27 April 2010

The Black Keys - Brothers

They sound worn-out. Tired & forced. Songs are the same as always, but there's less driving guitar and more tricky synths. I wanted to like it but simply couldn't. I get tired listening to this music too long. There's no happiness or joy of playing and keeping the groove, not much more of the blues - it's strictly business.

If only they were more catchy, more freewheeling and eager to play rock and roll or just faster songs... On the other hand - the duo's brutal and raw concept takes effect. This is outstanding in a way - you rarely hear things like that on the radio. It's much worse than previous Black Keys' albums, though. But still - this is not the kind of music I'd like to listen to when I'm stoned and out of my mind. Makes me nervous.

Oh, well... The best cover art I've seen in ages.

Standout tracks: "Ten Cent Pistol", "Sinister Kid" (it should've been turned into something really great!), "Unknown Brother".

On a final note - I'm really curious what marks it's going to get from professional critics. Pitchfork - the most alternative and indie of 'em all - is of course gonna hail it and praise it, but what about the rest... I couldn't care less about the record but I still can't figure out how come it doesn't move me while it really should. I'm impatiently waiting for Allmusic to note that it's unlistenable shit - which Brothers isn't, by the way.

24 April 2010

May releases I'm waiting for

On 17th May the Rolling Stones release a bonus disc with Exile On Main Street outtakes. We already have one of these on single and "Plundered My Soul" proved it's gonna be hot ;-) Will this be the best Stones album since 1981's Tattoo You? No, probably not, but I don't care, it's like a brand new LP of the Stones screaming and playing the dirtiest rock and roll possible...

Famous Stax Records are releasing 2-CD live album by Otis Redding. I can't wait to pair it with more raw album by Jimi Hendrix called "BBC Sessions" - those two will look so beautiful together! Apart from awful cover, Live On the Sunset Strip will feature biggest-hits by Otis from 1966. Though I prefer his later performances, these ones were truly legendary. Cocaine running through Otis' veins 44 years ago will make it to your next party ;-)

Three weeks to go! Can't damn wait.

23 April 2010

Ten Years After - Ssssh

I haven't ever heard a great studio album by Ten Years After. A tremendous live act with one of the most interesting guitarists of the British blues scene, and most probably the fastest :) And it's not like Alvin Lee had no songwriting skills - maybe his songs weren't the best, but quite original at least. So, what's with Ten Years After?

No idea. "Ssssh" is badly produced and badly written, but it has its groove and I really like it, though most of the times I put it on I'm not able to sit it through all 8 tracks ;) Jim Newson wrote in amusing review for AllMusic:

Featured is a lengthy cover of Sonny Boy Williamson's "Good Morning Little Schoolgirl," with reworked lyrics leaving little doubt as to what the singer had in mind for the title character. Also included was a 12-bar blues song with the ultimate generic blues title "I Woke Up This Morning.

Ha ha. Anyway... No favorite tracks that I can pick, no favorite moments, it all kinda flows... But it's well worth a listen. Ten Years After was a fascinating band, not one-hit-wonder act (yeah, I don't like "I'm Going Home" that much). And "Ssssh" is not one of the key works of the (in)famous 1969 year, but the band deserved playing Woodstock.

PS. It's only 33 minutes long so don't hesitate.
PPS. "Good Morning Little School Girl" has to be my least favorite blues standard. Ever.

20 April 2010

The Rolling Stones - Plundered My Soul

Like I noted before, "Plundered My Soul" is a great new single by the Rolling Stones. It came out backed by "All Down the Line", mono single from Exile On Main Street in unedited form. That pairing was a good choice! Now, on 3rd may, we're getting a new single: alternate take of ADTL :) But let's talk PMS for a while.

Lyrics are bad. Obviously a latter-day Jagger in despair... The chorus is mighty, though. Another big fault - where's the solo? Mick Taylor is playing great fills here and there, but the song desperately needs one verse less and a longer solo. I also think that Jagger is pushing too hard but what the hell, I can live with that.

Today while listening on headphones I've heard exactly what Bobby Keys is playing. I've never heard him play rhythm saxophone before! Amazing job. Full credits are as follows: Mick Jagger (voc, gtr, perc), Keith Richards (gtr), Charlie Watts (dr), Bill Wyman (bass), Nicky Hopkins (p), Mick Taylor (gtr), Bobby Keys (sax), Lisa Fischer & Cindy Mizelle (bvoc).

I'm not gonna post a download link anywhere but if you know how to use magnet links, here's one. :) But please also buy it. The Stones' sales are at all-time low!

15 April 2010

The Rolling Stones Plundered My Soul (again)

After many days of waiting I'm speechless. PMS :-) ("Plundered My Soul") hasn't been even released yet but it's here, safe on my hard disc. 9MB of joy, sweet 320kbps quality and french radio DJ's voice in fading somewhere in the end... Not official, not in a great packaging with lyrics and credits, but - in all of its awesomeness & greatness - now it's mine and only mine ;)

It's glorious, proud & sexy. Slow, groovy... An obvious and instant winner that missed it's time by decades. PMS probably isn't going to be played by mainstream radio stations, nor will it attract the attention of the crowds. A shame, but I don't care as now I get lost listening to it a 237th time ;-)

The single was kicked off a special, deluxe treatment of the classic album, by many fans rated as the best ever, called "Exile On Main Street". Famously recorded in Keith Richards' villa in south France, now it comes with a deluxe disc of outtakes and alternate takes. It's hard to imagine my state after first hearing of it - now I'm only familiar with one song ;)

So, it was recorded as an instrumental sometime in 1971. Keith Richards on a great, steady rhythm guitar reminding me of "Tumbling Dice" rhythm part. It's cachy, slow but rolling. Could have been higher in the mix, though. Then we have a kind of barrelhouse piano by Nick Hopkins... I can pay him the best tribute by saying that's "up to his standards". Rhythm section really sounds like the rest of Exile - kinda muddy & messy, and there lays its greatness. There are also recorded recently background vocals by Lisa Fischer and Cindy Mizelle. I think they're doing great job.

