Kat Danser ONE EYE OPEN

Kat Danser
One Eye Open
Black Hen Music

Capturing Old-School Rhythm & Blues Magic in a Bottle.

Apparently I received a copy of Canadian minstrel, Ms Danser’s previous album GOIN’ GONE in 2018; it’s there in my music files; but I can’t find a review in our back pages; and it’s rather good; and I’m familiar with a lot of the players on board too.
Weird.
I won’t make that mistake with ONE EYE OPEN; as it’s a bit of a doozy.
First of all check out the cover; it really is a pre-cursor to what you get inside; starting with the late night groove of Way I Like It Done, with Kat shimmying her way through a Bump n Grind Blues that’s full of New Orleans style piano from Kevin McKendree and a funky-ass rhythm section.
Things immediatly slow down on Track #2 Lonely & The Dragon; and while it’s probably the coolest song here; it will leave the average male listener coming out in a hot sweat as Kat Danser purrs her story like she-cat on heat.
Do you get a sense that this is no ordinary Blues release?
Each time I’ve played it something new has disentangled making me go back to the start of the track to get the best out of it.
While it’s difficult to put all of these tracks into one single basket; it’s fair to say between Kat and producer Steve Dawson they have delved into the hey days of Classic Rhythm & Blues, to come up with a very switched on and contemporay release; with the punchy Trainwreck and the righteous Gospel Blues mantra of Get Right Church sandwiching a Punk infused One Eyed Closed; yet all being closely related via Kat Danser’s fabulous genetics and Steve Dawson’s skills on the guitar.
With so much on offer to choose from as a Favourite Track where do I start?
Album finale Mi Corazon, sung in a haunting Spanish, is as left of centre as the Blues gets and has tickled my taste buds a few times now.
Frenchman Street Shake needs to be played L.O.U.D to get the best from it; not that it’s a ‘rocker’ Hell; it’s almost the opposite as it’s the epitome of good time New Orleans music with added geetar and funky horns; but the joy it evokes needs to be shared with your neighbours at every opportunity!
Then again, Bring It With You When You Come is as slinky as it is old-school groovelicious and even a tiny bit licentious too.
But, being the soppy old sod I am, I think I’m going for the heart-breaking ballad Please Don’t Cry with its swirling Hammond back-beat accompanied by a subtly supportive bass and drums ; which bizarrely sounds like Dusty singing Patsy in a sleazy Havana cocktail lounge circa 1960; and that’s exactly the imagery I would give an accompanying video …… but I am a hopeless romantic at heart.
For what sounds like a simply produced album; spanning several studios and homes during lockdown Steve Dawson has managed to capture some ‘real magic in a bottle’ here; and made me, for one want to trawl back through Kat Danser’s back catalogue to see if anything matches these apparent career highlights.

Released 19th February 2021
http://www.katdanser.com/

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Alabama Slim THE PARLOR

Alabama Slim
The Parlor
Cornelius Chapel Records

A Refreshing Set of Modern Blues Originals Plus a Couple of Re-Worked Classics.

Here’s a question.
Just how many, genuine “Bluesmen” have gone through their whole musical lifetime without ever releasing a solo album?
Who knows? Not me; that’s for sure.
Thank goodness the Music Maker Relief Foundation teamed up with Cornelius Chapel Records to finally give octogenarian Alabama Slim aka Milton Frazier his opportunity.
The actual session took place 18 months ago in a New Orleans studio, called The Parlour. Slim, with his cousin and long-term best pal, guitarist Little Freddie King plus drummer Ardie Dean taking just 4 hours to lay down these 10 tracks.
Dean oversaw the production with the DBT’s Matt Patton plus Jimbo Mathus taking care of post-production, retrospectively adding bass and keys where required.

Born Milton Frazier in Vance, Alabama in March 1939, Slim fell in love with traditional Blues at an early age from his father’s collection of 78’s.
Moving to New Orleans in 1965, then onto Dallas after the devastation of Hurricane Katrina, he has now returned to the Crescent City. In fact, had it not been for this damned international pandemic he would have appeared (for the first time ever) at his adopted hometown’s Jazz and Heritage Festival last year.
Known as a lifelong dapper dresser, his attire always drew attention, the fact that he’s almost 7 foot tall also kinda helped him stand out in any crowd.

