Sunday, April 29, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Big Maceo, Blind Willie McTell, Memphis Slim, Tommy McClennan

Volumes 31 and 32 of the ABC Of The Blues box set.... nicely these two volumes both follow the 'two artists, ten tracks each' guide, so I do feel gypped an artists catalog.

Big Maceo
Or 'Big Maceo Merriweather', born Major Merriweather in Georgia. He taught himself the piano and moved to Detroit in the 1920s, working at an auto plant and playing blues at night. His wife's singing with Tampa Red (we'll see him later in the collection) cause him to move to Chicago, where he started to record, in 1941. Maceo was another giant bluesman, over six feet tall. His recording career was cut short by a stroke in 1946, and he died of a heart attack in1953.

His short recording time often makes him an overlooked Chicago Blues pianist, but he was among the best in the scene for the short period he was there. Just sitting back and listening to his piano is good enough, but he had a great deep blues voice as well. Collections of his music aren't too hard to find, and like Robert Johnson, his career was so short many are complete known solo recordings.

Blind Willie Mctell
Moving back to George and staying there we come to William Samuel McTier, a Piedmont and Delta blues musician. Rare to his styles of blues, he played a 12-string guitar almost exclusively, and occasionally a slide guitar. His biggest hit was Statesboro Blues, covered by numerous musicians. He recorded from 1927 through the 1950s. His last known recordings are in 1956, just a year before his death.

The collection here found some of his very early recordings, where is wife Kate McTell can be heard singing along with him. She stopped recording in 1939 after becoming a nurse. His guitar playing is smooth and clear (the loudness was a reason he chose the 12-string over the more traditional 6). Oddly his one major hit isn't in this collection, though it's common enough you can find it on almost any collection of his. It's nice that on this volume both singers have a smooth, almost laid back, vocal style and compliments their instrumentation nicely.

Memphis Slim
Another blues pianist, John Len Chatman was born in Memphis, he'd get the nickname 'Memphis Slim' later. He was an extremely prolific blues player, primarily piano, and band leader, of mostly jump-blues. He played in Memphis through most of the 1930s, moving to Chicago near the start of WWII. He started recording in 1940 or 41, and that's when the record label gave him the nickname. From then on he was extremely prolific, recording well into the 1980s both solo, part of a band, and as a band leader. Changing styles and labels as he needed to - though never straying from any form of the blues.

The recordings here are split between solo-piano works and band works. Another low-key vocalist, as in letting the instrument do most of the talking and the vocals nearly in the background, continues here. His piano playing isn't as Chicago as Big Maceo's, but it is still distinctly blues in style. His work as a band leader and player is more of a jump-blues style, a little faster and a little more rock in it.

Tommy McClennan
A Delta and Country Blues artist, Tommy was born in Mississippi. He recorded a few singles in the late 1930s, ended up in Chicago recording some more, and reportedly died in poverty from alcoholism (a common affliction among blues artists) in 1962. His style is a rougher Delta Blues, a few have remarked his guitar style was decidedly different from most. Rougher, less changes, and the like.

His recording career is another very short one, at least as known, from 1939 to 1942. He was reportedly seen in Chicago often in the 40s and even the 50s, though all these reports are unconfirmed. His collection here is the bulk of his known recordings, including all his hits. Unlike the previous three artists that lead with their instrumentation, Tommy leads with his voice, sometimes even pausing in his guitar playing to sing A Cappella for a bit. Rough, and even a bit loud, it's a decidedly different take on the delta than most artists give.

Next Week, Mississippi Fred McDowell, Mississippi John Hurt, Robert Nighthawk, and Johnny Otis... a good collection indeed.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Week of 4/17 - Hard Rock, Heavy Metal, Gothic Rock, Trip-Hop, A Cappella

This week I rock out in various levels of loudness...