Mick's vocals were recorded in the 2010 or 2009... Also the lyrics were newly written. He sounds great, but a bit out of it - a little too loud, and you can easily hear it's not the 1972 edition of Mick Jagger, but a recent one. PMS sounds catchy due to his work but I understand that not everybody might like it, and it's a shame that he dominates the song now... Don't let that trouble you though :]

I'm wondering if Mick Taylor, the great, great lead guitarist, recorded his parts in 1971 or today. I'd love to hear him reuniting with the band after so many weak days of his solo career... He plays like back in the day. Bright fills and all... He should've take a try on the solo, though.

Can't get it out of my mind :-)

"I thought you wanted my money but you plundered my soul", sings Mick. So did the Rolling Stones :]

PS. I got the song about two hours ago... So this are just my first thoughts. Of course I will write more in the future ;)

10 April 2010

Monkey Junk - Tiger In Your Tank

Son House said about his music that he's "talkin' about the blues, not about some monkey junk". So, Monkey Junk is not a strictly blues ensemble, but it's hard to find a good blues band in the 00s anyway ;) Monkey Junk is an award-winning trio and they have just one CD out, 2009's "Tiger In Your Tank". I tend to like it ;)

As they say, their music is a mix of R&B, soul boogie and funk. Well, okay... There's even one pop tune which is a sure low-point of the album, but in overall "Tiger In Your Tank" is very good. The band consists of two guitars and drums (just like Hound Dog Taylor's classic House Rockers) and it works very well. Their Muddy Waters cover, "Tiger In Your Tank", is among my favorite contemporary blues tracks. It just rocks ;) So does "Leave the Rest to You".

There ain't much to tell about this album. Songs are rather short and straight-to-the-point without any improvisations or long solos. Vocals are quite ordinary and typical for a pop band, not a blues one, but they don't sound that bad. Not that I hate the White Stripes but finally we have a contemporary band not influenced by them ;) They are as far to the blues as the Stripes, I was hoping for a more traditional brand of American music. It'll be interesting to see Monkey Junk evolving. Oh, and the cover art's good, ain't it?

07 April 2010

2010 blues calendar

Seventh volume of a blues calendar with classic photos from the 20s has been released... It looks good. Order on BluesImages.com.

05 April 2010

Jeff Beck interview, 2010

BBC Radio 2 aired an interview with Jeff Beck a couple of days ago. It was a nice interview with lots of Jeff's "mhms" - it's always good to hear probably the best guitarist alive talk. Subjects included his auditions for Pink Floyd and the Rolling Stones, old times in 60s and 70s and his new album, "Emotion and Commotion", which I find uninteresting by the way.

Jeff was interviewed by Johnnie Walker on "Sounds of the 70s" programme. Setlists includes: "A Day In the Life", "Lilac Wine", "I Can't Give Back the Love I Feel For You", "Thelonious" and "Superstition". In overall whole 2-hour-long set was great, but I uploaded only the Jeff Beck part. Download and enjoy here (24MB). More about the show here.

04 April 2010

Muddy Waters' birthday!

It would've been 97th Muddy's birthday... Time to hail the Father of not only Chicago Blues, but music as we know it today ;) Can't write no more, no words can say how much he's missed.

The one and only Hoochie Coochie Man ;)

03 April 2010

Mike Oldfield - Tubular Bells

I was just going to put on some good old rock and roll and listen to Keith play on 1981 the Rolling Stones' tour - if you ignore Mick's outfit it's great. I can't explain how I ended up listening to Mike Oldfield's "Tubular Bells". It was a love at first sight.

The strangest thing is that I should hate it. It's a wonder which one I can't stand more - classical music or new age? With a rock and roll heart it's hard to listen to progressive 25-minute-long instrumental compositions... Okay, I used to like "Atom Heart Mother" by Pink Floyd. And there are many nice jazz compositions that are as long and complicated as "Tubular Bells". But I've become open-minded and that was something I had never heard.

If God likes music, this is probably his favorite LP.

Imagine a scene... Gates of heaven, lots of instruments inside... You get in with a bottle of Jack and a cigarette and try them all while "Tubular Bells Part I" is playing... God's voice introduces the instruments, you're dead but you just don't care. It's my heaven and paradise :) "Two slightly distorted guitars"... Oh come on. It's pure greatness.

I still hate that kind of music. I wouldn't like to play it myself but I guess I'll try it sometime.

01 April 2010

Charles Burnett's "Warming by the Devil's Fire"

Charles Burnett's "Warming by the Devil's Fire" is as naive and childish as it could get, yet it still has its charm. It's another production in the series of blues documentaries called "Martin Scorsese Presents the Blues".

The movie tells a story mixed with archival performances somehow related to the storyline. Young boy visits his family in the Mississippi delta during 1950s and is kidnapped by his uncle who shows him around and tells about the blues. Acting is just terrible and the story rather weak but it doesn't matter that much. It shows one's love for the blues. Archival performances are great in the whole series and this part is no exception: from Bessie and Mamie Smith, through Sister Rosetta Tharpe to Big Bill Broonzy, Willie Dixon, Muddy Waters and John Lee Hooker.

Director said he tried to show "the tensions between the heavenly strains of gospel and the devilish moans of the blues". Uhm, whatever... Even if the movie didn't capture it that well, there's something out of this world in music played in the delta during 20s and 30s and it's worth further research ;)