Winter Driving Best Books of the Month Men's Leather Watches Learn more nav_sap_SWP_6M_fly_beacon $5 Albums All-New Amazon Fire TV Beauty V-Day Amethyst Jewelry Create an Amazon Wedding Registry Amazon Gift Card Offer jstfd6 jstfd6 jstfd6  Amazon Echo Starting at $49.99 Kindle Voyage Winter Sports on Amazon.com Sale
Profile for Brian Kerecz > Reviews

Browse

Brian Kerecz's Profile

Customer Reviews: 55
Top Reviewer Ranking: 4,255,940
Helpful Votes: 533


Community Features
Review Discussion Boards
Top Reviewers

Guidelines: Learn more about the ins and outs of Your Profile.

Reviews Written by
Brian Kerecz RSS Feed (PA, USA)
(REAL NAME)   

Show:  
Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6
pixel
Soul of a Man
Soul of a Man
Price: $12.94
47 used & new from $2.49

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Early prewar Gospel/Blues at its finest!, April 2, 2008
This review is from: Soul of a Man (Audio CD)
"Blind" Willie Johnson has a voice which will reach through the decades, grab you by the shirt and shake you, and most insistently dictate your rapt attention. The strong and gravelly voice of Johnson is comparable probably only to Son House's early Paramount recordings. And while some of the songs on this album can definitely be categorized in the blues genre, many fall much more into the gospel genre, if that is even of importance when discussing one of the great early names in pre-war blues and American music history.

Willie Johnson is not a well known name of a Robert Johnson....not even close. To his credit, Eric Clapton and others have brought new people into the blues genre because of their accolades of Robert Johnson; the downside of course, is that some great pre-war blues musicians are often overlooked......and Willie Johnson definitely falls into this category. I picked Willie Johnson up by chance at the store to add to my growing collection of prewar blues artists.....and was I ever surprised when I listened to it for the first time.

Johnson was blinded at an early age by his stepmother. His father had caught his stepmother cheating and gave her a beating, and instead of throwing lye at the young Willie's father, she threw it in the eyes of young Johnson, permanently blinding him. His story reads like a Shakespearean tragedy; being blinded at a young age by his stepmother, living most of his life penniless, and dying of pneumonia on a wet mattress after his house burned down because he was refused admittance at a hospital. And despite all of this, he remained steadfast to his religious beliefs, and would often travel to Houston to sing at gospel revivals. This man knew the blues all too well, and also had a deeper understanding of life through his experiences, and all of this comes through in his songs.

Many of Johnson's songs were performed and made famous by others, the most notable being "Nobody's Fault But Mine" by Led Zeppelin. Also, the traditional song of "John the Revelator" was magnificently performed a capella by Son House during his 1960's Columbia Sessions. One of my favorites is "Trouble Will Soon Be Over". And the song "Mother's Children Have A Hard Time" is most likely autobiographical in nature and displays the great love he had for his mother. But every song will grab the listener.....be forewarned.

Very few singers have made the interplanetary trip on NASA Voyager's Golden Record (other musicians and singers who are on it include Beethoven and Chuck Berry), and I think it could be said that sadly, Johnson is probably the least well known of any of them. The song "Dark Was the Night" is now traveling through space, a song which has only his plaintive moans coupled with a guitar, and which wordlessly evokes the pain of the crucifixion of Jesus (and perhaps all of us in this life).

In a word, brilliant.


Martin Scorsese Presents Blues: Robe
Martin Scorsese Presents Blues: Robe
11 used & new from $4.79

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent intro to Robert Johnson....., February 27, 2008
An excellent collection of songs at a reasonable price for those looking to get a taste of some of the earliest blues out there from the works of Robert Johnson.

Robert Johnson only recorded 41 songs over a two summer timeframe, and of those 41, 29 are duplicates of songs already recorded by him. So while some may say it is wise to just go out and buy the box set of Robert Johnson, I would argue that this CD makes sense for those who are uncertain whether they will like early delta blues. This CD contains 14 out of the 29 songs ever recorded by Robert Johnson. I love it, but must admit I am perplexed as to why 2 additional Robert Johnson songs recorded by other blues artists were included. Quite honestly, I would have rather have had more Robert Johnson material to listen to. But for the price, I don't think I can complain. Not the best of the Martin Scorcese series, but certainly a laudable effort.

A note however. I gave this 4 stars instead of 5 not because of the music, but simply because one can buy his complete recordings (41 song, 2-CD set) for not much more.


