Johnny Winter begins Raisin' Cain, his ninth studio album since signing to CBS Records in 1969 (his records are now issued on the Blue Sky subsidiary), with "The Crawl," a rock & roll dance tune, and he ends it with "Walkin' Slowly," which employs a Fats Domino-style New Orleans rhythm and the saxophone work of Tom Strohman. The two songs serve to reinforce Winter's allegiance to his roots in ‘50s rock, which define him as much as his blues work. In between these bookends, he presents his usual mixture of familiar cover songs and specially written (by others, that is) material, all of which serves, as usual, to showcase his fast-fingered lead guitar playing. His slide guitar dominates "Sittin' in the Jail House," for example, while much of the disc's second side is played in a Chicago blues style that recalls his recent efforts as producer to give Muddy Waters a late-career renaissance, notably the side-opening performance of Waters' "Rollin' and Tumblin'." A notable inclusion is a cover of Bob Dylan's "Like a Rolling Stone".
The Tirith are one of the new UK-based Progressive / Classic Rock Bands. The band has a long history stretching back to the 70s, the present band reformed in 2010 and have been playing festivals and select gigs since 2011. The band is known for playing a wide variety of music within the Progressive genre and beyond. “Tales From The Tower” is a rare album of real songs performed, interpreted and recorded in the modern progressive idiom, and features the songs of Tim Cox and Richard Cory. Most of the songs on this album are from the time of the first incarnation of The Tirith, they are the classic Tirith songs of our youth.
As more ensembles perform and record Steve Reich's Music for 18 Musicians, its status as a minimalist masterpiece is increasingly affirmed. Ensemble Signal's 2015 release on Harmonia Mundi is one of several amazing performances that have matched Reich's original ECM New Series recording in technical brilliance and expressivity, and it has even earned the composer's approval for being, "…fast moving, spot on, and emotionally charged." Under the direction of Brad Lubman, Ensemble Signal maintains a relentlessly steady pulse and articulates the interlocking patterns with absolute precision, though the shifting tone colors are perhaps a little clearer in this performance than in other recordings. The microphone placement is not so close that individual instruments stand out, but there is enough separation of parts to allow some sense of direction and the orientation of the smaller sub-groups of pianos, xylophones, marimbas, strings, clarinets, and voices. This is a mesmerizing performance that will transfix listeners, and the music is so compelling that it will linger on well after the CD stops. Highly recommended.