kathryn Pepper’s sounding too ‘toppy’ at times ….. thankfully I could see through this and know what great voices they both have …. and when they harmonise; as they do on Look Out Mountain and The Gift; I defy anyone to not be cast their memories back to the halcyon days of Laurel Canyon in all its pomp.
While I recognised a few songs from their Abstract Heart album; they slid in a new song from an imminent album; and the intense White Flag; with its power chords certainly piqued my attention for its release.
As is our won’t we went to the bar at the intermission; and my Brother decided that it must be his ’round’ and ordered two pints of very average and too cold beer in plastic glasses; and nearly had to take an extra tablet when told they would cost £6.75 each!!!!!
Back in the main hall and standing at the front ready to take photos; the band wandered onto the stage in pitch darkness; then on the drummer’s count slid seamlessly into Nothin’ But Love and the scene was set for a fabulous evening of super smooth Soul infused Blues of the highest order.
The first of several surprises was hearing Phone Booth so early in the set; and my notes say ‘full of horny bass lines’ and ‘CooooLLL’ which I still standby those words today.
I can’t list all 20 songs from the set, obviously but we had a delirious mix of Soul Shuffles, majestically moody Blues Ballads and more than enough searing Bluesy Soft Rockers to satisfy even the tardiest of music fans.
After all these years I’d forgot what a great singing voice Robert Cray has; sliding through a range that belies his age on the heartbreakingly sleazy The Things You Do To Me and You Move Me Baby too.
I think of Robert, first and foremost as a guitarist; yet my brother had never heard of him …. strange you might think; but Robert Cray has always flown under the radar …. and suffice to say, Brother Brian was a convert after only three songs.
Speaking of which; in the grand pantheon of Great Blues Guitarists Cray rarely, if ever gets a mention; yet tonight (and not for the first time either) he made his assortment of Fender Stratocasters’, not just weep and cry but scream at times tonight ….. and as for ‘innovative’ …. man; this guy knows no boundaries.
Again; as Brian pointed out afterwards…. this wasn’t just a showcase for the Star; it actually felt like a total band effort; with Les Falconer on drums and Richard Cousins’ ‘less is more’ style of bass playing certainly held everything together like a copper weld; but the legendary (in my head!) Dover Weinberg on Hammond very nearly ‘stole the show’ such was his fabulous playing and ever present smile.
Highlights?
Just so many ….. but a couple of new songs to me really caught my attention; The Shiver was haunting and really showed what an amazing guitar player Cray is; and the playful Roadhouse Blues of Hot featured some extraordinary guitar playing; yet Cray himself is the opposite of flash!
Oh yes!
Right in the middle of the show You Had My Heart; a great song in itself featured some serious tub-thumping from Les Falconer as well as Cray sounding like he was stabbing at the guitar strings while his voice dropped an octave or two …. you had to be there.
With so much to choose from his own back catalogue Robert even gave us an amazing cover of Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland’s slow and intensely sensitive The Soul of a Man in which every single second was filled to the max.
The set was bookended with Cray’s other ‘hit’ …. Right Next Door, which was a bit ‘heavier’ than I’ve heard before, and somehow ….. all the better for that; then they ‘closed the show’ with a no holds barred You Must Believe In Yourself.
Cray and band mates then thanked the crowd and left the stage ……. Bizarrely; after all these years adults around us were wondering out loud whether they would come back for an encore.
REALLY???
Sure enough, after the obligatory minute in the wings … back they came for two stunning songs ; the darkly smoky Forecast Calls (for Pain) and the sultry Time Makes Two with another playful false ending; then to a deserved standing ovation they were gone into the Spring night.

https://robertcray.com/
https://zervasandpepper.com/


Eliza Neals BADDER TO THE BONE

Eliza Neals
Badder To The Bone
E-H Records

A Challenging Move On Through the Dark Shadows of The Blues That Hits All The Right Spots

