Album review: THE JEFF HEALEY BAND – House On Fire/As The Years Go Passing By

Jeff Healey  - As The Years Go Passing By

As The Years Go Passing By – Live In Germany 1989-1995-2000 (Inakustik)

Since his death in 2008 there have been a steady steam of releases featuring one of the modern blues greats.  This boxed set, recorded by German TV, brings together classic Healey from  1989 – 2000.  The 3 CDs mirror the 2 DVDs and whilst there is a little duplication the gigs chronicle the progress of Healey over a ten year period.

This includes, in 1995, the wonderful set piece ‘While My Guitar Gently Weeps’ whilst ‘Confidence Man’ and ‘See The Light’ (both present and correct in all sets) demonstrate Healey’s early commerciality melding blues and rock and influencing others at the time.

Liner note contributions from Healey’s bandmates (including Philip Sayce who appears on the 2000 gig) further enhance this  excellent package. ****

The Jeff Healey Band - House On Fire

House On Fire (Eagle Records)

‘House On Fire’ continues the archive theme, this time with outtakes from some of Healey’s studio work, notably the ‘Feel This’ sessions recorded in 1992.  Collectors will also appreciate the inclusion of two cuts that failed to make the ‘Cover To Cover’ album in 1994, ‘Adam Raised A Cain’ and ‘We’ve Got Tonight’.

This is genuinely a fresh-sounding album and occupies space between ‘The Arista Years’ which formed Healey’s most consistent output and his latter-day leanings when he ploughed a slightly more personal and singular furrow exploring jazz.

‘House On Fire’ and ‘Who’s Been Sleeping In My Bed’ (co-written with Bobby Whitlock) sound as good as anything from the band’s late eighties heyday, the latter capturing the rolling ‘Confidence Man’ vibe and ever-fluent guitar.  And there’s even a Will Jennings co-write, the splendid ‘Joined At The Heart’.

It does beg the question how these songs were allowed to remain vaulted for so long.  Now – 20 years or so  later – we are blessed with almost a ‘new’ Healey album and a chance for both fans and newbies to soak up something genuinely previously unreleased, unlike the shameless posthumous Hendrix offerings which are mostly variations on a theme. ****

Reviews by David Randall

David Randall presents ‘Assume The Position’ on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio every Sunday at 22:00 GMT.

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