Blesok no. 58, January-February, 2008
Sound Reviews

Recommended Albums

Vasja Ivanovski

Miki Petkovski – “City Settlers”

One of the best Macedonian musicians is undoubtedly Miki Petkovski, now a long time resident in Canada. His musical biography is a rich one, he played with the best artists and bands in the former Yugoslavia, recorded some great material and after some time released his new album simply called “City Settlers” (MDSCR 004) on his own, independent label. This is clearly one man endeavor as Miki composed, arranged and played all instruments on album's eight tracks. His keyboard playing is masterful, change of tempos, rhythms and musical styles present strong musicianship of an artist with vision. His native Macedonian roots are interweaven with contemporary sounds which support in full his colourful musical persona. “Miles”, “Endurance Blues”, “Caravan” are probably the best tracks on this collection of his personal understanding of the world we live in.

Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater – “West Side Strut”

World blues production may be small compared to major companies but always offers cool stuff which is always embraced by music lovers who appreciate good sounds when they hear them. We'll check and recommend the best of recent releases which demand attention.

First on the list is the latest album by Chicago blues veteran Eddy “The Chief” Clearwater, who's new release “West Side Strut” is his first for Alligator Records, Chicago based record label and interestingly enough “The Chief” did plenty of recordings in the past, but none for the labels in his hometown!  Surrounded by an excellent backing band led by Ronnie Baker Brooks, fine artist himself and son of another Chicago blues great Lonnie Brooks who guests on dynamic rocker “Too Old to Get Married”. Eddy Clearwater's well of inspiration is a deep one and includes different musical styles which incorporate blues, rock, gospel and soul presented in his inimitable way. This vital bluesman is 73 years young?!), something you could not tell by listening to this album. It bursts with energy, atmosphere and fun which is rarely present on albums by much younger artists. “West Side Strut” will make you feel good for sure, all tracks are great with stand out tracks being “Walking Through The Park”, “Trouble, Trouble”, “They Call Me The Chief” and “A Time For Peace”.

Fred Chapellier & Friends – “A Tribute to Roy Buchanan”

Finally an tribute project that was due a long time. We have witnessed plenty of various tribute albums dedicated to different music people, but it took a relatively unknown musician (at least in this part of Europe!) to do a tribute to one of the most important blues and rock guitarists in music history, Roy Buchanan. And what a fine tribute it is! Fred Chapellier is an excellent guitarist who emphasizes big influence Roy Buchanan has on his music and this tribute is almost perfect homage to guitar great. Fred has managed to intrigue some very interesting people to take part in this project, some of them were directly connected with Buchanan (producer, arranger and keyboard player Jean Roussel and Billy Price, vocalist in Roy's band for years). They all did justice to Buchanan's material whose legend will live on through Fred's project. This is one class product which is heartily recommended to all fans of Roy Buchanan and music fans in general. All tracks are great, but my personal favorites are “After Hours”, “The Chokin' Kind”, “Blues for Roy” and “A Nickel and a Nail”.

B.B. & The Blues Shacks – “Unique Taste”

B.B. & The Blues Shacks are top German blues band which grow in status with every new release. “Unique Taste” (Crosscut Records CCD11096) is their latest effort and easily the best so far and its title implies to both quality of the music and performance. Led by Arlt Brothers the band take the listeners down the memory lane to colorful 60's blues, soul and R&B music which inspired band's latest offering. It is sixties vibe all right, but presented with contemporary edge that makes for great listening. All tracks are cool to listen to, with “Unique Taste”, “Not the One for Me” and “Tears About to Fall” being stand out tracks. This CD should be in every blues collection! I'd personally like to check this band in live setting.

Ronnie Earl – “Hope Radio”

One of the best blues releases so far this year is undoubtedly Ronnie Earl's latest release symbolically titled “Hope Radio” (Stony Plain Records SPCD1324). Recorded live in studio in front of small audience, Ronnie Earl confirms once again why he is considered as one of the best blues guitarists on contemporary blues scene. With eleven long instrumental tracks Ronnie pays fabulous homage to his heroes and mentors Otis Rush, Muddy Waters, Magic Sam, Big Joe Williams and Magic Sam. Every note Ronnie play is “blues with a feeling”, a rare occurrence among blues artists today. Backed by an excellent band, Ronnie Earl does justice to people who influenced him, especially in deep moving “Blues For Otis Rush”, daily topics “Katrina Blues” and “Blues For The Homeless” and gospel tinged “New Gospel Tune”. Running at almost 80 minutes this magnificent recording is a must!

T-Bear & The Dukes Of Rhythm – “Let The Sweet Talk Flow…”

El Toro is great independent label from Spain which specializes in rock and blues and everything in between with class and distinction that sets it apart from the competition. Interestingly El Toro's production is not based around local artists but release great music with artists from all Europe including Swedish band T-Bear & The Dukes Of Rhythm who's latest album “Let The Sweet Talk Flow…” (EL TORO R&B 205) is excellent by all means and will be cherished by music lovers who love 50's R&B stylings of Louis Jordan, Roy Brown, Wynonie Harris and others. Album's twelve tracks present this band in top form, cooking from the start to the end. Superb guitar and vocal work of leader Torbjorn Solberg, great rhythm section and stinging horns do wonders here! Give this music a try and you will want more, I guarantee! Title track and “Don't Touch Me Baby”, “T-Bear Blues” and “Barefootin'” are my personal favorites.

V.A. – Blues & Roots Australia Vol. 6

V.A. – Blues & Roots Australia Vol. 6 (BAR Promotions). There's some cool blues playing down under! This CD offers good perspective on the current Australian blues scene with fine artists/bands of different music stylings deeply rooted in this beautiful music. Vol.5 as previous volumes include great playing of the artists/bands who put their heart in their music and it can be felt. 16 tracks are just small overlook of what's happening in Australia today. All artists deserve mention, too numerous to mention with The Others, Andy Cowan, Andrea Marr, Jaimi Faulkner, Nick Charles, The Detonators, Jillian Jake and Karl Broadie being favorites at the moment!

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