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Reviews Submitted by John Fitzgerald
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John Fitzgerald has contributed 385 reviews to The Penguin: Everything That is Fleetwood Mac:

Mistress (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Above average corporate rock
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 22nd, 2005

What this boils down to is that Dave Walker was in this band at one point but for legal reasons he was not able to continue with them in 1976 so by the time this album was recorded in 1977 he was not present though I'm sure I can hear his backing vocals on the choruses in the song he co penned on this album called "High on the ride" (a very good riff orientated shouting rocker). Dave said when asked at his Penguin Q & A that they may very well have used some parts of the demo tracks (which he had cut with them previously) on the finished product so if he's anywhere at all on this album uncredited, this is the track you may hear him on. Unfortunately, there is no way to really have a picture of this album's cover present as it's just a plain white cover with the word "Mistress" embossed towards the top in the center of the cover (the M as the side of two female legs). The tracks that surround the aforementioned track with possible Walker involvement are also highlights here, the catchy, numbing opening rocker "Situations" and the popular ballad "Mistrusted love" with pleasant mid tempo acoustics, this song was almost a hit, making it in to the US top 50. Unfortunately, RSO Records sat on this album (most likely due to the legal troubles that had been following the band) for two years before finally releasing it in 1979 by which time Mistress had already broken up. It makes one wonder how big a hit this track could've been had it been released in '77 backed by some promotion. Anyways, I'm sorry to say that it's after this song ends we start to go downhill in to bland corporate rock excesses. Though the first three tracks represent the best elements of that genere, the rest of the tracks display it's bad side. "Dixie flyer" has guitar fills which try to liven this bland chunker up but it's not enough. "China lake" tries to come across as adventurous as it's mostly instrumental with the chanting chorus parts being the only vocals but you can see it coming a mile away though the music is fairly dramatic on it's own. "Whose side are you on" includes lightweight material that tries to be rocking, "You got the love" is a punchy rocker that just seems like it's missing something, the quiet verses work OK but it fails at it's attempts for Bad Company type soulfulness. "Tellin' me lies" is a chirpy rocker that sounds better than the last few but it doesn't have a great hook. Then we get a standard cover of Neil Young's "Cinnamon girl" which actually works pretty good but they should've done away with the "open up and let me in" chanting at the end as that kind of ruins it. Finally, "Letter to California" isn't too interesting a ballad, with it's banjo/electric piano arrangement and it lacks a hook as well. So for those of you that like the corporate rock that ruled the airwaves in the early 80's, you may like more than what positives I've listed here, though the first three tracks I do find essential listening for this genere.

Crossroads (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Crash course in Clapton mostly works
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 21st, 2005

Technically, John McVie is probably really only on “Hideaway” and “All your love” of the Mayall tracks here but as the “Bluesbreakers - With Eric Clapton” album is an essential purchase, McVie’s appearances here are redundant though the same can not be said about Dave Mason’s appearances as though you may get Delaney & Bonnie’s single only studio version of “Comin’ home” (on which Dave plays guitar) on various D & B releases, “Roll it over” was a track recorded by the short lived Derek & The Dominoes lineup that included Dave (who plays guitar & does vocals on this track as well, according to the liner notes) and at the time of recording this track they had been working with George Harrison
on the sessions for his sprawling solo outing “All things must pass” and RIO is an enjoyable slumpy track from those ATMP sessions that remained very hard to find until this box set arrived. Also, a previously unreleased outtake from Clapton’s solo “461 Ocean Boulevard” sessions called “Ain’t that lovin’ you” (also including Dave on guitar) is another easy laid back dragger. As for the rest of the box, here’s what comes to mind (for me, as I admit I’m not an expert on Clapton). I was surprised to see only the one Delaney & Bonnie track (I didn’t think there would be too many but since their “On tour with Eric Clapton” album was considered a high point for them, I thought they’d include
at least one track from that but this may have been a good move in the end as this box, with it’s 83 tracks, does successfully straddle the line of including enough essential previously heard Clapton career highlights to serve as a good Clapton crash course for the uninitiated and there’s a fairly large bunch of previously unreleased (and/or rare) material included to help clean things up for Claptonites. Speaking of “cleaning things up”, it would’ve been nice had “Something’s happening” from EC’s “Behind the sun” (with Lindsey on “additional rhythm guitar”) been included but I guess we can’t have
everything! Interesting how both “After midnight” and (perhaps more predictably) “Crossroads” appear twice throughout these proceedings but with the classic growling Cream version of “Crossroads” and the popular original (and equally as popular late 80’s remake of) “After midnight” they make useful bookends for the Clapton career retrospective angle here (to that date). I’m assuming the Yardbirds material included here is authoritative regarding specifically the Clapton era of the band though Page & Beck fans would probably suggest you get a fully comprehensive Yardbirds compilation instead
of this I’m sure. I found it interesting how half of the Mayall material is from the much (rightfully) praised “Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton” album and the other half was from recordings of poorer sound quality, maybe to capture the raw sound of the Beano album tracks to contrast with the more purist sounding oddities to keep the balance of power vs. traditional blues drenchings. The Cream material here is a virtual greatest hits of their shorter, more commercial sounding material and though some short tracks here do
squeeze in much blazing instrumental interplay (such as the previously unreleased run through here of “Steppin’ out” for instance), one may wish to seek out some live Cream recordings as the improvisation is what Cream were really known for. Also, the unreleased “Lawdy mama” before “Strange brew” may sound samey back to back like that. The Blind Faith material strikes me as trying to please all crowds, a rare track in “Sleeping in the ground” (for the hardcore fans), the one EC penned track from the BF album in “Presence
of the lord” (for those that wished this track to represent what he had brought to BF) and “Can’t find my way home” (for those who wished to have displayed Blind Faith’s general musical restraint in comparison to Cream’s previous wildness as by all accounts Eric wished to distance himself from the guitar god persona he had become known as in to a more low profile, background position, I suppose, like Peter Green had wished in a sense for himself at the time). I was surprised to see so many Derek & The Dominoes rarities included here considering how short lived D&TD were and they work surprisingly well,
though they may not be as improvisational as one may have hoped for in such tracks. The Clapton solo section is a good collection of hits and highlights but it does seem odd to me that most of the improvisational tracks in this box are actually from this part of his career as I tend to think of Clapton’s solo work being the LEAST improvisational out of his various career chapters and the early stuff is where I expected more improvisational material to crop up and instead we get less of it there. For instance, Clapton’s number one cover of Bob Marley’s “I shot the sheriff” here is not included here in it’s smash hit version but in an expanded live version which has grown on me and I confess that I quite like it but as most of the other Clapton “hits” from his solo years ARE present in their famous forms here (“Promises”, “Wonderful tonight”, “Lay down Sally” etc.), then why was this one, the one to chart the highest, not presented in it’s most well known form? Well, anyways, many agree that “Crossroads” is everything a box set should be and I’d have to agree with them for the most part so whatever disappointments you find in this set, you will undoubtedly find two plus points to counteract each negative one.

Yellow Pills, Volume 2 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Sweet is sweet but short, still some other good stuff
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 20th, 2005

Mick Fleetwood pounds away on the drums on this disc's best song, Matthew Sweet's "Bovine connection". It rumbles along in a winning way like The Who's "My generation". This is my favorite Sweet song. The problem is that it's less than two minutes long. One just wishes it was longer but the rest of the disc is pretty good too although many songs sound rather similar to each other. (there's two songs included from 20/20) but good sounding 90's rock. Not too grungy, not too poppy although the CD is billed as a "power pop" collection. Going by the Mac connection alone, I'd recommend it anyways but even if the shortness of that song may irritate some, there's still some other good sounding musical moments included herein.

XXI (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Eye opening hits & rarities collection
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 18th, 2005

This may not be true in other areas of the world but where I grew up, Dwight Twilley had always been spoken of in more of a Country music vein, I don't know why, as this impressive collection of Greatest hits & rarities proves this was not so. Of main interest to us here, the song "Grey buildings" probably would've been the best song on the record anyways as it's straightforward, no nonsense rock approach couldn't have been a fresher breath of air and it's still a wonder as to why this recording was unreleased until the unleashing of this CD, you can hear Billy pretty good on the backing vocals and though the liner notes do state that this was from an unreleased Twilley album called "The luck", as we now know, Twilley has since released an album with this title and it does have Billy guesting on vocals on a song from that released version of the album called "Gave it all up for rock n' roll" but "Grey buildings" is still only available here as of this date and this is the best place to get to know Twilley's recordings anyways. The CD is well packaged and contains very useful liner notes by DT as he gives us some notes on each of the 21 tracks along with the musician listings and where/when the recording was done and what album it's from originally and even where it was supposed to be from in the rarities cases (like "Grey buildings"). After hearing this CD, it's not surprising to see why Tom Petty apparently also thinks highly of Twilley as to me, there is a strong Jeff Lynne influence here on songs like "Out of my hands" (has the slow "Can't get it out of my head" feel), "Darlin'" (sounds like up beat Lynne here) & "Touchin' the wind" (check out the reverb & echo happy vocals here, remind you of someone?!). The down time in this CD is the 80's period where Dwight's more rocking material really hurts not being supported by a stripped down nature as his earliest material was but by a more glossy 80's sound, the worst offenders being "Little bit of love" (synth led, still has good guitars but the bubblegum style sounds banal with this production over it), "Girls" (which has Petty on guest vocals, strange that he would be on this one and not something more suited to his own style like the closing "That thing you do" (funny story behind that one in the liner notes too). Still better than the other 80's tracks here but doesn't stand up well against the rest of the CD), "Why you wanna break my heart" (fair emotion comes through the 80's sheen on this "made famous via the "Wayne's world" movie" tune), "Don't you love her" (fast jangle but can't escape that confining 80's sound), "Wild dogs" (a would've been good shuffle ruined by the 80's gloss) & "Shooting stars" (fair ballad but plinky 80's keys are intrusive). All of these (except the last 2 which are from the "Wild dogs" album) are from his "Jungle" album so I'm guessing that this was a successful album for him but I think the choices from his other albums here are more inspired like "Dion baby" which is piano led and chugs along nicely, "10,000 American scuba divers dancin'" is a well done crashing rock song while "Somebody to love" is a good ballad with a similar garage sound. The opening rocker "I'm on fire" has a great jangly acoustic guitar part that comes in later on which mixes good with the chanting vocal style. There's also other highlights like "Looking for the magic" which is a catchy quick clipper and "That I remember" has a strumming ballad feel which really works mainly because it's a good change of pace from the previous song's tempos. There are some duds though like "Sincerely" which tries to be haunting but drags, an Elvis ham up called "TV" which is almost laughably campy, "Shark" which sounds to me like a take off of an early Todd Rundgren bubblegum number and the forced sounding bouncy pop of "Sky blue", but all in all a great collection of what Dwight Twilley REALLY has to offer us musically.

Wild Tales (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Rock tales good but country tales hurt
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 12th, 2005

Dave Mason plays the 12 string on "Oh! Camil (The winter soldier)", the harmonica drenched homespun hard acoustic guitar strumming swayer which has a good hook for the campfire feel. As for the rest, it's spotty, the rockers work fairly well but the country tunes hurt big time. The opening title track is a good driving rocker, "Hey you (Looking at the moon)" is a harmonica & steel guitar croon (it has a good hook though), the harmonica on "Prison song" overruns what could've been a suspenseful electric piano and drums driver, "You'll never be the same" is another slow country tune, the grumbling "And so it goes" has catchy guitar riffs and sounds good musically but it doesn't have a great hook. However, "Grave concern" is a good rock song which is louder and cleaner sounding that the others which helps in itself but "I miss you" is a vocal and piano only track which sounds like it could've benefited from the full band arrangement instead, this is odd in that many overblown tracks one comes across, one often finds the over done tracks would've worked better more stripped down whereas here, they obviously felt this worked better stripped down rather that adding to it. "On the line" is a skipping country shuffler with bright chorus vocals but it's harder to take this song more seriously than the others and "Another sleep song" is a tension filled electric piano & slide guitar building closer. Though it does take some wrong turns (like Joni Mitchell's not needed backing vocals), it's still good enough. Overall though, there's lots of songs here that "could've been" but some may enjoy them just fine as is.

Word Of Mouth (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
The scuttlebutt is you get used to it as it goes along
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 12th, 2005

There's a Dave Burt on this album listed for guitar & vocal duties as well as tracks that list Dave Mason's name in full but some tracks simply list a "Dave" so I'm going under the assumption those are Burt's parts. As for the tracks that list Mason specifically, they are surprisingly, for the most part, the most bluesy songs on the record. This wouldn't be surprising had Mason come up through the avenues that other Fleetwood Mac members had but it is interesting to hear DM in more blues drenched surroundings such as on the up tempo shuffling "Sun down lady" (which rocks well with a good boogie feel though Dave's lead vocals are not as clear as one would hope (as he's singing them with (Neil) Merryweather) but you still can make them out), "Hello little girl" (which is a 12 bar shuffle featuring a harmonica solo and I'm guessing the rhythm guitar that Dave is playing on this one is the grimy sounding one in the left channel) & "Rough dried woman" (on which Mason plays strong bass). This is a blues swinging harmonica squealer with the vocals sung in to the harmonica mike adding to the tracks fuzziness). Dave co wrote all three of these tracks as well as a more funk laden pop rock orientated outing here called "Dr. Mason" which again has Mason singing with Merryweather, this time in harmony with each other so you can pick Dave out better this time, it's an entertainingly echoy track. As for the rest, "I found love" is a shouting opener featuring a harsh, dirty organ sound which makes the guitar sound clean which is different if nothing else. "Teach you how to fly" is a pokey, mid tempo electronic sounding track, "Just a little bit" is a roller down a bumpy road which gets better as it goes along with some tasty organ passages. "Where I am" is a skipper that sounds slower than it is featuring swirling strings and a twangy harpsichord type sound. "Mrs. Robert's son" is a highlight, a catchy guitar led instrumental which goes back and forth between smoother parts and stabbing licks with a quiet bass solo section three minutes in, this doesn't seem like almost nine minutes in length though it is actually in fact up in the high eights. "Licked the spoon" is a strained pop tune but it is around the time this track rolls around where you start to get used to the albums overall fuzzy sound though the turntable dying, slow down effect at the end of this track sounds unervingly realistic! "The hard times" is a stronger tune than what we've heard previously here but the fiddle drenched arrangements intrude. It's still good but won't blow you away. "News" is a lean puncher where the guitars finally sound more fuzzy than the organ, so maybe this helped? "We can make it" is a cleaner sounding pop tune with a good hook but unfortunately the lead vocal parts are drowned out. It's still an album highlight though. The hard rocking fast finisher "Hooker blues" has thicker guitar runs and crashing drums and though the backwards tape doodling at the beginning is tolerable, it's shockingly annoying in the middle when it reappears a few times throughout the piece. So "Word of mouth" is an interesting place to go if you want to hear Dave in more bluesy rocking surroundings even if that's not what he's mainly known for.

White Boy Blues: Volume 2 (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Value of colectable songs is unmistakeable anyways
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 10th, 2005

An obscure collection of tracks from the Immediate vaults, not great sound quality but their importance to avid collectors like us is unmistakable. Of main interest is a rare John Mayall & the bluesbreakers track, the rather pop orientated "On top of the world" available previously on equally strange Immediate compilations such as "Blues anytime volume 2". It's got John Mcvie thumping away on bass somewhere in there and that's all we need to help us fulfill our collections although they've got the classic Clapton & Green instrumentals from the Mayall days too (respectively) in "Hideaway" & "The supernatural". There's early Rod Stewart gravelings with "So much to say" and four Savoy Brown numbers from their most traditional recording sessions. For completists only.

White Sky (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
A grand Green disc, a must have
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 10th, 2005

This is the tightest Peter album since his Mac days with some great rockers like "Shinning star", "Indian lover" & "Born on the wild side". In contrast, there's the ballad "It's gonna be me", the emotional, heartfelt "The clown" and the easy instrumental "Just another guy" which closes the album. It doesn't stop there as also included in this set is the experimental epic title track, an effectively confident opening tune called "Time for me to go" and the Eric Clapton laid back style of "Fallin' apart" It's frustrating that I would like to say that this is a good place to start collecting solo Green as one will undoubtedly find something they like on here but as there's not much else of anything like this in Peter's solo catalogue, it may lead some to premature unnecessary disappointment but, what the heck, I'm going to call it a Peter Green classic as it is in it's own right, just please accept it with a warning sticker.

Who I Am (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
You are good sounding but not original
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 10th, 2005

I've heard Andrews fans describe this as a disappointing follow up to her well liked debut release but this album fairs quite well with what's on offer. For those unfamiliar with Jessica, she is yet another artist that is thrown into the ever growing pile of Country "cross over" artists attempting to tread Faith Hill territory. This album reminds me somewhat of Jamie O'Neal's "Shiver" album. However, "Who I am" has more electricity and in general more appeal but the songs are slightly less adventurous then those on "Shiver" so it makes finding gems harder. Fret not, they are there, it will just take more listens to find them. One number definitely of interest here is the bouncy "Good friend to me" which was co-written by Bekka and I think I can hear Bekka on background vocals on this song but as she's just listed as being on the album and many songs are of a similar volume and
tempo, it's hard to tell which ones she's actually on. The cover of Maria Mckee's "Show me heaven" is a bit watered down, lacking some emotional impact as Andrews doesn't attempt to hit the key notes in the tune. Overall, the jangly electric guitars and well put together backing instrumentation will make it easy for one to want to listen to this disc on numerous occasions but like O'Neal's outing, this musical path, while enjoyable to me and many others I'm sure, may not seem so original anymore.

With Honors (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Good tracks outweigh the bad here
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 10th, 2005

Lindsey's "On the wrong side" is a strumming repeater, thematically reminding me of something like The Crystals' "Then he kissed me". Undoubtedly the covers that Duran Duran were doing at this time was a questionable career move on their part as evident with their cover of Led Zeppelin's "Thank you" here and although they bring nothing new to the song, you can hear the obvious affection they have for the original so I find it a listenable fairly faithful cover. Madonna's "I'll remember" is typical peppy Madonna pop of those days, she may be going back to her 80's style a little on this one which I found pleasing. In all honesty, I can't tell the difference between the "Butch Vig mix" of The Cult's "She sells sanctuary" apparently included here from the original but whatever the case, it's a classic rocking track, with that thunderous U2 guitar sound of the 80's (present on tracks of theirs like "Electric company"). Belly's cover of the track often covered but probably most famous by Tom Jones called "It's not unusual" comes off as a loud clapping rocker. Candlebox's "Cover me" is an acoustic strummer joined on the chorus sections by numbing power chords. Kristin Hersh's "Your ghost" is an acoustic strumming builder with surprising guest backing vocals by REM's Michael Stipe. A real highlight on this album is The Pretenders' cover of Dylan's "Forever young", here being a pretty jingling echoing centerpiece. Grant Lee Buffalo's "Fuzzy" is a mid tempo acoustic strumming stomp, this one is fair at best. Mudhoney's "Run shithead run" tries to be a funny rocker but fails, Babble's "Tribe" has smooth Madonna like music but with Bono (U2) sounding vocals, which makes for interesting listening and Lyle Lovett's "Blue skies" is a piano, stand up bass, hi hat finger snapper. So whatever the style, there's enough goodies here to be able to recommend this one.

White Boy Blues (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good collection of obscure numbers
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 7th, 2005

It's surprising how pop orientated "I'm your witchdoctor" sounds as apparently Clapton left The Yardbirds because he felt as though they were too pop and not enough blues. It has been rumored that Jimmy Page in fact played on this track but whatever the case, Eric must have wondered what he had got himself into but an urgent, effective tune all the same. John Mcvie thumps away on bass on this one as well as that rare single's B-side, the slow blues "Telephone blues". The Jeremy Spencer Immediate single is also included here coupling both piano driven sides, the speedy boogie woogie of "Who's knocking" and the sad slow "Look down at my woman". The rest mainly feature the three main Yardbird axemen (Clapton, Beck & Page) in various six string moods and like it's sequel, sound quality is as good as it can be with such rare recordings, this set is better and more useful overall than volume two.

Whatcha Gonna Do? (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Weaker than last LP but side one jewels work well
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 6th, 2005

This record is not as good as the fairly medium class "Little dreamer" long player but there's two classics to recommend it for if nothing else but there's some good blues too like "Last train to San Antone", "Bullet in the sky" & "Got to see her tonight" which make good use of strings and are rather funky and will definitely grow on you with repeated listens as will my two favorites if they don't grab you first time around. The pop ballad styled "Promised land" has a rather emotional tune if listened to closely with stirring sax and strings, it would've been amazing to see how big a smash this would have been if Peter had done it in the Mac days. My other spotlighted track herein is "Give me back my freedom" which is an irresistible reggae with a great groove. This isn't to say side two of this record is bad, the material just doesn't seem to stand up as strong against the offerings on the flip side and energy levels are rather feigned but Green's great standards still soar high above the others in flight.

Whipped! (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Mixed malicious metal
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, July 6th, 2005

Although Bekka is listed as 1 of 3 "female background vocalists" on the album and it doesn't specify which songs she's on, it's a pleasant surprise that the first vocals you hear on the record courtesy of the opener "Nonstop to nowhere" are from the females (which we'll have to assume includes Bekka). I certainly didn't expect that but this is somewhat of a rollercoaster ride as the album has highs and lows. "The body thief" & "Maid in wonderland" are nasty rockers, sounding like Areosmith at their hardest and most funky but Taime Downe tends to sound more like Ozzy Osbourne than Steven Tyler. "Friends" & "Mr. lovedog" are surprisingly light ballads and although the rest of the record doesn't suffer from the cliches of some other metallic acts such as Warrant for example, it's mostly forgettable stuff. No doubt it was largely due to the lyrics to the "experimental" track "Cat bash" that earned the disc its parental advisory sticker.

We Are The World (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Lots of filler, but interesting filler
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 30th, 2005

As Lindsey was in the chorus of "We are the world" with about 46 other people, there's no way he can be spotted but we know that's the song he's on and hearing it now years after all the hype, it is a pretty nice song although maybe a little long. It's obvious that those behind this project really only cared about the single because the rest is definite filler. There are some interesting moments in that some of the recordings don't sound usual for the artist it represents at all such is the case on the saxophone led ballad by Steve Perry "If only for the moment girl" and the guitar driven Prince number "4 the tears in your eyes". Chicago's 80's records did abandon the horn section but they sound even less like themselves on "Good for nothing". Fans of Canadian rock may enjoy Northern Lights "Tears are not enough" as they were sort of Canada's answer to USA for Africa. I personally prefer the two rocking live tracks. Bruce Springsteen's "Trapped" & Huey Lewis' "Trouble in paradise". Tina Turner's "Total control" was produced by then Bob Welch producer (John) Carter and Kenny Rogers "A little more love" was produced by one of Billy Burnette's partners in crime years ago David Malloy. Other than that, not much else to report.

Walk On (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Successful middle of the road blend
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 29th, 2005

Rick's got some heartfelt slide guitar on a great cover of Rodney Crowell's "Shame on the moon" which of course was made famous by Bob Seger but this version is much better and this album is worth buying for this song alone. The rest is a good mix of crossover country with pop ballad stylings. Brooks reminds me somewhat of Jennifer Warnes in her earlier incarnations but better. The opener, "Country girl" is a bit out of step as it's a real knee slappin' hoe-down number but then the pace evens out and there's many songs on here that will grow on you with some listens but as is the case with me, it will be pretty hard to beat "Shame on the moon" as the best moment on the album. Looking back now, this platter is probably ahead of it's time due to the influx of female country rockers these days.

Wander This World (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Lang's high point to date
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 29th, 2005

Bekka is listed as being a background vocalist along with William Brown & Jessica Boucher in general on this album but it doesn't say which songs she's/they're on. The liner notes of this CD do say though that the Rolling Stones like sloppyish "Right back" has different background vocalists on it so we at least know that she is not on that song. At a guess, I would say Bekka can maybe be heard on a couple of the album's highlights like the great stomping screecher of a rocker, the opening "Still rainin'", the soulful "hard
ballad" style of "Walking away", the most straightforward type of slow ballad on the album in "Leaving to stay" which has gospel background vocal textures which of course suit Bekka well (if she is there that is of course) and "I am" which is a surprising funk piece and it's slightly heavier on the funk than "Second guessing" but even that has a light funk feel and Bekka may be on this one too and they both work. "Breakin' me" sounds more ballad like with mainly an acoustic arrangement but the up tempo keeps it moving and oddly, the title track reminds me musically of something Sting would do. There's also the R&B sounding fuzzer "The levee", the return of the funk on "Before you hit the ground" but it's slower this time and has some wah wah type sounds that give it a slight 70's blaxploitation film feel and the closing "Cherry red wine" is a pleasing slowish burner (though the chunky piano parts make it seem faster) with scorching lead breaks from Lang.. The UK edition of the CD has a bonus track called "If this is love" which is an acoustic ditty with a slight honky tonk feel and the Japanese version of the CD also includes "Stop pushin' on me" in addition to the latter track. Whichever one you buy though you will find this album is better overall as a whole than Lang's impressive "Lie to me" CD though the songs on here won't hit you right away like the way the tunestack on "Lie to me" probably would/did. The tracks here though are good growers given the chance and from what I've read many feel as though this is still Jonny's high water mark to this date and I think as far as albums go, I agree with those that feel this.

The Way I Should (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Some good stuff, some not so good
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 29th, 2005

This disc starts out very promising indeed with two great ballads "When my mornin' comes around" & "There's a wall in Washington" followed by Bekka & Billy's appearance on the frank rocking country number "Wasteland of the free" but then it tends to sag a little as the next few songs are not particularly engaging efforts. Things pick up a little with the uplifting "Keep me god" and the record concludes with another rousing and lengthy country rocker "Trouble", a duet with Delbert Mcclinton. However, this is proceeded by two more rather disappointing songs so although one ends up feeling mixed, at least there's some good ones here.

A Very Special Christmas (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Great mix, one of best seasonal releases in decades
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 28th, 2005

This album has grown stronger over the years as one of the most durable Christmas releases in the last few decades regardless of some faults it may have. Rick Vito plays some meaningful howling slide guitar licks on Bob Seger & The Sliver Bullet Band's faithful strong cover of "The little drummer boy". Stevie's "Silent night" starts out brilliant but does tend to sag towards the end. This isn't helped by Robbie Nevil's unnecessary appearance here trying to Gospel up the track. Had the swells at the end and his part been axed then it would've been perfection though it still is a bright spot overall here. As boring as it may sound, I found the most faithful covers here worked best such as The Pretenders' beautifully handled "Have yourself a merry little Christmas". For instance on my case, the power of "Do you hear what I hear" is undeniable as a song but Whitney Houston's changes to the track really strip the song of the emotion it was about to present to us. An exception here is that The Pointer Sisters' "Santa Claus is coming to town" was obviously inspired by the popular Bruce Springsteen version of the song (not the "traditional" version) and I'm sure it would've been very welcome by the public had his version of the track been included but instead they tried their best to cover it his way and inevitably, it loses the fire that his had (if you pardon the pun). This isn't helped by Springsteen & The E Street Band doing "Merry Christmas baby" instead (in their usual clapping plinky keys & fiery sax concert recording way). Regardless of lost feelings though, there is a good mix of styles here giving everyone a present to enjoy. The Eurythmics' "Winter wonderland" is likable electric bouncy pep, John Cougar Mellencamp's "I saw mommy kissing Santa Claus" is a twangy scrub board whacker, Sting's "Gabriels message" is a holy haunting pulser, Run DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" is an admittedly amusing rap track, U2's "Christmas (Baby please come home)" is an icy bright rocker, Madonna's "Santa baby" is enjoyable in it's pouty Betty Boop style and atmospheric brushes/strings/piano arrangement. Bryan Adams' "Run Rudolph run" is another recorded live track that is a Chuck Berry styled barrelhouse shouter, Bon Jovi's metalic growling "Back door Santa" is also an "in concert" recording and Alison Moyet's "The Coventry carol" measures up well with Christine McVie's version of this song (a few years later), rich vocals and though dated sounding arrangements, they work well. Certainly of the Mac related holiday recordings in print, this is the best one to get.

Maria Vidal (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Well put together pop but hard to find Stevie
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 28th, 2005

I've never been able to figure out which songs Stevie is on from this record which is most annoying as it's been reported that she's on here uncredited but no matter how much you listen to it, one finds it difficult to find her. Anyway, the record itself is a keyboard driven piece of pop slightly louder than those who may remember her from "Body rock" but well made and entertaining nonetheless. My favorites are "House of love", "Soul love" & "Make believe" which to me have the strongest hooks but I'm sure many of you will find various favorites. This platter is not particularly musically adventurous but it works within the boundaries it does include. A borderline decision between 3 and 4 but I'll say three because of the refusal to inform us of Stevie's whereabouts in the grooves.

A Voice Like Yours (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
A good country album and no more
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 28th, 2005

Rick's guitar work stands out well on "One love" and particularly "You know that feeling by heart" but all songs included have a nice simple feel to them that make you feel warm inside. It doesn't try to do anything except be exactly what it is, a good country record. Dianne's numbers are slightly more likable than Michael's but still good overall. Other highlights enclosed are the acoustic "Wild horse" and the piano led title track. This may be harder to find than your regular CD as in correspondence with Rick he said this album was only privately released by the Killens (I assume that means "only sold over the net") but if you can find it, you should grab this one, you may not be blown away, but it'll make you feel good that's for sure.

Walking All The Way (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Todd's triumphant return
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 28th, 2005

Todd's follow up to "Who am I" is more acoustic and country tinged which has a nice low key appeal that helps to bring out the strong hooks Sharp has come up with for this impressive release. This is not to say rock and roll doesn't exist here by any means, for instance, the bright opener "Right as rain" is a real favorite while "Walking all the way to Idaho" & "Till I get over you" are Billy Burnette style country rockers and "I believe in you" and "On the way to heaven" employ a surprisingly soulful, halfway to Paul Rodgers era Bad Company feel. Jumping over to blues "Widow maker" is an extended slow builder in the same vein as Bob Seger's "Turn the page" and includes a solo at the end that would intrigue any Mark Knopfler fan. On the mellower side, there's "I turn to you" which has very pleasing backing from Bekka which is more noticeable as it goes along but beautifully handled, "I remember" encloses wonderful interplay between acoustic guitar work and the piano playing and "Is that what you need" is a smooth ballad that helps to keep things cool as can be. However, the rockin' doesn't stop there so "Mind if I smoke?" is an aptly titled instrumental jam at the close of the disc in which Todd does in fact provide us with some smoking electric six string leads. This is a well balanced, well put together and very well recommended platter.

The Vaudeville Years Of Fleetwood Mac: 1968 To 1970 (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Fascinating Mac legends are filled in
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 27th, 2005

The first four recordings heard here are "liveish" BBC style recordings that although they sound like they are in mono, are good listening especially "Love that burns" as it's stripped free of it's horn section which was included on the "Mr. wonderful" version and tended to be slightly intrusive but one can now appreciate the song even more here. However, a minor complaint is that the "Intro" part of "Intro/Lazy poker blues" is nothing more than a snippet from "Oh well (part 2)" which is rather redundant. I would've preferred it just to have started with "Lazy poker blues" without that tagged onto the beginning. The studio recordings start with a bang. Just when we seemed to be lead to believe that the infamous EP of Jeremy's that was to accompany "Then play on" to compensate for his lack of an appearance on that album was nothing more than a rumor and that it was in fact his solo album that was to be the accompanying item, here's the lost EP, in all it's glory. Without giving away too much of the surprise, Jeremy starts each song with a funny introduction and he mocks flower power rock and John Mayall among others. It works just as well as those songs recorded for his debut solo album. Fans of that album will love this. Later, you get to hear the unedited "Someone's gonna get their head kicked in tonight" which doesn't fade and has a few bodily noises and four letter words that were not considered acceptable for a single at the time and that would probably apply these days too. Peter has got two great versions of "Show biz blues" albeit with different titles as well as an early instrumental workout of "Before the beginning" billed here as "Blues in B flat minor" which is most haunting. Danny is not to be forgotten either as on disc two, he's featured on "Farewell" which sounds like an early demo of "Earl Grey", "Love it seems" which has a "When you say" feel, "Tell me from the start" is a big band style whimsical tune and two exciting jams billed as "October jam (1 & 2)" the latter is a short but rocking straightforward number while the former is a lot looser and has a news bulletin jingle rhythm style but that's some news I wouldn't mind hearing! There's alot of Green greatness on disc two as well. "The Madge sessions - 1" is an uncut tape which includes most of what ended up as "Searching for Madge" & "Fighting for Madge" but at least half of which has not been heard previously. Intriguing that at approximately the 1249 mark, when one of the familiar "Searching for Madge" sections ends, one can hear what is known in the taping world as a "punch out" in the tapes. One easily imagines that this was the tape Peter used to decide what would make the final cut for "Then play on" from these jams and the tape was probably stopped and left there for many years causing the deterioration in the tape. Maybe not, but it's fascinating to ponder such legends. This is just as exciting to hear in it's entirety after all these years as is the complete 16 minute "Underway". This tape shows how hard it must have been to decide which portions of it to use originally. Surprisingly, "The Madge sessions - 2" is a quiet two minute instrumental doodle which is not what one would expect from the title especially after hearing the white noise of number 1 but still keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. There are many other great recordings available on here, I've just tried to highlight a few wonderful moments. This is great classic early Mac that never "was", but now can "be" in your collection. An essential purchase for those who want the early Mac to play on. They do here in style.

Venus And Mars (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Worth it for Listen to what the man said if not more
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 27th, 2005

Here's another album that has just one track that Dave Mason plays on but it's a good one, he plays guitar on the number one (US) hit "Listen to what the man said". This track still stands up today as one of McCartney's best songs I think and though Mason's guitar is not particularly distinctive, you can hear "a" rhythm guitar on the off beats which might be him and this irresistible happy sing a long makes this album worth it alone. As for the rest, the CD edition has three bonus tracks, "Zoo gang" is an almost driving instrumental but it's mostly forgettable featuring accordion breaths, "Lunch box/Odd sox" is a mainly piano featured instrumental but it can't decide if it wants to be a reggae or a straightforward driver (maybe this explains the mixed together titles?) and "My carnival" tries to be uplifting party cheer but it just doesn't work and one can see why this one was left out in the cold originally the most out of all three CD only bonus tracks. As for the rest of the album itself, the opening title track is an effective childlike acoustic doodle which then goes right in to the bursting but controlled rocker "Rock show". We later revisit the title track in "Venus and Mars (Reprise)" which has more echoy vocals and is probably more complete as a song but the above mentioned track is the better one out of the two versions I'd say. "Love in song" is an acoustic but mid tempo jangler in which I can hear a little influence rubbing off from this on to 10CC's "I'm Mandy fly me" possibly. "You gave me the answer" is strings & piano whimsical pop which will remind many of songs from Paul's Beatles days such as "When Im 64". The electric piano bouncer "Magneto and titanium man" has a slight boogie feel and "Letting go" has shuffling rhythms but quietly suspenseful electric guitar parts. "Spirits of ancient Egypt" is another light electric skipping boogie, "Medicine jar" is an up tempo shouting rocker and "Call me back again" is a stroll on which the piano interestingly keeps the rhythms going. "Treat her gently (Lonely old people)" comes in right after "Listen to what the man said" (probably the reason as to why many compilations etc. have LTWTMS faded out and they also usually cut off the low grumbling "good to see you down in New Orleans man" voice at the beginning of the track so the song starts in a more commercial way) and THG(LOP) is a piano featured catchy slow dragger. The (regular album) closing "Crossroads theme", believe it or not, is in fact the theme to the popular British TV show. Though it's a nice siren guitar mid tempo instrumental, it only lasts about 59 seconds. All in all, "Venus and Mars" is worth it for the hard to dislike number one smash listed above but other interesting tidbits will arise that color in the blander moments.

Uprooted (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Rock sugar is very sweet indeed
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 26th, 2005

For the most part, this is a hard rocking affair featuring guitarist Steve Hunter, best known for his work with Alice Cooper and Lou Reed. However, ex-Grass Roots member Grill comes up with a good rocking gem with "Rock sugar" featuring Lindsey, Mick & John (who unusually produced this song). As it thumps along in it's effective minor chord it has some great vocal backup here from Annie Mcloone from Walter Egan's band and some of you may remember her song "Tonight" from "I'm not me" and her own cover of "Spare me a little of your love" from her "Fast Annie" solo album. She's at her best here, Buckingham's guitar is strong and distinctive and this album is worth getting for this song alone.

Urban De Luxe (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Well stripped down but piano heavy makes it sluggish
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 26th, 2005

With other De Luxe Blues Band albums such as "Motorvating", I had found that the sax parts, though perhaps played by well respected musicians like Dick Heckstall-Smith, often held back the DLBB from tearing their way out of the cage so thankfully "Urban deluxe" has rid of the sax/horns but the problem here is that the piano is too loud in the mix which makes things kind of sluggish overall. The most obvious case being the rocking "Roll 'em Pete" though this was probably supposed to be the case on this song but even on the others you'll notice it. Though the mopey opener "Worried life blues" sets the tone that this may have been the results had the piano (again though played by THE man Bob Hall) been mixed down anyways. The speedy chugger "Promised land" has the piano on top again and "The stumble" here is pretty standard though maybe a little slower. The slow blues of "Sweet little angel" feels, and actually is, long due to it's slow speed but it does work well, so maybe there should have been more slow burners enclosed, there is another
one called "Knocking at your door" but it's almost fast enough to have a slight stroll feel even though it's not intended as such though the best one here is "Did you ever love a woman" with that familiar, gentle though perhaps overused opening riff that seems to appear on many 80's DLBB albums somewhere and here's where it pops up on this one, sounding much like the way it was on "Half Moon blues" from the "Live at the Half Moon Putney" album. By contrast, there are a couple of Chuck Berry numbers though oddly "Cadillac boogie" (which isn't a Berry tune) sounds more Berry-ish than "Promised land" does (which was one) though the closing rocker "It wasn't me" is as typical a Berry tune as you can find anywhere and then there's the obligatory Elmore James styled shuffle in "Wait baby". So to sum up, you'll be happy the horns have been aced but get ready to hear some loud piano chunking when hearing this.

National Lampoon's Vacation (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Hard to find but grab if located for LB tracks alone
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 26th, 2005

This a hard item to come across these days but if you do find it, you should pick it up for a few good tracks. Of most relevance here is Lindsey Buckingham's two tracks, the opening 50's tinged speedy bouncing sing along "Holiday road" and the closing off (intentionally) but up beat bouncer "Dancin' across the USA" with it's sunny Beach Boys type background vocals. There's three lightweight score pieces here by Ralph Burns, the guitar led slow burn of "Deep river blues", "The trip (Theme from Vacation)" which is a acoustic strummer with light horns and "Christie's song" which features flutes, strings, bass and piano and has a slight stripper feel. The Fleetwoods' "Mister blue" was a sleeper hit in the late 50's and it deserves some exposure here with it's stroll like speed and pleasant vocalizing, it's a highlight here as is, in contrast, The Ramones' anthemic crashing, numbing rocker "Blitzkrieg bop". Rounding out the album, we get Nicolette Larson's clave and piano led balladish "Summer hearts" (which is the "best of the rest"), June Pointer's bouncy clapping stomp "Little boy sweet" and Vanity 6's perky valley girl type pop rock of "He's so dull". I heard a while back of a very rare CD pressing Warner Brothers had done to promote National Lampoon's "Christmas Vacation" movie/soundtrack which also included the material on this album (in addition to the material that appeared in the other Vacation flick mentioned) but unfortunately little has been heard of this album's CD release outside of that but hopefully it will become easier to find should it be released someday on CD as this album deserves a reissue.

Two Greens Make A Blues (1/5.01/5.01/5.01/5.01/5.0)
Bad guys don't deliver the goods
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 23rd, 2005

Most of these recordings apparently started out on an album by a band called The Enemy Within released in 1986 and the album was called "A touch of sunburn". Then a few years later, the album was repackaged a few times over with bonus tracks, this is one of the rehashes wherein the releasing label was blowing up the fact that Peter Green (among others) had played on it (albeit in an obviously very minor way). I've heard rumblings that "Chinese white boy" may be the only track to include Green's work but even then, I don't know how reliable the information is that he is even on that track as I wouldn't have known he was on that track by listening to it. I only "know" from what tales I've heard. Green is listed as playing guitar and bass on this CD but states nothing further regarding his appearance so anyone's guess is as good as mine as to where he may be on this platter as I don't even know if the "Chinese white boy" legends were made before the releasing of the bonus tracks (which of course confuses the issue even further in that questions then arise to the effect of "Is he on any of those?"). Pressing on to the Enemy Within's music itself, these guys were obviously trying to do something they felt would be groundbreaking in some musical sense but I think few have been influenced by the recordings enclosed on this disc. The aforementioned "Chinese white boy" is a back and forth bouncer with twangy guitars (possibly trying to give it an oriental feel) and fuzzy vocals. "All quiet" is a funkish opener, "Rock and roll feeling" is a straight ahead rocker, "Doctor" is a rasping chirper, "Four minute melody" is a bouncy tumbler, "Post modern blues" is a plinking doodle, "Eprom song" starts promising but fades fast. "Intensity of vision" tries to sound futuristic and sophisticated but fails, "Camel's eye blues" includes thin searings, "Way you dance" is a new wave blues boogie that's not very useful, "End zone" has a suspenseful theme but instead of building off of hat, it goes nowhere. "Nietzsch's ass" is an unfunny rolling twanger, "Who do you love" is a cold mechanical cover, "Stab the knife" is a galloper that I think could've worked had it been done in a straightforward way and the yowler "Rosy" is a bland closer. Purely for Green completests and no other reason.

Unchained (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Acquired taste but Petty fans may like his influence
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 23rd, 2005

Johnny Cash's sound may not sit well with younger music fans though if they like Tom Petty's more jangly efforts then this album may just do the trick to hook them in with Tom's large influence felt here. "Sea of heartbreak" has a definite TP influence right down to the count in which you can faintly hear him do on this track at the beginning. It's a catchy, chirpy strumming sing along with Lindsey (though misspelled in the credits) on acoustic guitar and Mick on percussion. Aside from Cash's acoustic guitar and organ cover of Petty's "Southern accents", another track I hear a big Petty influence on is the up-ish strumming bounce of "I never picked cotton". Many other tracks may have this feel as well but those are the few I have chosen to mention prominently here. As for the rest of the tracks in general, "Rowboat" is a strong acoustic guitar country croon, "Rusty cage" has the typical Cash gallop, "The one rose (That's left in my heart)" is a slow waltzing country track, "Country boy" is a rocking, pounding roller, "Memories are made of this" is a likable up beat light track with it's good acoustic guitar and piano chunks. "Spiritual" is a slow drag with fairly engaging reverbed electric guitar and "Kneeling drunkard's plea" is another quick strummer but this time with more piano. "Mean eyed cat" is a speedy cooking rocker, "Meet me in heaven" is a mid paced track with smooth organ and twangy guitar (sounds of Petty's Rickenbacker). The title track is a another slow strumming acoustic guitar tune again with nice piano chord chunks and the good closer "I've been everywhere" is an urgent tale with vocals that are quite a mouthful for anyone to try and tackle. I wouldn't say "Unchained" is an album to rush out and buy but when you do get around to getting it, you may like it more than you'd think if you enjoy that more
homespun side of Tom Petty's sound.

Up (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
You'll be looking up in surprise at this one
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 23rd, 2005

When you hear obvious "single material" such as "Growing up" from the "Up" album, one would think it would remind one of Gabriel's more commercial outings such as "Us" and "So" with shorter more catchy songs and I do admit that this is what I had anticipated with "Up" having heard how this was to be his "first proper album in 10 years (etc.)" but the fact of the matter is, this is a perfect "middle ground" between "commercial" and "art" type work. The above mentioned song clocks in as the third longest song on the record surprisingly at seven and a half minutes in duration. Even a song such as "Sky blue" which sounds like an epic of all proportions will surprise you as although it clocks in a six and half minutes, it's actually "in the middle" as far as times go on this album, technically being fourth shortest, but only barely, as there are 2 other songs that clock in at over six minutes (but shorter than "Sky blue") and one at (almost) three minutes and when hearing it, one wishes this "almost three minute one" was longer. The "short" track in question is "The drop" which ends the album, it's a piano and vocal only "Here comes the flood" style number and although it lacks the drama that "Here comes the flood" has, it still works well for what it is in it's own right. What starts the album is "Darkness" which goes from quite verse parts to white noise chorus sections of underwater elephant sounding wah wah guitars & crashing drums (though the quiet parts are the best ones). This is the track that sounds most "arty", like early Genesis style or perhaps early Gabriel solo styled, it reminds me of something that would be found on his second solo album (such as "I don't remember"). "Sky blue" itself is the best song on the record anyways regardless of Peter Green's inclusion (though it certainly helps!), an emotional, dark, stirring, moody number, the piano punctuates perfectly into the chiming/echoing guitars of the instrumental section (though they are surrounded by haunting choral type vocal chants by The Blind Boys Of Alabama. If the part that I think is Green's guitar is in fact Greeny (as David Rhodes & Daniel Lanois also play guitar on this track), then you can hear him better on this recording then you can on "Ngankarrparni (Sky blue - Reprise)" & "Cloudless" from Gabriel's earlier 2002 release which was the soundtrack to the film "Rabbit Proof fence" (he entitled the soundtrack album "Long walk home") though there are a few noticeable licks on the guitar part in question that one can only hear on "Ngankarrparni (Sky blue -
Reprise)" from LWH, though quieter. This is definitely the best of the bunch on the "Sky Blue theme variations" available overall though. "No way out" tries to be a "Red rain" soundalike additionally including it's brushes feel on the rhythm track but it's not as rocking and there's less of a hook but it can't be all that bad if it wants to be "Red rain"! It is disappointing though in that it's not as adventurous as one would hope from the longest song on the CD (at close to 8 minutes in length). "I grieve" is a slow builder which starts as a mellow, moody keyboards and rhythm workout which around the 5 minute mark goes in to an upbeat funk styling which gets abandoned not too much longer after it starts to it's quiet end. "The Barry Williams show" is more hit type material led by it's tough beat and horn sound (though the "horn(s)" sounds a bit electronic). In case you were wondering, although there is a TV reference in the lyrics made towards Jerry Springer type sensationalism, it has nothing to do with Greg Brady. "My head sounds like that" is the worst track on the album as it's rather uninspired with that horn sound leading the way again, it's slow in getting started though oddly the beginning ends up being the best part as it has a nice build but 4 minutes in we get that white noise thump again but it quickly stops seconds later which makes it seem irrelevant at the end of the listen. "More than this" is the best of the "hit" sounding material, it's upbeat with useful echo delay guitar picks on the chorus and "Signal to noise" is a string laden tune with Bobby Mcferrin meets middle eastern flavored vocals, the drums at the end try to give it a "Biko" feeling but it fails for the most part as that's a hard act to follow. With the few minor flaws aside, "Up" is essential to both Gabriel's (& Green's "guest appearance", even in a small way) works.

True Romance (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Vibrant variety
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 22nd, 2005

There's a very good mix of musical styles on this disc. Although there's no mention of Bekka's involvement inside the notes, I was pleased to learn through that Bekka appears on the John Waite song "In dreams" as this is one of my favorites. Contrast this moving song with the operatic piece which was also used in "The hunger", the three score pieces by Hans Zimmer (reminds me of the haunting "Badlands" music), Charlie Sexton, Shelby Lynne & Chris Isaak turn in more homegrown efforts with winning results, the dance of Nymphomania, the crunch of Soundgarden and the swagger of Robert Palmer in surprising swing mode. The music alone has made me want to see the movie! I hope it's as good as this soundtrack.

Twister (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Worth it for Twisted but other good tracks here too
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 22nd, 2005

Though there is some typical soundtrack material here, there's enough emotion and suspense in the album's more useful tracks to make this a worthwhile purchase. Stevie & Lindsey's "Twisted" may seem a predictable mid tempo strummer at it's start but it's fire builds as it goes along making you feel you've just heard a real latter day triumph for Buckingham and Nicks. Mick helps out too on some solid rhythms as always. Eddie & Alex Van Halen appear twice here, once beginning the album with the rest of the Van Halen crew on "Humans being" (which is a typical crashing, gruff VH rocker) and the pair also perform "Respect the wind" at the end which has classical smooth dramatics meeting screaming electric guitar leads. This track actually sounds better here than it did in the movie and it is that little bit different for them I suppose but both tracks are probably mediocre from what I've heard of their catalog. Rusted Root's "Virtual reality" is a knee slapping hoe down shouter, Tori Amos' "Talula (BT's tornado mix)" is harpsichord mandolin swirl, Alison Krauss & Union Station's "Moments like this" is a highlight, a real suspenseful heart wrencher. Mark Knopfler's "Darling pretty" has a Celtic start but then kicks in as a mid tempo bland at first listen but eventually likable strummer. Soul Asylum's "Miss this" is a growling galloper, Belly's "Broken" is a lean rocker, K.D. Lang's "Love affair" is a pleasant light echoy strummer, Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories' "How" is like the Krauss track but more acoustic, just about as effective though. Red Hot Chill Peppers' "Melancholy mechanics" sounds like Lou Reed's talk sing stylings reminding me somewhat of The Velvet Underground's "Some kinda love" but with more bossa nova and less stomp. Goo Goo Dolls' "Long way down (Remix)" is a pulsing screeching rocker and Shania Twain's "No one needs to know" is a chirpy country sing a long. A good mix of styles here will most likely find you a few new favorites but including an essential track for LB & SN history as it predates Fleetwood Mac's "The dance" comeback project of 1997.

Twang! A Tribute To Hank Marvin & The Shadows (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
All instrumental approach predicted but helps overall
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 22nd, 2005

Peter Green's "Midnight" is a "Sleepwalk" type stroll with a pretty tone used by Peter, it's moving swirling stirrings. Ritchie Blackmore's "Apache" is a galloping pounder which gets more lightweight as it goes along, Brian May's "FBI" starts as "Pop goes the weasel" type bounce but then turns to squealing shuffle. Tony Iommi's "Wonderful land" starts as murky growlings but then turns to pleasant tonings. Steve Stevens' "The savage" is an acoustic guitar and castanets Spanish flavored clapper. We get straight ahead pep from the man himself, Hank Marvin who gives us his "The rise and fall of Flingel Bunt" which, with it's live atmosphere makes him sound more rocking than normal here. Neil Young & Randy Bachman's "Spring is nearly here" is a screechy teen heart melter of a stroll, Mark Knopfler's "Atlantis" is a strumming picker which seems faster after the last few slow ones on the CD. Things start to fall apart about here as the hard rocking drive of Peter Frampton's "The frightened city" ruins the essence of the original, Keith Urban & Stewart Copeland's "Dance on" is an odd mix of reggae back beat and lean lead guitar licks. Speaking of Police men, Andy Summers' "Stingray" is a growly hopper that just doesn't work and Bela Fleck & The Flecktones "The stranger" is a fairly nice banjo led jazz/new ager but while hearing it, you feel like your watching The Weather Channel. The predictably instrumental theme on this album is the main ingredient that holds it all together and makes it worthwhile in the end though overall.

Two Beasts (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Two Beasts here beat one bad one
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 22nd, 2005

I personally find the lead vocals of The Why Store's front man Chris Shaffer to not really work as to me they sound rather bland and blend in with many 90's male rock band's stereotypical pipes but this album does get some boosts from some good hooks and a great rock sound that I find rare among 90's rock and this album gets points for the rocking Bekka factor while, though she does rock often, one always wishes she'd do it more as her well heard backing vocals on the good rocking stroll of "No matter" is most pleasing and an essential element of Bekka's recorded works thus far. These songs will most definitely be growers for many as on first listen "Working" seems just a fair opener but the unexpected smooth bridge sections give it a lift. "Burnout" is a mid tempo grumbler but the title track is a little bit lighter though it still has bright sounding choruses. The fast-ish "Do do do" brings us back to rock but the emphasis is on the rhythms this time which makes for a nice change as does the strumming builder "Manic man". "Here I go" is unpredictable as it starts out like a punchy rocker but with the exception of the return of the punchy chords later on, the song surprisingly settles down for the most part. Then there is more use of acoustics in the production like on the crystalline mid speed "Who is your love" and the piano & acoustic guitar soother "Story song" but it won't put you to sleep by any means as there's enough volume there to keep it in rock. Another similar tune is the string swelling swayer "Montague" though the rock guitars remain. A few I'm not too crazy about here are the fast funk of "Everybody" though it does admittedly bring up the previously sagging pace nicely if nothing else, the up beat knee slapping picker "She's broken" and the closing "When you're high" has a strange bubblegum effect that doesn't sit well with the rest of the album but even if you don't like the style of this album for the most part, it's worth it for Bekka's work on "No matter" alone

Transatlantic 770 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Dawkins delightful electric Chicago blues is worth it
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 21st, 2005

Though some reports have suggested he has been hard to work with, Dawkins' "Transatlantic 770" nevertheless is a blistering guitar driven Chicago blues affair. Yes, there are horns but they are definitely brushed to the site and do not overtake (as can usually happen) as Jimmy's sharp, stinging electric leads plow their way through effectively throughout this platter. Most tunes are given a slight 70's funk feeling and ballads such as "Think twice before you speak", "The mighty hawk" & "Love and understanding" either use strings or keys (instead of horns) to accompany them which really helps avoid such banal arrangement difficulties. It may seem as though there is not much extended improvisation (though Dawkins comes close on "All for business") but it is not as apparent as other such albums lacking in this department as Jimmy's guitar work is so impressive that one can enjoy the many short lead breaks here just as much as if they had been stretched out a little more. Catchy tunes abound as half the album surprisingly includes Dawkins originals, five to be exact. My favorite parts are the real upbeat numbers like the rocking "Stone dead" and the lightning speed of the closing "No more trouble" which has a very busy bass line job for Bob Brunning but he keeps up the pace tremendously here. This probably doesn't touch the best of it's genere but it sure can't be far off that level.

Tramp 1974: Rare & Unissued Recordings, Volume 3 (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Kelly's greatness comes through, sometimes
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 20th, 2005

You're better going into this if you've heard Tramp's "Put a record on" album which while good, is probably seen as a disappointment next to their classic 1969 selftitled album as this release, like "Put a record on" centers more on funk rhythms than on guitar driven improvisation which made their debut so appealing. This is best demonstrated on the live run through of the one song here that is from the first album, the nugget "Baby what you want me to do". Also, if one is ready for the imperfect sound quality that comes with most
Mooncrest releases than they will enjoy this set thoroughly. This as not as gloomy as I've made it out though, this is an important musical document for Mac (and especially Danny Kirwan) collectors, Jo Ann was always one of Tramp's strongest assets so, as one may guess with this release being billed as a Jo Ann Kelly release as opposed to a Tramp one even though these are Tramp recordings, we are treated to her singing lead on all tracks. That's one complaint I have about the first Tramp album, they should have used her more on that one. My favorite moments are the first three ultra funky numbers. Although "Love blind" may seem a bit wordy, the sax breaks work well and it's irresistible rhythm track (similar to the Rolling Stones "Fingerprint file" from "It's only rock and roll" conquers in the end. This coupled with the great opener "Til my back ain't got no bone" make you wonder why these were discarded at the time of sequencing "Put a record on" in favor of more inferior numbers. It seems the songs that work best on here are in fact the songs that didn't appear on "Put a record on". Billy Burnette fans will recognize the well covered blues classic "Nicky Hoeky" (spelled "Niki Hoeky" on his selftitled 1979 Polydor album) however it is extremely speeded up here which has a unique energy and those fans of John Mayall's "A hard road" will remember Peter singing lead on "You don't love me" billed here as "You don't love me baby". It's actually easier to appreciate the number for what it is here as this doesn't include the rather intrusive harmonica part the Bluesbreakers version employs. What is intrusive on this album is the work done on the studio tracks on here by the Kokomo singers. One generally feels the listener could pay more attention (as they want to when they here this) to Jo Ann's great voice but their backups make it hard to do that at times but you can feel the blues Kelly sings in particular on the slower tunes like "Feel like breaking up somebody's home" & "Help me through the night". The two versions of "Put a record on" don't fair much better than the version from the "Put a record on" album and they don't even come close to the best version of the song which appears on the "Brunning Hall sunflower blues band" album. However, "What you gonna do" does stand up pretty well with it's studio counterpart as it's longness doesn't seem as apparent here as it is on the studio version. Important for Mac fans as well in that Brunning plays on all songs except "Jump steady daddy" and Danny of course plays on the live tracks which are the last six on the platter. Good points and not so good points overall for me ends up in the middle but if some of the things that annoyed me about the disc you don't think will annoy you, then without hesitation, go for it.

Tramp (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Perfect blues & rock mix
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 19th, 2005

This was a great assembly of Fleetwood Mac alumni Bob Brunning on bass, Danny Kirwan on guitar and Mick Fleetwood on drums and they are rounded out nicely by Brunning's long time partner in crime Bob Hall on piano and Dave & Jo Ann Kelly on vocals (though under fake names due to legal reasons). Inspired playing and material set this platter alight. The rocking galloper "Own up" gets us started on perfect footing with Dave and Jo Ann dueling it out on lead vocals while Kirwan's rough guitar keeps the energy going along with great drum fills by Fleetwood and Bruns holds up his end well, a real highlight. Other rocking moments are Danny's guitar instrumental spotlight called "Hard work" which is a fierce shuffle and Bob Hall has some of his most meaningful ivory licks added to this one. This is probably the longest Kirwan has soloed on his own on record to date though the slow "Street walking blues" often gets overlooked in this regard as Kirwan solos for well over a full minute towards the end of the track here and it's a gut wrencher that keeps you begging for more. If I have any complaint about this record, it's just that the late great Jo Ann Kelly is perhaps under used here as though she does a great job as mentioned on the opening cut, it sounds like she's really only on two other tracks here which are the great mopey classic blueser "Baby what you want me to do" handled perfectly here by all concerned and the catchy slight chunky funk of "On the scene" though again, accompanied by "little brother Dave". This turns out to be a minor quibble though as Dave lays down some great vocals on the rest of the tracks. The light plinky shuffle of "Same old thing", the effective stroll of "What you gonna do when the road comes through", the piano led boogie of "Somebody watching me", a piano and vocal only moaner called "Too late now", another piano led ballad called "Month of Sundays" (though it also includes a finger snapping jazz feel with Danny's delicate guitar strums keeping it successfully in this vein) and the well put together closing sing a long "Another day". These explanations I have attempted to give here hardly do justice to the great sound this group have put out for us here as I find it a mix of blues and rock that is not bettered in many other albums if any. Also impressive is that Brunning is credited with co writing all tracks here except the Kirwan guitar work out discussed above and the great straight ahead blues highlight here "Baby what you want me to do" and I would say this album would rank as a highlight in the respective discography of all 3 Mac members here to date. Be warned though that it does sound as though the CD editions of this album (both on it's own and as on the "2 on 1" set called "British blues giants") has/have been mastered from vinyl though it is less obvious on some tracks and it shouldn't detract from the playing enjoyment you will get out of these recordings.

Trackside Blues (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Doesn't de-rail too much
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 18th, 2005

Although more spotty than it's predecessor, the highlights on "Trackside blues" are on the right track. Guest Peter Green helps make this album shine as evident on the raw guitar & harmonica driven shuffling opener "Ride with your daddy tonight". He returns later with convincing lead vocals on a galloping cover of Otis Rush's "It takes time" which still stands up well against Peter's latter day Splinter Group versions of the song. Tracks like this along with "Homework" from the Fleetwood Mac Chess sessions has often made me wonder that perhaps Green was influenced more by Rush than had originally been thought. There's more Green lead vocals on the beautifully soothing cover of a song co penned by someone who has often been cited (rightly or wrongly) as one that has influenced Green in B.B. King's "If you let me love you". "Ah soul" is a tumbling instrumental which sounds leaner here than it does on the other take of this song known as "Uranus" from the BSBB's "I wish you would" album and sometimes the softer approach on "Uranus" is preferable but generally this one is the one to lean towards. Brunning has the writing credit on this song along with another one that Peter plays on though in a back seat mold in "Simple Simon", an amusing sequel to his "Big belly blues" from "Bullen street blues" (as his new born son Simon is what was making Brunning's wife big bellied in the "Bullen street blues" track a year earlier) though again the campy-ness of the track is it's main plus point. Other Brunning penned pieces here include "Tube train blues" which is an unfortunately sluggish slow blues, the promising, funnily titled "I met this bird in Playboy" which disappoints due to it's draggy feel and the aptly titled "Closing hours" finishes the album which is not far removed from the opening cut on John Mayall (& The Bluesbreakers)'s "Crusade" album, "Oh pretty woman" in it's same punchy vein. A BSBB album wouldn't be complete without a solo Bob Hall piano rumble and we get it here courtesy of "Sunflower shuffle". A couple low points arrive in the shape of "Baby you're the real thing" which is authentic sounding enough with it's guitar & vocal only arrangement but it's hit and miss on the whole and "North star" is a speedy Elmore James type shuffle which, to be blunt, is just rather flat. Overall though, you'll reach the station on time with the high water marks on this platter.

Traffic (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
More straightforward than Mr. Fantasy
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 18th, 2005

The second Traffic album shows a more commercial side to the band with mainly straightforward numbers such as Mason's delightful bouncy sing a long "You can all join in" (on which Dave plays the acoustic guitar), the nice sounding laid back "Don't be sad" (on which Dave plays guitar (presumably the lead, as Winwood is listed as playing the rhythm guitar on this one) & harmonica), "Cryin' to be heard" (on which Dave plays bass) which has suspenseful, quiet, crystalline verse sections against the crashing, shouting chorus parts, and the original version of his classic, much covered "Feelin' alright" (on which Dave plays the acoustic guitar). It's amazing that at least one artist (probably Joe Cocker) but possibly others (though they may have built their versions off of Cockers cover) were influenced by this plaintive version in the first place as on first hear, it may not stand out all that well (as I probably prefer the first take of this song (which ended up being released on the 2 LP Mason compilation on Island called "Scrapbook") but this one is growing on me more and more with it's good strumming feel and chunky piano chords. I'm not sure about the US Island CD remaster but I can recommend the latest UK version of the CD as this is the one I have. What I like about it is that the liner notes inside list detailed information as to who plays what on each song and although the personnel listed are no surprise, it is rather surprising to see how much they hopped around from one instrument to another on this album as according to the notes (in addition to his lead vocals on the above mentioned tracks which he also penned), Mason is playing the acoustic guitar and he shares the lead vocals on the likable light peppy pop of "Vagabond virgin" with Jim Capaldi (who he also wrote the song with), the harmonica on "Pearly queen" which sounds like a slow chugging blues here next to DM's faster rocking solo versions, though it does speed up in the guitar solo sections here (though those are played by Winwood) and organ on the howling atmospheric ballad "No time to live". The notes also specifically state that Mason does NOT play/sing anything on "Who knows what tomorrow may bring" (which in it's whispery way reminds me somewhat of a Traffic track called "Shanghai noodle factory" that showed up later on the "Last exit" album), "(Roamin' thro' the gloamin with) 40,000 Headmen" (which here is a flute and maracas featured haunting shaker but I think the "Welcome to the canteen" live version of this track really brings out the best in the song's nuances) and the passable rocker "Means to an end" (though it does seem a rather weak closing statement). The good thing about the latest (as of this date) UK Island remastered CD is that it includes half useful bonus cuts which are the gleeful marching "Here we go round the mulberry bush" (from the soundtrack of the film with the same title) and the bland but more rare "...mulberry bush" track "Am I what I was or am I what I am" (though "Utterly simple" also appears on the "...mulberry bush" soundtrack, that same version of that track is on the more essential Traffic album "Mr. Fantasy"), so that helps clean things up, but "Withering tree", "Medicated goo" & "Shanghai noodle factory" also appear on the disc as bonus tracks and though they are listed as "single tracks" they are the same versions that appear, again, on the more essential Traffic album "Last exit" so these are a waste of space and I think the unique single tracks "Paper sun", "Hole in my shoe" & "Smiling phases" (though these tracks have since shown up on various Traffic compilation albums since and it could be argued that these 3 would be more appropriate additions to the "Mr. Fantasy" Traffic CD) the aforementioned "Feelin' alright (Take 1)" and possibly "Little woman" from the only Dave Mason solo Island single (I say "possibly", since Family are the backing band of this track, it may not be deemed appropriate to include such a track on a Traffic CD though Island did see fit to include "Just for you", the other side of the one off Island solo Mason single on Traffic's "Last exit" album as Traffic is the backing band on that track) would have been better inclusions rather than those redundant three. There are no musician notes on the bonus tracks though which is a shame. All in all though, aside from an unnecessary volume boosting on "Here we go round the mulberry bush" (compared to how it sounds elsewhere), this is a very well put together CD package and though it may be too commercial a representation of Traffic, it may be a good place to start for those wanting to dip their toes in without diving head long in to Traffic's more psychedelic and improvisational material at the beginning of their investigations.

Toe Fat Two (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Attention grabbing but badly dated hard rock
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 15th, 2005

It has been reported in recent years that Peter Green plays guitar uncredited on two songs from this album (the slow blues with harp (and possibly some wah wah guitar slabs by Peter) track "There'll be changes" and "A new way" which is nearly 8 minutes long, the first half being pleasant quiet patting and what sounds of Green's softer moments from his own "The end of the game" while the second half of the track leaps in to harsh hard rock which has possible Peter loud wah wah guitar licks) though the notes of the "Toe Fat/Toe Fat 2" CD edition of the album only lists Green as appearing on "There'll be changes". At least it is a step up from the vinyl editions which list no PG mentions. Whatever the case, this album for the most part is hard rocking and though while attention grabbing, it's badly dated showing the weaker excesses of this genere at that point in time. The opening "Stick heat" starts as a ukulele strummer but then turns in to a heavy rock dirge with screeching guitars and vocals. "Indian summer" is a quiet waltzing 2 minute piece, "Idol" is a pounding rock stomp, "Since you've been gone" is a lean punchy rocker, "Three time loser", is another tough stomp and "Midnight sun" is a shuffling riffer. You may find this album interesting listening in the sense that it sounds as if many tracks here have that same kind of wah wah guitaring that Green is apparently playing on the first two tracks I had discussed above so the legend remains that he may be on even more tracks here but who knows if well ever find out for sure on any of this one way or the other though?

Tom Snow (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
A good writer, not a great performer
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 15th, 2005

Tom Snow is one of those impressive writers that is pretty faceless as a performer but the two songs with Stevie work well. The opener "Hurry boy" goes back and forth from loud to quiet and like most of the record is piano driven. It speeds up at the end and on the fade Stevie gives us some beautiful gut wrenching licks which is my favorite part. In contrast, "Rosanna" is a subtle, sensitive ballad and you can hear Stevie pretty well on both songs. The rest of the songs seem to lack a musical distinctiveness which is probably why it must have got lost in the slew of singer/songwriter albums of the time but the greatness of some of the songs he's written will live on through numerous covers of "You might need somebody" (it would have been interesting if his version was included here but no such luck).

Best Buy Presents Fleetwood Mac: Tour '97 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Attractive Mac collectable
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 15th, 2005

This is an intriguing collectors item with a very nice booklet and packaging and disc one starts with "The Dance" video only version of "Gypsy" which starts things out on great footing. Stevie & Lindsey's "Twisted" is listed as the "cassette version" but any difference from the "Twister" soundtrack disc version is very minimal at best. Personally, I don't notice any difference. Lindsey's "Steal your heart away" has the pleasing Tin Pan Alley style that worked so well with "Out of the cradle" numbers like "Soul drifter". A couple of previously released solo tunes are then followed by interesting interview clips from each "Rumours" line up band member. It should be noted though that although "Rattlesnake shake" is billed as being by Mick Fleetwood, it's not the version from "The visitor" that the packaging may lead some to believe but it is in fact the Fleetwood Mac recording from the "Live at the BBC" set. Disc two has nothing to do with the Mac, but it's a good collection of what was going on with mainstream rock in 1997 with a good mix of familiar numbers and good choices of album cuts. Those familiar with Jonny Lang's "Lie to me" album due to Bekka's appearance on the lead off title track will note that they have chosen one of the best songs from that album for this collection, the slow, moody, "Missing your love". I also like The Sundays "Cry" and The Beautiful South styled "Story of my life" by Big Blue Hearts. Highly recommended treasure chest of a double discer.

Time Traders (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Not quite destiny road, but on the way there
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 14th, 2005

The Splinter Group return somewhat to the more pop based blues stylings of "Destiny road" here but this outing is somewhat less colorful. However, it includes enough plus points for recommendation. Although Peter still has a ways to go before his voice is completely "restored", the most obvious change here is that it does seem like his vocal chords have stepped in the right direction this time out as he's more on the mark with such funk driven tunes as "(Down the road of) Temptation" which sounds halfway to Stevie Wonder's "Higher ground" and the toe tapping opener "Until the well runs dry". Another good point is that the times that Green is not in the foreground, it is not as intrusive as has been the case on previous platters. Nigel's reworking of his rare single only track (with Peter) from 1972 "Uganda woman" along with the Mississippi drenched "Shadow on my door" and the New Orleans styled "Downsize blues (Repossess my body)" are surprising highlights as one would expect Peter to be doing the "musically out of step" stuff but here Peter has turned in some real, almost straightforward catchy gems like "Real world" & "Time keeps slipping away". Having said that, he does slow the tempo a bit for "Feeling good". The "Underway" remake is effective but ultimately, not as atmospheric as the Mac original. There is a lack of Peter in the fore in regards to lead guitar work but the snippets that do show up really hit the spot. It shouldn't shock one that this album sounds slightly reminiscent of John Mayall's latest outing "Along for the ride" (as they share the same label now) with less emphasis on lead guitar and more on harmonicas, horns and "Loser two times" style female backing coral vocal arrangements. Had this been more stripped down, this could've really opened up more musical doors for Peter in his return to the music world but as he seems adamant on not giving the hard-core Green fans what he knows they really want him to do musically speaking, we shouldn't be fazed by this now and expect the unexpected. This being the case, overall, this is not as adventurous as "Destiny road" but has got some great moments that are real growers given half a chance.

