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Blues - Released August 28, 2020 | Provogue Records

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The life of a traveling blues musician isn't easy. The vocation is rife with loneliness, bad food, cheap hotels, and lack of sleep. Walter Trout is a survivor of that life (just barely). During the late 1960s and '70s, he worked the road with Big Mama Thorton, Joe Tex, and John Lee Hooker. In the 1980s, it was Canned Heat and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. He's led his own bands since 1990 and experienced cycles of triumph, tragedy, alcohol and narcotic addiction, and recovery from a near-fatal liver transplant that required two surgeries. Trout's dues are paid and then some. Ordinary Madness was produced by longtime collaborator Eric Corne and cut in analog at guitarist Robby Krieger's studio. Its many surprises reveal it to be unlike any other record in his large catalog. Its 11 songs detail with brutal honesty incidents of childhood and adult trauma, struggles with mental, emotional, and physical health issues, personal shortcomings, and more, all without grousing. The title track is introduced with ambient electronics before emerging a slow, intense guitar blues, appended by organ, electric piano, and rhythm section. Trout's harrowing lyrics portray a mind observing itself in an act of self-destruction, frustrated by its lack of control: "It feels like a stalker, that's always around/It's an interior talker, that's trying to take you down." His slow, screaming solo ratchets the intensity. "Wanna Dance" is a scorching hard rocker examining life on the edge, soothed by music and the motion it dictates. "Heartland" is a love song that weds electric and acoustic guitars to an intricate roots rock melody. The uncharacteristically tender "My Foolish Pride" unflinchingly reflects on Trout's failures with hard-earned wisdom and equanimity -- as well as the influence the '70s singer/songwriter era: "Ain't it hard/when you've got no one but yourself to blame." "The Sun Is Going Down" is singular in Trout's recording career. It's a slow, droning, desert-tinged blues, drenched in Hendrix-ian psychedelia. Trout borrows from the Delta blues in the opening line, "Stones in my passway...," before addressing the inevitable encounter with mortality in his own words, "And time has no mercy, it just don't seem to care," then cuts loose with the first of two blistering solos in overdrive. In "Make It Right," he employs funky Chicago blues and soulful vocals in trying to make amends with his beloved before the clock runs out. There is real anger and frustration in his solo, while the band pushes hard for more. Set closer "OK Boomer" is a perfect manifesto for Trout as a guitar slinger nearing 70. He turns the generational insult on its head with raucous, loud, dirty hard rock blues that's indebted to records by early Deep Purple and Led Zeppelin. On Ordinary Madness, Trout takes unprecedented chances with his legacy. His musical and lyrical depth reveal an overflowing abundance of restless creativity. This album is perfect for American audiences to finally embrace Trout as a blues icon; Europeans did that decades ago. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Blues - Released November 27, 2020 | Provogue Records

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Blues - Released February 21, 2020 | Provogue Records

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Louisiana guitar slinger Sonny Landreth returns to the studio with his quartet two years after 2017's Grammy-nominated Recorded Live in Lafayette. Blacktop Run is more than just a new studio outing, however. Landreth reunites with producer R.S. Field for the first time since 2005's Grant Street. Field produced Landreth's three breakout sets for Zoo as well as several later albums. He is a studio empath and extends artists full faith and credit. Landreth possesses a distinct sound to be sure, direct, resonant, and simple, but he's restless when it comes to experimenting with styles. He juxtaposes, combines, and balances them with alarming regularity and reckless abandon. But he always anchors them into easily relatable grooves. He and the band recorded live to tape at Dockside Studios. Landreth's band includes keyboardist Steve Conn, drummer Brian Brignac, and bassist David Ranson. The guitarist wrote eight of these ten tunes; Conn penned the other two, which include the stellar instrumental "Beyond Borders," a jam that melds hard Southern swamp rock, electric slide blues, and Latin cumbia. The opening title track begins with fingerpicked National Steel guitar, a droning bassline, washboard, and bumping tom-toms. Landreth's singing voice at almost 70 years of age is better than ever: he glides through the lyrics, allowing his guitar to help carry them with his deft plectrum and slide-guitar picking, often in the same line. The tune is a rambling blues, infused with the energy of a pickup rolling down the open highway. "Lover Dance with Me" is a dirty Cajun blues instrumental with funky overtones. Landreth's scorching leads crisscross jazz, R&B, and garage rock on his way to blues while Ranson's bass growls with distorted passion in the backdrop propelling him forward. "Mule" is a Cajun stomper complete with button accordion; zydeco and Delta blues melt together on a honky tonk dancefloor. "Groovy Goddess" is a spiky instrumental showcasing Landreth's electric slide-playing swing. It has a hooky chorus line inserted to break up the pyrotechnics, but only holds them in check momentarily "Somebody Gotta Make a Move" is a cautionary tale with a reggae-cum-R&B backbeat injected into swamp blues. "Don’t Ask Me" brings the acoustic National Steel back to the fore in front of a shuffling drumkit and singing accordion. While "Many Worlds" commences as a slow-ish Americana tune, Landreth's nasty electric slide delves deep into shades of Southern blue. "Something Grand" is a country song written by Landreth. Accompanied by martial snares and a shimmering, soulful Hammond B-3, Landreth's fingerpicked acoustic frames a vulnerable lyric that amounts to narrative poetry. It argues the place for love: one that heals tragedy, ruin, and broken promises. It sends Blacktop Run out on notes of tenderness and mercy born of grit. Landreth and Field bring out the best in one another. They are symbiotic in their restless energies and experimental visions, and have consistently delivered excellence together; Blacktop Run is no exception. © Thom Jurek /TiVo
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Blues - Released January 31, 2020 | Provogue Records