New and Recent Releases:
Private Sessions
Label: Rapid Fire Global Music
Released: 4/17 2012
Genre: Hard Rock

Latest release from the mid-west hard rockers, this album isn't quite a hard as some previous efforts, there's less thrash elements in it. Which isn't to say it's gone soft rock, it's still a solid piece of hard rock, almost metal in some cases. Julie's voice continues to be top-notch in the genre, very few singers match her pure-rock voice. Definitely a vocalist that comfortable in the genre, keeping it all on track. The special bonus-release comes with a hidden cover of Heaven's On Fire, a great cover that shows Hydrogyn have the ability to keep true to a cover and still add their own signature. I love the energy in their songs, definitely one of the better hard-rock acts (with male or female vocals) on the scene today. A pure no-holds-barred take on rock'n'roll.

Primal Rock Rebellion
Awoken Broken
Label: Spinefarm Records
Released: 4/17 2012 (US) (March 2012 in Europe)
Genre: Heavy Metal

I actually had this one for a little bit, picking it up upon release in Europe direct from What Records, but held onto it waiting for the US debut. Iron Maiden guitarist Adrian Smith (one of my favorite bands ever) and Bassist/Vocalist Mikee Goodman of Sikth (a band I don't like at all) teamed up to produce this... And I can't tell if it's genius or trash, or maybe a little of both. The music is awesome, Adrian and Mikee make an awesome team with their respective instruments. From that point of view the album is a monster of ingenuity and power. It's Mikee's vocals that drive me a little crazy. He's actually a pretty good singer - he just can't settle on a style, either singing, screaming, shouting, growling, or whatever, every song changes up way too often. Which is what eventually drags this album down a little bit into the mud. Were it not for that, this would easily be one of the better modern metal albums I've heard.

Hydrogen Skyline
Echoes In Retrospect
Label: self-released (
Released: Early 2012
Genre: Gothic Rock, Ethereal

Debut full album from the Colorado based group, it's very light and airy, almost. They don't forget the importance of a good fuzzy guitar in rock, but it's definitely the lighter side of Gothic Rock, less punk-rock loud and more Bauhaus ephemeral. Like taking the best of the 80s batcave scene and mixing it with the best of the 90s electronic-goth scene. Like the single, I'm deeply reminded of Sky Cries Mary, which is a nice thing, rarely does anyone capture that mix of heavy and soft like Hydrogen Skyline have here. Warning though, if you listen to this while tired the lead vocals will put you right to sleep, her voice is smooth and clear, making it over the music without shouting at you. I definitely hope they continue down this road in the future.

Adding To The Collection:
Hungry Lucy
To Kill A King
Label: Alfa-Matrix
Released: 2005
Genre: Trip-Hop, Darkwave

Most of my exposure to Hungry Lucy was off this album, so I figured I'd start here now that I've gotten around to actually adding albums to my collection (also conveniently their debut album). I am not disappointed with a full album of listening, very dark and sensual. Crista Belle's vocal style manages to be clear and loud while still feeling soft and intimate - a testament to production quality as well as her singing. Blending late 90s Trip-Hop styles with Goth/Darkwave environments has created an amazing collection of songs. The album itself tells a, more or less, complete narrative story, and blends so well that I'll often forget to differentiate songs while listening.

Pandora Celtica
Dog Party (In The Key Of Swinging Cats)
Label: self-released (
Released: 2009
Genre: A Cappella

The debut release from PC, you can tell that by the time they got into a studio they'd be singing together a decent amount of time. A collection of sea chanties and battle songs, not a surprising move there. One thing I really like about Pandora Celtica is the harmony. No one voice runs away with a song, leaving the others to the background. Too many A Cappella groups feel the need for a lead-vocal and the vocal-band behind them. A good group is a fully harmonized collection - and that's what this group is. The subject matter, though, is a bit specialized to filking, theme parties and conventions, which is not a bad thing at all. It's just not an album to just put on in the background, unless you're into into that, then it is.

