On Monday February 22nd inakustik released a compilation of three rare and previously unreleased German concerts recorded and filmed in 1989, 1995 and 2000, from the Canadian blues rock guitarist, Jeff Healey.
Entitled “Jeff Healey – As The Years Go Passing By: Live in Germany 1989 – 1995 -2000”, the concerts was released as a 3 CD-set and as a Deluxe Edition 3CD + 2 DVD. The latter includes an extensive booklet featuring contributions from the participating musicians and rare photos.
The three concerts include “Ohne Filer Extra” (May 10, 1989), “Extraspät in Concert” (April 2, 1995), and “Ohne Filter Extra” (October 31, 2000).
“With the fifth anniversary of Jeff's passing coming up on 2nd March 2013, we were looking for a special way to commemorate and help celebrate Jeff’s life and legacy,” says Jeff’s widow, Cristie Healey.
“In preparing for this release, it was important to include the participation of as many of the performers involved as possible. Jeff’s friends and colleagues have enthusiastically shared their memories of the concerts which help to make this rare live compilation extra special.”
“The Jeff Healey Estate is very proud to endorse this release. It's the first collection of archive material to be officially released with the approval of the Healey Family since Jeff left us all too soon. We are privileged to continue the legacy of his immense efforts, incredible talent and sheer love of music, for everyone to enjoy.”
“Jeff’s life wasn’t just about music but rather, music was part of what brought life to Jeff. It was part of who he was. For those who knew him, this fact was always quite apparent, even up to his last live performance, only a month before he passed away. The live recordings were created with the participation of those who knew Jeff best, sharing his talent with his fans, friends, and fellow musicians for years to come.”
Disc 1 & DVD 1:
Ohne Filter Extra (May 10, 1989)
Jeff Healey – Guitar/Vocals
Joe Rockman – Bass/Vocals
Tom Stephen – Drums
1 I'm Torn Down
2 My Little Girl
3 Confidence Man
4 I Need To Be Loved
5 When The Night Comes Falling From The Sky
6 River Of No Return
7 Angel Eyes
8 Roadhouse Blues
9 See The Light
Disc 2 & DVD 2:
Extraspät in Concert (April 2, 1995)
Jeff Healey – Guitar/Vocals
Pat Rush – Guitar
Joe Rockman – Bass/Vocals
Tom Stephen – Drums
1 Got A Line On You
2 Stop Breaking Down
3 As The Years Go Passing By
4 Confidence Man
5 Stuck In The Middle
7 Yer Blues
8 Me And My Crazy Self
9 Angel Eyes
10 Roadhouse Blues
11 See The Light
12 While My Guitar Gently Weeps
Disc 3 & DVD 1:
Ohne Filter Extra (October 31, 2000)
Jeff Healey – Guitar/Vocals
Philip Sayce – Guitar
Joe Rockman – Bass/Vocals
Tom Stephen – Drums
1 My Little Girl
2 Which One
3 Love Is The Answer
4 How Blue Can You Get
5 Confidence Man
6 Put The Shoe On The Other Foot
7 Feel Better
8 Angel Eyes
9 Roadhouse Blues
10 See The Light
The three concerts give fans an insightful look into the evolution of Jeff Healey... a document of an outstanding guitarist in three distinct phases of his career. The concerts are presented as they were performed, live without the aid of studio intervention. Spanning eleven and a half years, they cover different periods in the history of the Jeff Healey Band, and yet, they are all linked by a common thread, Germany.
Germany always held a special place for the Jeff Healey Band. Consistently one of their strongest markets, German audiences were always fantastic and appreciative, giving Jeff and his band extra fire.
“Germany is a spectacular country,” recalls Jeff’s first bass guitarist, Joe Rockman. “In colourful detail, I would describe for Jeff the lush fields, gently rolling hills, picturesque vistas and majestic mountains. For him the best part was the warm enthusiastic response we encountered throughout the country. He loved sampling the old world brew and shuffling through the abundant second hand record shops.”
“The superb camera crews for each show display Jeff's technique with unique close-ups, putting the viewer right on stage,” continues Rockman. “I’d coach Jeff on how the cameras were placed, and he was aware of how to play to them, but also aware not to let them influence how he performed to the live studio audience. There's one cool shot I've never seen before, taken at an angle from Jeff's feet shooting up towards the guitar. During concerts around this period most people in the audience couldn't clearly see his revolutionary style of guitar playing, so all three shows are a rare treat…”
1989: The “Ohne Filter Extra” Concert
Healey is in great spirits, and it is clearly evident and from the opener, I’m Tore Down. The energy coming off the stage is intense. The frenzy of the crowd is given a bigger boost by a wild group of Canadians in the audience showing their support. The playful exuberance Jeff puts out in the solo for My Little Girl is reflective of the feel of the entire show.
