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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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Showing posts with label Alex Lifeson. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Alex Lifeson. Show all posts

Wednesday, January 18, 2023

Jeff Berlin - Jacksongs - New Release Review

 I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Jacksongs, by Jeff Berlin and it's a really nice tribute to Jack Bruce's music. Opening with Creamed, Berlin on bass and keys is joined by Ron Hembly on lead vocal, John Cowan on vocal, Gabriela Sinagra on backing vocals, Bruce Guttridge on drums and John McCracken on guitars with Alex Lifeson on solo guitar. The track begins with Politician and flows through White Room and Tales of Brave Ulysses  among others with strong guitar work and of course prominent bass work. Very nice opener. One of my favorite Mountain tracks, and another Bruce penned track, Theme From and Imaginary Western is up next and features Hemby on lead vocal who really does a strong job of covering Bruce's beautiful vocal melody with Pat Coil on Hammond and Berlin on keys and bass (including a real nice solo) with guest Eric Johnson on guitar solo and Gregg Bissonette on drums. Excellent. Another of Bruce's beautiful melodies, One Without a Word, again showcases Hemby on lead vocal and with the illustrious Bill Frisell on guitar and with super finesse by Mariano Agustoni on piano and Coil again on Hammond with firm drum work by Bruce Guttridge. Smiles Story and Morning Grins is a cool, rhythmic track and provides a vehicle for a string of bass solos by a who's who of today's music scene including Berlin, Tony Levin (stick), Billy Sheehan, Michael League, Mark King, Ron Carter, Marcus Miller, Nathan East, and Geddy Lee. Traintime Train was written by Berlin and is a really nice addition with a great bass lines, outstanding guitar soloing by Johnny Hiland, strong harmonica by Pat Bergeson and with Gumbi Ortiz on lead vocal and percussion. This is a really nice release with a lot of heavy bass work as well as great featured artists. 

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Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Forty Below Records artist: John Mayall - Nobody Told Me - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release (February 22, 2019), Nobody Told Me, from John Mayall and it's quite good. Opening with Magic Sam's, What Have I Done Wrong, a solid blues rocker, Mayall on lead vocal, keys and harp is joined by Greg Rzab on bass and Jay Davenport on drums and features Joe Bonamassa on guitars. Great opener. Larry McCray joins on The Moon Is Full with blistering guitar riffs over a really hard driving bass line by Rzab. Excellent! Rush veteran, Alex Lifeson joins on Evil And Here To Stay, a lumbering blues track with a healthy dose of Mayall on vocal, harp and piano. Lifeson shows an excellent adaptability from his hard driving rock sound to soulful blues riffs. Very nice. Little Milton's That's What Love Will Make You Do has a funky bass line by Rzab and tune master Todd Rundgren fires off some blistering blues guitar riffs of his own. Gary Moore's, The Hurt Inside, is one of my favorites on the release again with McCray on lead funky hot guitar and some of Mayall's best vocals on the release. Original Boogie track, Like It Like You Do has super vocals and piano by Mayall, a solid bottom and great boogie riffs by Carolyn Wonderland. Very cool. Wrapping the release is another original and title track, Nobody Told Me, a slow blues featuring Mayall way out front on vocal and piano with only the basic of backing and really soulful guitar soloing by Wonderland. This is a super wrapper for a very strong release by a certain father of the modern American blues revival in the 60's. 

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Wednesday, November 28, 2018

John Mayall to Release New CD Featuring Todd Rundren, Joe Bonamassa, Little Steven Van Zandt & Alex LIfeson

Blues Hall of Fame Member John Mayall Announces New Album, Nobody Told Me

Featuring Todd Rundgren, Little Steven Van Zandt, Alex Lifeson and Joe Bonamassa.
On February 22nd Forty Below Records will release Nobody Told Me, the new studio album from The Godfather of British Blues, John Mayall.

As with his last handful of albums, Mayall again shares production duties with Forty Below Founder Eric Corne who also handles engineering and mixing duties.

