Blesok no. 48, May-June,2006
Sound Reviews

Dixiefrog Records 20th Anniversary

Vasja Ivanovski


    One of the best independent European record labels celebrates it’s 20th Anniversary of existence with series of fine releases which will undoubtedly make an impact on all music lovers who appreciate good music, be it blues, rock, folk, roots or whatever. Philippe Langlois and his team had followed their vision and love for the music and managed through the past 20 years to establish this label as one of the leading independents not only in Europe, but wider.

    To start with the proceedings we recommend label’s double album collection “2006 Roots & New” (Dixiefrog DFGCD 8602) which offers plenty of good stuff culled off from recent production. This compilation represents the label’s music policy at its best, always having good, honest music as priority no matter what sort it might be as long as it offers pleasure to one’s ears and heart. Roots and folk are well represented with new tracks by Eric Bibb, Pura Fe, Joe Sun, George Hamilton V and Beverly Jo Scott, while classic blues is presented with music by Magic Slim & The Teardrops, Taj Mahal and gospel of Blind Boys Of Alabama. There’s a lot more blues by its “white” practioneers like Duke Robillard, Ronnie Earl, Monster Mike Welch, Leon Redbone and Bill Perry. There’s also some heavy blues rock material with the likes of The Dusters, Cyril Lance, Van Wilks and Gwyn Ashton which will please fans of this genre. Contemporary blues sounds while steeped in tradition, but presented with new ideas are well worth checking out in stuff by Sol, Nublues, Popa Chubby, Jesus Volt, Tom Principato and Gashouse Dave. International character of the music that Dixiefrog explores and offers to music lovers beside USA is presented by material which include Patrick Verbeke, Nico Wayne Toussaint (France), Rob Tognoni and Gwyn Ashton (Australia), Amar Sundy (Algiers) and Bill Wyman’s Rhythm Kings (UK). “2006 Roots & New” is a good start to discover fine music of “Dixiefrog” label!
     “Dixiefrog Records” continue their strive to present the best of known and lesser known artists to music lovers all over the world and I hope that “40th Anniversary” will be as good a s this one!

Cyril Lance – I Want The Real Thing.mp3
Pura Fe – Wait 'till You Come Back Again.mp3
Sol – Black Mattie.mp3

Jesus Volt

    Jesus Volt is one of the latest music discoveries from France. The band started seven years ago with more than 500 concerts in the meantime (France, Germany, Holland, Belgium, Spain and Australia), selling plenty of their recorded material. Consisting of four strong music personalities: Lord Tracy (vocal and harp), Mr. Tao (guitar), Lenine McDonald (bass) and Magic Doudous (drums), this band is a mature group of talented people who surprise fans with every new song. Music of Jesus Volt is a contemporary crossbreed of electronic sound, with a foundation richly based on blues of the 4o’s and 50’s, funk of the 70’s, passing through the era of rock & roll of the previous century, while keeping their ears open wide to the new sounds of the 21st century. Their latest album “In Stereo” (Dixiefrog DFGCD 8605) was recorded in July 2005 under artistic direction of Tony Cohen, Australian producer of Nick Cave, Sacred Cowboys and Michael Hutchence. Band’s original material is strong all the way and shows a band that follow their ideas and perception of music, while few guest musicians add flavour to the sound of Jesus Volt. With bands like this one, once again it is confirmed that rock & roll is not only here to stay, but is ready to cross into the frontier of tomorrow.

Jesus Volt – Voodoo In A Motel Room.mp3

Gwyn Ashton

    Gwyn Ashton’s new album “Prohibition” (Dixiefrog DFGCD 8603) captures this Australian guitarist at his finest rocking blues performance to date. He blends the essences of Mississippi, New Orleans and Texas blues with touches of 60’s surf craze, British 70’s rock and no-holds-barred Australian kick-ass boogie of AC/DC. Every element of the blues is encapsulated here and played with amazing dexterity and power. Old Strats, Telecasters, National Resonators, Fender Twin amps, fuxx boxes and everything else is driven to extreme, guaranteed to satisfy the most discriminating taste in blues rocking guitar sounds.
    Gwyn Ashton dives and ducks from the wild frenetic slide guitar featured here in “Secret Agent”, classic Rory Gallagher track to the gentle, graceful and soulful playing in his Stevie Ray Vaughan tribute “Rest In Paradise”. Each of the 12 tracks on “Prohibition” delivers a take-no-prisoners approach, with 11 self-penned titles. His backing band deserve mention too, Chris Glen (bass) and Ted McKenna (drums) and Don Airey (keyboards) are well known British musicians who played with numerous people before and now (Ian Gillan, Michael Schenker Group, Tear Gas, The Sensational Alex Harvey Band, Rory Gallagher, Deep Purple, Greg Lake Band, Gary Moore, Whitesnake…!). As it is usual with the music of Gwyn Ashton, his latest album is supposed to be played loud, not having to worry about neighbours!

