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CD Reviews:
Listening Room: Buddy Guy, Dr. Dog and more...

Of the Oakland Press

Posted: Monday, July 21, 2008

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Buddy Guy, “Skin Deep” (Silvertone/Zomba) ***

Nearly halfway through his latest album, blues legend Buddy Guy lets us know that “the blues are all around me, I just find something I can use” as he duels with good friend and admirer Eric Clapton. Guy hasn’t had much trouble finding spaces and places to put his music throughout his 45-plus-year career, and “Skin Deep” finds him re-embracing original music after 2005’s mostly covers set “Bring ’em In” and still playing his guitar in a cutting fashion that belies his 72 years and is as, if not more, potent than players a third his age. Like “Bring ’em In” this is a guest-laden affair, with Clapton cutting it up with Guy on “Every Time I Have the Blues” and Allman Brothers Band axeman Derek Trucks playing foil on the gospel-tinged title track and the sinewy “Too Many Tears”— the latter featuring Trucks’ wife Susan Tedeschi singing on vocals. Guy also dances around Robert Randolph’s pedal steel on the galloping “That’s My Home.” “Skin Deep’s” sans-guest tracks fare well, too, from the funky “Best Damn Fool” and “Hammer and a Nail” to the she-done-me-wrong lament of “Lyin’ Like a Dog” and the classic Chicago stylings of “I Found Happiness.” On “Who’s Gonna Fill Those Shoes,” Guy ponders the future of the blues, reaching no conclusions, but his performance on these 12 tracks assures us that its present is in pretty good hands.


Dr. Dog, “Fate” (Park the Van) ***

With its light melodic touch and trippy sonic ambience, this Philadelphia quintet fits well into the realm of contemporary hippie rock — but with a dose of its home town’s soulful heritage that makes it much more than just another Birkenstock-wearing jam band on the scene. In fact, Dr. Dog dips more into the Beatles and Beach Boys canon than the Grateful Dead’s, and its evolution over the course of five albums makes “Fate” an attention-getting leap forward, just a year after the equally impressive “We All Belong.” Tricky but assured song arrangements turn tracks such as “The Breeze,” “From” and “My Friend” into cascading aural adventures, while the group’s rich vocal harmonies shine on “100 Years,” “Hang On,” “The Old Days” and “Uncovering the Old.” It’s wholly original and intricately crafted, but with an engaging homespun kind of flavor.


Big Brother & the Holding Company, “The Lost Tapes” (Airline): A dozen previously unreleased tracks from the Janis Joplin-fronted era of the San Francisco band.

Big Pokey, “Evacuation Notice” (Koch): The Houston rapper is joined by Paul Wall, Lil Keke, Slim Thug and others on the first of two expected releases this year.

Black Kids, “Partie Traumatic” (Columbia): The Florida indie rock troupe’s debut, produced by Suede’s Bernard Butler, comes out at home after hitting No. 5 on the U.K. charts.

Black Sabbath, “The Rules of Hell” (Rhino): A five-CD box set featuring the four-album (three studio and one live) output of the Ronnie James Dio-fronted incarnation of these metal masters.

Buffalo Killers, “Let it Ride” (Alive/Redeye): The Black Keys’ Dan Auerbach produced the latest outing by this psychedelic blues trio from Cincinnati.

Candlebox, “Into the Sun” (Silent Majority/ILG):

The Seattle rock quartet of “Far Behind” fame regroups for its first new album in a decade.

Samantha Crain, “Confiscation” (Ramseur):

The Native American singersongwriter from Oklahoma has fashioned her first EP as a thematically unified “musical novella.”

Crosby, Stills, Nash & Young, “CSNY: Deja Vu” (Reprise): The live album companion to the group’s new documentary about its controversial 2006 tour.

Miley Cyrus, “Breakout” (Hollywood): The 15-year-old “Hannah Montana” star’s second studio album goes after a grown-up sound on her second studio album.

Hard Lessons, “B&G Sides” (Quack Media): A welcome compendium of the Detroit rock trio’s four latest singles.

Benji Hughes, “A Love Extreme” (New West): The melodic singer-songwriter from North Carolina makes a big splash with 25 songs on his debut.

Maria Muldaur, “Yes We Can” (Telarc): The veteran songstress votes for change with this covers set of socially conscious songs, with drop-ins from Bonnie Raitt, Joan Baez, Odetta, Phoebe Snow and more.

One Day As A Lion, “One Day As A Lion” (Anti-): The debut EP from the duo of Rage Against the Machine frontman Zack de la Rocha and Jon Theodore.

Stephen Pearcy, “Under My Skin” (Top Fuel/Airline):

The third solo album by the former frontman of ’80s and ’90s rockers Ratt.

Pepper, “Pink Crustaceans and Good Vibrations” (LAW Records):

The fifth studio album from the aggressive and eclectic Hawaiian trio includes guests such as Pennywise’s Randy Bradbury and the Street Drum Corps.

Amy Ray, “Didn’t It Feel Kinder” (Daemon): The Indigo Girl’s third solo outing is another charged electric rock affair laden with populist political discourse.

Peter Salett, “In the Ocean of the Stars” (Dusty Shoes Music): Three songs from the New York singer-songwriter’s fifth album appear in the film “Forgetting Sarah Marshall.”

Soundtrack, “Lost Boys: The Tribe” (Artists’ Addiction): Detroit’s Von Bondies join Seether, Blind Melon, Starsailor, the Hold Steady and Depeche Mode’s Dave Gahan in rocking for this horror movie sequel.

Matthew Sweet, “Sunshine Lies” (Shout! Factory): The rock troubadour’s 10th album features a guest appearance by the Bangles’ Susanna Hoffs.

U2, “Boy,” “October” and “War” (Interscope/Island/ UMe): Expanded two-CD editions of the Irish group’s first three albums, featuring live tracks, rarities, B-sides and remixes.

Paul Weller, “22 Dreams” (Yep Roc): The former Jam and Style Council leader’s first album in three years cuts a broad stylistic path that concludes with a flowing four-song suite.

Send your thoughts and comments to Gary Graff


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