Blues Bytes

July 2004

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What's New


Paul OscherIt's not often that we all get to hear the real stuff anymore. Multi-instrumentalist / vocalist Paul Oscher's latest CD, Alone With The Blues (Electro-Fi Records). is the real stuff. The man who played in The Muddy Waters Band back in the 1960s, then followed the obscure musician route for a couple of decades, is back with his fourth album in the last five or so years. It's good ... damn good. The disc opens with a hot harmonica instrumental, "Walkin'," that will invoke memories of Little Walter's best stuff ... not surprising, since both Walter and Oscher honed their trade with Muddy Waters. He follows with a sparse version of Jimmy Rogers' "That's All Right," on which Oscher is joined on guitar by Ted Attorino. Oscher's own foray into guitar accompaniment comes on his own "Standing At The Crossroads," a haunting solo number which sounds like a John Lee Hooker number. He then showcases his harmonica skills on the instrumental "Alone With The Blues," switching between assorted chromatic and diatonic harmonicas, bass harmonica and the Hohner melodica; this cat is truly a genius on these instruments. The sound of the bass harp, not often heard on recordings, is especially cool. "Blues and Trouble" features Oscher, as pictured on the album cover, playing solo with guitar and rack harmonica; this one sounds like early Muddy material, but it was penned more recently by Oscher. This talented guy can also play the piano, as heard on the barrelhouse blues "Juke Joint," on which he overdubs some mean harp blowing. The only cut featuring a full band is a version of Robert Nighthawk's "Anna Lee," with Oscher throwing down some nasty slide guitar licks and backed by Dave Alexander on piano, Calvin Jones on bass, and Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on drums; it's not high energy, but very tasteful. Just when I didn't think I could be surprised by the content on this disc, Oscher picks up an accordion and gives a real backwoods churchy feeling to the Mississippi John Hurt song "Louis Collins." He delivers some of his most impassioned vocals on the traditional "Old Ship of Zion." By now you may have figured out that there are a lot of songs on this CD --- 17 of 'em in all, making this album even more of a bargain for the money. Alone With The Blues is highly recommended and will undoubtedly be on many reviewers' top ten lists at the end of the year.

--- Bill Mitchell

Quinn GoldenWhen The Dance Is Over (Ecko Records), with its melancholy title, will be the last CD release in the all too short career of Quinn Golden, who tragically passed away shortly after his last release, Bottom's Up, reviewed here in the August 2003 Blues Bytes. The tracks recorded just before he died are some of his best work ever. The first track, with its ironic title "I've Got A Schedule To Keep," opens with that familiar Ecko Records sound with rhythm tracks, guitar and sequencing by label owner John Ward. Mel Waiter's "Hole in The Wall' follows, given a very soulful reading by Golden. "Let Me Fill You Up" is an easy-going dancer which brings us to the CD's highlight, a classic duet with Sheba Potts-Wright (see last issue for review of her latest). "If You Don't Love Me" is a contemporary sounding duet that will be played on radio stations throughout the chitlin' circuit airwaves. It originally appeared on Golden's first Ecko album, but not as a duet. "I Was Cheatin' On You," which first appeared on his A Little Sumpin' Sumpin release, carries a theme that permeates most southern soul records. Golden's soulful voice can be appreciated here for making this song sound important. "I'm Gonna Be A Man About It" is also from that release, as is "Baby Whip." "Peepin' In The Window" is from his What's The Name Of That Thang release from 1999. A new song is "When This Dance Is Over," with its equally ironic title, is a fresh dance track which features Quinn's silky smooth vocals. Quinn's lush background harmonies blend perfectly with his lead vocal lines to create a tasteful ending to this release. My copy of this CD had two hidden versions of "When This Dance Is Over," each clocking in at over five minutes, giving us more filler than killer. Not a lot of new stuff here, more like a Best Of... CD, but certainly the place to start if you don't have his earlier releases.

