Mark Huff
Exodus Empire

A Love of Quality English Pop Music Linked to a Quaint Country Charm

This has been a bit of a challenge for me as I’d never heard of Mark Huff before yesterday, and there was no accompanying Press Release, but the song titles look like he has a similar sense of humour to me and the album cover intrigued me plus on the photo on the back he looks uncannily like RMHQ favourite Pete Molinari.
So……into uncharted territory we go……to musical infinity and beyond?
Hmmm…..fuzzy guitars open proceedings with track #1 Prison Doors and Huff’s enigmatic voice has a slightly worn feel to it on a punchy anti-love song that straddles Brit Pop and Alt. Country in a way that works, bizarrely.
The title track STARS FOR EYES follows and takes us into a dreamy almost Psychedelic Folkie world I first encountered with Marc Bolan and still love drifting back into every now and again; and Huff fits that bill perfectly well with this lovely tune.
Two days to review this album isn’t enough, as Huff writes songs that need to be heard over and over again to get the best from them; with God In Geography being the type of quirky Trans-Atlantic Indie-Pop that fans of Robyn Hitchcock and Barenaked Ladies fans will love, but he follows that with a left-field Alt. Country song Nightingale which has all the hallmarks of Gram or maybe even latter day Byrds to it.
Confused? You won’t be, as Huff’s songwriting and delightful voice will carry you through like a warm Summer breeze.
Now I’m on the second day Mark Huff’s bittersweet and deliberately sad love songs that are tugging at my heartstrings; with the haunting I Know You Don’t Want My Love and on Burning Letters he enters Difford and Tillbrook kitchen sink drama territory, which is always a good thing at RMHQ and comes out with a supper tale alongside some really stinging guitar during the chorus.
There’s even a Leonard Cohen song here, which I didn’t recognise for a while; Almost Like The Blues possibly even sums up where Mark Huff is coming from with his almost unquantifiable songs, just like The Master before him…..let’s just go with singer-songwriter and story teller?
I will come onto who Mark Huff ‘really is’ later; but after listening to this album for a couple of days I sense a love of quality (particularly English?) Pop Music in the songwriting; but quite often there is a pedal-steel in the background giving the harmonies and well smart lyrics a sort of Country charm which shouldn’t work; but does on the two songs that tie for the title of RMHQ ‘Favourite’; Big City Down has a claustrophobic almost rainy urban atmosphere but Albatross is another dark almost psychedelic Folk song that has a rusty hook that drew me in and won’t let me go.
Now I’ve got me head around the music, who is Mark Huff? Originally from LA he relocated to Nashville where he has worked with and opened for Superstars like Peter Frampton, Al Green, Allison Moorer and Mr. Dylan, among a host of others while cementing his reputation in the bars and clubs across America.
RELEASED March 23rd 2018

Bruce Springsteen: The Album Collection Vol. 2, 1987-1996


Bruce Springsteen: The Album Collection Vol. 2, 1987-1996
Columbia Records

RMHQ doesn’t normally do this but we already know all of these albums and this box-set looks like something our readers will be really, really interested in as, apart from The River, this is our favourite Bruce period!

On 18th May, Columbia Records/Legacy Recordings will release ‘Bruce Springsteen: The Album Collection Vol. 2, 1987-1996,’ a limited-edition, numbered boxed set comprised of material recorded and released by Springsteen for Columbia Records during that period. The long out-of-print LPs are available remastered for the first time on vinyl. In addition to Springsteen’s four studio albums from the era, the boxed set includes a special 12” of 1988’s live EP ‘Chimes of Freedom,’ Springsteen’s 1993 two-LP ‘MTV Plugged’ special, and the first-ever vinyl release of the 1996 ‘Blood Brothers’ EP for a total of 10 discs. All of this material comes in recreations of the original packaging, accompanied by a 60-page book featuring rarely seen photos, memorabilia and original press clippings from the period.
For ‘The Album Collection Vol. 2,’ remastered albums from acclaimed engineer Bob Ludwig and Springsteen’s longtime engineer Toby Scott have been pressed on vinyl for the first time. The albums were transferred from the original analogue masters using the Plangent Process playback system. 1987’s ‘Tunnel of Love’ and 1992’s ‘Human Touch’ have also been expanded across two LPs to maximise audio quality. The ‘Vol. 2’ collection follows the 2014 release of ‘Bruce Springsteen: The Album Collection Vol. 1, 1973-1984,’ which included newly remastered editions of the first seven Bruce Springsteen studio albums.