Take A Chance (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Worth it for River on the run
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 14th, 2005

Lindsey (though misspelled "Lindsay") is listed as one of five people lending background vocals to this album but the album notes don't indicate which song(s) he's on. This Keith Olsen produced album may seem second rate and bland/dated to others but it's more impressive moments pull it through for me. The best track I feel is the catchy banjo tinged sing a long bounce of the opening "River on the run" on which I think I can hear Lindsey on backing, not sure on the other tracks though. "Hey old friend" is accordion/piano slow moping swagger, the title track is a rocker with a punchy up beat funk like tempo featuring blaring organ. "Me and the fox" is perhaps dated sounding but a fairly suspenseful mid pace howler. "Baby Rose" is a piano chunking fast rocker, "Valentine" is a nice mellow plinking ballad, "Cryin' out loud" features steel guitar yawns but these are drowned out by the loud piano. Again, maybe dated but pleasant enough. "Talk to me" is an electric piano slow soother, "Walkin' on water" is a galloping shuffle, "Red ball Texas flyer" is a hoe-down knee slap and "Steppin' out" is curiously interesting in it's engaging ragtime piano tap dance way. Don't expect top notch stuff here and you'll probably be surprised..

Time Is (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Just about a classic, race out to find this one
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 6th, 2005

There must have been a huge strain on Walker (and Mike Hopkins) to have come up with the goods here as they were the replacements for Jeff Lynne in Idle Race who was the mastermind behind the band. There's never been a question about that. However, rather than try to emulate Lynne, the new boys go their own musical ways and we are treated to a nice colorful mix of styles on this platter such as the Celtic opener "Dancing flower", the medieval folk of the Walker penned acoustic guitar & flute number "I will see you", chiming folk rock like Dave's co-written "And the rain", their pleasing cover of Gordon Lightfoot's "Bitter green", and the irresistible catchyness of "Sad o' sad" (my personal favorite of the non-Walker lead vocal tunes but I think I can hear him on backing on this one). Rock and roll is definitely not ignored as there's some great Dave lead fireballs like the murky but wonderfully extended psychedelic drone of "By the sun" and the urgent "Alcatraz" which sounds like something Dave would have done with Black Sabbath had he been given the chance there. Walker co-wrote this track too along with the bouncy closer "We want it all". This has often been dismissed as "Walker one could live without" but I vehemently disagree with this as this is one of Dave's best appearances on record as it shows how effective he can be in more adventurous musical surroundings than people often give him credit for and given half a chance in Fleetwood Mac, he could've come up with some great music, much like the material that is enclosed here. A hard record to find granted, but one that's definitely worth the search.

Train Kept A-Rollin' (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
No standouts outside of Billy appearance tracks
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

This album may have been meant to be somewhat restrained due to it more reasonably fitting the aging Johnny Burnette & The Rock And Roll Trio member but this album really only rocks on the most predictable numbers therefore leaving little surprise for the listener though an obvious exception to this "predictable-ness factor" is the bossa nova arrangement of "Hound dog" which was certainly not expected! Of the 3 songs Billy is on here, the Rocky Burnette co penned "Trouble is I'm in love with you" is the weakest of the three, though pleasant, sounds like a slowed down Chuck Berry styled boogie and since Billy only plays rhythm guitar and does backing vocals on this song, it is (naturally) the song on which you hear Billy the least on out of the three. The version of "Memphis blues" here (on which Billy sings the lead vocals, does backing vocals and plays electric tremolo rhythm guitar & acoustic guitar) isn't much different to the version of this song that appears on his "All night long" CD, perhaps the rhythms are less strong so it sounds more smooth here but it matches up well with the other version and it's really hard to pick a favorite version, I'd probably lean towards this one just because it's that little bit out of the ordinary as to where you'd find a Billy led tune! The obvious highlight of the album is the run through of the classic R&R Trio nugget that represents the title track here and though it does make a very good opener, maybe they should've left it to be the closing statement as the closing instrumental clapper "Boogie to Woodstock" may have been better in the middle somewhere. I think the "Gone again" styled "Love my baby" may have been a good opening contender though it admittedly doesn't rock as much as Billy's "Gone again" and is less effective. Anyways, the title track has very good Rocky & Billy led vocals though they are perhaps a bit echoy to be fully appreciated and in addition to playing acoustic & electric rhythm guitars on the track, a rare lead guitar solo from Billy is included here which I think sounds pretty good considering he's not known for his lead guitar work. As for the rest of the platter, it does mainly have that "rocking with stand up bass" sound of Billy's "All night long" CD but as stated, is not as rough sounding making it sound as if it's a little held back. There's the "Rock around the clock" styled fast "She's hot" predictably featuring Kim Wilson, "Lonesome tears in my eyes" has a nice but slight Les Paul tinge to it, "We're gonna rock" is about as rough as things get here as this reminds me of something George Thorogood would really cut his teeth ripping through, "Love's like rain" which is a good change of pace, less predictable that the others here, reminds me of a Delbert McClinton type of slowish funk and the pleasant but not particularly memorable bounce of "Lonesome train". In the end, it's worth getting for the Billy appearance tunes but don't expect too much beyond that from this album.

The Art Of Levitation (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
One vocal and many instrumentals on here will lift you
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

"The art of levitation" sounds similar to Bardens' "Big sky" album but this is an improvement. This album seems, though it may not be really, more instrumental than "Big sky" was probably due to it having less songs (and they are longer in duration as well) which helps this keyboard dominated affair though there are some wonderful vocal moments on this album, particularly on the album's best track, "Spirit of the water" (a remake of Bardens' Camel song) sung beautifully by Tallulah (Bardens) accompanied by pretty acoustic guitar at the beginning and it has a haunting theme throughout. The opener "The zone" is in boogie/shuffle mode which is mostly instrumental, a good one. Then comes "She takes me there" which is one to clap to with light rhythm guitar at the beginning but it doesn't hang around for as long as it should. "Making waves" starts with what sounds like either a strange edit or an odd rhythm but then goes in to a lightweight detective show theme feel, good keyboard led instrumental, works because of the refraining of vocals. "Hopi prayer" is another galloper that perhaps should have been left as an instrumental. "No jazz" is a good driving instrumental track with effective electric guitar leads. "Take back your power" is a pulsating number with rhythm guitar throughout but the chanting should've been scrapped. The closer "High" is a fair vocal tune which is nice to listen to, mid tempo, doesn't really go anywhere but does grow on you. Unlike other artists, Bardens' originality sets him far and above his contemporaries and even when his vocal workouts fail, he is more successful at them than others have been as his instrumental passages pull him through such performances regardless. This is worth it mainly for "Spirit of the water" but "No jazz", "Making waves" & "The zone" will add to it's best point and good (most likely) Mick rhythms throughout. A good swan song for a sorely missed artist who passed on way too early.

The Big Night (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Forcast snow, with rain, making sleet for the 25th
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

I give points to The Tractors and their album "The big night" for trying hard to go for the "old time" sound on the overall with the inclusion of hearty saxes and barber shop quartet-type backing vocals and (oddly) their "holding back" a little on the rockers has a positive effect on the album, such as "Bo Diddley Santa Claus" (where normally the title would tell you all you need to know to be able to ascertain what to expect but "that riff" isn't as aggressive on this track and therefore makes for a good but slight funk feel to that track) and the stomping closer "Mary's baby" (as it's not as hard as one might expect in such a track). "I was a bad boy this year" is a Chuck Berry styled rocker from the pen of Rick Vito and you can hear his backing vocals good (especially on the chorus) and you can hear his guitar work good as well mainly in the left speaker through the verses. Other plus points are an effective version of "Little drummer boy" as, although it may sound like a version Neil Diamond may have cut, this is not a bad thing and the strings & acoustic guitar with vocal approach doesn't miss the signature drum track that is usually found in covers of this classic which is an unexpected treat. However, there are some minor minuses that water things down a bit. "Bells are ringing" has the best "Christmas feel" of the tracks on the record but is not particularly memorable. "Santa Claus is back in town" has a good slow blues feel to it but also suffers from the lack of an effective hook. Traditional Country fans may enjoy their cover of Willie Nelson's "Pretty paper" and the "Skip to my Lou..." feeling of "Christmas times a comin'" with it's fiddle & steel guitar flavorings. The opening "Boogie woogie Santa Claus" is exactly that so no surprise there and "Run run Rudolph" is the same song as what has been billed elsewhere as "Run Rudolph run" so another one that falls in to the predictable pit (though with more horns and less guitars than one would expect in the arrangement). The title track which is an original from the main member of The Tractors, Steve Ripley, is not far removed from "Boogie woogie Santa Claus" but a little slower, which may have worked better in another place in the sequencing. The album is somewhat piano heavy on the full but this could be a sleeper in years to come to "grow on you". Not bad out of the gate though.

The Craft (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Some good moments but overall OK
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

There is an interesting mix of tracks here but overall it evens out as OK. Matthew Sweet's "Dark secret" is the track on which Lindsey Buckingham plays on here and it sounds to me like it could be his fast guitar strums at the end of the song where he may be heard best though the song itself has a bossa nova feel featuring a "singing sword" type screaming sound throughout the track as well. Our Lady Piece's cover of the Lennon/McCartney track "Tomorrow never knows" is a punchy grumbler though I must admit that this is one Beatles track I've heard of more than actually hearing so I can't really compare the two and perhaps, it's best left that way. Heather Nova's "I have the touch" is an up beat strummer, Sponge's "All this and nothing" is a gruff shouter, Letters To Cleo's version of The Cars' "Dangerous type" is a tough sounding cover, Love Spit Love's "How soon is now" is hard to follow as it seems sloppy on the outside but it's louder chorus bursts help out a little bit. Juliana Hatfield's "Witches song" is bouncy acoustic strum on the verses but has numbing chorus sections, Tripping Daisy's cover of Harry Nilsson's "Jump in to the fire" sounds like it could've been a nasty fiery cover but it ends up rather one dimensional. Jewel's "Under the water" is a good sing a long peppy chirper, All Too Much's "Warning" is light funk that doesn't really work, Elastica's "Spastica" is a howling quick rocker, Spacehog's "The horror" oddly sounds to me like something that would've been on Bob Welch's "Looks at bop" album but naturally it's a lot harder here and Graeme Revell's "Bells books and candles" is a whispery mid tempo droner. As it is, I found most of the tracks I like on here to be real growers but they did get there in the end but even then, they aren't THAT high on the totem pole really.

The Envoy (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
The overdraft rocks (literally) but not much else
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

The second song, "The overdraft" is a fiery rocker which features Lindsey on well heard background vocals and it's one of the best moments on an average outing for Warren. He's had worse albums but the compositions contained here don't really have the bite that those from his self titled 1976 album and "Excitable boy" had which make it rather forgettable but still worth a look at for "The overdraft", the opening title track as well as the fact that theres interesting production from Warren with our old pals Waddy Wachtel and Mr. "Behind the mask" himself Greg Ladanyi and I do hope that this platter is released on CD soon as I feel it may be the kind of album one can appreciate more when they have the sound quality and convenience of a disc.

Therfu (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Dated but highlights make it worthwhile
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

Richards is sort of like a Tom Snow type performer in that he won't project much in the way of personality here and he's not as prolific a songwriter but when those song highlights on "Therfu" do show up, it makes this album worthwhile. Mick is listed along with another drummer on this album (in addition to being the "Executive producer" of this project) and Bob Welch is listed alongside another bass player as playing bass on this album but unfortunately in both cases, we don't know who is playing on which song. Oddly, Lindsey is credited for the "Cover art" on this album (obviously inspired by Larry Vigon who was in favor at the time) though LB does not play on this album in any way by all accounts. Speaking of Snow, his much covered "You might need somebody" leads us off here and it may just be due to hearing this version first on my part that this one is close to me but this admittedly dated electric piano pop sound that permeates throughout this album, especially on this track, makes this a sentimental favorite version of this song for me though I must admit that I have rarely heard a bad version of this song. I guess it's just a well written tune with a great hook and I'd say this track is the obvious highlight on this platter and it makes this release worthwhile for this track alone though there are some other goodies here like "I'm comin' home (With a little bit of luck)" with it's slight Three Degrees type soul feel on the choruses, it makes for a nice smooth sounding swelling strings ballad, the closing "There's something wrong" which has louder chorus sections that have a slight discoy feel but it weaves in and out of the quiet verses and tension filled meandering vocal bridge to the effective (though unfortunately short) guitar solo at the end, "Climb up the steeple" (with it's uplifting choruses and good balladish verses works) and, though it's not great by any means, the cover of "Stand by me" here is given a slight shuffle feel which doesn't work too bad though naturally it is no match for the classic Ben E. King smash version though I could've seen this being a single possibility had this album fared better in retail shops in 1980. There's also the mid tempo "All over the world" which has more guitar than other tracks here and a disco feel, "When I lose my way" is bouncy fodder with wah wah sounding keys, "Baby, please don't go" (listed without the comma on the back cover though outnumbered 2 to 1 by the comma listing via the label & lyric sheet) is a keys led ballad with slow drums holding up the rhythm here, "Can't you hear them crying" is bass heavier though it's quiet overall sound makes it sound more like a ballad than it really is, the beat is probably more like mid tempo and "It's all up to you" is light pop piffle with chirpy electric guitars featured in this track (possibly Todd Sharp, but again, not stated in the album liner notes specifically). This is another album that I think would benefit from a CD reissue though with "You might need somebody" only managing to get to number 54 on the Hot 100 in the US in 1980 (amazingly & unfortunately), it is an unlikely candidate for release but whatever format you find it on, if you like light keys pop, you'll be fairly happy with your purchase.

Tell Me The Truth (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Not much beyond Vito tracks
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

The thing that really hurts this album is it's persistence in using mechanical sounding electronic synth based arrangements stealing most of the emotion these tracks may have had to offer. Rick Vito plays useful chiming acoustic guitar picks on the album's best song, the yearning "Something sad". He also plays the fuzzy slide solo on "Down by the river" but the track tries to be a tough soul song which doesn't work. The opening title track is a synth bouncer that has a main riff I found very similar to T. Rex's "Get it on (Bang a gong)". "Was it just the moonlight" is a tapping stomp with that electric pulse, "In Roxy's eyes" is a plinky acoustic guitar, clave & electric piano featured ballad which is one of the better tracks though it is still missing something. "Let me go" is too synthy to be the gutsy rocker it's obviously trying to be, "Perfect strangers" is more upish mechanical sounding pulse, "All I want to do" is a fair acoustic strummer with good vocal overlays, "Tonight" is an up beat pepper (which isn't as electronic sounding as many of the others but the problem here is that the song doesn't have a great hook) and "For the children" is a swaying slow acoustic strum with nice keys moans which makes for an OK closer but the only track to make any real impression here is "Something sad" and even then, I understand that this may have been one of the singles from this album so it may not even be a surprise to find on getting this album for those that are already familiar with this song. Well Timothy, you did ask for the truth after all.

Thinkin' About You (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Coolidge in fine form
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

Many I have encountered seem to have a banal attitude towards Rita Coolidge and granted, she does not write her own material and perhaps she is not a top class artist but given a fair chance in exposing songwriting talents the way Linda Ronstadt and Bonnie Raitt among others have done in the past, the lady has pleasing music to offer and this most impressive disc is the best place to start your investigation in to her works. Relevantly here, Bekka and Rick are on every song except three piano & string led ballads: "Letting you go with love", the slight blues feel of "The way I loved you" and the nice closing "I'll remember you". Bekka can be heard well on many songs here, as can Rick, which is an added plus for us. The catchy upbeat opener "Shoo rah" has lean guitars which mesh well with the tumbling rhythms. I guess the soothing "Love without mercy" is the most predictable song here as it does sound like the kind of ballad one expects to hear from Coolidge but it must be said that it's handled very nicely. "Without love" is a chunky rocker which has more guts than one might expect from a Rita rocker. Even more rocking is the slidy Bonnie Raitt styled "Runaway love" which will be an instant favorite to owners of this CD. I can hear Bekka the most on the side to side soulful finger snapper "What's it gonna be". "I've been thinking about you" is an up tempo twangy fitting, well, "almost" title track! Also, the emotional vocals of the moderate speed "I'm not your lover" won't hit you until the song fade which is most effective and "Everybody needs" is an anthemic ballad which could be seen as corny but it does the trick in my opinion. There's a lot of good Rick guitar parts throughout the album, predictably on the rockers as spoken of above but this is a good album to hear his more subtle playing on as well and I highly recommend it to anyone wishing to dip their toes in to either Bekka and/or Rick's guest appearances and this must be seen as a highlight in Rita's career too so you really can't go wrong with this CD as a purchase.

This Way (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
This way is the right direction
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

I must admit, I'm not overly familiar with Ms. Kilcher's previous work but from what I've read "This way" is more commercial that "Spirit" was but less acoustic than "Pieces of you" was though the last 2 tracks "Grey matter" & "Sometimes it be that way" (which are billed as "bonus tracks" on the CD but I have yet to see a version of this album that DOESN'T have these tracks) were recorded live and are similar sounding to the "Pieces of you" material. However, although the lyrics are somewhat quirky (referring to Tom Hanks movies etc.), they are more "family friendly" than those on certain "Pieces of you" tracks. "Grey matter" is the one closer sounding to "Pieces of you" material and it's the better of the two, though not as crystalline and dramatic, though the "family" lyrics help on lightening the atmosphere. Although "Sometimes it be that way" isn't as effective, it is fun to listen to it after learning via the liner notes that the false start was due to Jewel forgetting the lyrics so it was a nifty "cover" on her part though at least she admits it! In contrast, the rockers work best on the album "itself" as the strumming opener "Standing still" has a great hook which gallops nicely alongside the cold electric guitar jabs on the choruses. The title track is similar to "Standing still" in it's feel though it needs to grow on you more with listens than "Standing still" does. The song Bekka is on, "Everybody needs someone sometime" is a grower of a pop tune which brings back the quirky lyrics (such as "he looked like a potato shoved in to jeans") and you can hear Bekka better as the song goes along but not in a big way as she's not THAT "out front" on the mix as there are 2 other backing vocalists to contend with here. The quirky lyrics continue on "Love me, just leave me alone" ("your daddy was a cigarette, you ain't nothing but a turtleneck" etc.) which is a furious rocker starting in slide acoustic guitar delta blues style mood which builds in to punchy chorus power riffs obviously influenced by Dann Huff's production on that one. In fact, a slight blues feel is present in this track which sure is a surprise, wonderfully executed. Another passable uptempo number is "Do you want to play?" which is basically pop with ragged guitars towards the chorus nearing the track to rock avenues with a good hook. Other uptempos don't work as well as these though. "Jesus loves you" is a funk builder but doesn't employ a good hook, "Serve the ego" doesn't have a good hook either but it's instrumentation works pretty well (such as the bongos on the verses and those familiar by now electric guitars come in on the choruses) though thematically this song reminds me of The Police tune "Message in a bottle". The ballads generally don't work though "Break me" is an obvious exception, understated by acoustic guitar and piano nicely, it could be seen as corny and unoriginal by some but I find it sensitive with an emotionally heartfelt vulnerability. "Till we run out of road" is one of the slower tunes but just doesn't add up, "Cleveland" starts out as an acoustic ditty but a forced funk feel takes over which doesn't help matters, "I won't walk away" is an another acoustic song which does have a mesmerizing, dramatic feel to it but once again, lacks a successful hook and "The new wild west" tries to be anthemic and dramatic with string undertones but thematically ends up sounding more like Neil Young's "Old man" (though mostly at the beginning). If this is apparently the "middle ground" effort for Jewel, then I will say that the good rockers (and "Break me" for the "ballads") make it worthwhile and as there seems to be differing opinions on this album, I'd still say it's worth a chance anyways as you may like some of the ones I didn't (and vice versa).

Thunderbyrd (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
No surprises but likable jangle
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

Rick is listed here for vocals, guitars, dobro and mouth harp and I'm sure he is probably on most, if not all, tracks for "Thunderbyrd" but I'm not sure if it's safe to assume that or not. Though McGuinn seemed to like having this project being billed as more of a band (appearing live as "Roger McGuinn's Thunderbyrd" as evident on the since released 1997 live McGuinn/Hillman/Clark CD release "3 Byrds land in London" and a "Rockpalast" (German TV) appearance floating around amongst video traders circles on which Rick actually had some tracks that he sung lead on etc.), it's hard to know how much impact Vito (or any other of the band members here for that matter) had as this album twangs away in it's predictably jangly way though it's still mostly likable stuff even if it's rather quaint sounding at times (such is the case on "I'm not lonely anymore" which is one of the album's softer tracks and it sounds like it could have some howling RV lead fills in the left channel). As for the rest, "All night long" would've been a nice chiming opener with it's catchy verses but it's tough pounding chorus shoutings ruin the tracks mood for the most part. "It's gone" is a fast skipping lean track with possibly some echoy Rick leads again. "Dixie highway" is a peppy shuffle and Roger's cover of Tom Petty's "American girl" is what you'd figure it to sound like though it is generally seen as one of Petty's more rocking numbers and McGuinn opts for a more straight ahead jangle feel. The slowish choruses on "We can do it all over again" make for a nice change of pace to what we have been hearing here so far but the louder country-ish choruses don't work as well. "Why baby why" is a fast chanting rocker that's hardly original, "Golden loom" is a bouncing clapper and "Russian hill" is the album's obvious centerpiece high point with it's building rock elements, it's an impressive closer. The Rickenbacker sound is one which I enjoy more when I'm in the mood for it and I'm feeling away from those moods at this point in time but I could see myself giving this album the four star rating on days I yearn to hear it.

Hank Thompson And Friends (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Colorful cast but very specific audience required
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

A good mix of talents appear on this pure solid country duet album. Hank's duet with Bekka "I picked a San Antonio rose" is a fun upbeat number with Bekkas' leads as great as ever. This is the definite highlight for us here for sure. Although there are some other high points on this disc such as "Dry bread" (with Delaney & Bonnie) and the medley of "The wild side of life / It wasn't god who made honky tonk angels" (with Kitty Wells and Tanya Tucker), I think this album is very much an acquired taste for true old time country music aficionados only. It does make one of all ages smile though.

Thoroughfare Gap (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good hooks do well against persistant disco production
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 2nd, 2005

This album strikes me as an example of an artist having to play ball with a big label and pitting his musical wants against what the sound of that day was dictating. The disco flavor that overhangs on these proceedings does hurt and makes one not take this album as seriously at they normally would but the hooks are there if given half a chance. Stills impressively took part in writing every track here (except a great cover of Greg Allman's "Midnight rider" (which, though you can't hear Dave Mason's apparent vocals on the track, is the best moment on the record as the disco production does not intrude on this recording) and the much covered Buddy Holly track "Not fade away" which works well here due to it's effective fuzzy guitar sound and restraint from falling heavy in to the Bo Diddley rhythms that many persist in using when covering this tune) and from what I understand about Stephen, his guitar work had always been his strongest attribute (and not so much his writing) but this platter may be a good example of what he has to show along those lines. Three other tracks Mason does vocals on here (though they don't really stand out) are the opening horn led disco upbeat fluff of "You can't dance alone", "We will go on" (which again has the disco flavor but it's lighter here with flute flourishes and a good guitar break at the end) and "What's the game" which is the most disco sounding song on the album though it does try it's best to rock. As for the rest, the title track is more acoustic guitar featured with strings that have a fiddle approach at times (the sound of this one makes you wonder why DM was not on this track instead as it seems closer to what he was doing musically at the time then the tracks he was on from this album), "Beaucoup yumbo" is a fair slow bluesy piano featured dragger, "Woman Lleva" is a mid tempo piano drenched ditty which has good promise on the verses but the choruses are a let down. "Lowdown" has good guitar stuff throughout and is a haunting minor key grinder and the closing "Can't get no booty" is a good shuffling rocker but it sounds rather muffled which waters it down somewhat. I think this is an album that will benefit from a CD release though, which as far as I know, has yet to happen.

Stone Country: Country Artists Perform The Songs Of The Rolling Stones (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good, but get the Stones greatest hits instead
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 1st, 2005

The lead off track, Travis tritt's version of "Honky tonk woman" is the song here on which you'll hear Bekka and you hear her pretty good. It's a faithful cover with good clarity on the chorus high notes but like many songs here, although well done, there's not many surprises present. However, there is a radically different version of "Wild horses" by Blackhawk and there are likable performances by many artists enclosed in this package but one still feels that they would be better off with the Stones greatest hits compilations if they had the yearning for these songs.

Stone Alone (1/5.01/5.01/5.01/5.01/5.0)
Can't even work on a camp level
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 1st, 2005

Bob Welch plays electric guitar on the opener which is the only thing close to a good song on this record "A quarter to three" but like his acoustic playing on "Gimmie just one chance" & "Peanut butter time", it is present but doesn't particularly stand out enough to enjoy it. For the most part Wyman attempts to incorporate a New Orleans style sound with Jimmy Buffett type quirkiness (a la "Cheeseburger in paradise") and it fails on all levels. The closest thing to a rocker on the record "Wine and wimmen" will undoubtedly disappoint any Stones fan, his dreadful cover of "If you wanna be happy" is nowhere near the Peter B's league and "No more foolin'" (which Welch also played electric guitar on) is a completely unfunny stab at Louis Armstrong. The only way this may have gained two stars is if it's humor worked to prove he knew exactly what he was doing but even that doesn't work and sadly, it's hard to tell if he was attempting to do "serious camp" or not.

Stop Off (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Surprisingly likable duo
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 1st, 2005

Ashman Reynolds are a likable Delaney & Bonnie style duo but a little more pop orientated. Bob Weston is listed as "1st lead and slide guitars" on the album and although it doesn't state on which songs, the real plus is that you can easily make him out on here. His co-written "Taking off" is one of the more up numbers which features some good Weston slide at the end and the closing rocker "Help me" includes Bob's biggest solo on the album at the end. "Long long road" is an equally effective rocker but my favorite is the side two opener "I wish I knew". Moving guitar flourishes from Weston top off an
emotionally heartfelt uplifting tune. I'm going to recommend it because I enjoyed it alot
more than I thought I would and I'm sure you will too.

Stories Told & Untold (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Glory days are over but better for a latter day disc
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 1st, 2005

Bekka can be heard well on the song she's on, a remake of their classic "Can't get enough" It sure sounds like they had fun making this one. The sole reason I say this is the best of Bad Co.'s latter day releases is the strength of the reworks. Of course, not nearly as good as the originals although "Oh Atlanta" comes pretty close, but there's no new material that fairs much better than any of their other post Paul Rodgers recordings. I'd give them good marks for effort but their only hope would've been reworking more of their classics than they ending up doing bur as those can't compete with the originals, even that would have been only a marginal improvement.

Stormy Weather (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Effective moody, atmospheric concert piece
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 1st, 2005

This disc comes in a strange, almost DVD style packaging and just as surprising musical style too. Stevie performs "At last" with an obvious affection for the original Etta James recording which makes for an entertaining listen while the powerful horn section makes this one of the loudest on the record. Many will be surprised to here such luminaries such
as Sheryl Crow, Shawn Colvin and Paula Cole perform their numbers in such a purist, traditional "Standards" way which remind me of Linda Ronstadt's recordings with the Nelson Riddle orchestra. Overall, a classy recording which can really hit the spot if you're in the mood for the old big band moody ballads style which can be nice to lie back and listen to on a cool dark night.

Stranger In This Town (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Bon Jovi fans will like, Bekka fans may not
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 1st, 2005

Bekka is 1 of 6 people listed as background vocalists on the record (not broken down by song) so as one can imagine, it's hard to pick her out of the crowd to ascertain which songs she's on. Predictably, the rockers on this long player are very Bon Jovi-esque, particularly, "Rosie" but some of the lighter material is surprisingly pleasant like the soulful title track and "One light burning". As I'm not really a big Bon Jovi fan, it's hard to give an objective opinion on this disc but I guess I was disappointed anyway with not getting to hear Bekka too well although I'm sure Bon Jovi fans will find great enjoyment from this platter.

Street Corner Talking (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
One of their more adventurous platters
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 1st, 2005

This album comes across to me as one of the more adventurous Savoy Brown albums on the whole with lengthy tracks like "All I can do" (which is a balladish mid tempo tune that has some electric piano solo tinkling which then leads in to a five minute mostly quiet but nice Kim Simmonds guitar solo), a cover of the Temptations hit "I can't get next to you" (here, done in stroll mode with well handled electric piano & guitar parts) and the stomping tumbler "Wang dang doodle" (which I personally find a little overrated as I feel it doesn't really go anywhere but maybe that's it's intent?) though the shorter tracks are also strong like the pounding piano boogie of "Let it rock (Rock and roll on the radio)" (here sung by Savoy's keyboardist Paul Raymond though Dave Walker does join in on backing vocals), the different punchy mid tempo rocking title track (which has an effective minor key scary riff which keeps it interesting) the bright up beat start of the popular "Tell mama" (with it's great hook and screaming slides) and "Time does tell" (which is an electric piano & guitar led grumbling shuffler) though perhaps these last two mentioned are not really short (at 5 minutes each). The end result is that this album along with the longer tracks from this album's follow up platter "Hellbound train" are essential Savoy Brown listening though Dave's vocals back then do sound less full then they have in later years. Nevertheless, these recordings show that there's more adventure in the Dave Walker discography then one might be led to think.

Street Talk (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Some passable disco but others simply don't work
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, June 1st, 2005

This is a brisk, breezy disco effort with varying results but oddly, it's most predictable moments are the most enjoyable ones. As one would expect, the longer numbers are the better ones as disco requires a constant beat and an appealing groove to continue throughout to work effectively and the title track and "Cherry boy" serve their purpose with pleasing saxophone breaks and gallant horn arrangements while the string arrangements are of even more superior music to the ears. "Free (medley) I am.../Free.../Keep on walkin'" is worthwhile as well as it reminds one of the better qualities of the "Stars on 45" series from the early 80's which consisted of disco Beatles medleys and the like but the other songs here are of little use lacking in hooks and strong
instrumentation. "Menage a trois" attempts to capture the eroticism displayed on Donna Summer's "Love to love you baby" but doesn't really come off not without effort marks though and one can see why Crewe has a loyal cult following but it's a fair mish mash overall.

The Son Of Rock And Roll (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Typical one hit wonder album
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 31st, 2005

Although the title of this album and Rocky's upbringing spell promise, "The son of rock and roll" really shines only on the album's opening cut, the sleeper top ten hit of 1980, the chunky shouter "Tired of toein' the line" with it's fuzzy guitars and well handled harmonies on the bridge sections, helped stir some interest in the rockabilly revival going on at the time of it's release but unfortunately, though touches of it show up on other songs here, the magic of it basically ends there as the rest of the album concentrates on more hard rocking modern sounds to back up Burnette here though having heard RB's disappointing 1982 album "Heart stopper" which falls pray to the same elements, it can be safely said that this album is much better than that album fares. Billy is listed in the liner notes as playing "guitars" on the album but it doesn't say which songs he's on. As for the rest, "Angel in chambray" is a fairly dramatic thumper driven by the pouncing rhythm guitars and keys but "Baby tonight" is a more new wave sounding speedy bouncer though it does have a similar vocal style as the hit single listed above and "Fallin' in love (Bein' friends)" is more 50's throwback chirp but the nostalgic touches start to evaporate soon after this mostly as in comes the punchy rocker "Anywhere your body goes" and the peppy hard rock of "The boogie man". Things start to lighten up a bit with the boogie woogie clapper "You're so easy to love" and the lighter (by comparison so far) acoustic strummer "Clowns from outer space" but I should've known by the title of this song that things would start going sour, and sure enough, they do as the noisy bursting chorus parts arrive which severely annoy this track. One of the best musically is the most stripped down song here (after TOTTL) which is the piano & acoustic guitar led ballad "A woman in love" which is a high point as it does work as a strolling melter but it strangely makes you feel like it may have worked better had they done more with it (production wise) along the lines of what was done with "Tired..." and then the album ends with a fair mid tempo tune called "Roll like a wheel". This is definitely the place to go to investigate Rocky but expect the camp to be flooded with modern day (at the time) production which for the most part puts out the fire.

Sounds From Home (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Earthy enough but needs clearer vocals
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 31st, 2005

There's some good earthy flavors here which make up some of this album's highlights like the Caribbean, steel drum & horn features of the updated Bramlett tune Clapton made famous, "Let it rain" on which you can hear Bekka fairly well but like the other 2 songs she's on from here (the mid tempo light funk of both "Locked up in Alabama" & "Rock 'n roll lane") she's with a host of other background vocalists so there's sort of a gospel feel to the album's background vocals in general (like on the slow balladish "Kim Carmel" as well) which while nice sounding, can make it hard to pick out Bekka on these three songs that she's on though she does push through sometimes, particularly, to my ears anyways, on "Rock 'n roll lane". Other flavored highlights are the Spanish sounding acoustic ballad "Free" and the aptly titled "Funky" reminds me of Stevie Wonder's "Superstition". Other songs include the slidy acoustic doodle "Mississippi", the bass & keyboard featured stroll "Kiss" which has pleasant light electrics, the acoustic strumming ditty "Aidee aidee idee oh!" and the best ballad on the record called "Brown paper bag" which has a useful drums, piano & acoustic guitar arrangement. Though "Sounds from home" is pleasant enough musically sounding, the hooks aren't specifically there and Delaney's growling vocal style on the up tunes doesn't fair so well. Although it is more smooth on the ballads, he doesn't have the vocal range these songs may require to fully show their stripes, in my opinion.

Speed Of Light (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Bardens finds his musical home
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 31st, 2005

Mick plays drums on the most commercial track here in "Whisper in the wind" a pleasing track with a soothing up beat atmosphere and you can tell when Mick's strong drums kick in. Tracks like the pulsing "Columbine" are fairly commercial as well but it's minor key dramatics are pretty banal in their forced urgency. "Gold" on the other hand, does work in it's dramatics. An up tempo attention grabbing plinker, it has fiery lead guitar bursts by Neale Heywood though the vocal parts were not needed. The opening "Westward ho" is a tooting howler, a haunting instrumental. "Black elk" is a Clannad type chanting beater though the lead vocals sound more of soft spoken David Gilmour (though not him of course). "This could be paradise" is a keys note bender with vocal title chants that again should've been cut out as the instrumental parts to this track are the best sections. "Afterthought" is a pretty piano chunking instrumental. It's short and repetitive but still a
stirring highlight. The title track is a so-so up-ish track with light latter day Bryan Ferry/Roxy Music leanings, "Heartland" is a galloping, shaking electric piano led instrumental which sounds promising (in the hopes that it would be one of the best instrumentals) but unfortunately, I can't honestly say that as I think it's one of the poorest. It just doesn't go anywhere. "Gold (Reprise)" is a tasty instrumental burst of "Gold" which is almost preferable due to the unnecessary vocals (again) not being there but it's very short so it's little stance evens the two versions out at the end of the day. Regardless of the flaws, "Speed of light" is a well put together new age album that helped put Peter Bardens on top of his game again.

Spirit Of '84 (The 13th/Thirteenth Dream) (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
The hard rock spirit is a little watered down
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 31st, 2005

Bob Welch is listed as vocals and guitars on the record but it doesn't say on which songs he's on. This doesn't help differentiate the sound of many songs enclosed in this offering as most of the numbers have heavy guitars but strong synth style keyboards which mute the desired effect somewhat. There are some surprising ballads such as "All over the world" & "Nature's way" but it seems the songs that were intended to have the most impact don't and vice versa. So, the closer, a reworking of their apparent classic "I got a line on you" has some stinging guitar but as this is far longer than the other songs on the record, it leaves one wondering why they bothered. It's rather repetitive at the end and it would have been more successful had it included an extended solo from the good sounding guitars and would've been an easier arrangement to boot. The next longest song, "Mechanical world" to me worked the best. This just cements my feeling of the best is not necessarily what they think it will be.

Peter Green Splinter Group (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Great energy on the classics helps the comeback effort
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 31st, 2005

Peter's 90's comeback is with mixed results but there's some great run throughs here to recommend this set like the always great Otis Rush classic "Homework", Green's entertaining reworking of Freddie King's "The stumble" which you may remember him doing with John Mayall on the "A hard road" album and the best part is the closer which is a energy ridden version of the nugget "Going down". This is an unusual live set in that it starts off with two studio recordings which are Robert Johnson covers "Hitch hiking woman" & "Traveling riverside blues". Many of the guitar solos are not by Peter but by Nigel Watson as are some of the lead vocals but you can still hear some great Greenisms here if you listen close and with some of the earlier favorites mentioned, I can safely say that this is one of the better places to start on investigating Peter's new Splinter group

Steel Cowboys: Bikers' Choice, Vol. 1 (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Some, bikers would choose, others are tin gunslingers
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 31st, 2005

As Rick's "I stand accused" is from "Pink and black", the main point of interest for us here is Billy's impressive version of Steve Earle's "Copperhead road". It has a slight Celtic feel to the arrangement which gives way to a more rocking sound than one rarely hears from Billy in that it's less rockabilly styled which makes for pleasing unpredictability. Regarding the rest, the disc kicks off with a rousing cover of Joe Walsh's "Rocky mountain way" by Blue Miller and "One way out" by The Allman Brothers Band is a definite bikers classic but this probably would have worked better with more classic recording from the 70's of this nature (Atlanta Rhythm Section, 38 Special, Molly Hatchet, etc.) but I'm not complaining because if that had happened, we wouldn't have Billy's recording. So, it's OK.

Solo (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Some on side one are very catchy side two is not
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 27th, 2005

As the leader of some obscure 70's British pub rock bands such as Headstone, Ashton's second solo offering is pretty impressive in that he wrote all the songs himself but side two is noticeably weaker than side one. As the album starts out with a promising rocker like "Dancing in the street" and a nice slower number called "Blue blue nights". the flip side just doesn't have the catch. Mark can sound a bit like David Bowie (vocally) during the Ziggy Stardust period but there is some unpredictable moments like the mellow close of "One more chance" and the fierce solo that ends "In the street" which reminds me of Dave Flett's work with Manfred Mann's Earth Band (but he's not on the record) speaking of appearances, Bob Weston is listed as being on the record but it doesn't say what songs he's on though. I'll give this an average rating because of side two but it's a very high three stars because of side one.

Something/Anything? (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Best place to hear what Todd Rundgren is all about
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 27th, 2005

I fully admit that I'm not big on Todd Rundgren but I do respect that the studio wizardry and mix of soulful ballads and bubblegum rockers is what he mainly stands for and I don't think many would doubt that "Something/Anything" is the best place to go in order to find out what Rundgren is all about. It is a rare occasion when Rundgren works with others in the studio (as he usually plays all of the instruments himself on his records and he does do that on the first three sides of this album) but he got some other players together to join him for "live in the studio" tracks that take up much of side 4 of this 2 record set, Rick Vito was one of these players and he's listed as playing guitar on the album's last track, the screaming gruff strutting rocker "Slut" on which I think Rick's guitar can be heard best on the song's main intro phrase licks in a slidy fashion. Side 4 starts with "Overture - My roots: Money (Thats what I want)/Messin' with the kid" which is a lo-fi tape recording of some of Todd's early (and I mean, EARLY bands, pre Nazz were talking here, probably from his school days) starting typically thin with the school dance sounding run through of the R&B classic M(TWIW) and then, on beat, in kicks a growly metalic MWTK which is slightly better on sound quality but not by much. The live in the studio tracks then kick in with "Dust in the wind" which is a horn led busy vocals ballad followed by "Piss Aaron", a New Orleans flavored novelty. Then we get the bright heartfelt top 5 hit "Hello it's me". The echoy sax led rocker "Some folks is even whiter than me" comes next and "You left me sore" is shuffling bouncy pop. As for the rest, side 1 kicks off with the underrated piano chunking top 20 hit "I saw the light" which is followed by the Bread-ish type ballad "It wouldn't have made any difference", the clapping rocker "Wolfman Jack", the mid tempo chirper "Cold morning light", the up-ish jingler "It takes two to tango (This is for the girls)" and the slow melter "Sweeter memories". Side 2 starts with an entertaining one minute spoken piece labeled "Intro" in which Todd teaches us where to spot studio "errors" notably hiss, hum, bad editing and "punch outs" in analog tapes. The rest of side 2 is "Breathless" (which is a tropical sounding instrumental), "The night the carousel burnt down" (a lightweight bouncer), "Saving grace" (a whimsical medium paced skipper), "Marlene" (a plinking slow-ish ballad), "Song of the Viking" (up beat pep) and "I went to the mirror" (a piano mumbling dragger). Side 3 starts with a punchy rocker called "Black Maria" and though good, it's not the flame out rocker that it's often spoken about being. "One more day (No word)" is a chirpy strummer, "Couldn't I just tell you" is a classic rock FM radio staple with a bright bubblegum shouting style. "Torch song" is a piano led moaner and "Little red lights" is the heaviest rocker here with Hendrix like scratching guitar scrapes. Though my personal tastes find this album spotty, the better moments are nice listens and who knows, this album may inspire you to investigate Rundgren's work further.

The Robert Johnson Songbook (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Songs once in a while, but not all at once
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 27th, 2005

What seems to be Peter's new found admiration for Robert Johnson is explored here as he delves into the legendary bluesmans catalogue covering more than half of his numbers. It's very interesting to listen to the version of "Ramblin' on my mind" here next to Eric Clapton's rendition from the "Bluesbreakers" album and other highlights for me are Green's faithful run throughs of such staples as "Terraplane blues", "Love in vain blues" & "Walkin' blues". However, admittedly the best moment for me was the closing "Sweet home Chicago" with the great Paul Rodgers guesting on vocals to superb effect. Unfortunately though, this is a release that unless you're a die hard Johnson aficionado, one is better off listening to songs from it once in a while than all in one sitting as it can get rather stale sounding after a while especially those of us who yearn for the original talent that the great Green has within and hopefully, we'll see it someday soon once again.

Summer School (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Pop and oh yeah, some rock too
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 26th, 2005

The rockabilly of Billy's "Get an education" and the Chuck Berry styled rocker by The Fabulous Thunderbirds called "My babe" really stick out like sore thumbs here in that they are the most stripped down of rock tunes while the rest of the songs are synth/keys 80's pop so it was almost like the rock elements were an afterthought. "Get an education" has the edge on the Thunderbirds though as it's much sharper and the keyboards really add something to it. There is some good pop here though dated badly like the E.G. Daily (AKA actress Elizabeth Daily) tracks "Seduction" and more so on "Mind over matter" which is admittedly very catchy (due to it's top 10 success must be why I recognised it when getting this album for my Mac collection). Also, "All I want from you" by Tami Show is a haunting howler which while not great is one of the better songs. Perhaps the same could be said on a good day for Tone Norum's "Second language" which does have good rock undertones in the guitar and rhythm tracks but the rest is not very useful. The opening "Happy" by Danny Elfman may have been more effective if done as a straightforward boogie tune but it tries to be too quirky making it sound rather laughable and the fast bouncer "Jackie" by Ella Fiorillo is rather lightweight. "Brain power" by Paul Engemann is overdramatic and has the most TV movie sounding stale pop sound over the others though the otherwise bland "I'm supposed to have sex with you" by Tonio K. has weedy guitar parts that actually almost help it out a little but doesn't push it over the edge. Anyways, those that like Billy's more rockabilly side of things may prefer to get this than some of his more country based outings though they'll most likely be disappointed in the rest of the material enclosed due to it being one of the above mentioned "out of place" tracks.

Michael Smotherman (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Scaggs & Randy Sharp smothered together
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 26th, 2005

On this outing, Smotherman sounds somewhat like Randy Sharp (at his loudest) as the New Orleans swagger mixes with more funky beats while not ignoring country influences altogether though on some of the ballads such as "I've gotten used to the crying" & the closing "Can you fool" he sounds halfway to Boz Scaggs (at his mellowest) territory. Billy is just listed as one of three people playing "guitars" on this album and it doesn't say which songs he plays on but there are two songs that Billy is listed as co-writing with Smotherman (who took part in writing every song on this album) there's another ballad called "It's only once you know" which could have very easily been done by Billy on "Between friends" and "Roll on brother" which has that distinctive train rumbling rhythm track that Billy has used on many great songs in the past to wonderful effect. Smotherman is more pop orientated on his 1982 album but if you think you'd prefer this then go for it, I think the songs on the '82 album are slightly more catchy though.

Micheal Smotherman (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Better than his 1977 effort but still not great
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 26th, 2005

This 1982 selftitled effort is better than Smotherman's 1977 selftitled album but really only in style and even then, it doesn't blow one away. Billy is listed as guitars and vocals on "Cold burn" which is the album's best track, a useful dancy rocker which you can take seriously unlike much material here but I wouldn't say Billy stands out that much here but it makes a good addition to his discography bringing out more modern sounding (of 1982 anyways) rock textures than what is mostly in his cannon currently. He also co wrote the song with MS along with "Do I ever cross your mind" which is the album's best ballad and it's performed here with a smooth keyboard arrangement which though there is more of later in the album, it makes a good change of pace when listening to it in full and as Billy has performed this song live in a more country styled croon, it's a good way to hear it if you're not familiar with this version but you are with Billy's live renditions. Other ballads work OK here like the fair piano/clave featured fare of "Magic wishes" and the soft, plinky but silky closer "Freedom's legacy". As for the other up tunes that work besides CB, there's really only one, which is the more rock sounding funk of "(Would you love me) All the way down". There is another funk attempt here called "Fais do do" but it sounds rather trite now due to it's lightweight chirpy keyboards and obvious displays of "trying to sound hip" (but failing of course). The rest I couldn't really take seriously like the peppy clapping opener "Crazy in love", "Green eyes" which to me sounds like a rip off of David Bowie's "Young Americans". the frentic rhythm guitar piffle of "Matter of time" and the fast "If you think you're hurtin' me (Girl you're crazy)" which sounds like it's trying to straddle the new wave and rockabilly fences with it's electric horn bursts. As I say though this is the better of the two albums by quite a margin but one that you can still wait to get.

Smiling Like I'm Happy (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Probably best for Duster
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 24th, 2005

Of the few Duster Bennett outings I've heard, this seems to be the best one to go to in order to experience what his talents are/were but on the whole it can sound rather bland though some good moments are well worth individual song plays. The opener "Worried mind" is a ragged chugger, "Life is a dirty deal" is a slow mope in which Bennett says the "Smiling like I'm happy" line. "Country jam" is a breakneck instrumental, "Trying to paint it in the sky" is a slow blues that has a fuller sound that some of the tracks don't have here (since it's just Duster pounding away on his kick drum, hi hat, guitar & harmonica). "Times like these" is a gentle, slowish track with a slight stroll feel and features high pitched vocals from Duster's girlfriend at the time, Stella Sutton. Not as effective as her work was on Bennett's live "Bright lights" album but it helps give things some color here. "My lucky day" is a rocking strut and the speedy shuffle of "Got a tongue in your head" keeps the energy moving. "Jumping at shadows" is a slow burner which is one of the more heartfelt tracks but Peter's Fleetwood Mac covers of this track really make this one come off as one dimensional though can be appreciated just the same if put in to perspective of this being the original. "40 Miles from town" is a fast stomping strummer and the upbeat stroll of "Shame shame shame" gets us back to those mono tones but then, in kicks "My love is your love" which is the best track on the album. A forceful mid tempo tumbler, Mick and John lead the tasty rhythms and Peter on those meaningful guitar leads, great stuff. The slow blues of "Shady little baby" closes the album in an acceptable fashion as this track has that fuller sound I spoke of before which is preferable to the other slow tracks on the album for the most part. This album sure does demand a pretty penny these days but if you come across it and you wish to investigate Bennett's works, this is probably as good a place to start as any but do be warned of the one sided sound being over represented on this record.

Skatetown U.S.A. (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Second best disco collection around
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 23rd, 2005

Granted, this album has it's embarrassments such as Hounds pathetic cover of the Rolling Stones' "Under my thumb" and some forgettable fluff like John Sebastian's "Roller girl" and Marilyn Mccoo & Billy Davis Jr.'s "Perfect dancer". Nevertheless, this soundtrack is the best runner up to the "Saturday night fever" soundtrack album for well documenting a time, an era and a musical genere in a nutshell as it contains some of the most known disco outcasts not used in the Travolta film such as Earth Wind & Fire's "Boogie wonderland", The Jacksons' "Shake your body (down to the ground)", Heatwave's "Boogie nights" & Patrick Hernandez' "Born to be alive". The Dave Mason tracks are a mixed bag but surprising in that a soundtrack from this period would include recordings from an artist unavailable elsewhere as that marketing trick had not be fully realized until the plethora of endless 80's movie soundtracks had surfaced. "Skatetown U.S.A (main theme)" is the most discoified tune of the three with it's forced lyrics and backing vocals, electric drums and (supposedly) a brisk string arrangement, I'm sure Dave would rather forget about this one. However, there is a better than usual version of his classic "Feelin' alright" with exciting guitar fills more plentiful than on other "live" renditions, this is a definite step forward. Although "I fell in love" is probably out of place musically on this album, it is obviously the number in which Mason is allowed to be close to what he wants to do musically (though the swelling strings do tend to overpower at the end which one can imagine was an "executive decision" to attempt to "make it fit more" as Dave's ballads don't usually "climb" that much in that area). Otherwise a pleasing tune that would've certainly been a highlight of say, "Mariposa de oro" or "Old crest on a new wave" had it been included on one of those albums instead. Overall, you will get a corny feeling but the musical choices are surprisingly, unlikely to disappoint.

No More Looking Over My Shoulder (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Surprising collection of well crafted ballads/rockers
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 22nd, 2005

I must confess that I didn't know what I was expecting here, perhaps for Tritt to sound more conventional country than it sounds like he is (here anyways). So this was a nice surprise for me. The song Bekka is on here though is the most straight ahead rock tune on the album, "Start the car" which bounces along helped by fitting horns and you can hear Bekka very well for good measure as she chirps in to the "c'mon baby" bits with great effect so this is the most obvious highlight on the album though there are others like the strumming opening title track, the catchy up beat closer "The road to you" and a good mid tempo jangly run through of Bruce Springsteen's "Tougher than the rest". Also, there's some good ballads to be had here with "If I lost you" which is lighter on the fiddles therefore bringing out the best in the steel guitar yawns, "For you" with restraint on the country elements again which has a nice acoustic/light electric guitar arrangement and "I'm all the man" which admittedly is a little weaker than the latter few but still another good ballad overall. The moments that didn't strike me so well were the more typical sounding fare like the slow country croon of "Mission of love" and the shuffling rock of "Girls like that" with it's country leanings, this has been done many times already and better elsewhere. "Rough around the edges" can really only be described as a hoe-down rocker which I guess makes it interesting in the sense of having a more rocking attitude towards such knee slapping tunes but it's still not my style. The good moments far outweigh the bad ones here though and if you're not familiar with Tritt's work this must be considered a good place to start being surprised by his performances.

Show Biz Blues: 1968-1970, Volume 2 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Less explosive than Vaudeville but just as impressive
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 22nd, 2005

This collection does seem a little less varied than the "Vaudeville years" set but there's still lots of fun stuff here. Disc one is studio recordings while disc 2 is all live. Disc one starts out with three Peter B's unreleased recordings. "Soul dressing" ominously sounds like what could be an early version of Green's "In the skies" title track, thematically speaking, "Outrage" is a rather pulsating instrumental tune typical of what they themselves had described their music as "cool blue pop" while the version of "If you want to be happy" that appears here is slightly smoother than the single version but just as enjoyable. "I have to laugh" ironically, is Jeremy's most interesting moment here. The first few seconds of the song may lead one to think that he's about to launch into another one of his Elvis sendups but then, when it kicks in, it sounds more like a straightforward slow blues with Peter on lead guitar which must rank as one of Jeremy's most surprisingly serious recordings available. "Mind of my own" is a rocking Danny Kirwan shuffle which will get you going and there's some suspenseful twists to Peter's "Fast talking woman blues" (a.k.a. "Drifting") which is a little more forceful here than it was on "The vaudeville years" and the slow, violin driven "Leaving town blues" breathes some new life from this already great country blues song. The other more familiar numbers are great too, I just thought I'd touch on a few surprises here. Disc two begins with yet two more unreleased recordings from the Boston Tea Party tapes which stand up just as well as all of the previously released ones have. The rest of the disc has been bootlegged on many live tapes in the past as these are from the April 9, 1970 BBC radio concert special. Two and a half ("Green manalishi" was edited) of which have appeared on one of the Mac's earliest bootlegs "Merely a portmanteau", but it's good they are now properly presented works. "Rattlesnake shake" supersedes the "Live at the BBC" tape as it includes the "Underway" section not present on the "Live at the BBC" disc set tape. Although better in that respect, it may disappoint some that the jam ends at the conclusion of "Underway" whereas the Tea party versions continued on to the final speedy jam section which one must assume was discarded from the structure of the tune by this point. It's still as enjoyable as all other recorded versions of the song though. "The green manalishi" features Peter's six string bass with wah wah petal works to adventurous effect and "Coming you way" & "Twist and shout" sprawl out successfully to become nasty rockers. Once again, nothing bad is here, those are just some high points of mention. I slightly prefer "The vaudeville years" as I find it's eclectic mix (which is more present on there) very exciting and sound quality of the material is marginally preferable on "The vaudeville years" but you won't go wrong if you pick up this one to purchase instead first.

Sheryl Crow And Friends Live From Central Park (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
This one really makes you happy
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 21st, 2005

This is a fun, energetic concert package fueled by a massive audience and a star studded line up. Stevie's "Gold dust woman" has Nicks taking the lead which may come as a surprise. It would've been interesting to see what Sheryl might have done with it but it's a treat for us nonetheless. Stevie also adds tambourine to the final jam "Tombstone blues" but overall, it's a mixed bag, Chrissie Hynde suits the Dylan penned number well while others like Sarah Mclachlan don't mesh with this type of number. Sarah is much better on "The difficult kind" which has it's studio version improved upon here. Some songs are still more definitive in their original recordings notably "It don't hurt" which suffers from the lack of a Lindsey Buckingham style solo at the end that the previous rendition sports! However, the occasional tune measures up equally like "Strong enough" with Natalie Maines from Dixie Chicks sounding better than Sheryl. Although televised, one does wonder why this was not a video release but two other Crow videos with no guests were unleashed? All in all, a very happy, pleasing affair.

Shiver (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Bekka's appearances good but disc not distinguished
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 21st, 2005

The two songs that Bekka is on "When I think about angels" & "No more protecting my heart" are very catchy and Bekka seems to be well up in the mix. However, I find that the rest of the album falls into the generalistic style of the slew of discs released recently that dips it's toe into Shania Twain territory but slightly more of an acoustic feel prevails here. One could do much worse than this platter but while listening to it, the feeling can occur that you feel like you're jumping on the bandwagon with the music executives that obviously feel they need to run this formula into the ground until it doesn't sell anymore.

Say It Ain't So (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
It is so
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 18th, 2005

Impressively the liner notes to "Say it ain't so" states that Weston plays on every song here and he co wrote and even does a rare vocal on "Silence is a strong reply" which starts freshly with signature Weston guitar harmonics and slide guitar slips throughout this catchy sing a long though it does tend to get a little repetitive but it ends just when this feeling kicks in. This album is mostly acoustic songs though we do get the engaging left turn once in a while, most obviously on the rocking "She's such a drag" which is out of
step with all else here but you don't mind when you hear Weston's great electric guitar slide and picks in action. Head shrieks his way through the vocals towards the end and he's obviously not fitting for rockers (sounding vocally like a cross between Nick Drake and Steve Winwood) but this is remedied by memories of Weston's harmonics at the beginning and the humorous little school girl like nag vocals in the middle section of the track. Also, there's the faithful cover of the nugget from 1936 called "Someone's rocking my dreamboat" which starts with a soft acoustic guitar finger tapping feel then growing in to full blown New Orleans style jazz horns swing and mope while the glee chorus sways. The rest is vital though, the opening "Say it aint so Joe" is a haunting acoustic piece which builds to a howling end, "Boy on the bridge" is the next most electric tune here as it starts with electric piano tinkles which then leads in to a muddy mid tempo but likable funk laden electric guitar work section, "Boats away" is a pleasant strumming repeater, "When I'm yours" is a nice Simon and Garfunkel sounding folky acoustic ballad, "Never even thought" is a weaving builder of acoustic guitars, piano/light keys and vocals, the drums and bass do eventually arrive but it still remains light, probably the quietest song on the album overall. "Don't forget him now" is also a highlight, strong electric bass is used as the rhythm here which really adds useful tension and this track deserves the attention it grabs from you. The closing "You're so tasty" is admittedly typical 70's sounding romantic mush but at least it's a good example of that field and Murray has good chemistry with backing vocalist Vicky Brown on this one who steps up here to help out. This has been recognized as an important album in Head's career and I'd say it is an important album in Weston's career as well as though I've only pointed out a few highlight examples, his most positive musicianship attributes come through all over the place on this record.

SAS Band (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
A nice pop rock addition to the Green cannon
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 17th, 2005

I'm probably a little biased here as I think Chris Thompson is a very underrated vocalist. Though on the outside it may seem ready made for stadium rock it doesn't suffer the facelessness or banality of such a genere. If you've heard Chris' band Night from around '79 covering Walter Egan's "Hot summer nights" you'll know what I mean I'm sure! He handles lead vocals on all but 3 songs very effectively and two others are sung with others, the also often unnoticed Madeline Bell on "Didn't I blow your mind" and the song on
which Peter is listed as one of two guitarists, "That's the way God planned it" which has an uplifting Gospel feel to it though it's very hard to distinguish "Peter involvement" on it at all. Still a nice high point on the album and one of the essential less rocking tunes as this album for the most part crunches along with some spirited run throughs of well known
numbers with highlights such as a rockiling version of ABBA's "The name of the game", the Gin Blossoms' "Hey jealousy" (on which Tony Hadley does the lead vocal work) and a great rendition of The Beach Boys' nugget "Sail on sailor". The best Thompson moments are the opener "You're the voice" (which his voice was made for and it's great to hear it done by the writer (co-written by Thompson) for once as his song has been better known by acts like John Farnham and Heart to name a few) and the closer, Springsteen's "For you" which of course is a staple of Chris' now since covering it so masterfully with Manfred Mann's Earth Band. The other two songs on which the up front mic is used by another vocalist are "Dreamworld" sung by Madeline Bell and "Baby you're a rich man" sung by Jamie Moses. All in all, Spike Edney (from the Splinter Group) has put together a colorful ensemble of guest musicians (including the late Cozy Powell & Neil Murray also previously from the Splinter Group, Family's Roger Chapman, Jethro Tull's Ian Anderson, Queen's Roger Taylor & John Deacon and Kiki Dee (of "I've got the music in me" & "Don't go breaking my heart" fame) among many others) to play some fun music. This makes an interesting, more "pop/rock" addition to Green's discography in recent years which helps us believe that he may dip his toes in this area someday as well (without eschewing his great blues roots naturally) but we'll see I guess. Although many may find this record "average", I'm going to recommend it for the reasons I found it entertaining which I've stated above and I hope if you hear it, you'll find it a special listen too.

Sabrina, The Teenage Witch: The Album (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Covers make it worthwhile
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 16th, 2005

Matthew Sweet's faithful strolling cover of Walter Egan's "Magnet and steel" here is the track on which Lindsey Buckingham plays some roaring lead and rhythm guitars and does some strong swaying background vocals, particularly towards the end of the track in both cases and Bangles' Suzanna Hoffs adds effective backing vocals for the choruses of the track which is the obvious main highlight on this CD. There are some other amusing covers present though, like Sugar Ray's straightforward cover of The Steve Miller Band's
"Abracadabra", Melissa Joan Hart's even more straightforward and faithful run through of Blondie's "One way or another" and Puresugar's bass driven up beat cover of the tune made famous originally by The Waitresses called "I know what boys like". As for the rest, it's mainly medium modern day pop. Spice Girls' "Walk of life" sounds to me of an echoy "dub" from The Clash's "Sandinista" album but it gets nicely breathy later on. Backstreet Boys' "Hey Mr. DJ (Keep playin' this song)" is a typical bouncing modern day dance track, Ben Folds Five's "Kate" is a piano led tumbling plucker, Robyn's popular "Show me love (Radio edit)" is more likable than most of the latter day pop tracks with that "boom boom boom, boom boom boom boom boom, boom" rhythm that we hear so much of now. 'N Sync's "Giddy up" has vinyl scratching backing up more modern day dance stuff. Five's "Slam dunk (Da funk)" is another dance track this time with what sounds to me like game highlights playing in the background. Phantom Planet's "So I fall again" has plinky mid tempo verse parts which then lead in to grumbly rocking strumming chorus sections. The Murmers' "Smash" is a quick rock song with pulsing rhythm guitar, Aqua's "Doctor Jones (Metro's 7" edit)" is peppy pop, Britney Spears' "Soda pop" is strummy bouncing chirp, Chumbawamba's "Amnesia (Radio remix)" is a strong stomp and The Cardigans' "Blah blah blah" is a crashing swirling closer. It's worth it for mainly the first track I spoke of though the next few will make you giggle if nothing else.

Room To Breathe (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
A breath of relief, Delbert's back!
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 15th, 2005

Now, this is more like it Delbert! Although many critics praised "Nothing personal", I think this album is far superior to that album as Mcclinton gets his niche back again. The opening "Same kind of crazy" epitomizes that Delbert R & B drive and you can hear Bekka very good on this song, just as you can on the next number "Smooth talk" which is slower and a bouncy grower that works fast on you. "Jungle room" is a slow thumper but I dont think I've heard it for long enough yet to say whether the horns work on this one or not. "Everything I know about the blues" is effective in it's slow bar room style and although there's an odd fade in on "Blues about you baby" at the beginning, this swinging boogie works well. "Lone star blues" is a fiddle led Country bouncer and "The rub" has a strumming groove which works well with the horns. "Won't be me" is a fairly fast thumper but it sounds thin and doesn't work as good as some of the other tracks. "Don't want to love you" is a surprising piano ballad with nicely added strings, acoustic guitar and the brushes feel. "Ain't lost nothin'" is a slow shuffle with a New Orleans feel. Rhythmically, this song is not different to many Elmore James numbers Jeremy Spencer covered while with the Mac. "Money honey" is a promising fast crashing ditty but that thin sound comes back and it's tinny noise hurts it overall. However, the good time sound returns for the swinging horn led stomp "New York city" as a fitting closer. This album for the most part has a great feel like his "One of the fortunate few" album did six years ago, but there's less Country and more R & B with winning electric piano sprinkled throughout. You'll like this one.

Roots: The Original Fleetwood Mac Live In Concert (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Full Green manalishi makes this among the essential
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 15th, 2005

This is one in a long line of reissues of Boston Tea Party live Mac material recorded between February 5-7, 1970 and all of which have since been outdone by Snapper Records' "Live in Boston - Remastered (Vol.1-3, sold separately)" & "The Boston box" sets released between 1998-2000. However, one glaring oversight on Snapper's part was that they had claimed to use the master tapes for those reissues though the version of "The green manalishi" that appears on Vol. 1 of their reissues has an "edited" 12 minute version of the track which does not have the bongo solo section included in it. Granted, it is the weakest part of the recording anyways but for completests (like me) you should really go back and dig out one of these redundant comps to be on top of the case as they are probably pretty cheap by now and I know there are many on the market that do have this full 16 minute version of "The green manalishi" on them but this is the one I have in my collection that "represents" this full "...manalishi" from these tapes for me so I can recommend this set for this fact alone and the rest of the disc is classic live Mac anyways so you really can't go wrong (please see my reviews on this site for LIB-R vols. 1-3 for further details on the rest of these recordings). Do be aware though that there are edited versions of many songs, including TGM on many of these earlier Tea Party comps so please check the running time of ones you come across for this track before buying one if listed. If running times aren't listed on the ones you find that interest you, then remember to investigate further in to the specific titles you come across in regards to the running times before buying it to make it worth your while.

Runaway Horses (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Grand glossy pop
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 15th, 2005

Very polished product, so much so, it's hard to hear Bekka much as she's listed with usually 3 or 4 other backing singers with her but at least the notes state that she's on all songs except the last one. Admittedly, the singles are probably the best songs, but Belinda doesn't skip a beat as "Leave a light on" & "(We want) the same thing" rock ever so nicely. "La luna" grows on one with each listen and "Runaway horses" gallops along gallantly. However, the high point for me is the emotionally haunting "Vision of you"
which this disc is worth purchasing for this tune alone. Not many surprises here, but once you hear the songs, this fact is irrelevant. This is a truly irresistible platter.

Roll And Slide (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Going through the motions, no roll or slide
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 14th, 2005

I must say first that Bob Hall is one of the best blues piano players I've ever heard. However, he's never been a great front person (as the poorer moments on Brunning Sunflower Blues Band releases will show) but this is where to go if you want to hear such banalities to the full. One hears most of the piano/harmonica/sax led tunes here and thinks they may have been better with electric guitar (as most guitar parts here are acoustic) but after hearing the one electric guitar featured number present, the grumbling shuffle "She fooled me", one can then see why the electric guitar parts were less welcome during the sessions. The liner notes don't state which songs Brunning plays on other than it noting that he plays the electric bass parts (as opposed to the acoustic ones) but I don't think I'll be sitting through this album too much to be able to guess which songs I think I hear electric bass on. "Close to you" is the opening shuffle which can't decide if it wants to be a fast stroll or have a slight swing, "Sober" is an almost quirky sounding pop like song, "Rooming house boogie" is a predictably fast sax/piano led tune, "Don't block my road" attempts to rock with acoustic guitars leading the way which doesn't work, "Hungry" is a more acceptable slow swing, "Stagolee" is an acoustic guitar led boogie, "Do it yourself" is a harp led speedy gallop, "Living with the blues" is a fast but somewhat mopey shuffle, "Number 29" is a sloppy fast stroll which at least tries to have an original sounding steps effect on it's piano parts, "I ain't got none" sounds like latter day John Mayall, similar to his "Yo yo man" from "Along for the ride" album but no where near as good and the closing "Walk the streets of the city" sounds like a gospel stomp without the choir. It may be one of the easier Brunning recordings to track down due to it's CD release but don't let that fool you in to thinking it's one of the better ones because it's not, at least I don't think so anyways.

Steppin' Out: Live At Ronnie Scott's, London (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Variation & sound quality could be better
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 14th, 2005

Like it's video companion release, "Live at Ronnie Scott's" suffers from sound quality drop outs as at times you will find it incredibly hard to hear what is being said or played and at other times like the chunky piano stabs and harmonica howls will overpower all else that is playing along side it. What is being played is well handled though, as a whole, this may seem somewhat unadventurous. The video release has some tracks not included here and vice versa but I'll just concentrate on what is on the CD version here. We open and close with some good shuffles, the promising opener is "Health shaking" and the clapping closer, aptly, is "Bye bye blues" and there are some other interesting swinging shuffles like "Feel so good" featuring the work of Danny Adler's guitar and Paul Jones' harp parts and "Didn't we" which is nicely restrained while "Four hundred years" is one of the better moments as it starts and ends with tapping on the side of the piano for rhythm joined by Jones' harmonica again in a most gripping and heartfelt way and then it kicks in to a rocking swing in the middle section. Other highlights are the well handled chunky plink of "Steppin' out" and another instrumental called "Tribute to Gallard" (& Slim Gallard makes a guest appearance here, also on the piano stool in this boogie woogie piece). Other boogie numbers are the fast "Rock this house tonight", the crowd clapping "Baby please don't go" and the punchy shouter "Animal". This leaves us with the slow burners which can be entertaining such as the "play on words that sounding like letters" with the introduction of "If you see Kay", the soulful "Beer drinking woman", the fair "Mother earth" and the quiet meaningful "Christina". You hear, presumably, Brunning's bass part noticeably louder on "What is this world coming to" than on the other tracks and "Where do I go from here" is a little draggy but all in all the performances can work well on individual plays and if you have the patience and freedom to listen to this loud, it may please you more than expected.

Robin Zander (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
A few very good tracks but that's it
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 13th, 2005

The Cheap Trick man has come up with a couple impressive tracks here but nothing else to speak of really. "Secret" has Mick on drums (fairly straight ahead on the rhythms but I don't think I could honestly say I would've know it was him unless I was told) and you can hear Stevie good in the right channel in the back up vocals on this mellowish breathy track. "Reactionary girl" is the album's most rocking track with a slight Rolling Stones feel and pretty much what I had expected of Zander here. His cover of "Show me heaven" I find admittedly impressive, I guess it helps having Maria McKee on backing vocals but it has some good and needed guitar phrasings that McKee's original could've used. Her version is probably still better but this one is close behind. Now. the rest of the record I'm not overly crazy about. "I've always got you" is a Tom Petty style jangler, "Jump into the fire" is a ridiculous cover of the Harry Nilsson rocker sampling Free's "All right now" (Paul Kossoff's famous guitar riff) as it's base. "Time will let you know" is a piano, strings & acoustic guitar ballad with an ELO/Jeff Lynne feel, "Boy (I'm so in love with you)" is typical modern day talk/sing dance beat blandness, "Tell it to the world" is an up-ish track which specifically sounds to me this time like Petty's era when he had Jeff Lynne producing him. The throbbing bass helps along another up-ish track, "Emily" but it has a weak hook. "I believe in you" is a slow dragging George Harrison tinged ballad, "Everlasting love" is an insignificant bombastic shouter though "Walkin' shoes" is a pleasant mid tempo closer. Maybe the other mid paced tracks here should've used this more original production style rather than tearing a page from the Lynne/Petty files? In the end, there's a few sparks (as mentioned early in this review) but beyond that, it's cricket city.

The Right Place (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Almost the right place but not quite
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 12th, 2005

You'll hear Bekka pretty good on the opener "Love is the right place" which is probably the best song on this set. However, this is a good set of tracks that includes a fair mix of tunes but more on the ballad side (in fact, the only one more peppy than the first one seems to be "The natural thing"). A bit like Vince Gill but Bryan's voice seems to clash a little with this kind of style and there's less emotion. Nevertheless some good ballads prevail such as "What did I do (to deserve you)" & "Never get around to it". A good
record but start with Vince if you like this style.

