Give the Gift of Music

With the Holidays approaching I wanted to let you know about some great music I’ve been enjoying. Music is always a nice gift and a gift that keeps on giving. My friend Rob usually has to prompt me to write about “what I’ve been listening to” but here you have it, just in time for last minute shoppers and some suggestions that you can also put on your wish list.

First off…….and I’m not just saying this because I am true to my team……although I am definitely that…. Should you have a friend that doesn’t have the new HOT TUNA CD / LP, STEADY AS SHE GOES give them this as a gift. Jorma and Jack waited a long time to go into the studio to record this gem and it is a crucial Hot Tuna release. A great gift for a Hot Tuna fan and at the same time a great gift to turn a friend onto a great band with a great new release. The CD is also available as a limited edition record (LP) as well……for those vinyl aficionados……the LP shows off the beautiful LP artwork….by the way KEVIN MORGAN the Fur Peace, Jorma, Hot Tuna artist has been nominated for a GRAMMY for his work…….and the LP also is beautifully packaged in a gatefold sleeve with pictures omitted from the CD…….it has three sides of great music and a fourth side engraving of Jorma and Jack in the vinyl. Records are making a strong comeback (YEAH!!!) and this would be a great gift for a record collector with impeccable taste in music.

I also want to let everyone know……the FUR PEACE COMPANY STORE is running some great specials through December for the Holidays. Discounts in several departments and FREE shipping on ALL orders…..there are some great gifts to be found at the Co. Store. Our CAMPFIRE COFFEE and our FPR teas are all on sale and they make a tasty gift.

Now…….back to CD recommendations.

In the Rock, Blues category, this year has given us some great releases. JOHNNY WINTER is back with a great new release, appropriately titled, ROOTS. This CD finds Johnny with a host of special guests playing homage to his Blues’ heroes. All solid Blues’ covers that sound fresh and Johnny’s guitar playing and singing sound crisp as well. Even with all the great guests, it’s Johnny’s trademark guitar slinging that comes through loud and clear. One of my favorite tracks, “Dust My Broom” is all JW and it finds him in top form. A real nice surprise this was. Some other old favorites have come through with great releases as well this past year. Check out STEVE CROPPERS tribute to 1950’s – 60’s R & B on his release, DEDICATED. The legendary guitarist is joined by some great guests on this record and the results are great fun. WARREN HAYNES’ CD, MAN IN MOTION, is another great release with some special guests. As special as the band is, it is Warren’s great guitar playing, singing and song selection that make this CD standout. It’s a Warren record, so you know it jams…..but the R & B originals give it a special turn.

A couple of other old faves released impressive CDs late in the year. DAVID BROMBERG’s new CD USE ME finds the A-list session man getting help from a top shelf group of special guests. David is known for his acoustic guitar playing, but on this release he pulls out the electric and really goes back to his roots for a great record. Another great going back to his roots is RY COODER on his new release PULL UP SOME DUST & SIT DOWN. Well done Ry!

I’ve really been enjoying TRANSLUCENT BLUES the new collaboration between DOORS’ keyboardist RAY MANZAREK and slide guitar king ROY ROGERS. Roy’s slide playing is brilliant and exciting…..he is one of the greatest in that style….and Ray’s singing is strong! Some of the songs have a “Roadhouse Blues” feel to them and it is good to hear. Ray’s keyboard playing is stellar as well. I picked this up without a listen because I knew how good the players were and I was happy I did. GEOFF ACHISON came by the Ranch in late September and he was kind enough to lay a copy of his recent “Live” CD on me. JAMMIN IN THE ATTIC catches Geoff and RANDALL BRAMBLETT live in Georgia in 2010 and this CD kicks butt…..great sound, great songs, great solos……..really was knocked out by this one. I could say I was surprised…..but I really wasn’t……I hold Geoff’s playing in high regard and this collaboration works real well too!!!

I love Native American flute music and really would recommend R. CARLOS NAKAI’s CANYON TRILOGY. This was originally released in 1989 and I still have my vinyl copy, however I was thrilled to find in on CD. This is a great CD to listen to for relaxation, meditation, grounding and pure aural enjoyment. I like to listen to it while driving and that is another reason why I was happy to find the CD…..the turntable in the truck hasn’t been working to good. This is solo flute and it is beautiful.

The new CD from SEUN KUTI, one of FELA KUTI’s sons, is killer Afro-Beat. This finds Seun joined by his father’s late band, Egypt 80, for a blistering set of infectious African groove music. The CD is titled…. FROM AFRICA WITH FURY: RISE.

The great GREGORY ISAACS has left this world for Zion, but while he was with us he recorded some of the most crucial Reggae music you can find. Gregory was know for his beautiful voice and his vocal styling. He was a genuine hit machine in Jamaican music. THE RULER 1972 – 1990 serves as a perfect anthology of his hits as well as some obscure gems. This is a nice 2 – CD package along with a DVD of his 1984 performance at Brixton Academy…..the DVD is a real treat. This is a winner.

One of the great things about music listening is all the joys that are waiting to be discovered. Very recently I made such a discovery and it’s been knocking me out. I had heard of JOHN MARTYN and was aware of his high status in British Folk Music, but did not have any of his recording in my collection. I had a chance to hear the Deluxe Edition of SOLID AIR and I’ve now been playing it in heavy rotation…….what a gem……what a voice…..what a guitar player and songwriter. I just love this album and have gone on to also pick up SWEET LITTLE MYSTERIES the Island Records Anthology by John, which I also thoroughly enjoy. Solid Air was originally released in 1973 and I’m glad I finally got around to adding it to the collection.

My musical palette is far ranging and I picked up a classical guitar CD recently by MILOS KARADAGLIC, a nice Italian guitarist, called MEDITERRANEO and am really impressed by his classical guitar playing. He is a master and at a very young age…and yes I was kidding about his Italian heritage. This CD on DEUTSCHE GRAMAPHONE sounds beautiful and his solo guitar playing is extraordinaire!!!

I have found myself a fan of some ELECTRONICA music and my fave in this genre is THIEVERY CORPORATION. Their 2011 release, CULTURE OF FEAR, finds them doing their thing, which is world music as well as outernational music, and they have never disappointed me. Their sound is exciting and they cover a far range of musical stylings and they always add the Thievery touch, which makes it all so special. I highly recommend this CD if you’re looking for something different. On the same record label as Thievery Corp, ESL RECORDS, is a group called THUNDERBALL and their recent release, 12 MILES HIGH, is also a top pick and very well may end up in my top ten for the year. Thievery Corporation uses a great cast of singers and players to make their sound. Two of these singers……who bring the Reggae vibe to the outfit…..are known as SEE –I…..and their self-titled debut is a killer. This has some straight ahead Reggae but they take the music to higher heights and new dimensions. This is a sleeper and I find myself liking it more and more. These guys know how to plant a groove and make it grow.

Well……there you have it……some of my best picks and most enjoyed CDs of this past year…..I hope you get a chance to give some of these a listen and I also hope you’re enjoying your music, whatever you’re listening too……..because life is too short to miss a beat…….but long enough to catch one too.