Very Best of John Lee Hooker
Very Best of John Lee Hooker
6 used & new from $3.94

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Legendary and Prolific Bluesman!, February 27, 2008
Some of John Lee Hooker's best known songs are compiled from his many years and albums onto this budget CD, with not one being one you will skip over. From "Boogie Chillen'" to "Boom, Boom," they are all here. Even the songs which made others famous, such as "One Bourbon, One Scotch, One Beer."

"I'm Bad Like Jesse James" is a favorite of mine, with this particular song showing his inimitable rambling style so strikingly, a style which over the years can be found less and less.

It should be noted that the version of "I'm in the mood" on this album is different than the Chess side he recorded with the Chess brothers (I actually prefer the more polished Chess side). But regardless, each song is representative of a different time in his life, as this legendary bluesman recorded over 100 albums during his lifetime, one of the most prolific bluesmen in history.

A must own for any lover of the blues.


Dark Was the Night
Dark Was the Night
Price: $4.99
64 used & new from $2.92

5.0 out of 5 stars Early prewar Gospel/Blues at its finest!, February 26, 2008
This review is from: Dark Was the Night (Audio CD)
Dark Was the Night is an album which will reach through the decades, grab you by the shirt and shake you, and most insistently dictate your rapt attention. The strong and gravelly voice of Johnson is comparable probably only to Son House's early Paramount recordings. And while some of the songs on this album can definitely be categorized in the blues genre, many fall much more into the gospel genre, if that is even of importance when discussing one of the great early names in pre-war blues and American music history.

"Blind" Willie Johnson is not a well known name of a Robert Johnson....not even close. To his credit, Eric Clapton and others have brought new people into the blues genre because of their accolades of Robert Johnson; the downside of course, is that some great pre-war blues musicians are often overlooked......and Willie Johnson definitely falls into this category. I picked this CD up by chance at the store to add to my growing collection of prewar blues artists.....and was I ever surprised when I listened to it for the first time.

Johnson was blinded at an early age by his stepmother. His father had caught his stepmother cheating and gave her a beating, and instead of throwing lye at the young Willie's father, she threw it in the eyes of young Johnson, permanently blinding him. His story reads like a Shakespearean tragedy; being blinded at a young age by his stepmother, living most of his life penniless, and dying of pneumonia on a wet mattress after his house burned down because he was refused admittance at a hospital. And despite all of this, he remained steadfast to his religious beliefs, and would often travel to Houston to sing at gospel revivals. This man knew the blues all too well, and also had a deeper understanding of life through his experiences, and all of this comes through in his songs.

Many of Johnson's songs were performed and made famous by others, the most notable being "Nobody's Fault But Mine" by Led Zeppelin. Also, the traditional song of "John the Revelator" was magnificently performed a capella by Son House during his 1960's Columbia Sessions. One of my favorites is "Trouble Will Soon Be Over". And the song "Mother's Children Have A Hard Time" is most likely autobiographical in nature and displays the great love he had for his mother. But every song will grab the listener.....be forewarned.

Very few singers have made the interplanetary trip on NASA Voyager's Golden Record (other musicians and singers who are on it include Beethoven and Chuck Berry), and I think it could be said that sadly, Johnson is probably the least well known of any of them. The song "Dark Was the Night" is now traveling through space, a song which has only his plaintive moans coupled with a guitar, and which wordlessly evokes the pain of the crucifixion of Jesus (and perhaps all of us in this life). For what it's worth, had I known I would have liked Johnson's music so much, I would have bought the 2-CD compilation set.

In a word, brilliant.


Avalon Blues: Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings
Avalon Blues: Complete 1928 Okeh Recordings
Price: $6.99
65 used & new from $2.58

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mellifluous early blues recordings, February 1, 2008
Mississippi John Hurt recorded only 13 songs before returning to a life of obscurity and hard work on a farm. Of these 13 songs recorded in 1928, 11 were penned by John Hurt with the other two being traditional spiritual numbers ("Blessed be the name" and "Praying on the old camp ground"). The recording quality of these Okeh recordings is simply fantastic, and have the best recording quality I have heard from this era. A little hiss is heard (very little) and not much else.

As to the recordings themselves, they are probably the sweetest sounding, most mellifluous early delta/country blues I have ever heard. John Hurt may not have had the well-known name of a Robert Johnson or Son House, but these recordings have had their influence in their own way. The song Stack O' Lee penned by Hurt became an R&B hit in 1950 (as Stack-A-Lee) for New Orleans pianist Archibald, and also became a rock-and-roll hit in 1958 for Lloyd Price (as Stagger Lee).

