SONIC WAVES…Jeff Healey Band/Hell To Pay

Who better than the Late Great Johnny Carson to introduce Jeff Healeys 1988 appearance on the Tonight Show with a little bit of background history on Jeff! Well done Mr Carson(1988) Watch this video from the debut album  and See The Light!

Who didn’t dig Healey(RIP)and posse around the late 80s and early 90s!? The dude played a mean strat,sang and wrote a good song,made cover tunes sound his own and put out a pretty good run of material of studio records especially the first three albums (See The Light,Feel This ) and this one Jeffs second album Hell To Pay!

1990,Jeff and his music just cook on this release…..

Also of note they brought in some heavy hitters including Mark Knopfler,George Harrison,Tbays own Paul Shaffer and my pal Space Aces favourite rock dude Jeff Lynne!

Can’t pull the wool over Jeff….he’s a Confidence Man!

FULL CIRCLE- Healey nails a scorcher of a opening riff on his Fender Strat and we’re off and due to Ed Stasium’s stellar production he has given the Healey band a real kick of sonics! Full Circle upon first listen man grabbed me and booted my hair metal ass into next week! This is the real deal! Jeff nails down a superb solo while Joe Rockman (bass) and Tom Stephen (drums) keep the beat driving! Love this tune but I think you kinda gathered that right?! Awesome stuff and a great start! Crank the video folks ……love that Hammond organ courtesy of Bobby Whitlock.

I THINK I LOVE YOU TOO MUCH-Mark Knopfler wrote and plays on this single from the Healey boys! Like any good rock track Theres a ton of riffs all over the place but it’s kept in check by both Jeff and Mark! This is a mid tempo track. This song did well for them!

I CANT GET MY HANDS ON YOU-Boom! Jeff and crew ramp it back up and this song rocks! Healey rocks this song with guitar hero solo tricks thrown in and Stephen smashes the song out on his drum kit at the end. Super duper cool verses,love the playing of Healey on this as he goes from super clean sounding Strat to the solo where he ramps up into some real cool heavy tone!

HOW LONG CAN A MAN BE STRONG-I was always ok with Jeff’s slower tunes I mean on the debut See The Light of course he had Angel Eyes so Jeff threw down the gauntlet on telling me as a young music buying whipper snapper that there was gonna be slower tunes on my albums! So for that I was ok with it! How Long is a good song and this is one of many on this record where the sound is filled out huge by keys!

LET IT ALL GO-love it love it! This song written by John Hiatt Is a great song. The tempo along with the verses and chorus are gold in my book! Super laid back chill vibe in this tune. Cowbell peeps! Like Jeff says “You gotta Let It All Go so it doesn’t burn a hole in your heart!” Should have been a huge single in my book! Than again what do I know….

HELL TO PAY-the title track and lookie at the cover with the Healey band decked out in leather! There ready to rumble in a nice Canadian kind of way! BUT when push comes to shove Jeff will crack you over the noggin with his guitar! Great tune and backing vocals on this album as well from Sass Jordan.

WHILE MY GUITAR GENTLY WEEPS-allrighty so Jeff pulls in the heavyweights and that would be the writer of this classic song and that’s George Harrison(RIP) who wrote this tune! Here,George sings and plays acoustic while Jeff electrifies it and plays some real cool licks. Think about for a sec…this is a Beatles classic so not only do you have to do it justice by covering this song but you bring in the actual dude who penned it! Man,that’s impressive !

SOMETHING TO HOLD ONTO-this song is a song with a quick tempo with Jeff doubling up on acoustic on electric and the Hammond B3 organ plays a huge part in the sonics on this song! The solo in this tune is one of my favs and Jeff lets loose and jsut takes it to the top!  Great song ….better solo! Actually all of Jeffs solos are classics! Who the fuck am i kidding!

HOW MUCH-the singles could have kept rolling with this one as well! How much has a real snap happy chorus,the money shot in my book along with the Sass J’s backing vocals and the use of the piano to enhance the chorus as well! This tune like many is why I love Jeffs studio stuff. By that I mean he plays his guitar during  the verses nice and cleaney but come solo time he can shift it into some nasty heavy toneage! In other words he doesn’t puss out his sound! How much is another winner here at Arena Rock!

