Mature, Stylish, Graceful and Classy Songs of the Heart.
It appears that singer-songwriter Dan Navarro was a big deal in the USA Music Biz in the 1980’s and 90’s as one half of a duo called Lowen & Navarro (14 albums in 20 years must count for something!) plus he had a hand in writing quite a few hit songs too…… yet I’ve never heard of him, until now…… his debut solo album in 2019. In fairness, now I’ve played SHED MY SKIN a couple of times I’m more than happy to make this a starting point; as he not only writes an interesting song; he has a husky and ‘world weary’ voice that hooked me in right from the first verse of opening track, Shed My Skin. Much like the album itself; this song sits comfortably alongside many of the artists that came out of Laurel Canyon in the 60’s and 70’s; but also the tightly wrapped music that came from Townes Van Zandt and his merry band in the early 70’s. While many of those songwriters were ‘old beyond their years’ Dan Navarro writes his songs after a ‘life well lived’ and with the wisdom that can only be found, ‘looking back;’ which is what makes Straight To The Heart of Me and Ghosts very special indeed; as each demand your time and effort to get the best from them. For a Singer-Songwriter album that sounds quite simple and easy on the ear; Navarro gets to thank a multitude of people for their help in the making of the record; but thanks to Steve Postell’s mixing and producing nothing ever gets to take you away from Navorro’s heartfelt approach to his bittersweet love songs Bulletproof Heart, Hard For Me Now and especially the cinematic and claustrophobic Let Her Ride too. For an Americana album like this, Navarro includes two fascinating choices of cover songs; Billy Idol’s Sweet Sixteen which now becomes a mean ‘n moody Acoustic Rocker, which I didn’t recognise at all, partly because it now includes some amazing fiddle from Aubrey Richmond, Dobro from Doug Cox and some sensual and breathy harmonies from Grace Pettis (what’s not to like?) and the other gets to close the album; a fairly maudlin rendition of Wichita Linesman which just about perfectly closes the proceedings. Although I’ve been smitten by both those songs, two others have totally captured my heart; the lucid Arrows which conjures up it’s own windswept imagery in a way I’d normally associate with someone like Jackson Browne; and the other is the song that actually is my Favourite Song Here; You Drove Me Crazy, an intensely powerful duet with Janiva Magness that really proves Navarro’s songwriting is up there with the very best; and the way that the accordion, guitars and mandolin interweave behind their voices is quite unnerving at times yet incredibly beautiful at the same time. As I alluded to earlier; Dan Navarro’s songs are all pulled from a world of experiences that only a ‘man of a certain age’ can attain and articulate; and Dan Navarro does it with style, grace and class.
Howlin’ Ric & The Rocketeers You’re Lovin’ Days Are Through (Single) Gin House Records
WAHAY! We loved their demos a couple of years ago; and in the intervening time Howlin’ Ric and the Rocketeers appear to have been on the road day and night delivering their own blend of high energy and very danceable R&B drenched Rock and Roll to clubs and theatres the length and breadth of the UK! The band were in touch last week giving us a shiny new copy (well, a download actually!) of this, their first single You’re Lovin’ Days Are Over/Sweet Ella Mae from the forthcoming debut LP WAITING BY THE DANCEFLOOR!
Honeyed and Husky Jazz-Lite For The Younger Generation.
