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Monday, June 17, 2013

Jeff Healey – ‘As The Years Go Passing By’ 3 CD set review

Jeff Healey – ‘As The Years Go Passing By’ 3 CD set review

Released on: Inakustik Release date: Available now
It was indeed a sad day in March of 2008 when the world mourned the loss of the Canadian blind and incredibly talented blues guitarist, Jeff Healey.

You know in complete honesty, I’m not 100% sure when it was that I first heard this legend play and yes, I do call him a legend and although perhaps he was never as well-known as he deserved, in blues, rock and even some jazz circles, the guy was greatly admired and by many. A lot of guitarists have also claimed to have taken inspiration from this talented individual.

I think it was quite possibly the 1989 movie ‘Road House’ that also starred the late actor, Patrick Swayze that was where I first saw and heard him.
Since then I couldn’t help myself, but to track down 1988’s ‘See The Light’ album from the Jeff Healey Band that featured some absolute gems in both original Healey compositions and covers from the likes of John Hiatt, Freddie King / Sonny Thompson and ZZ Top to name just three.

His band then managed to release a further four great releases in ‘Hell To Pay’ – Killer! – ‘Feel This,’ the covers release ‘Cover To Cover’ and his last from the band in 2000, the excellent ‘Get Me Some.’

Subsequent releases followed under his name only, as a solo artist until his passing in 2008 captured four albums, a fifth ‘Mess of Blues’ was being worked on for a while before Jeff’s passing and released shortly after his death.
So there’s quite a bit of history behind the guy’s twenty year recording history.
This release 'As The Years Go Passing By,' comes from ‘The Estate of Jeff Healey,’ so it has his family’s blessing.

It’s a nice kind of collection too, as it features three concerts recorded in Germany, where he was always welcomed, with the first dating back to 1989, at the Ohne Filter Extra event, when Healey was just twenty three with his trio comprising of Joe Rockman (Bass/Vocals) and Tom Stephen (Drums) alongside himself.

The second from 1995, was the ‘Extraspät in Concert’ with the same guys and the addition of second guitarist Pat Rush.

The third and final concert disc is again from the Ohne Filter Extra event in 2000, still with Rockman and Stephen on Bass and Drums respectively.
So, the first disc starts with the Sonny Thompson gem, ‘I’m Torn Down,’ and this is a prime example of why I like Jeff Healey’s material, as for me his style is often similar to what grabbed me from Pat Travers back in the late 70’s.
Wonderful jamming, rockin’ blues!
Then it’s a Healey original in ‘My Little Girl’ next which is an edgy grooving jam. Love it!

With a great interpretation of John Hiatt’s ‘Confidence Man’ next, which became a staple in Healey’s set over the years that followed and the man and his band play like seasoned players and it’s such a pleasure to listen to.
Another original next follows appreciative applause, in the shape of the almost (Eric) Clapton like ‘I Need To Be Loved’ and really, if you’re reading this and have never heard Healey’s playing before, I think this three disc live set is a great introduction for anyone!
Healey picks the Bob Dylan tune ‘When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky’ next and I’m sorry if there are any Dylan fans reading this, but in my mind, anyone that has covered one of his songs has made it better and this version is certainly nice and lively!
I’m pretty certain I hear keys here for sure from time to time, but there’s no one credited with playing keys, so who knows who joins them?
‘River of No Return’ next is very catchy and again I swear there’s keys here ... Nonetheless, it’s another great song, performed solidly here.

Another Hiatt song in ‘Angel Eyes’ is next and another regular track in the Healey set list it seems and it’s a more laid back tune, still good stuff!
The two songs that wrap up this first disc is first off Jeff’s cover of The Doors classic ‘Roadhouse Blues,’ which has always come across kind of strange to me without keys, which was of course paramount to The Doors but Healey makes this his own and then his own song in ‘See The Light.’

The title track of the man’s first album is a great set closer here, after some messing around before it starts proper it gets into its groove and some serious riffing from Jeff.
The track clocks in at just over nine minutes and in the mid-section solo, Jeff’s is playing his heart out with the band and then just jams by himself, wildly and I mean that as very well indeed and more so than anywhere else on this first disc. Brilliant!

Disc two opens with one of my favourite Jeff Healey covers in his interpretation of Spirit’s ‘Got A Line On You.’ This totally rocks!
Its classic blues with the Robert Johnson classic ‘Stop Breaking Down’ next and they don’t come much more trad than this one!

A tune made popular by Albert King next and the title of this complete package in ‘As The Years Go Passing By,’ is more classic blues for you folks!
Then it’s over to the second appearance of ‘Confidence Man’ which Jeff and band have really made this their own tune.