There’s an element of guilt attached to this review; as Eliza promoted its release a couple of days ago; for me to make a sarcastic response as I hadn’t received a copy …. to whit she DM’d me immediately stating she’d posted a CD several weeks previously!
Any hoot; a download arrived within the hour so all’s well, that ends well ….. even if was being a bit huffy.
Was my wait worth it?
Hell yes!
Taking a massive leap forward from the BLACK CROW MOAN album, Eliza spreads her talents far and wide; even challenging herself at times across the Blues gamut here; starting with the Diddleyesque United We Stand; which has the hallmarks of a rocking good ‘protest song’ the likes of which most rockers shy away from; but Ms. Neals always wears her heart on her sleeve and damn the consequences.
This is immediately followed by some low down and bittersweet Soulful Blues with the heartwrenching ballad Queen of the Night; which features the subtle touches of Lance Lopez on geetar and Lynard Skynyrd’s Peter Keys on actual ‘keys’ making for an intense love song that comes in just shy of 7 minutes long; but has your attention for every single second.
There’s plenty of power chords and riffs a’plenty throughout; made all the better by Eliza and her co-writer’s strong storytelling; most astutely on King Kong, the Rustic Rocker that is Fuelling Me Up and the emotionally charged and slowed down retake of Queen of The Nile II, which closes the album and like the best gigs; leaves you wanting ‘more… more …. more!’
In between there are some really adventurous moves from Eliza; Lockdown Love is as sexy as it’s sleazy with the lady switching between purrs and growls like a she-cat on heat; leaving the male of the species listening sweating and a little bit scared!
Heathen takes us on yet another left of centre journey as Ms Neals taps into her S.O.U.L on Heathen which finds her hitting notes I had no idea were in her range; but when she hits them; they know they’ve been hit!
As usual I hadn’t read the Press Release or even the tracklisting when I first played this album; so it was probably a minute or so into it that I recognised Can’t Find My Way Home; the Blind Faith missive which has been a personal favourite for 50 years now ….. and while she plays around with the melody and tempo; plus the addition of Lance Lopez’s trademarked dirty geetar licks; makes for a really special version that will impress fans old and new.
This a Blues album; so it’s no surprise to find at least one ‘cheating’ song on it; and here the toe-tapping Hammond melody and guitar riffs camouflage the fear her man should have from ‘this woman done wronged‘ Got a Gun …… which had me going “Oh! Yikes!” the first time I heard the chorus.
For my selection of Favourite Track I initially made a notation next to Fueling Me Up, as it;s a great song with some mighty powerful musicianship all around that keeps you tuned in so as not to miss a note or syllable; but in the last 48 hours I’ve been drawn to the ‘Power Ballad’ Bucket of Tears ….. for no particularly personal reason; just that it’s a ‘grower’ that took my unawares maybe four plays of the album in ….. which impressed me a lot.
Even though her voice is as distinctive as ever; making this a recognisable Eliza Neals album and pleased to tell you it’s a thrilling move on from her last two albums; and hints at some fantastic gigs in the near future.

Released 23rd April 2022
http://elizaneals.com/

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Dana Fuchs BORROWED TIME

Dana Fuchs
Borrowed Time
Ruf Records

Got ‘Em Brand New Southern Kozmic Blues

Because she’s been around the Blues scene for 20 years or so; I kind of think of Dana Fuchs as ‘Godmother’ of the female Blues scene.
OK, I shouldn’t seperate the ladies from the gentlemen these days; but I can’t help myself …. sorry.
Then again; because she’s trod such a varied path with her albums over the years; perhaps I should be comparing and contrasting with the males members of the species?
Or I could just tell you about the fabulous music contained within this; her 10th full length album.
Normally less dependent on the electric guitar than her contemporaries; Dana kick starts BORROWED TIME with the raunchy Double Down on Wrong; which is full of fizzy electric guitar ….. just to prove my memory wrong! Though the production always keeps her distinctive throaty vocals to the front of the mix …. which is how it should be.
Not for the first time; Dana takes us on an emotional rollercoaster; using electric guitars on the uptempo Blues Rockers that will shake your soul; like the funky-ass Star and the full-on righteous Last To Know ; which owes a nod to the guitar playing of the late Johnny Winter if I’m not wrong; although the song is deeply personal to Ms. Fuchs herself.
Speaking of ‘personal’ Dana delves really deep into her imagination for the slower and more emotional Blue Mist Road and Nothing You Own; which was ‘inspired by a report about impoverished South Africans in a Cape Town Slum‘ and will bring a tear to a glass eye.
Long term fans of hers; and there are plenty, will love the new direction Dana’s writing takes with Curtain Close and Not Another Second, which sort of dabble into the Southern Rock territory I associate with Molly Hatchet and even Black Oak Arkansas if my aged memory doesn’t deceive me.
When I first received the album I ‘presumed’ it was going to be a ‘pedal to the metal’ full on ‘rocker’ ….. but Dana really shows her class by following the beautifully gentle Call Me Name, which again shows the diversity in Ms Fuch’s writing for this album; as this tale of two women riding out the Liberian War in a refugee camp, becomes a universal story about love and companionship with the intensely feisty Save Me which is going to be a sure fire winner when played live.
I’ve been torn between another Southern Rocker Hard Road and the heartfelt Country Blues of Lonely Lie for my actual Favourite Song; not least because of the harmonica intro and occasional haunting salvos on said instrument as Dana channels both, her inner John Prine AND Bonnie Raitt…. which is why it gets my casting vote.
I’m no expert regarding Dana Fuchs’ career so I’m not sure where her fan base will place this in her Top 10 releases; but I will be surprised if history will show it’s in the Top 3 ….. and for me; as the proud owner of only two other of her releases, it’s my Favourite as there’s more than enough to keep me coming back time and time again.

