My Top 10 #2 Rod Stewart

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As it’s a major milestone for me today, Friday April 20th I thought I’d do a sort of Top 10 of songs that have influenced me over that 60 years; or 55 years in musical terms!
As regular readers will know I have very eclectic taste which probably started in my childhood as the youngest of four brothers in the 1960’s.
Me? Born in 58 I was a child of the 70’s starting with T Rex and Slade singles which begat ‘Big Boys Music’with the Faces, Rory Gallagher and the Rolling Stones (who were actually a thread for all three younger siblings).
When you get to #1 on later you will realise that there are well over 100 other songs that have influenced me at one time or another but these 10 really are cornerstones to what you read on the Rocking Magpie on a daily basis.
So; here goes with #2

Rod Stewart – Maggie May.

A song that proved to be my musical transition from a boy to a man, as it made me buy Every Picture Tells a Story with my Christmas Record tokens; and it is still my favourite album of all time and was the soundtrack to our journey to the hospital the day it was confirmed I had Prostate Cancer …… Reason to Believe coming on as we entered the car park. #Regular readers will know I had an operation 4 days later that removed the offending article and all’s well that ends well.

Rod’s choice of songs proved a gateway to so many other exciting musical worlds too…..and at that tender age; this song about a lad losing his virginity was as mucky as could be.

My Top 10 #3 The Specials

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As it’s a major milestone for me on Friday April 20th I thought I’d do a sort of Top 10 of songs that have influenced me over that 60 years; or 55 years in musical terms!
As regular readers will know I have very eclectic taste which probably started in my childhood as the youngest of four brothers in the 1960’s.
My Mam loved Glenn Miller and the like and my Dad who had a good baritone voice, liked a good singer on the TV; but was very sceptical of modern ‘long haired’ music (cue Stereotype jokes).
Norman, my oldest brother was a Teddy Boy and played Elvis, Cliff and Marty Wilde 78’s whenever he was home from the Navy.
Brian was a bit of a Folkie who eventually introduced me to Blues Music via his massive record collection.
Melvyn was a Mod who loved the Who, Yardbirds and Small Faces then evolved into a Dylan fan and the Singer-songwriters of the 1970’s…..which was an open door for what was to come in my later life.
Me? Born in 58 I was a child of the 70’s starting with T Rex and Slade singles which begat ‘Big Boys Music’with the Faces, Rory Gallagher and the Rolling Stones (which was actually a thread for all three younger siblings).
When you get to #1 on Friday you will realise that there are well over 100 other songs that have influenced me at one time or another but these 10 really are cornerstones to what you read on the Rocking Magpie on a daily basis.
So; here goes with # 3

The Specials – Too Much Too Young.

WOW! As a teenager the cheap This is Reggae and Trojan VA albums were regulars at parties and Youth Club discos but nothing prepared me for the rawness and dancebility of the Specials……OI wore one copy of this EP out and had to buy a second.

OK Madness can sell out football stadiums and many of their peers were pretty much one or two hit wonders; but this song and each Specials LP has the staying power of a nitro powered Ford Escort. Loved it then and still love it in 2018 #Keep The Faith Brothers and Sisters.

 

bugger it……here’s Skinhead Symphony too!

My Top 10 #4 Joe Jackson

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As it’s a major milestone for me on Friday April 20th I thought I’d do a sort of Top 10 of songs that have influenced me over that 60 years; or 55 years in musical terms!
As regular readers will know I have very eclectic taste which probably started in my childhood as the youngest of four brothers in the 1960’s.
My Mam loved Glenn Miller and the like and my Dad who had a good baritone voice, liked a good singer on the TV; but was very sceptical of modern ‘long haired’ music (cue Stereotype jokes).
Norman, my oldest brother was a Teddy Boy and played Elvis, Cliff and Marty Wilde 78’s whenever he was home from the Navy.
Brian was a bit of a Folkie who eventually introduced me to Blues Music via his massive record collection.
Melvyn was a Mod who loved the Who and Small Faces then evolved into a Dylan fan and the Singer-songwriters of the 1970’s…..which was an open door for what was to come in my later life.
Me? Born in 58 I was a child of the 70’s starting with T Rex and Slade singles which begat ‘Big Boys Music’with the Faces, Rory Gallagher and the Rolling Stones (which was actually a thread for all three younger siblings).
When you get to #1 on Friday you will realise that there are well over 100 other songs that have influenced me at one time or another but these 10 really are cornerstones to what you read on the Rocking Magpie on a daily basis.
So; here goes with #4 Joe Jackson – Look Sharp

Post Punk was probably my favourite era……Prefab Sprout, dancing at Tiffany’s on Friday night then off to the match on Saturday, Ska, the fledGling Jumping Hot Club offering Blues and R&B and this song by Joe Jackson encapsulated a whole lifestyle for me and still sounds exciting in 2018; imagine what we felt back in 1979!