You should consider John Lee Hooker’s classic vocal sound as the template for Alabama Slim’s music, but it’s much, much more than a tribute to the 5 times Grammy winner.
Slim and Little Freddie’s dovetailing guitars interweave with Dean’s solid, driving beat.
Hot Foot” welcomes you to the album with a very positive call of ‘All-right’ and an up-beat twin guitar boogie which then leads into “Freddie’s VooDoo Boogie” where Little Freddie is the featured lead vocalist. “Rob Me Without a Gun” slows things down and has Jimbo Mathus’ restrained Hammond providing a much fuller and warmer sound.

Rock with Me Momma” has Slim pleading with his woman in the time honoured fashion and inviting her to a night of passion, which is then followed (optimistically) by “All Night Long!”
A moodier, less frenetic offering, where our main man is searching the streets with the roosters crowing, having the added benefit of some ivory twinkling from Jimbo.
Not the ‘other’ “Midnight Rider” but Slim’s own song of the same name again touches on more night time activities followed by a rousing version of the Blues classic “Rock Me Baby” continuing a similar, familiar theme of most of the earlier tracks.

The closing track is “Down in the Bottom” with stripped back vocals and those familiar twin guitars delivering a sultry and swampy sound, and the familiar JLH facsimile of “Someday Baby” certainly had my foot stomping too.
However, for me the standout track is the self-penned, politically charged number, entitled “Forty Jive” which could have been written by Tony Joe White, again reflecting the alligators and bayous of Louisiana.

In summary, Alabama Slim’s story is a vivid lesson of perseverance, resolutely sticking with the moaning and groaning of the Delta Blues that he heard in the 1940’s on his grand-parents farm, in the ‘Yellowhammer State’. The album is a delightful collection, consisting mostly of refreshing, modern originals that avoid being cliched, with just a couple of re-worked old blues classics that all fit superbly on the plate served up in The Parlor.

Jack Kidd “Messin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

Released 22nd January 2021
https://musicmaker.org/artists/alabama-slim/#:~:text=Alabama%20Slim%20was%20born%20Milton,Bill%20Broonzy%20and%20Lightnin’%20Hopkins.

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Cathy Grier I’M ALL BURN

Cathy Grier & The Troublemakers
I’m All Burn
Self-Release

Imagine You’re Sitting in a Lonely Hotel Lounge One Cold Tuesday Night With Only 2 for 1 Cocktails For Company.

While we try to keep up to date with our reviews; getting them out as near to the release date as is humanly possible; sometime we have to make exceptions.
A few weeks ago Cathy Grier sent an e-mail asking if we’d be interested in listening to her latest album which had been released back in the Summer; and out of courtesy I responded in the affirmative.
Then heard nothing.
Until the postie delivered a package from the US of A with a handwritten note alongside a comprehensive Press Release and a cool looking CD.
So far; so good …… but with so much going on in November and now December I wasn’t sure when I could listen to it.
Then, yesterday morning I managed to squeeze in a ‘morning constitutional’ walk in the park; so played this as an accompaniment. Now; what I heard was nothing like what I expected from the imagery and artwork!