The album boasts an impressive and diverse list of guest guitarists, all personal favorites of Mayall’s including Todd Rundgren, Little Steven Van Zandt of The E Street Band, Alex Lifeson from Rush, Joe Bonamassa, Larry McCray and Carolyn Wonderland who will be joining the band on tour. Also, on hand are Mayall’s dynamic Chicago rhythm section of Greg Rzab on bass guitar and Jay Davenport on drums, along with Billy Watts (Lucinda Williams) on rhythm guitar and Mayall’s regular horn section, moonlighting from their day job in The Late Show with Conan O’Brien’s house band.

The album was recorded at The Foo Fighters’ Studio 606 on the same legendary Sound City Neve console his one-time protégés from Fleetwood Mac used to record parts of the best-selling Rumours album.

“This project has been a true labor of love for me and I can’t wait for people to hear the fireworks that took place,” beams Mayall. Nobody Told Me is an apt title for the blues icon who suffered a recent unexpected health scare shortly after recording the album. But, the seemingly ageless road dog, who famously takes no days off and carries his own gear on tour, has been given a clean bill of health and plans to return to his usual grueling touring schedule to support the release. Tour dates can be found at


Monday, November 7, 2016

Rik Emmett Video For "End Of The Line" featurimg James LaBrie and Alex Lifeson

Rik Emmett & RESolution9
‘RES 9’
Provogue/Mascot Label Group
Out: 11 November 2016

Teamwork. Collaboration. Connectivity. Solidarity. These are all words that readily describe the thrust of Rik Emmett & RESolution9, who are poised to release their electrifying new album RES 9 worldwide on November 11th in various formats — including CD, limited-edition red vinyl, and digital download — on Provogue Records, an imprint of Mascot Label Group. “This album represents a journey through my life,” Emmett observes, “and the idea behind a lot of these songs is me trying to figure out who I am, and why I’m doing what I’m doing. There’s a common thread of positivity here that ties into the records I was making 30 years ago. What did I learn from making them? You’ll hear all of that echoed in the grooves of this album.”

Indeed, the scope of the 11 deeply heartfelt songs on RES 9 covers a lot of exciting aural ground, from the out-of-the-gate gallop of “Human Race” (which also features a driving 12-string contribution from Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson) to the testifying tones of “My Cathedral” to the whispering blues of “The Ghost of Shadow Town,” not to mention the cutting-heads guitar duels on “End of the Line” and the touching album-closing bonus track “Grand Parade,” which reunites Emmett with his onetime Triumph bandmates, bassist Mike Levine and drummer Gil Moore. (“Grand Parade” also recalls the distinctive intimate feel of Triumph’s “Suitcase Blues,” which Emmett continues to perform solo to this day.)

The RESolution9 band itself is comprised of Rik’s touring quartet, with Dave Dunlop on guitar, Steve Skingley on bass and keyboards, and Paul DeLong on drums. Dunlop and Skingley also co-produced RES 9 with Emmett. In case you’re wondering where the band name came from, Emmett reveals he always viewed the recording team as a band and not as solo-artist support from the very outset. “We always wanted it to be packaged like a band, so we needed a band name,” Emmett recounts. I didn’t want it to be just Rik Emmett. We liked the idea of using the initials RE for Rik Emmett, so what about a word that starts that way, like REvolution? RESolution was even better, because it’s almost like the Rik Emmett Solution, and the solution to all of my problems is the band! Great! But I thought using RESolution on its own was very ’60s or ’70s, so I said, ‘How about we stick the number 9 at the end?’”

What’s the significance of going with 9, you ask? “Dave Dunlop has a thing about the number 9,” Emmett says. “He plays hockey twice a week, and the sweater he wears has the number 9 on it. His studio is Room 9, and he’s got a tattoo on his right arm that’s the Chinese symbol for the number 9. It’s totally his thing.” With that final numerical addendum, the mighty RESolution9 collective was officially born.

