Old School is Koko Taylor's first new album in seven years, and after a series of health issues that sidelined her for a while, it could be viewed as a comeback of sorts, but if so, there aren't any signs of rust here. She still belts out her trademark Chicago blues like she always has, sidestepping any 21st century recording tricks for a straightforward set that wouldn't sound out of place next to her classic Chess sides from the early '60s. It's also encouraging that she wrote nearly half the tunes here, while turning in solid covers of a pair of Willie Dixon songs ("Don't Go No Further" and "Young Fashioned Ways"), one by Magic Sam ("All Your Love") and a scorching performance of Lizzie Lawler's classic "Black Rat" that rivals Big Mama Thornton's version.
Old School - is another great solo album, rock album featuring a collection of 12 songs. 11 are new originals by Nils and "Irish Angel" is beautiful ballad written by Bruce McCabe that Nils has been performing in his shows recently. "Let Her Get Away" is a haunting acoustic gem co-written with Root Boy Slim. Featuring rough, raw blues dobros and searing electric guitars to beautiful acoustic tracks, "Old School" is classic Nils at his diverse best. Featuring the legendary Paul Rodgers, Lou Gramm and Sam Moore as guest vocalists, this album has it all and promises to rank among his best.
One can't venture very far into contemporary pop without hearing the echoes of '70s-'80's soul, funk and r&b; decades once mocked have seen their vibrant, groove-savvy music re-embraced – often without a trace of kitsch-savvy irony. This triple-disc, 58 track collection may come anthologized with a slightly cheesy conceit–retro-party-soundtrack-in-a-box, with discs devoted to flavoring your soulful soiree's beginning, middle and end–but its potent collection of vintage, era-evoking favorites can't be denied. Disc one/"Kickin' It Off" wends its way from expected jams like Wild Cherry's "Play That Funky Music" and Gap Band's "You Dropped a Bomb on Me" through such funk-fueled grooves as James Brown's sweaty "Payback" and Donna Summer's urgent, torch-song-with-a beat "Last Dance." Disc two/"Getting' Into the Groove" does just that via Top 40 stalwarts like The Spinners, Four Tops and O'Jays, while making room for legends (Al Green, Isley Brothers) and newcomers like the Brothers Johnson and Kool & the Gang alike. The set's final act winds down into late-night sultriness via Marvin Gaye's "Sexual Heraling," Delfonics' "Didn't I Blow Your Mind," Pointer Sister's "Slow Hand" and other sexy charms.
Elmore James Jr., son of the great Elmore James, is an accomplished and masterful Chicago blues singer, slide guitarist, and former rock & roll drummer. Second CD for Wolf Records, titled Old School Lover, is one of the best traditional Chicago blues albums of 2012. Includes six new songs and six traditional tunes in the Chicago blues style. Features Eddie Taylor Jr., Ed Williams, and Illinois Slim.
The Manchester Craftsman's Guild in Pittsburgh offers another rousing live concert date in this varied program led by the eclectic saxophonist who is best known as one of the Yellowjackets – but whose early résumé also boasts everyone from Tito Puente to Thad Jones and the Mel Lewis Big Band. A dash here and a dollop there of each of these influences make this a varied date whose appeal extends beyond big-band fans and embraces those who love bebop, a touch of the avant-garde, the progressive spirit of the Yellowjackets (most notably Russell Ferrante, who contributes stunning percussive solos on pieces like the crazed, polyrhythmic "Mofongo"), and the great contemporary vocalist Kurt Elling.