7936 South Rhodes (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Better of the two Mac related Boyd albums
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 11th, 2005

Perhaps due to Peter, John & Mick being the core band on this album backing up Boyd's piano and vocal work, I find "7936 South Rhodes" to be more pleasing than the "Eddie Boyd and his blues band featuring Peter Green" album (although Peter & John played on that one too, there were other musicians that didn't really gel well with Eddie's swings). "You got to reap" is a strong shuffling opener, "Just the blues" is a heartfelt slow burner, "She is real" is a breakneck piano tumbler on which John & Mick keep up with the pace well helped by some tasty Peter licks. "Backslap" is a fast piano led instrumental which includes a Green solo and John & Mick keep it moving. "Be careful" is a slow blues which sounds like it just has Eddie on piano and vocals along with Peter on guitar (as does "She's gone" it sounds like to me). "Ten to one" is another good stroll while "The blues is here to stay" is an effective up shuffler. "You are my love" is a slowish stroll, "Third degree" is another slow blues, "Thank you baby" is another breakneck swing with John, Mick & Peter chugging along nicely and there's good swing on the closing shuffle of "I'll never stop (I cant stop loving you)". I have the 1993 BGO UK CD edition of this album and it doesn't include either "The big boat" or "Sent for you yesterday" on it but perhaps there was a CD issue of this album I'm not familiar with that I should try and find. Whatever the case, those single only tracks recorded at the sessions that produced this album would fit in very well here so if you've heard either of those tracks, they will give you a good indication of what you'll hear on this album and though maybe repetitive and restricted on the whole, it works well within it's said confines.

Revenge Will Come (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
If Jackson Browne was faceless, he'd be like this
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 10th, 2005

As Copeland was a big influence on Jackson Browne, one can definitely hear the musical comparisons, but Browne is a more distinctive vocalist than Greg is and this tends to hurt the proceedings but some of the slower numbers are pretty suspenseful. My favorite is the closing title track. Although Rick is listed on the album, it doesn't say which songs he's on but it sure sounds like him soloing on this one. It reminds me of a cross between Bob Seger's "Like a rock" and Jackson's "Late for the sky" this is not as good as either of those songs but still passable at worst. Copeland seems to like Chuck Berry style rockers exemplified on "Used", "Full Cleveland" & "Wrong highway" as well as stroll numbers like "Starting place" and "That'll never be the same". However, the Jackson Browne style moments are better sounding than you might expect.

Rendezvous (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Better Sandy elsewhere but won't disappoint
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 9th, 2005

If you are interested in investigating Sandy Denny's work then admittedly this is not the best place to start (as you'd be better of with some early Fairport Convention albums and Rykodisc's SD comp "Who knows where the time goes") but this is not a bad record by any means, it is quite enjoyable on it's own merits but do take the poorer moments with a grain of salt though as the late great Denny has recorded much elsewhere to be more proud of. Speaking of Fairport Convention, Richard & Linda Thompson's "For shame of doing wrong" is covered well here (though here billed as "I wish I was a fool for you"), it was written by Richard (he plays on the album too) and this chiming guitar swirl is an instant favorite upon hearing it (though it could be debatable which version you'd prefer if you have heard Richard & Linda's version already). "Gold dust" is a disco-ish funk on first listen but the cupped horn part adds much atmosphere to the track which grows well on you. "Candle in the wind" is a standard cover and perhaps sounds lifeless next to Elton John's "Goodbye yellow brick road" version though according to Weston's Penguin Q & A, it seems likely that this is one track here he played on at least (as the album liner notes don't state which song(s) he's on here) so for that, it is worth a listen even if the result in this track is inevitably disappointing. "Take me home" is a slow but tough ballad, maybe a slight soul feel, probably meant to show off Sandy's great vocal work but I think that is best represented elsewhere though the strong guitar work on this one will grab some attention as will the guitar work at the end of "I'm a dreamer" which is a highlight here, it's a mid tempo strings tune with a smoother approach which works better than TMH. There are a few ballads here in this similar vein, "No more sad refrains" closes the original album but this one has more piano which works nicely and a CD only bonus track called "Full moon" (apparently an outtake from the "Rendezvous" sessions according to the "Who knows where the time goes" compilation liner notes) which is very similar to NMSR but has stronger strings and piano and could very well be better than NMSR, it just makes you wonder why good songs get left off albums sometimes. "Silver threads and golden needles" here has an arrangement not too different from "Take me home" but has more horns and less guitars on the whole. Another real highlight on this album is the lengthy "All our days" which is a great vocal showcase for Denny, backed by an orchestra, this is a theatrical, moody piece which is very pretty and it doesn't seem like seven minutes after you get to know it. If nothing else, "Rendezvous" doesn't linger too long on Sandy's folk roots and though at times it goes in to musical areas that don't suit her (like the countryish "One way donkey ride" whose steel guitar yawns try to drag this one into C&W though the acoustic guitar & keys do well to stop that from happening), it does bring her in to some fresh avenues that could've been taken if fate hadn't cruelly intervened.

Put A Record On (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Put Tramp's first record on instead of this
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 8th, 2005

Perhaps I had my hopes too high for "Put a record on" after hearing the classic first Tramp album (which was selftitled from 1969) but I don't think the addition of Dave Brooks on sax and Ian Morton on percussion was a good idea as I found those parts intrusive and most of the material on this album is given a forced funk type sound which is just not as appealing as the raw, more improvisational approach used (and that worked so well) on the first Tramp album. Having said that, it is not horrible as the peppy opener "Too late for that now" is a highlight of the material here but that is followed by a draggy funk called "Now I aint a junkie anymore". "What you gonna do" was co written by Brunning and it is one of the better funk pieces enclosed here. However, the slight reggae feel on "Like you used to do" is rather silly sounding and just doesn't work. "You gotta move" is a punchy rapid swing though let it be known that this track was oddly omitted from the CD version of PARO (when released on CD on it's own, it is included on the "2 on 1" Tramp CD called "British blues giants"). The title track starts off side two and maybe I would've thought better of it had I heard this version first but having heard the definitive Brunning Sunflower Blues Band version (from the "Brunning Hall Sunflower Blues band" album from 1971) of this song first, this (& it's various outtake versions that have since appeared on Jo Ann Kelly outtake compilation CD releases) sounds as if it was attempted to be played in a commercial vein for no good reason (other than the obvious one of wanting a hit single and that was not what Tramp was originally about, or so I thought). "Funky monkey" is a busy sax/guitar funk which is probably the most rocking tune on this album but again, it must be said that it's nowhere near as effectively rocking as the rocking material on the first Tramp album. "Beggar by your side" could've been a good slow burning blues had it included a more empty arrangement but the sax and chirpy guitar riffs really annoy here."Paternity orders" is a piano ragtime attempt but the hard strumming acoustic guitar part hardly even seems worth it as it gets buried under the rest of the production for the most part and the closing "It's over" is a fitting stroll in the classic 50's "Blueberry hill" mold. On it's own, this album probably is not a bad funk platter but as a reunion record, it's disappointing to say the least.

Remembrance Days (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
A real highlight for Lindsey and The Dream Academy
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 8th, 2005

Lindsey appears on the emotional "Indian summer" and the effective cover of "Everybody's gotta learn sometime". These are definitely two of the best songs here but there's alot of nice moving tunes here like the atmospheric "Power to believe" the haunting epic closer "In exile (for Rodrigo Rojas)" and the acoustic flavored "Here". In addition, included is a few exquisite pop numbers like "Doubleminded", "In the hands of love" & "The lesson of love". Many still feel as though the Dream Academy's first album is their best mainly due to the success of "Life in a northern town" but I think this is their best one, with all catchy ditties and tasty production highlighted by Lindsey's masterworks on his two appearances.

Ready For Eddie (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Ready for electric Chicago guitar driven blues fans
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 8th, 2005

On the exterior "Ready for Eddie" is a great electric Chicago blues outing which certainly doesn't disappoint in it's own right with lots of great guitar fills by Taylor and well picked material but at times such as the main highlight, the almost jazzy sounding bursting instrumental title track, it hints at going even deeper which really gives this album an edge over many other standard Chicago blues affairs. If only Brunning was playing on that track, that would have been the cherry on top as I think it would have suited his busy stylings very well but it was not to be. He does play on many fine tracks here though like the opening tumbling blues-funk of "I'm a country boy", the rumbling shuffle of "Gamblin' man", a meaningful slow blues instrumental called "After hours" (which one may recall from Brunning's De Luxe Blues Band album "A street car named deluxe"), a slow stroller called "Too late to cry", "You don't love me" (which here has the strong punch but not the roll needed to pull it off), another clucking rumble called "You'll always have a home" and the tough closing tumble of "Playboy boogie". The others do deserve attention though as the howling stroll of "Seems like a million years" shows Taylor's overlooked vocal abilities and his version of "Sloppy drunk" measures up very closely to Jimmy Rogers & Left Hand Frank's go. The CD edition has two bonus tracks taken from the "American blues legends '74" various artists project which I've already reviewed so I won't touch on those here but I still highly recommend this album if you enjoy the electric Chicago guitar driven blues like I do.

Raw Velvet (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Side 1 rocks, side 2 soft, good though used concept
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 7th, 2005

Rick is listed for guitars on this album but the album notes don't state which song(s) he's on. There is a coding system in place that has a domino next to the tracks that Eric Clapton played on (and by process of elimination this should let us know which ones Rick is/isn't on but I'm guessing my copy is missing the crucial inner sleeve that documents this as the outside artwork does not have dominos next to any tracks and my copy just has a plain white (though now yellow with age!) blank paper inner sleeve. Side one of this album is listed as "raw" (i.e. the rockers) and side two is listed as "velvet" (i.e. the ballads) which helps to understand the material here though the velvet side isn't as mellow as it sounds though it's more rocking moments are much smoother than the rockers on side one. "Tell the truth" gets us off to a ragged attention grabbing rocking start, "Bustin' my ass" is a sliding up-ish track that seems mellower than it really is (when listening to it after hearing the no let up "Tell the truth" that is). "Write you a letter" is a tight rocker featuring Whitlock's David Lee Roth style vocal howls (though pre dating Roth here). "Ease your pain" is a piano & tambourine featured gospel type rave up (obviously picking up some influence from his previous employers, Delaney & Bonnie, here). "If you ever" is a lean slip sliding rock track that works well and "Hello L.A. bye bye Birmingham" is the hardest rocker included with barking rhythm guitars also encompassing what could be some thin sounding (in comparison) RV slide lines though they get drowned out by the
rhythm guitar but overall it's a good shouter anyways. The velvet side of the album kicks off with one of the best tracks, "You came along" with bell chiming piano touches, tortured vocals from Bobby and moving strings. "Think about it" is an organ led mumbler, "Satisfied" is a generally likable mid tempo strummer, "Dearest I wonder" is a sliding driver which is most pleasing to the ear as it comes across as the most middle ground track enclosed and "Start all over" is a quiet lullaby chimer. Though this album is easy to forget about over time, you will come back to it once in a while and you'll like it better than you thought you might've in the first place though it can be admittedly sloppy which is probably the biggest reason you may forget about it in favor of other platters.

Rare On Air: Live Performances, Vol. 1 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Overlooked stripped down compilation
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 4th, 2005

I find this a CD even I admittedly overlook from time to time and I really enjoyed listening to it for this review. If you like more stripped down natural musical surroundings, this is a great place to go. From what I understand, this CD is a various artists compilation of live performances from assorted musicians that have played live in the studio on KCRW FM radio though this was a commercially released album you can buy at retail outlets, it's not just a promo CD of any kind. Lindsey Buckingham's straight version of his "Rumours" Mac album nugget "Never going back again" here sounds, aurally speaking, like the live in the studio recordings he had made for the BBC of "This nearly was mine" and "Street of dreams" which showed up as bonus tracks on his "Soul drifter" CD single so if you liked those then you'll enjoy this one without a doubt. Track one starts with a tomb voiced Leonard Cohen poem which then leads in to a piano and vocal song by Tori Amos which was fairly popular for her called "Silent all these years". John Cale's "Corboda" features chunking piano dramatics, Peter Himmelman's "Always in disguise" is a mid tempo track with pretty light chiming electric guitars, Evan Dando & Juliana Hatfield duet on the mid speed acoustic guitar strummer "My drug buddy". Admittedly, I enjoyed Michael Penn's "Coal" more than I thought I would which is another acoustic guitar (with light electric guitar) strummer. X's "Arms for hostages" has an interesting sounding xylophone plink along with light electric guitars, Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds' "God's hotel" is a piano led stomping chug that reminds me somewhat of Kevin Welch's "Everybody's gotta walk", Beck's "Mexico" is a tinny sounding acoustic guitar strummer, Los Lobos' "Peace" is a skipping tumbler, again featuring acoustic guitar work. Mark Isham's 10 minute "The moderns" is an atmospheric instrumental featuring brushes, piano and cupped horn swagger. Brendan Perry's "The captive heart" has howling vocals and loud strumming acoustic guitars, Natalie Merchant's "How you've grown" is a nice piano, violin and vocal piece originally done with the rest of 10,000 Maniacs on their "Our time in Eden" album and this one is almost as moving as the Maniacs' "In my tribe" track along this similar vein called "Verdi cries". Lucinda Williams' "Which will" is an emotional slowish tune with acoustic guitars and light electrics and the closing "Chet Baker's unsung swan song" by David Wilcox has a spoken intro and this slowish acoustic guitar and vocal chimer is a good ending. I know I've sounded repetitive here with all of the acoustic guitar talk but it really is the truth that if you like the vocals only accompanied by piano and/or guitar and little else if anything, then you'll love this stirring set.

Randy Richards (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Easy pop rock too easy for it's own good
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 3rd, 2005

A rather lightweight collection of faceless pop rock leaning towards easy listening stylings but not quite as empty or banal in general as demonstrated on "Spaceman". The two songs that feature Rick Vito are two of the songs present with the lightest drum track which makes it somewhat easier to hear Rick's acoustic guitar works on "Inside of me" and his electric guitar on "Sweet sympathy" but more so on the former. This sounds like many A & M records singer/songwriter types that had cropped up over the years but Richards isn't as deep as say, Steve Goodman and the hooks are not as strong as one would hope. It's hard to know whether to blame it on song choices or writing as Richards writing credits and those that are covers are pretty much split down the middle. Anyways, it's not one to rush out for but there's much worse platters out there.

Rainbow (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Dolly's talent almost make this pop work
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 2nd, 2005

The song that Rick plays electric slide guitar on, "Red hot screaming love" is not the flame out rocker it sounds like although it might as well have been as this was another attempt by Dolly to break in to the pop rock world and away from country flavorings but unfortunately, it doesn't really work. This record earns an average rating due mainly to Parton's undeniable talent but to no avail. Listening to this album now, it has a rather dated 80's feel to it which was the main downfall for Dave Mason's attempted comeback album then, "Two hearts" as the industry bigwigs try to make Dolly a Whitney Houston style balladeer pop rocker. This just seems too forced and probably why more genuine past pop efforts of hers such as "Here you go again" & "9 to 5" were much better but no such gems are present here.

Practical Magic (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Nice acoustic blends
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 1st, 2005

There is some great simplistic music included here, much acoustic work like Stevie's own numbers. It's a good document to now have Nicks singing her own proper versions of songs such as these that some may know best with others singing lead on in "Crystal" & "If you ever did believe". Also, some acoustic laden classics exist here like "Coconut" by Harry Nilsson, Joni Mitchell's "A case of you" & Faith Hill's breakthrough hit "This kiss". My favorite though is Nick Drake's "Black eyed dog" closely followed by Alan Silvestri's two score pieces that finish the album. A musically colorful affair, this is a good soundtrack recording packed with numbers that are very easy to like and will include a song for everyone's musical appetite.

The Perfect Stranger (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Faceless but good sounding California rock
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 1st, 2005

A good assortment of session gurus permeate through this album featuring Rick playing audible slide guitar on "Long nights coming" one of the better songs on the record which has a rhythm guitar part that makes you think it's rocking and going faster than it really is but a good one anyway. Young's style is something like the smoothness of Dane Donohue but a little more guitar driven. It's rather easy to call him faceless as for some reason, his vocal style reminded me of Robbie Dupree. The over 30's will remember him as a one hit
wonder with "Steal away" around 1980. However, he was sued as it was deemed that his hit sounded too much like "What a fool believes". which makes the facelessness all the more ironic.

Perfect Stranger (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Feisty Fleischman pulls it off, in two songs
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, May 1st, 2005

I have often felt bad for Robert Fleischman as although it has been stated that he was somewhat arrogant etc. he was a more than capable lead singer for Journey but it has always been documented that Fleischman was out because "oh well, we heard a tape of Steve Perry and we had him be the lead singer instead from then on" which I thought wasn't too nice a way to deal with it but this album (made after his departure from the group) probably doesn't fully show what Fleischman had to offer an audience as a good portion of these recordings have been watered down with banal harmonized lead guitars and overpowering piano and horn arrangements. Perhaps this is what Fleischman had intended but it's doubtful when you hear what Journey missed out on with the opener "All for you" which was a song that Fleischman took with him on his exit from Journey (the demo that he cut with them of this song appeared on Journey's "Time 3" box set as "For you" which is less powerful than it is here and on the other side of the tracks we have the piano ballad which would have got the lighters going at the end of the concerts in "Part of me" (which features John on bass). These two numbers make this not so spectacular album overall worthwhile but one can't help but wonder "what would have been" with Fleischman while listening to it as he impressively took part in writing every song present herein.

Playing To An Audience Of One (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Well, it's heart throb Hutch, need I say more?
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, April 30th, 2005

Yes, here's the "Starsky & Hutch" man's go at pop stardom and good blackmail for Rick Vito fans! Rick plays guitar on "Going in with my eyes open" which is a mid speed piano/strings ballad and though you can hear the guitar OK, there's no stand out licks really. The opening shouting rocker "Silver lady" is admittedly campy and was more popular in the UK than in the US though oddly, the UK copies of this album also include Soul's biggest US hit, the string sweller "Don't give up on us". The rest is very similar to these tracks though with less successful results. "Can't we just sit down and talk it over" is another string sweller, "Tattler" is an up beat pepper and the fiddles don't help. "I wish I was" is an acoustic stroll with strings, "Rider" is a middle of the road strummer, the title track is an up pace chirper with acoustic strums and featured strings. "Tomorrow child" is a slow melter, "By the devil (I was tempted)" is a mandolin led Neil Diamond type sing a long, "Nobody but a fool or a preacher" is a quiet acoustic stomp which is one of the less banal moments though "Mary's fancy" is horn puffing piffle. Overall, this may be amusing for those old enough to remember Soul's celebrity peak but even then, the novelty wears off fast.

Phoebe Snow (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Place to go for best Snow
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 27th, 2005

Dave Mason plays guitar on the most electric track on the album, the closing "No show tonight" and this is easily the most catchy track, with almost jazzy leads by Dave, they highlight it's punchy back beat and it makes one wonder why this kind of treatment had not been given to many other tracks here as although this is a pleasant singer/songwriter effort and I'm doubtful that Snow has topped this since, a good handful of the tracks will take some listens to get the impact they possibly provide for you depending on your tastes. The CD version of the album includes a bonus track at the end of the disc called "Easy street" which is the only strictly acoustic guitar & vocal track here and the CD notes list that it was the B side to "the single". Presumably, "the single" of which they speak was "Poetry man", a sleeper top 5 hit for Snow with it's tasty shaking rhythms colored in by the acoustic guitar, harp & bass, it's easy to see why this yodeller interested people. As for the rest of the album, the hooks start out fairly well and then run out of gas towards the end. The opener "Good times" is an effective stroll, "Harpo's blues" has a piano & stand up bass lounge feel, the acoustic doodler "Either or both" has slight slide guitar spurts that give the track a good homespun flavor, "San Francisco bay blues" is a sensitive finger snapping stand up bass mope but this is where the hooks start to disappear as evident on "I don't want the night to end" though it does try to keep you guessing with the mellotron "string" swells & acoustics mixed with light electrics and rhythms on the choruses. "Take your children home" features horse sounding clopping rhythms and harp swirls but not much else to speak of and "It must be Sunday" has a good acoustic arrangement but the sax does intrude somewhat and this track is perhaps a little overlong at nearly six minutes. As said though, many of the acoustic tracks will grow on you, I find it generally one of the better platters that I've heard in the deluge of albums released during the most prolific singer/songwriter era to date and "No show tonight" makes this album worth it alone as it stands as an underrated Mason guest appearance.

Oh How We Danced (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Strong music helps weak hooks
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 24th, 2005

Dave Mason plays on two songs here, the album's best track, "Don't be a hero" (which has an explosive lead guitar solo from Dave which one wished he would've done more of back in the mid-late 70's, the track is a dramatic building ballad featuring piano and organ fills but Dave's solo is the high point of the track and in fact, the album, at a push) and "Big thirst" on which Dave surprisingly plays harmonica which you can hear about halfway in to the song, the harp part is handled softly and tastefully. The track itself is a good ballad though the choruses may disappoint (oddly, I think the track has a slight Delaney & Bonnie feel to it, but I think that's just me). The opening "Eve" is a dated sounding but pleasant pop tune, with it's building approach used again, it's easy to see why this was chosen as a single. "Love is all you can try" is a fair fast horn and piano featured shuffler, "Last day of dawn" is an effective wah wah guitar & piano featured fast funky rocker though again, the verses are better than the chorus sections. "Open your heart" is an up beat piano chunker with a good sound but not a great hook. The most Traffic sounding tune here (I'd say) is "How much can a man really take" with it's gruff guitars, strong funky bass and flute flourishes (no wonder with Chris Wood guesting here doing that part) and the closing title track is a blasting rocker and though again not having a strong hook, it gets by with it's great instrumental interplay. This is not to say well written songs aren't important but many songs on this album will have you saying "well, I can't really sing along to this tune but it sure sounds good" and if you get this record, you'll want to pull this album out every once in a while to hear some of those great sounds enclosed herein.

Out In The Blue (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good for slow blues tunes but bad sound quality hurts
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 23rd, 2005

If you like slow blues tracks then you'll probably really enjoy this disc though even then the mostly poor sound quality existing on these recordings might make it harder for you to do that. Unfortunately, the tracks with the worst sound quality are the ones that have Peter Green on them. "Trying so hard to forget" is pretty faithful to the "Mr. Wonderful" version of the song, "I'm thinking about a woman" is a slow blues mope that has slightly better sound quality than the other Green featured tracks but it still could've been better. "Two harps" is probably what you guessed (in being two harmonicas puffing it out by Duster and Peter on this slow howling instrumental). "Kind hearted woman" only has Green on it and oddly, it doesn't sound too far removed from his Splinter Group's "Robert Johnson songbook" version some 30 years later, pretty eerie listening. My favorite one is "Coming I'm coming" which again, just has Peter playing on it and it's a fast strumming sliding instrumental but the sound quality makes you not want to listen to it very much which does seem unjust though it can't be helped. The track is very short as well which adds to the unfortunate loss of interest as it seems less significant. The liner notes are contradictory though as it says "Inst." next to the title (leading one to imagine it's an instrumental track) but lists Green as doing "slide gtr" and "voc" but there are no vocals, it is in fact an instrumental track just for the record. As for the rest, the stomping harp blowing "Worried mind" is less ragged than the "Smiling like I'm happy" version, "I've been a fool" is a piano stroll (though, of course without rhythms as Bennett is only playing piano on this one alone with his vocals too that is of course). "I wonder I wonder" is a piano led dragger, "Down the road" is a light electric guitar stroll that is helped by Bennett's percussion additions. "Everybody's got a friend but me" is another stroll without rhythms, "Blues with a feeling" is a slidy slow blues, "As years roll by" is a piano instrumental which along with the sound quality, makes you feel like you're listening to a piano lesson from the next room. The next three tracks are referred to as "Thirty days titles" (Thirty Days, according to the liner notes of this CD, was a band that Duster was in but they never really did much of anything outside of these tracks here). "I dont wanna fuss" is a rocking boogie, "Sleep with myself" is a balladish Paul Simon type stroll and "Losing love" is a light, more popish tune than the previous bunch. The closing "Everyday" sounds strange next to the other tracks as it's much better in sound quality and also due to it's strings backing. So in summation, "Out in the blue" has goodies for Green collectors but that's assuming the sound quality doesn't disappoint which it may very well do.

Open Your Eyes (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good moments help but Maria at her worst
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 20th, 2005

There are some moody ballads here but unfortunately "Open your eyes" came at Muldaur's lowest point so a potentially good album ends up OK. You can hear Rick Vito's slidy main riff in "Clean up woman" throughout the track fairly well though this funkish pep is pretty dated sounding. The best part I think was the Billie Holiday cover "Lover man (Oh where can you be)" with it's light brushes and electric piano tinkles, it reminds me of Bonnie Raitt's title track to her Warner Brothers album from the same time period called "The glow". Another track with this same taste is "Elona" and though it does work almost as well, "Lover man (Oh where can you be)" has the edge. "Love is everything" is a piano led slow dragging ballad with nice "ooh" backing vocals which makes for a good closer but that's if you make it that far as the opening "Fall in love again" is a lightweight rocker with a disco lean, "Finally made love to a man" would've been a pleasant ballad but the steel guitar parts give this song an un-needed country taste, "Birds fly south (When winter comes)" is a piano chunker that tries to be "Midnight at the oasis" style chirp, "Heart of fire" is a banal dated rocker that earns this tag due to the song's piano & horns heaviness. The title track is a mid tempo tapping strummer but it's chanting background vocals is the element here that dates this one and "(No more) Dancin' in the street" tries to be the toughest rocker present but the horns lighten the load. Start with "Meet me at midnite" if you're going to investigate Maria Muldaur's work as that album has her strengths, this album doesn't as it only displays Maria's weaknesses.

Delaney & Bonnie & Friends On Tour With Eric Clapton (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Rocking showband document
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 19th, 2005

It's no surprise that this album is thought of as a landmark album for Clapton's career and Delaney & Bonnie's high point but it's virtual refusal to give mercy on the rocking energy that pours out throughout this album oddly makes you not care that D & B are not really showing their versatilities on style (that they have done elsewhere on record) here as it's simply a great rocking time. There is the odd exception like Bonnie's vocal centerpiece, the strolling blues of "That's what my man is for" and this is the track where you can hear shades of Bekka's blues side best but both women are strong and individual enough to not have this come across as a straight-out blueprint for Bekka's vocals. Dave Mason is listed as "guitar" for this album and as Delaney is listed as "rhythm guitar" and Eric is listed for "lead guitar" duties, this makes it all the more difficult to know which songs Dave is on and which parts he may be playing. It's probably safe to assume that he would be playing something on the Bramlett's cover of his "Only you know and I know" which here is fiery enough with it's lean guitars but the horns really weaken the power in the track (though it does still rock harder than D&B's studio version of this track (which Mason also plays on which you may also wish to seek out). As for the rest, the popular Clapton co penned "Comin' home" is perhaps predictably a stand out shuffling rocker as is the Ike & Tina Turner styled fast pulse of "I don't want to discuss it" and the throbbing opening stomp of "Things get better" which well and truly wakes you up. "Poor Elijah - Tribute to Johnson (Medley)" is a well put together building mid tempo rouser and "Where there's a will there's a way" is another speedy rock song that lands inside an impressive groove you won't tire of and the closing "Little Richard medley" though the longest track here, won't seem it as it's likable breakneck pace throughout it's nearly six minutes won't bother you though one may think they would wish there to be more variety in the track overall. The speed stays from the opening "Tutti frutti" through "The girl can't help it". The quick pace remains for "Long tall Sally" and though things quiet down a little for "Jenny Jenny" the energizing keeps going...and going. Perhaps a D & B compilation would better show the Bramlett's mix of gospel, blues, country and rock as the studio tracks most likely show those directions they have taken more clearly through more traditional arrangements. Those elements are here though, they just don't show as much through the rocking power this album displays and while hearing it, you'll not really care you're missing out on such purities as the Ike & Tina showband style available for listen here is most pleasing.

Only Rock 'N Roll, #1 Radio Hits - 20 Original Pop Hits: 1985-1989 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Good clean up job of late 80's hits
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 13th, 2005

From what I understand, the version of "Talk to me" that is present on this disc is the one which was originally planned for release on Stevie's "Rock a little" solo album but Nicks did not like the results so the track was re-recorded later. "Talk to me" here seems to have been done in a higher key and it does seem bland next to the effective RAL version so it's easy to see why she wasn't impressed with this version though it does make for an interesting listen nevertheless. As for the rest, this is a good clean up of many one hit wonders of the late 80's era. INXS' "Need you tonight" is a strumming clap. Oddly, Lou Gramm appears twice on this album, first with his light solo track "Midnight blue" and then later with Foreigner on "Say you will" which is as watered down as they got. There are highlights though like Belinda Carlisle's breezy "Mad about you", Taylor Dayne's fast likable shouter "Tell it to my heart" & the shaking synth instrumental "Axel F" by Harold Faltermeyer (in it's smooth, more poppy side of Tangerine Dream style way). Michael Damien's remake of "Rock on" is a teen pulser that always has and always will push the right buttons in kids, unfortunately. Expose's "Point of no return" is faceless up beat synth, Debbie Gibson's "Only in my dreams" is weedy chirp, Jody Watley's "Looking for a new love" is stomping mechanics, Billy Vera And The Beaters' "At this moment" is slow dragging sentimentality but Jan Hammer's "Miami vice theme" sounds better now than it did back in the day though it's not as useful as something like, say for instance, "Axel F". Culture Club's "Move away" is a bland peppy snapper, Lisa Lisa & Cult Jam's "Lost in emotion" tries for Ronnie Spector type innocence but fails, Tiffany's "I think were alone now" is a manufactured rehash, Billy Ocean's "Loverboy" is a smooth galloper that isn't really my thing but I respect that many did like this song. Mr. Mister's "Kyrie" is a dated howler, REO Speedwagon's "Can't fight this feeling" is a formulamatic balladish melter and Paul Young's "Every time you go away" is an edited swayer of a cover of the Daryl Hall soul nugget. The Stevie Nicks rarity spoken of above has turned up on a few compilations like this but this is the one that gives you the most for your money.

One Heart At A Time (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Cumbersome Christian calamity
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 10th, 2005

This contemporary Christian album is mostly slow numbers with a slight country tinge which never really get off the ground although it starts out with the promising rocking title track and the other rocker "So satisfied" has Rick on slide guitar and includes a breakneck pace but overall is rather disappointing as it tends to fall into the traps of banality that surrounds it's genere and although it's not laughable it's hard to find some real entertainment here. The packaging is somewhat impressive but can't help save the triteness that seeps through the cracks of the proceedings. I don't doubt that Francisco has some talent as he took part in writing all but one song from the platter but there's just not enough here to give this an average rating.

Nowhere Road (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Lighter but likable
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 9th, 2005

Though this album may disappoint those hoping for a hard rocking Savoy Brown kind of time, "Nowhere road" still wins you over on Youlden's unique but likable vocals and charming musical roads that are taken here. The opening title track is a perfect example of a track that musically you may find disappointing but you may get the feeling you wouldn't have liked it so much had anyone else been singing it. "One October day" is a chirpy popped up blueser which is admittedly not one of the best moments, nor is the breathy swirling "Street sounds" and "Standing in the corner" is a whimsical skipper (featuring horns) I would not call a highlight and the funk of "Wake up neighbour" (which sounds faster than another funk on the record, "Cryin' in the road" (due to it's wah wah guitar noises) is one I admittedly skip occasionally but the rest is virtually as good as gold like the aforementioned "Cryin' in the road" with an irresistible up tempo rhythm guitar riff. Speaking of guitars, Danny Kirwan is listed as one of three guitarists playing on this album but it doesn't say which song(s) he's on but there are some songs where his playing is possibly detectable such as the fast rocking "Mama don't you talk so loud" and another speedy rock song (though admittedly weaker than "Mama...") called "Time will tell" which has loud piano watering it down somewhat but this track is the closest sounding to Savoy Brown you'll get on the album but even then, it sounds like the lighter (in comparison to the latter Youlden days of SB anyways) Dave Walker era Savoys, it still does rock though. The track on which I think I can hear Kirwan's playing the most is the mellow wah wah sounding "In the wood". More soothing pieces enclosed are the engaging echoing strummer "Chink of sanity" (save for the horn featured blasts in the bridges).and "Pick up my dogs and gone" which is light flute fronted pleasant fluff. Danny didn't do many guest appearances in his career, but he sure made a wise choice getting involved in the making of this record.

Off The Beaten Path (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
A perfect Sunday morning record
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 9th, 2005

"Let me count the ways" is a beautiful piece which must rank as at least Stevie's best guest appearance in years if not overall. Koz is a Kenny G style saxophonist who you may recall playing on "Destiny" from Nicks' "Street angel". Armed with that album's producer Thom Panunzio, Dave releases a nice relaxing set of tunes that works wonders on a Sunday morning still in a commercialized semi jazz pop mold but instrumental enough so one isn't sure what's coming next and it leaves pleasing results. I certainly hope Stevie makes more use of this musical field in the future as she started doing on "The other side of the mirror" as I think it works for her. I'd definitely say this is one of the best Stevie
guest appearance albums to buy.

On The Road To Freedom (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Not enough for 4 stars but one of Mick's best guests
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 9th, 2005

Mick plays solid drums on the balladish acoustic strummer "So sad (No love of his own)" which really grows on you with a few listens. Mylon LeFevre sings lead on this one and I think this is one of Mick's most overlooked guest appearances, made at an interesting time in his career. This album may be worth it to some for this track alone though there are a few other good high points here (like the opening catchy galloping acoustic building title track for instance). "The world is changing (I got a woman back in Georgia)" is a peppy chanter, "Fallen angel" is a mid to up tempo fuzzy rocker, "Funny" is homespun bounce with fiddles and acoustics giving this track a slight square dance feel. "We will shine" is a thin sounding but likable acoustic strummer, "Carry my load" is an admittedly dated track but it's electric piano part helps it out. "Lay me back" is a jangly steel guitar yawner but has some nice J.J. Cale style wah wah guitar licks. "Let 'em say what they will" is an energy filled lean and ragged rocker, "I can't take it" is a strong acoustic track which is one of the album's best songs. "Riffin" is a grumbly rocker that is like "Fallen angel" but faster and "Rockin' til the sun goes down" is a fitting fast stomping closer. Fans of early Ten Years After may find this a little reserved but taken for what it is, its' not bad as a whole. For me personally, I like what I've said are the highlights here but unfortunately it's not enough to push it over the hump for me. If I could give it 3 and a half stars I would have.

Notice To Appear (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Court appearances should be forced due to bad albums
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 5th, 2005

Though effort was put in to this album by the well respected Allen Toussaint, "Notice to appear" is typical of Mayall's dated 70's more bland popish material. Rick Vito is listed as playing guitar on seven tracks here though there is hardly any guitar featurings here to get one truly interested in the idea. Those tracks are the opening "Lil boogie in the afternoon" (which does have a passable hook and standout coconut rhythms but it's thin sounding at the end of the day and one can't help but compare this to the Starland Vocal Band's one hit dating from the same time period, "Afternoon delight" in it's suggestive nature), "The boy most likely to succeed" (which tries to be a slow suspenseful quiet puncher but fails), "Who's next who's now" (which has an OK pop sound but no hook to speak of), "There will be a way" (which is one of the album's better songs but Mayall's braying vocals on this one sound as if a hobo had stumbled in to the sessions to sing lead on this one instead), "Just knowing you is a pleasure" (which tries to be a slow burning soft rhythm droning soulful song but again, doesn't work) a cover of the Beatles' "A hard day's night" (which goes for a pulsing, driving rock with fiddles approach, and needless to say, this sounds pretty banal) and "Old time blues" (which is a thin closing stomp). As for the other three remaining tracks, "Mess of love" has cat meowing vocals that could've been a good electric piano & guitar chimer but it's weak on the whole. "That love" is a fast pepping stomp which isn't effective and "Hale to the man who lives alone" attempts to be a rocking horn puffer but it's unsuccessful. If you have heard and enjoyed some of Mayall's other 70's fare than who knows, maybe you'll like this too but I'd be surprised if this was generally thought of in John Mayall's fans' circles as a highlight from that time frame.

Nothing Personal (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Nothing personal Delbert, but you've done better
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 4th, 2005

This album is by far more R & B/funk/blues based than the rocking country of "One of the fortunate few" which takes Delbert back to his roots a little bit though numbers on here such as "Birmingham tonight" are obvious exceptions which have a tight reign of country stylings though this one is of the slow clunky variety, similar to something John Prine would have done on his "Common sense" album. Though I probably would enjoy these musical styling more as it originally struck me as more musically adventurous, the compositions on "Nothing personal" are not nearly as strong as the tunes from "One of the fortunate few" were and as there are fair Bekka levels on "All night long" and not much in the way of six string work for Rick to get going with on the songs on which he appears, this seems kind of dull in comparison. There are some numbers that will get your attention and keep you awake like "Squeeze me in" where Todd Sharp gets out some voltage but George Hawkins is somewhat drowned on the numbers he's on. There's a couple of passable slow quieter numbers like "Don't leave home without it" & "All there is of me" and some funk pieces throughout may remind some of the kind of work Bonnie Raitt seems fond of but all and all, you're better starting with "One of the fortunate few", even if this is musically more at home for Mcclinton. Sorry Delbert, nothing personal.

Ain't Gonna Play No Second Fiddle (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Even at her weakest, Dana is delightful
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 3rd, 2005

Like Jo Ann Kelly and of course, Christine, Dana must rank as one of Britain's best ever female blues vocalists. Although she probably doesn't enjoy the musical ideas here as much under David Bowie's management wing, I'm sure even they would admit that they made a few flubs on here musically. The most annoying of which is that possibly beautiful ballads like "Really love the man" & "Never knew" are marred by appalling arrangements on the chorus sections but Dana's talent still makes these highlights on the album along with the extended pop rock flavored "Don't mind me" and the gutsy, slidy rocker "Get my rocks off". Other numbers have considerably good funk levels such as "Pack your bags",
"Getting through to me", "Wanderlust" & "No tail to wag". It's an added plus that Bob Weston plays on all of the above mentioned songs (except "Never knew"). Hopefully, one of the Macsters will record something with Dana in the future that is more bluesy that I'm sure she would enjoy full heartedly so we can admire the entire range of her talent to the full. Anyway, there are enough good points to outweigh the bad here to make this a good purchase possibility.

No More Interviews (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
No more recordings like this please
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 3rd, 2005

Rick is only listed as rhythm, 12 string and slide guitars on this album but it doesn't say which songs he's on. To make matters worse, Mayall strangely enough sounds better on the more pop orientated songs than the blues ones which is not a good sign for an artist with his background in the blues. Even then, the pop isn't that great. The forced energy on the rocker "Take me home tonight" sounds badly dated for it's time and Mayall seems half hearted about the idea of doing a fully fledged piano ballad in "Falling" so it definitely sounds half baked. There's some passable moments like "A bigger slice of pie" & "Consideration" if you can excuse the harmonica solo being fed through one of those Peter Frampton tube things. The blues numbers just miss the target altogether. "Hard going up" has no improvisation and the solo work on "Wild new lover" is drowned in a sea of horn and harmonica scratches that attempt to be meaningful which doesn't help this closing slow dirge. If you're gonna get Mayall, you might as well get what he's been known for and this isn't it.

Not Alone (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
I can't be alone in my feelings for this album
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 3rd, 2005

I'm guessing Thomas Jefferson Kaye is well admired as there are many big names guesting on this album but unfortunately I'm not getting it. This mostly seems like banal city to me. Rick Vito plays rhythm guitar on the fast California rocker "Livin' on rock and roll" but it sounds like TV music without anything to distinguish Vito's playing. He also plays on "Forgive me girl" (more on which later). "Dixie flyer" is a weedy boogie, "C'est la bonne rue" is a lightweight driver, "Vanessa" is a mid tempo builder which is one of the better tracks as it's quieter approach is more successful than it is on the rockers. "Shades of blue" is a George Harrison type jangler, "Shoot out in the desert" is a smooth strummer, "Facada mirada (Facade mirage)" is a Neil Young flavored medium speed song, "Fantasy seeker" is a horn led banal rocker, "Crazy ladies" is a forced ballad, "Forgive me girl" is an upish piano tinkler that doesn't have a great hook, "Loop garu" is a hiss laden horn tooter that sounds like a bootleg recording, "Up to your old tricks again" is tropical styled chirp, "Tough enough" is a light breathy puncher and "Stone ball" is a louder rocker but the thin sound hurts. If you hear this, I doubt I'll be alone in my unimpressed opinion of this album.

Next Wave (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Next time, keep it instrumental
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 2nd, 2005

Maybe they will grow on me and there are a few exceptions, but basically the vocals on "Next wave" REALLY hurt the album as many of these tracks would have sufficed as instrumentals quite nicely. "Albatross" is slow in starting but you won't mind as it's nice sounding stuff. There's a thin guitar tone used by Peter here but he's got a nice echo going on and it's about the same tempo etc. as the classic FM version once it kicks in. Nick Cave handles the vocals well on the somber reworking of the Velvet Underground's "Sunday morning" though it has a music box type plink to the keyboards throughout the
track. The moaning keys are the better ones on this tune though. "Falling (G1)" is an upbeat twist on the Eric Satie theme which is one of the best tracks but would have been even better had they left out those "radio" sounding voices. "All of my beautiful friends" is too echoy and goes nowhere, sort of a cross between Madonna's "Erotica" heavy breathing kind of material and Led Zeppelin's "Hats off to Roy Harper". "Hazy lazy" is a nice bouncy tune but you feel like it's missing something that could've made it better
though it can't be placed. With it's strings and drum machines, "Only love" tries to be like Robbie Robertson's "Somewhere down the crazy river" but it may have been cool had those talk vocals been omitted. "Lost angels" has keyboard swells and "la la's" with electronic volleys that try to be vocals but still may class as an instrumental which makes it one of the more listenable tracks on the CD. By the time "Before you broke my heart" rolls around, you feel that vocalist Monica Queen is trying to sound like Kate Bush with a Cyndi Lauper squeak and the backing vocals on this track replicate Marvin Gaye's "Sexual healing" which doesn't help it's originality factor. "Gemini (G3)" is a good keyboard led instrumental if you can ignore the watery electronic backing vocals halfway in. "Dreaming" is a reverb keyboard exercise with intrusive poetic narration which should have been left out as that would have made it more listenable. "Revolution" is an upbeat number which would have been nice had the vocal doodling been expunged. The piano is the best part on "My sunset" which would have been a good instrumental but it ends up sounding like the title track to Madonna's "Erotica" album (specifically this time). The mid to slow tempoed "1975 E Sunrise Blvd" is listenable because it has no vocals and "Back to nature (Ambient)" is a good instrumental though the bird chirps are intrusive though they are still better than the vocal "pieces" used on the other tracks throughout the album. Well, I think I've made it clear as to what I think is this album's downfall but for those of you that like the sound of the vocal touches I have mentioned, then go for it.

Nightwatch (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Kenny's best musical period but still forgettable
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, April 2nd, 2005

Loggins has always been a rather bland performer which is probably this album's main problem but there are some good moments but let's start with the best which is, of course the hit single "Whenever I call you friend" on which Stevie duets nicely. It has a innocence that even by the standards of the day seemed somewhat quaint but it was a deserved smash. Also of interest on the disc are the surprisingly long, epic title track which opens the record and a good rocker in "Somebody knows" as well as his own version of "What a fool believes" although it's not as good as the Doobie Brothers version. All in all, it's pretty forgettable stuff, however, Kenny is at his most likable here at this particular stage of his career than any other musically if nothing else.

New Year, New Band, New Company (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Some high point tracks dragged down by blandness
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 31st, 2005

Rick Vito is listed as playing guitar on this album but the liner notes do not state which song(s) he's on. The opening "Sitting on the outside" is a crashing funk attempt on which the howling vocals sound forced, "Can't get home" is a bland mid to up tempo pulser, "Step in the sun" is homespun tapping chirp, "To match the wind" is a 12 bar shuffle which goes through the motions with no feeling, "Sweet Scorpio" is a good straight ahead rock song but it's crashing cymbals hide any instrumentation that could've helped in leading us the way. "Driving on" is a fast galloping track with hard harp puffing busyness. Surprisingly, "Taxman blues" is a standout here as a likable fiddle led bouncer, "So much to do" is the longest track present, at over six minutes, with a thin picking one and half minute guitar solo (hard to say if it would be Rick or not) this is the closest we get to
improv here. This cowbell tonking stomp could've been better. "My train time" is one of Mayall's better and most effective train sounding harmonica led chargers making this a highlight as well. The closing "Respectfully yours" is a nice easy laid back pop track, sensitive and yearning. On the whole, although side two is an improvement on side one for the most part, "New year new band new company" kind of says it all, as nothing else is really new here sorry to say, it's all been done before and mostly better elsewhere.

The Next Voice You Hear: The Best Of Jackson Browne (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Odd omissions but still useful
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 31st, 2005

Few would be able to agree on a definitive Browne compilation tracklisting but this set does fairly well considering such essential album cuts (like "Rosie" from "Running on empty"), forgotten hits (such as the "Lawyers in love" title track, "That girl could sing" & "Boulevard" from "Hold out") and should've been hits (like "I'll do anything" & "Everywhere I go" from "I'm alive", not to mention that album's title track) have been omitted as some decent enough tracks do take their places instead (such as the slightly Celtic sounding quiet violin & piano drenched shaker "The rebel Jesus" (which is one of the two new tracks made for this compilation, the better of the two), the haunting (though perhaps admittedly a little overlong) "Sky blue & black" from "I'm alive" and the overlooked modern day Jackson track. the chiming pulse of "The barricades of heaven" from the "Looking east" album). There are some tracks that, while good, make you wonder why they were chosen instead of the more obvious choices (such as the pleasant quietly mid tempo "Call it a loan" from "Hold out", the acoustic led slow ballad "These days" (which does have country leanings with it's slidy guitars) from "For everyman", the typical mid tempo JB track "Fountain of sorrow" (which admittedly doesn't seem as long once known) from the "Late for the sky" album, the other new song (which effectively is the title track of this compilation, "The next voice you hear" which is a dance throwaway with ugly horns that they obviously thought would help but they actually hurt this track) and the title tracks from both "The pretender" (which is a piano heavy up-ish track that grows on you) and "Lives in the balance" (which is a dramatic puncher that gets better with more listens). However, there are the undeniable tracks like the classic California rock of the title track to Browne's "Running on empty" album, the fast bouncy hit "Doctor my eyes" from Jackson's first solo album, the heartfelt mid pace organ drone and lilting light electric guitar fills of the title track for the "Late for the sky" album and the three tracks included here with Rick Vito which are the well known single "Tender is the night" (which is a good track, but you'd need to get the "Lawyers in love" album to get all of Rick's great guitar playing on that album for your collection anyways so I won't go in to that track anymore here), the smooth emotional "In the shape of a heart" which is by far the best track on the "Lives in the balance" album (and the only one from that album that Rick plays on so it saves you from getting that platter) including great echoy guitar solos from Vito and Browne's biggest hit to date, the peppy "Somebody's baby" which here is more essential than it was on the "Fast times at Ridgemont high" soundtrack album as it's roughly 20 seconds longer here (towards the end of the song here you will hear an extra chorus go through which does admittedly become too much). It's still good to know though that you can get the full version of the song here along with "In the shape of a heart" saving you from getting "Lives in the balance" as these are the main points of interest for us here as well as having a few of Browne's classics tucked in there too making this worthwhile in the end.

Never Enough (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Tough rock but not much stands out
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 29th, 2005

Straley attempts to be a tough rocking woman like Susi Quatro but more controlled and not as bubblegum. The idea works well and Teresa plays all rhythm guitars on the record while Rick is listed as all lead guitars although "additional guitars" were used on "Radioactive love" & "Ladies like to rock 'n' roll too". Unfortunately, not many compositions stand out as they all just seem to blend together making it hard to differentiate one from the other. This may not even matter as Straley appears to have been with a smaller label but it might not have worked out anyways as there may have been industry pigeonholing problems. This was around the time Rick played on Bonnie Raitt's "Green light" album which was her shot at a rocking album and Warners apparently didn't know how to market her then. So if it didn't work for Bonnie Raitt, it looks like tough luck for tough Teresa.

Graham Nash & David Crosby (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Hole without Stills but still good enough
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 28th, 2005

"Immigration man" is by far the best track here, it's the most rocking track and the easy choice for the album's single. Dave Mason has lots of great lead guitar fills throughout that track's three minutes, it has a good hook and is entertainingly funny. As for the rest, "Southbound train" is a would be disappointing waltzing country croon but the strong harmonica helps it's homespun feel. "Whole cloth" is a slow suspenseful track with tasty electric piano tinkles but it's hook is not that great. "Blacknotes" is a 58 second Nash vocal and piano doodle (with possibly placed audience cheers), "Strangers room" is a piano chunking shuffler with bright chorus sections, "Where will I be" is a haunting Crosby vocal and acoustic guitar tune and the vocal swells later in the track help it's dramatic feel. Unfortunately, "Page 43" is a forgettable slow dragger though it does have good vocals, piano & guitar touches. "Frozen smiles" is a bouncy chirper that reminds me a little of the fab four's "Octopus garden" but it is original enough to stand on it's own with it's electric piano and harmonica parts being it's highlights. "Games" is a nice sounding tapping ballad builder but it's hook is pretty weak. "Girl to be on my mind" is also a slow to mid tempo bland piece and "The wall song" reminds me slightly of Jefferson Airplane's "Good shepherd" but it's not as good as the Airplane track. In addition, there is a big hole without Stills there (and admittedly, I didn't think there would be one) but this album's strengths help cover that greatly and if nothing else, is worth it for "Immigration man" alone.

More Storms Comin' (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
A solid, good plain old, rock and blues album
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 27th, 2005

This is a good, stripped down rock album with blues leanings that must rank as one of the best releases of 2000. Bekka is listed as a background vocalist on the record but it doesn't say which songs she's on although one can hear her well on some songs such as the barrelhouse rocker "She's like mercury" the soulful "I'm the lucky one" and the catchy "You're gonna miss my love". I E mailed Selby's site who kindly told me that Bekka is also on "Kink in the chain" as well. There's some good clear acoustic blues here such as the case with "Down by the tracks" and the title track that closes the album. It's good to hear Bekka rockin' again and I highly recommend this disc.

Motel Shot (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
For too specific an audience: Stomping Gospel rave ups
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 27th, 2005

Dave Mason is one of sixteen people listed in the liner notes for this album as an "included musician & vocalist" so with such a vague entry, it's hard to know how much/where/what Mason was contributing to this album. As for the songs themselves, this will largely appeal to those that enjoy piano stomping gospel shouters. Though good for that league, it would be hard to recommend this album for one with other tastes. The opening "Where the soul never dies" includes the tambourine pounding rave up style which then goes directly in to "Will the circle be unbroken" which is more of the same but it's slower and has good Bonnie lead vocals. The centuries old "Rock of ages" here is a well meaning but sloppy cover with it's clopping rhythms and let down of promise but "Long road ahead" is a useful acoustic guitar led stomp. "Faded love" is a Delaney vocals and piano only (with light acoustic guitar patches later) track that probably fares better here than it would've had it been placed elsewhere on the album (as this and the previous track sound like such a breath of fresh air after the first few). We return to the gospel stomping, predictably, on "Talkin' about Jesus" and though it grows as it goes along, it does seem emptier in arrangement that the earlier tracks. "Come on in my kitchen" is strange to listen to here given the gospel treatment (after being used to blues arrangements the track is used to being heard under), it features piano, sliding acoustic guitar and tapping rhythms. However, "Don't deceive me (Please dont go)" IS blues here which compared to the other tracks has a stroll feel with good Bonnie leads and also again, featuring acoustic guitar, piano and tambourine. "Never ending song of love" has a slight hoe-down feel with it's fuller instrumentation and "Sing my way home" continues the full sound approach, light electrics this time, with it's harder strumming guitars it sounds nice even if the tune itself never really goes anywhere but "Going down the road feeling bad" returns us again to the gospel stomp which makes you feel like you've just started the record over again. Fortunately though, "Lonesome and a long way from home" makes for a good closer as it has a better hook than many other tracks here, it's another hard acoustic strummer this time with harmonica and fiddles which work well. In the end though, if you're not big on the gospel rave ups then whatever other paths this album touches on, isn't really enough to make you crave this album, otherwise, you'll love it.

Motorvating (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good tune up but needs an oil change
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 27th, 2005

Most of what is featured here is Danny Adler's oopsy daisy slip slidin' guitar sounds which slightly reminds me of Rick Vito's style and I understand that Adler & Vito know each other so maybe this was something they had/have in common. There is good piano work, as always, by Bob Hall but Dick Heckstall-Smith's sax parts really intrude here though they weren't meant to most likely and he is a great player in general. There is an interesting finger snapping opener to "Sunnyland" but it eventually kicks in to the Elmore James shuffle style which is one of the better cuts. Oddly, we get two slow strolls in a row with "I'll change my style" and the emptier sounding "The sky is crying" though the piano and sax fight it out for the title which hurts. "Southern country boy" is a fair up beat shuffling swing and "Bleeding heart" here is not much different to the live renditions Jeremy Spencer had done of this song first while with Fleetwood Mac and then much later in his solo touring career. "I got the blues" is a good tip toeing blues and this along with "The sky is crying" and the up tempo stomp of "Alimony blues" have that familiar opening riff that appears on many De Luxe Blues Band 80's era albums and it's almost too familiar here but "Danny jumps one" is a good sax & guitar plinky instrumental piece and "I get so weary" is a slow blues that would be good but the sax here holds it back and makes it seem more draggy than it is. "Shake your moneymaker" is a rousing peppy cover but naturally it's still fields away from Jeremy's classic Fleetwood Mac version. Be warned though that the CD version of this album has the tracks listed in the wrong order (just as some vinyl copies of this album did and as it's the same error, I assume this is where the mistake carried over on to the CD) as tracks 1-5 are actually tracks 6-10 on the disc and tracks 6-10 are actually 1-5. They have however, included two bonus tracks unavailable elsewhere (and they are listed in the correct places), the OK swinger "You are my best poker hand" and the essential nugget "I ain't got you" which is good here but it may be a little slower than one usually hears this song performed. Both of these tracks are noticeably more muffled than the others though but still listenable and I would say that this is one of the better DLBB albums of the 80's but still a forced traditional feel with the sax butting in to everything present.

Mystery Girl (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Great swan song
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 27th, 2005

Billy and Rick are on one of Billy's better latter day co writes (with David Malloy) called "(All I can do is) Dream you", a somewhat unique chunky rocker with strong acoustic guitar from Billy and great lead guitar by Rick and you can hear both of them good on background vocals as well, by far the best track on the album. Rick also, in contrast appears on one of the weakest songs on "Mystery girl" called "Windsurfer" which although containing some unforgettable sounding slides from Vito, the song's strings try to hide Mike Campbell's "Tom Petty sound" but it doesn't work. There are other low points like "The only one" (which tries to bring in horns and a slight tropical feel but it's unsuccessful) and "The comedians" (which can't escape the "Running scared" type drum rhythms at the beginning (and then again later in the song) by trying to become a shuffle) but the real highlights here (in addition to "...Dream you") make this album a great (but unfortunate) last effort for Orbison like the catchy jangly hit "You got it" which makes for a great opener, the haunting acoustic chimer "In the real world", the moving slow ballad "A love so beautiful" which displays it's MAJOR Jeff Lynne techniques, and "She's a mystery to me" with impressive production and twangy guitar from Bono with effective bongo styled rhythms which altogether really bring out the best in the track. The remaining tracks are also well done. "California blue", which, though again, has the Petty sound with Lynne touches, is not hampered in the least by this here and the closing "Careless heart" on which the Rickenbacker side of the Petty sound amusingly arrives just when you thought you would make a clean getaway from it! This is an album which can be unjustly overlooked as on the whole it deserves many plays.

My Town (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Formulamatic, though up a star for the title track
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 27th, 2005

Perhaps this is not a good example of Montgomery Gentry but to me this album sounds like a formulamatic rocking country duo type sound not far removed from Brooks and Dunn but maybe a little more rocking. This would be a good idea if the hooks went along with the songs but for the most part they don't, unfortunately. The obvious exception to the rule is the title track. I dont know why the tinkly piano intro is separated from the track itself as a separate entity as this was not required but it does flow in nicely anyways to the actual song on track number two after a few seconds which is an anthemic stomp with chorus sounding "na na" chants that are the best part of the song though the banjo in the verse sections isn't a slouch either. This gets us off to a most promising start but then we don't get our head above water too much after this. "Break my heart again" is a fairly up tempo country jangler, "Scarecrow" isn't too bad but it perhaps could've used different arrangements as the faster than normal tempo and mandolin flavorings don't do much for it the way it stands. "Bad for good" is a sluggish rocker, "Speed" has a "This kiss" type of feel on the choruses but it's better on the acoustic piano verses. "Hell yeah" is the most typical formulamatic rocking country raver on the record. "Lonesome" is a mid tempo country howler featuring steel guitars, "Why do I feel like running" is a stroller with light harmonica and it's hard on the acoustic guitar led rhythms. "Free fall" really tries, it has some fair harmonies but it's another somewhat forced rocker. "Lie before you leave" sounds like it could've been a contender for single material but it needs a better hook. "For the money" is uptempo and is one of the better tunes on the album but it doesn't demand the attention needed to make it through. The closing "Good clean fun" is the most rocking song on the record which has slight Stevie Ray Vaughn growl on the guitar riffs but not much else to speak of. I could be wrong but it seems like Montgomery Gentry had a great song in the title track and they felt as though they needed an album to go with it so they came up with what's on offer here and worked it around the title track and I wouldn't say that's the best way to make an album necessarily. Maybe those other few times there was hope in the platter may grow on me though.

Mitch Malloy (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Faceless in more ways than one
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 26th, 2005

Bekka is 1 of 7 people on this disc listed as background vocalists and as the liner notes don't break it down by song, it's hard to tell which songs she's on as this is full out, no nonsense, hard, Australian style rock. She's is listed for chorus harmony on "Cowboy and the ballerina" though. It's slightly smoother than Jimmy Barnes but the pace doesn't let up throughout except for "Music box" which can hardly count as it's duration is 20 seconds and the one ballad present "Mirror mirror" which shouldn't count either as it's the last song (so there's no pace to interrupt). Not bad for it's genre but the songs seem to suffer from sameness.

Make Me Sweat (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Mostly good return to form
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 24th, 2005

Dave Walker returned to the recording studio apparently after many years away with his old pal Kim Simmonds in a reshuffled version of Savoy Brown with this early 1988 release. There's some reworked oldies but goodies from the Savoy catalog like "Hard way to go" (which doesn't have the suspense the original had but Walker fills out the vocals better here than Youlden did originally) and some work better than others (on one hand, "Tell mama" should be heard on "Street corner talking" first before hearing this bland run through but "Shot in the head" here is a numbing cover, rocking harder than it did on "Lion's share") but the more positive tracks win you over. The growling opener "Limousine boogie (Hey hey mama)" sounds like your typical ZZ Top rocker and holds it's end up well, "Just for kicks" is an up tempo stroll which engagingly has Dave in talk sing style at the beginning and then he goes in to his effective growling vocal style helped by the strong guitar shouts. "Good time lover" starts with almost "Rubber biscuit" style vocals from Walker joined by ragtime boogie woogie piano which with the next verse is joined by drums & bass and then is finally joined by scorching lead guitar breaks with campy applause when the track ends making one wonder how seriously they were talking this track. However, the classic driving shouter "Goin' down" has howling guitars and this is one of my personal favorite renditions of this song (though I'm sure many other listeners may find it rather mundane). The pulsing boogie of "Don't tell me it's over" is my favorite track on this album at the moment. With a strong tune it doesn't let it's plinky keys hold it back. "Runnin' with a bad crowd" is a lighter track which isn't bad but I just don't find it a highlight as it's somewhat insignificant though "Breakin' up" is also a lighter track with it's plucky keys but it's a more catchy song and has a strong guitar solo. The closing "On the prowl" again makes you wonder how serious they're being as it's just a throwaway (though admittedly amusing) "street corner conversation (by mainly DW) sound effects with light finger snapping instrumental blues musical backing" doodling. Nevertheless, there's lots of impressive material here to get you interested in the first place, it worked for me anyways.

Craig Shoemaker Meets...The Lovemaster (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
A novelty buy but fairly likable stand up comedy album
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 22nd, 2005

The only tracks that concern us here are the first and last. The first, "Introduction" is just a 25 second piece that has the announcer introducing Shoemaker to the audience and while he enters and the audience claps, you hear the tape in the background of the main track which I'll now describe. The point is, track one is redundant as the full song is track number 28 in "Lovemaster theme: Walk nasty for the lovemaster" (which is the "actual" recording of the song). It's a talk sing novelty upish harmonica yeller with piano chunks and it includes some good Rick Vito slide guitar howls though it's unlikely you'll ever take this song completely seriously but it does make for an interesting addition to the Vito discography. In case you haven't already guessed, this is basically just a stand up comedy album recorded live which, like many of it's genere, works well in the beginning but you'll only get so many laughs out of it with future listens. There's too many to list here but the titles of the rest of the CD chapters give good explanations of the schtick that Craig goes in to. Some work better than others but overall an interesting article.

Meet Me At Midnite (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
I'll be there
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 21st, 2005

This album is what should be heard to appreciate Muldaur's work. Unlike much of Maria's earlier more popular music, "Meet me at midnite" is more of a funk blues outing that really clicks. Rick plays on three tracks here, the soft breathy stroll of "Ease the pain" (featuring some chirpy RV licks and Muldaur's more Bonnie Raitt styled vocal moments), the shaking Vito co penned title track (which I think is still preferable to Rick's own version of the song and Rick gives us some sensitive slides here) and my favorite track, the up pace yowling rolling rocker "Serve somebody" (including strong lead work by Rick which keeps things tumbling and skipping along). The rest measures up very well. The opening "Trouble with my lover" is a bright "Smokestack lightning" type bouncer (though the horns could've been dumped), "Send the man back home" is a snapping up beat stroll, "Sweet simple love" is a soulful piano chunker that I think Bekka Bramlett would've sounded great on. "Power in music" is a pulsing shuffle that oddly isn't far removed from the sound of the David Letterman theme song. "Trouble with love" is a quick funk skipper, "Recovered soul" is a peppish tumbler, "Down so long" is a slow gospel tinged dragger, "Woman's lament" is a tasty Maria vocal showcase which she's bravely singing on her own, with no musical backing, and it's howling stuff but "Mississippi muddy water" is uplifting though slow gospel with few surprises. All in all though, a great album which I highly recommend.

Live At The Marquee (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Mac at birth, of historical significance mainly
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 20th, 2005

This release along with "London live '68" are unquestionably the Mac recordings with the poorest sound quality of all legally released Mac discs but they do capture the atmosphere of the occasion nonetheless. It has been argued that "Live at the Marquee" may not actually be from this venue (let alone infamously known as their second ever gig), however, it is clear that this is a very early Mac recording if nothing else as the first thing one hears is the announcer at the venue introduce some of the band members and the first one heard is "Bob Brunning on the bass". It's rather puzzling to hear Peter announce that they are about to play "Long grey mare" and then not only do you never hear this song but you hear "Evil woman blues" instead but the songs themselves are fascinating listening as a historical document of the band at this young juncture. Many numbers are introduced by Green in a tongue and cheek nature towards Mike Vernon (as Peter must have felt as though the releasing of material was a very slow process - we can all relate to this!). Many intros are to the effect that "this song is yet another one that was recorded and never ever going to be released" and there's some tunes here performed by the band otherwise unheard elsewhere such as Peter covering Sonny Boy Williamson's "Mighty long time" which is a slow mellow harp rendering that works as well as Jeremy's "I need you, come on home to me", a slow slide blues similar to "I held my baby last night". "Watch out for me woman" of course relates to "Watch out" as "Talk to me baby" does to "I can't hold out". Included is a fair mix of Spencer and Green numbers who get 6 each which is another pleasing fact for this release. This is a purchase undoubtedly better left until later on down the road but shouldn't be too disappointing for aficionados of the early Mac history.

A Matter Of Time (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Nice moments but predictable
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 20th, 2005

Sellers impressively co wrote almost half of the songs here, the pleasant title track is a poppy opener, "This thing called life" is an upbeat slap, "Everybody's walking" which is a fairly uptempo stomp, with more funk and rock influences than on other tunes from this disc but has country harmonies all the way, "If you're willing" which is mid to up tempo and has strong steel guitars tugging it towards country though it has a strong bassline presence throughout which grabs attention and one that Bekka sings on called "Til I felt your hands" which you can hear her fairly well on but as far as songwriting goes, it must be said that this ballad is not as strong as "What a lover is for" (which Bekka is also listed as being on though you can't hear her very well on it). Jason does get points for his writing efforts on the first five listed here though. Bekka is also on "Bad case of missing you" and you can hear her best on this song more than the other two before mentioned songs she's on from this record but I think it's the weakest of the three as it's rockin' county hip shake style is just not my kind of thing but others may enjoy. This album does have some nice moments like "Every fire" one of the better ballads on the album, "Golden ring" which is a fair funk duet with Pam Tillis but I think it may have worked better had she dueted on one of the ballads instead. Also, some of the songs, while good songwriting wise, do miss the mark a little due to the forced country lean the instrumentation brings them like "That's not her picture" which could have been a very effective piano led slow tempo ballad but the steel guitar yawns cement the track in country and while "Can't help calling your name" is a passable closer, this piano led ballad may have been better had it been left at that as it does start out that way but then, in comes the slow rhythms later which really hold the tune back in my opinion. Even when the music does try to go other places, Sellers' yodeling vocal style is firmly anchored in country so it may not have made a difference. Not a bad effort overall though, just could've been better.

John Mayall Plays John Mayall: Live At Klooks Kleek (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Many Mayall compositions but not much improvisation
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 20th, 2005

Those expecting a "Beano" album may be disappointed as Mayall's debut album seems to be in a more R & B style with little in the way of lengthy solos and the very primitive manner in which the set was recorded as the liner notes describe (by draping the microphone across the street and down the ceiling of the venue) one can imagine that this doesn't help the sound quality but it could be worse and some numbers are very fresh like the urgent harmonica led instrumental "Runaway" and the unusual atmospheric "Heartache". "Crocodile walk" & "Crawling up a hill" have more power here than their
studio counterparts and what soloing there is works well on the final jam "Chicago line". Many other Mayall albums should be purchased before this but it's not bad at all.

Looking Back (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Useful cleaner
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 19th, 2005

It's hard to say how well this album would stand up against his straight out releases but for collectors this is a big and important piece of the puzzle as every track here has a Mac member on it somewhere except the tumbling horn chanter "Suspicions (Part 2)" and the slow blues "Stormy Monday" (though it does have a very fuzzy sound quality, it is worth it and also an album highlight as it's mostly a great Clapton guitar showcase save for Mayall shouted vocals that appear three minutes in to the track until the end) and all of these Mac related tracks along with those on the other useful Mayall compilation called "Thru the years" plugs up most of the holes. Two tracks here that have John McVie on bass are the strolling opener "Mr. James" (featuring guitar, harmonica & piano) and the harmonica led instrumental "Blues city shakedown" (which always sounds like it's going to take off but then never really does, though likable). Both of these tracks have that mono-ish sound similar to what you'd hear on the "John Mayall Plays John Mayall" album. Jumping ahead, Peter Green had returned to Mayall as a guest after Fleetwood Mac had started their journey on two single tracks included here, the moving echoy slow blues howler "Jenny" and the slidy tapping country blues of "Pictures on the wall". The tracks that feature Peter Green and John McVie are the tap dance feel of "Sitting in the rain" (also including light guitars), the horn featured slow blues of "So many roads" (which has Mayall, in his yowling vocal stylings to me having a smoother quiet Robert Plant feel on this one) and the fast rocking honker "Looking back" on which Green's lead solo parts sound of Clapton's leads more here that anywhere else (could be said for his leads on "So many roads" as well to an extent). This makes for interesting listening in hearing Peter's own style grow. The two tracks of most interest to Mac fans here will be the inclusion of the two Mayall tracks that have Peter, John & Mick Fleetwood all playing on them which are the slowish Elmore James type chug of "It hurts me too" (which employs a slight stroll feel) and the preferable "Double trouble" which has skipping drums, good light leads by Peter and together with McVie's bass, you can feel the power brewing in that dynamic rhythm section on this subtle track. It's debatable as to whether this album flows as a whole but this album is a gold mine for collectors that'll most likely listen to it by separate song plays anyways so this will get you well on your way through collecting some essential Mac related Mayall tracks.

