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New Album Releases: Santana, Selena Gomez, Maroon 5, Matt Costa, Claude Hay, Lucky Tomblin Band, Junior Wells

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We’ve got a stack of high profile new releases and also some good ones, which makes my job much easier.  I’m not going to be “that guy” and bash Selena Gomez or Maroon 5.  If you’re a girl under the age of 15, please feel free to buy your copy of the Selena Gomez record because that’s what she’s there for.  There’s really no excuse for buying Maroon 5 records but Hands All Over is out today, yours if you want it.  Here are a few other releases worth further discussion:

Santana
Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time

Carlos Santana is a phenomenal guitarist who has made some incredible music over his decades as a bandleader.  He’s also responsible for some absolute dreck.  For his latest record, Santana has covered some of the most famous guitar songs in rock and roll history.  The concept isn’t entirely terrible but I don’t see a lot of upside.  I love Santana’s playing but I’m not all that curious to hear what he’s going to do with “Whole Lotta Love” or “Back In Black.”  It’s possible I could have gotten past that but what I can’t overlook is the roster of vocalists he’s assembled to help him with this concept.

I can’t possibly tell you how much I don’t want to hear Rob Thomas sing “Sunshine Of Your Love,” and that’s not likely to be the worst track on the album.  Gavin Rossdale singing “Bang A Gong?”  India.Arie and Yo-Yo Ma assisting on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps?”  Do you want to hear the dude from Train singing Van Halen’s “Dance The Night Away” or Nas doing “Back in Black?”  Why on earth is the dude from Linkin Park singing “Riders On The Storm?”  These vocalists are going to be a tire fire and their selection is telling.  This “diverse” marketing plan reeks of mass marketing strategy which in turn suggests these are going to be turgid, bland, radio friendly arrangements of classic songs.  I want to be wrong because I admire Santana but I’m passing on this for now.

Junior Wells
Live in Boston 1966

There will never again be anyone quite like Junior Wells.  Thinking about Wells reminds me of baseball’s Manny Ramirez and the phrase so often repeated “Manny being Manny” and the idea playfully proffered that Ramirez is from a distant planet in another galaxy.  Wells was a first-rate Chicago blues harmonica player whose name belongs in the hallowed company of the Walters (Little Walter and Big Walter Horton), Sonny Boy Williamson II, James Cotton and all the greats.  His Hoodoo Man Blues, featuring his lifelong friend Buddy Guy, is an entire book of the Blues Bible.  Wells was great and that greatness is manifest on this recording , restored to the finest fidelity possible.  This live set from Boston features Wells backed by the great rhythm aces of Dave and Louis Meyers  and Fred Below, three guys who played on scores of the best blues sides cut at Chess during its glory years. 

What makes this set essential though is not just the opportunity to hear one of the great harp players of all time blowing some mean lines and singing and swaggering in front of a crack band.  Junior Wells may well have been from another planet and that zaniness makes him an unforgettable character and some of that was also captured the night this set was captured. 

Claude Hay
Deep Fried Satisfied

Australia is a long, long ways from the Mississippi Delta where the blues as we know and understand them was born but Claude Hay has connected with the traditions of the music and the experience of those who first made it.  I’m reading a book called Rollin’ & Tumblin´ on my Kindle.  This book collects interviews given by some of the great post-World War II blues guitarists and it’s amazing to hear how many of them learned to play on instruments they built themselves out of whatever they could get their hands on.  Enter Claude Hay, another in that tradition of DIY blues musicians.  Now before you start rolling your eyes and allowing them to sink into a hazy, distant gaze, you should know Hay is not impersonating the legendary performers in a sleepy rehash of vintage sounds and styles.  He’s taken a little of the old and blended it with the new, giving his blues a contemporary sound imbued with some funk-styled rhythms.  Whatever you think this sounds like, you’re probably wrong.

