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Album review: SCOTT MCKEON – New Morning

Scott McKeon - New MorningIdaho Records [release date 23.04.21] ‘New Morning’ is Scott McKeon’s first solo album for 11 years. He’s been busy with some high profile session work and this album is his creative attempt to re-establish his own musical profile. It’s a … Continue reading

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Top 10 Jeff Beck Albums

Jeffrey Arnold Beck. No, not Beck, as in Beck Hanson, whom, for the two cents worth, is one of the relatively few truly gifted and ultra talented stars of today’s popular music. Jeff Beck is the guitar hero’s guitar hero, and has been since the early ’60’s with his first record with The Tridents, carved a path in rock and popular music that is equally the genius caliber of Jimi Hendrix, and second to nobody else ever. This is a man whom was every bit as influential and brilliant in introducing hard blues rock to the world as The Rolling

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Gig review: JOE BONAMASSA – Live Stream, Austin City Limits Live, Austin, Texas Thursday April 1, 2021

Joe Bonamassa - Austin Live #1There’s almost an irony about Joe Bonamassa livestream coming from Austin, Texas, which in the late ‘80s was coined ‘live music capital of the world’ by Austin Music Network’s Ronnie Mack, before officially being designated as such in 1991. Quite … Continue reading

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Top 10 Blues Collaborations

When two greats of the blues join forces, we naturally anticipate something unforgettable, something beyond magical. Sadly this isn’t always the case, particularly when a battle for supremacy emerges and neither musician ends up complementing the other. On the other hand, sometimes these collaborations can go beyond even our wildest expectations – seemingly as if two guitars or musicians have merged into one like they have a telepathic connection.

Here are Blues Rock Review’s top 10 blues collaborations.

10. “What You Gonna Do About Me” – Buddy Guy & Beth Hart

The smoky croon of Hart fuels this rousing duet as Guy lets rip on his trademark polka-dot-finished Strat. This is the real deal – a track steeped in dynamite chemistry and oozing in attitude. When a blues guitar icon teams up with of the most formidable singers on the contemporary blues scene, you expect a spellbinding reaction. Thankfully, this doesn’t disappoint.

9. “I’m Ready” – Muddy Waters & Rory Gallagher 

The undisputed master of Chicago Blues teamed up with the unassuming but tenacious Irish bluesman for the recording of this enduring blues standard. Waters is typically gutsy and captivatingly expressive, while the blow-the-doors-off guitar of Gallagher alongside the groovy harmonica work is simply sensational.

8. “Riding With The King” – B.B. King & Eric Clapton 

The playful and rollicking title track from this collaborative Grammy Award winning album is the sound of blues royalty driving down the road with its roof down and hair blowing in the wind. Bringing a fresh energetic swagger to this take on John Hiatt’s 1983 blues-rocker, Clapton and King’s joyous interplay and twin lead vocals harmonise satisfyingly together.

7. “Blues At Sunrise” – Albert King & SRV

SRV was evidently influenced by ‘The Velvet Bulldozer’, especially on his first two records which are notable for some trademark King licks. “Blues at Sunrise” is a 15-minute highlight from their 1983 jam session which sees the two men go toe-to-toe with their monster tones and unique ways of squeezing bends out of a guitar.

Even though Vaughan does eventually unleashes his inner Jimi (at the request of King), what is perhaps most remarkable is how easily these two six-string powerhouses deliver some of the most deliciously restrained playing of their careers while the other solos. This remains an essential release for anyone even mildly interested in the blues.

6. “Sugar Sweet” – Freddie King & Eric Clapton 

Completing our collection of the ‘Three Kings of the Blues Guitar’, Clapton revels exchanging heavy-handed notes with one of his idols as Freddie King’s gritty and dirty tone bring the bite and intensity of his famed blues attack to this funky duet. Beyond the guitar playing, it also reveals King to be a passionate and most gifted blues singer.