Long Walk Home: Music From The Rabbit-Proof Fence (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Predictable but most likely picture perfect soundtrack
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 18th, 2005

The "World music" sound of this record is to be expected from Gabriel's film score work and sure enough, we get it on here. I must confess that I haven't seen the "Rabbit-proof fence" movie for which this is the soundtrack so I won't be able to comment on whether the pieces match the scenes in question well or not, I'll only be able to comment on them for what they are as musical snippets on their own. The two tracks with Peter Green are "Ngankarrparni (Sky blue - Reprise)" which starts with chanting that is unique to this release but then the "Blind Boys of Alabama chants" start which surfaced again on "Sky blue" from Gabriel's "Up" album later in 2002 for a little while and then gives way to piano rhythms and from roughly the 237-239 mark, you can hear a lick which I'm guessing could be Green (as guitarist David Rhodes also plays on this track) which you can't hear elsewhere followed by licks that can be heard on "Sky blue" from "Up" though they are quieter here. I'm guessing the guitar you hear at the four minute mark is Rhodes though. Just when the rhythm part fades out, there is some solo chanting for about 20 seconds when the song comes to it's abrupt ending and "Cloudless" is the other Green related track which is the shorter (and more commercial sounding) of the two which has a
"mix" feel with prominent drum machines etc. You can hear Gabriel's vocals best on this track as well joining in with the chanting by the Blind Boys of Alabama once again. It is very hard to tell if any familiar (or non familiar) Green guitar parts are on this theme variation though, they must be there, but hidden well unfortunately. As for the rest, a mixed bag of "parts" of tracks I liked but there's not really any particular full tracks I could call highlights. The opener "Jigalong" is a windy drone which works better before
and after the percussions make their presence felt. "Stealing the children" is a growling thumper while "Unlocking the door" is a meandering piece on which the second half works best. "The tracker" is suspenseful though the dog type grunts two minutes in to it mar it somewhat though it probably is indicative of what is happening in the film. "Running to the rain" is a builder. Two minutes in, you get a whipping drum sound which works best for dramatics once the high part comes in at the end. "On the map" is a quiet piece, less than a minute in duration which doesn't really amount to anything. "A sense of home" is another short track at less than two minutes but this rhythm driven track gives a nice uplifting feeling. "Go away Mr. Evans" moves in and out of a loud and soft dungeon type mood with the 145-215 mark working the best giving you a "light at the end of the tunnel" feeling. "Moodoo's secret" is a soft, cool whistler though oddly, when the rhythm kicks in, it reminds me slightly of The Zoo's "Voodoo". The beginning of the track is the best part despite the strange "stomach" sounds you will hear. "Gracie's recapture" is a sad watery lament which is one of the few tracks on which you can hear Gabriel's distinctive high vocals, but only just. "Crossing the salt pan" has snake charming rhythms which then give way to more droning meanderings, the rhythms work best on this one. "The return (Parts 1,2 & 3)" is a dramatic theme with various soft and loud swellings and "The rabbit-proof fence" is a short wander (compared to the last two tracks you've just heard I suppose) which ends with chants that get more familiar the closer to the end we get to those we heard on "Ngankarrparni (Sky blue - Reprise)" which then goes straight in to the
closing "Cloudless" (which I had spoken about already above). Not a bad recording as there are some very nice moments on here, but like many soundtracks of this kind, a specialist audience is required.

Long Overdue (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good stand alone tracks but too bland for full listens
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 17th, 2005

This is yet another album that works better with individual song plays as opposed to just sitting down and listening to the whole thing all the way through unless you are a fan of fast tumbling strictly acoustic country blues sliders. The three tracks that feature Mac members though are obvious highlights in the opening "Diving duck blues" (which could be taking some passages from the more well know blueser "Louisiana blues") with Peter Green on useful harmonica helping out greatly in the much needed rhythm in this track though any more would've been too much so I find this track the most easily likable one on the album. "Having a good time" is a fast shuffling boogie instrumental with Mick and John helping the track along, this one adds some needed color to the proceedings and "I've been down so long" is a fairly perky stroll but this is the track out of the three of them that tends to show up on compilation albums most often and I think it's the poorest of the three but whatever the case, we press on. The tracks here known as "Instrumental no. 2" (which is slidingly atmospheric enough but annoyingly only heard in the left channel), "Instrumental no. 4" (which is a skipping little ditty) & "Instrumental no. 3" (which is a likable twanging speedy piece), as one could guess, are without vocals but do their job nicely though it does make one wonder where "number one" is. Perhaps "Having a good time" was number one? In any event, "Highway 51" is a little more electric, "One dime blues" is like "Diving duck blues" but maybe a bit faster, "Walking blues" is a rolling grinder, "Rolling & tumbling" is a harsh sounding hard strumming yowler, "Pearlie blues" is a mid tempo sliding howler, "The woman down the hall" is a fast, simple gallop, "Big road blues" is a quick tumbler and "Worried life blues" is a loud mope. Except where noted, all tracks just seem to be Smith's vocals and guitar (though he's the one playing the harp on "Having a good time") so if that's your style, you'll really like this and as it is, I find it an underrated album and it would get heavy rotation in my CD player if it was released on CD as I think it would make a good transfer to the compact disc format but rarely do I listen to it from front to back all in one sitting as the separate song plays do me just fine.

Lion's Share (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Lion must've eaten the improv as it's not on the plate
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 14th, 2005

I found "Lion's share" to be lacking in any real improvisation which is what makes most of Savoy Brown's lengthier material so appealing. The closest thing to that on this album is "Love me please" which is fairly suspenseful in it's quiet piano and guitar vein which does eventually get in to some mainly mellow guitar (but piano also) soloing. It's a great track for Dave's meaningful vocals too though he may be singing it better on the live version from Relix Record's "Live in Central park" album. Another track that may have been better on that live release was/is the strolling ballad "The saddest feeling" which had more tasty chiming guitar fills though you do get some of that here and the effective organ and piano chunks help too. Along the more traditional blues route there's "I can't find you" which is a harmonica featured piano/guitar chugger, the fast pulsing "Howling for my darling" and the closing "I hate to see you go" which here is a fast "Another man done gone" type tumbler. The Dave Walker penned "Denim demon" is a lightweight Chuck Berry type rocking vehicle which is perhaps sophomoric but to me this sounds like it could've been Walker more trying to fit in with Savoy Brown's sound rather than what has often been decided (of this actually being Walker's style, which in turn was decided that he did not fit in with Fleetwood Mac because of it whereas he was never really given a fair chance to grow as other members of the band were allowed to ...but that's another story). The winning raver "Shot in the head" opens the album though after hearing the Savoy's blazing remake of this track on their "Make me sweat" album, the "Lions share" version sounds pretty empty now (but the guitar intro on the "Lion's share" version works better than the vocal opening of the "Make me sweat" version did/does). The main highlights here (aside from "Love me please") I feel are the rocking "So tired" (which is a grumbling rocking shouter that works better than your everyday, run of the mill "on tour troubles" tale probably due to the tasty electric piano & guitar fills) and "Second try" (which is a useful shuffling boogie which grows on you with it's organ & piano chunks and chirpy guitar parts). It could be argued this may be a good place to start researching SB so you're not diving head long in to long solos and the like but as that is/was one of Savoy Brown's best elements, this is why I don't think this is a good place to start, though it's a listenable album in the end. Just my humble opinion though.

Listen To The Blues (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Fast boogie galore but slow ones slump
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 14th, 2005

There is alot of the boogie woogie piano style you would predict there to be on this record but it's rather louder production techniques seem to drowned this fact a little which works to it's slight advantage because it makes it less predictable though this may not have been the intention. The problem is that there are few slow numbers and the ones included ("Sad blues" & "My big mistake") don't fair as well as the faster songs. Many of the faster tunes fall into the "Bad bad Leroy Brown" style shuffle most notably on "Why I sing the blues" and Dixon's vocals may have been more proper on a soul recording where at his more swaggering can sound like Joe Cocker. However, the opening title track is a good Jackie Wilson type stomp which starts you off on the right foot. Good in that it's not predictable but not many ideas included.

Live And Kickin' (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Generous concert set
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 14th, 2005

This is a worthwhile concert disc that came at the right time and there was talk of a Savoy show (though not necessarily this show from the Lone Star in NYC where this album was recorded) being filmed and released on video but as Dave Walker had left the band (again) ten months after this album's release, that plan was shelved unfortunately though this lengthy platter will not disappoint. "Heartbreaks make you strong" is a gusto filled straightforward opener that oddly sounds mellower next to the studio "Kings of boogie" version though it still does rock well and good. The strolling "I can't get next to you" here is tastier on the guitar than it was on "Street corner talking" which must be saying something. The fast slide guitar screamer "15 Miles to go" was a new song (at the time) and is one of the most rocking tracks present with it's train like energy on the verses and "Raise some thunder" was another new song (then) which is sort of like a speeded up Elmore James track. "Since you've been gone" is slower here than it was on "Kings of boogie" but just as effective a ballad there as it was (and is) here. The "Medley (Greatest hits)" starts with "I'm tired", "Hard way to go" & "Louisiana blues" which do their best to match up to their classic original Savoy Brown renditions and they do well considering the tough task that is. It then moves on to "Street corner talking" and "Hellbound train" which hold up OK too and then Kim Simmonds launches in to a 5 minute closing guitar solo which is in three parts in itself, the first and last are Kim crying away on his own (which is always a pleasure to hear) and the middle part is done in slow blues dirge fashion. After the actual track ends about 17 minutes in, this is when the band member introductions (along with some jokes to snicker at by Walker) are announced bringing the track timing up to over 20 minutes which won't seem that long once you hear the hits medley a few times. With the speedy stroll "Bad intentions", "Poor girl" (which is done lighter here than it was on "Looking in" but in a likable way) and "Wang dang doodle" things start to sag (as I'm not big on this Willie Dixon boogie myself but I do admit that it was better once I was actually there seeing them play it in concert for myself.(which I had done on the tour to support this release). If only that video version of this show (or whatever show it was that was apparently filmed) was released on video, I may have been able to appreciate this track for what many feel it is though as it didn't translate from the live experience to the CD, I'd be surprised if it would've translated to the video). However, "All I can do" is a great highlight to pull us up again. Though it's a silky remake, this version betters the "Street corner talking" version and which has 6 minutes of moving Simmonds guitar soloing (save for a 30 second tinkly keys part three minutes in to the solo which is the middle section of the track). The encore track "Boogie (Hey hey mama)" starts with the famous "Savoy Brown boogie" riff that kicks off that epic piece from "A step further" but then we kick in to the much shorter but equally as effective "Limousine boogie (Hey hey mama)" (with a dash of "Hip shake") which rocks just about as much here as it did on "Make me sweat" though in a more stretched out way (were only talking like 6 minutes though). Still it's a good closer and it's the best boogie on the CD. This is a great way to hear the latter day Savoys in more stretched out and laid back mode.

In London (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Stripped down well but less style & dated "show biz"
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 14th, 2005

After recently reviewing King's "King of the blues 1989" this album does seem much more stripped down than that album in comparison and though consisting of dated "show biz (as Peter Green referred to it) blues music", this is another borderline call which I'll give three stars to here as I feel the "King of the blues 1989" set generally has the edge as I tend to play that one more often than this one though of course it is debatable as to which is the "better album" and undoubtedly both albums are NOT the place to go if you are just wishing to investigate King's best works as neither of these albums are that by a long shot. Oddly, the CD edition of this album does not list Green at all though the vinyl editions did list him as playing guitar on the swinging opening highlight "Caldonia". It sounds to me like Peter may be playing the second guitar solo in, though that is just my guess after all. "Blue shadows" has a light funk feel with good leads and howling vocals. "Alexis' boogie" is an acoustic tinkling instrumental featuring harmonica. "We can't agree" returns us to the slight funk though this one sounds more dated. "Ghetto woman" is a "The thrill is gone" type soul destroyer though this track is not nearly as effective as "Thrill..." was/is. The string bursts on this one hurt as well. "Wet hayshark" is a short instrumental which does have some great B.B. guitar lines but unfortunately they are drowned by the piano chunks and horn toots. "Part time love" has good swing but the horns are intrusive to King's strong lead fills here. "Power of the blues" is an ineffective short, fast piano led chunker and "Ain't nobody home" sounds tinny overall but generally if you've heard the version of this song done by Bonnie Raitt (released a few short years after this one was) then you can say that you've basically heard this version for the most part as well. This album does have more good guitar stuff on it than I remembered it to but even then, there could've been so much more and therefore made this a better album altogether.

London Live '68 (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Quietest parts are best but must fight sound quality
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 14th, 2005

This release along with "Live at the Marquee" are unquestionably the Mac recordings with the poorest sound quality of all legally released Mac discs but they do capture the atmosphere of the occasion nonetheless. "London live '68" disappointingly doesn't include any other information as to the time and place of it's recording other than the title but it does enclose some good songs that have not been released by the band in any other fashion to date such as Peter's somewhat lengthy "Don't know which way to go" an emotive slow blues, just as Jeremy covers a slow blues nugget in "Bleeding heart". Spencer has also got a fast boogie called "My baby's a good 'un" which employs the type of tempo that "Stop messin' 'round" has, but features lightning slide bursts from Jeremy instead. This tune ranks as the hardest driving song on the record. As it is, Peter's B.B. King covers of "How blue can you get" & "Buzz me" have just come out on another form for the only other time (on a legal release) on the "Show biz blues" collection. "The dream" of course relates to "Worried dream" and there's a snippet of Jeremy's on stage humor but unusually more family orientated in that he seems to be making fun of reporters that ask him about what kind of equipment he uses on stage (as we know Spencer was against this kind of questioning in those days) but it is rather hard to hear because of the poor sound quality of the album although it is marginally clearer than "Live at the Marquee". Spencer and Green have 5 numbers each but strange (for an album) that Jeremy starts with four, then Peter does all five of his, then finished off by a final Spencer performance. Maybe this was the original order and if it was, then I'm glad but due to the lack of information about this gig, I guess we will never know if this was the way it was or just bizarre sequencing. This is a purchase undoubtedly better left until later on down the road but shouldn't be too disappointing for aficionados of the early Mac history.

Like A Rock (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Worth it for the historic title track alone
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 13th, 2005

Rick plays on six tracks here, the best one by far is the popular album's title track. Though used much in commercials etc. there's no denying that this track has become a defining moment in Vito's recording career, and will most likely remain one for some time. You really do need to hear the quietly building verses sections to fully appreciate this track as they lead in to Vito's great slide stretches (and he has some overlooked touches during those quieter moments as well). As for the other five, "Miami" is a mid tempo pounder, "The ring" is a "Night moves" type piano ballad, "Tightrope" is an electric synther that tries to be dramatic but it's unsuccessful at that attempt. There are some good RV howlings on this track but it's not enough. "The aftermath" is a forced rocker that doesn't have a good hook but "Somewhere tonight" is a good piano led slow ballad from the "Chances are" (with Martina McBride)/"We've got tonight" school of Seger led ballads, though not nearly as strong as either of those tracks but it's still good enough to be a highlight here. The CD version of this album came with a bonus track, a live version of CCR's "Fortunate son". I think the reason this recording doesn't work is because that material fits Seger TOO well so it can't deliver on it's high promise. In case you were wondering, no, Rick is not on this recording as this recording must not have been done on the "Like a rock" tour (which Rick was on) because the CD liner notes do break the musician listings down for us here and Rick is not listed on that one. He is also NOT on the
opening popular hit single shouter "American storm" (though strangely, he WAS in the music video for this song "faking it" for the video as he had done in Seger's "Shakedown" video as he was not on that recording either).The remaining two tracks not discussed yet here are the fast rocking "Sometimes" (which is the most rocking track present though it's electronics smooth it down and water it over though it does have a good hook) and "It's you" (which is a chirpy piano led clave tapper). Though I'd say "The fire inside" is the best Seger album to feature Vito overall (and even though he's on half as many songs as Vito is on here), this is essential Vito listening for the title track to "Like a rock". Get ready to be impressed as this could've served as an audition for his Fleetwood Mac job on it's own.

Lilith Fair: A Celebration Of Women In Music, Volume 3 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
The ladies cover all the bases
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 13th, 2005

This is a very good collection of various female fronted artists for the Lilith Fair package tours set up by Sarah McLachlan. The woman herself provides us with an echoish run through of her "Black and white". Bonnie Raitt's "Spit of love" is the track included here that has Rick Vito playing on it. Though Vito was on Raitt's tour for her "Fundamental" album, he did not play on the "Fundamental" album. However, this live version of this electric piano led funkish pulse features nasty slide guitar by Bonnie which at the end has lengthy feedback roars (more likely from Raitt than Rick). Nonetheless, this track has the guts needed to measure up well with it's studio version counterpart. Me'Shell Ndegeocello's "Soul record" is wah wah guitar funk with light tooting keyboard moans, "Naked Eye" by Luscious Jackson is a head bobbing fast driving pulser (though the rap vocal stylings hurt), Liz Phair's "Never said" is a chugging stomp, Holly Cole's "Onion girl" is a piano led swayer, Sixpence None The Richer's catchy strumming hit "Kiss me" is
bettered here mainly due to the well done "la la" middle section. Suzanne Vega's sleeper hit "Luka" here is a moving stripped down acoustic take, "Underneath a red moon" by N'Dea Davenport is an underrated rhythm guitar led funk with good electric piano touches, "Not an addict" by K's Choice is a wooing bass throb which then leads in to a grumbling rock feel. Indigo Girls' "Get out the map" is a pleasant banjo/mandolin featured chirper, Rebekab's "Little black girl" is a quiet acoustic track that reminds me of "Pieces of you" era Jewel, "Deeper well" by Emmylou Harris is a catchy pounding screaming rocker which has got to be one of her hardest rocking performances ever and "Surrounded" by Chantal Kreviazuk is over busy loudness, I'm not big on this track really myself but all in all, there's a lot of good music here and this collection ably shows what women rockers bring to the music world which is very impressive indeed.

Lie To Me (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Magnificent modern blues
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 12th, 2005

The opening title track is the song on which you will find Bekka and you'll hear her very well. It's got a tough beat and is very memorable once heard. A modern classic. This is a good solid blues album which commands attention from a great new talent. Although it's very close, I think I slightly prefer Lang's follow up album "Wander this world" as a whole but Jonny stretches out to good effect here such as the case on the epics "A quitter never wins" & "Darker side" and I do highly recommend this album. You can't go wrong with this purchase. If you're looking for more modern blues, this is the best place to start.

Leo Sayer (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Somewhat banal, but pleasantries are present
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 12th, 2005

The songs Lindsey's on are the nice smooth and easy rework of Buddy Holly's "Raining in my heart", a nice reading of Jackson Browne's "Something fine" & the middle of the road "Running to my freedom". As a matter of fact, a few songs here have a slight country feel which may come as a surprise to those familiar with the hits from Sayer's "Endless flight" this makes an interesting follow up album as producer Richard Perry for the most part stays clear of the disco leanings of the smash hits from the previous album (although "Frankie Lee" & "La booga rooga" come pretty close) there's a rocker (well, it's harder than one would expect from Leo) called "Don't look away" and the album ends with a cover of Tom Snow's "No looking back" which is the mellowest moment and makes for an effective closing statement. You can count the clichs but given half a chance, a pleasant record.

Legend (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Very good unreleased tracks and well picked favorites
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 11th, 2005

This is a useful compilation album which includes eight songs not available elsewhere. "Bandit" is a different version to the one which appeared on the "Kolors" album and this version is much better. "Corner of my mind" is an effective rocker while "Carry my love" has a nice smooth feel and is also very good, as is the catchy, sing a long opener "Touch my spirit". "Rubbing my eyes" is an intriguing instrumental in addition to the bouncy "Long way from home". There's also "You won't see me anymore" & the easy going "Six string guitar". There are good choices from the previous albums that round out the rest of the album (though "White sky" & "Little dreamer" are only available on the CD editions of this release) I would have preferred them to include the three rare tracks that appeared on the "Blue guitar" compilation but there's a lot of great stuff here so it's easy to recommend this package nonetheless.

Legacy...Hymns & Faith (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Works, though back to roots idea isn't original
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 10th, 2005

It could just be that I am not as familiar with Grant's more recent works but as I understand that the way in which Grant now attempts to "please both crowds (Gospel & pop)" is by releasing a more "traditional" album and then a "pop" one, instead of trying to do both on one album. This being the case, "Legacy...hymns & faith", is very good and true. It kind of harkens back to some of Amy's earliest outings with an intimate setting such as the two "In concert" volumes, especially on the acoustic numbers such as on tracks like "Fields of plenty/Be still my soul" whereas the first part is an instrumental acoustic guitar piece and then the guitar is accompanied by vocals and some light fiddle on the latter section which works well, it does get in to a "preach/talk" feel halfway in but it doesn't hurt the ambiance of the track. As for the other "multi part" tracks, "I need thee every hour/Nothing but the blood" is the one that has Bekka on it and she can be heard well on the second part (with some others) and this part of the song is given a slow country type tempo and it works extremely well. The first part is a pretty vocal and light electric guitar flavor, expertly handled. "It is well with my soul/The river's gonna keep on rolling" starts with a piano & vocal only arrangement and then goes in to a nice electric piano and
guitar with brushes feel, this also clicks. "Imagine/Sing the wondrous love of Jesus" has bongo type rhythms and is an acoustic guitar & vocal builder with strings & electric guitar and then we end with an echoy piano & vocal arrangement, this also works good though the second part is preferable to the first. However, considering there are three parts to "What a friend we have in Jesus/Old rugged cross/How great thou art" this "medley" sounds bland in comparison as they seem to have chosen to have the piano, vocal & light electric guitar arrangement woven in with the lyrics to all three tunes, you end up expecting more than what this one actually delivers. The rest of the album does work for the most part to pull it through though. "This is my fathers world" is a pleasant mid tempo number with light electric guitar & piano which compliment each other. Z"My Jesus I love thee" features a fast strumming mandolin sound while "Softly and tenderly" is better here than it was on Rebecca Lynn Howard's recent outing "Forgive" (though it does work on both albums, it's got the edge here) with it's cool echoy electric guitars and piano, it's a nice atmospheric piece. "What you already own" is a mid to slow paced song with electric guitar fills and light acoustic guitar strumming. "Do you remember the time" is a mid tempo clave & acoustic guitar tale that also has some surprising harmonica intertwined within the mix. "Come, thou fount of every blessing" has a slow country type tempo but interestingly still has that echoy electric guitar sound on it (which was not expected) though the acoustic guitar features more throughout the track. "Fairest lord Jesus" is
another strumming builder, it's fairly fast but strangely they've used the guitars for the heavy rhythms here more so that instruments one would think they would use for rhythms. "Holy, holy, holy" features a Spanish acoustic guitar sound and strings and the closing "Marching to Zion" is a choral type jig with bagpipes and marching style drums (which one would expect from such a tune). Overall, this is an effective sounding record and some editions of the CD come with a "bonus" DVD with a half hour documentary on the making of the album which is quite interesting once you get to know the songs, (though unfortunately there is no Bekka involvement in that film), this is still a nice addition to the CD rack.

Round One (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Styles on show are in their best form, A real knockout
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 8th, 2005

This "album" is not even a half an hour in length but what is included brings out the very best in Stevie Ray Vaughn modern blues stylings commingled with the best elements of the hard rock/heavy metal field. Gregg is a little looser on this effort in contrast to "Shakin' the cage" which no doubt helps him stretch out his numbers to reveal his impressive six string technique. The two songs featuring Bekka rock pretty good, the catchy "Heidi Ann" and the aptly titled closer "Crank it up!!!". The opening "Drivin' to New Orleans" heavily demonstrates Wright's SRV influence to positive effect and the metallic rocker "Saturday night" contrasts well with a great sounding slow blues called "...or die trying". Like many others, it took me a while to get into the Zoo album but this one did get me in round one and Im sure itll get you too.

Lawyers In Love (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Good BAND effort
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 7th, 2005

The liner notes to this album don't specifically say this but it's my understanding that Rick does in fact play on all of the tracks on this album. His playing is most clear on strong tracks like the quick loud stomp "For a rocker" (which predictably is the most rocking track and probably will be the one that you'll instantly like (though it doesn't have as long a shelf life as many other tracks here) featuring Vito's howling "stepped on guitar" sounding leads and the sizable finger snapping bouncy plinking hit "Tender is the night" with unique bending leads from Rick. The lead off up beat pulsing title track was also a large hit single and there are suspenseful moments here like the lengthy heart beat builder "Say it isn't true", the stronger up beat hook of "Knock on any door". This is one of the shorter tracks where you wish there was more style but on the other songs, sometimes you get more style than content like the chirpy rhythm guitars on the forgettable jangler "On the day", "Cut it away" with it's busy vocals and likable riffs but a let down of a chorus & the fast "Downtown" with it's strong rhythm guitar, being the biggest offender in this regard. However, this is a cohesive "band" effort (with Jackson's accompanying musicians getting large credits as you'll see on the packaging) and this is one of Jackson's more accessible albums, generally more rocking and along with "Somebody's baby" (not here), the footage filmed during these sessions via the half hour "live in the studio" documentary circulating among video traders called "Downtown" and snippets obviously from that footage (not used in the original documentary) in Browne's "Going home" career spanning DVD, you get the feel that all those involved were taking great care with this and believing in what they were putting together that it's enough to make this project work as a whole.

The Last Campaign (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
History was never this engrossing
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 6th, 2005

Lindsey is on the "Survivors" part of the "Spirit/Survivors" medley as well as "Hearts and dreams on the line" & "Crying in the storm" but the first two songs are my personal favorites which are "You can't go back to Kansas" and the epic opener "Clack clack/oldest living son" (medley). This is a very moving, emotional album. Even if you don't listen to lyrics and you weren't around during the RFK days, one can't help to pay attention and feel something about this. This has certainly got to be considered one of John Stewart's best writing efforts and arguably the best place to start for those wishing to investigate his music. I'd be very surprised if anyone was to listen to this record and come away thinking that there is nothing of interest to them, there's bound to be something. Everyone has feelings and they will move when you hear this piece of historical music.

Last Exit (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Scraping of what was left over
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 6th, 2005

It seems clear that Island wanted to get another album of Traffic material out to the world (during the time that Traffic had disbanded while Steve Winwood went of to join Blind Faith) as "Last exit" is short on running time, they used a Mason solo track from a one off single he had done with the label (though apparently using Traffic as the backing band on side A of the single which is the same recording here) in "Just for you" and what they had left was not the greatest in quality though its not horrible, it just doesn't match up to their best work and anyone hearing this album ahead of any other Traffic material may think they are not a good band but it would simply just be a case of not hearing a good representation of the band on the whole. Though "Just for you" is a good galloping strummer, "Shanghai noodle factory" is a fair flute & organ featured shuffle which reminds one too much of "Who knows what tomorrow may bring" from the 1968 selftitled Traffic album. Perhaps this may have been the same song in it's original form then reworked to the above mentioned selftitled 1968 album track? Anyways, "Somethings got a hold of my toe" is a 2 minute rocking guitar led instrumental which sounds OK but is most obviously lacking in direction (though "jams" don't need direction to work, this track sounds like it's looking for a direction it never finds which is the difference). "Withering tree" is often thought of as a highlight from this album but I must remain in the minority as frankly, I find it to be swaying waltz like drivel. "Medicated goo" is not a bad stomp but after hearing the much superior live rendition on "Welcome to the canteen", this version sounds rather funk-less. Side two of the album consists of two extended live tracks. By all accounts these were recorded during a time when Mason had left the band which left Traffic as a trio and though the beginning of "Feelin' good" starts interestingly enough with Wood's flute flourishes and Winwood "shamming" on the bass lines, when it gets to the louder sections (and same could be said for the organ/sax led fast stroll of "Blind man"), Wood's sax and Steve's organ scramble desperately to cover for the lack of other instrumentation and therefore the obvious gaping hole which formed on Mason's departure shows it's wounds here, though they had fared well on their "John Barleycorn" album in the studio in this trio form, even they knew they had to expand the band when touring next but that's another story for another day. I often think Island may have been better off here if they had also included the B side to Mason's Island single ("Little woman", though since Family was his backing band on that track, I can understand the lack of using this track) and the remaining non album Traffic tracks ("Smiling phases", "Paper sun", "Hole in my shoe", "Feelin' alright (Take 1)" (which showed up on DM's "Scrapbook" compilation double album on Island in 1972) & the two "Here we go round the mulberry bush" soundtrack unique tracks) to attempt to strengthen their case but I guess they felt it better to stick to strictly previously unreleased material here and use roughly half of those above mentioned tracks to spread over to the "Best of Traffic" album released by Island the same year.

Blues From Laurel Canyon (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Adventurous rocking effort
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 6th, 2005

This is one of my favorite Mayall albums with strong lead guitar throughout the proceedings by Mick Taylor and some sensitive moments that really hit home. One of the latter is "First time alone" which includes Peter Green on tasteful backing guitar touches over the beautiful quiet organ drone, Mayall handles the vocals well too, I think it's the best track. As for the former angle mentioned, the opening "Vacation" is a galloping virtually instrumental track (save for a line or two at the beginning and end of the track by Mayall) featuring a Mick Taylor lead guitar fest as does the closing "Fly tomorrow" which starts with quiet bongos and reverbed guitars along with Mayall's vocals but then after the vocals end, it builds to a long and loud Taylor solo before getting to it's quiet reverb coda. These are both also highlights though it doesn't stop there, "Walking on sunset" is a swinging shuffle with a good bass and harp mix, "Laurel Canyon home" is a slow strolling dragger with a nice quieter feel though it's not as good as "First time alone". The stomping shouter "2401" gets us rocking again, "Ready to ride" is a mean slow strut, "Medicine man" is an effective soft tapper, "Somebody's acting like a child" is a likable funkish track, "The bear" (from what I've heard) is Mayall's nod to Canned Heat and though it's strong chiming beginning is the best part, Taylor's chirping guitar later in the track keeps us moving. "Miss James" is a perky organ led "I ain't got you" type track and "Long gone midnight" sounds rather jabbing after hearing the soothing "First time alone" but it's really just mid tempo blandness anyways so you can continue your sleep. Generally, I don't like albums that don't have spaces in between songs but this is one where you don't mind it as this album does have a nice flow and you can enjoy the songs separately as well. One of Mayall's best and most underrated albums to this day in my opinion. Highly recommended.

Kings Of Boogie (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Less searing than Make me sweat but works just as well
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 5th, 2005

On first listen, "Kings of boogie" may seem more restrained than "Make me sweat" but once you get to know the tracks, you'll find there's much letting loose going on which is most pleasing to the ear. The opening title track is an effective sliding stomp and the up tempo "Deep in my heart" tumbles fairly well also. "A man alone" is a heartfelt ballad with burning solos as does "Since you've been gone", an emotional ballad with a slight stroll feel. The stroll feel is most evident though on the catchy closing "Until the sky fades away". It chugs away nicely and Dave and Kim are in good form here. Oddly the up beat riffer "No win love" and "Caught me in the saddle" (which gallops in and out of quiet and rocking passages) both sound like they could've come from the rocking David Gilmour school of heavier tracks (from Gilmour's "About face" solo album and/or with Pink Floyd on their "A momentary lapse of reason" album) but this could be just because that 80's guitar sound permeates these releases in general anyways. This is not a bad thing though by any means as I think these tracks are among the album's highlights. "Mean business" is a great showcase for Walker's powerful vocals. It has an almost fast stroll feel and it's pretty moody stuff where you can feel the anger. "Bad state of mind" is a lightweight track similar to "Runnin' with a bad crowd" from "Make me sweat" though it has a better hook than that "Make me sweat" track did/does. "Heartbreaks make you strong" is a nasty growler halfway to heavy metal and "All burned out" is a white noise "Great balls of fire" type rocker which is almost halfway to AC/DC type ravings though it is watered down a little with piano. All in all though, this is a very good album and I recall this being an album Tower Records was selling as a "guaranteed like" at the time (so you could by it and if you didn't like it, you could return it) and it's easy to see why they had the kind of faith they had in people liking this album, it's a good barrelhouse rocking time.

Kolors (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Scrapes the bottom of the barrel but still some greats
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 5th, 2005

By all accounts, this is a highly disguised compilation of Peter's solo material left in the vaults at the time but there are some great numbers like the slide guitar rocker "Bad bad feeling" and the yearning of "Big boy now" but although I think the opener "What am I doing here" isn't as bad as some have made out, the instrumental "Bandit" is atmospheric, "Gotta do it with me" has a certain urgency and "Funky jam" is rather unusual sounding, these, and the rest of the songs are mediocre with a very tinny sound and the Kolors band is not as tight as the White sky band was although they are tighter than the albums preceding "White sky", this is still obvious why they were shelved but I'm still going to recommend it for "Bad bad feeling" & "Big boy now" if nothing else.

Electric Ladyland (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Experience the experimental
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 5th, 2005

Though not listed in my copy, I had seen the "Classic albums: Electric ladyland" DVD (which I also recommend you get to supplement this) in which it states (via interview clips with Dave Mason, etc.) that Dave does backing vocals, amusingly enough, most glaringly on the "traffic" chants in the make shift kazoo (comb & cellophane) featured busy rocker "Crosstown traffic" as well as playing the acoustic guitar in the even more famous "All along the watchtower". Yes, that's Mason jangling away on the acoustic guitar mainly in the right channel and he does that famous riff at the very beginning of the track. This is undoubtedly the best version of this Dylan penned tune and most likely the influencing instigation to inspire many (including Dave himself) to cover the song, more so than Dylan's original. These tracks aside, "Electric ladyland" is chock full of great tracks. Though I'm only giving it four out of the usual five stars this album gets, it's only due to my personal feelings that some tracks are weaker than others as to why I haven't given it top rating but I will now describe each of the other tracks as best (and as honestly as) I can whether it be good or bad feelings for each of the other tracks though the good do far outweigh the bad here. The opening "...And the gods made love" is rather insignificant at only a minute in length, it's just some slowed down dungeon gargling swirling doodlings but then we kick in to the soulful pleasant easy "Have you ever been (To electric ladyland)". "Voodoo chile" is a 14 minute howling slow blues dirge that, for it's style, really doesn't get much better than this. "Little miss strange" is rather out of step here as it's a Noel Redding chirpy pop tune though it does make for an interesting change of pace, I find it weaker than many tracks here. "Long hot summer night" is a funked up mid tempo track which does have some memorable licks but on the whole, it's rather mediocre. "Come on (Let the good times roll)" on the other hand I found a real highlight, though I understand it was Earl King who had done this song originally, it has a catchy Little Richard feel (perhaps Hendrix gained some of this feel through his early days of playing with Mr. Penniman). Whatever the case, it's straight to the point, red hot and works wonders. "Gypsy eyes" is a screaming stomp which does get better as it goes along and the funk laden guitar riffs are very good but I don't consider it a high point. "Burning of the midnight lamp" is a harpsichord and wah wah guitar featured busy up tempo track with uplifting backing vocals by Cissy Houston and the Sweet Inspirations (who I guess at the time were Areatha Franklin's backing singers according to the aforementioned "Classic albums" program regarding this release). "Rainy day dream away" is part one of two tracks here (part one ends where part two starts with the "talking" wah wah guitar noises), this is the ultra cool mellow shuffler whereas "Still raining still dreaming" is more pumping with no let up and builds. It would've been interesting to hear the full tape all together as one track, maybe someday. "1983...(A merman I should turn to be)" is another lengthy track at 13 minutes which has swirling vocal stirrings at the beginning and end and then 4 minutes in for about 7 minutes you get mostly quiet whispery meanderings. Though it's admirable for being out of the ordinary, I'd say stick to "Voodoo chile" for the long tracks. "Moon turn the tides...gently gently away" is a one minute track that continues the cyclone sounding meanderings and as there's no space in between these two tracks, you
probably won't even notice a difference when one turns to the other. "House burning down" is a hollering funk stomp with a hard tango feel on the verses, it's punchy with some attention grabbing scratchy guitar boomeranging at the end but I find the tune itself weak. The closing "Voodoo child (Slight return)" is a numbing mid tempo rock song that hides behind a blues background. An effective end. So at most theres 6 out of 16 tracks I personally don't listen to that much but even then, a very good "good song/bad song" ratio and I don't find many of those six unlistenable so it's almost a certainty you'll find something of interest should you go to electric ladyland.

King Brilliant (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Interesting oddity, but not that interesting
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 4th, 2005

I'd like to know how this band measures up against Werth's previous band Audience as they apparently had a small but faithful cult following. This album on it's own was originally released (in the US) on Elton John's Rocket records label and the influence shows right away with the opening rocker "Cocktail shake" although fairly grabbing and one of the highlights, it can't distance itself from numbers like "Crocodile rock". This is followed by my favorite "Got to unwind". Although it has some intrusive horns, it has a nice instrumental beginning and middle section with some lilting leads from Bob Weston. This theme is continued on the album closer "The aleph" but just when the ending builds before Bob can return with the six string, it comes to it's dramatic end so you hear Weston more at the beginning of the song than the end which makes it a bit anti climactic but still, another highlight as it brings in some more much needed serious notions after some bouncy rock sweetness like "Dear Joan" & "Roulette". "Lucinda" is a CD only bonus
track which oddly enough, is more catchy as a tune than many on the actual album but as the CD reissue is rather poor, it doesn't state if Bob Weston is on this song or not although I would assume so as it has some light electric guitar and thankfully, the lyric sheet that comes with the vinyl edition has musician credits for each song and notes that Bob plays electric guitar on every song except "Fading star" which he is not on at all as there is only Elton's then axeman Davey Johnstone's acoustic guitar on that one so it would stand to reason that Weston is present on that tune. This album tries to have a concept feel similar to say, Heart's "Dreamboat Annie" which of course, is far superior, and while it succeeds in some areas, it doesn't in others.

Let's Make Sure We Kiss Goodbye (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Make sure you buy this one
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 4th, 2005

I admit that other than the CD's of his Bekka has been on, I don't know much of Gill's work but I can safely say that this is the best of the VG CD's Bekka has been on yet and I think this album would still rank high in the order if I was to know all of his stuff and put them in a favorite to least favorite ranking. This album is really all about the ballads, of which there are many and they mostly work. Although the liner notes to this album don't state which song(s) Bekka is on from this album, I think I can most definitely hear her on the album's best song, "Look what love's revealing" which has an effective light soul feeling. Other highlights are the lead off cut, "One" a great move to start the album off with this beautiful building ballad, not what you'd expect an album to start with, the Vince and Amy Grant duet "When I look into your heart", has noticeably more pop instrumentation to the previous ballads on this CD but it still works well. The fast numbers seem out of place like the strummer turned hoe-down "Feels like love", the knee slapping boogie of "Baby please don't go", the harmonica and light electric mid tempo "Little things" lacks a good hook, the Eagles-esque sounding "Shoot straight from your heart" is mid tempo again and doesn't have as country an arrangement as you might expect while "For the last time" is mid speed but light instrumentation touches give it a ballad feel. Granted, some ballads here don't work as good as others like the Billy Vera "At this moment" styled "The luckiest guy in the world", the closing acoustic strummer "Hey God" which would work well as it has a nice bare bones production approach (compared to the others on the CD anyways) but the accordion on this track is intrusive as it is on the slow "That friend of mine" but it does work where else it shows up in the proceedings and this track is vocally stunning and though I think a better track could have been selected to be the title track of the album other than track number three, it is still a smooth slow tempo ballad. All in all not a classic hence the four star rating but a great buy and I highly recommend it.

Kissin' In The California Sun (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Here's where to go for the country Maria Muldaur
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 4th, 2005

Rick is listed as electric guitar on "Didn't we have love" & "Saved by the grace of your love", electric guitar & slide solo on "(Waitin' for) the real thing", electric slide guitar solo on "Um-um-um-um-um-um" and acoustic guitar on "Take me back to Texas". If Maria Muldaur turned country, this is sort of what it would sound like. It's a little more glossy than that with many strings and California electric axe sessioners to save it from being traditional country. Many songs enclosed (four of which Moffatt took part in writing) are on the slow tempo side though the attempted single, Curtis Mayfield's "Um-um-um-um-um-um" and "Walkin' after midnight" do pick it up a bit. However, other covers such as Goffin/King's "Up on the roof" aren't that impressive but this record is OK overall.

Soccer Rocks The Globe (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
They hit the post, but no goal
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 3rd, 2005

The version of the Mac's "Blow by blow" is rather stripped down and sounds more like a rough take than a master which as a result, lacks impact. However, it's refreshing in a way to have this appear after some polished recordings such as "Behind the mask" or the Patrick Leonard produced tracks from the "25 years the chain" box to keep the fans guessing and not be able to predict what's coming next. As for the rest, there are some classic soccer anthems here for sure, "We are the champions", "Blaze of glory" & "The best" are the highlights but this could have been a better soundtrack for this kind of atmosphere had it included the original classic recordings of "Celebration" & "Rock 'n' roll (parts 1 & 2)" (the ones present are '94 remixes and re- ecordings). For the most part, the other songs gave me hope as it includes an impressive roster of artists but unfortunately, I found those performances somewhat lackluster.

Just One Of The Guys (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
For "Way down", 3 & a half really
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, March 1st, 2005

It's hard to place stars on this soundtrack as I'd want to say that it's worth it for Billy's shuffling rocker "Way down" alone (I have a hunch that's Rick Vito on the rollercoaster ride of a guitar solo on it and it could very well be the solid drums of Mick Fleetwood too but as far as I know Mick had only mentioned a vague story about a session MF & RV had done together prior to Rick joining Fleetwood Mac as to Mick's previous work with Rick though not saying more specifically what track(s) that session had created so this is just my guess as to the session in question being the session that produced this recording). On the other hand though, the rest of the material on this album, quite frankly, really pulls it down. The only other thing I found close to amusing here was Ronnie Spector's "Tonight youre mine baby" which was obviously trying to recapture her signature Ronettes "Be my baby" feel but as is usually the case in such circumstances, it doesn't work. This platter suffers from a dated 80's pop sound throughout the proceedings from the opening punchy pop/rock of Shalamar's title track to the closing "score" piece by Tom Scott called "Guy talk" which is basically pop without vocals and is sax led, nothing memorable. Also included is the bouncy up beat pop of Midnight Star's "Girls got something boys ain't got", Dwight Twilley's mid tempo Bryan Adams-ish rock of "Prove it to you", Berlin's "Jealous" is basically peppy 80's pop, another sax led tune which is the banal stroll of "Burning" by Brock/Davis who return later with the throbbing stadium rock of "Hard way" and "Thrills" by Greg French is up tempo but forgettable. As I say though Burnette's "Way down" really stands out and it's my personal favorite Billy soundtrack outing so far. Maybe you'll like this album if you enjoy the kind of music I've mostly described here but I really only take this album out when I want to hear "Way down" so enough said as far as my opinion on this album goes.

For The Working Class Man (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Better of the 2 Barnes buys
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 27th, 2005

I just got this CD and this is the better of the two versions of this album available as the liner notes to this album do confirm (though they are harder to read than your everyday liner notes due to the background picture in the CD booklet) that Mick is playing drums on both "Ride the night away" and "Without your love" and that Billy is one of three playing "guitars" on "Ride the night away" and as one of two people playing guitars on "Without your love". There is one song included on this version of the album that isn't on
the selftitled US versions of this Jimmy Barnes album called "Vision" though unfortunately this is the one track that no mention is made of in the CD liner notes (apart from it being listed on the back of the CD in the tracklisting) so we're still none the wiser as to who is playing on this song at all (let alone if Mick or Billy are). The song itself features hard punchy AC/DC type guitar riffs and though Barnes vocals are strangely smooth at the beginning they do start to shred later on in the song as usual and though there are interesting bagpipe type high pitched screams later in the track that help, they aren't enough to make this song a biggie for me. Please see my review for the "Jimmy Barnes" album on this website for my feelings on the rest of the songs in general from this album, I just wanted to note here that if you're going to get these recordings, you're better finding "For the working class man" than the selftitled US version of this album.

Hold On It's Coming (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Underrated moments included but overall bland
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 27th, 2005

Strangely the CD edition of this album lists Peter Green as playing "electric guitar" on this album though it doesn't list which song(s) he's on though it has been reported that Green was on the album uncredited on three songs. The vinyl versions of this album do not list Green though it does interestingly list "Rockhead" as "electric guitar" on one of the three tracks Green has reportedly played on here. Unfortunately, I feel it is the weakest of the three in "Mr. big pig" (as it tries to be a funny attitude strut. It has a hard beat featuring piano chunks and the right channel has piercing guitar stabs throughout the track that may be "Rockhead" (AKA Peter Green). The other two tracks that apparently have Green on them are "Air Algiers" (which is an up-ish beater that has light plucky electric guitar in the right channel (though I honestly never would've guessed/known it was Pete had I not been told) and the mid pace acoustic doodle "Only love is worth the pain".(which again, in the right channel, has watery electric guitar touches that do sound more recognizable as Green licks, if they are in fact his). As for the rest, we generally get better as we go along but there is the "too little too late" thought that arises when assessing this album. The opening "Hold on it's coming no. 1" is a rather monotonal fast acoustic strummer while the closing "Hold on it's coming no. 2" is a piano led clapping version of " 1" and the electric guitar helps this version of the track out but the fiddle presence makes you yearn for " 1". "Playing with fire" is a quick speed piano pounder, "Travelling" has nice electric piano flourishes and the acoustic guitar strums sound tastier here than on the other tracks but unfortunately, the track doesn't have a great hook. "Joe's blues" (predictably) is an ineffective slow acoustic guitar mope. Along with "Only love is worth this pain", "Balancing on the edge of time" is one of the best tracks here. It's an acoustic grabber with an Al Stewart type feel that has working emotional touches and "Jamila" is a good dramatic piano/bongo thumper. It's hard to say how well this album holds up to McDonald's earlier Country Joe & The Fish material but fans of early 70's folkish music may enjoy this regardless.

Live (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Not as vital but more adventurous than the others
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 27th, 2005

It could just be that if this was the first JR&LHF album that I was to find then this may be the one out of the three to be closest to me but as it was the last, it doesn't seem as vital to me as the other ones do but it must be said this one has the most adventurous moments though I hope a CD reissue of all of this material someday can remedy these comparing compulsions I have regarding these JR&LHF recordings. The main centerpiece here being "Frank's blues" which at over eight minutes in length is an instrumental built on a slow
blues foundation and there's some nicely pure guitar there that doesn't make it seem as long as all of that and the journey in to the previously untraveled of Rogers & Frank territory doesn't end there actually as not long later you get another instrumental, this time mid tempo, in "Blues for Freddy". As there are no writing credits listed on the packaging/label of this album, I don't know if this was meant as a paean to Freddy King or if it is in fact a King cover but it's good nonetheless. Admittedly there may be too many slow burners here as you get the soulful "I can't keep from worrying", "That's allright" (which is the best of the vocal featured ones), the quieter "Brown skin woman" and the closing "Ludella" (which is the fastest of the slow tunes enclosed) but the rest of the treats make up for this, there's the opening swinging foot tapper "Sloppy drunk", the rapid chugger "Linda Lu" and the classic shuffle that never disappoints in "Walking by myself". This is the only JR&LHF album not to say which songs Brunning is playing on but I presume he's on all of those here as it is a concert document and it is the most unique one, recordings wise, out of the bunch.

Just About Love (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Better than expected musically but RS weak performer
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 27th, 2005

Randy Sharp is a Tom Snow type songwriter that has become more country based over the years and though the country elements are certainly not overlooked here, "Just about love" is musically more rich than I thought it was going to be but like Snow, Sharp is a relatively weak performing presence and at times even the song arrangements can help along the flat feeling on many tracks here that have/had good potential. Billy (listed here as "Billy Burnett" but it seems more likely it is the Billy Burnette we know on this album than other questionable items in this regard in his catalog) sings background vocals on two songs here but I wouldn't say I heard him that clearly on them as he's singing with some others on those tracks. Those songs are the horn featured disco funk of "Mama get ready" and the closing peppy sing song called "Ramblin' song" which features a kazoo type horn sound from which you can draw your own conclusions as to how this song sounds and how seriously it was taken. Regarding the others, the opener "The weekend" is a surprisingly good piano/strings ballad, not how you'd think an album would start, this is the track that sounds the most like Tom Snow and it is probably my current favorite song on the album. "Travelin'" is pleasant but has a dated laid back 70's sound, complete with flute passages etc. and "Do we really have to dance" is upbeat but lacks some needed bite. "Don't worry about tomorrow" is a light acoustic/clave ballad though the steel guitars stay back enough to help keep it listenable while "A young girl" is the piano and strings again but the piano has a slight blues feel this time. "Don't know how I made it" attempts to be an Elton John style piano driven rocker but falls flat and "Good morning sister" is a short fast knee slapping hoe-down country burst. "I just want to love you" is easy pop and the strings are noticeably louder on this one but it's kind of draggy (perhaps that was what was being hidden?) and "Novocain lover" has the return of the bluesy keys but the slow clave and steel guitars shove this song in to country croon territory. "Let your business go" includes punchy piano on this fair jangly mid tempo number and the title track is more country crooning so this may be why I thought the album was more country than it is. Not a bad choice for a title track pick but overall, I think the less country parts here for the most part work best.

Juke Rhythm (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Hey listen, this is a funking good record
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 27th, 2005

This is a very good mix of R & B, blues and funk exercises which although rarely slow in tempo remains colorful throughout. The songs that Rick appears on are the most funky ones especially the irresistible rappin' of "Love me like that" (inside the CD booklet it states what is not stated on the outside packaging which is that track 14 is referred to as a "mysterioso bonus track" and is billed as "Love me like that (Primitivo mix)" which has some extra groovy rhythm guitar stand outs from Rick which are a real treat) and the
speedy epic "The real feel (JRB theme) Parts 1 & 2" (co-penned by Rick) though the piano samba styled "Dancin' on the edge of the razorblade" has some audible Vito guitar work and some interesting "jive" snippets on another Vito co-write "Da' blues hip hop" (Rick is listed as one of the "jive"ers). Although on the whole this is mostly modern sounding there are relevant splashes of purism here with some traditionally felt numbers thrown in for good measure such as the harmonica & spoons only affair "Twice pipes". Also, the packaging may not look like much outside but there's some good B & W photos of Rick inside as part of the "JRB" (Juke Rhythm Band) through the years (there's one from 1975, one from 1995, etc.) So, all in all, this is definitely one album you don't want to judge from the cover. Recommended listening.

Instincts (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
New age ahead of it's time
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 26th, 2005

Monotonal and repeated synth and keyboard passages drive this new age album from 1977 to successful effect. Although one can't hear Bob's guitar very well, it's still smooth, atmospheric, suspenseful stuff. The opener "Where are we going?" is my favorite and the last song on the side which is the one tune with vocals "Amazon" is the worst song. This reminds me somewhat of Tangerine Dream's work especially their "Cyclone" album which was not well received because of it's use of vocals too. The rest is very worth while. "Waterbrook" & "Love theme" are pretty pleasant mellower pieces while "There's another summer coming" has a feel not unlike the beginning of Pink Floyd's "Shine on you crazy diamond" and "Machu picchu" is a rhythm experiment which is a nice break from the keyboards for a few minutes. Not the best of it's genere but a nice different addition to the Mac catalogue.

It Won't Be Christmas Without You (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Ballads work, other don't basically
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 26th, 2005

Strangely, all that can really be said about this half festive album is that the rockers are predictable and the ballads are pretty faithful so if you make a compilation to throw in the CD/tape player the morning of the 25th, you'll get some use of the ballads here but you'll need to find other stuff to fill up the rest of your compilation. The best track being their version of "Blue Christmas" which is mostly "true" and I'm 99 sure that you can hear Bekka on this song! The title track though is certainly one of the best on the record as it's an effective original which won't seem out of place with such classic seasonal recordings. The most faithful cover is "The Christmas song" with an obvious affection for Nat King Cole's successful rendering. "I'll be home for Christmas" works too and seems extra slower after the previous two tracks which are a straightforward (once it kicks in that is) but predictable "Santa Claus is comin' to town" and another original tune called "Who says there ain't no Santa" which has a whimsical, slight Bacharach feeling. In contrast to the slowness of "I'll be home for Christmas" is the faster than usual (but yes, still...) faithful version of "White Christmas". Whether you'd want that one on your compilation is down to personal choice though. We are then left to deal with the most predictable numbers, the "rockers". "Winter wonderland" opens with few surprises, maybe more fiddles than guitars here which was not expected but that's all. "Hangin' 'round the mistletoe" may have worked better placed elsewhere in the disc, "Rockin' little Christmas" sounds like a contender for Bekka backing vocals but I'm more inclined to say it's most likely Deborah Allen on that one as she co-wrote the song and is also one of the singers listed as backing vocals for the album. "Santa's coming over to your house" is another original but breaks little new ground. It seems as though there are more guitars present as the album goes along but hard to say if it really is that way or not. At least it can be said there are some real keepers here that I'd want to at least hear at this time of year, but I personally will be hard pressed to want to listen to those I am less fond of at ANY time of the year.

I Wish You Would (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
I wish you had stronger material
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 26th, 2005

I would say that this is the weakest of the BSBB albums. Though pleasant, it just doesn't have the strong material that the other albums have. Although some songs are better than others, there will be little here to make a real lasting impression on you. An obvious high point here is the guitar instrumental chugger "Uranus" though oddly the writing credit of the song goes to Brunning. This is a virtual carbon copy of this song's other take (released on "Trackside blues" and known there as "Ah soul") though the version here is perhaps smoother overall and there are times I prefer this one to the more fiery "Ah soul" but this may help you determine which your pleasure is in regards to this track. Green is distinctive regardless of take. Whatever the writing status of "Uranus", Brunning actually did write 2 songs here and apparently sings lead vocals on them as well, "C & W blues" is a tale about an annoying neighbor and it's self explanatory as to what "On the road" is about. They are both quirky and amusing though perhaps admittedly elementary. Brunning's vocals may seem shaky at first but he holds up his own with the others here though naturally Dave Kelly is the best lead vocalist present for the proceedings. His sister Jo Ann would have been top of the heap here but she is very under used on the platter and I think this is critical to this albums downfall. You're left thinking if only she had sang this one, maybe it would've been better for many tracks. Dave starts us out well here though with the shaking title track with his strong vocals backed nicely by Bob Hall's ragging piano and effective harmonica toots and maracas but then we get in to the slow, dragging "Checking on my baby" which features guitar, harmonica, horns and piano but unfortunately none of them really end up taking the lead. "Broken hearted" suffers the same fate which as a result, goes nowhere. "I'm a star" is a forgettable Hall shuffle though he was obviously trying to follow the same idea Brunning had with "On the road" though the piano guru does better, as always, with his solo piano boogie woogie piece "Bob's boogie". "Mean old 57" is a fast poker but it doesn't really work, Hall's vocals on this (and on many tracks here in fact) sound like Duster Bennett but naturally, not as convincing as Bennett's. "Bad luck" is semi interesting as it's at least different to what we had been hearing with it's "wounded horse" sounding clucking rhythms, acoustic guitar and flute parts. "All right with me" is a speedy shuffle which does work better than many others here but it certainly won't blow you away and the closing "Good golly miss Kelly" is a sax, guitar & piano driven Buddy Holly type galloping boogie with funny lyrics but it makes you wonder how seriously they were actually taking all of this. This album is not bad by any means but you're better starting off with any other BSBB album before this one.

Jesse & The 8th Street Kidz (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
90's bubblegum attempts to live
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 26th, 2005

"My little savior" (billed as "Savior" on the outside packaging) is definitely out of step with the rest of the album, an acoustic ballad with Stevie supporting on vocals. It's rather sophomoric but good enough to be able to say that it saves this from being a pathetic release. The rest of the material seems to be attempting to be the bubblegum rock of the 90's but fails miserably as it can't decide if it wants to go grunge or metal. Obviously, it's not supposed to be taken that seriously and amounts to at best nothing more than a novelty record but if there's any satire or parody, it's well hidden unless the spelling of "kidz" was an attempted stab at Slade but I'd like to give them more credit than thinking they stayed up all night thinking up that as their punchline.

Inside The Fire (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Dated though many good moments
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 24th, 2005

Though Rick's work on this album is more subtle and subdued, he is on seven tracks here which are the opening "Hit me on the loveside" (an effective stomp which has good RV six string screams), the chripy reggae tinged pop of "Do you believe in love", "Wishing star" (which is a likable breathy smooth mid tempo track that brings out the best in Coolidge's style), the barking harmonica puffing rocker "I'm comin' home" (which has good energy on the chorus chants), the quick throbber "Love from Tokyo" (which has dramatics that don't work), the pitter patter of "Survivor" (which is likable in the same way that "Wishing star" was in it's well executed emotion) and "Love is muddy water" (which is an anthemic swaying stroll that you won't think is a highlight but you won't stop singing it after you hear it!). As for the three tracks Rick isn't on, "I can't afford that feeling anymore" is a typical Rita ballad in the "We're all alone" vein (but of course not nearly as successful as that Boz Scaggs penned song), "Games" is an upish funk pep shaker that works well with it's keys flourishes and "Something said love" is a "What a fool believes" like plucker. I want to give this album four stars but I'm afraid it's dated banalness drags it down but "Inside the fire" does get a strong three star rating here.

In From The Cold (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Sloppy but fun heavy rock
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 23rd, 2005

Try to imagine if Robert Plant had not joined Led Zeppelin and Joe Cocker had. In a nutshell, that's what Ashkan reminds me of. Their compositions aren't as strong and their budget was obviously much lower but it's refreshing to hear Bob rocking like this as most of the rest of his catalogue is nothing like this. The rare mellow moments are the short sing a long "Slightly country" and his nice acoustic guitar work chimes well on "Stop (wait and listen)". "Backlash blues" is an extended heavy blues dirge with Bob welding a mean axe as he does on the 12 minute "Darkness" which weaves in and out of mellow doodling and psychedelic soloing and chorus chants which is sort of like King Crimson meets Black Sabbath. Weston's nastiest solo is on "One of us two" which has Bob's signature harmonics and slide included too. "Going home" is a catchy opening rocker, "Take these chains" has got some numbing six string work and "Practically never happens" is almost too funky. Many will disagree with me but heck, it's my opinion and I love cranking this one up on the weekends.

Heart Stopper (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
The beat stops here
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 21st, 2005

This to me seems like a classic case of modern (of the day) instrumentation not suiting the "old time rock and roll" writing attempts. I do give "the Rock man" some credit here though as he's co written just about every song here except, strangely, a cover of his uncle Dorsey's "Hey little one" (an OK strolling closer but the "trying for camp" touches come through, and they shouldn't if done well), you'd think he'd prefer to cover his father Johnny's more rocking material as he obviously took more after him while Billy was the more Dorsey influenced middle of the road one. Speaking of Billy, he is listed as playing guitars and background vocals on this album but it doesn't say which song(s) he's on and it really is too hard to tell by listening and "guessing" as the "modern instrumentation" that I speak of is too loud with too much going on and one instrument seemingly trying to out do the others and not being allowed to by their own aggressiveness. There are some better than average moments here like the Buddy Holly "Peggy Sue" gallop of "Let me know" and some songs sound more stripped down like the acoustic sounding rocker "Blue heaven cafe" & "In the middle of the night" but neither of these are stripped down enough to really bring it through to the other side. There's a moving ballad called "Crosswinds" but it's unsettling as it makes one feel more depressed because you're constantly trying to take it seriously amongst the rest of the "old time rock and roll" goofiness that the rest of this album encloses which is tough going like the opening title track which is the second most obvious war of instruments here, check out "Tennessee" (the biggest war here) to see what I mean without a doubt. "Fingerprints" tries for that melting ballad of old and may have worked under more straightforward backing but not here. "Makin' love" however, has a sunny Walter Egan flavor but Rocky's hiccup filled vocal style gets in the way and "When you were mine" is a bland "Tired of toein' the line" retread. This may very well be considered a good representation of a rocker's works whose time has passed him by but I think his most popular album, "The son of rock and roll" shows that more clearly on the whole.

I Hope You Dance (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Good country/pop mix idea on show
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 21st, 2005

Womack has come up with a clever "crossover" trick here that worked well, you include pop rhythms with some country instrumentation so the crossover attempt doesn't seem so divided an album as can usually be the case with those under this area. The problem is that there are a few more traditional country sounding songs at the end of the CD that either seemed like the country side was an afterthought or they got tired of the pop/rock side so those songs may have been better mixed in with a different tracking order but overall the neat trick they've come up with here makes this pretty essential listening for the genere. The opener "The healing kind" is slower than you'd think an album would open with, enclosing it's fiddle and acoustic guitar arrangement, it features good harmonies. Then, in kicks the title track which starts with a guitar intro that reminds one slightly of Joan Osbourne's "One of us" but it is a most inviting track. "After I fall" has a bouncy funk feel that Bekka would've been proud of though the acoustic guitars are more up front than one would think from a song like this. Bekka is not on this song but she is on another good choice of a single from the album, the Rodney Crowell penned "Ashes by now" which is a very good borderline country/pop rock stomp. You can hear Bekka good on the "as much as you burn me baby" part before the solo. "Why they call it love" is a ballad on which you can really make out Lee Ann's Dolly Parton vocal influence, more so than on the other tracks. Another similar but nice ballad, "Stronger than I am" features strings and steel guitars but it's helped towards pop by the restraint shown on the rhythm here. "I know why the river runs" has a straightforward pop rock beat with steel guitar and fiddle touches but it's pulled more towards the rock side by it's rhythm guitar parts. The country ride begins with the acoustic/steel guitar ballad "Thinkin' with my heart again" followed by an out of place (so far going by this track order) guitar driven hoe-down slap called "I feel like I'm forgetting something" but Womack co wrote this one so you can see why it's essential. Then we get the waltz style country ballad "Lonely too", the moderate speed country clucker "Does my ring burn your finger" and we close with "Lord I hope this day is good" which from the way it's handled sounds like a light acoustic take on a Johnny Cash song (but of course, it's not). All in all though, more than the first half of the album make up for the album's shortcomings and the track order is nothing that can't be fixed with a good CD player.

Hotfoot Powder (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Better than Robert Johnson songbook overall but short
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 20th, 2005

The sequel to the "Robert Johnson songbook" album does what a sequel should do which is pick up where the first one left off and although shorter on running time and somewhat bland listening on a complete sitting, this is a better album overall than the "Robert Johnson songbook" although this disc doesn't have the stand out moments that album had, it has some good high points like "Malted milk" and the classic nugget, the closing "Come on in my kitchen". It's also interesting to listen to "Hell hound on my trail" next to
Jeremy's version from the dog and dustbin album (as it's often referred to) however, it's hard not to mistake "I'm a steady rollin' man" & "Little queen of spades" for each other
as they both have an identical start and there's yet another version here of "Travelling riverside blues" so hopefully Peter is now satisfied with his notion of covering Johnson
and will put pen to paper again very soon

Homesick James & Snooky Pryor (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Shuffles galore but works with individual song plays
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 19th, 2005

Going by the running order it seems like James & Snooky may have been short on ideas as we get bombarded with shuffles towards the end of the record but I'd say this album is more listenable than your average "album only for individual song plays" as you get a good guitar & harmonica mix here like on Homesick's "Drivin' dog" (which, in a standard "Dust my broom" type tempo, also has a strong rhythm section backing, presumably of John Hunt on drums & Bob Brunning on bass) and his "The woman I love", a shuffle with real swing as does Snooky's "She knows how to love me". The other shuffles are well handled as well, there's the bright "Careless love" by Williamson and the bouncy "I feel alright" by Pryor. It's really not until the last track that you start to notice the reliance on shuffles with James' "Homesick blues again" as it sounds almost identical to "She knows how to love me" so this track perhaps should have been placed elsewhere but it does make for a fitting closer. Although there is also another track in the "Dust my broom" variety by Snooky called "Nothin' but trouble", it works due to SP's fiery vocals and harp parts. There's a few slow burners like Snooky's "After you there won't be nobody else" which is helped by the punching rhythm section and slow strolling "Cross town" (again by Pryor) is helped with a strong bass line (presumably again by Brunning as this album does not list who plays what on each song though it does say that Brunning does play bass on the album). There's also a peppy "train" like opener in Homesick's "Crossroads" (mainly on the harp part) and James again takes the lead on the authentic sounding harp/guitar/vocal only rendition of "Shake your money maker". So regardless of being hammered with shuffles late in the game, whether you prefer the Chicago or delta stylings, this album should have something for you.

Home Sweet Homesick James (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Highlighted by sweet live tracks
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 19th, 2005

I originally thought it was odd that "Home sweet Homesick James" started out with 4 acoustic guitar & vocal only studio tracks before moving on to the rousing live material but now that I think about it, it was best to put them there as having them mixed in or at the end may have made those tracks sound more empty after hearing some live electrics. The tracks talked of here are the slidy opener "Highway 51", "Lonesome train" which is a good boogie, the slow blues of the interestingly titled "Homesick's original dust my broom" and the up tempo shuffle of "Kissing in the dark". After this is when the live stuff kicks in and it is the next 2 tracks that feature Brunning on bass, they are the "Dust my broom" rhythmed run through of "Sweet home Chicago" and the albums best track, the driving funk of "Mailman" showcasing busy Brunning bass lines makes this one stand out above the others (though admittedly I can't tell if this one is live or not as it doesn't sound like it after hearing SHC and the albums liner notes are unclear in this area). In any event, side two is all live and though Brunning's not on these tracks, they still work well. "Shake your money maker" here is given a speedy boogie arrangement while "Dust my broom" has a gruff guitar sound. Then, there's the slip slidin' slowish stroll of "Worried about my baby" followed by the piano featured rapid shuffle of "Gotta move can't stay here no more". "Tin pan alley" is a slow burner which works musically but the vocals on this one are not very good though the lively boogie "Careless love" makes for a good closer.
Though I enjoyed the live stuff the most of the tracks here, those first four tracks should not be overlooked as this album brings out Williamson's strengths even better that the "Homesick James and Snooky Pryor" album did which is saying something as that is as equally an impressive platter as this.

Homer And Eddie (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
More Mac than you'd expect but won't blow you away
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 17th, 2005

I was happy when I got this soundtrack that Mick and Billy appear more than what one would think they would when you get it and the songs that they are on are good but I can't say they blew me away. Naturally, Billy's "How far can you go?" is the best one, it's an uptempo stomp which Billy fanatics will love. "Bad seeds" by Richie Havens (with Mick & Billy) is atmospheric and does work well as does "Night is the hunter" by John Brannen (with Billy). He's a Jimmy Barnes style rocker but he uses more keyboards to better effect and "Down home jubilee" by Susi Beatty (also featuring Billy) is a good, fast country knee slappin' tune. For the rest, the only one that stood out for me was another Richie Havens song called "Living in the jungle" which is an effective rocker. All in all, so-so, but not bad.

Hold On (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Strong start keeps us holding on
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 16th, 2005

Not being a fan of Glass Tiger, I was surprised I enjoyed this album as much as I did but this could just be because I was not expecting much. Mick Fleetwood plays drums on the Celtic sounding strummer "I am with you tonight" with Mick's shuffle drums approach and distinctive kick in, similar to what you may hear at the beginning of something like "Sweet girl" from "The dance". "You're the one" is a short but bright bouncy acoustic opener, "Healing hands" is the most rocking track here which has a Duran Duran feel on the choruses but still likable nonetheless. "It always feels the same" is a plinky echoing builder which works well, the title track is a good mid tempo pulser, "Learning to fly" is my favorite track with a catchy anthemic riff. This is where we start to run out of steam as "So blind" is string moaning pulse with a weak hook, "Once upon a time" is a droney chanter and it's talk/sing approach doesn't really work, "Cloud 9" is a siren like jammer with some good moments but inevitably lightweight. The chirpy choruses help the dancy verses on "If only I could dream", "I wonder why" is a piano tinkling acoustic guitar strummer (reminding me of Chris DeBurgh here) which has a pleasing sound but not a great hook and the closing "Falling at your feet" is a string swelling anthemic swayer that just doesn't gel. However, I found the first half of the album very impressive and I'd recommend it for that as those tracks on their own will give you your money's worth with a purchase on this album.

Susanna Hoffs (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Indecisive guitars & possibly intentional rough vocals
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 15th, 2005

It seems to me that the makers of this record were trying to add an edge to the Bangles frontwoman's solo affair here with more growly guitars and some rasp in her voice but I feel if they were going to do that then they should've gone the whole hog (as those that have seen/heard Hoffs with the Bangles in concert know that's a more shockingly garage orientated convention anyways) but they wanted to tread lightly instead and keep some of the softer studio Bangles sound here (for generic listeners that may be used to her being backed by such musical surroundings) so it probably ends up pleasing neither crowd. It's also hard to tell if Hoffs' vocals are meant to be as rough as they sound at times here or not (as I must admit though I enjoyed the Bangles in the 80's I kind of lost track of what she/they had done since their initial break up in 1989. It could just be that her voice has gained some rough edges with age). Whatever the case, here we go. Mick Fleetwood plays drums on "Falling", a good choice for Mick to do his familiar shuffle beats on as they fit perfectly here and as this is one of the album's mellower moments, it sounds of Hoffs' more Bangles era material. As for the rest, "Beekeeper's blues" is a hard strumming opening stomp, "All I want" is a building grumble which has some nice "aahs" in the middle section, "Enormous wings" is a punchy gruff rocker, "Darling one" is a haunting acoustic guitar/piano/accordion ballad with nice "ooh's" backing. "King of tragedy" is a bass lead breakneck bounce, "Eyes of a baby" is a mid tempo track which starts rather jangly but then those growling guitars build throughout the song. "Grand adventure" is an electric piano plinker reminding me somewhat of Sheryl Crow's "All I wanna do" (though of course this track is not as effective as the Crow tune), "Happy place" returns us yet again to the mid tempo jangle/grumble mix, "Those days are over" is a breathy building sweller and "Weak with love" is a swayer that may have worked better with mandolin strums but that's just what I feel. This CD then gives us two untitled tracks at the end of the album, a cover of Lulu's famous movie title track "To sir with love" (which with it's strumming swirl is more faithful than, say, Jann Arden's version from around the same time period as this album's release but Arden's one is preferable) and a cover of Stealers Wheel's "Stuck in the middle with you" (here, given a rough slider and dance bass arrangement. Nice try, but you're still best to stick with Stealers wheel's original). In the end, this is OK, hard-core Bangles fans will most likely still enjoy this album but it's a toss up for the rest of us.

Hits (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Could've been more hits but good enough
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 14th, 2005

Stevie's appearance on "Separate lives" is truly an uncredited one as Collins has always been a stickler for musician credits on all of his releases and she is not listed in the lineup for this recording but Nicks can be heard albeit very briefly, roughly at the 206 mark. As one could say with any compilation, there's some strange choices and omissions. An ineffective cover of "True colors" and equally inappropriate numbers like "Both sides of the story" & "Dance into the light" could've/should've been replaced with "Do you
remember" & "I don't care anymore" and other more popular numbers as this is what is supposed to be represented here. I was also surprised, but pleased at the inclusion of Phillip Bailey's "Easy lover" as this was generally thought of as a more supportive role. Oh well, I guess it's jammed with enough goodies for recommendation anyway.