But Far Far Better, baring in mind it was a cold and grey morning and the rains came half-way round.
The title track, I’m All Burn opens with an intense horn section serenading us before Cathy glides in with a sultry ode to the feminist movement; but don’t let that put you off guys; as what Ms. Grier sings from her pumping heart is pretty much what my Mother preached to her sons half a century ago and my wife and I have passed on to our sons; and still stands upright today in 2020 …….. to paraphrase;
why does a woman have to work twice as hard as a man; to be treated as his equal?
I’m with you sister!
The sentiments that follow are pretty much dyed in the wool standard fayre; but boy oh boy can Cathy Grier not just sing a soulful Blues ballad but write a belter too.
There’s a wonderful ‘groove’ from start to finish that sent a shiver down my back while making me hold my breath at the same time; if that’s possible? Well; that’s how Roots Run Deep and Easy Come Easy Go; especially Larry Byrne’s swirling organ solos have; and still make me feel today.
Cathy dabbles her toe in Ma Rainey territory with the saucy Backroad Blues; which features some absolutely scorching harmonica from Steve Cohen as well as some slide from the legendary Greg Koch, to seal a very contemporary Classic Juke Joint love song.
I’ve quickly fallen in love with the bodacious Key To My Survival and What Fools Do; as they just somehow ‘speak to me’ in a way only The Blues can.
For a laid back style of album; there’s an awful lot going on behind Cathy Grier when she sings and plays guitar; and boy can she play a guitar …….. try listening to her solo runs on the slow and simmering Happiness Blues or Cool Trick and tell me you’re not hearing a Mastercraftsman; (or should that be Mastercraftswoman) at work and play?
While Cathy Grier has a very distinctive and smooth singing voice; she can still get low down and funky when she wants; most notably on Down On My Knees and Keep You Out, which both sound like they could have been recorded at Muscle Shoals back in the early 80’s.
There’s even a bit of a curve ball with the final track; Cathy’s Bike Song; which finds our heroine going solo and playing a Cigar-Box guitar; and it’s a lot darker than the ‘piece of whimsy’ that the title first suggested; and I’d sure like to hear a whole album in this particular style.
As is my won’t I’ve played this four times now before actually digesting the Press Release; and apparantly this is Cathy Grier’s 14th Album! FOURTEEN? And yet she looks so young and pretty.
Plus, she’s very proud that this has been recorded in Wisconsin using pretty much local musicians, and is her tribute to her new found home in Sturgeon Bay.
This is very much the type of album you will get the best from late at night when you are feeling very sorry for yourself; or sitting in a lonely Hotel Jazz Lounge one cold Tuesday night, with only 2 for 1 cocktails for company; therefore picking out one individual song to be my Favourite Track hasn’t been easy at all; but I’m going to take a punt on the Rhythm and Blues delight of Question Of Desire; but then again Protecting My Heart; which precedes it probably sounds like the single track that might sum up Cathy Grier’s ‘style’ …… oh this isn’t easy at all!
By the way, there’s one cover song here; and when I tell you that Cathy has put her own individual twist on Bobbie Gentry’s iconic Ode To Billy Joe you will hopefully what a brave risk taker Ms Grier is and, as it’s in keeping with everything else here, why I’m totally smitten with I’M ALL BURN.

Released July 2020
https://cathygrier.com/

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Fred Hostetler FRED’S BLUE CHAIR BLUES

Fred Hostetler
Fred’s Blue Chair Blues
Mukthiland Records

21st Century Deja-Blues.

I had something completely different and far more up-tempo in mind to review today; but woke up to a cold and grey November morning which just put me in the mind for some gloriously maudlin Back-Porch acoustic Blues …… now; where would I find such an album that could possibly fit such a mood?
Fred Hostetler’s Fred’s Blue Chair Blues is the right answer.
This has been sitting around for a couple of weeks now; but my easy going and jolly mood (eh????) has never got me past three tracks at a time ….. but today?
Before I discuss the songs here; I urge you to check out Fred’s bio ….. what a guy! He’s been around the music industry for eons; even adding backing vocals to one of my favourite Johnny Winter songs; plus he spent 15 years working on an ashram in Tamil Nadu, India!
Not the most prolific of recording artists under his own name; this is honest to goodness, red raw Country Blues recorded a Facebook ‘stream’ of his back catalogue during Lockdown #1 in his living room; and is only being released after a hearing a voice in a dream telling him to do so.
Wisely he opens with a startling interpretation of Bright Lights, Big City; sung as it was written, with all of the trapping we now associate it with stripped away; and all that is left is a man with a dream … and a guitar.
Everything else comes from his own imagination and pen.
Track #2 Hey You, Corporate Vandals sounds as authentic as anything you would hear on a Post War compilation featuring all those names we drop when we play Top Trumps with our favourite Olde Blues singers; but listen to Fred’s insightful and angry words and this song is as contemporary as anything Joe Bonamassa will release this year!
While not a contender for Favourite Track status; I just love the whole 8 minutes of Taming The Wolf; mostly because of Hostetler’s wheezy and wise spoken introduction, alongside a song that sounds like it has come from the Field Recordings; and man oh man ….. what about that primal guitar picking?
Just like his forefathers in Country Blues, the primitive recording process Hostetler uses is better than perfect for the earthiness in I’m a New Man and the ever so sad; Deep, Deep Well which features some of the coolest, yet scariest National Steel playing I’ve heard since I first discovered Stefan Grossman back in 1071.
For a Favourite Song it’s a toss up between the Ragtime shuffle of Salty Tears and the powerful What’s Ahead and What’s Behind which again; sounds like something from Alan Lomax’s Field Recordings that must have been found in a suitcase under a bed in a motel in Clarksdale. That is until you hear the story in the song; which although absolutely timeless; is none the less 2020 in a bloody and tarnished nutshell.
I’ve got a decent sized Blues collection covering nearly all of the bases; but for the life of me I can’t think of anyone in there who Fred Hostetler actually sounds like.
There are plenty he sits alongside; but I’m astounded that he has managed to hide his light under a bushel for so long …….. this has been such an exciting find and will be for you too.

