1. “Marching Powder” by Tommy Bolin. In my opinion rock/jazz fusion doesn’t get much sweeter than this. Kudos to Jan Hammer who keeps up with Bolin and the powerful percussive trio of drummer Narada Michael Walden and percussionists Sammy Figuero and Rafael Cruz.
2. “Rigor Mortis” by The Meters. Producer Marshall E. Sehorn, with an assist from Allen Toussaint expertly captured the Meters in their timeless blend of New Orleans soul/funk jam on their 2nd album “Look-Ka Py Py.” Art “poppa funk” Neville’s Hammond B-3 , Joseph “Ziggy “ Modeliste’s drums, Leo Nocentelli’s guitar and George Porter, Jr.’s bass work all pool together to make this tasty musical gumbo.
3. “Deet, Deet, Deet” by Jeff Chaz. The Bourbon Street Bluesman puts his pedal to the metal and provides a rousing instrumental which is a fine compliment to his usual fare of insightful everyman lyrical masterpieces. “Always perform your best, especially when you’re not doing too well in life and negative, jealous people are there trying to throw you off. God will openly reward you and curse them.” ~ Jeff Chaz
3. “Albatross” by Fleetwood Mac. Peter Green had the distinction of replacing Eric Clapton in John Mayall’s band, and was the founding father of Fleetwood Mac, recruiting Mayall’s rhythm section at the time (M. Fleetwood and J. McVie) to form one of Britain’s major blues outfits. He had a penchant for instrumental genius, which was amplified after he left the group to go solo. “Albatross” was released as a single, and appeared on the “English Rose” LP.
4. “Proud Pinto” by Peter Green. Green’s guitar in combination with the drumming and bongos make me think of old western TV themes, and yes , I can picture the pinto pony running free as the breeze on an open range when I hear this one.
5. “Pelican” by Ivor S.K. The instrumental “Pelican” has a gentle rocking chair melody and fluid finger-picking style that shows footprints of Ivor’s Piedmont influences Blind Blake and the Reverend Gary Davis, as well as Davis’s many adherents such as Taj Mahal (the “keep it simple” element) and Ry Cooder (superior bottleneck play). It’s a beautiful leisurely song that brings to mind sunny days and the magnificent fragrance of magnolia blossoms wafting through the trees upon a Mississippi/Louisiana summer breeze. Ivor shines radiantly on both acoustic and bottleneck slide guitar making the song magnificently enticing and enjoyable.
“Here’s a short story on the naming of Pelican, a
favourite tune of mine. Pelican was one of those songs where the music came
before the title. I’d been sitting on the tune for a while hoping that a name
would jump out of the ether and to my ear — the song had strong southern
leanings, so I was searching for a title that reflected that. It came to me
while I was in Louisiana, travelling along the coast, and my friend happened to
mention that Louisiana’s nickname was ‘The Pelican State.’ Something about it,
and the gliding bottleneck melody in the song, seemed to fit. I was also
inspired by the song “Albatross” that Peter Green wrote while in Fleetwood Mac.
I’m a huge fan of his, so I liked the fact I could pay a certain amount of
homage in the title too.” ~ Ivor S.K.
6. “Raise My Rent” by David Gilmour. This dreamy song captures Gilmour in all his glory from his self-titled first solo album in 1978. Gilmour was inducted with Pink Floyd into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in 1996. As well known for his soothing vocals as for his comprehensive guitar skill, Gilmour crafts quite an attractive instrumental with “Raise My Rent.”
7. “Shuffleboard” by Jeff Golub. Golub trades tasty guitar lead licks with Chris Palmaro’s robust Hammond B-3 organ on the funk/blues shuffle appropriately entitled “Shuffleboard.” Palmaro also shares credit with Jeff as co-writer of this dynamite lead-off song from 2009’s “Blues For You.” The rhythm section of bassist Tony Garnier and drummer Shawn Pelton are both skillful musicians who assist expertly.
8. “Onion Rings” by Freddie King. The Texas Cannonball was famous for some of his great instrumentals. I love this one found on “The Complete King Federal Singles” compilation.
9. “Sleep Walk” by Jeff Beck. A true master and chameleon of different genres, on “Sleep Walk” Jeff takes a song that has been covered by many, many guitar greats (Chet Atkins, The Ventures, Larry Carlton, Leo Kottke to name a few). He shines with the brilliance of a perfect diamond to prove that his placement amongst the all-time greats is justified.
10. “Weisselklenzenacht” by Procol Harum. – When Matthew Fisher returned to team with Gary Brooker on keyboards again on “The Wells On Fire” it reminded me of why I loved the group so much for so many years.
11. “Song of the Wind” by Santana. Carlos Santana has composed some of the greatest instrumental songs of the past century. I include this one from “Caravanserai” for the sentiments that come flooding back every time I hear it. “Some songs are just like tattoos for your brain… you hear them and they’re affixed to you forever.” ~ Carlos Santana
12. “The Emperor of Wyoming” by Neil Young. This may be the most surprising inclusion on the playlist. Neil’sfirst album was overshadowed by the many solo recordings that followed, but there was always something about this first one that struck a chord with me.
13. “Weiss Heim” by Rainbow. Guitarist Richie Blackmore is/was amazing and this one has a timeless quality that I thoroughly enjoy.
14. “Peaches En Regalia” by Frank Zappa. While I was never a huge Zappa fan, at times he and the endowed artists that surrounded him would touch me deeply. This one shows off his superior composing and arranging chops very nicely.
15. “Moment Of Silence” by Kenny “Beedy Eyes” Smith. The lone instrumental from Kenny’s 2019 Drop The Hammer album features some killer guitar work from Billy Flynn and Ari Seder. Chicago native Omar Coleman adds dynamic blues harp and Smith’s steady drums dig an ocean deep groove.
16. “Time Is Tight” by Booker T. From a true master of the Hammond B-3 organ and Leslie speaker. His band the MG’s (the Memphis Group) were all so talented and respected as the house band for Memphis’s Stax/Volt Record labels. This song is simple in structure, but allows all of the ensemble to excel. This one stands the test of time and remains a favorite of many musicians.
17. “Going Home (Theme from Local Hero)” by Mark Knopfler. A beautiful emotional song by one of my favorite guitarists that never gets stale.
Randall Parrish is a Senior Editor at Vivascene, with extensive publishing credits at various jazz and blues sites. He is also an avid guitar player whose musical knowledge of jazz, blues and roots music is widely respected. Based in Nevada, he can be reached by email here: RandallParrish@vivascene.com