Monte Montgomery tears it up on the fretboard and the mic, and he's brought a strong rhythm section just for reinforcement. His guitar playing describes a true wealth of sounds–just picture a slap-bass player on an acoustic steel string with a penchant for Stevie Ray Vaughn, and you'll be in the ballpark. At the same time, his blazing fingerstyle, precise, percussive accompaniment, and exceedingly creative use of harmonics are only part of his truly unique guitar style. And Montgomery's outstanding technique does not prevent him from delivering a clear, melodic solo that dances through the changes.The folk-tinged songwriting is well developed, and this man's got stuff to say about life and love. In fact, Montgomery is an impressive, versatile vocalist in his own right……
With the exception of the late Amos Milburn, all of the artists presented here have proved to be survivors. None of them is young any more and each has suffered years if not decades of neglect and hardship. But on the brighter side, Charles Brown and Floyd Dixon are now receiving the sort of recognition and honours that equal and perhaps in some ways surpass the fame they enjoyed in their heyday. As for H-Bomb Ferguson, bis own resurgence has ensured that his wigs are made from the best materials.
Ah, Beale Street. lf you‘re into the blues, there are locations that conjure with the imagination. In Chicago, it‘s Maxwell Street, in Detroit, Hastings Street, in Los Angeles, Central Avenue. But for longevity and romance, incident and especially music, most bluesfans would set their feet on Beale Street‘s weaving sidewalk in any decade between the 20s and the 50s. Not that many white people did until the latter decade, for the area was as lawless as it was libidinous. Authorities left Beale Streeters to their own devices, sending in the wagons after dawn to clear away the bodies accrued from another night‘s misadventures…..
With 1998's "Slyfi", Dave's fourth solo release, he finally achieves complete musical success that eluded him on his three previous outings. Here, Dave sounds up to date and even joyous. Great songs like "Happy To Be Here", "Leaving This Earth", "Even The Bad Times (Were Good Times)" and "AWOL" make this release worth owning. All 10 tracks fit together very nicely with minimal filler or waste. Dave tones down "Greetings From The Gutter"'s heavy r&b influence and blends it with electronica here for nice effect. I find it interesting that one year before reuniting with Annie Lennox for "Peace" that Dave Stewart was making some really great music that was absent from "Peace", which is perhaps why "Peace" didn't sell well in America among other things. If you are a fan of Dave's music or the Eurythmics, "Slyfi" is definitely worth owning.
With Lights in the Dark, Hector Zazou set out to create accessible versions of the ominous, sacred music of Ireland. Utilizing a talented cast of vocalists, Breda Mayock, Katie McMahon, and Lasairfhiona Ni Chonaola, Zazou keeps the music relatively quiet. Shimmering bells, plaintive flutes, and Mark Isham's mournful trumpet serve mostly as background noises to the passionate, female vocals. There are moments of great power, such as "Song of the Passion" and "In the Name of the Father May We Gain Victory," and other songs where there's just a few too many hallelujahs for most modern listeners. The title of the album is telling.
R.I.P. Arthur. In Memoriam. Given the urban title of alto saxophonist Arthur Blythe's debut Columbia album, it's quite a shock when he and his red-hot band of collaborators that include James Blood Ulmer on guitar, Bob Stewart on tuba, flutist James Newton, bassist Cecil McBee, and Jack DeJohnette open with the decidedly funky Latin breaks on "Down San Diego Way." It's not a vamp and it's not a misleading intro, the first of four tracks showcases not only the deep versatility of the rhythm section, but Blythe's own gift as both a composer and as a soloist. He states the melody, handing off the harmonics to Ulmer and Newton and then flies high into the face of its chosen changes, allowing the beat to change under him several times before bringing back a theme and letting Ulmer solo.
The strange, spiritual album that is Umbra Sumus is one of the more interesting items released in 1998. Bassist and composer Jah Wobble creates strangely compelling soundscapes that draw textures from a variety of ethnic traditions without explicitly evoking any one of them. The first cut, "Il Jevedro il Oblanco," sets the pace with a duet for what sounds like a toy music box and fuzz bass, but suddenly becomes a lush electronica-pop track as vocalist Amila Sulejmanovic begins singing in Bosnian. Elsewhere, Natacha Atlas croons in Arabic over a texture not of ouds and doumbeks, but of synthesized percussion, keyboards, and Wobble's own throbbing bass, and it sounds perfectly natural.