Released November 13th 2020
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https://fredsheartradio.com/music





Duke Robillard and Friends BLUES BASH

DUKE ROBILLARD & FRIENDS
Blues Bash
Stony Plain Records

“Nothing Fancy?” Nah … This is The Rhythm & Blues Supreme!

Michael John Robillard recently turned 72 years of age and shows no signs of slowing down.
Being the co-founder (with Al Copley) of Roomful of Blues back in 1967, ‘Duke’ has consistently produced a lifetime of great blues music. With well over 30 albums as leader or co-leader of bands and then another 30+ with various other bands and individuals, delivering great guitar and vocals on each and everyone.

Blues Bash is his latest studio offering, and another undoubted, sure-fire winner, with a total of 10 tracks flying through 42 minutes. Two instrumentals, three songs with Chris Cote on vocals and one with Michelle ‘Evil Gal’ Willson; leaving Duke to sing the other couple.
Backed by some stellar musicians, including some of the original Roomful of Blues brass section, this is a glorious vintage style, danceable blues party album.

Straight out of the Ike Turner catalogue, “Do You Mean It” gets the party started, genuine rockin’ and swingin’ R&B with Chris Cotes at the microphone and Duke replicating some of Ike’s stinging Fender licks.
Chris’s next singing has him covering a Roy Milton classic “What Can I Do” originally released on the Speciality Label in 1953, here not just featuring Dukes clean guitar but some terrific piano from Bruce Bears; and as you’d expect, very solid and tight horns.
The third and final vocal input from Cotes is a real lively rendition of T-Bone Walker’s 1953 R&B song “You Don’t Know What You’re Doing”, with the punchy triple saxes complementing Dukes marvellous, understated guitar.

Of the two instrumentals I particularly liked the cover of Lefty Bates’ “Rock Alley” with the sharp guitar picking and honking saxes, all guaranteed to get the rug rolled up and everyone out on the kitchen floor.
Just Chillin’ concludes the entire set and is a Robillard original tune that verges into slow, smooth jazz, opening with swinging bass and drums, then some mellow tasty Sax and subtle Hammond, before the main man’s magic fingers stride along with his beautiful touch and tone.

Returning to the remaining vocal tracks, Dukes’ Smiley Lewis impersonation on the Dave Bartholomew song “I Ain’t Gonna Do It” is a real N’Awlins floor shaker with Mark ‘Mr. B.’ Braun” the main feature on a lively piano intro, plus the further addition of the middle solo.
Bob Walsh takes over the 88’s, with Duke covering the vocals on his own composition “No Time” plus Mark Hummel providing West-side of Chicago sounding harmonica.
The boss also does a very credible vocal on Al Kings’ slow blues from 1966 “Everybody Ain’t Your Friend” and then again, likewise on his own song “Give Me All The Love You Got”, which has a wonderful 24 second blistering Texas Blues type introduction to a jumping shuffle.
Ironically, my favourite track though has ‘Evil Gal’ Wilson performing a cracking job on the cover of Helen Humes 1952 hit “You Played On My Piano,” another bouncy, jump-jive with trademark horns and further exquisite jazz guitar from Duke.

Despite the world-wide pandemic and all it’s restrictions, there have still been some excellent new releases these last few months.
Take my word for it, this is right up there with the best of them, Duke Robillard might bashfully tell you “It’s nothing fancy, just good old blues,” well it’s certainly that, but also refreshingly neoteric, all at the same time.

Jack Kidd – “Messin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

Released on 20th. November 2020
https://www.dukerobillard.com/

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SAMANTHA MARTIN & DELTA SUGAR – The Reckless One

SAMANTHA MARTIN & DELTA SUGAR
The Reckless One
Gypsy Soul/ Factor

Sizzling Old-Time R&B and Soul Straight Outta Canada.

Ignore Canadian Blues Music at your peril.
Over the years the likes of Jeff Healey, Sue Foley, Colin James and Matt Andersen have all valiantly flown the flag, plus JW Jones and even Colin Linden can also be added to list too.
Now, make room for the talented Samantha Martin.

With 5 previous albums, stretching back to 2008, she’s certainly not the new kid on the block, but there’s no doubting that her development has distinctly propelled forward since the concept of Delta Sugar was added to her armoury 6 years ago.
Now, late in this crazy year we have the follow up to 2018’s very well received Run to Me and it elevates the Toronto native onto a whole other level.
Gypsy Soul Records have patiently held back the new albums’ full release after a couple of teaser singles were made available earlier in the summer.

