Reviews Zone

Strange Angels: In Flight With Elmore James (Sylvan Songs) Out now



4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)




Who’s the Daddy? On slide guitar; that’s easy. Elmore James, that’s who. His 100th anniversary this year, 2018. The man is still a huge influence to guitar players and music makers globally.

A bunch of stars have gathered together to pay a glowing and warm tribute to Elmore on this lovely 13-track release, some 55 years after he died of a heart attack at the age of 45. Released on what would have been his 100th birthday.

The project puts Elmore’s work in the hands of  master interpreters from blues, R&B, soul, country, pop and Americana, and it’s a heady array of stars from Sir Tom Jones, Bettye Lavette, Rodney Crowell, Keb Mo, Warren Haynes, ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons, Shelby Lynn, Alison Moorer and more.

Produced by Marco Giovino, who has worked his magic with the likes of Tom Jones, Robert Plant and Norah Jones. The material mixes up the legendary Elmore songs like “Dust My Broom”, “Look On Yonder Wall”, “Shake Your Money Maker” and “Person To Person” with lesser known cuts, but biggies to blues and Elmore James fans.

This is not a guitar fest. It is more about shining the spotlight on Elmore James as a songwriter and his major contribution to a catalogue of timeless and great material that can be adapted and moulded into modern day ditties by a myriad of artists, and across the years too, by artists of all genres.

Recorded in various studios across the USA: L.A., Nashville, Boston, New York and elsewhere, the bulk of the recordings feature a house band; Elmore’s Latest Broom Dusters, which are guitarist Rick Helmstrom, slide guitarist Doug Lancio, Rudy Copeland on Hammond B3, Viktor Krauss on bass, Larry Taylor also on bass and the producer Giovino on drums.

All the profits from sales of this album go to MusicCares, a charity who provide resources and attention to human service issues that directly impact on the health and welfare of the music community, and to Edible Schoolyard NYC, who partner with NYC Public schools to provide garden and kitchen classes integrated into the school day.

Also featured are Elayna Boynton on the opener, “Can’t Stop Lovin You”, Mickey Rapahel joins Billy Gibbons and Warren Haynes on “Mean Mistreatin’ Mama”, The UK’s Deborah Bonham gets a look in on “Dust My Broom”, Jamey Johnson delivers “It Hurts Me Too”, Brit’ singer Mollie Marriott, daughter of the late and great Steve Marriott pops up on “My Bleeding Heart”.

Chuck E. Weiss and Addi McDaniel ably fill slots 11 and 12, before the closer from the house band, Elmore’s Latest Broomdusters, and their version of “Bobby’s Rock”. All strong and passionate performances, nothing out of place. The team did a great job and I am sure Mr James would have greatly approved.


By Simon Redley





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