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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 Steve Cropper. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Steve Cropper. Show all posts

Monday, October 12, 2020

Cleopatra Records artist: William Shatner - The Blues - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Blues, from William Shatner, yes that William Shatner. What's it like...you'll have to see for yourself.  Opening with blues classic, Sweet Home Chicago, Shatner teams up with Brad Paisley who throws down some cool blues and country riffs along with Jurgen Engler on guitar, bass and banjo, Chris Lentz on keys and Adam Hamilton on drums, bass, guitar and harmonica. Shatners vocals are freeform and emotional. Otis Rush's I Can't Quit You Baby, features Kirk Fletcher who runs some real nice glues riffs of his own and manages Shatner's freeform vocals nicely. Cream's Sunshine of Your Love is up next, mostly in spoken word and I gotta say that Hamilton's work on drums is exceptional and Landreth wails on slide. Deep Purple's Ritchie Blackmore takes BB King's, The Thrill Is Gone to the next level and Shatner's vocals are as relaxed as I've ever heard on this track. Pat Travers screams on guitar on Screamin Jay's, I Put A Spell On You and Shatner keeps his cool with almost shouted lyrics. I think that Smokestack Lightning with Steely Dan and Doobies' Jeff Skunk Baxter is my favorite track on the release with Shatner "sing" crying where he almost sounds high. Baxter doesn't let up a bit with slashing guitar riffs. With a serious nature, As The Years Go Passing By, Shatner seems to be performing a play (Like Jack Palance singing country) and featuring Arthur Adams with sweet soloing. The track that I find best suited to Shatner on the release is In Hell I'll Be In Good Company with Albert Lee. His spoken work is animated and Lee's guitar work is spry. Actually very cool. Wrapping the release is Secrets Or Sins, with a whisper like vocal and a shuffle rhythm. I really am not sure what Shatner was trying to do with this release, but it got my attention.




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Wednesday, July 15, 2020

Cleopatra Blues artist: Shirley King - Blues For A King - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Blues For A King, from BB King's daughter, Shirley King and it's jam packed with blues and legends. Opening with Joe Louis Walker's All Of My Lovin' , King is up front on lead vocal backed by Walker on guitar and Jurgen Engler on guitar, bass and drums. Holding firm on a R&B setup, King sets a straight 60's styling radio track. With super guitar work by Elvin Bishop under King's bluesy vocals, I Did You Wrong has a cool shuffle beat and a tight bottom. An unexpected rock gem, Steve Winwood's Can't Find My Way Home features Martin Barre with some excellent guitar and is one of my favorites and also possibly King's best vocal effort on the release. Gallow Pole maintains it's folk roots but with a rock edge and underlying guitar work by Harvey Mandel with really is a strong compliment. A rework of a Jr Wells track features vocal and harp by Wells, adding guitar by Walker, bass by Engler and strong vocal leads by King. Very cool. Wrapping the release is Etta James' At last using the conventional arrangement and featuring Kings own vocals. With the addition of Steve Cropper on guitar, a solid closer. 

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Thursday, May 23, 2019

Aquinnah Records artist: Arlen Roth - Tele Masters - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Tele Masters, from Arlen Roth and it's super. Featuring a who's who of telecaster players, this release has it all. Opening with Remington Ride with Steve Wariner and Cindy Cashdollar, this track has a lot of country spice and great picking. Wariner and Roth each take turns showing their chops and Cashdollar's lap steel work is impeccable as always. backed by Tom Hambridge on drums, Tommy MacDonald on bass and Billy Panda on acoustic guitar, this is a super opener. A funky, lumbering arrangement to Big Bill Broonzy's Key To The Highway gives it a fresh new life. Jack Pearson has a great voice on lead and sharing lead guitar  with Roth, this track has really digs in. One of my favorites. A track featuring a great finger picking shoot out is Bunky with Brad Paisley. If you are wondering if this release is a guitar players album...oh yeah! Will Ray and Roth strut tall with Link Wray's Rumble. Keeping the bottom tight and laying blues rock guitar riffs over the meat makes this track soar. Very nice. Albert Lee and Roth do a really nice job of instrumentalizing Paul Simon's Mrs. Robinson. Maintaining it's pop appeal but throwing on a strong sense of country gives the track a super feel. With a bluesy but country ballad style, Vince Gill and Roth work their magic on a beautiful arrangement of Satisfied Mind. Full out country picking with Brent Mason and Roth on Road Worthy gives each tele Master a great opportunity to show their stuff. With crisp pace and tight rhythms, a super job. Sweet and simple Tennessee Waltz features Lexi Roth on lead vocal. Very clean and strong. Joe Bonamassa even makes an appearance here with a stretched out slower blues track, Joe's Blues. Nobody doubts Bonamassa's chops and he lets it all hang out here pairing with Roth. Roth who is no stranger to the blues stands toe to toe with Bonamassa, each showing his own texture. Very cool. Funky Mama features Johnny Hiland with Roth and always a favorite being almost a telecaster standard. Excellent! Roth lays out some really nice blues pyrotechnics on the intro of Ghost Riders In The Sky featuring great contrast and workmanship between his own and Cashdollar's style. Another tele father with great style is Bill Kirchen on Tuff Tele. Working the tele tone and styling and less the speed, this pairing is tops. Wrapping the release is Redd Voikaert on A Minor Thing. With it's slow, shuffle feel and jazz approach, Roth and Voikaert lay in very nicely executed bluesy riffs before breaking into a double paced shoot off. This is a super track and a super closer for a really strong release. 

