New Blues Review 11-21-23
Jimi Hendrix Experience – Hollywood Bowl August 18th, 1967 (Sony Records) Well everyone knows Jimi Hendrix and no one has released more Albums after their death than Jimi. Well here is another new release from Jimi that is a little more historic than most of his recordings. Jimi Hendrix Experience: Hollywood Bowl August 18, 1967 was captured just five days before the US release of Are You Experienced, their album debut. It is notable for being one of the last times the band performed in front of an audience as relative unknowns. The vast majority of the 17,000 plus Los Angeles concert goers were there to see headliners The Mamas & The Papas and were caught off guard by Jimi Hendrix’s electrifying musicality and showmanship. Amazingly, not a single second of this unique, two-track live recording has ever been released before in any capacity, either via official channels or elsewise. Hendrix even rawer than you have heard but still such a dynamic musician. Oh to be at this show, can you imagine going to see the Mamas & Papas and getting this. His usual staple of tunes like the first song a short version of “Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band”, an incredible version of “Killing Floor”, “Wind Cries Mary” and “Foxey Lady”. The recording quality is pretty good. I think the magic of this album is how early it was and bringing back the thought of seeing him so early. I think my favorite on this CD is a 8+ min version of “Catfish Blues ”, listen here. I will probably give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10+ on Music Content.
Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia – Live in Canada (Gulf Coast Records) What happens when you bring two of the best guitar slingers that actually love playing with each other? A high energy, very exciting live electric Blues album. Mike Zito and Albert Castiglia are true “Blood Brothers” in life and in the music they create both individually and collectively, joining forces in a collaborative effort of songwriting and performances to create a total listening experience greater than the sum of its parts. Added to that process are the talents of producers Joe Bonamassa and Josh Smith, who brought fresh ideas to the recording sessions, pushing Mike and Albert creatively and musically to present their best work to date. The band for those nights consisted of Mike Zito – vocals/guitars; Albert Castiglia – vocals/guitars; Doug Byrkit – bass guitar; Matt Johnson – drums/percussion; Ephraim Lowell – drums/percussion; and Lewis Stephens – piano/organ. Mike and Albert do seem to be Blood Brothers, their harmonies are like they have played together for years. Each one has their own guitar style but they blend so well. I love their Tinsley Ellis’ version of “Tooth and Nail” and Mike’s original “In My Soul” that starts with a cool acoustic intro and ending. “Bag Me, Tag Me, Take Me Away is a cool shuffle with almost country feel on the leads. I think my favorite of this CD is Neil Young’s “Rockin’ In The Free World” , listen here. I will probably give this a 10+ on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.
Cassius King and the Downtown Rulers – Last Call For The Blues (Big Ear Audio) Cassius King is a true artist that has taken a different road than most musicians and worked for 25 years as a Audio Engineer for other bands and playing some gigs playing Keys with his friends. Now he is back with a focus on his music. This new album has an amazing group of musicians including Keys and Vocals – Cassius King, Guitar – Chalo Ortiz, Bass – Chris White and
Drums – JR Lozano. Chalo is a Grammy Nominated Guitar Player. Playing guitar from his heart since 9 years old has lead him to play with greats such as Bobby Rush, Dr. John, Los Lobos and many other top professionals. Chris White is also a Grammy nominated Bass Player. His accomplished career has lead him to play bass for greats such as BobbyRush, Johnny Lang, Roy Ganes and Blind Dog Smoking. J.R. was born into a musical family in East L.A. Growing up at shows and on tour, he was surrounded by and baptized into the Blues. Backing up legends like Boz Skaggs, Los Lobos, Kid Ramos, Smokin’ Joe Kubek, Rev. Horton Heat and many others. J.R. also played on the Grammy winning Los Lobos Album Beat Americana. Cassius has a great voice (Dr. John like) and Chalo Ortiz is an amazing guitar player with such tasteful licks and huge leads. Such a great group of musicians, it’s too bad that this CD is only 5 songs long, yes 20 mins worth of music!! Their music definitely has that New Orleans Blues sound. I think my favorite on this CD is “Better Man Blues ”, listen here. I will probably give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.
Alex Lopez – Looking For A Change (Maremil Records) Alex Lopez is an acclaimed guitarist, prolific songwriter and emerging artist recognized for his electrifying live performances. Critics have said he is “capable of revitalizing the blues for a new generation” and he is quickly taking the blues/rock scene by storm. With Alex on Vocals and Guitar, Steve Roberts on Bass and Kana Leimbach on Drums, this CD really shows off Alex’s guitar playing. Vocals are just ok but his guitar riffs going into Chords are very strong and his lead (which he doesn’t play enough of) are incredible. I think a 2nd guitarist would have made this a much better album, but there is something special about a 3 piece. “Whiskey Covered Woman” is a great driving song, very up tempo as most of the songs are on this album. “Spanish Blues” is a slow ballad type blues with lots of arpeggio chords, has a nice feel but again the voice was not the greatest for me. I think my favorite of this CD is “Wild As The Wind” , listen here. I will probably give this a 9 on Blues Content and a 7 on Music Content.
Until The Sun – Enchantment (Self Produced) Until The Sun, hails from Phoenix where they have been playing live for several years and built up quite a following. Until The Sun is made up of Brandon Teskey, guitars; Alyssa Swartz, vocals; David Raymer, bass; Michael Young, keyboards; and Chris Tex, drums. Formed in 2017, they have really made a name for themselves by combining blues with rock, jazz, psychedelia, and anything else that strikes their fancy. Their music includes and often fuses elements of Blues, Alternative Rock, Pink-Floyd-esque Psychedelia, and Jazz. Until The Sun have recently been in the studio, getting ready to release a new full-length 14-track album entitled Enchantment. I believe if you mixed the band Heart and Led Zepplan and stirred in some Son House you would get the band Until The Sun. Alyssa’s voice is so strong and so unique that it creates the rope through out the CD. Brandon’s guitar playing is perfect for Alyssa’s voice, such great tasteful licks and I have to bow to man that includes Sitar on his Blues Album!! Their version of BB King’s “All Over Again” has such a cool vibe, almost Rock Opera like. “Dragon Below” is a great call and response between voice and guitar, guitar riff is gold and the electric lead is perfect. Their psychedelic version of “Hound Dog” is probably my favorite of all versions of this song, except Big Mama Thorton’s version. Reminds me of “Electric Mud” Album. This group and this CD is not for every Blues lover out there but those who like the envelope pushed, this is great!! I think my favorite of this CD is “Groovin ” , listen here. I will probably give this a 10 on Blues Content and a 10 on Music Content.