HIGHWAY OF DREAMS-is another tune where Jeff and the boys play the song a pretty decent clip and the thing about this tune is how at the end it kinda goes a little wonky,trippy ha! But this is Jeff,Joe and Tom starting to chill out towarss the end of the record! Dig Jeffs playing in this one…..

LIFE BEYOND THE SKY-this mid tempo rock track brings Hell To Pay to a close. It’s funny revisiting this album (gulp) 25 years later that this track and Highway Of Dreams are the two that I aways never visited and well that’s my bad! These are two great songs that should not be overlooked and fair enough time to show EM some love! I like the use of Jeffs clean guitar sound on this one! I mean your don’t have to be blazing on the fretboard at 125 mph all the friggin time. This song proves this theory!

IN CONCLUSION- Hell To Pay Indeed! This is a important record folks! Give these guys there due man as in 1990 they weren’t following the hairspray musical trends of that era instead they were blazing there own path of tunes! Writing and gigging and doin it there own way! Full props man! Healey is missed no doubt about it and do yourself a favor and check Hell To Pay out………

20 thoughts on “SONIC WAVES…Jeff Healey Band/Hell To Pay”

  1. I know this one a little. My older Bro was quite into it when it came out. It was never my cup of tea although I did see him live (not that long before he died I think) and it was possibly the worst show I’ve ever seen! It was like he was doing a cruise-ship karaoke or something. Terrible. Although the guy I went with was a big fan and said it was a very unusual set, not his usual kind of thing. And he thought it was terrible too. Shame!


      1. Umm… not really sure what it was. Not a lot of blues at all if I remember correct. And not very rocking either. Covers of stuff like “Stuck in the Middle With You” and things like that. It was just crap.


      2. Yeah that might have been during the time when he released the Cover To Cover album. Too bad though I guess for myself and Tbone we caught him live last in 93 when he was still a rocking act complete with a dude on keys and backing singers but it still was amped up….
        I know what your saying though years ago he got booked here at our yearly Thunder Bay Blues Snoozefest and a bunch of people were disappointed when he trotted out his old school blues unit and not the rock unit…..


  2. Poor Jeff. So talented. This was probably the last time I cared about his music. Good album. My guitar teacher used to tell me that Jeff’s backing band (the two other guys) were total shit. I think they were just his buddies.


      1. It’s just the impression I got. You saw those guys with him all the time, helping him too, and I just saw friendship there I guess. Now personally – I have no problems with the rhythm section. I’m no musician. I think they did a good job, after all Jeff is the star. They just had to be solid and stay out of his way.


  3. OH YES! Man, I love this album. Love love love. Thanks for shining a light (See The Light!) on this one, buddy!

    We saw Healey Band live, with Sass Jordan opening, in a REALLY small town hockey rink. I’m sure they didn’t know where they were! Haha. That’s a story I need to tell on the KMA. What a night THAT was, hooboy!

    Nice one, Deke!!!!!!


    1. Ha Yep he really relied on Stephen telling him where he was in that clip! I love that clip you can tell by the audio his guitar is jacked loud! I had recorded that clip at the time on my VCR!
      Healey was going for it bigtime he played here in Tbay back in Aug of 88 at a dump in Tbay called the Jolly Roger or J.R for short. 3 months later he’s on Carson!
      Also of note is that when I wrote this review I wrote it without mentioning once that he was blind! I let Carson say it!
      In other words….



  4. Oh man – I need to get this one. I think the first time I heard him was in that movie Road House with Patrick Swayze! Not even that long ago either! Had to go check out clips afterwards – totally struck by his playing and the energy. Awesome.

    Still haven’t heard any of his albums, though – but he’s on my radar and you’ve reminded me that I’ll need to check one out sooner rather than later.


    1. For sure J….you would really like,See The Light as well! Roadhouse def boosted his credentials at the time as well and moved a few units of his albums as well! The first two Healey records U can’t go wrong with! His third album (Feel This)is a Sleeper album that over the years I have grown to like more…..


  5. I remember my brother bringing this one home. We opened the garage doors and played it loud. But really, every time I hear Jeff I think of Roadhouse Blues.

    And, for those of us keeping track of whats playing on my apple music free trial its Nirvana week with “Live at Reading” playing today!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Let It Roll Robbo Roll….I’m sure a few people thought the same of Roadhouse like u do !
      Nirvana week huh? Keep us posted at Arena Week of your weekly choices of Rock!


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