CD Review: The Jeff Healey Band -- Live At The Horseshoe Tavern 1993

The late guitarist delivers a sizzling live performance from 1993.
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The late Jeff Healey was a musical enigma. He blended blues and rock music at a time when hair metal and, later, grunge dominated the charts, never really fitting in, but finding success all the same. Highly regarded by other musicians, Healey even managed to get George Harrison and Jeff Lynne to appear on his cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps." The Jeff Healey Band was a force in concert as the new live CD, The Jeff Healey Band -- Live At The Horseshoe Tavern 1993, proves.

For the performance, Healey was joined by Joe Rockman on bass and background vocals and Tom Stephen on drums. Keyboardist Washington Savage and backup singers Mischke and Toucu rounded out the live ensemble. The band produced a sound much bigger than the amount of musicians on stage would suggest.

The show opens with a pair of driving tracks, "Baby's Lookin' Hot" and "The House That Love Built." Healey's playing on both is excellent and he did an fine job of blending the blues with hard rock, creating a sound both contemporary and classic. A powerful cover of ZZ Top's "Blue Jean Blues" follows that features a strong vocal from Healey and sizzling lead guitar work. Heavier than the original, Healey's rendition recalls Led Zeppelin's "Tea For One."

The band brings down the pace for a mid-show acoustic set that includes the country-flavored "You're Coming Home" and, perhaps Healey's best-known song, "Angel Eyes." The former features killer harmonies from the band while the latter has an impassioned vocal from Healey.

Healey and his band were featured in the movie as well as the soundtrack for Roadhouse. From that comes a killer cover of the Doors' "Roadhouse Blues" that finds Healey torturing every last note out of his guitar. An equally potent cover of "While My Guitar Gently Weeps" follows that is a stark reminder of just how talented a guitarist Healey was.

Healey's career was tragically cut short in 2008 when he lost his battle with cancer at age 41. The Jeff Healey Band -- Live At The Horseshoe Tavern 1993 is an ample reminder of the talent lost when he passed.