blues Archive

Album Review: Eric Clapton – Unplugged (CD+DVD)

Here’s a slightly unusual candidate for reissue: Eric Clapton‘s 1992 Unplugged album. To my knowledge, this massively commercially successful album has never gone out of print, which begs the question: why reissue it? To be fair, this 2014 reissue does include some bonus material. But first, let’s take a look at the original album. Filmed

In Memoriam: Johnny Winter, 1944-2014

According to his publicist, legendary guitarist John Dawson Winter III died on July 15 in his Zurich, Switzerland hotel room. I count myself lucky to have interviewed Johnny Winter twice (please see the list of links at bottom of this essay), and to have seen him play onstage once. I know very little about albinism,

Short Cuts: July Mini-reviews Part Three

Here are three more shortish reviews, this time all new releases. Randy Jackson – Empathy for the Walrus As a rule, I’m rather wary of tribute albums. More often than not, they’re bereft of original ideas, and too reverent by half. And when they’re not, they seem likely to miss what was/is important about the

Album Review: Bobby Rush — Decisions

An authentic blues album is a rare thing in 2014. Maybe it’s a function of modern recording techniques; I don’t know the reason. But most attempts at capturing the blues in the context of a recording session end up feeling and sounding sterile and lifeless, rote and unimaginative. The good news is that the current

Album Review: The Butterfield Blues Band — East-West

Some people — musicians, listeners, you name it — get their nose out of joint when writers apply labels to music. How dare we, the thinking goes. The music shouldn’t be shoehorned into some reviewer’s preconceived notion of stylistic categories. I’m guilty as charged of said pigeonholing, and I make no apologies. I see part

Album Review: Dave Keller — Soul Changes

Preconceptions can be a dangerous thing. When I read the advances of Dave Keller‘s Soul Changes, I made the assumption that Keller would be the latest vocalist in a Memphis-flavored retro bag. And while he is in fact that, he’s much more. Taking nothing away from the fine singers who don’t play an instrument onstage

Album Review: Magic Sam — Live at the Avant Garde

Soulful blues guitarist Magic Sam (Sam Maghett) was only documented on album-length studio recordings twice in his short career. West Side Soul in 1967 and the following year’s Black Magic – both released on the venerable Delmark label – showed the electric guitarist to good effect. But quite a few live recordings (of varying fidelity)

Leo “Bud” Welch: A Long Journey, Part Two

Continued from Part One… And it is about that good music that I speak – briefly – with Mr. Leo “Bud” Welch. He has made the two-plus hour trip north to his manager’s office on Memphis’ north side specifically so that he can take my call. “I’m not Mr. Welch; I’m about thirty-one years his

Leo “Bud” Welch: A Long Journey, Part One

Every so often I’ll stumble across a story that is so note-perfect, so finely wrought, that my cynical side, the suspicious dimension of my nature is engaged. And since the arts are often home to some serious myth-making, when such stores concern musicians, I am doubly skeptical. But on the rarest of occasions, stories such

Album Review: Blodwyn Pig — Pigthology

On their two well-regarded late 1960s albums, Blodwyn Pig forged a singular musical path, one some might say paved the way for such acts as Roy Wood’s Wizzard. This is epecially true on tracks like “Drive Me” from 1970’s Getting to This. Elsewhere they sounded not wholly dissimilar to Jethro Tull; this is unsurprising in