Blesok no. 23, October-November, 2001
Sound Reviews

Recommended Albums

Vasja Ivanovski

John Kay – Heretics & Privateers

(Crosscut Records CCD 12004)

John Kay

Most rock and blues fans remember excellent Steppenwolf, a band which left some great legacy in history of rock 'n' roll. The band's success was mainly result of its charismatic leader John Kay and writer of their best material. After Steppenwolf disbanded years ago, John  Kay has attempted solo career with varying degres of success and long intervals between his releases. Thanks to German Crosscut Records music lovers in Europe has a rare chance to witness some great stuff John Kay has written for his, sort of comeback, CD Heretics & Privateers and what fine music this is! John has turned to his musical roots which are folk and blues, long before Steppenwolf. This is an intimate, heartfelt and mostly acoustic music deeply rooted in blues with some best John Kay performances I've heard in a long time. His voice has gotten some rough edges with the years and he never sounded better than on this collection of easily his best material! Each song is a gem, based on his personal experiences of life's observer presented with broad  palette of emotions. And with musicians like Mike Henderson, Steve Cropper, Mike Utley, Jimmy Hall and others you cannot go wrong too. One of my top 10 CDs for 2001! Check it out and see if you agree!

Mike Harrison & The Hamburg Blues Band – Touch

(Ruf Records RUF 1077)

Mike Harrison

What do you get when you combine vocals of Mike Harrison (ex-Spooky Tooth), Hamburg Blues Band (featuring British saxophone legend Dick Heckstall-Smith), writing genius Pete Brown and producer of  Jim Gaines stature? Some excellent music, that is! Mike Harrison used to be a member of seminal British blues rock band of the sixties, Spooky Tooth and has long been considered to be one of the best vocalists in the idiom along with Paul Rodgers, Chris Farlowe and Rod Stewart. This is an excellent collection of fine music, strong musicianship and impeccable production. Backed by one of the best German blues bands, Mike sounds like we love to hear him: sharp vocals with characteristic phrasing with plenty of bite and emotion! As a special treat for his fans, Mike does a great rendition of a classic Spooky Tooth song, “Waiting For The Wind”. Blues rock doesn't get any better than this! And you know about wine, the older it gets…

Leszek Cichonski -Thanks Jimi

A Tribute To Jimi Hendrix (Tomi TCD 010)

Leszek Cichonski

You've probably heard some Jimi Hendrix Tribute projects before, some good and some bad, big in production but small in overall output. It's like usual business major companies do: get some of their well known artists and let them do a Jimi song each, wrap it up and sell as much copies as possible. They know Jimi's fans will go for anything that's something to do with the legendary guitarist. When such project is released by a small company run by dedicated fans and performed by some relatively unknown but great players, then you get a material well worth a listen. And when you realize that this stuff has been produced in Poland of all places and played by some of their best musicians, you take notice and listen. And what fine effort it is! Leszek Cichonski, one of the best European blues rock guitarists is the man behind this project and he does Jimi's music justice with inspired performance which really smokes! Ably backed with top Polish musicians featuring outstanding vocals of Anika, Leszek Cichonski  introduces his US fellow guitarist Stan Skibby from Chicago who handles vocals, beside putting some hot playing throughout te CD. He is like Leszek, a fabulous player who treats Jimi's songs with respect of deeply rooted blues musician. CD features well known Hendrix material and a cover of J.J.Cale's Cocaine which Leszek and Stan turn into another Jimi's burning standard! Title track, Thanks Jimi is a Leszek's emotional, personal tribute to the man and his music and it shows his feeling and gratitude to the legend. Some live tracks present what this great bunch of players are capable of! Treat yourself to some excellent stuff and try to get a copy!

Yank Rachell – Blues Mandolin Man


Yank Rachell

Yank Rachell's stature and body of work ranks among the most influential in history of the blues. His mandolin blues playing and deeply emotional performance has been source of inspiration for generations of bluesmen since his first recordings accompanying Sleepy John Estes in 1929. As B.B.King once told Rachell, “It's people like you who made people like me possible” and that's  a fine testament to Rachell's role in blues  it is! Blues Mandolin Man is a re-release of his classic Blind Pig album from 1986 which finds Rachell in an intimate setting with a couple of musicians including his grand daughter Sheena on electric bass. With unobtrusive backing of Peter Roller on guitars, Leonard Marsh Jr on drums and Peter “Mudcat” Ruth on harp, Rachell delivers some heartfelt blues of his own, reminiscing of his past, interweaving sorrows and joys of everyday life. It's simply beautiful stuff which you just cannot hear so much anymore, anywhere. Thanks to Richard Congress of Random Chance Records, we are able to listen and enjoy this classy re-release by fantastic Yank Rachell. Richard is also author of a beautiful book on Yank Rachell which should be part of any serious library. For details check the website and in the meantime travel with immortal music of the blues mandolin man!

