Thursday, March 21, 2013


Tony Joe White has accomplished much in the years since he emerged from his home in Louisiana’s swamp country and the hardscrabble circuit of Texas honky-tonks. His music is part of America’s soundtrack – sparse and elegant, filled with shadows, sadness and beauty. Nobody else writes songs like these – songs that evoke both the mysteries of the place were he was raised and the spirits that haunt us all in our most private, lonely moments.
Nobody sings them like White either. That dark baritone, scarred and sweet, brings these songs to life like none other. Even so, others have memorably interpreted his songs, from Brook Benton’s unforgettable take on “Rainy Night in Georgia” in 1970 to Tina Turner’s intensely soulful rendition of “Steamy Windows.” Elvis Presley, Ray Charles, Roy Orbison, Dusty Springfield, Etta James – iconic artists in their own right have honored “the Swamp Fox” by cutting his tunes. Others have joined White, with Eric Clapton, Mark Knopfler, Michael McDonald, Waylon Jennings, Emmylou Harris, Lucinda Williams and Shelby Lynne among those who have paid tribute as guests on recent, theme-oriented projects such as The Heroines and Uncovered.
But with The Shine, released September 28 on White’s Swamp Records imprint, this long road circles and comes back toward where it began. Before exploding onto the Top 10 with “Polk Salad Annie” in 1969, before beginning his ongoing commitment to perform regularly for fans in markets as distant as Europe and Australia, White built his vision on a bedrock of blues, backwoods country, and sounds too much his own to categorize. This foundation is simple yet seductive and strong: Within its fabric of raw guitar, hypnotic rhythm and spellbinding lyrical imagery, White’s soul pulls from its roots and reasserts itself with deep conviction.
There are no all-star cameos on The Shine – only White on guitar, harmonica and vocals, bassist George Hawkins, drummer “Swamp Man” Jack Bruno, Tyson Rogers on keyboards, John Catchings on cello, and a selection of songs that had sprouted in White’s imagination over the previous few months. “They just started stacking up on me and my wife Leann over the wintertime,” White says. “They hit me every day and every night. When I’d go to bed, they were going through my mind. It was really cool stuff, and I was like, ‘Man, I’ve got to put these down, just to see what they sound like.’”
Each one told a different story, but taken together they seemed to call White back to the well that had first nourished him. From the feverish, dreamlike images that course through “Season Man” to the heartbreak that colors the romantic nostalgia of “All,” these tracks live on their own yet exist together as memories and premonitions of a single story.
“They’re all about truth and life and daily or nightly happenings,” White says. “They all came to me, the guitar parts and the words, maybe at a campfire down by the river with a few cold beers. I’ll sit there, strum a little bit, and all of a sudden a lick will come – except for the ones I wrote with Leann. She’s a real word person, so she’ll say ‘what do you think about this,’ and all of a sudden a little light goes off in my head, a guitar chord will pop up and here we go.”
“Paintings on a Mountain” is one example of this collaboration between Tony Joe and Leann White. “We have a place up in Taos, New Mexico,” he says. “Our house sits on land that backs up to an Indian village. It’s a magic spot. In the late afternoon, the sun makes so many paintings on the mountainside; they change as the sun moves on. A lot of that was written by Leann.”
The guiding principle for The Shine can be heard in one of its details, from “Tell Me Why,” which preaches “it’s all about the song, keeping it simple. Got to have passion. Got to have soul.” That was the mission when White and his musicians began cutting these tracks in the living room of his home south of Nashville. Beneath high ceilings, on original hardwood floors in a building old enough to have been used as a battlefield hospital during the Civil War, they played with minimal direction, trusting in the moment as they brought these songs to life. “Sometimes I would say ‘simplify,’ but that’s all,” White remembers. “It was almost like I was a bystander. I had this weird feeling of looking at everybody as we played, watching the song happen without really trying very hard to make it happen.”
Most songs were captured in one take. The emotions and connections were so strong that even without any rehearsal, with only the barest indication of which chord followed the next, each one seemed to draw deeper from somewhere within White. He sensed this himself, sometimes not even singing where he was supposed to because the music they were laying down was so compelling. “All of a sudden I’d remember, ‘Hey, you should have been singing right there,’” White says, chuckling. “So I’d go back later and punch it in. But we were all very aware that something was happening in the air between us. Maybe there were some spirits walking about.”
They roamed especially free on the one track where White recorded solo, “Roll Train Roll.” “I think that one was a matter of being taken back,” he reflects. “That’s what made it sound like I was going back to listening to Lightnin’ Hopkins, when I lived on the Boeuf River in Goodwill, Louisiana, first learning the guitar. That’s the kind of stuff I’d play out on the porch at night.”
One doesn’t have to have been a Tony Joe White fan to appreciate that there is something elusive and hard to define in this music. But these depths surface in The Shine. More than a return to an artist’s seminal references, this project seeks the seed from which his work took form. White finds it on The Shine; from here, all that he produced before and all that will follow come into a revealing and enduring light.

