Vocalist/cornet player Al Basile's longtime friend Duke Robillard gets front cover billing, as well he should, as co-producer and guitarist on this impressive outing. The album, Basile's fifth, was even recorded at the guitarist's Pawtucket, RI studio called the Mood Room, hence the album's title. Musically, it's a combination of old-school R&B ("Baby Sister," "Be a Woman"), swamp-tinged rock & roll ("I'm in a Mood"), mid-tempo, Chuck Berry styled groovers ("Coffee and Cadillacs"), grinding blues ("Picked to Click") and even a jump blues throwback to the duo's Roomful of Blues days ("She's on the Mainline"). Robillard keeps the sound full yet stripped down – most of the tracks feature a standard three-piece – bass/drums/guitar setup – which leaves space for Basile's sly vocals and snappy lyrics. Basile, a teacher and fiction author who also has a Master's degree in creative writing, not surprisingly crafts lyrics that are far more imaginative and original than most blues artists'. But they never detract from these melodies that glide along sparked by Robillard's tasty licks.
Gary Lucas – charmingly oddball pop songwriter, musical world traveler, utterly hellacious guitarist – is perhaps at his most hellaciously, charmingly cosmopolitan on this frankly amazing album, which finds him adapting popular Chinese songs that were originally recorded in the 1960s and which he heard and fell in love with during a sojourn in Taiwan in the mid-'70s. His girlfriend at the time had a cassette tape of such local superstars as Chow Hsuan and Bai Kwong, and it was, he says in his liner notes, "like almost no other music I had ever heard before." Twenty-five years later he put together this quirkily gorgeous tribute, which includes jaw-droppingly virtuosic fingerstyle guitar arrangements ("Mad World," "Wall") and song settings using guest vocalists. Among the best of the latter are the limpidly beautiful "Night in Shanghai" (again, note the guitar playing) and the country-flavored "I Wait for Your Return," which is simply a hoot. He's not playing this stuff for laughs, though; his genuine affection for the music comes through loud and clear, and even when he has fun with it he is obviously trying to do so in a way that brings its haunting loveliness to the fore. Very highly recommended.
At Home Next Door is a double CD set: the first CD, At Home With the Blues, looks back over Al Basile's 14 year catalogue with Sweetspot and focuses on his blues songs; the second, Next Door to the Blues, is a brand new collection of songs that use the blues as a foundation but build into other forms, with a focus on a 60s Memphis soul and gospel sound. The common denominator through both discs is Duke Robillard as producer and guitarist, and Al Basile as singer, songwriter, and cornetist, but former Roomful of Blues bandmates abound, along with guests ranging from harmonica aces Jerry Portnoy and Sugar Ray Norcia to jazz great Scott Hamilton. Produced by Duke Robillard, administered by BUG.
2010 Blues Music Award nominee Al Basile's 8th solo CD finds him backed up by the Duke Robillard band with a guest appearance by the Blind Boys of Alabama. Al's last three CDs placed at #14 or higher on the Living Blues airplay chart; this disc has 13 more of Al's songs which fuse his acclaimed lyrics and diverse roots musical styles with Duke Robillard's production, Al's increasingly ambitious vocals, and the cornet soloing which was recognized by the Blues Music Foundation in 2010 in the best instrumentalist - horn category. From 60's soul ballads to New Orleans R&B to gospel to blues, The Goods delivers.
As the liner notes to this intriguing release tell, Faithfull had a long-simmering interest in German cabaret, particularly the work of Kurt Weill. It came fully to life via her role as Pirate Jenny in a staging of The Threepenny Opera in Dublin as translated by Frank McGuinness and her attendance at a workshop organized by Allen Ginsburg. After a series of initial performances with pianist Paul Trueblood, Faithfull took her revue of many classic songs from the mid-century, titled "An Evening in the Weimar Republic," to the road…