Coram Deo ~

Looking at contemporary culture from a Christian worldview

MUSIC REVIEWS and NEWS

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rolling-stones-blue-lonesomeBlue and Lonesome – Rolling Stones

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In their first studio album in eleven years, the Rolling Stones return with an album of twelve mostly Chicago blues covers, the type of music that they cut their teeth on when they started out. Having been largely introduced to the blues by my brother-in-law, I really enjoyed this album; it was one of my favorites for 2016. To read more about the blues music from a Christian perspective check out Stephen Nichols book Getting the Blues: What Blues Music Teaches Us about Suffering and Salvation.    

This wasn’t the album that the band intended to record. While in the studio to record new material, they would play a few old blues songs to warm up. They had so much fun playing them they recorded this album with co-producer Don Was last December over just three days. As an added bonus, Eric Clapton, who was recording in the studio next door, came over and played guitar on two of the songs. Overall, the album feels like a labor of love for the Stones, who are joined by bassist Darryl Jones, who has been playing with the band since 1993, and pianist Chuck Leavell.

Below are a few comments on each of the songs on the album:

Just Your Fool – This song was written by and recorded by Buddy Johnson in 1953 and a Chicago blues version recorded in 1960 by Little Walter. This is the first of four songs on the album credited to Walter, a large influence on Jagger’s harmonica playing style. It’s Jagger’s harmonica that is the first sound you hear on the album. Richards’ and Woods’ guitars and Watts’ drums propel the song along. A great start to the album.
Commit a Crime – This song was recorded in 1966 by Howlin’ Wolf. It later showed up (titled “What a Woman!”), on 1971’s London Howlin’ Wolf Sessions, which included Stones Charlie Watt and Bill Wyman. The song features some great guitar work as Jagger spits out that a woman poured poison in his coffee. He’s gonna leave her before he commits a crime. Jagger adds some excellent harmonica work here.
Blue and Lonesome – This slower sad song was recorded in 1959 by Little Walter. It again features Jagger on harmonica, who Richards once referred to as probably the best blues-harp player that he had ever heard, up there with Little Walter.  The song also features some excellent guitar work.
All of Your Love – This song was Magic Sam’s debut single in 1957 as “All Your Love”. He updated and retitled the song “All of Your Love” in 1957, just before his death from a heart attack at age 32. The slow blues song opens with some excellent guitar work and beat provided by Watts and Jones, which sets the pace for the song. Leavell adds some tasty piano work in the middle of the song and Jagger adds a brief harmonica solo before the song ends with a guitar solo.
I Gotta Go – This song was recorded in 1955 by Little Walter with the Jukes. The song opens with Jagger on harmonica and gets going right away, propelled by Watts’ drumming. It’s a real toe-tapper, and it’s impossible to stay still listening to it. He’s got the blues and he can’t stay here no more. A great take on the song. One of my favorites on the album.
Everybody Knows About My Good Thing – The newest cover on the album, this slow blues song was recorded in 1971 by former Mighty Clouds of Joy member Little Johnny Taylor. The song opens with great slide guitar work from Eric Clapton, which makes this song another highlight for me. While the focus in on the guitar work, I also enjoyed Leavell’s piano.
Ride ‘Em on Down – This song was a 30’s era original by Delta blues legend Bukka White, then titled “Shake ‘Em On Down”. It was recorded with this title in 1955 by Eddie Taylor. It starts with some great guitar work, and a driving beat from Watts, which sets the pace for the song. The song features a blistering guitar solo mid-song and a harmonica solo from Jagger near the end.
Hate to See You Go – This song was recorded in 1955 by Little Walter. He got his start in Muddy Waters band before going solo in 1952. He would die at age 37 and is the only artist inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame specifically as a harmonica player. The song immediately grabs your attention with a driving beat propelled by harmonica, guitar and drum.
Hoo Doo Blues – This song was recorded in 1958 by Lightnin’ Slim, a good example of his stripped down, swampy style. The song opens and features Jagger on harmonica, and the slower beat is driven by Watts’ drumming and Jones’ bass.
Little Rain – This song was recorded in 1957 by Jimmy Reed. The Stones have long admired Reed, having covered his “Honest I Do” on their first album. This is a slow blues song featuring some excellent guitar work before the bass and drum kick in behind Jagger, who adds a lengthy and restrained harmonica solo.
Just Like I Treat You – This song was recorded in 1961 by Howlin’ Wolf as the B-side to his single “I Ain’t Superstitious”.  It starts out with a great beat right from the start, and amazingly sounds like it could fit nicely on a mid-1960’s Stones album (reminding me of 1964’s “It’s All Over Now”). It features some nice guitar work, tasty piano from Leavell along with some harmonica work from Jagger. One of my favorites on the album.
I Can’t Quit You Baby – This song was written by Willie Dixon for Otis Rush, who recorded it with him in Rush’s first sessions in 1956. You may recognize it as a heavy blues cover from Led Zeppelin’s debut album, which they built off Rush’s 1966 version. This slow blues song begins with a guitar and the bass drives the slow beat. He can’t quit her but he’s gonna have to put her down for a while. The song features some excellent guitar work from Clapton, and Jagger offers some of his most expressive singing on the album.

