Like Stanley Road before it, Heavy Soul is more about vibe than songs. There are a few sharply written tracks here and there, but what's important is the rootsy, stripped-down atmosphere. Paul Weller's soul and R&B influences reign supreme on Heavy Soul, yet they are filtered through late-'60s psychedelia, blues-rock and prog folk, as he takes songs into extended instrumental jams. The band sounds tight, but Weller has suffered a bit of a songwriting slump, which is evidenced by the handful of keepers that form the core of the album. "Up in Suze's Room" is a hazy, folky gem, the soulful apology "I Should Have Been There to Inspire You" is affecting, and "Peacock Suit" is a fine "Changing Man" rewrite, but too much of Heavy Soul is concerned with texture instead of content. That doesn't make it a difficult listen – in fact, it's quite entertaining while it's playing – but there isn't much to explore on repeated plays.
This expanded version of the classic album adds so much material that it really needs to be reviewed separately from the original article. The first disc of the two-CD set presents the entire album as it was originally sequenced, with the addition of the single mixes of "Freddie's Dead" and "Superfly." It's disc two that's really of interest to collectors, assembling about 40 minutes of different material from the same era, all but two tracks previously unissued (and those two were not released in the U.S.).
Listening to the easy roots rock shuffle of Blue Moon Swamp, it's hard to believe that it took John Fogerty a full decade to write and record the album. It's not just because the album isn't a great stylistic departure from his past work, it's because Blue Moon Swamp sounds so natural and unforced. Nothing on the album sounds fussy, nor does it sound like a meticulous reconstruction of the past. Instead, Fogerty's songs and performances are richly evocative of tradition, but they're vibrant and living for the present, which makes the rockabilly, blues, country, and swampy rock & roll sound fresh. It's not as raw or as hooky as Creedence Clearwater Revival, nor as pop-oriented as Centerfield, but it's a warm, laid-back, and mature record of roots rock at its very best.
Ella Fitzgerald and guitarist Joe Pass teamed up in a set of duets for this album which has been reissued on CD. Because the emphasis is on ballads and not all of the songs are that well suited to Fitzgerald's musical personality (particularly "Lush Life" and "I Want to Talk About You"), this set is only a mixed success. Much more successful are "Don't Be That Way" and "A Foggy Day" but this is not one of the more essential Ella Fitzgerald records.
Ella Fitzgerald and Duke Ellington did not team up in concert until relatively late in their careers (although she did record her Ellington Songbook with him in the '50s). This live double-LP actually finds Fitzgerald singing six numbers with the Jimmy Jones Trio and only "Mack the Knife" and a scat-filled "It Don't Mean a Thing" with the orchestra. Ellington has eight numbers for his band, mostly remakes of older tunes (including a guest appearance by former associate Ben Webster on "All Too Soon," a remarkable Buster Cooper trombone feature, and a rowdy version of "The Old Circus Train Turn-Around Blues"). This is a spirited set of music that with better planning could have been great.
No, this CD is not a »best of« collection, nor is it a collection of Friedemann's greatest hits. Here Friedemann, guitarist, composer and producer, looks back on a wide variety of memories from the past three decades of his career as a musician, without sinking into self-indulgent nostalgia or just rehashing old, well-known recordings. He has searched through his private tape archive and selected a few previously unreleased tracks to document his career and development as a musician from his first performance in 1967. He looked up some of his old fellow musicians such as Bonnie Dobson, Anne Haigis, Davic Moses or Klaus Weiland, and in 1996 he wrote and recorded a number of new tracks with them.
This is one of the hottest albums of the ’70s. Recorded at Rosy’s in New Orleans in 1978 (and originally released a year later as Speak With a Single Voice), it features Galper on piano, Michael Brecker on tenor saxophone and flute, Randy Brecker on trumpet and fluegelhorn, Wayne Dockery on bass and Bob Moses on drums. The hornmen (already famous then for their hard-hitting funk-jazz group, the Brecker Brothers) comprised a blistering front line. Galper was in aggressive form, playing with an energy reminiscent of McCoy Tyner, a spirit of embellishment reminiscent of Art Tatum and a harmonic knowledge reminiscent of Bill Evans. Dockery and Moses formed a heart-pounding tandem.
For those who remember those great albums of the 1970s - About Us and Traveling Underground, when Ian Lloyd was singer for Stories, this album doesn't really reach the musical heights found there. There is a wide smattering of styles, a little of this, a little of that. Some of the ballad types are pretty nice, and there a few that are good dance tunes, but nothing really sticks in your head after its over…