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Tuesday, March 25, 2008

42 IF - Jeff Healey's birthday - and a "Mess of Blues"

Jeff Healey would be 42 years old by now had he survived the cancer that plagued him throughout his life (Healey passed away in Toronto, Canada on March 2nd, 2008, and his 42nd birthday was on Tuesday March 25th, 2008 )
Well, Happy Birthday Jeff, wherever you may be!!!

Last month, hardly a fortnight after he passed away, "Mess of Blues", Healey's first commercial album in 8 years was released in Europe - an album chock full of Blues, Rock & Roll, and just plain fun music!

Starting with Sonny Thompson's upbeat Blues classic "I'm Tore Down" (often identified with Otis Rush), Healey is at home both vocally and on guitar as he goes from straight electric Blues to slightly more modern Rock territory. Next is the classic "How Blue Can You Get" with a very soulful guitar solo by Jeff. Four of the tunes on this album were recorded live on stage in London England, and at Healey's own club in Toronto (Healey's Roadhouse), but the studio tracks also have the quality of a live show because they were recorded with the same band that he played with onstage for a good number of years, and they are all very comfortable with each other both on stage and in the studio.
The next tune is a vintage 50's Blues-Rock & Roll chestnut named "Sugar Sweet" which Healey performs in his own inimitable way and then he ventures into the Lousianna Bayou, letting loose with the good time swamp tune "Jambalaya".
Next up is "the Weight", the old standard made famous by the Band back in the movie Easy Rider, which seems to be making a revival lately as at least 3-4 other artists have recently covered the tune on their newest releases.

The album title tune, the Doc Pomus song "Mess of Blues" was a hit for Elvis Presley way back when, and Healey has fun with this upbeat Rock & Roll number.

Neil Young's "Like A Hurricane" brings Healey's special emotional rendition and has all the makings of the designated "hit single" from the album, and hopefully it could become a posthumous commercial hit for the benefit of Healey's wife and young children.
The album closes with a light rendition of the folk/bluegrass/country Blues standard from the 1920's - "Sittin' On Top of the World", and the Rock & Roll standard "Shake Rattle and Roll".
Overall, this is a fun album filled with lots of Blues and the joy of music. The band is tight and professional all the way, but the session is pretty laid back, and Healey is playing to please both himself and his regular audience at the club...

Rest in peace brother Jeff, even though you left us much too soon, you've earned your place in heaven.