The Hit List (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Ace the vocals!
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 13th, 2005

The strange thing here is that this album in my opinion would have worked better had it been a musak induced album of instrumental covers of the numerous famous hits that sax player Jim Horn has played on in his session career as this is an interesting idea of a project but the vocals on this album for the most part really ruin any chance for many of these tracks to be taken seriously even if that was the reason the vocals were added to the album in the first place (as it does seem a reasonable fear that leaving the album as instrumental would leave it open to criticism by some of it sounding like "banal elevator music"), that's the way it comes across to me. Naturally, Bekka turns in a stellar performance on "Delta lady" which she probably could've done in her sleep, having grown up close to the circles of the song's origins and as there are no lead vocals as such on this (or many songs on this CD for that matter), at least on this track the background vocals work better for us because we can hear Bekka's part more clearly than we probably would've had lead vocals been pressed on top of this version. All hope is not lost though as there is an instrumental present, a cover of the Canned Heat classic "Goin' up the country" which predictably serves as another album highlight and "Cloud nine" is more bearable than others here due to the minimal vocals enclosed in this track but one still wonders why Horn opted to choose 2 George Harrison songs (and 2 Toto songs for that matter) out of all of the material he has played on over the years, surely to show his diversity he could've found one track to replace the other Harrison track "Got my mind set on you" with. While more popular a song, it is less useful here due to the said vocal reasons. Same could be said for most tracks here so I won't list them individually with the same explanation on each but it is quite an annoyance that songs such as "Josie" (originally done with Steely Dan) starts out like it could be an effective standard jazz cover but then in comes the vocals and that's the end of that. The album does start off promising though as the cover of the Christopher Cross smash "Ride like the wind" comes the closest to recreating the original recording than the others on the album and is helped along in this vein by Michael McDonald who joins in by re-recording his famous backing vocal part that was on the Cross original for us here and it does work but unfortunately, the rest of the vocals on the album do the opposite of what I get the feeling was the idea they were added to the album for in the first place which is a real shame. Maybe Jim (or another session player) will do another similar project and just leave the vocals alone, I'm sure that'll work better for them in the long run.

Hipshakin': Live In London (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Stretches out well but bad sound quality hurts
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 12th, 2005

This is yet another case of an album that would be very good, with it's well stretched out live improvisational blues numbers but it is hurt badly by poor sound quality. Four of the seven tracks here are Elmore James type shuffles, some fare better than others like the opening five minute instrumental aptly titled "Guitar workout" which has a good swing and it is perhaps a little faster than a typical James shuffle and this will most likely be the instant fave on the album but it's tinny monoish sound gives you a taste of what to get used to. The song "Hipshakin'" here sounds like Elmore's "I cant hold out" thematically and it is really closer to eight minutes (as opposed to nine as the album notes state) and this track above all others is the main annoyance in so far as wishing they had stretched it out more on the solos and maybe condensed the vocals sections as just when it appears as though a tasty slip slidin' solo is to take off, it then ends and returns to the ho hum vocals parts. "Too much alcohol" is the most standard EJ sounding track but "Dim lights" is a shuffle that doesn't suffer from the Elmore sound so much but this is the track where the sound quality makes you think "if only it was better recorded, it's good swing would be all the more apparent". There's 2 slow bluesers, the nine minute "Pet cream man" (which aside from the above mentioned instrumental, is the best place to go for the effective stretched out solos as those are the best parts of this track) and the shouter "Walkin' and talkin'" which has nice guitar fills. "Combination boogie" is a well picked (as a fan yells out this song as a request, it's hard to know if they were going to do this track anyways or if the request was in fact taken seriously) howling closer and though you can hear Bob Hall's piano works sprinkled throughout the album, I'd say this is the track on which it shows up best. Brunning is listed here as playing bass on the album but the album notes don't say which songs he's on though as this is a live document, we are probably safe to assume he is on all tracks here. Overall though, a generous long playing single record (for those days) and what is there is good if you enjoy the slide guitar stuff but be prepared for the "do it yourself" recording techniques sound.

High And Outside (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Ball four, we'll move on
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 11th, 2005

Steve Goodman has earned some respect among other musicians but as a performer Goodman to me comes across as like a Tom Snow in that he may have good writing skills but there's nothing there to grab people's attention about him as a performer present. Rick Vito is listed as playing "electric guitar" on this album but the album notes don't state which song(s) he's on and there are numerous guitarists on this album so this makes guessing here difficult coupled with the fact that I wouldn't say there are any standout Vito sounding licks on this platter anyways. The opener "Just luck I guess" is piano led up-ish pep but the dated synth sound that comes in later makes the track feel worse as it goes along. "You can turn to me" is a mid tempo track though it's ballad softness makes it seem slower than it really is but this acoustic piece is one of the album's better moments. "The one that got away" is an acoustic strummer but it isn't helped by it's country tinged rhythms. "Hand it to you" is a bouncy rocker that's too silly to take seriously. The echoy sound effects that occur throughout "Luxury's lap" try to add life to this bland mid to up beat song but it's not enough. "That's why (I love you so)" is a piano chirper with a 50's type "sha la" approach. "One bite of the apple" is acoustic led pleasantness but it won't leave a lasting impression on you. "It would be (You and me)" is piano led funkish pop that's not particularly memorable. "Men who love women who love men" is a pulsing sing a long clapper than has a novelty feel and "What have you done for me lately" is a New Orleans type Dr. John dragger. This albums title is right in that it misses the strike zone making it one that can wait.

High Lonesome Sound (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Pretty good platter, he's done better though
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 10th, 2005

One can hear Bekka good on the two songs on which she appears "Tell me lover" & "Down to New Orleans". I prefer the latter. It's a rather bouncy number although I find Vince to be at his best on ballads here. Good examples of which are "You and you alone" & "Worlds apart". However, I much prefer his newer outing "Let's make sure we kiss goodbye" which includes stronger material and ballads to even better effect than here. Not a bad one to purchase by any means, but not as good as Gill's more recent works.

Hellbound Train (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Two long tracks make up for mostly sagging middle
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 9th, 2005

Though this album is pretty short on running time and doesn't have many tracks to offer, fortunately it's longest tracks make it worthwhile alone. The closing title track ranks up there as one of Savoy Brown's best ever. It's a dramatic keys and guitar builder. Though the production by today's standards sounds rather flat, it still works great and proves you can't keep a great song down whatever the obstacles (though it may be considered preferable to rid of those obstacles). The track climbs to an atmospheric speedy train sounding guitar solo section at the end which ends with a quick cut as if the proverbial train had hit a brick wall at it's destination, it's effectively jolting, though a word of warning here: When the CD edition of this album was released in 1991, whoever was transferring the disc thought this track was supposed to be faded so you just hear a quick fade at the end rather than the quick stop cut so if you want the quick cut over the fade then you'd be best to either hunt down the vinyl or get a Savoy Brown compilation CD on which the track was pressed with the correct ending such as the economical "20th Century masters: The millennium collection" or the 2 disc anthology "The Savoy Brown collection featuring Kim Simmonds". There may well be others but these are two discs I have heard first hand and can confirm that these do include the right ending. There was word from Deram after the "Hellbound train" CD was released that it was going to be "redone correctly" but as far as I know this has yet to happen with the "Hellbound train" CD. Back to the tracks: "Lost and lonely child" is a moody organ drone mixed with an acoustic guitar strummer which once you get to know it, doesn't seem six minutes in length. You will be aware that the song has a long fade out but you won't mind as you'll be enjoying the soothing groove it will be in towards the end. The nearly six minute "Troubled by these days and times" does seem long though in contrast. It's a slow to mid tempo, almost gospel like tune which is over repetitious I believe. Now on to the short tracks: One can see why "If I could see an end" was chosen as the single as it's a pretty catchy pulsing echo vocalized rocker but this is a case (though I'm usually against edits of any kind) where the album may have been better represented with a single edit of the title track and/or "Lost and lonely child" as sadly, "If I could see an end" made little to no impact on the charts. You may get sick of the bass & organ bouncing riff in "It'll make you happy" but if you sing along once you get to know it's tune, it's actually OK. "I'll make everything alright" is also a weaker track with it's even keys & guitar arrangement, it's not a strong hook though the album opening "Doin' fine" is a likable popish strummer with a nice ragtime piano solo in the middle. Overall, this strikes me as an album with a formula similar to albums from the late 60's by heavy rockers that had a few ideas for their long jams but then filled out the record with throwaway tracks as they figured their fans were only going to listen to the longer jams anyways. The same could be argued here but "Hellbound train" has stronger filler than those albums generally do and probably smarter long tracks as well.

Heavy Love (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Funky forgotten blues
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 8th, 2005

I think the blues side of Bekka appearances can often be unfortunately overlooked and this is one of them. Although there's only one song on which she appears, it is one of the album's highlights, "Are you lonely for me baby" which is a bright R&B type tune with Bonnie Raitt style backing vocal chants by Bekka and Jessica Boucher, a real dandy. The Jonny Lang duet tune "Midnight train" is a fuzz guitar rocker which perhaps may have worked better in the opening slot as opposed to the title track which was the opener but taking each song on it's own merits, its a fun stomp. Speaking of the title track, it features funk styled rhythm guitars and a sometimes intrusive echo filled snare drum part but it's still enjoyable. Funk is the name of the game on this album and it's a good mix. "I got a problem" is in this vein with light wah wah guitars and electric piano touches while the Willie Dixon classic "I just want to make love to you" is well funked up with lots of good guitar soloing. This album is mostly upbeat even if not really funk orientated like on the faster than usual stroll of "Had a bad night" which mainly works due to the strong guitar fills and then there's the soul shouter "When the time is right" and it's good guitar stuff makes up for it's lack of direction. Another fault present is the boogie woogie of "Saturday night fish fry" which seems to hold back and it really needs to be less restrained in order to truly let rip. However, there are a few much needed slow blues tunes to help calm things down when necessary such as the case on "Did somebody make a fool out of you" which is unusually led by an acoustic guitar part and it's surprisingly effective. The closing "Let me show you" has some fair guitar and isn't really the best choice for a closer either and may have been better suited by the soulful "I need you tonight" which is one of the most straightforward sounding blues tunes here though it does have that echoy snare drum part again and it is more intrusive this time than previously but overall this album works very well and Buddy Guy's six string work on this platter shows why he's a legendary blueser.

Head West (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Bob not really featured but a good soul rave up
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 7th, 2005

It's strange that this album is billed as "Bob Welch with Head West" as you would think he's featured on here but I wouldn't say so. The album's main presence is a heavy organ sound with strong drums and Welch's guitar is there but more in a rhythmic way so it tends to hide a little although it's a little thicker on the solo slabs on "Faces". My favorite aspect of this album is that it's more instrumental than you might expect, check the drum solo driven epic track from drummer Henry Moore called "Tired of hangin' on" and the
opening title track which is my favorite and the thunderous totally instrumental track "Attention". Keyboardist Robert Hunt is the main force here as he takes part in writing all songs included except the two songs written by Moore and two other songs written by Welch. Speaking of which, one of the two Welch penned numbers, "Someday" is really the only one with Bob on lead vocals throughout and it's an acoustic mystical tune which is great for us but out of step with the rest of the record. The other song Bob wrote on his own, "Starchild" is a slow soul on which Welch takes a back seat. There's rampant energy on this platter which may not be typical sounding for this genere but I don't care, it sounds great to me!

Have A Little Faith (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Pretty good platter but not great for gravelings
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 6th, 2005

The song Bekka is on "Take me home" has a soulful gospel sound to it which undoubtedly is the kind of style of song that Bekka really cut her teeth on. When you look at the lyrics in the booklet as you listen to the song you get the feeling that Bekka should've been singing more lead but it works fairly well. As for the rest, I find a noticeable smoothness that doesn't exist on many early Cocker albums which as a result, lacks bite and can throw one off if that's what's to be expected but musically works pretty good. I think his gravely vocals don't particularly suit the material too well such as the case on his cover on The Lovin' Spoonful classic "Summer in the city". However, all in all, a pretty good record.

A Hard Road (2003 Expanded Edition) (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Important Green stepping stone
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 4th, 2005

After the fiery "Bluesbreaker with Eric Clapton" album, "A hard road" may seem tame in comparison but it's subtle playing grows on you that will eventually have you thinking nearly as highly about it as you may about the Clapton platter. The best track here by far is the moody Green instrumental "The supernatural" which marks the beginning of Green's own unique style which retains it's liquid power to this day. There is another guitar instrumental though, the by now usual Freddie King cover, this time it's "The stumble" which has John McVie throbbing away on bass and Green has the Clapton sound in motion, still works though may be viewed by some as a copy cat. Peter sings lead on two tracks also, a cover of "You don't love me" (which is faster than usual here though basically straightforward and harmonica led but impressive vocals from Green really brings a kick to this track) and a Green original, the underrated stroller "The same way" on which Peter's vocal stylings are even more at home though I prefer his work on the former better as Mayall doesn't intrude on that one as he does on the choruses here). As for the rest, the opening title track is like a "Drifting" type stinger (but not as strong), "It's over" is a shuffle on which the guitar takes a back seat to the harmonica and organ echoings. "Another kinda love" is a honking tapper and "Hit the highway" is an odd sounding track with plinky piano along with high (ukulele sounding almost) acoustic guitar strumming but it's helped by a good Green solo in the middle. "Leaping Christine" is blues harp drenched breakneck pep, "Dust my blues" is a pulsing shuffling cover (it's ragged guitars and faster pace helps it's shuffle leanings) but "There's always work" is an insignificant harp chirping, "ah" vocalizing throwaway. "Top of the hill" is a passable piano, bass, guitar shuffler (though oddly has the same opening riff that was later heard on an unused track eventually showing up on the Mayall "Thru the years" compilation called "Mama talk to your daughter"), "Someday after awhile (You'll be sorry)" is a slow blues yowler (that sounds fuller than most tracks here making it one of the better moments on the album) and the closing "Living alone" is an almost pop like chunker with a strange sounding slide part at the beginning that sounds like a technical speeded up tape problem but then you hear it again later after the song has kicked in and then you know it's for real. Again though, you may first hear this album and think "So what's the big deal?" but after some listens you'll at least understand some of the tracks and why they are thought of the way they are.

Live At The Half Moon, Putney (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Driving live set
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 3rd, 2005

Interestingly, the liner notes of this release claim that this album was the first live digital recording ever made though however it was recorded, this is a great live document of The De Luxe Blues Band in action. It starts with the chugging "Rooster boogie" then an impressive original by lead man Danny Adler called "Half Moon blues" which is a howling slow blues that has an opening lick you will become most familiar with over future De Luxe releases. Next, in comes a Chuck Berry styled rocking cover of Muddy Waters' "All aboard" and a rough swaggering run through of Willie Dixon's "Hootchie cootchie man" complete with band member introductions well handled by Mr. Adler though he must be embarrassed now by his flub of Brunning playing "blues in the bass clubs" when he obviously meant it the other way around but heck, we've all made that goof so he should be forgiven. Side two kicks in with a straightforward rocking try of "Ready willing and able" which was an instant favorite for me when I first got this album. Following is a great cover of Chuck Berry's "No money down" though here it sounds like a mix of Waters' "Mannish boy" and the aforementioned Dixon track which makes a nice change from what may be expected. Another original ensues on Adler's "Swivel tongue baby", a fast strolling number which again, makes an impressive imprint here. The mid slow Albert King penned blues of "Don't throw your love on me so strong" is after that and then the album ends fittingly with a "Rock around the clock" type show stopper in "You upset me baby". If you can find it, this is the place to start your investigation of what the De Luxe Blues Band has to offer your collection.

Gypsy Moon (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Smooth sound hurt by weak hooks
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 2nd, 2005

Billy is listed as doing vocals on this album but it doesn't say which song(s) he's on though I think I hear him on at least a few like the rather forgettable cover of the fab four's "Drive my car" and the OK mid tempo pop/rock of "Always time". Rick is listed as specifically playing lead & rhythm guitar on "I can feel it" and there are some good sounding echoy solos from Vito enclosed but the song itself doesn't have any great hook to speak of and I found that this is the main problem with this album in general is that it does sound good with it's smooth Newman vocals and silky keyboards and clean electric guitars for the most part but I found many songs just didn't have hooks that grabbed my interest like the tough stroll of "God only knows", the rocking "Whisper", "Gone are the days" with it's smooth verses and jangly choruses but didn't get my attention and the bland acoustic closer "It takes time" but there are some better moments like the fair punchy opener "Love gets rough", the album's best track which is the sensitive balladish "Raining" with it's proper piano touches and the "better than average" mid tempo tune called "So deep" and Troy impressively took part in writing every song here (except DMC of course) so he gets points for trying but to me these songs themselves sound more like what could have been the rejects as opposed to the ones chosen for inclusion.

Green Light (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Rocking Raitt record
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, February 1st, 2005

Rick Vito plays additional guitar on four songs here (though with such a vague tag, it's hard to pick him out), the opening "Keep this heart in mind" (which was a good single choice as it's a likable strut), the Eddy Grant penned "Baby come back" though less reggae and more reverb guitars make this sound more like a quick stomp), "Talk to me" (which sounds over funky though it's barrelhouse try is admirable if nothing else) and the closing title track (which has it's banalities but you won't mind them much in this up beat strong rocker). This may very well be Raitt's most rocking album as a whole to this day with a Rolling Stones lean and containing some of her hardest rocking songs like the loud and fast piano pounding "Willya wontcha" and the searing lead guitars and busy vocals on "Me and the boys". Even the quieter songs mostly have an edge like the "Honky tonk woman" sound alike gruff slider "River of tears" and the Stones like riffer "I can't help myself" which is an effective storyteller. A cover of Dylan's "Let's keep it between us" is organ led and has a bluesy stroll feel to it and "Cant get enough" is a horn puffing reggae (that I guess makes up for the lack of reggae on the Grant written track) though it does sound more predictably funky by the time Raitt is done with it. In the end though, this is an overlooked album which is hard to dislike, even when you see it's weak side.

Great Shakin' Fever (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Shakin' with a large subtle country twist
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 30th, 2005

This is a well put together collection of Dorsey Burnette's solo recordings which includes the previously unreleased "Little one" (or, I should say "Little Child" since that's the title but they say "Little One" throughout so you'd think that should've been the title!) which features an 8 year old Billy singing a duet with his dad. Recorded on September 26, 1961 it's a rather sad sounding ballad but grows on you with each listen. The rest of the album, although attempting to show off Dorsey as a pioneering rocker, one can hear under the surface of these recordings while still treading rock territory, are largely influenced by country and western music styles. If one is prepared for this when they hear the record, they can then be set for a rockin' good time especially on the opening title track as the influences aren't that blatant but are present well enough.

Good Day (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Classy Christian collection
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 29th, 2005

A little more dark and raw than Amy Grant, Kelly Minter's "Good day" is well put together contemporary Christian music. The three songs with Bekka are great highlights from this long player. The opener "Any more sure" has some rifiling slide guitar work halfway reminiscent of Jimmy Page's work on Led Zeppelin's "In my time of dying" and employs an emotionally felt hook while the more melodic "After all" musically sounds similar to Radiohead's quieter moments on "OK computer" and the uptempo "Return to me" gets things going again. Many songs on this set are faster than you may think they would be but this helps add to the brightness the proceedings do enclose. Another fiery strummer of interest is "On my way back home" however, ballads are not ignored as the albums pleasing closer proves with "Whatever I do". Fair Bekka levels on the songs she's on, but a smart buy nonetheless.

Goldtop: Groups & Sessions 74-94 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Snowy will impress you here
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 28th, 2005

This is a very good hodgepodge of tracks to entertain most of those that have an interest in Snowy's career as we get his haunting sleeper UK top ten solo hit "Bird of paradise" as well as many unreleased goodies with different artists he has played with over the years. I'll first sum up the rest of the Snowy solo tracks. There are two tracks here that are from Snowy White's Blues Agency, they are "Out of order" (which is a boogie with thick guitar & harp and good swing) and the breakneck barking rocker "Open for business". Aside from "Bird of paradise" there's six other solo White tracks, two of which are previously unreleased: "Judgment day (Live)" (which is a lengthy shuffle improv that's about 10 minutes in duration, Snowy has a three minute solo a minute in to the track but most of the track is dominated by a long swirling organ solo) and "Cat flea jump" (which is a bellowing instrumental which does border banality but it walks the rope). The other four White fronted tracks are the opening "Highway to the sun" (which is a Dire Straits type rocker that displays Chris Rea's influence on this track with his appearance on it, a good start), "The time has come" (which is a tasty yearning blues, a real highlight), "Love pain and sorrow" (which is a stomping tumble) and "The answer" (which is a thrashing growler). The versions here of Peter Green's "Slabo day" & "In the skies" according to the CD liner notes were taken from Snowy's own copies of the rehearsal sessions from the "In the skies" album. The "In the skies" masters were recorded over later so these versions have not been released elsewhere. "In the skies" here is an interesting instrumental take on the track which has some good guitar fills but I think I still prefer the "In the skies" version better than this one. I also prefer the "Slabo day" here over the present version of "In the skies" on this disc because "Slabo day" here measures up well with the "In the skies" version of "Slabo day". This is essential listening. The two Thin Lizzy tracks included here that Snowy played on are "Renegade" (which is an up tempo rocking builder) & "Memory pain" (which is a tip toe burner). Two tracks taken from a previously unissued US radio broadcast of an Al Stewart concert where White had played with Stewart are also enclosed, they are "Dark & rolling sea (Live)" (which is a tinny balladish tale) and "Carol (Live)" (which is plinky up beat dramatics). This leaves the also previously unissued complete version of Pink Floyd's "Pigs on the wing" (which here has a howling electric guitar solo section (that bridges the two acoustic pieces featured on PFs 1977 "Animals" album as parts 1 & 2 respectively) with Snowy doing a good Dave Gilmour impression and this is a good place to go for an "Animals" companion should you wish one) and a solo track by Floyd keyboardist Richard (Rick) Wright called "Drop in from the top" and this is another underrated skipping instrumental featuring good Snowy leads. This is a colorful collection that will make you think even more highly of Snowy if you are familiar with his work or will make you a fan if you aren't familiar with him. Either way, you'll be impressed with at least something on this set whatever your tastes may be.

Louise Goffin (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Valley girl pop fairs pretty well
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 25th, 2005

Carole King's daughter does in fact take part in writing many songs on this album but musically is lost between the California rock stylings heard on the "Fast times at Ridgemont high" soundtrack and valley girl new wave pop of the early eighties demonstrated perfectly on the opening rocker "I've had it". Her cover of Stevie Nicks penned "If you ever did believe" is passable though with Stevie helping on backing vocals along with Sharon Celani and LA pros such as Kenny Edwards on bass coupled with Danny ("Kootch") Kortchmar & Michael Landau assisting on guitars, it does work better than the rest of the recordings enclosed on this platter but one could do a whole lot worse than purchase this record. It's pretty good but may only appeal to those of a certain age.

Gimme Some Neck (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Predictably Stones retreads but good time feel
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 24th, 2005

You'll probably be able to predict what this album will sound like without even hearing it as it does in fact sound like Rolling Stones retreads though some such as the shuffling "Break my heart" will make you smile if nothing else. Also in this vein are the ragged funky "Buried alive" and the faster "Come to realize" which has a very good hook and perhaps it is tracks like this that make Wood wish to release solo albums since the Stones, for whatever reason, may have passed on this one. The only musical turn we take here outside of this realm is "Delia" which is a 42 second acoustic guitar interlude and therefore the track you'll most likely enjoy instantly though "Lost and lonely" is the next mellowest track here which will be a good change of pace once you get there but it doesn't have a great hook. In contrast, "Infekshun" is the most rocking track with that train like sounding energy and the closing "Don't worry" isn't far behind with it's punchy gravelings. Mick Fleetwood plays drums on a cover of Bob Dylan's "Seven days" which overall is OK I suppose which sounds upbeat though it has Mick's typical shuffle type drum sound and Dave Mason plays on the rocker "F.U.C. Her" with it's Chuck Berry type feel, it's rather banal next to the other tracks and I wouldn't say DM stands out particularly well here anyways. Many tracks do suffer from a mid tempo faceless bland taste like "We all get old" and the piano featured chugging barrelhouse opener "Worry no more" but if it's just the good time barrelhouse party rocking feel you're after, then this may be just enough to suit your needs.

Reprise Records Presents Music For The 12th Annual GLAAD Media Awards (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
SN & LB are great of course but not much else
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 24th, 2005

This Reprise sampler is OK although of course most of the more modern sounding material doesnt go well with Stevie and Lindsey's more distinctive sounds though the closer, Suzanne Buirgy's "Lullaby", is an entertaining acoustic number which works pretty well here. I won't go into Stevie's "Everyday" too much as it's on "Trouble in Shangri-La" except to say that it's one of my favorites from that release and a very good choice. Lindsey's "Someone's gotta change your mind" is an acoustic lead number which reminds me somewhat of the echo laden "On the wrong side" from the "With Honors" soundtrack but not as good as that. The acoustic riff here is rather similar to The black crowes "She talks to angels" but this isn't a bad thing and it's still a very good song. One just hopes that like "Steal your heart away" (as it was also billed as "from the forthcoming album" on the Mac's "Best buy tour '97" disc), these will see the light of day on LB's album for sure very soon.

Gass (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Fun funk featured mainly on side one
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 23rd, 2005

Oddly, I must admit that my favorites from this record are those from side one but I'll first talk about the two songs with Peter on guitar but I can't say either really feature it prominently. "Juju" is a speedy stomp in the tradition of Steve Miller's "Livin' in the USA" which although passable is not as catchy as "Black velvet" which is a slow soulful number but with the ultra busy drumming work of Godfrey MacLean on Peter's "End of the game" album, one would easily imagine Peter returning the favor by appearing on songs from Mcclean's band that would be just as suspenseful & exciting but they are probably the most commercial sounding on the record. The others from side two are rather funk laden such as the energetic closer "Cool me down" but side one makes this platter for me. "Kulu se mama" & "Yes I can" are lengthy with original instrumentation (at the time) featuring violins & flutes at only the right times with the typical funk set up which sets those such as Pacific Gas & Electric on their ears. They do change between loud and quiet, fast and slow like those on "The end of the game" but these do have vocals which keep it more straightforward from the get go. These two numbers sandwich my favorite song "Holy woman" which sounds like a "Whiter shade of pale" rip off first time around but with the explosive guitar break at the end, you find yourself listening to it more and more topped with the impressive lead vocals of the much traveled Robert Tench, this is good funky fun overall.

Get Closer (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Crystal clear production makes precision perfection
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 23rd, 2005

Peter Asher's state of the art production is the key behind this nice collection of pop rockers and moving ballads. "Talk to me of mendocino" features Lindsey on accordion of all things but it does help an emotional tune along with some atmospherics. The top 40 hits "I knew you when" and the opening title track are better than average while "Lies" & "Tell him" are no nonsense rockers which work well and "I think it's gonna work out fine" is a good upbeat duet with James Taylor. My favorites are a couple of ballads with real feeling "The moon is a harsh mistress" & "Mr. radio" but the closing song is of large interest, "My blue tears" is a recording from 1978 which was to be part of a "Trio" (Linda with Dolly Parton & Emmylou Harris) album but got shelved until 1987 as we now know and it's very pretty. A great ending to a great record. I can't forget the smooth "Easy for you to say" I'm amazed it didn't get higher than number 54 on the charts, I think it's better than the two that made top 40. There's not much not to recommend here, this is a wonderful record.

From Now Until Then (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good individual songs but not all at once
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 22nd, 2005

On the copy I have which does include the lyric sheet, Peter is listed as one of three guitarists on the record but it doesn't say which songs he's on though. I'd be very surprised if it wasn't Peter playing the beautiful electric guitar solos on my favorite song on the record which is "We'll give love" because it sure sounds like him. It's truly an emotionally heartfelt moving number. This is the one song on the record that Kerr had written on his own though he does take part in writing all songs enclosed on this platter produced by Kerr and Martin Birch. It's also believed that Peter plays the quietish but haunting lead in "Be my freind" and it does sound likely. Richard Kerr is a singer/songwriter pianist who is rather quiet spoken and many songs here are on the ballad side which probably makes it difficult to hear all in one sitting for lack of variety but on their own work pretty well. Terry Cox's drums bellow through the mix much like Bev Bevan's percussives did on ELO's records. There are horns featured on "Take a letter to the world" and like "A song I remember", attempts to sound like whimsical pop. Also, "Be my friend" has a "Rocket man" feel to it but fans of the singer/songwriter era may enjoy this long player.

From The Hip (1/5.01/5.01/5.01/5.01/5.0)
Dated & repetitive new wave whose time has gone by
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 22nd, 2005

Lindsey plays guitar on the opener "Jimmy loves Maryann" and you can hear the guitar well but you wouldn't really know it was Lindsey from listening to it as this doesn't seem like his style at all. Frankly, this is badly dated eighties new wave valley girl pop with very little in the way of variation. There's only one speed for all songs, fast. The one ballad "Come with me" even has a rhythm guitar part that makes the song sound faster than it is. For it's own genere, it's not even original as 2 of the 4 songs that Josie takes part in writing are B52's rip offs ("Stop me" of "Planet Claire" and "No use crying" of "Rock lobster"). At least someone like Louise Goffin has some instrumentation variety but you won't find that here.

The Ballad Of Fred The Pixie (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Great lost pop, highly recommended
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 21st, 2005

I understand from Bob Brunning's Penguin Q & A that he wishes to forget this album but I'd have to disagree as though it's simple-ness may seem silly, "The ballad of Fred the pixie" has a childlike charm in it's songs that everyone can relate to though many may not wish to admit it! Although I'm not big on "concept albums" really, this album has an interesting (though predictable) journey through the life of an average Joe from the musical theater feel on the opening "Darling I've got something to tell you" (where the father finds out from the mother the baby is on the way) to the closing "death" in the slapping gospel type stomp "Time to pop off". "Prayer before birth" may seem a little depressing but I guess the idea was to come through as the worrying thought of joining the world adventure in to the unknown with it's moderate verses and shouting choruses, it's a good grower and is now a firm favorite of mine though it wasn't originally and this is followed by the apt peppy bounce of "I'm a big boy now". The title track successfully takes a page from the book of the approach towards lullabying children's records. "The school boy" is a breezy sing a long while "If this is love" is a well put together, fairly moving lament about teenage love and has been a favorite of mine from when I first heard this album. "Break my heart" is an R & B style cryer, "Have you seen" is an upbeat, cheery ditty which brings the love birds back together though the slow blues of "I'm still hoping" is the end of the marriage. "Now I'm 64" predictably is an answer to the Beatles' "When I'm 64" not only in words but in music as well. Then, there is the irresistible waltz of "Happy to be here" looking back at life as an old man in a positive light. Shame I couldn't give this album 4 and a half stars as I really think it's an overlooked pop gem though I do realize with it's semi professional feel I can't really say 5 stars but you've been told now, if you can find it, I'd recommend it, a real stand out highlight in Brunning's recorded works to date, and a "pop" one to boot.

One Of The Fortunate Few (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Good surprises within
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 20th, 2005

Bekka is on the first three songs on this record but you hear her best on the first two ("Old weakness (coming on strong)" & "Leap of faith") which are great songs. "Somebody to love you" is very good too though. This is a wonderful rockin' country style album with generous dashes of R & B and more conventional blues stylings. There's three good black and white photos inside the CD booklet of Bekka as well which was a pleasant surprise. Most of the hooks in these songs are strong and very catchy. Very impressive.

Forgive (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Possibly a transitional album, so do forgive her
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 19th, 2005

This is a spotty affair with a mix of Pop and Country stylings but when they weave in to each other it tends to be problematic. "Beautiful to you" has a real nice sound and this is an exception as the fiddles work well in this, the most Pop flavored song on the CD. We're well in to Country/Bluegrass mode when track two hits, "Dancin' in God's country" which is a hoe-down slap with fiddles and banjos clucking away. "It didn't look like alcohol" is an acoustic ballad which sounds like something Faith Hill would've done about 5 or 6 years ago. "Life had other plans" is another popish tune but although pleasant to hear doesn't work as good as the lead off cut did. The title track is a power ballad drenched in piano which is good at holding the attention but "It's my job to fall" is a somewhat draggy ballad. "Jesus and bartenders" is that typical slow Country chug but it does sound noticeably different to the other tracks (most likely due to the use of a different producer). "This love" is a breathy mid tempo tune and "When did you ever listen to me" returns us to the traditional Country sound again though this time, it sounds a little boxy. "Memorized" has nice, slow Lisa Loeb style ballad verses but it's mood is ruined by the thumping chorus sections. "Pink flamingo kind of love" is a Shania Twain type of funk that (I personally) could've done without but "Softly and tenderly" has a nice Gospel feel and makes for a very good acoustic closer. It's hard to say if the pluses outweigh the minuses here but you get the feeling this may be a transitional album for Howard so one tends to look forward to her next release rather than concentrating on the
one at hand so it can be forgettable but you should make a note of some of the better tunes as they don't deserve to be overlooked.

For The Love Of Harry: Everybody Sings Nilsson (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Interesting cast but no standout performances
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 18th, 2005

"Lay down your arms" is billed on this release as "Ringo Starr with Stevie Nicks" and you do hear Stevie good on the chorus chants and better in general throughout the song as it goes along but it's basically a toy reggae track. In fact, there are many big name artists included here which is impressive in itself but the bottom line for me is that there aren't really any standout tracks. Randy Newman's "Remember" is a typical piano only track with croaking Newman vocals. Marc Cohn's "Turn on your radio" is a skipping moaner and Aimee Mann's "One" is an electric piano chunking version of the Nilsson penned track that became a large hit for Three Dog Night. The B52's Fred Schneider does "Coconut" here in a punkish fuzzy gruff rocking way. Joe Ely's Joy is a crooning waltz swayer, the Beckley/Lamm/Wilson track "Without her" is a dancy bouncer, Lavern Baker's version of "Jump into the fire" here is a boogie turned gospel rave up, Steve Forbert's "The moonbeam song" is a piano tinkling stroll, Peter Wolf And The Houseparty 5's "You're breakin' my heart" has the J. Geils front man in stomping clap mode on this short rocker, Jennifer Trynin's "Mournin' glory story" is slow grunge rock, Al Kooper's "Salmon falls" is an organ led chirper, Victoria Williams tries to give us her best Macy Gray (predating Gray of course but failing nonetheless) in "The puppy song" which is a New Orleans tasting mope, Marshall Crenshaw's "Don't forget me" is a mid tempo strummer and Brian Wilson's "This could be the night" predictably gives us the "wall of Beach Boys sound" (a la "Little Saint Nick"). Jellyfish's "Think about your troubles" is a strutting acoustic blues stroll, Bill Lloyd's "The lottery song" is mandolin tinged pep, Ron Sexsmith's "Good old desk" is a piano led horse clopper, Adrian Belew is oddly straightforward here in his faithful cover of "Me and my arrow", Richard Barone's "I guess the lord must be in New York City" is another acoustic strummer, The Roches With Mark Johnson perform "Spaceman" here as a restrained stomp, John Cowan's "Don't leave me" is slow plink and Jimmy Webb's "Lifeline" is a gargling melter. This CD is generally harder to find than many of Nicks' V/A artifacts so if nothing else, this should make for an interesting addition to your collection, even if you don't really end up listening to it that often.

Flyin' Shoes (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Mend the patches to take off
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 16th, 2005

Many songs on the mostly acoustic "Flyin' shoes" may start out with worn out country song structures but many grow well as they go along, unfortunately others drag and don't change though they try. Billy is listed for background vocals on this album but it doesn't say which songs hes on in the liner notes though I think I can hear him good on the hard strumming but lightweight cover of "Who do you love". Of course, he could very well be on others here. There's a couple of waltz type croons which are low points for me, the warbly "No place to fall" & "Pueblo waltz" which doesn't fair much better and there's the interesting sounding title track which comes across as semi-dramatic but it's a weak pick for the title track. Also included are a couple of mid tempo bouncers, "Rex's blues" which musically works but it has a weak hook and "Brother flower" which works better as it has a better hook and is more electric. "Dollar bill blues" is a shuffling electric rocking country tune but it's marred by a buzzing effect that appears on top of Van Zandt's vocals, though they get points for trying something unique, perhaps they should've just left it alone as this song really does work otherwise. Other highlights include "When she don't need me" which is a piano featured jingly builder which gets better as it goes along, the pleasant opening yodeller "Loretta" and the album's best track, the bluesy stomping closer "Snake song" with it's attention grabbing song structure, it's simple but tightly performed. Townes has been an overlooked talent but I feel his strongest moments may appear on some of his other albums though this is a better country album than most of those that were out at the time in it's genere.

Ticket to Fly: Lawson And Friends Vol. 1 (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Nice sounding individually but bland altogether
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 15th, 2005

Bob Welch plays electric guitar on the album's best song "Every little minute" which is a bouncy acoustic and organ led track and like many others on the disc similar to the more pop orientated side of The Grateful Dead's sound. Mike Lawson sounds most like Bob Weir on this tune. The songs are generally more acoustic laden and not as keyboardy as say, "Touch of grey" was. It's fitting that the album closes with his version of "And we bid you goodnight" which was quite a staple in the Dead's set in the "Live/Dead" days. However, "Following the moon" rocks considerably more than the others, "Georgiana starlington" has some pleasing electric slide and "What did that bring" brings a much needed slower pace to the proceedings but generally speaking, this release doesn't waiver much from it's original musical idea.

The Fire Inside (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
A volcano of emotions
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 14th, 2005

Bob Seger's best moments have always been either brutal rockers or burning ballads and here we get both. The title track is the best of those that falls in the middle with that distinctive piano lead sound of his. Rick meanwhile appears on two rockers and one ballad. The latter is "The long way home" featuring a great solo from Vito on this slow but nice song. The rockers on which he's on work too, the closer "She can't do anything wrong" and the even better stomping opener "Take a chance". You can here Rick's playing pretty good on both of these as well. Other highlights include the soulful "The real love", the quiet but moving "Always in my heart" and the hardest rocker of them all "The mountain" on which the ending showcases screaming lead guitars volleying between Seger and Joe Walsh to dramatic success. By far, the best overall Seger album featuring Vito.

Mr. Fantasy (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Psychedelic classic
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 11th, 2005

I have the fairly recent UK Island CD remastering of "Mr. Fantasy" and though it's fairly interesting having the original US version of the album at the end of the straight UK version as "bonus" material here, it's not much to write home about as it suffers from a mono styled, one dimensional channeling (though some audiophiles may find it an interesting listen back in to history as that is obviously the intent here but you can here some unrecognizable sounds in between each song which sounds like what one might hear in the background of the quiet parts of a cassette tape that had been used before and then taped over on top of the original recording hearing a little of what was on the tape originally underneath the new recordings though it's not a complete loss as one unique thing here is that "Giving to you" (which was co written by Mason along with Winwood, Capaldi & Wood) on the US section of the album includes "regular" vocals at the beginning of the track as these vocals must have been recorded and used on the US version of the recording (and it gets faded out early), it seems they were obviously trying to do away with the spouting voices galore that appear at the beginning and end of the original UK recording of the song (which on the whole is a stomping "mostly" instrumental chug). Aside from that, tracks like "Hole in my shoe" you can hear more clearly elsewhere and "Paper sun" here is also faded out early so that the part that you don't hear due to the early fade comes back in at the end of the album as "Were a fade we missed you" which may lead some to believe that this is a unique track but it isn't, it's just the last half a minute or so of "Paper sun" under that moniker. Anyways, on to the rest of the more useful stereo recordings themselves at the beginning of the disc. Dave has three tracks he penned himself here (much to Winwood's dismay apparently, as many reports suggest Steve wished the band members to all write together whereas Mason mostly preferred to write alone), the quirky pop bounce of "House for everyone", the sitar featured waltz like doodling of "Utterly simple" and the swirling forgettable plink of "Hope I never find me here". Mason is listed on the album as playing guitar, meletron (sic? got it from the CD booklet), sitar, tambura, shakkai & bass (as well as lead vocals, presumably only on the above listed Mason penned tracks) though it doesn't say on which songs and as Winwood is also listed for bass & guitar duties on the album (among other things), it makes it all the harder to decipher where Mason may appear (apart from the more obvious above listed tracks). As for the rest of the tracks themselves, "Heaven is in your mind" is a real highlight with it's shaking, chunky verse sections and it's tumbling choruses, it's a good representation of what Traffic was on it's own. "Berkshire poppies" is a slow vaudevillian piano swayer which speeds up during the chorus sections but it is not a good track overall. "Dealer" is a fair track (with a quiet acoustic beginning that gives way to galloping cowbell fare) as is "Coloured rain" which is punchy and loud enough to grab some commercial attention but it doesn't really have a great hook). However, "No face no name no number" is a haunting, moving meletron sweller and "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is one of, if not the best Traffic recording ever, it's very catchy, has delightful melodic guitar on the verses which turns to blistering leads climaxing in a thumping train like blues dirge with useful harmonica not outdoing the guitar. This album is worth the price of admission for the three highlighted tracks alone and it's importance in the psychedelic community cannot be understated regardless of it's above admitted shortcomings.

Music In A Doll's House/Family Entertainment (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
An unpredictable, eccentric, entertaining journey
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 10th, 2005

"Family entertainment" seems more song orientated and less thematic than "Music in a dolls house" and the best moment of which is probably the rocking single "Second generation woman" but now on to the Dave Mason produced Family debut album "Music in a dolls house". Many Family fans will agree that this is one of their best albums and it's an eccentric, psychedelic ride. After this collection kicks off with Family's debut single only tracks, "Scene through the eye of a lens" & "Gypsy woman", the album then starts with "The chase" on which vocalist Roger Chapman sounds uncannily like Peter Gabriel in his Genesis days but Family are not as progressive although they became so on later releases. Three and four minute numbers like the Dave Mason penned "Never like this" (one of the best songs on the album, naturally) are interspliced with twenty second instrumental interludes which add color to the proceedings and mix things up a little to good effect so you never know what's coming next. The rocking "Variation on a theme of Hey Mr. policeman" is the most positive of these offerings. It's also interesting to see how Traffic producer Jimmy Miller's style had an obvious influence on how Dave handled things here. With fifteen songs in thirty seven minutes, you're bound to find a favorite in this treasure chest.

Faith (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Almost a crossover
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 9th, 2005

This is generally thought of as the "crossover" album for Faith Hill but hearing it now after the emergence of "Breathe" and "Cry", it sounds rather tame in that line and Hill's vocal style has become less yodely on those albums. Therefore, for many songs here, her more rootsy singing holds back any attempts the musical backing tries to bring those songs in question forward. The most obvious crossover song here though is of course the popular perky opener "This kiss" but other contenders like the semi rocker "The hard
way" is still intruded upon by the typical steel guitars and fiddles and songs that have the juice for pop musically like "Me" are offenders for her "then" vocal style. Of the two songs Bekka is on here, "Love ain't like that" (which is a slowish jangler with good keys but the fiddles keep it country) and the Bekka & Billy co penned highlight "Better days" (which is pretty heavy on the fiddles so I personally think the Bekka & Billy version is better) you can hear Bekka good on but in both cases she is singing with others so you
don't hear her as good as one may hope for on these. In another Fleetwood Mac connection, Faith's cover of the Sheryl Crow penned "Somebody stand by me" isn't much different to Stevie's version, same tempo etc., but this version is more piano led (whereas Nicks' is more guitar featured), I think I still prefer Stevie Nicks' version though this one can hit the spot at times. There is a good mix on display as you have songs like the upbeat "The secret of life" (which has verse sections that are kind of jangly for "pop crossover" but the chorus parts do belt out enough electricity to come close to the crossover area) and the soulful melter "Let me let go" but these tunes worked better when released and haven't aged well with the knowledge we now have of her latter day material. It's still not bad though and those wishing she had not "abandoned country" on "Cry" may like this album better than they think they would. For Mac fans though, I'd recommend you get the Australian version of this CD instead, which is not called "Faith" but is called "Love will always win" as in addition to the two songs Bekka is on from the US version of the album, it also includes Hill's cover of "Piece of my heart" which Bekka is also on.

Faith In You (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Impressive all around
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 9th, 2005

Maybe because I expected this to be more country sounding than it was and it turned out to be an impressive mix for the most part, I really enjoyed this CD. Bekka can be heard well on the horn & piano driven Chuck Berry styled boogie "Katie wants a fast one" (duet with Garth Brooks) though this song is admittedly a lower point on the album, it has a certain charm that doesn't leave you hating it anyways. I was worried with the start as the fiddle vs. drum machine opener "High time" sounded like a forced "middle ground (musically)" piece but it does have a good hook to pull you through. There are some tunes I was less happy with like the fiddle/steel guitar led "I just do" as it can't seem to make up it's mind if it wants to be traditional country or 40's style schmaltz (and given the choice, I think I would've preferred it more heavy on the latter to help enhance the mix of styles on show here). "Make it look easy" was interesting for it's reminiscence of Billy Burnette's "Nothin' to do (And all night to do it)" musically speaking but it's watered down a little with the fiddles which is just not my thing but you may wish to investigate this one if it is yours. There isn't much else to complain about here really, the title track is a nice brushes and acoustic ballad, "Turn in the road" is a smooth moving ballad with an effective keyboard and slight strings moan. Though "Turn in the road" has a stronger hook, "Waiting in the wings" works better musically than "Turn in the road" with it's gentle piano, tasteful acoustic guitar and well placed strings. "I wish I were a train" is more homespun sounding but not overly so which is impressive, "Been there" (duet with Clint Black) is virtually upbeat pop with a good hook, it works well and reminds me of Bruce Hornsby's "Rainbow Cadillac" slightly. "Longer letter later" is a castanets featured acoustic strummer with a winning feel and the closing number "Bloodlines" is a real highlight, a Dire Straits sounding guitar instrumental duet with Wariner's son, Ryan, which works wonders for the album's styles mix with it's "wah wah" flourishes. There are some songs that seem more style than content like the contemporary Christian sound of "Blinded" but the virtual "wall of sound" technique on this track doesn't do much more than make it sound more uptempo than it really is and "It wouldn't be love" is a pleasant piano led ballad with clave rhythm this time but not as strong a hook as say, "Turn in the road" or "Waiting in the wings" but "Blinded" and IWBL are still both passable which looking back is an impressive tracklist with relatively minor quibbles to get in the way of recommendation.

Evan And Jaron (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Tunes haven't grabbed me yet but nice sounding disc
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 8th, 2005

Mick is listed as playing on the fourth song which is called "Done hangin' on maybe". It's a pretty catchy uptempo number but this record oddly reminds me of the Agnes Stone album in that it sounds very good on it's instrumentation and production but, so far, I can't say many of the tunes themselves have grabbed me but I feel confident that I may find a couple of favorites on this disc in time with a few more listens but you'll warm fast to the platter if you like the pop rock style of say Matthew Sweet and Counting Crows as
this is what this reminds me of a little but these guys are less rough with a little bit more keyboards. It will be interesting to see how their sound matures on their follow-up release but this is not a bad start.

Every Dog Has It's Day (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
The puppy has arrived
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 8th, 2005

Billy is on a song here listed on the CD inlay as "A little too far this time" (though it's only listed as "A little too far" inside the CD booklet) as one of two doing background vocals on the track but I wouldn't say I hear him particularly well on it. The song however, is the rocking highlight of the album, a real screamer. My favorite ballad moment is the smooth sultry "Extraordinary girl" though there are a few real nice ballads here like the soulful heartfelt keyboard led "When my dreams come true" and the useful keys and acoustic guitar featured "Old womans face". "Anyone but you" is a bright chiming acoustic opening strummer and "Every dog" kicks in after a slow start and was a good choice for a reasonable facsimile of a "title" track. "Jamie don't love me" is good upbeat pop/rock and would've made a good choice for a single. There are a few musical surprises here like the gospel styled choruses and light electric arrangement on the verses in "Way down deep", the funky/up sounding choruses in the otherwise mid tempo "Proof of love" and the Beach Boys flavored acapella closer "Moon man". Some moments are a little weaker like "Since I lost you" which does have an appealing acoustic guitar & sax direction but the song itself is not as strong as the other ballads mentioned. At the end of the day though, this dog does have it's day here. If you can find it (as I realize it's a pretty tough one to track down), I'd recommend it.

Excitable Boy (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Lots to be excited about
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 8th, 2005

A colorful album, "Excitable boy" ranks up close to Zevon's selftitled 1976 album as his best works. The classic hit "Werewolves of London" is the track on which John & Mick help out which they do immeasurably. Their tight rhythm section, along with Warren's chunky piano and Waddy Wachtel's gruff rhythm guitar, this track really shows a supergroup in action, with a howling hook, it's undeniable. Other highlights include the peppy rocking catchy sing a long title track and the punching piano led rocking closer "Lawyers, guns and money" which is another well known track in large rotation on classic rock radio. There is more entertainment to be had here though in the opening "Johnny strikes up the band" which pulls as equally a strong punch as the above mentioned numbers that makes for a strong opener, more stinging Waddy guitar comes in joined by well placed shaking maracas. "Roland the headless Thompson gunner" is a suspenseful tale with strong piano, bass & drums. The mid tempo "Accidentally like a martyr" has a swaying choral effect. The rhythm guitar funk of "Nightmare in the switching yard" may sound somewhat dated but it doesn't sink to disco excesses. "Veracruz" is a piano led mid tempo tune where you can really feel the Jackson Browne production/sound come through fully (of which the rest of the album doesn't suffer too badly in) but "Tenderness on the block" is one of the better moments with it's good vocals and catchy triple piano riff. Some have found this album to be half brilliance and half garbage so perhaps the 1976 album is where to start but I'm sure many would agree this is the best place to turn to when investigating Zevon's work after conquering the 1976 affair.

ESP (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Look elsewhere for musical variety but this is so so
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 6th, 2005

Of Lindsey's three appearances, the one that sounds most like him (on guitar) and probably the best song overall anyways is the catchy opener "I couldn't get to sleep last night". "Make it on a love" is probably the next best one but "Cinema majic" is rather disappointing (it looks like they've been taking spelling lesson from Slade too). Anyway, this pin up pop duo are rather monotonous and dated. The guitars sound better than the keyboards but on the whole this is somewhat more flavorful than some of Lindsey's other pop appearances like, say for instance, the Josie Cotton album but I suppose that's not saying much. To me this is probably a borderline two or three star album but I'll say three because some out there may like it more than me and I realize I'm probably being over harsh on these guys.

The End Of The Game (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
An excellent experimental experience
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 5th, 2005

These tapes have often been dismissed as self indulgent meanderings but those open to improvisational music will find this a taut, suspenseful journey. The very busy rhythm section of Maclean & Dimochowski introduce us to a strong dash of jazz leanings while Peter and a fellow 60's blues pro pianist Zoot Money fight in some blues influences into the mix, these recordings weave in and out of various volumes, speeds and moods. I always thought this would have been an ultra hip soundtrack to a late 60's early 70's Warner Brothers detective movie (a la Lalo Schifrin style scores like "Bullitt" or "Dirty Harry"). Surprising in that Peter didn't want to be a guitar star but he rips it up more here than ever before (that is going by what was released at the time) such as through the nine minutes of the opener "Bottoms up", the irresistible rhythms of "Burnt foot" and the orgasmic closing title track, not to mention some seriously quiet moments like the short but very sweet "Timeless time" (listen to this one on headphones outside on a cool early morning laying down looking into the barely blue sky) and there's some real edge of the seat stuff throughout but in particular in the epic "Descending scale". Many may disagree, but I feel this to be one of Green's very best recordings ever to this day and consider it an essential part of Peter Green collecting.

Live: The 40,000 Headmen Tour (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Great music shines through not so great sound quality
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 4th, 2005

The sound quality isn't exactly perfect but some pretty good performances are present like the Capaldi co-penned number popular for the Eagles a few years ago "Love will keep us alive", a longer than usual guitar solo on "The low spark of high heeled boys", a piece of "Dear Prudence" is included in "Shouldn't have took more than you gave" & "Dear Mr. fantasy" sounds like the way Dave performed it with the Mac on tour. The rest are fun nostalgic run throughs of old favorites which makes this collection Dave's best solo release since probably "Let it flow". One gets the feeling that it would've rocked a little more had it been more of a high profile affair and as I say, the sound quality doesn't help but still a very entertaining concert piece nonetheless.

Live At Perkins Palace (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Dave unplugged, mostly works
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 4th, 2005

I keep trying to tell myself to forgive Pioneer for omitting one of Dave's most underrated songs, "Maybe" from this reissue of the 1981 video concert as it did include the intrusive fiddle accompaniment, but still, it was the best of those few that included "the man with the blue violin". This aside, "Live at Perkins Palace" has a nice unplugged atmosphere and the acoustic reworkings of the Mason choices mostly succeed. "(It's) Just a song" is much faster than it's studio version but it still works in a chirpy way. Although it was good to hear Dave do some out of the ordinary tunes (for him) such as the tune made famous by Ben E. King, "Stand by me", it's still ineffective. "Sad and deep as you" ends up being fair due to the annoying violin part. "Dust my blues" is another different set list addition and it's good to hear Mason sing some straight out blues but it really did end up working better for him in ELECTRIC concert about ten years later on. "We just disagree" is not much different to the way we are used to hearing it live here except for a slight 12 string sound and it's perhaps a little faster. "Let it go (Let it flow)" works very well under this arrangement with good help on the vocals from Jim Krueger. "Feelin' alright" is another tune that is better suited to it's electric live renditions but I suppose he kind of had to play that one anyways. Elvis' "All shook up" works better than the other "not elsewhere on Mason albums" tunes but mainly only due to the interplay between the crowd and Dave when he feels as though they missed their "cue" on the "oomph" part though, unless it was edited out of the CD and video editions of this release, they were never actually asked/told to join in. "Every woman" is best live here as it most resembles the original acoustic "It's like you never left" version. "The words" is propelled by powerful Dave vocals and makes one remember what an underrated song it is. The version of "Bring it on home to me" here is one of the better live versions around but I have always been confused as to what Dave felt as though he was adding to The Eagles "Take it to the limit" as it seems pretty straightforwardly bland, it's too fast and just doesn't have the power of the original. Also, there's that fiddle again, which spells trouble! However, "All along the watchtower" is a real surprise, though used to hearing it (and wanting to hear it...) electric, this is the epic show stopper piece, with virtually the last four minutes (of the ight minute track) being an acoustic guitar show off (mainly or Krueger) that works wonders. Measures up very well with the recent "Live at Sunrise" electric version and those two can battle it out for the title of the best live version done by Mason to date. This is a very good way to hear Dave the songwriter and performer, void of excess which may open some eyes (and ears) of some Mac fans.

Live At Sunrise (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Radiating rock and roll solar power
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 4th, 2005

This would be a great recording anyways but the crystal clear sound quality is the main godsend to this live outing with up front, crisp backing vocals by Dave's other band members and LOTS of great stinging lead guitar work from Mason. "Let it go let it flow" is a great opener as the above mentioned attributes will hit you right away on this one. Now, although a CLASSIC studio cut, I've never thought that "Only you know and I know" has worked live though this is one of the best live versions available of it around due again to the album's strengths as mentioned. There's an agreeable silky quality to "World in changes" here but it still has the required punch at the right times. "We just disagree" has the drive of the studio version after the first verse and those that liked he sound of the "Time" tour renditions of this tune will not be disappointed. "(Roamin' thro'the gloamin' with) 40,000 headmen" is the underrated gem of the album as it comes close to the "Welcome to the canteen" version for being the best live version available with unusually extended (and tasty) lead guitar at the end while in contrast, the epic "Look at you look at me" always has had high expectations. However, it does not let one down here. It's great to hear Dave dig this nugget out again as it's more rocking than usual and it's not as jazzy in the middle section as it was on "Certified live" with Dave Gilmour styled down bends on the echo howls section though there is a surprising reggae feel for one minute on the keyboard solo before the chiming harmonics section leads in to the big guitar solo end complete with Dave's new fretboard tapping skills he seems to have utilized more from the 90's onward. "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is another track helped by the sound quality as although Mason does make it snappy just as he did on the Mason/Capaldi "Live the 40,000 headmen tour" CD, this CD's version is preferable mainly for the much improved sound quality. Then Dave and the guys launch in to a thundering "All along the watchtower" which is the closest version Dave has cut to the way he should have cut it in the first place in the studio (with more emphasis on the guitar!) then the closing "Feelin' alright" has a good keys solo and handy upwards string bends from Dave this time, though he doesn't do as much with the solo as he sometimes does on this number, the "bends" help on that part, a lot! It sure is great to hear Dave rocking again like he did in the late 60's & early 70's as this is what Dave does best. Though the same recording that is on the DVD/VHS release, no version of this will disappoint. I just hope he can keep it comin'!

The Disappearing Boy (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Music less interesting than the fact that PG's on here
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 4th, 2005

The fact that Peter Green played on this album is generally more interesting a story than the music itself though it does help make Green's cannon that much more diverse if nothing else. He's listed as playing guitar for two songs, "Lost in my room" (which to me seems like what the Doors would've sounded like had Morrison and co. still been churning out records in 1980. There's no stand out PG stuff to speak of in it really either) and "The idiot" (which is a half decent crystalline acoustic guitar ballad though I'm guessing Peter is playing the light electric guitar that comes in later in the track). As for the rest, "John & Betty go to L.A." is a pulsing shuffle that is piano and vocal heavy and features some lean lead guitar. "That kinda guy" is a synthy bounce, "Another normal night" is an up tempo ditty with fuzzy keys, "God for the day" is a mid tempo piano led balladish tune, the title track is slow funk bounce, "Duffodoll" is a piano led disco track, "Mumbo jumbo" is a mix of fast pep and swaying slow sections and "After the subsequent inquiry" is a reggae that's too mechanical sounding. Those collecting Peter Green guest appearances may find this a nice change of pace but it will doubtfully be a favorite of the catalog.

A Dark Horse (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Dark horse but lightweight
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 3rd, 2005

I get the feeling that Brian Knight was well thought of in the business (due to big name guest appearances on this platter) but I found this album rather lightweight. Peter Green is listed for lead guitar on four tracks, "Goin' down slow" (which is a slow stroll that has thin sounding but recognizable Green lead lines), "Trouble in mind" (which is another slow stroll, this time with more delicate lines from Peter but unfortunately that makes him harder to hear on this one), "Blues is rock and roll" (which has good Peter licks in the left channel and these are the best part of this banal piano chunking rocker) and "Mannish boy" (which to me, doesn't sound "down and dirty" enough, it seems lighter because it's faster as well and this is the track on which you hear Green's parts the least I think). As for the rest, "Boogie beat" is a typical Chuck Berry styled boogie woogie, "Bring your corn to me" is a light-ish chunking rock song, "Honey bee" is a sliding acoustic guitar and vocal only track, "Got the blues 4 U" is a piano pounding swinger, "Good morning blues" is a speedy horn puffer, "Cabin in the sky" is a quick tinkly boogie, "Bright lights big city" is horn punching swagger and "Can't be satisfied" is a good grumbling slide guitar stomping closer. Though you may be trying to track down the Peter Green guest appearance ponys, this is one horse to avoid putting your money on.

Dressed In Black: A Tribute To Johnny Cash (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Has faults but not as bad as some say
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, January 2nd, 2005

There has been much criticism of this platter in comparison to "Kindred Spirits A Tribute to the Music of Johnny Cash" (released about the same time as each other) as many felt as though the "Kindred spirits..." release was superior due mainly to the fact that most of the artists on that CD rearranged many of Cash's songs for their own tributes. However, and I must confess that I have not heard the "Kindred spirits..." release as of this date but I am personally torn on this issue as in some cases it can bring something new and refreshing to a song (such as Gary Moore's version of Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac tune "Looking for somebody" on his "Blues for Greeny" album for instance, as although the Mac version has it's positive purist points, it did help hearing Moore cut loose on six string on such an effort whereas FM used NO guitar on the original), but to me it can defeat the purpose of a tribute effort as by changing an arrangement, it is almost like saying the "great song" by the great one isn't good enough the way it was and should be
changed" for the tribute cover. So, by sticking close to what the artist in question has done, is (or should be) the covering artist's way of saying "listen to how great the original artists music was". "Dressed in black..." does stick to Cash's arrangements more or less. Of most importance to us here, Billy's "Ring of fire" is heavier on that signature acoustic rhythm guitar sound on most Cash tunes than it is on many others here but it does tend to sound quite repetitive after a few tunes on this CD in general. After hearing Rodney Crowell's "Ballad of a teenage queen", one can't help but think of it thematically sounding like Billy's own "Whatcha gonna do when the sun goes down" from his "Gimmie you" album, perhaps Burnette should have done this number instead though "Ring of fire" will grow on you for sure (if you aren't familiar with it already). Some of the old gold such as
"Wreck of the old '97" (here done by Hank III) you feel may have been better conquered if done by an older artist but once that middle breakneck part kicks in, man it sure cooks! Robbie Fulks' "Cry, cry, cry" is a howling take while Raul Malo's "I guess things happen that way" is a mid tempo chimer. Chuck Mead's "There you go" shuffles along nicely and there's a nice pairing of Bruce Robison and Kelly Willis on "Pack up your sorrows" but Rev. Horton Heat's "Get rhythm" doesn't work as well as some of these others. Kenny Vaughan's "Train of love" is pretty fresh and Redd Volkaert handles those tongue twisting vocals on the chorus of "Luther played the boogie" very well! However, after hearing Rosie Flores' brilliant album "Speed of sound" her take on "Big river" here sounds rather bland. It sure would've been interesting to see what it would have sounded like had Rick Vito produced this cut! Ups and downs abound on the rest. James Intveld's "Folsom prison blues" is straightforward enough but Eddie Angel's "Straight A's in love" is uninspired sounding. Earl Poole Ball's "I still miss someone" is fresh as it has a slight ragtime feel to it (and Stevie Nicks fans will recognize this song from her "The other side of the mirror" album though you will mainly only really recognize the lyrics on the choruses) but as Johnny's song of all songs, "I walk the line" is handled here by Dale Watson, it sounds to me like a parody however unintentional it might be. There are a few songs that don't use that Cash "chung-ti-ti-chung" rhythm (that work well because of (the lack of) it) such as Damon Bramblett's "I'm gonna sit on the porch and pick my old guitar" which although may be the same tempo as those that do have that rhythm, it is only accompanied (nicely) by acoustic guitar and a stand up bass sound and the closing "Flesh & blood" by Chris Knight (no, not Peter Brady) which has a slight Springsteen feel because of the acoustic guitar sound that permeates the song though it is joined by fiddle as well but it's not intrusive. "Jackson" is one of the faster songs on this disc sung well by Mandy Barnett and it is a nice pairing, but why is it with Chuck Mead (who appears on this record... again)? It may be due to the assumption that the "Kindred spirits..." CD had a much larger budget which is another angle of this comparison those comparing critics love to shove in the face of those who have put together "Dressed in black..." and yes, "Dressed in black..." does have it's highs and lows (like many releases) but I would like to say that I think it is not as bad as some reviewers in certain popular magazines have stated, but that's just my humble opinion. I'll have to go with my three star rating here due to the sameness of that Cash rhythm draped all over this album as it forces this album to be one in the category that is good for song listens but not many complete album listens, hence the reason for the rating, but it's a high three stars.

Little Dreamer (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
The classic side two makes this one
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 31st, 2004

Although disappointing as a follow up to the classic "In the skies", this album will grow on you with each listen, especially side two with a great opening blues "Walkin' the road" followed by "One woman love" which has a hypnotically funky bassline throughout which is very effective and you can't help but like and sing a long to for the rest of the day. The next one "Cryin' won't bring you back" is pretty good atmospherically speaking but nothing compared to the epic closing title track. Often dismissed as a pale shadow of
"Albatross" but at least one can enjoy the musical magic for seven minutes and not care if spraying cymbals have been used before, it's very relaxing indeed. As for side one, it opens with trashy yet likable backing vocals one can't help to join in with on "Loser two times", then comes an interesting reggae on "Mamma don'tcha cry", an effective cover of Albert King's nugget "Born under a bad sign" followed by two moderately slow blues numbers "I could not ask for more" & "Baby when the sun goes down". You may not agree on first listen but give it time and you'll have enough faves on here you'll like to recommend it too just like me.

Delta Dreamland (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Some of Allen's best songs make it worth it
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 29th, 2004

Though "All that I am" is a stronger album overall for Allen, "Delta dreamland" has some of Deborah's finest songs and makes it worth it for those alone on top of others you may find you like. Billy is on three songs here, the best track "Two shades of blue" which although perhaps has a predictable melody once heard but it's strong vocals and slight doo wop feel (due to good backing vocals by Billy & Rafe VanHoy & DA) make it a must and you can hear Billy good on this track more so than on the others he's on though the electric guitar he is listed as playing on "Chain lightning" is nice signature Billy rhythm guitar. It was co written by Billy (along with DA & VanHoy) and is a haunting Johnny Cash tinged subtle gallop. "Undeniable" has only Billy & Deborah on background vocals but maybe due to the up beat mandolin featured arrangement you can't hear him particularly well on it and it's the weakest of the three songs he's on from the platter anyways. As for the rest, the title track opens the album as an effective uplifting builder and there are some other fair moments like the strumming bouncy yodel of "Rock me in the cradle of love" (which appears again at the end of the CD as a "bonus track" listed there as "Rock me (Dance mix)" with the only difference I noticed being more echo on the vocals and emphasis on the bouncy rhythms), "If you're not gonna love me" which is clave & piano mid tempo fare with a pretty good chirpy chorus, "Into my life" which is an acoustic strumming ballad with good piano touches and it doesn't sound too Country due to the steel guitar restraint (but the steel does takes the solo) and "Long time lovin' you" isn't a bad galloping track but it falters in comparison to "Chain lightning" and "Emotional moon" is a predictable Country swing and though "All the loving and the hurting too" is an OK keys ballad and the strumming acoustic backing helps, the steel guitar yawns keep it closer to Country than it should be. When all is said and done though, at least two of the three Billy appearance tracks here will make you glad you tracked down this album.

Dane Donohue (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Fair laid back light California rock
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 29th, 2004

Donohue was one of many treading the waters of laid back California rock but it's slightly mellower and includes splashes of Steely Dan stylings like the xylophone solo at the end of one of the two songs Stevie appears on, the opener "Casablanca" which is the best song on the record although you probably can hear Stevie a little better on "Woman". Impressive in that Dane appears to have taken part in writing many songs included on this album and he is supported by a major label in Columbia and there's lots of backup from some of the Eagles gang (Don Henley, Timothy B. Schmit & J. D. Souther) but still unsuccessful. I suppose it's semi deserved as not much else stands out besides

Dirty Rotten Filthy Stinking Rich (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Bekka's powerful voice can't be heard
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 27th, 2004

Bekka is listed as 1 of 2 people who do "additional backing vocals" on this album. Although "Heaven" is dedicated to "Bekka & all the fans who sang along at all our shows", unfortunately, it's not broken down as to who sings what on each song. As is usually the case with recordings of this type, there are block vocals on the bridge & chorus sections so it's hard to hear Bekka which was most disappointing to me. The album seems formulamatic for the pop metal genre although "Sometimes she cries" & "Heaven" are fairly decent power ballads in contrast to "So damn pretty (should be against the law)" which displays red hot energy. Not a bad record, but not really my style.

Divas Las Vegas (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Not enough artist variation and too many edits!
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 27th, 2004

The biggest problem with this CD is that, like it's DVD counterpart, it doesn't use the variation of artists and time allowance the formats in question it has access to as there are only 37+ minutes of music on this CD with 9 tracks (counting the Elvis medley as one) 4 of which are Celine Dion tunes, 3 Anastacia cuts and 3 Cher pieces (counting their Elvis entries as 1 for each artist separately). Naturally, the largest beef with this is the omitting of Stevie's Elvis cover for the medley "Wear my ring around your neck" which has unfortunately disappeared from the Elvis medley. However, Nicks joins in and can be heard well on The Dixie Chicks' cover of Stevie's self penned famous "Landslide" tune (which she of course had originally recorded with Fleetwood Mac). The Chicks' version has a bluegrass feel with it's banjos and bouncing bass, it's a pleasant cover and it's also the most homespun effort on this disc though Shakira's "Underneath your clothes" comes closer than I thought anything would on this platter with it's acoustic guitar & harmonica flavorings. Celine Dion & Anastacia's cover of AC/DC's "You shook me all night long" is straightforward enough and probably (surprisingly) works next best on here only for it being different to what I have heard these artists do before therefore making it less predictable. By contrast, "Believe" is as predictable as it comes as it's hard to tell the difference between the studio version and this "version" except the fact that they know they can't "fade" live! Yes, it even has those "electronic" vocal note things in there too. Even worse, "(This is) A song for the lonely" has the same tempo as "Believe" so if there had to be two Cher songs included on this CD (on her own that is), then they should've at least split them up so it's not as noticeable. Anastacia's "One day in your life" is fair pulsating soul/funk, Celine's "I'm alive" is a breathy strummer. As for what exists of the Elvis medley after the massacre, Anastacia's "Jailhouse rock" is much slower and therefore fails for it's loss of swagger, Shakira's "Always on my mind" would have been the best of the bunch but it's too loud for it's own good, Cher's "Heartbreak hotel" is the most faithful of the bunch (as she's probably the only artist of these four that is old enough to know what Elvis sounded like) but I think I'd still prefer to hear the King's original, same could be said for Dion's "Can't help falling in love" as it's pretty faithful (though not as much as Cher's HH). So in the end, this is essential for "Landslide" and I admit that I was more impressed with Shakira then I thought I would be but this release is HEAVILY diminished by the edits that have taken place for which there is no excuse. One could see if the CD (& DVD) was full to the brim already before edits, but it was not to be. I guess Epic Records thinks this CD was released in 1972 (when 37 minute albums were order of the day) and not 2002 (when you can fit more than double the length of the time that is used on this disc). I would've had no problem shelling out for a complete 2 CD set of the full 95 minute show (and the full 95 minute show would have fit on the DVD version with no problem as DVD's can hold much more time than a CD can) but to no avail.

