Wednesday, January 30, 2013



Some blues fans may worry that the merging of a younger star (Ben Harper) and an aging bluesman (Charlie Musselwhite) might result in just another novelty project, but an inherent nobility runs throughout this inspired work, a beguiling mix of acoustic and electric blues, with harmonica legend Musselwhite weaving in and out like a roadhouse virtuoso.

Hiding in plain sight for the better part of two decades, Ben Harper has delivered album after album of hybrid folk blues accented with slide guitar with a dash of Hendrix.

Get Up! is Harper’s first collarboration with Musselwhite, coming at a time when blues is drifting back into mainstream popularity thanks to the Black Keys and Gary Clark, Jr.

Harper rocks the blues in a refreshing change from his usual hushed affairs, creating a playground for Musselwhite’s harp to dance with Harper’s vocals.

Harper wrote or co-wrote all the songs, with lyrics that contrats delta-blues references with such modern elements as a narrative about the brother of a friend who was shot down in Afghanistan.

While he may not be the most distinctive songwriter, Harper’s true gifts shine in the details: the nuances of his guitar work, his vocal phrasing, and that intangible spirit or soul, that in my opinion, is often lacking on modern blues efforts. An awful lot of guitarists have the technique but cannot express the emotion that is blues.

Harper exhibits an original blues voice and flashes his overwhelming sense of emotion. Nearly every song touches the soul, from tracks that echo John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers to rockers that suggest a loose-jamming Cream.

While Harper has collarborated before (Blind Boys of Alabama, Fistful of Mercy), he seems to have found a kindred spirit in Musselwhite, creating an album that manages to feel timeless while being right on time.

Highly recommended.




Monday, January 28, 2013


While disco was not my favorite music, there ain't a man alive today who came of age in the seventies who does not remember THIS album cover!

Ohio Players frontman Leroy "Sugarfoot" Bonner died Saturday in his hometown near Dayton, Ohio, according to his Facebook page. He was 69. No cause of death was announced.

Bonner co-founded the Ohio Players in 1964 with former members of The Ohio Untouchables, and the group scored big hits in the Seventies with "Funky Worm," "Who'd She Coo?" and most notably "Fire" and "Love Rollercoaster."
Bonner toured with a version of the Ohio Players until his death. "Love Rollercoaster" found new life in the Nineties as a hit for the Red Hot Chili Peppers, and the band's songs have been widely used as samples in rap music.

"Humble yet charismatic, soft spoken and of few words, the weight of his thoughts, lyrics, and music has influenced countless other artists, songs, and trends," reads the post on Bonner's Facebook page. "He will be missed but not forgotten as his legacy and music lives on."

Saturday, January 26, 2013


Everyone reading this post knew Claude.

Claude Nobs, who founded the Montreux Jazz Festival in 1967 and built it into an international phenomenon far more famous than the small Swiss resort town where it was held — and far more musically inclusive than the term “jazz festival” would suggest — died last week.

Claude of course, was known by rock fans as "Funky Claude" who was "running in and out" in the second verse of Deep Purple's "Smoke On The Water," a song that contains arguably the most familiar guitar riff in rock.

The song’s lyric was based on an incident in December 1971, when the Montreux Casino caught fire during a performance by Frank Zappa. (The members of Deep Purple were in Montreux at the time to record and perform, and witnessed the fire from their hotel.) Mr. Nobs helped members of the audience evacuate the casino, and his actions were acknowledged in the lyric.

This version of the song is live from Montreaux in 2006.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


To the small but growing list of rare Beatles tapes that unexpectedly pop up, add one more: Paul McCartney's solo performance of "A World Without Love," the debut 1964 single by Peter and Gordon that hit Number One in both the U.S. and the U.K.
The only known McCartney version of the song, the tape – featuring McCartney singing and accompanying himself on acoustic guitar – was unearthed a few months ago by Peter Asher, half of Peter and Gordon and the brother of McCartney's girlfriend at the time, Jane Asher. In early 1964, McCartney was living in the Asher family home, sharing the top floor with Peter. "He had two tape machines and I had one – we were both into taping," Asher says. "Paul told me about the song and played it for me."
As Asher soon learned, nothing became of the song. "No one wanted it," he says. "John didn't like it or something." (The song has been credited to Lennon-McCartney, but McCartney apparently wrote it alone.) Billy J. Kramer, a Merseybeat singer of the time, also turned it down.
Not long after McCartney played "A World Without Love" for Asher (who taped it on a reel-to-reel deck), Peter and Gordon, the duo Asher formed with Gordon Waller, landed a record deal. Immediately, Asher asked McCartney if the duo could have the unfinished ballad. "Paul said, 'Absolutely,' but I had to nag him to write the bridge. It came several weeks later, just in time for the session." As a result, the tape in Asher's possession doesn't feature the song's bridge.
Asher discovered the recording (a DAT tape of the reel-to-reel original) in a storage space in L.A. Currently, there are no plans to release it, but Beatles fans can hear it in Peter Asher: A Musical Memoir of the '60s and Beyond, Asher's touring show, which plays shows in New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, and Clear Lake, Iowa, over the next few weeks. Also on the tape, from the same bedroom recording, is McCartney singing an early version of "I'll Follow the Sun," with a quicker, friskier tempo than the ones the Beatles used for their recording of the song

Friday, January 18, 2013


Bob Dylan is considering a Dylan Thomas tribute show in Wales to celebrate the 100th birthday of the late Welsh poet, Reuters reports. 

Geraint Davies, the West Swansea member of Parliament, has asked Dylan to perform in Swansea next year as part of a series of commemorative events. 

"Bob Dylan named himself after Dylan Thomas. I have asked Bob Dylan whether he would be prepared to give a centenary concert in Swansea, in order that he could blend his music with Dylan Thomas's poetry," Davies said in Parliament. 

"Sony Music has come back and said that Mr. Dylan is thinking very positively about the idea."

Dylan, born Robert Allen Zimmerman, has long perplexed fans with his adopted name. 

One popular belief is that he named himself after the Welsh poet, but another theory suggests his namesake stems from Marshal Matt Dillon from Gunsmoke

Dylan Thomas, best known for works like "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" and Under Milk Wood, was born in Swansea in 1914 and died in New York in 1953.