Wes Montgomery—“March 6, 1968” (Riverside)
Wes Montgomery is simply one of the two greatest jazz guitarists of all time, the other being Charley Christian. A writer may go on and on and on about the innovations, contributions, and prestige this man gave to jazz but it may suffice to say that he undoubtedly was the best. This album was previously released on the old Riverside label and definitely doesn’t possess the clarity and forcefulness of his later Verve performances. (Due only to dated recording techniques.) But newly converted Wes Montgomery fans may find his old recordings a source of knowledge and a chronicled account of a great artist’s transition and maturation.
Savoy Brown—“Getting to the Point” (Parrot)
The British blues scene is truly a phenomenon. It started as a lark and developed into an obsession. The leading exponents of English blues, (Blues without basis) are well known fanatics. John Mayall, Eric Clapton, Peter Green, etc.
They sweated and persevered only to become unparalleled as copy-cats. British blues groups then packaged their product in a white box and sold it to gullible American teenagers for hundreds of thousands of dollars. There are still many people that believe blues came from London.
Savoy Brown is no exception. This record was outdated before it was recorded. Their efforts are admirable reproductions. The original blues artists like Howlin’ Wolf, Albert King and John-Lee Hooker found themselves riding to a crest of popularity on the shirttails of their imitators. Long since ignored and abandoned by most of their original fans, the Buddy Guys, Howlin Wolfs, etc. now play second billing to the Cream...Well, that’s show biz.
Ravi Shankar—“Chappaqua” (Columbia)
Chappaqua is the soundtrack from a movie by Conrad Rooks, the music is supposed to amazingly accompany the moods of the picture, but does more than that. It demonstrates without a doubt Ravi Shankar’s amazing talent as a musician in terms everyone can identify with. It is not Eastern classical music, the melodies are more akin to what average western listeners are familiar with.
The arrangements of strings, woodwinds, and percussion is the work of Ravi Shankar, a rarely paralleled genius. The album is in parts ridiculously beautiful, as a whole, excellent.
Big Brother and the Holding Company—“Cheap Thrills” (Columbia)
Janis Joplin has a good voice but she can’t sing. James Gurley is a very poor guitarist and as a whole the group slides along on an infallible cushion of mediocrity. Yet this record is a hit.
In short, if you put up a big enough front, and Janis has, you can get away with anything. Rating: poor.
B.B. King—“Lucille” (Bluesway)
His latest recordings sound better, but many of his old records show a lot more enthusiasm. B.B. King is not only a leading blues guitarist but he is also one of the finest singers in the blues field. His performance on this album is pretty good but not exceptional. This man has recorded scores of albums and enthusiasm to record has probably diminished somewhat. But this is the L.P. blues fans have waited impatiently for. This L.P. tells about B.B. King No. 1 Blues guitarist and his guitar Lucille.