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Music Review - 'Under the Influence` by Guy Schwartz (jh)

Guy SchwartzUnder the Influence (click on image to watch video)

24 April 2020 

 

Guy Schwartz is a Houston legend, having played blues, rock, and just about any kind of music for 50

years or more. This is apparently his 60 th album and we can likely name the number of artists who have

recorded that many without using all our fingers. At one time, Schwartz dubbed himself “The Blues Guy”

and had a website under that moniker but today he’s comfortable simply being called a singer-

songwriter. This album, Under the Influence, subtitled “New Original Classic Rock from Houston,” has

“Vol.2” written on the spine of the jacket but if there’s a Vol. 1 out there, this writer couldn’t track it

down.

Schwartz has played just about every conceivable genre of music loosely labeled roots except bluegrass.

In recent years he’s been playing with his band called New Jack Hippies but he’s not using that tag here,

instead using several different lineups, suggesting it might be a compilation of things recorded over

several years, especially since the late beloved drummer, Billy Block, appears on five of the 13 tracks.

Several other notable Houston musicians grace the credits such as drummer Matt Johnson (Mike Zito),

saxophonist Eric Demmer (B.B. King, Carlos Santana and many more), blues harpist Steve Krase (Trudy

Lynn), guitarist Corey Stoot (Annika Chambers) and bassist Roger Tausz (Sisters Morales) to name just a

few.

These are likely a collection of tunes that didn’t make to his other albums because they sounded too

much like the original influence but here, he’s proud to make those associations. One can guess some of

them just by gleaning the titles - Dr. John in “Mac Said,” The Doors in “Lost In Time,” Jimi Hendrix with

“Far Away From Here,” as a few examples. He returns to his blues persona on “Stepping Stone” (not

Paul Revere & the Raiders or the Sex Pistols who had songs of a similar name) and “Blues Rumble.” He

plies southern rock in “Two Sides of a Mountain.” References to Ernest Tubb and Willie Nelson abound

in the opening “Waltz Across Texas.” “This is the One” seems to channel another iconic Texas singer-

songwriter, Billy Joe Shaver. Singing about abuse of power by 45 and his henchmen in “Out of Control”

recalls Blaze Foley’s “Oval Room” although the piercing guitar and swirling organ may lead one to other

references. “Bad Storm Coming” echoes Leon Russell, with the piano and especially the background

vocalists. “The Lonely Ones” bring in a two-piece horn section and his bluesy closer “Gotta Keep the

Music Alive” is a testament to survival and may as well be his theme song, paying homage to all those

who paved the way

. You might have fun guessing the various influences. And, maybe yours will be better than these in

some cases. If nothing else, that’s a nod to Schwartz’s songwriting. He can be both direct and keep one

guessing.

 

Jim Hynes

 

 

Jim Hynes is an independent contributor on music for several magazines, including Elmore and Country Standard Time. He has also written for Variety. He was a listener-supported public station(s) radio host for 25 years in CT, MI, NJ and PA. He is also a Live music host/Emcee at several national and regional venues.

To Read All of Jim's Reviews, Click Here

 

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