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Album review: EDDIE 9V – Little Black Flies

Eddie 9V - Little Black FliesRuf Records [Release date 28.05.21] The explosive Eddie 9 Volt (real name Brooks Mason), is a man on a mission. He’s the personification of a post Covid cathartic release. After all, what is there left to do after a year … 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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Top 10 John Lee Hooker Songs

Our Top 10 John Lee Hooker Songs list looks back at the songs of one of most important artists in musical history. John Lee Hooker took multiple blues styles from early 20th century blues musicians and created his own hard edged sound starting in the late 1940s. It was a sound that is credited by many music historians as laying out some of the foundations of early rock and roll. His four on the floor driving styles has influenced the genre of classic rock heavily. John Lee Hooker released his first single in 1948. From that point on, John Lee

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The House That Chess Records Built: 10 Top Blues & Rock N’ Roll Releases

The House That Chess Records Built: 10 Top Blues & Rock N’ Roll Releases

Chess Records artists By Chris Wheatley The story of the blues is littered with countless beloved record labels, from the big to the small. Many burned brightly yet soon flamed out. Others, with a long and celebrated history, are still operating today. Perhaps no one institution contributed more, in term of recorded legacy, [Continue]

Continue reading The House That Chess Records Built: 10 Top Blues & Rock N’ Roll Releases at ROCK AND BLUES MUSE.

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McKenna Mendelson Mainline

Joe Mendelson (Guitar, Harmonica, Keyboards, Vocals)

Mike McKenna (Guitar)

Pat Little (Drums)

Timothy Leary (Bass)

Denny Gerrard (Bass)

Tony Nolasco (Drums) 

Mike Harrison (Bass)    

Frank ”Zeke” Sheppard (Harmonica, Bass, Vocals)

Ted Purdy (Bass, Guitar, Vocals)

Larry Leishman (Guitar, Vocals)

Bob Adams (Harmonica)

 

Following a brief spell in The Ugly Ducklings, former Luke & The Apostles guitarist Mike McKenna (b. 15 April 1946, Toronto, Canada) put an ad in a local paper (around May 1968) searching for blues enthusiasts interested in forming a band.

Local singer Joe Mendelson (b. Birrel Josef Mendelson, 30 July 1944, Toronto, Canada) answered his ad, and together they formed the basis of this musically interesting group.

A very short-lived line up formed with former Luke & The Apostles drummer Pat Little (b. 10 March 1947, North Bay, Ontario, Canada) and bass player Timothy Leary (not the more famous US namesake) but it never got passed rehearsals.

Soon afterwards, former Paupers member Denny Gerrard signed up alongside drummer Tony Nolasco (b. 9 July 1950, Sudbury, Ontario, Canada), who had spent a year with The Spasstiks and was only 16 years old when he arrived in Toronto.

The quartet began advertising its talents in mid-June and recorded a demonstration tape over a few days in early September, which was subsequently issued as a “legal bootleg” by manager John Irvine, who had the legal title to the tapes but released it without the band’s approval. This line -up also became residents at Toronto’s Night Owl.

Following several early live performances, Gerrard left the group in early October (subsequently rejoining The Paupers briefly) and ex-Grant Smith and The Power bass player Mike Harrison (b. 1 November 1948, Brampton, Ontario, Canada) was recruited in his place.

This line-up opened for John Lee Hooker at the Rockpile before moving to London, England in December.

Mendelson and McKenna arrived on 10 December, Harrison on 15 December and Nolasco on 26 December.

The band built up a steady following on London’s blues circuit and also played some dates on the continent, including the ‘Flight to Lowlands Paradise 2’ concert, in Utrecht, The Netherlands on 27/28 December alongside Pink Floyd, where the Canadian band was reputedly the only group to receive a standing ovation. (Nolasco had only arrived in England on 26 December!)

During their stay in London, McKenna Mendelson Mainline won a recording deal with Liberty Records and in April and May 1969 recorded the album Stink, generally considered to be the band’s best work, at Trident Studios in London’s Soho district.

By the time it was released in July the musicians were back in Toronto, where they were greeted as returning heroes.

The single, ‘Better Watch Out’ reached #47 on the Canadian RPM chart and the album sold very well.

However, despite the LP’s success, the group’s career was about to grind to a halt.

On 23 November 1969, Mendelson guested with Whiskey Howl at Toronto’s Night Owl, which was a precursor of things to come; he left abruptly [late] the following month for a solo career.

During the early part of 1970 McKenna found time to record with a revamped Luke & The Apostles and the group was put on hold.

Mendelson however, decided to reform the band in March 1970, recruiting former Franklin Sheppard & The Good Sheppards singer Zeke Sheppard on bass alongside Nolasco.

The group, now named simply “Mainline”, was invited to play at the Scarborough Fair Festival in the summer, and Mendelson decided to ask McKenna to join the band for the one show.

The concert was a great success and McKenna was invited to rejoin full-time. The new line-up embarked on a tour of Australia in 1971 as opening act for Frijid Pink.

