review Archive

Don’t Forget All About It: ‘Nazz Nazz’ at 50

Building upon the disparate influences of Philly soul, Jimi Hendrix, the Who and Laura Nyro, Nazz was quite a unique group. Though today the foursome is remembered chiefly as the band Todd Rundgren played in before launching his own idiosyncratic solo career, Nazz can lay claim to being one of the first power pop groups,

Long Live the King: The B.B. King Blues Band Carries On

B.B. King was a towering figure in the blues. An artist whose appeal crossed over to a much wider audience, the man born Riley B. King made an indelible mark on the uniquely American musical form. His career lasted more than a half century, ending with his death at age 89 in 2015. But his

Album Review: Aura Blaze – The Sparkling Black

Well, well: this is unexpected. The press on this album suggested something in the vein of Pink Floyd; oddly, one act I don’t hear in this music is Floyd. But as “Overture” Solar Emerge” opens, Aura Blaze sounds more like Caravan. As the song unfolds, the instrumentation reveals hints of National Health and Egg, more

Stranger by the Minute: Porcupine Tree’s ‘Stupid Dream’ at 20

Porcupine Tree began as a ruse; Steven Wilson concocted a backstory for a fictitious band. But the prodigiously talented multi-instrumentalist crafted music to go with the legend, and thus the “group” was born. After a string of albums made essentially at home alone, Wilson put together an actual group and began playing live dates. 1996’s

Single Review: Cameo — “El Passo”

In the world of funk and soul, Cameo reigned supreme. Between the release of the band’s 1977 debut album, Cardiac Arrest and 1990’s Real Men… Wear Black, the New York City-based group scored a Top 20 R&B chart position for every single one of its records. On the R&B singles chart, Cameo racked up an

Your Most Valuable Possession: Ben Folds Five’s ‘…Reinhold Messner’ at 20

North Carolina-based Ben Folds Five came on the scene in 1995 with their self-titled debut album. The Chapel Hill band had been together two years, honing their unusual (in a rock context, anyway) approach: a piano, bass and drum trio with no guitars. The sonic space customarily occupied by lead guitar was filled with Robert

Book Review: Bruce Iglauer’s ‘Bitten by the Blues’

Launched in 1971, Chicago-based indie label Alligator Records would grow to become one of the most significant forces in the commercial revitalization of blues. Founded by Bruce Iglauer (who remains at the label’s helm to this day), Alligator has been at the forefront of support for blues artists old and new. Iglauer’s new memoir, Bitten

Still Reigning King of the Twang Bar: Adrian Belew’s ‘Mr. Music Head’ at 30

By 1989, Adrian Belew was well into the high-profile phase of his career, one that continues to present day. The guitarist’s star had been in ascension since being discovered by Frank Zappa and added to his band, subsequently joining David Bowie’s band, and going on to work as a sideman for Tom Tom Club and

Album Review: Howlin’ Wolf — Moanin’ in the Moonlight

Though he had already been a performing musician for some two decades, Chester “Howlin’ Wolf” Burnett began his recording career in 1951, cutting sides for Sam Phillips in Memphis. By the next year he was under contract to Chess Records. As 1959 began, he had released no less than 22 singles. With the album era

Reviews: Three New Classic Jazz Albums

Three new and notable jazz releases have gone on the market recently. Two are from long-established artists who demonstrate that after decades playing jazz, they still have plenty that’s fresh, new and exciting to offer. The third comes at things from the other direction: it’s a collection of soul jazz classics played with fire and