Best of Ray Charles

Rating: 100%

raycharles.jpgI picked up this 1983 release “The Best of Ray Charles” on vinyl. There is good collection of songs from the many genres that Ray Charles has been known to play from Blues, Jazz, to Swing and Soul. I love hearing older music like this on my record player. To me, it sounds natural.

Anyway, he’s one of the best pianists, songwriters and performers of all time. The music he wrote was from the heart and soul. Putting out music from 1949 to the day he died. He has over 55 records and 127 singles to his name.

This record contains many of the songs from his earlier years going back to the late 1940’s and 1950’s. It’s emotional, raw and has feeling. The music is a collection of blues influences that showcase his Funk and Jazz styles to his orchestra. So, kick back, relax and just enjoy. It’s like fine wine, the older it is, the best it gets.

Track listing:

A1 Going Down Slow 2:45
A2 All Night Long 3:05
A3 I’m Givin’ Up 3:02
A4 Guitar Blues 2:32
A5 Talkin’ ‘Bout You 3:05
B1 I Found My Baby There 3:22
B2 I’m Wonderin’ & Wonderin’ 3:14
B3 By Myself 2:28
B4 Snowfall 2:51

Aretha’s Gold: Aretha Franklin

Rating: 100%

Aretha's_Gold.jpegThis greatest hits collection by Aretha Franklin was released in 1969. I picked this up in Chambersburg for $6.00 on vinyl. What I find interesting on this record is that guitarist Steve Cropper (Blues Brothers) wrote one of the songs here on the record. See credits below. Another interesting point is that Duane Allman was one of the sit in guitarists for the re-recording of Aretha’s hit songs.

Aretha Franklin has a voice in R&B like none other female out there. Her influence as a vocalist has inspired so many artists today. Her musical styles include R&B, Soul, Gospel and Jazz. This made her one of the most popular Pop artists in the R&B industry.

The tracks on this record are among her best up until 1969. My rating of this album can not dispute this. Many of the tracks here listed, everyone should know or at least heard once in their life. No matter if your a Metal Head, Punk Rocker or Hillbilly, her influence is most likely there among vocalists. Bottom line, her music will continue to inspire female and male vocalist for decades to come.

Track listing:

Side One

“I Never Loved a Man (The Way I Love You)” (Ronnie Shannon) – 2:47
“Do Right Woman, Do Right Man” (Dan Penn, Chips Moman) – 3:15
“Respect” (Otis Redding) – 2:26
“Dr. Feelgood” (Franklin, Ted White) – 3:18
“Baby, I Love You” (Ronnie Shannon) – 2:39
“(You Make Me Feel Like) A Natural Woman” (Gerry Goffin, Carole King & Jerry Wexler) – 2:37
“Chain of Fools” (Don Covay) – 2:45

Side Two

“(Sweet Sweet Baby) Since You’ve Been Gone” (Franklin, White) – 2:18
“Ain’t No Way” (Carolyn Franklin, White) – 4:12
“Think” (Franklin, White) – 2:15
“You Send Me” (Sam Cooke) – 2:25
“The House That Jack Built” (Bob Lance, Fran Robins) – 2:18
“I Say a Little Prayer” (Burt Bacharach, Hal David) – 3:30
“See Saw” (Steve Cropper, Covay) – 4:42

Taking Care Of Business: James Cotton Blues Band

Rating: 100%

taking-care-of-business.jpg

In 1970, James Cotton and his Blues Band released “Taking Care of Business.” This album is what modern blues is ALL about. It’s got plenty of feeling, grooves, guitar licks, harp, funk, and soul from the opening track to the closing. The influence that James Cotton has on many musicians can still be heard today with bands like the Dave Mathews  Band or the Blues Brothers Band.

Vocalist James Cotton is one hell of a talented man on the harmonica. He plays the harp like no other. He began his career in 1950 with Howlin’ Wolf. He also played in the Muddy Waters Band. Almost twenty years, he is still going strong on this record. His vocal and harp style is very traditional that still influences musicians to this day. His style is rooted deeply in Chicago Blues and Delta Blues.

This album features one of my favorite Blues guitarist, Matt “Guitar” Murphy who has been around playing along side musical acts like Chuck Berry, Muddy Waters, Ike Turner and the one and only Howlin’ Wolf. Other notable musicians on this record are guitarist Todd Harry Rundgren, and bassist Stu Woods.

Musically, this album is very very good. It’s rich on soul, it’s rooted deeply in traditional Chicago Blues with a dash of Delta Blues thrown in. The musicianship is great from the piano, horns to the traditional guitar and bass.

The musical structures are well played, even though, James Cotton did not write any of the songs on this record. One song that really sticks out is “Nose Open” written by Matt Murphy. The mouth harp is excellent, the guitar work is amazing. The leads are wonderfully done. The vocals are brilliant. The horn sections are well done. Lots of upbeat tempos throughout the entire album with some slower tempos thrown in.