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In 2009, just over a year before his untimely death, the late, great Irish bluesman played an intimate set at London's Islington Academy which has since gone down in legend among his fans. Recorded for posterity, it appeared in January 2020. Featuring Moore at the top of his game, it includes some of his best-loved tunes including "Since I Met You Baby," "I Love You More Than You'll Ever Know," "Walking by Myself," and the classic "Parisienne Walkways." © John D. Buchanan /TiVo
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Blues - Released February 14, 2020 | Provogue Records

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Blues - Released August 23, 2019 | Provogue Records

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After emerging from the sacred pedal steel tradition in the African-American Pentecostal church, Robert Randolph has expanded the sonic possibilities of his instrument. Under Randolph's fingers, the pedal steel roars as the star of his fiery live shows, exploding the common perception that its best use was adding atmosphere behind country music weepers. After eight albums Randolph has settled into a forceful soul-gospel-blues-groove which he continues to enrich and explore with each new record. In this collaboration, recorded by skilled Nashville producer Dave Cobb (who also played guitar and co-wrote five of the album's tunes), Randolph mixes things up with a cover of the Pops Staples' "Simple Man," and on the funky, Meters-like "Second Hand Man." "Cut Em Loose" is a powerful hard rock number led by the kind of buzzsaw tone that won the jam band audience over to his cause years ago. The musical intensity increases on "Living Off the Love You Give," with Randolph letting loose on fierce, razor-like lead lines. Brighter Days closes with "Strange Train," another driving, jumpy, R&B-drenched dance tune where Randolph shows again why he is the pedal steel guitar's leading virtuoso. © Robert Baird / Qobuz
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Blues - Released June 28, 2019 | Provogue Records

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This might seem obvious, but jam bands tend to make pretty good live albums. So when Gov’t Mule decided they’d celebrate their 25 years of existence by releasing Bring On The Music: Live at The Capitol Theatre, a 4 disc set with over 5 hours of music, we rejoiced. The performances were recorded in 2018, and they are loyal to Haynes’ multi-genre brand of music. Drawing from the best of over 300 songs, Danny Louis (keys, backing vocals), Andy Hess (bass) and Matt Abts (drums) are top-notch improvisers. But this is never at the cost of energetic performances. That’s where many jam bands fall short: they sacrifice dynamics and coherence for 10-minute pentatonic solos. Gov’t Mule isn’t one of those bands! The rhythm section is tight – synergy is the priority behind every musical choice. On Trane/Eternity’s Breath/ St Stephen, the communication between Hess and Abts is just phenomenal. They transition with ease between prog and jazz, jazz and blues. Revolution Come, Revolution Go also shows how much the quartet can groove. Their improv is always built on the steady foundations of Haynes’ writing. From that starting point, they are given free reign to play on which ever style they please. Bring On The Music: Live at The Capitol is the crowning jewel to a long and successful career. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Blues - Released February 8, 2019 | Provogue Records

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Blues - Released June 28, 2019 | Provogue Records

