Shine on You Crazy Diamond
Those among us who take great pride in riding all year are sometimes looked upon as nuts by the rest of the cage-dwelling society. It makes one wonder how the cowboys, who certainly traveled slower and had to depend upon horses, ever made it West to the Promised Land. Perhaps that’s what gave birth to the singing cowboy? Lord knows; that was way before Robert Johnson hooked up with Mr. Satan out on Highway 49. What these early minstrels discovered is that the road and music are made for each other. Riding across long stretches of this country gives motorcyclists the unique opportunity to relate to this country’s musical nomads.
It also makes one wonder how bikers—at least those with grey hair—ever endured years of in-dash eight-track and cassette decks. Who hasn’t littered the road with endless reams of unspoiled audiotape? Remember those days? Now we get to take our entire “record collection” (another term one hardly hears anymore) along with us on the road, courtesy of any number of digital gizmos. Then there’s satellite radio, where we can avoid the endless sophomoric cacophony of morning drive time DJs. Just dial in your favorite genre of music and prepare to be entertained. So yeah, the riding goes better with music, even if one has to travel slowly. Or endure the cold.
Savoy Brown has to be one of the hardest working bands in the biz. During the blues-rock movement of the late ’60s, the band played in nearly every venue across America. If you’ve never heard their classic albums Blue Matter, A Step Further, Street Corner Talking, Looking In, A Step Further, or Raw Sienna, then you have some homework to do. Despite myriad personnel changes, one of which gave birth to Foghat, founding member and lead guitarist Kim Simmonds kept the band alive and cooking. This is a feat that compares to riding that vintage kick-start-only Harley. Or, imagine Clapton and John Mayall still playing as the Bluesbreakers. Think about it: Savoy Brown has outlasted disco, punk, new wave, and grunge. So now we have the band’s 45th anniversary, an achievement no American Idol winner will surpass. How about a nomination for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame?
Under “biker friendly” bands, Savoy Brown is near the top. So when the mailman dropped off a copy of Voodoo Moon, off I went to add it to my iTunes list; no auditioning necessary. Featuring Joe Whiting (vocals/sax) and Garnet Grimm (drums), this latest SB model is one of high adrenaline blues-rock with Simmonds showcasing super-octane guitar licks throughout. Even the songwriting exceeds whatever passes for rock ’n’ roll these days. “Meet the Blues Head On,” “Shockwaves,” “She’s Got the Heat,” “Natural Man,” and the title track are standouts. Better yet, at only nine tracks, there’s no filler material detectable.
The Best Of Kay Kay And The Rays
Kay Kay and the Rays
Just when you thought it was safe to wade into the blues, along come artists like Kay Kay and the Rays. Yes, we know the album cover looks a little dated and cheesy. And when was the last time you heard a “best of,” but couldn’t recall hearing one of those songs on the radio? And try as hard as you like, you won’t find an office for Catfood Records anywhere in Manhattan.
And these are all good points.
The Best of Kay Kay and the Rays is an amazingly awesome album that compiles three previous albums’ worth of authentic and soulful down-home R&B-injected blues-funk. So what makes this “biker music?” Well, to start, if you were riding through Texas and needed a fix of the three Bs (beer, blues, and BBQ), this CD satisfies at least one of those. It’s raucous, loud, and makes you wanna move. While major pop artists like Adele and Joss Stone may dabble in this same field, they are like visiting the House of Blues as compared to a real roadhouse somewhere in Texas. The latter is genuine and you get the real deal—from home cooked meals to gritty bands that’ve spent years perfecting their craft. One is the best money imitation can buy. Kay Kay Greenwade and company are the other.
The story goes like this: seems there’s a large club in Odessa, Texas, called Kay Kay’s Blues Club where the band earned a widespread reputation for serving up boogie-fied house-rockin’ music. The group’s second album, Texas Justice, was the one that earned them national recognition as they embarked on playing some of the best blues clubs and festivals in the nation. Be forewarned: many of the songs are both socially and politically charged; as in many great tunes, there’s a message in the music. Their third album, Big Bad Girl, was produced by multiple Grammy winner Jim Gaines and received even more critical praise. By then, Kay Kay was being described as a cross between the late great Koko Taylor and Aretha Franklin.
So if you crave a little horn-infested musical slice of Americana, this album’s for you. Unfortunately the band has broken up due to personal, health, and family tragedies that make a reunion unlikely. A darn shame because many more blues and R&B music fans ought to be exposed to music like this. Turn it up and spread the word…