Tracks :
01 - Tony Joe White - Stud Spider
02 - Tony Joe White - High Sheriff of Calhoun Parrish
03 - Tony Joe White - Widow Wimberly
04 - Tony Joe White - Groupy Girl
05 - Tony Joe White - Conjure Woman
06 - Tony Joe White - Save Your Sugar For Me
07 - Tony Joe White - Hard To Handle
08 - Tony Joe White - What Does It Take
09 - Tony Joe White - My Friend
10 - Tony Joe White - Stockholm Blues
11 - Tony Joe White - Boom Boom
12 - Tony Joe White - I protest

Artwork Included

Tuesday, July 10, 2012


Hell Freezes Over is a live album by the Eagles, released in 1994. It contains four new studio tracks and eleven tracks recorded live for an MTV special. The album went to #1 on the Billboard album chart upon its release where it stayed for two weeks. It is the band's second live album behind their live album in 1980. The Eagles had reformed after a fourteen-year-long break up. Their resumption tour would be given that title after the statement Don Henley once gave when asked when the band would get back together. The album proved to be as successful as the tour, selling over six million copies and releasing two Top 40 singles in "Get Over It" and "Love Will Keep Us Alive". The band's lineup consisted of the Long Run era: Don Henley, Glenn Frey, Joe Walsh, Don Felder, and Timothy B. Schmit. The tour would last from 1994-96 and became one of the most successful tours in music history. The album also features an acoustic version of "Hotel California". Hell Freezes Over was also released in video form on VHS, LaserDisc and DVD.

    "Get Over It"* (Don Henley, Glenn Frey) - 3:31
    "Love Will Keep Us Alive"* (Pete Vale, Jim Capaldi, Paul Carrack) - 4:03
    "The Girl from Yesterday"* (Frey, Jack Tempchin) - 3:23
    "Learn to Be Still"* (Henley, Stan Lynch) - 4:28
    "Tequila Sunrise" (Henley, Frey) - 3:28
    "Hotel California" (Don Felder, Henley, Frey) - 7:12
    "Wasted Time" (Henley, Frey) - 5:19
    "Pretty Maids All in a Row" (Joe Walsh, Joe Vitale) - 4:26
    "I Can't Tell You Why" (Henley, Frey, Timothy B. Schmit) - 5:11
    "New York Minute" (Henley, Danny "Kootch" Kortchmar, Jai Winding) - 6:37
    "The Last Resort" (Henley, Frey) - 7:24
    "Take It Easy" (Jackson Browne, Frey) - 4:36
    "In the City" (Walsh, Barry De Vorzon) - 4:07
    "Life in the Fast Lane" (Henley, Frey, Walsh) - 6:01
    "Desperado" (Henley, Frey) - 4:17

