Friday, December 21, 2018

The Rev's Favorite Rock 'n' Roll Albums of 2018

Rock ‘n’ roll ain’t dead, people, it’s just thriving on the fringes of pop culture while a mess of young and old artists alike are banging the gong and getting it on. The following ten albums listed below aren’t necessarily the “best” of 2018 but rather those that were my favorite releases for the year and spent the most time on my stereo. I’ve also listed another ten albums that almost, but not quite made the cut but, truth is, any of these albums would make a great addition to your music library. Check out the Rev’s lists of favorite archive/reissue and blues music albums from 2018 while you’re here!

Joe Grushecky & the Houserockers – More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows (Schoolkids Records)
Joe Grushecky’s More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows is an entertaining, exciting work that takes full advantage of the Houserockers’ immense musical chemistry – forged by decades of hard knocks and a shared faith in the religion of rock ‘n’ roll – to create a wonderful collection of songs that rock recklessly but pump the brakes when needed. Reunited with his longtime band after a handful of solo albums, Grushecky displays a renewed fervor and commitment to rock music as both soapbox and as a catalyst for social change. With More Yesterdays Than Tomorrows, Grushecky delivers a career milestone, outdoing himself once again.   BUY!

Tom Guerra's American Garden

Tom Guerra – American Garden (Casa del Soul Records)
Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Tom Guerra is a veteran musician that’s been toiling in the shadows far too long while lesser talents grab the spotlight. American Garden features a high-octane blend of guitar-driven classic rock and blues music with Guerra’s smart (and often timely) lyrics paired with a clamorous soundtrack that reminds of similar rockers like Bruce Springsteen and Joe Grushecky. Tom Guerra’s American Garden is a solid collection of muscular, no-frills, old-school rock ‘n’ roll.   BUY!

Handsome Jack's Everything’s Gonna Be Alright

Handsome Jack – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (Alive Natural Sound Records)
Buffalo NY area “boogie soul” power trio Handsome Jack have one foot in the blustery hard rock sound of the ‘70s and the other in the guitar-driven British blues explosion of the ‘60s; the band’s raw, immediate garage-rock worldview builds on the past while looking defiantly towards the future. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright is the band’s sophomore effort and it’s a real fine barn-burner, Handsome Jack the real thing, a switchblade-toting gang of ‘Rust Belt’ blues-rock thugs demanding your time, money, and attention.   BUY!

Peter Holsapple's Game Day

Peter Holsapple – Game Day (Omnivore Recordings)
The voice of the revered power-pop outfit the dB’s, Peter Holsapple hasn’t released a solo album in 21 years (since 1997’s Out of My Way), but he climbs back in the saddle effortlessly with the gorgeous, shimmering Game Day. Holsapple’s deft songwriting chops and emotive vocals have always fueled his band’s best material, and with his second solo effort, he dials up the intensity to eleven. Holsapple plays nearly every note on the excellent Game Day, making it a true “solo album.”   BUY!

Howlin Rain's The Alligator Bride

Howlin Rain – The Alligator Bride (Silver Current Records)
A damn fine rock band, Howlin Rain nevertheless brings a soupçon of its previous Americana-styled twang to the songs on The Alligator Bride, their fifth album. Infusing deceptively complex tunes with elements of the Grateful Dead, Neil Young, and even Joe Walsh, The Alligator Bride provides a shining display of frontman Ethan Miller’s songwriting chops and the band’s immense instrumental skills. There are a lot of echoes of the past in these grooves and the album’s wonderfully-balanced musical dynamics make it sound like it’s 1975 all over again.   BUY!

Willie Nile's Children of Paradise

Willie Nile – Children of Paradise (River House Records)
Longtime Willie Nile fans won’t be disappointed by the more topical material on Children of Paradise, most of which is delivered with a rock ‘n’ roll spirit. In spite of the album’s frequent lyrical vision of a world in flames, Nile closes out the song cycle with the hopeful, pastoral “All God’s Children.” The song offers salvation through faith in our fellow humans and (unspoken) the power of rock ‘n’ roll to transcend life’s indignities. Nile’s simple plea of “sing for the angels, sing for the sinners, all of the losers one day will be winners…” provides a ray of light piercing the darkness that has enveloped our society. You can ask of nothing more from the true artist.   BUY!

David Olney's This Side or the Other

David Olney – This Side or the Other (Black Hen Music)
Singer/songwriter David Olney has been making music in Nashville for over 40 years, and the humble, talented scribe has been exploring the depths of folk, rock, and country music just as long, breaking through genre barriers years before anybody coined the “Americana” term. This Side or the Other, Olney’s debut for Steve Dawson’s Black Hen label, proves to be a snug artistic fit, the like-minded Dawson producing and adding his considerable six-string skills to the songs. Olney’s poetic wordplay, intriguing story-songs, and world-weary vocals put him in a class by himself, the man’s talents transcending mediocrity to deliver the truly magnificent with This Side or the Other.   BUY!

Shuggie Otis – Inter-Fusion (Cleopatra Records)
When everybody else in popular music is running, lemming-like, in a single direction, Shuggie Otis is veering off towards left field. For his first studio album in better than forty years, the songwriter responsible for soulful gems like “Strawberry Letter 23” and “Inspiration Information” delivers a mostly-instrumental set guaranteed to blow your  mind. A buffet of rock, soul, funk, and jazz, Inter-Fusion is a breathtaking collection of virtuosity, proof that Otis has lost none of the chops, imagination, or innovation that made him a legend in the first place.   BUY!

Sour Ops' Family Circuit

Sour Ops – Family Circuit (Feralette Records)
Contrary to conventional industry wisdom, rock ‘n’ roll ain’t dead – and Sour Ops proves my point with the delightfully raucous Family Circuit. Price Harrison and his musical gang take their obvious cues from the legends of classic ‘70s and ‘80s rock but manage to provide this original material with a contemporary spin via their imaginative songwriting and skilled instrumentation. In addition to Family Circuit, Sour Ops also released a fab 12” single this year comprised of “Photograph” and “Mind Like Glue,” two of the album’s best tunes and a safe bet for vinyl collectors looking for cheap thrills.   BUY!

