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Docendo Discimus (Vita scholae)

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Alone & Acoustic
Alone & Acoustic
Price: CDN$ 19.58
29 used & new from CDN$ 10.00

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ****½ - wonderful low-key acoustic blues, July 16 2004
This review is from: Alone & Acoustic (Audio CD)
Okay, an acoustic guitar and a harmonica, how good can it be? Geez, everything must sound the same!
Eh? Well, it can be very good indeed, actually. And it is.
1991's "Alone & Acoustic" is one of the very best of the numerous albums that Chicago blues greats Buddy Guy and Junior Wells recorded together, an intimate, expressive session, and a showcase for Guy's abilities on the acoustic twelve-string as well as for Amos "Junior" Wells' tasteful harp playing.
Sharing lead vocals, the relaxed mood seems to suggest that the two old friends are just sitting down for an hour of easy jamming, but the performances are never sloppy, always tight and done with honesty and conviction.
Buddy Guy and Junior Wells play their own compositions (Guy's "Give Me My Coat And Shoes" and Wells' "Big Boat" are among the highlights), as well as covering artists like Jimmy Rogers (a great "That's All Right"), Sonny Terry (an equally fine "Diggin' My Potatoes"), and John Lee Hooker. There are no fewer than three John Lee Hooker-numbers here, actually, and rather than substituting his own name in Hooker's mini-epos "Boogie Chillen", George "Buddy" Guy lets the narrator refer to himself as "Johnny"!
Okay, so the setting may have been an Alligator Records studio, but this is still acoustic street-corner blues at its best, and one of the warmest, most enjoyable blues records I've ever listened to.

What You See Is What You Get
What You See Is What You Get
Price: CDN$ 15.47
23 used & new from CDN$ 8.97

4.0 out of 5 stars Fun, raucous electric blues, July 15 2004
Lil' Ed Williams and the Blues Imperials may not be the future of blues music...just as Bruce Springsteen wasn't the future of rock n' roll, he just provided a welcome return to the basics of rock n' roll in a world of art rock, glam rock, and heavy metal.
The Blues Imperials' music isn't the most original, or varied, or even well-played electric blues you'll ever hear either. But it's fun. Lil' Ed Williams, like his late uncle J.B. Hutto, has no musical ambitions other than playing good, ol'fashioned blues and boogie a la Elmore James, Hound Dog Taylor, and (in Williams' case) uncle Joseph.
From the opening number, the catchy, swaggering "Life Is Like Gamblin'", to the closer, an Elmore James-like rave-up titled "Packin' Up", this album is a solid, above average set of rockish blues, the equal of its predecessor ("Chicken, Gravy & Biscuits") and better than the group's debut album "Roughhousin'". The band is tight, and if Lil' Ed Williams lacks the vocal power of J.B. Hutto and Elmore James, his sizzling slide playing and dance-friendly boogie patterns are just as infectious. And he and rhythm guitarist Mike Garrett complement each other perfectly...just listen to the high-octane "Bluesmobile" or the tough grind of "Older Woman", a subtle recasting of Bukka White's forgotten classic "Old Lady".
Sure, this is not the most distinct set of blues you'll ever hear, but it provides a really good listen anyway. Rarely do the blues sound this joyous.

Blues Hit Big Town
Blues Hit Big Town
Offered by importcds__
Price: CDN$ 10.34
21 used & new from CDN$ 9.60

