by Michael Buffalo Smith
Welcome to the return of Quarternotes, a column I have been writing for over 25 years that spotlights new releases that I feel are worthy of your attention in this endless sea of new recordings. I hope you find some music here that makes you smile. Better yet, I hope you find an artist you never knew about that just blows the mustard off your biscuits. Drop me a line and let me know what you think.
DECEMBER 25, 2011
Savoy Brown is back and doing what they do best, some mighty tasty electric blues. On Voodoo Moon (Ruff Records) Kim Simmonds and company deliver a nine-song set filled with passionate blues vocals and tasty guitar. From the mid-tempo “Natural Man” to the rockin’ instrumental “24/7,” this is one of Savoys best releases in some time....
Talk about an unsung legend, Charlie Gracie may not be a household name like Johnny Cash or Elvis Presley, but he is every bit as important in the history of rock and roll. At the age of 75, For The Love of Charlie (Abkco) has been released, and Charlie sounds as fresh as he did when he scored a hit with “Butterfly” back in 1957. The new album was produced by die hard Charlie fan Al Kooper, and all twelve songs rock. The Rockabilly Hall of Famer still has his magic...
Want to hear some serious soul music? Check out Concrete Blues (Decision) from The Revelations featuring Tre Williams. This is one smooth album, filled with all the elements of soul I loved back in the seventies, but totally 21st century. I must confess, I love every soul soaked moment of this record...
Looking for some blues you can really use? Check out these three new compilation discs from Catbone Records. Mean Streets, Saturday Night in Shankletown and Belly Full of Blues. All three albums are excellent. Not a filler track in the bunch. Great performances from artists such as Howlin Wolf, James Cotton, John Lee Hooker, Little Richard, Tina Turner, Peter Frampton, Elmore James, Mike Bloomfield, Jimmy Reed and The Commadores, just to name a few. Each CD has about 17 tracks, with great songs like “Red Rooster,” “The Girl Can’t Help It,” “Jelly Jelly,” “Goin’ Down Slow,” “Dust My Broom,” and “Hound Dog.” Just amazing stuff. I highly recommend all three CDs....
One of my favorite groups to come out of the new wave of Southern rock is The Southern Boys Band out of Nashville. (www.southernboysband.com) featuring Justin McCorkle, son of Marshall Tucker Band founding member the late George McCorkle, and his cousins. The group has a CD out called Old Road, New Travels, produced by legendary Capricorn Records producer Paul Hornsby. Now, these guys can play, and the sound hearkens back to the days of Capricorn, Marshall Tucker and that whole vibe. Their well loved song “Dixie Dreaming” is here, along with six more excellent tracks. If you like the Southern thang, you will love these fellas....
Foreigner has a fine new release out called Feels Like the First Time (Razor & Tie). The band members have changed a lot, but the key sound remains, and Kelly Hansen is a simply amazing vocalist. There are three discs, one of which features acoustic performances of all the hits, another disc of all the hits re-recorded by the current band lineup and a third disc, and outstand live concert on DVD. Hours of entertainment, from the red hot remake of “Juke Box Hero” to a very nice acoustic take on “Say You Will.” I have said it elsewhere and I will say it again, I was never a huge fan of Foreigner, but with this package that all changed. Good stuff...
In an ongoing effort to tell you about good music of all styles, I would be remiss if I failed to mention the newest release from The Dublin City Ramblers, Ireland’s number one folk group. Once again, Sean McGuinness and company deliver a fine collection on 20 Great Irish Ballads, Rebel Songs and Instrumentals. (Dolphin Traders) The lads revisit “Flight of Earls,” nd choice cuts include “Rambling Rover,” “The Rare Old Times,” and “The Ballad of St. Anne’s Reel.” A fine collection of Irish music you will enjoy time and time again.
- Michael Buffalo Smith
AUGUST 1, 2011
Universal Music has released a series of excellent CDs called Icons, and each one if loaded with the definitive collection of songs by each artist. The first one that caught my ear was Steve Winwood Icons
, featuring many of the one time Blind Faith
member’s solo records. My all time Winwood favorite is included, “Arc of a Diver,” along with classic radio staples such as “Higher Love,” “Valerie,’ “When You See a Chance,” “Back in the High Life” and “The Finer Things.” There are eleven tracks, all good.
