SATISFYIN’ Lady A (independent) ***+
This is Lady A’s 9th CD. A diva, songwriter, entertainer, storyteller, artist, activist and radio DJ, she is the Queen of groove. Lady A calls Seattle home and Satisfyin’ is funk, soul and gospel fuelled blues that will leave an impression on all who hear it.
Thought not a concept album, Satisfyin’ does tell a story. The opening cut, Whatever You Do, is a plea to seize the moment, Miss Beula Mae’s is about remembering the past without regret, and Big Momma gives the listener the courage to love yourself without permission from anyone else. The record ends on a hopeful note with the faith-based Heaven Help Us All, though heathens like myself can appreciate it on a musical level too. Check out Blues On My Mind with a repetitive chorus that is quite hypnotic.
Lady A’s sultry voice pulls you into each song and the feel can be downright sexy. John Oliver III plays all the instruments though there are some exceptions as special guests are listed in the liner notes. Not sure if that’s programmed drums I’m hearing on Satisfin’ though the sound quality of the snare drum suggests it, but there’s a looseness to the songs that’s quite easy to get into. She created these 10 songs to remind us to hope, to stand with and for those who can’t stand for themselves, and to remember the good times while focusing on a brighter future for everyone. The last couple of years, in many ways for us all, has been a straight up shit show, and indications are we’re not out of the woods just yet. While the politicians bumble around trying to figure out what to do, a little bit of hope like this album offers is pretty sweet tasting.
Satisfyin’ was produced, recorded and mixed by Master Ian’s Music in Seattle, produced by John Oliver III with Lady A herself listed as ‘executive producer’. A collection of buoyant melodies anchored by that wonderful voice, she’s done a solid job of capturing the Seattle blues/ soul sound she’s known for on stage, satisfyin’ to the listener and to the soul. If you’re open to messages of hope and strength, Satisfyin’ will end up being a very good friend indeed. www.ladyababyblues.com
HOT TRACKS: Whatever You Do, Blues On My Mind, Heaven Help Us All
REVOLT Dymytry (AFM Records) ****
Well this is a first for me; Czech metal. After over a thousand concerts in their home country, Dymytry are poised to take on the world. Revolt is their sixth album, and it’s their first to also be released in an English language version. It straddles the line between traditional and industrial metal; move over Rammstein, there’s a new kid on the block.
“Four years ago we came up with the idea of expanding our musical operating radius beyond the Czech Republic” says bassist Artur “R2R” Mikhaylov. “We wanted to get out of our comfort zone. After translating a few of our tracks into English, we started to look at the option of playing some shows abroad. In September of 2018 they toured with German act Hamatom, their first shows outside their home country. “The tour proved to us that our music works for an international audience, and in English” Arutr notes.
Protheus, Dymytry’s front man, found the challenge of preparing the English version of the album too much to fit into his already busy life, so he came up with a unique solution; find another singer for the English market. He knew how important it was for the rest of the band to try their luck on the European scene and didn’t want to hold them back. The answer was Alen Lubjic, recommended by the band’s German producer Kristian Kohle. A good move as it turns out- Lubjic is strong rock singer with lots of range.
Revolt is a forceful album with a bit of a military feel to it and vocal textures that flirt with a death metal vibe though it never stays there for long- the best way to describe it is ‘intense’. As for translating the original Czech lyrics into English it’s not always a straight path, but I didn’t notice any of the awkwardness you find on early Scorpions or Accept albums. When the touring circuit finally opens up again it would be great to see Dymytry at some of the major rock festivals, possibly even hit the road with the current lineup of Accept.
“We feel that our first English album is a very strong record, we put everything into it” Mikhaylov says. “Our plan is to play as many shows in Europe as possible, perhaps some festivals or tours in the US” Revolt is merciless, driving metal worth checking out. www.dymytry.cz
HOT TRACKS: Touchdown, 300, Awaking The Monster
BLUES FOR THE SOUTHSIDE Mike Zito (Gulf Coast Records) *****+
The latest record from Gulf Coast founder Mike Zito is a face melting display of awesome blues guitar prowess. Blues For The Southside, recorded in his old home town
of St. Louis, bristles with energy as Mike and his band deliver one jaw dropping performance after another. This double disc set includes tunes from Zito’s earlier records as well as songs from Jimi Hendrix, Tampa Red and Stevie Ray Vaughan, and a rip snortin’ good time is very clearly had by all, a total guitargasm.
