Mitchell: Luke Bryan debuts at No. 6

Luke Bryan: Tailgates

& Tanlines (Capitol)

There are only five debut releases in the top 100 Canadian charts this week and American country singer Luke Bryan has the foremost release with his album Tailgates & Tanlines that hit the No. 6 spot on the mainstream charts.

Like his other two albums, Bryan comes off as an uncomplicated but likeable country pop singer whose image as the wholesome boy next door is opposite that of Eric Church (he held the No. 1 country album a couple of weeks ago) who fosters a neo-outlaw image.

Bryan did earn a degree in business management from university but he also grew up on his family’s peanut farm and that rural life informs his detailed songs such as Harvest Time and I Know You’re Gonna Be There.

Bryan has a big new hit on his hands with the somewhat cheeky Country Girl (Shake It For Me) that slightly plays against his tame image as does his one night stand, spring break song Faded Away.

But the next single slated for release from this lengthy 13-track CD is the breezy I Don’t Want This Night To End that has a buoyant mid-tempo groove custom made for radio and Bryan’s amiable persona which is probably not that hard to pull off with Bryan’s natural ease.


Average White Band: Live At Montreux 1977 (Eagle)

I am really getting to like Eagle Records more and more as they consistently issue hitherto unreleased vintage music from important bands of the past. Recently I have covered albums from the Eagle label by ZZ Top, Willie DeVille, Deep Purple, Rory Gallagher, Gary Moore etc. and this new disc from Scotland’s The Average White Band is yet another fine release in their series.

This all-Caucasian band nearly committed career suicide with their ill-advised name, but they changed it to AWB on their album jackets and their career took off with greater sales on the R&B charts, especially in the USA, than the mainstream pop charts.

AWB struck platinum with their funky, R&B syncopations with smash hits such as Pick Up The Pieces, Cut The Cake and sometimes romantic disco songs such as Work To Do (a cover of The Isley Brothers’ classic) and A Love Of Your Own.  All these tunes are included on this concert set recorded at Switzerland’s famed Montreux Festival where there are extended takes of some of these tunes while the AWB show their roots with a cool 12+ minute Motown evergreen I Heard It Through The Grapevine.

It should be noted that the tight rhythms of AWB have been sampled at least a couple of hundred times over the last few decades by hip hop artists searching for cool jams while the near minimal bass and drum take of the 14+ minute Cut The Cake is worth the price of admission alone.


Canned Heat: Live At Montreux 1973 (Eagle)

Canned Heat only ever played Montreux one time and fortunately Eagle was able to secure these recordings for this solid set of hard core blues.

Canned Heat enjoyed two hippie era smash hits with Going Up Country and On The Road Again but as hippie rock gave way to progressive rock Canned Heat turned into even more of a deep roots blues band that sort of choked off their career.

Their last hit, Let’s Work Together, a cover of the Wilbert Harrison gem, even hinted at hippie communal life but Canned Heat could still bring it on as proven by this excellent concert disc.

Moreover, the band was joined by famed Texas blues man Clarence Gatemouth Brown on four tracks making this even more valuable for the archives while the closing 14-minute Shake ‘n’ Boogie had the audiences in an uproarious groove.

Both the Canned Heat and AWB sessions are available on DVD too.



Rockpile: Live At

Montreux 1980 (Eagle)


Yet another from the great Live at Montreaux series—Rockpile were one of the super groups of the new wave rock and roll scene with its twin leaders Nick Lowe and Dave Edmunds. The latter had a surprise smash hit in the early ’70s with his ultra cool cover of I Hear You Knocking while Lowe went on to a very successful solo career after producing dozens of albums for the likes of Elvis Costello, The Pretenders, The Pogues etc.

Drummer Terry Williams went on to join both The Who and Dire Straits.

Unfortunately, Rockpile were terribly mismanaged in that they didn’t even have rights to their own name so several so-called solo albums by both Lowe and Edmunds were not released under the Rockpile moniker although their legion of fans knew the wiser.

Anyway, Rockpile did not perform a lot in concert. Sometimes they were hired as the opening act on large tours only to be fired when the headlining act had a hard time following them.

This Live At Montreux finds the band in extremely fine form and shows why they were so loved by fans and critics alike. This is the very heart of vintage rock and roll where the group is unrelenting in its fast-paced rockers as the band blasts through nuggets such as I Knew The Bride When She Used To Rock And Roll, Queen Of Hearts, Switchboard Susan, Teacher Teacher, And So It Goes, etc.

A welcome and surprising little find but unfortunately, unlike the AWB and Canned Heat releases, no DVD material.



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