Classic Rock Bottom

Last week I posted the metal portion of my current preferred musical listening experiences as of late. This week is side 2 of that equation, the Blues. When I browse my collection of blues based bands the paintbrush paints an enormously wide picture. Then I remembered RJ asking about Kenny Wayne Shepherd and I thought this week would be a great opportunity to kill two birds with one stone! (PETA be damned!). So this weeks playlist is a Blues artist showcase featuring Kenny Wayne Shepherd...

I picked up on this guy when Blue On Black released, I found his "Trouble Is..." album approaching stellar and have enjoyed it for years. Trouble is (pun intended) he kinda disappeared for while and then he cam back onto my radar with "How I Go" and it rekindled my ear for his style of blues, and so Ledbetter Heights was added and Live On came next. Still need to check in on a couple of albums I don't have but this sampling should give you a great idea about him. I'll round out the list with the Supergroup "The Rides" first effort. But don't forget "The Rides" second album which can be found in a recent New Music Corner. But first, lets kick it off with some artist info courtesy of Wiki and Allmusic...

  • Shepherd is "completely self-taught", and does not read music.
  • At the age of 13, Shepherd was invited to play guitar onstage by blues musician Bryan Lee. He subsequently made demo tapes, and a video was shot at Shepherd's first performance at the Red River Revel Arts Festival in Shreveport. It was this video performance that impressed Giant Records chief Irving Azoff enough to sign Shepherd to a multiple album record deal.
  • From 1995 on, Shepherd took seven singles into the Top 10, and holds the record for the longest-running album on the Billboard Blues Charts with Trouble Is....
  • Shepherd married actor Mel Gibson's daughter, Hannah, on September 16, 2006.
  • In September 2008, Fender Musical Instruments Corp. released the Kenny Wayne Shepherd Signature Series Stratocaster, designed exclusively by Shepherd.

OK, those all came from Wiki, just don't tell Jon that, he'll never know the difference... Enjoy!


Ledbetter Heights

1 - Deja VooDoo

You would never guess from Kenny Wayne Shepherd's fiery playing that the guitarist is still only in his teens. On his debut, Ledbetter Heights, Shepherd burns through a set of rather generic blues-rock ravers that are made special by his exceptional technique. It may still be a while before he says something original, but he plays with style, energy, and dedication, which is more than enough for a debut album.

Live On

2 - Was

The best thing about the record is that it's tougher and stronger than its two predecessors. There's still a fair amount of crossover -- a Hendrix cover and a cover of Fleetwood Mac's "Oh Well" -- but Shepherd not only seems to be developing a style of his own, the playing of his band has become grittier, or at least it's being captured better on record. Shepherd can still fall prey to excess, but not as often as he used to. He's figuring out how to restrain himself, and his music is all the better for it.

How I Go

3 - Dark Side of Love

Some of the slickness that had occasionally plagued his work is in evidence here, especially with the keyboards, overdubbed guitars, and occasional backing vocalists, but in general, this is a solid, enjoyable outing that should have followed 1999's Live On. Ballads such as "Show Me the Way Back Home," with its gospel organ and soaring guitar solo, and the Hendrix/Trower vibe of the grinding "Heat of the Sun," are some of the finest in his catalog. Hunt sings with sweaty passion and commitment. His performance shows that Shepherd should never have tried to take his own lead vocals.

The Rides
Can't Get Enough

4 - Talk To Me Baby

The Rides are a competent hard rock-blues group, and Stills, as a guitar player, has always been at his best when he has another guitar player to support and feed off of, and there are plenty of blazing electric guitar leads and trade-offs here.

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When it comes to Blues, I'm very selective, but these tunes were relaxing while I watched the snow fall in huge flakes, through my window. Just for the heck of it and appropriately so, I even prolonged the experience with the only Shepherd song I have, Rudolph The Red Nosed Reindeer, from the Merry Axe-Mas CD. Unlike the real Blues, which is born from a painful event, my pain will come from listening too much blues when I should have been shoveling the snow instead.

certainly not traditional blues here, but I love the emotion of his guitar work, the influence is there.  I was raised in a wintery climate and moved to NC 18 years ago, still dont miss the snow!  Good luck though...

Interesting. Those facts don't seem to be allmusicy, but rather wikieeeey. Are you trying to pull a fast one?

If you are, I can only say "GOOD DAY, SIR!"

I remember when KWS first hit "the scene" (if you know what I mean, and I think you do) and for some reason some entity somewhere was trying to make him into a teen idol Teen Beat magazine type person or thing that was bigger than a bread box.

I don't know if he was featured in Teen Beat (Rjhog would) or if he had one of those special poster magazines (Rjhog would) or if he had a $9.99 poster at the local Walmart (Rjhog would) but I was little bit leery of him at first and then BOB came out and I had to give him some respect. Of course that didn't make me get a subscription to Teen Beat (like Rjhog). 

I don't have a problem with his voice. Why does wikiiiii? Idiots. Of course if it's from allmusic, then it's all good.

These are some killer tracks, but that second one is killer X2.

 Those hypnotic........must....look.....away.......BUT I CAN'T!!!!!!!

You already know my level of knowledge regarding KWS.  One song really.  I will say I enjoy the guitar style here.  I don't know much about Stevie Ray Vaughan either, but that style is the closest I can come up with here.

So who is the singer on these songs.  Sounds like at least two different people.  But what do I know?  I'd say my favorite would be track number two.  I think I like that vocalist best too. 

But none of it is bad or cheesy or anything.  I think I'll pick something of his up next time I see it in the used CD store.  Largely on the strength of this feature.  Good work.


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