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Friday, October 27, 2017

Severn Records artists: The Original Blues Brothers Band - The Last Shade of Blue Before Black - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, The Last Shade Of Blue Before Black, by The Original Blues Brothers Band and it's great! Opening with Jimmy Reed's Baby What You Want Me To Do, Bobby "Sweet Soul" Harden with Tommy "Pipes" McDonnell on harp and vocals and Rob "The Honeydripper" Paparozzi on harp and vocals take center stage with super harmony and John Tropea plays terrific guitar soloing backed by Tom Malone on trumpet, Baron Raymonde on alto sax, Eric "The Red" Udel on bass, Lee "Funkytime" Finkelstein on drums, Leon "The Lion" Pendarvis on organ, Rusty "Cloudmeister" Cloud on clav, Wurlitzer and piano. High stepping, Cherry Street, features McDonnell on lead vocals, Birch Johnson on trombone and Raymonde really rips on alto sax. Eddie Floyd is up on lead vocals on slinky, On Saturday A Night, and guest Tom Malone on bari sax  and with tight, warm horn backing. Harden takes the lead on funky, Itch and Scratch. This is a mover with hot horn work pushing all the way and snappy drum work over the funky bass line by Udel. Joe Louis Walker had the lead on Willie Dixon's Don't Go No Further. This track has a great groove with Rob Paparozzi on chromatic harp and featuring a cool harp solo by Tommy McDonnell. This track is saturated with soulful horns punctuated by Steve Howard's trumpet solo and a  classic guitar solo by Matt "Guitar' Murphy. A hot version of James Brown's Sex Machine is lead by Paul Shaffer on lead vocal and piano with David Spinozza on guitar and Tom Malone on trumpet. New Orleans flavored, Your Feet's Too Big has Paparozzi on lead vocal and harp. The horn work throughout is super with standout solos on this track by Cloud on piano and Lou Marini on clarinet. Excellent! Dr. John is front and center on Qualified with his distinctive vocal and piano styling. With Birch Johnson on trombone, Baron Raymonde on alto sax, Lou Marini on bari and tenor sax solos, this is one of my favorites on the release. Title track, The Last Shade Of Blue Before Black has a real nice Johnny Guitar Watson bluesy R&B feel featuring Lou Marini on lead vocal. This is a super closer with Tropea featured with some ultra tasty guitar and a sultry tenor sax solo by Marini. Excellent! 

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Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Severn Records Announces October 6 Release Date for New CD from The Original Blues Brothers Band featuring Steve Cropper & "Blue Lou" Marini, "The Last Shade of Blue Before Black"


Severn Records Announces October 6 Release Date for New CD from The Original Blues Brothers Band featuring Steve Cropper & “Blue Lou” Marini,
The Last Shade of Blue Before Black

Special Guests Include Eddie Floyd, Joe Louis Walker, Paul Shaffer, Dr. John, Matt “Guitar”Murphy and
Joe Morton

ANNAPOLIS, MD – Severn Records announces an October 6 release date for The Last Shade of Blue Before Black, the new album from the legendary Original Blues Brothers Band, featuring guitarist Steve Cropper and sax player “Blue Lou” Marini, with special guests Eddie Floyd, Joe Louis Walker, Paul Shaffer, Dr. John, Matt “Guitar” Murphy and Joe Morton.

“Had anyone told me in 1978 that in 2017 I would still be traveling around the world and playing with the Blues Brothers’ Band, I would have said they were out of their minds,” says “Blue Lou” Marini. “But, amazingly here we are with a new CD and still playing all over the world. This album is a true labor of love and I’m so proud of the organic way it came about. We really wanted to honor our history and to include some of our favorite musicians that we’ve worked with and loved over the years.  We have the legends, Eddie Floyd and Dr. John, plus our original band leader, Paul Shaffer and the great bluesman Joe Louis Walker.
“We also have Tom ‘Bones’ Malone playing and arranging, and cameos from Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy and Joe Morton, a star from our second movie. We are also thrilled to have former members David Spinozza on guitar, Birch Johnson on trombone, and my steady sub, Baron Raymonde on alto sax.”
The Last Shade of Blue Before Black was produced by Lou Marini, Steve Cropper and The Original Blues Brothers Band and recorded at IWII Studios in Hoboken, NJ, by Jay Messina.

