Music Reviews by John the Rock Doctor!

TRAVELIN’ WITH THE BLUES Harpdog Brown (independent) *****If there is truth in advertising, perhaps Harpdog Brown’s new record would be called Time Travelin’ With The Blues.  This joyous set sounds like it came straight from the early 50’s, and it’s beautiful!Holger Petersen, host of CBC Radio’s Saturday Night Blues says that “Harpdog has never sounded better.  (He) swings on Travelin’ With The Blues, supported by mature, understated players surrounded by a warm production sound.”   Many have gone for this ‘historic’ feel, but Harpdog really pulls it off.  A lot of that is surely down to producer Little Victor, from his mic placement and reverb to the performances he pulled from the guys.Specials guests here include the legendary Charlie Musselwhite, who blows harp on Moose On The Loose, as well as guitarist Kid Andersen, guys that know a thing or two about the blues.  That, combined with the production and Dog’s harp skills and effortless yet lived in vocal style, makes for a compelling listen.  If somebody asks you “what do the blues sound like?”, this is the disc you need to play for them.

ESSENTIALS:  What’s Your Real Name, Moose On The Loose, Bring It On Home

BLUE HIGHWAYS Colin James (True North) *****I knew this would be good but even so, Blue Highways caught me by surprise. As Colin James pays tribute to his blues heroes, he sets a new standard for tasty guitar playing.On this disc James covers stuff by Howlin’ Wolf, Jimmy Reed, Freddie King, Junior Wells & Buddy Guy, Peter Green, Robert Johnson and William Bell, to name a few.  I’m used to (and enjoy) Colin’s rock histrionics on past hits, but Blue Highways shows unexpected taste and restraint in his playing, reminding me at times of BB King.The album was recorded after his successful “Hearts On Fire” tour- a great record too, by the way.  The band was hot and enjoying themselves immensely- less than a week after coming off the road they set up at Vancouver’s Warehouse Studios, and in just 2 days Blue Highways was born.  The disc is laid back in a latter day Clapton sort of way, and the playing by all involved is exquisite.  Co-production by Colin and Dave Meszaros really suits the material- this disc is very nearly unbeatable. If you buy just one blues album this month, make it Blue Highways.

ESSENTIALS:  Boogie Funk, Gypsy Woman, Goin’ Down

THE DEVIL RIDES OUT Herman Frank (AFM) ***Ex-Accept guitarist Herman Frank steps out on his own, from under Wolf Hoffman’s shadow, with another (his 3rd) blistering solo album that… well, sounds a lot like Accept.Produced by Frank and engineered by Charlie Bauerfeind (Saxon, Blind Guardian) The Devil Rides Out is thick, punishing, controlled fury, a sort of Motorhead energy.  Along side Frank on guitars is Rick Altzi on vocals (a cross between Udo and current Accept singer Mark Tornillo), Michael Muller on bass and Andre Hilgers on drums. “Each of us plays an active part in our collaboration” Herman says, “and the result is a fantastic and highly constructive approach to our work.”  Perhaps taking a cue from the reconstituted Accept, Rick (the singer) was encouraged to contribute because, Herman says, “At the end of the day he’s the one who has to get them across to the audience and fill them with life.”I like the fist pumping, driving hard rock vibe of The Devil Rides Out, but it feels so similar to the last couple of Accept albums that Herman was on that it’s distracting. Still, a GREAT album to drive to… too bad it’s not out until November 18th.

ESSENTIALS:  Ballhog Zone, Shout, Stone Cold

RESURRECTION Operation: Mindcrime (Frontiers) ***This is the second installment in former Queensryche vocalist Geoff Tate’s proposed trilogy, following a year after the first installment.  If you’re into hard rock as a high concept art form, then Resurrection is speaking your language.In naming his new band after one of Queensryche’s most beloved records, Geoff  signaled his fans as to how he was going to continue forward without the old group.  The first single, Taking On The World, includes contributions from Tim “Ripper” Owens and Blayze Bailey, both on the album and in the video.  Tate is moving forward by making very Queensryche-like albums, which I’m sure bothers his former band mates- who fired him from the group in 2012.I don’t know who’s in Tate’s current band, but I’m sure digging the breadth and scope of Resurrection, purely on a sonic level.  As for the lyrical content, as with anything Geoff does getting inside of that will take some focused listening and study that I just haven’t had time for yet.  It’s safe to say, though, that if you enjoy classic Queensryche then you’ll have no trouble enjoying this one.

ESSENTIALS:  Healing My Wounds, Taking On The World, Into The Hands of The World

CHANGING EVERYTHING David L’Hirondelle (independent) ****This is a six song E.P., just under 22 minutes, recorded mostly in Golden, BC.  I was well and truly charmed by the time the first couple of songs had ended.Produced by David and engineered by Yannick Robitaille, the sound is spectacular- deep and full, yet with a nice high end that, at the right volume, bitch slaps your solar plexus.  Not sure how to label this, but “grown up alt-pop” comes to mind, extremely well played by all, and the song writing is top notch.  You gotta love a guy that, in the song Divine, writes a line like “She was talking to a mime/ she got no reply”- too cool.Changing Everything is a small time independent production with big league sound, and any of these 6 songs would sound great on the radio. Check out David’s facebook page to see how you can snag a copy of this disc too.

ESSENTIALS:  Gastown, Divine

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