Monday, 22 February 2010

STAR BLUES on 21st February 2010 at 22:00

Last night’s STAR BLUES show included a couple of short musical tributes to bluesmen that died a week ago: Dale Hawkins and Lil Dave Thompson, the first after battling cancer the second in a van accident returning after a gig. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t love Hawkins’ timeless “Suzie Q” and he was making great rockabilly and blues through his life: we had his versions of “Caldonia” and “Number Nine Train” in evidence. Thompson was very much a star on the rise with albums on Fat Possum, JSP and Electro-Fi under his belt. I understand a third for Electro-Fi was to be started next month. Both samples I chose yesterday showed his clean unfussy guitar style and he will be missed. Smokey Wilson brought his slide guitar along while Eric Bibb’s instrument was once owned by Booker White.

Missy Anderson is a fairly new name to me but I’ve been impressed with her album so we had a good excuse –not that one was needed – to feature a selection last night as part of her birthday on Friday last. The equally lovely Imelda May was on hand with her “Big Bad Handsome Man”, the theme song of the Mighty Mark Peters’ Legion of Fans.

The gospel offering from Michael Roach done a capella found him in great voice from his latest album “Innocent Child”, Albert Ammons reached across the years with his “Boogie Woogie Stomp” confirming irrefutably a new law of Physics: “It is impossible to fail to enjoy the music of Albert Ammons” – now there’s a GCSE I could have passed! It’s a rare treat to go to the music of Lightnin’ Slim and Eddie C. Campbell, so both on one show was sweet indeed. We had a rare track from Johnny Winter at the close and Stevie Ray Vaughan’s go at George Harrison’s “Taxman” at the start. Shawn Holt wrote “Young Man Blues” and helped his dad Magic Slim perform it and finally move the band status into the big league on the “Black Tornado” album. Add in the very first record Mike Vernon ever issued – done by Hubert Sumlin in a pressing run of 98 to avoid purchase tax – and you’ve reached the weeks quota of news, blues, reviews and tomfoolery in a white t-shirt. I hope we can spend another two hours together next Sunday at 10pm (GMT) for some more of the same (except different). Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Monday, 15 February 2010

STAR BLUES on 14th February 2010 at 22:00

There is one question no man wants to be asked though last night's STAR BLUES offered a suggestion during our piano blues feature...

The timing of the show meant that we were able to survey the great wealth of blues love songs about good men lovin' bad women and good women lovin' bad men. Top of my list was "Sweet Black Angel", the Lucille Bogan song done in 1956 by BB King and the Maxwell Davis Orchestra - a real celebration both lyrically and instrumentally with BB at his utmost and nothing whatsoever to do with the downbeat depressing stereotype of the genre. Brook Benton's "I'll Take Care of You" was a big hit by Bobby 'Blue' Bland and his warm reassuring voice wraps around you like the softest of blankets in the wildest winds. Magic Sam was on hand for "All Your Love" and Howlin' Wolf was "Howlin' For My Baby" in 1951.

We indulged ourselves with seven minutes from the Layla double album of love songs for Derek and the Dominoes version of Freddie Kings "Have You Ever Loved A Woman?" - can there ever have been a more poignant rendition of the last line about "best-friends gal" in the light of Eric Clapton's trouble in woo-ing Patti Harrison away from Beatle George? Eric also gave us our gospel offering with "Give Me Strength" from his 1974 comeback project "461 Ocean Boulevard". At listener request we also did Gary Moore's version of "Need Your Love So Bad", we often play the Little Willie John original or the Fleetwood Mac cover but rarely do we go to Moore's controlled rework. Willie's "Fever" was present too so the circle stayed neatly intact.
Somehow Andrew Junior Boy Jones album on Electro-Fi slipped under the radar at the tail end of last year and I tried to make amends by including "Just Playing The Blues" last night. Coco Montoya has played with Albert Collins and John Mayall before his recent solo success, he'll have a new album out next month and we played the title track "I Want It Back" on yesterday's STAR BLUES. The project finds him in somewhat reflective mood and in the capable production hands of Keb Mo.
Chaps - if your lady ever asks "Does my bum look big in this?" Fear not, those Uppity Blues Women, Saffire have a suggestion: "THERE'S NO SUCH THING AS TOO MUCH BUTT". Go on I dare you. While you contemplate those wise words, I'll say thanks for giving me the chance to spend time with you yesterday and I hope we can be together again this upcoming Sunday at 10pm for two hours more blues, news, reviews and tomfoolery in a white tee-shirt. Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you

Gary Blue
PS Please let me know how you got on with that answer, though neither I nor anyone else at STAR BLUES or UKRD will accept any responsibility etc etc...