It should be noted that after Hurt recorded these songs, he went back to work in his hometown of Avalon, MS. Because this was an out-of the-way town, few passed through it, and because of this Hurt was influenced by few outside artists of the day. What we wind up with on this album is the heart and soul of John Hurt.......and it is magnificent.


Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey: A Journey to Music's Heart & Soul
Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey: A Journey to Music's Heart & Soul
by Bill Wyman
Edition: Hardcover
65 used & new from $3.08

1 of 6 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Far from complete!, December 16, 2007
Bill Wyman's Blues Odyssey sets out to give us a history of the blues from its beginnings in Africa to the present day. This is an ambitious task, and one which I believe the book falls short in doing.

Wyman's Blues Odyssey gives the reader some information I am not sure they will find many other places, such as the etiology of many of the songs by Robert Johnson. Many were in fact possibly derived from other people and places. Though admittedly, because of the points below, I will have to research this before I can believe it and take it at face value.

The book leaves out important information on the basic history of the blues. For example, on the pages featuring Robert Johnson's life, he talks about the infamous crossroads and how Johnson is rumored to have sold his soul to the devil for his skill at playing the guitar, one of the most famous legends in the history of the blues. But then he entirely leaves out the fact that this exact same rumor surfaced almost a decade earlier, only then it was Tommy Johnson who was rumored to have sold his soul to the devil. The former is one of the all-time great legends in the history of the blues, but the latter is the important fact which belies the first. To me, not including the latter is a glaring omission. And one oversight could be forgiven, but they seem to abound in this book.

There is also an unfair equanimity which seem to be the modus operandi of the book. The Chess Brothers are given as much space (two pages) as the two pages devoted to the English groups who were influenced by the blues. Are the two equal in any sense of the word in the history of the blues? Absolutely not. One would think by scanning this book that the Chess brothers were not a big deal in the history of the blues, as their footprint in the book is not large, and in my opinion this is one of the books great failings.

In my own opinion, I believe one could learn much more about the history of the blues by simply reading the inserts which come with CD's, than by reading this book. I actually wanted to like this book and give it a good rating, because Wyman's love for the blues is obvious. But compare this book against Robert Palmer's "Deep Blues" and there is no comparison.

One additional note. I understand Wyman's respect and love for the blues, but I might take this book more seriously if his picture was not peppered throughout the book. Is this a book devoted to the blues, or to Bill Wyman? At times I was not so sure. These shortcomings are probably why this was in the "Bargain" aisle of the local Border's book store.

A coffee table book at best, but not a book for anyone who already has a cursory understanding of the history of the blues.


The Chess Box :Muddy Waters
The Chess Box :Muddy Waters
18 used & new from $27.51

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars There are simply not enough stars......., December 13, 2007
McKinley Morganfield was born in Mississippi in 1913. He was given the name of Muddy Waters by his grandmother at an early age.

Muddy Waters was one of the Blues musicians who was deftly able to make the transition from the cotton field, delta, acoustic blues, to the electric sound which has remained with us since. He not only made the transition, but set an example for others.

Disc one of the box set covers the period 1947-1954. Disc two covers the hits of the 1950's, many of which inspired English rockers who were preparing to hit the shores. And Disc three covers the latter period from 1960 through 1972. It should be noted that there are recordings before and after the time periods on this box, and as such, this box set could not be termed "all inclusive". Not covered are the very early years of Muddy's singing, as covered by The Complete Plantation Recordings. And the Blue Sky recordings (I'm Ready; Hard Again; King Bee) of the 1980's cover the latter part of his career. This box set covers the meaty, main portion of his career and are definitely the set to get if you are going to get just one for your collection. The book that comes with this 3-CD set also gives a very nice overview of Muddy's life and career, something that the mp3 downloads cannot do.

Muddy Waters was one of the most influential blues singers of all time and influenced generations of singers who came after him. If you plan on getting only one collection of Muddy Waters, I would strongly recommend this 3-CD set. You can now buy the songs individually through Amazon, but it is strongly recommended to buy the box set en total.

They get no bluer than this. Muddy was, and is, the real deal.

Highly recommended. 5 Stars.


Andes
Andes
by Pablo Corral Vega
Edition: Hardcover
26 used & new from $0.73

4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite what I expected from National Geographic......., November 30, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
This review is from: Andes (Hardcover)
From the book description: "In 1995, Pablo Corral Vega began a journey that would take him the entire length of the Andes, the 5,000-mile chain of mountain ranges that extend from Patagonia to the shores of the Caribbean"

Andes, published by National Geographic Insight, is not quite what I had expected. Most of the pictures contained throughout the book are of people and/or urban areas, not of the Andes themselves. I purchased this book for a glimpse into the Andes and the people of the Andes from the perspective of Pablo Corral Vega as he had grown up there, spending his childhood in Ecuador. But apparently his return trip for this book did not take him too far from the road, as most of the pictures are urban photos, not what I had expected.

