All-Star Tribute Album ‘Strange Angels: In Flight With Elmore James’ Celebrates Blues Pioneer’s Centenary

On January 26th, Sylvan Songs Records will release ‘Strange Angels: In Flight With Elmore James,’ a tribute album to the undisputed “King of the Slide Guitar,” timed to what would have been his 100th birthday. The 13-track collection puts James’ legendary body of work in the hands of master interpreters from blues, soul, country, pop and Americana – including Tom Jones, Rodney Crowell, Bettye LaVette, Keb Mo, Warren Haynes, Billy Gibbons, Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer + more. Today NPR Music premiered Jones’ wickedly scruffy and reverent take on “Done Somebody Wrong,” praising its “sexy, stormy, stop-time feel that still sounds as arresting in the right hands today as it did when blues giant Elmore James originated it.”

Produced by Marco Giovino (Robert Plant, Tom Jones, Norah Jones), with the help of Executive Producer Tom Siering, ‘Strange Angels’ puts iconic James tunes like “Shake Your Moneymaker,” “Look on Yonder Wall,” and “Person to Person” alongside songs known mainly by James aficionados. While James was famously a ‘Triple Threat’ – he excelled at songwriting, singing, and (of course) guitar – the songs on ‘Strange Angels’ aim to highlight his contributions to American music beyond riffs and an amp-at-11 intensity. He left a body of memorable, adaptable songs that can be renewed again and again in surprising ways.

‘Strange Angels’ was recorded in various locations across the country, including studios in Los Angeles, Nashville, Boston, and NYC. Although the musicians vary slightly from track-to-track, a bulk of the recording features house band Elmore’s Latest Broomdusters, comprised of Rick Holmstrom (guitar), Doug Lancio (slide guitar), Rudy Copeland (Hammond B3), Viktor Krauss (bass), Larry Taylor (bass) and Giovino himself (drums).

James died at age 45 in 1963 of a heart attack and was therefore never able to fully reap the rewards of the late-60’s blues revival, but his music is a crucial bridge between generations of blues artists – from Robert Johnson (who James played with) to Muddy Waters, Howlin Wolf and beyond. He pioneered full band electric performances as early as 1939, serving as the bedrock example for generations of musicians. His list of admirers is unparalleled – Richards, Hendrix, Harrison, Allman, Robertson, Vaughan, and on and on.

All of the profits for ‘Strange Angels’ will go to MusicCares, who provide resources and attention to human service issues that directly impact the health and welfare of the music community, and Edible Schoolyard NYC, who partner with NYC public schools to provide garden and kitchen classes integrated into the school day.

‘Strange Angels’ will be available for pre-order on December 15. Full tracklist below, more info here:

‘Strange Angels: In Flight With Elmore James’ Tracklist:

Can’t Stop Lovin’ You – Elayna Boynton
Person to Person – Bettye LaVette
Shake Your Money Maker – Rodney Crowell
Done Somebody Wrong – Tom Jones
Mean Mistreatin’ Mama – Warren Haynes w/ Billy Gibbons & Mickey Raphael
Dust My Broom – Deborah Bonham
It Hurts Me Too – Jamey Johnson
Strange Angels – Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer
Look On Yonder Wall – Keb Mo’
My Bleeding Heart – Mollie Marriott
Hawaiian Boogie – Chuck E. Weiss
Dark and Dreary – Addi McDaniel
Bobby’s Rock – Elmore’s Latest Broomdusters