PLAYS MORE BLUES, BALLADS & FAVORITES
Not messing with a good thing, recent Baton Rouge Blues Festival act Jimmie Vaughan follows his Grammy-nominated 2010 album, Blues, Ballads & Favorites, with the like-minded Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites, to be released Tuesday, July 26.
Again, Plays More Blues, Ballads & Favorites offers Vaughan, his simpatico supporting players and co-starring vocalist Lou Ann Barton in performances of rhythm-and-blues, blues and country classics. The group executes the music in raw, real, horn section-enhanced style. Except for the occasional slow blues tune, the groove never stops.
Opening with a country standard, Vaughan and his gang rock through Webb Pierce’s “I Ain’t Never.” Vaughan adds a Chuck Berry-style guitar solo to the song and Doug James blows resonant baritone sax.
Two selections written by the late south Louisiana tunesmith Bobby Charles deservedly make Vaughan’s favorites list, including “No Use Knocking,” a Vaughan and Barton duet complemented by tenor and baritone sax.
Another Louisiana music figure, early New Orleans R&B singer Annie Laurie, inspires the irresistible, Barton-led “I’m In The Mood For You.” Vaughan steps up for a slow, simmering blues, “Cried Like A Baby,” holding his torch high. Shifting back to the upbeat, he jubilantly declares himself free from an ungrateful lover in the jumping “I Ain’t Gonna Do It No More,” another Bobby Charles song.
A Texan who loves Louisiana music, Vaughan ends this second installment of his favorite songs with “The Rains Came,” originally recorded by the Texas Gulf Coast band Big Sambo and the House Wreckers. It fits a south Louisiana dance floor perfectly.
FLY FROM HERE
The first album from Yes in 10 years shows this classic-rock band in classic form. A leader in the first wave of prog-rock bands, Yes produces a splendid album that stands strong among its fabled discography.
In fresh and exhilarating ways, Fly From Here echoes and builds upon Yes’ best-known albums, 1971’s The Yes Album, 1972’s Fragile and Close To The Edge and its 1983 comeback album, 90125 (featuring the hit, “Owner Of A Lonely Heart”).
The current edition of Yes features drummer Alan White, guitarist Steve Howe and bassist Chris Squire plus recently added singer Benoit David and Geoff Downes, a keyboard player who recorded with the group just once before 31 years ago. Trevor Horn, producer of 90125 and one-time lead singer for Yes, returns to produce and co-write six tracks.
Yes plays its intricate new songs with heart as well as the expected precision. Characteristically, the album contains a six-movement suite, “Fly From Here.” The song at the center of the suite dates from 1980, but only now has been brought, in expanded form, to a polished studio finish.
David’s high tenor vocals recall original singer Jon Anderson but never in a slavish or imitative way. The songs he fits so well within range from orchestral prog-rock to smartly built melodic pop.
Many of these new Yes songs contain Broadway musical-level craftsmanship. The music rises and falls dramatically, navigating through changing meter and multiple sections. Obvious though the band’s instrumental prowess is, the virtuosity doesn’t lapse into self-indulgence. Songs and arrangements have structure, drama and much beauty, including angelic vocal harmonies of the kind heard in classic Yes albums. Howe’s imaginative guitar fills and solos are a treat, too. All of which makes Fly From Here a triumph for these crafty old prog-rock heroes.