Friend 'n' Fellow – Taxi

(Ruf Records RUF 1072)


Taxi is Friend 'n' Fellow's third CD and easily the best so far. Their previous recordings (Home -1997 and Purple Rose – 1998) showed great potential of this unusual and original duo of Constanze Friend, vocal and Thomas Fellow, acoustic guitar, both from Germany. Together they create delicately exquisite acoustic music to sooth your mind and body. Beside being fine musicians, Friend 'n' Fellow write their own music and occasionaly go for some stuff of other people making it their own, like U2's I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For and fascinating version of Jimi's  Purple Haze! Friend 'n' Fellow produce acoustic music with soul, music which needs complete involvement of listener and is in turn highly rewarding with feeling and rich tonal expression.
One can feel strong bluesy vibe in music of Friend 'n' Fellow which has already been recognised and confirmed by the likes of Ray Charles, Al Jarreau, Keb Mo and especially by Luther Allison who was their isnpiration, mentor and friend. Fellow is an excellent acoustic guitarist with feeling for melody and sensitive backing while Friend's expressive delivery puts her in the ranks of the best vocalists of the idiom. Treat yourself to some fine music and you will thank me that you did!

Velvetone – Dark Blossom

(Crosscut Records CCD 12003)


Now, this is some incredible and unusual stuff! Never heard a band from Europe, especially Germany  who can play some music which belongs to US music heritage with such verve and conviction that  puts many of their American counterparts to shame. These guys really cook and I can only imagine them in a live setting, wow! Probably Rolling Stone magazine made best description of Velvetone's music, “They are like a garage version of Robert Gordon and Link Wray!” This music bursts with energy containing the best elements from what we know as roots rock. Velvetone mix fifties rockabilly, sixties surf, Duane Eddy sound, Tex-Mex polkas, country ballads, frantic rock'n'roll and some moody slowies into a hard to resist musical gumbo which sounds like it's been just recorded in one of those mysterious studios in the South of USA in the fifties and not in Bremen, Germany! Some fine guests including legendary Wanda Jackson add another level to this highly recommended piece of music. Plenty of original stuff with some excellent covers ( including Jody Reynold's classic “Endless Sleep”, Charlie McCoy's “Funnel Of Love” and Carl Perkins' “Her Love Rubbed Off”) makes this CD obligatory listening. Lars, Andy, Tammo and Ray make some crazy, fantastic stuff on “Dark Blossom”. Hear it and you'll agree!

Recent world blues production has definitely a lot of good stuff to offer to blues fans, but it's often of flood proportions with too much stuff whih undeservedly gets overlooked. We at “Blesok” feel that we should try to recommend some excellent blues related material issued recently and hope to share with you some excellent music. Any feedback from you would be welcome along with your suggestions for some more great blues stuff which we might include in our “Recommended Stuff For Blues Lovers” section. E-mail your comments:
Read, enjoy and get it!

Ruddy Rotta – The Beatles In Blues

(Azzura Music TPB 11042)

Rudy Rotta

Italian guitar singer, Ruddy Rotta is well known blues personality among blues musicians and fans alike. His credentials place him easily near the top of European bluesmen as it really takes something to be able to play or share the stage with people like Allman Brothers, B.B. King, Joe Louis Walker, Son Seals, John Mayall, Luther Allison, Robben Ford and many more. Like his original style of playing, his latest CD “The Beatles In The Blues” is an original idea within the blues idiom which works surprisingly well! Each Beatles classic song on this CD gets fine, original and, sometimes, unusual treatment with strong blues vibe throughout. You almost get a feeling that The Beatles were a blues band after all! You may wonder if John Lennon wrote Dear Prudence with Rudy's arrangement in mind, but couldn't do it on Beatles' album at the time! Norwegian Wood sounds like downhome Mississippi Delta blues with excellent acoustic guitar while Get Back is treated like it's Al Green classic with that classic 60's Memphis sound of Hi records. I've Got A Feeling is New Orleans gumbo at it's best and Don't Let Me Down arrangement begs Etta James to do it justice! In My Life, largely considered as the best song The Beatles ever wrote, closes this excellent CD with its easy going rolling piano and evocative Rudy's vocal. Can The Beatles do the blues? Yes, of course!

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