Joe Rockman: “The 1989 Ohne Filter Extra show has the original trio in exhilarating form, hamming it up on stage and pushing the sound of the three-piece to the extreme. It was our dream to reach the world, and being in Germany was new and exciting. We were feeling indestructible, with a surge of creativity including film, video, CD, and playing to huge festival crowds. We were intent at pushing and proving ourselves for every show.”
“There is fire in Jeff's playing, an urgency sometimes startling, almost as if the notes were saying "Here! Listen here!" His technique was amazing. It was as if some kind of demented Daddy Long Legs spider was dancing over the neck of his guitar. Making sense of it was a challenge. With a conventional guitar player, I can watch the left hand and know where he's going musically. But with Jeff, it was upside down and backwards, so I would play by ear, not by eye.”
“We used the keyboard in songs where we needed to fill out the middle when Jeff broke into a solo. In I Need To Be Loved, Angel Eyes and When the Night Comes Falling From the Sky you can hear how Jeff used the 12 string Jackson double-neck for a wider tone, also playing the twelve and six string necks off each other in solos for great effect.”
When The Night Comes Falling is one of the highlights of this show. With Joe’s great harmony vocals and Jeff’s double-neck Jackson guitar, they pull out all the showman chops. Jeff is sweat-drenched and leaps around the stage playing the guitar behind his head. The performance culminates in a fantastic show-stopping version of See The Light.
1995: Extraspät in Concert
By 1995, the live band had been through some changes. After their debut, See The Light, the band experienced success with their sophomore release Hell To Pay (featuring George Harrison and Mark Knopfler), followed by the 1992 follow up Feel This. During the tour for this release, the band had sought to augment its sound and take things in a different direction, adding back-up singers and a keyboard player. This version of the touring band would remain short-lived however and with the start of recording in 1994 a change was again heralded...
Peeling back the layers for a ‘return to the basics’ the band recorded their next album, Cover To Cover mostly as a three-piece.
In a 1995 Guitar Player Magazine interview, Jeff elaborated, “We felt like we'd sort of gotten off track," Healey says. “I wanted to do something different and fun and reminiscent of the days when we made very little money. In the end we recorded 30 or 40 songs - or at least we half-attempted to record that many. If a song started breaking down and it took a lot of thought to figure out what to do with it, we just moved on, because we wanted these recordings to be as spontaneous as possible.”
In many ways reborn and revitalized in its newly stripped down form, the addition of guitarist Pat Rush (Johnny Winter, et. al) to the live line-up brought much to the proceedings. Pat’s experience and skill opened up Jeff to play more freely and not have to worry about carrying the song. In many ways, Pat was the perfect counterpoint for Jeff on stage and certainly, exactly what the band needed at this point in time.
Joe Rockman: “Pat Rush was a huge asset and began touring with us to support the Cover to Cover record. Jeff was becoming a bit burned out shouldering all the guitar duties. Pat had mastery of several types of guitars, pedals and effects and was able to summon up a landscape of orchestral arrangements to widen our sound. It amazed me to hear so many variations of a guitar sound especially with his outstanding slide. He had the sensitivity to lay back, create space, and at times add flourish, tastefully complimenting Jeff. The interplay between Jeff and Pat shines on every track.”
Pat Rush: “Jeff used to introduce me as the guy he stole all his licks from. He first came to see me at Grossmans Tavern (in Toronto) when he wasn't even old enough to be in bars. He liked my slide guitar playing and he liked the fact that I was also a good rhythm player so that when he took a solo the rhythm guitar helped to keep the groove. When he soloed I kept the groove going while he went into outer space on a solo and vice versa! He loved trading off solos back and forth in some songs.”
There are many highlights in the 1995 show; Pat’s stand out slide playing on Stop Breaking Down, the wonderful interaction between Pat and Jeff in Roadhouse Blues… you can feel how much fun they’re having on stage… Jeff’s playing on the Albert King classic, As The Years Go Passing By, is all passion and fire. His soulful voice creating perfect symmetry with the fat tone of his Les Paul…
Joe Rockman: “The second period (Cover To Cover) represented in this set is a wonderful example of the JHB captured in a controlled environment. The outstanding Extraspät In Concert production team gives it the full ambiance of a concert hall, and the guitar heavy mix broadens the entire sonic spectrum. This is one of our finest live recordings. Here we see footage of Jeff maturing as a musician and singer. He has gained control, range and expression in his vocals. He's more relaxed and confident, and his guitar playing is more dynamic and directional. He leads the guitar now, as opposed to earlier work where sometimes the guitar would lead him. From the start his tone leaps out of the Les Paul, now perched on a metal stand to allow a live audience to see more of his amazing technique.”
Pat Rush: “It was my second time touring Europe with Jeff and we performed a bunch of German dates. I remember how good the production was, the techs doing the TV shows were very together. When watching the videos I was impressed with the sound and video mix.”