The Reckless One has twelve Blues & Soul numbers, eleven of which Samantha had more than a hand in writing, with the odd one being from the pen of someone called Bob Dylan.
All credit to the actual producers: Renan Yildizdogan and Darcy Yates, who have ensured that there is variation and a wide spectrum of sounds. For my money, the overall finished item being closer to product that previously came out of Muscle Shoals or Jackson rather than Memphis and Detroit.

Love is All Around” gets the party started with a full punchy horn section complementing the vocals of Samantha followed by the stomping, floor filling, foot-tapping “Don’t Have to Be;” which has a special bonus of a pleasant Garth Hudson sounding organ solo.
We then have the audacious funky cover of Dylan’s “Meet Me in The Morning,” which sounds as though it was recorded way down at Cosimo Studios, in the Big Easy and produced by Toussaint & Sehorn.

There are a couple of slower, gospely, numbers too; with “Better to Have Never” and “I’ve Got a Feeling,” highlighting the excellent, controlled vocals, aided by a churchy organ.
If you like St. Paul & the Broken Bones then there are four or five sultry mid-tempo numbers that smoulder and shine in that same sort of vein, whilst the up-beat duo “Sacrifice” and “Pass Me By” conjure up images of when Phil Spector successfully attempted to influence Ike & Tina in the mid 1960s.

Honestly, I struggled to pull out a favourite, mainly because there’s not a duff song on the album. The consistent quality runs right throughout, just like a stick of Blackpool Rock.
Oh, go on then, the gem I’ll cast my vote for is one of the sultry, mid-tempo numbers; “So I Always Know,” which has the catchy chorus of
Tell me so I’ll always know,
I hear your secrets,
whispered soft and low,
Tell me so I’ll always know’.

From the above, you can hopefully ascertain that Samantha Martin plus her team of musicians and studio maestros have delivered a truly splendid album.
The Reckless One is anything but reckless, as it is a dozen well measured and well balanced songs which, to me, are genuine sounding Old-Time R&B/Soul that certainly hit the spot.
NB I won’t be surprised if the people who decide on Juno or Grammy Awards have their eye on this most enjoyable album.

Released on 20th. November 2020
Jack KiddMessin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com https://samanthamartinmusic.com/

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Billie Holiday BILLIE (Original Soundtrack)

Billie Holiday
Billie (Original Soundtrack)
Verve/UMe

A Tragic Life That Glitters and Glows Through Song.

When I was first approached about the review for this soundtrack it was accompanied with the words from Rocking Magpie himself; ‘this might be your first review of someone you haven’t ever seen live!’
– clearly an ageist remark suggesting I was really, really old (I am, but ……)!
Actually I could have seen her live, as I was 13 when she sadly died back in 1969 but taking into account her life and very sad story that would have been extremely unlikely!
There is a tendency to think that tragic stories in the music industry like the life/death of Amy Whitehouse have only ever been relatively recent; but the stories of black artists such as Bessie Smith and Billie Holiday were almost commonplace 100 or more years ago; back in the period before WWI and even after WW2.
Billie Holiday was still performing in the mid 1950’s, with one track here being a live performance from NYC’s Carnegie Hall in 1956, recorded as the likes of Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and a certain Mr Presley we’re tearing up the hit parades with their Sun Records recordings.
It is a sign of Ms. Holiday’s position in Big Band music etc. that she was still headlining the bill against the newer, racier competition.
Sadly, three years later she had succumbed to illness.
Without seeing the film it is impossible to imagine where these tracks will appear, and in what context
Naturally the one song of hers that everyone knows, Strange Fruit is included; and here it really does make you think about the furore it must have caused when it was first released, as it’s a song about a lynching and sung by a major black artist. This was so sensitive that her label would not release it, only for another label to do so and it has became her best selling track of all time.
The bands (and the band leaders) she sung with, roll off the tongue like a Who’s Who of musical legends and the soundtrack includes a true mixture of bluesy and traditional tracks, with ‘ I Only Have Eyes For You’ being a highlight. Just listening to it has you in a smoke filled Jazz Cafe in Harlem pre-WWII.
As this is a Soundtrack; you shouldn’t be too surprised that of the 13 tracks it includes a couple of instrumentals, in addition to a diverse range of songs that show off Billie Holliday’s amazing vocal ability and nuances at their best; including the standards, “God Bless The Child,” “I Only Have Eyes For You,” and “I Loves You, Porgy.”
It’s amazing to see and hear the standards she both achieved and maintained across her long career; considering the problems she encountered in her life with drink, drugs and a not very good choice of male companions.
If you have seen the Amy Winehouse documentary, the similarities between the two are noticeable – great voice/ability, but offset by a very bad choice of (male) managers etc. Two tortured souls unable  to ultimately survive despite having a voice of an exceptionally special standard.
For Holiday lovers under normal times the Film and this soundtrack would almost certainly be ‘one not to miss,’ but with the current lockdown concerns it will be more a case of ‘trying to find a cinema’ in which to see the film.
With so many tracks to select from there will almost certainly be plenty upset at the absence of some of her other famous recordings; but as a Companion Soundtrack to try and attract viewers to the film this is a pretty good effort – picking 13 tracks to ‘package’ her career was definitely a tough ask, easily achieves what it was set out to.
Hopefully, the film will do Billie Holiday’s story justice …. warts and all.
If only we are able to see it!