“We wanted to present some new original material and do some tunes that hearkened to our past,” declares Marini. “This is a live CD, with everyone recording at once, mostly first or second takes and live vocals and solos. The only overdubs were some baritone sax parts and a few minor fixes. We were blessed with a fantastic studio that suited us so well, IIWII in Hoboken, New Jersey, and the world’s greatest engineer and friend to all, Jay Messina.
Essentially begun as a one-time musical skit that debuted on NBC-TV’s Saturday Night Live” in 1978 and fronted by John Belushi and Dan Aykroyd as Jake and Elwood Blues, the band became an overnight sensation, spawning numerous TV appearances, hit albums, two blockbuster movies and global touring.  
“I think the power and joy of this great band that has been playing together for so many years is evident,” states Marini. “We love each other and love making music together. Everyone played their asses off on this CD and none more so than our wonderful bassist, Eric Udel. Eric died tragically in September from a fall here in NYC. He was a great musician and a sunny, funny man whom we all loved. We dedicate this album to him as well as our other fallen and still greatly missed brothers, Donald ‘Duck’ Dunn” and Alan ‘Mr. Fabulous’ Rubin.
“I’ve often said that the OBBB is the world’s greatest part-time job because of you, our fans. We’ve gotten to see the world and enjoy it in your company. We’ve eaten and drank with you, especially the latter, and you have treated us like kings. Enjoy this music and for God’s sake, PLAY IT LOUD!”
The Original Blues Brothers Band are: Steve “The Colonel” Cropper - guitar; John “Smokin’ John” Tropea – guitar; Eric “The Red” Udel – bass; Lee “Funkytime” Finkelstein – drums; Leon “The Lion” Pendarvis – organ; Rusty “Cloudmeister” Cloud - clavinet, Wurlitzer, piano and organ; Steve “Catfish” Howard – trumpet; Larry “Trombonious” Farrell – trombone; Lou “Blue Lou” Marini – saxophones; Bobby “Sweet Soul” Harden – vocals; Tommy “Pipes” McDonnell - vocals and harmonica; and Rob “The Honeydripper” Paparozzi - vocals and harmonica.
The Last Shade of Blue Before Black Track Listing and Additional Credits
1. Baby, What You Want Me To Do - Music & lyrics by Jimmy Reed (Conrad Music/The Seeds of Reed Music, BMI) Arranged by Lou Marini Bobby, Tommy and Rob-vocals, John Tropea-guitar solo, Rob Paparozzi-harp, Tom Malone-trumpet, Baron Raymonde-alto sax
2. Cherry Street - Music & lyrics by Delbert McClinton, Kevin McKendree & Gary Nicholson (East Folks Music, BMI/ASCAP). Arranged by Lou Marini Tommy “Pipes’ McDonnell-lead vocal, Birch Johnson-trombone, Baron Raymonde-alto sax & solo
3. On a Saturday Night - Music & lyrics by Eddie Floyd & Steve Cropper (Irving Music, BMI) Arranged by Tom Malone Eddie Floyd-lead vocal, Tom Malone-baritone sax
4. Itch and Scratch - Music & lyrics by Ronald Hayes & Toby King (Gulf Coast Music LLC) Arranged by Lou Marini and The Original Blues Brothers Band Bobby “Sweet Soul” Harden-lead vocal, Rob, Tommy & Rusty-background vocals, Baron Raymonde-alto sax
5. Don’t Go No Further - Music & lyrics by Willie Dixon (Hoochie Coochie Music, BMI) Horn arr. by Lou Marini, rhythm arr. by The Original Blues Brothers Band Joe Louis Walker-lead vocal, Rob Paparozzi-chromatic harp, Tommy McDonnell harp solo, Steve Howard-trumpet solo, Matt “Guitar” Murphy-guitar solo
6. You Left the Water Running - Music & lyrics by Dan Penn, Rick Hall & Oscar Franks (Screen Gems-EMI       Music, Inc., BMI.)  Arranged by Tom Malone Bobby “Sweet Soul” Harden-lead vocal, Tommy, Rob & Lou-background vocals, Lou Marini-tenor sax solo, Tom Malone-baritone sax, David Spinozza-acoustic guitar
7. Don’t Forget About James Brown - Music & lyrics by Eddie Floyd (Irving Music, BMI) Arranged by Leon Pendarvis Eddie Floyd & Tommy “Pipes” McDonnell-lead vocals, Baron Raymonde-alto sax, Tom Malone-baritone sax, Larry Farrell-trombone solo
8. Sex Machine - Music & lyrics by James Brown, Bobby Byrd & Ronald Lenhoff (Dynatone    Publishing Co., BMI.) Arranged by Paul Shaffer & Tom Malone Paul “The Shiv” Shaffer-lead vocal and piano solo, David Spinozza-guitar, Tom Malone-trumpet
9. Your Feet’s Too Big - Music by Fred Fisher, lyrics by Ada Benson with extra lyrics by Fats Waller   (Morley Music Co/Sony ATV Tunes LLC, ASCAP) Arranged by Lou Marini and The Original Blues Brothers Band Rob Paparozzi-lead vocal & bass harmonica, Rusty Cloud-piano solo, Lou Marini-clarinet
10. 21st Century Baby - Music & lyrics by Rob Paparozzi (Robodripper Tunes, SESAC) Arranged by John Tropea Rob Paparozzi-lead vocal, Baron Raymonde-alto sax, Tom Malone-trumpet & baritone sax
11. Blues in My Feet - Music & lyrics by Rusty Cloud (Stousefouse Music, BMI) Rusty Cloud-lead vocal, Tom Malone-baritone sax, Rob Paparozzi-harp solo
12. Qualified - Music & lyrics by Jessie Hill & Malcom Rebennack (Warner-Tamerlane Publishing OBO Skull Music, ASCAP) Arranged by Lou Marini Dr. John “The Nite Tripper”-lead vocal and piano, Bobby, Tommy, Rob & Rusty -background vocals, Birch Johnson-trombone, Baron Raymonde-alto sax, Lou Marini-baritone sax & tenor sax solo
13. I Got My Mojo Working - Music and lyrics by Preston Foster (ARC Music/Dare Music, Inc., BMI)      Arranged by Lou Marini Rob Paparozzi, Bobby Harden, Joe Morton & Tommy McDonnell-lead vocals, The Original Blues Brothers Band-background vocals, Rusty Cloud-organ solo,     Tom Malone-trumpet

14. The Last Shade of Blue Before Black - Music & lyrics by Lou Marini (Hip Pickles Music ASCAP) Arranged by Lou Marini and The Original Blues Brothers Band Lou Marini-lead vocal, Bobby, Tommy, Rob & Rusty-background vocals, John Tropea-guitar solo, Lou Marini-tenor sax solo

Friday, April 7, 2017

Provogue Records artist: Ronnie Baker Brooks - Times Have Changed - New Release Review