5.0 out of 5 stars File under essential, July 15 2004
This review is from: Blues Hit Big Town (Audio CD)
Originally released in 1977, this album brings together Junior Wells' first singles, recorded in 1953 and 1954 when he was just a teenager (he turned 20 in December, 1954). This 1998 CD reissue adds six bonus tracks, five of which are alternate takes, and while the liner notes are somewhat sparse, the music is top-notch.
Junior Wells' first LP came out more than ten years later, in 1965, but these tough early singles, taped when Junior was Muddy Waters' harmonica player, are at least as seminal. Junior's sublime first reading of "Hoodoo Man" is here, alongside a rollicking "Cut That Out", a lean, mean "Please Throw This Poor Dog A Bone", the swinging "Tomorrow Night", and the blazing instrumentals "Eagle Rock" and "Junior's Wail".
Junior's rendition of John Lee "Sonny Boy" Williamson's "'Bout The Break Of Day" is every bit as powerful as "Hoodoo Man" (another Williamson-number) and he sounds thoroughly menacing on the grinding title track.
As well as playing with Muddy Waters, Junior Wells was the lead singer of the Aces for a while, a group which consisted of brothers Louis and Dave Myers on guitar and bass respectively, and drummer extraordinaire Fred Below. They back him on most of these recordings, and Johnnie Jones lends his considerable talents on piano on the 1953 recordings.
And the great Elmore James appears as well, wielding his smouldering bottleneck on the master take of "Hoodoo Man". Piano player Otis Spann from the Muddy Waters band is rolling the 88s on the 1954 recordings, and Waters himself shows up as well, backing Wells on guitar.
These early recordings are some of Junior Wells' finest and grittiest, and while his blistering harmonica playing was often more or less absent on his 60s and 70s waxings, it takes centre stage on these superb 50s singles.
A must-have.

Blues At Sunrise
Blues At Sunrise
Offered by JED CD's
Price: CDN$ 10.97
11 used & new from CDN$ 3.40

4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing new, but it's great anyway, July 14 2004
This review is from: Blues At Sunrise (Audio CD)
Well, I felt a little bit bad about not actually reviewing the can find my original "review" below, where I make myself interesting by pointing out that this is not new material but rather a collection of previously released songs (with the exception of "The Sky Is Crying", an outtake from the "Couldn't Stand The Weather" sessions, but that one also appereared on the similarly titled album of outtakes issued after Vaughan's tragic death, although that was a different take).
So if you're a tried and true SRV fan, you won't find anything new here...a live rendition of "Tin Pan Alley" doesn't really count. But if you only have, say, "Greatest Hits", this album would serve as a nice addition.
It brings together ten slow blues tunes, many of which are among Stevie Ray Vaughan's finest recordings, like the soulful opener "Ain't Gonna Give Up On Love", a swaggering rendition of Guitar Slim's "The Things That I Used To Do", and the smouldering slow burner "Dirty Pool".
The live "Tin Pan Alley" is top-notch as well. Lots of magnificent guitar playing, and an excellent, expressive vocal by Stevie Ray. His playing on "The Sky Is Crying" is equally superb, but if you've ever heard Elmore James' blistering original you'll probably find that Stevie Ray lacks a little bit of vocal power. If you haven't, you won't care one way or the other :o)
Again, longtime fans will find nothing here which they don't already own, but more casual listeners should enjoy "Blues At Sunrise". The quality of the material assembled here is sky-high all the way through, and it is a great testament to Stevie Ray Vaughan's abilities on the guitar. Only reason I'm deducting a star is the fact that this is really just a re-packaging of already issued material. And the liner notes are kinda brief as well.
But the music? Oh yeah, A+ from beginning to end.

Honey Bee
Honey Bee
Price: CDN$ 20.99
15 used & new from CDN$ 11.99

4.0 out of 5 stars ***1/4. Another in a long line of fine live Muddy-albums, July 14 2004
This review is from: Honey Bee (Audio CD)
This album was recorded in "Europe, early 80s", according to the cover (that probably means 1979 or 1980), and the band is the same one that backed Muddy Waters on almost all of his recordings between 1973 and 1980.
"Honey Bee" (which is sometimes advertised as "Sail On") doesn't really add anything new and radical to Muddy's legacy; almost all of these 16 songs have been available live for a long time, and often in several different versions. But it's still a fine album, of course, live Muddy is almost always top-notch.
The sound is good without being truly stellar, and the Muddy Waters Band (any Muddy Waters band) was the best in the business at that time. Pianist Joe "Pinetop" Perkins is excellent all the way through, and he sounds particularly inspired on "Long Distance Call" and on a great, swinging rendition of "Blow Wind Blow". Wonderful guitar solos by Bob Margolin and Luther "Guitar Jr." Johnson on "Hoochie Coochie Man", by the way.
Many of these numbers are a little more laid-back than on most other live recordings, and a few songs, such as "Trouble No More", "Baby Please Don't Go", and "Can't Get No Grindin'" have been released before in better live renditions. But the excellent rhythm section always contributes a deep, swaggering groove, and this cool version of "Honey Bee" is among the best I have heard.
This album even includes a few rarities, a great band-backed version of the early Muddy-single "Train Fare Home", J.T. Brown's soulful "Goin' Home", and the jazzy "After Hours", a smoky slow instrumental in the vein of T-Bone Walker. "Off The Wall" is harpist Jerry Portnoy's muscular take on another istrumental number, this one by Muddy's former harpist Little Walter Jacobs.
Casual blues fans won't need to rush out and secure themselves a copy of this long as you have "Muddy Waters At Newport 1960" and "Mojo: The Live Collection", you'll be alright. But serious Muddy-fans will certainly want a copy of this fine, enjoyable live recording from the Austrian Wolf label - their second, following "Live Recordings 1965-1973".
Not an essential purchase, but a really nice listen all the same.

