Songs From the Road by Jeff Healey is a live album recently released posthumously after Jeff’s premature death in 2008. If you are a blues fan and haven’t yet sampled Healey and his mind blowing guitar talent, then this album is the perfect overview to illustrate what he can do with a song. Any song. If you are not a blues fan, you will still be impressed with his versatility as the album covers much more than the blues, dipping a musical toe into the past (Beatles, Allman Brothers) as well as hardcore, traditional blues and even one of his own compositions, Angel Eyes which has always been a firm favourite of mine.
Jeff’s widow,Cristie, offers a touching commentary on the liner notes (his family very much approved the making and subsequent release of this album) and she notes that remembering him “singing from his heart” is the ultimate memorial.
It’s true that this album is absolutely full of passion and it’s clear that the band is equally exhilirated and involved. Jeff’s vocals are heartfelt and raw –personally, I’ve always felt that his voice was underrated but perhaps it was merely overshadowed by his unconventional but superb guitar work. Hoochie Coochie Man is always a crowd pleaser but Jeff’s version is especially excellent – you can also hear Randy Bachman on this one, who offers up a pretty tasty guitar solo of his own.
Healey’s take on While My Guitar Gently Weeps is another of my favourites – his voice adds another strata of pain just not heard in the original – but I confess I did feel a bit cheated here, since there is so much audience participation in the form of finishing off phrasing and echoing back that Jeff’s version is a bit dumbed down and diluted, somehow. That said, this is a live album so a loud, thrilled-to-be-there audience is sometimes going to be in evidence right?
The opener, Mark Knopfler’s I Think I Love You Too Much is deeply sexy and not to be missed …
Here’s the full playlist, my friends:
1. I Think I Love You Too Much
2. I’m Ready
3. Stop Breaking Down
4. Angel Eyes
5. Come Together
6. Hoochie Coochie Man
7. White Room
8. While My Guitar Gently Weeps
9. Whipping Post
10. Teach Your Children Well
11. Santa, Bring My Baby Back (To Me)
Jeff Healey will continue to be sadly missed – this is a really upbeat record though and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants a solid blues-rock listen.