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Archive for the ‘Product Review’ Category

Leslie West: Soundcheck Review

Tuesday, November 24th, 2015

west soundcheckFor his sixteenth solo album, Soundcheck, Leslie West, gives us his take on some of the coolest blues, rock, country, and traditional music from the past one hundred years. This well chosen set demonstrates that Leslie West’s monstrous guitar tone and crushing voice are still going strong. Soundcheck is raw and ballsy and a fun listen from start to finish.

The record opens with the slide guitar drenched blues rocker “Left By the Roadside to Die.” This sets the tone (pun intended) for what’s to come. Other highlights include West’s lick trading with Queen’s Brian May on the rowdy standard “Goin’ Down” (which also features Bonnie Bramlett and Bobby Whitlock).  Also of note is the acoustic guitar instrumental “Stern Warning,” an original that he penned for his longtime friend Howard Stern. One of the real surprises on this record is the Leslie West/Peter Frampton collaboration on the singalong  “You Are My Sunshine.” They replace the familiar major key sing-songy melody and give it a minor key treatment. This ends up being one of the most interesting tracks on the record. Other fun covers include the Gretchen Wilson hit “Here for the Party” and the Willie Dixon penned “Spoonful” featuring the late Jack Bruce on vocals and bass. Also of note is an instrumental take on the Beatles’ “Eleanor Rigby” that’s played by band bassist Rev Jones.

Considering a career that dates back to the Vagrants in the late 1960s, hard rock titans Mountain during the 1970s, and a legendary solo career that has spanned five decades, Soundcheck is an excellent addition to the Leslie West catalog and legend. If you haven’t checked out what Leslie has been up to lately this Soundcheck is a great place to start.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Goin’ Down
– You Are My Sunshine
– Spoonful
– Here For The Party
-Left By The Roadside To Die
The Big Hit

-Left By The Roadside To Die

 

Dirty Streets: White Horse Review

Tuesday, October 27th, 2015

whiteFor those of you who have been lamenting that there is no “good music” out there, let not your hearts be troubled. Dirty Streets are here to wipe away your tears. Their brand new record due out November, 2015 called White Horse is a collection of 11 rock and roll tracks that will make you swear that you’ve been transported back to 1970. Get out your lava lamp, throw on your cleanest dirty tie dye and fire up some incense so the folks won’t get a wiff.

White Horse from the Memphis power trio of Thomas Storz, Justin Toland, and Andrew Denham, feels like a natural progression from their last record, Blades of Grass, which had the boys experimenting a bit with keyboards and such. Here they just simply bust out the jams.  They describe their sound as proto-punk but do not let that fool you.  White Horse is some of the best rock and roll you will hear this year.  The production is lean and mean. All the sounds are very warm and natural. The vocals and guitar work are soulful and the bass and drums lay down one tastey groove after another.

White Horse opens with the sing along “Save Me” and the boys keep things rocking hard until we get to the acoustic country-soul of “The Voices.” The only other a brief respite from the ear bleeding is the psychodelic and very melodic “Dust” where the Streets reference the “Hey Joe” bass line.  The rest of the record is one catchy, grooving, guitar driven track after another.

While some may try to marginalize  Dirty Streets as some sort of revival act, there is no denying the passion and excellent songwriting craft here.  If you like your rock and roll down and dirty saddle up and take a ride on the White Horse.

The Review: 9/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Save Me
– Looking For My Peace
– White Horse
– Think Twice
– Good Pills

The Big Hit

– Save Me

Review by Lou Lombardi

David Gogo: Vicksburg Call Review

Friday, September 11th, 2015

davVicksburg Call is the fourteenth album from British Columbia’s David Gogo and  Gogo shows no sign of slowing down. Vicksburg Call is one blistering rocking blues track after another.  The album opens with the power chord rock of “Cuts Me to the Bone.” This sets the tone for the entire record. Speaking of tone, Gogo’s guitar sounds like it’s on fire. His website says that he has recently acquired a new Les Paul but every musician knows that the tone is your hands. Gogo strangles and wrenches every bit of passion, soul, grit and grime from those six strings from start to finish.

Vicksburg Call features some fine blues rock writing. Of note are the title track,  “Vicksburg Call,” the boogie woogie rocker “Coulda Shoulda Woulda” and the hard driving shuffle of “Fooling Myself.” David also has a reputation as “the great interpreter.”  He lives up to that moniker with his renditions of Neil Young’s “The Loner” and the Stephen Stills penned “Jet Set (sigh)” but one of the most interesting tracks on Vicksburg Call is Gogo’s bluesy version of Annie Lennox’s “Why” which closes the album.