I’ve been a fan of Mike Zito’s muscular string- bending skills for a few years now, Blues For The Southside is the 9th album of his to join my collection, and it’s a special one for him too. “I have wanted to do a live blues album playing some songs from my catalog with my current band for awhile now” Mike says. “I wanted to go back to my old neighborhood in South St. Louis to make the recording, that’s where it all began for me, where I fell in love with music.” Zito has called Nederland, Texas home for years and you can hear that kind of grit in his playing. Comparisons to Stevie Ray are inevitable and not unwarranted either- check out how he manhandles Texas Flood.
Aside from Mike on guitar and vocals the band includes Matthew Johnson on vocals and drums, Lewis Stephens on keys and Doug Byrkit on bass and vocals. Special guests include label mate guitarists Tony Campanella and Dave Kalz, plus guitar wizard Eric Gales. Gales happened to be in town for a rehearsal, showed up for Zito’s gig, and was promptly pulled on stage. “I got him onstage to do an impromptu version of the original Voodoo Chile, which turned out to be 12 minutes of pure guitar bliss” Mike says. It’s a highlight, but there are 16 other songs too, capable of setting the room on fire.
Blues For The Southside is most assuredly a blues record, but I’d call this blues played with rock attitude. Production is excellent with a beefy and articulate mix where you can hear everything that’s going on. Many years ago Eric Clapton called Buddy Guy “the last real he-man of the blues guitar” and perhaps he was right at the time, but I’d say Mike Zito carries that torch now. He’s a genuinely exciting player, his band is a perfect fit, and the special guests make a great thing even better. This is one of the best live blues albums I’ve heard in a long time, maybe ever, www.mikezito.com
HOT TRACKS: Voodoo Chile, Make Blues Not War, The Road Never Ends
LAND OF GYPSIES Land of Gypsies (Frontiers) *****
Once upon a time, Los Angeles was the centre of the rock & roll universe. Oh sure there were fluffy hair bands, but there was some serious playing going on too. If the self titled debut of Land of Gypsies is any indication, those days may happen again. Full of catchy riffs, great playing and loaded with attitude, I flat out love this album.
Formerly known as Gang Of Souls, Land Of Gypsies is a new LA-based band that features singer Terry Ilous (ex-Great White), producer/ bassist Fabrizio Grossi (Glenn Hughes, Eric Gales), Serge Simic on guitar (The Slam, Supersonic Blues Machine) and drummer Tony Morra. With the 2020 pandemic shutdown, the band had time to develop and work on their sound which leans towards classic hard rock with catchy melodies and a sort of bluesy vibe; oddly enough just the sort of thing I look for in a rock band. It’s kind of like Ratt meets Foreigner.
Fabrizio and Tony are a solid rhythm section; nothing too fancy-shmancy yet more than 4-on-the-floor and quarter or eighth notes, giving these tunes a lively pulse. Serge Simic I’ve not heard of before but his guitar playing on Land of The Gypsies is quite enjoyable, particularly when he breaks out a solo. Terry is a good rock singer too, though his work with Great white is not familiar to me. He reminds me quite a bit of the late Ray Gillen (Black Sabbath, Badlands) with a startling and expressive range. Together all these elements make for what bassist Grossi calls “the type of straight ahead rock music that really makes us move.” In summing up the album he says “there aren’t any frills or sweetness, but lots of balls-out groove, loud guitars and soulful melodies.”
Music can be a cruel business and it often takes a band 2 or 3 records to find their feet, a luxury not many are afforded right out of the gate. Thanks to a year of writing and wood shedding Land of Gypsies have hit the ground running and delivered one hell of a debut album. Had this been released in the 80’s it likely would’ve been filed under ‘AOR” or Album Oriented Rock, and the fact that there’s a sort of 80’s feel really works in their favor. Well produced, catchy guitar-driven rock & roll will always be in style at my house, and I’ve been enjoying Land Of Gypsies at top volume all afternoon. http://www.frontiers.it/album/5740
HOT TRACKS: Believe, Give Me Love, Rambling Man
TELL ME ‘BOUT IT Louisiana Red & Bob Corritore (VizzTone) *****
This is the latest installment in Bob Corritore’s ongoing “From The Vault” series, culled from his personal archives of outstanding blues recordings. Tell Me ‘Bout It is basic, raw, feral blues… blues that, to many, is the way it was meant to be.
