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Thursday, June 10, 2010

Blues Historian Review: The Hollywood Blue Flames, Deep In America

Long time blues fans will know the legendary Hollywood Fats, guitar player extraordinaire from California that died way to young.  Fats band is still playing as The Hollywood Blue Flames and have a double CD out called Deep In America, with the first cd is a second disk called Larger Than Life Vol. 2. The Hollywood Blue Flames still have that good old jump blues vib going that blues purists around the US still love.  Nothing really new here, on Deep In America, but when you have a good thing why screw with it.  Perhaps the gem, and unfortunately the let down is the live disk Larger Than Life Vol. 2.  It is a gem because it perfectly captures the time.  It was an amazing time where blues started to make its big comeback from the disco hangover of the 70s. On this disc Fats, and the band cover some of the classic covers, like She's Dynamite, Hide Away, Kansas City, Lonesome, and many more. I love the second disc, and it would be my favorite, except you can barely hear Hollywood Fats, and he is the guy  I want to hear.  First, it is still an important historical CD recorded at three separate locations between 1979-1980. While track three is recorded by a hand held recorder, (I am assuming a cassette recorder back in 79)  The others sound like board tracks.  This is where you record off the sound system.  What is good about recording of the sound board, is that the vocals, keys, and drums are clear, but the guitar is usually buried.  The reason for this is that the stage volume of the guitar is so loud that the sound engineer will turn off the microphone to the guitar.  When that happens, which is darn near all the time, then the guitar gets buried in the mix, and unfortunately this gem of a disc suffers from Hollywood Fats guitar buried for most of the CD. Yet, I wouldn't let you deter you from this double CD.  It is a good collection of jump blues, a cool double cd of old and new, and a nice historical recording of one of the many golden ages of the blues.

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