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This might seem obvious, but jam bands tend to make pretty good live albums. So when Gov’t Mule decided they’d celebrate their 25 years of existence by releasing Bring On The Music: Live at The Capitol Theatre, a 4 disc set with over 5 hours of music, we rejoiced. The performances were recorded in 2018, and they are loyal to Haynes’ multi-genre brand of music. Drawing from the best of over 300 songs, Danny Louis (keys, backing vocals), Andy Hess (bass) and Matt Abts (drums) are top-notch improvisers. But this is never at the cost of energetic performances. That’s where many jam bands fall short: they sacrifice dynamics and coherence for 10-minute pentatonic solos. Gov’t Mule isn’t one of those bands! The rhythm section is tight – synergy is the priority behind every musical choice. On Trane/Eternity’s Breath/ St Stephen, the communication between Hess and Abts is just phenomenal. They transition with ease between prog and jazz, jazz and blues. Revolution Come, Revolution Go also shows how much the quartet can groove. Their improv is always built on the steady foundations of Haynes’ writing. From that starting point, they are given free reign to play on which ever style they please. Bring On The Music: Live at The Capitol is the crowning jewel to a long and successful career. © Alexis Renaudat/Qobuz
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Blues - Released April 20, 2012 | Provogue Records

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Blues - Released April 26, 2019 | Provogue Records

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From his origins as Wes Montgomery’s worthy heir to the funky Give Me the Night, his cover of On Broadway, his partnering with Al Jarreau, his participation on the Gorillaz’s The Now Now and his tributes to Nat King Cole, George Benson has always shown that he handles large tasks with ease. But above all, he remains one of the best jazz guitarists of his generation, whatever the style. At 76 years old, the funky virtuoso from Pittsburgh pays homage to the Mecca of music, New Orleans, and two pioneers of rock’n’roll that were lost to the world in 2017, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. The record features ten covers by the two geniuses that George Benson performs with a sense of refinement. His bluesy style and ferocious skill are even held back slightly. In its place the guitarist offers a tribute of class, temperance and subtlety. ©Max Dembo/Qobuz
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Blues - Released July 12, 2019 | Provogue Records

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Blues - Released June 7, 2013 | Provogue Records

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Blues - Released April 30, 2021 | Provogue Records

How Blue Can You Get collects a selection of unreleased material from the late Gary Moore's archives. Included are takes of Freddie King's "I'm Tore Down," Elmore James' "Done Somebody Wrong," and Memphis Slim's "Steppin' Out," alongside some of Moore's own material. © Rich Wilson /TiVo
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Soul - Released April 23, 2021 | Provogue Records

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One of the most gifted of all '60s sidemen, Steve Cropper (Stax house band Booker T. & the M.G.'s guitarist and Otis Redding's co-writer on "(Sittin' On) The Dock of the Bay"), has a rocky history when it comes to solo records. Several attempts in the '80s on which he tried his hand at vocals were eminently forgettable though he scored a notable success with 2011's Dedicated, the all-star tribute to The 5 Royales that featured a raft of vocal stylists from Sharon Jones to Steve Winwood. Perhaps trying to dispel some of the ghosts from those previous misfires, the guitarist, now nearing 80, is calling Fire it Up "the first Steve Cropper album since 1969." Along with longtime friend and multi-instrumentalist Jon Tiven and bombastic vocalist Roger C. Reale, once of long lost '70s punk pop band Rue Morgue, Cropper has fashioned ten tracks from what he calls "old grooves" he's had in his head for years, many of which faintly recall his Stax glory days. A long list of guest drummers headed by Anton Fig and Simon Kirke add their stick skills but what's curiously lacking here are more trademark solos from Cropper himself. While everything he plays is worth hearing, he's never featured on any tracks outside the opening and closing instrumentals "Bush Hog, Pt. 1" and "Pt. 2" which for some reason are then combined into a final track titled just "Bush Hog." If there's a Stax-flavored gem here it's "One Good Turn," a midtempo number with Cropper's friend Felix Cavaliere of the Rascals on organ and Cropper's most realized solo in his signature single note style. Unlike the vocal wonders to be found on Dedicated, Fire It Up will ultimately be judged on Reale's shouted vocals which have more volume than warmth or nuance. Also, in an odd twist, the horns heard on many tracks—always a Stax trademark—are not credited and seem to all be keyboard effects rather than actual players. A mixed bag from an old pro. © Robert Baird/Qobuz
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Blues - Released July 5, 2013 | Provogue Records

Omar Dykes, of Omar & the Howlers, pays tribute to blues icon Howlin' Wolf on Runnin' with the Wolf. All of the tracks on this disc were written by either Wolf or Willie Dixon except for the Omar original "Runnin' with the Wolf." Dykes stays close to the original versions of these songs, which most listeners have heard in some form or other: "The Red Rooster," "Back Door Man," "Smokestack Lightning," "Wang Dang Doodle," and "Killin' Floor." That doesn't mean these are straight covers. The passion in the performances is undeniable, but so is the fun these musicians are obviously having. Dykes has the perfect voice for this project and is complemented by Derek O'Brien on guitar, Ronnie James on bass, Ted Roddy on harp, and Wes Starr on drums along with Mark Kazanoff and Les Izmore on saxophones, Nick Connolly on organ, and Mike Buck on percussion. © Al Campbell /TiVo
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Blues - Released March 15, 2019 | Provogue Records