I wasn’t sure what to make of Lady Nade when I first played this album. In part that’s because it’s got a quite commercial ‘sound’ to it and very Jazzy in parts too; but why, pray, I now think, should that be a problem? The more I’ve played SAFE PLACE, the more it’s grown on me; especially now that the sun is shining. The bouncy Looking For Love gets the show on the road in a way Joan Armatrading did many moons ago, mixing clever songwriting with a ‘pop’ back-beat, supplied; it has to be said, by some ingenious musicians, who may be ‘Jazzers’ at heart but certainly not afraid of a melody. ‘That’ description is also fitting for a few more songs here; most notably Please You, Natalie and especially the wonderful title track Safe Place too. While Paul Isaac and Daniel Everett’s production makes just about every song ‘radio friendly (and that’s no bad thing btw) it doesn’t take too much of a stretch to think that the songs Sweet Honey Bee and the electro-pop of Keep Our Love Alive can be easily stripped back to join the acoustic tracks Half Empty and Heart of Mine and become both heart-stoppers AND showstoppers when Lady Nade performs then in concert, without the aid of any electronic wizardry. With so much filling the senses among these 15 (FIFTEEN!) songs, and often sweeping from genre to genre with consummate ease choosing a Favourite isn’t easy; with the final two epic songs Heart Beats Strong (Part I) takes Lady Nade very close to Sade territory, so therefore has to be a contenders as do La La Larve ( A Deja Vu Refrain) and Drive Home Safely where she turns herself into something of a Jazz Diva in the mould of Cleo Laine (and not a million miles from where I thought Amy Winehouse was headed) but I’m going for a different song with Please You; which combines all that is best here and not just Lady Nade’s sonic songwriting; but the way she uses her voice to feel like a velvet fog of emotion. Now I’m deep into these songs, I’m not sure which appeals to me most; Lady Nade’s intricate and heartfelt songwriting or her warm and husky voice and when you put the pair together, music lovers of all persuasions are onto a winner.
Sam Slatcher & The Sanctuary Seekers STORIES OF SANCTUARY Self Release
Two Cultures Clash To Create Beautiful Music.
Last week I reviewed an album full of artists from my region; and specifically Co. Durham called WHAT IF? by RT Project and concerning ‘crisis and depression’ which blights all ages. One of the acts, Sam Slatcher subsequently got in touch to thank me; and then slipped into the conversation that he was also involved with another project concerning a group of Syrian Refugees who have settled in and around Durham. Who was I to say ‘no’ when he offered a copy? Suffice to say, I’ve sat mesmerised today listening to these ‘tracks’; as not everything here is a song; and it’s fair to say it’s far from ‘easy-listening’ as several songs are written by and performed in the artist’s native language; but culled together STORIES OF SANCTUARY is a fascinating record. The effortlessly charming So May We Find Peace opens the album; with Sam himself singing over a traditional Syrian drum and guitar beat and a choir of children who alternate their choruses between English and Syrian; this is followed by Slatcher singing the first of two versions of City of Sanctuary; around which the whole album kind of revolves. Starting with the story of the Vikings raiding the Northumbrian island of Lindisfarne; raping and pillaging; leaving the locals to flee to the mainland ….. perhaps the first refugees? The track then flits between a Syrian man telling his tale of travelling across Europe to get to Durham; and an elderly English gentleman retelling a story of a young soldier in WW1 trying to get back to blighty, before Slatcher then brings his story up to date. It’s all a very clever and inspiring 4 or 5 minutes from start to finish. It’s not always easy for someone like me to actually ‘enjoy’ world music; as we don’t have any idea what the singer is singing about; but handily the accompanying booklet has the lyrics to everything in it; making the Levantine Folk Song Haddi ya Baher actually spring to life as you can read the story as if it’s poetry while Hasna Al Hassoun sings like an Angel in the background. When you read the words to the opening verse of Hasna’s other song in her Mother Tongue; Al Sham ya Mahjata Galbi I hope you too will get a lump in your throat; as I did: “Oh Sham, my heartbeat, you will always be the highest Get up my love, and kill the despair of oppression Don’t bend and extract the thorns by your hand” Even the Traditional Folk songs that are included are saved by Slatcher’s winsome and earthy voice; and in Let Us Be Together and Deepest Cry of All Shadow & I, he shows not just his ability to turn these harrowing stories into beautiful prose; but show what a superb singer he is in his own rite. Tucked away in the middle is a stunning improvised semi-classical track, Under Ancient Skies from Sam Slatcher on acoustic guitar and Raghad Haddad on viola; and the only way to describe it is ‘two cultures clash’ and ‘create a new musical universe’ on the banks of the River Wear. Oh my, oh my, oh my! Selecting a Favourite Track here isn’t easy at all; but what I will do is point you towards City of Sanctuary (outro) when Kareem Awad and Leon Le Dune bring their stories full circle over Sam Slatcher’s delicate piano in the background; and Leon’s final sentence makes this song more heartbreaking than any Country song you will hear this year! I possibly don’t come out of this very well, if I admit to normally avoiding ‘Charity Albums’ like the plague; as generally they are very worthy projects that aren’t as ‘interesting’ as the players think they are. This is far from the case with STORIES OF SANCTUARY; as every track here is here on it’s own artistic merit and even the two songs by The Sanctuary Seekers themselves, Like a Butterfly and By The Stone Dun Cow; are the type of things you’d hear on BBC Radio 6 late at night! I say all this in total honesty; even though I’m always going to be a sucker for anything associated with God’s County; Durham.
