It’s been 44 years since the American singer/songwriter ELLIOTT MURPHY first made his mark on the rock music scene with his debut album Aquashow. The opener of this album that has since gained cult status was entitled ‚Last Of The Rock Stars‘ – in some ways that’s a clairvoyant motto for a remarkable career that’s not near its end. The 67-year-old artist who has been living in France for many years still has a few surprises up his sleeve. He never quite became a commercial rock star with #1 hits but Elliott Murphy is still a vital, seeking, creative force and someone who has never let himself be bent or pushed around, even though he might have stood in his own way once or twice. But that didn’t stop him from releasing album after album with admirable regularity and quality. Prodigal Son is his brand new album on Blue Rose Records. It’s not an anniversary record, simply another excellent album by Elliott Murphy who – in his own way – may be a true rock star and certainly is a unique artist.
Prodigal Son is his 35th album, more than a third of his oeuvre was released on Blue Rose. And almost all of these albums were developed in collaboration with French guitarist Olivier Durand. He has long been one of Europe’s finest, most original stringbenders with his fluid solos and excellent slide playing on acoustic & electric guitar and his mandolin picking. Together with Alan Fatras (drums) he forms Elliott’s backing band, The Normandy All-Stars. They have been accompanying Murphy on Coming Home Again (2006), Notes From The Underground (08), Alive In Paris (09), Elliott Murphy (10) and Aquashow Deconstructed and are doing so on Prodigcal Son, added by Gaspard Murphy, Elliott’s son, who replaced the longtime partner on bass, Laurent Pardo, who passed away in 2016. Murphy himself usually plays acoustic or electric guitar but also contributes banjo, piano and harmonica.
It’s been said before that love is a battlefield, and on his latest album Love Versus (out April 7, 2017 through True North Records), Leeroy Stagger comes well armed. The eleventh studio release by the Western Canadian native is also a milestone, marking the first recording made at Stagger’s home studio in southern Alberta. But more significantly, his ever-evolving fusion of roots, rock and pop reaches new heights on Love Versus, resulting in 10 tracks that confirm his status as one of Canada’s best contemporary singer/songwriters.
“Leeroy is one of the most insightful songwriters I have ever come across. He has a gift for distilling complex images, commentary and concepts into brilliantly succinct lyrical one liners,” says Geoff Kulawick, President, True North Records.
It’s not that Stagger needed much more validation; after working with acclaimed producers Russell Broom (Sam Roberts) and Steve Berlin (Los Lobos) on his previous two albums, Stagger teamed up with Colin Stewart (Dan Mangan, Black Mountain, Yukon Blonde) to produce Love Versus, and put together a dream band for the project. Longtime friend and collaborator Steve Bays (Hot Hot Heat, The Mounties) remixed and ‘reimagined’, as Stagger would say, the title song and single in Vancouver.
The cornerstone was Pete Thomas, longtime drummer for Elvis Costello, who came up from L.A. for the sessions, joining guitarist Paul Rigby (Neko Case), keyboardist Geoff Hilhorst (The Deep Dark Woods), and Stagger’s longtime bassist Tyson Maiko. Over the course of three weeks, they christened Stagger’s new studio, and in the process changed his perspective on his art.
After 26 years the company (Massacre Records and Blue Rose Records) is moving. Just a few kilometers from our old location we’ll settle in Untergruppenbach. Here is the full address info, valid from April 1st, 2017:
Massacre Records/Blue Rose Records
Walter Salas-Humara is a musician who seems to have a lot of fun with his rich back catalogue. It’s not that he lives in or from his glorious past – he’s been releasing quite a bit of new material this decade, solo and with The Silos – but he continues revisiting his early material after the successful start with Work: Part One now, consequently, with Work: Part Two. Again, he focuses mainly on classic, early Silos albums from 1985-1990, broadening his spectrum to include songs from early- to mid-90ies‘ albums. Once again he re-imagines these songs in a contemporary acoustic alt.country/Americana sound.
Walter Salas-Humara! The name is as unique as the man it belongs to. More than 30 years ago this versatile artist first appeared on the scene as the mastermind of alt.rock pioneers The Silos. With him as songwriter, lead singer and guitarist at the helm, the band created sensitive, smart, hooky, American „indie pop goes alt.country“ rock of the highest order. The 90s, however, were a decade of restlessness and experimentation. Changing places between New York, L.A. and the vibrant Austin, TX scene, the band repeatedly changed personnel and direction. They found their form again after the turn of the millennium in a series of albums for Blue Rose Records between 2001 and 2006 – and then in 2011 with the fabulous Florizona. Recently, Blue Rose released Curve And Shake, Salas-Humara’s first solo outing after 18 years. It was followed by the aforementioned Work: Part One in March 2016 and Explodes And Disappears just two months later. With this burst of releases, Walter Salas-Humara has cemented his status as an important and relevant independent musician and darling of the alt.Americana/No Depression scene.
