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When Paul Pena released his folk-blues debut on Capitol in 1972 it garnered little attention except for praise from a few discerning critics. The Cape Cod native, born blind to parents from Cape Verde, then went on to play guitar in blues bands, including T-Bone Walker's. He later dropped out of sight, only to emerge recently as the Tuvan-style throat-singing subject of the Sundance award-winning film Genghis Blues. This follow-up album, New Train, had been produced in 1973. Here it is, a mere 28 years later, and it's at least as good as the first. Among the session's mostly autobiographical songs can be found one surprise: the original version of "Jet Airliner," a song that became a huge hit for Steve Miller in 1977. Aided by a cast that includes Ben Sidran (who also produced), Harvey Brooks, Jerry Garcia, Merle Saunders and, on one track, The Persuasions, Pena (who is now seriously ill) comes across as a major talent that time forgot. -Paul-Emile Comeau --
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The album is a wonderfully warm sounding combination of blues/soul. On further reading I wasn't surprised to learn that the album came out of the early 70s San Francisco scene (it actually features Jerry Garcia on a couple of tracks) as it has a definite West Coast vibe to it.
I played it to death for the first couple of weeks that I owned it.. ..and now I'm planning to play it again.
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