Thursday, July 5, 2012


It wasn't long after arriving in the U.K. that South African student Denny Gerrard began making his mark on the music scene. In 1965, Jimmy Page picked him to become one half of the duo the Fifth Avenue, while Rolling Stones' manager Andrew Loog Oldham brought him in as arranger for his projectthe VariationsGerrard then linked up with Barry Younghusband, and as Warm Sounds they promptly unleashed the Top 30 hit "Birds and Bees." Swiftly bored with pop the duo soon split, and Gerrard moved into production, overseeing High Tide's critically acclaimed 1969 debut album, Sea Shanties. No surprise then, that when the South African began work on his own debut, self-produced, full-length, High Tidewere by his side. However, the resulting album, Sinister Morning, was far more a reflection of Gerrard's vision than Tide's sound. Much of the set has a folkie feel, accentuated by the prolific use of Gerrard's acoustic guitar and harmonica. Only on "Native Sun" is the band given a real chance to rock out, with the rest of the set given over to more midtempo numbers. These gave Gerrard the opportunity to explore his roots and showcase his arrangement skills. His epiphany is found on the final track, a haunting, seven-plus minute instrumental, whose rich "Atmosphere" is conjured up by his acoustic guitar andSimon House's delicate organ and rich violin. J.J. Mackey provides the spoken word segments that, sadly, are virtually buried in the mix. The album's other epic track, "True Believer" takes folk to church, withHouse's hymnal organ juxtaposed against a rich, Americana tapestry. "Autumn Blewn," in contrast, counterpoints '60s R&B with C&W, with Gerrard's harmonica adding a folkie feel to the intricate piece. "Rough Stuff" also has an R&B bend, but a down-home, Southern rock tinge, while "Stop or Drop It" is even more rousing, as Gerrard plays his pusillanimous acoustic guitar off against Tony Hill's electric leads. Although kept on a tight leash, High Tide still bring an energy to the set, turning up the heat on virtually all the songs, particularly the poppy "Hole in My Shadow," which was probably intended for singledom. The production gives the entire album a warm sound, although on CD it comes across as a tad too pristine. The only flaw within is Gerrard's decision to overutilize layered vocals instead of true harmonies, and paying far less attention to his vocals than he did to the rest of the album's sound. Released on Decca's mid-price imprint Nova, the album surprisingly sank without a track, but swiftly became a much sought-after collector's item. Finally after all these years, Esoteric has now lovingly remastered and reissued this splendid album on CD. 
~ Jo-Ann Greene

Tracks : 

Native Sun
True Believer
Hole In My Shadow
Last But One
Rough Stuff
Stop Or Drop It
Autum Blewn
Eye For Eye

Artwork Included


Lion's Share CD music "Shot in the Head," the slide guitar showcase that opens this solid set, became a staple of this veteran English band's live act. Lion's Share music CDs In his only full-time stint as singer for demanding bandleader Kim Simmonds, Dave Walker proves a serviceable, if unremarkable, successor to Chris Youlden. Besides their own tunes, the lads cover Howlin' Wolf and Little Walter. ~ Mark Allan

Tracks : 

Shot In The Head
Second Try
The Saddest Feeling
I Can't Find You
Howling For My Darling
So Tired
Denim Demon
Love Me Please
I Hate To See You Go

Artwork Included


Originally titled HONEY IN THE ROCK and later renamed for its hit song (Daniels's first chart entry), UNEASY RIDER is the third Charlie Daniels album, but the first to put his name on the map. In addition to his previous southern-rock-meets-Western-swing sound, the album includes a significant R&B influence, making for an intriguing country-funk style. The title track's talking blues is particularly significant for espousing a hippie/counterculture perspective on the part of a man who'd later become known for championing more conservative values.