Rich Hopkins came of age on his abilities as a guitar-slinger and songwriter. His ear-bending way of expression became a rock ’n‘ roll definition of the romantic American southwest, these desert blasts filled with spirited tales, soaring hooks and a warm, beating heart. The songs pump blood in that essential way that says there’s nothing else in life for Hopkins but the song. Think of the music as an aural equivalent of rainwater-etched swirls in sandstone-it’s got timeless unstoppable beauty, and its shape sometimes shifts in graceful ways, but it’s always formable, always heavy.
Yes, that might sound like bio-ready hyperbole, but hold on: Trust the sizable audiences the world over who have long regarded Hopkins as the essential lifeguard of „desert rock,“ audiences who have responded to Hopkins‘ guitar heroics and scruffily quixotic songs since the storied, late-’80s and ’90s albums he made with that rowdy (now-mythological) major-label combo he co-founded called The Sidewinders (later rechristened The Sand Rubies), and then his own Rich Hopkins and the Luminarios. Nearly two-dozen albums all told, each persuasive and subtly dramatic, like a mounting monsoon storm, and also fun as hell.
Along the way he met Texas born-and-raised Lisa Novak, another gifted singer/songwriter whose shrewd yet empathetic storytelling rivals good short-story fiction, and whose voice and songwriting resembles a dusty mix of Emmylou Harris and Aimee Mann, and that’s considering just how hallowed (and odious) such comparisons can be.
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duende – [duen-de] (noun) 1. a quality of inspiration and passion 2. A heightened sense of emotion, expression and authenticity 3. a spirit
Duende, the title of The Band of Heathens‘ fifth studio album (and eighth overall), marks their tenth anniversary as a group, and it certainly applies to its overall theme about the collective search for connection and communion in a technology-fueled world increasingly splintered, distracted and lonely. As band co-founder Ed Jurdi, who first learned of the term, explains, „It’s the essence of the artist,“ or as partner Gordy Quist says, „It’s a word we don’t have an equivalent for in English, Artistically, that’s where we tried to set the bar, to do what this band does best.“
Indeed, Duende lives up to those high ideals, a stylistically diverse effort that takes a leap beyond their last, more acoustic, introspective effort, 2013’s Sunday Morning Record, with an eclectic batch of material that shows where The Band of Heathens has been, but more importantly, where they are going.
There are high-energy rockers like the Keith Richards-Chuck Berry guitars and barrelhouse piano in „Trouble Came Early“ as well as the Grateful Dead-by-way-of J.J. Cale Oklahoma boogie in „Keys to the Kingdom,“ and the New Riders pedal steel country twang of „Green Grass of California,“ an ode to the more potent strains of sensimilla on the dispensary shelf and a fervent plea to „legalize it.“
Duende also touches on some of The Band of Heathens‘ favorite topics, from the sacrifices of a life lived on the road („All I’m Asking“) to the limits of materialism („Keys to the Kingdom“), social media absorption („Cracking the Code“), and a moving depiction of Mexican immigration in an age of increased discrimination („Road Dust Wheels“).
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The 82nd edition of the Blue Rose mailorder-only CD series Blue Rose Nuggets once more contains a colourful mix of brand new songs by Rich Hopkins & Luminarios and The Band Of Heathens, numerous tracks of the 21 year expanding Blue Rose catalog plus previously unreleased live songs by Jason & The Scorchers and Tom Gillam & Todd Thibaud.
1. CODY CANADA & THE DEPARTED – Revolution / taken from the album “HippieLovePunk” (BLU DP0651)
2. CHRIS KNIGHT – River Road / taken from the album “Enough Rope” (BLU DP0406)
3. WACO BROTHERS – When I Get My Rewards / taken from the album “Electric Waco Chair” (BLU CD0234)
4. THE SILOS – Change The Locks / taken from the album “Official Blue Rose Bootleg Series/Heilbronn 20.04.2006” (BLUBS 035)
5. JIMMY LAFAVE – Buckets Of Rain / taken from the album “Road Novel” (BLU CD0046)
6. THE BAND OF HEATHENS – Trouble Came Early / taken from the album “Duende” (BLU DP0692)
7. STONEY LARUE – Train To Birmingham / taken from the album “Us Time” (BLU DP0672)
8. TODD THIBAUD – Going Home / taken from the album “Lakewest Sessions” (BLU DP0485)
9. JAMES McMURTRY – Forgotten Coast / taken from the album “Complicated Game” (BLU DP0649)
10. MATTHEW RYAN – The First Heartbreak / taken from the album “Boxers” (BLU CD0647)
11. JASON & THE SCORCHERS – Moonshine Guy / recorded live at the Blue Rose Christmas Party at the Blues Garage in Isernhagen/Germany on December 5, 2009 (previously unissued)
12. STEPHEN BRUTON with THE RESENTMENTS – Nobody Gets Hurt / taken from the album “Switcheroo” (BLU CD0378)
13. CHRIS BURROUGHS – Walk Away On Level Ground / taken from the album “Official Blue Rose Bootleg Series/Complete HOT-FM Sessions” (BLUBS 033)
14. TOM GILLAM & TODD THIBAUD – Ooh La La / recorded live at Ebene 3 in Heilbronn/Germany on December 4, 2008 (previously unissued)
15. RICH HOPKINS & LUMINARIOS – If You Want To / taken from the album “My Way Or The Highway” (BLU DP0691)