I loved Huey Lewis and the News for their hard-rockin’ precision and their joy. Huey’s a great front man and solid harp player, and Johnny Cola knocks me out with…

I loved Huey Lewis and the News for their hard-rockin’ precision and their joy. Huey’s a great front man and solid harp player, and Johnny Cola knocks me out with this band each and every time he puts the sax to his lips–his ideas and sound are obviously rooted in R&B tradition, but his lines use a much wider range of melodic material than most in this genre. (The sax line in “I Want a New Drug” is a great example. The second half in particular doesn’t sound like anyone else, and it’s nevertheless clearly in the R&B tradition.)

This version of “Heart of Rock and Roll” was recorded live at a concert in San Francisco in 1985, with the Tower of Power horns putting some extra juice in. Huey solos on harmonica starting about a minute and a half from the end. Huey isn’t the most technically advanced player you’ll ever hear, but he sounds just fine here in the company of some of the heaviest horn players on planet Earth, and that ain’t bad. Cola puts in a great solo too, and the groove is strong.

And just because I’m really into Huey today, here’s a live version of “Workin’ for a Livin'” from 1982, also with the Tower of Power horns. Huey’s harmonica is carrying a heavier load on this one, and he’s rockin’ plenty hard with it.

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