November, 2000



House Of Yes:
Live From The House Of Blues

House Of Yes is a excellent memento from the acclaimed ‘99 Yes tour. The playing from all the group’s legendary members, including guitarists Steve Howe and Billy Sherwood (Sherwood has since left the band), is spectacular and the overall live sound quality is equally impressive. Yet, at times the crowd noise is so intrusive you feel like the audience isn’t even listening. A disturbing thing considering that way back on the very early Yes tours, including their now legendary appearances at NYC’s Academy Of Music way back in November ‘71 and February ‘72, you could almost hear a pin drop. That one minor complaint aside, House Of Yes offers a cross section of classic live Yes including tracks from their superb ‘99 studio album The Ladder. Recorded live on October 31, 1999 at the House Of Blues in Las Vegas, House Of Yes also showcases up-to-date reworkings of classic rockers from The Yes Album (including a 13 minute lead-off version of “Yours Is No Disgrace”), Fragile (the mandatory set-closer of “Roundabout”) as well as other favorites from Close To The Edge and 90125. Clocking in at well over 2 hours, the House Of Yes double disc CD is also available on DVD and VHS video.  /



Listen to RealAudio sample: Live In Japan

Touching on just about every genre of 20th Century pop and rock music, songwriter, vocalist and guitar great Mike Keneally breaks down musical borders with his latest magnum opus Dancing. Fans of Keneally’s last album, the all-instrumental rock/jazz effort Nonkertompf, will be thrilled that Dancing features more savory electric guitar instrumentals, especially the atmospheric “Taster”, a track on which Keneally’s lush guitar backdrop echoes the work of Neil Young and Robin Trower. Yet it’s really on Dancing’s vocal tracks where Keneally proves himself to be among the most valuable 21st Century rock innovators. Owing a debt of gratitude to his mentor Frank Zappa, under whom Keneally apprenticed in the master’s latter years, Keneally’s sound blueprint also draws on Todd Rundgren and XTC all the while managing to realize a vital and innovative sound. Tracks like “Ankle Bracelet”, “Only Mondays”, “Live In Japan” and “Friends And Family” march Keneally and his merry band right to the head of the 2000 pop class.


(Nuance / Lightyear)

Listen to RealAudio sample: Today

The latest release on Nuance, the label recently begun by guitar great Louie Shelton, is the first ever solo album by singer-songwriter Dash Crofts. A fortunate twist of fate indeed because it was Shelton who arranged and produced all those great albums by Seals & Crofts, which featured the high harmonies and mandolin work of Dash. Although not appearing himself, Jimmy Seals is credited as co-composing many of the tracks on Today with Crofts. In addition to arranging the sessions, Shelton also co-composed the albums’ only two instrumentals, while his superb guitar work and fitting drum programming is featured throughout the CD. Recalling his great singing with Seals & Crofts, Dash lays down a sumptuous wall of sound with his lead and background vocals really filling up the sound stage. Ranging from jazzy pop to breezy rock and tasty guitar instrumentals, Today is a solid comeback from an artist too long away from the spotlight of the music world.  / 


Reservation Blues

He turned 65 years young this year, but blues-rock great Eddy Clearwater can still dish out a hot and nasty set of the blues. Drawing on a wealth of blues-tinged sounds, Reservation Blues cuts a wide swath of styles including rock ‘n’ roll, bluesy Texas rock and good old style Chicago blues. In addition to several new tracks, including the great lead off track “Winds Of Change”, the CD features covers of Chuck Berry (“Sweet Little Rock And Roller”) and Dale Hawkins (“Suzie Q”). Concerning his ongoing relationship with producer Duke Robillard, Clearwater states, “I’m real proud of what we’ve done together. His band is like a road map - it just takes me where I want to go.” Supporting Clearwater’s commanding lead guitar and invincible vocals are Robillard (rhythm guitar), John Packer (bass) and Jeff McAllister (drums) among others. Performing since the age of 13, Clearwater brings his talent and experience as a blues legend to the forefront on Reservation Blues. 


Riding With The Kings
(Duck / Reprise)

When two guitar giants like Clapton and King unite the result is bound to be some sublime blues indeed. Concerning his first joint album with Eric Clapton, B.B. King states “From the very first time we talked about it I had my fingers crossed, saying to myself ‘Please let it happen.’ It was a treat for me. A real treat.” Recorded in L.A. earlier this this year, the album features a range of top players including Steve Gadd (drums), long time Clapton side man Andy Fairweather Low, Jimmy Vaughn, Doyle Bramhall II (guitars) and others. King further adds, “We didn’t plan anything exactly, but once we got started, it all just came together. In Eric’s mind is a library of songs. He’d bring one out and we’d talk about it and it was almost like I could hear the track as we were working out the arrangement.” Clapton’s affinity for King’s music is reflected in the choice of songs which include several King classics dating back to the ‘50s and ‘60s. Other highlights include covers of John Hiatt, Big Bill Broonzy, Sam & Dave and the songwriting team of Mercer / Arlen. An excellent showcase for the electric guitar prowess of both Clapton and King, Riding With The Kings is a solid pairing of like minded spirits who always rock steady when they get a bad case of the blues. 