Lucky Tomblin Band
Honky Tonk Merry Go Round

Once again underscoring how diverse the blues universe is we segue from a new album by Claude Hay to this from Lucky Tomblin Band.  Where Hay has his blend of modern and traditional blues sounds, Tomblin is playing more to the Texas-swing and honky tonk blues crowd (as the name of the record suggests).  LTB is a little bit country, a little bit blues, and a whole lot of swing on album number four.

Adrienne Pierce – Oh Deer
Banda Culiacancito – Los Días De Mayo
Billy Currington – Enjoy Yourself
Black Country Communion – Black Country Communion / [Cd/Dvd Combo]
Black Twig Pickers, The – Ironto Special
Brass Bed – Melt White
Brian Ray – This Way Up
Caleb Klauder – Western Country
Chandler Travis Philharmonic – Chandler Travis Philharmonic Blows
Chris & Kyle With True Spirit – Heal Me
Chris Hillman & Herb Pederson – At Edwards Barn
Claude Hay – Deep Fried Satisfied
Crippled Black Phoenix – I, Vigilante
Curran, Amelia – Hunter, Hunter
Dan Reed Network – Breathless
Darryl Holter – West Bank Gone
Dazz Band – Under The Streetlights
Dead Men’s Hollow – Angels’ Share
Dennis Springer – Rio
Dennis Springer – On The Path
Doucet, Luke & The White Falco – Steel City Trawler
Ebersole, Christine – Christine Ebersole Sings Noel Coward
Ellie Goulding – An Introduction To Ellie Goulding Ep
Fake Problems – Real Ghosts Caught On Tape
Franchise – Dangerous
Franti, Michael & Spearhead – Sound Of Sunshine, The
Fred Figglehorn – Who’s Ready To Party?
Giving Tree Band, The – The Joke, The Threat, & The Obvious
Group 1 Crew – Outta Space Love
Hanlon, Darren – I Will Love You At All
Hundred In The Hands, The – The Hundred In The Hands
Imagination Movers – In A Big Warehouse
James Brown – The Singles Vol. 9 (1973-1975) / [2 Cd]
Jane Monheit – Home
Jed Davis – The Cutting Room Floor
Jim Stephanson – Say Go
Jones, Stuart – Touched By Angels
Jose Feliciano – All Time Greatest Performances
Junior Wells – Live in Boston 1966
Junko Onishi – Baroque
K2 – Black Garden
Kay Starr – All Time Greatest Performances (Feat. Les Paul & Joe Venuti)
King Curtis – Soul Time
Krista Detor – Chocolate Paper Suites
Krista Detor – Mudshow
Krista Detor – Cover Their Eyes
Krista Detor – The Silver Wood
Lead Belly – All Time Greatest Performances
Legend & The Roots, John – Wake Up!
Lilla D’mone – Music Trance
Liza Minnelli – Confessions
Lucky Tomblin Band – Honky Tonk Merry Go Round
Mackintosh Braun – Where We Are
Marcos Amorim Trio – Portraits
Margot And The Nuclear So And So’s – Buzzard
Marlon Mcclain – Tbd
Maroon 5 – Hands All Over
Mathis, Johnny – Let It Be Me – Mathis In Nashville
Matt Costa – Mobile Chateau
Maximum Balloon – Maximum Balloon
MC5 – Purity Accuracy (6xcd)
McNeil, John / Bill McHenry – Chill Morn He Climb Jenny
Mel Tillis – You Ain’t Gonna Believe This
Meligrove Band – Shimmering Lights
Methods Of Mayhem – A Public Disservice Announcement
My Darkest Days – My Darkest Days
Natacha Atlas – Moungaliba
Never Shout Never – Xalbumx
Original Cast Recording – Bloody Bloody Andrew Jackson
Original Cast Recording – Ordinary Days
Otem Rellik – Elephant Graveyard
Paula Cole – Ithaca
Phineas & Ferb – Phineas And Ferb Holiday Favorites
Qemists, The – Spirit In The System
Randy Houser – They Call Me Cadillac
Rhonda Vincent – Taken
Roger Sause – Freestyle Funk
Roots Manuva Meets Wrongtom – Duppy Writer
Rutledge, Justin – The Early Widows
Santana – Guitar Heaven: The Greatest Guitar Classics Of All Time
Selena Gomez & The Scene – A Year Without Rain
Serj Tankian – Imperfect Harmonies
Shakespears Sister – Songs From The Red Room (Deluxe Version)
Shock – After Shock
Shontelle – No Gravity
Ski Beatz – 24 Hour Karate School
Smile Brigade – Do You Come Here Often?
Soundtrack – Bored To Death
Soundtrack – Spartacus: Blood And Sand (Joseph Loduca)
Soundtrack – The Pillars Of The Earth (Trevor Morris)
Soundtrack – True Blood: Season Two (Nathan Barr)
Stevie Joe – 80’s Baby
Taylor Eigsti – Daylight At Midnight
The Green Pajamas – The Red, Red Rose
The Upsidedown – The Town With Bad Wiring
Thievery Corporation – It Takes A Thief.
Tim Henderson – Winds Of Texas
Tom Corbett – Tonight I Ride
Torche – Songs For Singles
Travis & Fripp – Live At Coventry Cathedral
Trisha Gagnon – A Story About You And Me
Twiztid – Heartbroken And Homicidal
UB40 – Labour Of Love IV
Various Artists – Ost: Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps
Various Artists – Imaginational Anthem Iv : New Possibilities
Various Artists – Metal Xmas / [2 Cd Special Edition]
White Noise Sound – White Noise Sound
Will Sumner – Tracks
Winter, Johnny – Beginnings 1960 – 1967 (2CD)
Wonder Years, The – The Upsides (Deluxe Edition)
Zac Brown Band – You Get What You Give