He also attempts to add an artsy flair to many of his photos, but falls short most of the time in my opinion. For example, on page 103 there is a very colorful picture of people with their backs turned to watch an inauguration ceremony, but in the forefront of the picture there is an out-of-focus dog with a chain showing. This could have been a great picture, but it is not! And two pages before that there is a picture in Olmeda supposedly during a festival. Well, the picture show a green tarp or something similar and two people standing against it. It looks like nothing close to resembling a fiesta. At best, I think it can be stated that the pictures are disjointed. I have been to South America, and although I have never grown up there or spent any considerable time there, I honestly believe I could have put together nicer pictures of the Andes and the people who live there from my trips there.

In short, this is a nice book (but certainly not for the cover price of $50), if only for the fact that there are few coffee table books on the Andes. But it is a disappointment in the fact that I had expected much more from National Geographic.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2008 7:04 AM PST


Bartlett's Familiar Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern Literature (17th Edition)
Bartlett's Familiar Quotations: A Collection of Passages, Phrases, and Proverbs Traced to Their Sources in Ancient and Modern Literature (17th Edition)
by John Bartlett
Edition: Hardcover
163 used & new from $1.65

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The definitive source for quotations, November 12, 2007
Verified Purchase(What's this?)
Bartlett's is where I go if I want to see exactly who said what, when, and in precisely what context. John Bartlett started his work about 150 years ago with approximately 250 people, and now in its current version, Bartlett's Familiar Quotations has more than 25,000 quotes from 2,500 people. The chronological layout also makes this very appealing and accessible, and moreso a book one can easily sit down with on a rainy day to peruse.

One thing I take issue with is the fact that several quotes from notable people I have picked up from reading elsewhere (perhaps even earlier versions of Bartlett's!) are not listed in the current book, among them:

"We were given two ears and one mouth that we may hear the more and speak the less." -Zeno

"We are what we repeatedly do; excellence then, is not an act, but a habit." -Aristotle

"I have nothing, yet have everything; and although I possess nothing, still of nothing am I in want." - Menander

The quotes above are not listed, while others are, such as "show me the money" from the movie Jerry Maguire in 1996! Somehow I think the former quotes will hold the test of time while that inane quote from the Hollywood movie will probably not even make it into the Bartlett's version two iterations down the line.

In my opinion, the only thing lacking is a proper gravitas; not enough emphasis is given to timeless figures such as Aristotle or Zeno in favor of contemporary quotes which in truth, possess very little meaning or truth, or in some cases, none at all.

That being given as a proviso, this is still the de facto source for quotations.

**** 1/2 Stars.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 19, 2008 6:55 AM PST


Lonely Planet Quechua Phrasebook
Lonely Planet Quechua Phrasebook
by Ronald Wright
Edition: Paperback
30 used & new from $1.94

12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the only Quechua books out there........, November 11, 2007
This book is an absolute must-have if going to the highlands of Peru where Spanish is not the primary language, but Quechua is. Quechua was the language of the Incas and is still spoken by approximately 10 million people in the mountains of South America, many of them in Peru. Quechua has only three vowels: a, i, and u. Additionally, the languages' large number of suffixes changes the actual meaning and implication of words, hence the need for something other than a Spanish phrasebook.

And because there are very few written materials in terms of newspapers, books, or magazines in the Quechua language, Quechua remains largely an oral language, making this book all the more valuable a resource.

If you will be trekking or going off the beaten path, this phrase book is a must have to gain a better understanding of the local people, their customs, and ways. While a Spanish phrase book will help to some extent, it's usability will diminish the farther off the beaten path one goes, as Quechua is the lingua franca of the Andes.

If there is any downside to this book, I guess it would be the fact that Lonely Planet did not make this one color coded by subject (Social, Food etc.) as they do with their Latin American Spanish phrase book. But that is a very minor detail.

Again, this is probably not necessary if you will be simply going to the cities of Lima or Cuzco, but if you plan on going off the beaten path in the highlands of Peru, this little book will come in very handy. It should be noted that because of the esoteric nature of the book (it can take several weeks to fill an order and virtually no bookstores carry this), it may take some time to arrive, so if you have a trip planned and want to take this book with you, it would be advised to order this well in advance of your leaving.


Page: 1 | 2 | 3 | 4 | 5 | 6