Jean Shy & The Shy Guys - The Blues Got Soul
12 songs; 68:09 minutes; Suggested
Style: Female Vocals; Blues-Rock; Rock and Roll; Soul-Blues; R&B; Gospel
Finding gold for the 1850s miners in California usually required a lot of hard work. Sometimes, though, all they had to do was bend over and pick up a nugget lying right at their feet. Similarly, finding a review-worthy CD usually requires some digging amongst those available. This time, however, Jean Shy & The Shy Guys was right there at my fingertips, literally handed to me.
While not really a “Blues” album, this vocals-and-band showcase is pure gold in terms of quality. When it comes to Jean Shy, it is another one of those “where-have-I-been?” moments. I am just a Johnny-come-lately to the incredible singing of this Chicago born now Germany living lady, signed by Chess Records at age 12. It was her nomination for a 2009 Blues Music Award for Soul Blues Female Artist of the Year that first caught my attention. Jean Shy is an internationally acclaimed Rhythm & Blues/Rock, Jazz, Blues, and Gospel singer, songwriter, music producer, and actress.
"The Blues Got Soul" is a compilation of some of the hottest material recorded by Jean Shy and her highly competent German band “The Shy Guys,” which was partially performed live at an open air concert in Duisburg, Germany. It consists of original compositions and surprising covers (Bob Seger, Leon Russell, Reba McEntire) performed, mostly, in their own rocking, upbeat arrangements and unique style.
The sound is not like most “Live” CDs because the recordings originally were not made for a CD release. There were no microphones set up in the audience, and the crowd is hardly audible. On those live tracks, Jean decided against any studio editing in order to keep the pure and powerful sound. Re-Mastering of all songs by "Big Bottom" Bob Lanzner at Technovoice Mastering in Studio City CA evened everything for this CD presentation. The result is a powerful set that will make one wish he had been there for the original.
With no typical, “Give it up for Jean Shy” Live introduction to the stage, track one’s instantly satisfying opening is a shimmering guitar beside a pulsing bass and organ. At twelve seconds, Jean hits us with her impressive voice chiding “I Wouldn’t Wanna Be You,” a song recorded by Reba and written by Jeff Silbar and Randy Sharp. Klaus Zimmermann and Martin Hoette both take guitar solos to maintain the charge until Bernd Winterschladen briefly eases the tempo with a saxophone solo at the bridge. Jean picks it back up, and by the end, golden-nugget thoughts are beginning.
Song two seals the deal when Jean and the band launch into a funk laden, up tempo rendition of the Ray Charles and Joe Cocker classic “Unchain My Heart.” This has been a much requested number at Jean Shy concerts over the years.
Keeping the fun and surprises coming, for track three, Jean dusts off a Leon Russell classic, “Song For You.” Maintaining the original tempo, Shy and her band light up this old favorite with her emotional and powerful vocals accentuated by soaring guitar accompaniment and Frieso Luecht’s piano opening and cascading passages.
Snatching fans from their seats and back to their feet, “Livin’ The Blues” is the Rock and Roll type of song that has become trademarks of Shy’s live shows. There is also a near 11 minute rocking version of Muddy Waters’ “Rock Me,” 10 minutes of Bob Seger’s “Old Time Rock’ n Roll,” and a heart-pounding Shy original “We Like the Same Thangs.”
“One Day (Blues Version)” is a song that talks about the search for peace, love, and understanding that Shy wrote after seeing many homeless people living in cardboard boxes on downtown streets in Los Angeles.
For fans of Gospel and welling organ, there’s Shy’s “I Can’t Save You (From Yourself),” the traditional “Precious Memories,” and the closing “Amazing Grace” which is performed in a celebrated fashion.
This CD may not appeal to Blues purists, but what a mistake it would be not to scoop up the wealth of talent laid out before us by Jean Shy and the Shy Guys.
Reviewer James “Skyy Dobro” Walker is
a noted Blues writer, DJ and Blues Blast contributor. His weekly
radio show “Friends of the Blues” can be heard each Thursday from
4:30 – 6:00pm on WKCC 91.1 FM in Kankakee, IL