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Bongo Boy Records Redefines The Meaning Of The Words Love Songs With Their Latest Album Release LOVE IS Volume 1
New Album Release: LOVE IS VOLUME ONE by Various Artists - Mandy Brooks, Big Bone Daddy, One Supernova, Deborah Henriksson, Blind Lemon Pledge, Studeo, Les Fradkin, Mark Baxter, Blind Dawg Ben Miller, Susan SurfTone, Udo Hoelscher, Gar Francis, Marie Chabot, and Trevor Aaron Carlesi.
Official Release Date: 10.24.17
Label: Bongo Boy Records,LLC
Album Review by The Grouch (From Sweden Now living in the Rockies
The other day the folks at Bongo Boy asked me to give a listen and share my thoughts about an upcoming album called LOVE IS Volume One. This is a bit of a new area for me, as love songs usually are not really my thing, unless you would consider Alice Cooper’s Only Women Bleed a love song. If you have not heard that song for a while, take a listen and think about the words. Alice Cooper was singing about domestic violence and how terrible it is. I find it interesting that one of the most shocking “scary” acts would perform a song that was, in actuality, very sensitive and forward thinking for the time. Just for good measure, and to assure no one would think he was too sensitive the B-side of this single was Cold Ethel, but I digress. The album which is the subject of this review has some of my favorite Bongo Boy artists on it, so it should be good.
1. Mandy Brooks - Have I Told You Lately 4:09 – First up is Mandy Brooks whose music I really like. She has such an old-school Country groove going on. I admire the guitar player’s (as well as the other strings I hear) ability. I am a huge sucker for a slide guitar and when I hear those notes bending I have to smile. Lest anyone think the only part of the song I like is the strings, I have to say that Mandy has an awesome voice. I mean, really, her voice is beautiful. I first heard Mandy a few albums ago. I really liked her then and I still do.
2. Big Bone Daddy - All My Time 5:10 – Big Bone Daddy is one of my favorite Bongo Boy artists. There is no question that Dad can jam, and I cannot think of anyone more qualified to play this. The vocals are intense, and the groove is hypnotic. For some reason, I pick up a Procol Harum vibe from this song. What I do know is that I have listened to this track about five times in a row simply because it is so powerful! Man, I really want to see these guys live. They must blow the roof off.
3. One Supernova - Wide Awake 5:02 – The first thing that hits the listener is a really great voice that oozes soul. Then the band kicks in and all I can do is smile. I dig the percussion. It sounds like he is having a lot of fun. The guitar is just right with enough grit to make a 70s kid head bang while not being so heavy that the melodic groove is lost. Overall this is a fantastic song that I am sure will be enjoyed by listeners the world over.
4. Deborah Henriksson - Only You 3:40 – I dig Deborah’s music or I could say ”Jag gillar verkligen Deborahs musik.” Deborah, like myself, is an American raised Swede. All pseudo-nationalistic nonsense aside, Deborah does have an absolutely wonderful voice and I cannot wait to see her live the next time I am in Sweden. Honestly folks, if we could get Mandy and Deborah on the same bill, it would be one spellbinding evening as both of these women have great voices that I could listen to all day long. You will enjoy this track as much as I do, I am sure.
5. Blind Lemon Pledge - Language of Love 4:33 – I first heard Blind Lemon Pledge on a Blues compilation album Bongo Boy put out a while back. I remember being blown away then and every time I have heard him since. This song is no exception. I dig the up-tempo laid down by the percussion as BLP comes in with some vocals that fit well with the music. I really like it when I can tell the band is having fun and there is no doubt in my mind that everyone is having a good time playing this track.
6. Studeo - Our Perfect Place to Be 4:04 – This is an interesting track with a real jazz feel. I can see this being performed in a smoke-filled club in the wee hours of the morning. Are those brushes I hear on the drums? The groove is just so old-school cool, rat pack cool, that the listener cannot help but nod in approval. Then there are the vocals, this woman has soul. I have the same big goofy grin I get whenever I hear something that really moves me. WOW!
7. Les Fradkin - Black Gypsy 2:50 – Les is a monster player that I first heard a couple of years ago. His music made an impression on me. This song reminds me why I was impressed. There is one word that describes this track – hypnotic. Hypnotic, bordering on psychedelic. Les has the perfect British Invasion voice and the music reminds me of something that would have come over in about 66. Well done Les, you have, once again, written a song that really keeps my attention – there is just so much going on that even my easily distracted mind is not tempted to succumb to other stimuli.
