My and my white tee-shirt wished you every happiness for the New Year last night and we brought along ten albums classified as "new" releases including something from a trio with an average age of 15 and what proved to be final recordings of Solomon Burke. Of which more later...
The big Red Book of Radio Rules says "thou shalt not start with an instrumental blues" and "Thou willst get the back timing right into the midnight news". Hey! a fifty percent compliance ain't bad because I started with Ronnie Earl's version of "Backstroke" by Albert Collins - and you need * BIG * gentleman's parts to even try to copy the Iceman. Eddie Burns and John Lee Hooker took us to Detroit pretty soon after with some timeless blues. The ladies made a strong showing too: Candye Kane's "Work What You Got", Big Maybelle's "Candy" and Lula Reed's original version of "Drown In My Own Tears" showed us how influential their craft has been in different styles of our music.
Flying the flag for the current crop of Canadian jumping blues is Sabrina Weeks and her band Swing Cat Bounce came along with an infectious piece that was audibly as much fun to record as it was to play. It was their first outing in the collection, not the last I'll be bound. Going back to 1983 - also in Canada - Stevie Ray Vaughan and Albert King came together for a tv special. The music has been out before on a 1999 cd but this new year sees a reissue with the accompanying video footage. We caught them sparring on Stevie Ray's "Pride and Joy" last night.
Electro-Fi have put out some of Mel Browns unissued sides with his wife, Miss Angel, finishing off some pieces with her lyrics like "Blues In The Alley". The same label has I believe just done a raw in the studio project on Paul Oscher that I've not heard yet, in anticipation I put something from his "alone with the blues" album into out list - it showed why he twice held down the harp player spot in Muddy Waters band. It says so in Gary Blue's Almanac and it also lists major award winners. Sure to go from nominated to winner anytime soon is the Homemade Jamz Band (ages 18, 16, 12) their "Burned Down the House" is an astonishingly confident performance by the three brothers and sister (dad does a bit of harp) - underpinned by a brutal, wicked kick-drum beat from the girl not yet in her teens.
Biggest shock of last October was the sudden death of Solomon Burke at Amsterdam Schipol airport on his way to do some gigs promoting the album "Hold On Tight" just done with the band called de Dijk. That album is now out and it just underscored how powerful and consistent Burke had been from his very first recordings through to these final ones.
Songs for Eric Clapton's newest album were chosen in the wake of his very serious gall-stone problems; his mortality meant he went back to the music of his parents era. He does (in my opinion at least) these days need a great player to inspire him, like Kim Wilson's harp on the go at Little Walter's "Can't Hold Out Much Longer" that closed proceedings.
As is the STAR BLUES custom, the calculations for the news break worked out ok - just don't tell anyone about the instrumental opener (our secret ok?). I'm planning a couple of new features that I'll tell you about next Sunday at 10pm (GMT) - I hope you can come along. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.