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I started a quest to find terrific blues music and incredible musicianship when I was just a little kid. I also have a tremendous appreciation of fine musical instruments and equipment. One of my greatest joys all of my life was sharing my finds with my friends. I'm now publishing my journey. I hope that you come along!


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Tuesday, June 15, 2021

Nina Simone - The Montreux Years - New Release Review

 


I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Montreux Years, from Nina Simone and it's really a great representation of her live performances. This compilation covers all of her 5 Montreux performances. Disc one a composite of cuts from various years and disc two her 1968 performance in full. Opening with a demonstration of her classical training on piano on Someone to Watch Over Me, Simone really gets the keys rolling showig real keyboard prowess and power. On shuffle track, I Wish I Knew How It Would Feel To Be Free, Simone lays down a simple piano line and sings with her casual but succinct style with heavy piano accent. Very cool. See-Line Woman with backing vocal has it's southern blues roots and chant like nature. Very much like primitive field hollars, it relates to prostitutes lining up to perform "favors" as the sailors come to shore. Don't Smoke In Bed is a fairly classic Simone track with it's dramatic classical/jazz piano presentation and Simone's soulful voice. African Mailman is a vibrant instrumental starting with piano and light snare, slowly building with tom toms, cowbell, and cymbal. Very cool. Liberian Calypso has a strong island rhythm with piano and percussion under Simone's strong vocal and crowd audience vocal participation. I really like this release but one of my favorites is Ne Me Quitte Pas, a Belgian ballad sung in french. With only her piano and vocal, this is a terrific track. Rocking the close on cd one is My Baby Just Cares For Me with Simone really rolling the keys. Her ability to get in the slot and drag you there with her is remarkable and this track is a cool closer for the disc. 

Disc 2 opens with Simone classic, Go To Hell with it's bulldozer like approach and terrific followthrough. Simone is on top of her game here and the vocals are strong and clear. On her own super hit, Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood, really popularized by the Animals, Simone maintains her easy, laid back approach. With Buck Clarke on drums, Gene Taylor on double bass, Sam Waymon on organ and perecussion and hot guitar by Henry Taylor, this is strong. Funky, Backlash Blues has a real groove, created by Clarke and Taylor, reinforced by Simone on vocal and piano. Great changeup in the middle of the set. The set is wrapped with two encores, Gin House Blues and I Wish I How It Would Feel To be Free. Gin House Blues gets a firey, R&B,  Ray Charles like make over that really gets the stage romping like a revival tent with extended solos by Clarke, Waymon, and Taylor. Very nice. Winding it down on I Wish, Simone has the audience in her hands. This is the perfect closer having laid it all out there and giving the crowd a chance to catch their breath with a gospel like sway.

This is an excellent release and one long coming.


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Monday, June 14, 2021

True North Records release: A Sweet Relief Tribute to Joey Spampinato - New Release Review

 


I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (June 25, 2021), A Sweet Relief Tribute to Joey Spampinato, NRBQ founding member and writer of all of the tracks on thie release. Opening with blues rocker,You Can't Hide, by Al Anderson on lead vocal and guitar, with Carl Minor on acoustic guitar, David Dorn on keys, Steve Mackey on bass, and Evan Hutchings on drums. Energetic opener. Los Lobos contributes Every Boy and Girl, with David Hildago on guitar, accordion and vocal, Steve Berlin on sax, Vince Hidalgo on bass and David Hildago Jr on drums. Pop tune, How Can I Make You Love Me, is performed by She and Him with Zooey Deschanel on vocal and M. Ward on guitar and keys. The Minus 5 brings us Don't She Look Good in a slightly punky rockabilly style. Scott McCaughey on guitar, piano, organ, percussion and vocal with Mike Mills on bass, Peter Buck on guitar, and Joe Adragna on drums and with a really cool guitar solo by Dave Depper. I really like Buddy Miller and Jim Lauderdale's work on How Will I Know. Simple guitar and drum accompaniment under nicely blended the vocal duet is the ticket. Bonnie Raitt's take on Green Lights is electrifying with Scott Ligon on guitar, Terry Adams on clavinet, Casey McMcDonough on bass, John Perrin on drums and wild slide work and lead vocal by Raitt. Excellent! Robbie Fulks does a stright up country work on Chores keeping it fun with Val McCallum on guitar and backing vocal, Davey Faragher on bass and backing vocal and Pete Thomas on drums in support of Fulks on guitar and lead vocal. Very cool. The Nils set out a real straight rocker with edge in That's Alright with Carlos Soria on bass and vocal, Mark Donato on guitar and vocal, Phil Psarakos on guitar, Emilien Catalano on drums, Peter Work on harmonica and featuring Chris Spedding on lead guitar a cool ass kicker. Wrapping the release is Kami Lyle with Joey Spampinato on First Crush. This track is quite cool with a simple Brazilian feel. Kami's vocals backed by her own piano and trumpet, and Joey Spampinato on guitar, bass and vocal is an excellent closer for this ecclectic release.


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