CD Reviews: A Seasonal Mix of Music

Fall is almost upon us and time to start to stock pile the good music to keep us going thru the long winter ahead of us. Here are three sweet releases that I am sure will make the house and home warmer in many ways.

The Blasters – Fun On A Saturday Night
(Rip Cat Records)

This Southern California-based band has been one of the leading exponents of American Roots Music for over thirty-three years. There was a time back in the day when they were unrivaled in making music that combined Delta & Chicago Blues, R&B, Memphis grit and Bob Wills styled country music into a melange of good time music that resonated with audiences around the nation.

Welcome back boys!!!

Right off they start rocking out with Tiny Bradshaw’s ‘Well Oh Well’ a jump-blues western swing jumper that sets us up in line with the albums title “Fun On A Saturday Night”. Keith Wyatt tears up the six strings as he throws down some of the finest leads on the release right off the bat. Get yer dancin’ shoes on folks we going to have some real fun.

Interesting cover of ‘Jackson’ featuring the band X’s singer Exene Cervenka taking the female lead (once done by Nancy Sinatra) to Phil Alvin’s male counterpoint )as done by Lee Hazelwood). Tasty, rich and it contains all the power of a runaway freight train running into Saturday night. Originally penned in 1963 by Jerry Leiber and Billy Edd Wheeler it has been covered by such diverse artists as Johnny Cash and Miss Piggy, Warren Zevon in his Spring 200 tour and even Dave Alvin (original member of The Blasters and Phil’s brother) did a version Mojo Nixon and the Pleasure Barons in 1993.

Title track ‘Fun On A Saturday Night’ pushes the peddle to the metal captures the feel of some of the Blues shouters of the past with it’s fast pace and hard edged rhythm.

Since we are somewhat Blues leaning I have to mention the great Chicago Blues man Magic Sam’s ‘Love Me With A Feeling’. Now this is re-done, polished and shined up just so purty that ya might not recognize it. Yet it is covers like this that I applaud because these cats have taken it to heart and made it their own. Check this baby out. ‘I Don’t Want Cha’ is more of a traditional Blues shuffle that speaks eloquently of a bad relationship and it’s dissolve.

There is more than enough super tunes on this 12 cut release to ‘Please Please Please’ everyone. Fun, quality musicianship and a true feel for the songs they cover or created makes it a must for the open-minded Blues fans that we all are.

Visit them here for more info: http://www.blastersnewsletter.com/

 

John Lee Hooker Jr. – All Hooked Up
(Steppin’ Stone Records)

John Lee Hooker Jr, was weaned on the Blues. Son of legend John Lee Hooker, has been everywhere – up, very down, and back again stronger than ever. Keeping the grit and urban voice alive and well inside the Blues Mr. Hooker gives us a sterling new release.

A neglected wife who has done all the suburban, time consuming but ultimately empty things that leave one with a hole in their soul is the featured object in ‘Tired Of Being A Housewife’. Funky, gritty as the inside of a free range oyster’s shell, JLH Jr. depicts her escape from the hum-drum to the walk on the wild side with such poignancy that it almost hurts to listen to.

Mr. Lucky Peterson sits in on ‘You Be My Hero’ and bringing with him some electrifying guitar work. A tribute to all the men and women of the armed forces it is a genuine, heart felt song that is funky as it is real. Excellent horn work through out the release by the Hot Sauce Horns arranged by Larry Batiste and featuring such luminaries as Tom Poole, Doug Rowan and Ric ‘Mighty Bone’ Feliciano and others.

Some New Orleans second line gets the Hooker treatment in “Listen To The Music’ a sing along chorus nails it down and he even gives us a “how-how/bow-wow”. If ya gotta ask then ya just don’t know, but when you hear it you will get it.

A very special appearance by ‘The Cleanup Woman’, Ms. Betty Wright on the track track ‘I Surrender’. Together they capture the feel of those classic days of soul. Ms. Wright’s saucy vocals and Mr. Hooker’s gritty intonations combine in a dynamic song that had me chair dancing till I realized that people could see me thru the window – so I got up and shook that thing.

For the ‘purists’ out there ‘Hard Times’ and “Let Me Be’ will make you very comfortable in your corner of the room. On the former we are treated to some incendiary guitar work by John Garcia and stellar harp work that recalls Little Walter by Dave Barrette. ‘Hard Times’ is so stunning and real that it shakes the foundation of life’s simple structure – Mr. Hooker’s lyrics are truthful, painful and pull no punches. All I can say is that I am glad you are here for us and not where you were headed.

Since I mentioned it ‘Let Me Be’ is a super funky plea to do just that. Mr. Hooker’s vocals have a certain ‘old school’ quality to them they remind me of Lou Rawls at times and that’s not a bad thing. Listen to this cut (as well as ‘Pay The Rent’) and see if ya hear what I hear.