BILLIE: THE OFFICIAL SOUNDTRACK TRACKLISTING

1.Now or Never
2. God Bless the Child
3. Hoppin’ Around 
4. Blues are Brewin’ 
5. Funeral in New Orleans
6. Fine and Mellow 
7. Strange Fruit
8. Just One More Chance 
9. My Man 
10. I Only Have Eyes For You 
11. I’ll Never Smile Again
12. Don’t Explain 
13. I Loves You, Porgy

Released 13th November 2020
Courtesy Bill Redhead.

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SHEMEKIA COPELAND Uncivil War.

SHEMEKIA COPELAND
Uncivil War
Alligator Records

A Compelling and Enjoyable Album that Spotlights A Brilliant Voice.

It’s not that un-common for talented children to follow in the footsteps of their successful parents, especially in the world of popular music where there are indeed, numerous examples.
Johnny ‘Clyde’ Copeland was an accomplished Blues and Soul singer who won a Grammy in 1987. Sadly, he passed away in 1997 just as his, then 18 year old, daughter Shemekia was establishing herself on the scene and thankfully they managed to tour together before his untimely demise.

Undeterred, Shemekia chose the same pathway and she has now recorded eight fine studio albums since 1998. Following on from the success of 2018s “Americas Child” Alligator Records now release studio album #9 with “Uncivil War” and it’s an absolute cracker.
Retaining musical genius Will Kimbrough as Producer is a master-stroke, he also co-wrote 7 of the tracks with John Hahn, alongside a couple of covers include a Rolling Stones hit, a Little Junior Parker classic and of course, one from her daddy’s old catalogue.

Musically, we have a real hybrid, effortlessly fusing Gospel, Blues and R&B with Americana. Shemekia handles the sometime lyrical turbulence, covering lost friends, historic racial strife and even gun violence with genuine aplomb, making each song more personal than political. Indeed the jaw-dropping lead track “Clotilda’s on Fire” tells the story of the last slave ship to arrive in America, actually in Mobile Alabama in 1859, 50 years after the slave trade was banned, featuring a blistering lead guitar from Jason Isbell, himself from that same Yellowhammer State.
Dobro maestro, Jerry Douglas gets to play his lap-steel on the gospely “Walk Until I Ride” and the title track “Uncivil War” too, where Jerry’s good friend and mandolin icon Sam Bush sprinkles his magic dust over the poignant lyrics:
Same old wounds we’ve opened before, Nobody wins an uncivil war”.

Money Makes You Ugly” has highly rated blues guitarist, 21 year old Christone “Kingfish” Ingram playing the lead. Then, a N’Awlins shuffle kicks off the affectionate tribute to legendary Mac Rebenack; entitled “Dirty Saint” this has Kimbrough adding his subtle guitar licks plus there’s some superb organ and piano from Phil Madeira to compliment the memorable chorus of:
“Dirty Saint, Dirty Saint, Might be in Heaven, but probably ain’t, Played so sweet, make a woman faint, There’ll never be another Dirty Saint”.
My favourite track though is the cover of unifying and uplifting “Give God The Blues” which was originally co-written and recorded by Phil Madeira (with Shawn Mullins and Chuck Cannon) in 2012 off the conceptual ‘Mercyland: Hymns for the Rest of Us’.

