Kentucky rockers BLACK STONE CHERRY will release a blues EP, "Black To Blues", on September 29 via Mascot Records/Mascot Label Group.
Tab Benoit's funky, ragged blend of Louisiana swamp blues and East Texas guitar, with hints of funk, soul, and country thrown in to give the gumbo just the right spice, has served him well since he burst on the scene in the early '90s. Since Benoit hasn't essentially changed his sound since, this collection of sides made up largely from his early releases for Houston-based Justice Records (all of Benoit's Justice albums have been reissued by Vanguard Records in recent years) makes an ideal introduction to what this guy is all about, and although Best of the Bayou Blues covers a five-year span from 1992 to 1997, the tracks all fall together in a completely coherent sequence. Opening with the Benoit original "Voodoo on the Bayou" from 1992's Nice & Warm and running through several originals and some interesting covers (including country-funk takes on Hank Williams' "Jambalaya" and Willie Nelson's "Rainy Day Blues"), this set spotlights Benoit's southern Louisiana take on contemporary blues.
This is the third and final volume in the complete recordings of Lil Green in chronological order as reissued by the Classics Blues & Rhythm Series. By 1947 Lil Green was beginning to sound more than a little like Ida Cox, even when handling songs from Tin Pan Alley rather than straight up out of the tried and true traditional blues repertoire. Comparisons could also be drawn between Lil Green and Nellie Lutcher or Julia Lee. While her "crossover" performances are worthwhile, there's nothing quite like hearing this woman savor the flavor of Bessie Smith hits like "Aggravatin' Papa," "Outside of That," and "You've Been a Good Old Wagon (But You Done Broke Down)." Green's own "Lonely Woman" has a powerful undercurrent running through it – there is even a remote possibility that Ornette Coleman was inspired by this record when conceiving his own composition of the same title in 1959. Even if the link is purely coincidental, these melodies have something wonderful in common. Green's final recordings for the Victor label are strengthened by the presence of tenor saxophonists Budd Johnson, Lem Johnson, and David Young.
The Kansas City swing blues of the Sweet Baby Blues Band is very difficult not to enjoy. Jeannie Cheatham's exuberant vocals (propelled by her forcefully swinging piano) inspire the many soloists on the blues-oriented material, and there is plenty of variety in tempo and feeling to keep this set continually interesting. Among the main soloists are ageless trumpeter Snooky Young, tenorman Rickey Woodard (making his debut on clarinet on two cuts), and guest altoist Hank Crawford, who sits in on four songs.
The Moody Blues' resumed work together after a four-year hiatus and delivered Octave in 1978, which quickly became a hit but has also proved to be a very problematic album. Picking up where he left off on Seventh Sojourn, bassist/singer John Lodge generated a hit single (and also a solid album opener) with the surprisingly edgy (for this band) rocker "Steppin' in a Slide Zone." And Justin Hayward's "Had to Fall in Love," "Driftwood," and "The Day We Meet Again" – the latter their best album closer since "Watching and Waiting" – are also up to the standard one would wish for (and a bit of a surprise, coming in the wake of two major solo projects that should have depleted his song bag)…