Jeff Healey

Mess of Blues

Canadian guitarist Jeff Healey, who died in March at the age of 41, made his mark playing blues/rock on his lap-held Stratocaster and here—after a couple of forays into jazz of the ’20s and ’30s—he’s returned to the format that catapulted him into prominence with his first record, 1988’s See the Light (the title is a play on the fact he lost his sight when he was a baby). Healey was a man of varied musical interests yet his playing seldom rises above the ordinary. He also operated a Toronto club and his “house band”—Dave Murphy, keyboards; Dan Noordermeer, guitar; Alec Fraser, bass; Al Webster, drums—accompanies him here. Four live tracks include the Albert King classic, “I’m Torn Down,” (great solo by Murphy, whose work is impressive throughout); a fine version of Leonard Feather’s “How Blue Can You Get,” (solid organ work by Murphy); and a relaxed “Sittin’ on Top of the World” (with some trademark gnarly-isms by Healey). Healey et al. give it their all on “Jambalaya,” “Shake, Rattle and Roll” and especially on Murphy’s roadhouse rocker “It’s Only Money.”