I just had the opportunity to review the most recent release, Times Have Changed, by Ronnie Baker Brooks and it's terrific! Opening with Joe Tex number, Show Me, Ronnie Baker Brooks (on vocal and guitar) is kicking ass and taking names right out of the chute featuring Steve Cropper on guitar, Steve Jordan on drums, Willie Weeks on bass, Felix Cavaliere on Hammond, Ben Cauley on trumpet, Lonniie McMillan on tenor sax and Jack Hale Sr on trombone. Big Head Todd sits in on Doing Too Much, a cool blue rocker with Leroy Hodges on bass, Charles Hodges on Hammond and Turner on piano. Recently passed and sorely missed, Lonine Brooks, sits in on Twine Time, a cool, sixties style surf rocker. Rapper, Al Kapone  sits in on traditional blues style track, Times Have Changed, with Weeks setting a great bass line and Brooks' solid vocals and guitar riffs. The addition of Jessie Munson and Wen-Yih Yu on violin, Beth Luscome and Jennifer Puckett on viola, and Mark Wallace and Jonathan Kirkscey on cello add a refined note to the short Kapone rap. Curtis Mayfield's Give me Your Love, a cool jazz infused soul track featuring Angie Stone on vocal has a true Mayfield smoothness. Robert Cray track, Old Love has great style and featuring Bobby Blue Bland on vocal and his own stylistic guitar work makes this a true favorite. On high stepper, Wham Bam Thank You Sam, Brooks really struts with cool vocals, great guitar accents, a solid bass line from Hodges and super R&B style horns. Very cool. Closing the release is When I Was We, featuring Hubby Turner on piano supporting Brooks' warm vocals.

Very nice conclusion to an exceptional release.



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Wednesday, December 14, 2016

Ronnie Baker Brooks Announces Appearances To Support First New Album In Ten Years






RONNIE BAKER BROOKS ANNOUNCES CONFIRMED APPEARANCES 
PLANNED TO SUPPORT RELEASE OF TIMES HAVE CHANGED, 
HIS FIRST ALBUM IN TEN YEARS

Produced By Steve Jordan, Featuring Lonnie Brooks, “Big Head” Todd Mohr, Bobby “Blue” 
Bland, Steve Cropper, Angie Stone, Eddie Willis, Al Kapone, Felix Cavaliere, Lee Roy Parnell
Out On Provogue / Mascot Label Group January 20, 2017

Chicago, IL --- Ronnie Baker Brooks has announced planned initial appearances for 2017.  Following the Legendary R&B Cruise – At Sea in late-January, he will begin the run at SPACE in Evanston, IL on February 3.  Additional shows are confirmed in St. Paul, Des Moines, Milwaukee and Dubuque (detail below).  Today, the second instant gratification track has been provided to purchasers in front of the January 20th release.  




Brooks, 49, was born in Chicago, and started playing guitar around age six. At 19, he joined his father, Lonnie Brooks who by then had influenced some of the most well-known bluesman of our history: Jimmy Reed, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Winter, and Junior Wells. For 12 years, the two would tour together, putting Ronnie out front with Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Koko Taylor. 

Times Have Changed, Brooks’ first album in ten years, carries with it the weight of grown perspective and time spent perfecting old material. Brooks worked it with Steve Jordan, whose work runs from Keith Richards to Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and Eric Clapton. With that comes a lesson in rhythm and blues history. Brooks refers to the director as “a walking encyclopedia of music detail and equipment”, a professor through which Brooks could take that next developmental step. “Once we got the ball rolling, my confidence went higher and higher”, he says. “I’m a better musician for this experience.”

The experience Brooks is talking about is that which came together over the course of a few weeks at Royal Studios in Memphis, the home of Al Green, Syl Johnson and Bobby “Blue” Bland. Jordan and Brooks brought in a mint press of Memphis music royalty: Stax Records staple Steve Cropper (Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave), Archie Turner (Al Green, Syl Johnson, O.V. Wright), jazz saxophonist Lannie McMillan, and R&B icon Angie Stone. For several tracks, Brooks also enlisted brothers Teenie (guitar), Charles (organ) and Leroy Hodges (bass) of the legendary Hi Rhythm Section, which served as the house band for hit soul albums by artists like Al Green and Ann Peebles. “We used the same mics that Al Green used on his record”, says Brooks. “Matter of fact, we were using much of the same band! It kind of took that vibe.” The first track recorded was a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly hit Give Me Your Love. The second, Twine Time, the instrumental jam from Alvin Cash. 

Several tracks on Times Have Changed were recorded at the legendary Blackbird Studio in Nashville. “It had great hospitality, a great vibe, great tone, great equipment,” Brooks said. “And of course I got to get closer to some of the musicians who live there, Felix Cavaliere, Steve Cropper - they all live there, and it just created a great atmosphere. One of the key things for me was that we got Todd Mohr there, and he was willing to play rhythm guitar along with Lee Roy Parnell, so we got a nice little chemistry going with the three guitar parts together.”

‘Times’ also comes laden with original hits. Five of the eleven tracks were penned by Brooks. Raised on others’ music, he’s always considered the songwriting process to be as sacred. “It’s like having a baby”, he says. “You see it come to life. Once you play it live, it grows even more. That was the most fun part of it, for me: the creative side. Coming up with a song people can relate to, and you relate to, it just snowballs. It’s almost like therapy for me. Like the song Times Have Changed: I wrote that song years ago. I sent Steve my songs and he picked that one. It’s kind of timeless. Every day something’s changing. Now, when I play it live, you can see the effect of it. Initially, it was just an idea: just a riff. Now, this song has influence on people. We were just in Europe this year, after the bombing in Brussels. And we’re playing Brussels. I played that song; people were in tears. It helped them heal.”

The complete track listing features: “Show Me” (feat. Steve Cropper), “Doing Too Much” (feat. “Big Head” Todd Mohr, “Twine Time” (feat. Lonnie Brooks), “Times Have Changed” (feat. Al Kapone), “Long Story Short,” “Give Me Your Love (Love Song) (feat. Angie Stone), “Give The Baby Anything The Baby Wants” (feat. “Big Head” Todd Mohr & Eddie Willis), “Old Love” (feat. Bobby “Blue” Bland), “Come On Up” (feat. Felix Cavaliere & Lee Roy Parnell), “Wham Bam Thank You Sam,” “When I Was We.”