Monday, 8 February 2010

STAR BLUES on 7th February 2010 at 22:00

With tracks from 6 new albums, 4 Grammy Winners, 3 birthdays and an obit, the STAR BLUES show last night gave evidence of a very busy blues scene in this new decade. The Grammy awards were announced last week and yesterday was our first chance to celebrate with the winners: the five disc set of Complete Recordings of Little Walter deservedly won in Best Historical category, neatly following his induction into the Rock'n'Roll Hall of fame in 2008. Ramblin' Jack Elliott took the Traditional prize for his collection of Depression-era songs from which we took "Richland Woman" last night. Buckwheat Zydeco got recognition with the award for best Cajun & Zydeco album for his splendid Alligator set "Lay My Burden Down". In December it was announced that Michael Jackson would get a Lifetime Achievement Grammy, somewhat overshadowing the same honour to be bestowed on 95 year-old Honeyboy Edwards. We marked his glorious career with a down-home track he did in 2007 for Earwig.

Fresh from the shrink-wrap came Michael Roach, Eric Bibb, Mahalia Jackson, Lucky Peterson, Erick Hovey and Jimi Hendrix. The latter is from a project of previously unissued stuff, though I am pretty sure there are more to come.(If you have the Alan Douglas produced items that Polydor put out in the 70s, you'll know what I mean as those tracks were cut at the same sessions). Messrs Bibb and Roach will most likely be vying for the same pocket money but you really should try to hear both men celebrate a long-lost art form as songster -blues-troubadour. Lucky Peterson is now on the JSP label, he's still a "youngster" we think he's been around a while because Willie Dixon found him at age three playing keyboards. The instrumental piano piece "Lucky's 88" got him into our piano blues spot. A survey of Mahalia Jackson's work from 1951 is out next month on the new Superbird label - the first dozen tracks are long out of print last out on Columbia and Del Taylor's guys have added five more songs to the set. She ofcourse held down the Gospel tent. Erick Hovey did the seemingly impossible by being tight yet loose; his singing and playing style is laid back in the best JJ Cale tradition, yet his band is as tight as the proverbial ducks rear-end.

Jody Williams just turned 75, Otis Clay will have a birthday this week and Johnny Guitar Watson would have celebrated too - music from all on STAR BLUES yesterday. The obit. came in first thing in the morning - Sir John Dankworth's death was announced by his wife, Cleo Laine. Though much of their work lies outside our purview, I found an old 60's EP to show mastery on "T'Aint What You Do". I have a small personal recollection of Cleo and Johnny coming to my primary school when I was five or six. They were generous in their enthusiasm for making music at the earliest opportunities for every child. We won't see his like again.

This upcoming week I'll try to show how many blues love songs there are and if you want to request or dedicate anything, please let me know. I hope we get chance to spend another two hours together this Valentine's day at 10pm (GMT) from the home of the 9-5 No Repeat Workday, your Cambridge & Ely's Star Radio - Until then take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Gary Blue

Monday, 1 February 2010

STAR BLUES on 31st January 2010 at 22:00

I only ever make two promises for a STAR BLUES show, the first is the white tee-shirt (I do have a few) and the second is blues in all shades. Happy to oblige on both counts last night. Our major feature was the music of the Blue Horizon label, original home to Fleetwood Mac and Chicken Shack. In the Sixties Blue Horizon was a by-word for quality and renowned for being the UK outlet for otherwise hard-to-find imports from the States. The guy that discovered Madonna has just relaunched the label and will offer digital downloads and has a lot to live up to.

Top and tail of the show came from birthday boy Charlie Musselwhite a skilled practitioner of the harp, agile and fluid he is much in demand for his own work and sessions. His "Harpin On A Riff" was only ever done as a tutorial piece for Stefan Grossman's Kicking Mule label but Alexis Korner picked up on it for his Radio1 blues show. I heard it and took it to my Desert Island a few years ago when I was asked.

The Grammys were on last night but there'd been no results by close of my show but congrats now go to Ramblin' Jack Elliott and Derek Trucks' Band who won in Traditional and Contemporary Blues categories respectively. Expect some further kudos on next weeks show. Also in the news is Etta James who is ill in hospital and we wish her all the best even if the recovery will be slower than she'd like. Bruce Iglauer was on facebook just before the show and his label Alligator will have new albums by the Holmes Brothers and Guitar Shorty out in March - so some good things to look forward to.

Julian Temple has a film being premiered tomorrow (Tuesday 2nd) and out for general release on Friday: "Oil City Confidential" is all about Canvey Island and the greatest live act of all time, the original lineup of Dr. Feelgood. The thought of Lee Brilleaux, Wilko Johnson, Big Figure and John B. Sparks on the big screen is mouth watering and would have been unheard of during their heyday - it wasn't what the band were about. Three tracks last night brought it all back for me and quite a few others - about as far away from X-Factor as you can get with real sweat and passion.

Speaking of the next show (this upcoming Sunday at 10pm GMT from the home of the 9-5 No- Repeat Workday) we will have tracks off brand new albums by Eric Bibb, Michael Roach and Erick Hovey. The week after it'll be a chance for you to dedicate something on a Blues Love Song Special for Valentine's Day. All that blues, news, reviews, gossip and tomfoolery - in a white tee shirt. Until we get chance to spend another two hours together, take care of yourselves and take care of those that take care of you.

Gary Blue.