And while Emmett is forever grateful for all of the outside contributions to RES 9, he very much feels that when listeners get to experience the back-to-back soul-kisses of “My Cathedral” and “The Ghost of Shadow Town,” they’ll connect even deeper with his current musical mindset. “That’s the heart and soul of what the album really is for me,” Emmett admits, “because that is me. That’s 2016 Rik Emmett. That’s where I’m at today.”

That said, Emmett is also a strong believer in teamwork, and to him, the overall vibe of RES 9 is clearly reflected in the brotherhood and camaraderie shared amongst all the artists who made this special music together. “You can’t accomplish this kind of project 100 percent by yourself,” Emmett believes. “It takes a lot of things working together to make something like this happen. I come back to the old saying that goes, ‘Success has many fathers, and failure is an orphan.’ I knew that I had to spread it all around. It’s important I keep the guys in my band pretty happy.”

For their part, Emmett’s fellow RES 9’ers couldn’t be happier with the end RESults. “I’ve been working with Rik for over 20 years and we’ve done several records together as a duo, so I knew going in that it would be a good experience,” says Dunlop, who’s also performed with Emmett under the quite fitting name of Strung-Out Troubadours. “Rik is always open to suggestions and is gracious in the space he gives me to play and come up with ideas. He trusts my judgement, so I had endless freedom when it came to creating my parts on the album.”

Concurs Skingley, who also served as the album’s co-principal engineer, “Brotherhood is a good way to describe it. It’s a very unique record in the sense that all of the writing, production, and engineering was kept in-house. It reminds me of a throwback to the ’70s, where bands like 10cc did everything themselves. Here, everything flowed from Rik. Dave and I spent a week of pre-production choosing the songs from his demos and playing them acoustically, making sure everything was solid. We then brought in Paul on drums, and started playing them live in a room together. I recorded each step along the way. It was pretty interesting to listen to the development of each song throughout that process.”

Once DeLong got behind the kit, the unique brand of RES 9 magic was unleashed full-force. “Rik is a great leader in that he allows creativity to take place, always,” DeLong says. “He welcomes input from everybody in the band. This hasn’t always been my experience, so it’s a welcome change — and it made for a lot of fun while we were both rehearsing and recording the material for the album. And the recording was painless! Rik was always very positive about what we were accomplishing, and I think that reflects in the overall vibe of the tunes.”

Nowhere is that vibe more evident than in the lead track “Human Race,” which masterfully sets the positivity table for what’s to come. “I’ve been around the block a few times, and one of the things I like about the lyrics in ‘Human Race’ is when we get to the last verse where it says, ‘I am still this guy. I still live this.’ That’s very true,” Emmett acknowledges. “There’s also a line in there about raising a joyful noise — and I still want to do that too.”

As noted earlier, Rush guitarist Alex Lifeson added some period-perfect 12-string guitar alongside Emmett and Dunlop to buttress the impact of “Human Race,” and he says he found it quite an honor to play with and for his lifelong friend. “When Rik asked me to play on his new album, I didn’t hesitate for a second,” Lifeson reports. “He’s the consummate musician, a wonderful guitarist, and a terrific person, and it’s always my pleasure to work with him any chance I can get. There is a rock purity in his songwriting and performance, and it’s just so much fun to get together and throw ideas around. He’s always so up and open for anything — even a notoriously uncooperative Rickenbacker 12-string!” Dunlop points out the way RESolution9 meshed with Lifeson “stands as a great example of the collective efforts of the brotherhood.”

Another one of RES 9’s honored guests, Dream Theater vocalist James LaBrie, lent his own considerable talents to a pair of tracks, “I Sing” and “End of the Line” (the latter of which also features Lifeson taking the third guitar solo), and he jumped at the chance to record with his fellow Canadian. “I’ve been extremely blessed and fortunate to meet so many great musicians and beautiful people throughout my career, and to have the opportunity to collaborate and record with some of them is really icing on the cake,” LaBrie notes. “What a thrill it was to record with Rik, who is such an incredible musician and overall down-to-earth cool guy.” About the slow-build manifesto of “I Sing,” Skingley enthuses, “James sang his ass off on that song!” Adds Dunlop, “I enjoyed tracking the guitars on ‘I Sing’ the most because I got to go crazy with several layers of guitars — and I also got to channel [Pink Floyd’s] David Gilmour on the outro.”

