by Robert Kinsler
The self-titled tribute LP from The Empty Hearts, and moving tributes to the late JJ Cale and The Call’s Michael Been are worth adding to any discerning music fan’s library.
Tell me more: Boasting a lineup of founding members from The Cars (guitarist Elliot Easton), Blondie (drummer Clem Burke), The Romantics (lead singer Wally Palmer) and Chesterfield Kings (bassist Andy Babiuk), the Empty Hearts are clearly more than a supergroup. From hard charging power-pop (“90 Miles An Hour Down a Dead End Street,” “(I See) No Way Out”) to rollicking garage rock gems (“Soul Deep,” “Perfect World”) to wistful ballads (the Americana-styled “Fill An Empty Heart” recalls Chris Isaak’s best work while “I Found You Again” could fit alongside the classics on the Byrds’ “Sweetheart of the Rodeo”), the Empty Hearts impress on their eponymous debut. One of modern rock’s most creative fret masters it’s great to hear Easton’s work all over the place on this disc, notably on the bluesy ’70s-styled rocker “I Don’t Want Your Love, (If You Don’t Want Me)” and the spirited rocker “Loud And Clear.” Information: TheEmptyHearts.com.
Tell me more: Eric Clapton and a group of illustrious pals have teamed up for a heartfelt tribute to the late singer-songwriter JJ Cale, a master craftsman who produced a mere 15 albums over a 40-year recording career. “The Breeze: An Appreciation of JJ Cale” casts a welcome spotlight on the work of Cale, who died in July 2013. The cast of players who join Slowhand on the 13-track collection includes not only fellow guitar greats John Mayer, Mark Knopfler, Derek Trucks, Albert Lee and David Lindley, but a strong rhythm section in bassist Nathan East and drummer Jim Keltner. Highlights on this terrific disc include the gentle “Call Me The Breeze” (featuring Clapton on vocals and guitar), haunting “Someday” (with Knopfler on guitar and lead vocals), and soulful blues standout “Lies” (featuring Clapton and Mayer on vocals and guitars). Information: EricClapton.com.
Tell me more: The Call were one of rock’s most unlikely success stories of the 1980s. In an era defined by hard rock hair bands and trendy New Wave MTV-minded outfits, The Call crafted heartfelt and genre-defying rock that mattered. Like U2 and the Alarm, there was palpable power in the Santa Cruz, CA-bred outfit that has proved to be timeless. When lead singer-bassist Michael Been passed away from a heart attack while working backstage with his son Robert Levon Been’s band Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (B.R.M.C.) in 2010, it seemed to forever end chances of The Call performing again. Fast forward to April 2013, when Robert Levon Been honored his father by joining forces with The Call’s guitarist Tom Ferrier, keyboardist Jim Goodwin and drummer Scott Musick at The Troubador in Los Angeles. Released on a 2-disc CD/DVD deluxe package capturing the memorable concert, the 14-song collection is highlighted by performances of the evocative “I Still Believe,” melancholic “I Don’t Wanna” and stirring “Let the Day Begin.” Information: The-Call-Band.com.
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