It's been quite a few years since I heard Marion James' CD on Appaloosa, but I remember enjoying that one, especially the slow burner "He Left Me Cryin'. So it came as no surprise that this new CD, Essence (Soul Food Records), was as good as it is. Born and raised in Nashville, Tennessee, Marion grew up in a musical family as her sister sang gospel in the Clara Ward Singers. During the early 1960s Marion's touring band included guitarist Jimi Hendrix and bassist Billy Cox. In 1966 she recorded the R&B top ten hit "That's My Man" for Nashville's Excello Records. That track featured Marion's husband, trumpeter/arranger Jimmy Stuart, who arranged the horn charts for Bobby Bland and Junior Parker. Marion continued performing until the mid 1980s, when she decided to take a long overdue break from the road. In the early '90s she began performing with a group called The Hypnotics and that gave way to the Appaloosa CD I previously mentioned. Since then she has shared the stage with Rufus Thomas, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown and Chick Willis, to name a few. That brings us to Essence; it is a blend of blues, soul and jazz and features some of Nashville's finest musicians. Jazz pianist Beegie Adair and her trio accompany Marion on six of the 12 songs. Those tracks set the bluesy jazzy sound, but other standout tracks such as Latimore's "Let's Straighten It Out" and Earl Gaines' "24 Hours A Day" have a very soulful feel. Not put off by doing standards like "Until The Real Thing Comes Along" or "Be Anything," she puts her own personal stamp on these in addition to the originals recorded here. A fine release that deserves much attention. Visit their website at

Shirley BrownI have to stop wishing for another "Woman To Woman" with each new Shirley Brown release. After all, that was 1974 and here we are 30 years later (my god, has it been 30 years?). As I mentioned in my review of her last album, Holding My Own, reviewed in these pages December 2000 (and has it really been three and a half years since that review?), "Woman To Woman" was the last major hit for Stax Records before they went bankrupt a year later. There was something wonderful about those Stax releases that I sorely miss. Perhaps it was the in your face horns, the great Otis Redding or Rufus Thomas "Walking The Dog," but make no mistake about it, those were magical times. Of course, back to reality, here it is the 21st century and, instead of The Memphis Horns, we have programming and synthesizers. Enough of that, let's get down to reviewing this fine new release, Woman Enough (Malaco Records), from the one and only Ms. Brown. Glancing at the CD's booklet, I noticed that this release was evenly divided between four producers, not uncommon with Malaco, and each one contributing their own sound. The tracks produced by Shirley and Lester Snell took on a more danceable sound, with exceptions being a lovely tribute to her mother, who passed on in 2003, titled "Miss Lizzie's Daughter," and the wonderful ballad "My Heart Can't Take Another Break," giving Shirley another potential hit. The Brown/Snell tracks have real musicians and a retro-Malaco sound to them. The Rich Cason tracks had a definite 21st century sound, with heavy synthesizers and programming. Next we come to producer Frederick Knight, who contributed some great tracks on her last CD. These two tracks, "Too Much Candy" and "(I've Got To) Sleep With One Eye Open," should get lots of airplay. These have a few live musicians, some tasteful programming and fine backing vocals by Valerie Kashimura and Freddie Young, who also sing on the on the two tracks produced by Malaco heavies Wolf Stephenson and Tommy Couch. These tracks ("I'd Have To Be) Stuck on Stupid," written by the prolific George Jackson, followed by one of my favorites on this CD, "It's Best We Say Goodbye," by veteran songwriter Rue Davis, take on an entirely different sound, with veteran Malaco musicians David Hood, Clayton Ivey and Larry Byrom giving it that modern Malaco sound of recent years. All in all, a fine release, with 52 minutes of classy Shirley Brown. I'm all smiles.

