New Riders of the Purple Sage- John Fusco- Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal
New Riders of the Purple Sage - Lyceum '72
Recorded on the last night of the Grateful Dead's renowned 1972 tour of Europe, this live show from London's historic Lyceum Ballroom finds tour opening act New Riders of the Purple Sage country rocking through a 17-song set. The band, here consisting of singer and guitarist John Dawson, singer and lead guitarist David Nelson, singer and bass man Dave Torbert, drummer Spencer Dryden and the phenomenal pedal steel player Buddy Cage was still a year away from releasing their breakthrough album The Adventures of Panama Red
but there are plenty of fan favorites performed in this set. Split almost evenly between covers and songs penned by Dawson, the show includes Dawson standouts like the tale of murderous outlaws that is "Glendale Train," the sad, ecology-aware "Last Lonely Eagle" (famously covered by Ian & Sylvia), the anticipation of seeing a lover after a long time on the road in "Louisiana Lady" and the Grateful Dead-like "Dirty Business." Covers include "Honky Tonk Women," "Hello Mary Lou," "Dim Lights, Thick Smoke (And Loud, Loud Music)" and the oft-covered "I Don't Need no Doctor." A fine snapshot of the era from a band that is still inspiring bands today.
John Fusco - Borderlands
This is Fusco's third release and many as-yet uninitiated listeners are going to wonder, after hearing opening track "Coyote Man," why they are just now getting hip to this immensely talented performer. Fusco has a voice that sounds lived-in and wise, making his telling of the frightening tale of human trafficking on "Coyote Man" nothing short of chilling; he turns a mean phrase with the song's lyrics too, like "At the corner of hope and hell/That's where the children fell." Fusco wrote everything here except for the album-closing traditional cut "Ain't No Grave," and among the self-penned numbers are standouts like the bluesy "Bad Luck Rides Shotgun" where George Walker Petit's slide guitar (Fusco is the keys player) heightens the sense of misery that plays out in the song, and "Cyanide Whisky," a long, simmering cut where Fusco compares a temperamental woman to poisoned booze. The overall sound served up here is a delightful Tex Mex feast seasoned with marimba, congas, trumpet, accordion and plenty of Fusco's own Hammond B3 work.
Josh Hoyer & Soul Colossal - Green Light
Hoyer and company start this set of original music with the horn-powered funk of "Evolution," a cut that sounds inspired by the many bands of the 1970s that sold millions of records with a similar sound. With the horns turned down a bit and Hoyer's B3 playing turned up, "Harmony" is even funkier and "Mr. One Up" is a pop/funk bounce with lots of fun parts that call for a singalong. "Green Light" sounds inspired by James Brown as the man Hoyer portrays in the song pleads for the go-ahead from a potential lover. "Crazy Love" is as mellow as a Saturday morning and listeners no doubt will catch themselves swaying along to the joyous groove. More funk closes the album as "Shou Shou Do" sends listeners straight to the dance floor.