The Textones' Old Stone Gang

The Textones – Old Stone Gang (Blue Elan Records)
The Textones’ Carla Olson put the original band back together for another shot at the brass ring, and their first new album in 30+ years sounds like they never really left the game. The band’s pioneering hybrid of rock, country, and a touch of soul (i.e. ‘Americana’) is much in evidence here and the Textones’ Old Stone Gang offers a lot of twang and bang for your buck. If you didn’t know them back in the ‘80s, you owe it to yourself to discover the band today.   BUY!

Wilko Johnson's Blow Your Mind

Honorable Mention: Arthur Buck’s Arthur Buck; Crack the Sky’s Living In Reverse; The Damned’s Evil Spirits, Alejandro Escovedo’s The Crossing; Graveyard’s Peace; Wilko Johnson’s Blow Your Mind; King Crimson’s Live In Vienna; King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s Gumboot Soup; Uriah Heep’s Living the Dream; Barrence Whitfield’s Soul Flowers of Titan.

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

The Rev's Favorite Blues Albums of 2018

It was a bountiful year for blues music fans with more great albums than one person could legitimately afford to buy. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, just the reality of the situation. The Reverend did his part for the blues economy, buying up as many new releases as the bank account would allow, but even that falls short of covering the genre in toto…even counting the promo CDs sent by gracious labels for review.

The following ten albums aren’t necessarily the “best” of 2018 but rather those discs that were my favorite releases for the year, along with another ten worthy albums and blues reissues that almost made the cut…and any of these albums would make a great addition to your music library. Check out the Rev’s lists of favorite rock ‘n’ roll and archive/reissue albums from 2018 while you’re here!

Roy Buchanan's Live at Town Hall 1974

Roy Buchanan – Live at Town Hall 1974 (Real Gone Music)
The legendary guitarist’s acclaimed 1975 album Live Stock was expanded to two discs by Real Gone Music for Live at Town Hall 1974. Featuring an impressive 21-song track list (compared to the six tracks on the original release), including 14 previously-unreleased song and improved sound, the set captures Buchanan’s entire November 27th performance at the Town Hall in New York City as taken from the original multi-track tapes. As such, Live at Town Hall 1974 displays the instrumentalist’s enormous talents and underrated vocals, which he shared with singer Billy Price. It’s a phenomenal and intimate recording that shows exactly why the late Buchanan’s star continues to shine so brightly...   BUY!
Shemekia Copeland's America’s Child

Shemekia Copeland – America’s Child (Alligator Records)
If Koko Taylor and Etta James are the standard by which female blues sings must aspire in the 21st century, Shemekia Copeland stands proudly alongside the legends. For my money, Copeland and Janiva Magness are the two best vocalists in the blues field today – male or female – and both women have brought their enormous talents to songs that fit nicely into the stylistic blend of blues, folk, and country music that is “Americana.” No matter what you want to call it, over the dozen songs included on America’s Child, Copeland’s amazing voice turns every performance into timeless American music.   BUY!

Tinsley Ellis's Winning Hand

Tinsley Ellis – Winning Hand (Alligator Records)
Guitarist Tinsley Ellis has been kickin’ around the American blues scene since the late ‘70s, both with the Heartfixers and as a solo artist with better than a dozen albums to his name. Still, Ellis doesn’t get nearly enough praise for his enormous talents as a singer, songwriter, and guitarist, skills all in abundance on Winning Hand. Each performance here is indelibly imprinted with Ellis’s own robust brand of blues, soul, and rock ‘n’ roll and for those who love rowdy guitarplay, it just doesn’t get better than Winning Hand.   BUY!

Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite's No Mercy In This Land

Ben Harper & Charlie Musselwhite – No Mercy In This Land (Anti- Records)
From open to close, No Mercy In This Land is an incredible collaboration between two musical titans. Ben Harper brings intelligent, poetic lyrics and a sense of youthful vigor to the performances, an energy that spurs Charlie Musselwhite – a jaded veteran who has played with bona fide legends like Big Joe Williams, John Lee Hooker, and Michael Bloomfield – to play here like a man possessed. The result is an instantly classic album that fuses blues and soul music like few artists have been able to do. My only complaint is that the album’s 35-minute running time is too little when the music is as good as what you’ll find on No Mercy In This Land.   BUY!

Eric Lindell's Revolution In Your Heart
Eric Lindell – Revolution In Your Heart (Alligator Records)
New Orleans-based blues guitarist Eric Lindell has been making great music for over a decade, at least since 2006’s Change In The Weather. The sublimely wonderful Revolution In Your Heart marks his return to Alligator Records, the label where he made three underappreciated albums during the late ‘00s. Recording in his Louisiana backyard, Lindell infuses a dozen original tracks with a subtle, laid-back, New Orleans vibe, effortlessly blending blues, funk, soul, and Southern rock into a heady musical brew. A talented artist worthy of greater acclaim, Eric Lindell is ready for prime-time.   BUY!

Nick Moss Band's The High Cost of Low Living
Nick Moss Band – The High Cost of Low Living (Alligator Records)
Bluesman Nick Moss has been kicking around the Windy City for better than two decades, making his bones playing with legends like Jimmy Dawkins and Buddy Scott. Breaking out on his own in the early ‘00s, Moss has released nearly a dozen critically-acclaimed studio and live albums. Hooking up with skilled harp wrangler Dennis Gruenling, Moss signed with the esteemed Alligator Records and delivered The High Cost of Low Living, the traditional-styled Chicago blues LP we knew he could create. Layering his fiery guitar licks alongside Gruenling’s raging harp, the two crank out a joyful noise. With their Alligator label debut, Moss, Gruenling and a talented crew update the Chicago blues for the 21st century.   BUY!

Preacher Boy's The Rumble Strip

Preacher Boy – The Rumble Strip (Coast Road Records)
Although The Rumble Strip showcases a welcome expansion of Preacher Boy’s musical palette beyond his signature country-blues sound, Christopher Watkins’ vocals on these songs still growl and bite like Howlin’ Wolf chewing on a microphone, swallowing electricity and spitting out lightning bolts. It’s with his lyrical skills where Preacher Boy really shines, though, and The Rumble Strip is full of whip-smart story-songs backed by imaginative and often-dense instrumentation that proves that Preacher Boy is no one-trick pony. Recommended for rock and blues-rock fans alike, The Rumble Strip marks the return of a unique and original musical voice.   BUY!