8. Mark Baxter - Love Is 3:47 – An interesting, classical inspired opening starts off the song, but less than 30 seconds in we hear that Mark is, basically, a bluesman, as the keys slide into a solidly funky run. When Mark shouts out “Now listen!” the listener cannot do anything other than listen up. What follows is a masterful, emotion laden jam with Mark’s killer vocals playing off the band and the keys answering back with just the right amount of soulful swagger that the listener is left with no other option than to applaud.
9. Blind Dawg Ben Miller - Ain't Nobody Loved Me 6:11 – The Dawg is back! I dig Ben Miller’s music. Good God I love that guitar that hits the listener square in the face right out of the box. As if fighting to not be outdone, the bass answers the guitar with a groovy (yes that is the right word) bottom jam that doesn’t even let up when the guitar takes the spotlight. Then as if sensing the bass player’s full on attitude, we hear Ben say “Play some bass Tommy!”. Tommy then proceeds to lay down a hammering bassline that is just too cool to describe. Ben comes in with some soothing vocals and it seems the guitar and bass have come to a truce as they both lock in and swing. All the while the drummer is back there just pounding out a hypnotic rhythm that eventually leads into a classic blues ending. Excellent work guys!
10. Susan SurfTone - Out of My Dreams 3:10 – Susan is another one of my favorite artists. She blew my mind when I first heard her, and I have liked everything I have heard from her since. Susan does such a fantastic job with the surf guitar, no one can touch her on that stuff. This track has a bit of a Surf-Punk feel. It appears the drummer is putting down a slowed down classic Punk beat. I have a feeling that if the Ramones had done Surf, it would sound something like this track. Just to be clear, the Ramones are one of my all-time favorite groups and that is a complement.
11. Udo Hoelscher - Before We Fall 3:12 – This is a good song. The music is not complicated, nor does it need to be. The music is basically a backdrop for Udo’s haunting vocals. In the middle of the track the guitar does put down a nice solo, but to my ears anyway, the main force of this song is Udo’s voice. I am impressed and would very much like to see Udo live.
12. Gar Francis - More Then I Asked For 2:51 – I dig Gar’s music. I have really liked everything I have heard from this guy including this song. Gar’s Dylanesque voice sounds so raunchy, yet at the same time clean. (Unlike Dylan, or Springsteen for that matter, I can understand all of the words in this song.) The orchestral strings in the background contrast so sharply with Gar’s voice that his voice becomes even more intense. Give this track a listen and I am sure you too will become a fan.
13. Marie Chabot - Last Night 3:52 – I like the intro with the soft guitar and the slightly bent notes. Marie has a beautiful voice. This song could easily be played at the Grand Ole Opry. Yes, it is that good. Marie has a great voice that fits easily into the Country genre. Very well done Marie, very well done!
14. Trevor Aaron Carlesi - I'm Gonna Win My Spurs 2:17 – Up next another Country track. This is a bit of a Billy jam and I dig it. Trevor has a good voice and his band rocks. The lead guitar has some lightning and their keyboard player has some chops. I have that big goofy grin again. It is obvious that the band is having fun and they pack a tremendous punch into 2:17. Excellent work Trevor!
15. Studeo - Sunset in Corfu 4:19 – Some truly wicked guitar starts off this track. Then that fantastic voice comes in and the band falls back into a supporting role. They are not totally gone; however, they are still throwing down some nice licks and the drummer is making his presence felt with some nice fills and various percussive devices, but most of my attention is held by that magical voice. Towards the end of the song, the guitar speaks up with a very Santanaesque solo. The ending of the song, with the guitar belting out licks and the singer’s voice singing the refrain, is close to perfection.
So, folks what is the bottom line? The bottom line is this: I think Bongo Boy, with the help of some very talented musicians has redefined the meaning of the words Love Song. I was a bit concerned, when Bongo Boy told me the name of the album, that I might have to listen a bunch of songs with a similar cheese factor of Silly Love Songs. I felt better when I read the actual track list and recognized many of the names. These bands have all contributed great tracks that range from Country, to Surf, to Rat Pack Cool, to haunting vocals by a man named Udo. (Whenever I hear that name I think of one of the best albums I own Udo Lindenberg Live Sonderzug nach Pankow.) This album LOVE IS Volume One is a very good album that should be in any serious collector’s collection. - The Grouch
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