Johnny Rivers

L.A. Reggae/Blue Suede Shoes

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BGO's issuing of Johnny Rivers' two forgotten recordings, L.A. Reggae and Blue Suede Shoes offer listeners an opportunity to reacquaint themselves with one of rock & roll's most seminal performers and singers. It also concludes their fine series of two-fer reissues of his work. L.A. Reggae, released in 1972, scored Rivers a hit in his version of Huey "Piano" Smith's "Rockin' Pneumonia and the Boogie Woogie Flu." And it also contained fine versions of tracks like Paul Simon's "Mother and Child Reunion," and J.J. Cale's "Crazy Mama." There are also some excellent originals on the set such as "On the Borderline," "Stories to a Child," and "Use the Power." Blue Suede Shoes is a rock & roll revival album that's spins out rock & roll nuggets without a hint of nostalgia. In fact, Rivers is so passionate in his delivery, and so skilled at working with the crack studio musicians he employs on both of these records, nothing seems overblown, overproduced or sterile. There is real fire in both of these albums and those coming to Rivers for the first time should really check them out.

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