Released April 29th 2022
https://www.danafuchs.com/

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Edgar Winter BROTHER JOHNNY

Edgar Winter
Brother Johnny
Quarto Valley Records

A Fitting tribute From The Stars To Not Just One of the Blues Greatest Sons …. but Rock & Roll’s too.

Johnny Winter?
Wow …… Hero ….. Legend …sigh.
I presumed it must have been the Old Grey Whistle Test when I first saw Johnny Winter; but checking it out on YouTube, it must have been earlier; probably ’71 or 2, as I immediately went out to buy the Johnny Winter And Live album the next day; as I distinctly remember having my mind totally blown by this skinny white guy, with long blonde hair wearing knee high silver boots and sporting a red cape while playing a Gibson Flying V ….. which was the talk of the school yard!
My other memory from that time was having his poster on my bedroom wall (alongside Melanie Safka).
Years later when I was writing for a local newspaper I actually got to interview him, to promote a gig at Gateshead Sage ….. which was sadly; poorly attended ….. but those of us who were there still felt like disciples worshiping at the feet of the great man.
So; onto the music …… culled together by Brother Edgar and including a host of household name Blues musicians who ‘all had to be involved.’
The album opens with a fire and brimstone rendition of Mean Town Blues; starring Joe Bonamassa who appears to have rubbed his larynx down with sandpaper and plugged his guitar into the mains!
Although not a song I’d have selected as an opener; but it works exactly as it’s meant to …… capturing not just the listeners attention …. but the spirit of John Dawson Winter III perfectly well too.
This is followed by one of Johnny’s signature songs Still Alive and Well with Kenny Wayne Shepherd giving it his all in such a way I think he may have collapsed as soon as the recording was finished!
While everything here; apart from the two new songs Edgar wrote in honour of his brother; are all played with passion and homage; each guitarist/singer thankfully puts their own spin onto this fabulous collection.
While a great songwriter in his own rites; Johnny was also a Mastercraftsman at covering other’s songs; none more so than Jumpin’ Jack Flash which turns up here in the hands of Phil X; who gives a great rendition, that’s very much like Johnny’s original.
I’d forgot he’d also covered Highway 61 Revisited; and this rip-roaring version by John McFee and Kenny Wayne Shepherd sounds a bit like a rusty Dylan singing with Johnny on guitar and Jerry Lee on keyboards in some dive bar on the dark side of town …. yep; it is that good.
There are plenty of surprises here; even for hardened collectors of Winter’s work; I’m Yours I’m Hers with Derek Trucks and Billy Gibbons trading licks has to be heard to be believed; and Stranger, which I don’t recollect becomes a soulful and sonic late night love song, with Michael McDonald, Joe Walsh and Sir Ringo Starr taking the album in a direction I never expected; plus Stormy Monday Blues and Got My Mojo Workin’; staples throughout Johnny’s long career get a whole new coat of paint here via Robben ford and Bobby Rush who sings his heart out on the latter.
For an actual Favourite Song, I’ve been torn between going for either of two Johnny Winter Classics and a song that’s new to me.
This version of Rock and Roll Hoochie Koo finds Steve Lukather taking on the great man’s singing and guitar style with aplomb and not found wanting. Even when Johnny first released Johnny B Goode the world probably didn’t need yet another version ….. but here as then; it’s become nuclear powered and still destined to frighten the pants of ex-Radio 1 DJ Tony Blackburn!
But …… and I’m not being contrary when I actually select an acoustic track; and one written by Edgar himself for the record, as my actual #1 Favourite Song; as hearing Keb Mo’ sing Johnny’s theme tune Lone Star Blues will bring tears to a glass eye …. and bring back memories that have been hiding in the shadows for many years.
The other of Edgars tributes to his brother; End Of The Line which closes proceedings is a Bluesy heartbreaker that is both as Old Scool as it is contemporary; which is how I always thought Johnny Winter was ….. and; alongside the other 15 songs here; are both fitting tributes to not just one of the Blues greatest sons …. but Rock & Roll’s too.

