Text © Robert
Barry Francos / FFanzeen, 2020
Images from the Internet
CD Reviews: November 2020
Keep a Clean Engine
Teal Power Records / firstname.lastname@example.org
Davis is a Boston-area veteran singer-songwriter who has released this collection of mostly original multi-genre tunes. When she sings, what she brings up to me is the solo singers from Britain during the 1960s, like Celia Black, Lulu, and a bit of Dusty Springfield. This is especially true for her cover of the standard, “When Sunny Gets Blue,” which is a highlight here, with its lite jazz tones. For some reason, this comes across to me, especially on the bridges. Speaking of which, one of my fave cuts is “Beatles Bridges,” which is exactly what it claims to be, a bunch of bridges from Beatles classics into a bluesy, mostly cohesive song, even though the content is all over the emotional map. She starts of strong with “The Power of One,” sliding into the gospel-tinged “Don’t Give Up the Fight.” The harmony vocals enhance the sounds nicely as they are right up front, often equal to Davis. The title track is a nice, almost Jacque Brel-ish type melody that swirls around the sound, without going dark. Another highlight is the gospel and doo-wop infused “Wash Away.”
Night and Day
Magnolia Group Records
Jack has a nice musical sound that is somewhere between Billy Joel and Elton John, as in the opening original “I Love New York,” mixed with a bit of New Orleans jazz, especially on the likes of “The Old Grey Hat,” and maybe even some soft Southern Rock with “No One’s Home.” The second half of the CD (aka “the flip side”) is mostly jazz/standard sounding, such as “Let’s Drink to Us” and “Take Them to Manhattan.” A more commercial rockin’ sound is given in “No More Waitin’,” one of the better cuts here. The album concludes with a I-IV-V instrumental that relies on a ragin’ guitar by Caleb Quaye on “Down in the Jungle Room” (assuming that’s a Graceland reference). Phillips’ voice is a bit rough at times, but it is unique and actually works really well with the styles he brings forward, which I would say is a highly boogie, almost Cajun-focused sound, with a deep southern tone. It’s an enjoyable listen, especially when he gets his soft jazz boots on.
The Boston Rock & Roll Anthology Chapter 21
Valrulven / joeviglione.com
Joe Viglione has been putting out compilation albums, generally for bands coming out of the Boston/New England area (although this one is more far reaching), for decades, in various forms, such as his Anthology and The Demos that Got the Deal series. And with this, his documenting rock’n’roll history continues. The 21 tracks start off with heavy rocking duo (guitar and drums) 3D that originated in the 1980s (not to be confused with New York’s 3-D from the same period), with the anti-drug song, “Anything But Peace.” Pamela Ruby Russell’s first cut, “Space and Time,” has almost a hymnal tone with a military-paced back beat that works together beautifully. Her voice is sweet and the overdubbing with itself works, to give it a powerful punch; her second cut shows off her voice even more. Here she has a Judy Collins intonation, which really operates for her. The production is also quite enjoyable, being full without feeling over-kneaded. Working with the likes of Peter Calo and Andy Pratt certainly give her an extra zing. Karmacar – Heidi Jo Hines and Nico’s “As It Is” has a bit of a 1970s New Agey feel to it, though I believe it would have been stronger without the self-overdubbing and just let Heidi’s voice be by itself; their other cut on the CD, “Who’s Foolin’ Who?”, gives a better example of her voice, and is superior of the two, with a catchy melody and improves on the catchy harmonies. On a more esoteric note is the next two cuts – “Downtime” by the Complaints and “Faraday” by Phil DaRosa – which use a bit more electronica to posit their songs, especially the latter, which is kind of long in the tooth at nearly 6 minutes. The former has a mild Beatleseque tone. Kitoto Sunshine Love spreads the smooth ‘70s soul sound in the beautiful “Proud Soul Heritage.” Worth checking out; her second track, “Love You,” is equally as strong and arguably shows off her voice even more than the first cut, which was thoroughly enjoyable. Yeah, I would buy an album by her. Fittingly, Slapback follows with its lite funk “Guardian Angel (Radio Mix)” that is cheerful and fluffy in a good way. Hard rockers Empty County Band have been reviewed on this blog before. Their first track, “Until the End,” is a slow grinder and burner, but the vocals need to be a bit more up front in the mix; “Skeptical” is much stronger all around and a better listen, but both are good. Joe Black leads a guitar-centric metal group that wails with “Blackenstein.” If you like the guitar god sound, this mostly instrumental screamer is for you; for “Monster,” Black is joined on vocals by Jeffrey Baker. This cut is a more traditional rocker that switches between slow burner to a wild ride, which should please any metalhead. The lyrics are a bit silly (especially the chorus), but the guitar makes up for it. Tom Mitch, Jr.’s soulful “Table Scraps” reminds me a bit of Joe Tex, which is a compliment. Harmonious pop rockers Greg Walsh’s New Ghosts presents “Counting Down to Zero (From 1),” which has a late ‘60s sound mixed with early ‘80s echoey production styles. Mad Painter’s exuberant “The Letter” (not to be confused with the Box Tops song) has a bit of a Mod sound mixed with Ian Whitcomb’s bounciness, especially in Alex Gitlan’s vocals. As a note, a personal fave of mine from the Boston scene, my pal Kenne Highland, plays bass. Next up – and rightfully so – is a cut by the man himself, Joe Viglione, with his original “Thought About You.” Backed up by Jay and Scott Couper (who played with Denny Laine in the ‘80s), Joe presents one of the better songs I’ve heard from him in a while (and I like his stuff). It’s light without being sophomoric, and has a harmonious catch that could easily play on the radio and have people singing the chorus with him. Following is Boston musical veteran Dalia Davis, with “Eleven and a Half.” Reminding me of Harriet Shock here, Davis shines in a song about reminiscences. Fire in the Field’s “Bossman,” has a bit of an ‘80s rock sound that works, but somewhat harmless and generic, with harmonies and a cowbell sound. Concluding is “The Ballad of the Rock Star,” by Matty O’. This is a nice way to end, with a smooth Irish rock sound that fits well into the collection. Matty gets a couple of opportunities to show off his voice, which is appealing. Overall? This is a pretty damn decent collection of different styles, from singer-songwriter to heavy metal wailing, and it all works together. You can tell Viglione worked hard on the order of presentation of the songs, and he has a nice flow going so there isn’t an equivalent of a film’s jump cut. Everything flows pretty smoothly, and as a collection, it all meshes well. And if that wasn't enough, there is a really well thought-out glossy booklet that comes with it that is full of artist and song info and nice color pictures. Stunningly done.