.When Ritchie Blackmore departed Deep Purple in the mid-'70s and formed Rainbow (which featured Ronnie James Dio), his replacement was Tommy Bolin. To be sure, Blackmore was a darn tough act to follow, but Bolin proved himself to be a fine guitarist in his own right on Come Taste the Band, his first album with Deep Purple. But unfortunately, Bolin didn't have exceptional material to work with – decent and likable, but hardly exceptional..
When musicians in the New York folk scene of the 1960s grew tired of city life, they decided to "get it together in the country." They headed for Woodstock-not the site of the infamous music festival of 1969 but to the Catskills, to Bearsville, to Woodstock proper. Counterculture revolutionaries like Janis Joplin, Richie Havens, and Paul Butterfield got "back to the land," turning the once sleepy hollow into a funky Shangri-La. Small Town Talk tells the town's musical history, from its earliest days as a bohemian arts colony to its ongoing life as a cultural satellite of New York. Woodstock, the bucolic artists' enclave, has earned its place in rock music history; Small Town Talk is a classic study of a vital music scene in a magical place during a revolutionary time.
One of the most energetic bands in the business, The Fleshtones will celebrate their 40th anniversary with the release of their 21st album, The Band Drinks For Free. Featuring 12 songs about love, deceit, and death in classic Fleshtones style, the album carelessly (to the purists) tosses together the fuzz-guitar and Farfisa organ riffs of so-called "garage rock" with rockabilly, soul, and surf. And, yes, the band still drinks for free. Dubbed "America's Garage Rock Band" and "The Kings Of Garage Rock," The Fleshtones have been the subject of books (Sweat by Joe Bonomo, Continuum Press 2007) and movies (Pardon Us For Living But The Graveyard's Full, 2009) as well as amazement from fans and detractors alike. The Fleshtones are well into their fifth decade of making believers out of the most jaded naysayers with their mongrel stew known as "Super Rock."
This 19-track compilation focuses on Elmore James' crucial sessions recorded for the Modern Records subsidiaries Meteor and Flair between 1952 and 1956. At the time of these recordings, the distorted amplified sound of James' slide guitar with his unmistakable electrified Robert Johnson lick was helping map out the postwar blues idiom with such classics as "I Believe," "Blues Before Sunrise," "Wild About You," "Mean & Evil," and the extraordinary reworking of Robert Johnson's "Dust My Broom" into "Dust My Blues." Even though roughly half of these tracks appear on the equally recommended 1986 Ace release Let's Cut It: The Very Best of Elmore James, this set is a great introduction to the dynamic slide guitarist's earliest recordings.
Released in the fall of 1989, To Kingdom Come is a double-disc set that purports to be "The Definitive Collection" and, in a sense, it does provide a good overview of the band's career. Over the course of 31 songs, the collection works its way through the hits and album tracks, adding such rarities as "Get Up Jake," "Back to Memphis," and "Lovin' You Is Sweeter Than Ever," even if it never touches on The Basement Tapes. All the predictable items are here and the album tracks are well-chosen, and it is a good representation of the band, worth the time of listeners who want a smartly assembled anthology. The 2000 Greatest Hits gets the edge for casual fans, since it has 20 tracks on one disc, yet this remains worthwhile for listeners who want a fairly comprehensive, thorough anthology.