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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Jeff Healey

As The Years Go Passing By Deluxe Edition

Review by Gary Hill and Larry Toering

This is quite a nice set. It’s a three CD release featuring three different live shows from Jeff Healey and company, ranging from 1989 to 2000. Fortunately there aren’t a lot of songs that get repeated from disc to disc here. All three shows have their own particular sound and magic moments. It really does a great job of showcasing the various eras of Healey’s career and sound. This comes highly recommended for anyone who has ever enjoyed Jeff Healey. It could be argued that while his studio albums are all quite good, the real magic is in the live performance. With Healey no longer with us, this is a great opportunity to experience that magic in several different ways. Larry Toering handled the track by track review for the first two discs, while G.W. Hill did the third.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2013  Volume 3 at lulu.com/strangesound.

Track by Track Review
Disc 1 Ohne Filter Extra (5/10/89)
I'm Torn Down
The first thing you notice is how remarkably great this sounds, the mastering by Pauler Sound is second to none on these recordings. It really gives the ears a chance to breathe without having to process too much. By the time Healey starts singing you know that it’s a first class job by everyone who touched this. I love it when he goes into his solo and the music just pours out of him like it doesn't matter what instruments are being played. That is just some of the magic of this master.
My Little Girl
This cuts in very quickly, but the song is worth every bit of getting right into as the band does. And wasting no time seems to be what drives the whole excellent number.
Confidence Man
The guitar picks up a notch here on one of Healey’s more popular tracks in the set, and I mean he really starts to sizzle here. Wow! At this point I'm perfectly transported back to when I saw him on his first tour. This is a John Hiatt track where Healey has a chance to really start expressing himself. And so do the other players, as you really start to hear the bass more clearly in the mix.
I Need To Be Loved
The atmosphere feels different here but so does the track altogether, not being one with which I recall being familiar. But Healey’s singing performance on this is undeniably awesome.
When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky
This is another extraordinarily great tune. It almost has an Americana groove to it. For all Healey’s blues leanings this just weighs heavier in the rock department. I absolutely adore this track itself and am glad they included it. It rocks hard but maintains a delicacy that brings it all together and rounds out what I consider to be a classic Dylan cover. To be fair, it doesn't carry as good a vocal mix, but the female backing does help to fit it into the set a lot.
River Of No Return
Between the last two cuts and this one, I'm much more satisfied with this one than the first of the three, in both the performance and songwriting departments. It’s another one of which I'm not previously aware, so might take some getting used to.
Angel Eyes
Once again the mix doesn’t come out as clearly here as the first two tracks seemed to promise, but that is a small complaint by the time they go into this great John Hiatt penned number. I've always found this to be one of the biggest tear jerkers and still do. It’s a true cornerstone of Healey’s excellence.
Roadhouse Blues
The first thing I recall here is remembering him perform this Doors cover in the movie of the same title. To begin with, I have to say Jeff Healey's covers are always interesting and some great choices were made, but not all of them stood completely out. This is one that did, as you can hear it here in its early performances how hard they attacked it in more of a traditional blues style than the Doors did. It jams more and swings more any day, if you ask me. So, I think it's just as good somehow, or at least it’s updated the track well.
See the Light
The set ends with what I still consider some of Healey’s best work in the shape of this title. And you've got to love the audience clapping at the beginning to get things kicking, as he goes on to mesmerize them and show of what he's really capable. Man, this is a blast that you don't want to be over once it is, because it felt like things were just getting started. The shows in those early days were fairly short sets, so it simply turns out this way, unfortunately. This is one of the tunes that put him on the map and made him a strong contender against artists like SRV and others. Healey simply goes wild on this and I love how the drums keep up with crashing cymbals and all. The solo spot takes you just about anywhere a guitar can go. What a grand performance this is.
Disc 2 Extraspat in Concert (4/02/95)
Got a Line On You
Once again things start off remarkably clear sounding, but they also tend to sound a little mushy on this cover of the Spirit classic. This is a track I've always loved by a band. So, I have to be critical here and give a big thumbs up to stamping the Jeff Healey marks on this with zero disgrace, and nothing but marks for justice for doing so without losing my ear way from the feel of the original. This is simply a smoking hot performance. This also falls under the right choices for covers.
Stop Breaking Down
This is just another super hot number added to the set. A lot of contemporary blues artists have tackled it in various ways, and I like how they jam hard on this cut. It's killer! Each disc so far has a sleeper track, and of disc two this would be it.
