Sunday, August 16, 2015

Rocky Athas The Essential Rocky Athas Volume 1

2015 – Cherryburst Records
By Phillip Smith; Aug. 15, 2015

My first exposure to the lush and bluesy sounds of Rocky Athas came about because of my deep appreciation for the band, Black Oak Arkansas, who Athas played with for a short while.  His work with the legendary John Mayall drew me in even further.  Regardless of whom he is playing with, it is always a joy to hear him play.  The Essential Rocky Athas Volume 1 focuses on Athas’ solo works, which he describes as “a labor of love years in the making”.  For the guitar aficionados, Athas notes fifteen different guitars used on the ten tracks in this fabulous collection.   It makes me happy to know he plans to release two more volumes later this year.  

Athas delivers energized Texas blues at its finest in “Long Time Gone” and “Think About It”.  The later features special guest John Mayall.  Captivating grooves seasoned with delicious guitar licks bring these tracks to the forefront.   The soulfully performed “Last of the Blues” is about as perfect a blues song as one can get, with its poignant lyrics and beautiful melody.    It’s so fun to hear him let it all hang out on “Tearin’ Me Up”, another terrific track. 

The album closes out with an exquisite cover of Cream’s “White Room”, bringing the John Mayall connection full circle, as Athas pays homage to the earliest of Mayall’s collaborators, Eric Clapton and Jack Bruce.  This track is truly the pièce de résistance. 

I can’t wait to hear volumes 2 and 3.

For more info on Rocky Athas, visit his website

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