The Dirty Dozens (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Oddly compiled but still worth it
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 26th, 2004

5 of the 8 recordings Bob Brunning plays on from this record also have been released on the "Chicago blues" album. The three that only appear here are good ones though, "One room country shack" is a slow blues punctuated by some thumping drum rolls and two instrumentals, the upbeat "Honky tonk" and the funky groove of "Cleo's gone". The other five are nothing to overlook either although for some bizarre reason, the three that start side one are all slow blues ("Take a walk" (which is billed as "Take a walk with me" on "Chicago blues" but it is the same recording), "You're sweet" & "Mean red spider") which, although well done, doesn't say much for the sequencing process. The title track is shockingly graphic in it's lyrical content and although it doesn't say so on this release, it does state on "Chicago blues" that this track is "not suitable for airplay" but the less prude listener will get a chuckle or two from this number. Overall, this good sounding lean but not overpowering traditional electric guitar driven Chicago style platter has an intimate live setting one can nestle into nicely.

The De Luxe Blues Band (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
OK, but won't blow you away
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 23rd, 2004

This De Luxe Blues Band release from 1994 is like it's 80's counterparts in that is has a low key feel which while purist enough, won't really grab your attention that often. Most tracks here feature an electric harmonica sound and acoustic piano flourishes though the opening "300 Pounds of joy" features an interesting 60's sounding rhythm guitar part which works well. This track is then followed by the up tempo shuffle "Dead cat on the line". "Louisiana blues" is horn led and it's faster than usual arrangement doesn't really work. "Angel of mercy" is a slow blues with a talk/sing vocals styling which is pretty good but then we get a good track in "Down in the bottom" which is up beat and helped out by a rocking slide guitar sound. If you like the electric harmonica stuff then you'll love "Hoochie coochie man" here as the first minute of the tune is mostly that plugged in harp though I personally prefer once it kicks in as it's a good strolling cover. "Key to the highway" is a mid pace shuffle but the sound quality here is noticeably different, not so much worse but more tinny, maybe I just prefer to hear Brunning's bass work more up front though I will give the liner notes to this CD much credit as they do state who plays what on each track so it is confirmed therein that Brunning does in fact play bass on every track here. The tinny sound returns later for another slow blues called "Can't hold out much longer". "Peach tree" has a more 40's vaudevillian style that Rick Vito may have liked though again the harmonica is drowning in this track. "Elevator blues" is a more guitar driven slow blues and it is a high point for me but the busy crashing cymbals throughout the song make it seem faster than it really is. "All your love" here is given a rapid rumbling bossa nova feel and the electric harmonica swing returns on "Rambler's blues". "Lambpoon" is a highlight as it's like the previous track in many ways in it's style but perhaps better as being an instrumental, it has that needed breath of fresh air. "Leavin' this town" is good as well as the harp restraint here works on this perky stomp. "Marriage licence" (sic) is a pulsating sax led boogie which has good strong bass from Brunning. "Letter to my baby" is a fast roller while "Do right mind" is a slow blues that drags a little and we finish with the slowish bounce of "Neighbour, neighbour". In the end, this is good to get while there's still copies of it around to be had and it's rather generous on running time with it's 18 tracks but it won't be much different to the other DLBB releases in that the traditional feel is there but no stand out tracks really power their way through it all.

Dave Kelly (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Rare but a good find if located
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 21st, 2004

I may have gone in to this album not expecting much as I had heard of it being referred to as "not being one of Dave's best" and those critics may be right considering many great underrated Kelly recordings that have surfaced over the years but this is a good set once you get used to the sometimes lightweight attempts on it's poorer tracks (such as the "should've been" rocker, the Delaney Bramlett/Mac Davis penned "Hello L.A. bye bye Birmingham", funny though how Birmingham was most likely used out of context here from Alabama to England's famous Midlands city), don't let such tracks and comments sway you though. Another example of a rocker that may sound as if it doesn't work is the opening "Gotta keep running" as, maybe I would have felt differently had I heard the Brunning Sunflower version after this one and it's really not that bad after you get used to it but on first listen, it would be reasonable to prefer the Sunflower take though Peter Green here has his wah wah petal in action, sounding here like his work to an extent on the late great Peter Bardens' "The answer" album, though more restrained naturally. Brunning is also on this track as well as the other 2 Green featured tunes which are the funk like "You got it" (on which Brunning's busy bass lines keep it moving and Green is still using the wah wah but he's more in rhythmic mood here which I suppose helps it's funk aspects) and in contrast, "Green winter" is a lean rocking instrumental. Here, Dave & Peter go to town on the guitar leads, Peter's strong leads do override Dave's more slide sounding parts and although this only lasts a little over two minutes in length, it is enjoyable to the end from it's bracing, halfway to "Curly" (nowhere near as distorted/heavy etc. though), opening lick. Green refrains from the wah wah on this track too making it all the more pleasing. Kelly talks in Brunning's "Blues: The British connection" book of there being at least one other Green/Kelly track that "must be in Mercurys vaults somewhere" so hopefully someone at Mercury will think to dig this album out and expand it on CD with such tracks. In fact, Brunning plays on all tracks here expect three, which are "Fair theme" (which is an acoustic guitar and flute filled medieval sounding jingler), "The fields of night" (which displays piano & acoustic guitar flavors along with the odd horn puffs which is rather pop like in comparison to most other present tracks though it does suffer from a dated, less electric Jefferson Airplane type feel) and "Brooklyn bridge" (which is my favorite track after GW), a nice folky chiming acoustic and light electric guitar & vocal showcase for both Dave and his late great sister Jo Ann, (who also guests on four other tracks). As for the rest of the tracks Brunning is on, there's "No fun for me" (which to me sounds like an acoustic take on the way the Rolling Stones used to perform "Love in vain"), "Way I feel today", (a harmonica drenched tumbler) "Poor old Bill", (a New Orleans style dragger) "It's you" (which is another popish song, this time, it's piano featured and has a good hook, this one works and shouldn't be overlooked) and the closing roll & tumble shouter "Get right church" which has Dave & Jo Ann in more purist surroundings and shows why they are masters at what they do. This track is a grower though as is most of this album in fact. This album did come across as more varied though compared to Dave's other hard to find Mercury album I heard years ago called "Keeps it in the family". Unfortunately, this album is also very scarce these days but if you can find it, you should grab it and even if not right away, in time, you will be glad you did.

Dave Mason And Cass Elliot (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Many interesting ideas but somewhat of a let down
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 20th, 2004

The opener "Walk to the point" is the best song with it's grabbing harmonies and strong hook with tasty acoustic guitar fills but a couple of songs here deserve mention. "To be free" is a different version to the version that appears on "Headkeeper" but "Here we go again" is a different song to that with the same title that is on "Headkeeper" and curiously only one of two songs that features Mama Cass on lead vocals in a prominent way, the other is "Something to make you happy" and no, it has no connection to "Dear Mr. fantasy"! One can't help but feel sad that by all accounts Cass was happy with the results of this partnership and was looking forward to more pairings in the future which were not to be. Still worth getting but like others, I probably had high expectations.

Corridos: Story Songs Of The West (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Better song order needed
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 19th, 2004

Being an east coast US native, I personally find the purist country/bluegrass feel with yearning steel guitars and clucky fiddles such as the material included on this CD an acquired taste (not to say "no one on the east coast likes this kind of thing", just a joke) though in the right mood on the right day, I can see myself slipping in to these western tales nicely. It must be said that "Corridos..." could use a better track order though as the most standard, traditional fare is literally at the beginning and end of the disc for the most part and the most interesting songs, to me, are in the middle section so maybe if the trad stuff was mixed in with every other song then it may be much easier to digest all the tunes here on offer as a whole. Having said this, I take each song on it's own merits and can say that numbers like the effectively dramatic "Remember the eagle" (with Bill Miller & Waylon Jennings), "The land of manana" which doesn't go places some of the others do but I can easily see it being a grower, the semi bossa nova "Every horse I ever rode" with it's featured accordion textures & the slow but more likable "The Spanish rose" (all of which I think I can hear Bekka on, especially RTE) quite listenable. Though the liner notes of this album don't say which songs Bekka is on specifically, I think she can also be heard on the opening chuckler "Blue mesa", the chunky but pleasant "Adobe walls" and the return to the country bluegrass nature in "Panhandle wind". With upbeat yodelers like "If there wasn't any cows" at the beginning and "Cowboy church" and the slow chug of "The banks of red river" at the end, I think it may have worked better had they been mixed in more with the other songs though this disc does get pulled out of my collection once in a while for some of those "middle section" plays.

Crusade (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Underrated though not perfect
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 19th, 2004

Though you can hear the horns getting stronger on this release watering down the potency of the Mayall clan, "Crusade" I think is pretty underrated. Sure, it's not as good as "A hard road" or the legendary "Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton" album but it has some goodies to offer than many may not have realized were here like the Mick Taylor led guitar instrumentals "Snowy wood" (the album's best track, which is sort of a cross between Clapton's take on "Hideaway" and Green's own echoy "The supernatural", though the horn blasts here are admittedly the track's worst part) and the, what must have seemed like, obligatory Freddie King run through of the more forceful "Driving sideways". In it's fast shuffling style, it's no match for something like say, "Steppin' out" but there's lots of tasty guitar licks in both of these axe workouts to keep you entertained on their own. The opening tumbler "Oh pretty woman" has light but still effective Clapton like guitar stings, the energy filled shuffle "Stand back baby" features horns and harmonica, the strolling shouter "My time after awhile" has some good guitar but the horns should've been axed in favor of letting Taylor loose on this one. However, the atmospheric "Man of stone" is a train like hi hat sounding and harmonica featured track with horns that help out though the slow blues of "Tears in my eyes" does drag a little but it does have good vocals and the rest is effectively quiet. The strolling tumbling dragger "The death of J.B. Lenoir" is heartfelt listening once you know of Mayall's apparent mourning over Lenoir's passing but "I can't quit you baby" is a fairly standard cover with horns that make little difference either way. "Streamline" is a happy bossa nova tinkler with colorful horns and organ though and the funk elements in "Me and my woman" I feel should've been discarded in favor of a slow burner approach but the harmonica led shuffling tumbler "Checkin' up on my baby" is a good closer. All of this probably comes off as sounding rather negative about this album but my point is that even if you feel disappointed by the rest of the numbers here, you'll still be glad you bought it for the two fun guitar instrumental workouts anyways.

Cry (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Cropped of Country but Cry is Faith's best album yet
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 19th, 2004

There has been much talk over whether Faith Hill should "remain within Country" or not. To me, the song itself is the most important thing regardless of style and for the most part "Cry" does not disappoint. It sure does seem as though Faith wishes to further herself from the Country tag and move towards Diva type torch ballads as exemplified on the title cut (which is sort of a soundalike to the title track to her "Breathe" album), "When the lights go down" & the closing "Youre still here" which is a piano & orchestral tune with a slight "There you'll be" tinge but this song is not nearly as effective as TYB was. What's left are the guitar & beat orientated pop & rock numbers. The jolting opener "Free" is a dirty sounding funk driven track which certainly works better live than on record going by Faith's recent live performances aired on TV (with Bekka of course!) but certainly can't be denied here either. Speaking of funky tunes, "One" (the Burnette/Bramlett co-penned with Roboff ditty) works even better in this vein and has a stronger hook than "Free" does. The other Bramlett co-penned tune "Unsaveable" is less favorable but is more pop and has a slight soul feel which is more surprising. As Faith obviously wanted to make a bold rocking declaration with this album, perhaps the closer should've been a rocker such as "If you're gonna fly away" as it remains upbeat throughout and is slightly anthemic but where it actually is (at track 8) is somewhat anti climatic on a full album listening. Other rockers are the less memorable "I think I will" (which maybe should've been sequenced where "If you're gonna fly away" ended up), the louder statement "This is me" and the slow tempo but hard rocking "Back to you" which includes screaming "wah wah" rock guitars. Ballad fans need not worry though as there are still a few to comment on here. Those that enjoy the title track may also enjoy "Beautiful" but the "talk sing" approach during the verses may be an acquired taste. "Baby you belong" has a somewhat tired ballad structure that I'm sure you've heard many times over elsewhere but strangely, it still does really work. "If this is the end" is a sort of power ballad style which may be the track to typify what may have been expected as a "pop" song from Faith on this record so I'd imagine this may be a future single. Speaking of power ballads "Stronger" oddly enough starts out as the closest thing to Country on the album with a sensitive acoustic guitar led part but then it eventually works it's way in to power ballad territory. The "Cry" single has 2 non album tracks presumably from these sessions ("Wicked" & "Shadows") but it's unclear as to whether there was any Bekka involvement on those 2 tracks or not. However, Bekka can be heard very well on many of the 12 songs she is on from this record which makes it another plus for us here. The enhanced section of the CD includes a 5-10 minute documentary that is the same piece that appears on the DVD Audio version of this release. I've heard many say they felt as though this music was "depressing" stuff (apparently compared to more uplifting material Hill previously had done) but sad to say (no pun intended) I think the most heartfelt songs are the sad ones so if the best songs to use are the sad one making for a "sad album" then I would say "so be it". In the end as I say, the SONG is the most important thing to me and I'd say most of them are winners and I personally think the "musical shakeup" was much needed and has driven a breath of fresh air in to the Hill musical cannon. Sure it's got it's cliches and it's overused toys in today's music business but under such gloomy circumstances, it's the best outcome we could've hoped for.

Coast To Coast (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
What you'd expect from this novelty item
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 19th, 2004

This is pretty much what you'd expect from a performer like Shaffer, being known from a more TV personality viewpoint adding up to basically a novelty record more than a recorded work to be taken seriously in any real sense. Mick Fleetwood plays hi hat cymbal on "Metal beach" which you can faintly hear in the right channel throughout this organ driven Beach Boys type sunny bouncer (which is fitting as Brian Wilson does contribute to this track as well as taking the co writing credit). It's basically an instrumental (save for some "doo" chants). As for the rest, the opening "When the radio is on" starts as a doo wop but then turns in to dance/rap stylings. "One cup of coffee" is chirpy pep which reminds me of something that might have appeared on Bill Wyman's "Stone alone" album. "What is soul" is an up tempo lightweight puncher, the title track was co written by H.W. Casey (of KC & The Sunshine Band) and his influence is well heard here in this "Give it up" type bounce. "Room with a view" is a hot live track, a finger snapping slow strolling blues which has a nice stripped down sound compared to what we've previously heard here though when heard on it's own, it loses some bite. "Wang dang doodle" is also live, a straight run through of the Willie Dixon boogie. It's not as good as the Savoy Brown versions I've heard but even then, I personally consider it to be an overrated song for the most part anyways so I'm not very objective on this one. Then we get a funkish cover of "Louie Louie" which has a slight early Talking Heads sound to it. This is one they would've been better off doing a straight run through of instead. "Tear it on down" is a fast stroll/slow shuffle organ chunker which is not really my thing. Yes, "Late night" is in fact a version of the David Letterman theme tune. An obvious highlight, though it's ending is much shorter than what you usually hear on the Letterman show! The closing "Radio/Reprise" is an echoish rehash of "When the radio is on". It's actually better here, but rather insignificant due to it's short length. Overall, not a bad place to go if you like novelty ham ups like this but it's not really a good one for serious music fans.

The Collection (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Nicely put together set
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 16th, 2004

This is a very good overview of FM's Blue Horizon recordings (and their only 2 recordings with Immediate ("Man of the world" & SGGTHKIT), the former being a very emotionally moving, though very sad, Peter Green unpredictable (at the time) masterpiece and the latter is Jeremy Spencer in rocking Elvis mode). Including the British hits (such as "Albatross" and those that should have been bigger hits like "Black magic woman" (yes, the Mac's version is the original, not Santana's!) and PG's beautiful cover of Little Willie John's "Need your love so bad") and the important album cuts (like Spencer's best moment on record with his rousing Elmore James staple version of "Shake your moneymaker", Green's haunting "I loved another woman" (both from the "dog and dustbin" FM debut album) and Peter's rocking rendition of Otis Rush's classic "Homework" from the Chess sessions. Not to mention it's inclusion of great lost classics which originally ended up on outtakes collections (such as the song called "Fleetwood Mac" which started it all for the Mac, a breakneck "Watch out" and the scorching "Drifting" all from the underrated "The original Fleetwood Mac" compilation album). The label restraints here do cause a few problems though as I personally think "Got to move" worked better for Jeremy live than the studio presence here and a few tunes may have been picked more to represent a style of music covered by the band even if not necessarily the best choices of such areas ("Doctor Brown", etc.), but overall, very nicely handled by Castle Communications as they even managed to get in a track that original Mac bassist Bob Brunning played on ("Long grey mare" again, from the Mac's debut album) and latter day Blue Horizon era Mac member Danny Kirwan's "Jigsaw puzzle blues". Although the best place to go for Blue Horizon era Mac is now "The complete Blue Horizon sessions" box set, this is a nice collection to have to represent the 2 Immediate recordings in your Mac collection as well anyways and is a good mixture of the purist blues the Mac started out with while also touching on more rocking Mac recordings the band would eventually go on to produce in future years.

C'mon C'mon (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
C'mon Sheryl, pick the best songs!
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 14th, 2004

I admire Crow for TRYING to create an all out rock and roll record here as to me it sounds stripped down in comparison to some of her other outings (though it could just be that it's been a while since I've heard the others) but after hearing some of the "bonus" tracks on the singles and the Japanese version of the "C'mon c'mon" album, one feels that perhaps she should have just picked the best MATERIAL for this release as it seems clear to me that some of those "left overs" are of stronger quality that those on the "bare" album. Most obviously, "You're not the one", which must have come more from the Nicks pen than Crow's. There are not as much guitars on this song compared to most others on the album with the exception of the signature acoustic riffs that just sound "very Stevie-esque" on the verses and at the beginning. You can hear Stevie best on this track compared to the other 2 on the album she's on, those being the title track, which oddly sounds at the beginning like the opening to some earlier Rod Stewart solo material on Mercury Records but when it kicks in, it's good stuff, with a catchy hook. SN can be heard but it does sound a little smoothed over on the mix to even the two girls vox's out when you're trying to listen out for it specifically though she's brought in with more prominence nicely as the choruses multiply. The third tune with Stevie is "Diamond road" which has a medium rock sound for the album with a better than average hook but this is the number you hear Nicks on the least I think. In fact, the liner notes to the Japanese version of the album omit Stevie's name from the credits for this song but it is the same recording that is on all other versions of the album and she is credited on the US copies of the album as being on this song. The other 2 "extra" tracks on the elongated version of the album from the far east also show their superior quality to those that made the "final" cut. "Missing" has the most "pop" feeling out of all of the tracks with few guitars again, but has a nice mid slow tempo with a slight soul feel and the climbing chorus sections of the track work best of all and "I want you" is a searing rocker with a little let up on the verses which does work pretty good but I'm guessing it was nixed due to the tinny sound throughout the track that they may have felt as though needed some work. As for the "rest" of the album (itself), this is where we run in to some problems though not without it's goodies such as the lead off single (which was obviously made with this objective in mind with it's smoother feel than most of the other upbeat tracks on the disc) "Soak up the sun" which is probably the closest thing to pop on the "actual" album which naturally has a good hook that gives you a feeling you've heard it before somewhere but you can't quite place it. "Abilene" has an opening Stones type riff (which may make you feel like you've been here before with the start of Crow's "My favorite mistake") but it's one of her best songs. With a great hook, this mid to up tempo tune may seem typical of Crow's material but it still works. The "closing" cut "Weather channel" is a homespun acoustic piece which is one of the best on offer overall, recalling mellower moments on the "Tuesday night music club" album and she's joined nicely on harmonies by Emmylou Harris. There really should've been more tracks like this available to us on "C'mon c'mon". Now, the downside. The opener "Steve McQueen" (predictably) tries to be a rebellious rocking dedication of a three minute anthem to the late great actor but the problem is, it lacks a good hook, Steve deserves better! "You're an original" has a grabbing opening riff but a fair hook, it's pretty much what you'd expect from a Crow track with few surprises. "Safe and sound" is reminiscent of "Home" from her selftitled 1996 tunestack which does have nice acoustic verse parts but the growling guitars on the chorus are intrusive. "It's so easy" is a duet with Don Henley which has a nice jingle to it but slightly misses the mark overall, oddly, she reminds me of Susanna Hoffs of Bangles at the beginning but that wears off after a few seconds. The punchy rock riffs of "Over you" almost pull it through but hurts from a poor hook again. "Lucky kid" is a bubblegum styled stomper which has a fair but somewhat tired hook. Strangely, Sheryl's own version of "It's only love" reminds me of Joan Osborne's "One of us" at the beginning, overall though, it about breaks even with Stevie's "Trouble in Shangri-La" version but perhaps has the slight advantage due to Crow suiting her own material better and "Hole in my pocket" is an up tempo number which is better than some I suppose but it's pretty predictable. So, I guess this falls in to a gray area of if you're getting the extended version of "C'mon c'mon" then on a good day, it would seem like a "four star" disc but as per the "song selection reasons" stated above, I would say the US version of the album rates a three (unless you can track down a UK "Soak up the sun" CD single to serve as an accompaniment which may make things a little sweeter).

Common Sense (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Is folk to country a sensible move?
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 13th, 2004

Prine is generally known more on the folk circuit but "Common sense" surprised many with it's tougher country sound. Rick Vito plays on eight tracks here though only on a few occasions can you really hear any licks that get you wondering if it was him or not. Vito is one of two guitarists listed for electric guitar on the songs "Middle man" (which is a piano chunking country track), the bouncy Spanish tinged title track, the up beat stomp of "Wedding day in funeralville", "That close to you" (which is chirpy mid tempo blandness) & the predictably (since credited to Chuck Berry) piano pounding lightweight closer "You never can tell", though there are a few licks that do seem more recognizable as Rick licks on this one. In addition to being one of two playing electric guitar, Rick also plays the slide solo (again, you hear it OK) on "Way down" (which does include one of the best hooks on the album but it is rather hard to take it seriously) and Rick does the slide solo (heard OK) while also being one of three playing electric guitar on "My own best friend" (which is a more gruff sounding rock stomp) and he also plays the slide acoustic guitar (which you hear very well) on "Come back to us Barbara Lewis Hare Krishna Beauregard" (which is a slow country croon). As for the three tracks Rick does not play on, "Forbidden Jimmy" is strumming piano led swirl, "Saddle in the rain" is a horn led disco-ish rock track and "He was in heaven before he died" is a quiet steel guitar yawning, acoustic guitar strumming country swayer that really gives you the camp fire feel. Although I understand "Common sense" is ranked high among Prine fans, it must be stated that this was considered different for him at the time so this may not be a good place to start your investigation on John Prine music should you be interested in taking on such an investigation.

A Very Special Christmas 5 (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Though upsides, lack of Christmas feeling hurts here
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 11th, 2004

My own personal feeling here is that there isn't much "Christmas feeling" in the songs on this album mainly due to most cuts being "live" recordings as maybe more of them should've been done in the studio, as evident on the superior (for the most part) 1987 original "A very special Christmas" album but that could just be my age talking. I'll start with Stevie's "Silent night" which in this live version has a slight Country feel in the rhythm arrangement but this version is more pleasingly straightforward in that there are
few other vocals to interfere with the experience (as was the case with Robbie Nevil's intrusive vocals on the 1987 studio version, who was obviously trying to "gospel things up") though this version does end more abruptly when one is used to listening to the 1987 version. It is puzzling that Stevie Wonder was asked to appear on this album twice (once with Wyclef Jean (who also appears twice on the CD) for "Merry Christmas baby" (which is the lesser of the two but it does get better as it goes along) and then again later for "I love you more" with Teresa Brewer which is very nice but the Christmas themes are somewhat hidden) but the rest is an interesting mix of artists from today and yesterday joining in. Dido's "Christmas day" is the one other exception on this disc for "Christmas feeling" as it has plenty of that. Sheryl Crow's "Run Rudolph run" is it's own predictable self, I guess no artist can really do much outside of the Chuck Berry mold it was written in, it's slightly less rocking than Bryan Adams' version on the '87 platter. Darlene Love's "White Christmas" does somewhat contend for the Christmas feel here but it's too upbeat for its own good. Jon Bon Jovi does his best Elvis impersonation on "Blue Christmas" (even has the same backing vocal arrangement that's on the King's version) but he's no Jeremy Spencer! He does get points for TRYING to be faithful to SOMETHING though. The rest of the album suffers from this very thing, Macy Gray's "This Christmas (Hang all the mistletoe)" is nice but lacks "the feel" for the season, Wyclef Jean (this time alone) does "Little drummer boy/Hot hot hot" but it is not as effective as Bob Seger's version from that darn 1987 album again and not much needs to be said for the spirit of Christmas this track has considering what it ends with. Eve 6's rocking "Noel! noel!" gets less Christmas friendly as it goes along. Due to the arrangement of City High's "O come all ye faithful" it loses out in the "feeling" at the end of the verses. SR 71's "Christmas is the time to say I love you" is a fair rocker but perhaps they should've done "Winter wonderland" to this arrangement. B.B. King & John Popper's "Back door Santa" is better than Bon Jovi's one from '87 but it has less Christmas feel (again) to Bon Jovi's version from that first album in the series strangely enough. Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers "Little red rooster" is not far from the Rolling Stones' famous version (which must be the one to have influenced them here) but although it has references to Christmas in the lyrics, I'm sure many would argue as to whether it would be seen as a "Christmas song" or not. The
arrangement on Powder's "Christmas don't be late (The chipmunk song)" is too throbbing for this song though it's crashing cymbals do sound a bit bell like (though I'm sure this was unintentional on their part). I guess the bright side of the "lack of Christmas feel" on this record is that you may want to hear it at other times throughout the year (I know I have said in other reviews here that "the song is the most important thing" to me "regardless of style" etc. but as most people only listen to these kinds of recordings at this
time of year, I think it is important to take this "Christmas feeling" angle in to account for reviews of such recordings). Just my humble opinion though.

Bluesbreakers With Eric Clapton (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Top notch blues/rock
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 11th, 2004

I don't think many would doubt that this was the best Mayall album to be released and a high point in the careers for all those involved. Those that want an electric guitar stinging rock sound but want to investigate blues in general should start right here. The album's two guitar led instrumentals ("Hideaway" and "Steppin' out") are real rollercoasters, especially the former. It's shuffling nature takes you places that you didn't even realize you were going until you've been there. Though the latter is faster, more punchy and forceful, the former is slightly preferable due to it's more colorfully adventurous arrangement. The opener "All your love" is another high point on the album with the best bit being the screeching Clapton leads ushering us in to the fast middle section. "Little girl" along with the catchy, fiery rocker "Key to love" (with it's strong horns) could very well have been good blueprints for many future rock songs. For traditional blues fans, there's the Clapton sung Robert Johnson song "Ramblin' on my mind" (sounding like it only has guitar & piano on it aside from the vocals), the atmospheric clapping, harmonica & vocal piece "Another man done gone" is also a purist highlight as is "Parchman farm" on which John McVie probably stands out the most as it sounds like it's just him with harmonica & vocals by Mayall and Flint's drums. Hughie is not to be left out in the cold though as he has a surprising drum solo spotlight in the up beat jingling cover here of Ray Charles "What'd I say". Slow blues enthusiasts take note of "Double crossing time" (with it's useful piano and hard, thick guitar) and the lengthy burning "Have you heard" (featuring tasty sax and Clapton again is in fine form. If it had been any other circumstances, his work here may have been considered too much but it wonderfully tears up the soul here). The closing busy breakneck of "It aint right" is a great end with it's lean guitar sound and harmonica puffings. One of the few albums ever made to fully satisfy blues and/or rock enthusiasts at the same time not to mention it's large influence on future artists. Absolutely one of the most important albums in music history.

Claudia Church (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Strong, perky crossover
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 11th, 2004

Though a predictable formula by now, the writing talents of some of Nashville's heavy hitters like Neilson-Chapman, Roboff, Crowell, etc. can't be denied and writers such as these have brought some real nuggets to the table. The surprise factor here is that although this may be seen as a transitional album for Church, the pop elements on this album don't overtake the proceedings and the country touches hold back when necessary making this one of the better and ultimately overlooked latter day crossover albums. The song Bekka is on, "It's all your fault" is a catchy stomp with slight oriental touches and you can hear Bekka OK on this tune. It would have been one of the best on the record anyways most likely! The bouncy opener "What's the matter with you baby" is heavy on harmonies and has a slight doo wop feel but still employs the country stamp. "This man I love" has a rather uptempo poppish beat though the guitars lean towards country. "Home in my heart (North Carolina)" is a pleasant plucky ballad which was co written by Claudia as was the impressive up tempo attention grabber "Small town girl". "Lost in a feeling" is a mid tempo jangler while "The streets of Nashville" sounds like a Johnny Cash type strummer but it still sounds bright. Theres more influences to be heard here as well, "Just as long as you love me" has a Buddy Holly type rumble which is given a fitting country treatment, this one really works as does another real highlight on the album, "I don't fall in love so easy" which to me sounds like a Roy Orbison style croon but again, works. The closing Goffin/King classic "Will you still love me tomorrow" is passable due to the fact that the country elements are not as intrusive here as one may worry about in regards to such a cover though the acoustic and piano lead ins are the best parts to this track. Overall though a good place to go if you want something somewhat subtle in this field though there's lots of hooks enclosed to win you over regardless.

Chipmunks In Low Places (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Musically passable but novelty hard to take seriously
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 10th, 2004

There are six people listed as doing the Chipmunk's voices here and I've heard conflicting stories over the years as to which characters Billy is supposed to be "playing" so it's hard to tell which songs he's actually on by listening to it as I must admit I'm not a Chipmunks aficionado. Trying to be impartial on this though, there are some good songs instrumentally speaking on this album as they are faithful to their original origins but it's unlikely you would take out these versions to listen to over the originals. "Country pride" is a fair opener when first heard but one comes to realize it's one of the best tracks after going through the rest of them. Some tracks have some humorous intros by the gang like "Achy breaky heart" (with special guest Billy Ray Cyrus, this is the most obviously campy track present though it has lost some of it's gusto over the years), "There ain't nothin' wrong with the radio" (with Aaron Tippin, and though there are some chuckles to be had in this one, one finds that once they do start getting in to the song itself, the "jokes" start to feel intrusive), "Stand by your man" (with Tammy Wynette, this one really relies on it's "comedy" to work as you'll probably find the fast songs work best here which of course this one isn't) & "Don't rock the jukebox" (with Alan Jackson, this one is OK but other fast tunes are better on here). You may even feel some tracks here just don't work and are perhaps filler like "Gotta believe in pumpkins" but there are some good highlights like "Outlaws" (with Waylon Jennings, this is a good pairing and it's one of the best rapid songs here), "I feel lucky" (which is one of the stronger "performances" on the disc) & the acceptable closer "I ain't no dang cartoon" but inevitably some here will disappoint like "Brothers & old boots" (with special guest Charlie Daniels unexpectedly singing the lead at the beginning once the song starts after the Chipmunk bickering (as most of the "duets" here have one of the characters starting in and then the guests take over the leads later at some point for the most part) and some words do sound quite silly but unfortunately the "jokes" themselves don't) & "Down at the twist and shout" as the fiddle arrangements can make it hard to hear the lyrics at the best of times (this is aside from some times when you hear something that sounds off color that makes you check the lyric book to make sure thats not what they said). Overall though not a bad novelty item to have for the Fleetwood Mac collection if nothing else and it should keep the kids busy for a while too.

Chase The Sun (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Fair modern country though less country parts are best
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 8th, 2004

Well, it's just my humble opinion, but I'd say the less country flavored tunes work best here such as the song Bekka is on, "Who's your daddy" which does have a country rockin' swagger to it in the verses, but the numbing rock sound on the choruses help this one out. The "untitled" track at the end is just about a minute in duration and is vocals on it's own, it has a Gospel raver type feeling to it but then it's over, so it's hard to say more about it. "This old heart" is a lean jangly opener while the title track is fast with an urgent sound mainly via the chuckling guitars. "Dream your way to me" is a slowish, pleasant mix of electric & acoustic guitars. "Goodbye on a bad day" is a sort of "torch song for men" with nice echoy electric guitars & strings and pounding chorus parts. "Bad bad bad" is a bouncy banjo & fiddle led hoe-down number while "Superstar" has mid tempo balladish
verses and has a less country feel than some of the others. "Where would I go" has "All she wants to do is dance" sounding rhythm keyboards and is like the same tempo as a jangler but it doesn't have the jangle so it sounds less country once again. "Slow down sunrise" is also less country, though it's somewhat slow, the steel guitars are not too prominent so it works. "Are you happy now" would have been a nice slow atmospheric ballad with it's light electric guitar verses but it should have stayed that way, instead the thumping chorus parts do mar things a little, it's still one of the better tracks and the closing (minus the "untitled" track) "Let's get it on" is an uptempo slide guitar & banjo ditty. This album could have used some better hooks as well but it's fair stuff for an audience that likes the new wave of country dudes I would suspect.

Chicago Blues (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
An apt title describes it better than I
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 8th, 2004

Although this album overlaps a lot with "The dirty dozens" release, "Chicago blues" strikes me as the main release as you get the longest samples of the master tapes here. For instance, on the song titled "The dirty dozens" you get a small spoken introduction (in title only) to the song which you don't get when listening to this track on "The dirty dozens" and you are warned in the liner notes here about the lyrical content of this track via the "not suitable for airplay" disclaimer (which you are not on the other release). You will need both records for your collection though as there are tracks on both releases that aren't available elsewhere. The ones from this album are the strutting boogie of "Rock this house", the swinging "Chicago bound", the sensitive slow burner "Blue and lonesome" and the mostly instrumental (save for some "Yeah!" type hollers) shuffle of "You don't have to go" though do be cautioned about a sudden rise in the volume in this track on the vinyl (as this was the case with the JSP vinyl this was pressed on, not just my copy, hopefully this can be corrected with a CD reissue of the master tapes), this burst occurs about 15 seconds in to the song for roughly about 5 seconds. All of these above mentioned tracks have Brunning on bass and are as enjoyable as the rest which I had probably made mention of in my review here for "The dirty dozens" so I won't repeat that here. In any event though, this is the blueprint album to build off of when delving in to the Jimmy Rogers and Left Hand Frank catalog that includes Brunning's bass lines. Pure raw
electric Chicago blues at it's most honest.

Change (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
The changes made are questionable
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 7th, 2004

Rick Vito plays on one of the album's better tracks, the swaying country-ish waltz of "Dues". It has a good hook and you can hear Rick's steel guitar pieces good. The loudness during the chorus doesn't hurt this track as much as it does many others here though unfortunately. I'm guessing the makers of this album thought that if they over did it with the vocals on the choruses that it would measure up well with what Spanky & Our Gang was akin to in the 60's as a harmony heavy Mamas & The Papas clone but the overall country lean here was a questionable choice for a change. The opening "I won't brand you" is a good song but it's overloud galloping chorus sections may put you off. "Standing room only" is a shouting swayer, "When I wanna" is a fast strumming busy rocker, "Since you've gone" is a harmonica featured dragger with more of that country tinged steel guitar yawning, "San Diego serenade" is a lounge room sax/horns slow ballad that tries to be fiery with it's sax lead bursts but it doesn't work on that score and "L.A. Freeway" is a banjo led speedy rocker. The side to side swayer flavor returns on "Space cowboys forever" which is yet another loud homespun track, "National stardom" is a swelling waltz and the orchestra featured mid tempo song "I wish we'd all been ready" is a good closer as it's one of the better album moments. Aside from those good spots though, this is a sad listen for those wishing Spanky and co. would've brought back the magic they once had but, and although fairly pleasant with more listens, it still shows that "Change" was not a good thing for the band if this platter is anything to go by.

Cat Dancer (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Good synth and guitar pop combo
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 6th, 2004

From the beginning, this album is very synth based but the lead guitar bursts are furious enough to make for a good white noise blur mix which is rather original for 1984 pop. Stevie appears on three songs here, two of which are the best on the album. The opener, "Catdancers" is a good example of the mix of synth and guitar which does take over a little at the end but a great synth hook and distinctive vocal volleys from Nicks makes this one a pleasure to listen to. In contrast, there's "I pretend" a piano led duet on which
Stevie excels and it's a moving ballad. The third "Get my way" is good and bouncy as well. Other favorites include "Saddest victory" & "Leave it all behind" which cement the musical niche of this record to effective use.

Revenge Of The Budgie (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Short but sweet
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 5th, 2004

This release is not very long on running time but a very fun listen is in store for you on this platter. Lindsey appears on 4 of the 7 songs on the record. "Living on easy" slides along well while "Buddy won't you roll down the line" seems to have a more modern (at the time) sound to it which is a bit detracting but vocally is overcome by entertaining lead vocals on the second verse by Mr. Buddy Holly himself well, kind of, in the form of actor Gary Busey which makes it a favorite on the record. "Same old heart" some may recognize, barely, from last year's "Wires from the bunker". The best song though is "Hiding in the shadows" which has got pretty, breathy, atmospheric vocals and great guitar stuff from LB especially towards the end with licks that are very reminiscent of those from "That's how we do it in LA" this one is a real treat. I almost wish it was released on CD on it's own regardless of the playing time as it's got great packaging with real nice liner notes from Mr. Buckingham. I highly recommend this one.

Bullen Street Blues (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
My favorite BSBB album
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 5th, 2004

This is my favorite BSBB album mainly due to side one's surprisingly fun material. We open with the likable, moaning slow blues of "Gone back home" followed by the up beat, bossa nova-ish "Hit that wine" (written by Brunning) then comes the perfect, easy shuffling title track (again impressively written by Brunning). The next track is a very good chunky piano led instrumental called "No idea" (as legend has it, due to not being able to come up with a title for it). After a soothing finish we get a white noise Elmore James type rocker in "Shout your name and call it" and then the side ends with the Brunning penned, attention grabbing nasty sing a long "Take your hands off me". Though side 2 is weaker, it's not a complete loss as we get the campy "Big belly blues", again, written by Brunning about his then pregnant wife and he also wrote the closing good time swing of "Rockin' chair" (but it is an admittedly disappointing closer). Other enjoyable moments are present though, there's the aptly titled "Sunflower boogie" (a rumbling solo piano instrumental by the band's keys player Bob Hall (under the pseudonym "Sunflower" from the band's moniker) and thus starts the tradition of a Hall solo piece on each BSBB album), the slow "'Fore time began" (with well placed piano fills though to be fair, it is somewhat draggy) and the fast shouting shuffle of "Something tells me" but I'm sure if you seek out a copy of this album, side one will most definitely impress you enough to make you a satisfied customer with your purchase of this platter.

Welcome To The Canteen (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Much to feast on here
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 5th, 2004

Though this live album may seem to suffer from poor sound at times, it strikes me as mainly being due to the fact that Traffic have left this album as honest as possible with no overdubs, something few big bands these days would ever allow. The funny thing is theres not much to hide here in an embarrassing way, there's a mix-up between those playing the lead guitars towards the end of "Dear Mr. Fantasy" but if anything, it makes for a fun moment not to be taken seriously as that is what live music should be all about. Dave Mason is listed as the only one here specifically playing lead guitar but "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is the track where this becomes a question as it is extended nicely by two long guitar solos but one has a different tone to the other and one is in the other channel. Though possible, I find it doubtful this would have been an "add in" later considering the other "flaws" that were left "as is" elsewhere on the record. As Winwood is the only other musician here noted as playing guitar of any kind, I guess we are left to assume he is playing the other guitar solo in this track. Whatever the case, there really isn't a bad track here as "Dear Mr. Fantasy" is a great guitar workout, the six strings chime on the quiet parts and are rightfully driving on the rocking sections. The short funkish "Medicated goo" here is better than the "Last exit" studio version, "Sad and deep as you" has never been bettered elsewhere as it's nicely stripped down here to Dave's acoustic guitar, vocals and the late Chris Wood's fitting flute and some light rhythms. "...40,000 Headmen" here ranks up there with the version that recently showed up on the "Live at Sunrise" Mason solo concert performance though in a different way, whereas it was the axe soloing that made the LAS version, here it's moved along by essential punchy rhythms which enhance the finer qualities in the tune. "Shouldn't have took more than you gave" is done very well here with more guitar work than usual though I may slightly lean towards the crystalline guitar intro on the original "Alone together" version than the siren like organ opening here but aside from that, it would be hard to pick this version apart from the other top contending versions out there. Finally, there is Winwood's Spencer Davis Group nugget "Gimmie some lovin'" here becoming an anthemic, stomping, party closer. This was recorded during Mason's shortest of his three stays in Traffic (only six college gigs) but miraculously (and luckily for us) two of those six shows were recorded and from those tapes came this rousing concert document. So dig in, there's many tasty treats available on this platter.

A Street-Car Named De Luxe (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
The best De Luxe studio album to date
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 5th, 2004

Aside from the wonderfully stripped down rocking "Live at the Half Moon Putney", "A streetcar named deluxe" is the best De Luxe Blues Band album. So in other words, it is, I feel, their best studio album to date with it just being the core band of Mickey Waller on drums, Bob Hall on the piano, Danny Adler on guitar & vocals and of course, Bob Brunning on the bass. Oddly, the two bonus tracks on the CD version of the album have sax parts on them but there is no further information about these tracks in Brunning's CD liner notes so it's hard to guess but it would be interesting to find out if these tracks were in fact cut during these sessions or not. The tracks in question being the break neck speedy tapping rocker "Lovin' machine" and "Hey Bob Diddley" and of course, the title says it all as to what this one is like. It is, in my opinion, a good thing that the sax parts did not carry over in to the other tracks as they are very enjoyable the way they stand. There's two Chuck Berry covers, the peppy galloping "Maybelline" and the typical Berry rocking style of "Rocking on the railroad". Also, there are two B.B. King tunes, the rapid bossa nova feel on "Bad case of love" and a great slow burning blues called "The jungle" which is very effective in it's own right though it was strangely placed next to another slow burner (which proceeds it on the album) that many Macophiles may know by John Mayall called "It hurts me too" but they still both work regardless of sequencing. Included as well is an interwoven medley titled "Boogie chillin'/Feel so good" and it's driving stuff, it gives me a slight "Savoy Brown boogie" feel though of course, it's not nearly as drawn out or over the top though it does make for another album highlight. The rest shouldn't be overlooked either, enclosed are a couple useful strolls (the ragged opener "Crazy 'bout Oklahoma" and the even better finger snapping "Too tired"), a 40's style jump swing in "Well well" and my personal favorite, the piano led instrumental "After hours" with brushing drums and light electric guitar, it's delicately handled arrangement shows how well this band could work together given the mix is done right, unlike the piano heavy mix on the "Urban deluxe" album. Without a doubt, this is the best place to go for DLBB recordings if you can't find the concert document "Live at the Half Moon Putney" platter first.

Between Us (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Between us, start with "Say it ain't so" instead
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 4th, 2004

Though a pleasant album, "Between us" is the album you should go to after hearing the much superior "Say it ain't so" when investigating Murray's works. The CD version of this album has 2 bonus tracks but neither track has Weston. There is a samba-ish flat demo feel on "Say it ain't so (Joe)" and "No mystery" has a tropical steel drums and clave mid tempo arrangement, both of these tracks do little to enhance the regular album tracks though it doesn't help that they interrupt the album before then going on to the regular album's final track (in the bouncy slow whimsical pop of "Bye bye bye" featuring picking banjo lines) so maybe these would have worked better placed after the regular album had run it's course. As for the rest of the regular album tracks, only one doesn't have Weston on it which is the strings and organ over dramatics of "Sorry I love you" though Head's vocals during the loud swells do give you a slight Peter Gabriel feel though this is probably not the intended effect. "Los Angeles" has tinkly electric pianos and guitars but it is one of the high water marks on the album though one is not to know this until later unfortunately. "How many ways" is a good guitar picking tune but the guitar is too low in the mix to be appreciated and the less successful harmonica and accordion parts should have been lower in the mix, if there at all. "Rubbernecker" is a silly reggae, it's hard to tell if they were being serious on this track or not. "Mademoiselle" is much better, in general it sounds like something from "Say it ain't so" than any other track here (particularly "When I'm yours"). "Countryman" is the loudest track on the album though the guitars try to bring it towards funk while the keys and bass drag it closer to disco while the poor drums can't decide which way to go. "It's so hard singing the blues lady" has good guitar and vocals though do try to ignore the off beat rhythms which try to return to the reggae foolishness though, luckily, it's not too high in the mix so it should make it easier to do that. "Good old days" is fair, with it's featured accordion and trombone styled bass part it borders on being ridiculous again. "Lady I could serve you well" doesn't have a great hook but the pretty strings, piano & acoustic guitar sound gets you interested. Murray Head's musical stylings may be an acquired taste anyways, but if you're going to try him out then at least start with a more universally appreciated album like "Say it ain't so" before diving in to this one to be fair to him, and yourself.

Brother Jukebox (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Pleasant, but an acquired taste
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, December 2nd, 2004

Bekka can be heard well singing strong harmony leads as she's listed as 1 of 3 people singing lead vocals on two very pleasant numbers "Teardrops will kiss the morning dew" and "Hank Williams, you wrote my life". These are definitely the highlights on the album. They have an almost Peter Paul and Mary feel to them which, although quaint is easy to take in. This is not to say that this is a bad record, one has the urge to say it's a banjo pluckin' good time but it's a little smoother than that which one may not expect from a disc of this type and I think is a pleasant surprise for a record of this genre. However, it still has the problem of being an acquired taste which will narrow the fan base a little but I can say it's a nice place to start if youre interested in getting more involved in musical styles more like this platter.

Breathe (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Takes your breath away
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 30th, 2004

Bekka is on more that half of "Breathe", such as the popular title track on which she can be heard very well. This song really cemented what people now associate with Faith Hill in an overused but admittedly effective power ballad format. Bekka is also on the pulsating boogie of "I got my baby" and you can hear her good on this track as well as on "It will be me" which is mid tempo but sounds like a ballad most likely due to the piano & light guitar touches. Bekka returns on the chirpy hit single "The way you love me" and can be heard well on it. Oddly this song starts with a mechanical Men Without Hats' "Safety dance" type sound but then kicks in to the winning upbeat formula. You can't hear Bekka very much on the semi loud "If my heart had wings" (even though she is listed as being on it) though the strummy up tempo shuffle suits her style. She can be heard good though on "If I should fall behind" which sounds nice musically with it's mid speed beat acoustic feel but doesn't have much of a hook and again at the beginning of this song the acoustic guitar picks remind me of a speeded up "Total eclipse of the heart". Bekka can be heard VERY good on the closing dramatic sounding anthemic "There will come a day". Unfortunately, it's not as strong as some of the others here so this would end up either being underplayed and overlooked or overplayed and underachieving. It is impressive musically with it's grabbing popish rhythms though. Interestingly enough, both Bekka AND Billy co wrote the opening track "What's in it for me" with Annie Roboff but neither of them appear on the recording. This is probably Faith's most rocking song up to this point (of course the more rocking "Cry" album was still to come) and it's a catchy fiddle & guitar led stomp, a real highlight. What might rival the opener for most rocking tune
here is "Bringing out the Elvis" which tries to be a nasty funk rock tune but I think it sounds kind of novelty ridden. As for the rest, "Love is a sweet thing" is a mid tempo song with a pop beat but the steel guitar touches give it a jangler feel. "Let's make love" (with Tim McGraw) is probably the most country sounding song on the album but even then, it still tries musically to be a torch ballad. There's another ballad called "If I'm not in love" which tries for the piano and string (virtually) only approach but I think sounds a little over the top and "That's how love moves" is also a slowish yodeler which I find kind of flat but it gets points for noticeable effort. Problems aside, this is a very well made album with much strong material and it's top of the class in the "crossover" country/pop/rock albums glut of the millennium.

Live In Boston - Remastered: Volume Two (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Essential early earthshaking very live Mac
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 28th, 2004

It's very interesting to hear "World in harmony" as the opener of the second set as you can really feel like you were there and a great opener it is with much more edge than the studio recording. This gives way to a compact but stinging run through of "Oh well" followed by the jolliest jam of them all "Rattlesnake shake" has Green the great enthralling us for well over 20 minutes on lead guitar and not a second of it seems too long. As the masters were used here, there's 10 seconds therein that are not on the pressings of "Cerulean" and such earlier repackages of these tapes which is an unexpected treat. Peter gets a well deserved rest and Jeremy steps up in impressive fashion with a rocking, surprisingly country blues rendition of "Stranger blues" undoubtedly, a different and very good Spencer moment. Then, after a more straightforward Elmore style "Red hot mama" he kicks into Elvis mode with a great version of "Teenage darling" surpassing the version on the B-side of the "Linda" single. Peter Green sounds impressed and he launches into 50's style with a Little Richard double shot. First Peter and Danny on a numbing "Keep a knocking" then Peter gives us a stretched out, stirring "Jenny Jenny". As the cherry on top, the CD ends with "Encore jam" with, according to the liner notes, various members of The James gang including Joe Walsh and also joining in is Eric Clapton to form an all out guitar assault that doesn't let one up for mercy throughout. The perfect platter to take to a Saturday night air guitar party.

Ultimate Collection (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Good but not authorative crash course in Masonry
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 28th, 2004

A jam packed disc that attempts to cover as much of Dave's career as possible. For starters collectors will need this for "Satin red and black velvet woman" previously only available on the A side of a single surprising in that it only charted at number 97 as it gallops along nicely and rocks harder than one may expect but it does remind me somewhat of "Waitin' on you" from "Alone together". Speaking of that album, it's virtually all included here although they opted for the "Welcome to the canteen" version of "Sad and deep as you" which was a good choice, as well as essential choices from "Dave Mason & Cass Elliot" ("Walk to the point") & "Let it flow" ("We just disagree" and "Let it go, let it flow"). However, other picks are rather mixed such as "You can all join in" although a great fun song, one could argue that for a beginners guide to Mason "Hole in my shoe" may have been more essential. I would have omitted any selections from "Two hearts" but if I had included one, it would have been the single "Dreams I dream" as opposed to the title track included here and "Baby please" from "It's like you never left" is one of the best from that great album but it'sthe only inclusion from that set and as three are taken from "Headkeeper" and they aren't particularly the best choices, you get the feeling this could've been handled better but there are classics a plenty and much work obviously went into this package as there are recordings from various labels here where other Mason compilations suffered in the past because they only went by which recordings were available to the parties compiling in the past in contrast to this platter which made the effort to pick the best version of each song (although one may disagree with their decisions), there's also great liner notes giving one a good crash course in Mason history. All in all, a very good addition to the Mason wing of the Mac palace.

Live In Boston - Remastered: Volume Three (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
All classic whether previously unreleased or not
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 28th, 2004

The main plus for this set are the six previously unreleased tracks which are mostly amazing. Jeremy's "The sun is shining" is a basic Elmore James cover that doesn't deviate much from the B-side version but it's got a nice rough feeling to it as does a cover of Fabian's "Tiger" with Jeremy sounding his most appealingly lecherous since "Hi ho silver". There's another version of "Jumping at shadows" here which is referred to in the liner notes as "more forceful" and although it's rather subtle, that's a good phrase to use in describing this version. The lengthy slow blues of "If you let me love you" is not as good on the sound quality side but heartfelt soloing by Peter prevails. Meanwhile, Danny's got two jams, well, "On we jam" is one on which you mainly hear Kirwan's guitar work but it's basically everybody just winging it for a few minutes as this seems to have acted as a soundcheck for Dinky Dawson and the recording people as they appear to have been having some technical difficulties. This seven minute piece nonetheless displays how suspenseful and moving the Macs' jams could be, and this is without even really trying. "Coming your way" is a real ride, almost double the length of the "Then play on" version and surprisingly instrumental, it's a real shame they had to opt for the fade on this tune (obviously due to unusable damaged masters) but this is even better than "On we jam" and may even compare well with the classic "Then play on" version. For those unfamiliar with the other recordings, you won't be disappointed, "Sandy Mary" is a classic Peter Green song that almost was (as it was apparently planned to be the Macs' next single after "The Green manalishi" had Peter stayed in the band) but lives in it's glory here with irresistible Little Richard influences abounding, it's a must have. Danny has a great but short rocker called "Loving kind". It will always be a wonder why this one was never cut on an album. Jeremy's set is equally impressive with the best versions available of "Madison blues" & "Got to move" here and a nice change of pace for Spencer on "Oh baby" (a.k.a. "I can't stop loving"). Jeremy's final rocking cover of "Great balls of fire" sounds as if it was mastered slower than on previous tea party collections but effective regardless as is Green's numbing finale cover of "Tutti frutti" another wish would be that this one didn't have to be faded out either but it's (all) still priceless gold.

Bottle Up And Go (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Should've bought the booze in Chicago
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 28th, 2004

Brunning is listed as playing bass in the liner notes of this album though it doesn't say which songs he's on. However, it does have an asterisk next to the songs which indicate that Eddie Burns is solely playing guitar & vocals on. So in this roundabout way, we at least have an idea as to which songs Brunning is on. Unfortunately the 4 tracks that are solo Burns recordings do hurt the album as they are all too samey, these tracks are the story telling boogie of the title track, the semi strolling shouter "Detroit women (Lookey here babe)", typical Elmore James type fare (though slightly faster than usual) in "Whisky headed woman" and by the time you get to "Vicksburg blues" you feel you've heard this song before with it's all too familiar feeling. Though the "(presumably) with band" tracks are better, I would've liked to have heard Burns stretch out a little more on guitar as we mainly get harmonica with piano stylings which do work OK, but you may get the feeling if you are a fan of the more electric guitar Chicago blues sounding works of "what could've been". Some bright spots make their mark though like the good piano swing on the opening "She's in L.A." which also has good guitar fills but "Cross your heart" gets the point I've made here across firmly in it's slow harp featured stroll. "Bad bad whisky" is an effective shuffle with a good harp/piano/guitar mix though another harp/piano shuffle follows this (at the beginning of side two) in "Kansas City" the speed then picks up with the harp/piano stuff on the boogie "Your daddy ain't foolin'" and the closing "I call it love" will instantly make you think of the Willie Dixon classic "I just want to make love to you". So we end up in the middle which will probably just give you what you most likely already expect of this release.

Mariposa De Oro (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Only luke warm and tender love was put into this album
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 27th, 2004

Unfortunately, at the height of Dave's solo popularity, he could only come up with a luke warm album such as this. Although his cover of the classic "Will you still love me tomorrow" was fairly successful, artistically, it, and the rest of the album is somewhat of a letdown. With a lack of musical focus unlike many previous outings, many songs included are either pale imitations of other recordings or simply not very interesting musical ideas which makes for a rather bland record although slightly better on the whole than his 1974 selftitled album, this is not a good representation of what Mason is capable of, it may be good to get after learning his more essential material and you wish for more but it's best left alone until later.

Live In Boston - Remastered: Volume One (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Classic crunchy Mac with some hiccups
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 27th, 2004

I would give this release a strong 5 star rating as it includes the best versions of all songs included, but not quite. The previously unreleased "Got to move" is almost as effective but the "Volume three" version is slightly preferable. It is also arguable that this unheard before take on "Rattlesnake shake" is more "edgy" (as it's referred to in the liner notes) but it's slightly longer and due to the structure of the jam that they seemed to use for this tune at the time, it sounds as though the performance was about to come to it's end but they must have had unrepairable damage to the tapes at this point so they opted for the fade out on this one. However, one can but dream that the Mac rocked away the night in elongated style! So, I guess this one breaks about even, I'd lean marginally to the "Volume two" version for sentimental reasons as that was the first version to blow us away. The biggest gripe I have with this release (apart from it's uninspired cover artwork of which it's other volumes suffer the same fate) is that "The Green manalishi" only clocks in at 12 plus minutes, this is not the complete version as one can hear the full 15 minute tape of this on numerous earlier tea party compilation releases such as "Roots - the original Fleetwood Mac live in concert" (that's the one I have anyways that compensates for the lack of the bongo solo section that is not present on this disc). The notes of this disc do claim that they had used the master tapes but how can this be with this indisputable fact brought to light? I suppose with the release of yet two more tea party
recordings having surfaced on "Show biz blues" this would not have been a complete collection of those tapes anyways so one should just enjoy this classic Mac for what it is, biting, numbing versions of songs that are treasures already, this is just the cherry on top. Even if you aren't familiar with Duster Bennett's "Jumping at shadows" (which Peter movingly covers here) and Danny's solo version of "Only you", these will instantly be thought of as Mac classics the minute you hear them. One can't forget Jeremy's biggest six string extravaganza to appear on record, the extended "I can't hold out" too. The Mac don't get much more rocking then this. Great sound quality and remixed to perfection, you won't tire of these either. Apart from it's above mentioned annoyances, it's still a real classic concert document.

Old Crest On A New Wave (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
More rocking but mediocre music
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 27th, 2004

Although better than it's predecessor, this is an OK album with a more confident guitar dominated sound throughout though fairly lightweight stuff. Highlights include the rocking opener "Paralyzed" and the single "Save me" featuring vocal support from Michael Jackson, yes, the one and only... My favorite though is the quiet emotionally moving "Gotta be on my way" featuring nice keyboards and a stronger hook than many songs contained in this set. However, the rest of the material enclosed suffers the same problem as the tunes on "Mariposa de Oro" which is that they are pale shadows of previous efforts and as a result sound rather weak but this is definitely not his worst album, or second worst, it might be a little lower than the middle.

Bobby Keys (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
The ultimate low budget chase movie soundtrack
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 26th, 2004

There are no musician credits on the copy of this album that I have but I've heard from a few reliable sources that Dave Mason does play on this album but of course we don't know which songs he's on though. This is an instrumental album which attempts to showcase Keys' saxophone work which I was glad about when I tracked it down as I feared that this album may have just been a pale imitation of his work with Delaney & Bonnie but luckily it was not. However, what musical ideas that do arise in these grooves do not come off well, with the more crunchy guitar work displayed on the album, Keys tries to make his music as friendly to the modern (at the time) ear as possible but in trying to do so, it sounds as if his sax and the guitars are jousting for position. It sounds like what Chicago may have ended up like had they continued on their rocking path they forged as Chicago Transit Authority on their brilliant debut album. That's the platter to hear if you want to successfully fuse rocking funky guitars and horns in a rock context. If you are making a low budget 70's chase TV movie and you need appropriate soundtrack music, this is it, look no further. The two Mason co-penned numbers "Steal from a king" & "Crispy duck" don't differ much from the others and as a whole is somewhat bland but do probably sound better on their own. "Altar rock" does slow down and get quieter from the original fiery proceedings of the opening three tunes but even that increases in volume and speeds up as it obviously can't contain itself long enough to vary the record in any reasonable way. Not awful but definitely not all for one sitting. Do a song a day, it works better.

Boogie Piano Chicago Style (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Bland musically overall style
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 26th, 2004

An instrumental album of piano led numbers can sound appealing as a whole but it really does work best when you listen to separate songs at a time rather than the whole album in one sitting. This is especially true for side two which has Erwin virtually alone for the whole side save for the "other" musicians on the stumbling closer "Oysters" (which features Bob Brunning on bass) the accompaniment is much needed and is still rather spare on side one but does appear in full (that is, including Brunning) on "Rubbish Boogie" which sounds like one of the faster numbers on the Memphis Slim "Live at Ronnie Scott's" video companion to Slim's "Steppin' out" release that Brunning was involved with. For the most part, the rest of the numbers change between fast ("Fat city") and slow ("Big Joe", "4 O'clock blues") piano key tumblers. I suppose you get what you pay for.

Songs For Beginners (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
"Military madness" makes it worthwhile
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, November 25th, 2004

Dave Mason is listed on this album as playing "electric guitar" on the opening (and best) track here, "Military madness" which is a pleasant light piano chunking shuffle. This catchy sing a long has tasty wah wah phrases from Mason throughout the piece and this album is worth it for this track alone. As for the rest though, "Better days" starts out as a piano and vocal only track but then it turns into a shouting mid tempo acoustic thumper. "Wounded bird" is an effective acoustic guitar and vocal only track, "I used to be a king" has slight country undertones but it remains pop sounding in a slow to mid tempo vein, but it doesn't have a great hook. "Be yourself" is a vocal, piano & acoustic guitar strummer on the verses but it's a choral swayer on the chorus sections (which are the worst parts of the track). "Simple man" is a strings/violin, piano & vocal doodle but it's not particularly memorable. "Man in the mirror" is a waltzing slow country croon on the verses but a mid tempo chirper on the chorus parts. "There's only one" is an organ featured slow to mid tempo choral sweller and "Sleep song" is a peaceful acoustic guitar, strings and vocal ditty. "Chicago" is a dramatic stomping shouter which returns us to the strong "Military madness" commercial sound (but this track isnt as good as MM is) as is the closing insignificant repetitive chorus chanting one minute piece "We can change the world". There are a few good tracks sprinkled inside this album though that wins it some points but "Military madness" will be an instant favorite for you should you purchase this platter.

Blues From Mars (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Bass filled backing keeps the spaceship fueled
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, November 25th, 2004

Brunning is listed in the liner notes for "Blues from Mars" as playing bass on this album though it doesn't say which songs he's on but the bass parts you do hear on this record are strong and help drive it along it's otherwise narrow harmonica drenched path. We start with the break neck boogie of "Rocket 88" and "Off the wall" continues the fast trend in this fiery instrumental. "It's my own fault" is a slow burner while "Me and Piney Brown" returns us to speedy pep. "My dream (Blues in my sleep)" is a somewhat draggy stroll but "Don't start me to talkin'" has passable shuffle though it's swing perhaps could've been better as Mars' harp overpowers the bass which tries it's best to help here as it does on many others present. The album's best track opens up side two as we get a Brunning Sunflower Blues Band sounding funk on "Bring it on home". "Break it up" is a rather fast stroll which almost sounds like a basic mid tempo pop tune. "Back track" is a swinging instrumental boogie and "Aw baby" is a strong stroll but the promise of the lengthy boogie "Meet me in the alley" starts to show signs of disappointing a few minutes in. One could do worse though and blues harp enthusiasts will probably really enjoy this though it is pretty difficult to find nowadays, hopefully Polydor will get this one out on CD soon though as I have a feeling this could be a revelation for me as one of those albums that you see in a completely different light

American Blues Legends '74 (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Double edged sword of blues styles enclosed
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 25th, 2004

You can hear Bob Brunning's funky bass line real good on this platter on Big John Wrencher's "Big John's boogie" and the slower Wrencher tune "I'm a root man". These are preferable to the three G.P. Jackson recordings that Bob is on because "12th street boogie" & "A letter dressed in red" are virtually the same tempo (and right next to each other to boot) "Leavin' Kansas City" is a little faster but it doesn't help differentiate the three much. Eddie Taylor's great guitar work is distinctive and featured well on the John Wrencher tapes as well as his own two songs which are "I used to have some friends" & "I know my baby" to good effect. Cousin Joe has got three songs ("I can't lose with the stuff I use", "Problems" & "Blues legends") and Doctor Ross has two ("It seems like a dream" & "On my way to school"). These aren't really high points for me but there's a good mix here so people will probably like one or the other style that's on show.

Let It Flow (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Hooray!, Here come the heavenly hits
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 19th, 2004

Dave continues a creative winning streak with an impressive set of commercially friendly numbers like the moving hit single "We just disagree", the uptempo opener "So high (rock me baby and roll me away)" & "Let it go let it flow". The funky "Takin' the time to find" rocks the hardest while in contrast, the crystalline emotional ballad "Seasons" is the mellowest and my personal favorite. There is great acoustic guitar featured throughout the proceedings herein and it works magically. Although Mason has done many covers yet again, they are well picked nuggets this time and do not suffer from the triteness of some of the past covers of more well worn songs. Arguably one of the best places to start investigating Dave's solo material.

Blues Don't Change (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Recommended, but only to a certain audience
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 14th, 2004

Though not terribly different from "The Robert Johnson songbook" & "Hotfoot powder", "Blues don't change" has slightly more electricity to it which makes for a more "band" sound than the sparse arrangements that were enclosed on those two Robert Johnson covers albums. Perhaps this is a little bit more colorful due to the fact that the Splinter Group this time out have opted to choose their material from different sources rather than just sticking to Johnson's cannon as, although not new to us Mac fans, the straightforward, very familiar by now Elmore James riff kicks off the album with "I believe my time ain't long" (which we know was well covered by Jeremy Spencer under various banners) but strangely pleasant to hear (as it's a nice change of pace from the RJ stuff we are used to hearing from Peter these days) and my personal favorite on the album, the B B King-"The thrill is gone" styled extended piece "Help me through the day". We don't escape the Robert Johnson feel altogether though, check out the beginning to "Take out some insurance". For those of you who know the tunes on "Hotfoot powder", sound familiar?! However, there are other plusses like the fact that Peter himself takes all of the lead vocals on all songs here except two ("Little red rooster" & "Nobody knows you when you're down and out"). In the end, I'm going to recommend this disc simply for those who haven't heard the Robert Johnson tribute platters and are interested in investigating them should probably start here. This, depending on how you feel, may start you on a good path in delving into those recordings or it may save you the trip back to the record seller to purchase those as this may well cover your appetite in this musical line.

Blues On Two (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Low key but better than expected
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 14th, 2004

The Deluxe Blues Band's "Motormouth Mama" (not available elsewhere) is an above average number that would have fit in well on the "Motorvating" album and this album thankfully lists musician credits for all numbers so it confirms that Bob Brunning takes up the bass duties on this one. The rest are low key but good rockin' blues numbers although "All my love in vain" by Blues & Trouble and "Lowdown dog" by the Big Town Playboys are certainly more traditional sounding than the others. Fans of the Blues Brothers will recall "Flip, flop, fly" by the Boogie Brothers Blues Band here and it's an effective closer as it was on their "Briefcase full of blues" album. Much better album than you may expect but nothing earth shattering.

Knights Of The Blues Table (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
For generalist British blues fans mainly
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 14th, 2004

A rather low key affair, this various artists collection of blues numbers are mainly acoustic save for some electricity supplied by Clem Clempson & Nine Below Zero on their respective efforts among a couple of others such as John's & Bob Weston's pals respectively in Mick Taylor with Max Middleton. The rest is basically acoustic stuff which includes Peter with the old faithful Nigel Watson on a cover of Robert Johnson's "Travelling riverside blues" which I'd say is probably better than the version that appeared on the Splinter group album, but although there is a rather impressive list of deep British blues luminaries present, it's deserved that it's low key as it's mediocre stuff overall. Probably a better document for those interested in investigating British blues artists in general though.

Blue Memphis (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Works as theatrical novelty
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 13th, 2004

It's hard to break down the first track here as the main title of side one of this album seems to be called "Blue Memphis suite" and there are separator lines on the vinyl for it's sub sections but there is really no space between each section and when listened to. As this album has yet to see the light of day on CD, we won't know until it gets a CD reissue how to treat this side one material (as separate tracks or as one long, roughly 17 minute piece). Along with the tracks on side two, it is mainly sung/spoken in storybook fashion so this album may appeal to those that enjoy more theatrical soundtracks and you can pick out Peter Green's guitar parts very easily on all tracks here (though as the musicians on the material on side one of the album are all lumped together on the "Blue Memphis suite", it's hard to know which sub sections of the "Blue Memphis suite" Peter is specifically playing on, though as said, you'll probably be able to pick him out easily once you familiarize yourself with his work on all of the side two songs) but it is unlikely you will listen to these songs in any serious way if you do track down this album. I understand Peter is now embarrassed about playing on this album but it is certainly not as bad as all of that though again it is just my opinion on this album that it's best for selective audiences. As for the sub sections of the "Blue Memphis suite", "Born in Memphis Tennessee" starts us off as a horn puffing stroll. All 32 seconds of the famous ditty "Chicago" here features chirpy horns, "Me and my piano" is a slow mope with too much horn. "Handyman" is a good piano led shuffle and this is where you can start to hear Peter more. "Feel like screaming and crying" is a quiet slow blues with good Green leads, "Riding on the blues train" is a stroll with a well handled quiet arrangement though the horns do intrude at times. "Boogin' and bluesin'" is peppy enough with a good organ moan and "Wind gonna rise" is a tippy tapping stroller which ends the suite. As for the side two tracks, "Youth wants to know" is a slow blues with tapping rhythms that makes the track seem faster than it really is and Peter has more wah wah guitar here, but only slightly. "Boogie woogie 1-9-7-0" is a piano pounding hard howling fast rocker, "Otis Spann and Earl Hooker" is a strolling strut with Peter's wah wah getting stronger here though the track still is rightfully Memphis Slim piano featured for the most part. "Chicago seven" is a rolling pulser with leaner lead guitar work from Peter here and "Mason Dixon line" is a horn puffing thin sounding closing swing though unfortunately it is not an album highlight. Again though, this makes for an interesting theatrical piece but that's hardly the kind of thing most have in mind when buying a Memphis Slim album.

Blues And Beyond (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Great for what it is but all may not enjoy it
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 13th, 2004

Peter is listed as lead vocals, lead guitar and harp on "Cruel contradictions" but as Heckstall-Smith has had to play back seat for many years, he rightfully gets the main leads here. However, the real treat is that Peter's vocal on this slow blues number (though somewhat rusty) seems to encompass more confidence than some other recent vocal appearances by Green. Although the songs that are present on this disc are longer than you may expect to find on a modern day blues album surprisingly (and disappointingly) most of the improvisation is by Dick himself which as I say is well overdue for the underrated saxophonist but given the guests on board, doesn't make this sound as varied as one would hope but it's pretty pleasant stuff overall. Other highlights are the instrumentals "Spooky but nice" (with Mick Taylor), "(Dix WWW) swamp" and "If you know you don't love me why in the world don't you leave me be" (with John Mayall). There's also the rocking humorous "Millennium blues" and some mean harp from Paul Jones on the lead off nugget "Rollin' and tumblin'" but perhaps, an acquired taste.