5. “Midnight Train” – Buddy Guy & Jonny Lang

A devastating collision of old and new as the master bluesman joins forces with a then 17-year-old Jonny Lang who had to shot to fame with his big-label debut Lie To Me a year earlier.

Sharing vocal duties as well as six-string honours, Guy’s blistering style and Lang’s phenomenal raw talent shine on this chugging all-star cast runaway number which also features SRV keyboardist Reese Wynans.

4. “Going Down” – SRV & Jeff Beck

Two guitar virtuosos in their own right. Many top-notch guitarists have failed to do justice to this Freddie King masterpiece, but the ability of Beck and SRV to improvise and yet still keep the song intact is testament to their genius.

Grace, fluidity, tempo, fire, gusto and pure elation – this is simply two of the greatest at the top of their game jamming and having the time of their lives. What’s not to love?

3. “We’re All In This Together” – Walter Trout & Joe Bonamassa 

A symbol of unity for the modern blues-rock scene, the shimmering title-track of Trout’s 2016 release is an electrifying road trip driven by blazing fretwork and spontaneity. Recorded live, this track is unbelievably the first practice run with Bonamassa and Trout stood three feet away from each other, staring directly into each other’s faces and evidently pushing each other to greater heights.

After just under eight minutes of tearing it up and cooking up a guitar storm, Trout knew they had something special. “We all just looked at each other and started laughing” and I said: “wow, I think we just nailed it!”

2. “The Healer” – John Lee Hooker & Carlos Santana

If you ever doubted the healing power of the blues, then look no further. Few would have thought Santana’s finest hour would come on a John Lee Hooker record, but he wields his samba magic and Latin-tinged remedy throughout the title track of Hooker’s 1989 record in an attempt to ‘cure’ the late great bluesman.

The perfect accompaniment to Hooker’s emotive preacher chants of love, pain and hope, this recording was carried out in one take. As Hooker himself admitted, “It could never be better. That was the one.”

1. “The Thrill Is Gone” – B.B. King & Gary Moore 

One of the most incredible on-stage blues performances you are ever likely to see.  Two guitars become one as these much-missed legends of the genre effortlessly trade licks in this one-of-a-kind rendition of the Roy Hawkins classic.

The piercing and passionate tone of “Greeny” combines seamlessly with the deeply-emotional playing of “Lucille” as the blues is taken to a higher place. We may never have the honour of seeing these two icons carry out such a guitar duel ever again, but the thrill when listening to this will never fade.

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Album review: TROY REDFERN – Thunder Moon

Troy Redfern - Thunder MoonSelf release [Release date 03.12.20] When it comes to recording, Troy Redfern is very much a renaissance man. He’s long been in the vanguard of contemporary home recording, but it’s taken this predominantly instrumental album to finally capture his real … Continue reading

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Top 10 Jeff Beck Songs

Jeff Beck is a guitar player’s guitar player with a career that spans sixty years and is one of the greatest electric guitar players to emerge from the 1960s and 1970s. First as the lead guitarist for the Yardbirds and later as the leader of his own band he became a rock guitar god. He perfected “Raga Rock” with the Yardbirds and introduced rock and roll to a level of psychedelic experimentation that used gadgets and feedback to create a completely new avenue of artistic expression.

To see Jeff Beck perform live is as mind-blowing as listening to his albums. His ability to effortlessly persuade his guitar to evoke sounds that transcend the mundane and take the listener on an aural journey that borders on being spiritual that almost seems alchemical in nature. During his career, he’s won seven Grammies and been inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame twice. Jeff Beck’s guitar playing style is so unique that even when he covers songs by other artists he interprets them entirely as his own.

Here are Blues Rock Review’s top 10 Jeff Beck songs.

10. “Led Boots”

“Led Boots” is from 1976’s Wired, an album that drives the sound into the stratosphere as Beck jams with his band in a frantic frenetic frenzy. The album title identifies the energy that exudes from the song selections and “Led Boots,” is a homage to Beck’s former guitar partner Jimmy Page and his group Led Zeppelin.

