Vaya Con Dios was a Belgian music act, that stood out for its mixing of blues, jazz, and Gypsy styles, as well as the distinctive voice of its lead singer Dani Klein. It was one of the most successful Belgian music acts ever, having sold more than 7 million albums and more than 3 million singles. It was founded in 1986, but after 1991 Vaya Con Dios was for the most part a one woman band, centered on singer, lyricist, band leader and (co-)producer Dani Klein, reinforced by an ever-changing selection of musicians. In 2014, Dani Klein performed her last international tour under the Vaya Con Dios formula. Vaya Con Dios officially disbanded with their last concert on 25 October 2014, in Forest National.
This tribute album breaks no new ground but does a superb job of re-creating the Chicago ensemble sound, as well as the songs, of the latter-day Muddy Waters Band. That comes as no surprise, since the core group here literally was Muddy Waters' backup unit from 1974 to 1980: Bob Margolin and Luther "Guitar Jr" Johnson on guitars, Pinetop Perkins on piano, Jerry Portnoy on harp, Calvin Jones on bass, and Willie Smith on drums. Each of these Muddy alumni takes a vocal turn (Margolin takes two). While none of them matches the majesty of Muddy's voice, they certainly have the spirit of the thing down pat. A welcome note of variety is provided by the guest vocalists from the blues and rock world, who also stay very close to the Muddy Waters originals they cover: Greg Allman on "Trouble No More," Buddy Guy on "Clouds in My Heart," Levon Helm on "Going to Main Street," James Cotton (another ex-Muddy bandmate) on "Blow Wind Blow," Koko Taylor on "Mean Mistreater," and Peter Wolf on "Walking Through the Park."
Live in Amsterdam is the first live album by Candy Dulfer and contains prior hits such as "Sax-a-go-go," "Lily Was Here" and "Dance 'till You Bop," and new songs such as "Synchrodestiny." The album features David A. Stewart, Hans Dulfer and Angie Stone as special guests. The album peaked at #27 in the Dutch album charts.
Hans Dulfer is the father of saxophonist Candy Dulfer and the two worked together on the album Dulfer Dulfer, whose title refers in part to Hans…
"I can't fit into my skinny black jeans anymore," laments veteran blues rocker David Gogo on the appropriately titled, hard-driving, Stones-inflected, and likely autobiographical "Getting Old." Only in his early forties at the time of its 2011 release, he's obviously not letting fears of his advancing years slow or dull his attack, as his sixth release in a decade shows. Gogo isn't a particularly distinctive guitarist, but as this disc's title implies (Soul-Bender is also the name of the Fulltone guitar pedal he uses); he infuses plenty of soul with his bluesy rock & roll. To that end, a crackling version of Michael Jackson's "The Way You Make Me Feel," played as a high-energy swamp rocker with female backing vocals and horns, seems like a Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes cover instead of a hit for the King of Pop. Gogo is in tough voice throughout, charging into the rugged "Slow It Down" and a slinky slide guitar-driven burner "Do You Know How It Feels?" with raw nerves exposed. As usual, he uncorks some terrific covers (in addition to Jackson's); stampeding his blues guitar leads on the Robin Trower/Procol Harum nugget "Whisky Train" and the Doors' underappreciated "The Changeling" with chops and imagination.
For some reason, the second Elf record, 1974's Carolina County Ball, was released under the title L.A./59 in the United States and Japan, while the more widely accepted title was used in the U.K. and Europe. The Ronnie James Dio-led outfit was becoming increasingly entwined with Deep Purple – Roger Glover was producing the band, they appeared on the Deep Purple-owned Purple record label in the U.K., and the group was working frequently with Ritchie Blackmore – and their music began taking on a more powerful, more complex, more Deep Purple-like sound because of it. The more or less straight-up boogie rock of the Elf debut was not entirely abandoned for this follow-up, but tracks like "Annie New Orleans" and "Carolina County Ball" have a depth that goes beyond the accomplishments of the group's previous, self-titled offering. Difficult to obtain, this long out-of-print release is a true find for fans of Rainbow, Black Sabbath, and Ronnie James Dio's best solo efforts of the '80s.
Cool yet sensuous, aristocratic yet playful, the piano music of Spanish composer Xavier Montsalvatge, now in his late 90s, is a constant delight. Whether playing with Spanish motifs, as in the sexy habaneras sketch and the second of the Three Divertimentos, or with French-perfumed Impressionism, as in the pieces for left hand, Montsalvatge demonstrates a gift for elegant melody and delicate piano sonority. Especially ingratiating are the children's pieces, the Sonatine and Noah's Ark set, exquisite miniatures that are playful but sophisticated. Benita Meshulam, a champion of this music, makes a seductive case for it, as does the crystalline recording.
Geoff Downes, Steve Howe, and Carl Palmer surprised everyone when they re-formed Asia in 1992, with a new singer (John Payne) and a second guitarist (Al Pitrelli). Even more surprising was the fact that Aqua – the album no one had been expecting – was quite impressive, arguably superior to its three predecessors. What could easily have been an isolated one-shot experience turned into a continuing success story when Downes returned to the studios two years later, but without Howe and Palmer. The latter was replaced by drummer Michael Sturgis. Howe, of course, could not be "replaced" (that would have been an insult to his talent) – so Pitrelli thus became the sole guitarist of the band. Asia, now a quartet, nonetheless managed to release yet another amazing album.
Well played, fresh sounding, and highly energetic, Asia's Live in Moscow proved to be their best on-stage album, captured during their 1990 European tour. Featuring John Wetton, Carl Palmer, Geoff Downes, and newcomer Pat Thrall (most notably from the Pat Travers Band) replacing Steve Howe on guitar, the band sounds enthusiastically sharp where it matters most. Howe's absence is indeed apparent, but the band comes through on the biggies like "Heat of the Moment" and "Only Time Will Tell," while giving secondary hits like "Don't Cry," "Go," and "Time Again" new life. Geoff Downes teases the audience throughout his keyboard solo, playing an acoustical version of "Video Killed the Radio Star" from his days with the Buggles…
In a sense, Belinda Carlisle's A Woman & a Man is a companion record to her first solo album. It arrived in 1996, ten years after Belinda, and it also functioned as something of a break from the Go-Go's, as it was her first album after the group's mid-'90s reunion. That's not where the similarities end: the title track has some Motown propulsion, Charlotte Caffey comes in to co-write "Kneel at Your Feet," and instead of Tim, Carlisle covers Neil Finn. All these echoes are somewhat buried underneath the studio gloss created by producer David Tickle, a veneer that can get too thick on the ballads but nevertheless is often pleasingly expensive. This is a big-budget studio album from an era when they were common and, in retrospect, its overblown adult contemporary has its charms…