Legendary artists push envelope on latest albums

Paul Rodgers revisits his early love of soul via the glorious “The Royal Sessions,” while Zombies singer Colin Blunstone and Big Head Todd & the Monsters push the boundaries of their respective styles forward with persuasiveness and force.

Artist: Paul Rodgers
Album: The Royal Sessions
You might like if you enjoy: Otis Redding, Bad Company, Albert King
Tell me more: Paul Rodgers, the famed rock singer who fronted Free, Bad Company, the Firm and even Queen for a time, continues to use his potent voice with a power that defies his 64 years. On “The Royal Sessions,” Rodgers revisits soul and R&B classics by the likes of Otis Redding, Albert King and Isaac Hayes with a sincerity that makes it clear how much these songs touched him while he was in his teens growing up in Middlesbrough, England.  Recorded at Memphis’ Royal Studios, the historic home of Willie Mitchell and Hi Records, Rodgers belts out “I’ve Been Loving You Too Long (To Stop Now)” with forcefulness, and turns on a dime to deliver a soulful take of Roosevelt Jamison’s “That’s How Strong My Love Is.” Other highlights include “Thank You” and “Down Don’t Bother Me.” Information: 429records.com.

Artist: Big Head Todd & the Monsters
Album: Black Beehive (Shout! Factory)
You might like if you enjoy: Otis Taylor, The Doors, Ben Harper
Tell me more: A rousing and welcome celebration of the band’s 25th anniversary, Big Head Todd & the Monsters’ “Black Beehive” provides everything fans of the blues ensemble love. Rollicking upbeat raw tunes (“Seven State Lines,” “We Won’t Go Back”), infectious melodic material (“Everything About You,” “Josephina”) and poignant songs that cast a deep spell (notably the title track, written by lead singer Todd Park Mohr in the wake of the death of British soul singer Amy Winehouse). Like Otis Taylor, Big Head Todd (which also features drummer Brian Nevin, bassist Rob Squires and keyboardist Jeremy Lawton) is not content to play old-time blues enslaved in the past, but rather pushes the genre into the 21st century with skill and style. Information: bigheadtodd.com.

Colin Blunstone

Album: On the Air Tonight (Zip Records)

You might like if you enjoy: The Zombies, the Alan Parsons Project

Tell me more: Until recently, Colin Blunstone’s “On the Air Tonight” was only available as an import; thankfully the latest disc from the famed Zombies lead singer is now available here; it’s a stunning album full of new songs all bound by Blunstone’s mythical and yearning tenor. The Zombies-styled track “Turn Your Heart Around” boasts a wistful melody, while ballads including the piano-anchored “On the Air Tonight” and jazz-styled “Though You Are Far Away” showcase Blunstone’s ability to wrap his expressive vocals around a song like no other. Information: ColinBlunstone.co.uk.

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