Friday, August 01, 2014

New Releases: Billy Hawks - The New Genius Of The Blues / Heavy Soul; Ramsey Lewis - Sun Goddess; Eddie 'Cleanhead' Vinson - The Original Cleanhead


Tasty bluesy organ material from Prestige, featuring 2 hard-to-find records, back-to-back in a single set! Billy Hawks sings and plays organ with a groove that's in between jazz, blues, and deep soul. On New Genius Of The Blues he's fronting a trio that includes a young Ivan "Boogaloo Joe" Jones on guitar, and the group plays a few instrumentals with some excellent organ/guitar interchange. Some of the material here is a bit bluesy, but there's also still a relatively strong soul jazz component as well – one that comes through in the overall structure of the tunes, and in the lean style in which they were recorded. Titles include "Hawks Blues", "Let Me Love You Before You Go", "Got My Mojo Working", "Mean Woman Blues" and more. More Heavy Soul is the rarest of his albums for Prestige – and on this one he plays organ in a style that's more in keeping with some of the funky jazz artists on the label – especially on the instrumental tracks, which give a lot more room to the instrumental solos. There's a great instrumental groover called "That's Your Bag" that's right up with the best of the Prestige funky jazz tracks from the 60s, and even the vocal cuts are really nice, as Billy has a good soulful singing style. He's backed here by Buddy Terry and Maynard Parker, and other tracks include "Heavy Soul", "Whip It On Me", and "I'll Be Back". 19 tracks in all!  ~ Dusty Groove


One of our favorite Ramsey Lewis albums ever – and a perfect summation of the genius that was brewing on the Chicago scene in the late 60s and early 70s! The album has Ramsey working strongly with Earth Wind & Fire – no surprise, given his close ties to Maurice White, who was the drummer in Ramsey's trio before starting his own group – and the shared relationship both artists had with producer Charles Stepney! The three were all key parts of the late 60s sound at Chess Records – but here, they've brought the same soulful energy to Columbia – working in a wider, more mature groove for the 70s – one that has Lewis' wicked Fender Rhodes lines stretching out strongly over tight, compressed, funky lines from EWF! The centerpiece of the set is the massive 7 minute "Sun Goddess", but there's lots of other nice ones like "Living For The City", "Gemini Rising", and "Jungle Strut". Funky, electric, and sublimely wonderful all the way through! This FTG CD edition includes 3 bonus tracks: 7" versions of "Sun Goddess" and "Jungle Strut",plus the UK 7" version of "Sun Goddess". ~ Dusty Groove


A really sweet late effort from bluesy soul singer and sax player Eddie Cleanhead Vinson – his dawn of the 70s comeback! Cleanhead covered a whole lot of stylistic range in earlier years, from big band vocalist, to R&B shouter, to bebop era alto sax player – and he comfortably displays that range here, albeit in a loose, easygoing soul mode – backed by a great group of session players that includes Joe Pass, Artie Butler, Arthur Wright and Plas Johnson. Bob Thiele produced, and the titles include "Cleanhead Blues", "Pass Out", "Alimony Blues", "Cleanhead Is Back", "Juice Head Baby", "Old Maid Boogie", "One O'Clock Humph" and "I Needs To Be Be'd Wid". This great Ace CD version includes 3 bonus tracks: live versions of "Cleanhead Blues", "I Had A Dream" and "Person To Person". ~ Dusty Groove

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