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CD Review: A.J. Croce “Just Like Medicine”

Singer-songwriter Adrian James Croce (from here on out to be referred to as A.J. Croce) has spent the last few years picking up where his father had left off. While only a toddler when Jim died, A.J. Croce grew to know his father through the music that Jim left behind. He has even spend time on stage creating concerts of Jim’s music under the concept name of Croce Plays Croce. And that music from A.J’s father plus the music of his father’s contemporaries have helped to shape A.J’s songwriting. Through the last few decades, A.J. Croce has released a total of ten albums of music, some of which contain a few tracks from Jim Croce. The latest album from A.J. Croce is entitled Just Like Medicine.  

The Just Like Medicine album from A.J. Croce begins with one of A.J’s original songs called “Gotta Get Outta My Head”. While Croce has followed in his father’s musical footsteps, he also has gone in his own direction as far as his writing style is concerned. Nowhere is that more apparent than on this first track of the album. The track feels more like a song that Dr. John would have composed. The track’s musical approach combines elements of Rock and Roll with some Funk to create a track with a rather strong groove to it.

For the title track of the release, A.J. Croce creates a track in “Cures Just Like Medicine” that brings to mind a style that seems to have been largely influenced by the like of Harry Connick Jr. “Cures Just Like Medicine” features a Jazzy, Connick-like musical approach. The somewhat raspy voice of A.J. Croce and the musical approach once again brings to mind the sound and feel of Dr. John but with more of a jazzy feel.

Staying in a jazzy state of mind, the next track entitled “Move On” features A.J. Croce continues with the Connick influence but with a stronger stressing of jazz to the music. On this track, what ends up coming across is an “American Songbook” era track that would have come from Rod Stewart. The easy feel to the music and the lyrical delivery that is unmistakably Stewart creates a track that transcends age as the track feels both timeless and retro at the same time.

While the Just Like Medicine album from A.J. Croce features A.J’s songs, the album is not completely about the singer-songwriter. The album features one song co-written by AJ and another musician, and one track that was actually written by Jim Croce himself.  

Just Like Medicine from A.J. Croce features the song “The Heart That Makes Me Whole,” a track that was written with the help of Steve Cropper of Booker T & the MG’s fame. With Cropper playing the guitar on the track, A.J. Croce creates a song with a strong groove that features a little Soul influence in the music. Because of Cropper’s musical background and with the various people he has played with over the years, the track “The Heart That Makes Me Whole” created by Cropper and Croce seems to draw inspiration from the artists of the past, giving the song a strong musical feel that would have felt right at home with the tracks that appeared on the albums produced by The Blues Brothers.

While “The Heart That Makes Me Whole,” is a track co-written by A.J. Croce, one track on Croce’s latest release of Just Like Medicine isn’t his. That track is the song “Name of the Game”. This song was written by Jim Croce but was never released. The reason for that was because Jim passed away before the release it was to be included on could be completed. Right from the beginning few notes of the track, it is absolutely clear that “Name of the Game” is Jim Croce’s song. The main reason why the track sounds like a Jim Croce tune is because of the way A.J. sings the song- he chose to sing the song in Jim’s “voice,” as A.J’s delivery on the track is a very strong impersonation. The guitar-driven track ends up being something that would have been right at home next to a song such as “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown”. In fact, the two tracks feel as if they could have been together on the same album.

Just Like Medicine, the latest album from A.J. Croce is brought to a close with the track called “The Roads”. With this track, Croce creates a track that seems to draw inspiration from the likes of singer-songwriter Chris Isaak as the song has a feel with a slight throwback feel to the music, much the same way Isaak’s songs do. “The Roads” is a track with an equal blend of guitar-based and keyboard-based music. The two main instruments both shine on their own and support the other instrument at the same time. This creates a track with a strong Rock and Roll approach. And with that Rock and Roll approach, the track brings the release to a close on a strong musical note.

The music on the latest release from A.J. Croce called Just Like Medicine features the spirit of Croce’s father as well as the many talents of Steve Cropper and the many other talented musicians who help to create an album of music with a straight-out Rock and Roll soul to it. The combination of the original compositions from A.J. Croce and the few tunes he chose to include on his latest album are all rather well-rounded, musically-speaking; especially given the fact that the tracks borrow from several different musical directions at once. While A.J. Croce may not gain the same notoriety that his father had when he was alive, that doesn’t mean that the he is any less talented. And Croce’s latest original album of Just Like Medicine is strong proof of that.

As the release of Just Like Medicine from A.J. Croce came out in 2017, Croce is currently creating new music. He recently released a new single. That new single is entitled “I Got a Name” which, of course, was one of Jim Croce’s more popular recordings when he was alive. As mentioned earlier, A.J. Croce has been touring under the concept of Croce Plays Croce for a while now. And with this tour concept, A.J. plays the music of his father Jim in concert the way Jim would be doing if he was still alive today. And that is exactly what you get with this new recording of “I Got a Name”. The arrangement of the track sounds like a note-for-note recreation of Jim Croce’s single, keeping the feel of the original intact. While not making any new strides in originality, A.J. keeps Jim’s memory fresh in people’s minds with this version of the old tune from his father.   