Albums included:
‘Tunnel of Love’ (1987)* (2 LP)
‘Human Touch’ (1992)* (2 LP)
‘Lucky Town’ (1992) (1 LP)
‘In Concert / MTV Plugged’ (1993) (2 LP)
‘The Ghost of Tom Joad’ (1995) (1 LP)

* expanded across two LPs to maximise audio quality

12” EPs included:
‘Chimes of Freedom’ (1988) (1 EP)
‘Blood Brothers’ (1996)** (1 EP)** first-ever vinyl release

Released 18th May 2018



John Prine – The Tree of Forgiveness

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John Prine
The Tree of Forgiveness
Oh Boy Records

Prime Prine….. Funny, Relevant, Smart and always Engaging.

When you start listening to a new album and can’t take it off repeat even though you have a dozen other albums you’re supposed to be listening to instead. That’s me listening to the new John Prine album, The Forgiveness Tree, his first batch of new songs since 2005’s Fair & Square.
This is prime Prine. Funny, relevant, smart, engaging.
Yes, Prine is a legend known for writing concise, witty songs about the foibles of being human, and yes, he has a sense of humor like no other songwriter on the planet except for perhaps Randy Newman. (Who wants to hear a Prine/Newman album of songs, Newman’s piano backing up Prine’s finger-picked guitar and the two of them croaking along gracefully and artfully? Newman plays Prine! Prine plays Newman! My hand and hopes are raised high.)
On several of these tunes he’s wistfully thinking about the past but he’s not obsessed with it either, rather using the past as a starting point for a verse, looking back with the wisdom of experience and a warm acceptance.
You can always count on Prine to make you smile and even laugh out loud which he does here on several of these tracks. One could make an entire film out of the events and characters in “Egg and Daughter Nite, Lincoln Nebraska, 1967 (Crazy Bone)” and his ruminations on “The Lonesome Friends of Science” are as heartfelt as they are poignant and funny. Then Prine takes us all for a ride through a dark and demented carnival in “Caravan of Fools” which could be about the current political situation world-wide but, like many of Prine’s tunes, it’s about the human condition and SO much more. Yes, lucky for us, Prine can get serious and thoughtful, which he does in “I Have Met My Love Today,” “No Ordinary Blue,” and “God Only Knows,” and then there’s “Summers End,” the warmest song on the album—hell one of the most honestly.
warm songs I’ve ever heard. No schmaltz, no innuendo, just a song about true caring and love worth waiting for. In “Boundless Love” Prine seems to address his long bewildering career, and legion of fans with lines like:

“Sometimes my old heart
Is like a washing machine
It bounces around ’til
My soul comes clean
And when I’m clean
And hung out to dry
I’m gonna make you laugh
Until you cry”

The last song on the album starts out with a harp run straight out of Old Hollywood dreamtime that leads us into a half-sung/half-spoken word rave-up about death, Heaven, family, and having fun, with rollicking old-time piano, laughing babies, a kazoo, and one of the funniest sing-a-long choruses you’ll ever hear.
With Prine, each song just gets better and better. How does he do it? No fancy chord changes, no riffs, verse and chorus often using the same melody and usually with no bridge in sight for miles and miles. In a lesser mortal’s hands these songs would come off as unfinished, crudely written, or amateur, yet Prine ably crafts them into sharp focus, adding little touches here and there, verses as fine as Hemingway, choruses that thump you in the chest, and then delivers them all with a heartfelt seriousness that’ll make a fan out of anyone. John Prine. Still in his prime.

Guest Review by The Legendary Roy Peak ( )

Released 13th April 2018

Bennett, Wilson, Poole Self-Titled

bennett poole and wilson v

Bennett  Wilson Poole
Aurora Records/Proper Music

Razor Sharp Songs, Tear Inducing Harmonies and a Majestical 12 String Rickenbacker.