Next Week:
I've loaded up a massive 61-track compilation in the genre of "kitchen sink" (little bit of everything), as such I've only added the weeks new release - some very... well, different hip-hop, and an Industrial EP from last month I almost forgot I downloaded.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Memphis Minnie, Big Maybelle, Roy Milton, Amos Milburn

Continuing forward with the ABC Of The Blues, some great female blues vocals this week.

Volumes 29 and 30

Memphis Minnie
One of the very few early blues women that was considered equal in both vocal and guitar to her male contemporaries. Her vocal range is close to the higher pitched male vocals, a not uncommon singing level for early blues musicians. Born Lizzie Douglas in Louisiana, she was active from the 1920s to the 50s, when her health began to decline. She had run away at age thirteen to Memphis, playing guitar and then joining the circus. She didn't start recording until 1929. She returned to Memphis in 1957 after the general decline in slow, non-R&B, blues through the 50s.

Listening to the early, pre-WWII, recordings, you almost miss the vocals are being sung by a woman, her voice is more 'blues' than 'female vocals singing the blues' if that makes any sense to someone besides me. He guitar work is as good as any other blues artist of the time as well, classically country and Memphis in style. The recordings are all clean and clear as well, which is hard to find in some of the very early blues artists.

Big Maybelle
By contrast, Big Maybelle (or Mabel Louis Smith) had a deeper, very blues female vocal style. Singing primarily R&B and Gospel styles, her hey-day was in the 1950s. She started recording in the late 40s, and kept on going through the 60s even after her career started to falter. Like many blues artists she was plagued by drugs and other health problems. She died from diabetes in 1972 after a twenty-five year singing career.

Her voice is throaty, deep, and very bluesy. The songs here do not include her one massive hit Candy, or several of her other hits. Like a good number of musicians in the collection they did a good job digging down and finding the lesser known songs that showcase her abilities in as wide a range as possible. From pure blues to R&B and even a little Gospel in the mix. It's a good solid collection of music.

Roy Milton
Roy was half Chikasaw Indian and grew up on the Oklahoma Reservation before moving first to Tulsa and then Los Angeles by 1933. There he formed the band the Solid Sender and began playing clubs, he didn't start recording until the early 1940s however. He achieved a number of hits on the early R&B charts, primarily focused on both Jump and West Coast styles of blues. By the late 1950s, as with many blues and R&B artists, Rock & Roll had caused him to drop out of the limelight. He continued to play through the 1970s, ending with Johnny Otis' band.

The collection here is a good mix of various incarnations of his bands, with a wide range of backup and singers involved. It's actually a very good slice of the jump scene overall in just one group through the 30s, 40s and into the 50s a little bit. Another artist that, if you're into an big-band tinted style of blues, is worth tracking down and finding his recordings - a number of collections exist.

Amos Milburn
Amos was from and based out of Houston Texas, he didn't get his musical career started until after leaving the Navy post WWII. He formed a sixteen piece blues outfit performing in clubs, mostly jump and boogie style blues. He was known during the 50s for his drinking songs, which was part of his decline as the labels rook Rock & Roll and focused on the non-drinking teen market. He wasn't out for long as the mid-60s blues revival gave him a minor come-back. Unfortunately a series of strokes effectively ended his career by the early 70s, his last known recording was with Johnny Otis in 1972.

For jump blues the rhythms here are slower, very lounge-club oriented, but still unmistakably jump blues in rhythm. Another rendition of One Scotch, One Bourbon, One Beer appears here, by far the mellowest version I have heard. Some good dancing rhythms are presented, overall a good collection. A number of compilation albums were put out in the 90s that make his music not too difficult to find.

Next Week... Big Maceo, Blind Willie McTell, Memphis Slim (are favorite of mine), and Tommy McClennan.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Week Of 4/10 - Dubstep, Industrial, Gothic Rock, Fado

Introduced myself to a new musical genre from Portugal this week, picked up a release from a former KMFDM member, added some Industrial to the collection, and wobbled my way through the new Bassnectar....

