Rise - Eddie Turner - Reviews

 

Rise

 

"If you ever wondered where mystical bluesman Otis Taylor gets much of his dark, brooking, mysterious textures, look no further than departed sideman/guitarist Eddie Turner. Heís been bluesí best-kept secret for some time now, providing the electrifying voice of Taylorís mounting intensity. Turnerís edgy contributions spliced with ethereal background vocals and séance-inducing atmosphere are most evident of Rise, the opening song that connects a delta sensibility to a futuristic, cosmic frontier. After that, Turnerís multi-faceted personality subdues itself briefly on the creamy Ask Myself Why, the string-snappiní The River and Jimi Hendrixís surreal The Wind Cries Mary before roaring back to life on Itís Me with Devil Boy Turner in blistering form. Even given the classic blues vibe of Play It Cool, Turner consistently envelops his crafty material with a hip, urban sensibility with drum loops, arrhythmic beats and cool effects seeping in everywhere. But itís not just his searing guitar work (Privileged in Life) thatís worth taking note of - Sin, a dubbed vocal spiritual testimony, brims with creativity with only minimal guitar support. Produced by former Taylor bassman Kenny Passarelli, Turnerís debut is a head-turning, neck-snapping one thatís almost frightening when contemplating what could come next."

- Dan Willging
Holler, Colorado Blues Society
April-May 2005 

 
   

"Turner's forward-thinking music is blues-based, but it is ultra-modern and contains psychedelic rock. It is as relevant now as Derek And The Dominos' debut must have been in 1970. Among 12 songs, three alluring instrumentals will intoxicate the straightest of the sober. Whether you were looking for a mind-altering experience or not, that is the state you will find yourself when these 43-minutes conclude. Without trying to attract a new audience, Turner will, undoubtedly, do just that. This is a stunning album, and the dawn of a new musical force and presence. The secret of Eddie Turner has been revealed. He could crossover as easily and quickly as Robert Randolph."

- Tim Holek
Southwest Blues
May 2005 

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"Cuban-born, Chicago-based guitarist and songwriter Turnerís riveting solo debut could easily fall through the cracks that separate Chicago blues from progressive rock and heavy metal, Afro-Cuban dance music and bebop from folk-based country blues. Few electric guitarists since Hendrix have dared push the blues envelope so far, and while most of this is big, brave band music - produced by veteran Kenny Passarelli, who has played with Turner in various ensembles - the songs eschew conventional structures and allow the guitaristís astonishing freeform instrumental work all the territory it needs. Rise is an impressive entrée by a musician capable of seamlessly fusing genres and forms to create new and dynamic instrumental art. Itís a landmark recording."

- Greg Quill
Toronto Star
March 24, 2005 

 
   

"Eddie Turner is one of the best blues guitarists alive, and Rise demonstrates not only his prowess with the instrument, but also his fine song crafting and his ability to choose great material to cover as well. The blues came to Turner through his afro-Cuban roots and Chicago's healthy blues scene. The confluence of his Cuban roots and the blues have created one wicked guitarist. Turner's blues riffs feel psychedelic at one turn and spare at another. Comparisons to Jimi Hendrix often occur, however, Turner's style resides somewhere between Jimi, Clapton and Johnson. The title comes through with an oft repeated hook "rise," in Turners flexible vocals. His voice comes a long way down from his stark, and often gruff throaty vocals, to the soft and sweet level on this one. It makes for a soothing and driving blues influenced soundscape. "Ask Myself Why" will make the comparisons to Jimi, at least in so far as Turner's vocals are concerned, seem applicable. The song feels straight out a Thursday night at the Cigar box, smoking cigarettes, drinking beer and watching the rain hit the sidewalk outside; slowly building, and with an azure inertia that will not stop once started. "River" exposes Turner's appreciation for Delta blues. The song is ripe with the swinging chords and harmonics of that genre. It drives from beginning to end with all the mass of Old Muddy. Eddie Turner's Rise displays why Hendrixes name is thrown around, and why he is bar-none one of the best blues guitarists alive to day."

- The John Shelton Ivany Top 21
April 17th, 2005 to April 23rd, 2005 

 
   

"Eddie Turner's debut for Northern Blues, Rise, captures one of America's most talented blues guitarists, who has found a home on this Toronto-based blues label. Listen to how the title cut wafts ethereal on Anna Givens' background vocals with a hypnotic bass groove laid down by producer Kenny Passarelli. I first saw Eddie and Kenny when they were part of the Otis Taylor Band at Seattle's Bumbershoot music festival several years ago and was impressed with his command of the blues through somewhat psychedelic glasses. On Rise, Eddie takes a break from his flaming psychedelic guitar attack and plays some fine acoustic slide on the instrumental "The River." I'm glad that Eddie landed on Northern Blues after working with artists like GRAMMY-nominated Tracy Nelson, Zephyr, and Otis Taylor. I am confident that Jimi Hendrix would smile down on Eddie's interpretation of "The Wind Cries Mary." Another cover on Rise, Johnny "Guitar" Watson's "Gangster of Love" gets a forceful two minute-plus blast that gives Eddie a chance to churn out another welcome, high energy guitar solo. Eddie's collaboration with his former Zephyr bandmates Candy and David Givens, "Secret," is the song I return to most often, although there certainly are many high points throughout the set of a dozen songs on Rise."