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Blues - Released July 20, 2018 | Provogue Records

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The Apocalypse Blues Revue is coming back strong with this second album released by Provogue, The Shape Of Blues To Come. A rather dangerous music! Did the Florida-based American band sell their soul to the devil in exchange for such mastery of electric blues? The question can be raised. Made up of Shannon Larkin (drums), Brian Carpenter (bass), Ray Cerbone (vocals) and Tony Rombola (guitar), the quartet respects the essence of blues while still imposing their own style. Right from the first track, Open Spaces, the suspense is at its peak. A gong, followed by whispers, then a deep, wearisome singing, almost voodoo-esque. In 2016, the band had already taken this path down to the purgatory with their first eponymous album. Two years later, they venture towards hell itself, for a diabolical concert. Between metal and roots music, the Apocalypse Blues Revue is capable of composing around blues as well as moving away from it. With them, boredom is forbidden. Incendiary riffs, an energetic voice swinging on the chorus of Have You Heard?! and carried by Larkin’s rhythmic force… There’s nothing to envy to heaven! There is a Morrison vibe to To Hell With You, but in this case Jim would be dressed in a rather Goth style to announce the apocalypse and the quartet’s takeover. © Anna Coluthe/Qobuz
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Rock - Released August 26, 2011 | Provogue Records

Boogie/blues-rock slide guitarist Sardinas has a lot going for him: a snarling attack that can be acoustic or amplified to 11, and a killer live show that leaves him, along with his tight two-piece backing unit and most of the audience, drenched in sweat. Unfortunately, his debit column includes a hoarse voice with minimal range, a predilection to shout instead of sing, and a narrow, melodic songwriting style he seems content to milk every drop out of. While his previous release tamped down some of these limitations with a larger palate and somewhat more intricate arrangements, he's returned to a stripped-down sound for this one. Fans won't mind, since he's slinging out typically fiery licks amid all the bluster, but with by-the-numbers, occasionally misogynistic boogie rockers about tired, even clichéd concepts such as "Full Tilt Mama," "Road to Ruin," and "Burning Sugar," this is not going to expand his relatively narrow reach. What's particularly frustrating is that Sardinas has studied and understands the great slide guitar playing country/Delta bluesmen, and should be capable of more variation and imagination in his own music. Instead, he aims for lowest common denominator: hell-raising boogie which, even when energized by female backing vocals or guest organ, doesn't color outside its own limited lines. A solo acoustic, unaccompanied "Ratchet Blues" heads in the right direction, but at under two minutes, it's little more than a diversion from the full-throttle attack that follows on "Behind the 8," the album's only instrumental. That track is filled with hot riffs but, like the majority of Sardinas' work, lacks the subtleties that separate great bluesmen from the also-rans. With his resonator guitar and undeniable six-string prowess, he's a talented and distinctive enough player to be able to elevate his music above the amped up, dumbed down performances on Sticks & Stones. © Hal Horowitz /TiVo
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Blues - Released October 7, 2011 | Provogue Records

Maybe you didn’t think blues-rocker Popa Chubby was the type to offer poignant social commentary, but title track “Back to New York City” -- and arguably, most of this album -- is a rocking response to a full decade passing since the 9/11 attacks. Think of this as a semi-sequel to the 9/11 commentary “Somebody Let the Devil Out” from his 2002 album The Good, the Bad and the Chubby and this passionate yet scattered set of tunes begins to make sense as it takes George W. Bush’s 2001 comment that America should “enjoy life, the way we want it to be enjoyed” in an entirely more anti-establishment direction. After all, Chubby’s decision to join Bush’s optimist club comes after ten years of anger (Peace, Love and Respect, 2004) and rage (The Fight Is On, 2010) and it’s delivered with a Leonard Cohen cover (the apocalyptic “The Future”) and a straight rock (as in almost AC/DC) call to arms called “It’s About You.” These grand, well-written social statements seemed to dominate the other material before, but switching to more carnal pleasures (“She Made Me Beg for It”) and clever guitar virtuoso material (“Jesus Joy of Man’s Desire”) is a much easier transition now as Chubby attacks all with equal desire. No matter what the topic, he sounds like a gigantic guitar machine coming down the mountain, or Stevie Ray Vaughan morphing into the Hulk, making Back to New York City a well-rounded effort with absolutely no sense of selling out. © David Jeffries /TiVo