The first Barry Goldberg solo album in almost two decades was released June 15 from Sunset Blvd. Records and will celebrate at The Write Off Room on July 11, 8 p.m. (21+ Over).
In the Groove is the legendary writer/keyboard giant’s homage to the records and artists who had a profound influence on him during his formative years when he grew up listening to late night radio over WGES and WVON before bursting onto the blues scene in the mid-1960s. The album was produced by Carla Olson and recorded by Johnny Lee Schell at Ultratone Studio in Southern California, who also mixed some of the tracks, as did Ed Cherney.
“I always wanted to make an album like this,” says Goldberg, “not a ‘super session’ record, but a record that was just fun to do, where everybody playing together just locks in and you feel the magic. And I wanted to pay homage to the kinds of cool music that turned me on in the first place.”
The 12-track all-instrumental album—except for “Guess I Had Enough of You” that features a guest vocal from jazz great Les McCann—includes five new songs composed for the project plus classic and, to some, obscure material associated with such artists as Snooks Eaglin, Sil Austin, The Cyclones, Johnny & The Hurricanes, Milt Bruckner, Doc Bagby and The Wailers (the Tacoma garage band, not the Jamaican reggae group that appropriated the name). “Guess I Had Enough of You” is one of the album’s originals and it’s fitting that the vocal is provided by McCann whose “Compared to What” was a landmark protest song of the 1960s. In that tradition, the not-so-subtle subtext of “Guess I Had Enough…” takes issue with the current resident of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Goldberg is heard on piano, Hammond B3 organ and Wurlitzer piano with backing from Denny Freeman (guitar), Tony Marsico (bass), Don Heffington (drums), Rob Stone (harmonica), James Intveld (guitar), Joe Sublett (sax), Darrell Leonard (trumpet), Johnny Lee Schell (guitar), Reggie McBride (bass), Craig Fundyga (vibes), Victor Bisetti (percussion) and Nawfel Hermi (guitar).
Over the course of his professional career, now in its sixth decade, the peripatetic Goldberg has collaborated on recordings with Steve Miller, Mike Bloomfield and, most famously, backed Bob Dylan when the latter “went electric” at the 1965 Newport Folk Festival.
His solo output has been limited due to the priority given his collaborative work that has included the Goldberg-Miller Band, The Electric Flag, Supersession with Al Kooper and Steven Stills, Two Jews Blues with Bloomfield, as well as more recent recordings and appearances with Chicago Blues Reunion, the band that has variously included Sam Lay, Harvey Mandel, Nick Gravenities, Corky Siegel, Elvin Bishop, Charlie Musselwhite, and Tracy Nelson.
In the last few years, he’s recorded and toured as part of The Rides, a blues-oriented musical alliance with Stephen Stills, Kenny Wayne Shepherd, and Chris Layton, veteran drummer of Stevie Ray Vaughan and Double Trouble.
As a soloist/band leader, his output dates back to the 1966 release of Blowin’ My Mind by The Barry Goldberg Blues Band, followed in 1969 with Barry Goldberg & Friends, as well as Barry Goldberg, the eponymously titled 1974 album, recorded in Muscle Shoals, that was produced by Bob Dylan and Jerry Wexler.
His last solo effort was Stoned Again, an instrumental take on the Jagger/Richards canon that was also produced by Olson. Mention should also be made of the songs Goldberg wrote with Gerry Goffin, for Rod Stewart, Gladys Knight, Bobby Bland, Jackie Wilson, and Tom Jones, as well as the Grammy nomination he earned for his role in producing the comeback album for Percy Sledge.
His inaugural work as a session player can be heard on the rollicking intro to Mitch Ryder’s #1 hit “Devil With A Blue Dress” as well as work he did under the aegis of Phil Spector on tracks by the Ramones and Leonard Cohen. Most recently, he wrote and performed the score for the critically acclaimed documentary film, BANG! The Bert Berns Story, and was inducted into the Chicago Blues Hall of Fame just this past year. In the Groove was very much an inspired labor of love for Goldberg. He found an appropriate way to pay artistic tribute to the music that set him on the road to musical fulfillment.
Payback, in this case, is so rich.
The Write Off Room is located at 21791 Ventura Blvd Woodland Hills, 91364; For information: (818) 610-8308.