In Concert One of the great tragedies in blues and rock history is that Albert Collins, the famed “Master of the Telecaster,” whose wry songwriting and biting guitar attack inspired a legion of rock players in the 60s, 70s, and 80s, died just as his career was hitting its stride. Though he had been performing and recording since the late 50s, Collins’ commercial success didn’t start clicking until nearly 30 years later, and just as he was starting to reap the rewards of three decades worth of work, he was struck down by liver cancer in 1993 at the age of 61. For fans of the blues legend, it comes as a pleasant surprise that the German label Inakustik should be releasing In Concert, a DVD of Collins’ 1985 appearance on the German music show Ohne Filter. A chance to see the “Iceman” in his prime seems too good to be true. In spite of a rather rough presentation, it manages to avoid living up to this billing.

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Legacy Edition“San Quentin, I hate every inch of you. You’ve cut me and you’ve scarred me through and through”

When Johnny Cash recorded Johnny Cash At San Quentin in 1969, it marked the high point of his popularity. A follow-up to his hugely successful Folsom Prison recordings the year before, San Quentin showed Cash at his roughhouse best — full of brash bravado and giving the average American a glimpse at a side that showed him to be more kindred to those in the audience that evening than to Nashville or the hippie rock scene that was grinding to an inevitable halt. But 1969 was a year that saw a country ready for such attitude. A prison record seemed to go hand-in-hand with the events that unfolded later that year: Four people died at the Altamont festival in San Francisco in what was supposed to be a smaller, West coast version of Woodstock, and opposition to the Vietnam War reached its peak. It was rowdy year that foretold the end of a psychedelic “love” era that was spinning out of control and burning out. Johnny Cash – with his own demons at his heels – was a mirror of the times.

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Pretenders Album CoversRhino has reissued the first two Pretenders albums — Pretenders and Pretenders II — and packaged each as a two disc set: the first disc containing the original recordings and the second a collection of rarities, out-takes, and live recordings. These albums, featuring the original Pretenders lineup of vocalist Chrissie Hynde, guitarist James Honeyman-Scott, drummer Martin Chambers, and bassist Pete Farndon showcase a band that captured the best qualities of punk, new wave, and rock, all in a radio-friendly package that made the band an instant sensation.

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Little Feat, The Best of Little FeatIt is with some surprise that I recently received a copy of The Best of Little Feat from Rhino Records. Surprising, not because of the contents of the disc; Little Feat were one of the most creative forces in 70’s rock, often soaring to the rarified air occupied by the likes of Frank Zappa, The Band, and Captain Beefheart. The surprise, as it was, was that it took this long for somebody to finally get around to cataloging the most popular material from the group.

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Google recommends … pot?

November 10, 2006

It’s like Google, man… Far out!Do I seem uptight? In need of some mellowing out perhaps? Google seems to think so. Check out the recommendations that greeted me this morning when I went to Google Groups to do a little guitar reading. Guitar and cannibis are algorythmic peanut butter and jelly, apparently.

Google recommends…
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Muddy WatersTo quote Muddy Waters, “The blues had a baby, and they named it rock and roll.” While most fans of the latter are generally aware of this fact, it’s often surprising to discover that so few have actually explored the roots of their favorite music. For many, the blues start with Eric Clapton, Led Zeppelin, and the Rolling Stones, but the fact remains that a significant portion of the rock and roll vocabulary — both in style and substance — was born in the two-bit recording studios and juke joints of Chicago’s South side, the Mississippi Delta, and Eastern Texas. If you’re looking to get a little deeper into the blues, the following selections make an excellent starting point for any collection.

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Buddy Guy, Can’t Quit the BluesOver the course of the past 50 years, few artists serve as a better bridge between the classic Chicago Blues sounds of the 50’s and 60’s and modern Rock and Roll than Buddy Guy. Beginning his recording career in 1957, Guy recorded and performed live with three generations of artists; starting with Blues legends such as Muddy Waters, Howlin’ Wolf, and Little Walter and continuing through the British invasion of the 60’s all the way through the Blues revival of the 1990’s. Oddly, it wasn’t until the later stage of his career that the 2005 Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inductee began to receive the recognition that he deserved.

Possessing a style that is equal parts Muddy Waters, Guitar Slim, and Jimi Hendrix, he has profoundly influenced the sounds of players ranging from Eric Clapton, to Stevie Ray Vaughan, to John Mayer, and serves as a de facto ambassador for a genre that is, sadly, but inevitably, losing many of its founding fathers.
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