Released April 15th 2022
https://edgarwinter.com/

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Pete Gow LEO

Pete Gow
Leo
Clubhouse Records

A Spectacular Intelligent Lyric Based Brass and String-Driven Epic

Pete Gow first came to my attention in his days with Case Hardin – I only saw them the once, in one of their last shows; but it was a gateway moment in leading towards the Pete Gow solo career.
Since then, Gow’s move to more epic string arrangements has more than held my attention – the albums ‘Here There’s No Sirens‘ and ‘The Fragile Line‘ with their lush string arrangements and intelligent lyricism ticked all the boxes for this fan of the likes of Richard Hawley, John Grant and the Walker Brothers.
So where does Pete Gow after two epic string-laden releases?
Enter the brass section… or should I say; Soul Orchestra?

Recording began in early 2020 and continued through the interruptions of lockdown which – upon listening to this album – allowed Gow and multi-instrumentalist/producer Joe Bennett to hone the fine details of the music and the narrative/poetic lyrics into something that responds to many, many listens.
In the accompanying lyric sheet, the nine songs on this release aren’t separated with title headings, but rather read as one whole James Joyce-like stream of consciousness that comes over like a British early Springsteen in a world populated by personal reflections, anecdotes, strange characters and relationships. Musically, the epic nature of the sound also draws comparison with Springsteen; not so much in musical style, but in its scope and range.

(RM Ed …. plus there’s many a nod to Celtic Soul Orchestra era Van Morrison too)

Opener “Where Else Would We Be Going” is a lively brass driven rumination on the passage of time and how we spend that time – minor melancholic and melodic shifts as well as triumphant major choruses balance a moment in time
Where would we be going
But some place we’ve never been?
“Say It With Flowers” , which follows, combining swells of brass and strings, morphs into a play for today account of a rowdy relationship – and brushes the edges of Meatloaf in doing so, but with no hackneyed sentiment, just rather well-observed realism.

The wonderfully titled “Side lll of London Calling” is up next and the title itself is a metaphor for the beauty of someone special – unattainable, as it turns out, but isn’t that always the case with the ones you like the most?
Unsurprisingly, the denouement of this night turns out like “Side V of Sandinista”…musically this slice of a musician’s night is framed in a chorus line of brass riffs that echo the inevitability of emotional frustration. (*This is very much the RM’s Favourite Song btw!)

The journey through the night (literally and of the soul) continues with “Casino” a co-write with Jim Maving.
Strings and strummed acoustic lead in and take us towards washes of more gentle brass, telling a tale of a place where
it’s always the night
it’s a late night soulful Memphis groove, rooted in the dark of an English city.

“Both Sides Down” ends the notional first side of the album – shifts of rhythm, stops and starts underscore the uncertainty of the narrative which declares
There’s no telling how this is going to work out
again, the contrast of major/minor musical phrases juxtapose the hope and fear in the moment.

“Leonard’s Bar” takes a Springsteen-esque character who has
“ ‘this’ and ‘that’/ Tattooed across my knuckles
is a tale of a former and now reluctant hitman – which in itself is a metaphor for not being able to face one’s past ….
So he said that ‘I’ll drive
But I’m not going in’
‘guns scare me so much more
Than they once did’
‘I can still take the wheel
But I won’t hold the door anymore’
“.
It’s a chilling tale, in as much as what it doesn’t say – as what it does.

“Eight Long Hours” is another tale of living in the moment and fearing the future
I just want you to want me
While they still say I’m pretty
Before they say I’m still pretty for my age
’.
Musically the flourishing horns give a breath of positivity against the inevitable that’s everywhere else in the darkness.

Penultimate track “This City is a Symphony” is at the core of the album’s tale – the stories.
Hopes, fears, life, love and death that fills a place.
Again there’s a Springsteen-like reflection on the hollowness of dreams – just like the song “The River” with its
Is a dream a lie if It don’t come true
or is it something worse?
”,
Gow echoes that with
Be careful of the things you didn’t wish for
It still hurts when those wishes don’t come true

Joe Bennett throws a touch of Brian Wilson vocal and instrumental shenanigans into the mix before the mantra of disappointed dreams goes round again.