Blue Jug (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Questionable Billy appearance but good southern rock
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 12th, 2004

There is a "Bill Burnet" listed on this record as playing bass and strangely there are no writing credits for a Burnette (of any spelling) on this album (considering Billy is known as a strong writing presence). However, one of our Billy's writing partners back in those days was Larry Henley who co-produced this album and as little is know about this odd time in our Billy's career, I guess we'll have to assume it is our Billy Burnette playing on this album for now but hopefully the full story behind this mystery can be solved soon. As for the songs here, I was somewhat impressed by the mixing of country and rock elements here making this album's sound what southern rock should sound like as it seems to me many latter day southern rockers tend to overlook their country influences and end up sounding more metallic and, as a result, faceless. The album opens with the best track, the no nonsense punching southern hard rock of "Hard luck Jimmy", then comes "Education" which is a slow to mid tempo piano led tune with clunky rhythms. "It's a fact" comes next which is rather upbeat but the fiddles and enclosed bounce give it a more country sound and then this is followed by the mid tempo steel guitar yawner "Poor Virginia" which features strong vocals and a good hook. "Sugar man" is another attention grabbing rocker. Though the funk undertones don't work on this song, the rest of it does. "When the moon rises" is homespun uplifting country and "A miner's song" has a dramatic feel which will hit home with the blue collar community and it's the most adventurous track here, weaving in and out of slow/fast & loud/quiet episodes, keeps you nicely guessing. "Come on to town Ned" is another good rock song though watered down by the usually likable electric piano, it even has a better hook than "Sugar man". "Take a little time" is an unfortunately bland chunky closer. I do concede though that the country elements here can get a little tiring but at least the music included here is a good reminder to other southern rock acts to remember where their roots supposedly are.

The Original Fleetwood Mac Blues Band (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Great gig but poor sound quality REALLY hurts
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 11th, 2004

I should say straight away that this is a great live album but one can't help but feel that the poor sound quality on this disc makes it hard to enjoy these recordings even though they are good enough to deserve the attention they seek as this set would rival the Boston Tea Party sets as essential live Mac had it been done under proper recording circumstances. Peter Green leads the way here with more than half of the tracks featuring Green (though "Oh Suzanna" shouldn't really count as that was just a 30 second tune up style piece that probably would not have even earned it's own track number on any other disc though a stomping 30 seconds is to be had within track number 11 on the CD. The epic 19 minute "Rattlesnake shake" may seem lackluster to the 24 minute Boston Tea Party versions in comparison but it does stand up very well on it's own. Again though, better sound quality could've and probably would've made a world of difference on this track alone, let alone the rest of the disc as well. A highlight for diehards is "Got a mind to give up living" rarely heard elsewhere done by FM and it hits the spot on the "Worried dream" slow burner arena. Jeremy thunders through a standard "Baby please set a date", an above average "Madison blues" and "Can't stop loving" (AKA "Oh baby") really gives the Tea Party counterpart a run for it's money here as a rousing opener. Danny, though with only two tracks, is not to be overshadowed with his call and response boogie "Like it this way" and the lost treasure of a song known as "Loving kind" only heard on the Tea Party tapes before this by FM fans, again gives the Tea Party version a good battle. Apparently there are two versions of this CD out there, those with a version of "Long tall Sally" and those without it. I have yet to be able to track down a copy with LTS on it for my collection but I'm sure the standard of performances is kept high via another Little Richard rocker that does appear on all versions of this release which never disappoints in "Jenny Jenny". In the end, if you have most of the Mac recordings and you're trying to plug up the holes, you're best to track this one down before you get other "inferior sounding" discs like "London live '68" & "Live at the Marquee" but be warned about the sound quality of this disc annoying you until no end and constantly leaving you wishing "If only this had better sound quality (how high it would be on the Mac ladder)...".

Blue Delicacies (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Atmosphere is one of few things going for this one
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 11th, 2004

This album generally has a jazzy, stand up bass feel to it which does distinguish it a bit but aside from that, there's not much to speak of here. Rick Vito is listed as joining in on background vocals on the opening piano chunking bounce of "Trick bag" but I wouldn't say he stands out much if at all. "Worried life blues" is a piano pounding track with much horn puffing going on and it does have good swing but it's weak hook is not a standout. "Big chief" is a horn featured bossa nova with strong piano too (again). "Singing in my soul" is a dragging stroll with gospel type howling vocals, "Doing something wrong" is a piano led boogie woogie, "Lights out" is a fast piano plinking pulser, "Hey now baby" is a funk-ish horn puffing piano roller, "Happy tears" is a yowling stroll with the by now over familiar piano/horns arrangements. "Pink champagne" is a light shuffle and "River's invitation" has a slight bossa nova feel though this time with more horns. As said though, aside from sounding of yesterday in a novelty sense, it's doubtful you'll enjoy much here to make it memorable in any real sense.

Blue Guitar (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Great tunes on an odd compilation make it worthwhile
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 11th, 2004

An odd compilation album of songs from Peter's first three PVK albums "In the skies", "Little dreamer" & "Whatcha gonna do". There are three recordings here that are of main interest though as they are either only available here or rarely available elsewhere. One is the opener "Apostle" which is different to the version on "In the skies" Although still very mellow, it has a more prominent lead part though I think this has more to do with the way both versions were recorded as opposed to Green not wanting the "In the skies" version to have one, and there's some ooh and aah backing vocals too. Probably not as good as the "In the skies" version but it's such a good song that it's safe to say both versions are great. "Woman don't" was the B side to the "Walkin' the road" single and curiously "Watcha gonna do" didn't appear on the album of the same name but does appear here. The rest are pretty good choices from the previous three albums but it's hardly definitive. However, there's enough good ones here for recommendation.

The Blue Horizon Story 1965-1970 Vol. 1 (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Does some cleaning but needs to do more
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 11th, 2004

Being a completest type of collector, I find this set both helpful and irksome at the same time as it does include John McVie's bass lines & Peter Green's guitar licks on the VERY rare Eddie Boyd tracks "It's so miserable to be alone" and it's original single B side partner (also with JM on bass & PG on guitar), "Empty arms" but they only included the A side of Boyd's "The big boat" single (so one still needs to get this single in order to have "Sent for you yesterday", another Boyd non album track with Peter, John & Mick playing on both tracks. For Otis Spann, they've included a track that was only a B side of a single previously called "Temperature is rising 98.8F" (which is a different take on "Temperature is rising 100.2F" from Spann's "The biggest thing since colossus" album) so it saves us from getting Spann's "Walkin'" single but it does not include a song called "Blues for hippies" (on which Peter, Danny & John also play) that had shown up only on a few sparse singles which was recorded at the "...colossus" sessions. Also, be warned of a track included on this box listed as "Hideaway" by Chicken shack as previously unreleased as on listening, it is clearly not "Hideaway" but it is in fact "San-Ho-Zay" from the shack's debut album "Forty blue fingers freshly packed and ready to serve". Granted, they did include a few shack non album tracks that Christine plays on (such as "When my left eye jumps") but they did not include the track on the other side of that single ("It's okay with me baby" on which she sings lead, plays piano, etc.) so you'd need to get the single anyways. David "Honeyboy" Edwards' song "My baby's gone" is listed here as "previously unreleased" but this recording has since shown up on the "Complete Blue Horizon sessions" FM box set which is more essential for Mac collectors anyways. As for the "alternate version" of the Mac's "Black magic woman" included here, it's simply just the "English rose" (no exho, but pan) mix of the song, therefore, not as rare as one may have been led to believe. With all this said, this is a good overview of the Blue Horizon label in general (as I try to see this from a general record label enthusiasts point of view) with the first disc chronicling BH's very purist beginnings on disc one, through it's high points of commercial success on disc two and flourishing in the British blues boom on disc three. With the "Vol. 1" tag, and the notation in the well written liner notes alluding to "future (reissues)" one can hope that such projects will follow suit soon and help to clean things up in regards to rabid collectors (like me) though since this box was out in 1997 and nothing (or at least very little) has happened since then, I won't hold my breath though one can only hope.

Back To The Future (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Enjoyable enough
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, November 2nd, 2004

This is a rather dated but likable soundtrack if you can steer clear of some of the admittedly banal moments present. Lindsey's "Time bomb town" has thin guitar picks and barking vocals from LB which I think sounded better in the piece within the movie where this track makes it's appearance more than on here though as this track was most likely made for the movie specifically, this was probably Buckingham's intention when crafting the track. Huey Lewis & The News have two tracks here, the popular (though edited down here) lead off single "The power of love" and the more rocking but still typical sounding Lewis track "Back in time". There are two Alan Silvestri score pieces here, the short but strong "Back to the future" and the lengthy "Back to the future overture" which I find the preferable of the two due to it's stirring quiet sections. Eric Clapton's "Heaven is one step away" is an up beat popish track which again I think sounded better in the film's appearance scene but it's off beat reggae guitar sound keeps it interesting and Etta James' "The wallflower (Dance with me Henry)" here sounds very mono-ish next to the newly recorded tracks on the soundtrack but it's an atmospheric shuffle and some of you may recognize this song being recorded basically as the "Behind the mask" era Fleetwood Mac (save for Stevie Nicks) in 1989 under the "Christine McVie & Friends" moniker with the song being billed as "Roll with me Henry" that showed up on the various artists "Rock Rhythm & Blues" album on Warner Brothers Records. The last three tracks on this album are by The Starlighters with Marvin Berry (Harry Waters Jr. is singing/playing as Marvin on the album according to the liner notes) taking the lead vocals on the oft covered (Penguins/Cleftones/Crew Cuts etc.) melting teen idol ballad "Earth angel (Will you be mine)" and the sax on the slowish swinging instrumental "Night train" and with Marty McFly taking the lead vocals on a lightweight cover of the Chuck Berry classic "Johnny B. Goode" and though it does include "a" guitar solo (played by Tim May, according to the liner notes), no, this track does not have the guitar wildness that Fox goes in to at the end of the scene in the movie where this track plays! After the initial string bending licks are heard is where it ends on the record! Obviously, these aforementioned performers were the names of the characters in the movie with McFly of course being Michael J. Fox's character though it's not him singing on this final track though listed as being done by McFly, according to the liner notes, it's sung by Mark Campbell. I say all this just so you know the story behind it all (in case you didn't). Anyways, this album's better moments will make you appreciate the music in the film all the more after hearing it here.

Big Sky (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good parts but least atmospheric from Bardens' bunch
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 31st, 2004

Though slightly atmospheric, this is the weakest of the Bardens albums related to Fleetwood Mac members appearances. Mick Fleetwood is on the album's best track, the opening "China blue" which is a haunting moaner though they are using a clipped effect on Mick's drums here which makes them sound more machine like. Same could be said for his drums on the other track he plays on from this album called "You got it", an instrumental (though it has some title chants) which may sound promising but Neale Heywood's gruff guitar here sounds odd next to the tracks other instrumentation so I don't think it really works. As for the rest, "Puerto Rico" tries to be an urgent chirper but fails, the title track is bland slow to mid tempo drone, "Gunblasters" is the album's most rocking track, another instrumental with more growling Heywood guitars but those 80's type fanfare horn sounding keys parts are the worst parts of the track. "On the air tonight" is an OK up tempo echoy light track. Another instrumental is "A brave new world" which is a repeating monotonal keyboard plinker and though Neale's guitars try to get it going later on, they can't as the track just goes nowhere. "On a roll" is plinky pep that makes one wonder if it's busy lyrics are trying to compensate for all these instrumentals as we get three more instrumentals to end the album. "The last waltz" is up beat but has an "on hold on the phone" feel to it, "For old times sake" is a galloping piano piece (which is the best of all the instrumentals on offer to us here but even then, it's still not great) and "Scarletti" sounds like a solo piano recital piece. If you do decide to track this one down, you should leave it until after you can track down Bardens' more appealing efforts.

Best Of Traffic (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Could've been better but still good enough
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 30th, 2004

Island attempted to clean things up regarding Traffic (as they had broken up due to Steve Winwood going off to join Blind Faith) in 1969. In addition to the previously unreleased material compilation album "Last exit", "Best of Traffic" tries to hit the bright spots in Traffic's short career up to that point (naturally unaware that they would reform shortly after). The twanging pop of Winwood's "Paper sun" and Mason's much covered "Hole in my shoe" are essential listens here as is the "Paper sun" single B side only track in the stomping "Smiling phases" and though there are many good choices here (like "Heaven is in your mind", "No face no name no number" & "Dear Mr. Fantasy" from the "Mr. Fantasy" album and the "had to be there" inclusion of "Feelin' alright" from their selftitled 1968 album), some choices are questionable as to whether they should be thought of as Traffic's "best" recordings. Naturally, this is all down to opinion and some may feel as though songs like "Coloured rain" are needed, I have found that song, though good, somewhat overrated and it's understandable that Island apparently wished to enclose some tracks from their "Last exit" album, but "Shanghai noodle factory" sounds too much like "Who knows what tomorrow may bring" from the "Traffic" album to me (and as that was the track they chose to release, then surely that would be considered preferable to this one, if they felt they needed to include one with "that sound"?) and given that "Welcome to the canteen" had not taken place yet, the inclusion of the "Last exit" version of "Medicated goo" is excusable (since the still to come live version, I think, is better) but I still feel that they may have been better off starting with PS, HIMS & SP and then including the B side to Mason's one off Island single ("Little woman" since the A side of the single showed up on LE, but it is understandable if this track was not included here going by the fact that Family was his backing band on that track, and not Traffic, though Traffic were the backing band on that single's A side track, "Just for you"), "Feelin' alright (Take 1)" (which showed up on DM's "Scrapbook" compilation double album on Island in 1972) & the two "Here we go round the mulberry bush" soundtrack unique tracks (the films title track and "Am I what I was or am I what I am") and then used the remaining time for the "best of the regular album tracks" but that's just me. As it is, I find it amusing that, from what I have heard, the rest of Traffic was not happy with Dave's "Hole in my shoe" (as they felt it was too commercial for their psychedelic tastes at the time) but listening back on Winwood's "Paper sun" (which was deemed un-commercial then) in comparison now, they both seem as commercial as each other. Oh, how times change, but again, this could be just me. This album is still partly essential for those two single tracks plus the "Paper sun" single B side track "Smiling phases" as said above and then I'd suggest you hunt down the UK version of Islands remastered "Traffic" CD for it's inclusion of the above mentioned "Here we go round the mulberry bush" soundtrack tunes to clean up your Traffic collection.

Behind The Sun (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
The soloing slowhand returns again
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 30th, 2004

I must admit, I've never been a big fan of slowhand's solo offerings because I found they lacked the improvisation that made him popular on his earlier recordings but here we get some back on the slow but impressively stretched out "Same old blues" and there's a good solo on "Just like a prisoner" too. Other highlights are the fiery "Forever man", the sensitive closing title track, the atmospheric ballad "It all depends", the Floyd/Cropper penned stomper "Knock on wood" (which some may remember Ami Stewart covering successfully from the disco era) and of course, "Something's happening" with Lindsey on additional guitar which jumps along nicely. This has definitely got to be considered a real highlight for Eric's solo catalogue.

Brunning Hall Sunflower Blues Band (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Underrated sunflower
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 30th, 2004

Though oddly billed as "Brunning HALL Sunflower Blues Band" (rather redundant, as Sunflower was Hall) this is probably the most overlooked BSBB album and it's a shame as there are some very good tracks here, nothing earth shattering, but it may surprise you at times how much you're enjoying it. I think the best track on the platter is "Put a record on", this is the best version of this song out there and the only one that doesn't attempt to force a funk arrangement as I feel it was mean to be a stripped down acoustic guitar and piano tinkled lament showcasing Jo Ann Kelly's rich vocals at their peak. There are funk arrangements here that do work very well though like the opening "Call me" (with it's tasty picking guitar, chunky piano and busy bass lines, a good funk/blues), the punchy "Now you're crying" (which is faster and more electric) and the closing "Things are getting better" (on which the guitar/piano/bass combo works it's best) though there is some malfunctioning funk here like "Too poor to die" (which is sluggish though it does get better the more you get used to it as it goes along) and the bland, harmonica led "Waiting for you" (which sounds more like it should have been on the inferior "I wish you would" album instead), but there are some other good moments to be heard here like "Gotta keep running" (which is less rocking but works better than Dave Kelly's version as Jo Ann pulls it through, makes you wonder what a powerhouse this would have
been had Dave Kelly been around to join Jo Ann and sing on this version) and the up tempo pulser "Feel so bad" (which has nice bass and strong guitar fills). There are a couple of fair songs like "Be satisfied" (which in itself isn't that great but Brunning's growling bass grabs your attention throughout the piece), the more pop/rock sounding "Once upon a time" (not a strong hook but still a good piano part) and the piano rambler "Rolling down the highway" (which has a stronger guitar tone that doesn't show up that often though you wish it would) but then there is the silly throwaway "Bogey man" which Jo Ann does her best to save but that's a hard job that is frankly impossible for anyone. However, the above mentioned GOOD funk tunes and "Put a record on" makes this a must hear for you at some point.

The Best Of Fleetwood Mac (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Hardly a best of, but good Reprise rareities clean up
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 24th, 2004

This is a strange compilation put out by Reprise. It does appear from the packaging that it would be a non US pressing and it doesn't seem as though it's a UK one either as the catalogue number doesn't start with a "K" the way most of the UK Reprise pressings did back then and there's no year release listed either so it's hard to know when it was released too. My guess would be that this is a French pressing but I can't say for sure. The main plus for collectors is that it includes some rare early 70's singles only tracks like the rocking "Purple dancer", the beautiful "World in harmony" & the poetic "Dragonfly". Interestingly, "Oh well" parts 1 & 2 are spliced together but you can hear the faded snippet of part 1 which cannot be heard on relevant copies of "Then play on" and "Searching for Madge" is strangely edited down to five minutes flat. Even odder, all they have done is let it play for five minutes and then just stopped it cold. They could have chosen a better title too as "Best of" is not really indicative of this throw together of "Then play on" tunes with some oddities. All in all though, this, with other highlights from the "Then play on" album makes this a colorful energetic listen.

Being Human (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Being worth it for one song
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 20th, 2004

I don't know whose idea is was but "Being human" tries for a concept album approach of stringing all of the tracks together in a seamless whole (rather than have space in between each track) which perhaps should not have been done but this isn't exactly Pink Floyd so separating the tracks won't be too hard. Unfortunately, the title track of this album is rather faceless and although she's listed as being on it, you can't hear Bekka very well on it. However, "Two of the lucky ones" is a beautiful emotional piano/acoustic guitar led ballad which is a real standout on this album and almost sounds out of place compared to the rest of the material but it is essential Bekka listening regarding what has been released so far in her career that she has been on. There are many other decent ballads on this album like the steel guitar and clave featured "Somethin' 'bout a Sunday" but it doesn't go anywhere, another one that is rather bland is "Let me love you one more time". Then there's the acquired taste for the old fashioned waltz sounding country croon of "Slow dance" and what is listed on the CD as a "bonus track" called "Before another day goes by" which is very similar to the previous track but a slight improvement on the instrumentation. By contrast, there's the fast driver "Stomp" but the fiddle plucks keep it homespun. Another fiddle led stomp is "Sure feels real good" which isn't my thing personally but I can see it appealing to those that enjoy that style. There are some high points like the opening track "Laughin' all the way to the bank" which is a slapping hoe-down clucker which is helped tremendously by the much needed banjo lines throughout, the strumming yodeler "You find love when you make it" which includes a good pop beat and the moderate jangler "I owe it all to you". To me though. "Two of the lucky ones" is the one you'll find yourself repeating constantly on this CD and I can recommend this disc for this song alone.

Beneath My Wheels (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Instrumentation brings it through
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 20th, 2004

It seems to me that Kevin Welch (at least on this release) puts more emphasis on his storytelling songwriting abilities than on the importance of the hooks but the earthy instrumentation included on this disc helps make this album work. The track Bekka is on here is the opener "Everybody's gotta walk" which has a delta slide blues feel and you can hear her better as the title chants go along, may not get you right away but a good grower. Kevin does kind of a Mark Knopfler talk whisper vocal approach on songs like "Fold your wings" & "Five million one thousand miles" (which adds credence to this storytelling songwriting approach assumption) and both employ a mainly acoustic arrangement though the latter still has the country tinge. Personally, I'm not big on the country tunes here like "Every little lie" and the title track as though the former does try to break free from these country leanings with funk styled rhythm guitars, they come across as fiddle plucks at times which keeps it from taking off and the latter fights off some growling guitars that do work on other songs but not on the song called "Beneath my wheels" which is basically a country shuffle, not to forget the mid tempo "Anna lise please" which includes echoy guitars that has an overall country feel that grows when the steel guitars come in. There are many great moments on this record though like "Full moon over christiania", a very good bursting rock song (with a rock rhythm this time) and the acoustic mid tempo "Hill country girl" both of which, (despite the title of the latter) wouldn't be out of place on Todd Sharp's "Walking all the way" album with their slight early Bad Company feel with the return of the growling guitars and my favorite song on the record at the moment "Bastard nation" which is an effective bongo & acoustic tension builder. There's also the "Another man done gone" type boogie called "Faith comes later", a strolling ballad with good light electric instrumentation called "Shores of stone" and the closing acoustic slapper "While I was loving you". I recommend this platter as a smart buy because even though it may not seem that great first time around, you can picture it growing well with age.

Split Coconut (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
An atmospheric blend of musical stylings
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 18th, 2004

This is one of my favorites of Dave's Columbia albums and it's a great improvement on the 1974 selftitled release. We are treated to Mason's masterful six string work on the opener and the closer. The former is the title track which is nearly an instrumental while the latter, "Long lost friend" ends with a tasty solo and features The Manhattan Transfer to good effect on backing vocals as does a cover of Buddy Holly's nugget "Crying, waiting & hoping". My highlights overall are "Sweet music" featuring a dated but likable keyboard part and the sing a long "You can lose it" but there's lots of great hooks here with a wonderful assortment of musical variety, it's easy to find a treasure on here no matter what your tastes are.

Certified Live (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
An interesting in concert document
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 18th, 2004

This is a fun live set to listen to now to give one an indication of the size of popularity that Dave had in the 70's and which numbers were their favorites. Although the performances are rather predictably standard, there are a few surprises such as the cover of the Eagles classic "Take it to the limit" and the bluesy "Goin' down slow". "Look at you look at me" is intriguingly stretched to 12 plus minutes but it's not the guitar extravaganza fans have yearned for really as it features a lot of keyboards and doodling before the axe falls and not much longer than on previous versions. However, as a live document, it was done at an interesting juncture so included is a fair mix of Columbia, Blue thumb & pre- solo/rare/odd tracks.

Playback (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Tom cares about his fans
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, October 16th, 2004

It's always been obvious that Tom Petty cares for the needs of his fans and here successfully meshes the politics of fans wants and music biz decisions by having three discs here including "Greatest hits" and three discs include rare and unissued material. The first three discs are the classic MCA Petty containing everything except "Something in the air" from the 1994 "Greatest hits" compilation album. As one needs to get this box set for the demo of "The apartment song" (from disc 5) which has Stevie on it anyways, it saves you from getting "Hard promises" as her appearances from that are here in "Insider" & "You can still change your mind". Of course label restrictions stop this set from being definitive as there are no Warners Petty numbers but curious in that the liner notes discuss "A wasted life" from "Long after dark" being an unusual but great song of Tom's and yet it's not included. Disc 4 is the B-side collection but the live version of "Spike" from the "Needles and pins" single seems to be missing but otherwise cleans things up pretty well. Other highlights from discs 5 & 6 are Tom's own vocals on "Stop draggin' my heart around", "Keeping me alive" which some may remember from the video compilation of "A bunch of videos and some other stuff" and an interesting outtake from "Full moon fever" called "Waiting for tonight" which features The Bangles. Although the rarities discs are almost half the length of the hits discs, they still include more unreleased/rare material than the "25 years the chain" box set did. Are you listening Mr. Fleetwood?

Dave Mason (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
A nearly dismal, embarrasing effort
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 14th, 2004

Frankly, this is one of the, if not the weakest Mason solo outing to date with poor production and the lack of strong material. A few bright spots save it from being dismal like the interesting "Relation ships" but the decision to remake "Every woman" from "It's like you never left" shouldn't have been made as there was nothing wrong with the original and the twangy steel guitars on here and potentially good songs like "Show me some affection" dilute the power they could've had. Although Dave, by all accounts, gave in to fan pressure by cutting his own version of "All along the watchtower", he missed the point that the fans wanted him to play some lead guitar (and make it snappy) which we know he can do but the solo section at the end is shortened by annoying, almost embarrassing, block vocals of the title repeated a few times which could've been some nice lead breaks but like it could be said for the rest of the album, it was not to be.

The Best Of Dave Mason (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good choices but redundant
Review written by Anonymous from Peabody, MA, USA, October 14th, 2004

Good choices of Blue Thumb era Mason solo numbers here, four from "Alone together" & "Headkeeper" each as well as one from "Dave Mason & Cass Elliot" but there's nothing on here you can't get elsewhere and Mason has never been served well on compilations anyways so you'd be best to get the official albums.

It's Like You Never Left (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
It's like a good mix of rock and ballads
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 13th, 2004

This is a good mix of electric and acoustic numbers. The album kicks off on the electric side with a catchy rocker called "Baby...please". Oddly, Dave decided to remake "Headkeeper" for this set and it rocks harder than the original version with more emphasis put on the gallop. The best moment for me on the album is "Side tracked" which is an instrumental jam featuring great leads from Dave throughout and some nice electric piano and a irresistibly funky groove. It's a real shame Mason hasn't done more music of this nature in his career as it's first rate stuff. On the acoustic side, the highlights are "Every woman" which is short but sweet, the sensitive "Maybe", the effective "Silent partner" & "The lonely one" with distinctive harp work from guest Stevie onder. This is definitely one of Dave's high water marks with Columbia and a very good one overall too.

Dave Mason Is Alive (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Dave may disagree but this is a great live set
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 13th, 2004

Although Dave denounces this record, this album nonetheless has a great live sound but not in a bombastic way, it's a more intimate setting which makes for a good soft rock guitar feel. The opener "Walk to the point" is surprisingly the best part and is just as good as the studio version but in a different way as it doesn't have the harmonies of Cass Elliot, it now relies on the melody itself which works very well and shows how wonderfully written it is. There isn't a bad performance however, one may be disappointed in that the same recordings of "Just a song" & "Feelin' alright" from "Headkeeper" appear here so it would make sense for MCA to release this as a 2 on 1 CD repackage with "Headkeeper" but that remains to be seen.

Bartering (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Mostly subtle and sensitive
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 6th, 2004

It seems clear to me that the intention here was rather theatrical. Whether this works or not is questionable but there are enough emotional moments present to give it the nod. Though Lindsey is misspelled on the notes of this album as "Lindsay" he lends sensitive lead guitar and background vocals to "I'm no stranger than you" (which is a nice laid back soothing slow to mid tempo tune featuring meaningful strings), very distinctive crystalline acoustic guitar plucks to what I feel is the album's best track, "Don't it drag on" (a heartfelt piece with moving strings), searing electric lead guitar to the album's most rocking track in the speedy stomping "After the storm (Go out dancin')" (you can recognize LB's parts but he holds back a little with a thinner tone than usual on this piano chunker) and backing vocals to the country bouncing yawner "Time" (with perhaps a slight Grateful Dead feel, I think it's the weakest of the 4 Lindsey featured tracks). As for the rest, "We been singin' songs" was a single from this record (as I had noticed in a listing it had peaked at number 97) and one can see why it didn't do very well as it doesn't really have a good hook though they probably chose it more due to it's fast speed and stronger strings/guitar/drums sound than what appears on many other tracks. The opening "(Venice) It's good to see you again" has nice strings and piano parts on the verses but the loudness on the choruses hurt. "Afternoon (Caught me wonderin')" is a piano featured ballad with steel guitars and organ, "Women & gin" includes piano & bass arrangements at the beginning and then later on you get some strings and light drums. It's pleasant but there's many better tracks here than this one. Stewart's cover of the Rolling Stones' "No expectations" encloses a slow piano ballad with strings try and it's fairly useful but of course it can't topple the Stones classic sliding original and "Stoned & lonely" tries to be an anthemic swayer featuring steel guitar and strings. It's not bad but it is ultimately lightweight. In the end, Lindsey does good work on some of the best moments on "Bartering" and it's worth it for those songs alone given you put these recordings in the context of the times in which they were recorded.

King Of The Blues: 1989 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Show biz style lacks improv but just good enough
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 6th, 2004

By the late 80's B.B. King was well at home with MCA Records and this, along with Kings 1971 album "In London" do display the kind of "show biz" leanings (that Peter Green had referred to) that King was performing that Green was not big on (though he did admire King's earlier work) and Peter does admittedly have a good case when listening to such non improvisational affairs like these but there may be just enough goodness in "King of the blues 1989" specifically that can be squeezed out to enjoy a few good drops from anyways. Mick plays on the mid to up tempo "Undercover man" which has strong bass synth. Mick is impressively straightforward enough throughout the track but it doesn't sound as raw as I would've liked but I think this has more to do with this 80's production stylings than what Mick had done. The track is likable though another track he plays on is more preferable which is "Can't get enough". Mick is straight ahead (though machine sounding) again and this track has a good stroll feel and you can hear Stevie very well on the backing vocals on this track. As for the rest, "(You've become a) Habit to me" is a mid tempo song with slap bass and 80's keys, "Drowning in the sea of love" is a lightweight tune (though better than the opener) with unusual off beat rhythms, "Standing on the edge" is a better moment, with it's soulful stroll arrangement, "Go on" is a rocking catchy shuffle, "Lets straighten it out" is the closest to improvisation you'll get on the record as it starts out with a one minute solo from King's beloved guitar, Lucille though it then kicks in to what reminds me of a sort of shouting version of "Sexual healing" (though naturally, this track is lighter than the late Marvin Gaye's song). "Change in your lovin'" tries for hip light funk but seems dated sounding now. "Lay another log on the fire" is the most raw sounding song on the regular album with louder guitar and more horns but it's problem is that it tried to be another "The thrill is gone" and of course, though possible, it's highly doubtful that will even happen again. "Business with my baby tonight" is a stomp which ends the regular album but it's smooth keys water the tune down. The CD version of the album has an extra song which is a slow blues track called "Take off your shoes" which is the most raw track of all the ones mentioned here with it's stripped down arrangement featuring organ, horns & piano. Unfortunately this track is not as heartfelt as the ones on the regular album so it makes me wish that the tracks on the regular album were this stripped down as I think this may have made a difference overall. Still though, the Stevie & Mick tracks along with a few other high points along the way make this a nice King album though if you're just investigating King's work in general, I'm sure there are many other King albums that you should start with before getting around to this one. A final side note: although this album is titled "King of the blues 1989" it was in fact actually released circa Thanksgiving 1988 (I'm guessing they went with the 1989 tag due to King promoting it well in to the next year though who knows). I distinctly remember buying this album at the same time as Fleetwood Mac's 1988 "Greatest hits" album as they were released at the same time and I of course wanted to get the "Greatest hits" album as well as this the minute they became available which I do as often as I can with any album a past or present Mac member plays/sings on a recording.

Beggar's Banquet (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Popular tracks best but acoustic blues fans enjoy rest
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 6th, 2004

Though not credited in the copy I have, it's been documented in various places over the years that Dave Mason plays shehani (an Indian reed instrument similar to a clarinet) on the jangly rocking stomp of "Street fighting man" where you'll hear what is probably the instrument in question towards the end of the track into the fade (he apparently plays on "Dear Doctor" & "Factory Girl" as well). This track along with this album's best known songs (like the classic building samba of "Sympathy for the devil" and the tasty chiming sliding acoustic strummer "No expectations") are undoubtedly the best parts to "Beggars banquet" but those that like the more homespun acoustic blues leanings of the Stones may enjoy the other album tracks here such as "Dear doctor" which reminds me somewhat of Fraternity of Man's "Don't bogart me" (most famously from the movie "Easy rider"), the strutting blues shuffle of "Parachute woman" (which features hard strumming acoustic guitars and is harmonica led), the mid tempo funkish acoustic strummer "Jig saw puzzle" (which gets better as it goes along with Hawaiian electric guitar slides and good piano later on), the rolling acoustic clapping blues of "Prodigal son", the medium paced gruff jangler "Stray cat blues" (which here is good but I personally think the "Get yer ya ya's out" live version puts this version to shame), the acoustic and fiddle doodling yowl of "Factory girl" (which sounds like it could have easily been an early Rod Stewart solo track from his Mercury years) and the closing "Salt of the earth" (on which the acoustic strummer meets the piano chunker that builds fairly well) but even if you're disappointed with the other tracks, the first three mentioned here are essential and undeniable.

Barking At Airplanes (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Strong instrumentation but weak hooks
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 4th, 2004

Lindsey plays and sings on "Begging for favors (learning how things work)" and it has some aggressive urgent vocals from Lindsey but like many songs here, the downfall is that the songs included on this record suffer from a lack of a good catchy hook. A song like "Bon voyage" would be good but sounds like a carbon copy of "Coming around again" by Carly Simon. "He makes the sun rise (orpheus)" has an intriguing instrumental build but the weak tune mars the occasion. There is much impressive guitar and synth keyboard work throughout the album which will earn this record an average rating and fans of Carnes may like it more than that but on the whole I've tried to like this album but every time the level isn't as high as I'd like it to be.

A Banquet In Blues (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Best of Mayall's 70's bunch
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 3rd, 2004

Though Mayall's 70's material majorly suffers next to his 60's output, "A banquet in blues" is one of his better 70's outings and probably the best from Mayall's Rick Vito days. The brisk opening shouter "Sunshine" features a bright and tasty Blue Mitchell trumpet solo and also has John McVie on bass, effective in the up stairs tumbler sound. Rick here is on vocals (presumably in with the shouting verse sections) and on rhythm guitar (which you can hear thinly in the background of the grumble). In fact, Rick is on every track on the album in one way or another except one, which is the horn & piano led bland mid temp track "Lady" so it's probably just as well he's not on that one. "You can't put me down" is a fast shuffle with a slight disco feel, Rick plays lead guitar and also does (background?) vocals on this one. Rick also lends vocals to the album's best track, the closing "Fantasyland", at 14 minutes, the beginning and end are flute led with more chanting verses (so I'd imagine he's singing in those parts) and then the middle section is suspenseful swirling, fiddle scratching and guitar strumming meanderings which also includes a quiet but effective bass solo by one time Peter Green sidekick Alex Dimochowski. Rick plays rhythm guitar on the dragging skipper "I got somebody" (which mainly features a bass/drums chug) and funk laden track "Turn me loose" (which also has disco possibilities but that side is not as evident on the cupped horn sections which are nicely placed on this one) and Vito also is listed as guitar for the dated sounding but nonetheless enjoyable "Seven days too long" (which is almost pop/rock as the blues hides behind that shield here) and the hard to take serious "Table top girl" (a somewhat pulsing track). It's doubtful anyone would ever recommend you get any 70's Mayall releases before anything else he's done but when the time comes when you do wish to listen to some, this would probably be your best bet from the pack.

The Stars Come Out For Christmas Volume 5: A Very Special Benefit Album (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Too short Christine!
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, October 3rd, 2004

Christine's "Coventry carol" is nice but very short (under 2 minutes in length) and it's been vague as to when/where/who with this was recorded. It has a church like harpsichord feel and Christine does a good job with the vocals though there have been various Christmas compilations out there that have this track that have reportedly been apparently pressed at the incorrect speed so do keep this in mind when looking out for this recording come the holiday season. This is the one that I have in my collection and it sounds the correct speed to me so at least I can recommend this one speed wise anyways. As for the rest, "T'was the night before Christmas" has plinky musical backing by Doc Severinsen while Rush Limbaugh reads us the tale in storybook fashion. The Stylistics' "The little drummer boy" is straightforwardly covered, maybe a little faster than usual, Glenn Medeiros' "Merry Christmas darling" has a pleasant funk twist, "Santa Claus is coming to town" is swung up here by Ray Charles as only Ray can do it. "Oh little town of Bethlehem" is faithfully performed by Emmylou Harris here, "Deck the halls" has been given a "beat-ed up bounce" by The Commodores here, The Bellamy Bros. "Having a tropical Christmas" is atmospheric enough, Kathie Lee Gifford's "It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas" is standard fare, "Two-step round the Christmas tree" by Michael Martin Murphy & Suzy Bogguss is a square dance slap which then abruptly goes in to Dolly Parton & Kenny Rogers' hoe-down "I believe in Santa Claus". Beat Boys' "Light of the stable" has a good gospel feel and then quickly coming in after McVie's track ends is Michael Johnson's "Upon a Christmas eve" which is a nice acoustic guitar tune, then comes "Feliz navidad" by Holly Dunn which is what is expected, perhaps a little quieter than normal, a pleasant version. Clint Black's "Til Santa's gone" is an upbeat country bouncing croon, Oak Ridge Boys' "Little one" is a mid tempo choir & strings tune, "Country Christmas" by Ricky Van Shelton is a speedy, up & down bounce, Les Paul type piece, "Away in a manger" by Willie Nelson here is what you'd expect Nelson to perform it like, Steve Wariner's "Traditional Christmas medley" includes "Hark the herald angels sing", a nice musical box sound on "The first noel" & "O come all ye faithful", nicely done. As that track finishes the applause fades in for the live Peter, Paul & Mary choir rave up strumming punch of "Children go where I send thee" which in comparison to the
previous tracks seems lengthy but all in all a fair mix here, I just wish Christine's "Coventry carol" was longer, but it's good for the minute and a half that it does last.

Live At The BBC (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Straightforward rock and blues
Review written by John Fitzgerald, September 30th, 2004

This is a jam packed collection of live recordings done for the BBC that mainly centers on shorter rock and blues numbers though the leadoff run through of "Rattlesnake shake" is the main exception with some gut wrenching string bending from the Green god but this recording is now redundant because of it's complete release (with the "Underway" section) on the "Show biz blues" collection. This fact doesn't really matter because it is followed by a real treat which is a gruff version of "Sandy Mary" (which those familiar
with the Boston tea party tapes will recall) which includes some great Hendrix styled wah wah licks. Other Green highlights include the strolling "Can't believe you wanna leave", "Long grey mare" with a different rhythm style than that which appears on the debut album and another great Little Richard type rocker in "Tallahassee lassie" which is a good second helping for those yearning more numbers of this kind that Peter had mastered so well on the Boston tea party tapes. You won't be disappointed with the usual bunch of
classic Green greats either, "Man of the world" sounds as though it's the same backing track as the studio recording but Peter's vocal is live. I just thought I'd point out some interesting twists that some of these versions enclose. Same can be said for Jeremy's Elmore James and Elvis impersonations but to me Spencer's real treats are a slightly different slidey blues tune called "Prechin'" and my personal favorite on the set which is a
beautiful cover of Tim Hardin's "Hang on to a dream". It's arguable as to whether Jeremy was impersonating Hardin or not but it can be taken nonetheless as a serious moving piano ballad with some tasty cymbal sprays from Mick. Danny is not to be outdone, in addition to some more well known "Then play on" era goodies, he's got a jangly original pop tune called "When I see my baby", a stomping slow blues entitled "Blues with a feeling" and "Early morning come" which is a nearly solo acoustic blues that shows Kirwan can get
successfully pure and traditionalist as anybody else. On the whole, less improvisational than some may hope but still colorful and varied nonetheless. According to "The complete recording sessions" book, there's at least another 70 odd recordings still in the BBC vaultsof the Mac up until 1971, one can only hope these see the light of day soon too.

Some Assembly Required (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Much assembly required as it sounds low budget
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 26th, 2004

Although more than half of this album are Mason originals, the best moment is the heartfelt opener, "Breakaway". This is a cautious, low key, comeback album for Dave. He's noticeably rusty but the greatness is in there somewhere underneath the keyboard laden production and an overall lightweight sound
though it does fair better than the more high profile comeback attempt with "Two hearts" this isn't a classic outing, with an obviously low budget approach almost sounding demo like. It gives one the feeling of an original recording album that would be purchased on TV. It's definitely one of Dave's weaker discs but probably not his worst overall and "Breakaway" is very good.

As You Will (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Most tracks fall short for one reason or another
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 26th, 2004

This would've been an engaging folk effort but for one reason or another most tracks here come up short. The track Lindsey is credited as being on is the pleasant strummer "Oh my darling" though it oddly doesn't list what he's doing (i.e. playing? singing?) on the recording. As for the rest, the opening "She's my music" is a breathy country yawner, "Way to your heart" is an acoustic droning swayer, "Lovers or friends" is an acoustic doodle with a slight Peter, Paul & Mary feel (though less successful), "Waikiki" has a good acoustic start but over dramatic string swells and horn section toots that arrive later ruin it. "2 Or 3 maybe 4" seems over chirpy with it's louder than needed vocals and too quiet acoustic guitar though the piano & strings that come in later help a little but not enough. "Childs care" is a an up-ish mid tempo track and it's one of the better ones here but the steel guitar yawns give this track an unnecessary country lean. "Hollywood baby" is the most electric track here which could've been a half decent rocker had the horns laid off on this one but it was not to be. "Roses in a box" is a soothing piano balladish track with swirling strings, "Nickle-Dime" tries to be dragging hipness but it's overlong and bland but "Sleep" is a nice acoustic closer. Though it may be one of the tougher Lindsey guest appearance albums to track down generally, don't be too bothered about missing out on it in the meantime, believe me, this one can wait

Back To The Bars (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
For Todd fans mainly
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 26th, 2004

As Todd is known best for his studio wizardry, it's hard to put this live set in perspective. We'll start though with the closer "Hello it's me" which Stevie is on, although she doesn't really stand out here and the studio version is better. The tunes that probably work best here are the most stripped down numbers like the rockers such as Utopia's "Love in action", "Black Maria" from "Something/anything" and the popular "Couldn't I just tell you". There's a medley of soul numbers like "Ooh baby baby" & Todd's hit single "I saw the light" (once again, from "Something/anything") and amusing banter from the rowdy bar crowds but unless you're a Rundgren aficionado, it rates as a pretty standard live album with not much improvement made to the original recordings if any.

Headkeeper (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Shame that Dave doesn't consider this a proper album
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 26th, 2004

Dave may condemn this release but it's a great album, definitely one of my favorites from his solo cannon. Of the five studio songs, the title track is a catchy, urgent rocker while the opener "To be free" betters the version from "Dave Mason & Cass Elliot". "Here we go again" is short but very sweet (this is a different song to the "Here we go again" that appeared on "Dave Mason & Cass Elliot") and my favorite is the irresistible "A heartache, a shadow, a lifetime". Meanwhile, the live songs kick off with the best version I've ever heard of "Pearly queen" and "Can't stop worrying, can't stop loving" is improved on here from it's "Alone together" version. Also, "Just a song" is superior on this disc than the original "Alone together" recording however, this, and the version of "Feelin' alright" are present on the "Dave Mason is alive" album as well so hopefully things will be cleaned up a little with a 2 on 1 reissue CD of "Dave Mason is alive" & "Headkeeper" but I doubt it. Anyway, the music itself is magnificent. Highly recommended for sure.

The Last DJ (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Amen to Tom for the lyrics but not sure about the rest
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, September 26th, 2004

Admittedly, I have never been big on lyrics personally, to me the tune is the most important thing in a song. However, this is one of the few cases where I can say that the lyrics on "The last DJ" are the best part of this album. Fed up with where the music business is going (or not going as the case may be) musically, Petty lashes out at record company fat cats & radio management alike telling us what's really going on. One would hope that this will make people stop and listen to what he's saying but unfortunately, this is not the first time in Rock history that an artist has "rebelled" in this fashion and as it obviously had little effect those previous times, I don't feel optimistic about this album influencing positive change in the music business world, we can but hope though. Musically, this is a pretty album as I've found Petty's outings on Warner Brothers to be deeper than his MCA ones as a whole. Sadly, the album suffers from unmemorable tunes for the most part which may help in getting people to listen to the words as they won't get lost in the tunes but this does impact the record on an overall basis. The title track kicks off the album in a somewhat predictable TP jangly rocker vein as being the obvious choice for the single. The song which Lindsey appears on (and you can hear him best at the end mainly) is the whimsical "The man who loves woman" which has a slight "Raindrops keep falling on my head" feel to it which may make fans of Danny Kirwan's similar "ragtime" (as described by Peter Green) type material happy if nothing else but those hoping for a return to "Walls (circus)" type material may be disappointed. The strolling "Money becomes king" coupled with stinging rockers like "When a kid goes bad" and beautiful SOUNDING ballads such as Benmont Tench's elegant chiming piano on "Like a diamond" help remind one of great music from such earlier Petty offerings as "Wildflowers" and "Have love will travel" even slightly harkens back to the "Damn the torpedoes" sound for the Heartbreakers as they blow the dust off of the old organ etc. but again, in most cases these tracks suffer from directionless tunes of any striking significance. It does seem forced in some places as "Lost children" attempts to come up with an "anthem" type of guitar riff commanding attention but when hearing it, you feel as though you've heard it before elsewhere. Once of the worst offenders in this area is the stomping "Joe". However, I find it has the most direct and effective lyrics on the issues mentioned above on the record. It's not all doom and gloom though as there are some colorful arrangements such as the piano, strings & horns on "Dreamville", "Blue Sunday" is a straightforward acoustic doodle, "You and me" is an unusual sounding uptempo acoustic & piano driven ditty and the minor key eerieness that is enclosed on the closing acoustic number (apart from some "exclamation bursts" during the middle sections) "Can't stop the sun" reminds me of ballads such as "Angel dream no. 2" from the "She's the one" soundtrack album and it has a threatening rebellion in it's words towards the music biz bigwigs to the effect of "you can't stop us from finding, listening to and enjoying good music" which is a pleasing ending to those frustrated by such goings on. All in all, I'd have to say this album works best as an "acquired taste" for those who are interested in hearing such "realities" in the lyrics but those wishing to sing along to more good Petty tunes may wish to think twice and look elsewhere first.

Scrapbook (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Overkill and not faultless but very collectable
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 23rd, 2004

As "Just for you" appears on Traffic's "Last exit" album, there are mainly two points of interest here for collectors. "Little woman" which was that single's B-side. It's medieval/Celtic arrangement may be disappointing on first listen bur it grows on you with listens. The version of "Feelin' alright?" included here is unreleased elsewhere as this tape was the first attempt at recording the song. It was shelved, rearranged and in it's new incarnation appeared as we all know it now. Although this version is a little uneasy, I think it brings out the greatness of this classic song to the full realization that Dave must have originally envisaged it which makes it fascinating listening. As the Jaguars & Hellions catalogues are not used here it does seem a little bit of an overkill that this is a two record set anthology given that this was released at an early stage in Dave's career and some of the Traffic and solo choices could've been better (I certainly wouldn't have included "Hope I never find me there" and others may be questionable if not the song, the version included) but there are some inspired version choices like the "Welcome to the canteen" version of "Sad and deep as you" and the "Headkeeper"/"Is alive" version of "Just a song". A hat full of choice tunes for collectors and those curious are present nonetheless.

The Answer (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Stripped down jammer
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 23rd, 2004

This early pre Camel Peter Bardens album may be quite shocking to those used to his latter day softer new age albums but fans of more wah wah guitar dominated Peter Green licks will eat up this album. This is not as free form as say, "The end of the game" but a couple of it's longest tracks basically jam off of a one riff they came up with and a few words thrown in as excuses for songs so they could let loose. The opening title track is a highlight. A galloping rock song including ahead of it's time keys has shouting lyrics sections that aren't easily likable at first but you learn to deal with them with more listens as you eagerly wait for the dramatic minor key Green solo crying. The most stirring licks on the album are found here. On the other hand, "Don't goof with a spook" is not a highlight. It tries to be a slow blues beat builder but it comes off as rather dead pan. "Let's get it on" is another skipable track, with it's "Sesame street" theme type piano riff in boogie mode and including Duster Bennett sounding vocals (though obviously not him, of course). "I can't remember" is a ten minute fairly tasty funk with strong Green wah wah guitars in the left channel, they howl louder here than on any other track. However, some other high points are "I don't want to go home" (which is a nice popish track, with it's happy feel, it helps to lighten the mainly mean mood this album employs, with a good hook and flute toots, this one will get you smiling) and the closing "Homage to the god of light" (which is like "I can't remember" in it's building off of the one riff idea but it's more enjoyable here with it's nasty organ flashes and no let up from PG throughout it's 13 minutes. Even when he's not soloing, he provides some useful funky rhythm guitar. I probably shouldn't say that Green is on all of the tracks here as fact but I'd be surprised to learn of it not being true because the CD edition of this album does not list Green at all and I never had the vinyl version but I used to have "Vintage '69" which was all of the material here (minus "Let's get it on" and including one of Bardens' finest tracks, "Write my name in the dust" from his selftitled solo album from around the same time period as "The answer") and the "Vintage '69" notes did list Green as playing on all tracks on there (expect "Write my name in the dust" of course) so I think it's reasonable for us to assume he is also playing on "Let's get it on" as well though even if he isn't, it's no loss since that's one of this album's worst tracks anyways. Fans of Camel's stretched out tracks with instrumental passages will probably enjoy this album given that the wah wah groovy-ness of these tracks are oceans away from Camel guitarist Andy Latimer's wonderfully sweet guitar tones on most of their efforts.

The Best Of Bob Welch (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Interesting mix of hits and experiments
Review written by John Fitzgerald, September 22nd, 2004

Most of interest here is the closer. "Don't stop" is by Bob's band Avenue M which never took off. It's a shame because this song is listed in the notes as a demo but it measures up better than many recordings of this nature. It's no nonsense hard rock with metallic edges but includes a strong hook and is easy to get in to. For those wishing to quickly collect Welch's hits, this a good option as it has the "Three hearts" moments in the major "Precious love" and the minor with "Church" as well as the classic "French kiss" smashes
"Sentimental lady" (which is about ten seconds longer on this disc than on many disc pressings of "French kiss" which is an unexpected treat), the other big hit, "Ebony eyes" and the almost hit, "Hot love cold world". I wish it had the near hit from "Man overboard" which was "Don't rush the good things" but I suppose it's good they center on Welch's writing style throughout the collection. In fact, the selections from "Man overboard" are the most
experimental ones from that album (the title track and "B666"). I personally think Bob's best experiments were from the Mac & Paris albums but the choices from the Paris albums are the more conventional tunes (which are still very good like "Blue robin" & "Heart of stone"). Despite this, some of the best album cuts from "Three hearts" are included with the suspenseful "The ghost of flight 401" and the always intriguing "Don't wait too long" which will be of interest to those fans of "Mystery to me" as the song "Good things come
to those who wait" which was shelved before inclusion on "Mystery to me" was rewritten and re-recorded by Welch solo for that platter and represented in this form. So I would say at worst, some hit choices may have been omitted and some of the more experimental numbers could've been better chosen but Bob has had so many great songs that even then, there's lots of great stuff enclosed in this package that make it a great addition to any collection.

It's A Mystery (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
It's a mystery why this album doesn't add up
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 22nd, 2004

It really is a mystery as to why this album doesn't measure up to other Seger albums as it does have the usual mix of fiery rockers and sensitive quieter moments like most successful Silver Bullet Band recordings but I'm guessing many were not big on the more synth based sound this album employs though there is more guitars than one may believe on this album though the synth sound does water it down somewhat. Rick Vito plays some howling slide guitar on the funkish "16 Shells from a 30-6" (which to me sounds like a forerunner of Kevin Welch's "Everybody's gotta walk"). "Rite of passage" is a synthy crasher, "Lock and load" is a grumbly clapper, "By the river" is a middle of the road bouncy acoustic strum halfway between "Shame on the moon" and "Fire lake". "Manhattan" is an effective growly beater, "I wonder" is a soothing slow dancer, the title track is a breakneck, numbing, no let up rocker, "Revisionism street" is an upish stomp, "Golden boy" is a fairly suspenseful moaning mid tempo track, "I can't save you Angelene" is a piano chunking stroll reminding me of Elton John's "I guess thats why they call it the blues", "West of the moon" is a chiming slow track with a slight waltz feel and "Hands in the air" is a clawing shouter for a closer. This probably is the poorest of the Seger platters featuring Rick's work but it's not a complete loss either.

Alone Together (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Dave's best solo album bar none
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 19th, 2004

Not many would argue the fact that this is Dave Mason's best solo album, although at worst you could say there are better versions of some of these songs on some of his other albums but let's start with the undeniable stuff. "Only you know and I know" is a great rocking opener with a catchy vocal part and great lead guitar fills on the breaks. The epic closer "Look at you look at me" is another cool rocker with a nice groove on the first part which gives way to an irresistible, extended guitar solo. "Shouldn't have took more than you gave" is one of Dave's very best songs ever with a mesmerizing crystalline beginning, there really isn't a bad version of this song available. "Just a song" is a nice sing a long but I prefer the version on "Headkeeper"/"Is alive". Those tapes may include better versions of "World in changes" and the nice ballad "Can't stop worrying, can't stop loving" too. There's another nice mellow tune in "Sad and deep as you" but "Welcome to the canteen" sports a more effective version. Like Danny Kirwan's albums though, the songs themselves win in the end and this is the best place to start in learning about Dave Mason's masterful music writing skills.

Altered Beast (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Works as a whole
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 19th, 2004

Usually, I feel albums need to be good with individual song plays more so that complete album listenings as I rarely listen to an album all the way through but "Altered beast" is a good argument for the other side of the coin as I feel the overall sound on this album works when listened to from beginning to end and it's not as successful when punching up separate tracks to listen to. The opening "Dinosaur act" is a nasty squalling rocker with guitarist Robert Quine put to good use on this number. "Devil with the green eyes" is a fair mid tempo jangler, "The ugly truth" is a smoother mid tempo song and the fiddle parts would've intruded if they were louder but smartly they are left present though down in the mix. "Time capsule" is a lightweight finger snapper, "Someone to pull the trigger" is an OK slowish strummer, "Knowing people" is an attention grabbing dirty sounding funk track, "Life without you" has shades of light R.E.M. and "part two" of the album starts with "Intro" that's basically a 46 second long audio snippet from the controversial 1980 film "Caligula" wherein Malcolm McDowell does his "winning over" speech (according to the liner notes Sweet got McDowell's permission to use this piece on the record) and it's used effectively here as this leads us in to "Ugly truth rock" (which is a more rocking version of the earlier "The ugly truth". It is at this key point in the album where you feel the effects of listening to the album in full taking shape. If you don't feel it by this point, you may as well stop after track number nine. "Do it again" is an insignificant mid tempo song, "In too deep" is a grumbly stomp, "Reaching out" is one of the better mid tempo janglers on the album, with a stronger hook, good harmonies and Mick Fleetwood on solid drums on this one. "Falling" is a screaming rocker, "What do you know" is a banjo flavored busy mid speed track and "Evergreen" is a piano featured acoustic guitar strumming ender though the steel guitars shouldn't have been there in my opinion. This CD was interestingly sold in a variety of album cover background colors so if you go to pick this one up, get ready to choose between the five colors these discs are/were available for purchase in.

The Original Fleetwood Mac (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Superlative, despite being an out take collection
Review written by John Fitzgerald, September 19th, 2004

The songs compiled herein are by no means throwaways, they just go to show how hard it must have been to decide what songs to use at the time of sequencing the first couple of albums. Jeremy Spencer's highlight is his great cover of Homesick James Williamson's "Can't afford to do it" which is really quite hard to resist, while his other tracks, like on the debut album, don't suffer from sameness. Meanwhile, Peter Green aces his lot. "Drifting" has got some scorching leads which command attention and deserve it as well as "Leaving town blues". You won't find country blues much better than this, two of
Peter's best ever slow burners, "A fool no more" and masterfully covering BB King's "Worried dream" (with Christine Mcvie guesting, chiming the 88's... well... perfectly. Excuse the pun) For the purists, there's the selftitled track, "Fleetwood Mac" where Green plays that harp something fierce and two alternate takes which surpass their originally released counterparts, "Watch out" & "Rambling pony (no. 2)" which chug and rumble (respectively) along at breakneck speed. I would urge any of you who've thought twice about this release due to fears of it being a "bargain bin, scraping the bottom of the
barrel collection", to please reconsider.

Greatest Hits (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
The best place to start for collecting early Mac
Review written by John Fitzgerald, September 18th, 2004

The 1971 CBS Greatest hits package is rather difficult to get a hold of in the US but no matter where you are, if you can get it and you want to learn about the early days of Fleetwood Mac, this is the best place to start. Although I personally would have changed the order of the songs and I think a better song could've been chosen in favor of "Love that burns". Also, I was surprised both parts of "Oh well" were present, that's not a bad thing by any means, it certainly adds some color to the overall musical feel of the album. The only two non Peter Green numbers, Danny Kirwan's highly underrated "Dragonfly" from the rare 1971 single and Jeremy's best moment "Shake your moneymaker" stand up well with Peter's pure gold nuggets. I especially like how the early traditional stuff is mixed with the more rockin' 1969/70 stuff. This is such a varied collection of the early greats, I think everyone will like at least something on here. I've heard this record described as "the perfect crash course in early Mac" and they're absolutely right.

The Pious Bird Of Good Omen (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Great songs but not a great collection of them
Review written by John Fitzgerald, September 18th, 2004

The Mac's first compilation is a hodgepodge of tracks from their first two albums, singles and sessions on which Peter, John & Mick had backed up Chicago pianist Eddie Boyd. Although there are some great recordings here, I think this would have worked better if it was a collection of completely all non album tracks or rare tracks to help clean things up rather than muddle things more which is all this release seems to have accomplished. I would have dispensed with the Eddie Boyd tracks as anyone collecting the Mac would need to get Eddie's "7936 South Rhodes" album anyways for all the other songs as well as "The big boat" single as they play on the B-side song "Sent for you yesterday" too. The "Mr. wonderful" version of "Stop messin' 'round" should have been replaced by the version which appeared on the B-side of the "Need your love so bad" single which we now know was take 5 while the "Mr. wonderful" version was take 4. "Coming home" & "Looking for somebody" should've been ousted in favor of Danny's remaining three "English rose" tracks "Without you", "One sunny day" & "Something inside of me". These were the key to what made "English rose" so great to listen to and this could have not only been the British equivalent, but surpassed it.

All That I Am (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
All that I like about Country music
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 15th, 2004

This album probably works as a whole better than her "Delta dreamland" album though it may not have the major highlights that album has. However, Allen's strong vocals and the well done musicianship here really make the songs here very likable. The album starts with an effective acapella yodeling intro to "Break these chains" which itself continues the uplifting bright start. "Wrong side of love" is sort of like a fast square dance tune but it doesn't have the fiddle & steel guitar overtones which oddly, to me, really makes it work. The steel guitars do enter with a vengeance though on the slow but likable country crooner "Thinkin' again" which possibly has a slight Patsy Cline influence. Then comes the lean stomping slapper "My baby" and the bouncing swing of "Give it to me" which is followed by the two Billy co penned (with Deborah & Rafe Van Hoy in both instances) numbers "Talkin' to my heart" (which has more yawning guitars here than the Fleetwood Mac version and that brings it down a peg or two, making the "Time" version the definitive version of this tune but there's no denying the strength in the writing of this song) and "Blame it on the heat" which is a balladish strummer that really shows off Deborah's strong vocals well. "Hurt me" has a stroll feel but the featured piano makes it less predictable. It is one of the weaker songs on the album though. "Leave my heart alone" is a rockin' country stomp, which is average and "Boys on the wrong side of town" is actually the closest to the hoe-down style of all the tracks here but this one is a little stronger than most you'll find in this field. The jangly closing title track is good musically but one feels that a better title track could've been chosen on this platter in one of the earlier tunes. Billy is listed (along with DA & Mary Ann Kennedy) as doing background vocals on this album in the CD liner notes but it doesn't say which songs he's on and it's hard to say by listening and trying to "guess" which songs he's on. Overall though, I was very impressed with this album as "All that I am" has all of the elements I would want in a good country record included.

Almeria Club (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Blues feel helps big time but it can't do everything
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 15th, 2004

The one thing that surprised me the most about "Almeria club" was it's strong blues leanings though it may just be that I am not familiar enough with Hank Jr.'s works to not pigeon hole him in to the country mold. There sure is country a plenty on this disc though, such as "The "F" word" (featuring fiddle) and "The cheatin' hotel" with it's slowish tempo and acoustic & steel guitars and piano arrangement. A big problem here though is that the lyrics to most songs are mostly too silly to be taken seriously, even if you do try to ignore them such as on the fast country sounding "Big top women" and on the opening "Last pork chop" though the Mississippi blues feel on this track works very well with a brilliant mix of acoustic & electric guitars. The acoustic version of this song (also included on the album) has the perfect tempo required and the sound is true due to it's minimal use of vocals, harmonica & acoustic guitar but those words make it sound like a "make fun" take (to me). "Go girl go" is a slidy boogie featuring harmonica and "If the good lord's willin' (And the creeks don't rise)" is an effective blues stomp type speed. "X-treme country" only sounds country I think due to the featured fiddle on the track but it is the same tempo as the previous track. "Outdoor lovin' man" is a fast acoustic guitar & fiddle bouncy yowler. There's also "Tee tot song" which is an acoustic country blues howler and the promising "Almeria jam" isn't bad by any means, but the prominent acoustic guitar & boogie style piano on the track don't really end up going anywhere with the theme. The organ on "Cross on the highway" gives the song a Gospel feel and the closing "America will survive (studio version)" has a good mix of electric & acoustic guitars with a good premise but after hearing it, it makes you wonder if the (apparently) other existing versions of this song (which are NOT included here) may be more authoritative. Overall though the blues feeling may make this worthwhile for those fans out there of more roots orientated music but this is a mixed bag as far as tunes themselves go.

All Things Must Pass (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Title says it all, good with bad, magic still there
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 11th, 2004

As this was a 3 LP set originally and is the case with most releases of this size, you get much very good material along with a lot of duds at worst but the magic enclosed in the sets better tracks will make it worth it. Dave Mason is listed as playing guitar on the album in general though it also lists him as playing on two of the jams (“Thanks for the pepperoni” (which is basically built around an opening Chuck Berry rocker type of riff of which the players involved build off of) and the more likable driving “Plug me in” (which although has a similar 50’s type background sound eventually, it doesn’t seem as banal here)) so it’s hard to know which other songs Mason plays on here (if any). I have the 30th anniversary version of this album which includes some bonus tracks that have mostly been bootlegged through the years (from what I gather, as I haven’t followed that story too closely), “I live for you” is a fair medium paced piano, maracas & steel guitar led track, the alternate “Beware of darkness” is a pleasing acoustic guitar and vocal only version though it does unfortunately have a tinny sound, the alternate “Let it down” I find easier to understand it’s melody on this stripped down run through though ultimately one can see why they opted for Spector’s “wall of sound” production for the originally released version. “What is life” here is instrumental as they removed the lead vocals (and you can hear at the beginning of the verses that they were in fact “removed” and not just simply “not there”) which would be amusing but the track also features chirping fanfare type trumpets on the track which clearly points out why this version was not used. The 2000 remake of “My sweet lord” has a little bit more electric guitar picking and the background vocals this time out have been brought up front more (but this may just seem this way compared to what was available to them technology wise in 1970 as opposed to now) but apart from this, it’s basically the same deal. So, as for the rest of the regular album, “I’d have you anytime” is a great balladish lead off Harrison/Dylan penned tune with Lindsey Buckingham/Danny Kirwan sounding lead guitar pieces, a real highlight. As for the slidy strumming pop of “My sweet lord”, for those unfamiliar with the lawsuit, all one has to do is listen to “He’s so fine” by The Chiffons to know what this one sounds like melody wise (though it is still nice in it’s “similar” way). “Wah wah” is a muddy likable rocker, The first version of “Isn’t it a pity” here is a downish “Hey Jude” type jingling builder, The up tempo “What is life” was the easy choice for a single and this one at least charted with no controversy. The slidy cover here of Dylan’s “If not for you” is pretty much on par with what Olivia Newton-John had done with the song though Harrison’s one is probably just that little more authoritative. “Behind that locked door” is a waltzing country yowler, “Let it down” has a strong start but fades away though it does have a nice meletron backing. The title of “Run of the mill” says it all as I find it pretty faceless mid tempo stuff, “Beware of darkness” is OK, maybe a little slow but at least it doesn’t have the tinny sound the bonus track version suffers from. “Apple scruffs” sounds like it owes more to Dylan than the Dylan written/co written tracks mentioned above with it’s fast strumming acoustic guitar and harmonica slabs, it’s surprising to check the album notes to find Harrison had in fact written this one. “Ballad of Sir Frankie Crisp (Let it roll)” is another real high point with it’s smooth guitars and chunky piano, this one really grows on you. “Awaiting on you all” has been given the “wall of sound” treatment and I don’t think it works here, it’s too loud to appreciate the melody for what it may have had to offer but the title track is an easy likable dragger. “I dig love” features electric & acoustic piano but it’s a throwaway repeater. “Art of dying” is a fast rocker with minor key dramatics which is good but “Wah wah” is more preferable in this area. “Isn’t it a pity (Version 2)” isn’t as effectively chunky as the first take on this presented here but it thankfully doesn’t last as long this time around as the last one was wearing out it’s welcome towards the end a little. “Hear me lord” is a bland mid tempo track which sounds OK but it just doesn’t go anywhere. As for the “jam section” of the album not listed before “It’s Johnny’s birthday” is based melodically on “Congratulations” (made famous in the UK by Cliff Richard, from what I understand) which has a carousel flavor and it last 49 seconds, with it’s psychedelic noodling of speeding up and slowing down the tape in a warbly way, it’s doubtful you’ll ever listen to this track on it’s own. This could be why “Plug me in” sounded so good when it kicked in right at the conclusion of this track. “I remember jeep” is a clapping stomp with crashing drum cymbals and the lead guitars on this jam are more up front than they sound on the Mason featured ones (which both sounded more like a team effort), “Out of the blue” is the longest of the instrumental jams and I think it’s the most easily listenable one as though it is watered down at times by horns and organ, it doesn’t suffer the Chuck Berry banal riff syndrome of many of the others mentioned. Therefore, it doesn’t seem like 11 minutes in length. In the end though, the best parts of this album outweigh the bad ones and even if just for those good moments, you won’t be disappointed as you’ll feel the magic come through on those high water marks here.

Fiends & Angels (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Janis Joplin fans take note
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 10th, 2004

By all accounts, "Fiends & angels" includes a star studded lineup of guest musicians including Christine. Unfortunately, I have yet to come across a copy of this album that lists which song(s) she's on (or ANY musician credits for that matter). From the documentation I have backing up the claim that she is on this album, it also states that there is only one other keys player on these recordings in Mick Weaver. The tracks that have a thick organ sound, though possibly McVie, just don't sound like her playing style compared to the tracks that have a chunky piano sound which do sound like Christine to me. So I personally go by the assumption (until I can find better clarification) that she's most likely on whichever tracks I can hear the chunky piano chords on and the two that come to mind that have this sound are a typically commercial cover of Bob Dylan's "It takes a lot to laugh it takes a train to cry" (which shuffles along and is nicely heavy on the skipping piano chords) and the well performed slow blues of "A fool for you" (which to me sounds like it could include Stan Webb on guitar and the feel on it reminds me a little of the Warren Zevon penned "He quit me" from "Midnight cowboy" sung by Leslie Miller). These tracks along with most others have a pleasing Janis Joplin type approach which suits the admittedly dated settings. "Tell mama" (of course, covered by Janis herself), is Joplin fare through and through. This track thumps in just at the end of "Very good fandango" which lasts all of 30 seconds and is a solo vocal Velez cut that, just once you start taking it seriously as an operatic piece, she breaks in to laughter, presumably letting you know they're just messing around with a little fun and what better track to jump in to then "Tell mama"?! The opening rocker "I'm gonna leave you" I have seen listed in some places as being a track Christine plays on and there probably is good evidence out there to back this up which I'd hope to find a copy of but going by the musician credits for this track included in the various artists "The Blue Horizon story 1965-1970 Vol. 1" box set, she is not listed there as playing on this song so I must assume that she is not on this track if nothing else until I can find better "proof" of this fact elsewhere. It sounds most definitely like Eric Clapton on guitar on that one, a real highlight. "Swamp man" is an even more rocking punchy shouter, just when you thought the energy couldn't be raised an higher, there it is, blasting away. "In my girlish days" is an Elmore James type chugger, "Feel so bad" has slow funk music behind a slow blues vocals backdrop, this one is a grower so don't fret. "Drive me daddy" is an organ featured stroll (and this to me sounds like it must be one that Mick Weaver plays keys on but who knows?!). "Come here sweet man" features flute flourishes on this mellow, groovy, slow blues tune (Velez sounds more like Janis vocally here than on most other tracks) and "Let the good times roll" is a fitting pulsating close. This album demands a pretty penny these days in collector's circles but hopefully a CD remaster of this album someday with detailed liner notes will answer questions many of us have had through the years in regards to these sessions but that aside, the music rocks loud making for a good stereo spin.

Blondes (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Songs aren't as catchy, but still sounds great
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, September 9th, 2004

"Jenny was a dream girl" is the stand out track on this disc which Lindsey arranged and sang backing vocals on. He also arranged "The queen of Hollywood high" which funnily enough was my next favorite before I knew about the arrangement details! The former is a sensitive ballad and as with the rest of the record, it's amazing to hear how John's electric guitar style was influenced by Lindsey on this one. I hate to steal from the title but this song is absolutely dreamy and worth buying for this song alone. The rest of the songs have nice sounding production and are good but I don't generally think this is one of Stewart's better efforts. The songs just aren't as catchy or emotional as those on say "Bombs away dream babies" or "The last campaign" but not bad by any means as I still recommend it for "Jenny was a dream girl" alone if nothing else but I'm sure those of you who like John Stewart's music will find some hidden treasures herein.

Lucky Devils (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Vibrant Vito does it again
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, September 8th, 2004

Rick grabs us right as the outset with an ultra tasty lick that sends us on our way in "Let's get it" and this does seem to set the tone for the record as the instrumentals on the record are stronger this time while the vocal numbers are not as strong this time out, there is still some interesting moments such as the chain gang blues of Rick's friend, the late Ronnie Barron from the John Mayall days in "Carry it on home to Rosie" which certainly makes an impact. "Rhumba diablo" & "Exotica by night" are exquisitely cool instrumentals while the closer "Bayou goodbye" is a fun rave up to party on into the evening with. Despite having less highlights, I'd probably say this album flows easier than "Pink and black" so on the overall will gather more listens in full.