phil-keaggy-all-at-onceAll at Once – Phil Keaggy
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Phil Keaggy is one of our greatest guitarists. He has released more than 50 albums, has won seven Dove Awards for Instrumental Album of the Year and is a two-time Grammy Award nominee. Although his instrumental albums are a frequent companion of mine, I hadn’t heard one of his vocal albums for some time. So this fan-funded album of thirteen vocals and one instrumental was a pleasant surprise. And though he is now 65, his sweet McCartney sounding vocals haven’t aged at all. Keaggy wrote or co-wrote all songs with the exception of the title song (written by Gordon Kennedy and Ben Cooper) and the closing hymn “I Must Tell Jesus”.

Below are a few comments about each song on this excellent album which features Keaggy’s superb guitar playing and contributions from strong backing players. In addition, the production is top-notch, giving the songs a live feel.

Mercy – The album starts out with a bang with this blues rocker. It features some great guitar, organ, drum and some backing vocals. There is no one like the Lord. Everybody wants and needs mercy all around the world.  A great opener.
Undertow – This rocker features some excellent guitar work and a driving drum beat. Tell me about where you’ve been and what you know, your dreams. Grab ahold and don’t let go you’re not alone here in the struggle. Keep fighting in the undertow. An encouraging song that features some good backing vocals.
Call the Doctor – Keaggy slows it down a bit on this song that features some excellent blues guitar, backing vocals, organ and drums. Somebody call the doctor, the Great Physician, because this old world is a troubled soul. Ring that number straight to the heavenly throne. There is so much pain and hurt.
All At Once – Keaggy keeps it slow on this title track that starts with him singing a McCartney-like vocal over piano. It builds with drum, bass and guitar. How do you deal with the pain? All at once. It breaks the heart, but puts it back together stronger than it was.
I Love the Way You Love Me – This easy-going, joyful catchy love song starts with piano, drums and keys. He can’t wear a frown whenever she’s around. He loves the way she loves him. Features some good backing vocals and guitar work.
La La La Love You – This is another joyful love song. He could never write a song to say everything that she means to him, so he just says “La, La, La Love You”. Includes a nice guitar solo.
My Guitar’s In Love – This is a blues rocker that features some great guitar playing. She (his guitar) won’t do what she’s told. He’s lost control. They had been so close like a hand in glove. It includes tongue-in-cheek lyrics such as “don’t string me along”.
Stay Home Baby – This toe-tapper opens with drums, blues guitar and organ. He’s satisfied with everything he’s got and just wants to stay home with his baby and be by her side. Reminds me of Robert Johnson’s “Sweet Home Chicago”. Features some great blues guitar playing, organ work by the legendary Al Cooper, and backing vocals.
Fearless Love – This rocker opens with piano, guitar, and driving drum beat. I believe there is a way. We have to make a few adjustments to keep the ship on course. We need to show fearless love across the great divide. A love that is compassionate and slow to judge. What unites us is greater than what divides us. Features some great piano and guitar. Also features some good backing vocals.
Not Be Moved – This song features a Dylan-like “Gotta Serve Somebody” sound. We’re living in a world of trouble. It can get the best of us. Bad news and darkness. Trials and temptations that try to bring us down. He knows that there’s an answer that helps him stand his ground. But we stand on solid ground and we shall not be moved. Features an excellent guitar solo and some good organ work.
Ezekiel – This blues rocker features the exemplary vocals of Ashley Cleveland, which blend well with Keaggy’s. They sing about the valley of dry bones from chapter 37 of the book of Ezekiel. This is the Lord, this is the God who saves. The song features some excellent guitar, drums and organ.
I Prayed For You – This slow blues number is about him praying for someone not to give in. He pleaded with the Father until the answer came. Don’t give in to darkness before the battle is won. He prayed for them when they needed strength and were losing the fight. Features some good blues guitar.
Breathe – This is the one instrumental track on the album. Those familiar with Keaggy’s instrumental albums such as his classic The Master and the Musician will enjoy this.
I Must Tell Jesus – Keaggy closes out the album with a version of this 1893 hymn written by Elisha Albright Hoffman. The focus is on the vocal, but it also features some nice guitar playing and backing vocals.

