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Buried Alive in the Blues [Bonus DVD] [Import, Live]

Chicago Blues Reunion Audio CD

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Product Details


1. Born In Chicago - featuring Nick Gravenites
2. Buried Alive In The Blues - featuring Nick Gravenites
3. Walk Away - featuring Tracy Nelson
4. Drinking Wine - featuring Nick Gravenites
5. GM Boogie - featuring Barry Goldberg & Harvey Mandel
6. Left Handed Soul - featuring Nick Gravenites
7. Miss You Like The Devil - featuring Tracy Nelson
8. All The Help I Can Get - featuring Tracy Nelson
9. Death Of Muddy Waters - featuring Nick Gravenites
10. Find My Baby - featuring Sam Lay
11. New Truck - featuring Tracy Nelson
12. King Bee - featuring Corky Siegel
13. Snake - featuring Harvey Mandel
14. Hound Dog - featuring Sam Lay

Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Amazon.com: 4.8 out of 5 stars  20 reviews
28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars back to the sixties Nov. 18 2005
By mpbcp - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The music on the cd is great, but the real value lies in the dvd, which takes you back to the development of the 60's "white" chicago blues scene with actual footage of icons like Muddy Waters and Mike Bloomfield (with The Electric Flag). All the musicians are interviewed at length, and there are great comments from B.B.King and Buddy Guy. The dvd is actually good enough to be shown as a documentary on public television, and it also includes "concert" footage of about half the songs featured on the cd.
Nick Gravenites and Tracy Nelson both look a little worn out by time, but they sound great, and the added attactions of barry goldberg , corky siegel and harvey mandel comprise an all star band. a guest vocal appearance by Sam Lay was a nice touch.
both the cd and the dvd exceed expectations
48 of 58 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Father, Sons and one Heck of a Daughter Oct. 10 2005
By Gregor von Kallahann - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
The folks at Amazon always discourage referencing previous reviews for various reasons--but one big one certainly is that those other reviews sometimes seem to just disappear. And then you've got egg on your face. Why does this happen? Usually, I understand, it's because the author of same has opted to delete his or her critique (maybe there was a change of heart or maybe just too much hate mail). Sometimes an irrelevant or morally reprehensible tract in the guise of a review might be successfully challenged by another customer, but that--I suspect--is rarer.

Amid all the five star reviews for this revue style project featuring veterans of the 60s "Northside" Chicago blues scene was at least one negative review wherein the commentator opined that a TRUE "Chicago reunion" was impossible since most of the real progenitors of Chicago blues have longsince gone to that juke joint in the sky.

Now call me perverse, but I sometimes find negative reviews more "helpful" than glowingly positive ones--even when I basically disagree with them. Or rather, especially when I disagree with them. Unlike the typical "this is so great" kind of review, I am oft times forced to think through my own impressions of the work at hand and maybe even come up with some kind of response (which I may or may not ever actually post, but at least it gets me THINKING.) So I did not object too stringently to that particular reviewers comments. I tried to do the grown-up thing and actually consider them.

And of course, the guy had a point that even the artists on this record implicitly acknowledge. You remember the old blues supersession album FATHERS AND SONS? Well, these guys are the first to admit that they are "the sons" (Ok, so there's a "daughter" in the mix as well). That's why singer/songwriter Nick Gravenites talks about helping to create the "NORTHSIDE" blues scene. In the actual concert and in more extensive interviews, he went on at length about their many trips to the Southside clubs to catch the acts of the founding fathers. That was the music the then new generation of blues artists (and blues influenced rockers) was cutting its teeth on. And this new generation of (yes, usually white) blues artists--which included Gravenites, Corky Siegel, Barry Goldberg and Harvey Mandel (all onboard for this project), alongside others like Mike Bloomfield, Paul Butterfield and Charlie Musselwhite--can be said to be the proud heirs of the blues tradition. None would claim otherwise, but they did help establish a burgeoning music scene in Chicago around that time (mid- to late 60s).

Also in the audience (though not usually gracing the Chicago stages, to my knowledge) was an eager young singer from Madison, WI, who was watching, learning and developing into one of the most powerful singers of her generation. That would be Tracy Nelson, who most people associate with San Francisco and, later, Nashville--but whose roots run deep in Chicago.

So when someone got the idea of a Chicago reunion, it's not as though these artists weren't all legit. It may well be that as a group, they did not achieve the fame of some of their peers, or of their predecessors for that matter. But even a cursory listen to this record should convince the unbiased listener that they should have met with greater success than they did. Life's not always fair. It's enough to make you want to sing the blues.

And sing 'em they do. Nick Gravenites has always been something of a blues-rock stalwart. His main claim to fame heretofore has probably always been his songwriting (penning tunes for Joplin and others) and for his work with the shortlived Electric Flag. But he has always been an underrated singer. His is a rich, warm baritone and his delivery is always down-to-earth and good-humored. Yes, there is a bit of schtick to his delivery (and I guess he could be accused of a bit of name-dropping here and there, what with numerous the Janis and Muddy references), but I prefer to think of those a tips of the hat. Or maybe "two hats," since I'm told that's his nickname.

On the album, Gravenites carries the greater portion of the vocal chores, with Tracy Nelson coming in a close second. The sequencing is actually kind of interesting. Tracy sort of sneaks in doing back up on Nick's title song "Buried Alive in the Blues" (the one Janis never got to record). The two singers complement each other well, and it is clear that Tracy, almost despite her overpowering solo vocals, is a skilled back-up singer as well. But on the very next track "Walk Away" she is ready to take center stage and deliver a classic, downright spinetingling performance. It's a blistering vocal, one that leaves the audience audibly awed.

