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Danny Barnes

Rocket

ATO

Buy if you like: Ry Cooder, Bad Livers

Danny Barnes built his reputation in the Bad Livers, but like that "bluegrass" outfit, his solo forays range far afield. He's got a pleasant, at times almost whispery-light voice and a sense of melody that turns a song like "Fun" into exactly the sort of easy pop tune its title suggests. Nothing heavy or taxing, just... fun. Barnes, who plays an electrified, customized "barnjo," gets funky on "Angel," and his "Rich Boy Blues" has a Ry Cooder/"Cocaine" feel. "Soulcrusher" is heavy guitar with a Southern rock vibe, "S.O.T" is a Stonesy rock blast, and "Rocket" could have come from Levon Helm. But he really perks up the ears with his bold cover of T. Rex's "Bang a Gong (Get It On)," full of industrial noises and that banjo, sounding like it's patched through a toy piano — not to mention backing by label founder Dave Matthews. Cool stuff. — Lynne Margolis

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Savoy Brown

Voodoo Moon

Ruf

Buy if you like: Foghat, Kenny Wayne Shepherd

Guitarist Kim Simmonds is still the main man in Savoy Brown, a band that's entering its sixth decade of recording and touring since forming in England's blues-rock heyday. On Voodoo Moon, the frontman continues to write the songs and crank out the guitar solos. The band rocks briskly on "She's Got the Heat" and "Meet the Blues Head On," and also hits the mark on "Look at the Sun," a slow but gritty track with a simple, effective chord sequence. The sound is more burnished on melodic tunes like "Too Much Money" and the muscular mid-tempo title track. Though Savoy Brown may still be best known as the band whose former members became Foghat, Simmonds continues to fight the good fight, and deserves credit for staying creative and keeping Savoy Brown a viable band for all of these years. — Alan Sculley

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Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings

Collector's Edition Box Set

Proper American

Buy if you like: B.B. King, T-Bone Walker

Since leaving the Rolling Stones in 1992, Billy Wyman hasn't just lived off his old band's income. He's written seven books, pursued a passion for photography and even invented a metal detector. He's also recorded and toured frequently with his band, the Rhythm Kings, which has at various points included Gary Brooker, Mick Taylor, Albert Lee, Georgie Fame, George Harrison and Eric Clapton. This five-disc box set offers pretty much the full range of roots music. A low-key, mostly-for-fun project, the band rolls through familiar and obscure soul, blues and jazz covers, including a rocking rendition of "Tobacco Road" and a simmering cover of Screamin' Jay Hawkins' "I Put a Spell On You." Along the way, Wyman shows himself to be a solid songwriter whose own tunes stand up just fine alongside the outside material. — Alan Sculley

  • Danny Barnes, Savoy Brown, Bill Wyman's Rhythm Kings

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