Gwyn Ashton – Rest In Paradise.mp3

Monster Mike Welch

    One of Boston’s (USA) best-loved guitarists, Monster Mike Welch has been a fixture on the international blues scene for over thirteen years (he has been recently nominated for a Boston Music Award for Best Blues Act). As a leader of the Monster Mike Welch Band, Mike has released four acclaimed CDs of mostly original material (These Blues Are Mine, Axe To Grind, Catch Me and Adding Insight To Injury), and toured North America and Europe. He also played guitar on Sugar Ray & The Bluetones’ CD on Severn Records. Now Mike Welch presents his latest labour of love called “Cryin’ Hey!” (Dixiefrog DFGCD 8601), his first album of traditional blues and his finest work to date.
    Amazingly all the studio work was done in about six hours with no overdubs and additional gimmicks! All his influences can be heard on tracks filled with emotional approach that only true bluesmen can express (Buddy Guy, B.B.King, Hubert Sumlin, Magic Sam, Freddie King, Muddy Waters and Robert Jr. Lockwood). This is a fabulous tribute to the blues and his heroes and definitely one of the best releases in recent months, miss it at your peril!

Monster Mike Welch – Searcinhg For An Angel.mp3

Popa Chubby

    Popa Chubby sits comfortably among Dixiefrog ranks frequently releasing his stuff of original material. His latest project is “Stealing The Devil’s Guitar” (Dixiefrog DFGCD 8600) which continues his well known musical path with few surprises along the way. Popa takes us into his world of sonic and lyrical salvation. This is blues, this is rock & roll, this is rap and funk and all that is New York City. Soundwise this CD offers the most textural Chubby to date with lots of slide workouts, acoustic, mandolin, even sitar, and a heavy dose of hard blues-rock guitar. The urban rap of “Smuggler’s Game” has Mid Eastern flavours which transcends the listener to exotic border crossings in the context of a four minute song. The Western saga of “Young Guns” sets the stage for a shootout between new and old, because if you want to take the devil’s guitar you got to steal it! The heart wrenching dirge of “Young Guns” bemoans the trials of the entrusted, add to the whole package of original material two great covers, “Bold As Love” (Jimi Hendrix) and “In This World” (Jessie Mae Hemphill). “Stealing The Devil’s Guitar” shows Popa Chubby in mature, confident way and confirms his status on contemporary blues scene.

Popa Chubby – Smuggler's Game.mp3

Duke Robillard

    Duke Robillard’s Guitar Groove-A-Rama” (Dixiefrog DFGCD 8606) was eagerly anticipated new project by his fans and finally it’s here in all its deserved glory and is perhaps the most ambitious album in the career of this multi-award winning guitarist. “Guitar Groove-A-Rama” to this ears is a great tribute to all the masters of the past who inspired Duke during his long blues road. The album jumps out with the funky lead-off track “Do The Memphis Grind”, (with a nod to guitar greats James Burton and Steve Cropper) and never lets up. Along the way, Duke explores the grooves of Delta blues (Lil’ Son Jackson’sGambler’s Blues”), jazzy gospel of “Sunday Mornin’”, some Chicago blues by way of Sonny Boy Williamson’s “One Way Out”, the soul of Ray Charles (“I’ll Do Anything But Work”), the country blues of Bob Dylan (“Down Along The Cove”), even standard “Danny Boy” gets fresh treatment and sounds just fine! This album is full with bright spots, but its highlight definitely must be the 16 minute?!) tour-de-force “Blues-A-Rama” where Duke pays tribute to ten of his favourite guitar players from then and now with an amazing performance recorded live in the studio. The new CD features Duke Robillard in mostly a trio format (Mark Teixeira – drums and Jesse Williams or Marty Balou – bass) which accentuates the many nuances of his guitar work and also gives him a chance to play a number of vintage guitars in his vast collection, therefore the sound is authentic all the way and creates intimate atmosphere. Few guesting musicians and friends add flavour to this project (Doug James – baritone saxophone, Bruce Bears – Hammond organ and Al Basile – cornet). “Guitar Groove-A-Rama” is an excellent album and should be considered for every fine collection of recorded music!

Duke Robillard – Gambler's Blues.mp3

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