Rock Doc Music Reviews for Nov 22

My apologies to both readers and artists waiting patiently for reviwews of their work.  I have a part time job mopping floros 5 nights a week and, with Christmas action has picked up significantlyat my day job, writing radio commercials in North Eastern Alberta.  Sorry i haven’t been very prolific but with everything going on at the moment time to lsietn to and critique music isn’t a luxury i can always afford- but I AM trying!Aloha,John “The Rock Doctor” KereiffDECONSTRUCTING THE INFESTATION Celleste (Mighty Music) ****I’m not usually big on remix projects but this EP, a digital-only release, is a selection of six deconstructed tracks originally heard on Celleste’s last album.  It’s one of the most charming sets I’ve heard all year.Celleste is primarily a rock singer and an impressive one at that. She and producer Eric Dick have taken these songs back down to the frame, reworking and transforming them into a new experience.  They have turned the bombast of the original versions into something darker, more intimate and exploratory.  Arrangements are subtle yet deep, revealing a side to the singer that her previous work has only hinted at.  It also feels similar to the vintage stuff Maria Muldaur has been doing of late, and I like that A LOT.What DTI has done is take these songs off of the stage of a sweaty, greasy rock club and put them on the back porch, not unlike what Robert Plant has done in the last few years with his occasionally radical re-working of Zeppelin tunes with his solo bands- perhaps not to the same drastic extent as he’s done, but the spirit is similar.  I had a feeling the songs from Join The Infestation would do well under this treatment, nice to know I was right!   Try i-Tunes, or go to her website;  www.celleste.comCOOL CUTS:  Sick And Tired, SuperstarJERICHO ROAD Eric Bibb (Stony Plain)  *****Wow- a severely enjoyable effort from Bibb!  Jericho Road is where blues, folk and world music intersect at a delicious musical crossroads.Eric’s smooth, sonorous voice over this collage of grooves feels good, sounding not unlike Chris Thomas King.  This is also a record with heart. “The title refers to the road between Jerusalem and Jericho where the Good Samaritan, a traveler of a despised race, stopped to help a stranger in need after better-off religious leaders had passed by and done nothing” says Eric.  “On April 3rd, 1968, the night before his death, Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King urged us to follow the example of the Good Samaritan, saying (that) ultimately, you cannot save yourself without saving others. If this record has a theme, that’s it in a nutshell: have a heart.”  Even without knowing that, I would still love this record.Nothing electric about Jericho Road aside from the occasional reverb guitar which suits the overall vibe of the set.  Some might hear it as a bit preachy, or too ‘church’, but my ears and heart spiritual hear a yearning pushing for a better world where people don’t treat each other like crap. I get a similar feeling from JR that I used to get from watching Leo Buscaglia specials on PBS back in the 80’s.Jericho Road is a spiritual massage for your heart, mainly gentle songs that make for excellent company when you’re alone with your thoughts and trying to plot your way in the world. This disc is a stunner.COOL CUTS:  Drinkin’ Gourd, Death Row Blues, They KnowRUST BUCKET Sean Pinchin (Independent)  ****If you love acoustic slide, you’re going to want this. From the rustic sound down to each song’s subject matter this is low down, dirty, and one hell of an album.Pinchin delivers stories of personal struggle and triumph after living with depression for many years.  Realizing that his grief could be put to constructive use he started writing songs about everything that caused him pain, fear and heartache.  Of the album title, Sean says it’s “a reference to my body, mind and guitar.  They are all strong but weathered from years of abuse and accomplishments- music has saved my life again and again.”I love the feel of this record, kind of an organic thing, so it wasn’t surprising to read about the sessions themselves. “Sean is an extraordinary talent, a total natural with a dirty feel when he plays that you can’t fake” notes Juno Award-winning producer Rob Szabo, who helmed the sessions.  “We recorded most of the album live off the floor in 2 sessions with Sean playing slide guitar and singing live with the band.  Very few players can pull that off- Sean is the real deal.”Rust Bucket is a collection of songs long on passion and intimacy with the musicianship to back them up.  When some people throw on a guitar and sing they’re playing the blues, but Sean Pinchin lives the blues- it’s in every note he plays and every note he sings.  If you’re into cats like Ben Harper, Kelly Joe Phelps and even Robert Johnson, Sean speaks your language- and he’s saying things that you absolutely must hear.COOL CUTS:  Complete Fool, High Heel Shoes, Gotta MoveLOST & UNDONE: A GOSPEL BLUESGRASS COMPANION The High Bar Gang (True North) ***A Canadian folk supergroup of sorts, the debut by The High Bar Gang is old-timey fun.  If you liked O Brother Where Art Thou this disc is your speed.This has been sitting in my desk for a few weeks, but I had taken the shrink wrap off and read the credits, this review would’ve seen print in October.  The group includes the subtle vocal talents of Shari Ulrich, Barney Bentall, Angela Harris and Wendy Bird. The old church on the cover and the black & white photos inside of the band members give a pretty good idea of what to expect when you pop the disc into your player- acoustic guitar, mandolin, fiddle, some stand-up bass, and shimmering vocal harmonies.Making authentic bluegrass/roots music is artistically no easy feat, and it isn’t the sort of thing that everyone will dig.  You may dismiss the rustic musical vibe, or find the overtly religious songs don’t agree with you, but the musically curious will find many ways to get inside these 14 tracks and enjoy.  Though not religious myself at all, Lost & Undone does reach me on a spiritual and musical level.There is a niche appeal for what The Bar Gang hath wrought on their first album.  It ain’t party music, and I can’t picture anybody blasting down the highway with this cranked at top volume.  Still, it has its charms- and that’s enough for me.COOL CUTS: Sinners You better Get Ready, All My Tears, I Saw The LightREMEMBERING O.V. Johnny Rawls (Catfood Records)  *** ½ Rawls pays tribute here to his late friend and mentor O.V. Wright.  “I want people to re-discover (him) and find out what a great singer he was” says Rawls in the liner notes. “They don’t make people like that anymore, like O.V., Marvin Gaye and Otis Redding.”As a singer, Johnny Rawls reminds me of Albert Collins with maybe a touch of Joe Cocker.  Blues Hall Of Fame singer Otis Clay guests on 3 cuts on this album, which features nine songs associated with Wright, plus a rousing original (Blaze Of Glory) that closes out the disc. “O.V. was a God gifted singer” Rawls observes in the liner notes about one of soul music’s more underappreciated singers. “He didn’t have to practice on it, he didn’t have to work on it- the only thing he had to do was open his mouth, and his songs became life.”If you don’t know Wright’s music don’t feel too bad, I didn’t either before throwing this loving tribute on, which isn’t a bad approach.  Instead of considering the tunes in the shadow of a legacy and asking if they’ve been done justice, we’re free to either enjoy or not, based on the music.  I like Remembering O.V. but for this kind of thing to really work for me it’s gotta be live, and the singer has to leave it all out on the stage.  By that comparison this set is fairly tame- not bad, but not raise-the-hair-on-your-arm exciting either- that would’ve been cool.COOL CUTS: Blind Crippled & Crazy, Poor Boy, Ace Of Spades (no, not the Motorhead song!)

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