Monday, September 22, 2014

Al Kooper and Blood, Sweat & Tears’ Classic Debut Album Gets SACD Reissue!

Blood, Sweat & Tears' Child Is Father To The Man
The pairing of rock ‘n’ roll legend Al Kooper and the good folks at Marshall Blonstein’s Audio Fidelity label has proven to be a creatively lucrative one so far, with the famed musician and producer re-vamping his classic Super Session album (with Michael Bloomfield) for the label with re-mastered 5.1 multichannel sound. Now Kooper digs into a project that has to bring up some painful memories, the debut album from Blood, Sweat & Tears – Child Is Father To The Man.

On November 11th, 2014 Audio Fidelity will release Child Is Father To The Man, the classic debut album by Blood, Sweat & Tears, as a hybrid SACD complete with 5.1 multichannel sound. The multichannel mix was produced by Kooper himself at The Magic Shop in New York City and mastered by Bob Ludwig. Since its release in 1968, Child Is Father To The Man has since become considered one of the most influential and important recordings of the era, Kooper’s brilliant mix of rock, soul, R&B and jazz styles as groundbreaking as it was entertaining.

Kooper had the idea for what would become Blood, Sweat & Tears in 1967 after having dabbled in a similar musical direction with his band Blues Project. Finding some like-minded musicians, including trumpeter Randy Brecker, guitarist Steve Katz (from Blues Project), bassist Jim Fielder, and drummer Bobby Columby, with Kooper himself on keyboards and vocals, the band recorded and released Child Is Father To The Man in 1968. The album featured a number of songs penned by Kooper – including the incredible blues ballad “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” – as well as material by then obscure tunesmiths like Tim Buckley (“Morning Glory”), Harry Nilsson (“Without Her”), and Randy Newman (“Just One Smile”), among others.

Child Is Father To The Man rose as high as #47 on the Billboard albums chart, mostly on the strength of songs like the aforementioned “I Love You More Than You’ll Ever Know” and Kooper’s “I Can’t Quit Her.” If the album had been released a couple of years later, once FM broadcasting had gotten a foothold, the aforementioned tracks and others would have been radio staples. But the band’s revolutionary mix of styles and instruments, even in a pop setting, was too vigorous and strange for AM radio. The album’s meager commercial fortunes led to a mutiny, with Kooper forced out of the band he’d created, with Katz and Columby carrying on with a new singer and musical direction.

If the name Blood, Sweat & Tears reminds you of the worst commercial excesses of the early 1970s, you should know that the pre-David Clayton-Thomas version of the band as conceived by Al Kooper is a far different and creatively imaginative group. If you’ve dismissed BS&T on the basis of the band’s intelligence-challenged 1970s-era hits, you should check out Child Is Father To The Man to remind yourself of what true genius sounds like. Complete track list for the album below…   

Child Is Father To The Man track list:

1. Overture
2. I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know
3. Morning Glory
4. My Days Are Numbered
5. Without Her
6. Just One Smile
7. I Can't Quit Her
8. Meagan's Gypsy Eyes
9. Somethin' Goin' On
10. House in the Country
11. The Modern Adventures of Plato, Diogenes and Freud
12. So Much Love/Underture

Buy the CD on Amazon.com: Blood, Sweat & Tears' Child Is Father To the Man (SACD)

Popa Chubby's I'm Feelin' Lucky CD & Tour Dates

Popa Chubby's I'm Feelin' Lucky
The one and only Popa Chubby, the big man of the blues, celebrates the 25th anniversary of his career this year, 1989 being the bull’s eye when the blues-rock guitarist blew like a hurricane across the tepid New York City blues scene with his own individual brand of blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll. True to form, Chubby is honoring the quarter-century mark of his career with a brand new album, I’m Feelin’ Lucky, which will be released on October 14th, 2014 by Cleopatra Records.

“It’s been 25 years and I’m still standing,” says Chubby in a press release for I’m Feelin’ Lucky. Recording the album at his home studio in the Hudson Valley, the guitarist is backed by a talented group of musicians including bassist Francesco Beccaro, keyboardist Dave Keys, and drummer Chris Reddan. Chubby enlisted the help of special guests Dana Fuchs (singer, songwriter, and actress) and Mike Zito (solo artist and former Royal Southern Brotherhood member) to contribute to a pair of songs on the album, which features some of what Chubby considers the best songwriting of his lengthy career. 