Up-tempo “She Don’t Wear Pink” was co-written by John Hahn and Webb Wilder, who plays cool rocking guitar in tandem with the one and only Duane Eddy.
Junior Parkers “In the Dark” slows things down with her sultry vocals bouncing off the twin guitars of the producer and yet another legend: Mr Steve Cropper.
Appropriately, the twelfth and final track is a smooth cover of her dad’s “Love Song” that appeared on his Flying High album.

In summary, it’s a compelling, enjoyable album that certainly spotlights the brilliant voice of Miss Copeland but it can also be appreciated for the very high calibre of musicianship from the players and the undoubted masterly production provided by Kimbrough.

Released on 23rd. October 2020

Review by Jack KiddMessin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com

https://www.shemekiacopeland.com/
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Rory Gallagher THE BEST OF

Rory Gallagher
The Best Of
UMC

The Flame Burns Brighter Than Ever.

Does the world really need a BEST OF Rory Gallagher?
Seriously, that’s a serious question.
Rory Gallagher fans; like my good self will undoubtedly already own all, if not most of his recorded work; (he has that effect on people) but ……. and here’s the genius behind Brother Donal’s management of Rory’s archives; this is ‘all killer and absolutely no filler’ whatsoever; and is; no doubt intended for the lucrative Christmas market.
Although a cynical old sod by nature; I have no issue with that at all …….. because just imagine handing this Double Album over to your favourite son, daughter, nephew, niece or just about anyone under the age of 40 who may have only heard about the legend that is Rory Gallagher and watch their faces light up as they hear What’s Going On by the Irishman’s incarnation in the Taste for the very first time!
Then the music takes a magical leap forward 8 short years to Shadow Play; which is mystically completely different but somehow showcases the guitarist’s guitarist and his distinctive singing like probably no other here.
I’m reviewing the Double Album; which is what you should buy; as the Single release will surely leave you feeling short changed; and if you’ve received it as a gift left thinking the giver was a cheapskate and didn’t love you as much as you thought.
One of the funny things about this is that the tracks aren’t in chronological order; but that’s no problem as you get to hear and appreciate Rory’s amazing diversity in a whole new manner; CD 2 starts with the dirty Blues of 1979’s Bad Penny then follows with the Bluesiest song I’d ever heard in 1973, Walk On Hot Coals; then we get transported back to 1969 with Blister on the Moon (from Taste’s debut album) then if your senses aren’t already off the Richter Scale by this stage, our Man goes acoustic AND electric on Loanshark Blues.
Even if we just judge him by those 4 songs alone; I defy you to give me the name of another act who could possibly evolve so much, while still maintaining quality control like no other?
That was always the beauty of buying a new Gallagher album; you didn’t really know what to expect in advance, but you were always sure that your blind faith in his talents would be rewarded to the hilt.
In theory there should be no surprises here; as I already own every song and every album he ever released (plus a couple he and his record company didn’t know about #wink) but there are ………. I’ve not heard it in years, so Philby blew me away last week and again this morning; what a fabulous song ….. and let’s not forget what a truly great songwriter Rory was; which again comes to the fore on the slow and sleazy Bought & Sold, Jinxed (which I’d completely forgot about!) and even Cruise On Out which is perhaps the Rockiest song here.
There was nothing wrong in what his contempories were releasing in this period; but I loved and indeed, still love the way he sometimes went left of centre in his subject matter; Tattoo’d Lady? This was 1973 when such creatures were only seen in Fairgrounds and not in the Asda on a Tuesday afternoon.
Philby of course was an infamous Spy in the 1960’s and one of my favourite songs of all times, Daughter of The Everglades now sounds like Rory invented Americana!
With hindsight, the imagery in Rory’s songs really does transcend what most everything those around him were releasing back in those days. Moonchild? Ghost Blues? Calling Card? None are really his most ‘famous tracks’ but show a man who had a fertile imagination; and a romantic one too when you re-hear They Don’t Make Them Like You Anymore (which now sounds a bit like latter day Taste? Discuss?), Just The Smile and I Fall Apart after all these years.
There’s obviously an obligatory ‘never before released’ track to tempt completists; and it’s been a bit of a slow burner for me. Although famous for including older Blues standards in his repertoire; I can’t think of another contemporary track he’s ever recorded (or played live; apart from a Born Under a Bad Sign and Politician with Jack Bruce) so hearing him turn the Rolling Stones (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction alongside Jerry Lee Lewis into a down and dirty Chicago Blues has been fascinating and illuminating in it’s own way.
To some greater or lesser degree I could stick a pin in and find my Favourite Track, as they probably were at some time in my life; but today I’ve narrowed it down to three; all of which I hadn’t played in donkey’s years and have not just surprised me but re-kindled my admiration for Rory Gallagher …….. It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again from the much maligned ON THE BOARDS by Taste, with it’s Jazzy undertones and liquid gold guitar playing; then there’s Crest of a Wave which still sounds nothing like anything else he ever recorded; and conjures up memories of seeing him play it live several times.
The winner though (I think) is A Million Miles Away; possibly because I had forgotten about it; but the sublime skill and nuances in his guitar playing are truly exemplary and the song itself is as romantic a Blues tale as ever straddled what we now call Americana as I may ever have heard.
Old Farts like me are always going to look at the track list and think, “why is X not here?”
But, even if your favourite track isn’t here (and these are all from the studio albums; before you ask) ……. what would you actually miss off?
Every album is featured in one way or another; and remember …… this is a retrospective of an all too short career destined for a whole new generation to discover ……. so if that’s you, get over yourself and Trust in Brother Donal to keep the flame burning brightly.
Damn ……. in this format, Rory Gallagher just may be even better than I have been telling people for half a century!

