Archive for December, 2014




For any lead vocalist, Joe Cocker was a benchmark. The face and body had it all.

The first time I witnessed Joe Cocker was in my hometown movie theatre at a screening of Woodstock The Movie when I was about 17 years old

Unforgettable performance!!!

The next time was live at the old O”Keefe Centre in Toronto.

The look on Cocker’s face at any point in his career is a man enveloped by the music.

I’ve been a lead vocalist since 1972.

I can honestly say, to consistently put that much emotion into your vocals for a career that started with his debut With A Little help From Friends in 1969 is impressive.

That debut is still one of my faves, and one of the most impressive debut albums in rock history.

Of course in the same year, he puts out the sophomore album titled Joe Cocker and yes, it is even better than the debut.

Now, who puts out 2 excellent albums in one year?


Now the benchmark for vocalists is incredibly low.

Between the use of using backing tracks in a live concert to bolster a vocalist and auto-tune it’s pathetic.

And besides, do you honestly think  any winner of The Voice or the American Idol in the past is going to have a 40 year plus career of international recognition.

No, not going to happen folks.

Hell, Cocker’s 2012 album Fire it Up is killer

Go ahead check it out.

While your at it, Hard Knocks his cd from 2010 is almost as good.’

Had a tear in my eye, when I played You Are So Beautiful yesterday.

Still moved this many years later by someone’s voice is a testament that great music never dies.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media contributor and Lead Vocalist/Songwriter




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I originally came to the blues through the early Rolling Stones albums. Later on, John Mayall, Paul Butterfield Blues Band, and Johnny Winter made me sit up and take notice But it was B.B. King’s Live at Cook County Jail vinyl album that put me over the top as far as discovering The Masters.

Having said that I’m still very much a “Blues Rock” guy. Yep, Still like ripping out an Old ZZ Top, Ten Years After album or playing any era of Buddy Guy. These days contemporary blues albums contain musical genres such as R & B, country blues, blues rock, and tinges of jazz and soul. That is the way I like it.

I have not heard every blues cd this year. But from what I have this is……………

My Top Blues Cd List.

JW-Jones- Belmont Boulevard. Contemporary blues, well written songs, and tons of soul in the playing, and production. You need this.

Ruthie Foster-Promise Of A Brand New Day-Possibly the most expressive root/blues vocalist I have heard in recent memory besides Beth Hart. Every track is killer on this cd. Amazing.

Eric Gales-Good For Sumthin’-Simply put, Gales is a tour de force. Funky, hard core blues rock. You have to crank this up!!

Johnny Winter-Step Back-Wow, a must have for any blues fan. classic songs, killer guests, and outstanding performances. What a tribute!!!

Rory Block – Hard Luck Child- Tribute to Skip James-Impossible to resist. My fave of her “masters’ series.

greg-allman-all-my-friends All My Friends-Tribute to Gregg Allman-So many great songs, great guests and chops galore. Outstanding.

Ronnie Earl and the Broadcasters-Good News-Perfect combination, a killer band and one of the most compelling blues guitarists on the planet.

Jack De Keyzer-Voodoo Boogie-This set of live songs date back to 2009 but was released this year. Scorching and intense. For the new stuff check out his killer Electric Love album from 2012

Billy Boy Arnold-The Blues Soul Of- This album stays in my vehicle and is always on. Duke Robillard and Arnold offer up the “real thing” on every track.

Duke Robillard Band-Calling All Blues-A total combination of superb work that touches genre related soul, Texas blues and so much more.

Robin Banks-Robin has always had one of the best sultry voices at any live show. But, finally this set of songs shows off of all her attributes in a variety of roots related fields A killer band, good songs and above all that superb voice.

Rob Stone-Gotta Keep Rollin’-Infectious, vintage and modern all at once. Great harp tone, solid material.

Rolly Platt-Inside Out-Master class in all styles of harp playing. Plus, it’s only his debut..Excellent

I HAVE probably forgot a few..but will let you know…..

NEW.UPDATE…..As I predicted…I did forget.. some very cool BLUES TOP CD’S OF 2014..

drum roll..please

Joel Johnson-Blues Joose Vol 2 -Absolute killer stuff–Get it NOW!!!


24th Street Wailers-Wicked

Eric Bibb-Blues People

John Mayall- A Special Life

Mud Morganfield/Kim Wilson-For Pops-Tribute to Muddy Waters

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, Sun Media freelancer, and singer-songwriter with Blues Rockers THE SHAFTMEN


December 2014