Friday, December 31, 2010

Best of 2010 - Top Discs You Might Have Missed

Since we're at the end of 2010, you can expect to see many different Top 10 lists for the year's best blues releases.  My own list will be forthcoming in the January issue of Blues Bytes.  Here at FBF, I decided to post my Top Sleeper releases.......these are a few discs that I heard this year that really grabbed me, but may have slipped between the cracks for many listeners.  Here we go......

Solomon King - Under The Sun (Blue Skunk Music) - The L.A.-based King mixes blues with R&B and funk....some well-chosen covers combined with imaginative original songs.....backing musicians include Ray Parker, Jr. on guitar......a couple of songs here have been featured on the HBO series True Blood.....very good guitar and vocals.....definitely worth a listen.  Here's the title track from the disc, the very first live performance of the tune.

Phil Gates - Addicted To The Blues (Setag Music) - Gates counts as his influences guitarists like Albert King, Buddy Guy, Carlos Santana, and Jimi Hendrix.  He's been doing session work for years and releasing his own discs periodically.  This disc features a variety of styles....highlights include "Sexy Little Cool," with Gates showcasing his slide guitar playing, the country flavored "Evening Train," and the title cut, which looks at its subject in a unique manner. Here's Gates and his band recorded on Memorial Day at the Santa Clarita Blues Festival, performing the Junior Wells standard, "Messin' With The Kid."

The Vincent Hayes Project - Reclamation (North 61 Records) - I really liked this one.....some diverse guitar work on here and some outstanding songs, like "Thank You," the ultimate kiss-off song, and "Hit Me High, Hit Me Low," plus the wonderful T-Bone Walker-influenced "I've Got A Right To Change My Mind," one of two great slow blues tracks.....a powerful and confident release.  "Insecurities" is another cool track from the disc....check out a sample below.

Cee Cee James - Seriously Raw (FWG Records) - Ms. James actually had two releases this year, but this live set (recorded at the 2009 Sunbanks R&B Festival) is just a cut above her Blue Skunk release, Low Down Where The Snakes Crawl.  The live disc is loaded with crowd-pleasing covers and several originals as well.  Ms. James is often compared with Janis Joplin, but after one listen, you will see that she is very much her own woman and one that we will be hearing from often in the future.

Rick Holmstrom, Juke Logan, and Stephen Hodges - Twist-O-Lettz (Mocombo Records) - A stellar throwback disc that reminds you of the classic rock and blues of the 50's and 60's.....but despite the echoes of the past, it's a throughly modern production that will definitely get your toe of Chess and Excello recordings will want to get their hands on this one.

Son Jack, Jr. and Michael Wilde - Walk The Talk (self-released) - Focuses more on electric blues than his previous releases, but Son Jack Jr is still all about the Delta blues.  Wilde's harmonica is a perfect complement to Jack's guitar and vocals.  As I stated in the Blues Bytes review last month, even though it was recorded in Washington State, it's as authentic as anything you hear coming out of the Mississippi Delta. 

Chris Antonik (self-released) - a surprising debut release from the young Canadian guitarist/songwriter....some very  nice originals ("The King of Infidelity," "More To Give," "If We Start From Here," "Almost Free," "Persevering Kind") mixed with familiar covers ("Double Trouble," "She's A Burglar")'ll be hearing more from this guy, too.  I couldn't find any video online, so check out this track from his new disc, "The King of Infidelity."

Barbara Blue - Royal Blue (Big Blue Productions) - If you haven't experienced Ms. Blue, this is a great place to start.  She currently holds court at Silky O'Sullivan's in Memphis and is a Bluff City favorite.  On this disc, she takes on many of Memphis' finest blues and soul tunes.  The late Willie Mitchell was originally slated to produce this effort, but his declining health forced him to bow out and his son, Lawrence "Boo" Mitchell, stepped in admirably, along with a stellar band.  Not that BB needs much help, mind you.  If Memphis Soul is your bag, you'll want to check this one out.

2010 was an outstanding year for blues releases.  There were a lot of excellent and diverse recordings this year that I really enjoyed listening to.  It will be very hard to settle on a Top Ten list this year.

One more thing.......

If you're looking for something to do after recovering from your New Year's Eve festivities, why don't you take a little trip down south to Lafayette, LA on January 2nd, to hear some Louisiana Blues, R&B, and Zydeco.  Just check out that line-up on the poster below.  Lots of familiar names on that roster, so this one looks like a whole lot of fun!

Here's one of the names on the marquee that FBF'ers will be familiar with, Mr. Larry Garner, with one of my favorite tunes, "The Road of Life."


Sunnyside said...

Outstanding post. Opens doors, opens ears. Thank you!

Graham said...

Thanks, Sunnyside. I enjoy your blog, too.