Exotic Dancer Blues

Taking a cue from rock and roll legends like ZZ Top, Robin Trower and Foghat, the debut CD by Southern Gentlemen deserves a listen. Hardly a newcomer to the hard-rock music scene, the group’s lead singer and guitarist, David T. Chastain earned a stellar reputation with his acclaimed solo albums and his guitar work in the band Chastain. With Exotic Dancer Blues, Chastain has recorded an album that mixes hard-rock, blues and Southern rock. A cross between Jimi Hendrix, Duane Allman and Stevie Ray Vaughan, Chastain readily admits to his fondness for early ‘70s roots-rock adding, “Obviously listening to the material will bring back memories of the legendary blues rock from such bands as early ZZ Top, Robin Trower, Hendrix and even some Skynyrd influences. We just play it a little heavier! That was the style of music that I was first attracted to when I started playing.” Displaying some of his first ever vocal recordings on disc, Chastain and his bandmates Kevin Kekes (bass) and Dennis Lesh (drums) command enough sheer rock energy to blow the roof off. 


Stoned Immaculate:
The Music Of The Doors

As this new tribute album proves, the legacy of The Doors just continues to grow nearly 30 years after the passing of the group’s lead singer Jim Morrison. The three surviving Doors members, Ray Manzarek, Robby Krieger and John Densmore were all involved in the making of Stoned Immaculate along with the album’s music supervisor Ralph Sall. The list of artists appearing on the album is quite impressive as well. Among the many great bands on board are Stone Temple Pilots (with a lead off version of “Break On Through”), Smash Mouth (“Peace Frog”), The Cult (“Wild Child”) and rock legend Bo Diddley (“Love Her Madly”). Other artists here include Creed, Aerosmith and Train topped off by an other worldly pairing of John Lee Hooker and Jim Morrison on a wild “Roadhouse Blues”. Interestingly, all three living Doors members take turns appearing on various tracks adding in authentic touches. The spirit of the great Jim Morrison is alive and well here with his vocals blended into a number of tracks. Other highlights include a pair of newly created Doors tracks featuring Jim’s vocals added in. Thirty three years after they turned the music world upside down with their incredible sound, the spirit of The Doors refuses to die.  / 


Evan And Jaron

A great introduction to an impressive up-and-coming singing duo, Evan And Jaron is the latest CD from L.A.-based brothers Evan and Jaron Lowenstein. The brothers released several albums on their own label and were even signed to Island Records who issued their ‘98 album We’ve Never Heard Of You Either. For starters, the executive producer on their Columbia Records debut is none other than the great T Bone Burnett, while notable players appearing including Burnett, Mick Fleetwood, drumming ace Jim Keltner and guitarists Jeff Baxter and Marc Ribot. Imagine a power pop version of Simon & Garfunkel and you may begin to grasp this album. Top production and playing topped off by songwriting loaded with ample pop hooks are just a few worthwhile reasons to check out Evan And Jaron. 


The Other Way

Up and coming pop songstress Lisa Hogan recently released her latest album The Other Way on the N.J.-based Mikey Records. Hogan skillfully pairs appealing pop arrangements and compelling, gutsy vocals with introspective lyrics. Fans of Canadian singer-songwriter Sarah McLaughlin owe it to themselves to check out Hogan’s CD. Assisted by some fine sidemen including Bob Windbiel and John Fritz (guitars) and Brian Dunn (drums), Hogan appears on keyboards with her multi-tracked vocals weaving in and out of the sound mix. The album kicks off with a surprising intro snippet of the Jimi Hendrix classic “Are You Experienced” which then merges into the lyrically challenging song “The Other Way”. The eight cut CD is closed out with reprise/remix of the title track. Not only does Hogan have respectable songwriting skills, but as a self-produced vocalist and song stylist, she’s clearly an artist to keep an eye on.  / 


Lost Songs
(Vitamin / CMH)

The songwriting team of John Lennon & Paul McCartney were so prolific, both as a team and as individual songwriters, that they were more than willing to bestow some of their incredible songs upon a number of up and coming pop groups during the heyday of the mid-60’s British Invasion. Many of those songs that the Fab Four ‘gave away’ are remembered and revived once again on the recently released Beatles tribute CD entitled Lost Songs. Subtitled Songs The Beatles Wrote But Never Recorded, Lost Songs is an impressive collection conjured up by the talented Vinny Fazzari. Fazzari has assembled a crack crew of talented players who obviously share an affinity for these vintage musical gems. With Fazzari performing on a wide spectrum of instruments, from guitars and bass to flute and tabla, he receives support from a range of skilled instrumentalists including Dutch vocalist Jan Van De Mei. Consummated with a look back at the past and an ear towards the future, Lost Songs is an expertly recorded and well crafted covers album of lesser known, yet equally amazing Beatles songs. Fans should note that the album was mastered by one time Beatles engineer Nick Webb at, you guessed it, Abbey Road Studios. /





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