Daniel Seymour & Mark Robinson's Chug It Down and Go

Daniel Seymour & Mark Robinson – Chug It Down and Go (Blind Chihuahua Records)
Nashville guitarist Mark Robinson has a pair of critically-acclaimed electric blues studio albums – Quit Your Job, Play Guitar and Have Axe - Will Groove – to his credit along with a rowdy live LP that any blues fan should have on their shelf. Hooking up with fellow multi-instrumentalist Daniel Seymour, Robinson performs a breakneck stylistic U-turn with the acoustic Chug It Down and Go. Talent always shines through and Robinson and Seymour deliver a high-spirited, energetic, and entertaining collection of original songs with deep roots. It’s all quite clever and exceptionally well-performed, Chug It Down and Go a truly magical collaboration between two skilled and passionate music-makers.   BUY!

Confessin’ the Blues

Various Artists – Confessin’ the Blues (BMG Music)
A multi-format various artist compilation, Confession’ the Blues was ‘curated’ by the Rolling Stones and is available in various multi-disc formats with cool, folksy cover artwork by the Stones’ Ron Wood. Most blues fans will have these songs already, but proceeds from the album go to Willie Dixon’s Blues Heaven organization, a worthy cause by any measure. I initially bought Confessin’ the Blues, Vol. 1 as a two-LP vinyl set ‘cause I wanted the big artwork and the warm sound of wax. There’s just no way you’ll be disappointed by a track list that includes Muddy Waters, Little Walter, John Lee Hooker, Howlin’ Wolf, and Elmore James with Sonny Boy Williamson, among other blues legends.   BUY! 

Memphis Rent Party

Various Artists – Memphis Rent Party (Fat Possum Records)
Released on vinyl to serve as a de facto “soundtrack” album to Robert Gordon’s excellent book Memphis Rent Party, the album features a veritable “who’s who” of unsung Memphis musical idols, from bluesman Furry Lewis and the legendary Alex Chilton to Tav Falco’s Panther Burns, early rockers Charlie Feathers and Jerry Lee Lewis, and bona fide Memphis music legend Jim Dickinson. No matter your taste in music, there’s something among the dozen tracks on Memphis Rent Party to tickle your fancy, the album’s creative diversity makes it the perfect soundtrack to listen to while reading the book!   BUY!

Buddy Guy's A Man & the Blues

Honorable Mention: Elvin Bishop’s Big Fun Trio’s Something Smells Funky ‘Round Here; Joe Bonamassa’s British Blues Explosion; Catfish’s Get Down/Live Catfish; Buddy Guy’s A Man & the Blues [vinyl reissue]; Buddy Guy’s The Blues Are Alive & Well; Beth Hart & Joe Bonamassa’s Black Coffee; Larkin Poe’s Venom & Faith; Fantastic Negrito’s Please Don’t Be Dead; Boz Scagg’s Out of the Blues; Junior Wells’ Coming At You [vinyl reissue]

Monday, December 17, 2018

The Rev's Favorite Archive and Reissue Albums of 2018

The Reverend listens to a heck of a lot of music over the course of any single year – a half-dozen albums a day, typically – and I spend way too much money on CDs and vinyl records each month. Or maybe I don’t spend enough, who’s to judge? A lot of that spending goes towards archival releases and, along with the handful of promotional albums I get for review, an inordinate amount of time is spent each day listening and groovin’ to archival releases and album reissues.

There’s a lot of great vintage music from the 1960s, ‘70s, and ‘80s being made available again on vinyl these days, or on CD for the first time, and the follow dozen selections aren’t necessarily the “best” of 2018 but rather those that were my favorite releases for the year, as well as another ten “honorable mention” discs that fell just short. Any of these albums would make a great addition to your music library. Check out the Rev’s lists of favorite rock ‘n’ roll and blues music albums from 2018 while you’re here!

Big Star's Live at Lafayette’s Music Room

Big Star – Live at Lafayette’s Music Room (Omnivore Recordings)
Sounding more like a pretty good audience bootleg than a sterile soundboard recording, Big Star’s Live At Lafayette’s Music Room still does an admirable job of capturing the band’s live dynamic and preserving it for modern ears. Representing an undeniable invaluable addition to the band’s canon, Live At Lafayette’s Music Room is an entertaining collection for those of us too young to have seen Big Star in the band’s prime.   BUY!

The Damnation of Adam Blessing

The Damnation of Adam Blessing – The Damnation of Adam Blessing (Exit Stencil Records, vinyl reissue)
The heavy, psych-drenched guitar rock and molten sludge riffs of the self-titled 1969 debut album by Cleveland, Ohio’s The Damnation of Adam Blessing was easily five years ahead of its time. The band’s complex, textured, and highly-amplified hard rock sound reminds of Blue Cheer while beating Black Sabbath to the gates of doom with guitarists Bob Kalamasz’s blistering leads and Jim Quinn’s thick rhythmic designs. One of the great overlooked bands of the era finally gets the reissue treatment (Exit Stencil also reissued the band’s sophomore album, Second Damnation, this year).   BUY!

Guadalcanal Diary's At Your Birthday Party

Guadalcanal Diary – At Your Birthday Party (Omnivore Recordings)
Guadalcanal Diary was often overshadowed by upstarts like Pylon or R.E.M. but, truth is, they were a damn fine studio outfit and even better live rock band. Taken from a pair of January 1998 reunion shows in Atlanta, At Your Birthday Party was originally released independently by the band. Omnivore’s reissue puts the album back in print after almost 20 years, providing wider distribution for this entertaining disc. Like the college rock radio playlist of your misspent youth, At Your Birthday Party is a very fine present, indeed.   BUY!

Moby Grape's 20 Granite Creek

Moby Grape – 20 Granite Creek (WEA International)
Yeah, it’s a Japanese import and hard to find (check Amazon), but this long-overdue CD reissue of the legendary Moby Grape’s 1971 “reunion” album 20 Granite Creek is a throwback to the band’s critically-acclaimed self-titled debut of four years earlier and, by most estimations, second only to that 1967 debut album in terms of performance and song quality. With the enigmatic Skip Spence back in the fold, albeit temporarily, longtime Grape members Peter Lewis, Jerry Miller, James Mosley, and Don Stevenson, along with new guy Gordon Stevens, played like their career depended on it…and in many ways, it did, as it was the band’s final studio work for over a decade.   BUY!