Crazy Cool (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Vito virtuosity strikes again
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, September 8th, 2004

"Crazy cool" does employ Rick's distinctive sound throughout the proceedings and is definitely his most rocking affair since his solo debut album "King of hearts" with such heaters as the Chuck Berry influenced title track, "Money and love" and the most straightforward rocker on the album which is "You put a spell on me". However, there are few softer moments like "One short life" which is a pleasing slow soulful blues number. This can make for a somewhat one dimensional listen but Vito's virtuosity rings well and true on most numbers like the faithful covers of the late great John Lee Hooker's "Mr. Lucky" and the happy B.B. King blues "Going home". Only these two are covers of other writers tunes with Rick writing mainly on his own here impressively though included is an interesting reworking of "Love is dangerous" which originally appeared on the Mac's "Behind the mask" album. The version here is smoother rhythmically but faster featuring smoky Ronnie Barron style backing vocals supplied by Charlie Lovett & Dexter Dickerson. Rather uninspired artwork may steer some clear of the cash registers but if you liked "King of hearts", this would be the logical next step for investigating Rick's solo works but expect a little watering down.

Agnes Stone (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Good instrumentation but unmemorable songs
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 8th, 2004

I thought that these were going to be hard rockin' guys but it's surprisingly good sounding pop rock. The song Bekka is on "She's all alone" is one of the slower ones and you mainly hear her at the end. Be aware that the song sounds like it's over at one point before it finally kicks in to it's final section. There's a pretty good mix of slower and up tempo numbers present but I can't say too many of the songs here really stuck out for me although I do get the feeling that with more listens I'll be able to air out a few favorites. This is usually the case with many records but this one seems to be taking a little longer to hit me. I'd like it to as I stress, the instrumentation is very good so it makes one want to listen to it. However, patience is required for this disc.

Airborne (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Typical 80's big band member solo album waste
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 8th, 2004

Unfortunately the fears that one may have of buying a solo album from an artist who came from a big band come true here. It's machine like 80's clichés run rampant over this platter leaving little room for a spark of creativity which is a shame as I was hoping this album would show what an underrated talent Felder may have been in the Eagles community. Dave Mason does background vocals (along with Kenny Loggins) on "Never surrender" which is one of the album's better tracks probably due to this track including the most Eagles sounding guitar riffs more than any other songs on the album, it's upbeat nature will grow on you with a few listens though I must admit that I wouldn't have known Mason was on there had it not been listed as such in the album notes so that should tell you something about how UN-clearly DM sounds on this track though I realize this was done during Dave's wilderness years so that point alone may explain a lot as to why he may be low in the mix of this track. The opening "Bad girls" would've been a good stomping opener but the 80's plinkyness ruins what could've been. "Winners" is a faster tune which is drowned by unnecessary keys, "Haywire" is a galloping rocker and the keys actually do help out here but not enough in the end. There's a nice smooth sound on the laid back lighter ballad "Who tonight" which shows what good things can happen when the keys do lay off for a minute but the problem here is a weak hook. "Asphalt jungle" is a speedy stroll and has a punch the other tracks don't have but it's still not great on the whole. The tube effect made famous by Peter Frampton is featured on "Night owl" and it does remind me somewhat of the Eagles "Those shoes" from their "The long run" album but it's not nearly as good as that track was and "Still alive" is simply a bland mid tempo closer. Naturally if you like the more regimented fare then you might want to consider looking in to this but for those that don't (like me), move on to the next runway.

The Visitor (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Our guest becomes more welcome over time
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 6th, 2004

This is a spotty solo outing but it's stronger tracks make the weaker tracks seem that much stronger. Peter Green joins in on two tracks here, a run through of his "Then play on" rocker "Rattlesnake shake" (which here does rock out with some force including a slight Clapton feel, not too far removed from Green's rockers on his own "White sky" solo album and really holds up well) and an atmospheric instrumental called "Super brains" (which has a great groove drone with distinctive echoy PG guitar licks, the horn puffs help the track along as well, it's a grower but you will eventually find this one a highlight). Oddly the liner notes for this track list Peter (as Peter Greenbaum, his real name) along with Todd Sharp (who does the effective rhythm guitar on this track) but then it says "played by Super brains group" and as Mick is listed on all other tracks (except "Amelle (Come on show me your heart)" more of which in a minute) specifically as playing on them I don't know whether he's on this one or not but it's heavy rhythm approach would make me think he wouldn't want to sit this one out. As said Mick is not listed as being on "Amelle (Come on show me your heart)" either, it just lists George Hawkins for bass & vocals and then says "played by Adjo group" so I'm not sure on this one either but regardless, this track is a likable calypso closer. As for the rest it's up and down though it must be said that this album is not really the all out African tribal music that many may think it is. There are two pure African numbers here, the fast chanting title track beater and "O'Niamali" which is a funk drenched chirping pounder. Other than that, the other tracks are fairly straightforward and not much different (though not as preferable) to the tracks from the underrated 1983 Mick Fleetwood's Zoo album "I'm not me". George Hawkins handles lead vocals on the rest of the tracks. "You weren't in love" is a pleasant mid tempo shouter but it is perhaps a bit overlong. "Don't be sorry (Just be happy)" is a nice soothing sounding ballad but it's one of the weaker tracks I feel. A jangly strumming run through of Lindsey Buckingham's "Tusk" track "Walk a thin line" appears next which has some tasty guitar fills, then we get a cover of the well worn "Not fade away" with that typical Bo Diddley riff leading the way. Frankly, it's nothing remarkable. "Cassiopeia surrender" however, is a high point. What sounds like a dead pan clunker on first listen really grows on you after a few listens including some moody wah wah guitar parts. This album is probably a good place to go after hearing the "I'm not me" album if you enjoyed Hawkins' lead tracks on that album and if you generally like the emphasis on busy rhythms since many of the homeland players give support to many tracks here.

Pink & Black (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
There's more color than just pink and black here
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, September 6th, 2004

This long awaited follow up solo album has Rick more freely addressing his blues admiration, most notably covering Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac number "I loved another woman" and the Otis Rush classic "Homework" (which many will remember from the chess sessions releases) very effectively. Vito has some great instrumental romps too with "Streamliner" named after his main axe and the slip and slide of "Leap frog boogie" speaking of slide, Rick takes his stab at Jeremy Spencer's beloved delta style with "I stand accused". Other highlights are the catchy, uptempo "The whole world was crying", the pleasing down tempo of "Lazy love" and a stretched out slow Chicago blues called "Living without you" which ends the album. It's easy to tell Rick is enjoying things more this time around.

A Fine Mess (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Christine's cool classic conquers
Review written by John Fitzgerald, September 6th, 2004

"Can't help falling in love" of course is the beautiful seed that grew into the Mac's successful 1987 comeback "Tango in the night" and you can get a feel of that album's production feel here with Christine giving us what must be considered one of the best performances of the Elvis classic ever recorded if not the best. The rest is an odd but somewhat likable collection of Soul artist hosting us to some treats like Smokey Robinson's "Wishful thinking", Burston & Littlejohn's "Moving so close" & "The Temptations' "A fine mess". The rockers by Billy Vera ("Slow down") & Los Lobos ("I'm gonna be a wheel someday") are a bit out of step on here as are the Mary Jane Girls attempting a faithful rendition of the Frankie Valli smash "Walk like a man" and Henry Mancini's "Stan & Ollie". There's no doubting Mancini has had some classic scores over the years but this is not a good representation of that. Anyone who's seen Laurel & Hardy comedy reels can guess what this sounds like. Well, hey this is got to be recommended for Christine's landmark document anyways.

Rock, Rhythm & Blues (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Roll & dance with (almost) the Mac
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 5th, 2004

The main positive factor here is Christine's (and of course with her Mac friends) "Roll with me Henry" which really does make this album worthwhile on it's own. Richard Perry's bright production really brings out the best in all the Mac members here (the "Behind the mask" lineup sans Nicks), it shows the promise the BTM band had to offer and I think he really should've been considered as a candidate to produce FM even if it meant that they had to wait for him to be available but unfortunately it was not to be. However, this is a must hear as Billy & Christine chirp in great lead vocals, the horns are not too intrusive, Mick & John keep the groove pumping and Rick chucks in a great solo. You may remember this song done by Etta James as "The wallflower (Dance with me Henry)" as many FM fans will recall it from the "Back to the future" soundtrack album if not from it's origins. The rest is a mixed bag, mostly because of the wrong choice of performer for certain songs (in my opinion) but the tracks here do mostly stand up well musically, the one that does not here though is Rick James' go at the "This magic moment/Dance with me" medley as it tries to be faithful but it's use of 80's style instrumentation make it end up sounding like a run of the mill movie soundtrack song. Elton John's opening run through of the old boogie standard "I'm ready" has a barrelhouse feel with endless piano rolls and stabbing guitar pokes, Michael McDonald's "For your precious love" is a passable slow dancer while Howard Hewett's "The ten commandments of love" is not unlike the McDonald cut but not as good due to Hewett's facelessness. The horn arrangement on Chaka Khan's try at "Fever" sounds to me like something Rick Vito would appreciate going by some of his more horn orientated rockers he has done on some of his solo outings and The Manhattan Transfer are all over the doo wop of "I wanna be your girl", now THAT WAS an inspired artist choice. The so-so fast pep of The Pointer Sisters' "Mr. Lee" does steal a little thunder from the McVie & Friends great rocking shuffle mentioned above when listened to altogether but you'll probably wind up mainly listening to the CM & Friends track on it's own anyways. Randy Travis' "It's just a matter of time" can't decide if it wants to be a country croon or a stroll and speaking of strolls, though I'm not big on El DeBarge, his take on "Goodnight my love" is an admittedly fitting closer. "Roll with me Henry" does stand head and shoulders above the rest here, not that I'm biased or anything though!

Shakin' The Cage (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Hang on, it's shakin', not stirred
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, September 4th, 2004

The bombastic sound on this Zoo outing was surprising to many and ultimately, disappointing. I think I was more surprised that Mick opted for a heavy blues rock sound. A sound which was apparently considered more 'Savoy Brown territory', something he and the other Mac members didn't want to do in the Dave Walker days of the Mac so looking back now, we are to assume that this is now considered acceptable and with the addition of Billy Thorpe to the Zoo one can easily see how Mick was influence by Australian rock at the time as he was spending a great deal of time there then. Knowing now that this is what you're going to get with this record, one can now appreciate the songs for what they are and for this genre this is very good. "Reach out" & the Billy Burnette co-penned title track hits you right away, "Takin' it out to the people" &"Breakin' up" are fiery rockers. Lead guitarist Gregg Wright welds a mean axe throughout the proceedings. Bekka's lead vocals are wonderful. Her powerful chords fit this musical style perfectly and we get a musical glimpse of the Mick we all know on "Voodoo" and particularly "In your hands". The pace is slowed a bit by a couple of lighter rockers "How does it feel" & "The night and you" which can really grow on you given half the chance. Of course, "giving it a chance" applies to the whole record. Now we know that the savages from the old zoo have been let loose and new ones have arrived with a more rambunctious musical appetite, we can enjoy it now in case we didn't the first time around. And for me, it works.

King Of Hearts (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Rick shines through commerciality
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, September 4th, 2004

Rick's debut solo album is his most commercial and rocking to date with Stevie helping out on the dueted single "Desiree" and "Intuition" which I think is underrated and the better of her two appearances albeit a background one. Vito's six string technique is showcased on the instrumental "Walking with the deco man" which displays his unusual vibrato style to good effect. "Honey love" rocks like nothing he's done before (or since) while in contrast "I still have my guitar" is a great slow blues. Successful hooks abound on the opener "Walk another mile" as well as on "Poor souls in love" and my personal favorite "I'll never leave this love alive". In retrospect, this is the solo album least like his musical self but enough so one can enjoy his originality

Trouble In Paradise (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Great LA but then there's paradise troubles
Review written by John Fitzgerald, September 3rd, 2004

Newman has probably been better known as a writer than a performer although the song with Lindsey and Christine on backing vocals from this album, the opener "I love L.A." was well known at the time and of course he had success with "Short people" previous to this but that kind of quirkiness doesn't fair as well here such as the case on the ridiculous "Mikey's". However, Randy's duet with Paul Simon on "The blues" is smoothly acceptable. The icy piano ballads work the best. These are "Same girl", "Real emotional girl" & "Song for the dead". The minor key dramatics of these contrast with "I love L.A." which builds into a bright rocking pop mold sporting a great solo section. You may like the Mac appearance track but it probably won't be topped.

Back Of My Mind (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Admittedly works
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, September 1st, 2004

It's a shame that Christopher Cross is thought of, for the most part and, where I come from, in a banal way that one sometimes feels as though they have to "admit" to finding some of his recordings enjoyable but to get the point across, I've decided to get such teenage wordings out of the way so I can now discuss this album's good points that outweigh the bad here at the end of the day! "Someday" opens the album with a good start, a bouncy upbeat catchy tune, interesting how Michael McDonald returns on background vocals for this track, perhaps trying to recapture the "Ride like the wind" glory days? Make no mistake, this track comes nowhere close to the power that track had/has, but it's still useful. "Never stop believing" continues the bouncy pop feel, this time with more plinky keys, it has a good hook and you can hear Christine good on this track. McVie and Cross make a nice musical pairing. "Swept away" can easily be seen as corny romantic tripe but given a chance it is a moving ballad and it does work. Some US listeners may recognize this track featured in a memorable Hawaiian episode of the TV sitcom "Growing pains" at the time. Unfortunately, things start to go downhill here, "Any old time" has a punchy rock sound (compared to the previous poppy numbers enclosed) but oddly has some yawning steel guitar sounds that makes one wonder if they were trying to tread Country music waters here. The hook is not as good on this one either. "I will (Take you forever)" is straightforward ballad duet (with Frances Ruffelle) fare, formulamatic, nothing special. "She told me so" has a tougher bounce but the hook doesn't really add up, I get the feeling it may have worked if this song had been done differently. We also get the whimsical pop of "I'll be alright", it's not my thing, but I could see others liking it. The mid tempo clave shuffling pop closer "Just one look" is fair as is the pleasant light title track but "Alibi" is a very good ballad, seems like a much overlooked track, though Christopher probably just suits that kind of material no matter how hard he tries to do other things. In the end, there's 4 out of 10 very good tracks and a couple OK ones chucked in making it better than what many albums carry.

There's A Heaven (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
There's a guitarist that can play any style
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, September 1st, 2004

Although to me, the instrumentals are the best moments, there are some wonderful vocal moments on this album such as the uplifting opener "There's a heaven above" which then kicks into the pulsating "Icarus wings" in which the rhythm reminds me of "I can't turn you loose" by Otis Redding but with more listens becomes very individual indeed. My favorite vocal number is the third song "Lady hurricane". It has an urgent acoustic guitar riff that leads into some heartfelt bluesy vocals which show that Weston is a competent vocalist and it's so great to hear him on lead which we so rarely do. The instrumentals really show Bob's prowess at successfully handling a wide range of musical styles and how much of a catch he must be for his soundtrack work. The epic enterpiece of the album "Enigma files" starts us on our way in which the first three minutes consist of echo drenched acoustic guitar which can remind one of his work on Ashkan's "Stop (wait and listen)" but very emotionally moving stuff which then gives way to the second half which has a grabbing funky rhythm led by Weston's glistening watery electric six string works. "De da do da (for Dixie)" is a entertaining homespun ditty while "Walk away" is ultra ice cool blues not unlike Rick Vito's "Exotica by night" was. "Indian blue" gets the slide going on the acoustic which is most atmospheric, you can actually picture walking through the hot southern reservations then turning into a fast run once the hypnotic rhythm kicks in. "Shaken not stirred" is all of the best elements of lounge music available anywhere and "Night hawk" is irresistible voltage like Dire Straits at their most rocking and funky. A real must have for anyone interested in finding out not only more about Bob Weston but what he can do. You will be impressed.

Brent Bourgeois (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
The good stuff is worth it
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 31st, 2004

I must admit that I've never heard anything by Bourgeois Tagg so I can't compare this solo outing to what they had done but on it's own merits, to me it seems like an overlooked album going from memory of what was released in 1990. Brent impressively took part in writing every track here except the standard cover of The Zombies' 60's nugget "Time of the season" which ends up sounding somewhat faithful though inevitably modernized so you're better off sticking with the original. "Can't feel the pain" is a heartfelt balladish echoer, you can hear Christine's smooth voice here and these vocal lines really suit her style, a great choice on Bourgeois' part in grabbing her services while they were available to him for this recording. "Wild child" also sees Rick on sliding dobro duties in good form, though not as good a song as CFTP, it's still a passable rocker. "The real things" is a catchy opener which has a slight finger snapping doo wop feel, "Compromise" is a smooth galloper, it doesn't have a great hook but the verses are well done. "Dare to fall in love" is successful breathy pep with a hint of Level 42 on the verses, "Scene of the crime" kind of reminds me of Peter Gabriel's "In your eyes" stylistically, "Evil run riot" is chanting chirp, more rock sounding than most other present tracks but not as good as say, WC for instance. "My little island" is a swirling silky ballad but not as good as CFTP (again). "Shit out of luck" is talk sing filler, a one joke idea that simply doesn't work. The swaying anthemic closer "A long way from home" is fittingly better though maybe a little bland. A hodgepodge where the goodies come out on top and make this a good one to search for.

Night Eyes (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Nice addition to the Mac tree
Review written by John Fitzgerald, August 30th, 2004

It's rather annoying that although the album lists the songs on which Mick, John, Lindsey & Christine play on, they just have Christine listed as a backing vocalist for the album so it doesn't say which songs she's on in regards to this kind of appearance but we'll start with the main highlight which is the song called "Hate you" which has a very interesting line up of Mick, John, Christine with Eric Clapton on the guitar. It sports a rather thumping blues shuffle style with some nice electric piano from Chris. I wonder if this is what the Mac would have sounded like had Eric joined?! Anyway, Lindsey is effective on "Beauty has an ache" and other album highlights includes the rather rocking opener "Hurt to pride" and the smooth ballad "Dontcha break my heart" one can see where Douma came up with "Who's dreaming this dream" after hearing this. Danny is sort of like a less folky James Taylor style vocalist and overall, this platter meets the recommendation levels well.

Distant Shores (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Weaker than follow up but strong enough
Review written by John Fitzgerald, August 29th, 2004

There are many Macsters present here (Bob Weston, Bob Welch, Lindsey & Christine (who co-produced the album)) but it doesn't say which songs each member is on. The irresistible hit single which opens the album "Don't give it up" is the obvious favorite, with a great hook and instrumentation this is the most instantly likable song on the record and the most enduring favorite. Not as many songs stand out on this release as on "Orders from headquarters" but there's some good collaborations, such is the case on the title track which closes the album, a nice ballad Robbie co wrote with ex- babys/Journey keyboardist Jonathan Cain. A very commercial disc which is worth purchasing for "Don't give it up" on it's own if nothing else.

Flee (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Side two is the key to Flee
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 29th, 2004

Many have dismissed this as "one of those religious Spencer records". I don't doubt that Jeremy was still very religious when he made this record but I think it was somewhat played down this time out as demonstrated on side one's best song, the remake of "When I looked to see the sunshine" (from the "Jeremy Spencer and the children" album) this time titled "Sunshine" you will notice the lyrics have been trimmed to good effect and this is far superior to the original recording, musically too. Surrounded by two rather embarrassing disco numbers, the opener "Deeper" and the lengthy, marginal improvement of "Love our way outta here', "Sunshine" has some fiery leads from Jeremy which will sound surprising to those familiar with his previous guitar stylings, and it must be him as there are no other guitarists listed on the record. Side two is a different story, more pop rock orientated and it's the way the whole album should have been. It kicks off with the impressive title track in it's haunting minor key followed by the smooth, catchy "Cool breeze". The rocker "You've got the right" oddly enough, has a rockabilly rumble that is reminiscent of something Billy Burnette would have done and Jeremy does a great job with it here. The best is saved for last, the single "Travellin'" should've been recognized more as it's a sweet, charming tune that I'm sure even those who didn't like Spencer before may change their mind after hearing this. I suppose this could apply to the whole album. Well, side 2 anyways

In Concert: India '98 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Not many surprises but still an entertaining live set
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 29th, 2004

This is probably the Spencer solo album that sounds most like what one would imagine a Spencer solo album to sound like (if they hadn\'t heard any previously) with it\'s Elmore James (\"It hurts me too\", \"Bleeding heart\" & \"Talk to me baby (Telephone blues)\" (a.k.a. \"I can\'t hold out\")) & Elvis & 50\'s rockers which includes the \"All shook up\" sound alike \"Stuck on you\", the obligatory Chuck Berry show stoppers \"Johnny B. Goode\" & \"Roll over Beethoven\" and the British King of Rock & Roll Cliff Richard\'s \"Dynamite\". Like Peter Green, Jeremy is a little rusty after all these years away from the tape recorders with a few off key areas on the vocals and some rusty slide licks but Spencer employs a fatter more electric stinging guitar sound which is generally pleasing listening. Jeremy has 5 originals here, the opener \"Intro/Brown eyed lover\" starts off with Spencer soloing for about 2 and a half great minutes before launching in to the actual tune which calmly reminds one of \"Oh baby\" from the Boston Tea Party tapes (a.k.a. \"I can\'t stop loving\"). \"Don\'t have to be black to be blue\" has Jeremy introducing it in his Elvis voice but it\'s a shuffle which has him singing as himself which is a nice change. In fact, Jeremy sings all of his covers as \"himself\" which is somewhat of a relief under the low key, intimate live atmosphere and surroundings of the proceedings though he does tend to emulate Chuck Berry\'s twangy vocal style he obviously recalled from Berry\'s original recordings but the raspyness in Spencer\'s voice in general has disappeared which was an unexpected surprise (or a let down depending on your point of view) as one would think it would have grown over the years. \"Psychic waste\" reminds one of John Mayall\'s more pop orientated bluesy efforts from his latter day albums which is interesting listening as Spencer was well known for mocking Mayall in his Mac days via tunes like \"Man of action\", now it would appear that they agree musically more than ever before without even knowing it. \"Bend in the road\" is a slower, quieter tune which is the closest thing to straight pop on the album and \"If it wasn\'t for you\" has a slight rockabilly, Buddy Holly tumble to it similar to his \"You\'ve got the right\" from the \"Flee\" album but a little more controlled. However, unlike \"You\'ve got the right\", one could easily imagine that the \"you\" he\'s referring to in the song lyrics of \"If it wasn\'t for you\" is of the religious nature whereas it\'s more obstructed in \"You\'ve got the right\" (if there at all). Other engaging moments such as Jeremy giving the crowd a choice between \"Johnny B. Goode\" & \"Roll over Beethoven\" as to which one they would rather hear (even though he ends up playing both of them anyways) also highlight the album. All in all, it\'s a hard record to find and it won\'t surprise you too much but I\'m happy I found my copy and I\'m sure I will make good use of it\'s recordings.

The Other One (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
A different one, and a good one at that
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 28th, 2004

Bob abandons the slick production style of the previous two albums for stripped down rock that may be shocking in contrast but works very well and suits Welch's style. Todd Sharp is now more evident in the band scoring some nasty licks in the lead off rocker "Rebel rouser" and his own "Hideaway". There's some gruff grabbing power chords on "Love came 2x" & "Old man of 17" that really get your attention. "Watch the animals really grows on you and is a real highlight. An interesting reworking of "Future games" kicks off side two followed by a good stomping but oddly mainly acoustic instrumental called "Oneonone". Then there's the catchy "Don't let me fall" which proceeds my favorite number, "Spanish dancer". This rocks with restraint ike "Station man" successfully did.. Listen to this record once a day for a week and you'll have a favorite, I guarantee it!

Man Overboard (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Strange, but mostly singable songs
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 28th, 2004

Welch backs off a little from the guitars here to do some exploring which is more keyboards and slashing string arrangements from the late Jack Nitzsche notably on the opening title track and the album's most experimental track called "B666". "Justine" is the closest to a straight rocker on side one which is sort of like new wave meets R & B. Side two is more commercial which is led off by the single "Don't rush the good things" which I always thought was fun and it's a shame it wasn't more of a success. The urgent "The girl can't stop" is followed by "Jealous" which is probably the most guitar driven song on the record but like "Reason", it rocks without the use or need for guitars fairly well. "Fate decides" is a haunting ballad and the album closes with a charming one in "Those days are gone". Bizarre sounding but the tunes win through.

Orders From Headquarters (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Better as a whole than Distant shores
Review written by John Fitzgerald, August 28th, 2004

This time around, Patton opts for a more stadium rock approach with more power chords on guitars and more echo effect on keyboards. Naturally, the near hit single "Smiling islands" is the best moment, an emotional ballad which keeps one waiting for Stevie's spotlight section towards the close and it's worth the wait. The closer, "Look away" has Christine helping out on backing vocals too and this also ranks well above average but Robbie goes it alone the rest of the set which may have hurried his place in musical obscurity along as the worst parts are cardboard rock but there's some good moments too like the title track that kicks off side two of the album. On the whole, probably a little more colorful than "Distant shores" but the absence of Mac can be apparent throughout.

Jeremy Spencer (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Jeremy's talents shine to the full
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 28th, 2004

Although it was intended as the partner for "Then play on", this is a great companion piece to "Kiln house" as it showcases Jeremy's prowess of lampooning, better than "Kiln house" does. Spencer is not too malicious in his satires as one can here the innocence of the recording shine through clearly projecting his genuine love for the styles included. To show he can take it as well as dish it out, he even has a stab at himself and his mimicry of Elmore James numbers with the Mac on "Don't go please stay". As one could guess, there are a few Elvis send ups, "The shape I'm in" & "You made a it" are of the "Don't be cruel" & "All shook up" variety while Jeremy closes the album with "If I could swim the mountain", a poke at the Elvis ballads taken to the limit of hilarity. There's the Buddy Holly "Peggy Sue" gallop of "Linda", The Beach boys surfing style with "Surfin' girl", Syd Barrett era Pink Floyd psychedelia in "Take a look around Mrs. Brown" (which has some ironic Hare Krishna chants towards the end), heavy rockers which want to be thought of as bluesmen in the throbbing "Mean blues", Bo Diddley in "Here comes Charlie (with his dancing shoes on)" and last but not least teen idol ballads in "String a long" (with guest Peter Green on Banjo), the irresistible "Jenny Lee" and my personal favorite "Teenage love affair". Don't worry if you missed out on the first fifteen years of rock and roll, this album will bring you up to date like you haven't missed a thing.

The Lost Album (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Not bad but undoubtedly unfinished
Review written by John Fitzgerald, August 27th, 2004

This does remind me of \"Wild exhibitions\" but more raw and of course \"Sisters of the moon\" dates back to 1978 which gives \"Not shy\" fans a real treat. There are three songs with Lindsey here \"Jean\", \"Someone like you\" & \"The loneliest boy\" which are good but I think the two songs that feature Christine are much better. \"Only love is left alive\" with it\'s minor chord urgency is my favorite while \"Silvery sleep\" reminds me of the moderately slow style on \"Such a shame\" from \"Wild exhibitions\" although admittedly not nearly as good as that song. The rest are interesting workouts and I\'m glad he left the tapes alone rather than add new parts to them but ultimately, they still feel unfinished but it does make for a very interesting script in Walter\'s Mac history connections.

Tusk (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Not that different & dog bites Sara, film at 11
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 27th, 2004

Although it's unquestionably different from "Rumours" Taking a look at "Tusk" on it's own, I wouldn't say it's as experimental to the extent that some have described it. Imagine if, say "Think about me" was the first single the world heard from this record, I'm sure the record buying public would have been alot kinder about the Macs' new musical direction. The title track is very atmospheric and has always been ahead of it's time but as it's the most experimental song on the set, I think people felt as though this was only the tip of the iceberg had they bought the record when in fact it was a big chunk of the mountain. This isn't to say that Lindsey's new musical vision ended there as he came up with a new waver teetering on punk stylings a la Talking Heads with "Not that funny" and "The ledge" nearly pre-dates Rap stylings. However, Buckingham has some sensitive readings too like "Save me a place" & "That's all for everyone". Christine is rather subdued here but her strong penmanship reins again with numbers like "Over and over" which improves with each listen and gets better as it goes along climaxing in a swirlingly moving crescendo, the eerily wonderful "Brown eyes" featuring surprise guest Peter Green on the final solo during the fade, and the instantly likable "Never make me cry" one of the quietest songs the band has ever done but grabs you right away. Many may disagree with me on this but Stevie is at her best on this outing coming up with the best songs present. "Storms" and "Beautiful child" soothe along nicely and are very ensitive ballads indeed while "Sisters of the moon" in a scary minor chord and "Angel" in an irresistibly up major, rock the box feverishly. I could mention many more but I would like to make my final point on "Sara" which while just as pretty as Stevie's other offerings herein, one should be advised that it is only documented by the single edit version on the CD issue. Please buy the 1988 Fleetwood Mac "Greatest Hits" disc to hear this song in all it's glory. The reason given at the time was "time restrictions" However, Warner Brothers is the biggest music company in the world so one would imagine they have state of the art technology at their CD plants and I've known of much longer playing discs than this that sound just as good made by much smaller companies. With this in mind, it does make one wonder about what the restrictions were but no doubt the Mac catalogue will soon be given the "remastering" treatment all the other old big bands have been given over the last few years and one can only hope this problem will be rectified at that time.

French Kiss (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Welchy, the wonderful wizard's pop masterpiece
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 27th, 2004

Bob's first solo disc is very commercial sounding for it's time but he didn't have to sacrifice his writing prowess in the process which makes this platter a must have for any true Mac aficionado. The crystalline cover of "Sentimental lady" betters the "Bare Trees" version. It's more heartfelt and with Lindsey, Christine & Mick providing solid backing, this is undoubtedly the stand out track but Welch's penmanship wizardry shines through. Although Christine is only listed as being on "Sentimental lady", she can easily be heard on "Easy to fall" & "Lose your heart" the former is one of the most rocking numbers on the record which makes Christine's appearance on it all the more surprising. The latter is a nice ballad which ends the record and is the next mellowest on the album to "Sentimental lady". The minor hit, the funky "Hot love cold world" is probably the hardest rocker but it's hard to say, this is a red hot record with instantly likable songs. "Ebony eyes" keeps the hits coming, Robert has got some groovy jazz licks on "Danchiva" while "Mystery train" & "Carolene" boogie along nicely, "Lose my heart" & "Lose your..." are entertaining twists on "Lose your heart" and the moving "Dancin' eyes" is my favorite next to "Sentimental lady". If you want to learn about Bob Welch music, this is a great place to start.

Wild Exhibitions (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Hi fi & Malibooz with a dash of Tom Petty works well
Review written by John Fitzgerald, August 27th, 2004

This is sort of a cross between Walter\'s wilder rocking affairs like \"Hi fi\" and the more beachy \"Malibooz rule!\" but it works well as there are less contrived keyboards than those on the Malibooz album and the rock is more controlled here than it was on \"Hi fi\". I suppose it\'s good to notice that this album came out on Tom Petty\'s Backstreet label to give an idea as to the musical flavor. \"Star of my heart\" is sort of a fast stroll number on which you can hear Lindsey pretty good on backing and \"Animal lover\" is a hypnotic rocker with \"Tusk\" style experimentation and gallops along with some screaming lead bursts from Buckingham. These two songs sandwich \"Such a shame\", a beautiful ballad with very nice backing from Christine and it\'s my favorite of the three Mac related tunes. One just wishes that the \"all the pain and the heartache we knew\" line was sung by Lindsey but it\'s still magnificent. These are probably the best songs but this is still worth your while for these alone.

Who Am I (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
You're an overlooked talent
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 26th, 2004

It's amazing that Todd Sharp had been overlooked at the time "Who am I" was out as he had the good pop/rock sound and looks to be the next 80's heart throb. In the end though perhaps in retrospect this is better to us now as it serves as a nice lost nugget of 1986 releases. Christine is listed as background vocals on this album but it doesn't say which songs she's on though I (at least) think I hear her on the catchy upbeat "I don't want to leave you" and she is, of course credited as being on the bright duet "We were lonely" which works very well with a nice innocence feel making it an instant favorite and an album highlight overall, even over time. Billy is credited for the fairly well heard acoustic guitar work on the above average jangly rocker "I'll never let you go" and Todd's own version of "I'm the one" is generally tougher and will maybe grab attention more here than it may have on Christine's 1984 selftitled solo album. This, along with the closing dramatic rocker "Don't change it" are the hardest rocking tunes here but the punchy opening number "I want something more" is nothing to sneeze at either and is also hook laden. The thinner sounding guitars on the rest of the tracks push the album more in the pop direction than rock and they are for the most part not faves of mine like "Young man" which is fast but suffers from a weak hook and there's the peppy but forgettable "The house next door" but "Alone but not lonely" is a good mid tempo bouncer and "Now I'm strong" is an acoustic ditty that makes a nice change of pace from the previous proceedings. The good out number and out weigh the bad here and this could sure use a CD reissue, maybe someday an MCA vault dweller will find this lost nugget and serve it some justice in that format soon.

Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Traditionalist Triumvirate
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 25th, 2004

The debut album shows the bands commitment to pure blues stylings to suburb effect. Although Green's songs are generally more adventurous than Spencer's, I think the real plus in this platters' favor is that Jeremy is able to sound fresh and refrains from his favorite Elmore James opening riff and tempo that some felt he had overused on future recordings. Undoubtedly, the best of which is "Shake your moneymaker" which is real hard driving stuff and it doesn't stop there as there's two great boogie stomps in "My heart beat like a hammer" & "My baby's good to me" as well as his piano talents on Robert Johnson's "Hellhound on my trail". The genius of Peter Green surprised many with purist arrangements on "Looking for somebody", "The world keep on turning", "Long grey mare" (which is the oldest recording as it features the Mac's original bass player Bob Brunning and has some hair raising harp by Peter)& a faithful cover of Howlin' Wolf's "No place to go" (a.k.a. "How many more years"). Peter does plug in for Chicago blues flavored "Merry go round" & the coolly atmospheric "I loved another woman". If you want the Mac at their most traditional, you can't do much better than this.

From The Vaults (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Despite some faults, essential to collect
Review written by John Fitzgerald, August 25th, 2004

Like the "On air" collection, this compilation of live Shack recordings are unreleased anywhere else (with the exception of "You've done lost your good thing now" which is the same recording that appears on "On air" billed on there as "You done lost that good thing now") but the poor notes on both collections don't specify when and/or where the tunes were recorded so songs such as "Telling your fortune" most likely were recorded long after Christine had left the band. The sound quality isn't as good as those recordings from "On air" too but their collectability value is undeniable. On the positive side, The most obvious Christine appearances of course are those on which she sings lead and in addition to run throughs of classic album tracks like "When the train comes back" and the harmonica drenched "Mean old world", there's the single only track "It's okay with me baby" which is sure original to hear live and an unfamiliar track called "Strange things happening". Also, as the sound is more traditional sounding overall than the stinging boogie that Chicken Shack later played, it's surely more likely than not that Christine is probably on many tracks here. Not very much in the way of stretched out improvisation, but very enjoyable nonetheless

Ram Jam City (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Second Chapter songs sound better without production
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 24th, 2004

The main point of interest on this collection are the four tracks that are "earlier" versions of songs from "Second chapter". "Silver streams" works the best closely followed by an interesting instrumental "Ram jam city" which is even faster than the proper version with some irresistible guitar fills at the end. "Falling in love with you" is amusing too in that Lindsey Buckingham has often been compared to Danny and as Danny appears to write the music first and the words later just as Lindsey seems to do, one can certainly see the similar behavior here. "Odds and ends" is a good sing a long and Danny seems pleased with the results. The rest is everything from the "Second chapter" album but interestingly, they used tapes that don't have the strings and horns and it helps to understand some of the songs for themselves which is very important. I would have liked to have heard "Love can always bring you happiness" this way but it was omitted which is a real shame. It's still remarkable to hear these great songs in their beautiful clarity now.

Shrine '69 (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Colorful Mac on the brink of rock
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 24th, 2004

An intriguing Green/Spencer/Kirwan era live tape (which, apart from a few volume problems early on, has better sound quality than one may think) from an earlier period than one usually hears from this line up. While it's more restrained than some of the more excitingly adventurous recordings that were to take place later in the year to come, there's still some bravo performances present. "Tune up" is exactly just that, it's not actually a song but fun licks to listen to in anticipation. New kid on the block Danny Kirwan impresses all with a great live rendition of his slow blues "Something inside of me" which really cries during the six string breaks. Jeremy does his best version (released to date) of "My baby's sweet" here and rocks the house with "Great balls of fire" to close the show. We are left to ponder the greatness of seven Peter Green wonders. Most notably is a song not heard elsewhere by the Mac entitled "Lemon squeezer", a slow harp led blues tune with double entendre lyrics is a real nugget which must not go unnoticed. This is most colorful stuff as Peter mixes some earlier blues triumphs such as "If you be my baby", "Rollin' man" (which extends nicely as does) "Need your love so bad" with more modern (at the time) musical experimentation such as "Albatross" & "Before the beginning". I find this a good companion piece to the wonderful "English rose" compilation album but I'm sure fans of that era will like this very good live set regardless.

On Air (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Well rounded live Shack recordings
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 24th, 2004

This is a good collection of BBC live recordings of Chicken Shack not available anywhere else legally (though the recording here of "You done lost that good thing now" also shows up on Indigo Records 1997 live CS comp called "From the vaults" as "You done lost your good thing now", aside from this, these recordings are unique to this release, YDLTGTN is less clean sounding than the other recordings here but it's still a good stroll, featuring organ, probably by Paul Raymond and not Christine though that is just a guess). The bad thing about "On air" is it's vague liner notes as there are no notations on when any of these recordings were done (so we don't really know which songs Christine is on here due to the Shack's revolving door of personnel over the years). Naturally, we know of some present she's definitely on (due to the tracks that feature her lead vocals) like the live run through of "I'd rather go blind". Here, Christine plays the parts that were done on the studio track by the horns with the organ, this version is nice at best, slightly warbly as worst. There's also a track billed on this CD as "Night is when it matters" but it is actually a live Chicken Shack version of a song that Christine ended up recording on her 1970 selftitled solo album called "No road is the right road" (this one is faster than the "Christine Perfect" version, still good though). Other Chris lead vocals are on the reliable shuffle of "Hey baby" and the fast stroll/slow shuffle of "Get like you used to be". Beyond this are uncertainties, just guesses. As Chicken Shack's first recording/release after Christine had left the band was the "Tears in the wind" single (which had "Things you put me through" on the B-side), I'm guessing the live versions of those tracks present here include Paul Raymond on them (just as their studio counterparts did). The former being a strolling pop like ballad (though the piano on this track does sound like it could very well be Perfect's chunky keys chords) and the latter being a fast swinging shuffle featuring thick organ sounds which don't really sound like CP's style at all. Then at the other end of the spectrum, there are some really rocking tracks here that most likely date from early 70's Chicken Shack lineups like the solid "You knew you did" (with it's descending scale parts working best here) and this track abruptly comes in after the more obvious latter day Shack grumbling rolling rocker called "Telling your fortune" heavily featuring a stinging Stan Webb guitar spotlight seeking solo. I'd be very surprised if either of these recordings date from Christine's tenure with the band. This leaves three tracks that are simply too hard to call, the opening stroll of "Tired eyes" which is a good overall CD moment here has a piano part that might be her, the swinging shuffle of "Midnight hour" & the closing slow blues of "Look ma I'm crying" has familiar chunky piano chords that could also be Perfect playing but they'll just have to remain question marks in the meantime. Nevertheless, these are good (though mybe kind of mono sounding) live takes and this CD is perhaps slightly preferable to the "From the vaults" set though both are essential for collecting Christine Perfect/McVie's recorded works.

O.K. Ken (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Chris' vocals & Stan's instrumentals conquer again
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 23rd, 2004

Similar to the Mac in that the Shack opt for a less serious approach for their follow up to their debut album and augment the sound with a horn section, get a little more rockin' and to top it off, the madman Webb introduces each song by poking fun at many British luminaries of the day such as Prime Minister Harold Wilson & radio personality John Peel. Those unfamiliar with the personalities in question still may get a chuckle or two from the proceedings but anyway, the songs themselves include highlights of the same nature as the debut, that is the instrumentals and the Christine led numbers though there is a effective duet by Perfect and Webb on "A woman is the blues" and Stan the man has a great rocker in "Tell me". The obligatory Freddie King "Remington ride" chugs at breakneck speed while the impressive original instrumental "Pony and trap" is an unusual speed and is the better of the two instrumentals. Christine swings on "I wanna see my baby", the harmonica filled "Mean old world" and last but not least, her self penned classic "Get like you used to be" which at it's slow pace may shock those used to the Mac's much faster run throughs of this song on the 1975 tour. More colorful than it's predecessor but equality as effective.

Not Shy (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Walter at his most wonderful
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 22nd, 2004

One can easily hear how Lindsey Buckingham has influenced the production here as it's less ragged than "Fundamental roll" although it's got it's rockers like "Sweet south breeze" & "Make it alone", it seems clear that songs such as these Walter probably took charge of production as they sound like the best moments from his future recordings. Anyway, this is Walter's best outing with the irresistible hits "Magnet and steel" & "Hot summer nights" which deserved a higher chart placing than it got. It really is an anthem. Although "The blonde in the blue T-bird" is probably more known now by us more for the very early days of videos as it featured Stevie in the title role in the ultra rare clip, most songs are solid tunes. The uppity "Unloved" sounds to me like it could've been on "Buckingham Nicks" which was a great surprise and the beautiful yearning urgency of "Just the wanting" is my personal favorite. There's a perfect mix on this disc and it's a definite classic for the Mac cannon.

Then Play On (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
A truly classic, experimental Mac extravaganza
Review written by John Fitzgerald, August 22nd, 2004

Although "Tusk" is often thought of as the Mac's most experimental release, I think "Then play on" must certainly rank up there as at least one of their most experimental albums, if not the most. Not only is it shockingly different to their previous long players, there's also very little mainstream here. the songs included are either their hardest rocking songs or their mellowest that they have ever recorded depending on which one you're listening to yet you never know what's coming next and that's the key to a classic experimental record. I'd recommend you get the CD as it includes the two songs from the original pressings of the album "My dream" & "When you say" which are Danny Kirwan tunes. The former is an unusual and pleasant instrumental number. It's the more instantly likable of the two. However, the latter does grow on you with each listen. These were replaced on vinyl in 1977 with the (virtually) complete "Oh well" but disc listeners can now enjoy all of these on one five inch silver laser platter. In order for "Oh well parts 1 & 2" to make musical sense together, the last five seconds needed to be trimmed off the fade of side one to properly splice the two parts together to create the classic lengthy epic. Those fans of "The Madge sessions" from "The vaudeville years" compilation will notice there are still some snippets on "Searching for Madge" & "Fighting for Madge" that one can still only hear on this release. "Coming your way" & "Rattlesnake shake" are lean rockers by Danny and Peter respectively while "Before the beginning" is the closest thing you will find to mainstream on this record but even then, you'll be on the edge of your seat with this yearning number. "Show biz blues" is the nearest to their previous blues recordings but even then, it's a surprising country blues with an irresistible new (for them at the time) guitar sound and "Underway" beautifully (and aptly) starts the jamming ride. The absence of Jeremy Spencer seems to have had a strangely poitive effect but he made up for past indulgences on his wonderful debut solo album. This has deservedly been called a landmark recording. How correct they are.

Hello There Big Boy (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Depressingly, this was Danny's last solo album
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 21st, 2004

Although slightly better production than Danny's last two albums, this still seems to be the weak card in the deck, but Kirwan's master penmanship has worked up to it's very sad premature end with this release, his swan song to this day. "Wings of a dove" is a great catchy opener, "Spaceman" grabs you right away and the closer "Summer days and Summer Nights" has beautiful Beach Boys style harmonies and pairs Danny up very nicely with British blues diva Dana Gillespie. She helps out with writing on "California" too and also appears on the moving "You" which Bob Weston also gets some chiming six strings on to as well as "Gettin' the feelin'" which is another highlight. The spooky acoustic "Caroline" contrasts well with the rocking "Only you" which you may remember from the Mac days although ominously, it features the infamous "Bogus" Mac lead guitarist Kirby Gregory (a.k.a. (Rick) Kirby). It's amazing how many singable songs Kirwan has written no matter what the production is like. We miss you Danny.

Hi Fi (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Hi fi means High volume to Walter
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 21st, 2004

Although Lindsey still appears on backing vocals on one song on this record (the smooth, catchy "Like you do") it appears as though Walter wanted to more or less go it alone here which makes for a much more rocking album, maybe his most rocking album to date but it's certainly more rocking than "Not shy" & "Fundamental roll". It reminds me a lot of the Malibooz album at it's wildest. Those of us who like Egan's mellower recordings may find this rather disappointing but for what they are, the rest of the songs have stronger hooks than you'd expect though probably weaker than his first two solo outings. The packaging helps give the album a charming nostalgic feel to the proceedings and even if it's far from perfect, there's enough positivity here for recommendation.

Nine Lives (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Oddly newer songs better on this almost compilation
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 21st, 2004

This album may come off as uneven due to the fact that this is almost a compilation of 4 tracks from an aborted 1983 album project called "Tongue and groove" (the album had been fully recorded but Warner Brothers chose not to release it), one song from the soundtrack of the 1985 movie "Extremities" and 5 newly (as of 1986) recorded tracks. "Stand up to the night" is the movie song and it does sound rather typical of 80's power chord glossy dramatics but it's not bad considering Raitt is a strong artist to be reckoned with, unlike what may be found on many 80's soundtracks. "Angel" is the song on which Christine does some background vocals along with Todd Sharp, Steve Ross & Blondie Chaplin so McVie doesn't stand out very well but you can hear her smooth tones on some of the higher "ooh"s. It's a nice piano led ballad with some good slide guitar work by Bonnie at the close which makes for an effective finish. This track dates from the "Tongue & groove" sessions as does the previous three tracks. Unfortunately, they don't fair as well as "Angel". However, "True love is hard to find" is the exception out of these tracks though, with a good reggae feel, this has a distinctive Bonnie Raitt funk feel to it. "Freezin' (For a little human love)" is a rolling galloper that just doesn't work, hemmed in by it's 80's synth sound. "Excited" is OK but again it's plinky sound intrudes. It feels strange to say that the 1986 tracks are the best ones, it could just be that the legend surrounding the "Tongue and groove" recordings is more interesting than the recordings themselves, as much as I would hate to agree with WB on their reluctance to release them (though I'm sure it was for reasons that it shouldn't have been for). A bright numbing Bryan Adams cover opens the album in "No way to treat a lady", though you can see his style a mile away here, Bonnie rocks harder here than on most recordings she's done to this date, this may even still be the most rocking track she's ever done overall (though I think "Me and the boys" from her 1982 "Green light" album would give this track a run for it's money on that score). "Runnin' back to me" tries to rock even harder with it's fast beat punch but apart from a few nice licks, it's lightweight stuff. "Who but a fool (Thief into paradise)" is a grower but you'll enjoy it once you know it, it has a slight soul/funk feel featuring horns that work well. "Crime of passion" is a breezy mid tempo highlight that will grown on you as well, though you might think it suffers a weak hook initially, you'll find yourself singing it after a few listens though admittedly "All day all night" employs a plastic reggae sound, it is good otherwise though. Unquestionably, if you are investigating Raitt's work, do NOT start here, but when you do get around to getting this album, you won't be disappointed, in the long run.

Second Chapter (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Danny's delightful writing skills make this album
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA USA, August 20th, 2004

Danny's solo debut has often been criticized for it's poor production which isn't disputable but Kirwan's writing prowess shines through to show his expert tunemanship skills perfectly. Beautiful ballads like "Cascades", "Silver streams" & "Lovely days" will melt your heart while irresistible sing a longs like "Mary Jane", "Skip a dee do" & "Falling in love with you" one will hum all day long once you get to know them. Think of how these days singles are often remixed from their album versions, imagine how big "Hot summer day" and the title track would have been had they used this technique in 1975. Listen to this album once a day for two weeks and I'd be surprised if you didn't come away whistling at least one favorite.

Three Hearts (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Bob keeps the hits comin'
Review written by John Fitzgerald, August 20th, 2004

Bob's follow up to "French kiss" has basically the same production feel but is a little lighter on the strings and a little heavier on the guitars. It's surprising that Welch would choose to do some covers when he's been so prolific (at this time) such as the fab four's "I saw her standing there" & The Fleetwood's "Come softly to me" although it does have some good guest vocal parts from Christine Mcvie as does "Don't wait too long" which many of you will know is an old song as well because it has virtually the same lyrics to the discarded track from "Mystery to me" entitled "Good things come to those who wait". "Devil wind" is a scary minor chord number with eerily haunting guest vocals from Stevie Nicks and "Precious love" the hit single, is a good companion piece to "Ebony eyes" from "French kiss". Guest drummer Mick Fleetwood is on "The ghost of flight 401". This sounds closest to Bob's recording while with the Mac (a la "Bermuda triangle" from "Heroes are hard to find"). The rest is a good mix of ballads (notably "Oh Jenny" & "Church") and rockers such as the opening title track and "Little star" which starts with a nasty growl but the chorus is unusually almost pop like. Not everything is first rate but the amount of songs present for recommendation is plentiful.

Penguin (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Enough catchy ones here to recommend for later on
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 19th, 2004

Although this is not a good place to start for Mac collecting and generally thought of as one of the weakest Mac releases to date. There are enough good moments enclosed to recommend it. The easiest to relate to are Christine Mcvie's submissions, particularly the opener. "Remember me" comes from the "Say you love me" stall of numbers that will not tire with repeated listenings and "Dissatisfied" is an unmistakable "Don't stop" style shuffle which is undoubtedly Christine's forte. Bob Welch's highlight is the rumbling "Revelation" featuring Welch on bass and effective stabbing lead guitar bursts from new axeman Bob Weston who has an underrated number, with the exception of some oohs & aahs, "Caught in the rain" is an instrumental featuring Christine's piano virtuosity and Weston on acoustic guitar which introduces us to his distinctive harmonic laden style. New (at the time) Mac vocalist Dave Walker has a pleasant bluegrass ballad called "The Derelict" which grows on you over time and although one feels "(I'm a) Roadrunner" could have been better, Dave shows us his impressive harp works. A good disc to get if you have some of the more essential Mac already and you yearn for more Mac to listen to.

Fleetwood Mac In Chicago (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
The good with the not so good, there's still classics
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 18th, 2004

There's well over 100 minutes of music here to digest so with almost any recording of that length, one must accept the good with the not so good but this double dose isn't as bad as some have feared and there are some classic moments in here for sure. Although Danny is only spotlighted on three songs I think of his offerings as some of the best. "World's in a tangle" is my favorite, a slow blues with lots of feeling and the fiery "Like it this way" rocks the legendary, crumbling Chess studios to the ground. Peter helps in the demolition with a classic reading of "Homework" which closes the set. Meanwhile, he starts the set with two irresistible numbers "Watch out" & "Ooh baby" One does feel that "Sugar mama" could've been a classic slow burner had there been time for another full take (you can even hear Peter admit at the end that he felt as though he "hit a lot of bum notes" on it) but there's an intriguing sounding instrumental in "Red hot jam" included too. Jeremy has got a side worth of material and although it's what one would expect from Spencer, these are very engrossing performances and don't suffer from sameness. As all the songs come with in between song banter in the studio, Jeremy's songs include some of the most entertaining parts of those moments. Also, he's got another rumbling speedy tune in "Rockin' boogie" which is definitely a high point and is far superior to it's companion piece "Evenin' boogie" from "Mr. wonderful". Also, let's not forget the numbers on which some of the visiting bluesmen to the sessions step up front and the Mac back them up because some of those are very good too like JT Brown's moving "Black jack blues" and Otis Spann's mellow epic masterpiece that is "Someday soon baby". Unquestionably, this is not a good place to start for collecting Mac but there's enough great recordings here to recommend this one without hesitation.

Behind The Mask (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
A mixed bag but good enough to get for the good ones
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 17th, 2004

The first full Mac album to feature Billy & Rick features memorable and not so memorable moments from each writer. Stevie's best moments to me are "Freedom" a surprisingly hard rocker which displays an urgency not heard in her Mac recordings in some years while in contrast "The second time" is a sensitive acoustic ballad that closes the album. Christine's best moments are the eerily dark title track which has a surprising guest appearance from former Mac guitarist Lindsey Buckingham and the opener "Skies the limit" which is classic Christine pop and still the song I listen to most and is my favorite
song on the album. One gets the feeling Billy Burnette needed to make a stunning impact for his debut starring performance on the disc and it happens in epic fashion with "In the back of my mind" Pounding drums similar to the opening you may hear on a Pink Floyd song such as "Yet another movie" gives way to a heavy rock dirge which is shockingly different to those familiar with his previous recordings but it works, very haunting and atmospheric. "Hard feelings" reminds one of something John Lennon may have come up
with had he lived but it's emotional, heart wrenching stuff and grows on you when you get past the musical comparisons. Meanwhile, Rick Vito has a song called "Stand on the rock" which is rather stripped down in contrast to the other songs on the record which, although refreshing, I felt it worked much better in concert and his other writing credits are as collaborations with Nicks so it's hard to tell how his writing style would have affected the
band although one of the co-credits was on "The second time" which, as I mentioned was a highlight for me. I know many people prefer the songs I have not mentioned as their highlights and I would certainly not say those are bad songs, so although I don't think one will be blown away by this long player, there's sure to be enough one will like to merit buying it.

Fleetwood Mac (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Monumental melodic masters
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 17th, 2004

The 1975 album is the smoothest sounding Mac album to date and probably one of the mellowest. However, the new (at the time) guitarist Lindsey Buckingham starts off with an irresistible kick "Monday morning" has got one of Lindsey's best hooks to date while "Blue letter" is an Eagles type rocker that battles it out with "World turning" as being the hardest song on the record. It would have been interesting to see what Buckingham would have done with "I'm so afraid" had it been recorded in the studio a few years later but this song has always been a standout live so as a result, this version is far more inferior to the live renditions of the tune. The other newcomer, vocalist Stevie Nicks made an impact on rock music hardly ever, if ever paralleled with some of her strongest songs ever. "Crystal" (sung by Lindsey Buckingham) betters their original version from "Buckingham Nicks" and although "Rhiannon" & "Landslide" had become centerpieces of the Macs' live shows (as "I'm so afraid" had), these versions nevertheless stand up just as strong to their live counterparts. Christine Mcvie remains as solid as always with the soothing "Warm ways" the easy rocking "Sugar daddy" and the deserved hits "Over my head" which started the deluge, and the utterly pristine Christine song "Say you love me" which is still one of her best to this day. Sound quality on the disc couldn't be better and the artwork is just as classic as "Rumours". Here lay a milestone recording.

Greatest Hits (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
The title doesn't lie
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 16th, 2004

These are literally the Macs' biggest hits from 1975 on, although as the songs only fill 64 plus minutes of the disc, I would've preferred they used the extra 15 or so minutes to complete the hit parade with numbers that may not have charted so high but I'm sure the general public would have remembered fondly like "Love in store" & "Think about Me" Among others. However, the platter does contain all the classic uncut studio versions which is the way a greatest hits package should be (unless, say for instance, the hit version was live then that should be included instead) the real plus is the inclusion of the entire recording of "Sara". though after hearing the complete version of "Gypsy" on the "25 years the chain" box set 4 years later, one looks back and wishes that was included on this set. There are two new songs included here, Christine's "As long as you follow" is a moderately slow tune which is very pleasant while I found Stevie's "No questions asked" rather bland and frankly, not one of her best. Minor problems aside, There should be no questions asked that this is vital listening for anyone interested in learning about Fleetwood Mac music and arguably the best but certainly one of the best places for one to start on their magical mystical Mac journey.

Bare Trees (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
The second best Mac album ever
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, August 16th, 2004

This is undoubtedly one of the best 70-74 period Mac albums and arguably one of the best overall despite half of the record relying on Danny Kirwan material and the other half to be split between Bob Welch, Christine and their neighbor Mrs. Scarrot's entertaining poem reading of "Thoughts on a grey day". Bob Welch comes up with the haunting sounding "The ghost" and one of his most classic writings the surprisingly heartfelt "Sentimental lady" while Christine Mcvie remains reliable offering the urgent, unpredictably rocking "Homeward bound" and one of her very best songs ever to this day which is the classic "Spare me a little of your love". Danny shows his incredible
craftsmanship on this record with two great heavy rockers, the somewhat unusual
"Danny's chant" and the catchy opener "Child of mine" Kirwan's also got two memorable smooth pieces, the beautiful instrumental "Sunny side of heaven" & the unforgettably moving reading of Rupert Brooke's poem in "Dust". To top it all off, Danny's title track is an irresistible sing a long. After "Rumours" I would say this is the Mac at their best. An essential purchase.

Big John's Boogie (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Harmonica stylings not too overpowering
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 16th, 2004

I had feared that Wrencher's harmonica leanings would make this a rather stale offering and while I do like the less harmonica led tracks here, I was surprised how much restraint he had shown on this album to let the others get the spotlight once in a while which earns him big points here. Unfortunately the liner notes of this album don't list which songs Brunning is playing bass on though I know he's on the two bonus tracks on the CD edition of this album as they were taken from the various artists "American Blues legends '74" album but as I've reviewed that album already, I won't go in to that here. As for the regular album tracks, "Honeydripper" is a peppy start, "Third degree" has that "Long grey mare" type rhythm drive and this is the beginnings of Wrencher's jumping in the back seat in favor of others getting featured which happens often throughout the platter. I would imagine Brunning and co. are on "Now darling" as this slow blues to me sounds very Brunning Sunflower Blues Band-ish. "Where did you stay last night" is another chirpy boogie, "Trouble makin' woman" is a slow stroller and "Lonesome in my cabin" has a funk feel on the rhythm but it's repeating nature firmly anchors this track in blues. The cover of Howlin Wolf's "How many more years" here many Mac fans will recall from the "Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac" album as this track was under the title "No place to go" there and it's handled very much the same way here. "Come on over" is a fast bouncy boogie though there is a lot of harp featured on this one, "Telephone blues" is a piano featured slow burner and the closing "Runnin' wild" with the presence of Eddie Taylor on this album shows much of Taylor's funk like influence on this track. So I would ask those that are not big on harmonica led blues to at least give this album a chance as you will most likely find some of Wrencher's back seat numbers surprisingly quite pleasing. I'd give this 3 & a half stars if I could.

Bob Welch (3/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.03/5.0)
Return to hit structure almost works
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 15th, 2004

Bob was cruising original musical territory but that wasn't appreciated by record company bosses as Capitol dropped Welch and RCA obviously said "we'll give you a deal if you give us hits" so here Bob tries but is forced to try and make something useful out of bubblegum numbers like "Bend me shape me" & "If you think you know how to love me" which is a bit much to ask of anyone but there's some good moments here like the power ballad "To my heart again", the haunting "Imaginary fool" the rocking opener "Two to do", the Bryan Adams/Jim Vallance penned "Remember" and the catchy rhythm guitar riff of "It's what ya don't say". Had "Secrets" included smoother arrangements, I could almost have pictured this song being done effectively by Christine Mcvie on her 1984 solo album as one of the more up numbers. It's sad that the most original musical ideas that Bob was allowed to have on this record came in the closer called "Drive" but this was only to last 47 seconds. Maybe it's not the music execs fault but where else is the finger of blame to reasonably be pointed? Welch did all he could.

Building The Perfect Beast (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Worth it for the classics if nothing else
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 15th, 2004

The worst that can be said about this record is that the best songs are mostly the well known ones like the classic opener "The boys of summer", the epic "Sunset grill" and the soulful "Not enough love in the world". ("All she wants to do is dance" is rather disappointing on repeated listens). Other plusses is the fast rocking "Man with a mission", the reggae tinged closer "Land of the living" and of course, "You can't make love" with some good guitar and backing vocals from Lindsey. It does seem kind of glossy in retrospect and the weaker numbers do soften the blow substantially but this was a definite improvement on "I can't stand still" and most likely still stands as one of Don's greatest solo albums to date, if not the best.

Street Angel (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Amazing angelic adult rock is included here
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Human resources staff database assistant, August 15th, 2004

I really admire Stevie for sticking to her musical guns for this album because it works very well the way it is where it might have suffered had it enclosed modern production gimmicks. The rocking opener "Blue denim" builds to a dramatic irresistible climax while "Gretta" makes a good counterpart musically to the "Stand back" B side track "Garbo". Then comes the haunting title track, along comes the likable poppy "Docklands" followed by an underrated rocker in "Listen to the rain" which showcases a little of Brett Michaels rubbing off on Nicks but it reminds me more of The Cult and Andy Fairweather-Low provides some unusual sounding lead bursts. "Destiny" is an emotional piece that can be felt by all that hear it and my favorite is the beautiful "Unconditional love". There's a good rocker in "Love is like a river" another underrated tune in the single "Maybe love" and the ultra pretty "Jane". Collectors may opt for the Japan import for the inclusion of "God's garden" & "Inspiration" although they tend to run out of steam a little halfway through, even still, there's alot of worthwhile material here.

Go Insane (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
The cutting edge of 80's pop
Review written by John Fitzgerald, August 15th, 2004

As we should expect from Mr. Buckingham, this is a much different solo outing than it's predecessor, which features a more aggressive keyboard approach. Although experimental in places (most notably both parts of "Play in the rain") it's amazing this release didn't spawn more hit singles than it actually did like the irresistible rockers "I want you" (my personal favorite) & "Loving cup" as well as the bouncy "Slow dancing". There's much emotion here too such as the case on the moving "Bang the drum" and not least of which the sprawling magnum opus that is "D. W. Suite". There's not much not to recommend here. When pop met rock in the 80's, it didn't get much better than this.

The Wild Heart (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
Stevie's superb second solo offering
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 14th, 2004

This is a great follow-up to a smash solo debut which has a wonderful mix of tunes ranging from the classic pop and rock hits "Stand back" & "If anyone falls" respectively along with the hit that many will know from hearing it but it, unfortunately, didn't chart as high, the very underrated "Nightbird" as well as the return of Tom Petty for another nice duet called "I will run to you", the bouncy "Gate and garden", the solid drums of guest Mick Fleetwood are unmistakable on "Sable on blond", two rowdy rockers in "Enchanted" and "Nothing ever changes" and two epic tracks, the uptempo opening title track and a moving milestone Stevie moment with the dramatic closer "Beauty and the beast". Undoubtedly, this song, and this album for that matter must rank as one of the crowning achievements in her remarkable career.

Bella Donna (5/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.05/5.0)
The most mystical music ever recorded.
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 14th, 2004

Stevie's dark mystical debut solo release includes an atmospheric blend of Country, pop & rock stylings which work wonderfully. The opening title track is a epic of all proportions, emotionally heartfelt and weaving in and out of grabbing quiet moments to bursts of stinging lead guitar from long time friend Waddy Wachtel while the lightning speed of the hit single "Edge of seventeen" is high volume throughout and not a second too long and the other singles pair Nicks up well with Tom Petty & the Heartbreakers with "Stop draggin' my heart around" and Don Henley with "Leather & lace". Also there's the underrated, country tinged "After the glitter fades". The non singles are nothing to sneeze at either with the minor key "Kind of woman" which is very moving and the suspenseful "How still my love" The album closes with one I'd love to hear Stevie sing at the grand ole opry "The highwayman" A true classic.

Rock A Little (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Stevie rocks more than a little on this platter
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 14th, 2004

The approach of the last two albums has been discarded in favor of full blown pop production techniques which makes for startling moments such as the awesome power of the opening rocker "I can't wait" however, it tends to dilute the strength of some of the other tunes. Nonetheless, Nicks comes up with the goods here as were treated to the deserved smash hit "Talk to me", other great rockers like "Sister honey" & "No spoken word" and nice ballads such as "I sing for the things" and the sensitive quiet "Has anyone ever written anything for you". This album is almost experimental in a way as it acts like "Tusk" does for the Mac catalogue which shows the musical creativity that Stevie possesses which I think can get overlooked sometimes in favor of her undeniable writing prowess.

The Other Side Of The Mirror (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Reflecting raw writing and musical brilliance
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 14th, 2004

This release portrays real musical maturity as it successfully plunges into the adult contemporary musical mold. Sporting a nice duet with songwriter Bruce Hornsby called "Two kinds of love" which also features saxophonist Kenny G as does the song "Alice" this is the key behind the disc's style as well as the classy piano structures on "Cry wolf" and even a rocker like "Whole lotta trouble" includes a soulful Stax like horn section. This isn't to say the rockers are watered down, check out the fiery "Long way to go" which certainly packs a punch and Nicks does not forsake her country roots with the nugget "I still miss someone (blue eyes)" which closes the album. The dramatic "Doing the best I can (escape from Berlin)" builds with intensity throughout effectively and it's interesting to listen to "Juliet" next to the "Seven wonders" B side number "Book of miracles" to see how the song emerged. The opener is the irresistible hit single "Rooms on fire" but my favorites are "Ooh my love" which is full of life and "Ghosts" which is hauntingly moving. A great musical step forward for Stevie.

I'm Not Me (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
More likable than you'd think
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 13th, 2004

As confusing as it was for fans when Mick started releasing "solo" albums, those who bought this were pleasantly treated. The Carl Wilson penned "Angel come home" is just beautiful, sunny harmonies and sensitive vocals from Billy Burnette. It almost sounds like it could have fit well on "Mirage" and is my favorite. "I give" has no drums surprisingly but smooth backing again which is very haunting. Wonderful pop songs get good run throughs here like Tom Snow's "You might need somebody", the catchy "This love" and the attempted single "I want you back". There's some rock tunes present too like Billy's "I'm not me" which sounds great next to his solo offering two years later and Walter Egan's faithful impressive female singer Annie Mcloone penned a very good rocker in "Tonight". This is chock full of goodies and I'd say it's Mick's best "solo" effort to date.

Across My Heart (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Oh my god, it's cool Kenny! The crooner comes through!
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 8th, 2004

There are two songs on this album that makes it worth buying for alone. The Bob Welch co-penned "Find a little grace" featuring Bekka & Billy (of course) which is an emotionally charged gospel style number on which (one should guess), Bekka excels. The other is the surprising opener "To me" which is very sensitive, moving stuff. I've heard Barbara Mandrel & Lee Greenwood do this song but it's nowhere near as good as this and I think it will have to take something pretty special to top this as being the definitive version of this song. The whole record has a nice smooth easy feel to it that isn't banal or too homespun. This is the Kenny to get for sure.

Two Hearts (2/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.02/5.0)
Dave treads techno? Not exactly.
Review written by John Fitzgerald () from Peabody, MA, USA, August 1st, 2004

Dave enters the synth pop production world with this release which is ultimately it's downfall. Although it features mostly Mason penned originals, it includes a very dated 80's sound which works against the tunes. The single "Dreams I dream" (duet with Phoebe Snow) is the best moment where the sound does work well with the song but for the most part an unadventurous platter. One does get the feeling with this disc that the label executives were pulling the strings here which included the on record only reuniting with Steve Winwood which probably contributes to the uninspired performances contained. Arguably one of Dave's worst solo releases to date and it should most definitely not be heard by die hard fans until the bitter end.

Forty Blue Fingers Freshly Packed And Ready To Serve (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Some classics on the plate.
Review written by John Fitzgerald () from Peabody, MA, USA, August 1st, 2004

Like Savoy Brown, Chicken Shack's earliest recordings were more traditionally based before moving into the rock boogie scene. Unlike Peter Green, Stan Webb's hero was Freddie King as evident on the rocking instrumental cover of his "San-ho-zay" which makes a good counter companion to the other instrumental, the echo laden original "Webbed feet" although Stan sounds more like Kim Simmonds here. Webb is a better guitarist than vocalist. "First time I met the blues" must rank as one of his poorest vocal efforts but some are passable like the opener "The letter" and the shuffle of "Lonesome whistle blues". Christine meanwhile, sings lead on two numbers, both of which she wrote, the effective "You ain't no good" and the classic "When the train comes back". This version is slightly preferable to the single version as the vocal track is more heartfelt and is not flooded as is Perfect's distinctive chunky piano chords by the intrusive horn section heard on the single recording. Other tunes work well sometimes too but at it's worst, is still essential for Christine's numbers and Stan's instrumentals.

The 1982 Reunion Concert (4/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.04/5.0)
Works for those not ready for pure blues sound yet
Review written by John Fitzgerald from Peabody, MA, USA, August 1st, 2004

This concert disc has a good rough sound that fans of more blues rock (as opposed to the traditional stuff) may enjoy. "Hard times again" is a good up beat start with gruff guitars and harmonica featured. "You never can be trusted" is fast pep, which also has harmonica but mainly features a speedy rhythm guitar riff. "Howlin' moon" is an effective stroll showcasing piano & guitar, "Ridin' on the Santa Fe" is a short numbing rocker which works though it is very simple. "I should know better" is a bossa nova recapturing Mayall's 60's sound with that familiar poking organ sound. "My time after awhile" is possibly better here than it was on "Crusade" though it is annoying how the piano on this version is almost as up front as the guitar but the tasty guitar stings enclosed are good enough to make it work. "She can do it" is a fair up tempo tune, it's almost pop like in it's presentation, it may have fit in with Mayall's better 70's material. "Lookin' for Willie" is the longest track, at nine minutes it's a good funker though the plinky keys and piercing guitar stabs share the solo sections. Mayall's famous busy harmonica chirper "Room to move" here holds up OK though the end isn't as good as it has been before. "Have you heard" was noted in the liner notes as being recorded at a different time and therefore suffering some recording problems which are muddily noticeable but it has a good Taylor guitar solo making it worthwhile. So if you think you might like more electric guitar orientated blues then you may wish to seek this one out (after the all time essential "Bluesbreakers with Eric Clapton" album that is of course anyways).