Those who have been with us from Day #1 will know that in August 2015 I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer on a Friday morning; and thanks to the wonderful people at Sunderland Royal Hospital; and just as importantly the charity Prostate Cancer UK who spend fortunes on not just research; but the amazing robot that removed the offending article on the following Monday afternoon……. I’m still here Rocking in the UK! The following year my sons Andrew and Christopher ran in the Great North Run on my behalf and raised £2,000 for Prostate Cancer UK and The hospital too. #GodBlessTheNHS I’m keen not to be ‘defined’ by that time in my life; and I certainly don’t see myself as a ‘survivor’ …….. as I had absolutely no symptoms and it was only by chance that my GP suggested he should check it out because I was 56, that it was discovered; but I still occasionally feel the need to promote this remarkable charity, as do my family.
Son #2, Chris is a producer in the advertising world and jumped at the chance to make the latest Prostate Cancer UK TV advert …… as a way of saying ‘Thank you’. BTW That’s him and my Grandson in the swimming pool!
Here’s the rub…… enjoy the advert; but if you’ve ever liked my reviews or more importantly …. benefited from one of my reviews here’s the link to the Prostate Cancer UK ‘Just Giving’ page …….. £5, $5, €5 any little will help.
Patty Griffin The Black Box Belfast Northern Ireland May 7th 2019
Texan Erika Wennerstrom opened with her own unique brand of Alternative Folk, featuring her distinct voice with its low-end timber working well with her ‘drop tuned’ guitar. Her song ‘Be Good To Yourself’ was definitely the stand out and I look forward to checking out more of her work. Flanked by David Pulkingham and Conrad Choucroun, Patty took to the stage, and greeted us with ‘hola’ as Pulkingham’s Spanish guitar stylings give us just a taste of the musicianship that lay ahead. Their first song was called ‘What I Remember,’ and the first of many new songs we heard; in total ten of the thirteen songs from her new self-titled album PATTY GRIFFIN. After formally introducing us to her virtuoso companions to us, Patty then vocally expressed her discontent with the man in the White house before launching into the politically aimed ‘The Wheel’, followed by a friendly chat about of her Irish roots which led into the lovely, ‘Boys From Tralee’. We were then treated to a Blues/Gospel number called ‘Standing;’ during which the band were really moving, with luscious harmonies that complimented Griffins vocals; creating a stunning gospel choir sound that was worthy of any church of any denomination; and more impressive was watching Choucroun effortlessly playing bass and drums simultaneously too. Next was the Screaming Jay Hawkins inspired ‘Hour Glass’, with it’s New Orleans Jazz feel to it and with Pulkington’s playing I can’t help but think it eventually owed more to Django than Jay Hawkins. Around half way through, the sidemen left the stage and it was just us, Patty, her guitar, and HER VOICE. The mournful ‘Had A Good Reason’ transported us away to another place, with every inflection and emotion filled note in her voice there for all to hear up front, the star of the show. This is what it’s all about, her voice inhabits the character of every song, not for one moment do we doubt the story she conveys. The solo slot lasts for one more song, 2002’s ‘Making Pies’ and again it’s all about her voice, baking has never sound so good. The band returned and we got four more new tracks, Luminous Places, Bluebeard, Where I Come From, and for me the performance of the night the ethereal ‘What Now’ which had the room visibly and literally in awe. Then 2010’s ‘Move Up’ followed by ‘River’, and crowd favourite ‘When It Don’t Come Easy’ receives a cheer as the opening notes are played. The end nears as Patty dons a mandolin, gives thanks to the Belfast audience and says goodbye kicking into the feel good ‘Shine A Different Way’. Of course there was an encore, returning to the sound of stomping feet she takes to the stage and began to perform ‘Heavenly Day’ which unsurprisingly received the biggest applause of the night. Already one of her more well-known songs, it has seen a recent revival after featuring in the Netflix hit ‘The Haunting Of Hill House’. Somehow Patty managed to find another gear and performed all of the runs in her vocal arsenal and left the stage to rapturous applause and a very contented room.
