Album Reviews

Music You Don't Know You Like Yet

RAY MANZAREK AND ROY ROGERS

TRANSLUCENT BLUES

2011-06-30

As a member of the Doors where his keyboards played a pivotal role in hit after hit, it is safe to say that Ray Manzarek has been heard by almost every person who has ever tuned in to rock radio. While not as regular a presence on the radio, slide guitarist Roy Rogers has also been heard by the masses not only backing the likes of John Lee Hooker, Santana, Bonnie Raitt and Steve Miller but as a band leader in his own right. This release pairs the two of them laying down deep grooves behind poets and lyricists such as Michael McClure, Jim Carroll, Michael Ford and Warren Zevon. Instead of trying to fit their diverse talents into a standard blues mold, the two grab liberally from classic rock, jazz and blues rock. Those yearning for a taste of the Doors without hearing "Light My Fire" for the millionth time should head straight to "Game of Skill", "New Dodge City Blues" and "Fives and Ones" which feature the icy cold organ charts that fueled so much of the Doors sound and Manzarek’s gruff vocals which have grown to uncannily resemble Jim Morrison. "As You Leave" is a mysterious sounding instrumental that could easily find its way onto a movie soundtrack with its powerful imagery of both regret and a new beginning. "Kick" is a semi spoken groover that sounds right out of the drug-addled 60’s with McClure’s wild flight of a story about “demons on the razor sucking on the blade” while he is high and trying to ditch the powder. "River of Madness" is a piano driven number that develops a vaguely eastern feel as the song goes on. "Tension" has a pretty standard swamp rock beat until the mid-song bridge when it switches gears for a brief acoustic interlude before jumping back into the swampy stew. "Blues In My Shoes" and "New Dodge City Blues" give Rogers the chance to shine brightest with his slide guitar slithering and snaking around Manzerek’s keyboard work while "Greenhouse Blues" gives him the chance to lead the vocal charge on a tale about life in the burbs where the excitement of uptown is traded for the greenhouse. "Those Hits Just Keep on Comin’" isn’t about tunes on the radio; instead, it’s about hits to the heart from an errant lover. The instrumental closing cut "An Organ, a Guitar and a Chicken Wing" treads the closest to traditional blues with its wailing sax solo and shuffle groove. It would be the perfect end to a hot club set and is the perfect end to this great disc. Smitty

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Compiled by the WYCE Journalism Club

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