The Thin Lizzy Icon
collection is also dynamite in a small package, from “The Boys are Back in Town” to “Jailbreak” to Bad Reputation,” as is the Velvet Underground
collection. Lou Reed and company classics like “Heroin,” “White Light, White Heat,” and my personal favorite “Sweet Jane.”
There are new Icon releases for Hank Williams, Louis Armstrong
and Muddy Waters
, all filled with timeless tunes.
Perhaps the best of the batch is the double-disc Cream Icon
collection which combines studio and live tracks fron Clapton, Bruce abd Baker. Studio and live versions of “I’m So Glad” and “Sunshine of Your Love,” along with “Spoonful,” “Politician,” “Tales of Brave Ulysses,” “Badge,” “Crossroads” and more. Oh yeah, it rocks.
- Michael Buffalo Smith
JUNE 1, 2011
Stephen Ray & The Slicks
are one fine West Coast rock and roll band, and their new album Old Fashioned Future
rawks full tilt
boogie, baby. From the damn near punk of “Starin’ at My Grave” to the rockabilly feel of the title track “Old Fashioned Future,” this is a non-stop sonic bombast and dance party on a plastic disc. Former Boxmasters guitar guru Mike Butler adds a lot of color to the picture, and there are a box load of great tunes here. “Diesel Dream” is rockin’ a tribute to truckers, and “Dirt Road” is made to be played loud. Just a great band and a seriously rocking record. stephenrey.com
is a compilation album from Rhythm Street Records that brings together thirteen excellent songs as a fund raiser for musician George Pappas
to help in his fight with cancer. The recording was produced by Lee Silby and Jimmi Haywire. Executive producers are Chrissie Scott and Mike Hendry. You may recognize Pappas as a part of the legendary Atlanta recording studio Axis Sound Studio, one of the hottest places to record back in the '70's. A few artists who worked there include Kansas, Felix Papalardi, the Police, the Allman Brothers, Curtis Mayfield, Sea Level, Mothers Finest, Cowboy, Gladys Knight, and Richard Bell. This great compilation features tracks from folks like Tommy Talton, Bill King, the late Robert Lee, Lee Silby, and George Pappas himself. Buy the physical CD or download and help a great guy in his fight against cancer. rhythmstreetrecords.com
Fifth On The Floor’
s new album Dark and Bloody Ground
on SOL Records is filled to the brim with Outlaw Country and Southern Rock from the rockin’ opener “Hell if I Know” to the excellent country party tune “Drinkin’ Friends,” a sing-along that is set against a backdrop of clinking glasses and whistles. “Georgia” may be the finest track on the record, with a solid bass line and funky guitar work. Fifth On the Floor are just what the doctor ordered, if your doctor’s name happens to be Jack Daniels. Call the doctor! fifthonthefloor.com
’s new release is called Luvolution
, and it may be their best yet. There’s just something magical about the voice of lead
singer Nicole Sutton, and Mark McGee once again delivers the goods on guitar. Some of our readers may remember Mark as lead guitarist for Gregg Allman and Friends for over ten years. While Luvplanet is in no way a southern rock outfit, they are a damn fine rock and roll band with songs that defy category, from pop to rock, blues to country. Excellent songs abound, including the title track and “Virtual Life,” a rocker that is the band’s current single and video. Just great. Buffalo says “Check ‘em out.” luvplanet.net
Louisiana blues man Burton Garr
has a hot one out called Fried Grits and Greens, and boy howdy, it is one smokin’
blues album. It’s more of them gritty blues as only Burton can play ‘em. Our buddy Tom Coerver
is along for the ride this go around, playing keyboards on the record. Check it out at burtongaar.com
. As a sad note, we recently leaned that Gaar has been diagnosed with inoperable bone cancer. Several projects are in the works, including an album of various artists covering Burton's songs. A fund has also been set up for anyone wishing to help Gaar in his cancer fight.
Burton Gaar Donation Fund
Capital One Bank
3499 Masonic Drive
Alexandria, LA 71301 •