J.J. Cale Live

J.J. Cale remains largely invisible despite his obvious influence on over 30 years worth of blues-based rock recordings. He has slowly but surely plugged away at his craft and released 12 albums since his groundbreaking 1971 album Naturally met with the usual critical acclaim and negligible sales. Yet his songs grew to gargantuan proportions in the hands of Lynyrd Skynyrd ("They Call Me The Breeze") and Eric Clapton ("After Midnight," "Cocaine"). Live, his first concert record ever, comes alive in a way that Cale never really has. His low-key, grizzled voice sits atop his patented lazy, rhythmic shuffles, as always, yet these 14 tracks - all classics to his fans - take on new life, taking flight like never before. The energy comes from his choice of seasoned musicians and the obvious, affectionate reaction from each crowd (selected from performances around the world). Standout tracks include "Sensitive Kind," "Mama Don't" and the disc's final track, "Ride Me High," which becomes reinvented as a gentle jam. A surprisingly good release. (Virgin)