28 June 2010

Duke Ellington - Ellington at Newport 1956

I haven't written about jazz in a long time but it certainly doesn't mean I stopped listening to it. The thing is, I got myself a two CD release of Duke Ellington's At Newport set from 1956 and since some time couldn't listen to anything else. This is the perfect album, so perfect it's impossible to describe, analyzing it seems like an insult to the Duke. And the man wasn't even satisfied with the results!

No doubt it's the greatest jazz live album ever released. I've listened to "Diminuendo In Blue and Crescendo In Blue" countless times and still haven't got enough. And I'm even not a fan of big band jazz! It's inspiring, awesome, stunning, original, blindingly amazing. This is the jazz album to get to start your collection.

Original LP with only five tracks - three parts of "Newport Jazz Festival Suite" on side A and "Jeep's Blues" and "Diminuendo... and Crescendo In Blue" - is the one to get for jazz newbies, everybody else will have glorious time listening to the expanded version.

27 June 2010

Gary Moore sucks

Yeah, I'm lost in the past. There are still quite many good blues albums getting released every year, but nothing great. Production most often is thick, thin, plastic, fake, cold, uninteresting. Not warm and strong like in the Chess years. It's not aggresive at all! Apart from that, lyrics usually suck - when those guys in the 50s sung "I hope some schoolboy start a fight", they really had this on their minds. Now modern blues artists have no guts. And Eric Clapton, who himself is a very fine guitarist, started a trend of playing long, wailing solos, and telling everybody around it's really heartbreaking. No, it's not.

The essence of the blues being down in a hole is Gary Moore. A very popular blues-rock mainstream artist whose concerts really draw attention of the usually-not-going-anywhere crowd. He started his career in the very late 60s and since then played, most notably, with Thin Lizzy. And released 20-something solo albums that are all the same, and all suck. His most important work is 1990's Still Got the Blues LP (the only one similar thing that seems to be worse is Roy Buchanan's pop/blues hit from the same time). A very popular blues-rock album. A very white one.

I downloaded his last album from 2008 called "Bad for You Baby". A tough title, isn't it? I listen and listen and it's not totally unacceptable - I even enjoy some of the songs. Vocals are bad, guitar sound is bad. 10-minute-long tracks are bad. Shredding on a blues album is unforgivable, so amazingly bad it makes me almost quit listening to it. But in overall, I really enjoy moments. But I just love what Ginger Baker said about Gary, and I generally love his bitter comments. :)

Gary Moore, Roy Buchanan, sometimes Clapton sucked hard in their prime, glory days, and now guys like Joe Bonamassa followed in the same style. What's wrong with these people?

Gary Moore is just an imitation of the real blues. He's playing great blues without the feeling. :)

26 June 2010

Random album recommendations

1. Taj Mahal - The Natch'l Blues: not as popular as Mahal's previous, legendary eponymous album, but almost as good. He mixes traditional Delta blues (wonderful "She Caught the Katy") with Memphis soul (Otis Redding-influenced "You Don't Miss Your Water"). Such a shame so many fans overlook it.
2. the Flamin' Groovies - Teenage Head: released in 1971 and famously compared to the Stones' masterpiece Sticky Fingers. It's much less interesting, but quite similar, and I can recommend it anyway. Great takes on blues, blues-rock, rock and roll, rhythm and blues, boogie et cetera.
3. Memphis Slim and Willie Dixon - Willie's Blues: a very fine piano player and the ultimate, definitive blues songwriter (and a good bassist) on a very intimate, quiet jammy session from 1959. Tricky tunes, moody atmosphere, I just love this album. A forgotten classic.
4. Pinetop Perkins - Portrait Of A Delta Bluesman: 20 delta blues tracks played solo on piano by a true legend and a couple of short interviews. A cover of Jimmy Reed's "Baby, What You Want Me to Do" and famous "Pinetop's Boogie Woogie". That's just awesome! For all lovers of piano blues.

...Just a couple of albums I've been listening to recently.

23 June 2010

John Mayall live in 2010

On 18th June John Mayall played a student's club Stodola in Warsaw, Poland. It was a 2-hour-long set of blues without any supporting band and I can clearly say that everybody loved it, including the main character, the 76-year-old now John Mayall.

Mayall's band was: Greg Rzab on bass, Jay Davenport on drums, a fine pair; almost silent Tom Canning on keys and Rocky Athas on guitar. He was playing a very lyrical blues, wasn't an outstanding guitarist, but I really enjoyed his solos. Mayall played harmonica and keys. I was really hoping for a performance with a guitar but there wasn't a chance.

