Joe Ely & Alejandro Escovedo @ the YMCA Boulton Center
for the Performing Arts, 37 W. Main St.
8 p.m. $65, $60. 631-969-1101 www.boultoncenter.org
You’d be hard-pressed to find a cooler double-shot of artists than this pair of native Texans. Joe Ely has enjoyed a successful solo career on top of being hand-picked by The Clash to open the same tour that included an infamous stop playing New York City department store Bonds in the early ‘80s, and for being one-third of the legendary Flatlanders, whose members include fellow Texas troubadours Butch Hancock and Jimmie Dale Gilmore. On a similar level, Alejandro Escovedo has been making some of the best music of his life ever since recovering from a life-threatening bout with Hepatitis C. His last outing, 2012’s Big Station, reunited him with legendary glam-rock producer Tony Visconti for a third time and came up with a dozen gritty character-driven tunes.
Paul McCartney & Wings — Wings Over America (MPL Communications Inc./Concord Music Group) — Originally released as a 3-LP set, this 1976 live album vied with Frampton Comes Alive for being one of the decade’s greatest live sets. Twenty-seven years after its initial release, this latest reissue was unleashed in a variety of incarnations including as a Deluxe Edition Box Set made up of 3-CD/1-DVD; the original 28-track album, a bonus tracks disc, DVD of the TV documentary Wings Over the World, 112-page book, assorted memorabilia, 60-page photograph book, 80-page sketch book and download link to all of the material. As for the music, it finds Paul McCartney and this lineup of Wings at its most effective. Coming off the band’s two strongest albums, Band On the Run and Venus and Mars, Macca and company were able to mix great recent material like “Let Me Roll It,” “Picasso’s Last Words” and “Jet” with a decent dose of Beatles fare including“I’ve Just Seen a Face,” “Lady Madonna,” and “The Long and Winding Road.”
Albert King — Born Under a Bad Sign (Stax) — Despite being one of the three Kings of blues, (alongside B.B. and Freddie — both no relation), Albert King was actually born Albert Nelson. While the Mississippi native’s earliest recordings date back to the 1950s, it wasn’t until he hooked up with Memphis-based soul outfit Stax/Volt that King enjoyed crossover success. Backed by Booker T. & the MGs, the imposing left-handed guitar slinger really dug in, serving up the stinging blues shuffle “Crosscut Saw,” affecting the requisite swagger throughout the brassy declarations of “The Hunter” and gently bobs along through a lightly swinging reading of “Kansas City.” Most surprising is King’s effectiveness as a balladeer, not only on Ivory Joe Hunter’s juke joint weeper “I Almost Lost My Mind,” but on a reading of pop bandleader Ray Noble’s 1934 standard “The Very Thought Of You” that works far better than you’d expect it to.
With brothers Cody and Luther Dickinson, (both sons of the late and legendary producer/musician Jim) , at the helm of North Mississippi All Stars, the band has always avoided going down the route of producing weekend warrior-flavored blues. The rustic and raw Delta Blues associated with juke joint-flavored imprint Fat Possum has always been more of a guidepost, especially given the fact that the NMAS has worked with a number of that label’s artists in the past. The 2009 death of the duo’s pop may have caused them to go on hiatus, but their return to the studio is a testament to their father be it in the title (one of Jim Dickinson’s favorite sayings) or in the innovative way in which they blend raw playing, snippets of ambient noise and clips of previously recorded fare by late Fat Possum stalwarts Othar Turner and R.L. Burnside.
The James Hunter Six —
Minute By Minute (Fantasy)
A blue-eyed singer in the vein of British predecessors Mick Hucknell, Steve Winwood and Rod Stewart, James Hunter is also a double-threat whose warm croon is matched by crisp and tasty guitar playing. Returning from a five-year hiatus that saw the 2011 death of his wife Jacqueline from cancer, Hunter has somehow rebounded to arguably make the best album of his nearly three-decade career. In teaming up with Daptone co-founder Gabriel Roth, the former Van Morrison sideman has found a producer/engineer who complements his overall sound. Hunter’s singing style has a rich tone and range that encompasses the relaxed suaveness of Sam Cooke and excited yelp of James Brown, which translates well on Minute By Minute’s dozen self-penned songs.
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