- Eric Steiner
Cosmik Debris
March, 2005 

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"While Cuba-born, Chicago-raised Eddie Turner is billed as a blues guitarist (heís done stints with Tracy Nelsonís Mother Earth, Zephyr and Otis Taylor), relegating him to that category sells him - and his new record - quite short. Beginning with a drum cadence and a resonator guitar, the slow, deep groove of the opening Rise will quickly catch your ear. Then, enter Turnerís haunting, almost spooky, voice (that will surely bring to mind Hendrix) and the bevy of back-up singers. This is anything but your ordinary blues (or, even worse, blues rock) album. Ask Myself Why follows with an almost-straight minor blues that showcases Turnerís voice and Hammond organ (courtesy of bassist/producer Kenny Passarelli). Turner joins the ranks of those who have covered Hendrixís The Wind Cries Mary, doing his best to bring something different to the table. This might have been a track to cut (or use as a bonus track) as, despite doing his best to rework of the chords (making some of them minor), itís still too close to the original. Much better is his driving, syncopated take on Johnny Guitar Watsonís Gangster of Love and his own Confusions of Illusions, the low down Privileged Life and the almost-psychedelic Secret. Whether heís playing acoustic or electric, Turnerís guitarwork is both creative, melodic and understated - a rarity in the world of modern blues. Even the instrumentals will keep your attention, thanks to some creative production. Another selling point is drummer Mark Clark, who offers up something special on nearly every track. This is a rare combination of a great singer/guitarist, ear-bending production and a crop of signature songs. Donít miss it."

- Alpo
Graffiti, West Virginia
February, 2005 

 
   

"An excellent solo debut from the man best known to Ottawans as the psychedelic guitarist behind Otis Taylor. (Indeed, you guitar-pedal freaks might want to add an extra star to this review.)

In fact, the first tune and title cut bears the unmistakable imprint of Taylor's long-time producer, Kenny Passarelli -- the one-chord groove, wailing background vocalist, the whole thing run through an echo chamber.

But from then on, Turner shows his impressive versatility. For example, the tune "
Ask Myself Why" displays Turner's surprisingly impressive vocals, whole the instrumental "The River" features dandy National slide guitar mixed up with some intriguing beats. "It's Me" is a roaring, feedback-pushed number, while "Play it Cool" is a good, old-fashioned blues that could have come out of Chicago 40 years ago. Be prepared to be hearing more from this cat."

-Norm Provencher
Ottawa
February, 2005 

 
   

"It's the blues, Jim, but not as we immediately recognize it. Turner, who plays lead guitar with iconoclastic bluesman Otis Taylor, has an album that turns equally to rock and funk as it does to blues. And on "Sin," he simply turns in one of the most stunning pieces of gospel heard in years - stripped-down, but with touches of hip-hop that offers a real way forward into the 21st century for the genre. "Confusion Illusion" is blues-funk - quite a feat for a trio of guitar, bass, and drums (with some overdubbed keys), while "Gangster Of Love" takes Johnny 'Guitar' Watson's tune out for a Saturday night party. The thing is, Turner is equally adept wherever he turns his hand, whether it's the dark atmospherics of "Secret" or his remarkable cover of "The Wind Cries Mary," which completely reimagines the song, even as Turner does a nigh-on perfect Hendrix vocal impersonation. With this disc (and thanks to impressive production from bandmate Kenny Passarelli and some incredible drum work from Mark Clark) Turner makes a very agile leap from sideman to exceptional frontman."

-Chris Nickson
All Music
February, 2005 

 
   

"This guy's fascinating in that he's stepped straight into 2005 from 1967. This is psychedelia a la Jimi Hendrix. Not that it sounds like Hendrix; it just shares the same ideas of musical expression. The title track is an acid blues, heavy on droning electric guitar, laid over a New Orleans parade second line percussion beat. That's novel and cool. The fact that Turner covers the Hendrix classic, "The Wind Cries Mary," and sounds completely like Eddie Turner and nothing at all like Jimi Hendrix is a nice, subtle touch.

"Acid blues at its best. Thank Eddie Turner and Northern Blues for reminding us how good that can be."

-Arthur Shuey
New York Jazz and Blues Society
February, 2005 

 
   

"Blues/rock singer/guitarist Eddie Turner makes his statements loud and clear. A powerful backbeat, throbbing bass pulse and loud drums back up his lead guitar and emotional vocals with a solid wall of sound. His passionate blues message bores its way into Turner's audience without hesitation."

-Jim Santella
All About Jazz
January, 2005  

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"Kenny Passarelli produces, and he's given a crisp contemporary sound to this collection of original blues, and some well-chosen covers. The title song is, like the sleeve, moody and blue-grey. Turner's guitar sets up a haunting riff, and his vocals (whispery but potent) float over the rhythm; backing vocals from Anna Givens add to the sense of mystery. A powerful introduction."

-David Kidney
Green Man Review
February, 2005 

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