Sam Most in two wonderful settings – a large group on half the record, then a smaller combo with David Schildkraut on tenor, Bob Dorough on piano, and Tommy Potter on bass! Sam plays clarinet throughout, but uses some of the phrasing he'd be more likely to employ with a saxophone – a practice that makes the album a great showcase for Most's really unique talents on his instrument. And although the title might make you think the whole thing's a bop rehash record, the arrangements are pretty darn inventive – and really help bring new life into tunes that include "Serpent's Tooth", "Celia", "Bluebird", "Strictly Confidential", and "In Walked Bud" – especially from Sam's solos, and the trumpet work of Doug Mettome.
There were a lot of heavy metal bands in the 1980s and there were a lot of pop bands too; there weren't many who combined the two styles as well as Def Leppard did. This is a statement that the simply titled The CD Collection, Vol. 1 proves over and over during the course of its playing time. Made up of the four albums the band released during the 1980s, a live show recorded in 1983 (which was issued as part of the deluxe edition of Pyromania), a disc of B-sides and rarities, and a mini-disc of the band's self-titled 1979 EP, the set is filled with razor-sharp riffs, hooky choruses, thudding backbeats, inferno-hot guitar soloing, keening vocal harmonies, and the inimitable yelp of singer Joe Elliott as it runs through their early career. Starting with the EP, it's plain that Def Leppard had the goods right away, but all they needed was a producer to help them clean it up a little.
A beautiful later Blue Note album from vibist Bobby Hutcherson – a set recorded after his famous association with Harold Land, but with a groove that's wonderfully soulful in a whole different way! Bobby plays marimbas instead of vibes this time around, and he's working with his own arrangements for a slightly larger group – one that has some sweet fusion overtones, and these wonderful mellow funk inflections – so that even the mellow cuts have this warmly glowing, ultra-soulful sound that's mighty nice – a bit like some of the work from Gene Harris around the same time.
On Buddy Guy's second Silvertone release, he continues the practice of guest appearances begun on Damn Right, I've Got the Blues. In this case, the notables include Paul Rodgers, Travis Tritt, and John Mayall. The finest combination comes when Bonnie Raitt joins Guy on John Hiatt's "Feels Like Rain." Raitt's gritty vocals and sweet slide guitar add a pleasing nuance to the bittersweet track, and it is ultimately the high point of the record. Certain critics and blues purists have derided Guy's search for mainstream success as evidenced by his penchant for guest appearances and non-traditional blues forms, but Guy sounds fantastic in these unconventional situations (witness his burning version of the Moody Blues' "I Go Crazy"). Guy's vocals, often under appreciated, really sell this song. As for his guitar playing, it is slightly below his usually high standards.
PRAYING MANTIS are pleased to announce their 11th studio album, “GRAVITY”! After the positively warm reception to the band's last studio album, 'Legacy' (2015), the new album sees the band returning with an inspired, take-no-prisoners set! “GRAVITY” sees the band keep the same line-up featured on the successful album “Legacy”, featuring Jaycee Cuijpers and Hans in’t Zandt (vocals and drums respectively), who have truly provided a new dimension to the writing process and musical performances. Together with founding members Tino and Chris Troy and guitarist Andy Burgess, they have been instrumental not only in the writing of the new songs, but in providing a new vision in terms of the sound engineering and production. One of the most influential and famous artists in the rock field, Rodney Matthews (Magnum, Diamond Head, Allen/Lande) has been commissioned to do the artwork for the album in the same style and stunning quality that so many fans loved on the original Mantis albums like “Time Tells No Lies,” “Predator In Disguise” and “Legacy.”
On the back cover of Captured Live!, Johnny Winter's second live album (following 1971's Live Johnny Winter And), Winter is pictured with his band (second guitarist Floyd Radford, bass player Randy Jo Hobbs, and drummer Richard Hughes) from the back, playing before a giant, open-air sports stadium full of fans. The photograph is not identified, leaving the impression, along with the large cheering heard on the LP itself, that Winter was headlining such a venue – but he couldn't have been, because he isn't that big a name. He must have been performing as part of a festival or opening for an act that can fill stadiums, like the Rolling Stones. The photograph encapsulates the dilemma of Johnny Winter's career, seven years after he signed a lucrative contract with CBS Records (his discs are now issued by its Blue Sky subsidiary).
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.