Rick Galusha's Pacific St. Blues and Americana

Since inception (1989), Pacific St. Blues & Americana strives to be a discerning voice helping roots fans sift through the mountains of music released every year. We are not for everyone; we want to engage active, critical listeners that hear beyond d'jour. Interviews include: Johnny Winter, Bill Wyman (Rolling Stones), Jerry Wexler, Tommy Shannon & Chris Layton, B.B. King, Dr. John, Robin Trower, Robben Ford, Mato Nanji, Joe Bonamassa, Harry Manx, Sue Foley, Marshall Chess, Billy Lee Riley, Charlie Louvin, Kim Richey, Radney Foster, Eric Johnson, David Clayton Thomas, Al Kooper, Phil Chen (Wired, Blow By Blow), Ian McLagan, Art Neville, Southside Johnny, Miami Steve Van Zant, Nils Lofgren, Bruce Iglauer, Charlie Musselwhite, Studebaker John, Chris Duarte, Smokin' Joe Kubeck, Hamilton Loomis, Peter Karp, Roomful of Blues, James Harman, Hadden Sayers, Malford Milligan, Melvin Taylor, Otis Taylor, Dave Alvin, Coco Montoya, Jimmy Thackery, Marsha Ball, Maria Muldaur, Shelby Lynne, Magic Dick & J. Geils, Lil' Milton, BuddyGuy, Aynsley Lister, Matt Schofield, Susan Tedeschi, Derek Trucks, Guy Clark, Joe Ely, James Cotton, Robin & Jesse Davey, Hugh Coltman (Hoax), Sean Kelly (Samples), John Entwistle (The Who), Mark Olson (Jayhawks), Walter Wolfman Washington, Anthony Gomes, Bob Malone, Chubby Carrier, Buckwheat Zydeco, Murali Coryell, David Jacob Strain, DeAnna Bogart, Michael Lee Firkins, Guy Davis, Jason Ricci, John Doe, Little Feat, Matt Woods, MikeZito, Peter Buffett, Ronnie Baker Brooks, Corky Siegel, Todd Park Mohr, Watermelon Slim, Magic Slim, Corey Harris,- - - - - - ------------------------Radio archives: http://www.kiwrblues.podomatic.com/. Playlists: http://www.omahablues.com/ Reviews featured in http://www.blueswax.com/. Email: KIWRblues@gmail.com Live online; Sundays 9 a.m. (-6 GMT) http://www.897theriver.com/

Monday, June 16, 2008

Album Review, Blues Divine, That's What It Takes

Artist: Blues Divine
Title: That’s What It Takes
Writer: Rick Galusha

Kentucky born guitarist Phillip Franchini debuts his blues chops on the 2006 recording, ‘Blues Divine’ (available on CDBaby.com) Now residing in Southern California, according to the net, Franchini has also released the Flamenco/ Classical album, ‘Paleo’ under the moniker Phillipo Franchini after spending numerous years overseas. Regardless of his musical meanderings Franchini is a competent player with a polished pallet for arrangements and smooth vocal lines. His distinctive voice is warm and, wonder of wonders, he can carry a tune.

Throughout the Blues Divine album Franchini displays a wide range of musical styles while maintaining a comfortable sound that most blues fans will immediately warm to. From the up-tempo and radio friendly horn driven Little Milton style, ‘Other Men’s Crimes’ to a more traditional ‘Delta One’ Franchini seems comfortable moving about the blues spectrum with ease. Joined by Albert Lee and David Grishom, Franchini’s band includes a horn section that repeatedly graces with album with strong lines and good arrangements. Back-up vocalists C.C. White and Raquel Allegra add great depth and texture to Franchini’s able vocals.

This is a very smooth and readily digestible album of contemporary blues with strong melody lines and slick arrangements. I have to imagine that Franchini’s blues are right up the alley and in the pocket for non-Purists blues music fans that want to widen their scope to include new and skilled artists. I would speculate Blues Divine is to modern blues what the Doobie Brothers were to rock n’ roll; competent, perhaps too slick for critics but very popular, very skilled song writers that moved easily within the more commercial arenas with his easy to grasp arrangements and emoted lyrics. I would readily recommend this album to those blues fans looking for a bit more melody and a lot less twang-bar driven jamming.

Album Review: Ricky Gene Hall and the Goods

Artist: Ricky Gene Hall and The Goods
Title: (self titled)
Writer: Rick Galusha

I love a wailin’ guitar. Sure, there are times with the atonal sledgehammer droning of some players gets beyond the annoying nuisance stage; however, Ricky Gene Hall’s self titled third album is a solid guitar-driven rock blues record. Born in Kentucky Hall’s family drove the “Hillbilly Highway” to Ohio where Hall resides and tours today. A regional artist Hall’s underplayed guitar licks fully support his strong vocals and the power trio backing from bassist Tom Martin and drummer Rocky Evans. This is a strong outing that most contemporary blues fans are going to eat up. The band is adept and plays the song rather than throwing scales and solos at the listener without chance for respite.

While Hall’s chops are perfunctory and his songwriting is more melodic that most of his contemporaries, his playing is perhaps a bit too safe and lacks the gritty flare that often distinguishes art from commerce. A majority of listeners could care less about critical appeasement and this is a very strong record for them- instantly recognizable and easily digested. Hall’s ultra-smooth vocals and the band’s tasty playing is nothing less than wonderful. Hall’s guitar tone is rich and full. Ricky Gene Hall’s album includes appropriate covers such as Little Milton’s, ‘That’s What Love Will Make You Do,’ Taj Mahal’s ‘Blues Ain’t Nothin’ and the old standard, ‘It Hurts Me Too.’ The band writes five of the albums thirteen tracks with the arching ballad, ‘Rather Hear a Lie’ being the record’s radio friendly track. Other songwriters include; Isaac Hayes & David Porter (Stax), Percy Mayfield, and Louis Jordan.

Album Review: Mississippi Mudsharks, Train Rolls On

Artist: Mississippi Mudsharks
Title: Train Rolls On
Writer: Rick Galusha

This is a band that cuts from the cloth of Walter Trout and Molly Hatchet. With gruff vocals that nary’ between a bark and a growl ala’ Jim Dandy Mangrum (Black Oak Arkansas) the band crusades through an albums worth of tracks. Guitarist Scotty ‘Mad Dog’ Blinn plays licks reminiscent of Kiss’ Ace Frehley while bass player “Big” Mike Lars hammers away with flair.

With all the gusto of Motorhead behind them the Mississippi Mudsharks wail, twist and turn as the album hits high speed tempos. These guys are the absolute dumpster divers of West Coast blues kitsch…in other words they may not be a band for most listeners. However ‘The Mudsharks’ have repeatedly won the San Diego markets award for Best Blues Album of the Year including three times in the 90’s and again in 2006. With their heavy handed blues that leans towards ZZ Top on Meth ala’ Nashville Pussy, the blues is a genre that seems to welcome all comers, and this is a band that will push even the most lenient of envelopes. So to lift a line from Rod Stewart off the latest Faces boxset album, “God bless [their] socks!”