New Releases:
Vava Voom
Label: Amporphous Music
Released: 4/10 2012
Genre: Dubstep, Hip-Hop

The latest from house and dubstep powerhouse Bassnectar. He manages to put out about a release a year, and his latest offering is just as big as any. Heavy wobbly basslines permeate this one. Two tracks have hip-hop elements (Vava Voom and Ugly) and an MC to go with the music, the rest is mostly instrumental dubstep, a Pennywise tribute song uses their lyrics in it. Two tracks stand out as the most interesting productions - Ping Pong and Butterfly. Both are immensely catchy and toe-tapping tunes. This is high end dubstep, less fuzz and more actual musical production behind it.

Adding To The Collection:
Sweet Sister Pain
The Seven Seas Of Blood And Honey
Label: Danse Macabre Music
Released: 2010
Genre: Gothic Rock, Darkwave

For old KMFDM fans from back in the 80s Rudolph Naomi is a name you'll recognize. I don't know what he's been doing since leaving the band shortly after Naïve was released, but somewhere a few years ago he became one third of this outfit, an ethereal gothic-rock outfit. I hesitate to use the term 'old-school' because it feels very modern, but at the same time it reaches back into a slightly less industrial-influenced gothic rock style. Light, ethereal, it's low on samples, no heavy beats, and overall is an extremely relaxing listen. It's cello, guitar, and percussion, no one on keyboards or sampler, no loops. Both a male and female vocalist are used, but not often in the same song, each one is used to make a song stronger, where it fits best. And there's a haunting rendition of Mad World on it as well. If you want something in the darker side of the spectrum lyrically, but still  lighter musically definitely find and get this album. (US availability is fastest through the KMFDM online store.)

The Failure Epiphany
Label: Alfa Matrix
Released: 2005
Genre: Industrial, EBM

I've been a fan of Unternull for several years now, but her label is in Europe which makes getting albums expensive due to exchange rates. Finally, I got around to picking up her first album. It's heavy, but not too fast, with expected dark lyrical content, maybe a little too focused on failed relationships, but not in a whiny kind of way. Her vocals are not typical female vocals hitting high notes and soaring through verses. She's mid-range, with heavy effects sometimes, giving her a kind of low growl without shouting 'death metal style' into the mic. Heavy beats, but not quite club-cuts. Another very dark album, but on the heavier side, if you want something that provides a noisier background without getting loud and invasive this is a good choice.

The Rough Guide To Fado
Label: World Music Network
Released: Early 2012 (January I believe)
Genre: Fado

Fado is a new musical genre to me - it's a Portuguese style of music going back to the early 19th century. A guitar music, similar but not quite the same as Spanish guitar, and almost always with vocal accompaniment. I don't speak the language but I get the feeling there are a lot of love songs in here, or at least about love, both losing and finding - just by going from the tone of the singer. The guitar work is really nice in this style, lots of extra little aspects that make it stand out. It's also not hurried, some of the most relaxing and laid back guitar work I've heard in a long time, the music doesn't lend itself to faster dance tunes. There are no backing bands, occasionally there's more than one guitar, but that's as complicated as it gets.

Bonus CD:
Cristina Branco
Original Released: 1998

This was first released in 1998, and made Cristina Branco one of the leading vocalists in modern Fado, the inclusion here is a nice bonus to the Rough Guide, giving us a listen into one of Fado's greatest modern vocalists. Her voice is soft, almost jazz in her delivery. It's simply her voice and one guitar creating some incredibly relaxing and light music. If you like guitar work, definitely track down and find some Fado, this Rough Guide (with bonus CD) is a good start to any collection.

Next Week:
Lots of various kinds of rock and roll coming down the line, Iron Maiden veteran Adrian Smith, some great contemporary Gothic Rock, more A Cappella from Pandora Celtica, and I'll see if I can fit a surprise in there...

