The Sleep Eazys, “Easy to Buy, Hard to Sell” (J&R Adventures)
Joe Bonamassa’s new venture, “Easy to Buy, Hard to Sell,” is an instrumental project with The Sleep Eazys, which also includes Anton Fig, Michael Rhodes, Reese Wynans and John Jorgenson.
The band honors the late Danny Gatton, a guitar wiz whose talents far exceeded his chart success. He was also a mentor to the precocious Bonamassa and the tribute, beyond covering the master’s “Fun House,” extends to the kind of eclecticism often found on Gatton’s own albums.
The record benefits from razor-sharp musicianship, plenty of space under the spotlight for everyone and entertaining material sourced from, among others, Link Wray, Miles Davis, King Curtis and John Barry.
“Fun House” is spruced up by a horn section, while Denzil Best’s “Move,” featured on Davis’ “Birth of the Cool” but also heard in the “Grand Theft Auto IV” video game, includes a hot acoustic guitar solo by Jorgenson.
Wray’s “Ace of Spades” - not the Motörhead hit - has plenty of rumble, and you can feel the electricity running through country picker Jimmy Bryant’s “Ha So.”
“Hawaiian Eye” is the theme from an early ’60s TV show whose stars included Robert Conrad and Connie Stevens, while “Bond (On Her Majesty’s Secret Service)” is from the sixth film in the 007 series, featuring George Lazenby’s only turn as the suave spy. Both tracks have hair-raising guitar solos from Jorgenson.
Tony Joe White’s “Polk Salad Annie” has seen a wide range of covers, from Elvis Presley to Conan O’Brien, and this one stands out for its verve and Jimmy Hall’s harmonica. On King Curtis’ “Blue Nocturne,” Bonamassa melts the strings of his Telecaster.
Frank Sinatra and Gordon Jenkins both won Grammys with Ervin Drake’s “It Was A Very Good Year,” which gets a Jeff Beck-like arrangement, with an elegant string section boosting the expressiveness.
Bonamassa, no stranger to collaborations, surrounds himself here with a supergroup in the best sense of the word and “Easy to Buy, Hard to Sell” packs a lot of zing into its 33 minutes.
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