Nelson's fans may be somewhat disappointed that her numbers here have all been released before. But this is a revue styled show, and not the occasion to show off much in the way of new material. By the time the ensemble did its tour last summer, however, one song "Got A New Truck," a bouncy ditty Nelson co-wrote with Marcia Ball had been replaced by one of her classics, Memphis Slim's "Mother Earth" which gave her an opportunity for yet another tour de force vocal. Too bad it's not included here, but I'm not complaining. Anyone wanting to sample more of Tracy's live vocals can check out her LIVE FROM CELL BLOCK D release from '03).

In between the vocal tracks are a couple of scorching instrumentals ("GM Blues" and Mandel's "Snake"). Of course, the instrumentalists provide solid backing throughout and have substantial solos in many of the songs, but the instrumental tracks give them their own moment to shine. And they make the most of it. Easy to see how Harvey Mandel came by his nickname "King of the Psycha-Delta Blues."

Of course, the greatest nod the group gives to the patriarchs is the addition of longtime blues drumming legend, Sam Lay. Lay does vocals on only two (or perhaps, more accurately, two and a half)tracks, but they are highlights. He does the vocal and percussion on "Gotta Find My Baby," and the album closes with his spirited mini-medley of "Hound Dog" and "Roll Over Beethoven." If you caught the band on tour, you know just how infectious his wry vocal delivery could be. The album conveys a similar excitement, but does leave you wanting more from this legendary figure.

Actually, it leaves you wanting more of just about every one, but that's just the nature of this kind of project. The beauty part is that all of these artists have extensive catalogs to check out, most of which is just a click away. BURIED ALIVE is a fine listening experience in itself. It's also a great starting point.
16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a deal - Great performance, great footage. July 15 2005
By clc - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Try to catch the live Performance, it's wonderful. Tracy sure can carry her voice. It is a real pleasure seeing these guys perform together and with a Great Rhythm section. The dvd has wonderful historic footage. It makes you realize how fortunate they were to grow up in Chicago and what these performers did to bring the Blues to the rest of us.
8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars 5 stars are not enough! July 14 2005
By Midnight Special Blues Radio - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
"Buried Alive in the Blues" is certainly one of the best live Blues albums of all times. Those who had and will have a chance to see the Chicago Blues Reunion onstage may proudly say: "I've seen the Blues history in the making!" It's not a nostalgy album, it's a strongest proof of an everlasting freshness and youth of the Chicago Blues. All those who took part in the album recording, production, design and marketing have done a great job, and the result may already be considered as a treasure of not just American but the World music culture.
6 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Blues For The Lost Days June 2 2006
By Kurt Harding - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Audio CD
Well, I've heard the music, watched the DVD, and read the reviews and after doing so am slightly amused by the somewhat overwrought enthusiasm for Buried Alive In The Blues. Sure, I like the music and enjoy the commentary, but this CD is more nostalgia and an affirmation of a musical style than a bold statement.

We're all going to get old if we're lucky and at some point we are not going to be as good as we once were. And while it is a pleasure to see and hear these guys again, that truth will be brought starkly home to those who really remember how they were in the old days. The crown princes of white Chicago blues, Paul Butterfield and Mike Bloomfield, are long gone. So what we are left with are a few core musicians like Nick Gravenites, Sam Lay and Corky Siegel, and those on the periphery like Harvey Mandel, Barry Goldberg, and Tracy Nelson who are more remembered for their days in San Francisco (in the case of Nelson, Nashville as well) than their time in Chicago. And none sound at all like they did in their heydays.

If you remember and love the Born In Chicago of Paul Butterfield's first album or the Drinkin' Wine of the Electric Flag's Long Time Comin' album, you will hear precisely what I mean. But what the musicians lack of the old intensity is made up for by their obvious enthusiasm. Some of the old fire is still apparent throughout, but my favorites are the Canned Heat-style GM Boogie, the smoky languor of Nick Gravenites' Left Handed Soul, Gravenites' Death of Muddy Waters, the swinging I've Gotta Find My Baby, a supercharged rendition of Harvey Mandel's old pseudopsychedelic classic Snake, and the concluding medley of old rock tunes featuring delightful vocals by Sam Lay. One I didn't like is New Truck, which is more of a redneck Top 40 country type song than it is blues. One of the reviewers mentioned it has been replaced on tour by Memphis Slim's Mother Earth. I'd rather have heard that here.

As enjoyable as the CD can be at times, the real gem is the DVD. Here, interviews with blues musicians and historians are interspersed with music clips of some of the Chicago Blues Reunion members playing with their old bands and more importantly with the old masters. Some of the best historical sketches are provided by BB King, Buddy Guy and Nick Gravenites. You see Butterfield, Bloomfield, Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf, Little Walter and others who were so important to the Chicago blues scene and find out how the white boys from the north side went to the black clubs of the south and west sides to learn the blues and refine their skills at the feet of the masters. One reviewer sneered that the Northside blues explosion only lasted a few years, and that is true, but its the nationwide blues mania that followed when the cream of Chicago's white bluesmen took their music to San Francisco that makes those couple of years so important. Music historians and critics still go on today about the Summer of Love and the San Francisco Sound. How long did that last? The point is, its not the length of an era but its legacy that counts.

I give Buried Alive In the Blues 3 and 1/2 stars for the music and 4 and 1/2 for the history lesson. I bought one labeled "Collector's Edition", its a shame that it contains no informative booklet with pictures and only cursory notes on the back cover. Had John Mayall not already called one of his albums Blues For the Lost Days, that would have been the perfect title for this set. If you have a taste for blues Chicago-style and remember how it used to be, then you should find this set to be a treat worth savoring.

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