Georgia Satellites
Georgia Satellites
Offered by marvelio-ca
Price: CDN$ 8.62
22 used & new from CDN$ 5.62

4.0 out of 5 stars A fine debut, July 13 2004
This review is from: Georgia Satellites (Audio CD)
The Georgia Satellites issued three high-octane rock n' roll records in the latter half of the 1980s, at a time when such a thing wasn't excactly in vogue. This one was the first, and a sizable hit, mostly due to the presence of the #2 hit single "Keep Your Hands To Youself".
But the next two sank without a trace, and that's a shame, because the Satellites were (and still remain) a really great listen if you like straight-ahead blooze-n-boogie styled rock n' roll.
The last regular Satellites album, 1989's "In The Land Of Salvation And Sin", is the best, the most mature, and the most stylistically varied, but this one is not far behind.
"The Georgia Satellites" opens with that single, the one which remains the only Satellites number most people ever got around to hearing, a swaggering three-chord "hick-rocker" topped by Rick Richards' lead guitar and Dan Baird's drawling vocals.
If you're really just looking for that one song, you should pick up the excellent compilation album "Let It Rock: Best Of The Georgia Satellites" instead of their original albums...but that's not to say that "Hands" is the only good song here, in fact it may not even be the best one. Other highlights include the tough-as-nails hard rock of "Railroad Steel" and "Can't Stand The Pain", a great, shout-along-friendly cover of the Hindu Love Gods' "Battleship Chains", and the melodic mid-tempo rockers "Over And Over" and "Golden Light".
A three-chords-and-a-cloud-of-dust-style rendition of Rod Stewart's "Every Picture Tells A Story" doesn't really add anything to the original, but it's still a great song.
The lyrics aren't excacly Bob Dylan, and there is not a lot of musical variation here, but "The Georgia Satellites" is a fun listen anyway. Casual fans will be perfectly satisfied by "Let It Rock", but Satellites diehards (there must be a few of those around) will want the "real" albums.

In The Land Of Salvation And Sin
In The Land Of Salvation And Sin
6 used & new from CDN$ 9.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars ****½. A great, underrated rock n' roll record, July 13 2004
The Georgia Satellites issued three high-octane rock n' roll records in the late 80s, at a time when such a thing wasn't excactly in vogue. The first one was a minor hit, the next two pretty much sank without a trace, and that's a shame, because this one in particular is a really great listen if you like straight-ahead three-chord rock n' roll.
"In The Land Of Salvation And Sin" was the Satellites' last regular album, originally released in 1989, and it is their most stylistically diverse by far. That doesn't make it an eclectic record by any stretch of the imagination, but the tempo does vary quite a lot (!), and there are even two acoustic numbers present...which makes for a lot more variation than "Georgia Satellites" and "Open All Night" put together!
Most listeners will be content with just The Satellites' excellent compilation album, "Let It Rock: Best Of The Georgia Satellites", which also includes a few great non-album tracks. But if you do want more, this one is a fine purchase as well.
Opening with the tremendous fiery rocker "I Dunno", "Salvation And Sin" includes a number of the group's best songs, like the bluesy swagger of "Six Years Gone", the melodic mid-tempo rockers "Days Gone By", "All Over But The Cryin'" and "Bring Down The Hammer", and the country-ish ballad "Sweet Blue Midnight".
The Satellites also perform a nice, drawling cover of Joe South's "Games People Play" (a song which has inspired covers ranging from straight country & western to hard rock and reggae). And the wonderful acoustic shuffle "Another Chance", which sees all four band members trading off lines, is one of the Satellites' two or three finest original numbers.
All in all, this is probably the Georgia Satellites' best album, with their self-titled debut a close second, and while you can get almost all the good stuff from their first two albums on "Let It Rock", "Salvation And Sin" is pretty much good from beginning to end.
Highly recommended.