The title track ‘All Hooked Up’ is the most autobiographical of tracks. The trials and tribulations that he experienced as the son of such an iconic blues man is presented here in a direct point making song with a funky dance groove that is at once sad but ultimately redeeming. Mr. Hooker gives testimony, praise and thanks to the all powerful one yet we also see how the title has several applications in his life.

This is a stunning release one that I believe should garner serious consideration for Grammy’s and Blues Music Awards. To learn more about Mr. Hooker please visit http://www.johnleehookerjr.com/

 

Paula Harris – Turning On The Naughty
(self released)

Ms. Harris made it into the finals of the 2012 International Blues Competition, and in doing so walked away with third place for the Band competition. That’s no small task, cause the talent at this event is off the charts – it is a blues lovers bucket list item, ’nuff said.

‘Turning On The Naughty’ is the title track and it reeks with the promise of steamy sex, nylons and just good old doing the wild thing. “can you feel me on your sheets, just like a cat in heat’ pretty much sums it up. No subtle innuendos here, for the naughty is turned on and the naughty will not be ignored.

Ms. Harris has a voice that harkens back to the days of Big Band thumpers. Full of brash, throaty, unbridled passion at all levels and styles. On ‘Damn Your Eyes’ she starts out singing almost to herself as she begins the crescendo of sound that tears into the heart and bears for all the vulnerability that exists at the core of this burner.

A rollicking version of Shep (Purple People Eater) Wooley’s ‘Just Don’t Look Good Naked Anymore’ is a tale all too familiar to many of us these days as the effects of living and aging are taking it’s unrelenting toll on us. What Ms. Harris does with this is pure fun and frolic, undoubtedly bringing a smile to a our group situation.

Ms. Harris’ band is solid collection of top notch artists, featuring Derrick “D’Mar’ Martin on drums whose uncanny sense of rhythm and beats stands alone. Mr. Terry Hiatt brings his reputation as a guitar players player and shows off his full compliment of influences and styles very nicely with the band. Joey Fabian brings aurally animated bass lines to the mix, and Simon Russell filling up the sound with his excellent keyboard work. Dang if any artists need a band to back them up on the west Coast – you should look these cats up.

Slowing things down to true torch level and serious late night blues music we have ‘Some Of My Best Friends Are The Blues’ Mr. Fabian’s work on the upright bass sets the stage as Mr. Russell’s keyboard fills and melody weave a web of desperation and solitude for Ms. Harris to employ her ample vocal gymnastics to full advantage and our delight.

A funky side of the blues is visited thru the ‘Gates Of Hell’ when they are opened. Snappy and a percussion lover’s dream this song lays it straight on the line to the man who done her wrong as the Devil himself is proud of what that man done done to her. Syncopated and pointed this is one of my favorite tracks on the release.

To visit the like of Robert Johnson’s ‘Dust My Broom’ take a whole lot of moxie, and has the chance of turning into a train wreck for many reasons. Doncha worry none here, the moxie is backed by talent and a funky twist that starts at 0:01 of the track. Mr. Hiatt throws down some funky chicken scratchin’ that sets the stage for an assault of the traditional version but in doing so makes it modern and the song a strong vehicle for expression of the lyrics.

Ms. Harris is a superb vocalist, song writer and interpreter of the music she sings. Her ability to take center stage and hold the attention is amazing indeed. Her live performances are heady, slinky and down right sexy, and this release gives us a glimpse of those live events and bodes well for her future in our beloved genre. She mixes Funk, Blues and Jazz with ample attitude and sheer joy, there is no room for disappointment with this lady when she sings the blues.

For more on Ms. Harris visit: http://www.paulaharrismusic.com/

So take a moment to stock up on these staples and your seasons will be warmer and funkier than last years. See these bands of ya get a chance, support live music and be nice to one another, other than that carry on.

Until next time,
Love, Peace & Chicken Grease
chefjimi
©Blues411.com 2012
photos: courtesy of artists
Where Blues Thrives

 

 

 

One thought on “CD Reviews: A Seasonal Mix of Music

  1. Koby kruse says:

    Having worked with his father on many occasions, John Lee Sr. was backed into a corner in the early days and was categorized as the old Black guy in the chair Blues man. It was not until many years later in his career that he could be seen in a different view. I had listened to this CD sometime back, and was pleasantly surprised to hear such a diverse and well rounded CD. It goes from Blues to R&B to that early Detroit sound. Those of you above 50 know what I am talking about. So there is a wide range of music. Diversity in music is important, whether you are doing Blues or any other style genre. It never hurts to step outside the box and experiment. I like what I hear. I wish him the best, the road has not always been easy. I am sure your interview will open some eyes to that. Certainly he can carry the Hooker torch forward should he choose to.

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