TONI LYNN WASHINGTONBlues At Midnight
Tone Cool Records
HER RESUME WAS nearly complete: she sang in a gospel choir as a child in North Carolina, did gigs with Sam and Dave and Jackie Wilson, performed on NPR's Bluestage with Irma Thomas and John Lee Hooker and even worked with three of Ray Charles' Raelettes in the group Sister's Love.
Now on her own, her band swings like Count Basie's Orchestra with B.B. King sitting in on guitar; but it's Washington's voice that is the star of the show.
She sizzles slowly on "Evening" and wrenches your heart out with a smooth twist on Roosevelt Sykes' "Driving Wheel." Few vocalists have her gift of phrasing--clear, soulful and elegant.
CHRIS GAFFNEYLoser's Paradise
ANOTHER ALBUM STACKED with great artists: Rosie Flores, Dave Alvin, Lucinda Williams, Jim Lauderdale, Sarah Brown, Ian McLagan and many others.
Best cuts: "Glasshouse," a country tear tumbler augmented by Scott Walls' weeping pedal steel; "Sugar Bee"--Gaffney shouts out a blues version stung repeatedly by Alvin's guitar and goosed by Ponty Bones' accordion; and "So Far From God (And So Close To You)"--wickedly revealing lyrics and a country roots foundation (anchored by Brown's bass) with a catchy pop melody.
The album is full of Tejana touches, Cajun cavorting and a hot spit of blues grease.
JIMI HENDRIXBand Of Gypsys
THIS "LIVE" CONCERT album (now on CD for the first time) was the last officially released Hendrix recording before his death. The 1969 New Year's Eve performance showcased a new rhythm section for Hendrix--drummer Buddy Miles and bassist Billy Cox replaced the more frantic Mitch Mitchell and Noel Redding of the earlier Experience. This is the only aural document of the short-lived all-African American trio, revealing more funk and R&B groove behind Hendrix's explosive guitar. Just how important this CD is within Hendrix's career may still be unsettled, but its worth to fans will be unquestioned.
THE ESQUIRESFlashin' Red
WHILE THIS SURF combo's takes of "Runaway," "Summertime Blues," "Louie Louie" and "Lucille" have occasional schlocky moments, the band redeems itself with impossible-to-resist twangy reverb guitar tones. "Squad Car" in particular is a minor-key, instrumental tour de force for hang-ten hodads of all eras.
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