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, May 16, 2011

Album Review: Etta James, 'Essential Modern Recordings'

Artist: Etta James
Title: Essential Modern Records Collection

Few would argue that Etta James is less than one of the most significant singers in the blues idiom. Her litany of hits include some of the blues best melody lines including; ‘At Last,’ ‘A Sunday Kind of Love’ and ‘Fool That I Am.’ Within the classic rock format legendary Beaumont belter Janis Joplin includes James’ hit, ‘Tell Mama’ in her repertoire. Born in 1938 in Los Angles to a 14 year old mother and a mix raced couple, Jamesetta Hawkins would begin her career when ‘race records’ or rhythm & blues was giving way to ‘rock n’ roll.’ In 1954 James, as a member of a female singing trio, would respond to the hit, ‘Work with Me Annie’ by Hank Ballard & the Midnighter’s with the track, and subsequent career launching hit, ‘Roll with Me, Henry’ (which was later re-titled, ‘The Wallflower’ in order to “tone down” an overt sexual connotation that “rock and roll” originally referred to.)

On this package, “The Essential Modern Records Collection” predates James Chess Records blues period. Instead, “Miss Peaches” is heard singing rhythm & blues; indicating a clear road map of a sound that would become rock n’ roll. Her embracement of strong melody lines would follow James throughout her career. In many ways this package is an insight that “today’s blues legends” were perhaps more interest in a viable career than the proliferation of the artform we revere today.

This is a wonderful historical package that may exist outside of the interest of most traditional blues fans; however, musicologists will derive great pleasure by hearing the sound that first brought Etta James to the attention of the music listening audience. The track, ‘Tough Lover’ includes the obligator “woooooo” made famous by then label-mate Richard Penniman a/k/a Little Richard. ‘Good Rockin’ Daddy’ is a classic track based upon a post-War jump-blues derivative sound that fellow L.A. based musicians such as Louis Jordan were recording. ‘The Pick Up’ is a track screaming out to be covered in a modern setting. Long known as an instrument that closely resembles the human voice, James interplays with the saxophone stands out as a short recording trend in the mid-50’s.

Programmers might want to use the song, ‘Market Place’ for airplay. Like Chuck Berry’s ‘Havana Moon, ‘ ‘Market Place’ experiments with a Cuban or Samba beat that evolves into a rock n’ roll song including a blistering guitar solo.

This is a fun, brilliant albeit archival album. It’s full fifteen tracks may not be for all listeners; however, this is a credible artist and offers an opportunity to better understand how some come to the blues. The album breaks-up textures, tempos and melody lines that will add to the depth of a wide-reaching radio program.

No comments: