Holding On – Jeff Healey (reviewed by Ian O’Regan)

jeffhealey_holdingon-940x940-810x810When I was a kid, I was never really interested in being drawn into speculation about that most important of pre-pubescent questions, “if you had a superpower, what would it be?”. But now that I’m a lot older and a little wiser, I’ve decided that such things are important after all, and having given it much consideration, I have settled on my desired superpower.

If I had a superpower, it would be to be able to un-hear things.

Now, as handy as such a superpower would be after every episode of Britain’s Got Talent, or for dealing with the destruction of self-esteem by the entirely predictable responses to requests for dates with women far too hot for the likes of me, I wouldn’t use it for that kind of trivial nonsense. No, no. The sole, single and exclusive use to which I would put my superpower would be to un-hear Jeff Healey.

“Why?”, I hear you ask, possibly indignantly. “What harm did Jeff Healey ever do to you?” But you see, I remember, vividly and with absolute clarity, the feeling I had when I heard Jeff Healey for the first time. And having heard him for the first time all those years ago, I will never hear him for the first time again.

And that’s incredibly sad!

Because every time I hear his recordings, even – or perhaps especially – when I hear something I haven’t heard before, I long for that feeling of utter astonishment, that mixture of delight and despair, of elation and fear, that suddenness of knowing that everything just changed, and that nothing will ever be the same again!!

And so with the latest posthumous release, “Holding On”, featuring half a dozen previously unreleased studio recordings and 15 live tracks recorded in Olso in July 1999, I have the same experience as with every other Healey recording; I approach thinking that I know what to expect, I am once again utterly astonished by what I hear, and then I am left slightly sad in the knowledge that if only I had never heard Jeff Healey before, this would have been sooo much more …. well, so much more Everything!

If you know Healey’s stuff, there’s nothing really different or unusual about this collection. The production of the studio set is bare and basic, but at the same time clear and precise – like the best demo you’ve ever heard, but not quite up to the polish that FM radio expects. And if you’ve never seen Healey live, the power and aggression of both backing band and Healey’s guitar may take you slightly by surprise. But it’s Jeff Healey! You know what he’s capable of, and this collection delivers all of it exactly as you would hope and expect.

Unless, of course, this is the first time you’ve ever heard Jeff Healey. And if this IS the first time you’ve ever heard Jeff Healey, I strongly advise that you wait until you’re sitting comfortably, undisturbed and surrounded by the very best quality sound that your budget can afford you, and do your level best to remember this moment. Because it will never come again. No matter how many times you wear your underpants outside your jeans and pretend that you can change your appearance completely by wearing glasses!

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About Dave Franklin

Musician, scribbler, historian, gnostic, seeker of enlightenment, asker of the wrong questions, delver into the lost archives, fugitive from the law of averages, blogger, quantum spanner, left footed traveller, music journalist, zenarchist, freelance writer, reviewer and gemini. People have woken up to worse.
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