#I even bought a pair of those shoes…..in purple!

Annie Keating – Ghost of the Untraveled Road

Annie Keating B

Annie Keating
Ghost of the Untraveled Road
8th Street Studios

Difficult to Express Emotions Somewhere Between Regret and Resolve.

I like it when artists use the EP format to do something different, perhaps release a few songs that really don’t fit on any oth album they have, but still fit together, the misfit songs, maybe even one that’s out of character for the artist. After The Graceless Age, John Murry released Califorlornia, an EP with a few sensitive songs mixed in with “The Murder of Dylan Hartsfeld” which is scary/devastating in a way similar to Suicide’s “Frankie Teardrop.” Murry’s song wouldn’t have worked on the album that came before or after but on an EP it somehow made sense.
At times it’s also refreshing to just hear an EP from an artist rather than an entire album. Nowadays albums are, sadly, becoming passé, as no one hardly buys CDs anymore and vinyl is such a niche market, and many albums are becoming just filler. When an artist chooses to just release a single, is one song enough for a listener to make a decision on whether there is something musical worth pursuing? Practically anyone can record at least one good song, but what about three or four? Remember acts like Jesus Jones, Simple Minds, or Joan Osborne? One worthwhile song was pretty much all they had.
Now, after seven full albums, we have Brooklyn-based singer-songwriter Annie Keating releasing Ghost of the Untraveled Road, a five-song EP of love songs, longing, memories, and dreamy what-ifs. At times Keating’s voice reminds me of a time-worn and breathier Tanya Donnelly, at others a huskier and softer-voiced Nanci Griffith. Whichever, Keating makes the most of her voice with wry melodies over top understated acoustic guitar.
Keating isn’t blazing new trails into uncharted territory here, but that’s okay, as this is country-folk, not Sgt. Peppers. Mandolin, fiddle, and pedal steel all add support to these tunes, weaving in and out from one another to form a fine netting around Keating’s guitar and voice. Personally I feel that perhaps a little more variation on the instrumentation from one song to the next might have made things a bit more interesting, but I get the impression this EP is meant to be representative of Keating’s live shows. We’re getting the living room treatment here, which is fine.The title song, Ghost of the Untraveled Road, sets the pace here with a song about wondering what the past may have been like if only she’d done things a bit different:

“Should I think of you fondly, or not much at all?/Shall I cherish confessions of bury them all?”

But Keating still sees a glimmer of fond hope here, a wish that perhaps this dream can still be realized. “Sting of Hindsight” utilizes a fun, bouncy melody and carries the theme of longing for the past even further. “Forever Loved” is a well meant toe-tapper, and “Kindness of Strangers” is purposely languid, but it’s the closing song, “Forget My Name” which hits me as the best song here, mainly because of its bite. There’s real pain here, you can hear it in the crack in Keating’s voice from the very first line, the longing referenced in the earlier songs now replaced by a difficult to express emotion somewhere between regret and resolve. A darker tone to the pedal steel and some knife thrusts from the guitar help drive this tune home—if home is a dark and possibly dead end street. I’m hoping Keating goes for more of this next time, as this one stands out from the other songs on this EP, fine as they are.

Review courtesy the legendary Mr Roy Peak.

Released 25th May 2018

http://www.anniekeating.com/

Jenny Van West HAPPINESS TO BURN

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Jenny Van West
HAPPINESS TO BURN
Self-Release

Country Flavoured Folk Songs That Shine Like Stars on The Darkest of Nights.