Permanent Green Light's Hallucinations

Permanent Green Light – Hallucinations (Omnivore Recordings)
At the end of his legendary “Paisley Underground” band the Three O’Clock, Michael Quercio went looking for new rock ‘n’ roll cheap thrills. He formed obscure psych-rockers Permanent Green Light, which released a handful of singles and a full-length album, building a loyal West Coast following before breaking up. Hallucinations compiles sixteen of the band’s best performances, including three previously-unreleased demos, all of which rocks with an urgency, creativity, and honesty directly in opposition to most ‘90s era bands. Hallucinations is an exceptional collection of guitar-rock from one of the best bands you never heard.   BUY!

The Posies' Dear 23

The Posies – Dear 23 (Omnivore Recordings)
One of the great overlooked bands of the ‘90s, avowed Big Star acolytes the Posies took Alex Chilton’s ‘60s-bred power-pop sensibilities and blew the sound up large for the grunge decade. This approach left the band woefully out-of-date at the time, but their music became timeless as a result. The album’s British Invasion influences and charming songwriting on Dear 23 – courtesy of the band’s Jonathan Auer and Ken Stringfellow – is ready-made for the tuneless 21st century, its original ten tracks wonderfully melodic, with the duo’s gorgeous vocal harmonies, and whip-smart, insightful lyrics.   BUY!

Bob Seger & the Last Heard's Heavy Music

Bob Seger & the Last Heard – Heavy Music (Abkco Records)
Bob Seger & the Last Heard were one of the legendary rock singer’s earliest bands. Signed to the Cameo-Parkway label, they released five singles, ten songs total circa 1966-67, all of which are collected on CD for the first time with Heavy Music. An artist in search of a sound (hint: he’d glimpse it a couple years later with “Ramblin’ Gamblin’ Man”), Seger checks several then-contemporary cultural boxes with these long out-of-print 45s. There are only ten tracks on Heavy Music, but each one is a slab of raw, energetic, prime-grade rock ‘n’ roll from the early Motor City scene.   BUY!

Phil Seymour's Prince of Power Pop

Phil Seymour – Prince of Power Pop (Big Beat Records)
Phil Seymour was an integral part of power-pop legends the Dwight Twilley Band, singing and co-writing with longtime friend Twilley. Breaking up after Shelter Records crashed and burned after just two albums, Seymour launched a modestly successful solo career mining much the same ‘60s-influenced pop-rock musical territory as his former band. Prince of Power Pop is a fine tho’ incomplete career retrospective, its main selling point the inclusion of eleven previously-unreleased tracks recorded in 1980 with Seymour’s touring band, all of ‘em red-hot and ready to rock, and all displaying the man’s enormous talents.   BUY!

Rockers OST reggae

Various Artists – Rockers OST (MVD Audio, vinyl reissue)
Reissued on red, green, and yellow-splashed vinyl that looks simply glorious spinning on your turntable, this soundtrack to the 1978 semi-documentary film Rockers provides a brief but toothsome history of reggae music with songs by legends like Junior Murvin, Peter Tosh, the Maytones, Bunny Wailer, Gregory Isaacs, Burning Spear, and others. Featuring fourteen burning tracks, Rockers is “must have” LP for any serious reggae collection.   BUY!

Ska Authentic

Various Artists – Ska Authentic (Studio One)
Released nearly 55 years ago, Studio One’s wonderful Ska Authentic provides a snapshot of Jamaica’s homegrown music scene in the early 1960s, preserving long-lost tracks by legends like the Skatalites, Toots & the Maytals, and Lee “Scratch” Perry. Echoing the American R&B heard on transistor radios in Jamaica circa 1955-65, these songs are dance-oriented with foot-shuffling rhythms with blasts of soulful horns. Studio One’s Ska Authentic captures the island’s sounds with all their fresh naivetĂ© and energy, taking the listener back in time to a more innocent age.   BUY!

Webb Wilder's Powerful Stuff!
Webb Wilder & the Beatnecks – Powerful Stuff! (Landslide Records)
If you don’t have a good time listening to a Webb Wilder album, then you’ve probably assumed room temperature. Sure, Powerful Stuff! is an “odds ‘n’ sods” collection culled from Wilder’s archives, but the material is delivered with every bit the same level of energy and commitment as anything that Webb has previously put on record. For those of us who became fans with Wilder’s It Came From Nashville LP, Powerful Stuff! is yet another welcome addition to the (slowly-growing) Webb Wilder canon. As the man says, “work hard, rock hard, eat hard, sleep hard, grow big, wear glasses if you need ‘em.” Amen...   BUY!

Frank Zappa's Chunga’s Revenge

Frank Zappa – Chunga’s Revenge (Zappa Records, vinyl reissue)
If the preceding Zappa/Mothers albums – Burnt Weeny Sandwich and Weasels Ripped My Flesh – served as an artistic catharsis necessary for Zappa to move on from his original vision for the Mothers and towards “phase two,” Chunga’s Revenge reveals his pure joy in playing with a new and, arguably, more highly-skilled cast of musicians. The addition of two talented vocalists in Mark Volman and Howard Kaylan to the band added a new dimension to the musical possibilities, freeing Zappa from the microphone and allowed him to develop the innovative and influential guitar style that is a large part of his enduring legacy. Chunga’s Revenge represented the dawn of a new era and the beginning of Zappa’s “solo career” in earnest.   BUY!

Mothers of Invention’s Burnt Weeny Sandwich

Honorable Mention: Brinsley Schwarz’s Live Favourites; Gene Clark’s Gene Clark Sings For You; Chris Hillman’s The Asylum Years; Moloch’s Moloch [vinyl reissue]; Mothers of Invention’s Burnt Weeny Sandwich [vinyl reissue];  Chris Squire’s Fish Out of Water; Stray’s Live at the Marquee; The Who’s Live at the Fillmore East 1968; Steve Wynn’s Kerosene Man and Dazzling Display. The ATO Records CD and vinyl reissues of King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard’s first five, Australia-only indie releases stand in a category entirely their own...

Friday, December 14, 2018

CD Preview: Walter Trout’s Survivor Blues

Walter Trout’s Survivor Blues
Guitarist Walter Trout is one of the most popular bluesmen on the planet, and for good reason – he gives everything he has with every live performance, and his albums are rich compositions of passion, emotion, intelligence, and energy that few artists can match. So the opportunity to enter 2019 with a brand new album from the talented fretburner is good news, indeed! On January 25th, 2019 Provogue Records will release Trout’s Survivor Blues, an inspired twelve-track collection of vintage blues songs chosen by Walter with his usual eye for quality. Survivor Blues will be released on CD, as a double-LP vinyl set, and as a digital download in various formats.

