Reviewer Dr. Wesley Britton: Dr. Britton is the author of four non-fiction books on espionage in literature and the media. Starting in fall 2015, his new six-book science fiction series, The Beta-Earth Chronicles, debuted via BearManor Media. For seven years, he was co-host of online radio’s Dave White Presents where he contributed interviews with a host of entertainment insiders. Before his retirement in 2016, Dr. Britton taught English at Harrisburg Area Community College. Learn more about Dr. Britton at his WEBSITE
Musicians: Various Artists
Publisher: Ruf Records
It figures. Just as I start thinking about assembling my Top 10 musical list for the year, I hear a new release on the last week of 2014 that shakes everything up. In this case, I'm talking about a compilation of 28 songs that are a collection of hot, burning blues and blues-rock culled from twenty years of recordings.
It started back in 1994 when manager Thomas Ruf founded the German label, Ruf Records, intended to benefit his client, Luther Allison. Twenty years later, Ruf is celebrating what Ruf Records has achieved for a label with the motto "Where the blues crosses over." On their 2014 two-disc compilation, disc one features "Girls With Guitars," disc two offers "Guys With Guitars." I suspect these anthologies will inspire many a listener to check out full albums by many of the spotlighted performers. Prepare for a whirlwind tour--
It's "Girls With Guitars" where the blues really crosses over. This is made clear on the opening track with Cassie Taylor, Dani Wilde, and Samantha Fish joining forces on the Stones' classic, "Bitch." That's followed by the powerful Dana Fuchs belting out her signature song, "Bliss Avenue." We get some acoustic guitar with Joanne Shaw Taylor rockin' out on "Can’t Keep Living Like This," some jazzy swing on Candye Kane and Laura Chavez's "Toughest Girl Alive," and one previously unreleased track from Ruf's newest artist, Eliana Cargnelutti called "Stranded in Memphis." Other international blues/rock songstresses include Meena, Ana Popovic, Joanna Connor, and Erja Lyytinen. Where should you have fun? According to Deborah Coleman, Roxanne Potvin, and Sue Foley, that would be "In the Basement."
On "Guys With Guitars," we get more straight-up blues and less rock 'n roll. This set opens with the astonishing Dane, Thorbjørn Risager blowing out all comers with "If You Wanna Leave." That's followed by the 2012 break-out group, the Royal Southern Brotherhood doing "Rock And Roll." Ruf has also had success with Brotherhood solo releases including Devon Allman (son of Gregg), Cyril Neville (Neville Brothers), and Mike Zito. Along with better known names like Walter Trout, Oli Brown, Spin Doctors, and Kim Simmonds and Savoy Brown, we get samples of Laurence Jones, Bart Walker, Aynsley Lister, Erja Lyytinen, Ian Parker, Jeff Healey, and Albert Castiglia. Appropriately, the set ends where it all began--Luther Allison tying everything up with another Jagger/Richards number, "You Can’t Always Get What You Want." (Its interesting arrangement includes a back-up chorus channeling Lou Reed's "Walk on the Wild Side."
It's hard to imagine anyone not getting off on Ruf Records 20th Year Anniversary. True, disc two will appeal mainly to lovers of the electric blues. But "Girls With Guitars" is full-throttle, energetic music guaranteed to get you moving, whether in the basement or anywhere else. Odds are, in 2015 you'll be hunting down albums by Dana Fuchs, Walter Trout, or any number of these artists. What a great way to end 2014!