In many ways this album should sink without trace as it’s three English guys from Americana bands most music fans haven’t heard of, yet many ‘in the know’ people are referring to them as a ‘Supergroup’ and this album is more than likely going to be ‘The Sound of the Summer’ and subsequently appear in all of the Cool Top 10’s in December!
Confused? Well…..Bennett is Robin from the Dreaming Spires and St. Etienne, Wilson is Danny George originally in the legendary Grand Drive and more recently the absolutely marvelous Danny and the Champions of the World and Poole is Tony; once of Starry Eyed and Laughing but more recently a ‘go to’ Producer.
Opening track Soon Enough made me smile as it instantly made me think of The Byrds…..then The Hollies….then CS&N then…..Tom Petty; but actually sounds nothing like them really apart from some tear inducing harmonies and a majestical 12 string Rickenbacker.
With an opening song like this on their album most bands would have already peaked; but not so BWP…..things just get better and better.
Funny Guys and Wilson General Store take us on a glorious West Coast field trip but The Other Side of The Sky and That Thing You Called Love while in the same vein; are a whole lot darker and thought provoking; proving what outstanding songwriters this trio are.
Speaking of ‘thought provoking’ the guys dabble with Politics on a couple of songs too. Hate Won’t Win; an intensely powerful song written days after Labour MP Jo Cox was murdered by a Right Wing Terrorist in Rochdale, Northern England. As you’d hope with such a raw subject the lyrics are touching and abrasive but those guitars….ANGRY or what???
Lifeboat came together when Tony Poole saw a photograph of refugees on the Mediterranean juxtaposed with a story about ‘Selfies;’ and the result is a truly memorable song wrapped around two horrible subjects.
Probably the most commercial song here; and the one I expect to hear on the wireless across the Summer is Soon Enough; but absolutely everything else could be the RMHQ ‘Favourite Song’ on merit; as not only are all of the constituent songs well written and aurally beautiful but when played one after an other as an album should be they combine to create 40 odd minutes of musical bliss; so I’m going out on a limb with Hide Behind a Smile and I don’t know why, but feel it is a cornerstone for everything else to build around.
This album shouldn’t have been a surprise to me; but it has been from start to finish with each song being cleverly constructed yet sounding so easy on the ear and the lyrics themselves are all as sharp and astutely observant as I’d hoped; but when you hear them sung in harmony or indeed each singer taking their turn with a verse then couple all of that to a Rickenbacker fronted band you have a little bit of Musical Heaven from England’s green and pleasant land.

Released April 6th 2018

Kid Ramos – OLD SCHOOL


Kid Ramos
Rip Cat Records

Timeless Rhythm and Blues With More Soul than Detroit and most importantly, it’s Got a Rock and Roll Heart!

WOW! A new Kid Ramos album after an unsightly gap of 17 years has to be worth investigating hasn’t it? The answer is YES by the very way.
As regular readers will know I’m quite prone to judging an album by the cover way before I ever hear a note of music, and yet again that is the case here…..look at that artwork……who among us wouldn’t pick that up in a record store and not care what the contents were like?
Old School opens with a gilt edged instrumental that harks back to the days when Duane Eddy, Link Wray and Dick Dale ruled the roost; but this one certainly has the Kid’s trademark stamped all over it.
The low down and slinky All Your Love follows and features the recorded debut of Kid Ramos’ son Johnny on lead vocals; and boy oh boy does he make this love song sound very, very sleazy indeed.
Recorded over only two days this album never sounds rushed at all; but there is an exciting tingle to these versions of Rock & Roll classics Heartbeat and Anna that comes from a first or perhaps second take; if it sounds this exciting…..use it; and move on to something else ASAP.
That ‘something else’ includes a Tex-Mex version of Mona Lisa that Raul Malo would be proud of and on the Wes Montgomery tune Wes Side, Kid Ramos and Bob Welsh on the organ, Kedar Roy (bass) and Marty Dodson (drums) hit such a cool groove you would think you were in late night Jazz dive listening to Blue Note’s finest at any time in the last half century.
Obviously as a Kid Ramos album this is always going to feature red hot guitar instrumentals like the sublime Mashed Potatoes and Chilli; but the surprises here come thick and fast with even hotter songs like Johnny Tucker half singing half growling Tell Me What You Need; plus there are a couple of super-cool songs too. Weight on My Shoulders featuring the voice of Mr. Jon Atkinson immediately springs to mind but when Johnny Tucker takes You Never Call My Name down the dangerous end of Lonely Street you just know you are listening to Blues Deluxe.
Then of course there has to be an RMHQ ‘Favourite Track’ doesn’t there?
Not easy at all, but after an evening listening to this over and over again I’m going for the sultry rendition of T-Bone Walker’s High Society Woman sung by Kim Wilson but featuring some outstanding and sizzling guitar playing from Kid Ramos himself.
What more can I say? OLD SCHOOL is exactly that…’s timeless Rhythm and Blues, it’s got more Soul than Detroit and most importantly, it’s only Rock and Roll…..and I love it to bits!