Gogos’ rhythm section of Bill Hicks (drums) and Jay Stevens (bass) is solid and gives Gogo lots of room to stretch out both on his Les Paul as well as vocally. Kim Simmonds and Shawn Hall appear as guests to round things out. Vicksburg Call is a solid album from one of Canada’s most electrifying guitarists and should satisfy the anyone one who is hungry for great roots and blues drenched rock.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– The Loner
– Shoulda Woulda Coulda
– Vicksburg Call
– Cuts Me to the Bone

The Hit

– Cuts Me to the Bone

Albert Cummings: Someone Like You Review

Friday, August 28th, 2015

someonelikeyou-300x300Someone Like You is the exciting new album from carpenter turned blues-man, Albert Cummings.  There are plenty of great tunes, soulful vocals and of course there is a plethora of  ferocious guitar work.  The sonic territory is diverse but well executed.

The album opens with the hard driving rocker “No Doubt.”  Immediately the David Z production is heard. The snare drum will take your head off. The Z and Cummings combination is a winner from the outset. All of the tracks have a very muscular sound. Even the ballads sound tough.

Some highlights include, the Delbert McClinton inspired swagger of ”I Found You” and the southern rock ballad “So Strong.” Both demonstrate Cumming’s Gregg Allman-esque vocals very nicely. The up tempo boogie rock of “Stay Away From My Sister” and the slow blues “Little Bird” are good examples of what Albert can do with more traditional forms. The latter showcases Albert’s well honed phrasing and ability to solo in a jazz style over traditional blues changes. One of the most interesting tracks is the instrumental “Meatlocker.” Here Albert gets into Robben Ford territory soloing effortlessly over the rhythm changes in the chorus. These forays into jazz-blues are a real treat and leave the listener longing for more.

Someone Like You is Albert’s seventh album and his first collaboration David Z. and guest guitarist Jimmy Vivino.  Over the years, Albert Cummings  has gained a reputation for putting out consistently good material and Someone Like You continues that tradition.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– No Doubt
– I Found You
– Finally In Love
– So Strong
– Meatlocker

The Big Hit

– I Found You

Lady Flint: Hard Time Review

Friday, August 28th, 2015

hardtime-300x300Lady Flint is an explosive two-piece band, formed in 2012 from the collision of two mavericks from Marseille, France.  Tony More on guitar and vocals, and Gran Dav on drums play a brand of blues based rock that has more in common with Wolfmother and The White Stripes than Buddy Guy or B.B. King.  Their sound is self described as “garage blues and dirty stuff.”

Their first full length CD, Hard Time is a full force post grunge, post alternative, post punk blues riffing assault. More and Dav never let up. They burn through all ten tracks like their lives depend on it. There’s an exciting new breed of blues based artists out there today but none play with quite the intensity of Lady Flint.

The songwriting is solid and memorable. They showcase their penchant for hardcore riff rock on  “Bring Your Love Back There.”  “Crocodile” is  an amped up, Black Sabbath on speed track, full of piss and vinegar and “Blazing Fire” is a great example of the band’s unabashed love for post punk, alternative rock. The Nirvana-esque “Call It Suicide” could easily land Lady Flint on alternative rock radio. Just like blues loving rockers of the past from Led Zeppelin, to The Black Crowes, Lady Flint, understands that blues isn’t a scale. It’s about soul and these guys bring the soul in spades. They are the voices crying in the wilderness.

Hard Time may not be for everyone. Some will say “That ain’t blues!’  To them I say, “The times they are a changin’.” This is blues for the brave new world.

The Review: 8.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– Crocodile
– Call It Suicide
– Blazing Fire
– Ocean
– Bring Your Love Back Here

David Michael Miller: Same Soil Review

Friday, August 28th, 2015

samesoil-300x300Same Soil is David Michael Miller’s second solo album and the follow up to last year’s Poisons Sipped. The sound might be best described as  “modern traditional.” With it’s mix of blues, gospel, and soul influences, Same Soil is a celebration of traditional roots styles. The album opens with the acoustic guitar driven riff of “All the Blues to You,” which lays the foundation for the entire album of soulful songs with relatable themes. There is always enough familiarity to make you feel at home and enough twists to keep you interested but this is Same Soil’ssecond major strength. The first is David Michael Miller’s voice.  This man has a command of the human voice that few can match. Dynamically he is always right on the mark without ever sounding like he’s showing off. Every line seems to roll off his tongue with total and complete ease. From the highest, most intense passages to those that are barely spoken; each melodic figure and lyric ooze soul.