My favorite track of the whole show was "The Bear" from his album with Mick Taylor Blues From Laurel Canyon. It's just a little song about the leader of Canned Heat band. I couldn't find nor remember the setlist for this particular show so here's a glimpse of what he's playing on this tour that I've stolen from a show that took place ten days before in Aschaffenburg (?), Germany. :)

1 Another Man Done Gone
2 Hideaway
3 Chicago Line
4 Nothing to Do With Love
5 All My Life
6 Help Me
7 You Know That You Love Me
8 California
9 A Dream About the Blues
10 Room to Move
11 Somebody's Acting Like A Child
12 Mama Talk to Your Daughter

In Poland he didn't played "Hideaway", "California" and two encores: we had "The Bear", "All Your Love" (originally by Otis Rush), "Playing with a Losing Hand", and some more instead. The song list may be not impressive but Mayall's band was really jamming and most of them were about 7 minutes long.

I can recommend his shows to any blues fans, he won't let you down. And his new CD's ain't bad either.

20 June 2010

Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers - Mojo

When a guy who haven't ever played the blues tries to record a classic blues album one's gotta beware. I don't need Tom Petty to be another Muddy Waters, I will take his new album, Mojo, as it comes. I liked his previous effort no matter how it was labeled (pop-rock actually). So, the first song is running at the moment. "Jefferson Jericho Blues", mhm. Good old whiny, whitey voice of Petty is adorable. Not bluesy, not at all, but it's okay - he sounds like he just couldn't give a damn no matter how hard he'd try and I like it. Slide guitar driving the mediocre song and wham, next one.

This one's longer, taking off with long, interesting coda. "First Flash Of Freedom". It strikes me how well it's produced. Really, I feel like the band is in my room. Even if the sound of the guitars isn't the one I'm dreaming of, it's enjoyable. And it's not the blues as I know it. Not only it's not dirty, it's crystal clear. Somebody said it's reminiscent of the Allman Brothers Band and this is the description for me that I have to laugh about, ABB were the masters of sound. This is waaaaay weaker. But still, it's listenable. Enjoyable. And it has something of that jammy feel.

"Running Man's Bible" is another boring composition played in a nice way. Quite funky, actually. This looks to me as an album that would please Tom Petty's and contemporary blues fans alike. I'm not anyone that would feel connected to any of these groups. Even though I click the "next" button, I like it. Even though I'm happy I didn't spend ten bucks on Mojo, I like it.

"Candy" is the first song I really like. And 4th I've already listened - I have to skip the one called "The Trip to Pirate's Cove". I just can't listen to a song with a name like that. But "Candy" is superb. It's gotta a nice groove to it and a very relaxed feel. OK, 9 songs to go now.

This review sucks and I'm rather out of my mind sitting here listening to this music. A cheap imitation of the real blues, yeah. But Petty wanted to do album like that and he played it well. There's something in it that I like. This is like a girl that isn't particularly pretty but you feel like you just need to lay her anyway. "I Should Have Known It" is a natural single and now I think it would really work in a live setting. A small club and ouch... I can easily imagine myself in the crowd.

Petty wrote all of the songs on the album. I'd love to hear some covers. But it's okay. It's 3.5/5 on my RYM. It's an hour I've just wasted. It's good it was released. It's good there are still guys like Tom, who have nothing to prove and yet they try to have fun. But anyway... this morning I've listened to Blues From Laurel Canyon, Mayall's best work, and Mojo's nothing compared to that.

And when I come to think about it... Don't let anybody tell you it's a blues work. It's obviously not. An album on which every second is thought ten times over, every chord is perfectly chosen and every emotion labelled and classified just can't rock the way Petty wants to.

19 June 2010

"Blues for the lost days"...

Yesterday I attended a wonderful, stunning John Mayall's show in Warsaw. Two hours of blues played live was what I needed. ;) Reminded me that the music is to be played live and CDs are only a small part of the fun. I wrote a lengthy review on my Last.fm already (in Polish) and in some time I'll review it here, but for now I've got to give my mind a rest. ;)

In two weeks time I'm attending Warsaw Summer Jazz Days, a glorious festival. I wanted to go and see Pearl Jam but I can't, dates collide. But in the meantime...

Recently I got so much into the Allman Brothers Band that I can't resist listening to 20-minute version of "Dreams" twice a day. The things that Duane plays are indescribable. ;) Yesterday I was going back home at about midnight with "Whipping Post" rambling through my headphones...

The Derek Trucks Band is releasing a new live double album called "Roadsongs". I'm listening now to their previous studio album and I start to like it. Good time music, actually. I'll wait for the new album.

And I'm still waiting for some free time to review Tom Petty's "Mojo". And Steve Miller's "Bingo". I don't like him but his comments seem very wise (and kinda brave), see them on IORR.