Courtesy Dean Maywood Photo: Michael Gillespie from MDG Photoworks
Two things: I love the cover artwork and it would certainly have made me pick it up in a shop; and it’s what keeps drawing me back to the music, which has been ‘a bit of a challenge’ for me… truth be told. The other is the Press Release, which in keeping with the format talks excitedly about Benjamin’s previous bands ……. neither of whom I’ve ever, ever heard of; am I supposed to mention them as if I adore them and get ‘added hipster points’? Hey ho kids ….. on with the show. I wasn’t expecting the winsome and heartfelt opening track I Spy; with its gently strummed guitar and pedal-steel …….. an interesting, and even exciting start in it’s own special way …… then ……boom…… s full on Indie/Alt. Country band kicks the screen door down with It Ain’t Easy. I’ve never heard aggressive harmonies before; but that’s the only way to describe what I’m hearing; and Benjamin’s harmonies swoop and soar hitting notes only dogs can hear! In many ways most songs are based around a ‘love theme’ regardless of how tenuous that can ever be; with the ever so punchy Culture War and The Way You Talk To Waiters both using extra special metaphors to get the message across; and when the message finally hits you, it will leave you quite breathless. Benedict Benjamin aka Ben Rubinstein is a very clever and often intense songwriter; but surrounds his words with very accessible melodies which will draw you into his ever changing world, which is reflected in the pace and mood of his variable songs. Even at my age; and as a Granddad I can feel his confusion at life in the heartfelt Halo, the brooding Dreaming and the relatively simple Baby’s Crying, something which will resonate with a whole generation of millennials, : “Baby’s crying and it’s 4 am/ I’ve got work at 9 Put on clothes and I carry my head over to the bus stop line Money’s tight and the bill needs paying/but somehow it all works out fine Drink some coffee/and I shake a leg/Gotta get to work on time.” There’s something in the way Ben rewires the ordinary and the mundane which reminds me of John B Sebastian and/or Daniel Romano, but maybe that’s just me. It’s a personal thing; and not just because of my advancing years; but the final track Motherf*cker just makes my teeth itch. It’s a lovely and deep song; but the over use of ‘that word’ just kills it dead in the water for me. Is it necessary? Does it make Benedict ‘cool’ because he swears? I hope not. But; that minor faux pas apart; this has been a bit of a mind-expanding album for me; and quite an adventure; with a couple of songs really standing out; and oddly enough they stand back to back, with (the single) Tell Me If You’re Lonely treading the shoe-gazing path I’ve adored from Echo & The Bunnymen and Teenage Fanclub over the years; and it’s only just pipped at the post for the title of RMHQ Favourite Song by a smidgen; with How You Talk To Waiters having such a clever title, I went there before track #1 and I’ve not regretted that ‘crazy decision’ as it’s a fabulous 3 minutes and 15 seconds of multi-layered 60’s inspired Indie obsessed Alt.Rock (or something like that). TRUANT is the type of album listeners need to give a lot more time than I’ve managed, to get the best out of it …….. there’s a lot here for lovers, the love-lorn and the heartbroken too, with Benedict Benjamin opening up a whole new and diverse world for all of them.
Paul Gilbert Behold Electric Guitar Mascot Label Group / Music Theories Recordings
Clever, Fascinating and Imaginative Jazz-Rock Fusion.
