my mind, you could hardly start out an album better than with a
mixture of John
that is exactly what John
Friesdoeson his new album, U.S.
From the wail of the voice to the sound of the guitars, I am
transported to the early seventies and that semi-blues feel
which I now realize is more R&B than blues, this brand of
R&B having that more expansive rock and soul feel to it.
When the slide guitar kicks in, in fact, I hear Dummer's
Oobleedooblee Jubilee album,
an album I coveted over the years until it went on its own
quest to someone who coveted it even more. But here it is, back
in the form of Another
a solid kickoff and a pleasure to hear. Unfortunately, that is
the extent of that specific sound and feel, but it is both a
welcome start and precursor to some damn fine soul-infused
music, each song it seems laying out its own territory.
jump from Anither
unexpected, leaning more toward early Hall
& Oates than
anything I can think of, a light funky tune with a Boz Scaggs
vibe. Not my favorite kind of music but I sure sold enough of
it back in the late-seventies, and the guitar is impressive.
Speaking of guitar, Fries cranks it up a little on My
a slow dangling participle of late night blues with understated
verse and cranked up chorus. Fries even pulls out a little bit
the solo before the song heads into overdub hell at the end,
the guitar tracks fighting one another rather than working
together, but it all comes out okay.
fact, it heads into my favorite track on the album, We
a slow number dipped in Stax juice, the horns straight out of
Memphis or Muscle Shoals and that unique R&B mix I love so
much. Beautifully recorded.
don't know how many of you caught Grayson
his short stint on the charts back in the late-eighties, but
cut from the same cloth, the electric piano and organ laying
bedrock for Fries' funky soul vocals (think white boy Staple
that laid back but crisp guitar sound always in the background
until it takes over. The song is a testament to the Hammond
organ's worth as accompaniment. Fries pulls out the stops on
his guitar on Tomorrow
turning Americana on the capper and title track, U.S.
steel moaning and sounding a bit like organ (and yes, I know
there is an organ there too) while Fries and Parent duel
vocally. Perfect ending for a solid effort.
This is also an
album the techies don't want to miss. On his one-sheet (the
promotional blurb send out with review copies), Fries goes out
of his way to list the gear (supposedly) used in the recording.
I put parentheses around “supposedly” because it
just says “Gear” and does not refer to just this
recording. Still, you have to be impressed when anyone loves
their setup so much that he feels compelled to share things
like “Matching Bandmaster Cabs (meaning cabinets, I
believe), both loaded with EV (Electro-Voice) speakers--- 2
12l's and 2 15l's (the 15 cab was converted).” It
wouldn't mean much to the casual listener, but to the musician
it is as pretty a picture as could be painted. And it says, hey
man, this cat knows his stuff. At least, a little. I think in
the case of John Fries,
it is a little more than that.