Title - ‘Paul Rodgers & Friends - Live at Montreux 1994'
Artist - Paul Rodgers & Friends
Just-released by Eagle Rock Entertainment is Paul Rodgers & Friends Live At Montreux 1994 (on CD and DVD). At the time touring in support of his Grammy nominated 'Muddy Water Blues' album, Rodgers assembled a top notch unit of blues and rock veterans to give the Montreux faithful a night to remember.
But, as the CD opens, it is immediately noticeable that the quality of sound production is underwhelming. Sounding like the show was recorded under a wet blanket, the first song of the night is 'Travelling Man,' which is followed by a much better 'Wishing Well.' Rodgers then asks how it sounds out there, which is funny based on what I just wrote, before he quickly strides into (one of) his trademark soulful vocal attacks; this time on the Muddy Waters cover, 'Louisiana Blues.'
With Queen’s Brian May (eventually), Foreigner/Black Country Communion’s Jason Bonham, Toto’s Steve Lukather and Journey’s Neal Schon, and joined by guitarist Ian Hatton, bassist John Smithson and such blues performers and players as Eddie Kirkland, Sherman Robertson, Robert Lucas and Kenny Neal, the album keeps rolling with 'Fire And Water' and (possibly the best track on the album) 'Muddy Water Blues.'
Introducing special guest Brian May to the stage, May goes into a trademark guitar howl before Sonny Boy Williamson's 'Good Morning Little School Girl.' Next is the blues of 'I'm Ready,' before 'Little Bit of Love' and 'Mr. Big.' "Remember this one," Rodgers asks before 'Feel Like Making Love,' before comically adding, "I hope I do!". With scorching Lukather guitar work, Rodgers' voice is sadly cracked, not at its best on this Bad Company classic.
Another Muddy Waters cover in 'Let Me Love You Baby' is next, before Booker T & The MGs are covered in the form of 'The Hunter.' As you've probably picked up on by now, the bulk of the evening was a fat selection of the blues with a scattering of Rodgers-penned songs. None more so than the next two classics, 'Can’t Get Enough (Of Your Love)' and the still-incredible-to-hear 'All Right Now.' Complete with May guitar work and so stout bass work from John Smithson, the song is a masterclass of how to bring a rock song to life.
Having sung with Free, Bad Company, The Firm, Queen and more, Paul Rodgers is definitely one of the best rock front men in the game, but here he doesn't seem to be having his finest hour - unless he's singing the blues! Which is probably why we end with the Robert Johnson 1936 classic 'Crossroads' and then (with some Luther Allison added for good measure) 'Hoochie Coochie Man,' the final Muddy Waters cover of the night.