In a press release for Survivor Blues, Trout explains his original concept for the album, which isn’t just another collection of blues standards. “I’m riding in my car sometimes, and I’ve got a blues station on – and here’s another band doing ‘Got My Mojo Workin’. And there’s a little voice in me that says, ‘Does the world need another version of that song?’ So I came up with an idea. I didn’t want to do ‘Stormy Monday’ or ‘Messin’ With the Kid.’ I didn’t want to do the Blues greatest hits. I wanted to do old, obscure songs that have hardly been covered. And that’s how Survivor Blues started...”

The album reflects Trout’s 50 years playing the blues, featuring material from such touchstones as underrated guitarist Jimmy Dawkins (“Me, My Guitar, and the Blues”); his former boss in the Bluesbreakers, British blues legend John Mayall (“Nature’s Disappearing”); Chicago blues pianist Sunnyland Slim (“Be Careful How You Vote”); and the great Otis Rush (“It Takes Time”), who passed away earlier this year. Survivor Blues also includes high-octane takes of songs by artists like Luther Johnson, J.B. Lenoir, and Mississippi Fred McDowell, among others. Silk-toned singer Sugaray Rayford guest stars on Johnson’s “Woman Don’t Lie” and Robbie Krieger of the Doors appears on McDowell’s “Goin’ Down To the River.”

Trout says “my idea was to do these songs like me, to arrange them for my band and style – not to just copy the originals note-for-note.” Survivor Blues was produced by Trout and his longtime producer Eric Corne with the music created by Trout’s bandmates, bassist Johnny Griparic, drummer Michael Leasure, and keyboardist Skip Edwards. “I’d play them the original,” remembers Trout, “and then I’d say, ‘here’s how the song goes, what have you got?’ I’d give these guys a lot of freedom. The record was mostly done live, with us set up in a circle, just to get the feel of us going there together. And you can feel it, y’know?”

Trout and his band will be touring in support of Survivor Blues, beginning with a short jaunt across the U.S. before heading to Europe for a series of dates; we’ve included a list of these tour dates below. Knowing Walter, however, additional dates will be scheduled so keep your eyes on your local blues-friendly venue ‘cause watching Walter Trout perform is a life-changing affirmation of the power of the blues. In the meantime, get a taste of the new album from the audio clip below.

Buy the CD from Walter Trout’s Survivor Blues

Walter Trout solo tour dates
1/11/19 @ Rhythm Room, Phoenix AZ
1/12/19 @ Rhythm Room, Phoenix AZ
2/01/19 @ Knucklehead's, Kansas City MO
2/02/19 @ Winter Blues Fest, Des Moines IA
2/05/19 @ Sony Hall, New York NY
2/07/19 @ The Hamilton, Washington DC
2/08/19 @ Infinity Music Hall, Hartford CT
2/09/19 @ The Newton Theatre, Newton NJ
2/10/19 @ The Cabot, Beverly MA
2/12/19 @ Ram's Head, Annapolis MD
2/16/19 @ Costa Rica Blues Festival, Playa Potrero Guanacaste, Costa Rica
2/19/19 @ Tin Pan, Richmond VA
2/23/19 @ The Funky Biscuit, Boca Raton FL
2/24/19 @ The Funky Biscuit, Boca Raton FL
2/25 - 03/01/19 @ Keeping the Blues Alive At Sea Tampa FL

Rockin' Blues 2019 European Tour (with Jonny Lang & Kris Barros)
5/23/19 @ Huxley’s Neue Welt, Berlin GERMANY
5/25/19 @ Carlswerk Viktoria Cologne GERMANY
5/26/19 @ La Cigale, Paris FRANCE
5/28/19 @ Fabrique, Milan ITALY
5/29/19 @ Backstage Werk, Munich GERMANY
5/30/19 @ Batschkapp, Frankfurt GERMANY
6/01/19 @ 013, Tilburg NETHERLANDS
6/02/19 @ Markthalle, Hamburg GERMANY
6/04/19 @ 02 Forum Kentisch Town, London UK

Spotlight on Game Theory

Select Discography:
Blaze of Glory (1982, Rational Records)
Distortion EP (1984, Rational Records)
Real Nighttime (1985, Enigma Records)
The Big Shot Chronicles (1986, Enigma Records)
Lolita Nation (1987, Enigma Records)
Two Steps From the Middle Ages (1988, Enigma Records)

Much of Game Theory's back catalog was recently reissued by archival specialists Omnivore Recordings and all these albums are worth spending your hard-earned coin on...

Monday, December 10, 2018

Short Rounds: Doug Deming, Tom Guerra, Handsome Jack, Tom Morello, NRBQ & Unicorn (2018)

Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones' Complicated Mess
New album releases in 150 words or less...

Doug Deming & the Jewel Tones – Complicated Mess (EllerSoul Records)
Blues guitarist Doug Deming and his mighty band the Jewel Tones lay down a righteous groove with their latest LP, Complicated Mess. Deming lives on the be-bop side of bluestown, and you can hear classic jazz influences (i.e. 1940s and ‘50s) in original songs like the swinging instrumental “Captain’s Quarters” or the white-hot title track (thinking of T-Bone Walker here). Lively covers of Lazy Lester’s “Blues Stop Knockin’” and Fats Domino’s “I’m Walkin’” sit on the fence between New Orleans jazz and soulful blues while other tracks, like the sultry “Sweet Poison” or “Need My Baby,” are full-blown blues-hued romps that showcase Deming’s incredible guitar tone and smooth-as-silk vocals. Guest turns by legends like guitarist Little Charlie Baty, pianist Bob Welsh, and harmonica wizards Kim Wilson and Madison Slim add a little spice to the gumbo pot. Complicated Mess is highly-recommended for any old-school blues fan looking for new thrills. Grade: A   BUY!

Tom Guerra's American Garden
Tom Guerra – American Garden (Casa del Soul Records)
Singer, songwriter, and guitarist Tom Guerra is a veteran musician that’s been toiling in the shadows far too long while lesser talents grab the spotlight. Guerra has played and recorded with the Dirty Bones Band and Mambo Sons as well as releasing a handful of solo albums including his latest, the brilliant American Garden. Featuring a high-octane blend of guitar-driven classic rock and blues, Guerra’s smart (and often timely) lyrics are paired with a clamorous soundtrack that reminds of Springsteen and Joe Grushecky. Guerra’s vocals are power-pop pure, though, as shown by his heartfelt cover of Tom Petty’s soft-edged “Walls.” The socially-conscious “Blood On the New Rising Sun” is simply gorgeous and features guest fretburner Jon Butcher while the blistering “The Lyin’ King” is a bluesy romp with raging harp, flamethrower guitar, and a powerful message. Guerra’s American Garden is a solid collection of muscular, no-frills, old-school rock ‘n’ roll. Grade: A   BUY!