--- Alan Shutro

San Diego pianist Sue Palmer is a first class, knockout boogie woogie player who has enjoyed a solid reputation in Southern California for 25 years, first with a great traditional band called Tobacco Road, and then with Candye Kane, with whom she spent a number of years in the studio and on the road. If you saw Candye during that period of approximately 1993-1999, you’ll remember Palmer as the gal with the spacey specs and major beehive. She’s released a trio of fine recordings since striking out on her own. The 1999 Motel Swing, featuring fellow ex-Candye Kane band member Steve Wilcox, former Tobacco Road bandmates April West (trombone) and Sharon Shufelt (drums), and guest Earl Thomas on vocals, this highlighted Palmer’s extraordinary skills as a boogie woogie and blues master. Palmer is one of the finest pianists in the country and one need look no farther than this masterwork for proof. The 2001 follow up, Soundtrack to a B Movie, with many of the same players on board, has a fatter sound and kicks just as mightily on the instrumental numbers. “The Boogie and the Blues,” a great Camille Howard tune that I used for a theme on a radio show some years back, is sung by Deejha Marie, who pops in with vocals here and there with mixed results. As I said, the instrumental numbers kick butt. The original “Walkin’,” with its hepcat groove, is one of the standouts here. “Motel Mambo” with Sue and Deejha sharing the vocals is fantastic, and “Dragnet for Jesus” is a hilarious tune sung by pal Candye Kane. The latest Sue Palmer collection is Live at Dizzy’s, released in 2002. Another mixed bag, the instrumental numbers are just fantastic, but most of the vocals aren’t as amazing as the singers seem to think they are. “Room Service Boogie,” “Beehive” and Palmer’s “Swango,” a tune that Candye Kane fans will recognize, are the standouts. The recordings are all well worth seeking out. Fans of boogie piano are already hip to Sue Palmer. She’s recognized as one of the finest on the planet. These are three discs that point to that dazzling technique as well as shining a light on other equally dazzling aspects of this brilliant woman’s musical personality. for more info.

Doc WatsonDoc Watson is a musical icon whose recordings you’ll typically find in the folk section of your local record emporium. Not only is he one of the most important musicians of the past half century or so, he’s hands down one of the most talented folks to ever grace a recording studio or concert stage. No more a blues artist than a bluegrass picker or folk, roots or country artist, he combines elements of each into a combination that dazzles in any genre.  Most of his recordings are spectacular, though Sittin’ Here Pickin’ The Blues (Rounder) might appeal to blues fans more than most. This CD version includes the original 1985 album, with an addition six tracks from various other recordings serving as bonus material. Opening with “Freight Train Blues” (got ‘em in the bottom of my ramblin’ shoes”), Doc and his son Merle, who died in a tragic farm accident shortly after this was released, are joined by the mandolin and fiddle wizard Sam Bush and T. Michael Coleman on bass and guitar. The picking is northing short of amazing, which pretty much describes every tune on the disc. The version of Jimmie Rodgers’ “Hobo Bill’s Last Ride,” “Did You Hear John Hurt?,” Brownie and Sonny’s classic “I’m A Stranger Here,” “Blue Ridge Mountain Blues,” Leroy Carr’s “How Long Blues,” and “Honey Babe Blues” are the standouts, but there isn’t anything here less than impressive. Charlie Musselwhite, Mark O’Connor and Herb Pedersen are among the guests who sit in, but this is all about Doc Watson. His voice is as sweet as country honey and he’s simply one of the greatest guitar players of all time. I can’t recommend this highly enough.

Emery Williams, Jr., better known as pianist and vocalist Detroit Junior, is in fine form on Live at the Toledo Museum of Art (Blue Suit), recorded in 2001. Performing on a Wendell Castle designed Steinway, the venerable blues man, 71 at the time of the performance, works fine versions of “Boogie Blues,” “Send For Me,” “Strange Things Happening,” the boogie-ing original “Turn Up The Heat,” “Caledonia” and Jimmy Reed’s “Honest I Do.” Though he’s never been ranked among the most important of blues pianists, Detroit Junior has carved out a niche among journeymen blues players and has enjoyed a solid reputation over the past half century that has been well deserved.

