New Blues, Soul & Gospel News – 5/26/2016

New Blues, Soul & Gospel News – 5/26/2016

New Blues Adds:

Honey Island Swamp Band – Demolition Day (Ruf): Just like the old term “swamp music” covered a lot of styles, so does the Honey Island Swamp Band. The opener immediately sounded like a lost Rolling Stones cut, while the twin guitars recall the Allman Brothers, and the funkier stuff is certainly Little Feat-ish. Clearly, this is a southern sound and the NOLA roots of this band and guest appearances by Ivan Neville and Tab Benoit certainly enhance that notion. The band itself features Aaron Wilkinson (mandolin, guitar, harmonica, vocals), Chris Mulé (guitar, vocals), Sam Price (bass, vocals), Garland Paul (drums, vocals) and Trevor Brooks (keyboards). The disc was produced Luther Dickinson. Some folks refer to this style as bayou Americana. Whatever the name, there are some very solid performances on these eleven originals. Click here and scroll down to check out samples and decide for yourself.   

Mike Wheeler Band – Turn Up!! (Delmark): Mike Wheeler has been in the Chicago scene for a number of years, both as a guest musician, a back-up and, by 2003, a leader of an uptown, soulful blues that has effectively replaced the older style of Muddy Waters, et. al. Wheeler’s style is fluid and precise and his voice is full, but without a trace of the old shouters. Though influenced by rock, this is music based in the blues with rock and soul trimming. Supporting musicians include Brian James (keyboards), Larry Williams (bass), and Cleo Cole (drums) with occasional horn support from Kenny Anderson (trumpet) and Hank Ford (tenor sax). The music shifts from heavy rock blues to soul blues to some definitely swinging jump blues. Heart-felt socio-political commentary, “Sad State Of The World”,  concludes the disc. This is definitely blues you can use! Click here to listen to samples of the songs on this disc and see what I mean.   

New Soul Adds:

William Bell – This Is Where I Live (Stax): William Bell’s best music has typically stressed stories, often based on common sayings like “You Don’t Miss Your Water (’Til Your Well Runs Dry)”. His earliest work was straightforward and largely unadorned. This disc takes him back to the heart of his most successful recordings. He is back with Stax, though it is now a custom label handled by Concord. Multi-instrumentalist John Leventhal (guitar, bass, keys, drums) led the recording and, along with Marc Cohn, co-wrote most of the songs with Bell. He also arranged and mixed the entire disc. The result is fantastic! The simple approach that worked as far back as 1961, still works beautifully today. Bell is in excellent voice and the musical background is just enough. Other contributing musicians include Shawn Pelton, Victor Jones and Dan Rieser trading off on drums; Rick DePofi (saxes); Tony Kadlek (trumpet, flugelhorn); Dave Egger (cello), Entcho Todorov (violin, viola); Laura Seaton (violin); and Amy Helm (vocal harmony). This disc joins several more recent recordings featuring other soul artists like Bettye Lavette and Mavis Staples showing great soul singers who still have the magic. It is indispensable for all fans of classic soul. Click here to listen to a sample song.  

Charles Bradley – Changes (Dunham): Charles Bradley is a soul singer with intense emotion  reminiscent of the “groaning” style associated with Soweto singer Mahlathini in the 1980’s. The groaning, though certainly less melodic than other styles, adds a unique emotional power to the songs, most of which were written by Bradley and multi-instrumentalist Thomas Brenneck. Brennack of the Menahan Street Band. Brennack (guitar, bass, keyboards, percussion) is joined by Victor Axelrod (piano, vibraphone), Michael Deller (organ), David Guy (trumpet), Leon Michels (sax, organ, flute), Nick Movshon (bass), and Homer Steinweiss (drums). The Budos Band plays back-up on the remaining two songs. Vocal backing is provided by Saun and Starr, The Sha La Das, and The Gospel Queens. The sound is unique and it is pure soul. Click here and scroll down to sample several songs from this disc.   

New Gospel Adds:

The Pascal Brothers – Songs For Our Father, V 1 (Virginia Folklife): This disc isn’t new, but it is to us! One might want to call it a reissue, but it isn’t! So what is it? This is a 2003 release from the Virginia Folklife Program sponsored by the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities and it is both a wonderful historical connection and a revival of a cappella gospel, whose foundation was largely set in Virginia by the Golden Gate Quartet in the 1930’s, even though the style had grown up at the turn of the century. In any case, the Pascal Brothers are an a cappella gospel quartet representing that style. This sound is, at once, historic and modern as the a cappella style has lost prominence since the 1950’s, but this disc reflects a more modern approach while being firmly entrenched in the older style. The performance is both historic and amazingly vital and current. Th group includes Frank Paschall, Jr., Tarrence Paschall, Johnny Lewis, Renard Freeman, and William “Billy” Paschall performing a mix of traditional and original interpretations of the gospel style. The result is a revisitation to the classic style and a classic style re-interpretation of the old style. This is essential listening. Click here and scroll down to listen to a couple of samples from this disc.   The bottom two are performances on this disc.


Professor Bebop


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