Tracks : 

01. Funky Junky (03:14)
02. Big Man (06:16)
03. Why Can't People (05:47)
04. Revelations (07:34)
05. Uneasy Rider (05:18)
06. Midnight Lady (04:39)
07. Somebody Love You (03:44)
08. No Place To Go (10:08)

Thursday, May 17, 2012


Big House is a self-labeled "blues" band from Nashville via Bakersfield, California.
Lead vocalist/guitarist Monty Byron and keyboardist/slide guitarist Dave Neuhauser comprise the core of Big House; they've been writing and playing music together for fifteen years. Bassist Steve Vines and drummer Bernie Rappa complete the current manifestation of the band. Together they form a tight ensemble, at times reminiscent of a fine jazz quartet. There are no "stars" here, no ego-tripping showmanship. These musicians clearly respect the part each contributes to the whole.
Byron's voice is, to my ear, more country than bluesy, although I suspect such distinctions are more useful to marketers and promoters than to listeners. I find his strong voice warm and soulful, even a bit raspy where the music requires.

CDBaby's definition:
Big House is somewhere between the west coast country of the Eagles and the Memphis Stax /Volt sound of Otis Redding and the M.G.'s Soul Country.

Tracks :

01. You Ain't Lonely Yet
02. Cold Outside
03. Amarillo
04. Love Ain't Easy
05. Walkin' On Me
06. Sunday In Memphis
07. Blue Train
08. Soul Country
09. Cryin' Town
10. Whose Baby Will You Be Tonight
11. Road Man

Wednesday, May 16, 2012


Joe Cocker's debut album holds up extraordinarily well across four decades, the singer's performance bolstered by some very sharp playing, not only by his established sideman/collaborator Chris Stainton, but also some top-notch session musicians, among them drummer Clem Cattini, Steve Winwood on organ, and guitarists Jimmy Page and Albert Lee, all sitting in. It's Cocker's voice, a soulful rasp of an instrument backed up by Madeline Bell, Sunny Weetman and Rossetta Hightower that carries this album and makes "Change in Louise," "Feeling Alright," "Just Like a Woman," "I Shall Be Released," and even "Bye Bye Blackbird" into profound listening experiences. But the surprises in the arrangements, tempo, and approaches taken help make this an exceptional album. Tracks like "Just Like a Woman," with its soaring gospel organ above a lean textured acoustic and light electric accompaniment, and the guitar-dominated rendition of "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" -- the formal debut of the Grease Band on record -- all help make this an exceptional listening experience. The 1999 A&M reissue not only includes new notes and audiophile-quality sound, but also a pair of bonus tracks, the previously unanthologized B-sides "The New Age of Lily" and "Something Coming On," deserved better than the obscurity in which they previously dwelt.

Tracks : 

Side one
  1. "Feeling Alright" (Dave Mason) – 4:10
  2. "Bye Bye Blackbird" (Ray Henderson, Mort Dixon) – 3:27
  3. "Change in Louise" (Joe Cocker, Chris Stainton) – 3:22
  4. "Marjorine" (Joe Cocker, Chris Stainton) – 2:38
  5. "Just Like a Woman" (Bob Dylan) – 5:17
Side two
  1. "Do I Still Figure in Your Life?" (Pete Dello) – 3:59
  2. "Sandpaper Cadillac" (Joe Cocker, Chris Stainton) – 3:16
  3. "Don't Let Me Be Misunderstood" (Gloria Caldwell, Sol Marcus, Bennie Benjamin) – 4:41
  4. "With a Little Help from My Friends" (John Lennon, Paul McCartney) – 5:11
  5. "I Shall Be Released" (Bob Dylan) – 4:35

Artwork Included

Monday, April 2, 2012


Still not sure whether this album is called Cantofabule (fabulous song) or Cant Of A Bule (as the disc label being called so) or as my Romanian stepsister said Cantafabule, but the track listing is correct. The artwork being similar but monochromic red and carrying the cat # Fanny 100, it is most likely a bootleg, but this was the only way to get to listen (outside the PA's samples) to a full album. This sextet's third album is maybe the best appreciated by progheads, but apparently the last one before the fled the Ceaucescu regime.

