Jeff Healy - Songs From The Road
Loved by blues fans since his 80s debut, Jeff Healy was a pop culture anomaly. He was a blind musician and not very video friendly; he was an ace guitarist who shredded with his instrument resting in his lap-not the cool pose of a typical guitar hero. Still, Healy's passion, smoky vocals and obvious guitar chops helped him settle in as a less talented, less aggressive, but more approachable Stevie Ray Vaughn, after the latter's death left a void of popular attention to the blues.
"Songs from the Road" is a posthumous collection of live songs meant as a gift to his fans. Those fans will love it. The ringing lines, the mournful growl, the cheering fans: loyalists get what they want and more. Less rabid fans may be less excited. Despite the occasional firey moments, the set is undermined by obvious covers delivered w/the same arrangements as the original. There is a bar band feel here that is ultimately disappointing.
Though Healey's original hit "Angel Eyes" retains some passion from the almost note-for note arrangement of the studio release, covers of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps," "White Room," "Teach Your Children," "Whipping Post" and "Come Together" don't add much to the originals. Reverence is one thing, the easy way out another.
Jeff Healy built up a loyal following and a reputation as a hot guitarist in his sadly short life. That is worth celebrating. "Songs From the Road" is an apt celebration of the fruits of his efforts. Casual fans might dig this, since live his presence was a bit more heated than on record. Casual fans will probably stay that way, though.
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