In theory I shouldn’t like this album; as it’s all instrumentals and guitar instrumentals at that; and not just any old guitar instrumentals but what, if my ears don’t deceive me are Jazz-Rock Fusion guitar based instrumentals! I thought they’d gone out of fashion way before the end of the last century …… but hey; Paul Gilbert (founder member of the pretty famous Mr. Big!) is giving it his damnedest to reinvent the genre; and bizarrely I keep getting drawn back time and time again, unearthing new nuggets of what I can only describe as ‘innovative genius!’ Without bothering with the Press Release (as usual) I launched straight in to opening track Haven’ It without the aid of any safety equipment. What is this witchcraft? The 7 minute long ‘guitar noodle’ had come to an end before I realised that there wasn’t a singer involved. Fancy that? I listened a bit more carefully to the next couple of tracks, I Own a Building and Everywhere Mary Went; and sure enough there still wasn’t a singer and….. this surprised even me …… I was enjoying what I was hearing. What has spun my head over the last couple of weeks is that Paul Gilbert has somehow managed to make every single track intrinsically different and seperate from each other; but put them all together to create a cohesive album. Okay, that’s how Jazz and Classical music works; but I don’t listen to enough of either to understand the concept. So; this has been a journey of discovery for me; and a big part of the fun has been reading enigmatic titles like I Love My Lawnmower, Let The Battery Die and A Snake Just Bit My Toe and then associate them with the accompanying music …… it doesn’t work like that, it appears. I think Mr. Gilbert is having a joke at our expense; but the music is always outstanding; and his guitar playing never less than brilliant, while often thoughtful, stunning and majestically imaginative at all times. Selecting a Favourite Track has definitely not been easy; especially as closing track Things Can Walk To You is still filling the room like a guitar introduced fog; but I’m going for Sir You Need To Calm Down; partly because of the crazy title and partly because it really is a stunning 6 minutes and 38 seconds Rock Opus of gigantic proportions. I know there’s always been a lot of frenzied Guitar Gods making this type of music; and I’ve always avoided them but I did have a dalliance with John McLaughlin and Mahavishnu Orchestra back in the day; and I suppose this bookends The Inner Mounting Flame to some degree in my musical life.
Rory Gallagher Blues (3 CD Box-set) UMC/Chess Records
An Amazing Legacy From an Amazing Man.
Someone, somewhere, perhaps more than one person, in fact is sitting there totally unaware that they are about to make me incredibly jealous. “Why so?” You ask. Well, someone is going to buy this triple album without ever having heard Rory Gallagher’s music before ……. and they will have their life changed for ever! There’s a couple of things I need to get out of the way before I talk about the music here within; firstly ….. a huge thank you to the Gallagher Family, in particular brother Donal who are keeping the flame burning brightly by only releasing archive material that is worthy of the Great Man’s reputation and not flooding the market with tatty live recordings, which I’m sure exist; and the other is ……. how proud would Rory be to have this set released on the iconic Chess label? Okey-dokey, forget the single CD that is available …… shame on you for buying that, when there are three glorious CD’s or two vinyl LP’S chock full of more goodies than even Santa can imagine carrying in one mother-load on Christmas Eve.
