Requiems, Remodels & Remembrances

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Show of Strength

Michael Burks

Show of Strength

Alligator Records


Michael "Iron Man" Burks grew up playing guitar. A quick study, he soon began leading the blues, rhythm and blues and soul house bands that backed O.V. Wright, Johnnie Taylor
Johnnie Taylor
Johnnie Taylor
1938 - 2000
and other stars as they passed through the R&B circuit near his Arkansas hometown. Then, Burks put his own career aside for two decades to make sure his daughter had an attentive, responsive father.

Burks resurfaced as a "40 year old newcomer" with his self-produced debut From the Inside Out (Vent Records, 1999). Fame and good fortune were soon to follow: Burks signed with Alligator Records, one of Chicago's flagship blues labels, for whom he debuted with the highly acclaimed Make It Rain in 2001. He won the 2004 Living Blues Critics Award for Best Guitarist, and was nominated as 2012 Guitarist of the Year by the Blues Music Awards.

His fourth Alligator release, Show of Strength features more of Burks' original music than any of his previous albums and features his longstanding band: Bassist Terry Grayson, drummer Chuck Louden and keyboardist Wayne Sharp. Without exaggeration, it also moves him into some exquisite company: Blues guitarists who were just as powerful and soulful as vocalists, a pretty exclusive little neighborhood that includes Little Milton Campbell, Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
Eric Clapton
, Albert King
Albert King
Albert King
1923 - 1992
guitar, electric
and Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
Jimi Hendrix
1942 - 1970
guitar, electric
but not too many others.

Burks finds profound power and depth in the simple folds of the blues form. His guitar's sprawling, squalling sound in the opening "Count on You" screams out the impact that Hendrix has on just about every blues guitarist since the late 1960s, and "Cross Eyed Woman," six minutes of aural hell, conjures all the menace of the Band of Gypsies, Hendrix' famous electric voodoo trio. Burks rides the beats of the rolling and tumbling "What Does It Take to Please You" and flat-out funny "Can You Read Between the Lines" with King's wide and friendly grin, and it's not much of a stretch to imagine Clapton whipping through "Storm Warning" and "I Want to Get You Back."

The "24 Hour Blues" is sharply produced so the snare drum pops and the electric guitar genuinely screams with pain and anger. No more or less than the honest sound of a man's blood, sweat and tears, "Since I Been Loving You" encapsulates the fury and glory of a man's lifetime, poured out in eight majestic minutes.

Tragically, it also writes Burks' own brilliant epitaph. Show of Strength proved to be the ultimate statement by the blues guitarist and vocalist known as "Iron Man": He finished recording it in April 2012 and then departed for a tour of Europe, leaving producer and Alligator impresario Bruce Iglauer to finish some mixes and sequencing. In May 2012, Burks collapsed and died in the Atlanta airport on his way back home from this European tour. He was 54.

Live in Europe 1969 The Bootleg Series Vol 2

Miles Davis
Miles Davis
Miles Davis
1926 - 1991

The Miles Davis Quintet—Live in Europe 1969: The Bootleg Series Vol. 2



Volume 2 in Legacy's Bootleg Series features Miles Davis' "great lost band" with saxophonist Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
Wayne Shorter
, keyboardist Chick Corea
Chick Corea
Chick Corea
, bassist Dave Holland
Dave Holland
Dave Holland
and drummer Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
Jack DeJohnette
, recorded in July and November 1969. This band, sometimes called Davis' "third great quintet," never recorded as a standalone ensemble, although it served as the core of the larger group that consolidated around the trumpeter's landmark Bitches Brew sessions in August '69.

While preparing Miles: The Autobiography, Davis told biographer Quincy Troupe: "After we finished In a Silent Way, I took the band out on the road: Wayne, Dave, Chick and Jack DeJohnette were now my working band. Man, I wish this band had been recorded live because it was really a bad motherfucker. I think Chick Corea and a few other people recorded some of our performances live, but Columbia missed out on the whole fucking thing."

Live in Europe 1969 presents three CDs of live recordings—two shows from the Antibes (France) Jazz Festival in July plus a November performance in Stockholm (Sweden)—and a color DVD of a November performance in Berlin (Germany). These performances were bookended by the releases of the studio albums In a Silent Way (released in July '69) and Bitches Brew (April 1970). In fact, "Miles Runs the Voodoo Down" and "Spanish Key" were performed onstage in France (in July) before their studio versions were recorded for Bitches Brew (in August).

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