During this period the band scored another hit with the single ‘Get Down To’, from the 1971 GRT LP Mainline: Canada Our Home & Native Land. The single hit #45 in April 1972.

In late 1971, bassist Ted Purdy replaced Sheppard and appeared on the 1972 GRT album The Mainline Bump & Grind Revue. This version of Mainline dissolved in late 1972.

In March 1973, a new entity formed, “King Biscuit Boy Meets Mainline”, with Richard “King Biscuit Boy” on vocals and harmonica, Mike McKenna on guitar and vocals, Mike Harrison on bass, and Tony Nolasco on drums. In May, former Rhinoceros/Blackstone guitarist Larry Leishman was added on guitar and vocals.

“King Biscuit Boy Meets Mainline” was booked for an Australian tour, but Richard Newell’s fear of flying prevented his participation.

In June 1973, Joe Mendelson replaced Newell for the Australian tour, so the Stink album quartet of McKenna, Mendelson, Harrison, and Nolasco was reunited (with Larry Leishman added) for the first time since December 1969.

After the Australian tour, the Biscuit Meets Mainline band reassembled for several months, but dissolved later in the year. Contrary to legend, this band never recorded or released any material.

On 31 December 1973, the quartet of McKenna, Mendelson, Harrison, and Nolasco presented “The Mainline Bump & Grind Revue” at Toronto’s Victory Burlesque Theatre. The show was broadcast the same evening on TV Ontario.

In 1974, Mendelson decided to reform the band. McKenna and Nolasco agreed, but Harrison opted out, and female bassist Leslie Soldat was recruited. This line-up, most notable for opening for Rush at Toronto’s Massey Hall, dissolved in less than a year.

In 1975, McKenna and Mendelson recorded No Substitute for Taurus Records. Produced by Mendelson and Adam Mitchell, the LP included an assortment of players including Ted Purdy on bass and Jørn Anderson on drums. The album didn’t sell; soon after McKenna and Mendelson went on to pursue separate careers.

Mendelson resumed his solo career while McKenna had brief spells with The Guess Who and The Downchild Blues Band.  

In 1997, McKenna and Gerrard formed Slidewinder and recorded an LP for the Pacemaker label.

A new line up of the band was formed in late-April 1999 featuring  Mike McKenna (guitar, vocals), Tony Nolaso (drums, lead vocals), Mike Harrison (bass, vocals), Ted Purdy (guitar, vocals) and Bob Adams (harp).

The band recorded a CD, Last Show @ The Elmo for Bullseye in November 2001. The CD release party was at Toronto’s Hard Rock Café in December 2002.

Recordings

45 Better Watch Out/She’s Alright (Liberty LBF15235) 1969 (UK release)

45 Don’t Give Me No Goose For Christmas Grandma/Beltmaker (Liberty LBF15276) 1969 (UK release)

45 One Way Ticket/Beltmaker (Liberty 5601) 1969

45 Better Watch Out/She’s Alright (Liberty 56120) 1969

LP Stink (Liberty LBS83251) 1969 (UK release)

LP Blues (Paragon 15) 1969 (Canada only)

(As Mainline)

LP Canada, Our Home And Native Land (GRT 9230-1011) 1971

LP The Mainline Bump And Grind Revue – Live At The Victory Theatre (GRT 9230-1015) 1972

45 Get Down To/Pedalictus Rag (GRT 1233-22) 1972

45 Games of Love/O Canada (GRT 1233-32) 1972

45 Sometimes/Do My Walkin’ (Taurus 005) 1975

LP No Substitute (Taurus TR103) 1975

Advertised gigs

5-10 August 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto

16-17 August 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto

24-25 August 1968 – El Patio, Toronto

31 August 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto

 

5-8 September 1968 – El Patio, Toronto

 

6 October 1968 – Massey Hall, Toronto with The Fugs and Transfusion (Gerrard’s final show as Toronto Telegram’s 19 October issue reports he’s back with The Paupers)

22-27 October 1968 – El Patio, Toronto (Harrison’s debut)

 

2 November 1968 – Grande Ballroom, Detroit, US with Jeff Beck, Toad and Joyful Wisdom

14-16 November 1968 – The Flick, Toronto

17 November 1968 – Rock Pile, Toronto with The Leigh Ashford Group

18-20 November 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto

22 November 1968 – The Night Owl, Toronto

23 November 1968 – Rock Pile, Toronto with John Lee Hooker

30 November 1968 – Rock Pile, Toronto with Transfusion

 

1 December 1968 – Rock Pile, Toronto (“Going to England party”)

8 December 1968 – Rock Pile, Toronto with Buddy Guy (probably last show for leaving for UK)

27-28 December 1968 – Flight to Lowlands Paradise II, Margrietel Jaarbeus, Utrecht, The Netherlands

 

26 January 1969 – Nottingham Boat Club, Nottingham, England (debut UK gig)

Photo: Melody Maker

19 February 1969 – Speakeasy, central London

Photo may be subject to copyright

20 February 1969 – South Parade Pier, Portsmouth, Hants, England with The Pretty Things and The Deviants

20 February 1969 – Concorde Club, Bassett Hotel, Southampton, Hants

27 February 1969 – Locarno Ballroom, Swindon, Wiltshire, England with Family (needs confirmation)

 