Brooks will stage the following appearances.  Additonal dates will be announced as they are confirmed:
1/21                                                                             Legenday R&B Cruise – At Sea
2.03     Evanston, IL                                                   SPACE
2/10     St. Paul, MN                                                   MN Music Cafe
2/11     Des Moines, IA                                               Blues Fest
2/24     Milwaukee, WI                                               Shank Hall

2/25     Dubuque, IA                                                   Mystique Casino

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Ronnie Baker Brooks Announces First New Album In Ten Years




RONNIE BAKER BROOKS ANNOUNCES RELEASE OF 
TIMES HAVE CHANGED, HIS FIRST ALBUM IN TEN YEARS


Produced By Steve Jordan, Featuring Lonnie Brooks, “Big Head” Todd Mohr, Bobby “Blue” Bland, 
Steve Cropper, Angie Stone, Eddie Willis, Al Kapone, Felix Cavaliere, Lee Roy Parnell
Out On Provogue / Mascot Label Group January 20, 2017

Chicago, IL --- Brooks, 49, was born in Chicago, and started playing guitar around age six. At 19, he joined his father, Lonnie Brooks who by then had influenced some of the most well-known bluesman of our history: Jimmy Reed, the Fabulous Thunderbirds, Johnny Winter, and Junior Wells. For 12 years, the two would tour together, putting Ronnie out front with Eric Clapton, B.B. King, Buddy Guy, and Koko Taylor. 

Times Have Changed, Brooks’ first album in ten years, carries with it the weight of grown perspective and time spent perfecting old material. Brooks worked it with Steve Jordan, whose work runs from Keith Richards to Stevie Wonder, John Mayer and Eric Clapton. With that comes a lesson in rhythm and blues history. Brooks refers to the director as “a walking encyclopedia of music detail and equipment”, a professor through which Brooks could take that next developmental step. “Once we got the ball rolling, my confidence went higher and higher”, he says. “I’m a better musician for this experience.”

The experience Brooks is talking about is that which came together over the course of a few weeks at Royal Studios in Memphis, the home of Al Green, Syl Johnson and Bobby “Blue” Bland. Jordan and Brooks brought in a mint press of Memphis music royalty: Stax Records staple Steve Cropper (Booker T. & the M.G.'s, Otis Redding, Sam & Dave), Archie Turner (Al Green, Syl Johnson, O.V. Wright), jazz saxophonist Lannie McMillan, and R&B icon Angie Stone. For several tracks, Brooks also enlisted brothers Teenie (guitar), Charles (organ) and Leroy Hodges (bass) of the legendary Hi Rhythm Section, which served as the house band for hit soul albums by artists like Al Green and Ann Peebles. “We used the same mics that Al Green used on his record”, says Brooks. “Matter of fact, we were using much of the same band! It kind of took that vibe.” The first track recorded was a cover of Curtis Mayfield’s Superfly hit Give Me Your Love. The second, Twine Time, the instrumental jam from Alvin Cash. 

“To be honest with you, when Steve said ‘Man, we need an instrumental,’ the first person I thought of was Freddie King. Steve wanted something more appealing to all people, not just guitar players. He said ‘What about Twine Time?’’ I said, ‘Is he serious?’ Yeah, Twine Time. But that song was a key to this album. Man, that just lit the fire for this record. It became one of the funnest tracks we did.”

Several tracks on Times Have Changed were recorded at the legendary Blackbird Studio in Nashville. “It had great hospitality, a great vibe, great tone, great equipment,” Brooks said. “And of course I got to get closer to some of the musicians who live there, Felix Cavaliere, Steve Cropper - they all live there, and it just created a great atmosphere. One of the key things for me was that we got Todd Mohr there, and he was willing to play rhythm guitar along with Lee Roy Parnell, so we got a nice little chemistry going with the three guitar parts together.”

‘Times’ also comes laden with original hits. Five of the eleven tracks were penned by Brooks. Raised on others’ music, he’s always considered the songwriting process to be as sacred. “It’s like having a baby”, he says. “You see it come to life. Once you play it live, it grows even more. That was the most fun part of it, for me: the creative side. Coming up with a song people can relate to, and you relate to, it just snowballs. It’s almost like therapy for me. Like the song Times Have Changed: I wrote that song years ago. I sent Steve my songs and he picked that one. It’s kind of timeless. Every day something’s changing. Now, when I play it live, you can see the effect of it. Initially, it was just an idea: just a riff. Now, this song has influence on people. We were just in Europe this year, after the bombing in Brussels. And we’re playing Brussels. I played that song; people were in tears. It helped them heal.”

It’s on that title track that Brooks brandishes what may be his finest songwriting talent: the ability to humanize social issues and unite different voices into one cohesive thought. That’s no more evident than in the latter stages of the song, in which Brooks deploys his longtime friend, Memphis' Al Kapone, to drop 32 bars on what the future holds for our people.

“My whole intention, when I started with Golddigger (his 1998 debut album) and up through this one, was to be authentic enough for the older generation but have something that the younger generation could latch onto,” says Brooks. “I try to be that bridge. With Take Me Witcha (2001), I’ve got a rapper on that. On The Torch (2006) we went with Al Kapone. He’s a bridge. He’s a bridge from blues to hip-hop. With music, it all comes from the heart. It comes from the heart and from the soul. In blues, it doesn’t matter what you’re talking about, it relates.

“That was my intention on this record: to build that bridge.”


The complete track listing features: “Show Me” (feat. Steve Cropper), “Doing Too Much” (feat. “Big Head” Todd Mohr, “Twine Time” (feat. Lonnie Brooks), “Times Have Changed” (feat. Al Kapone), “Long Story Short,” “Give Me Your Love (Love Song) (feat. Angie Stone), “Give The Baby Anything The Baby Wants” (feat. “Big Head” Todd Mohr & Eddie Willis), “Old Love” (feat. Bobby “Blue” Bland), “Come On Up” (feat. Felix Cavaliere & Lee Roy Parnell), “Wham Bam Thank You Sam,” “When I Was We.”

