Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Billy Hector -- "Old School Thang"

Billy Hector's "Old School Thang" is his 11th release for the Ghetto Surf label, and this one is good stuff! Hector is one of New Jersey's guitar treasures, and after 35 years he sounds better than ever. This time out Hector is on guitar and vocals, backed by a core band of veterans Tim Tindall on bass and Sim Cain on drums, along with a number of other musical guests.

Here's the way they describe it on his website:

“She’s Gone” is a story of heartbreak, sugar coated by a sumptuous layering of fierce blues guitar and horns on a bedrock Latin groove. “Goin’ Down” is Billy Hector’s tribute to Freddie King’s interpretation of the Don Nix iconic tune with horns and piano.“Old School Thang” , a funkified fan favorite, showcases the expertise and high level of musicianship the Billy Hector power trio delivers every night it performs.  “Fake I.D” is a sly and humorous ode to taking life as it comes and letting the chips fall where they may. This track also features Billy’s signature killer slide guitar work with a sparkling assist from Mickey Melchiondo on guitar. “Vitamin Big Daddy” is a healthy dose of bawdy horn driven blues that meets or exceeds the recommended daily intake of musical nutrients.  Just what the doctor ordered. “Come On Home” is an infectious slide driven groove accented with the harp stylings of Ken Sorensen."Evil, Slick ‘n Sly”, is a slow grinder with a sexy groove that conjures up the pitfalls of amorous relationships.“Hammer” grabs you in with it’s funky foot tapping intro. If your love needs fixing,  Hector’s Albert Collins-esque guitar work gets the job done. “Rita” is a rowdy old time barroom blues in the tradition of St. James Infirmary that tells the tragic tale of a fading barfly.  “Short and Sweet Blues” is just that. Two and three quarter’s minutes of slow blues bliss. “People of the World” is a funk-drenched plea for peace on earth featuring a soulful sax solo by Stax recording artist Mel Taylor.

You can read all that and you may be be convinced, but if you listen to "Vitamin Big Daddy" once I know you'll find a place for this cd in your collection. Billy Hector has been a top-notch guitarist for a long time, and this is a very fine album. Turn it up!

You can buy this cd at http://www.billyhector.com/

Monday, May 25, 2015

Dave Specter -- "Message In Blue"

Dave Specter's 10th album, "Message In Blue" is a soulful and compelling collection of the Chicago blues he has played for the past 15+ years, and a solid serving of soul blues, and some great moments of R&B. It was released on May 20, 2014 on Delmark Records.

Specter is in wonderful form. His guitar work is clean and assured. And the veteran band--Harlan Terson (bass) and Marty Binder (drums) back him flawlessly. Guests on this set include the great Otis Clay (vocals) and Brother John Kattke (keyboards and vocals) and Bob Corritore (harmonica). Theresa Davis and Diane Madison add backup vocals on one song.

Things kick off with "New West Side Stroll," an updated version of Specter's 1995 instrumental track. The next two songs feature Otis Clay's soul vocal style on covers--he brings glorious life to Harold Burrage's "Got To Find A Way," featuring horns and that great Otis Clay magic. Then Clay adds sweet soul to "This Time I'm Gone For Good," a slow minor key blues recorded here as a tribute to Bobby Blue Bland. Then comes the title track, a very tasty instrumental in which Specter channels some melodic Jimi Hendrix. The next song is the name-dropping "Chicago Style," which features Kattke on piano and vocals, a full horn section and a very strong guitar break. From there, things return to Otis Clay and a great cover of Wilson Pickett's "I Found A Love," which is one of the highlights of the cd--everything about this track is superb--worth the price of the cd all by itself. Then a Specter original, "Funkified Outta Space," which he channels The Meters sound in all their New Orleans glory. Next up is a cover of the Don Nix-penned "Same Old Blues." I didn't really think  I needed another version of this one, but with vocals and piano by Kattke and killer guitar work by Specter--this one is better than Eric Clapton's version.

There are still five tracks to go, but I think you all get the idea--this is a great cd. You can buy this at http://www.delmark.com/


Sunday, May 24, 2015

Johnny I. Band -- Johnny I. All Star Blues Revival EP

I've been enjoying this EP for long enough--I should share this gem with you as well. This little EP has three songs which were written by the team of John A. Ingrassia and his father John E. Ingrassia.
Johnny A. plays guitar on all the songs. Johnny E. sings on two songs and plays bass on one. They play just fine, but the real treat is the rest of the musicians. An impressive group--on "Avery's Tune" Johnny A. and Johnny E. are joined by Glen Graham (from Blind Melon) on drums, and Doug Ferrara on Hammond B3 organ. It is mixed by Brad Smith (also from Blind Melon). This instrumental starts things off with a bang! The guitar on this track is strong--it clearly illustrates that Johnny I. has a fine melodic style, and he can also rip it up when that is needed. It starts out sounding a little bit like Blind Melon, but about halfway through the song Graham's drums break in and right after that things get moving in the right direction.

The next song is "Life Is Better ( 2nd Time Around) "  and here Johnny I. (guitar) and Johnny E. (vocals) are joined by Billy Cox on bass (yes, that Billy Cox--he played with Jimi Hendrix) and Chris Layton on drums and Reese Wynans on the Hammond B3 organ (both from Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble). Johnny E.'s vocals are quite good--he reminds me a little of Doyle Bramhall, but without Bramhall's Texas accent. The rhythm section pushes the pocket and Johnny I. on guitar doesn't try to imitate SRV--he just plays great from beginning to end. Wynans on organ here is very good--he fills everything out with style. A fine song. Mixed By Jim Gaines.

The third song is "Late Nite," and it is probably my favorite of them all. Here Johnny I. (guitar) and Johnny E. (vocals) are joined by Bruce Katz on Hammond B3 organ, Tommy Shannon on bass (Stevie Ray Vaughan & Double Trouble), and Jaimoe on drums (The Allman Brothers). This song features strong work by Bruce Katz at the opening before Johnny I. does some great (but brief) stringbending fretwork before the vocals and the rhythm section take it away. The vocals are good. This song is also mixed by Jim Gaines.  

I really like this EP, and I think all three songs are strong solid work in a rock/blues style. Johnny I. says in an email that he is in rehearsals with Jaimoe and writing to add more songs.