(Buy on Amazon)

9. “Heart Full of Soul”

“Heart Full of Soul” by the Yardbirds included Jeff Beck who replaced Eric Clapton just before the recording was made in 1965. It marks a turn in the band’s sound which was the reason for Clapton’s departure. Beck included all kinds of electronic gear that altered the sound and began using feedback after being influenced by the sitar. Beck is credited with mimicking the sitar with his guitar and helping to invent the psychedelic sound that dominated the late 1960s through “Raga Rock.”

(Buy on Amazon)

8. “Freeway Jam”

“Freeway Jam” was written by Jan Hammer, a regular collaborator and sometime band member with Beck, and was the keyboardist for the Mahavishnu Orchestra in the early 1970s. The song was recorded for 1975’s Blow By Blow album but was also recorded live on 1977’s Jeff Beck with the Jan Hammer Group Live album. The recording that appeared on the album was from a concert in Philadelphia at the “Spectrum” on October 9, 1976.

(Buy on Amazon)

7. “Beck’s Bolero” 

The first time that I heard “Beck’s Bolero” was on WABX Detroit, Michigan’s local underground radio station in the Winter of 1969. I was impressed enough to purchase a copy of Beck’s first album Truth soon afterward. “Bolero” itself was Beck’s first solo recording after leaving the Yardbirds in 1966 when Jimmy Page replaced him. The recording uses a group of musicians who later jokingly referred to themselves as an early version of Led Zeppelin and included Jimmy Page, John Paul Jones, Nicky Hopkins and Keith Moon. The tune itself was written by Jimmy Page who was inspired after listening to Ravel’s “Bolero.” 

(Buy on Amazon)

6. “I Ain’t Superstitious”

“I Ain’t Superstious” is a Howlin’ Wolf cover that Beck included on Truth. The album was produced by Mickie Most and recorded at Abby Road Studios in London. Rod Stewart’s primal raw voice was at the pre-Small Faces phase. At the same time future Faces and Rolling Stones lead guitarist Ron Wood played bass.

(Buy on Amazon)

5. “People Get Ready”

“People Get Ready “ from 1985’s Flash has to be on the ten best list because it is one of the most accessible Jeff Beck songs with Rod Stewart singing lead vocals. The song hit the #5 position on “Billboard’s Mainstream Rock” and was originally written and recorded by Curtis Mayfield and the Impressions in 1965 as a commentary on the Civil Rights movement.

(Buy on Amazon)

4. “Get’s Us All In the End”

“Get’s Us All In the End” is another killer tune with an amazing guitar solo, and is also from 1985’s Flash album. The album won a Grammy for “Best Instrumental” but it had more vocals on it than normal with only two instrumentals.

(Buy on Amazon)

3. “Lady”

“Lady” from Beck Bogert and Appice in 1973 is the only studio album that the short lived power trio recorded. This incarnation of Jeff Beck’s group included former members of psychedelic rock group Vanilla Fudge, drummer Carmine Appice and bass player Tim Bogert. They broke up in the middle of preparing to record their second studio album in 1974.

(Buy on Amazon)

2. “Scatterbrain”

“Scatterbrain” is from 1975’s Blow by Blow and was written by Beck co-songwriter and keyboard player at the time, Max Middleton. It’s one of the best examples of the way that he was able to translate jazz wind instruments on his guitar much in the same way that he later went on to do it with the industrial garage sound of Guitar Shop fifteen years later.

(Buy on Amazon)

1. “Guitar Shop”

“Guitar Shop” is the title song from Jeff Beck’s Guitar Shop album in 1989 with Terry Bozzio on drums and longtime song collaborator Tony Hymas playing bass. When I saw Beck perform in July 1995 he was still touring with the same band as a power trio. When the band played “Guitar Shop” it was an experience to behold as everyone’s eardrums exploded with Terry Bozzio sitting behind his enormous drum kit hammering out thunder peals that were met with Beck’s guitar mimicking the sounds of an auto repair shop.

(Buy on Amazon)

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