Manzarek & Rogers Deliver Some Translucent Blues
(New York, NY)
2008’s BALLADS BEFORE THE RAIN was a collaborative effort of acoustic-based instrumentals that found blues guitarist (and John Lee Hooker Band alumnus) Roy Rogers and Doors keyboardist Ray Manzarek exploring the realms of New Age and classical (with the occasional jazz or blues slant). They’re latest endeavor, on the other hand, finds the duo on the opposite end of the musical spectrum; focusing on material that will likely satisfy the expectations of those fans that were slightly surprised by the tone of their previous collaboration.
TRANSLUCENT BLUES may be released on the Blind Pig label and it may contain the term “blues” in its title, but it is in actuality a rock album that, more often than not, feels like a series of updated Doors recordings; emphasizing the art of lyrical poetry and subtly utilizing the blues roots of its creators. Tracks like “Game of Skill,” “Kick,” “New Dodge City Blues” and “Greenhouse Blues” seem to take definite cues from such recognizable Doors classics as “Love Her Madly,” “When the Music’s Over” and “Waiting for the Sun” while musically, “Fives and Ones” pulls more from both “Roadhouse Blues” and “Riders on the Storm” than its clear namesake, 1968’s “Five to One.”
The remainder of the album’s tracks, though not pulling as definitively from the Doors playbook, are worthy companions to the above mentioned material and do not feel at all out of place here. The reggae-rooted commentary on Katrina, “Hurricane” and Manzarek’s instrumental tribute to Jimmy Smith, “An Organ, a Guitar and a Chicken Wing” are particularly noteworthy efforts.
Some fans may take umbrage with the slickness of this modern production. One could certainly argue that the material played on TRANSLUCENT BLUES would benefit greatly from the analog “days-of-old.” Other fans may scoff at the fact that so much of the album borrows from Manzarek’s previous musical endeavors, but ultimately, despite certain elements that some may perceive as “flaws”, TRANSLUCENT BLUES is a strong and interesting studio effort from two very talented and accomplished artists…and is definitely worth checking out.
If you enjoyed this article you may also enjoy The American Blues News’ review for The Doors Live in Vancouver 1970.
Copyright © 2011 – J. Blake. All Rights Reserved.