--- Mark E. Gallo

Long before Mississippi hill music became a roots music rage, John Lee Hooker was the king of boogie. He never backed down and had a strong feeling that he was going to be a star. The two-hour Come And See About Me DVD (Eagle Eye Media) features many well known Hooker numbers interspersed with interview clips of himself along with admiring artists such as Charlie Musselwhite, Carlos Santana, Bonnie Raitt, John Hammond and Ry Cooder. The disc is billed as a career retrospective, yet it primarily focuses on the ‘80s and early ‘90s. If you are expecting to see/hear "Dimples," "One Bourbon One Scotch One Beer," "Terraplane Blues," "Big Legs Tight Skirt," "Chill Out," etc., be forewarned – they aren’t included. The DVD does not provide a biography of John. However, viewers gain some insight to this legend. He states, "What have I got? Somehow I do things they love. Nobody sounds like John Lee Hooker." Van Morrison joins John by the riverside on "Baby Please Don’t Go." "Maudie" appears in black and white, as it was taken from the 1960 Newport Festival where John performs with the Muddy Waters Band. Other numbers where the colour is absent are: "Hobo Blues" and "It Serves Me Right To Suffer." On both, Hooker plays solo where he takes his guitar and makes it hum. "Boom Boom" is played with the Mark Naftalin Band and it isn’t your typical guitar-driven version, but rather predominantly features lots of piano. Everything you imagine Hooker to be shines forth on "I’m In The Mood" with Bonnie Raitt, "The Healer" with Santana and "Boogie Chillen" with the Rolling Stones and Eric Clapton. Bonus DVD features include an acoustic performance of "Boogie Chillen" with Roy Rogers and an insightful interview with John’s daughter Zakiya. She reveals that her dad was "musically viable right up until his death. He always wanted to do his music and was very private even within the context of the family. He was a kind, giving man who played simple, plain, honest music. He epitomizes cool." The videos were culled from various sources including: the John Lee Hooker estate, BBC, PBS, Bay Area Music Awards and numerous compilations about Hooker, the blues or the band he was performing with. Look for Charlie Musselwhite, Paul Butterfield and Bobby Murray, who appear inconspicuously in a couple songs. Many of the included films are with the rockers that he influenced, e.g., Foghat. Surely there is better and more authentic blues clips buried in the vaults. To cap things off, some of the DVD has very poor picture quality and/or looks like it was shot by an amateur. This is only advertised once the DVD starts playing. Collectors and avid Hooker fans will enjoy this release for its historical value -- others should give it a miss.

