Paul Pena- New Train

Paul Pena should have been a star. Maybe he would have been if this album had been released in 1973, when it was recorded. Instead, it took 27 years for this brilliant collection of Pena’s songwriting to see the light of day. Well, except for two of its numbers: “Jet Airliner” was such a big hit for Steve Miller it sustained the blind singer-guitarist through the lean years, and “Gonna Move” has become a favorite of R&B bands. But the best tracks are numbers like “Let’s Move and Groove Together,” on which Pena makes like Marvin Gaye–his husky voice working the magic of eros. Or “Cosmic Mirror,” which recalls nothing less than Hendrix’s “Machine Gun,” testifying to Pena’s brawny-toned guitar virtuosity. (He also outplays Miller’s version of “Jet Airliner” with Clapton-like bends and vibrato.) If spirituals and country are your bag, Pena captures a seeker’s fervor in the title track’s freedom prayer and turns “Venutian Lady” into a tripped-out reflection of hippie-era Nashville.

Produced for Compact Disc by Joe Augustine