The songs on I’m Feelin’ Lucky range from the “baddass funk” of the title track to his personal favorite, “I’m A Pitbull (Nothin’ But Love).” He says “I’m a big dog lover. I have a little pitbull and I love him dearly. They’re a very misunderstood breed. I work with people at a pitbull rescue who work with these dogs and train them to be service dogs for veterans coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan. It’s a beautiful thing. There is not a more loyal, devoted and emotionally intuitive dog.”

In addition to the new album, Chubby is bringing his “Universal Breakdown Tour” to the West Coast for a number of shows, kicking off in Las Vegas with the Big Blues Bender at the Riviera Hotel & Casino. Below you'll find a list of tour dates and the track list for I’m Feelin’ Lucky, as well as a fourteen-minute trailer video for the new album.
 

Popa Chubby's I'm Feeling Lucky track list: 

1. Come To Me (w/Dana Fuchs)
2. One Leg At A Time
3. Three Little Words
4. Rollin’ N’ Tumblin’
5. Too Much Information
6. Rock On Bluesman (w/Mike Zito)
7. I’m Feelin’ Lucky
8. Save Your Own Life
9. I’m A Pitbull (Nothing But Love)
10. The Way It Is

Buy the CD on Amazon.com: I'm Feelin Lucky - The Blues According To Popa Chubby

Popa Chubby West Coast 2014 Tour Dates

9/25 @ Big Blues Bender, Las Vegas NV
9/26 @ Yolie's, Ventura CA
9/27 @ Arcadia Blues Club, Arcadia CA
9/28 @ Jerry's Front Pocket, Santa Cruz CA
9/30 @ Biscuits & Blues, San Francisco CA
10/2 @ Crystal Bay Club Casino, Crystal Bay NV
10/3 @ Torch Club, Sacramento CA
10/4 @ Arena Theatre, Point Arena CA
10/7 @ Duff's Garage, Portland OR
10/8 @ The Birk, Birkenfeld OR
10/9 @ Electric Owl, Vancouver BC CANADA
10/10 @ Lincoln Theatre, Mount Vernon WA
10/11 @ Highway 99 Blues Club, Seattle WA


Friday, September 12, 2014

CD Preview: Shuggie Otis’s Live In Williamsburg

Shuggie Otis's Live In Williamsburg
When legendary guitarist Shuggie Otis returned to music last year after a hiatus of better than three decades, he hit the road in support of the deluxe reissue of his Inspiration Information album, which was packaged with a disc of unreleased music he’d been recording through the years titled Wings of Love. The set received nearly unanimous positive reviews and opened the door for the second (third?) chapter in Otis’s lengthy and storied career.

One of the stops on what Otis called the “Never Ending World Domination Tour” was at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn, New York. On October 14th, 2014 Cleopatra Records will release this stunning performance on CD as Live In Williamsburg. A twelve-track collection that features some of Otis’s best-loved songs (“Strawberry Letter 23,” “Inspiration Information,” and “Shuggie’s Boogie” among them), Live In Williamsburg shows that Shuggie has lost none of the enormous talent that once earned him an invitation to join the Rolling Stones as guitarist Mick Taylor’s replacement.

For this 2013 “comeback” tour, Otis was backed by a band that included his son Eric on guitar and his brother Nick on drums. "It was a great feeling having my brother and my two sons playing with me in various parts of the globe last year," says Otis in a press release for the live album. "They have their own music as well, and I love them, and am also very proud of them. It's special to play with them, and it was really important to me to capture one of our performances on record."
     
Then again, for Shuggie Otis, music has always been a family affair. The son of R&B legend Johnny Otis (“Willie & the Hand Jive,” “Mambo Boogie,” etc), Shuggie began playing guitar at the tender age of 11 years old, performing with his father’s band and playing on recording sessions by greats like Big Joe Turner and T-Bone Walker. "Growing up musically in my father's band was a blessing," says Shuggie. "I was getting my second set of guitar lessons through having to perform on stage." Although he was already a veteran of the West Coast R&B scene by the age of 15, the young Otis was “discovered” by musician and producer Al Kooper, who enlisted Shuggie to play on his acclaimed 1968 album Kooper Session: Al Kooper with Shuggie Otis.