A fair amount of the album was recorded and mixed at Mississauga, Ontario’s MetalWorks Studios, a location where Emmett, Levine, and Moore (who owns the studio) recorded many of Triumph’s greatest works — and it’s also where the trio convened to tackle “Grand Parade.” Clarifies Emmett, “The Triumph song is a bonus track. That’s the best way to position it. It’s like ‘Suitcase Blues’ [the last track on Triumph’s 1979 million-seller, Just a Game] — or ‘Her Majesty’ at the end of Abbey Road!”

Having Triumph involved on RES 9 to some degree was always on the table. “I play ‘Suitcase Blues’ as the last song of the night in the encore for my acoustic shows. I dedicate it to Mike and Gil and the fact that they gave me the latitude to do the crazy things that I do,” Emmett laughs. “As I was developing the lyrics for ‘Grand Parade,’ I started thinking, ‘Wouldn’t it be great if I could get Mike and Gil to play on it? Wouldn’t that just bring everything full circle?’ One thing led to another, and there we were, recording in MetalWorks. Things just lined up perfectly.”

Levine had a great time in the studio with his former bandmates. “We rocked it up a bit, and Gil made the drums heavier than they were on the demo,” the bassist notes. “Once I paid deeper attention to the lyrics, I really got into the ‘let’s wrap up this late night’ kind of feel to it. I think it turned out really fantastic. I told Rik I felt it was a really cool tune, one that was very personal for all of us. I’m really, really proud of it, and it was great to work with both Rik and Gil on it. It was really neat.”

Moore wholly enjoyed the “Grand Parade” experience. “It was really a pleasure to have Rik and his band at MetalWorks, and getting to see him there every day was just like the old days,” the drummer recounts. “I always liked how Rik was able to bring another dimension and another color palette to what we were doing, and I like the spacious bass and drum tracks we did together. That’s what’s always been in my wheelhouse, as far as my playing is concerned. I’m really happy with how this song turned out. I hope we get to do it again.”

Overall, RES 9 is a spot-on representation of the many facets of Emmett the recording artist. “I was always an eclectic chameleon of a player. I had to learn how to adapt from playing folk guitar to being in a wedding band or a polka band to joining a rock band,” Emmett recalls, “and with RES 9, that chameleon is showing off all of his colors. While there are vintage and retro sounds on the album, it is very much about my currency as an artist. I want this record to be a summation of who I am and what I’ve done as a songwriter, guitar player, and singer — the whole ball of wax.”

Emmett’s ultimate goal for RES 9 is to connect with as many people as possible. “The context of this entire album for me was, ‘Wow, somebody tossed me a lifeline,’” he concludes. “I still want to make positive music and offer people something that’s motivating and inspiring — and I want to do it for myself too. I need music, and music can provide that lifeline for me.” Mission accomplished: “I’ve got a thirst for life,” as Emmett sings on “Human Race.” And you’ll find that thirst being quenched quite handily in the very heartbeats that percolate within all 11 tracks of RES 9. Drink up.

Rik Emmett & RESolution9 – RES 9
Track List
Extra Information


Rik Emmett & RESolution9 is:
Rik Emmett - Guitar & Vocals
Dave Dunlop – Guitar
Steve Skingley  - Bass & Keyboards
Paul DeLong - Drums

Stand Still
Human Race (feat. Alex Lifeson)
I Sing (feat. James LaBrie)
My Cathedral
The Ghost of Shadow Town
When You Were My Baby
Sweet Tooth
Heads Up
Rest of My Life
End of the Line

(feat. Alex Lifeson & James LaBrie)
Grand Parade 

(feat. Gil Moore & Mike Levine) [bonus track]

Release Date
November 11, 2016

Available formats
CD, LP and Digital

Rik Emmett Online