14 June 2010

Sunnyland Slim - Slim's Got His Thing Goin' On

This is the good old stuff mixed with modern blues musicians. Recorded in '68 by Sunnyland Slim, a talented pianist straight from the delta, with George Smith, Big Mama Thornton, Luther Allison, Shakey Jake, Al Wilson, Henry Vestine, Larry Taylor, Luther Allison and, most important, Mick Taylor of John Mayall's Bluesbreakers fame. Taylor plays on "You Used to Love Me", "My Past Life", "She's Got A Thing Goin' On" and "Substitute Woman". That's a shame he isn't featured on entire disc! Young British guitarist who was soon to join the Rolling Stones plays with confidence and respect to older bluesmen.

Slim's piano and voice are good. So are compositions, all of them but Elmore James' "Dust My Broom" credited to Albert Laundrew, which is the real name of Sunnyland Slim. Don't let that fool you, though... After the first chords of "Goin' Back to Memphis" you realize it's "Rollin' & Tumblin'" but under a different name. So is the case with most of the stuff here: it's all the usual hooks played by black blues musicians in the delta. "Slim's Got His Thing Goin' On" may be classic, but it's not ordinary. More, it's totally unique. The blend of electric guitars, harmonicas and pianos is wonderful, production just rocks. It's quite clear for a record like that!

My favorite song must be "Everytime We Get to Drinkin'". ;) But it's hard to tell, really, they are all the same. Slower and faster, all of them have a special kind of charm reserved for original Mississippi wailers. Get this disk and play it loud! It's... inspirational. ;)

13 June 2010

Bonus tracks from Valleys Of Neptune

Well I craved for these two bonus tracks that were sold only at US Target shops (lame!) and tried to find them everywhere. I was right, they are quite cool. Another poster here on Blogger posted them some time ago so now I kindly repost them, get the stuff here. Quality versions of "Slow Version" and "Trash Man" rock, clocking together at about 12 minutes. Both songs were recorded in 1969.

Cool, isn't he? ;-)

12 June 2010

News from Ronnie Wood, the Faces & Tom Petty

There are many new exciting releases I'm waiting for now... First of all, Ronnie Wood's new album called Feel Like Playing. Dirty rock and roll, booze and blues the way I like it. We already can hear two songs off the album, look here. I totally loved Ronnie's first solo album (called I've Got My Own Album to Do) and every next one had some of its charm.

Speaking of Ronnie Wood, his band from the early 70s, the Faces, is reuniting. Without Rod Stewart, replacing him with Mick Hucknall of Simply Red fame. There's a lot of bad press on Mick Hucknall and his singing with the Faces caused a lot of controversy, but I don't mind him really. He even recorded a mediocre blues album called Tribute to Bobby, which was recorded for Bobby Bland. Hucknall can sing and did well on the previous Faces reunion and now I hope they're gonna play some more dates and some bootlegs are going to show up. In their days they were playing the best party-time rock and roll on the planet - except for the Stones.

Tom Petty - a good artist but as far from the blues as one can get - released a new album full of, as he described it, "dirty blues", drawing many references to the Allman Brothers Band. In a deep blues fasion it's called Mojo. ;) Here's one of the singles on YouTube. Funny to see comments below that "it's one of the best blues tunes ever made"... Well, certainly not funny, okay. The track is as unoriginal as it can be. Another one's better. It's good popular artist are interested in the blues, the results sometimes are really frightening, though. ;)

10 June 2010

Howlin' Wolf birthday!

Howlin' Wolf was born 100 years ago, on 10th June 1910 in - of course - Mississippi, USA. He was one of the most influential figures in Chicago blues and one of the most important artists that recorded for Chess Records. Furthermore, he was big and bad. He popularized many blues standards, from "Spoonful" to "Smokestack Lightnin'" that remain favorites to this day.

Many blues purists overlook this album - well, even if it's not the classic 50s blues that Howlin' Wolf played, it's a very fine LP. The Wolf with his long-time collaborator Hubert Sumlin, the Rolling Stones' rhythm section, Eric Clapton and Steve Winwood: The London Howlin' Wolf Sessions. Recorded in his latter days, it'll give you a cool glimpse of what's it all about.

06 June 2010

Cocksucker Blues

Such a nice title: well, "Cocksucker Blues" was a song the Rolling Stones composed in 1970 to anger Decca, their record company. They succeeded. Musically a nice blues with only Mick on vocals and Keith on acoustic guitar, lyrically a masterpiece: a tale of a lonesome gay arriving in new city blah blah blah. :)

Two years later the Stones asked Robert Frank to make a documentary about their tour of America in 1972 to accompany the release of Exile On Main Street album. It was real: black & white image of rock and roll stars, drugs, sex, violence and the dark side of being cool. Despite that, I loved the film. Particular scenes were just epic no matter how sad the final conclusions turn to be.

Cocksucker Blues is banned from screening but you can easily find a bootleg copy, now it's everywhere. But before, two good reviews: at Times Online and random private website.