The original double album was a concept based on some traditional Romanian themes based on adaptation of poets Seban Foarta and Andrei Ujica and inspired on a Dimitri Bolintineanu book called Istoria Ieroglifa (speaking of a "bestiaire" of fantastic mythical creatures), this almost 70 min-long piece is indeed one of the best thing to come from the old Dacian province. If I speak of Dacia (relating it to the Roman Empire times instead of Valachia or Moldavia-Bessarabia), it is because the general feel relates a bit to Italian prog (this is greatly due to the similarity of both languages), but the Timisoara (in Transylvania where the revolt started) group developed a very ambitious project that mixed some medieval folk with hard rock fronted by a fuzzed-out guitar.

The two-parts lengthy opening track Invocatie gives out right away the main dimension of their music, a fairly hard prog dominated by a fuzz-guitar, where all musicians hold their own. Surprising how modern for the day they sounded apparently having a moog synth. During this track, the group moves to different moods and passages including a "folk" one and there is a harpsichord thrown in there too and the track is a very captivating intro. Moving from the Harpsichord/flute piece Unicorn (sung in Old French) to the mediocre beat-rock of the sacred beetle (Scarabeului), the albums moves quickly to another highlight about dolphins (Delfinul), where the group shows the extent of their considerable talent in this folky ballad. Going through the dragon (semi-hard rocking), the snake (with a terrible sounding violin), a special kind of bird (Calandrinon) that's supposed to accompany you into the underworld (another highlight in my book with superb bass work), the moose and the mongoose, the siren and a few other mythical creatures, the group continues tirelessly (even if you do, partly due to the length and the repetition of tracks that hammer on the same nail and the Romanian singing) until another pure psych-beat-RnR (track 11, a bit of a filler really) breaks the cycle of prog/folk tracks alternating.

The album gets back on track with the splendid Cintic-Lu (hawk) track which definitely seals the fate of the concept as excellent (just short of brilliant), followed by another fabulous Zoomahia (starting with the same electronic sounds that you found on the start of the album, but much longer and sounding like Gong) and the album closing on their fetish Phoenix, rising from the ashes.

Overall this album holds very few flaws (given its communist era background), few fillers and a bunch of superb if inhabitual prog folk tracks, which makes this album a masterpiece of its own. Clearly this album should get the honours from a full remastering and mini-Lp treatment, as it stands in the top 10 of the ex-soviet block.

Review by Sean Trane


01. Invocatie
02. Norocul Inorogului
03. Scara Scarabeului
04. Delfinul, Dulce Dulful Nostru
05. Uciderea Balaurului
06. Stima Casei
07. Pasarea Calandrinon
08. Filip Si Cerbul
09. Vasiliscul Si Aspida
10. Sirena
11. Pasarea Roc...K and Roll
12. Cintic-Lu a Cucuveaua-Lliei
13. Zoomahia
14. Phoenix

Artwork Inc.


Roy Harper followed HQ with another superb rock-oriented classic, 1977's interestingly titled Bullinamingvase. The album will forever be remembered for its controversial track "Watford Gap," with lyrics that supposedly defamed the service station of Watford Gap. Harper ran into legal problems when the station owners voiced their extreme distaste of the song, resulting in the record company's removal of the composition from the album. It was replaced with the light but solid "Breakfast with You." Both songs are included in the 1996 CD re-release, remastered with 20-bit supermapping. But the album's strengths lie elsewhere. The compositions are laced with beautiful passages, both musically and lyrically, and the vibrant acoustic guitar work on tracks like "Cherishing the Lonesome," "Naked Flame," and the epic "One of Those Days in England (Pts. 2-10)" are likely to never be surpassed. The powerful, energetic passion, brilliant lyrics, and driving force of "Cherishing the Lonesome" make for one of Harper's greatest accomplishments. "Naked Flame" impresses equally with its clean, country-tinged guitar work. The jewel in the crown, though, is "One of Those Days in England (Pts. 2-10)." The lyrical content, a collection of reminiscences, is striking, being at once trenchant/biting and beautiful. The piece is comprised of many movements, opening (with guitar) like a looming cloud foreshadowing the storm and darkness that lie ahead. Suddenly, after the introductory verses, the guitar picks up and the clouds begin breaking apart, allowing the sun to shine through. The song becomes hopeful before changing moods once again, with Harper's voice at its peak. The song benefits from wonderful use of lap steel guitar with strings fleshing out several movements. Bullinamingvase also contains the radio-friendly pop tune "One of Those Days in England," the closest Harper ever came to having a hit single. This is also the alternate title of the album. It is interesting to note that, even though most of the lyrical content is presented in the CD booklet, several lines/verses have been purposefully omitted from the printing, such as much of "Watford Gap" and the opening of "One of Those Days in England (Pts. 2-10)." Upon listening to the tunes, the reason becomes quite clear. Listen for uncredited vocal contributions from Paul and Linda McCartney.

