Jeff Healey’s life wasn’t short of sadness – struck blind when just a year old, he died aged 41 of cancer. However, as a musician, he was all barnstorming exuberance, a living demonstration that the best way to banish the blues is by playing them.
He was more of a curator than an innovator, his mind a vast Rolodex of musical knowledge to which he would refer and reinvigorate with his effortlessly nuanced vocals and his always devastating guitar playing. As we see on the DVDs that accompany As The Years Go Passing By (7⁄10), he would finger the strings like playing a keyboard, with the guitar on his lap, picking out breakneck, intricate solos with dazzling dexterity.
The Inakustik collection covers the three stages of Healey, all on tour in Germany: tearing down the place as a 20-something in 1989 in a boundlessly energetic, door hinge-melting set; accompanied in 1995 by guitarist Pat Rush as he tries to keep it real in the midst of superstardom; and in 2000, a mature but weathered performance, the band in turmoil, his mind already on a change of career direction towards jazz.
The House On Fire collection (6⁄10), all 1990s recordings, captures his indomitably upbeat spirit with an elegant cover version of Bob Seger’s We Got The Night before setting ablaze Springsteen’s Adam Raised A Cain.