I’ve said it before, I’ll say it again. Walter Trout isn’t blues – he isn’t even close. Somewhere along his 35 year career, singer/songwriter/guitarist Trout was labeled a "blues-rocker." Most likely this moniker came from his time spent with blues-rocking pioneer John Mayall. Regardless, Trout can be more accurately described as an all-out, no holds barred, storm-trooping, raging rock and roller. His 165 minute, seismic-shifting DVD, Relentless - The Concert (Ruf Records), is a fine example. The New Jersey native is not a newcomer to live recordings. However, since none of his previous live releases captured the essence of his concert experience, the band’s manager thought recording Trout doing a series of new tunes in front of a live studio audience would do the trick. Amsterdam’s Paradiso was selected to house the May 14, 2003 event and Jim Gaines was brought in to once again produce. Only James Trapp (bass) returns as one of Trout’s fundamentals. Trapp has a stage presence like Bill Wyman. You don’t even know he is there. The newcomers are Sammy Avila (B-3 organ/backing vocals) and Joey Pafumi (drums). Throughout, Walter Trout unleashes crackling vocals which are as electric as his powerhouse guitar. This will appeal to 15-year-old metal-heads and Woodstock baby-boomers alike. Most tunes are road-racing rockers with bone-crushing melodies that include a rampage of incinerating guitar notes fired out by Trout. But what about the video portion? Five camera views keep your interest and change quickly, but not too rapidly. Obviously, they knew the MTV crowd would not be watching this DVD. The stage lighting is good and far more colourful than you’d expect. For aspiring guitarists, there may not be enough close ups of Walter’s hands. However, he plays so many notes in his solos, it is difficult to see them all even when the camera does zoom in. At times, Walter and Joey look like aged rock and rollers which is something the camera can’t hide. Bonus material includes an interview with Trout (where you’ll learn why his battered Strat is discoloured), a backstage video and two bonus tracks. The DVD definitely has the feel of a concert, whereas the Relentless CD does not. It also includes far less music than the DVD version. Trout’s constant blistering guitar becomes relentlessly tiring, and none of the (mostly original) 19 super-charged tunes will receive a blues song of the year nomination. This makes the video a challenge to view in a single sitting. If you can get past that, this professionally produced DVD’s positive traits are: personal insight about each song, very clear and super sharp video image, sensational energy, thundering production, frenetic guitar work and smoldering organ work. Those who were raised on rock before converting to the blues will love the reckless, wild abandon and the youthful, in-your-face energy. Others adamantly will not. If you want to see what Trout is all about, check this DVD out. For more information contact: Ruf America, 162 North 8th Street, Kenilworth, NJ 07033 USA Phone: (908) 653-9700 Label website: Artist website:

Big Daddy GBased on the heat generated on Big Daddy G's Blue Sound - Live At The Harvest Fest (Reggie's Records), listeners will not know that almost sub-zero temperatures were endured by those present in the live audience. Not much seating was available inside the blues tent where the band performed and recorded this live, 56-minute disc in Fredericton, New Brunswick. "We knew this band was good but the show they put on … was a monster," said Harvest Fest Music Director Brent Staeben. "It was not only a highlight of the 2001 festival, but one of the best shows we've experienced." Dave Glover’s cutting edge electric guitar provides the band’s pulse while the most vital organ belongs to Tortoise Blue’s 88s. He also handles vocals and harmonica, while the rhythm section belongs to Wayne Deadder (bass) and Ted Peacock (drums). Things begin with an instrumental shaking boogie called "Stringbean ‘N Tater." Here Glover plays hot guitar with a touch of Texas while Blue’s harp is thundering and overactive. Tortoise knows how to interact with the audience. On "Tramp" he playfully tells them "you need a few more beers." Tortoise’s unaccomplished voice is more suited to backing vocals. He doesn’t have enough depth in them to put them in the forefront. However his steaming organ is another story. It is hot, hot, hot. The same goes for Richard Bell’s top notch piano-works. "Mohair Sam" has a hip melody and a way cool arrangement that will have you getting down whether you want to or not. Throughout, Glover blends many styles into his contemporary guitar tone. On "Help Me," he picks and plucks his strings until there is practically no cat-gut left in them. This isn’t to say that he does so with wild abandon. That isn’t the case as Dave is a controlled player. "You’re Cute" is a danceable and happy tune. Guest Southside Steve Marriner joins Tortoise for a series of double harp blasts that are irresistibly attractive. Thanks to these harp solos, if this number lasted twice as long it still wouldn’t be long enough. This is a band that enjoys a solid and hearty jam. Six of nine tunes are timed at greater than six minutes. The originals are better than the covers since most of the covers don’t reflect the band’s style or have been covered too much. "This album fully captures the magic of that night," Staeben said. "It was only three days after September 11th but the atmosphere was truly electric - people were in the mood to let loose and have a good time. Both the band and the audience did just that and the result is an album that captures the true essence of the event --- an awesome band, a hyper-charged crowd having a super time in the middle of downtown Fredericton." There is some serious potential here but more oft than not Big Daddy G sounds like a local area blues band as opposed to a national headliner. Their best is yet to come.

