Ray Manzarek/Roy Rogers: Translucent Blues (Blind Pig)

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Ray Manzarek/Roy Rogers: River of Madness
Ray Manzarek/Roy Rogers: Translucent Blues (Blind Pig)

Given his organ playing was such an integral part of the Doors' sound, it's surprising Ray Manzarek's subsequent four decade career has garnered so little attention, although to be fair it has thrown up few decent albums.

I recall trading in his Carmina Burana within a week of getting it in the early Eighties and just last month I paid $5 for a vinyl copy of his '73 Golden Scarab and on playing it felt a little over-charged. 

Here however, again with singer/writer/slide guitarist Rogers and a small band, he reaches towards some late peak in blues-rock material which has a sense of urgency and includes co-writes with the poets Michael McClure and the late Jim Carroll, and the late Warren Zevon (on the bitter-sweet River of Madness about Los Angeles, with a beautifully weird Middle Eastern passage between the grit-rock).

Doors fans won't be disappointed (Game of Skill and New Dodge City Blues shave off a little of Love Her Madly and others are akin to their roadhouse blues) but the real meat here lies in Rogers razor-edge playing, the blues grooves (the Booker T-like An Organ, A Guitar and a Chicken Wing), the drugged darkness of Kick (the McClure co-write which is cocaine-induced jazz-noir) and the cinematic, 2am instrumental As You Leave.

Some of this (Blues in My Shoes, Greenhouse Blues which is silly but in Mose Allison's mould) is only elevated by the playing because vocally neither of them would get past the elimination round of American Idol.

So not the most essential album, but if you saw them at a club gig you'd happily pick up a copy afterwards.

Interested in more along these lines? Then try this.

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