Long Way From Home
Long Way From Home
Price: CDN$ 38.69
6 used & new from CDN$ 36.73

4.0 out of 5 stars A fine live album from an underrated performer, July 12 2004
This review is from: Long Way From Home (Audio CD)
Singer/guitarist Eddie Taylor played rhythm guitar behind Jimmy Reed on numerous waxings, but as a solo performer he never achieved anything like the commercial succes of Reed, who regularly outsold men like Muddy Waters and Howlin' Wolf.
That was not due to any lack of talent, however. Eddie Taylor (1923-1985) was a supremely versatile blues guitarist, equally capable of playing the greasiest, grittiest grooves imaginable, and tearing off into a burning single-string solo. And he was a strong, expressive singer as well...perhaps the only thing missing was the kind of exceptional material that Willie Dixon penned for Waters and Wolf (and which they, along with men like Elmore James and Rice Miller, were perfectly capable of churning out on their own). Eddie Taylor was a great songwriter when his muse was in, but he seemed to have a hard time coming up with enough truly excellent material to compete with the exceptionally prolific Willie Dixon and that force of nature Aleck "Rice" Miller.
On this aptly titled 1977 live recording (it was cut in Japan), Taylor is backed by brothers Louis and David Myers on 2nd guitar and bass guitar respectively, and by veteran drummer Odie Payne, a powerful, versatile percussionist who played with everybody who was anybody on the Chicago blues scene at one time or another.
The set opens with Eddie Taylor's classic 1955 single "Bad Boy", and other highlights include the fiery "You're Gonna Look For Me", the swaggering groove of "There'll Be A Day", a smouldering "Blow Wind Blow" (not the Muddy Waters-song), and a slow, yet very muscular "My Sometimes Woman" which prominently features Odie Payne.
Also, Taylor and Louis Myers both get off a couple of great solos on "Going Down Slow" (that's Eddie Taylor in the right speaker), and this rendition of "Crossroads" is one of the finest electric versions of that classic song I have ever heard. Taylor even sounds like Robert Johnson.
There is a lot of sizzling blues guitar playing here, and some wonderful drumming by Odie Payne as well. The sound is fine, and the liner notes are quite good. And "Long Way From Home" is a really enjoyable live album by one of the finest, most talented sidemen on the Chicago blues scene, the great Eddie Taylor.

