This particular version of the Broadcasters was unarguably magical, and this recording reveals why. Recorded four years after Earl dealt with his demons (alcohol, drugs, nervous collapse), it is the first of a string of all-instrumental albums by Earl, and it drips with class and soul. It's not just the exceptional skill of the players, however, that makes it so special; it was recorded on one of a handful of audiophile labels (AudioQuest), and therefore features state-of-the-art production. From the ringing opening chords of Magic Sam's "Blues for the West Side" to the beautiful acoustic guitar/piano duet of "Derek's Peace," Still River is thoroughly enjoyable. "Kansas City Monarch" is slow and sweet, featuring Bruce Katz tearing up the low notes, a nice sax solo by Anders Gaardmand, and some great double-string work by Earl. There is a moody version of John Coltrane's "Equinox" and a bog-dwelling rouser written by the entire band called "Chili Ba Hugh." You'll also like the greasy Hammond B3 organ on "Soul Serenade".
It's been six years since Bruce Cockburn delivered a studio offering. His daughter was born in 2012, he assembled a career-spanning box set, and wrote a candid memoir, Rumours of Glory. When he was finally free of his writing and curatorial chores, he wondered if there was anything left to say. A book of poems by Canada's greatest 20th century poet, Al Purdy, provided inspiration. The song "3 Al Purdys," in which Cockburn sings and speaks the yarn of a homeless wanderer under the spell of the poet (and weds his words to Purdy's) is one of the finest tracks here (and one of four to feature jazz cornetist Ron Miles). Cockburn's less concerned with perfection, particularly when it comes to his vocals. In his seventies, his instrument is gruffer, but via Colin Linden's immediate production, it proves a benefit. "States I'm In" is a searing, insightful, rearview look at what Cockburn's witnessed – beautiful and horrible – in his global travels as a musician and an Amnesty International observer.
Premiata Forneria Marconi (or P.F.M.) were arguably the finest Italian Progressive rock band of the 1970 s and certainly one of the most well known. A successful act in their home land, they came to international attention when they signed to Manticore label in 1973, recording a series of albums with English lyrics, some penned by Elp and King Crimson lyricist Pete Sinfield. Over the next four years they released four studio albums and a live recording for the label, and it is from these albums that this 2CD anthology is drawn. In addition, four previously unreleased live recordings from the Manticore vaults also grace this collection, along with the CD debut of a rare B-side to a UK single.
IZZ, from New York, originates with the Galgano brothers. IZZ has a strong and unique sound that mixes solid grooves with odd rhythms and a powerful vocal style. With musical background as diverse as Rock, Jazz, Funk, Latin Musical Theatre, and Classical, the members of IZZ each bring their own unique approach to the music.
This album represents a major leap forward for the band over their previous release "I Move". The album opens up with strong chords reminiscent of "Red"-era King Crimson and delivers absolutely outstanding progressive rock for its entirety. Here we find IZZ straying from the dominant ELP influence that was abundant on their previous work and beginning to really build a unique identity…
With a vibrant, versatile voice (sounding at times like an inspired mix of Janis Joplin and Bonnie Raitt) capable of adding subtle emotional shifts to slow-burning ballads or rocking out with the big boys, Susan Tedeschi burst on the scene at the close of the 1990s like a breath of fresh air in an era of prefab MTV teen idols. Like Raitt, Tedeschi works from a blues base, but she mixes in a strong sense of R&B and gospel, and with Back to the River, her second release for Verve Forecast, she shows that she's really starting to find herself as a songwriter, as well. Tedeschi wrote or co-wrote all but one of the 11 tracks here, and while one could still say these songs are based in her beloved blues, like Raitt, she has branched out from there to become a solid pop artist with a real and accessible vision, and the blues is just the engine under the hood. There are some wonderful moments here, including the big and funky title track, "Back to the River," which Tedeschi co-wrote with swamp pop master Tony Joe White, the sincere and solid "Learning the Hard Way," co-written with Gary Louris of the Jayhawks, and the impressive "Butterfly," which Tedeschi' co-wrote with her husband, Derek Trucks.