Handsome Jack's Everything’s Gonna Be Alright
Handsome Jack – Everything’s Gonna Be Alright (Alive Natural Sound Records)
Buffalo NY area “boogie soul” power trio Handsome Jack have one foot in the blustery hard rock sound of the ‘70s and the other in the guitar-driven British blues explosion of the ‘60s; the band’s raw, immediate garage-rock worldview builds on the past while looking defiantly towards the future. Everything’s Gonna Be Alright is the band’s sophomore effort and it’s a real fine barn-burner. The title track is a buzzy, fuzz-drenched blues stomper with gritty Howlin’ Wolf vox and slashing guitar licks while “Why Do I Love You the Way I Do” offers throwback soul that wouldn’t have sounded out-of-place in Detroit circa 1978. “City Girls” is a sleazy, Stones-ish vamp and “Bad Blood” is an epic rocker with BIG guitars and whiskey-soaked vocals. Handsome Jack is the real thing, a switchblade-toting gang of ‘Rust Belt’ blues-rock thugs demanding your time, money, and attention. RIYL Leafhound, Foghat, or Savoy Brown. Grade: A   BUY!

Tom Morello's The Atlas Underground
Tom Morello – The Atlas Underground (Mom + Pop)
Given his folkier “Night Watchman” albums, Tom Morello’s The Atlas Underground isn’t quite what I expected. A sonic Molotov cocktail of blistering hard rock, rap, and pulse-quickening EDM beats, Morello and his guests are at their best on the rock-rap hybrids. Sounding a bit like Rage Against the Machine, socially-conscious lyrics are tattooed on your brain by MCs Big Boi, Killer Mike, GZA, and RZA on explosive songs like “Rabbit’s Revenge” and “Lead Poisoning.” Fellow fretburner Gary Clark Jr. brings a bluesy, soulful cutting edge to the raucous “Where It’s At Ain’t What It Is” while rapper Leikeli47 brings the pain like nobody since Public Enemy on the violent maelstrom that is “Roadrunner.” Experimental fare like the instrumental “Battle Sirens” (with Knife Party) shows Morello to be an avant-garde guitarist and composer without peer. Other guest collaborators on The Atlas Underground include Portugal the Man, Steve Aoki, and Vic Mensa. Grade: B+   BUY!

NRBQ's All Hopped Up
NRBQ – All Hopped Up (Omnivore Recordings)
The beloved cult-rock band’s fifth album (counting their 1970 collaboration with rockabilly great Carl Perkins) gets a long-overdue reissue from Omnivore and NRBQ fans couldn’t be happier. All Hopped Up is the first ‘Q album to feature guitarist Al Anderson, and the forward progress in the band’s already eclectic sound couldn’t be more noticeable. Anderson’s immediate contributions include the delightfully nostalgic “Ridin’ In My Car” and the loping, melodic “Help Me, Somebody.” Keyboardist Terry Adams’ “It Feels Good” is an enchanting slice of Beatle-esque pop while “I Got A Rocket In My Pocket” is an energetic honky-tonk rave-up. A cover of Big Joe Turner’s “Honey Hush” is jazzy in a cool 1950s R&B style. Four bonus tracks shine, especially the rockabilly-tinged “Start It Over.” A near-perfect blend of NRBQ’s signature fusion of pop, rock, R&B, and jazz music, All Hopped Up is charming, entertaining, and possibly the band’s best record. Grade: A   BUY!

Unicorn's Laughing Up Your Sleeve
Unicorn – Laughing Up Your Sleeve (Omnivore Recordings)
Unicorn was pub-rock pals of Pink Floyd’s David Gilmour, who produced three of the British band’s mid-‘70s albums before they disappeared like their mythical namesake. Unicorn’s obscurity wasn’t for lack of quality – singer/guitarist Ken Baker was a helluva songwriter – and the band’s unique mix of British folk-rock and West Coast influences (CSNY, The Byrds) provided a wide musical palette for the band to weave its complex filigree sound, with lyrics as British as anything Ray Davies ever penned. Laughing Up Your Sleeve offers twenty previously-unreleased demo tracks recorded by Gilmour, almost every song a perfect illustration of the band’s immense talents and rich sound. Several of these songs were fleshed out on Unicorn LPs like the excellent Blue Pine Trees and Too Many Crooks, and while I’d recommend you grab up import copies of those albums first, you’ll inevitably end up adding Laughing Up Your Sleeve to your Unicorn collection. Grade: A   BUY!

Previously on That Devil
Short Rounds, November 2018: Joe Bonamassa, Peter Holsapple & Alex Chilton, Winston Jarrett, Permanent Green Light, The Posies & Rolling River Royalty

Short Rounds, October 2018: Mike Felten, Eric Lindell, John McLaughlin, Daniel Seymour & Mark Robinson, Bob Seger & Ska Authentic
Short Rounds, September 2018: Junior Byles, Guadalcanal Diary, Peter Holsapple, the Textones & Bill Kopp’s Reinventing Pink Floyd book 

Wednesday, December 5, 2018

That Devil Music's 2018 Holiday Gift Guide

Mott the Hoople’s Mental Train: The Island Years, 1969-1971
It’s not really a big secret that the world is filled with crapola and people trying to sell it to you. The Reverend isn’t above a little ‘bloato-hype’ of his own, thus the first (and probably last) That Devil Music 2018 Holiday Gift Guide. I bought all of the items listed below myself at some time over the past year or so and can personally attest to the quality of life they provide.

Most of these gift recommendations are music-related, but we do veer into fanboy territory with graphic novels and toys. It’s important to note that when you ‘click the link’ and buy these items from Amazon that the Rev gets a little piece of the action to help fund his rowdy rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle (i.e. buy more music).

