This week saw some big name artists release some new material. Names like Lenny Kravitz, Kenny Chesney, Leonard Cohen have new albums out as of yesterday. After a little sampling, I narrowed it down to a couple choices for a review and finally found myself with no choice, because I couldn’t ignore the power of Gary Clark Jr.’s new live release simply entitled “Live”. I don’t know much about Clark other than I was woefully mislead by local radio into thinking he was a convenient soul-revivalist from the one track of his, they played for a couple of weeks on the air. “Live” is a double-disk that was recorded live during his 2013 and 2014 tours.
The Muddy Waters’ tune “Catfish Blues” starts Clark and company off at a slow pace with some powerful blues rock guitar. You can tell immediately, that the music has a power that probably isn’t as obvious in the studio, as here live. The vocals are a little bit more melodic like a Ben Harper, but also bluesier than that.
You have to love the heavy-footed outlaw blues stomp on “Next Door Neighbor Blues”, about the tough times that go with hard livin. There is something that is a little bit Hendrix and Marvin Gaye about Gary Clark Jr, because his playing is unfathomable combined with his tremendously melodic and soulful voice, making for a perfect combination.
“Travis County” is like a vintage rock tune from Chuck Berry or Little Richard, with a swing that makes your feet move and hips shake.
The soulful blues of “When My Train Pulls In” is a little like Ben Harper at a party with the North Mississippi Allstars. This one definitely feels like Hendrix could have written it.
“Don’t Owe You A Thing” has a travellin blues vibe, with some impeccable lyrics sung spectacularly over an infectious hillcountry blues rock stomp that makes your head bob and the corners turn upwards.
B.B. King’s “Three O’Clock Blues” is some smooth blues that almost feels like Bobby Bland singing with Kenny Wayne Shepherd playing those crisp notes.
I am taken by the classic mellow soul on “Things Are Changin” that touches on a discreet relationship, before drifting off into the ether for a groovy sonic ending.
“Numb” is the closing track on the first disk and it starts with a little slide noodling, before getting all Hendrix and dropping the boom at the low end. This track digs down deep in the muddy bottom, where blues and rock are one.
Disk two opens with “Ain’t Messin ‘Round” with something that has a Sam & Dave-esque lyric and vocal with Cream backing them.
“If Trouble Was Money” is a slower blues number, written by Albert Collins, that is the epitome of blues music with its talk of worries and hard times. The solos are phenomenal and because of that fact, this track is mostly a downright blues jam.
“Third Stone From The Sun/If You Say You Love Me” eases into the Hendrix cover before moving into the funky soul of the latter tune. The bass and drums are highlighted here, after which they go back to their bouncy tractor ride on “Third Stone…” to finish the song.
Gary Clark Jr. shows off his vocal range and control on the classic soul of “Please Come Home”.
“Blak & Blu” is a more stripped down tune that he co-wrote with three other men, among them Gil Scott-Heron, need I say more.
“Bright Lights” segues nicely from the former tune into its own blues build that again sounds a little like Ben Harper, which is hardly a bad thing.
This double-disk “Live” album ends with the back porch blues of “When The Sun Goes Down”, that finds Gary playing harmonica to end a terrific live album.
The only thing I didn’t like about Gary Clark Jr. is that I wasn’t exposed to him sooner. “Live” is a pretty fantastic look at Clark’s lyrical, vocal and guitar ability, which happens to be off the charts. I have reviewed over 50 albums this last year, as well as hearing several other new releases over the past 12 months and this is probably one of three or four albums that is great from beginning to end. Clark is superb at his perfect blend of blues, rock and classic soul. The three members that back Clark are definitely on par to ride with this super-artist up the ladder of musical success. I would suggest this offering to anyone who is a fan of the blues or just likes phenomenal guitar playing!! That’s What I Know, So That’s What You Know!! Enjoy!!
HAPPY LISTENING!!!! 😉