The album ends with a reprise of the opener – here it’s more fragile, less ebullient – time has stripped away youth and yet we go round again – whereas the opener was brash and more confident, washes of organ and distant reverb make this a more reflective coming to terms with the passing of time.

2022 hasn’t been very good in many ways (somewhat of an understatement!) but the one way in which 2022 is delivering is in the quality of music that is entering the world.
Pete Gow’s “LEO” is up there with the very best on offer and places him quite deservedly on the same ledge as the Cohen’s and Springsteen’s of the world.
An absolute essential purchase!

Review by Nick Barber
Released 29th April 2022

https://www.petegow.com/

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https://petegow.bandcamp.com/

Horojo Trio SET THE RECORD

Horojo Trio
Set The Record
Stony Plain Records

Rocktastic, Funkalicious Blues and Soul Hybrid Straight Outta Ottawa.

HOROJO Trio (pronunciation: HO-RO-JO, as in HO – Think Santa Claus; RO – “Row Your Boat”; and JO – “Joe”) …… are drummer Jamie Holmes, singer/keyboardist Jeff Rogers, and guitarist JW Jones who has as a solo artist reached Top 10 on the Billboard Blues Charts and has received multiple JUNO and Maple Blues Award nominations.
That’s the hard facts; but it’s the music that will make you part with your pocket money!
Even before Jamie Holmes enters the fray on opening track Man of Steel; I was already won over by the opening salvo from the trio …… for a Soul/Blues/Rock hybrid these cats can not only play their instruments with aplomb; but they sure ain’t afraid of a melody too.
The song itself is a bonafide stomper which will make your brain work just as hard as your feet ….. what a dazzling way to introduce themselves.
The second song; the slow burning A Little Goes a Long Way, opens with the bewitching lines;
Well I feel so good
I gotta sing about it
Find the highest place
So I can shout about it
.”
not just a great set of lyrics follows; but the trio don’t just provide harmonies that would make the House of Stax proud of; but their playing is worthy of Blue Note at its height.
Two fabulous songs in and you’d presume that the band must surely have already peaked ….. nay, nay and thrice nay!
The album gets better and better in every conceivable musical manner …… (while probably not Top 20) but the Hits just keep on coming!
There are 11 songs here and not a single one could conceivably be deemed ‘filler;’ obviously some are catchier than others …… the slow and sultry Give and Take, The Night and the funkalicious Running are all perfect for radio play as well as for wallowing in in the comfort of your own home.
I’ve always had eclectic taste in music; and somehow The Horojo Trio tick all of the boxes I require from Soul, Blues, Rhythm AND Blues and the occasional addition of JW Jones’ sublime guitar playing adds enough rock to balance everything just perfectly.
Selecting a single Favourite Song has been almost impossible; mostly because each individual song is a winner in its own rite; but using my very own Super Power of turning the music off, making a cup of coffee and then thinking back to the songs and titles; I was actually drawn to four (yes FOUR!) instead of the usual one or two …….
If Smokey Robinson ever covers Hard As I Can it’s going to be a shoe-in for a Grammy ……. seriously; it sounds as smooth as latter day Smokey; but with the bounce and danceability of his earlier hits with the Miracles!
Who thought I’d ever get to write a sentence like that?
Give and Take is a bit of a monster; and while Jeff Rogers husky and distinctive vocals sounds nothing like them; this song reminds me of the type of songs Frankie Beverly and/or Teddy Pendergrass released ‘back in the day’ ….. which is a helluva compliment.
Prior to that on the album is Ragman’s Blues; which I’d guessed with a title like that was a cover of an old song; but no siree Bob ….. this is 2022 at it’s sauciest and indeed sexiest!
Then there is the slow and sensual Stay Crazy; which again has some really really, memorable lines, describing the type of life Rogers wants and wants from the woman in that life …… none more so than the ear catching opening verse:
“Too many people
Colour inside the lines
Always do as they’re told
Never put up a fight
They’re old when they’re young
Wish away their lives
They do what’s expected
They … wither on the vine
… stay crazy.”

The actual punchline is “Stay crazy ….. stay crazy in love.” And that’s a sentiment we could all live by!
Personally I’d have entitled the album after the raucous closing track; Real Deal, which is another trip to Funky Town, which perfectly sums up how I feel about The Horojo Trio …… they most certainly are The Real Deal.

Released April 1st 2022
https://horojotrio.com/

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https://stonyplainrecords.com/horojotrio/