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music SINGER / SONGWRITER James Armstrong HHH1/2 Blues Been Good to Me Catfood Records Something old/ Something new/ Something borrowed/Something blue is a prescription for a successful wedding day. It also serves as the formula for Blues Been Good to Me, the new album from blues guitarist/singer James armstrong that’s a cohesive mix of styles and songs. armstrong reworks Robert Palmer’s 1985 hit “addicted to Love” into a soulful groove that steers it away from the incessant rhythm of the original. armstrong puts his own stamp on “How Sweet It Is to Be Loved by you,” aiming for the middle ground between the hit versions by Marvin Gaye and James Taylor. drummer andrew Thomas adds a propulsive rhythm to armstrong’s rendition. On the seven songs he wrote or co-wrote, armstrong explores love and its ramifications. With an introduction that recalls “Secret agent Man,” he looks at romance on the rebound with “Second Time around,” which features some lively guitar work. “Old Man in the Morning (young Man at Night)” is a humorous exploration of love and the aging process. He also revisits “Sleeping With a Stranger” from his 1995 album. It’s a song that recalls Robert Cray with its tale of romantic disillusion. The blues serve as the bedrock of the album’s music. “Blues Been Good to Me” is a grateful acknowledgment for being able to make a living as a musician, while “Change in the Weather” comes off as an effective jazz/blues hybrid that serves as an emotional weather report. (10 songs, 38 minutes) Lynn Drury HHH1/2 Rise of the Fall CSB Roxy Music Rise of the Fall, the first nationally released album by Lynn drury, weaves strands of americana music over the course of the Cd to effectively create a sonic diversity and a Whitman’s Sampler of songs That’s evident from the start of the album. The philosophical “Lifetime of Living” features organ, vio-

lin and cello. “It’s a lifetime of living/don’t you forget it/don’t you regret it,” drury sings in a voice that recalls Iris deMent in its forthrightness. drury, who grew up in Mississippi and now lives in New Orleans, draws inspiration from the South. “Freedom Tree” is a stark blues that’s well suited for her expressive voice, while “I Need you” features a sultry vocal with echoes of Lucinda Williams paired with a rhythmand-blues backing that is a classic New Orleans sound. She shows her country side on the title track and “What Good is the Rain” in which she declares: “I want to wrap my head around something that won’t let me down.” Rise of the Fall shows a talent that’s on the ascent. (12 songs, 54 minutes) The Golliwogs HHH Fight Fire: The Complete Recordings 1964-1967 Craft Recordings Before Creedence Clearwater Revival became one of the top bands in the world in 1970, the group’s four members—John and Tom Fogerty, Stu Cook, and doug Clifford—served a musical apprenticeship in the Golliwogs. Fight Fire traces the group’s musical evolution through a series of singles. Tom Fogerty initially served as the lead singer and the group’s first 45—”Where you Been”/”Little Girl (does your Mama Know)” shows a Beach Boys influence in his vocal approach. With John Foger-

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ty joining his brother on vocals, the band shifted to a more pop style on “don’t Tell Me No Lies” and harmonized in the spirit of the Everly Brothers on “Try Try Try.” With John taking over the lead singer, the Golliwogs moved closer to the Creedence sound on “Brown-Eyed Girl,” a Fogerty brothers original and not the Van Morrison song. John shows an impressive vocal range with a rawness that jumps out of the speakers. The spooky “Walking on the Water” is an early foray into swamp rock, while “you Better Get It Before It Gets you” starts off as a soul ballad before turning into a rocker. By the time of the band’s final Golliwogs single, “Porterville”/”Call it Pretending,” John Fogerty took over as the sole songwriter. “Porterville” shows his ability to write a song through working-class eyes. “Call It Pretending” exhibits a Motown influence with a propulsive bass line. While the songs are not at the level of Creedence, Fight Fire pulls the band’s formative development out of the historical shadows. (23 songs, 54 minutes) King James & The Special Men HHH Act Like You Know Special Man Industries King James & The Special Men celebrate the music of New Orleans with

Photo: Adrienne Battistella

Act Like You Now, a collection of original songs by bandleader Jimmy Horn, also known as King James. The up-

tempo “Special Man Boogie” opens the album with some Professor Longhair piano played by Ben Polcer. Halfway through, Polcer’s piano and the band’s four-man horn section engage in a musical duel that lifts the song to another level. Horn shifts gears on “Baby Girl,” a slow, pleading blues, and “Tell Me (What you Want Me to do),” a bluesy ballad, that show the band’s versatility. The exuberant “Eat That Chicken” underscores the influence of piano legend dr. John. The rhythmically intense “The End is Near” could serve as the theme for one of New Orleans’ famed hurricane parties. “9th Ward Blues,” named for the neighborhood where Fats domino lives, features some fiery percussion and concludes with a nineminute instrumental that allows the band, particularly the horns, to stretch out on sonic gumbo of soul, blues, and jazz that’s as tasty as a bowl of jambalaya. (6 songs, 36 minutes) Dan Reeder HHH

Nobody Wants to Be You Oh Boy Records To paraphrase Henry david Thoreau, dan Reeder marches to the beat of his own piano on Nobody Wants to Be You, an EP that serves as a prelude to his next full-length album set for release in 2018. Except for a bit of guitar on one track, Reeder relies exclusively on his piano to create a mood. The whimsical “Bach” takes an unexpected look at the classic composer. “We don’t even know if he could sing/Because back in those days they had no ways of recording,” Reeder sings. The title track pairs an upbeat melody to a downbeat lyric. “danger is my business and business is good,” Reeder sings on the idiosyncratic “Kung Fu is My Fighting Style,” while the bouncy “Born a Worm” offers a child-like look at the process of metamorphosis. “The Pond in the Park” wraps up the EP with a short character sketch about a nonconformist. Nobody Wants to Be You shows Reeder is content to follow his own path and not keep pace with his musical companions. (5 songs, 9 minutes) n

November 2017  

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