Music Box Sets

The major record labels are depending, no…demanding that you shore up their bottom lines by reinvesting in music that you’ve already bought two or three times now. They’re flooding the market with expensive multi-disc box sets that revisit albums that you got tired of years ago, adding just enough flash (bonus DVD or extra vinyl to go along with lavish books) to convince you to part with your cash yet again. The Rev prefers checking out reasonably-priced various artist compilations for the multitude of music they contain, thus this list is heavy with cool boxes, but I’m also not above buying the odd artist-specific box set if the price (and content) is right. Anybody can gift a copy of the Beatles’ White Album, why not try something fresh and different for a change this holiday?

Mott the Hoople’s Mental Train: The Island Years

Mott the Hoople’s Mental Train: The Island Years, 1969-1971
Mott the Hoople’s Mental Train is a six-disc box set that collects includes remastered and expanded versions of all four of the band’s original Island Records label releases; an entire disc of unheard and unreleased material; and a full disc of raucous live and BBC on-air performances. Each of the original albums – Mott the Hoople, Mad Shadows, Wildlife, and Brain Capers – has been expanded by 8 or 9 tracks each, adding singles, demos, alternate takes, and much more. A fifth CD, The Ballads of Mott the Hoople, is subtitled “Unheard and Unreleased Music from the Island Archive.” That’s a lot of great music for the any Mott the Hoople fan!   BUY!

Frank Zappa's Zoot Allures!

Frank Zappa – Zoot Allures! The Legendary Broadcasts
Yeah, the Reverend is a longtime Zappa fanboy, dating back to the Mothers of Invention and solo LPs like Chunga’s Revenge. This is a real find, though, a budget-priced four-disc collection of live performances culled from radio broadcasts featuring 53 songs spanning roughly a six-year period. One of those “copyright gap” releases of dodgy provenance (i.e. semi-legit bootleg), the set nevertheless documents vintage Zappa concerts like The Ritz, NYC 1981; Providence College, Rhode Island 1975 (with Captain Beefheart); Rotterdam, 1980; and the Capitol Theatre in Passaic NJ, 1978. Sound quality ranges from fair to fairly good, but it’s the rarity of the performances, the eras that they span, and the ‘cheepnis’ of the set that sells it.   BUY!

Gary Crowley’s Punk & New Wave

Various Artists – Gary Crowley’s Punk & New Wave
Much like the ‘New Wave of British Heavy Metal’ set below, Gary Crowley’s Punk & New Wave box tackles the difficult cutting edge of U.K. and American punk and beyond with 77 tracks spread across three CDs. Curated by legendary British DJ Gary Crowley, the set covers a lot of ground spanning punk, post-punk, new wave, and power-pop bands like Alternative TV, the Saints, 999, the Vibrators, the Fall, the Only Ones, Generation X, and John Cooper Clarke, among many others. Unlike other punk-oriented collections, though, Crowley doesn’t just feature the familiar ‘hits’ but rather delves into each band’s catalog to find the deep tracks. A number of tracks here originally appeared on limited edition 7” singles that are too pricey to consider (if you can find ‘em), and the box includes a nifty 40-page book with notes by Crowley and memories from members of the Skids, Altered Images, the Boys, and other bands.   BUY!   

Trojan Ska & Reggae Classics

Various Artists – Trojan Ska & Reggae Classics
Offering 60 red-hot tracks on three discs and running better than three hours in length, the budget-priced Trojan Ska & Reggae Classics set offers a lot of bang for the buck, the compilation preserving some of the finest reggae performances of the past half-century with even-handed re-mastering and pretty decent sound (considering that some of these songs were recorded almost 50 years ago on often primitive equipment). If you’re a newcomer to reggae, the set offers an instant lesson in the genre’s history; for us longtime fans, it collects some of our favorite artists and songs in a single package.   Read the Reverend’s review!   BUY!

Winds of Time: New Wave of British Heavy Metal 1979-1985

Various Artists – Winds of Time: New Wave of British Heavy Metal 1979-1985
With a growing interest in the “New Wave of British Heavy Metal” there are a number of compilation albums that have been released over the past few years, most of them featuring the same old track listing and bands. Leave it up to esteemed U.K. archival imprint Cherry Red Records to top everybody with their three-disc Winds of Time box set. Featuring 51 rockin’ tracks from both familiar ‘NWOBHM’ bands like Diamond Head, Samson, Raven, Saxon, Girlschool, and Tygers of Pan Tang as well as relatively-obscure outfits like Gaskin, Shiva, Witchfynde, Fist, and Rock Goddess, Cherry Red doesn’t offer up the ‘same old, same old’ but rather digs deep to find the gems in these bands’ catalogs for a collection truly representative of the scene.   BUY!

Try A Little Sunshine: British Psychedelic Sounds of 1969

Various Artists – Try A Little Sunshine: British Psychedelic Sounds of 1969
Another great psych-drenched box set from Cherry Red’s Grapefruit Records imprint, Try A Little Sunshine is a three-disc compilation of groovy music from ’69 that offers up 73 tunes, some from bands that would be familiar to any serious fan of the rock ‘n’ roll including Audience, the Spencer Davis Group, Barclay James Harvest, the Move, Dave Davies, Status Quo, and the Pretty Things. There are more than a few real obscurities included herein as well, fab 45s from the likes of Fat Mattress, Freedom, Andromeda, Edward’s Hand, Nirvana (U.K.), Sam Gopal (with Lemmy!), and others that would cost you a fortune to buy on the collectors’ market.  BUY!

Graphic Novels

Ed Piskor’s X-Men Grand Design - Second Genesis

Ed Piskor’s X-Men Grand Design - Second Genesis
The artistic genius that crafted the brilliant Hip Hop Family Tree series of books turns his talents to re-imagining the Marvel Comics world of the ever-popular X-Men. Mutant super-heroes living in a world that misunderstands and fears them, the late Stan Lee’s characters were designed to represent the oppressed minorities and immigrants in our society, and Piskor does right with his re-telling of the origin stories of beloved characters like Wolverine, Storm, Nightcrawler, and Colossus in this second book in the series.   BUY!

Also highly recommended: Ed Piskor’s first book of mutant origins – X-Men: Grand Design – which features tales of the heroic old-school X-group of Cyclops, Marvel Girl, The Beast, Angel, and Iceman. The two books stand well on their own, but if you’re a mutie-lover, buy ‘em both!   BUY!