Saturday, April 13, 2013

In The Midnight Hour - Lester Chambers & Steve Cropper

Lester Chambers was born and raised with his seven brothers and five sisters in pre-WWII rural Lee County Mississippi. His god-fearing Baptist parents encouraged all thirteen of their children to sing in the choir of a little country church where his father was a Deacon. This early passion for music continued when the family moved to South Central Los Angeles in the early 1950's where the elder Chambers' help to establish the Greater Mount Zion Baptist Church in a storefront building. The popularity of that new church had a lot to do with the rocking gospel Lester and his brothers served up every sunday. Around the time the Beatles left England for America Lester and his brothers ventured into LA's fabled Ash Grove coffee house and began singing their special blend of gospel and folk music. An old guitar, stand up bass and those heavenly voices led by Lester on harmonica and cowbell soon had folks lined up down Melrose in West Hollywood. One night in 1967 Ash Grove owner Ed Pearl paid them in a 1956 Cadillac and the Time had come for The Chambers Brothers to hit the road that eventually led to New York City. Along the way Lester recalls seeing hundreds of colorfully dressed, long haired kids hitchhiking away from their homes in the Midwest. This Hippy exodus inspired his brother Joe to pen the words to Tim Has Come Today: Time has come today For young hearts to go their way Can't put it off another day They say we don't listen anyway Time has come today New York was quick to embrace this unique psychedelic, rock 'n' roll, gospel group and Columbia Records scored a huge pop hit with a first ever 11-minute single. Time Has Come Today, the title track became an anthem of the era. By now The Chambers Brothers had added a white drummer (Brian Keenan) and like their good friends, Janis Joplin, Jimi Hendrix and Sly and the Family Stone, were filling arenas with both white and black kids for the first. In 1970 The Chambers Brothers were a major campus attraction playing to thousands of students nearly every night in auditoriums and on athletic fields. On May 4th, 1970 the Kent State Massacre forced colleges and universities across the country to cancel campus concerts and gatherings.The Chambers Brothers suffered a financial setback that they never recovered from. In 1972 The Chambers Brothers disbanded. Today Lester and his son Dylan still turn clubs concerts and festivals into rock 'n' roll church with his Lester Chambers Blues Revue.  

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Concord / Stax Records Reissue: Albert King - Born Under A Bad Sign - New Release Review

I just received the newest reissue from Concord Music Group (April 2, 2013), Albert King's Born Under A Bad Sign. With addition of liner notes by Bill Dahl, this release has a full spectrum picture of Kings work. Featuring the Stax "House Band"; Steve Cropper (guitar), Booker T Jones (piano), Isaac Hayes (piano), Donald "Duck" Dunn, and Al Jackson Jr, (also known as Booker T and the MG's)and Wayne Jackson, Andrew love and Joe Arnold (also known as the Memphis Horns); King has the backing that can deliver anything he may want. The release opens with one of King's most well know tracks, Born Under A Bad Sign. Yes, Eric Clapton and Cream didn't hurt any by covering it, but it was Albert King that really breathed the life into it and it was his gateway to stardom. King has a very distinctive guitar playing style often attributed to his playing left handed (although the guitar was strung right handed) giving it a unique sound but I personally think Albert had his own feel later mimicked by SRV among others. It oozed blues. Next up is Crosscut Saw set to a Latin rhythm, a common maneuver for King. Albert had a great voice and his playing dominated most anything he touched. Did Eric borrow some of King's riffs... just listen! On Leiber and Stoller track Kansas City, King takes a standard pop track (hey, the Beatles even covered this track) and made it into a swing blues track. The horns really shine on this track and King riffs out but this really is a radio track. Another track showing a melding of styles is Pretty Woman. King again carries this largely based upon his vocal skills but never misses the opportunity to throw the hot riffs into the fire. King really is one of the fathers of the "modern" blues as we know it. On King original, Down Don't Bother Me, Albert gets a real solid Texas blues lope and his guitar phrasing is just perfect. On Ivory Joe Hunter's soul classic, I Almost Lost My Mind, King melds blues with jazz keeping his "V" under control with light riffs to accommodate a loose jam. Another original track, Personal Manager, shows King at a relaxed pace, taking the time to sing quietly before knocking the doors down with classic ripping blues smoke! On Laundromat Blues, King uses his call and response technique to the extreme answering his own vocal call with a guitar riff response. Listen to these riffs ...and think of how many of your favorites have played them like their own. Yes, Albert was the King! One of my personal favorites on the release, As The Years Go Passing By, shows a perfect balance between the horns, Kings rich voice and his incredible guitar phrasing. This is THE track to hear by Albert King! Also included on this release are alternate takes of Born Under A Bad Sign, Crosscut Saw, The Hunter and Personal Manager. These tracks are all really nice additions and give you different riffs and backing. Very cool. Lastly, there is an untitled instrumental of Albert jamming out with the horns. Dunn shows a bass slide and you can just sit back and listen to the King doing the Kings thing. Great release and one that you should definitely check out!

  If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, Like ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band! ”LIKE” Yes, you're right... this is a live track and the release is a studio cut. Enjoy Mr King in full color!