music news

  • Hallelujah. Since Leonard Cohen’s death on November 7, we have heard his song “Hallelujah” a lot. My favorite version of the song is by Michael McDonald.
  • Carrie Underwood Performs at Passion 2017. Watch Underwood perform the song with Crowder. The appearance of Underwood at the event was criticized by some due to Underwood’s support of same-sex marriage. Watch Underwood join Crowder on his “Lift Your Head Weary Sinner”.
  • Andy Mineo Song Used in new Ben Affleck Film Trailer. Andy Mineo’s “Desperado” from his excellent album Uncomfortable is used in one of the trailers for the new Ben Affleck film Live by Night.
  • Crowder at the Grand Ole Opry. Watch Crowder perform “Run Devil Run” from his excellent album American Prodigal, at the Grand Ole Opry.
  • 2016 Christian Music Review. Jeremy Howard provides his top 20 Christian albums for 2016.
  • Cast of Sing Joins Paul McCartney on “Wonderful Christmastime”. Yes, we’re a bit past the holidays, but I thought you would enjoy this take on McCartney’s Christmas classic from The Tonight Show.
  • Greatest Albums of All-Time. As I was reading Bruce Springsteen’s excellent new autobiography, I went back and listened to his groundbreaking third album Born to Run. It got me to thinking about the greatest albums of all-time. I’m thinking of the Beatles Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited, the Beach Boys Pet Sounds, Born to Run and others. What albums would you put in the top 10 of all-time? What would be your favorite album by a Christian music artist?  

music quoteMUSIC QUOTES:

  • You learn more about your character when the bottom falls out, than you ever could when life goes your way. Lecrae   
  • In your spiritual journey, don’t mistake flavor for nutrition. Chris Rice
  • Each morning I have to attend a funeral. My own. I have to wake up and once again die to my desires for people’s approval. Lecrae  

Song of the Week Clouds by Trip Lee

This week’s song of the week is from Trip Lee’s new mixtape The Waiting Room. This song has a great beat that grabs you from the very beginning. It takes you through his ups and downs of dreams and aspirations – from being ready to conquer all the monsters in his way and walking in his calling, to saying he needs a new dream because this one has become a nightmare, and then back again. Listen to the song here.