King Bee
King Bee
Price: CDN$ 12.15
9 used & new from CDN$ 9.55

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars ****½ - another excellent reissue, July 12 2004
This review is from: King Bee (Audio CD)
The last of Muddy Waters' four Blue Sky albums is often considered the least as well, but you wouldn't know it listening to this superbly remastered and expanded reissue.
Originally issued in 1981, "King Bee" was recorded at a time when Muddy Waters, then 65, was slowing down because of health problems, and his band was losing money because they were gigging less, finally causing them to quit en masse.
Guitarist Bob Margolin's candid liner notes are much more brief and a lot less jolly than the warm and often humorous mini-essays he wrote for the reissues of "Hard Again" and "I'm Ready", and while his fondness for Muddy Waters is very obvious, it is equally obvious that he did not have a good time recording this album, Muddy Waters' last.
Because of the tensions in the studio preceding the breakup of the Muddy Waters Band, producer and occational guitarist Johnny Winter felt the sessions had not produced enough solid material to yield an entire album, so he padded "King Bee" with outtakes from the 1977 "Hard Again" sessions (and this 2004 edition adds another two previously unreleased numbers).
But there is certainly nothing wrong with the songs that did make the cut. "King Bee" is as lean and mean an album as Muddy ever made, and though the guest stars from the first two Blue Sky albums are missing, the "regular" Muddy Waters Band is every bit as competent as any all star combo. Muddy may have been ailing, but his voice is still strong and confident, and the rhythm section of Calvin "Fuzz" Jones (bass) and drummer Willie "Big Eyes" Smith is rock-solid, digging a train track groove on each and every song. Well, except the acoustic slide guitar workout "I Feel Like Going Home", a wonderful re-recording of one of Muddy's earliest waxings.
Muddy Waters and his killer ensemble lifts relatively lightweight numbers like "Deep Down In Florida", "My Eyes Keep Me In Trouble" and "Champagne And Reefer" high above mediocrity, and songs like "No Escape From The Blues", the swaggering "Too Young To Know" and the gritty title track pack an immense wallop.
There are no weak songs here, actually. The re-recording of "Sad Sad Day" should be a blueprint for all slow blues numbers, and the two bonus tracks are by no means throwaways.
Muddy recorded James Oden's "I Won't Go On" (which is suspiciously reminicent of "I Feel So Good") way back in the 50s, and here it is again, rough and tough and sung in a deep, manly baritone by Waters. And the slow grind of "Clouds In My Heart" is one of the finest songs on the album, featuring a sublime soulful lead vocal, masterful drumming, and some tremendous lead guitar playing courtesy of "Steady Rollin'" Bob Margolin.
Johnny Winter plays excellent slide guitar on several songs (although that is Muddy himself wielding the bottleneck on "Sad Sad Day"), and there is not a glimmer of rock commercialism in is playing, it is pure blues. His abilities as a producer are equally fine, and while "King Bee" doesn't usually get the attention of "Hard Again" or Muddy's classic Chess sides, it should be considered a must-own for any semi-serious Muddy Waters-fan, especially this expanded edition.
4½ stars. Highly recommended.

I'm Ready
I'm Ready
5 used & new from CDN$ 3.18

5.0 out of 5 stars ****½ - great reissue of a tremendous album, July 12 2004
This review is from: I'm Ready (Audio CD)
The second of Muddy Waters' Blue Sky-albums, "I'm Ready" was originally issued in 1978, one year after Muddy had found renewed commercial and critical success with "Hard Again".
Johnny Winter produced and played on both albums, and if "I'm Ready" is slightly lesser than its magnificent predecessor, it is still a tremendous album. Remastered but (thankfully) not remixed, it finds Muddy Waters reinvigorated and in the company of Chicago blues greats Jimmy Rogers and Big Walter Horton, playing a supremely confident set of gritty, muscular electric blues. And the core of the Muddy Waters band is in place as well, of course, Willie "Big Eyes" Smith on drums and the great Joe "Pinetop" Perkins rolling the ivories.
Muddy's regular second guitarist Bob Margolin plays bass on this album, and he has contributed a wonderful, intimate six-page essay about the "I'm Ready" sessions. Margolin was instrumetal in bringing guitarist Jimmy Rogers, a member of the very first Muddy Waters band in the late 40s, on board, and at his suggestion the great Walter Horton was hired to play the harmonica. Horton's exceptional playing is constantly smouldering beneath the gritty guitar parts of Waters, Rogers, and Johnny Winter.
The numerous highlights include the hard-hitting title track, the slow grind of "33 Years", the swaggering power of "Rock Me", and of course an excellent re-recording of the classic "Hoochie Coochie Man". And this 2004 reissue adds three bonus tracks: Jimmy Rogers' "That's Alright" sung in part by himself, a magnificent, driving rendition of Bob Margolin's "Lonely Man Blues", and a stinging version of "No Escape From the Blues", a song which would appear in a significantly different version on 1981's "King Bee".
There are no weak songs here, actually, and "I'm Ready" is definitely a must-have addition to any Muddy-fan's collection. If you already own the original CD issue you might not want to shell out again in order to get three bonus tracks and some better liner notes, but if you don't, you should get it right away.
And if you do, well...these are very good bonus tracks!

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