Monday, October 10, 2011

Willie Nile - The Innocent Ones

For years I had a cursory awareness of Willie Nile.  He made some records in the 80's that I remembered hearing but I was never "a fan" in that I kept up with him as time passed.  Every 10 years or so you would see a review of an album or show but the output was never what you would call consistent.  For me things changed with the release of 2005's "Streets of New York".  Essentially a love letter to NYC, this album captured the city in a way no other had.  Frankly it was absolutely brilliant.

2010 saw the "release" of "The Innocent Ones" in Europe.  The album will see its domestic release on November 22nd here in the US.  "The Innocent Ones" is another dose of superior songwriting that is somewhere between Bob Dylan and The Clash.  Often times deceiving in its folk approach, the topics and delivery are more often CBGB's than The Bitter End.

There is some really great rock music on this album.  Willie Nile tackles some of the realities of the past couple of years and there isn't always a happy ending.

 “This album,” he says, “includes a number of songs dedicated to the downtrodden, the forgotten, the outcasts, the hopeless — the innocent ones. It deals with some heavy issues here and there, but at the same time I think it’s an upbeat, feel-good record. I wanted it to be light on its feet and fun to listen to, and it’s all that.”

"Singin' Bell", "The Innocent Ones" and "Rich and Broken" are among his best.  Folks this is a true believer in the power of rock & roll.  Check this one out and grab Streets of New York while you are at it.  You won't be disappointed.  No question this gets the OldRockr1 Seal of Approval.

Johnny Winter - Roots

If you've seen Johnny Winter live over the past decade you probably had the same feeling I did...this is not someone in great health.  Thankfully he seems to have gotten stronger over the past couple of years in spite of a ridiculous touring schedule that sees him out on the road for much of the year.  If the recent release "Roots" is any indication things are going pretty well for him at the moment.

"Roots" will not be a revelation to anyone who has listened to any of his records over the past 40 years.  Johnny is paying tribute to his influences here and it comes off as exactly that.  This is what Johnny Winter has been doing his whole career...bringing blues to the masses.  His vocals and playing are stronger than at any time in recent memory.  In particular the duet with Susan Teseschi finds them both in excellent form.

Track listing and special guests joining Mr. Winter on Roots:

T-Bone Shuffle (featuring Sonny Landreth slide guitar)
Further On Up the Road (featuring Jimmy Vivino guitar)
Done Somebody Wrong (featuring Warren Haynes slide guitar)
Got My Mojo Workin'
Last Night (featuring John Popper on harp)
Maybellene (featuring Vince Gill on guitar)
Bright Lights, Big City (featuring Susan Tedeschi on lead guitar/vocals)
Honky Tonk (featuring Edgar Winter on sax)
Dust My Broom (featuring Derek Truckson slide guitar)
Short Fat Fannie (featuring Paul Nelson on guitar)
Come Back Baby (featuring John Medeski on organ)

Lots of guests to be sure and all fill their roles well. I'd prefer a little more Johnny Winter and a little less guests but that is just me. Lots of good playing on an enjoyable, if a bit predictable, blues album. Is it groundbreaking? Nope. But it still gets the OldRockr1 Seal of Approval. Oh Yeah, there is some stellar guitar playing on this one...but you probably already knew that.

Dust My Broom with Derek Trucks

Bright Lights Big City with Susan Tedeschi

Done Somebody Wrong with Warren Haynes