Picks and Pans Review: See the Light

updated 11/28/1988 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/28/1988 01:00AM

The Jeff Healey Band

Hearing the explosive guitar sound of Jeff Healey, a 22-year-old upstart from Toronto, is only half of the experience. Healey, who lost his sight at the age of 1, plays his Squire Strat guitar flat on his lap, and when those forceful blues demons completely take over his body, he gets up, prowls the stage and unleashes the fiery licks that have left luminaries like Stevie Ray Vaughan and B.B. King in awe. Thankfully, the dozen songs here are not a tedious collection of 12-bar numbers but a bouquet of arrangements, propelled by sidemen Joe Rockman on bass and drummer Tom Stephen. Healey's version of the John Hiatt-Fred Koller weeper Angel Eyes has a soaring vocal that enriches this lovely ballad. There are nice pop elements on I Need to Be Loved, aided by Marilyn Martin and Timothy B. Schmit's cozy background vocals. But it's Healey's Hendrix-like fury on the more raucous cuts that makes him such a crowd-pleaser. From the opening notes of Confidence Man to the searing finale of the title track, he bears witness to the spellbinding power of the blues. Moviegoers as well as blues fans will get a chance to see Healey work his digital magic this winter in the Patrick Swayze film Road House, in which Healey plays in a bar band. Until then, See the Light is an illuminating introduction to a young master. (Arista)

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