Tracks :

1. One of Those Days in England
2. These Last Days
3. Cherishing the Lonesome
4. Naked Flame
5. Watford Gap
6. One of Those Days in England, Pts. 2-10
7. Breakfast With You

Artwork Inc.

Thursday, March 8, 2012


It is quite surreal to handle a copy of Lie: The Love and Terror Cult, and certainly a very bizarre feeling to know that someone so twisted as Charles Manson and his cult, The Family, were the artists behind it all. Still, no matter how outrageous it appears, artists they are—albeit questionable ones. Or are they...? The reaction to Manson's music here is determined by the bias (rightfully and justifiably so) resulting from being guilty of the horrific Tate-LaBianca murders. This is probably what tainted the sales of the record when it first was released, with just three hundred of the two thousand copies sold. But that was the sixties. America was at the height of its reactionary politics, and the hippie movement had adopted Manson as an icon, but the tragic events associated with The Family's involvement in the Tate-LaBianca murders put paid to not only the popular, hippie counterculture, but also to the future of Manson's music career

At first blush, and this is exactly what this record will be to many listeners today, the record may not be path breaking, musically or otherwise. But it is, nevertheless, a significant musical document, considering it is a reflection of the popular counterculture. As a musical event it does have several moments, however. Significantly, most of folksy tracks have stood up to the test of time. "Look at Your Game Girl" and "Eyes of a Dreamer" are iconic, as is "Cease to Exist" and "The More You Learn to Love." "Cease To Exist" was, in fact, co-written by the Beach Boys' Dennis Wilson and was also recorded by the group, but as "Never Learn To Love"—first as a single and then on 20/20 (Capitol, 1968). Other tracks have since been covered, hidden in or just blatantly swiped by various artists who show varying degrees of admiration for Manson's musicality.

If it is possible to put aside the cynicism or angst towards Charles Manson then it is possible to enjoy this record. Although the music does, at times, come across as being a tad simple—even simplistic—it also has its moments of freshness. What effectively destroys any pleasure that may be derived from listening to the music are the events that Manson helped unfold. Still, while he is no Dylan or John Sebastian, Manson was indeed driven by the same existentialism that drove many of his generation. He was cruelly distracted by the hidden impulses contained in his songs, and the rest is a sordid history. But it is hoped that that fact will not diminish the experience of listening to this music for what is hoped to be. The booklet accompanying the music includes liners by Bernard Stollman of ESP-Disk and liners by Phil Kaufman, the record's original producer. Those, together with Steve Alexander's "Charles Manson Interview" make the 2008 release quite historic.

Track Listing: Look At Your Game, Girl; Ego; Mechanical Man; People Say I'm No Good; Home Is Where You're Happy; Arkansas; I'll Never Say Never To Always; Garbage Dump; Don't Do Anything Illegal; Sick City; Cease To Exist; Big Iron Door; I Once Knew A Man; Eyes Of A Dreamer; Devil Man; The More You Love; Two Pair Of Shoes; Maiden With Green Eyes (Remember Me); Swamp Girl; Bet You Think I Care; Look At Your Game, Girl (alternate version); Interview; Who To Blame; True Love You Will Find; My World; Invisible Tears.

Personnel: Charles Manson: guitar and vocals; The Family: other instruments and background vocals.

Artwork Included

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