For a taste of the music from A.J. Croce, check out the album’s “title track” of “Cures Just Like Medicine”:

Also check out A.J. Croce’s latest recording of his father Jim’s song “I Got a Song”: 

To check out the entire Just Like Medicine release from A.J. Croce, click on the album cover below: 

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Reviews and Suggestions

Rhone-ing on Empty

Marty Rhone – Born To Rock
Self Released

During the genesis of rock and roll, it would be safe to say there were few classically trained singers among the early pantheon of great rockers. Sure, they could all carry a tune for the most part or they wouldn’t have become famous, but most either had an overwhelming personality or were overflowing with charisma which covered for their lack of vocal prowess and allowed the pure energy and anarchy which fueled the primitive power of the music to shine through without being saddled with the added nuisance of having to be a flawless singer. Of course, rock and roll was always considered to be musically rudimentary trash by those who loved “real” music such as classical or jazz. We know today these sentiments are untrue and a lot of classical and jazz musicians doubled in the studio as rock session musicians whenever the need (the musician’s need for money, mostly) struck but for years the opinion stood. And rock and roll artists and promoters didn’t mind. They were only too happy for rock and roll to be seen as the music of youth and rebellion (as long as the parents gave the kids money to buy the records) and to be known as a trained musician or vocalist was to betray rock and roll’s proletarian ethics. But, that all changed to a large degree when Elvis Presley hit the charts, as he became the standard for singers in the rock world for many years. While not classically trained, Presley’s voice was unique and he had a natural way with melody, possessing a pure tone which enthralled listeners. By the time the ’70’s rolled around and rock began to evolve into a more progressive music and led to bands such as Journey, Yes and the like, being a trained singer was seen as a benefit, since rock had now become part of the establishment and had embraced classical (Moody Blues) and jazz (Weather Report, Mahavishnu). While accepted at the time, the notion of claissically trained rock singers became a slippery slope. For every Freddie Mercury there was a David Hasselhoff. Not a good sign! While classically trained vocalists are still to be found in rock and roll, most wind up on Broadway or in Vegas where they rightfully belong.

Which brings us to Marty Rhone and his new release Born To Rock.

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Reviews and Suggestions

CD Review: Jeff Beck – Emotion and Commotion

Jeff Beck – Emotion and Commotion
Atco

Legendary British guitarist Jeff Beck returns with his latest album! Full of the same rock and roll bombast of his past solo albums but with added participation from several up and coming vocalists to balance out the shredding, it is nonetheless Beck’s album. With his mastery of the guitar, how could it not be? While Beck is respected and well-known among musos for his guitar work, his relatively low public profile has long puzzled many fans, who recognize Beck’s vast accomplishments and innovative techniques but puzzle over his career choices.

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Imitation May Be The sincerest Form of Flattery, But To My Ears It’s Assault and Battery!

erickearnsEric Kearns – Voices of Legends: Love Songs
Self released

While listening to Eric Kearns’ new album, I was sort of reminded of Las Vegas, the city of glitz and glamour, and the places where fortunes are made and lost on an hourly basis. If you’ve ever been in a casino there, you know about those lounges off to the sides of the main gambling rooms where you can take a breather to count what’s left of your money or cry about the money you’ve lost. Every casino has one, and there’s always an entertainer there, singing the songs of yesteryear and trying to make people forget about how much money they’ve just lost. I was lucky enough to go to Vegas a few years ago when the Vegas power-brokers were just starting to abandon their ideas about Vegas being this great family destination. In fact, it was just about the time that “What Happens In Vegas Stays In Vegas” started to take hold as a catchphrase to commemorate the fact that sin was back in and family values had been told to go back to wherever they came from as they were no longer welcome in Vegas. Not sure why they wanted to become some sort of Disneyland anyway. Vegas is inherently designed for adults. The city’s casinos are open all night long, the entertainment can be okay for kids but is primarily focused on adults and Kearns is the perfect example. More an impersonator than an artist, Kearns’ act is to sing the songs of legendary singers while impersonating their voices and singing styles. Think Rich Little singing Frank Sinatra and you get the idea of what Kearns is doing. I mean, let’s face it, there ain’t gonna be any White Stripes or My Morning Jacket songs on this CD, okay?

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Reviews and Suggestions Rock History

CD Review: The Rod Stewart Sessions – Rod Stewart (Rhino)

rod stewartRod Stewart sucks.

Hey, I am just writing what everyone’s thinking right? A once-great singer and possibly an even better songwriter who, mostly under his own name but also as lead singer with The Faces (who just about epitomized rock and roll at the time, being packed to the brim with rowdy guitar ably provided by future Rolling Stone Ron Wood and featuring one of the most solid rhythm sections of all time in bassist/songwriter Ronnie Lane and drummer Kenny Jones with Ian McLagan’s Jerry-Lee-Lewis-on-speed piano stylings, after all), released some of the greatest albums of the early ’70’s, albums filled with both touching and heart-rending songs of pained love and loss and an equal amount of hard rocking songs which look at the other side of the coin, the lusty and bawdy side of loving the opposite sex set to raucous Chuck Berry-style guitar work and Stewart’s trademark prickly sagebrush voice accompanied by countless bluesy whoops and hollers. Then, unfortunately 1975 just had to arrive, and with it, Stewart’s break with the musical hurricane known as The Faces, who all-too-often seemed to serve as his secondary music outlet and obligation.