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Green Onions - Steve Cropper & Donald 'Duck' Dunn

Donald “Duck” Dunn (November 24, 1941 – May 13, 2012) was an American bass guitarist, session musician, record producer, and songwriter. Dunn was notable for his 1960s recordings with Booker T. & the M.G.'s and as a session bassist for Stax Records, which specialized in blues and gospel-infused southern soul which became known as Memphis Soul. At Stax, Dunn played on thousands of records including hits by Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Rufus Thomas, Carla Thomas, William Bell, Eddie Floyd, Johnnie Taylor, Albert King, and many others. Dunn also performed on recordings with The Blues Brothers, Muddy Waters, Freddie King, Isaac Hayes, Levon Helm, Neil Young, Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Creedence Clearwater Revival, Wilson Pickett, Guy Sebastian, Rod Stewart, Bob Dylan, Roy Buchanan, Steely Dan, Tinsley Ellis and Arthur Conley. Dunn was born in Memphis, Tennessee. His father nicknamed him "Duck" while watching Disney cartoons with him one day. Dunn grew up playing sports and riding his bike with fellow future professional musician Steve Cropper. After Cropper began playing guitar with mutual friend Charlie Freeman, Dunn decided to pick up the bass guitar. Eventually, along with drummer Terry Johnson, the four became "The Royal Spades". The Messick High School group picked up keyboardist Jerry "Smoochy" Smith, singer Ronnie Angel (also known as Stoots), and a budding young horn section in baritone saxophone player Don Nix, tenor saxophone player Charles "Packy" Axton, and trumpeter (and future co-founder of The Memphis Horns) Wayne Jackson. Cropper has noted how the self-taught Dunn started out playing along with records, filling in what he thought should be there. "That's why Duck Dunn's bass lines are very unique", Cropper said, "They're not locked into somebody's schoolbook somewhere". Axton's mother Estelle and her brother Jim Stewart owned Satellite Records and signed the band, who had a national hit with "Last Night" in 1961 under their new name "The Mar-Keys". The bassist on "Last Night" was Donald "Duck" Dunn, but he left the Mar-Keys in 1962 to join Ben Branch's big band. The Booker T and the M.G.s group was founded by Steve Cropper and Booker T. Jones in 1962; Al Jackson, Jr. served as the band's drummer. The original bassist, on early hits such as "Green Onions", was Lewie Steinberg; Dunn replaced him in 1964 Stax became known for Jackson's drum sound, the sound of The Memphis Horns, and Duck Dunn's grooves. The MGs and Dunn's bass lines on songs like Otis Redding's "Respect" and "I Can't Turn You Loose", Sam & Dave's "Hold On, I'm Comin'", and Albert King's "Born Under a Bad Sign" influenced musicians everywhere. As an instrumental group, they continued to experiment with McLemore Avenue (their reworking of The Beatles' Abbey Road) and on their final outing, 1971's Melting Pot, which featured basslines that to this day serve as a source of inspiration for hip-hop artists. In the 1970s, Jones and Cropper left Stax, but Dunn and Jackson stayed with the label. He worked with Elvis Presley on his 1973 RCA Album Raised On Rock. Dunn went on to play for Muddy Waters, Freddie King, and Jerry Lee Lewis, as well as Eric Clapton and Rod Stewart. He was the featured bass player for Stevie Nicks and Tom Petty's "Stop Draggin' My Heart Around" single from Nicks' 1981 debut solo album Bella Donna, as well as other Petty tracks between 1976 and 1981. He reunited with Cropper as a member of Levon Helm's RCO All Stars and also displayed his quirky Southern humor making two movies with Cropper, former Stax drummer Willie Hall, and Dan Aykroyd, as a member of The Blues Brothers band. Dunn was the bassist in Eric Clapton's band for Clapton's appearance at Live Aid in 1985. Dunn played himself in the 1980 feature The Blues Brothers, where he famously uttered the line, "We had a band powerful enough to turn goat piss into gasoline!" He appeared in the 1998 sequel Blues Brothers 2000, once again playing himself. Dunn & the MGs were the house band for Bob Dylan's 30th anniversary in the music business concert at Madison Square Garden playing behind Dylan, George Harrison, Eric Clapton, Tom Petty, Stevie Wonder, Sinéad O'Connor, Eddie Vedder, and Neil Young who recruited the MGs to tour with him and recorded with Dunn several times since. In the 2000s Dunn was in semi-retirement, although he still performed occasionally with Booker T & the MGs at clubs and music festivals. In June 2004, Dunn, Cropper, and Jones served as the house band for Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival. The group backed such guitarists as Joe Walsh and David Hidalgo on the main stage at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas. In 2008, Dunn worked with Australian soul singer Guy Sebastian touring The Memphis Album. Dunn and Steve Cropper arrived in Australia on February 20, 2008, to be Sebastian's backing band for an 18-date concert tour, The Memphis Tour. Dunn is credited with performing on a version of the standard "I Ain't Got Nobody" alongside Booker T Jones, Steve Cropper and Michel Gondry in Michel Gondry's 2008 film Be Kind Rewind. On the morning of May 13, 2012, Dunn died in his sleep after finishing his fifth double show at the Blue Note night club in Tokyo with Steve Cropper the night before. He had been in the country as part of an ongoing tour with Steve Cropper and Eddie Floyd. He is survived by his wife, June; a son, Jeff; and a grandchild, Michael If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorite band!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Les Paul Tribute Concert - Steve Cropper