Track listing:

A1 The Sky Is Falling 3:57
A2 Long Distance Operator 5:20
A3 I’m A Free Man 2:34
A4 Can’t Live Without Love 4:24
A5 Kiddy Boy 4:03
B1 She Moves Me 4:25
B2 Tonight I Wanna Love Me A Stranger 3:08
B3 Nose Open 4:02
B4 Goodbye My Lady 3:05
B5 Georgia Swing 4:48

Bluenote Café, Neil Young and the Blue Notes

Rating: 100%

Neilyoungbluenote.jpgIn 2015, as part of Neil Young’s  Archives Performance Series released Bluenote Café. This is a two CD live performance of Neil Young and the Blue Notes in late 1987 through mid 1988.

This is one of my favorite Neil Young live albums. It is full of the Chicago Blues sound and classic Neil Young guitar. The song selection for this CD is great. It features some of the music from his past such as the almost 20 minute jam session of “Tonight’s the Night”, and the future “Freedom” album track “Crime in the City.” The album features most of the songs from his “This Note is for You” album which is what this live performance is supporting.

Musically, this album showcases the talent that Neil Young has not only as a songwriter, but as a musician as well. Although, you never know what Neil Young you’re going to get when he releases an album, but this project worked out well for him. The sound quality is suburb. Neil’s playing is great. He demonstrates that he can play just about anything on his guitar from Grunge, Folk, Rock, Country, to the Blues. This album does feature members of Crazy Horse, but their sound is place far into the background to as a rhythm section. But this allows the brass section to be heard more to the front of Neil’s solid bluesy sound.

Track listing:

Disc 1
“Welcome to the Big Room” (Recorded on location at Mountain View Theater, Mountain View, California – 11/7/87)
“Don’t Take Your Love Away From Me” (The Fillmore, San Francisco, California – 11/12/87)
“This Note’s for You” (The Palace, Hollywood, CA – 4/13/88)
“Ten Men Workin'” (The World, New York City, New York – 4/18/88)
“Life in the City” (The World, New York City, New York – 4/18/88)
“Hello Lonely Woman” (The World, New York City, New York – 4/18/88)
“Soul of a Woman” (The World, New York City, New York – 4/18/88)
“Married Man” (The World, New York City, New York – 4/21/88)
“Bad News Comes to Town” (Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio – 4/23/88)
“Ain’t It the Truth” (Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio – 4/23/88)
“One Thing” (Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio – 4/23/88)
“Twilight” (Agora Ballroom, Cleveland, Ohio – 4/23/88)
Disc 2
“I’m Goin'” (CNE, Toronto, Ontario, Canada – 8/18/88)
“Ordinary People” (Lake Compounce, Bristol, Connecticut – 8/23/88)
“Crime in the City” (Jones Beach, Wantagh, New York – 8/27/88)
“Crime of the Heart” (Pier 84, New York City, New York – 8/30/88)
“Welcome Rap” (Pier 84, New York City, New York – 8/30/88)
“Doghouse” (Pier 84, New York City, New York – 8/30/88)
“Fool for Your Love” (Pier 84, New York City, New York – 8/30/88)
“Encore Rap” (Pier 84, New York City, New York – 8/30/88)
“On the Way Home” (Poplar Creek Music Theatre, Hoffman Estates, Illinois – 8/16/88)
“Sunny Inside” (Pier 84, New York City, New York – 8/30/88)
“Tonight’s the Night” (Pier 84, New York City, New York – 8/30/88)

Electric Slave: Black Joe Lewis

Rating: 90%

blackjoelewis-albumcover.jpgI was introduced to Black Joe Lewis by a friend after “Electric Slave” was released in 2013. When he gave me a copy of it and upon hearing it, I was blown away! It is funky, groovy, soulful, heavy, bluesy, R&B and I swear, I hear some early 1970’s punk/garage rock to it. This album almost has a certain stoner feel to it drench in heavy blues rock of the 1970’s.

The musicianship is very tight. The band, Black Joe Lewis on vocals and guitar is a brilliant musician and songwriter. How he bridges all of his influences together on this record is truly a work of art. The funky and groovy bass lines by Bill Stevenson is great. Drummer Eduardo Torres lays out some very good offbeats and timing signatures. These guys are backed by Jason Fry on Sax (Tenor), Derek Phelps on Trumpet and Saxist (Baritone) and Keyboardist Joseph Woullard.

Musically, this album is a mixed bag of goodies that again blends many genres and styles of music together. The sound is great. The lead guitar sounds great and so does the riffs. Some of the songs even feature a certain fuzzy tone to the guitar that isn’t heard much these days, unless you look into the new wave of psychedelic music coming from Europe. The vocals gives the listener a unique scratchy and yet clear style that make Black Joe Lewis so good, mixing Iggy Pop with John Belushi of the Blues Brothers. This album has a wonderful balance of harmony and melodies that will have you hook on Black Joe Lewis’s music from start to finish. There are no fillers on this album in my opinion. The heaviness of the music combined with the horns makes this album entertaining and makes this album good.

Track listing:

1. Skulldiggin
2. Young Girls
3. Dar Es Salaam
4. My Blood Ain’t Runnin’ Right
5. Guilty
6. Come to My Party
7. Vampire
8. Make Dat Money
9. The Hipster
10. Golem
11.  Mammas Queen