We've now been publishing Blues Bytes for 18 years. It
seems like only yesterday that the first issue came out --- wow! As with every previous year, we use the
January Pick Hit to feature the reviewers' Top Ten Lists for the past
We couldn't do Blues Bytes without our team
of dedicated reviewers, who year after year submit the wonderful
reviews found on the pages of this site for one primary reason
--- they love the blues! If you read a review that you like,
send us an email and we'll forward your compliments on to that
Thanks to all of you for your support!
- Bill Mitchell (Editor/Publisher of Blues Bytes)
Mitchell (editor of Blues Bytes)
Here's my list of ten favorite CDs from 2014. Enjoy!
1) Mud Morganfield and Kim Wison - For Pops (Severn Records)
Morganfield pays tribute to his famous father, Muddy Waters, with help
from Kim Wilson, who sounds just like Little Walter on every tune. It's
almost like Muddy came back for one more album.
2) Knickerbocker All-Stars - Open Mic at the Knick (CD
Probably the year's biggest surprise -- a great ensemble of blues cats
getting together to make great music.
3) The Holmes Brothers - Brotherhood (Alligator Records)
This one's now a little bittersweet with the recent passing of drummer /
singer Popsy Dixon. RIP Popsy.
4) Johnny Rawls and Otis Clay - Soul Brothers (Catfood
Two stalwarts of the blues and soul genre teaming up for 10 excellent
cuts --- of course it's on my top ten list!
5) Marcia Ball - The Tattooed Lady & the Alligator Man (Alligator Records)
Every album from Marcia is certainly worthy of acclaim, and this one's
6) Ruthie Foster - Promise of a Brand New Day (Blue
Inspiring mix of soul, blues and gospel from an Austin, Texas regular.
7) Jarekus Singleton - Refuse To Lose (Alligator Records)
Sophomore release from former basketball player builds on the
promise he showed with his first release, Heartfelt.
Rob Stone - Gotta Keep Rollin' (Vizz Tone)
Old school blues done right, with special guests like Eddie Shaw, John
Primer, Henry Gray , David Maxwell, and others.
9) Arthur Migliazza - Laying It Down (CD Baby)
Exciting disc of original and blues piano classics from one of the
young artists on the scene.
10) Rod Piazza & the Mighty Flyers - Emergency Situation (Blind
The Mighty Flyers are consistently one of the best live bands around.
(reviewer and freelance journalist from Canada)
following list is in no particular order and it represents several
styles of blues including: acoustic, new artist, contemporary,
soul/blues, and traditional blues.
Rip Lee Pryor – Nobody But Me (Electro-Fi)
Elvin Bishop – Can’t Even Do Wrong Right (Alligator)
Rick Estrin and the Nightcats - You Asked For It Live
Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters – Good News (Stony Plain)
Selwyn Birchwood – Don’t Call No Ambulance (Alligator)
Joe Louis Walker – Hornet’s Nest (Alligator)
Mississippi Heat – Warning Shot (Delmark)
Vaneese Thomas – Blues For My Father (Segue)
Mark Hummel with Little Charlie Baty and Anson Funderburgh –
The Hustle Is Really On (Electro-Fi)
Billy Boy Arnold – The Blues Soul of Billy Boy Arnold
Mark E. Gallo
(reviewer from Michigan)
Mannish Boys: Wrapped Up and Ready. Seems like they're
perpetually at the top of my list, but the best straight up blues band
in the land continues to impress.
2. Steve Krase: Buckle Up (Conner Ray Music). High energy
blues from a hard blowing harmonica man.
3. Austin Walkin' Cane: One Heart Walkin'. Edgy. Not your
daddy's blues for sure. Fantastic disc.
4. Dave & Phil Alvin: Common Ground – Play the Songs of Big
Bill Broonzy (Rounder). The outstanding traditional blues disc of
the year from the Blasters brothers.
5. John Nemeth: Memphis Grease. Greasy sometimes, but just
flat out soulful and bloozy.
6. Steve Dawson: Rattlesnake Cage (Black Hen).
Fingerpicking instrumental album from a master
7. EG Kight: A New Day. She never makes a bad album. This
may be her best.
8. Sugar Ray & The Bluetones: Living Tear to Tear. Sugar
Ray Norcia is one of a handful of great voices in the blues, on a par
with Jimmy Rushing. His band is equal to the task.
9. Keb Mo: BluesAmericana. One of the most upbeat bluesmen
even when the lyrics suggest otherwise.
10. Holmes Brothers. Brotherhood. How sad to hear that
Popsy Dixon died in January. Gospel-tinged (but only tinged) vocals from
three enthisiastic and talented men.
