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Cool Spins, July 2008

Various Artists Get the Led Out! Led Zeppelin Salute(BHP Music) Since I'd never heard of any of the artists on this disc of instrumental covers of Led

Get the Led Out! Led Zeppelin Salute
(BHP Music)

Since I’d never heard of any of the artists on this disc of instrumental covers of Led Zeppelin tunes (except for guitarist Leslie West on a track credited to bassist Randy Coven), this doesn’t quite qualify as an “all-star” tribute. But it really is the”WIRELESS REVIEW”best kind of tribute because it takes the source material and does something interesting and creative with it. The brainchild of New York producer/guitarist Brian Tarquin, it features a broad range of intriguing Zep interpretations — part of what makes it so cool is that on most tracks, both the Jimmy Page and Robert Plant parts are covered by guitars. And without exception, the guitarists acquit themselves very well. No one is directly copying Page’s style (even as they borrow iconic licks and lines); rather, there is a variety of different guitarists’ voices, several in the speedy, modern Van Halen/Yngwie/Vai mode. A lot of the key touchstones of the LZ catalog are here, from Chris Mahoney’s exciting re-working of “Whole Lotta Love,” to Martin Winch’s appropriately hypnotic acoustic “Kashmir” (which has a dobro playing Plant’s part and a Spanish guitar break), to Greg Rapaport’s sleek and glistening “Immigrant Song” and James Ryan’s ultracrunchy “Black Dog.” Two of the most creative are acoustic: Steve Booke’s “Friends” sounds like a jam from a Marrakesh market, and Steve Bingham’s “The Battle of Evermore” is centered around a lovely violin arrangement. The weakest part of the album will probably be its biggest selling point for some — four previously unreleased “Bonus Tracks” from 1970 featuring Page and the awful singer David “Lord” Such (and John Bonham on three).

PLAY: Must Play

Overall producer: Brian Tarquin; however, many different producers and engineers were involved. Mastering: Chris Landen/Pacific Mastering (North Hollywood). More credits at
— Blair Jackson

Life With You
(W14 Music)

Scottish twins Craig and Charlie Reid, also known as The Proclaimers, have recorded some of the most joyful, soulful, delightful pop music of the past two decades. Their vocal harmonies have a magical synergy reminiscent of the Everly Brothers; live, their voices sound so big and full together you’d think there were several more spectacled Scotsmen onstage. On Life With You, the Reid brothers hold nothing back; the first track on this album, the title track, is an infectious folk/pop powerhouse, fully embellished with piano and horns on top of the brothers’ trademark guitar strumming. Other highlights include a cover of Wreckless Eric’s “Whole Wide World” and the passionate original “Blood Lying on Snow.” A wonderful bonus live recording is included for good measure.

Producer/mixer: Steve Evans. Recording engineer: Tom Dalgety. Studios: Rockfield Studios (Monmouth, UK), The Stone Room (London), Riverside Studios (London). Mastering: Kevin Metcalfe/Soundmasters (London).
— Barbara Schultz

Get Way Back: A Tribute to Percy

(Stony Plain)

Percy Mayfield wrote a string of amazing blues and R&B hits (mostly for others) from the late ’40s through the ’70s, so it’s great to hear Amos Garrett, with his deep baritone voice and his exquisite sense of phrasing — as both a vocalist and guitarist — tackle an album’s worth of Mayfield treasures (well-known and not). It’s like we’ve been dropped into a smoky club after hours and Garrett is leading a small band through its paces: Everything sounds very relaxed and casual, yet there is unmistakable darkness and even urgency in so many of the lyrics. The arrangements — featuring keys, sax, trumpet, bass, drums and guitar — are classy, not flashy, and juuust right. Garrett doesn’t imitate Mayfield; rather, he imbues his songs with an appropriately world-weary wisdom and gravitas, which suits the material perfectly.

PLAY: Must Play
My Jug and I

Producers: Garrett and Dave Allcock. Engineers: Allcock and Nick Tjelios. Studios: Casa Roxton (Toronto), Sundae Sound (Calgary). Mastering: Dave Horrock/Infinite Wave (Calgary).
— Blair Jackson

OLD 97’S
Blame It on Gravity
(New West)

If I ran the zoo, a couple of the songs on Old 97’s just-released Blame It on Gravity would be big hits. The first song on the album, “The Fool,” effectively combines jangling guitars borrowed from “Pinball Wizard” with a country bounce and clever lyrics. And then there’s “Dance With Me” — who doesn’t love a rock ‘n’ roll tango? The band waited four years to make another album of new material (they released a “best-of” collection in ‘06), and it seems their sound and gang songwriting have matured quite a bit during the interval. I used to be somewhat confused about this band: Were they Americana? Indie rock? Now, though they still wear all of their influences on their sleeves, they have a well-formed sound all their own.

PLAY: Must Play
Dance With Me

Producer: Nouralish. Engineers: Rip Rowan and Salim Nouralish. Studio: Pleasantry Lane (Dallas). Mastering: Gavin Lurssen/Lurssen Mastering (Hollywood).
— Barbara Schultz

On a Clear Night
(Reprise Records)

Singer/songwriter Missy Higgins hits her stride with this latest offering, where she combines some of the melodic sensibility of Sarah McLachlan with the more uptempo drive of Alanis Morisette to create a sound that is both stirring and lyrically rich. Most of the tracks reflect her life as a young woman hitting the big city to find herself, getting trampled by new experiences, but dusting herself off and moving on. Producer Mitchell Froom showcases Higgins’ assertiveness as a vocalist, and it’s easy to imagine the stellar cast of A-list musicians — drummer Matt Chamberlain, guitarist/backing vocalist Neil Finn, guitarist Val McCallum, bassists Davey Faragher and Ian Walker, horn player Cathy LaMothe and mandolinist Greg Leisz — encircling Higgins (who also provided some instrumentation) in Froom’s home studio and providing a smooth and comfortable backdrop for her musings.

Producer: Froom. Mixer: David Boucher. Studio: Therabeta Studio (Santa Monica, Calif.). Mastering: Bob Ludwig/Gateway Mastering (Portland, Maine).
— Sarah Benzuly