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Magic Sam, Jimmy McCracklin, Percy Mayfield, Johnny Moore's Three Blazers

And thus we push onwards into the second half of the massive ABC Of The Blues box set, it almost feels like there's no end in sight... almost.

Volumes 27 and 28

Magic Sam
Samuel Gene Maghett was a Chicago Blues musician in the 1950s and 60s. He moved to Chicago in 1950 and quickly started to follow in the footsteps of Muddy Waters and others in the scene already. He didn't sign a record deal until 1957, and immediately started to get some attention, if not stardom. His career was short, only 12 years, before it was cut short by a hear-attack while on tour in 1969.

Magic Sam didn't use a standard 12-bar blues most of the time, and his higher pitched singing set him apart from most musicians - to me Magic Sam has always embodied exactly that kind of sound I think of when someone says Chicago Blues, a very urban sounding blues. Sadly, his section on this collection is only five songs, another musician where I wonder why they don't showcase more of his work, it's really worth finding some of his music and giving it a listen.

Jimmy McCracklin
Moving out west, Jimmy McCracklin was born in Missouri, but moving to Northern California after his stint in the navy during World War Two. Active since 1945 when he recorded his first single, Jimmy is a staple of West Cost Blues. Cool Fact: The Blasters was named after Jimmy's backup band The Blues Blasters.

Jimmy gets most of the attention on this volume with fifteen tracks. A lot of them some great slow, West Coast blues, a few of them delve closer to R&B and Jump Blues. Some really good stuff here, lots of good rainy-day blues from Jimmy.

Percy Mayfield
Percy started his career in Texas, but moved to California in 1942, and began to steadily put out music. Not quite in the same tradition of his contemporaries on the West Coast, he's primarily credited as being an R&B artist, his style is ballads and closer to his Texas roots of Country Blues. Percy's real claim to fame was his songwriting, signed on to Ray Charles' label after he wrote and recorded an early version of Hit The Road Jack. Percy spent most of his later years (after a car accident that limited his ability to tour) as a song writing instead of a blues player.

Ten, slow, blues ballads encompass Percy's contribution to the collection here. Sadly, we don't get the original recording of his own famous song, but we do get some lovely ballads. He really was a different kind of artist than his contemporaries on the west coast, and unfortunately his style caused him to fall into obscurity by the 1970s and he was nearly unknown by his death in 1984.

Johnny Moore's Three Blazers
Johnny Moore, Charles Brown (earlier seen in Volume 3 of this box set), and Eddie Williams were the Three Blazers, after Johnny moved to California in the mid 1930s and found the other two Texans there and formed the Three Blazers. They gained early exposure by backing Oscar Moore (Johnny's brother who was part of the Nat King Cole trio) and being billed with him instead of as Johnny Moore's. After Brown left the Blazers continued on with a succession of musicians and recorded until the 1960s. They never achieved any big amount of success and slowly slipped into obscurity.

The music is classic R&B and West Coast blues for the most part. The songs here nicely span the majority of their career pulling not just he early, more popular, songs with Brown. But a lot of later material with various other singers and artists. A very good and eclectic collection of smooth west coast R&B over about four decades of time.

Next weeks volumes include Memphis Minnie, Big Maybelle, Roy Milton, and Amos Milburn - digging deep into the blues.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Week Of 4/3 - Bassa Nova, Industrial, EBM, Modern Classical, Gothic Rock, A Cappella

Tried to get in a decent mix this week, finding some off the path stuff...

New Releases:
Caravana Sereia Bloom
Label: Six Degrees Records
Released: 4/3 2012
Genre: Bassa Nova, Pop

Céu does has a nice, smooth, and quiet voice, very jazz in style, and nicely un-american in sensibility. The Bassanova rhythms with a pop-music overlay is a nice combination. The album itself is, as I found out, really good on a warm spring morning, driving around, or walking. Relaxing, soft without being too slow or quiet. The native Brazilian music is not, to my happiness, not even remotely tinged with any kind of standard US overproduction, I hope she stays on the Six Degrees label and keeps her music decidedly Brazilian. The Bossa Nova sound does have some minor pop-style undercurrents, but are closer to a Latin-Jazz sound than a pop-music sound overall. Overall, good, relaxing music to sit back and enjoy.