Perhaps because my i-phone decided to quite randomly to file this album under ‘Indie’ it’s stayed undiscovered at RMHQ until yesterday when the title track, which doubles as track #1 Happiness To Burn found it’s way onto the car stereo and I instinctively reacted by turning it up; not that it needs to be played ‘loud’ by any stretch of the imagination, but I wanted to hear it in all its glory.
What a lovely warm voice Jenny Van West has on this delightful Western Swing/Honky Tonk hybrid featuring some old time Jazz guitar; the likes of which have not been heard around here since Laura Cantrell recorded those Kitty Wells songs.
The next song Live in a New Way is a lot more contemporary in words and deeds, with Ms Van West channelling her inner Dusty Springfield on a sultry Southern Country tune.
While there’s a definite Country thread here; especially on Twenty-Seven Dollars and 45 which both get the toes a tappin and the heart a beatin;’ I’m more inclined to file this album under singer-songwriter as Jenny can shift gears with ease and throw in gorgeous ballads like Never Alone with its wailing organ and pedal-steel as well as stories from the dark end of Lonely Street ……Where I Stand and Embers which have to be really concentrated on to get the best out of them.
While the names of the supporting cast may not be exactly household names; their collective pedigree working with RMHQ favourites Lukas Nelson, Adam Cohen and Shooter Jennings as well as Jackson Browne’s piano player shine throughout and none more so than their subtle flourishes on the heartbreaker Can’t Have You Now and the song I’ve selected as my personal Favourite……..Thresholds which didn’t just touch my heart, but my soul as well.
First and foremost the lady from Maryland is not just a super singer with a lovely and distinctive voice; but a marvelous and thoughtful storyteller too, which connected to Shane Alexander’s ace production and the mixing and engineering from Brian Yaskulka makes this, her second album shine like a star on a the darkest of nights.

Released April 20th 2018
http://www.jennyvanwestmusic.com

The Gladiators SYMBOL OF REALITY (1982) & SERIOUS THING (1984)

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The Gladiators
SYMBOL OF REALITY (1982) & SERIOUS THING (1984)
Omnivore Records

Timeless Reggae For Connoisseurs and Dance Fans Alike.

Late last year Omnivore Records re-released the wonderful FULL TIME album that the Gladiators had recorded for the American Nighthawk label and now they’ve found another two from 1982 and 84 in the vault which show how they and Reggae had matured in the intervening years and….are even better……in my humble opinion.

SYMBOL OF REALITY (1982)

The years have been kind to opening track Symbol of Reality and all that follows, simply because they all sound a bit like Bob Marley and the Wailers who had changed Reggae music for good when Albert Griffiths and the Gladiators entered the Nighthawk Studios, and his trademark sound is all over this song and the record itself.
There’s even a reverential reworking of two Marley songs Small Axe has a gorgeous brass section giving a nod to the bands Rocksteady roots but Stand Alone is bang on the money for what we were listening to in the early 80’s.
Another couple of songs are updated adaptations of earlier Gladiators tracks with Streets of Gold (aka Dreadlocks The Time Is Now) here in two ‘versions’ with the second having a dark almost Dub like remix which I kinda like; and Cheater (aka Big Boo Boo Deh) which for a Reggae track in 1982 has a cool dance beat to it.
It’s easy for me to like this album because it’s all new and fresh; even the two Dub instrumentals tagged on at the end, but if the pseudo-political Not Afraid to Fight had been around in Newcastle at this time Tommy Caulker and Phil Mitchell would certainly have pumped up the volume to fill the dancefloor every Friday and Saturday night. Hence it being my Favourite Track on this album.

SERIOUS THING (1984)

The Gladiators sound and songwriting style had toughened up for this release, with songs like the title track Serious Thing which opens the record owing a debt to the Rudeboy stories from the 60’s but given a harder edge in keeping with the times.
Mid-Range has a danceable tune, but the lyrics are hard edged and something of a call to arms in the chorus “Wake up everyone now/open your eyes and look within” which again; was very appropriate for not just Jamaican youth in the mid 80’s but the American teens who had adopted Reggae as their own personal soundtrack.
The political thread here is often masked by a some very melodic tunes, especially Good Foundation ( “A hungry man is an angry man/but a righteous man/is a righteous man”) and Freedom Train (“Old men get dreams/young men see visions”) which is another song that I wish I could have heard when it was fresh off the press.
Just like the previous album the Gladiators re-work a couple of their earlier Jamaican hits here too, with Fling It Gimme being a red hot slice of Rocksteady Bump and Grind with a new Reggaeliscious backbeat and Rearrange sounding uncannily like the type of British Reggae that Aswad were taking up the Pop Charts.
The nice people at Omnivore have added some fabulous Dub and ‘Versions’ to the original 10 tracks; but I’m going for something quite outrageous for my ‘Favourite Track’; After You is Reggae-Ska hybrid, the likes of which I’ve never heard before. The lyrics are an ode to Jah, which isn’t/wasn’t unusual at all but the mix is amazing with a brass section that could easily be from the Alpha Boys School which makes this swing like a Swiss timepiece.