ELECTRIC BLUES As the title of this disc alludes to, this is basically 14 glorious cuts from the studio, with most being unreleased outtakes and a couple from the rare times Rory appeared on other people’s albums. Let’s start with them, shall we? The collection starts with an outtake from Jinx; Don’t Start Me Talkin’ and just like everything else here, it’s pointless doing a ‘compare and contrast’ as who knows why this was left out; but it’s an absolute sizzler and nicely different from the version we went on to know and love via Defender. Then the gears shift ever so smoothly into Nothin’ But The Devil, which was deemed ‘not good enough’ to make the cut for Against The Grain in 1975; but later gussied up for Jinx, although this particular cut would have easily been the lead track in most albums released by his peers that very same year. Just like that, a couple of other tracks turn up in other guises later in his career but I don’t think I’ve ever heard Tore Down (Blueprint) before and it’s fair to say it’s as good as anything else on that iconic record; but has waited until 2019 for an official release. Whereas there’s a sublime slow and sleazy version here of Should’ve Learnt My Lesson that must have kept him awake at nights deciding which one to go with on Deuce. There a couple of exciting ‘radio sessions’ here too; with Rory sending shivers down my spine with Off The Handle, recorded in 1986 for the Paul Jones Blues Show on BBC Radio 2, and Bullfrog Blues from WNCR Cleveland in 1972 is totally spellbinding and perhaps even a tad feistier than the one on Live In Europe? I already own the track I’m Ready on Muddy Waters Live in London (1971) ; but probably haven’t played it in nigh on 40 years. You can’t tell Rory is playing guitar; but that’s not the point ……. we ‘know’ that’s him standing alongside one of his heroes; and that tickles me. I had no idea Rory had ever guested alongside Lonnie Donegan in 1978 on Drop Down Baby; but it’s a smile inducing couple of minutes hearing the founder of Skiffle actually ‘rocking out’ (a bit) nor he appeared on a 1994 tribute to Peter Green with Leaving Town Blues; a raw footstomper of an acoustic rocker, that features some super-smooth slide guitar (not for the last time in this collection, I hasten to add).
LIVE BLUES To 99.99% of Rory Gallagher fans, he really, really came alive on stage with an electric guitar in his hands; and here we finally get to hear some truly rare tracks from the absolute peak of his career (maybe they are on Bootlegs; but trust me….. these recordings are pristine). The first three tracks (When My Baby Left Me, Nothing But The Devil and What In The World) come from an amazing Glasgow Apollo gig in 1982 and sound like a man and his band that are totally as one; and an adoring crowd just bristling with excitement. There are also a couple of fabulous songs from Sheffield City Hall in 1977 that are testament to the Hendrix remark about the man from Cork being the Best Guitarist in the world; just listen to him shredding his guitar strings on Messin’ With The Kid; and later Garbage Man Blues (not one of my favourite songs btw) takes us into a whole different, smooth and classy stratosphere that I can’t imagine any other guitarist daring to do in the same concert ……. especially at that time. Surprises? Of course there are bloody surprises here left , right and centre …… with another couple of spicy ‘guest appearances’ finally seeing the light of day; Comin’ Home Baby from 1989 with the vastly underrated Chris Barber sparkles from start to finish; and who wouldn’t want to hear Rory sparring with Albert King on You Upset Me in 1975? Not many I’d guess. The other is a really beautifully engineered version of Born Under a Bad Sign with Jack Bruce, which has been widely bootlegged over the years ….. but you finally get to hear it in all its pristine glory here. Eric Who?
ACOUSTIC BLUES In my humble opinion I’ve kept the best album for last ……. Rory playing the olde acoustic guitar; and invariably in a way that will blow your bloody socks off! Plus, it’s the disc I’ve kept coming back to for fun; without giving a second’s thought to writing a review about. This album opens with an incredible alternative version of Who’s That Comin’ from Tattoo and it will make you wonder why he’s not more feted for his ability to make a wooden box with metal strings sound this exciting ……. and boy can he use his voice too. As we already know Rory was always an aficionado of the Blues in all its formats; and the accompanying booklet confirms that in many ways; but for me after all these years as a fan; he really and truly ‘comes alive’ in this most traditional of formats. Listen to the great lost tracks Prison Blues from Blueprint or Whole Lotta People from Deuce and dare to tell me anything other than you are listening to a Masterclass in Acoustic Blues. Obviously when he was promoting albums or tours it was easier (and cheaper) to rock up at a radio station with an acoustic guitar; and to hear him caress the strings on the stunning Secret Agent or the delightful Pistol Slapper Blues (both RTE 1976) you wonder why he ever picked up an electric guitar ever again. While nothing here has ever been released before; I’ve never even heard Want Ad Blues (1988) and Blow Wind Blow (1972) ever before in any guise …… so my day has certainly been made hearing something so simple yet so satisfying from my hero. Last but not least on this album, is a fabulous rendition of the Classic Walkin’ Blues from another RTE Session in 1987; and yet again Rory Gallagher manages to make simple Acoustic Blues sound both exciting and heart-shredding at the same time…… or is that just me? Phew; choosing a Favourite Track was never, ever going to be easy so I’ve gone for a) an interview on the Live Blues album; because listening him talk about his love of this musical format is a history lesson in itself and b) for selfish reasons, as I was there that night at Newcastle City Hall in 1977 so it has to be sweaty and absolutely glorious Tore Down as my Favourite Song here; but it could have been any if not all.