Mark Bernardin’s Genius

Mark Bernardin’s Genius series
Mark Bernardin is the co-host of the popular Fatman Beyond podcast (with filmmaker Kevin Smith), and a talented writer for TV series and comics. His Genius graphic novels posit an intriguing question – what if the greatest military mind of a generation was a teenaged African-American girl from the hood? Destiny Ajaye is a strategic genius and charismatic leader who, in the first volume, takes on the LAPD’s SWAT forces with the backing of a rag-tag group of gang-bangers and pulls off the win.

In the second volume of Genius, Ajaye has been shanghaied by a shadowy government organization to fight a one-woman war against the Mexican drug cartels. Both books are fast-paced and action-packed, with Bernardin’s clever plotting and whipsmart dialogue and stunning artwork by Adam Freeman. Some film studio should option these books pronto and turn them into a starring vehicle for Letitia Wright. Get your fanboy groove on and buy ‘em both!

Mark Bernardin’s Genius

Genius, Volume One: Siege   BUY!
Genius, Volume Two: Cartel   BUY!

Gilbert Shelton’s Fifty Freakin’ Years of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers

Gilbert Shelton’s Fifty Freakin’ Years of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers
The Reverend has been a fan of underground comix for over 45 years now, and artist/writer Gilbert Shelton – along with Robert Crumb and Spain Rodriguez – has long been one of my “go to” artists for guaranteed entertainment. It’s hard to believe that Shelton’s Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers have been around for five decades now, but the ever-popular antics of Phineas, Freewheelin’ Franklin, and Fat Freddy have been published in 16 languages around the world and enjoyed sales of over 40 million copies…and that’s a shit-ton of comix! Fifty Freakin’ Years of the Fabulous Furry Freak Brothers celebrates the brothers’ 50th anniversary with a bunch of new strips, a gallery of Freak Brothers parody strips by artists like Crumb, and a brand new interview with Shelton. A ‘must have’ for any Freak Brothers fan!   BUY!


Funko ‘POP’ figures are possibly the hottest ticket in the world of toys, with rarer releases selling for hundreds of dollars on the collectors’ market. Personally, the Reverend likes to put ‘em on the bookshelves here at Conspiracy M.E.D.I.A headquarters as visually-stimulating ‘objekts de art’. Funko makes figures for a legion of comics, film, and TV characters but they’ve also begun cranking out a number of very cool rock ‘n’ roll figures that will spruce up your office, listening room, or wherever you want to sit ‘em down...

Jimi Hendrix “Woodstock”

Jimi Hendrix “Woodstock”
Alice Cooper

Lemmy Kilmister

Lemmy Kilmister (Motorhead)
Jerry Garcia

Joey Ramone

Joey Ramone
Prince “Purple Rain”

Prince "Purple Rain"

Music-Related Books

Disclaimer: I know most of the authors whose work I’m hyping below and, in couple cases, have had decade-long professional relationships with them. That doesn’t mean that these books aren’t brilliant – they’ve all been “road tested” and approved by the Reverend and would make a great addition to your music library.

Daryl Sanders’ That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound

Daryl Sanders’ That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound
Daryl Sanders’ That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound provides a fascinating and comprehensive history of Bob Dylan’s classic Blonde On Blonde album. There are a heck of a lot of Dylan-related books available – enough to stock a smallish library, really – but none of them have dug this deep into the making of one of the Scribe’s most creative, critically-acclaimed, and commercially-successful works. If you’re a Bob Dylan fan, you’ll want a copy of That Thin, Wild Mercury Sound on your bookshelf.   Read the Rev’s Review!   BUY!

Bill Kopp’s Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to Dark Side of the Moon

Bill Kopp’s Reinventing Pink Floyd: From Syd Barrett to Dark Side of the Moon
With Reinventing Pink Floyd, his first book, Bill Kopp focuses his insight on the legendary British rock band, exploring Floyd’s early years “from Syd Barrett to the Dark Side of the Moon.” His efforts pay off, as Reinventing Pink Floyd provides a deep dive into the band’s years in the wilderness, as they forged a significant career in the wake of founder and guiding light Barrett’s departure, delivering all the minutiae and anecdotes that a Floyd fan demands, weaving a fascinating story of one of the most influential, pioneering bands in rock ‘n’ roll history.   BUY!

Steven Hyden’s Twilight of the Gods

Steven Hyden’s Twilight of the Gods
Music journalist Steven Hyden is one of the best writers in the pop culture trenches today, and Twilight of the Gods is his first book. Providing an in-depth exploration of the enduring popularity and immense legacy of “classic rock,” Hyden also relates his own complicated history as a teenage fan of classic rock ‘n’ roll growing up in the grunge and alt-rock 1990s. He provides lots of insight and more than a few thought-provoking moments that will have you looking at classic rock bands in an entirely new way.   BUY!

Martin Popoff's The Clash: All the Albums, All the Songs

Martin Popoff’s “Album by Album” book series
Rock writer and music historian Martin Popoff should be familiar to any regular That Devil Music reader. The talented scribe has written better than 80 music-related books to date (and counting), many of them self-published and leaving the reader neck-deep in band history. Martin’s (yeah, we’re on a first-name basis) coffee-table “Album by Album” series of books have been published by Voyageur Press, the music imprint of a larger publisher who is closing it down at the end of the year. That means that these gorgeous, informative, and highly entertaining books are going out-of-print and are destined to become rare, high-priced collectors’ items. You can still get some of them direct from Popoff’s website, or from Amazon via the links below.

Queen: Album by Album

Queen: Album by Album
Iron Maiden: Album by Album
Rush: Album by Album

Pink Floyd: Album by Album

Pink Floyd: Album by Album
AC/DC: Album by Album
The Clash: All the Albums, All the Songs
Led Zeppelin: All the Albums, All the Songs

Led Zeppelin: All the Albums, All the Songs

The Reverend’s Personal Stash
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn’t recommend a few of my own tomes as suitable gifts for the music-lover in your life. Here are a few good ‘uns to get you started:

Scorched Earth: A Jason & the Scorchers Scrapbook
Blues Deluxe: The Joe Bonamassa Buying Guide
Frank Zappa Buying Guide 
The Other Side of Nashville: An Incomplete History & Discography of the Nashville Rock Underground, 1976-2006

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Archives, Volume One: Southern Rockers

The Rock ‘n’ Roll Archives, Volume One: Southern Rockers
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Archives, Volume Two: Punk Rock
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Archives, Volume Three: Heavy Metal
The Rock ‘n’ Roll Archives, Volume Four: Cult Rockers

The Other Side of Nashville