A year later, Otis recorded his solo debut album, Here Comes Shuggie Otis, produced by his father, followed in 1971 by Final Flight, which included his original song “Strawberry Letter 23,” which would later become a major hit for the Brothers Johnson. Otis’s seminal album, Inspiration Information, was released in 1974 when the guitarist was only 21 years old, and has since been cited by artists like David Byrne, Prince, and Lenny Kravitz, among many others, as a major influence on their own music.

Throughout this period, Otis continued to expand and build upon his talents, playing and recording with artists like Frank Zappa, Etta James (one of his father’s many discoveries), Bo Diddley, Billy Preston, and Johnny “Guitar” Watson, among others. After appearing on his father’s 1981 album The New Johnny Otis Show, Shuggie all but disappeared from the frenzied rock music scene. He was still writing and recording music, but he was also raising a family and seemed to be in no hurry to undergo the sort of roadwork necessary to sustain a career in the 1980s and ‘90s.     

We’re thrilled that Otis, one of our longtime favorites, has returned to music, and word is that he’ll be touring again in support of Live In Williamsburg. Cleopatra Records also has plans to release the performance on DVD, but until that time, you owe it to yourself to check out one of the most visionary talents of the 1970s either in person, or on Live In Williamsburg. We have the full track list for the album below.

Shuggie Otis’s Live in Williamsburg track list:

1. Inspiration Information
2. Tryin' To Get Close To You
3. Aht Uh Mi Hed
4. Island Letter
5. Me And My Woman
6. Sparkle City - Miss Pretty
7. Sweetest Thang
8. Picture of Love
9. Wings of Love
10. Doin' What's Right
11. Shuggie's Boogie
12. Strawberry Letter 23

Buy the CD on Amazon.com: Shuggie Otis's Live In Williamsburg

Thursday, September 11, 2014

Bill Nelson’s After The Satellite Sings To Be Reissued

Bill Nelson's After The Satellite Sings
Guitarist Bill Nelson has enjoyed a lengthy career that seems to be in no danger of ending anytime soon. From the legendary albums he made with his 1970s-era band Be Bop Deluxe to a critically-acclaimed solo career that began in 1979 with Bill Nelson’s Red Noise and the release of Sound-On Sound, to the present day and nearly 40 albums later, Nelson has made his mark as an influential, innovative, and pioneering musician.

Cocteau Discs, an imprint of the British archival label Esoteric Recordings, has been the home of Nelson’s extensive back catalog for albums released from 1971 to 2001. Cocteau continues their reissue series of Nelson’s music with the September 29th, 2014 release of a newly re-mastered edition of the guitarist’s After The Satellite Sings album. Originally released in 1996 as the follow-up to the instrumental Practically Wired album, After The Satellite Sings was recorded in a mere 28 days at Fairview Studios in East Yorkshire, UK in late 1985 and features three instrumental tracks as well as Nelson’s Bowie-like vocals.

This Cocteau Discs edition of the long out of print album restores the original vinyl LP artwork and includes new liner notes by Nelson, who states in a press release for the album “After The Satellite Sings is an interesting album on many levels and I'm pleased to see it being given a re-release.” The complete track list for After The Satellite Sings below…

Bill Nelson’s After The Satellite Sings track list:

1. Deeply Dazzled
2. Dreamster 2 L.R.  
3. Flipside
4. Streamliner
5. Memory Babe
6. Skull Baby Cluster
7. Zoom Sequence
8. Rocket To Damascus
9. Beautiful Nudes
10. Old Goat
11. Squirm
12. Wow! It’s Scootercar Sexkitten!
13. Phantom Sedan (Theme From Tail-Fin City)
14. Ordinary Idiots
15. V-Ghost (For Harold and Ellen)
16. Blink-Agog

Buy the CD on Amazon.com: Bill Nelson's After the Satellite Sings

Thursday, September 4, 2014

CD Review: Eleven 59's Always & Again

Eleven 59's Always & Again
Eleven 59 was one of the more criminally-overlooked bands to emerge from the vital late 1980s/early ‘90s Nashville area rock scene. Formed by singer/songwriter David Hart and guitarist Brian Bickel, who had both immigrated to Murfreesboro to study the music business at Middle Tennessee State University, the pair was soon joined by bassist Dave Powers and former F-Particles drummer David Prince as Eleven 59’s initial line-up in 1986.