PS the 3 x CD Set also includes a fabulous booklet which brought tears to my eyes a couple of times as I read the sweet things his peers have said about him over the years (inc that Hendrix quote) and who among us doesn’t want to read Rory’s reasons for using various brass, steel and glass slides depending on which guitar he was using? There’s also a detailed description of what he was playing on most tracks here and why, which I haven’t got time nor the inclination to go into here. But loved reading about; as you will too.
Jimmie Vaughan Baby Please Come Home Last Music Co.
An Absolute Rhythm & Blues Masterclass From a Living Legend.
There’s a Strict Dress Code for when you get to listen to this album; NO TRAINERS. NO T-SHIRTS. NO BASEBALL CAPS. ……. preferably the gentleman will wear a dark suit, white shirt and a thin tie too, and the ladies a cocktail dress and smart ‘going out’ shoes. Perhaps you will have a cocktail or two and some nibbles at hand; and the living room lights must be turned way, way down low to create the correct ambience. Is everyone sitting comfortably? Then I will begin. Ooohheeee Babeeeeeee is this a tip-top album, or what? To many of us Jimmie Vaughan is a Living Legend and has let his music evolve and grow at its own pace for nigh on 50 years; and finally he goes back to his Roots with an album of some of his, and our favourite ever songs done in his own inimitable manner. The title track, Lloyd Price’s Baby Please Come Home virtually sizzles as it jumps out of the speakers; and even this early in proceedings, I’m not sure Jimmie has ever sounded more at home singing a song. While all of the songs here are from the last century (there’s a scary thought!) Vaughan manages to add his own magic to the likes of Lefty Frizzell’s No One To Talk To (But The Blues), Clarence ‘Gatemouth’ Brown’s Midnight Hour and even T-Bone Walker’s classic I’m Still In Love With You making them sound like they could have been recorded at the Rocking Magpie Lounge, Havana in late 1959 yet will still be relevant to younger Blues aficionados today in 2019. In many ways the selection of songs is very clever, with some being more ‘famous’ than others, but all combining to give you the best time you can have with your clothes on. The guitar playing on every single track is as smooth as a baby’s bum; with JV channelling his inner BB King on It’s Love Baby (24 hours a day) and the slow and slinky Just a Game and then cranking it up a couple of notches (but only a couple) for the rip-roaring Be My Lovey Dovey and the organ and guitar dual that is the instrumental Hold It which was actually recorded live at C-Boys Heart & Soul, Austin, Texas this time last year. From the get-go two songs felt like romantic punches to the chest the first time I heard them and they still effect me like that a month later; so JV’s amazing rendition of Jimmy Reed’s Baby, What’s Wrong and the way he turns the Fats Domino ‘hit’ So Glad upside down and inside out until you hardly recognise it, shows a Master-Craftsman at work; and at work in a way all of his peers can only sit back and marvel at. *My CD has two bonus tracks on that aren’t listed on the back cover, Silly Dilly Woman and Exact Change, and both are well worthy of inclusion on whichever format they are intended for. ** Last but not least, a couple of Saturday night’s ago as part of my ‘day job’ I was driving my bus on a route that famously gets no passengers between 7.30 and 10pm, so I cheekily played this album on my I-Phone and the tinny mono-speaker broadcasting the magic music reminded me of a) Robert De Niro driving his bus in A Bronx Tale and b) me excitedly listening to Radio Luxembourg in bed in 1969 or thereabouts. OK, many of you will buy this on vinyl to ‘re-live’ your own youth; but for me that couple of hours actually restored my love and faith in music.