Blues Underground Network
Ray Manzarek & Roy Rogers "Translucent Blues"
Brilliant, Brilliant, Brilliant, is not the way I have ever started out a review on an Album, but then again I haven't come across an Album as captivating as "Translucent Blues", in an awfully long time. Surely to be hailed as one of the masterpieces of music for 2011, "Translucent Blues" instantly caught my attention with the opening keyboards on track 1, "Hurricane" and from there on I was totally on board for the amazing ride provided by none other then Ray Manzarek, "co-founder and keyboardist of The Doors, and Roy Rogers, world renowned slide guitar master and Grammy winning producer ."
"Translucent Blues" consists of 12 tracks, with 8 of them being co-written by Ray Manzarek or Roy Rogers, with numerous others. Ray Manzarek is credited with the solo writing of the last track, an instrumental called "An Organ, a Guitar and a Chicken Wing". Roy Rogers is credited with the solo writing of 3 tracks, "Blues in My Shoes", "Those Hits Just Keep On Comin'", and "As You Leave", which is the second to last track and is as Manzarek's, "An Organ, a Guitar and a Chicken Wing", also an instrumental. Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers only co-wrote together on one track, "Greenhouse Blues" along with Michael C. Ford, a legend of the LA poetry scene. Ford had "done collaborative recordings with members of The Doors drummer John Densmore and pianist & keyboardist Ray Manzarek. His debut spoken word record Language Commando earned a Grammy nomination in 1986." "His first reading of his poetry occurred at a Fund Raiser for Norman Mailer's run for Mayor of New York in 1969 with Jim Morrison lead singer The Doors and poets Jack Hirschman, Michael McClure & several Andy Warhol "Factory workers".
Other prominent co-writers on "Translucent Blues", included Jim Carroll ("Hurricane", "Tension"), Warren Zevon ("River of Madness"), Michael McClure ("Kick"), David Gionfriddo ("River of Madness", "Fives and Ones"), Stephen Gordon ("River of Madness", "Fives and Ones"), Noah James ("Game of Skill"), and Scott Richardson ("New Dodge City Blues").
"James Dennis "Jim" Carroll, was an author, poet, autobiographer, and punk musician. Carroll's extensive musical career saw him collaborating "with Lou Reed, Blue Öyster Cult, Boz Scaggs, Ray Manzarek of The Doors, Pearl Jam, ELO and Rancid ."
"Warren William Zevon was an American rock singer-songwriter and musician noted for including his unique and sometimes sardonic opinions of life in his musical lyrics. One of his best known compositions was "Werewolves of London". sadly Jim Carroll passed away in 2009 and Warren Zevon passed in 2003.
"Michael McClure is an American poet, playwright, songwriter, and novelist. After moving to San Francisco as a young man, he found fame as one of the five poets (including Allen Ginsberg) who read at the famous San Francisco Six Gallery reading in 1955 rendered in barely fictionalized terms in Jack Kerouac's Dharma Bums. He soon became a key member of the Beat Generation and is immortalized as "Pat McLear" in Kerouac's Big Sur ."
With the immense prominence of all the writers associated with "Translucent Blues", there should be no doubt in ones mind as to the lyrical integrity of this Album. As for the musical integrity, that is absolutely assured when you have a couple of heavyweights such as, Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers, at the helm. Also contributing to that integrity are the rest of the musicians on "Translucent Blues", which included Steve Evans (Bass), Kevin Hayes (Drums), George Brooks (Tenor Saxophone), and Joel Jaffe (Harmony Vocals/Percussion).
My journey to absolutely loving "Translucent Blues" started innocently enough, when at one of my Spring barbecue get togethers, I began searching through a significant pile of CD's, I still had to review, and the cover of "Translucent Blues" caught my attention and shortly after putting it into the CD Player, the music quickly caught the attention of many of my friends, with many asking what album that was. My friends were actually so transfixed with the music that they requested it be brought into my house at dinner time for continued playing, as we only managed to get to track 6, before it was time to eat. The next day when I was outside, my neighbor called me over and told me that I was playing really good music yesterday and enquired as to who it was. When I told her who it was she immediately said she was going out to find that Album for herself. At a few of my gathering I have had my friends really take notice and like what they heard, but never to the degree that happened when I started playing "Translucent Blues". It was shortly after that evening, that with a more attentive listening to "Translucent Blues", that both me and the wife, also really began to love it.
For me and appearantly everyone whom I know whom has listened to "Translucent Blues", the opinion is that it is a tour de force of great music, and as the name implies, it truly is translucent in nature, with the music far surpassing the constraints of just pigeonholing it into one specific genre. "Translucent Blues" is some of the most unique music I have heard in a long time, the kind which almost defies description, for doing so just does not truly get the point across. It is music that just must be experienced for yourself and the best any reviewer can really hope to do is just whole heartedly recommend you give it a listen, like a good movie that you don't really want spoiled by seeing to much of the trailer.
"Translucent Blues" is the best music to cross my path, so far for 2011, and it enthusiastically gets my highest rating of 5*****.
Review by John Vermilyea (Blues Underground Network)
1. Hurricane 4:27
2. River of Madness 7:09
3. Game of Skill 4:00
4. Fives and Ones 4:02
5. Kick 4:49
6. Tension 6:18
7. Blues in My Shoes 4:51
8. New Dodge City Blues 4:45
9. Greenhouse Blues 4:55
10. Those Hits Just Keep On Comin' 3:31
11. As You Leave 4:24
12. An Organ, a Guitar and a Chicken Wing 5:42
Listen To Samples Here...