Released March 16th 2018


Lance Lopez – TELL THE TRUTH



Lance Lopez

I Doubt I Will Hear a More Satisfying Blues Rock Album This Year.

I’ve not been much in the mood lately for noisy Blues Rock but the album cover intrigued me as Texan guitar slinger Lance Lopez either by accident or design looks like a young and handsome Lemmy Kilmister sitting in the dessert playing a sunburst Les Paul……meaning that sooner or later I was bound to delve deeper; wasn’t I?
Well; I’m really glad I did.
Ohee……a cool finger picked semi-acoustic followed by a growled “Nothin worth havin/ever came easy to me/the sweetest victories came within an inch of defeat/done a little time down on my knees/running on will and elbow grease” opens first song Never Came Easy before Lopez straps on the Gibson and the band kick in with a gloriously rusty semi-autobiographical tale of working through the hard times to make the good times seem even better.
YUP……I’m in for the ride.
I’m not up to date with the world Lance Lopez lives in so wasn’t aware of him nor his six previous albums before this one; but after hearing Cash My Cheque and the Winteresque Back On The Highway, that omission is mine and mine alone, not his.
Lopez has a gravelly, lived in voice but can really sing a song and spit out the lyrics in a way that you occasionally forget what a great guitarist he is……check out The Real Deal and Raise Some Hell, which both could have been very apt album titles by the way, or the sultry ballad Blue Moon Rising to hear what I mean, and boy oh boy can this fell write a song.
This definitely Texas Blues but in my humble opinion with flourishes of British R&B in the grooves too with Angel Eyes of Blue and High Life being prime examples as they remind me of both Stevie Ray Vaughan AND John Mayall at times, but with Lopez’s distinctive gritty guitar sounding like no one else I can think of.
Tell The Truth which closes things comes from the the low down and dirty end of Blues St, the part your parents warned you not to visit, but you will be thrilled that Lopez did and lived to Tell The Truth for you.
I’ve played this album loud in the kitchen and even louder in the car and it works well in both situations especially the two very different songs that tie for ‘Favourite Track’ status……on Hooker’s Mr Lucky the singer somehow manages to sound like both Muddy Waters AND Lee Brilleaux while sparks come from his guitar as the band behind him could be the 5th Armoured Division storming through the streets to save the day; and at the other end of the spectrum Angel Eyes of Blue is so cool you fear that there might be icicles forming on the machine heads; but fear not Lopez’s red hot lyrics will melt them and your heart.
After all these years and numerous accolades from the likes of BB King, Jeff Beck and Billy Gibbons I doubt Lance Lopez has any aspirations about being ‘the next big thing’ but I doubt that I will hear a better or more satisfying Blues or Blues Rock albums than this one, this year.

Released 2nd March 2018


Geoff & Maria Muldaur – Pottery Pie (1968) and Sweet Potatoes (1972) Omnivore Records

muldaur 00

Geoff & Maria Muldaur
Pottery Pie (1968) and Sweet Potatoes (1972)
Omnivore Records

A Snapshot in Time That Stands the Test Of Time.

