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Posted October 1, 2010
The Massachusetts-based Tone Cool has been releasing fine discs for over eighteen years. In celebration of their 50th release, they've produced this 2-CD set that highlights their early years, and shows off the growth and expansion that marks their most recent releases. This collection samples tracks from the label's entire history, beginning with more straight-ahead blues sides from the early '90s, and progressing to a variety of blues-flavored works that add funkier rhythms, trip-hop studio production, and rock-oriented country blues. ¶ The label's early years are represented here by the 1990 national break-through of Paul Rishell's "Blues on a Holiday," and harmonica-soaked tracks list James Montgomery's "Yonder's Wall" and label founder Richard Rosenblatt's 11th Hour Band's "UFO Alert." By the mid-90s, the label was attracting talents like noted harmonica players like George Mayweather and Rod Piazza, organist Tony Z (whose track on this collection, "Get Down With the Blues," features fine guitar playing from Duke Robillard), and R&B party combos like The Love Dogs. The label was also signing discoveries like teenage guitar prodigy Mike Welch, whose electric instrumental "Freezer Burn" is impressive enough without considering he was 16 when he recorded it. ¶ Throughout the end of the '90s, and into the new century, Tone Cool expanded its roster to include the sophisticated R&B vocals of Toni Lynn Washington, Terrance Simien's zydeco sounds and the New Orleans inspired piano virtuosity of David Maxwell. Further afield, Rick Holmstrom utilizes trip-hop styled studio wizardry, Hobex puts a techno edge on their blues and funk sounds, Double Trouble seamlessly mixes hard rock, funk, blues and soul, and Johnny Hoy & The Bluefish sing country-blues. Which isn't to suggest that the label has abandoned that which brought it to prominence; the blues are heard loud and clear in the works of Susan Tedeschi, Bernard Allison, as well as the on-going work of early Tone Cool artists. ¶ This is a fine document of a label formed by and for artists, rather than commerce. The consistency of the label's output (which is listed in full within the CD's booklet) is all the more impressive for the freedom with which they've pursued variations on their original theme.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.