 Recently Released:
Everything Goes Cold
The Tyrant Sun
Label: Metropolis Records
Released: March 2012
Genre: Industrial, EBM

A mostly-remix EP from EGC, it's full of the kind of hard club-styled industrial that I enjoy. Aggressive, loud, and thumpy. At least one of the remixes is all dubstepped out with wobbly bass, but not so much that it loses the industrial style behind it. Their first release on Metropolis is an appropriately loud piece of work - definitely worth tracking down and forcing your favorite record store to order for you.

Label: Self-Released (
Released: March 2012
Genre: Modern Classical, Ambient

This is a collection of very old work from around 1999, finally seeing the light of day - limited to 50 hard copies, it's primarily a digital release. The liner notes request to take the work seriously, as it was recorded with that intent. There's also an apology for the quality of some of the production, due to limited experience and equipment at the time. Honestly, there isn't that much to overlook and excuse, it has decent production quality - better than some music with more resources. Overall, it's a nice collection for fans to have of early work - the only song I actively don't like is Lament For Peter Pan which is an almost 13-minute epic piece of work that, quite honestly, horrible.But, against the backdrop of the rest of the works, it just quietly slips under the water and drowns in some really nice music. Best for fans or anyone whose interested in the journey a musician takes from early steps to a more practiced refinement.

Adding To The Collection:
Hydrogen Skyline
Label: Self-Released (
Released: 2011
Genre: Gothic Rock

So, I picked this up at Anomaly-Con, a local Steampunk convention here in Denver. It's only a 2-track single (I have the full album release that I'll be reviewing in the near future), so a good introduction to the band. Both tracks are on the less-rock, lighter side, of the gothic-rock coin - though I'm not sure the band fully intends to land in that genre. Still, it's good. They remind me a great deal of Sky Cries Mary, without being derivative, more a feeling of the same audio-space, which I enjoy. Slow rhythms, no one instrument - not even the vocals - really takes the front, all of it mixed together in an smooth ethereal sound.

The Outlaw Of Fives
Label: Non Aligned Media
Released: 2011
Genre: Industrial, Gothic Rock

This... well, this is this weeks gem. I'm actually having a hard time accurately describing the whole endeavor. Take elements of Gothic-rock, industrial, symphonic metal, synth-pop, and punk, then mix liberally in a blender, serve over ice. They like multiple change-ups during a song, and it manages to fit and work. It's all a little ridiculous too, and still it works. While I like them best on the really fast, energetic, tracks, the slower ones are interesting, making heavy use of harmony vocals and string elements. The album is a kind of epic on a scale you don't see very often, and manages to carry itself through with it all the way to the end. Absolutely worth tracking down and getting (the digital version is available on Amazon and iTunes, the CD copy is available easily through the KMFDM online store).

Pandora Celtica
F'n Sharp!
Label: Self-Released (
Released: 2010
Genre: A Cappella

Another band I picked up at Anomaly-Con - an a cappella group that, on this album, mostly sings chanties, though a few other songs mix in. They certainly sing well together, and harmonize nicely, nothing sounds out of place nor does one voice constantly rise above the rest. This is their second album and you can hear that the group here (this isn't the current line-up) works really well together. The one thing about many A Cappella groups I pick up is that there's always something that prevents me from just putting an album on all the way through - which I didn't find here. A good interesting find outside the norm of the general music collective.

Next Week:
The latest Bassnectar thumps my speakers. More industrial (isn't there always...). I discover a musical genre completely new to me - Fado, a native Portuguese style. And some ethereal gothic-rock stuff from a former KMFDM band member. Listen Hard!

