Posted: June 24, 2011
A musical power play from Tedeschi Trucks
Plus Booker T.'s Beatles homage and Robert Johnson, better than everBy Mike Cote
TEDESCHI TRUCKS BAND Revelator (Masterworks)
Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks have long collaborated on each other's records and performed live shows together, but the release of Revelator marks a major leap in their musical partnership and one whose time clearly has come.
Earlier in their careers, long before they met and became a married couple, the blues belter/guitarist and the slide guitar whiz were noted for the brilliance of their talent and the potential that lay ahead as they progressed from young hot shots to mature artists.
Individually, Tedeschi and Trucks hit that mark quite awhile ago, but together they demonstrate the beauty of what can happen when two powerful talents learn to play off of each other's strengths. Revelator, focusing on songs the duo co-wrote with a variety of songwriting partners, is a stirring, soulful collection of songs that dig deep at the heart and advance the rich tradition of Southern rock and blues trail-blazed by the Allman Brothers Band more than 40 years ago.
The 11-piece ensemble includes two veterans of the latter-day Allmans - Trucks and bass player Oteil Burbridge - so the comparison is not only apt but required Virtuosity is a given with the Allmans and it's expected here, but where the Tedeschi Trucks Band emerges with its own identity is through the power of the song. Trucks' powerful slide guitar is hardly in short supply but rather than a blaze of solos, his playing is more of a foil to his wife's gorgeous emotive singing.
The album begins on a hard-rocking note with the bluesy "Come See About Me" - the style of high-energy songs on which Tedeschi first made her mark, but the album is highlighted by more subtle material: mid-tempo soul songs like "Don't Let Me Slide" and "Simple Things," ballads like "Midnight in Harlem," gospel-laced pop like "Bound for Glory."
The Tedeschi Trucks Band headlines on Saturday, Aug. 13 at the free three-day Bohemian Nights festival in downtown Fort Collins.
BOOKER T. & THE MGs McLemore Avenue (Stax)
Instrumental soul greats Booker T. & the MG's's Beatles cover album was a rather bold statement when it landed in late January 1970. The MG's devoted the entire disc to Abbey Road, which the Beatles had released just a few months before.
Named for the street in Memphis where Stax studio was based, McLemore Avenue reinvented the Beatles masterwork in the bluesy palette of organ and guitar for which the MGs were known. Except for George Harrison's "Something," which stands alone, the band approached the material as medleys -- extending the framework the Beatles employed so masterfully on the original album - and shuffled the order of the songs.
Album highlights: the funked up treatment of "Here Comes the Sun," which has a more upbeat feel than Harrison's bittersweet version, and "She's So Heavy," a rare foray into the blues by John Lennon that is really well-suited for the MGs, especially guitarist Steve Cropper.
This reissue adds six Beatles songs the MGs recorded for other sessions, including "You Can't Do That" and "Day Tripper." McLemore Avenue was reissued at the same time as a pair of other Stax classics: Johnnie Taylor's Taylored in Silk and The Staples Singers' Respect Yourself.
ROBERT JOHNSON The Centennial Collection (Columbia/Legacy)
To celebrate what would have been Robert Johnson's 100th birthday, Columbia has issued a new version of his complete recordings, this time with an extra alternate take that surfaced since the platinum-selling box set version was released in 1996. This budget-priced version dispenses with the long box packaging for a simple jewel case.
You still get detailed liner notes and photography packed into the CD-sized 28-page booklet - and the best-sounding versions yet -- thanks to improved digital clean-up technology -- of "Kind Hearted Woman Blues," "Sweet Home Chicago," "Last Fair Deal Gone Done" and the rest of the ill-fated blues singer's slim body of work recorded with just his high-pitched voice and intricate guitar work in 1936 and 1937 in San Antonio and Dallas respectively.
At the other end of the price spectrum: The Complete Original Masters: Centennial Edition, a lavishly packaged box set that houses reproductions of the dozen 10-inch discs that were released as 78's (but these play at 45 rpm.) The 1,000-run edition, available only at www.thecompleterobertjohnson.com , costs a mere $349.
Mike Cote is the former editor of ColoradoBiz. E-mail him at email@example.com.