Music: Blues

March 10, 2011

Bernard Allison, Live at the Jazzhaus

Bernard Allison, Live at the Jazzhaus Recorded in concert in Freiberg, Germany, Live at the Jazzhaus supplies Bernard Allison with the most appropriate forum for his smoldering blues, R&B and rock explorations. Playing with an excellent backing band, Allison unleashes impressive live renditions of tracks from his solo records (particularly from The Otherside) and even a few of his dad's songs. Allison's incredible guitar skills are on full display, and the live setting only serves to add fuel to an already incendiary situation. This is a perfectly sweaty blues-rock extravaganza, and Allison's fans are going to love it.

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Sheryl Crow, Alicia Keys, Madonna, Missy Elliott, More: Napster Playlists Featuring Women

As we continue our celebration of Women's History Month, we thought it would be nice to highlight some of the many Napster playlists focused on music made by women. These are from all different genres and styles, so have a look, click on whatever sounds good to you, and let's hear it from the ladies!

American Women American Women Popular roots music and country hits from some of the top female artists in America. Includes songs from June Carter Cash, Loretta Lynn, and Sheryl Crow.

Hot R&B Female Vocalists Hot R&B: Female Vocalists: Some of the hottest tracks and biggest hits from major stars, including songs from Keyshia Cole, Fantasia, Alicia Keys, and Beyoncé.

Essential Lite Female Vocalists Essential Lite: Female Vocalists: Great soft pop and ballads from many eras, featuring artists such as Peggy Lee, Blossom Dearie, and Roberta Flack.

Women of Comedy Women of Comedy: Hilarious bits from the funniest females in stand-up comedy, including Ellen Degeneres, Sarah Silverman, Sandra Bernhard, and Lisa Lampanelli.

Legendary Ladies of Country Legendary Ladies of Country: Unforgettable female stars of the '60s and '70s who paved the way for today's generations. Includes Patsy Cline, Dolly Parton, and Loretta Lynn.

Grrrl Power Grrrl Power: Celebrate the women of alternative rock with a slew of classic tracks from such mainstays as the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Hole, PJ Harvey, and more.

Pioneering Women of the Blues Pioneering Women of the Blues: Though blues artists tend to be men, a surprising number of women have made a crucial impact, including Billie Holiday, Bessie Smith, and Ida Cox.

Pop Divas The '80s Pop Divas: The '80s: A platinum setting of hits from some of the decade's most glittering solo female superstars, including Madonna, Cyndi Lauper, Debbie Gibson, and more.

Female Jazz Vocalists of Today Female Jazz Vocalists of Today: Music from stellar comtemporary vocalists informed by both traditional and modern jazz. Features Dianne Reeves, Cassandra Wilson, and Diana Krall.

Composing Women Composing Women: Works from female composers working in what was once a male-dominated field. Includes Barbara Strozzi, Fanny Mendelssohn, and Meredith Monk.

Women of Contemporary Christian Music Women of Contemporary Christian Music: The most uplifting tracks from female artists leading the way in CCM, featuring Francesca Battistelli, Bethany Dillon, and Heather Hedley.

Ladies First Female MCs Ladies First: Female MCs: Get in touch with the first ladies of hip-hop. But don't expect them to go easy on you—these MCs, including Missy Elliott, Salt-N-Pepa, Queen Latifah, are fierce.

Femmes Fatales Femmes Fatales: Devastatingly seductive sounds from the dark side of alternative music, including music by Björk, PJ Harvey, Portishead, Morcheeba, and more.

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February 23, 2011

Barry Levenson, The Late Show

Barry Levenson, The Late Show Barry Levenson might not be a household name among casual (or even not-so-casual) blues fans. The Pittsburgh native has split his time between slinging some genius blues guitar (both on his own and with artists like Big Mama Thornton, Lowell Fulson, and Canned Heat) and and dishing up some excellent production work for European blues label Storyville. His latest record is The Late Show, an outstanding, Stratocaster-laden blues gem. The album is mostly instrumental, but Levenson invites Johnny Dyer, Mary Williams and Finis Tasby in for some guest vocals. This is a classically great blues album and is, without a doubt, worth hearing early and often.

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February 16, 2011

Kent Kimbrough, Super Funky!

Kent Kimbrough, Super Funky Kent Kimbrough is the son of (and drummer for) the late Mississippi bluesman Junior Kimbrough. Super Funky is his first album, and while Kent sounds a lot different from his dad, he does succeed at putting out a fresh-sounding record. Its simple, repetitive soul, blues, and funk grooves cook up nicely with some solid support from Cedric Burnside, Lightinin' Malcolm, and others. The album kinda slipped in under the radar last year, but it's great, unassuming, and fun to listen to. Curiously, Kent is a little hard to find on the Internet, so we're not sure how serious he is about pursuing a music career, but if this album is any indication, he could do well.

