9 songs – 76 minutes
Veteran guitar player Eddie Turner has done just about everything in a musical career that began in the early ’70s. But this CD, recorded at the Blues Can on the Canadian plains in Calgary, is his first attempt at a live recording ever.
Born in Cuba, raised in Chicago, based in Denver and known as “The Devil Boy,” Eddie picked up the guitar at age 12, developing a hauntingly rhythmic playing style that fuses the Windy City sound with his Afro-Cuban roots, enhanced with psychedelia. After moving to Colorado, he joined Mother Earth, the backup band for the legendary Tracy Nelson, the Grammy nominee who was a fixture in the San Francisco music scene of the late ‘60s.
Stints with two other prominent bands – Zephyr and the Legendary 4-nikators – followed before he joined Otis Taylor’s band in 1995, recording five CDs with the trance music master and helping to establish his easily identifiable sound. His first venture as a solo artist on Northern Blues, 2005’s Rise, earned Eddie a Blues Music Award nomination for Best New Artist. Subsequent releases were equally well-received.
Turner produced this lengthy album himself, backed in a power blues trio setting, aided by Denver-based bassist Anna Lisa Hughes, who also provides vocals on several cuts, and Kelly Kruse, a member of Adele & The Krusers and a powerful female percussionist who’s one of the most in-demand drummers north of the border. With only nine tunes – two covers, four written by Eddie and one by Kruse, the disc puts Turner’s guitar stylings on display throughout.
“Jody” opens the set. It’s an Eddie original that threatens to send a mistreating lover back to the title character, a figure that appeared often in the ’70s. It’s a solid soul-blues standard with a repetitive lyrical hook that’s slightly hampered by the initial sound quality, which, like the name of the venue, is a little tinny to start. Fortunately, the issue disappears rapidly as the disc progresses. Hughes takes over for her own song, “Mistreated,” next. It’s a slow-burning blues that gives Eddie plenty of space to stretch out over its eight-plus minute run.
Two more Turner originals — “So Many Roads,” about the end of relationship, and “Rise,” a trippy plea for racial equality – stretch out for a combined 20 minutes. The latter features an extended bass solo. Written by Nick Gravenites and made popular by bandmate Paul Butterfield as well as Janis Joplin, “Buried Alive In The Blues” is up next, delivered by Kelly, before Eddie’s “Blues Fall Down Like Rain,” not to be confused with a Kenny Neal tune with a different, but similar, title.
The familiar “Don’t Let Me Be Misunderstood” — written for Nina Simone, a ’60s hit for The Animals and the shortest song in the set at just under five minutes – follows with Anna Lisa on vocals before another 20 minutes of trance-inducing guitar pyrotechnics follow in the two songs — “Dangerous” and “Secret” – that conclude the set.
If you’re seeking a shredder, look elsewhere. Eddie’s a true crowd pleaser with a style that harkens back to Jimi Hendrix at his bluesy best — burning, searing licks that are both unforced and unrushed with Windy City overtones. There are several passages on Naked…In Your Face that are guaranteed to transcend geezers like me back to the psychedelic era in a lightning stroke. Turn this album up loud for best effect. The only thing that’s missing is a strong dose of LSD. Pick it up through iTunes if you’d like to share the experience.