Reggae comes in all shapes and sizes, and appeals to many different music fans so thanks to Omnivore Records The Gladiators and in particular singer-guitarist Albert Griffiths are having a welcome renaissance in 2018.

Released April 20th 2018
https://www.facebook.com/pg/Thegladiatorsband/about/?ref=page_internal
http://omnivorerecordings.com/

My Top 10 #5 Slaid Cleaves

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As it’s a major milestone for me on Friday April 20th I thought I’d do a sort of Top 10 of songs that have influenced me over that 60 years; or 55 years in musical terms!
As regular readers will know I have very eclectic taste which probably started in my childhood as the youngest of four brothers in the 1960’s.
My Mam loved Glenn Miller and the like and my Dad who had a good baritone voice, liked a good singer on the TV; but was very sceptical of modern ‘long haired’ music (cue Stereotype jokes).
Norman, my oldest brother was a Teddy Boy and played Elvis, Cliff and Marty Wilde 78’s whenever he was home from the Navy.
Brian was a bit of a Folkie who eventually introduced me to Blues Music via his massive record collection.
Melvyn was a Mod who loved the Who and Small Faces then evolved into a Dylan fan and the Singer-songwriters of the 1970’s…..which was an open door for what was to come in my later life.
Me? Born in 58 I was a child of the 70’s starting with T Rex and Slade singles which begat ‘Big Boys Music’ with the Faces, Rory Gallagher and the Rolling Stones (which was actually a thread for all three younger siblings).
When you get to #1 on Friday you will realise that there are well over 100 other songs that have influenced me at one time or another but these 10 really are cornerstones to what you read on the Rocking Magpie on a daily basis.
So; here goes with #5

Slaid Cleaves – Horseshoe Lounge

Bizarrely this came to me via a giveaway VA album courtesy Uncut Magazine. They had already produced The Sounds of the New West the previous year; but More Sounds changed my life…….with this song still being a favourite that I roll out every few months.

There are plenty of other of Slaid’s subsequent songs that could fight for the title of ‘favourite’ but this was the first.

 

My Top 10 #6 Rory Gallagher.

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As it’s a major milestone for me on Friday April 20th I thought I’d do a sort of Top 10 of songs that have influenced me over that 60 years; or 55 years in musical terms!
As regular readers will know I have very eclectic taste which probably started in my childhood as the youngest of four brothers in the 1960’s.
Me? Born in 58 I was a child of the 70’s starting with T Rex and Slade singles which begat ‘Big Boys Music’ with the Faces, Rory Gallagher and the Rolling Stones (which was actually a thread for all three younger siblings).
When you get to #1 on Friday you will realise that there are well over 100 other songs that have influenced me at one time or another but these 10 really are cornerstones to what you read on the Rocking Magpie on a daily basis.
So; here goes with #6

Rory Gallagher – Bullfrog Blues
My brother Melvyn had previously introduced me to Rory vi his Taste LP’s and I can distinctly remember the day he brought the first solo album into the house and forbade me from playing it before he did. HA! No chance.
Rory’s later output was a bit on the average side; but absolutely nothing in the history of recorded music matches the excitement of the Live In Europe album.
Rory at Newcastle City Hall was my first ever gig…….15/- and the best money I ever spent.

J Burn SUNK RIGHT BACK

j burn 2018

J Burn
SUNK RIGHT BACK
Self-Release

The Lizard King Meets Some NY Punks In a Vegas Strip Club.

