Review: Jeff Healey – Songs From The Road – RUF 1150
Posted on: Saturday, Sep 19, 2009
“Songs From The Road”
(Ruf Records: RUF 1150)
Here’s a treat from Ruf Records for all fans of the late Canadian guitarist Jeff Healey – a cd/dvd package endorsed by his widow, Cristie, and put together by Alec Fraser, his bass player and engineer for ten years. The 11 tracks on the audio come from shows in Norway, London and Toronto, with the dvd’s eight cuts being filmed exclusively at the Notodden Blues Festival in Norway in August, 2006.
Jeff Healey succumbed to cancer on 2nd March, last year, but this package finds him and the band on fine form, although the illness was taking a hold. After losing his sight at only eight months old, he learned guitar lap style from a very early age – eventually striking gold with his debut album for Arista in 1988 – “See The Light”, and then contributing to the soundtrack of the movie “Roadhouse”, and actually featuring in it.
As ever with Jeff Healey the fare on offer is very broad, starting with a lovely version of Mark Knopfler’s “I Think I Love You Too Much”, before a couple of blues standards – “I’m Ready” and “Stop Breaking Down”. Healey’s voice is as sweet as ever on a fine take of his hit single “Angel Eyes”, from the pen of John Hiatt and Fred Koller.
Beatles covers have always been evident in his shows and albums, here we get a raucous “Come Together” and a stunning “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. Fellow Canadian guitarist Randy Bachman guests on “Hoochie Coochie Man”. Keyboard player, Dave Murphy, takes a lead vocal on the previously mentioned “Come Together”, and also Greg Allman’s “Whipping Post” – recorded at Jeff Healey’s Roadhouse in Toronto.
The 52-minute dvd again has a most varied set-list – with the standouts being a glorious “Like A Hurricane”, the whole band having fun on AC/DC’s “Highway To Hell” – and a dip back to the glory days with the title track of “See The Light” and the afore-mentioned “Angel Eyes”. Healey’s thick, chunky guitar tone sounds as good as ever on these recordings.
It seems particularly cruel that Healey passed away not long after returning to the blues and rock field, with the “Mess Of Blues” release, after turning for many years to his other passion – jazz, with him being a fine trumpet player and collector of vintage 78 vinyl records.
However, as Cristie Healey says in the cd liner notes, “Songs From The Road is the way we all want to remember him: Smiling, laughing and singing from the heart,” . . . very true words, and an essential purchase for all of his fans!