Review Rundown: Saga, the Jeff Healey Band, ZZ Top, Doobie Brothers, Bad Company


 
The 45th edition of the Review Rundown goes all live as it is brought to you in very special fashion by Get eXposed Music’s friends over at Kayos Productions (www.kayosproductions.com). This new batch of reviews takes you onstage and behind-the-scenes with reviews from live records from Saga, the Jeff Healey Band, ZZ Top, the Doobie Brothers and Bad Company.

Purchase - Heads Or Tales Live
File Under: Old School Prog-Rock
Saga – Heads or Tales Live (Eagle): Though overshadowed for the most part by some of their other work (namely 1981’s breakout hit “On the Loose”), Saga’s fifth studio offering Heads or Tales is still a piece of art in its own right. If you missed out on this release back in the day (originally released in 1983), or need proof that Saga had the chops to ride the mainstream wave, Heads or Tales Live satisfies both needs. Driven by standout tracks like singles “the Flyer” and “Cat Walk,” Heads or Tales Live is a progressive fans dream, though guitar enthusiasts should be warned that after listening to the outstanding licks of guitarist Ian Crichton, you might have a new axeman to fawn over. Crichton’s guitar work is jaw-dropping time and time again, work that remains painfully overlooked when it comes to great guitar player discussions. Heads or Tales Live is so strong even that through Rob Moratti and not Michael Sadler is singing these songs, the material doesn’t suffer. This is a strong live offering, one that should have most Saga fans scratching their head just as to why most never gave Heads or Tales the time of day way back when. Still, everyone deserves a second chance, and Heads or Tales Live is just the opportunity. (www.sagaontour.moonfruit.com)
Grade: B+
Go Download: “The Sound of Strangers”

Purchase - Live at Grossmans 1994
File Under: A Blues-y Tribute
The Jeff Healey Band – Live at Grossman’s 1994 (Eagle):  Toronto, Canada, circa 1994. The Jeff Healey Band. Grossman’s Tavern. Nine classic blues covers. Live at Grossman’s 1994 is all that and more as it encapsulates the Jeff Healey Band diving back into the trenches and getting gritty at the small club in which they were first discovered in front of a very lucky and intimate crowd. Whether you’re in the mood for the band’s amped up, yet emotional take on the Beatles “Yer Blues” or the dynamic musicality shown on Albert King’s “As the Years Go Passing By,” Live at Grossman’s 1994 delivers entertainment in spades, and honestly, the only downfall to this release is the simple fact that it is only nine songs in length. The record also sees the Jeff Healey Band tackling classics from the likes of Howlin’ Wolf (“Killing Floor”), Robert Johnson (“Crossroads”), and Ten Years After (“I’m Going Home”), before capping off the night, and the release, with a Jimi Hendrix-inspired take on Bob Dylan’s “All Along the Watchtower.” For those who have caught the Jeff Healey Band’s studio recording of this cover, the live version is different and worth listening to. Live at Grossman’s 1994 is a spectacular look at one of the Jeff Healey Band’s most unique concerts, a near flawless night. It’s just sad it had to end. (www.heffhealeyband.com)
Grade: A-
Go Download: “Yer Blues”         

Purchase - Live In Germany 1980
File Under: Alcohol-Fueled Intensity
ZZ Top – Live in Germany 1980 (Eagle): Quite often, comments on album artwork is deceiving, if not just flat out wrong. That is not the case with the line from the back of ZZ Top’s Live in Germany 1980 release that reads “the show sees ZZ Top at their very best in a set packed with their early hits.” Such is very much the case with this release, a documentation of the bands 1980 performance on Germany’s Rockpalast television show. Armed with fiery material off their freshly pressed 1979 release Deguello, ZZ Top did nothing but kick ass and take names on stage at the Grughalle in Essen, beginning with the night’s opener, “El Deguello.” From there on in, it’s nothing but beers and beards as the tenured trio ripped through a set of their traditional barroom rock and roll, flexing their guitar muscles on one thunderous blues hit after another (“Fool for Your Stockings,” “Precious and Grace”), while effectively cutting through the smoke and the haze (“Waitin’ for the Bus,” “Lowdown in the Street”). You could almost hear the collective opening of many a beer bottle as the band blasted through a bevy of adult beverage related tunes (“Arrested for Driving While Blind,” “Beer Drinkers & Hell Raisers”), but it’s when the band flips the switch and lets it all hang out that Live in Germany 1980 shines, most notably on the bombastic “Heard It on the X” and “Tush,” the albums justified closer. The back-to-back covers of Elmore James/Robert Johnson’s (anyone know who really wrote this song?) “Dust My Broom” and Elvis’ “Jailhouse Rock” serve as the extra cherry on top of the cherry on top of the sundae that is ZZ Top’s Live in Germany 1980. (www.zztop.com)    
Grade: A
Go Download: “Heard It on the X”

Purchase - Live At The Greek Theater 1982
File Under: Good Ol’ Fashion American Rock and Roll
The Doobie Brothers - Live at the Greek Theatre 1982 (Eagle): While referring to the Doobie Brothers’ Live at the Greek Theatre 1982 as a ‘farewell tour’ might have been a tad premature (the band would return to the stage five years later), there’s no denying that the band played this show at Los Angeles’ Greek Theatre like it was their last. Vocalist Michael McDonald is at the top of his game on this night as the band offered up 20 songs that touched on each and every era in their history. “Listen to the Music” begins the memorable proceedings, and from there on in, it’s hit after hit after hit, barely leaving time to breath between songs. From “Takin’ It to the Streets,” “Black Water” and “Sweet Maxine” to “Minute by Minute,” “Jesus is Just Alright” and “China Grove,” Live at the Greek Theatre 1982 covers all the bands historical bases. This release also includes four bonus tracks (“Little Darling (I Need You),” “One Step Closer,” “Dependin’ on You,” “Real Love”) to wet your whistle to, but by the time you get to the afore mentioned bonus content, you’ll already have more than your money’s worth, though, as they say, the journey befits the destination. (www.doobiebros.com)
Grade: A
Go Download: “Takin’ It to the Streets”    

Purchase - Live at Wembley
File Under: Arena Rock Done Right
Bad Company – Live at Wembley (Eagle): When it comes to a Bad Company live show, you know you’re going to hear a slew of highly successful radio tunes and one-hell of a performance, and with the band’s latest live offering, Live at Wembley, you get nothing less. Right from the get-go, venerable frontman Paul Rodgers leads the band into battle in front of the sold-out UK crowd with the classic “Can’t Get Enough.” After that, Live at Wembley plays like a literal best of, offering up more tracks you’ve probably heard in a “Monsters of the 80’s” compilation infomercial than you can shake a stick at (“Feel Like Makin’ Love,” “Rock and Roll Fantasy,” “Shooting Star, ” “Ready for Love,” “Bad Company”). Live at Wembley is Bad Company in all their arena rock excess glory, with the crowd eating out of Rodgers hand time and time again. After all this time, Bad Company is still able to control a crowd this size, which is more a testament to their sheer knack for this whole performing music thing than merely their staying power, though Live at Wembley finds two new band members in the fold - guitarist Howard Leese and bassist Lynn Sorensen – but that’s neither here nor there. (www.badcompany.com)      
Grade: B
Go Download: “Feel Like Makin’ Love”

Comments