I’m going to try an experiment here; one I haven’t tried without a tightrope for a long time……I’m going to review an album during the first listen!
J Burn has previously given RMHQ Exclusive first plays of tracks from his albums but for some reason this album has arrived with no Press Release and only two days before it is let out into the wild; so here goes.
Opening track Hydra’s Tooth wasn’t what I expected at all! Boom! It’s a big ole NYC Punk Rocker in the style of RMHQ favourites Willie Nile and Jesse Malin……and I can only imagine Burn almost swallowing the mic as he spits out the lyrics and at least one of the participants (probably the bass player) sounds like his guitar is slung at knee level but turned up to 11……Yikes…..what a great start.
Mercifully things slow down a tad for the next track Good Enough; which is much more like what I was expecting with Burn now smoozing into the mic while he makes his guitar gently weep and wail in the background, on a peach of a song.
That spiky attitude reappears soon enough on the menacing TBD which comes from the the dark end of Rock Street, and sounds a lot like a Sensational Alex Harvey Band 45 played at 33….which is a good thing at RMHQ.
There’s a wonderful bizarreness about the mix of song structures here; with what I’ve just described coupled to the jaunty almost Country tunes Seem That Way and the Twangtastic Rascally Man, which might even be a contender for ‘Favourite Song’ status.
Then there’s Fade, which again has a slightly menacing feel to it; but it’s masked under a much more melodic tune……and the way Burn delivers the lyrics sounds like The Byrds have been held hostage by Leonard Cohen!
Dirt which follows now has Jay Burn sounding uncannily like Roger McGuinn reciting mystical poetry as the Doors jam away in the background……confused? Who cares……this is Alternative Music for the Alternative Generation…..if such a thing exists.
The album closes with the mystical and almost psychedelic Nothing (Full) which is as good a place as any to close proceedings; especially that wonderful guitar solo……oohhheeee IS IT GOOD!
Then there has to be an RMHQ ‘Favourite Track’ which is easier than you’d think baring in mind the diversity on offer here; I’m going for Un-In-Spiralled which again sounds very 60’s but very ‘now’ too with its hypnotic organ and brooding bass fighting a sizzling electric guitar for attention as Jay Burn can’t decide if he’s Jim Morrison or David Crosby up front; but he sounds like he’s wearing leather trousers, so I guess he’s channelling his inner Lizard King on a gorgeously intense Rock Song Deluxe.
So; after only one listen I’m left a bit bamboozled but none the less impressed by the diversity on offer here; which somehow still manages to sound like a collective piece.
Well done everyone; and I can think of a few friends who will love an album like this.

Released April 20th 2018
http://jburnmusic.com/#top

Nautical Theme FLOAT

nautical theme 1

Nautical Theme
FLOAT
Self-Release

Duo Rock The Folk Out of Acoustic Music.

It’s been a busy few weeks inside and outside RMHQ so this new release from Tesia Mallory and Matt Shetler aka Nautical Theme from Dayton Ohio has sat inside the computer metaphorically ‘gathering dust’ until last Monday when I heard a track on Leader’s American Pie radio show and thought “that’s cool….I wonder who they are?” Only to realise the following day I already had the album…..DOH!
For a male/female duo they sure make a lot of noise on opening track Couldn’t Have Said; not White Stripes ‘noisy’ just powerful and loud; with Matt singing from the darkest recesses of his his lungs while Tesia provides cool tinkling on the piano and gorgeous harmonies.
Matt stays at the mic on the next song One Long Day and Night; a breathy and almost breathless road-trip of emotion and perhaps unrequited passion? A really punchy production matches the lyrics too, by the way.
Now I’ve mentioned them I can’t shake the White Stripes comparison, which is odd as Nautical Theme are a Folk duo; well Alt. Folk with a smattering of Indie Rock in the shadows if I’m being honest……I can’t imagine them singing the Wild Rover, that’s for sure.
Tesla gets to show what an emotional singer she is too, with the pair duetting in the old fashioned sense on Long Day and Night and Can’t You Just, two really intensely bittersweet love songs of immense proportions, baring in mind only two people are involved.
Primarily it’s Shetler who takes the lead and what a distinctive voice he has; as it soars and swoops like Charlie Brown’s kite on Wanted More and the powerful and profound Jump Out of the Water.
It’s difficult to imagine a duo recreating this ‘muscular sound’ on stage; but songs like the sensitive Have a Little Fun and What We Deserve may even benefit from an occasional ‘softening up’ but I do like the way both sound fiery and even angsty on this record.
For a couple of days I presumed that I would select one of two opening tracks as our ‘favourite track’ but earlier today the final track So Long Dear finally caught my attention and made me press ‘repeat’ three times so that I could wallow in the beauty of both voices intertwining on an almost evangelical acapella song, which is truly outstanding and therefore collects the RMHQ Favourite Track accolade.
Probably because FLOAT is an acoustic album it will be filed under Folk but there is so much more here that I could also be in the Indie, Alt. Rock and singer-songwriter sections of your local record store too.
I fervently stand by my White Stripes comparison but there are elements of Simon and Garfunkel, Little Big Town, Richard and Linda Thompson and even the Civil Wars here too; but Nautical Theme are very much Nautical Theme on their own terms, and should be very proud of this debut album and there will be a few headline acts that will regret booking them as a support, because they have the ability to blow a few bands off the stage,

Released April 20th 2018
http://www.thenauticaltheme.com