Nashville seems an unlikely place to house one of the country’s best blues/R&B acts. After years in LA and New York, Stacy Mitchhart moved to Tennessee in 1996. Eight band members back him on 12 tunes on Midnight Breeze (Dr. Sam) that range from contemporary jazz to Southern soul. Eight of them are originals. Stacy Mitchhart is an R&B man at heart, as reflected in "Homewrecker." The funky groove, the thundering horns, the harmonizing background singers, the "morning" lyrics, the raspy voice and the sensual arrangement all live and breathe jook joint, although the guitar fuzz-tone doesn’t quite fit the mold. Unlike other versions of "I’ll Play The Blues For You," the Cincinnati native does not copy Albert King. Mitchhart’s slick version contains a certain amount of cool. "Every Time I Roll The Dice" is a highlight of any performance by the Blues Dr. The song is guaranteed to get your place rocking too. "I Apologize" is emotional and straight from the heart. Its lyrics contain words that every wife needs to hear. The sophisticated sax solo echoes the song’s emotions and will practically have you in tears. Although not strictly a blues CD, the rich songwriting skills and wide variety of this southern gentleman make this one hour CD enjoyable. It focuses on Stacy the singer, the bandleader and the arranger. Mitchhart’s sixth CD features all the talent and momentum that first got me hooked the first time I saw him perform.

--- Tim Holek

Intimately Live at the 501 (Summit Records) is the latest from jazz organist Tony Monaco, and is named after a club in the organist’s hometown of Columbus, Ohio. The CD had the drum mix just a tad high for my liking. Then I read the notes and discovered Mr. Monaco recorded, mixed, and mastered the whole project by himself, not originally intended for public consumption. That considered, it’s as clean and warm as any of the better recording engineers. His working trio is on duty, the guitarist much more suited to his music, and no saxophone. Many of the selections he performs live are on this CD, so it’s a wonderful keepsake of his concerts. Naturally, though, not being able to see his painful facial expressions and bodily gyrations accompanying the avalanche of audio, it doesn’t do his live performance justice.

Having gotten acquainted with Tony Monaco’s record label, Summit Records, thanks to the concert, I was able to later receive the other two Monaco releases for review. Burnin’ Grooves was the first release, produced by fellow organist Tony DeFrancesco. It is a studio trio date that somehow contains equal excitement found in the later live disc. The late Kenny Dorham’s "Funji Mama" has a wonderful tropical feel, while “Jumpin’ The Blues” has that chompin’-at-the-bit urgency I felt during the opening number live. Master Chops T is the middle release chronologically and is jazzier, augmenting the trio with trombone, sax, trumpet, steel drum, and even a workout on Monaco’s first instrument, accordion.

