CD+DVD Reviews

Steve Pierson and Blues Head – Blue Me Away, DVD-DualDisc (2013) – Aix

This disc features video of Steve Pierson and Blues Head playing in the studio on one side and high resolution DVD-Audio on the other.

Published on August 7, 2013

Steve Pierson and Blues Head – Blue Me Away, DVD-DualDisc (2013)

Steve Pierson and Blues Head – Blue Me Away
Tracklist: (Follows below)
Personnel: Steve Pierson – vocals, guitar & slide guitar; Laurence Juber – lead guitar; Michael Murphy – piano & Hammond B3; Gerald Johnson – electric bass; Gary Mallaber – drums)
Studio: AIX Records
 80033 [4/30/13] (1 two-sided DualDisc) [Distr. by Naxos]
DVD-Video: 4:3 color with DTS 5.1 audio
DVD-Audio: 24bit/96kHz multichannel surround and stereo mixes
Extras: Bios of musicians, multichannel test tones, tech notes
Rating: ***

Steve Pierson leads a band of blues musicians that include guitarist Laurence Juber, keyboardist Michael Murphy, bassist Gerald Johnson, and drummer Gary Mallaber.  They’ve got plenty of experience between Murphy’s work in REO Speedwagon, Johnson with Dave Mason, and Mallaber having played with Steve Miller Band and Van Morrison.

This album includes a DVD-Video version on one side of the disc that features video with multiple camera angles along with a DTS 5.1 audio mix.  Also included are quick biographies of the musicians and some technical notes about the recording.  Note that these are just still frames with text.  The video is taken on a sound stage, not a live performance, and in a day of 1080p HD video, the 480 lines of  standard resolution on DVD just does not cut it anymore.   On the other side of the disc is a DVD-Audio mix featuring 96kHz / 24bit 5.1 audio track.  For this review, I was only concerned with the HD DVD-Audio mix. [I didn’t know anybody was still doing Dual-Discs, but this is obviously a session done some time ago, though just released...Ed]

Pierson has a good voice, but lacks a bit of grit that I think most associate with blues.  For me the real star of this album is guitarist Laurence Juber.  His blues guitar shines in every track, especially his solo on “That Woman, She’s Gone”, a soulful song that I just wanted to crank the volume on.  It’s amazing how much feeling this man can express with his guitar and for me, it’s the reason to listen to this album.  “Who’s Been Foolin’ Who?” has a groovy feel and the whole band brings it home in “Everyday,” featuring tons of energy, style and attitude.

Sonically the DVD-Audio is very good.  The drums were solid—with pop and energy, depth to the sound, and clear sizzle on the cymbals.  My complaint is with the style of the surround mix.  The drums are heavily in the right surround which, in a way, places you directly on the stage with the band.  I still prefer to hear most of the music come from the front channels.  Having the drums appear directly to my right side kept throwing my brain for a loop.  Steve’s vocals were also missing some body and oomph.  I wanted his lyrics to stand out a bit more from the soundstage.  However, the clarity provided by the extra resolution made up for some of these issues.   I wasn’t blown away, but Blue Me Away does feature some fine blues performances and is worth checking out.

TrackList:

  1. Enough Ain’t Enough
  2. Bad Condition
  3. That Woman, She’s Gone
  4. Hounds are Huntin’
  5. What Ya Gonna Do
  6. Who’s Been Foolin’ Who?
  7. Everything You Need
  8. Secrets
  9. Comin’ on Home
  10. Everyday

—Stephen Hornbrook

 




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