Sunday, April 8, 2012

Sunday Morning Blues - Little Willy John, Smiley Lewis, Furry Lewis, Robert Lockwood

Picking up where I left off with the ABC Of The Blues box set, Volumes 25 and 26.

Continued adventures into the Blues...

Little Willie John
Born in 1937, William Edward John started with a gospel group with his brothers. His story is a good blues-legend story, even if his music tended towards the R&B and Doowop side of things. He had several hits in the late 1950s on the R&B charts, most of which appear here. In the 60s his temper and drinking got the best of him, convicted of manslaughter in 1966, he was released while the case was reconsidered, which is when he recorded his 'comeback' album. It wasn't released until 2008, and Little Willie died in jail in 1968.

The music here is good, solid, and very early Rhythm & Blues music. A few ballads and some swingers, but nothing strictly 'blues' as it were. Even the few 'blues' songs have more of a doo-wop feel to them than a blues tune. I put it down to the near absence of a lead guitar. Little Willie showcases his vocals over everything else, and it's too bad he had such a short career, he's got an amazing voice.

Smiley Lewis
Or Smiling Lewis, he was billed as both, has been called the 'Unluckiest Man in New Orleans' - mostly due to his inability to gain popularity where contemporaries such as Fats Domino did - doubly unlucky since he wrote songs for Domino and others. Overton Amos Lemons had an active career through the late 1940s and into the mid-1960s, when he died of stomach cancer in 1966. A very toned down kind of New Orleans blues style, he never achieved great success with his own music. Others, though, did cover his songs and had hits almost every time.

The music, oh, it's just amazing. His voice isn't gravelly, but it's still a classic slow blues wail. As is common for post WWII blues it's a full band and not just voice and guitar. Smiley makes good use of horns and an excellent rhythm section. Very New Orleans with the near R&B full swing sound, but still very entrenched in the blues. It's a shame he didn't have a better career and produced more music of his own.

Furry Lewis
Moving way back, an early blues artist of the Folk, Country, and Delta blues styles. Walter E. Lewis didn't start his recording career until the 1920s, but even before that, starting possibly as early as 1908, he was on the road with musicians performing parties and juke-joints. He was one of the first artists to get a come back in the Folk-Blues revival of the 1960s, though he never did stop performing his entire life - but he didn't tour at all, keeping a permanent job as a street sweeper in Memphis, Tennessee.

Furry takes up three quarters of Volume 26 here, all 15 tracks are very early tracks of his from the 1920s. Given these aren't the easiest recordings to come by, I'll take it. Some are in excellent condition, no doubt having been preserved over the years as they're classics and hits of his. Some contain a great deal of hiss after being pulled from old 78s.

Robert Lockwood
Sometimes known as Robert Junior, as the famous Robert Johnson lived with his mother on and off for ten years and Lockwood learned guitar from him. His early career was classic Delta Blues in the same style as Johnson, however his later career had him in Chicago where he was part of the Electric-Blues scene, often playing with Sonny Boy Williamson II and Little Walter. He played until he died of a stroke in 2006 after a more than seventy year career.

He only has five tracks in this collection, which is unfortunate for someone who had such a long, and varied, musical well to draw from. While I appreciate getting some of the rare tracks from Furry Lewis, we inevitably short change another artist, and to do so with Robert Lockwood is unfortunate. The five songs we do get are from his later repertoire as a Chicago Blues musician. Though it includes an excellent version of Aw Aw Baby (aka Sweet Home Chicago).

That's halfway through the amazing box set of the ABC Of The Blues... so far the collection is amazingly diverse, which puts it a level above most 'definitive' collections. Next Week we look at Magic Sam, Jimmy McCracklin, Percy Mayfield, and Johnny Moore's Three Blazers.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Week Of 3/27 - Metal and EBM

Delay of Post due to illness. Right on the heels of attending a convention I became sick with the flu, which severely curtailed my music listening ability - much less posting. Last weeks Sunday Morning Blues is bumped to this coming Sunday, and this post is many hours late.... On with the show...

