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New Train

63 customer reviews

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Audio CD, September 26, 2000
$78.99 $98.07
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Editorial Reviews

Paul Pena should have been a star. Maybe he would have been if this album had been released in 1973, when it was recorded. Instead, it's taken 27 years for this brilliant collection of Pena's songwriting to see air. Well, except for two of its numbers: "Jet Airliner" was such a big hit for Steve Miller it sustained the blind singer-guitarist through the lean years, and "Gonna Move" has become a favorite of R&B bands. But the best tracks are numbers like "Let's Move and Groove Together," on which Pena makes like Marvin Gaye--his husky voice working the magic of eros. Or "Cosmic Mirror," which recalls nothing less than Hendrix's "Machine Gun," testifying to Pena's brawny-toned guitar virtuosity. (He also outplays Miller's version of "Jet Airliner" with Clapton-like bends and vibrato.) If spirituals and country are your bag, Pena captures a seeker's fervor in the title track's freedom prayer and turns "Venutian Lady" into a tripped-out reflection of hippie-era Nashville. The good news is that now Pena may get his shot. He's making a new album, and this time there will be no waiting. -- Ted Drozdowski


When Paul Pena released his folk-blues debut on Capitol in 1972 it garnered little attention except for praise from a few discerning critics. The Cape Cod native, born blind to parents from Cape Verde, then went on to play guitar in blues bands, including T-Bone Walker's. He later dropped out of sight, only to emerge recently as the Tuvan-style throat-singing subject of the Sundance award-winning film Genghis Blues. This follow-up album, New Train, had been produced in 1973. Here it is, a mere 28 years later, and it's at least as good as the first. Among the session's mostly autobiographical songs can be found one surprise: the original version of "Jet Airliner," a song that became a huge hit for Steve Miller in 1977. Aided by a cast that includes Ben Sidran (who also produced), Harvey Brooks, Jerry Garcia, Merle Saunders and, on one track, The Persuasions, Pena (who is now seriously ill) comes across as a major talent that time forgot. -Paul-Emile Comeau -- From Rhythm Magazine

1. Gonna Move
2. New Train
3. Jet Airliner
4. Wait On What You Want
5. Venutian Lady
6. Cosmic Mirror
7. Let's Move And Groove Together
8. Indian Boy
9. A Bit Of All Right
10. Taking Your Love Down

Product Details

  • Audio CD (September 26, 2000)
  • Original Release Date: September 26, 2000
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Label: Hybrid Recordings
  • ASIN: B00004Y6R1
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (63 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #290,594 in Music (See Top 100 in Music)

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By Wolvie 1974 on October 7, 2005
Format: Audio CD
As I was checking the music news today, I was shocked to learn that Paul Pena had died last week. Like many others, I only knew about Mr. Pena because he had written Jet Airliner, the much-loved Steve Miller Band classic.

Then in 2000 I happened to stumble upon his New Train album. I bought it out of instinct, without previously listening to any of the tracks, and five years later it sits proudly among my ten all time favorite recordings by anyone... yes it is that good.

We live in an unfair world and the record industry undoubtedly is a heartless monster - it is now and so it was more than thirty years ago, when this beautiful work was originally recorded, just to be immediately shelved due to business/management issues.

New Train contains highly inspired soul, blues, gospel and country. Pena was a tremendously gifted performer and composer - just listen to the gorgeous, uplifting Gonna Move!! Also the gospel tinged, pedal steel driven New Train and the CSN-esque Venutian Lady (both with Jerry Garcia guesting on guitar) showcase Mr. Pena's genius.

And the original bluesy Jet Airliner renders Steve Miller's version obsolete - and this comes from a SMB fan. The whole CD is a pleasure to listen, crammed with soulful, heartfelt immaculately performed tunes.

The fact that Paul Pena's life was burdened by blindness, disease and managerial mishandling makes the listening even more compelling.

