Category Archives: Music

The Wrecking Crew (soundtrack)

The Wrecking Crew
L.A.’s Red-Light Masters

The Wrecking Crew, the documentary about L.A.’s well-paid but largely anonymous session players ranks with the very best music documentaries. Director Denny Tedesco, son of legendary studio guitarist Tommy Tedesco, did a fantastic job. The DVD, with tons of bonus features, should (more…)

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Tennessee Ernie Ford

Portrait of an American Singer
Country Boogie

“Sixteen Tons,” Tennessee Ernie Ford’s immortal 1955 interpretation of Merle Travis’ impressionistic 1946 coal-mining ode, became a country and pop standard that not only cemented Ford’s place in American music, but landed him a prime-time NBC TV series for five seasons. Despite (more…)

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Jas Obrecht

Early Blues: The First Stars of Blues Guitar
Blues Primordial

When did blues guitar begin? Many people think of Charley Patton, but in this book historian Jas Obrecht teaches us the idiom began long before that Delta legend – back to the turn of the century, if not further. The well-researched but highly accessible (more…)

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Phil Collins, Billy Cobham

Face Value, Hello, I Must Be Going, The Atlantic Years 1973-1978
Great Guitar Albums From Non-Guitarists

Sometimes non-guitarists make great guitar albums. These expanded reissues from drummers Billy Cobham and Phil Collins are cases in point. After a blistering career in the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Cobham went solo and released a spate of excellent fusion albums, compiled here in an (more…)

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Joseph Rosen

Blues Hands

Surely, Joe Rosen isn’t the first music photographer to snap a shot not of a performer’s face but of his or her hands. The difference is he continued the practice and, with a keen eye, compiled those shots into a book. Its 128 semi-glossy (more…)

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Greg Renoff

Van Halen Rising

This is not just another salacious rock biography full of debauchery and drug-fueled excesses; this is the saga of European immigrants and their struggle to find the American dream. It’s also an underdog story about the courage and tenacity to believe in yourself, (more…)

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Eric Bibb and J.J. Milteau

Lead Belly's Gold
Lead Belly Lives!

The September ’15 “Check This Action” column was devoted to an impressive box-set the Smithsonian Folkways label dedicated to Lead Belly, whom Eric Bibb and J.J. Milteau honored with this CD. Lead Belly’s importance to American culture can’t be overstated. He sang against (more…)

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Doc Watson

Live At The Bottom Line
Doc In NYC

Doc Watson appeared twice at Manhattan’s Bottom Line in 2002, in March and August. With him were guitarists Jack Lawrence, who replaced Watson’s son Merle when he retired from the road in 1983 (he died in a ’85 accident) and Merle’s son Richard. (more…)

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Sean McGowan

My Fair Lady

On previous releases, Denver-based McGowan has interpreted tunes by such heavyweights as Oliver Nelson, Duke Ellington, Johnny Mercer, Jimmy Van Heusen, Charlie Parker, and Rodgers and Hart. He also dedicated his Sphere album to Thelonious Monk’s repertoire and released an acoustic Thanksgiving/Christmas CD. Exploring (more…)

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Mary Osborne

A Girl & Her Guitar

This isn’t just a reissue; the first CD appearance of Mary Osborne’s only solo album is an event. Osborne was not just the first major female jazz guitarist, she was arguably the best ever – Emily Remler and Mimi Fox notwithstanding. In the ’40s, (more…)

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