The Liner/Sleeve Notes:
“Sweeping, overwhelming – like a torrential river pouring down a mountainside – that was the effect of the first revelation of José Feliciano’s unbelievably broad-ranging talents on his debut album The Voice and Guitar of José Feliciano (LPM/LSP-3358).
Now that turbulent torrent of talent has been channeled, aimed, concentrated. All of José Feliciano’s amazing skills and energy have been poured into a group of current blues, folk and pop songs that rock with roaring power.
José hsd so much to express that he cannot be bound by any set format. The need to communicate and to project that boils in this twenty-year-old Puerto Rican, who has been blind since birth, keeps bursting out of everything he sings and plays. Just listen to the fantastic potpourri of singing, talking, sound effects and breathtaking guitar work that explodes all through his incredible treatment of Goin’ to Chicago Blues.
This ability to reach beyond anything you might expect erupts again and again as Feliciano sings and plays. It bursts out in his extraordinary guitar passages on If I Really Bug You, A Happy Guy, and Work song. With amplified guitars under him, José cuts through everything, chording and plucking his gut-string, unamplified guitar with a skill that suggests a virtuoso of the classical guitar. Once, on Spoonful, he switches to electric guitar and parlays his own high voltage with the volts of the guitar.
But the guitar is just a part of José. José is also a voice – a remarkably big, open voice (Work Song gives him a chance to show its fullness), a voice he can use with unusual dramatic effect whether he is building a mood slowly (You’re Taking Hold of Me) or expressing as searing a lyric as Bob Dylan’s cry against hypocrisy, Masters of War.
The Dylan song fits the pattern of contemporary folk-protest, but José cannot be pigeon-holed as a protest singer. He fits no category. He is a highly personal performer, both in the way he sings and plays and in his choice of material. A Happy Guy is a José Feliciano type of song. “I’m different from everyone else,” he seems to say, “I’ll go my way.”
His way has no signposts. It’s as fresh and new ad exciting as the explosive talents that have lifted him from obscurity. His way is an adventurous invasion of the unknown.
“Don’t you look,” José sings meaningfully in Where I’m Goin’, “‘Cause you won’t find me.” “Where I’m goin’, baby, I don’t know.””
Going to be honest, I only know José Feliciano from that Christmas song he did, other than that I know nothing about him.
The album opens with the track “If I Really Bug You (Then You Don’t Love Me)” – which is a rather fast track, and I’m actually quite surprised by this track, I definitely wasn’t expecting it from the guy who sings “Feliz Nevidad” – it’s actually quite impressive, both in vocals and especially in José’s musicianship. Love the line, “I use insect repellent on you.” – it’s followed by “You’re Takin’ Hold of Me” – which is a slower song, I find José sounds a bit like Van Morrison, the song begins to pick up a bit, and it’s another pretty good track. Oh, then José goes to cover the Beatles “Help!” – and you know what, it’s better than the original version! I’m definitely enjoying this album this far! Next up is “A Woman, a Lover, a Friend” – and José goes into that bluesy feel to his music now, and you know, I’m not big on solidarity blues, I’m more blues rock, but the way José delivers the blues makes it actually worth listening to. He goes on to do the track “A Happy Guy” – which is another good track, there really isn’t much to complain about when it comes down to this album, it’s pretty good, José is definitely a very talented individual. The A-Side ends with the track “Masters of War” – which is clearly a song sung about war, and it’s delivered with such amazing quality and devotion, the song makes for an excellent closing track to an amazing A-Side.
The B-Side opens with the song “Go On Your Way” – and I still think he sounds like Van Morrison, the album thus far has been nothing but songs I absolutely love. It makes for a good opening track, it’s then followed by “Spoonful” which has some pretty nice guitar playing at the beginning. I’m not really sure what this song is about, he is kind of just singing about spoonfuls of things. Then comes “Goin’ to Chicago Blues” – and well, so far, this is one song I don’t like, he kind of just plays the same note over and over on the guitar and sings really fast, before shouting gibberish… José you had something good going… what happened? This isn’t my type of music. It’s still going three minutes in, and now he’s playing a congo drum and actually singing. Now he is singing the notes he is playing on the guitar. José, stop. Next up is “Work Song” – and it’s okay, the album seems to be on a slow decline now, it’s not as good as the other songs were, but it is still better than the previous. Then comes “That’s the Way It’s Gonna Be” – and José picks it back up, two bad songs isn’t that bad! We’re going places again! The album itself closes with the song “Where I’m Goin’” – and it’s a pretty good way to end the album, I’m definitely not complaining anymore! It makes for an excellent way to end the album.
A1 – If I Really Bug You (Then You Don’t Love Me)
A2 – You’re Takin’ Hold of Me
A3 – Help!
A4 – A Woman, a Lover, a Friend
A5 – A Happy Guy
A6 – Masters of War
B1 – Go On Your Way
B2 – Spoonful
B3 – Goin’ to Chicago Blues
B4 – Work Song
B5 – That’s the Way It’s Gonna Be
B6 – Where I’m Goin’
Studio Musicians & Other Album Credits:
Produced by Jack Somer
Recorded in RCA Victor’s Studio B, New York City
Recording Engineer – Ed Begley
Guitars Supplied by Candelas
Other Albums I Own by José Feliciano:
“10 to 23”