Steve Cropper (born Steven Lee Cropper, October 21, 1941, Dora, Missouri), also known as Steve "The Colonel" Cropper, is an American guitarist, songwriter and record producer. He is best known as the guitarist of the Stax Records house band, Booker T. & the M.G.'s, and has backed artists such as Otis Redding, Sam & Dave, Carla Thomas, Rufus Thomas and Johnnie Taylor, also acting as producer on many of these records. He later gained fame as a member of the Blues Brothers band. Rolling Stone lists him 36th on their list of the 100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time.Mojo ranks Cropper as the second-best guitarist ever. When he was nine years old, Cropper moved with his family to Memphis, Tennessee. At the age of ten, he strummed his brother-in-law's Gibson guitar for the first time. Cropper received his first guitar by mail order at 14 and started playing with local musicians. His guitar heroes at the time included Lowman Pauling of the "5" Royales, as well as Chet Atkins, Chuck Berry, Tal Farlow, Jimmy Reed, and the guitarist of the Bill Doggett band, Billy Butler Cropper and guitarist Charlie Freeman formed the Royal Spades, who eventually became the Mar-Keys. The name referred to the marquee outside Stax studios, known as Satellite Records at the time. Eventually the Mar-Keys began playing on sessions and had a hit single of their own with "Last Night" in 1961. Steve Cropper in concert (1990) Besides being impressed with the young guitarist's playing, Stax Records president Jim Stewart saw professionalism and maturity beyond Cropper's years.[citation needed] When American Records founder Chips Moman left Stax, Cropper became the company's A&R man. He became a founding member of the Stax house band Booker T. & the M.G.'s, along with Hammond organ player Booker T. Jones, bassist Donald "Duck" Dunn and drummer Al Jackson Jr.. As a house guitarist he played on many recordings such as "(Sittin' on) the Dock of the Bay," co-written with and performed by Otis Redding, and Sam & Dave's "Soul Man" on which he was mentioned by name. When Cropper played on the song's remake by the Blues Brothers, lead singer John Belushi again mentioned Cropper. At this time Cropper's fame was not limited to the United States. The Beatles favoured Cropper's playing, and his production on Otis Redding records. John Lennon and Paul McCartney made tentative plans to record in Memphis, and to work with the guitarist. However Brian Epstein cancelled the sessions, citing security problems. Regarding this period, Rob Bowman, in his book Soulsville U.S.A.: The Story Of Stax Records, quoted Booker T. Jones as saying: “ We were writing sounds too, especially Steve. He's very sound-conscious, and he gets a lot of sounds out of a Telecaster without changing any settings —just by using his fingers, his picks, and his amps ” Along with influential work with Booker T & The MG's, Cropper co-wrote "Knock On Wood" with Eddie Floyd, "In the Midnight Hour" with Wilson Pickett and "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" with Otis Redding. In 1969, Cropper released his first solo album, With a Little Help From My Friends. Steve Cropper at the Hamar Music Festival, 2007 When Cropper left Stax in the fall of 1970, the label lost one of its most successful producers and songwriters. Cropper then set up TMI Studios with Jerry Williams and former Mar-Key Ronnie Stoots. There he played guitar and produced various musicians including Tower Of Power, Rod Stewart, John Prine, José Feliciano, The Jeff Beck Group, Ringo Starr and John Lennon. It's little-known that Cropper also played guitar on the cover of The Velvet Underground's "Femme Fatale" that appears on fellow Memphians Big Star's Third/Sister Lovers. By 1975, Cropper had moved to Los Angeles and along with Jackson and Dunn, reformed Booker T. & the M.G's. Jackson, whom Cropper called "the greatest drummer to ever walk the earth," was murdered in his Memphis home before the group could make their comeback. In 1978, Cropper and Dunn became members of Levon Helm's RCO All-Stars, and then went on to figure prominently in the Blues Brothers Band with the drummer Willie Hall. This led to two albums and two movie soundtracks. Cropper also re-recorded "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay" (1979) for Sammy Hagar. Cropper lived in Los Angeles for the next thirteen years before moving to Nashville and reuniting with the Blues Brothers Band in 1988. In 1992, Booker T. & the M.G.'s were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and Cropper appeared with a new line-up of the group for the Bob Dylan 30th Anniversary concert, on October 1992 at Madison Square Garden, performing songs by and backing Dylan, Eric Clapton, George Harrison, Tom Petty, Johnny Cash, Chrissie Hynde, Sinéad O'Connor, Stevie Wonder and Neil Young. The concert was recorded and later released as The 30th Anniversary Concert Celebration (1993). Young later recruited this line up of Booker T. and the M.G's, to tour with him and record as his studio band. In 1996, Cropper was named "the greatest living guitar player" by Britain's Mojo magazine. When asked what he thought of Cropper, the guitarist Keith Richards said, "Perfect, man."[citation needed] In February 1998, Cropper released Play It, Steve! which included some of soul music's most enduring songs. The album title came from the "shout" of the title phrase by Moore on Sam & Dave's "Soul Man," and later by John Belushi (with the Blues Brothers). In June 2004, Cropper appeared with Dunn and Jones as the backing band for Eric Clapton's Crossroads Guitar Festival, held at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas. Others who appeared included Joe Walsh and David Hidalgo. On June 9, 2005, Cropper was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame. Cropper toured Australia with Guy Sebastian, playing on Sebastian's The Memphis Album tour in March 2008 He co-produced The Memphis Album (2007), recorded by Australian soul singer Guy Sebastian. Cropper also played guitar on the following promotional tour, which was recorded and released two years later as The Memphis Tour. On March 2, 2008 Cropper and Sebastian were guests on the Vega Sunday Session with host Mark Gable from the rock band the Choirboys. On July 29, 2008, Cropper and Felix Cavaliere released the album Nudge It Up A Notch. In August 2008, Cropper appeared at the Rhythm Festival alongside the Animals. On November 12, 2009, EMP/SFM presented Cropper with their "Founders Award." On October 17, 2010, Cropper was inducted into the Nashville Songwriters Hall of Fame. On August 9, 2011, Cropper released the album Dedicated which was his tribute to the "5" Royales. “To laugh often and much; to win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children; to earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends; to appreciate beauty; to find the best in others; to leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden patch or a redeemed social condition; to know even one life has breathed easier because you have lived. This is to have succeeded.” - Ralph Waldo Emerson If you support live Blues acts, up and coming Blues talents and want to learn more about Blues news and Fathers of the Blues, ”LIKE” ---Bman’s Blues Report--- Facebook Page! I’m looking for great talent and trying to grow the audience for your favorites band!