1997 Records To Die For Page 13

Steve Stoner

Sire SAS-2-7411 (2 LPs only, nla). 1973. Richard Gottlehrer, prod.; Jim Price, eng. AAA. TT: 74:14

As one of the most underrated English blues bands from the '70s, you'd have been hard pressed to find a harder-working group than the Climax Blues Band; seemed like every time a major rock band was coming to town, CBB was the opening act. Although they released a fair number of studio albums during their career, FM Live---recorded live in 1973 at the Academy of Music in New York and broadcast live on WNEW-FM---shows CBB doing what they did best: playing in front of an audience. Offering a generous mix of originals ("All the Time in the World," "I Am Constant") and covers ("Seventh Son," "Goin' to New York"), Peter Haycock (guitar, vocals), Colin Cooper (sax, guitar, vocals), Derek Holt (bass, vocals), and John Cuffely (drums) take control of the crowd and don't let go until the final track---a rocking version of Canned Heat's "Let's Work Together." This album hasn't left my turntable since I rediscovered it four months ago. Whatever happened to these guys?
JONO MANSON: One Horse Town
Independent recording (CD only). 1994. Jono Manson, Paul Frasier, Tony Viscardo, prods., engs.; Mike Dysinger, eng. AAD. TT: 50:48

A couple of former co-workers used to come into my office on Monday mornings and rave about some local singer/guitarist named Jono Manson. I finally got a chance to hear him for myself and ended up with a copy of his debut album, One Horse Town. With help from some studio heavyweights (Ian Wallace on drums, the late Nicky Hopkins on piano) and an occasional guest artist (Blues Traveler's John Popper on harmonica), Manson has put together an album that has something for just about everyone: straightahead pop'n'roll ("It's the Singer, Not the Song," "A Little Rock & Roll Never Hurt Anyone"), funk ("I've Been Down"), and reggae ("Island"). My favorite out of the bunch is "Black Blue Jeans": with Jeffrey Barr's sweaty-sounding organ and Hopkins's piano work trading time with Manson's guitar, this song is one of the best blues/gospel songs I've heard in years, and easily worth the price of the CD by itself.

John Swenson

MUDDY WATERS: Live at Mister Kelly's
Chess CHD-9338. (CD Only). Ralph Bass, prod.; Bruce Swedien, Gary Starr, engs. AAD. TT: 43:46

In addition to his skills as a songwriter, guitarist, and bandleader, Waters was one of the best blues vocalists in history. He did as much to influence rock and popular music as any other blues musician, singing with savage yet calculated emotion and controlling a fierce beat effortlessly. This live album, recorded in a Chicago nightclub, shows Muddy at the top of his form, backed by Willie Smith on drums, Calvin Jones on bass, Joe Perkins on piano, and James Madison and Samuel Lawhorn on guitars. Check out "Country Boy" and "C.C. Woman."
Rykodisc RCD 10501 (CD only). 1965. Tom Wilson, prod.; Val Valentin, eng. ADD. 1965. TT: 60:29

In which a Los Angeles-based, New York-attacking evil genius named Frank Zappa convinces an unwieldy group of would-be rock stars to do things they don't understand in hopes of making it big. They were tricked instead into making an amazing musical/cultural statement, marrying such disparate elements as vocal-group R&B, musique concrete, rock, jazz, comedy, and social commentary, all glibly conducted by the deadpan maestro himself. We are presented with the prophetic "Trouble Every Day" and "Who Are the Brain Police?," offered comic relief with "Wowie Zowie" and "You're Probably Wondering Why I'm Here," and delivered the gilt-edged goods---a side-long unfinished epic called "The Return of the Son of Monster Magnet." When this record came out, they couldn't give it away. Now it's hard to imagine 20th-century music without it. (XI-5)

Sam Tellig

LEON SAM & THE SAM BROTHERS: Leon's Boogie is Back
MTE 5054-2 (CD only). 1996. Jay Miller, exec. prod.; Mark Miller, prod., eng., mix; Eddie Bodin, mastering. TT: 49:18
MTE is Master-Trak Enterprises, 413 N. Parkerson Ave., Crowley, LA 70526. Tel: (318) 788-0773.

As Wes Phillips might ask reviewers---and does---"Do your speakers boogie?" Find out with this zydeco CD featuring Leon Sam on accordion and vocals. Calvin, Ronnie, Carl, Glen, and Rodney Sam back him up, along with Curtis Andrus and Andre Deshotel. Hey, I'm no zydeco buff (yet), but this must be one of the hottest zydeco records ever recorded. Leon Sam is a fine blues singer, too. Listen as he belts out, "Two O'Clock in the Morning." Everybody---well, nearly everybody---needs to boogie sometime. Make it this one. The recording quality is, well, beside the point. Variable, actually: adequate in places, excellent in others. Superb kick-butt bass throughout---I guess that's what matters.
Nicholas Payton, trumpet; Jesse Davis, alto sax; Tim Warfield, tenor sax; Anthony Wonsey, piano; Reuben Rogers, bass; Adonis Rose, drums
Verve 314 531 199-2 (CD only). 1996. Richard Seidel, exec. prod.; Nicholas Payton, prod.; James Nichols, eng. DDD. TT: 57:01

For his second album, trumpeter Nicholas Payton (b. 1973) has chosen some tunes he grew up hearing and playing in New Orleans---including "When the Saints Go Marching In," "After You've Gone," "I've Got a Right to Sing the Blues," and "St. James Infirmary." As he writes in the notes, "I have done all types of gigs ranging from jazz, rock, fusion, R&B, rap, Latin, and even heavy metal." All have apparently influenced his music. Payton likens this melding of influences to a gumbo. "You start with a roux, which is the foundation. Then you add many different ingredients together that blend into a homogenous mixture called gumbo." Don't worry, though---this is a traditional jazz album, not some fusion mishmash. Payton is one of the best young talents in jazz---hard to believe he was just 22 when he recorded this disc. It sounds like he's spent years with this music. I guess he has. The other musicians are impressive, too. The recording quality is excellent.