New from the Bluegrass veteran and his band. While their last two albums – 2012’s tribute to Bill Monroe (Old Memories) and 2011’s Preservation Hall Band collaboration (American Legacies) – were recorded with themes in mind, this record shows the band at their most relaxed and free-form. The album’s title is a reference to McCoury’s early days, when he got his start playing Baltimore honky-tonks in the late 1950s. These old school country influences are present on the album, which includes renditions of tunes like Bobby Bare’s ‘Streets of Baltimore,’ Brenda Lee’s ‘Too Many Rivers,’ Jerry Lew Lewis’ ‘Once More With Feeling and a take on Ray Stevens’ banjo-driven version of ‘Misty.’
New Jersey native John Ginty’s colorful keyboard stylings have graced the grooves of albums by Jewel, The Dixie Chicks, The Court Yard Hounds, Todd Wolfe, and Santana, just to scratch the surface. And, he received two Grammy nominations as an original member of Robert Randolph’s Family Band. Many of John’s musical friends have joined him on his latest CD for American Showplace Music, entitled “Bad News Travels,” which consists of ten of John’s originals that showcase his genre’-bending, unique sounds on all types of keyboards.
The cuts also show the eclectic nature of John’s talents. As we listened, there is the obvious Allman Brothers influence, but one can also hear elements of Chuck Leavell, Reese Wynans, Ray Charles, and jazz giant Jimmy Smith in John’s playing. The set opens with old friend Albert Castiglia adding guitar to “The Quirk,” a fine, bluesy jam. A sweet, acoustic piano intro gives way to a fiery organ assault in “Mirrors,” with Warren Haynes of Gov’t Mule adding the guitar that gives this jam a cool, Santana-esque vibe throughout. Brooklyn’s Alecia Chakour turns in a very soulful vocal on “Seven And The Spirit,” and, coupled with John’s spirited playing, turns the whole thing into an old-school, Southern-rock throwdown. Martie Maguire adds a jazzy fiddle to the tripped-out hoedown that is “Rock Ridge,” while John closes the set with a sanctified, soul-stirring return to his Family Band days with the rousing “Trinity,” featuring guitar from Cris Jacobs.
When Brian Burns set out to create The Eagle & the Snake, he said he had always wanted to make a completely cowboy album. In fact, that’s just what he did, using compelling storytelling mixed with the rich and vibrant history of his home state of Texas. The collection includes songs written by the likes of the great Marty Robbins and Hoyt Axton as well as songs penned by Burns himself, a prolific singer/songwriter and figure in Texas music. Burns’ unique approach even takes on a written letter-put-to-music from Lonestar history; the letter was written by Colonel William Barret Travis during the siege of the Mexican Santa Ana. As with the other cuts, Burns’ rich voice takes fiction to reality. The fiesta-Texas Spanish guitar and accordion gallop through “Gallo del Cielo,” and Burns provides the tour of Texas on his own punchy version of “I’ve Been Everywhere.” One critique of the album is that some of the material seems a bit long, some over six minutes in length. This isn’t always a negative but is risky with today’s audience. Indeed, Burns has himself a cowboy album, and a worthy one at that.
Try It Before You Buy It is one of Michael Bloomfield’s neglected albums, and there’s a reason why — although there’s some very fine playing scattered throughout the album, the performances are uneven and unfocused. Furthermore, the album leans too close to a straight rock & roll direction for blues purists. If you dig hard, there are some rewards on Try It Before You Buy It, but on the whole, it’s one that should be left on the shelf.
Sunday Morning Record is a rootsy soundtrack for those slow-moving hours that round out the weekend. After three members left the group’s lineup in 2011, The Band of Heathens regrouped and retooled their sound, adding some softer textures to their gritty Americana. The result is an album that rolls as much as rocks, with harmonies, upright piano and acoustic guitar taking a bigger role.
For his work with The Byrds Roger McGuinn will always be remembered as one of the founders of country rock. Their harmonies and particularly their use of the twelve string Rickenbacker guitar pretty much created a genre and numerous artists from Tom Petty downwards owe them a huge debt. Once they’d split though McGuinn didn’t seem to quite know what to do, and his uncertainty is reflected on this compilation of the best of his four Seventies CBS albums, after the last of which he would take a fourteen year break until “Back From Rio”.
Even the liner notes, which try to be sympathetic, acknowledge that none of this material represents McGuinn at his best. Of course there are still those trademark harmonies and jangle, and McGuinn’s voice is a thing of wonderful sweetness but when on “Cardiff Rose”, the last of the quartet, he cut Tom Petty’s “American Girl” you sense that he knew the game was up. The best things here are the big production number “Peace On You”, penned by Charlie Rich, the rocky “Lover Of The Bayou”, a late Byrds track re-recorded and the gently loping country rock “Bag Full Of Money”. Unfortunately there’s also McGuinn doing his best Dick van Dyke on “Jolly Roger” and the truly execrable white-boy reggae of “Lisa”, amongst others almost as poor. Not really even for completists.
Mickey Thomas is putting the finishing touches on the first Starship studio effort since 1989.Thomas collaborated with Foreigner bassist Jeff Pilson on the new album, to be called ‘Loveless Fascination.’ Pilson has also had lengthy stints in Dokken and with Dio.
“After so many years of thinking about a Starship album, and stopping and starting, I got together with Jeff,” Thomas tells Ultimate Classic Rock. “He’s just a great talent. A very energetic person. He had this great collection of songs, and he and I got together and our relationship just clicked. With Jeff’s help, I’ve finally been able to put together a brand-new Starship album with totally new original material. I’m really excited about it.”