May he rest in peace.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Glenn Fink on October 4, 2000
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This may sound funny, but I've been a fan of Paul Pena for 28 years. My father was a synthesizer player in 1972, and he toured Venezuela in a show that included Paul Pena. When Paul's debut album came out in 1973, my dad gave me his copy, and I listened to it every day for about 2 years. (I was 7 years old at the time). I wrecked the cover playing drums to it. It's a great soul-filled, bluesy folk-rock album. I have grown up with its sounds haunting me, and they still do, every day. I still have the first album, even found a second copy in a used bin in the 1980's, and I am in the middle of converting it to a CD so I can play it everywhere again (now that tape decks and turntables are getting rare). I never even knew about the existence of this unreleased second album. In fact when I ordered this, I didn't bother reading the description, and I thought it was a return to the blues for him. I knew about Jet Airliner being a hit for Steve Miller but I thought this was a long-overdue version. I am beside myself, I'm so happy there's another album from the early 70's, with guests like Jerry Garcia, Merl Saunders and the Persuasions. "Gonna Move" will rock your socks off. BUY this album, do not deny yourself Paul Pena for another day.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By scott cassin on July 19, 2006
Format: Audio CD
Anyone truly interested in and educated about rock/soul/r&b music will be glad to own this cd. Warning... it will be lost on someone who is looking for an album full of big hooks and snappy radio hits. Technology like the web and XM radio leads true music lovers into material like this which was never mainstreamed yet deserves to be heard and enjoyed. I purchased this cd after learning about Paul in Genghis Blues. As child of the 70's and big big Steve Miller fan I was shocked to learn that Paul had written Jet Airliner, one of the biggest radio hits of the 70's. Frankly the two versions are not even comparable. Steve made the song into a monster rock radio hit while the original is a 5 minute plus r&b jam. Every song on this cd is worth enjoying. His lyrics are very personal and autobiographical, his guitar playing is simply outstanding. If you have seen Genghis Blues and combine what you saw of Paul's talent and spirit with what you hear on this cd you cant help but become a fan. Bottom line, this guy should have been a star and deserved a much longer, smoother, happier ride. Rest in Peace, Paul.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Amazon Customer on October 31, 2000
Format: Audio CD
Sometimes you have to wonder how many great artists just never get heard by the general public? Even after the tracks of this album were laid down so well, it still took 27 years to get out and get heard. Other reviewers have commented on the brilliance of Paul Pena's musicianship (he's incredible), so I won't. I can't help but think about the influence Paul's music would have had on young musicians growing up over the last 3 decades. This CD is technically beautiful, warm, bright, uplifting and has the driving spirit lacking in so much of todays mass produced pabulum. Buy this CD and along with the rest of us you can realize that you are playing a small part in getting Paul Pena into his rightful spot as one of the truly great talents of his generation. Then maybe, finally, his music will get airplay all over and everyone can bask in its warm light. Hopefully we won't have to wait another 27 years for his next album.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Ibochild on February 21, 2001
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
This album works on several levels. First of all, it's a tribute to a talented and neglected artist. Who knows what would have happened had this album been released right after it had been recorded. It might have made Paul Pena a household name or it might have quickly disappeared, like so many fine albums.
Secondly, this album serves as a time capsule of what was going on musically in the early 1970's. It's a synthesis of several musical genres. One can hear a marvelous blend of rock, country, reggae, blues and R&B throughout the album.
The ten track CD gets off to a fine start with "Gonna Move." This soulful number (with wonderful background vocals by the Persuasions) will have you snapping your feet and/or tapping your toes in no time. It has a wonderful loose feeling like a jam session that is so refreshing to hear. The title track follows and keeps a nice pace going. Pena's rocking pre-Steve Miller version of "Jet Airliner" quickens the pace a bit. "Wait on What You Want" then takes the listener into a more psychedelic mode.
Things mellow slightly with "Venutian Lady," then move back into the psychedelic mode with "Cosmic Mirror," before settling down into "Let's Move and Groove Together." The latter is a cover of Johnny Nash's Number 4 R&B hit of 1965. It's one of only two songs on the album not entirely written by Pena.
"Indian Boy" follows in fine form followed by "A Bit of All Right." In the latter reggae influenced song, one gets to experience Pena's piano playing (he sings and plays guitar on all tracks).
The set closes with the country flavored "Taking Your Love Down" (a/k/a "Bringing My Love Down").
Read more ›
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