A lot of Live music this week, several new releases, and almost completely Heavy Metal.

New Releases:
Iron Maiden
En Vivo!
Label: EMI Records
Released: 3/20 2012
Genre: Heavy Metal

A double disc live release... Iron Maiden are now one of those bands that can simply Go On Tour. Which means I tend to skip a lot of Live Album releases - after all I only need so many live versions of classics from any Maiden era. But when they put out a live set from the latest album I'm inclined to pick it up - because Iron Maiden are amazing live. Truly a great show, and I like to hear how the new material sounds with a crowd, recorded live with no studio mixing. En Vivo! is the live tour from the Final Frontier album, which was epic in scale. Only five of the tracks from The Final Frontier made it onto this live set, which is only 17 tracks on 2 discs, though it still tracks in just under two hours. I would have liked to see the thing push the limits of the CDs some more, each could easily fit another track, a full 2 hours of live music would have been nice. Still, the boys still have it, the songs aren't hacked and hashed live, nor are they precision replicas of the studio. It's a live show, and it is good. If you're a big Iron Maiden fan you'll probably want this.

The Electric Age
Label: Entertainment One
Released: 3/20 2012
Genre: Heavy Metal, Thrash Metal

I always love the release of a new Overkill album, through the 2000s they seem to just be getting harder and heavier, which is good after a faltering 90s (which I mostly don't own, though I may fix that in the future). The Electric Age picks up right where Iron Bound left off: pounding the audience into the pavement. The riffs are hard, Blitz still belts out some of the best thrash lyrics around, and everything is overall a grinding testament to the sonic assault that is unfiltered thrash metal. Nothing on Electric Age quite catches me like the last album though, it's an epically awesome album that gets better with every listen, but it's not immediately catchy. Just amazingly good. You can't be a metal fan without adding Overkill to your discography, and while it's not Overkill's best album, it is still leaps and bounds above most metal bands, in any day.

Adding To The Collection:
Strip 'Em Blind, Live
Label: Destroy All Records
Released: 2007
Genre: Heavy Metal, Hard Rock

Hydrogyn weren't around all that long before they had to the opportunity to put out a live album, so it's a short set. Only one track from the future album Deadly Passions (and the bonus track at that) is in the set, so no previews for the audience. It's a solid (almost) forty minute set, with a bonus non-live cover of Back In Black. They make a good live band, putting a solid amount of energy into the songs, a clean sound-board recording helps too. Good for hardcore fans of the band, but it's not an awesomely amazing set, they aren't quite as epic as some other bands out there on a live set - or maybe it didn't come through the recording.

Weird News From An Uncertain Future
Label: Alfa Matrix
Released: 2007
Genre: EBM, Electro

32Crash is a Jean-Luc De Meyer, Len Lemeire, and Jan D'Hooghe side project. It's a weird concept album that tells a tale of the future. Planetary devastation, ecological disaster, alien invasion, conquest, and other assorted bits of doom filter down through a stripped EBM beat. This is almost under-produced. But it works, and well, because these three guys know exactly how far down to strip things and still keep the club feel and sound. Definitely an album worth seeking out, it sounds good, you can put it on and use it for ambient sound, or put on headphones and get lost in a strange futuristic tale.

Bonus Track:
Bassnectar (featuring Amp Live)
Label: Bassnectar self-released
Released: 2012
Genre: dubstep
A preview track from the upcoming Bassnectar album. If this track is an average example of what's to come this next album will be big and loud and all kids of fun. Comes out Real Soon (April 10, 2012). The song is just excellent, truly. Can't wait for the next album, I've got my copy on pre-order.

Next Week:
And next week .... not nearly so much metal. Some very old Unwoman (and a limited release at that), A Capella, Bassnova, Industrial and more....