Over the course of the next seven years, and with a revolving door of bass players (including folks like Sean Harrison and Sam Powers), Eleven 59 toiled away in the trenches, touring the Southeastern club and frat circuit, released an EP (titled 7 Stories) on Nashville indie Carlyle Records and tried to score that elusive major label deal. Failing to get noticed, they disappeared into obscurity in 1993 like tens of thousands of other bands across the fruited plains.

The band’s story might have ended there, like it did for even hundreds of major label signees, leaving Eleven 59 as nothing but a fond memory in the minds of the band’s local fans. With the appearance of Always & Again, however, a twelve-track CD released by Hart and Bickel that compiles demo recordings by the band dating from 1986 to 1991, Eleven 59 proves themselves to have been a band out of time…if they’d formed a decade or so later, they might have been huge, because their music was/is forward-thinking, melodic, and utterly timeless with that charismatic edge that defines the best of rock ‘n’ roll.

Mixing punkish intensity with power-pop song structure and hard rock guitar, Eleven 59 culled the best from the musical world around them and created a magical bunch of songs that, if the major labels hadn’t been blinded by the events in Seattle circa 1991, they should have jumped on the band in a heartbeat. From a musical perspective, the band was both as tight and as sloppy as they needed to be; Hart’s vocals evinced an esoteric British lilt that evokes the Jesus & Mary Chain or even a newer outfit like Temples while Bickel’s fretwork both stings and slashes like the proverbial six-string razor.

While Prince is a classic big-beat drummer with busy hands and a bludgeoning sound, the band’s weak point was obviously on the other half of the rhythm section, as they revolved through five bass players over their seven years, and while some of them were good, none ever seemed to lock into Prince’s keen sense of rhythm to create something truly special. Nevertheless, the band had the chops to play in the big leagues and, listening closely to the demos on Always & Again, they had some find original material to offer as well. Although the sound quality here is definitely demo-quality, it’s not as harsh as it sounds, and one can easily imagine these songs taking on more texture and depth if they’d been recorded in a big studio with a skilled console wrangler to produce.

Still, there’s no shame in the material found on Always & Again. “Politics” is a defiant statement of purpose that displays a bit of insight into the music biz, Hart’s vocals soaring above a cacophony of screaming guitars and explosive rhythms. “Glass” is equally enchanting, Hart’s voice almost lost in a swirl of mesmerizing instrumentation, the chorus providing an infectious earwig while the song also showcases some of Bickel’s most innovative slash ‘n’ burn guitarplay. “Want To” was the popular song from the band’s 7 Stories EP, a surefire live crowd-pleaser with driving rhythms and menacing guitar licks that create an overall smothering ambiance not unlike Music City contemporaries Jet Black Factory.

By contrast, “California Song” offers a glossier surface that conceals the raging heartbeat throbbing below, Hart’s vocals taking on an edgier sound while the backing soundtrack is brilliantly constructed from intertwined guitars and slam-dancing drumbeats. “Goddess” opens with delightfully shimmering guitars before settling into a whisper/roar dynamic similar to Nirvana’s best work, while the title track is a rockin’ lil’ ditty replete with feedback-ridden jet-engine guitars, a fluid bass line, and rumbling drums that almost bury Hart’s rapid-fire reading of the lyrics. “Mythology” is a similar charmer, but with more of a metallic sheen courtesy of Bickel’s broken-glass guitar tones and imaginative playing.

Better late than never, perhaps, Always & Again provides the last word on one of Nashville’s truly unique and sadly unheard bands. Unlike some other Music City rock contenders who shall remain nameless – but who shamelessly had one eye on Los Angeles and what was going on in the late ‘80s era – Eleven 59 honestly and sincerely followed their own individual muse. The result is music that flows naturally, displays an evolutionary growth in sound and skill, and follows a unique vision instead of trailing musical trends.

Melodic instead of cynical, lyrically complex, and thoroughly entertaining, Eleven 59 could have been contenders. Thanks to the band’s belated release of Always & Again, they’ll be remembered as the trailblazers they truly were…

Check out Eleven 59's ReverbNation page!

Nashville's Eleven 59...not to be confused with the current band from Texas!