David explores songs inspired by Muddy Waters, Jimmy Reed, and Bo Diddley among others. The main riff of the down and dirty “Doing Me In, Doing Me Wrong” references’ “Manish Boy” but takes a more modern turn that would make Muddy proud. “Got Them Blues” is an up tempo gospel blues jam that with more than a nod to Robert Randolph. “Friend of Mine” is a soulful blues ballad with sax and guitar work that are reminiscent of early Tom Waits. When David’s voice comes in with the soul and savvy of Robert Cray and a hint of Al Green, the goosebumps really start.  He draws on many influences and styles, yet still  sounds very natural and always earthy.  This may sound like hyperbole but every track on Same Soil is a total winner. This is one of those rare albums where you aren’t skipping around looking for the good songs.  “Just Ride” is great blues rocker.  “Shoes To Shine” is dynamite funk/soul number with surprising chord changes and a great solo section with the sax and guitar trading fours.

No review of Same Soil would be complete without mentioning the band hand picked by David to bring the songs to life including keyboardist Jim Ehinger (Bonnie, Raitt, Albert Collins, Billy Vera and The Beaters), saxophonist Jason Moynihan (Buddy Guy) and drummer Carlton Campbell (of The Campbell Brothers). Everyone is giving one hundred percent but no one is “over blowing”, They all play to perfectly serve the songs, David’s voice and the rootsy production.

David Michael Miller has the potential to go anywhere and be anything in this business that he wants. He could easily be the next great blues super star ala Robert Cray or Bonnie Raitt. In the mean time we can all groove to Same Soil while we see what the future holds.

The Review: 9.5/10

Can’t Miss Tracks

– All the Blues to You
– Doing Me In, Doing Me Wrong
– Friend of Mine
– Shoes to Shine
– Got Them Blues

The Big Hit

– Shoes to Shine

 

 

Steve Cal’ Band: Room to Move Review

Tuesday, January 6th, 2015

Room To Move

Steve Cal’ is an emerging blues artist from Philadelphia, PA. Picking up the guitar at the age of eight, after hearing Santana’s “Samba Pa Ti,” he began playing professionally by the tender age of 14. The “Hendrix-esque” Room to Move is Steve Cal’s second album. The sound is raw, but not underproduced and the record has a “live in the studio” sound and feel. This is a breath of fresh air compared to the the current ‘Nashville-esque” sound of some of the major artists today.

Even though the recording has a very live feel, Room to Move is a typical blues record in the sense that Steve hits all the bases from funky tracks like  “Midnight Dream” and “Dirty Old Woman,” to the slow hard-driving blues of “Voodo Chile.” Kudos to Steve for not covering “Voodoo Chile (Slight Return)” which may be the most over covered blues rock song of all time.  The last three tracks on the album are in the slow blues tradition, which leaves the listener a bit hungry for the funk of the first part of the album. Read more.

 

Genz-Benz G-Flex 2×12 with Celestion Vintage 30 retrofit

Wednesday, April 16th, 2008

I’ve been using the G-Flex 2×12 speaker cabinet for about 2 years.  This cabinet has the best low frequency response of any guitar cabinet that I have ever owned, and I have owned many.   Most 4×12 cabinets sound good when standing very close with the cabinet on the floor, but quickly “thin out” as you step only a few feet away, and they almost never sound good when elevated.  The G-Flex produces respectable lows even when elevated to ear level, and with greater projection than any 4×12 that I have ever heard.  I have posted  my previous review on another post.  In short the only other way to get this much low frequency push from a guitar cabinet would be to use  a powered sub-woofer system.

But as they say “nothing is perfect” and there was one nagging problem with the G-Flex that bothered me.  While the low frequency response is beyond compare the high frequencies, while very present, have a harsh quality.  After about a year of use I decided that a possible solution to this was to change the speakers.  I hesitated to do this.  After all who buys a new cabinet and then changes the speakers?  I assumed that Genz-Benz loaded their cabinets with the highest quality speaker possible.  But the harsh high end was starting to really bug me, and from prior experience I new that different speakers  had a marked effect especially in the high frequency range.    I had another cabinet that was sitting in my studio not being used out fitted with Celestion Vintage 30’s.   Changing the speakers was relatively easy.  The Vintage 30’s dropped right into the G-Flex with no problems and in about 15 minutes I was ready to test drive my “new” cabinet.   I could tell in less than a minute of playing that I had found what I was looking for.  The cabinet now has a much more smoother high end …more detail in the mid-range too, and without sacrificing any of that low end push. 

This is the best cabinet that I have ever heard.  It makes every amp that  I own sound amazing.  The Vintage 30’s were the “missing link”.  One question remains.  Why doesn’t Mr. Genzler outfit his cabinets with these or something similar?  I haven’t emailed the company yet, but I am going to.  Stayed tuned!