As The Years Go Passing By
No punches are pulled here as Healey gives the title its space, and delivers maximum results on this brooding Deadric Malone tune. At this point Healey himself is so expressive that there is no turning a deaf ear to his majesty. This is all out awesome and the whole disc peaks right about here.
Confidence Man
Although there aren’t many repeats, one good thing about this set, is a chance to hear the same song twice and see how the performances differ between the years. This is an improved showing, and that is my final opinion. It's delivered with much more passion and energy which shows with no question how far they had come by then, some four years later. What a groove. The sound does tend to struggle a bit here, but it is what it is.
Stuck In the Middle
This is yet another fun cover, and not what I consider to be a bad choice. The band goes right into a straight forward version, which happens to jam and rock even though it's kicked up a few notches in speed. It still doesn't sound rushed because they more or less put an Allman Brothers spin on it and lengthen it with southern guitar slide work, as opposed to the more pop play of the original. Yet they still fit it into under five minutes.
Angel
Of course Jimi Hendrix is an obvious choice to cover, so therefore an expected one. This is somehow perfect for Heeley, as he manages to produce a tear in the eye of many a fan I'm sure. I'm half pressed to say this is as good as the original. If not, it's awfully close, as Healey did big-time justice to it.
Yer Blues
This is a wild version of a Beatles track, which Healey actually does a lot with, but doesn't have a butchering effect. He once again somehow made something all his own out of it.
Me and My Crazy Self
Not being altogether familiar with this track off the bat, I'm sure Healey did the writers justice.  That’s especially true in the musicality department, as he plays some of the most interesting guitar on offer, so far. It's a nice little playful tune nevertheless, and I certainly find it enjoyable.
Angel Eyes
It's four years later and you can tell how much more confident he really was by then, as it naturally shows a lot of growth and maturity. It's a much different version than on the previous disc, which marks a point of the set worth making. This is absolutely brilliant!
Roadhouse Blues
This too is a much more rollicking version than that on disc one, and I have to say it really comes together this time. They jam in sync perfectly here, where they were much looser on the previous version. This is another highlight of the set, I'd say. I love the slow, witty blues parts. This features killer guitar playing, indeed. Healey shows why he was without peer in a field in which it is hard to be recognized from other players.
See the Light
Once again, the maturity shines right through in yet another showcase number, this time coming from a whole different angle. This is another jam that makes the whole thing really, as it differs highly from the version on disc one. Greatness beyond words is all there is to this. By the time it's over, the spirit of this band is firmly embedded in the brain.
While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Well, as I suspected, this tops the whole first two discs off with a grand delivery of the George Harrison penned classic. The sustain and feedback control is almost orchestral, and it’s magical how he did this on one guitar. The help of devices comes to mind, but the mind doesn't care, as this is so magnificent in every way, that it doesn't seem to matter one bit.
Disc 3 Ohne Filter Extra (10/31/00)
My Little Girl
Hard rocking and still quite a bit in the pure blues side, this is a smoking hot tune.
Which One
The main riff that drives this is tasty, but in some ways the song is a little nondescript. That said, there is definitely a Hendrix-like vibe to it at times.
Love Is the Answer
A more melodic tune, there’s kind of a psychedelic blues vibe to this one. It still manages to rock out pretty heavily near the end.
How Blue Can You
Now, this blues number is a real guitar showcase. Healey just plain screams and cries and sings and soars — all with his guitar strings.
Confidence Man
This rocker is a bit more mainstream, but that doesn’t mean Healey doesn’t wail on it, because he clearly does. What an awesome tune we have here. 
Put the Shoe on the Other Foot
Here’s another blues tune that just plain screams. The guitar pyrotechnics are expected, but Healey puts in some of his best vocal performances here, too. This is a standout tune. 
Feel Better
A slower tune. TDisc 3  Ohne Filter Extra (October 31, 2000)here are things here that make me think of Black Sabbath. I also make out a definite Led Zeppelin “Dazed and Confused” vibe. All in all, though, this is another killer blues rock tune from Healey. It’s got the trademark tasty guitar soloing and a really great balance between softer sections and harder rocking ones.
Angel Eyes
Healey’s signature tune, early on in this live rendering he admonishes people in the audience for clapping off beat. It’s a good rendition.
Roadhouse Blues
I really like this live version of the classic tune. There’s a cool little drop down and overall they play this a lot more purely blues than anything else. It’s a great tune and a great version.
See the Light
Another smoking hot blues tune closes things out. It gets into some tasty noisiness later and all in all just plain rocks.
 
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