6 March 1969 – Concorde Club, Bassett Hotel, Southampton, Hants

8 March 1969 – Bay Hotel, Sunderland, England

Photo: Surrey Advertiser

16 March 1969 – Mad Gin Mill, Angel, Godalming, Surrey, England with Six Bob Cheep

22 March 1969 – Kimbells Club, Southsea, Hants, England

26 March 1969 – Rambling Jack’s Blues Club, the Railway Hotel, Bishop’s Stortford, Herts, England

28 March 1969 – Mothers, Birmingham, England

30 March 1969 – Nottingham Boat Club, Nottingham, England

 

7 April 1969 – Cooks Ferry Inn, Edmonton, London

11 April 1969 – Ritz, Bournemouth, Dorset

21 April 1969 – Quaintways, Chester, Cheshire with Van Der Graaf Generator, Peter & The Alphabet, The State Express and Wall City Jazzmen

23 April 1969 – Toby Jug, Tolworth, Surrey, England

24 April 1969 – Concorde Club, Bassett Hotel, Southampton, Hants

25 April 1969 – Blues Loft, High Wycombe, Bucks, England

27 April 1969 – Roundhouse, Chalk Farm, London with White Trash, Third Ear and others

Photo: Swindon Advertiser

1 May 1969 – Locarno Ballroom, Swindon, Wiltshire, England with Caravan

7 May 1969 – Blues Loft, High Wycombe, Bucks, England

22 May 1969 – Concorde Club, Bassett Hotel, Southampton, Hants

29 May 1969 – The Marquee, London with Howlin’ Wolf and The John Dummer Blues Band

 

12 July 1969 – Rock Pile, Toronto (probably the band’s first show after returning from the UK)

 

21-24 August 1969 – Rock Pile, Toronto

29 August 1969 – Huron Park, Mississauga, Ontario

 

9-14 September 1969 – Electric Circus, New York, US (or was this Toronto as dates advertised for 11-13 September 1969?)

19 September 1969 – St Gabe’s, Willowdale, Ontario

20 September 1969 – Barrie Rock Festival, Barrie Central Auditorium, Barrie, Ontario with Teegarden and Vanwinkle, Leigh Ashford, Neon Rose and Milestone

 

1 November 1969 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto

28 November 1969 – The Workshop at Seneca College, Toronto

30 November 1969 – The Hawk’s Nest, Toronto

30 November 1969 – The Night Owl, Toronto

 

13 December 1969 – Cedabrae Collegiate, Toronto

31 December 1969 – Grande Ballroom, Detroit, US (without MendelsonAdvertised but didn’t happen

 

3 January 1970 – Le Hibou, Ottawa (without Mendelson) Advertised but didn’t happen

4 January 1970 – Notre Dame Hall, Ottawa with Whiskey Howl and Brimful (without Mendelson) Advertised but didn’t happen

 

7 February 1970 – Our Lady of Fatima Hall, Toronto (without Mendelson)

Advertised gigs (As Mainline)

3 April 1970 – Dunbarton High, Toronto

11 April 1970 – Hawk’s Nest, Toronto

24 April 1970 – Electric Circus, Toronto

 

15 May 1970 – St Gabe’s, Willowdale, Ontario

30 May 1970 – Electric Circus, Toronto (McKenna rejoins after this show)

 

6 June 1970 – Scarboro Fair, Scarborough, Ontario, with Richie Havens, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, Lighthouse, Edward Bear, Fludd and others

 

4 July 1970 – Memorial Gardens, Toronto with The Guess Who, Manchild and Balazar

17 July 1970 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario

18 July 1970 – Hidden Valley, Hunstville, Ontario

 

14 August 1970 – Jubilee Auditorium, Oshawa, Ontario

22 August 1970 – Le Hibou, Ottawa (as McKenna Mendelson Mainline)

I don’t think this tour of Australia and New Zealand happened. They toured in 1971 and then again in 1973

2 September 1970 – Melbourne, Victoria, Australia

3 September 1970 – Adelaide, South Australia, Australia

4 September 1970 – Brisbane, Australia

5 September 1970 – Sydney, New South Wales, Australia

9 September 1970 – Perth, Western Australia, Australia

11 September 1970 – Wellington, New Zealand

12 September 1970 – Auckland, New Zealand

 

3 October 1970 – Runnymede Secondary School, Toronto

24 October 1970 – St Gabe’s, Willowdale, Ontario

 

1 November 1970 – York Masonic Temple, Toronto with Mudflat (advertised but didn’t happen)

19 November 1970 – U of T Convocation Hall, Toronto with Jason

 

26 December 1970 – Markham United Church, Markham, Ontario

29 December 1970 – Huron Heights High School, Toronto with Jason

Huge thanks to Mike Harrison for his help with this entry. Thanks also to Mike McKenna and Tony Nolasco.

Thanks to Cole Mathieson for the Concorde Club, Southampton gigs at the Bassett Hotel.

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