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About Josh Hathaway

  • Carl Mancuso

    Josh:

    I couldn’t agree more with you on your assessment of the new Santana cd. It is just Clive Davis and Carlos Santana’s marketing stragegy to include various “youthful and hip” singers to help sell the project to the public. Initially, I was excited about the idea, because I was under the impression that Carlos would make an instrumental album. I’ve heard all of the tracks, and I’m just not feeling it. If you’re going to make it interesting, alter the arrangments and focus on the guitars, keyboards, and percussion elements. We know how the vocals are supposed to sound. Carl

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    Precisely. I don’t need to hear overly loud mixes and ProTools versions of songs that were great the first time they were done. It’s not that Santana couldn’t do something interesting with this project as much as I am pretty sure he didn’t.

  • Mark Saleski

    i just heard the India.Arie/YoYo Ma take on “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. have to say, it was kinda cool. that doesn’t make up for the rest of this pile tho…yeesh.

    i guess Santana’s tank is empty.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    I am too much a fan of Harrison to abide something like that with “Guitar,” but that’s my hangup. As for the rest of this, I just can’t imagine liking it and it bums me out because Carlos is a beautiful player and at his best imbued with such a powerful spirit. This seems like a trash can.

  • Tom Johnson

    I’m with Mark, that India.Aria/Yo-Yo Ma collab actually sounds intriguing while the rest of the Santana disc sounds like complete, utter dreck – in other words, it’s one standout among tracks that are in keeping with everything else he’s done lately.

    And no one asked but I think Harrison would have been proud of that intriguing take on his classic.

    The only things worth investing in this week are the new Opeth live set (not listed,) Dave Douglas’ Spark Of Being box (also not listed,) and Flying Lotus’ new EP (again, not listed.) In other words, the best new stuff out this week is virtually ignored. Is this AMG’s list? If so, they should be ashamed.

  • http://blogcritics.org/writers/josh-hathaway Josh Hathaway

    Would you believe no one asked me either? George may well have loved it but sometimes the artist is wrong. Take… Santana, for instance, and this project. I don’t have a hard time believing “Guitar” isn’t the worst offense on there but it’s one of my favorite songs and I don’t really want anyone fucking with it.

  • Mark Saleski

    wow, you must have loved that version that Marc Ribot did (if you ever listened to it).

  • JoJo

    “Selena needs our help! She’s losing the poll to come to Q102’s Jingle Ball! Please help and to vote for her at http://www.q102.com”