For a ‘One Hit Wonder’ Maria Muldaur has certainly released a lot of albums in her career and who knew she was a backing singer in the Grateful Dead and Jerry Garcia Band too? Oh; everyone did….I feel silly now.
These two albums though come from when she was married to Folk Troubadour Geoff Muldaur and capture a snapshot in time that thousands of singer-songwriters have tried to recapture in the intervening 50 years or so.


After 5 years or so playing in Jug bands and the coffee houses of New York and the West Coast Maria and Geoff Muldaur got married and went their own merry way after securing a contract with Reprise, which is were this album comes from.
Geoff takes lead vocals on the Eric Von Schmidt song Catch It as the opening song and his smoky voice and Amos Garrett’s sparkly guitar breaks against a tight horn section could have been recorded last week, such is the timelessness Joe Boyd’s production creates.
Maria makes her first sultry appearance on the next track; Dylan’s I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight which gets a bit of a Hawaiian makeover courtesy of Bill Kurth’s pedal-steel (which I always thought of as a ‘Hawaiian guitar in my youth).
While the picture of the couple on the album cover is 60’s Kitsch at it’s worst; the actual songs have hardly aged a day; with the couple seamlessly slipping and sliding between acapella Gospel when Maria stops your heart with her rendition of Guide Me, O Great Jehovah and a sensual rendition of Georgia on My Mind; but Geoff rocks the joint with New Orleans Hopscop Blues and the couple take us back to the beaches of Hawaii with a haunting Trials, Troubles and Tribulations which all showcase the couples virtuoso skills; but taste in music too; listen to Maria’s version of Memphis Minnie’s Me and My Chauffeur Blues which must have been groundbreaking in 1968.
As you did back in the late 60’s you had to show you knew your history by including a dusty old Blues song on your Folk album; but Geoff Muldaur’s prize rendering of Death Letter Blues, with a razor sharp backing from the band, especially the delightful pedal-steel/guitar duel between Kurth and Garrett easily makes it the RMHQ ‘Favourite Track.’

*When Maria and Betsy Siggins provide backing vocals; they go by the moniker ‘The Spunkettes’… was a very different time back then.

** The booklets accompanying both albums feature interviews with both Geoff and Maria Muldaur about the recording of both albums.


While there’s a lot of similarities between these albums; on SWEET POTATOES I sense the couple (Maria predominantly) were moving into a more Country direction with opening track Blue Railroad Train being the type of Country Rock Boogie that has the capacity to drift on and on for hours when played live; but on record finds Maria in captivating form.
This followed by a Chuck Berry song I’ve never heard of with Geoff warmly crooning Havana Moon in a style made famous by the likes of Seals and Crofts, and wouldn’t sound out of place on CSI Miami or the like.
There’s still an eclectic mix to the songs included here with Amos Garrett delivering a reverential version of Hoagy Carmichael’s Lazy Bones alongside Maria turning Lover Man (Oh Where Can He Be) into a sexually repressed love letter; which must have really confused the Folky Hippies who probably bought the album at the time; but has aged better than it deserves to; while Dardanella is a right old New Orleans swinger with Geoff pre-dating Harry Nillson by a decade or more.
The album also includes three Geoff Muldaur originals. With Cordelia and Kneein’ Me sounding very much like he’d been listening to Music From Big Pink on heavy rotation and wanted to go down that Rootsy road; but not quite getting it right.
The oddest thing about this album from ‘the couple;’ and it’s easy to read things into the past with hindsight, is that Maria only takes lead vocals on two songs; Lover Man and the title track Sweet Potatoes which features some delightful piano playing from Gus Gutcheon who also wrote and arranged it.
As with POTTERY PIE this album closes with would would have been a rare old Blues song in 1970ish, Hard Times Killing Floor, but this version sounds a bit flat with Geoff Muldaur pouring his heart out; but to no avail.
On the other hand his own song I’m Rich works much better in a weird way; making it our ‘Favourite Track’, with Mr Muldaur sounding enigmatic and poetic against a purposefully sloppy Southern swampy backing band and I wouldn’t have been averse to hearing a whole album in this kind of vein.

In many ways these two albums really have aged better than they deserve, especially POTTERY PIE but there are a few songs on SWEET POTATOES too that sound like a template for a lot of the Rootsy Alt. Country we hear today.