The close friendship and musical chemistry between harp maestro Corritore and guitarist/ singer Louisiana Red is on full display here. At one time Red and Bob lived and worked
together in Chicago and Phoenix, and continued to perform and record together even after Red moved to Europe. The 11 tracks on Tell Me ‘Bout It were pulled from 7 different recording sessions between 2000 and 2009; Red passed away in early 2012. The disc is all original songs, just about as elemental as blues can get except for Red’s electric guitar and full band tracks like Alabama Train. Red’s guitar playing is hard-hitting and Corritore’s harp accompaniment has the power of another singer pitching in as he bends notes and warbles around the vocal lines. When you think about basic blues, this is the sound that comes to mind; simple, direct, very little pissing around.; manly, pure, unadulterated blues power. Caught Your Man And Gone even has a quick albeit subtle shout-out to Howlin’ Wolf. If you know Wolf’s stuff, you’ll notice it too.
As these performances were pulled from 7 different sessions, different bands were involved in Tell Me ‘Bout It. Those musicians include Chico Chism, David Maxwell, Bob Margolin, Little Victor’s Juke Joint, Buddy Reed, Johnny Rapp, Chris James, Patrick Rynn and Brian Fahey. Rather than try to push the blues into the future with inventive, modern techniques these guys honor they music that inspired them by playing it straight known the line. Nothing fancy or shmancy, just straight up slap-you-in-the-face-and-take-your-woman blues. Don’t get me wrong I dig the fancy stuff too, but sometimes you just gotta go back down to the source to feed your soul… Tell Me ‘Bout It is one of the records that can do that for you. www.bobcirritore.com
HOT TRACKS: Alabama Train, New Jersey Blues, Tell Me ‘Bout It
BOOZE, BLUES AND SOUTHERN GROOVES Reddog and Friends (Survival South Records) ****
The title of this album tells you all you need to know. Booze, Blues and Southern Grooves has a bluesy soul with a southern heart. Not the hard blues like Louisiana Red & Bob Corritore, this is more groove-centric and sexy, like a summer night in Georgia.
Reddog called Atlanta home in the 80’s and 90’s but has called Pensacola Florida home for many years now. “My music style is soulful southern blues” he says. “I want the listener to hear it but also feel it!” It must be something in Atlanta’s drinking water, I’m
feeling a similar thing here that make me fall in love with Atlanta Rhythm Section’s records in the mid 70’s. To get the vibe he was after, Reddog hit Duck Tape Studios in Decatur, Georgia to work with late producer Johnny Sandlin, recording 3 of these 11 tracks there (Simple Song, Searching For Some Soul, Honest Man), on which the rest of the disc is based.
All the other tracks were recorded at East Avalon recorders in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, and the band includes legendary Muscle Shoals sidemen Clayton Ivey on keys and bassist David Hood, with Carla Russell, Mary Mason and Angela Hacker adding some essential background vocals. Of those sessions Reddog notes that “One thing unique to Muscle Shoals, they want the music being recorded to sound great. Everyone involved is working as a team to make your songs shine. They have a way of making you feel like your recording is the only thing going no in town. It’s inspiring!” It’s that sort of magic that many legendary artists have tapped into; Aretha, Bob Seger and The Stones just to name a few.
Though the blues are clearly present in these tracks, the emphasis here is in the Southern Grooves of the title. Reddog has a suitably smoky singing voice and his guitar playing, while not overly technical, is quite lyrical with his solos well suited to each number. The feel of these tracks can be largely attributed to the work of bassist David Hood. “He’s one of the best session players ever” says Reddog. “He plays the changes, creates a groove and plays melodically all at one time, without missing a beat.” Who wouldn’t want to play like that?
Booze, Blues and Southern Grooves may not have the fireworks of some of the other blues releases reviewed this week, but the music is no less compelling. This is one of those records you can throw on and just feel it as it carries you away. www.reddogandfriends.com
HOT TRACKS: Down, Down, Down, She’s A Georgia Peach, Don’t Muscle That