It’s Hurricane season, Ruth that is

By Tom Von Malder | Jul 19, 2020
Photo by: American Showplace Music The cover of Hurricane Ruth's new blues CD.

Owls Head — Hurricane Ruth: Good Life (American Showplace Music CD, 41 min.). This is the fifth studio album for Hurricane Ruth LaMaster, but her first for American Showplace. The blues singer with the great voice, co-wrote eight of the album’s 10 tracks. Her first album in three years, after “Ain’t Ready For the Grave, is dedicated to her late mother, Norma Jean LaMaster, and its lyrics reflect growing up when her father, Milt, owned the Glendale Tavern in Beardstown, Illinois.

In a press release, Hurricane Ruth says of the opening track, “Like Wildfire, a slab of boogie rock, that it “takers me back to some of the honky tonk music I heard at my mom and dad’s tavern … Whether it was music on the jukebox or at Sunday jam sessions, you would always here an eclectic mix of blues, swing, country, outlaw and rock ‘n’ roll. It inspired me to combine all these genres into this song.”

That early tavern experience also informs “Dirty Blues,” a song about “that one dancer that comes totally undone on the dance floor when she hears her favorite kind of music. She’ll get down and dirty with her bad self and let out a big, ‘Hell yeah!’’ There is some nice guitar by Scott Holt on the track. “What You Never Had” is a jauntier blues track with organ on the break, based on a comment by her mother about not understanding people who complain about not having this or that. Her advice was “Why worry about what you never had.”

A deep conversation with her mother, about a year before she died, also is the basis for “Good Life,” a slower blues number that has a pretty guitar solo by Holt. There’s some organ on “She’s Golden,” which is about weathering life’s storms. “Black Sheep” is a pretty standard, basic rocker, but the testifying “Who I Am” is a strong song about the ability to change one’s lifestyle. “Late Night Red Wine,” written about one of her friends, has a good rock beat.

The album’s two covers are “Torn in Two, written by Gary Nicholson, and “I’ve Got Your Back,” written by Karen Leipziger, Freda McCrary and Irene Kelly. The latter is softer and sincere. Grade: A-

Bush: Live in Tampa (Cleopatra/MVD Visual, Blu-ray + DVD + CD, 82 min. video). Recorded on Aug. 16, 2019 in Florida, this just might be the way concerts are experienced in the coming year due to the coronavirus. As it is, Bush’s planned summer tour had to be cancelled. All three formats contain the same show, with the Blu-ray and DVD also have four interview segments with lead singer/guitarist/songwriter Gavin Rossdale.

During this tour, the band was celebrating the 25th anniversary of its debut album, “Sixteen Stone,” so about half the set is from that album, including the very melodic “Everything Zen.” In his intro to “Glycerine,” Rossdale says “I never expected this” of the band’s success and staying power.

The show starts with drummer Nik Hughes literally bashing away at his kit, then the band launches into “Machinehead,” the first of many highlights in the show. Rossdale dances a bit during the musical introduction to “This Is Now” and, since he has abandoned his guitar for this number, he continues to dance throughout the song. Durring “Everything Zen,” Rossdale plays his guitar against one of the onstage speakers. The fine “The Chemicals Between Us” follows.

A taste of the forthcoming album, “The Kingdom,” is “Bullet Holes,” with Rossdale talking about the “John Wick” film connection and images from the film are shown on the backing screens during the number. For “Little Thing,” Rossdale again is jumping around at the start and he ventures into the crowd to press the flesh for a long time in the song’s second half. He goes throughout the crowd, even to the back regions, and the crowd loves it. The show ends with “Comedown,” with the crowd singing by itself near its end. Occasionally, shots of the drummer are in black-and-white. The package comes with a 16-page photo booklet. Grade: A-

Liam Gallagher: MTV Unplugged (Live at Hull City Hall) (Warner Bros. CD). Gallagher returns to the city where it all started for this relatively unplugged concert, recorded last August before a robust crowd of some 1,200 souls. The guitars are acoustic, but there is a gospel choir and, on tracks four through 10, the 24-piece Urban Soul Orchestra, whose strings really work well with “Some Might Say” and the closing “Champagne Supernova.” Those two songs, along with “Cast No Shadow,” come from Gallagher’s Oasis back catalogue, the band he created with his brother Noel. The arrangements are slightly tweaked to fit in with Gallagher’s more recent solo material. “Some Might Say” has nice piano throughout.

Included in the newer material is “Now That I’ve Found You,” an ode to his daughter Molly. Other recent songs are “Once” and “Wall of Glass.” The orchestra and chorus also are nice on “One of Us,” and the chorus is prominent on “Cast No Shadow.” Former Oasis guitarist Bonehead joins Gallagher for “Sad Song” and “Once.” The CD comes with a folded mini-poster. Grade: A

Neil Young: Homegrown (Reprise CD). This is a “lost” Neil Young album, recordings from 1974 and 1975 that Young calls “the unheard bridge between ‘Harvest’ and ‘Comes a Time.’” In fact, most of the music has very much a “Harvest” feel and sound. Of the 12 songs here, seven have never been released before. The other five appeared in different forms in later Young releases. At the same time, Young had recorded the dark “Tonight’s the Night,” the brilliant album he released instead of “Homegrown.”

The best tracks here are the opening “Separate Ways,” about breaking up as both are “looking for better days” and featuring the late Levon Helm of The Band on drums; the bouncy “Love is a Rose,” which also features harmonica; “White Line,” a musical duet with Robbie Robertson of The Band on guitar; the harder-sounding “Vacancy,” with bassist Tim Drummond and lap slide guitarist Ben Keith contributing to the triple vocals; and the closing “Star of Bethlehem,” with Emmylou Harris on backing vocals. Only “Vacancy” of this group has never appeared before. Harris also sings on” Try,” a simple number with a nice chorus.

“White Line” seems to end too soon and a couple other songs seem to be only fragments. The latter include the ballad “Mexico,” about it being hard to hold on to love, and “Kansas,” which Young performs solo. There also is the basically weird, spoken narration of “Florida,” which sounds like Young recounting a drug trip, but actually are recollections of a trip made with his family when he was a child in 1952 and recovering from polio. The title track is a simple rocker that sounds like a jam, but unfortunately, the album does not feature any of Young’s genius extended guitar workouts. “We Don’t Smoke It No More” is mostly instrumental.

According to Rolling Stone, the album was written during Young’s split with actress Carrie Snodgress, the mother of his first son, Zeke. Thus, the pain and vulnerability found in the first three tracks. Grade: B+

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