Released March 30th 2018



Ashley McBryde

Ashley McBryde
Warner Music Nashville

21st Century ‘Don’t Give a Damn’ Country With a Rockin’ Attitude.

Occasionally I can get a bit jaded by continuously listening to ‘new music’ on your behalf, but thankfully not so much that I can’t still get as giddily excited as a teenager when I discover an artiste or band that I’ve never heard of delivering a debut album that is absolutely mind-blowing!
As I had to cancel my plans to go to C2C Glasgow with days to spare earlier this year I’d not heard of Ashley McBryde before yesterday afternoon.
Tonight though I appear to be head over heels in love with her and her songs!
The delightful acoustic title song Girl Goin’ Nowhere opens proceedings, and is a delightful ballad with really heartfelt and spiky lyrics sung by voice that is part velvet and part caustic, a bit like a modern day Loretta?
Ha; this song only lulls the listener into a false sense of security as the next song Radioland cranks the volume and pace right up to 11 on a song that puts the Alternative into Alt. Country with Ashley name checking Townes Van Zandt, Casey Kasum, Johnny and June AND Jack and Diane coming from the radio on Daddy’s tractor……as Ashley sings along into a hairbrush microphone. WOW!  Then Ashley goes on to sing about the importance that radio plays in our lives….which it certainly has mine making it just the kind of song I want to hear blasting out of car stereo if ever I drive through the American heartland.
For a debut album Ashley McBryde certainly isn’t afraid to mix up the Country styles of her songs, with love songs like Southern Babylon and Andy (I Can’t Live Without You) being compelling and very mature songs, but placing them alongside the Power Ballad American Scandal, in which every single line is quotable…..

“Kiss me, baby kiss me/like you don’t care who knows/love me baby, love me/ like Kennedy and Monroe!” Come on…….what a way with words! And don’t get me started on that stinging electric guitar…..Joe Bonamassa eat your heart out!
Country is as Country does and no album would be complete without a ‘Bad Boy’ song and here another Country Rocker Deluxe, Living Next Door To Leroy fits the bill like a glove; the type that doesn’t leave fingerprints though.
For me the song El Dorado sounds like it could be lost track from Springsteen’s River album sessions; punchy, cinematic and enough hidden spice in the verses to make you need a beer halfway through……and boy, will it make you want to jump around the room when you play it.
Now then, choosing an RMHQ ‘Favourite Song’ isn’t too easy hear as every single song could easily take that title with the spine tingling album closer Home Sweet Highway being an early contender, then the single that first brought Ashley to the public’s attention A Little Dive Bar in Dahlanega seemed an obvious choice as it’s a doozy; but I’m going for a neat twist on the good old Country Cheatin’ song. Tired of Being Happy, and oh boy oh boy this is Country Music from the dark side of town and the type of song that has the ability to win Golden Gongs during the Awards season.
There’s no denying that GIRL GOIN’ NOWHERE is Country to the core, but 21st Century ‘don’t give a damn’ Country from a young woman with numerous visible tattoos and an attitude that says she wants and needs L.O.V.E but she won’t stand by her man if he cheats on her; she will kick his ass straight out the door and start looking for a replacement ASAP.

Released March 30th 2018

It’s not on the album but I love this song too……..


Erja march 23

Erja Lyytinen
Tuohi Records.

As a teaser for her November tour and to coincide with some gigs she’s currenty playing around the UK with Connie Lush and Kyla Brox our favourite Finnish guitarist Erja Lyytinen is releasing this stunning single WITHOUT YOU today; taken from her upcoming album in the Autumn the new single was written and composed by Erja and recorded with her brand new band including Kasperi Kallio (keyboards), Tatu Back (bass) and Iiro Laitinen (drums).


EXCLUSIVE : Dharmasoul – CHOSEN ONE (Single)



We get sent a lot of music that people ‘think RMHQ will like,’ sometimes they are right but more often than not they are poor judges of our taste……but every so often a Video arrives that blows us away…..this is one such!
I know very little about this band from New Jersey….basically they have an album coming out on June 1st called Lightning Kid, that I can’t wait to hear; until then here’s their single CHOSEN ONE.