--- Tom Coulson

Distributed by Music Video Distributors, the Swing Era DVD series (Idem Home Video) is a rich exploration of this popular form of jazz that continues to fuel dance classes and CD purchases decades after its inception. The Louis Jordan entry into this series is films and soundies from Jordan’s prolific career. Presented without commentary or narration, these quick and fun clips of the smiling, bouncing master of jump blues includes “Caldonia,” “Five Guys Named Moe,” “Beware” and 32 others. However, this is not merely his novelty numbers. There are some earthier tunes like “That Chick’s Too Young to Fry” and “Wham, Sam (Dig them Gams).” The Sarah Vaughn DVD is more properly titled Sarah Vaughn and Friends as it is a compilation not only of Vaughn but Lena Horne, Ethel Waters with Count Basie and The International Sweethearts. Also included are three singers coming from a blues direction: Bessie Smith, Mamie Smith, and Ida Cox. Vaughn, of course, exudes technical excellence and grace, but she is a vocal stylist that only partly covers swing. The Lena Horne examples (two soundies) really swing and the lengthy, elaborate “Boogie Woogie Dream” is a pinnacle of this short film genre in three acts with set and costumer changes and boogie-woogie piano greats Pete Johnson and Albert Ammons. Interestingly, the white girls got segregated off to their own Peggy Lee DVD. This is itself sectioned into singers before bandleaders and blondes ahead of brunettes to arrive at a programming order of Peggy Lee, June Christy, Ina Ray Hutton, Lorraine Page and finally the acrobatic Rita Rio. There is also a Nat ‘King’ Cole DVD in the series dedicated exclusively to the talented MOR singer/pianist in 27 tracks. This includes such songs as “Route 66,” “Nature Boy,” and “Mona Lisa.” Much of the material comes from the very first short musical films made specifically for television, the Snader Telescriptions. Duke Ellington / Lionel Hampton is a DVD split between those two bandleaders. These two go together well because the pieces are mostly instrumental, each bandleader arranges for a lot of brass and features a lot of quick solos from different orchestra members. Hampton’s mellifluous vibes playing is a real treat of this chapter in the Swing Era series. A real highpoint in the series is the Cab Calloway DVD. This DVD takes the musical highlights from the film "Hi-De-Ho" (1947) for a cohesive set of performances, including “St. James Infirmary,” “Calloway Boogie” and “Minnie The Moocher.” Being film, the visuals are of higher quality than the soundies and Telescriptions and, of course, Cab offers a stellar, exaggerated performance at every step.

It is a tough challenge to tell the story of blues music completeness; the DVD The Story of the Blues: From Blind Lemon Jefferson to BB King (Quantum Leap) does not purport explicitly to do that. However, in the vary beginning of the PBS-style documentary we are taken right up to The Civil War and given Big Bill Broonzy's "Take this Hammer" as an example of a work song. (That would be like starting off the history of jazz with WWII jitterbugs and using a Louis Armstrong recording of "When the Saints Go Marching In" as an example of Dixieland). Such arguments aside, the DVD does a good job at covering the chronology of the blues and fitting in by musical example Blind Lemon Jefferson, Ma Rainey, Elmore James and more. The video footage to accompany the song snippets was well planned so that key nouns in the lyrics reflect in the imagery, making the pictures more engaging. The DVD also is a fine introduction to the rudiments of musical theory for the blues and the structure of blues lyrics.

40th Anniversary: Keep On Running (Cherry Red) marks The Spencer Davis Group's four decades of R&B-fueled rock 'n' soul, which the group also marked with touring in Europe. The collection starts out with a 1965 radio session of the John Lee Hooker song that was on the group's first single, "Dimples." There are several such radio selections, and a radio cut here is just a really well-produced live cut. Steve Winwood comes across as soul on fire on these cuts. Covering four different line-ups and periods, the album is still remarkable consistent and robust. The album covers the period 1965-1974 with some great British rock interpretation of American R&B.

--- Tom Schulte

Midnight Rhythm Combo is a band out of Utah, not ordinarily the first place you think of when it comes to the blues. However, while blues is part of the Combo's sound, they also incorporate healthy doses of jazz and R&B into their sound, which can be heard on their recent self-titled release. The lineup consists of Joachim "Jake" Dreier on guitar, Jamie Dalton on drums, Mark Sobus on bass, Steve Lindeman on keyboards, and Juliette Michaele on vocals, while all the songs, which are concerned with fresh looks at matters of the heart in various stages of relationships, were written by Julie Oldroyd (who also co-produced the disc with Dreier). The sound this disc brings to mind to me the most (and it's a fond memory) is an updated version of the bluesy urban jazz sound made popular in the late '70s/early '80s by bands like the Crusaders. Singer Michaele's style reminds me a lot of Sadé, but with a bit more passion (it IS a blues album after all) and the band does an excellent job. All in all, not a bad effort at all from this band and worth a listen to fans of the late-night bluesy jazz sound. For purchasing information, contact the band at The CD is also available at

--- Graham Clarke

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