It was pleasing to see the Steeler’s Wheel cover, ‘Stuck In The Middle’ written by the late Gerry Rafferty and Joe Egan.
I think as with Healey, that Gerry Rafferty was hugely overlooked / underrated.
Jeff, I wish I could say this to you today, but if Gerry was here and you, I believe he’d tell you, ‘Thanks Jeff, that’s sounds great!’ RIP guys! :(

This whole disc was of course recorded during the ‘Cover to Cover’ tour by Jeff and his band, so there really is more emphasis on cover tunes here.

I’ve always loved the (Jimi) Hendrix tune ‘Angel,’ which I first heard in the 70’s by Rod Stewart, then I heard the Hendrix version and enjoyed that one as well, so it‘s great to hear Jeff’s live version here. Wonderful tune with Jeff’s twist on it too!

Next here we get Jeff’s take on Lennon / McCartney blues jam, ‘Yer Blues’ which gets a real down and dirty groove and he also rips out a killer solo!

A tune made popular by Lonnie Johnson, ‘Me and My Crazy Self,’ gets the Healey solo acoustic treatment next, including some serious acoustic riffing in the second half of the tune, which just goes to show that the man had no inhibitions on how he jammed either just him and an acoustic or fully electric with his always class backing band. Good stuff indeed!

To another staple in his live set, the John Hiatt tune and always beautifully presented ballad ‘Angel Eyes’ next and it’s a nice little diversion from the blues set to show the lighter side to Healey’s playing and then it’s back to the rockin’ with a nine plus minute version of The Doors ‘Roadhouse Blues.’

A bit of laid back acoustic intro with some fooling about brings on his own song ‘See The Light’ which becomes an almost fifteen minute monster!

Can’t say enough about how much Jeff and the band put into the song and then to close this disc, a truly wonderful version of George Harrison’s ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps.’
Some serious guitar work from Jeff here that almost feels in moments like the soloing on  Lynyrd Skynyrd’s live version of say ‘Freebird,’ although clearly not as lengthy!


The last disc here is from Jeff's last tour with the Jeff Healey Band, in support of the band’s last album, ‘Get Me Some’ released in 2000 and reissued again in 2011, through Eagle Rock.
It was and still is in my books a great album that featured songs co-written by some real greats from the AOR world, like Dianne Warren, Arnold Lanni, Marti Frederiksen, Stevie Salas amongst others, but that said, this recording only features three songs from that release as well as seven other classic gems.
Opening with his own composition ‘My Little Girl’ from first album ‘See The Light’ you’d think Jeff had been doing this for not twenty but more like thirty years!
It’s got a great groove not unlike Santana at times.
Next it’s ‘Which One’ from the ‘Get Me Some’ album and the chorus will really grab you, as it did me, great jam!
Another from that album next is ‘Love Is The Answer’ which is a little more laid back and as close perhaps as his blues rock got to a kind of power ballad. Really nice song …
Then it’s back to the real blues of ‘How Blue Can You Get,’ made famous by B.B. King, which Jeff really makes the most of in this eight plus minute jam!
You really could play Jeff, you are missed …
Possibly Jeff’s favourite in his live set, ‘Confidence Man’ is next, which I’ve quite possibly said enough about already, as it also featured on the first two CD’s here too!
I really do love what Jeff does with ‘Put The Shoe On The Other Foot’ next, with some gentle picking and playing at the start and some truly soulful singing and even a scream before the song really gets into its groove and then when Jeff gets soloing, boy does he rock out!
This is another monster jam, that rocks some but then takes things down real low a little after the midway point and then comes back with venom with some absolutely kick ass rockin’, jamming!
‘Feel Better’ again from ‘Get Me Some’ up next has it’s up and downs in soulfulness and then dark yet rocking edginess, almost Hendrix like to a point and I begin to wonder if Jeff Healey influenced Joe Bonamassa any, as this isn’t far away from something you’d hear from Joe.
So to another favourite in a Jeff Healey set with John Hiatt’s ‘Angel Eyes’ next which is as I’ve said before, a truly beautiful song, which is followed by another of his live favourites in another cover, ‘Roadhouse Blues.’ ‘Keep your eyes on the road, your hands upon the wheel …’
Indeed Jeff, you rock it here!
Then to close the collection ‘See The Light’ does the trick nicely!
This is a great live collection to have, a really great memoir of another truly great talent that the world and of course Jeff’s family lost way too soon.
If you’ve never heard Jeff Healey, then do yourself a favour and go get yourself some,' to take a line from the man!
This is the three CD set, but there's also a deluxe set of two DVD's and these three discs too.

It’s a real pleasure to get to listen to this and better still, to have the honour of reviewing the man’s great work.

Thank you Jeff Healey and band, for some great music you left us to remember you by, RIP Jeff.

Rating: 4.75 out of 5
Official website – With links to purchase the album too!

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