This week's slightly short Sound Check kicks off with a book from the American Made Music Series by Jackson-born drummer Jimmi Mayes, who played with many famous folks, including Jimmy Reed, Joey Dee & The Starliters and Martha & The Vandellas.
Following that are my reviews of The Supersuckers' first studio release in a long time, a collaborative release from Claire Clube and Anne Heaton and a 2013 leftover DVD from British pop-rocker Cliff Richard. A short notice about future columns wraps up this installment.
'The Amazing Jimmi Mayes: Sideman to the Stars,' Jimmi Mayes with V.C. Speek (University Press of Mississippi, HHHH)
This new book by Mayes and Speek reads like he talked about his career as a sideman -- bad times, good times -- all while Speek tried to organize it into a coherent whole. There are times when the story rambles a bit, and things like song titles differ slightly from page to page. However, it's a good read for folks who want to hear yet another story of a musician sometimes "done dirty" by managers, bandmates, con men and more.
He started playing blues in Jackson, but really began to make progress once he figured out the blues shuffle and moved to Chicago not long after high school. He played with legends like Little Walter and Jimi Hendrix (then known as Maurice James) during Hendrix's short time with Joey Dee (Mayes played for a longer period), and supported many other folks familiar to readers.
The book rambles, but reads like conversation. Blues, soul, drum and music fans will enjoy it.
'Get The Hell,' Supersuckers (Acetate Records, HHHH)
This Jan. 14 release, which is The Supersuckers' first studio album in five years, celebrates 25 years of their brand of punk rock. It was recorded at Willie Nelson's Arlyn Studio in Austin, Texas, and mixed by Dwarves' leader Blag Dahlia along with Andy Carpenter. There have been personnel changes since the last studio album.
Singer/bassist Eddie Spaghetti and drummer/backing vocalist since 2012 Captain Von Streicher, along with guitarist/backing vocalists Dan "Thunder" Bolton and Metal Marty Chandler rounding out the crew, bring sarcasm, cynicism and head-banging power to this release.
Willie's longtime harmonicat, Mickey Raphael, plays on a song whose name is miles away from family friendly. Other highlights include pulse-pounding tunes like "Never Let Me Down Again," "That's What You Get For Thinkin'," "Shut Your Face" and "Something About You."
This is no-frills high-volume rock 'n' roll that's cool for lots of listeners.
'Dora,' Claire Clube & Anne Heaton (Independent Release, HHH)
This Feb. 14 album comes from singer/songwriter Anne Heaton and recently deceased lyric poet Claire Clube ("poems by Claire Clube, music by Anne Heaton"). It is based in a creative union of two women who 'braved divorce to reclaim the life and sense of self they gave up on in their unfulfilling marriages."
Anne sings, produces, plays piano and other keyboards, Joe McMahon plays bass; drums are split between Billy Beard and Steve Scully; and Rose Polenzani expertly handles vocal production. The music ranges from hushed to somber in volume and mid-tempo to sluggish in tempo, so this recording, featuring excellent lyrics, constituted somewhat difficult listening.
Highlights include the cascading piano and harmony vocals of "Do I Qualify?" and the slow but catchy title song.
Fans of thoughtful keyboard-based singer/songwriters may enjoy this one.
'Still Reelin' And A-Rockin'-Live In Sydney,' Cliff Richard (Eagle Rock Entertainment, HHH)
This Nov. 19, 2013, DVD, also available in Blu-ray and digital formats, arrived last year when I was tied up with putting together gift lists and the recently-completed TTP list; so here's a review to round out this February column. Cliff Richard is one of the most successful British singers of all time, with big UK hits across his career from the 1950s onward but few US hits.
This performance was filmed at the impressive Sydney Opera House early last year, and features material from across Cliff's career focusing on earlier material with classic rock 'n' roll songs mixed in played by a Vegas-size band/orchestra.
The concert's made up of lightweight pop/rock classics like "Living Doll," "Poetry in Motion," "Sealed With a Kiss," "Dream Lover," "12th Of Never," "Singing the Blues," "I Don't Care If the Sun Don't Shine" and Cliff's US hit I can remember, "Devil Woman."
Fans of professionally performed oldies of poppier variety will enjoy this one.
Ricky Flake, a former punk rocker and current music fan, lives in Biloxi. Reach him at email@example.com.