Tied for 11th: Tommy Castro, Root Doctor, Mark Hummel, Janiva Magness,
Charlie Musselwhite, Marcia Ball, and Damon Fowler.
Clarke (reviewer from Mississippi)
Top Ten Blues CDs for 2014 (in no particular
James Armstrong – Guitar Angels (Catfood):
So good to have Armstrong back in the studio on a regular basis,
sounding better than ever.
Tweed Funk – First Name Lucky (Tweed
Tone): Excellent effort from one of the dynamic Milwaukee band with
their rowdy mix of blues, funk, and soul.
Dave Keller – Soul Changes (Tastee
-Tone): A powerful set of soul originals and covers with Keller, one
of the best soul singers currently practicing, splitting time
between Memphis (backed by the Hi Rhythm Section) and Brooklyn.
Jimmy “Duck” Holmes & Terry “Harmonica” Bean
– Twice As Hard (Broke & Hungry): A fantastic collaboration
between two of Mississippi’s finest blues artists.
Andy T & Nick Nixon – Livin’ It Up
(Delta Groove): Guitarist Andy T. & vocalist Nixon bring to mind
those great Anson Funderburgh (who produced this disc)/Sam Myers
Black Top releases way back in the ’80s and ’90s.
Giles Corey – Giles Corey’s Stoned Soul
(Delmark): Modern blues at its finest, mixing blues, rock, and funk
in equal doses.
Grady Champion – Bootleg Whiskey (Malaco):
Champion’s debut release for Malaco is his best yet, showcasing his
talents as a songwriter and performer. He’s the real deal, folks!
Johnny Rawls & Otis Clay – Soul Brothers
(Catfood): A musical feast for soul music lovers.
Devon Allman – Ragged & Dirty (Ruf):
Allman teams up with some of Chicago’s finest musicians for this
standout blues rocker.
Daddy Mack Blues Band – Blues Central
(Inside Sounds): Another typically fine set from this standout
Deibler (Regular Blues Bytes reviewer now living in
1. Janiva Magness - Original. Perhaps no artist in the
country took a bigger leap of faith than Janiva did in 2014. She
split amicably from Alligator Records and chose to put her new
record, Original, out on her own label. The result is an intensely
personal record that freed Janiva and her band up to do what they do
best, put on an amazing live show. Well done, Janiva!
2. John Nemeth - Memphis Grease. I talked with John
before this disc ever came out and he was extremely proud of his
collaboration with the Bo-Keys to put out what I consider to be the
best Soul Blues release of the year. Amazing songwriting and just an
excellent disc from the first cut to the last.
3. Joe Louis Walker - Hornet's Nest. Probably my
favorite Joe Louis Walker disc to date. High energy, amazing riffs,
great tunes! A stellar release from Joe Louis Walker.
4. Marcia Ball - The Tattooed Lady and the Alligator Man.
Classic Marcia Ball and a real treat for fans of her music. This one
shows up in my CD player a lot.
5. Dave Alvin & Phil Alvin - Common Ground - Play and Sing
the Songs of Bill Broonzy. An amazing disc, Grammy nominated and
in the running for a BMA for Acoustic Record of the Year.\
6. Johnny Winter - Step Back. Johnny's final record
and one that will serve as a fitting reminder of the great talent
that he possessed. Johnny is one artist we lost way too soon.
7. Eden Brent - Jigsaw Heart. Eden remains one of my
favorite female songwriters and this disc is a highly personal
reflection on the current life of Little Boogaloo. She just gets
better and better.
8. The Holmes Brothers - Brotherhood. A beautiful
record from the Holmes Brothers and it's a testament to the strength
of albums released this year that theirs lands on my list at number
9. Walter Trout - The Blues Came Callin'. Walter and
his wife Marie have endured an tremendous year of hardships that
ultimately has resulted in the rejuvenation of one of my favorite
artists. This disc was highly personal for him and one of my
favorite discs of Walter's. Looking forward to seeing Walter back on
stage in 2015.
10. Jeff Strahan - Monkey Around. Jeff and his wife
Lois are two of my dearest friends on the planet and we've known
each other for many years now. We lost Jeff in 2014 and I would be
remiss if I didn't include my friend on my list for this year.
There were some other outstanding releases in 2014 that didn't make
my top ten list but are deserving of mention. They include: Damon
Fowler - Sounds of Home; Jarekus Singleton -
Refuse to Lose; Deanna Bogart - Just a Wish Away;
Mud Morganfield & Kim Wilson - For Pops - A Tribute to
Muddy Waters, and A Night With Janis Joplin - the Original
Broadway Cast recording featuring Mary Bridget Davies. All are
great discs that should be part of everyone's CD collection.