Monday, November 09, 2015

Album reviews: Cilla Black, Charlie Rich, Leslie West, Maia Sharp, Joe Louis Walker

Artists long recognized for their genre-defying careers are celebrated on a number of highly-recommended new single-disc releases.

Artist: Cilla Black
Title: The Hit Singles (Varese Vintage)
You might like if you enjoy: The Beatles, Burt Bacharach, Shirley Bassey
Tell me more: A true icon in her native England, Cilla Black (who sadly passed away at age 72 in August 2015) enjoyed tremendous success as a singer, actress, and television host. Born in Liverpool, she was a close friend of the Beatles, and several of her first big hits were penned by John Lennon and Paul McCartney. On the new retrospective The Hit Singles, Black's tremendous power to bring emotional heft and nuanced power are wonderfully displayed across 18 tracks that span from 1963 to 1971. In particular her interpretations of Lennon & McCartney and Burt Bacharach & Hal David compositions remain pop standards. Her timeless version of the Bacharach/David masterwork "Anyone Who Had A Heart" ultimately proved to be the biggest single sung by a female artist of the 1960s in England. Fans of the Fab Four will also want to hear "Love of the Loved," "It's For You" and ""Step Inside Love," three seldom-heard gems penned by Lennon & McCartney. Another note confirming the strength of the singles here; all were originally produced by Sir George Martin. Information:

Buy 'The Hit Singles' here

Artist: Charlie Rich
Title: 25 All-Time Greatest Hits (Varese Vintage)
You might like if you enjoy: Elvis Presley, Roger Miller, Roy Orbison
Tell me more: The late Charlie Rich enjoyed a long and successful career as both a singer and songwriter, scoring top hits on the country and pop music charts in the 1960s and '70s. His 25 All-Time Greatest Hits assembles more than two dozen tracks Rich recorded for RCA and Epic Records on a single audio CD disc. With his expressive and smooth vocals, Rich was a master at singing country, pop, jazz, R&B and soul with complete mastery. Rich's wide-ranging spirit is showcased via the R&B flavored "Life's Little Ups and Downs," the lovely ballad "A Part of Your Life," the sweeping jazz foray "Every Time You Touch Me (I Get High)," and his top country-pop hits "Behind Closed Doors" and "The Most Beautiful Girl" (the latter a number 1 hit on both the pop and country music charts in 1973). Information:

Get '25 All-Time Greatest Hits' via this link

Artist: Leslie West
Title: Soundcheck (Provogue)
You might like if you enjoy: Bad Company, Mountain, Walter Trout, Peter Frampton
Tell me more: Hard rocking blues singer-guitarist Leslie West is back with Soundcheck, his first new album since 2013's Still Climbing. West's new disc finds the New York native visiting a number of sonic regions with aplomb. "Here for the Party" boasts an AC/DC approach with a decidedly crunchy riff-rock attack, Angus Young-worthy lead guitar work and party-styled lyrics. The two-fisted "Empty Promises / Nothin' Sacred" rocks with equal fervor. A rich Southern-fried take of Tracy Chapman's "Give Me One Reason" gives West all kinds of chances to solo, while a wistful instrumental cover of Paul McCartney's "Eleanor Rigby" featuring bassist Rev Jones further expands the scope of the album.  "You Are My Sunshine" is tender with West's big baritone voice supported by his impressive work on slide and Peter Frampton's distinctive guitar playing for a textured tandem approach.   Information:

Buy 'Soundcheck' here

Artist: Maia Sharp
Title: The Dash Between The Dates (eOne Music)
You might like if you enjoy: Grace Potter, Vonda Shepard, Bonnie Raitt
Tell me more: A singer-songwriter of incredible depth, it's no wonder that the rest of the world seems to fade away when listening to Maia Sharp on her latest album The Dash Between The Dates. Confessional, intelligent and lush arrangements of original songs probing life's far-flung corners fill the 12-song disc. The soulful infectious lead-off track "Nothing But The Radio" is a romantically-charged tune adorned with a full horn section, the tender "Underneath" takes a introspective look at understanding one's self with thrilling beauty. Even the upbeat "You're Alive" is a full-fledged look at the complexities of relationships, and the joys and sacrifices of falling in love; the song boasts the great lyric "You only stop crying to cry some more." Information:

Get 'The Dash Between the Dates' today

Artist: Joe Louis Walker
Title: Everybody Wants a Piece (Provogue)
You might like if you enjoy: Walter Trout, Buddy Guy
Tell me more: Blues Hall of Fame inductee Joe Louis Walker is in full form on the recently-issued Everybody Wants a Piece. A guitarist who isn't afraid to tear into his instrument with the freewheeling approach of Buddy Guy and the late Jimi Hendrix, the Bay Area native shines as both singer and guitarist across the 11-track disc, including on the blues rocker "Do I Love Here," soulful "Black & Blue" and "Witchcraft" (both showcasing Walker's strong lead vocals) and Delta-minded standout "Gospel Blues." The final track, "35 Years," recalls the infectious spirit of Chicago blues greats Howlin' Wolf and Muddy WatersInformation:

Get 'Everybody Wants A Piece' here

Robert Kinsler

No comments: