Live At Grossman’s - 1994

The Jeff Healey Band

With a tight funk shuffle with from on-the-spot drummer Tom Stephen, the Jeff Healey Band starts their Live At Grossman’s - 1994 CD with the blistering instrumental called “I’m Going Home.” Recorded more than a decade and a half ago, the band’s nine-song set from a tavern most people consider Toronto’s home of the Blues sees Jeff Healey and his band return to the venue they started out at back in 1985.

“Killing It Floor” smokes about as much as you’d expect with Healey’s vocal cutting through all the swampiness — not to mention his slice-note, precise guitar work. The slow blues of Albert King’s “As The Years Go Passing By” knocks one back to the soulfulness of this band. They’re also up and running n with “Ain’t That Just Like A Woman,” featuring Healey’s best vocal. A version of the Beatles’ “Yer Blues” is the big surprise here. According to the liner notes written by Lisa McDonald, the band had no idea they’d be playing the tune on this night. As it runs out, it the first time they ever did it live. Healey stands it on its head, every bit as much as John Lennon could have ever wished for. Simply put, the slide is brilliant, capturing the meat and taters of the song perfectly.

Harmonica player Michael Pickett comes in for the odd backbeat of “Who’s Been Talking,” probably the finest example of the band reaching out for one of the more unusual blues numbers. It’s that kind of aplomb that made them one of the best young blues bands in the business. “Dust My Broom” is a rockin’ blues, while a 10-minute plus version of “All Along The Watchtower” starts nice and slow as the crowd becomes aware of which song it is with Healey’s tasty and clean guitar building up to the opening riff. Guest guitarist Pat Rush also joins in to point keep tight. At one point, there’s a snippet of Eric Clapton’s “Layla” with Healey and Rush trading licks before ascending to Allman Brothers Band land with a few jazzy moments thrown in. If you want to hear the Jeff Healey Band back on their home turf and at the height of their powers, you shouldn’t miss out on Live At Grossman’s - 1994.

~ Ralph Greco, Jr.

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