He still played on many of the recordings and was often onstage, but he also became their permanent road manager right up until his death. Stewart's droll wit and impeccable musical taste was said to be the thing that often kept the group honest to its roots, and his love of boogie woogie piano was legendary.
Pianist Ben Waters' loving homage to that music and beyond is an act of gracious kindness and hellfire fun. Not to meniton it swings like mad, careening around the room like a sprint runner's dash for the finish line. When the Rolling Stones (complete with original bassist Bill Wyman) reconvene for Bob Dylan's "Watching the River Flow," the heart races for that sound of sexual chaos: oh what could still be. And pin a badge of honor on Ben Waters for going the distance to honor an invisible hero to us all.
When song scout supreme Bonnie Raitt covered Brady's "Luck of the Draw" in 1991, the bright lights started flashing and opened the doors to brand new opportunies. Lucky for us, the Irishman has taken advantage of them all on his new album. He can break your heart with a dead-on ballad, and then fill the dance floor with an irresistible rocker. To show there are no self-doubts, Paul Brady even takes on the Beatles' with a heartfelt run of "You Won't See Me."
While it's true no one beats the Beatles, this version can hold its head high, showing what happens when a musician has found that place where grace and grit meet. Say hallelujah.
Mathus is best known as the centerpiece of the Squirrel Nut Zippers, a band that threw all kinds of Southern influences into a big burlap bag and shook them up until they came out sounding brand new. For this solo flight, nothing is off limits, showing us the beauty of someone who probably started coloring outside the lines from the moment he could hold a red Crayola.
Mathus' search for backyard preachers and holy teachers has led him into the farthest corners of the Magnolia State, places full of surprise and wonder. The sounds those wanderings have helped conjure up are lifetime keepers, and allow our Confederate Buddha to shine like a full moon over cotton fields and catfish ponds alike, smiling with a gold-toothed grin through it all.
Unfortunately, this debut album didn't see light of day until 1968, so the Haight-Ashbury quartet effectively missed the first wave of the Class of the Summer of Love. That the music surpassed almost everything else coming out of the Bay Area then was little consolation to those who had felt their power first-hand.
Extended songs like "Gold & Silver" and "The Fool" colored the walls and the minds of the faithful in vivid improvisations, and still sound like sonic highlights all these years later. This reissue includes nine bonus tracks with the original six songs, showing a bluesy side to the band not seen before. For shivers and soundscapes that still thrill, Quicksilver delivers right on time.