Released October 9th 2020
https://rorygallagher.com/

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Kim Wilson TAKE ME BACK (The Bigtone Sessions)

KIM WILSON
Take Me Back (The Bigtone Sessions)
MC Records

The Blues; Precisely Like They Outta Be Played.

For someone who will reach their 70th. birthday next January Kim Wilson shows no signs of slowing down.
He has re-joined MC Records, following a hiatus of 17 years and they will release what will be his first solo album in 3 long years, which according to my calculations will be number his #7 under his own moniker.
You also have to add the 14 or so studio albums (plus the Live ones and Compilations etc.) he has recorded with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, the legendary Austin band he formed with Jimmie Vaughan in 1974 and still continues to lead to this day.

Just like in the old days, all 16 tracks on Take Me Back were recorded in Glorious Mono and “live in the studio;” at Big John Atkinson’s Big Tone Records in Bristol, Virginia.
Being in the Blues business for something like 50 years means Kim can call on some notable musicians and genuine friends to play on the album, not just the studio owner but also the likes of Billy Flynn, Rusty Zinn, Barrelhouse Chuck and Kid Andersen.

The respect and affection Wilson has for Jimmy Rogers means that 4 of the cover versions here are lesser known gems from his honorary uncle’s Chess period.
There are then renditions from the catalogues of Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Percy Mayfield, Larry Williams and Jimmy Nolen too; plus seven self-penned numbers, four being instrumentals and they all point directly to the ultimate pantheon of the blues that is the Windy City.

Take Me Back” is the title track and a fine cover of a Little Walter beauty that was a B-Side to “It’s Too Late Brother”, first released in 1956.
The opening track is also one of the covers; Jimmy Nolen’s “You’ve been Goofin’” featuring some very distinctive guitar punctuated with baritone saxophone.
We then have the first of Kim’s instrumentals, “Wingin’ It” followed by a terrific Blues shuffle where we hear all about his “Fine Little Woman”, learning that
you don’t wanna mess with that woman,
she got the devil in her eye”.
Larry Willliam’s Rock’n Roll classic “Slow Down” then gets the party truly swinging without deviating too much from the original.

Howlin’ Wolf’s “No Place to Go” is genuinely respectful of the mega Blues icon and then Percy Mayfield’s “Strange Things Happening” slows things down again, with Kim’s familiar harmonica well to the foreground of the mix.
The mood picks back up again with “Play Me” bouncing along, guaranteeing sub-conscious foot tapping for any listener.

My Favourite Track is the penultimate “Goin’ Away Baby” which is one of the four Jimmy Rogers covers with its long 32 second harmonica intro followed by Kim’s vocals being interspersed or answered with his trademark, stinging harmonica.

In summary, 16 solid killer tracks, providing value for money, all concise and only lasting between 2:25 and 3:57 minutes each; that make the 50 minutes absolutely fly by; just like they used to back in the golden era of juke-box (nay juke-joint) singles.
In many ways Kim Wilson can be like that ‘marketing strap line’ used by Ronseal, he is ‘what it says on the tin’ …… quite simply the consummate musician who knows no other way to sing and play the Blues; precisely like they should be played.
So, no worries for Kim, Blues lovers everywhere will undoubtedly Take Him Back.

Released on 9th. October 2020
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https://continentalrecordservices.bandcamp.com/album/take-me-back

http://fabulousthunderbirds.com/

Review by Jack KiddMessin’ with the Kidd” on lionheartradio.com