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February 08, 2011

Gary Moore, 1951–2011

Gary Moore, Bad for You Baby Gary Moore has passed away. The legendary guitarist was in Spain on holiday and died Sunday, Feb. 6, of an apparent heart attack. Moore was a sporadic member of the heavy-blues-rock band Thin Lizzy and was in the band's line-up for their great 1979 record Black Rose. he fit seamlessly in the band's signature twin guitar sound, but stood out noticeably in the album's seven minute closer, "Roisin Dubh (Black Rose)" with an extended and astounding guitar solo. After Thin Lizzy, Moore dabbled in metal-tinged rock, but eventually returned to his blues roots and released several excellent albums. Bad for You Baby, his most recent, was one of his best solo outings. His uncharacteristically restrained guitar work can also be heard on Otis Taylor's recent Clovis People, Vol 3. Moore was a stellar artist and was only 58 years old. He will be missed.

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February 01, 2011

North Mississippi Allstars, Keys to the Kingdom

North Mississippi Allstars, Keys to the Kingdom As noted on the North Mississippi Allstars website, Keys to the Kingdom, the band's new album, "is a celebratory declaration of life in the face of death." Jim Dickinson, father of two of the band's members and mentor to multitudes, passed away in 2009, just months before Luther Dickinson became a father himself. The juxtaposed bookends of life—coping with a painful loss and honoring the existence of a man who meant so much to the individuals in the band while also delighting in new birth—frame Keys to the Kingdom and make it one of the most personal and engaging efforts in NMA's catalog. The album features guest appearances from Mavis Staples, Alvin Youngblood Hart, and Ry Cooder, among others, and it does indeed feel like a joyful celebration.

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January 26, 2011

Gregg Allman, Low Country Blues

Gregg Allman, Low Country Blues Outside the context of The Allman Brothers Band, Gregg Allman has, at times, seemed like an artist adrift. Through sporadic recordings, he has revealed himself to be an artist with undeniable talent, but one who sometimes lacks the will to produce forceful, cohesive music. Low Country Blues is the album that Allman has been waiting to make. In yet another triumph for producer T-Bone Burnett, Allman delves down to his blues core and comes up with an outstanding record. Of course, Burnett is to be lauded for helping Allman find and travel down the path that led to this remarkably authentic, moving collection, but it's Allman who leads the way and who deserves a huge amount of credit, especially for his wearily perfect vocal delivery throughout. This is easily his finest album in decades.

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January 21, 2011

Roomful of Blues, Hook, Line & Sinker

Roomful of Blues, Hook, Line & Sinker Perennial aces of bluesiness Roomful of Blues released their umpteenth album this week. Hook, Line & Sinker features 12 fresh and energetic tracks and is yet another quality entry in an already impressive catalog. Over 40 years in the business and they're still going strong, pumping out their muscular brand of authoritative retro stylings. The band has a long history of losing key members (Ronnie Earl, Duke Robillard, Lou Ann Barton, Al Copley, Curtis Salgado and many others have spent significant time in the band), but they have always been able to bounce back and somehow sound consistently great. That band's tenacity is certainly evident on Hook, Line and Sinker, and their consistency really is amazing. They really have yet to make "the one that got away."

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January 20, 2011

Shemekia Copeland, Deluxe Edition

Shemekia Copeland, Deluxe Edition The great Shemekia Copeland's young career is given an overview in Deluxe Edition, an excellent and enticing compilation from Alligator Records. Copeland is only 31, but started singing (with the encouragment of her father, the fantastic Johnny Copeland) at a very early age. That makes the Harlem native a veteran vocalist. Copeland's '98 Alligator debut, Turn the Heat Up, piqued blues fans' interest and generated high expectations ("Turn the Heat Up," "Your Mama's Talking," and the amazing "Ghetto Child" are included on Deluxe Edition). In subsequent years, Copeland has not disappointed. In total, five increasingly accomplished studio albums have shown her talents to be legitimate and ever-expanding. Deluxe Edition is a highly recommended introduction to some of her best tracks.

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January 11, 2011

Roosevelt Sykes, The Honeydripper

Roosevelt Sykes, The Honeydripper One of the greatest piano bluesmen, Roosevelt Sykes was responsible for a slew of classic blues records, and The Honeydripper, released in late 1961, stands as one of his greatest achievements. The album features such iconic tracks as "Miss Ida B.," "Satelite Baby," and "I Hate to Be Alone." The album features Sykes—pounding the keys and stabbing the air with his authoritative vocals—with a stellar backing band in a nine-song package with excellent production quality, especially on this recently remastered edition.

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