Dale Evans & Roy Rogers singing Pleased Trails
Jim Morrison used to talk about the crossroads, a place in southern mythology where magic happened, Ray Manzarek and Roy Rogers Translucent Blues is at the crossroads where the blues meets rock `n’ roll.
Ray Manzarek has always been attracted to literate minded lyrics and Translucent Blues is no different, having songs contributed by Jim Carroll, Warren Zevon (both of whom worked with Manzarek before their deaths) Michael C Ford, and beat poet Michael McClure. It’s not only Manzarek at the crossroads, one of the Warren Zevon songs has the music attributed to Rogers.
Manzarek seems to have musical references to The Doors, New Dodge City Blues has undercurrents of Love Her Madly. Is Fives and Ones a reference to The Doors 5 to1? Maybe, what it is, is a blues song with a traditional subject of having a roll of bills in your pocket. And the musical references aren’t limited to The Doors, if you’re familiar with Manzarek’s post Doors albums from the 70′s you’ll also hear some musical references to that period of Manzarek’s career as well. Some of these blues touch on jazz too. Kick, lyrics by Michael McClure, has a tinges of jazz in it, plus some of the most consciously poetic lyrics on the CD.
Neither Rogers nor Manzarek are going to be noted for their dulcet tones or mellifluous singing, sometimes Manzarek pushes his vocal abilities a little too far such as on Game of Skill. However, both have rough-hewn voices of the old blues men, and that’s where Manzarek and Rogers might be. They’re now the old blues men they admired in their youth. Translucent Blues despite the somewhat cool title for the CD is mostly uptempo, goodtime blues in the vein of Roadhouse Blues. The songs are divided pretty equally between Manzarek and Rogers, Manzarek having the more rock oriented songs and Rogers has the more traditionally blues songs. Rogers’ guitar is a strident voice on this album sometimes pounding it out, and at other times laying back and delivering a counterpoint to Manzarek’s keyboards. Both Manzarek and Rogers are accomplished musicians who know how to rock, even the blues, and both play on all the songs throughout the CD. The album has a nice coherent sound and feeling throughout.
You don’t have to be a Doors fan, or have prior knowledge of Rogers’ work with John Lee Hooker. Translucent Blues is something new for each and waiting and deserving of fans on its own terms. A couple of the criteria I use for reviewing is, will I remember this? And do I want to listen to this again? I can answer “yes” to both for Translucent Blues.
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By `Rebel’ Rod Ames
Co-founder of The Doors, Ray Manzarek and slide-guitarist extraordinaire Roy Rogers have collaborated on projects before and have been very successful at it. However, with their latest project, “Translucent Blues”, they have exceeded their past endeavors and set the proverbial bar at a new height. I literally fell in love with every single tune on the record.
I always knew that Mr. Manzarek had a distinct style as a keyboardist, but I guess I just never realized how distinct until listening to “Translucent Blues”. His piano/keyboard playing stands out and adds an entire extra layer to nearly each song. Mr. Roger’s slide-guitar is appropriately layered in, creating a sound that goes beyond blues or rock. It is unique and refreshing all the way through.
The two artists are true masters of their craft and they are at their absolute best here. To bind them together they have added Elvin Bishop’s bass player, Steve Evans, and Kevin Hayes of Robert Cray’s Band on drums.
If the talent were not already impressive enough, artists such as Warren Zevon, Jim Carroll, and poet, Michael McClure, have graciously contributed lyrics. In a word – Incredible! The lyrics from these very special lyricists add texture to the tunes that compliment each song and give them depth. No! They, the lyrics, completely take each song into another sonically pleasurable dimension.
These two musical masterminds share the vocal duties but I have to say, after listening to this record many times; why didn’t Mr. Manzarek sing more of the lead vocals with The Doors? Oh yeah, two words, Jim Morrison! However, I truly believe Ray Manzarek’s vocals are in some ways as good here as Mr. Morrison’s vocals were a long time ago.
I’m not sure how they decided who would do the lead vocals on each song but who ever made the decision on who was going to sing what, got it right here! Each tune left me hungry for more up to the end of the record, which left me completely longing for Ray Manzrek’s and Roy Roger’s next collaboration.
Take your time boys. As I said, you have set the bar extremely high on this one. So, taking your time and getting it right the next time is going to be even more difficult.
These two pros should be able to handle that undertaking quite easily.
The record released on May 24th on Blind Pig Records.
This album builds solidly on the 4 pillars of blues (Lousy Money, Crappy Dope, Bad Booze and Worse Women)and adds a few extras like natural disasters and sad walks down a very lonely path…one song in particular would be a good soundtrack for scattering the ashes of a loved one, but overall your blues will be turned into something like watching the collapse of the Twin Towers in reverse…in my opinion, it’s a Masterpiece! A couple of the songs conjure up the possibility that Jim Morrison rose from the dead just for these sessions, who knows!
One feels really old when you realize that you have outlived your childhood heroes… not to mention sort of sad.
I once had the pleasure of meeting Roy Rogers. He told me that Dale Evans had actually written another verse (not to be confused with the “religious verse” that was written much later.) He said the recording label took it out as popular songs of the era needed to be no longer than 3 minutes in length. He then proceeded sing that verse for me, I will never forget it.
Roy and Dale were the real deal… they talked the talk and walked the walk. I may not agree with their “Christian values”, but they were honest Joes and lived their faith. We could all take a lesson about HOW they lived their lives.
we played this at my mothers funeral yesterday and there was not a dry eye in the house. the words are so appropriate! LOVE LOVE LOVE this song
My Father met ” Roy Rogers & Dale Evans ” at the Top of ( The Space Needle ) ; in Seattle , Washington . During the ( 1962 ) ” World’s Fair “
@Askerban That it is my friend, that it is.
@yinyang1530 Belling ends his program on WISN 1130 AM in Milwaukee to this song too. It’s a great song.
They play this every Sunday on FM 106.9 here in Wisconsin (Milwaukee radio station) I’m not too fond of older country songs, but this one I definatly do like.
This was actually a big radio hit in the very early 1950′s HONEST!!!!!!
what a wholesome song
I was born in 47 and remember all the wonderful TV shows. They all will be missed.
I love this song. Grew up watching them on tv.
I attended school from elementary thru high school with his & Will’s descendants. How could we not love them? Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, OK is awesome!!!
I attended school from elementary thru high school with his descendants. How could we not love them? Will Rogers Memorial in Claremore, OK is awesome!!!
@bigphil399 Good we need more of you!
@TheCrystal0817 aw why
@allenjan36 Yes! And Fury, Sky King, My Friend Flicka, Lassie, Bonanza, But Roy and Dale, they were the BEST, Love them !! I too am so glad that I was born in the 50′s. Forever grateful.
Every time I hear Roy sing ” Who cares about the clouds when we’re together?” I feel myself replying “not me, Roy I’ll be seeing you”.
@fraydog I’m one of those “men were men” type of guys and I wish I could say the same thing about most men in 2011
@Palmerization YES! No matter how messed up things get in the next few years, remember Roy and Dale and how good a man and a woman can be together. I grew up in the 70s, in the San Francisco Bay Area, and Roy and Dale got me through those dark days. Don’t lose heart, friends. WE ARE GOING TO WIN! HAPPY TRAILS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
i played this at my talent show with my girlfreind and we won, thx roy
This was from the era where men were men and women were proud of it.
Years ago I had the good fortune to be on an airliner with Dale Evans. When we got into the terminal, she was as sweet as could be and smiled and spoke kindly to everyone who came up to her.