Album Review: Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers, Translucent Blues

By Graham Reid

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Album cover for Translucent Blues - Ray Mazarek and Roy Rogers. Photo / Supplied
Album cover for Translucent Blues - Ray Mazarek and Roy Rogers. Photo / Supplied

Given his organ sound was so much of the Doors' sound, it's surprising Manzarek's subsequent four-decade career has garnered so little attention, although to be fair it has thrown up few decent albums.

Here, again with singer/writer/slide guitarist Rogers and a small band, he reaches toward some late peak in blues-rock material that has a sense of urgency and includes co-writes with the poets Michael McClure and the late Jim Carroll, and the late Warren Zevon (on the bittersweet River of Madness about Los Angeles, with a beautifully weird Middle Eastern passage between the grit-rock).

Doors fans won't be disappointed (Game of Skill and New Dodge City Blues shave off a little of Love Her Madly and others are akin to their roadhouse blues) but the real meat here lies in Roger's razor-edge playing, the blues grooves (the Booker T-like An Organ, A Guitar and a Chicken Wing), the drugged darkness of Kick (the McClure co-write, which is cocaine-induced jazz-noir) and the cinematic, 2am instrumental As You Leave.

Some of this (Blues in My Shoes, Greenhouse Blues are silly but in Mose Allison's mould) is elevated only by the playing. Vocally neither of them would get past the elimination round of American Idol. So not the most essential album, but if you saw them at a club gig you'd happily pick up a copy afterwards.

Stars: 3/5
Verdict: Former Doorsman finally makes good. Well, good enough

- TimeOut / elsewhere.co.nz

- NZ Herald

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