Jeff is often unrecognized for his skillfulness on acoustic guitar. His playing was as proficient and unique as on electric.
Joe Rockman: “Jeff's prowess on the acoustic guitar is featured on Me and My Crazy Self (a song I discovered on one of his CD "rejects" that he gave me) and Angel Eyes where we stage ourselves up front.”
Me and My Crazy Self is indeed a great showcase for Jeff’s raw talent. Stripped of all artifice, Jeff’s expressive voice and brilliant acoustic playing are laid bare on the stage, providing an aural break from the relentlessness of the band. Pat Rush returning to add an intricate web of sound to a full band acoustic version of Angel Eyes provides the perfect segue back to full volume.
When the band returns fully amplified with Roadhouse Blues, the incredible back-and-forth between Pat and Jeff takes the song to new heights, priming the audience for what follows, an extraordinary fifteen and a half minute version of See The Light.
2000: Ohne Filter Extra
Performing in support of their first release in five years (2000’s wildly unappreciated Get Me Some), the band was dealing with its share of turmoil behind the scenes and sadly, this tour would mark the beginning of the end for the original line-up. It would be one the final concerts where the three core members, Joe Rockman, Tom Stephen and Jeff Healey would tour together.
For this tour, new blood was once again injected into the band, this time in the form of Philip Sayce, a brilliant young lead player in his own right, with a great voice to boot (just watch as he cuts loose on the Albert Collins tune, Put The Shoe On The Other Foot). Jeff's invitation for him to join up was extended with the intention of helping him with his own eventual/inevitable career.
Joe Rockman: “Our third era (the 2000 Ohne Filter show) features songs of our final studio recording where we experimented with a varied approach to our songwriting, combining elements of the core band's individual influences along with superb collaborators. This was the final show of our 2000 Euro tour and we were feeling the effects of our relentless schedule. Jeff was struggling with the last dregs of a cold, but that would not stop him. He had a strong professional work ethic, and could still outperform while feeling under the weather. Check out his call and answer guitar stings on How Blue Can You Get.”
“Philip Sayce is an astounding guitar player, and we were excited for our opportunity to introduce him to the world. A perfect foil for Jeff, he could push the expression of blues to a lightning fast level, taking it to a dimension Jeff wouldn't normally go. I had a sense that Philip put his entire essence and soul into his playing, at times propelling off his feet and into the air. When close on stage, it was magnetic. I could feel presence and power emanate from him. In response Jeff would play even more dynamically, bringing things down to a whisper, then erupting into a cascade of sonic fury which Phil would then match, driving Jeff even further. At times you see a look of amused awe on Phil's face when Jeff pulled off something that didn't sound quite human.”
Philip Sayce: “By the time we arrived at Ohne Filter Extra (our last show of the tour, and Halloween!), there was an excitement in the air. Emmylou Harris shared the bill with Healey, which was apparently the last episode of this TV series to be filmed. The German audience was incredible that night, as they always are. There was a real edge to the performance that night, we came out swinging, and I remember of course, Jeff was ferocious, relentless, in complete control. Even on the last show of this tour, exhausted and fighting a nasty cold, Jeff blew away everyone, as he always did... he brought the thunder, and rendered everyone in that audience speechless.”
Joe Rockman: “As a rhythm section, we’d strive to experiment and push beyond the borders of a traditional team. To back up Jeff, Philip employs a powerful insistent rhythm, while weaving colours and textures on the slower numbers. He instilled excitement in the JHB's performances throughout this tour. A great example of Philip's uncanny vocal range can be seen in the Albert Collins song, Put The Shoe On The Other Foot which was a showcase for him. There was a pivotal time during this performance. As I heard Jeff and Phil in a searing double lead, it hit me. As bassist and co-producer of the JHB, I was sharing the stage and studio with some of the greatest guitarists the world had ever seen.”
Philip Sayce: “This was one of the last tours I did with Jeff, as I was preparing to start my own career full time. A move Jeff had orchestrated, intended and endorsed from the first time he asked me to join him and his band. To this day, I’ve never experienced anything like standing beside Jeff onstage, or even hanging on a tour bus listening to music together. He was one of my biggest heroes, and still is. I cherish every moment I had with him, and it helped to set me on my life's musical path. I feel his presence and influence every time I play. When he performed, it was like time stopped.”
Joe Rockman: “Jeff's guitar tones and phrasing were instantly recognizable not just because of his unique style, but also his vast knowledge of music and music history. He had a sonic photographic memory and all his influences, especially his love of early jazz and Louis Armstrong would creep into his playing to create his own unique sound and voice.”
“I don't think like a guitar player. Nor do I think that way when I'm playing the trumpet as a trumpet player or the piano as a piano player… I'm always thinking very musically, so when I approach the guitar, again, it's not as a guitar player. I'm playing the music and conveying emotion.” - Jeff Healey (Vintage Guitar Magazine in 2002)