Woke up in the morning feeling like a million dollars
Hollering, “Can’t nobody stop us, no lie”
I’m up
I’m dreaming ’bout the way I’m ’bout to conquer all the monsters in my way
I’m feeling like I’m on fire
I love that feeling when you walking in your callingtrip-lee-clouds-quote
Ain’t no turning back I’m all in
I ain’t finished, just watch
I’m up
Probably ain’t no ceiling, don’t be silly
Ain’t no stealing what I’m in cause, homie this is my spot, my spot

Way up in the clouds like I’m on one
Way up in the clouds like I’m on
Way up in the clouds like I’m on one
Way up in the clouds like I’m on

Woke up from my sleep and tired
No way I wanna get up, I’m leaving my eyes like a safe
Then I think of my dreams and I’m wide awake
It’s like a light and a beacon inside of me
To be honest, last year was a blur
I had a dream, but it was deferred
I caught a beating, I’m eating the dirt
Wondering, “Will the dreams I’m seeking emerge?”
But that’s the way dreams go
They hurt before they heal, if you ain’t know
They take before they give, casinos
They kill before they live, I seen those
Desires that stay far and away, I seen those
Fires that’s never catching a blaze, I seen those
But it’s something in my soul
That can’t stop running at 100 to the goal

Woke up in the morning feeling like a million dollars
Hollering, “Can’t nobody stop us, no lie”
I’m up
I’m dreaming ’bout the way I’m ’bout to conquer all the monsters in my way
I’m feeling like I’m on fire
I love that feeling when you walking in your calling
Ain’t no turning back, I’m all in
I ain’t finished, just watch
I’m up
Probably ain’t no ceiling, don’t be silly
Ain’t no stealing what I’m in cause, homie this is my spot, my spot

Way up in the clouds like I’m on one
Way up in the clouds like I’m on
Way up in the clouds like I’m on one
Way up in the clouds like I’m on
Way up in the clouds like I’m on one
Way up in the clouds like I’m on
Way up in the clouds like I’m on one
Way up in the clouds like I’m on

Guess I need another plan
My other one is covered under sand
Buried like second day Son of Man
I don’t understand
Another dream is deferred, and it’s a nightmare now
I thought it was destiny, I got fear now
Piecing what’s left together, I ain’t clear now
No peace in this mess, from Him I gotta hear now, hear now
Cause man, I don’t know what’s even coming from the sky no more
And what’s coming from inside, oh no
Cause I don’t feel like I can fly no more
But I can’t forget the motto, motto
No more mediocre, just getting by though
I’m in His image, I been down for a minute
But I’m getting up today, and I’ma fight till I’m finished

Woke up in the morning feeling like a million dollars
Hollering, “Can’t nobody stop us, no lie”
I’m up
I’m dreaming ’bout the way I’m ’bout to conquer all the monsters in my way
I’m feeling like I’m on fire
I love that feeling when you walking in your calling
Ain’t no turning back, I’m all in
I ain’t finished, just watch
I’m up
Probably ain’t no ceiling, don’t be silly
Ain’t no stealing what I’m in cause, homie this is my spot, my spot

Way up in the clouds like I’m on one
Way up in the clouds like I’m on
Way up in the clouds like I’m on one
Way up in the clouds like I’m on
Way up in the clouds like I’m on one
Way up in the clouds like I’m on
Way up in the clouds like I’m on one
Way up in the clouds like I’m on

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Author: Bill Pence

I’m Bill Pence. I’m married to my best friend. I’m a St. Louis Cardinals fan, a manager at a Fortune 100 company, a graduate of Covenant Theological Seminary, and in leadership at my local church. I am a life-long learner and have a passion to help people determine their callings, develop to their fullest potential and to utilize their strengths more fully. My favorite book is the Bible, and some other favorite books are Don’t Waste Your Life by John Piper, The Holiness of God by R.C. Sproul and Crazy Love by Francis Chan.

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