Charlie Faye and the Fayettes The Whole Shebang Bigger Better More Records.
Spectacular Modern Retro Pop With Added Punch and Pow!
I’m a softie when it comes to girl groups, especially any band who emulates them and successfully updates the genre for modern times. The Prissteens wowed me with their punk rock back-beat, the Watson Twins’ backing Jenny Lewis gave me wonderful chills, and this time around it’s the soulful Charlie Faye and the Fayettes. The Whole Shebang is twelve songs featuring a roster of Los Angeles-based musicians including drummer Pete Thomas of the Attractions, Telecaster master Bill Kirchen, and bassist Eric Holden. The Fayettes half of this band are the wonderfully talented and always charming BettySoo and Akina Adderley who do an admirable job with the sassy background singing. You can practically hear the choreography that goes on while they’re oohing and aahing. (Although I wish these fantastic vocals were a mite bit more present in the mix, just sayin’.) But mostly these songs are Charlie Faye’s vision of a world where a woman can make her own choices, free from the pressures of patriarchy, and where a smart, confident person can dance their troubles away. And confidence is the main thing here. There are no wishy-washy love songs or questioning your wants and motives on these tunes, Faye knows what she wants and how to go about getting it. The tunes may be retro-inspired, but the subject matter is clearly full 21st century, forward thinking, and post #MeToo movement. The 1970s type production suites a few of the songs a bit better, especially when it transcends its purposeful paint by numbers sounds and goes for those chilly Farfisa lines and the lead violin in “Night People,” and they wisely take inspiration from the B-52’s on “You Gotta Give it Up (Party Song)” with its surf rock guitar and vocal playfulness. The Whole Shebang gives us songs ranging from the joys of simple love to the joy of truthful independence, they have loads of soul, and you can tell these gals and guys are having fun while they rock out. The whole shebang, for sure.
Reflective, Powerful and Heartfelt Folk that Occasionally Rocks.
Regular readers will know by now how much I like an eye-catching cover on my albums; and this one is so lovely I’d like it framed on the bedroom wall. Enough about my decorating tips, onward to the music! When it first arrived, all I knew about this album was that it was Matt Owens’ solo debut but a cursory look at the track listing and ‘artistes involved’ puzzled me…… especially the inclusion of Thea Gilmore, Michael Blair and Friend of RMHQ Sir Robert Vincent. Hmm, something suspicious here, methinks. Then a little extra research unearthed the fact that Matt Owens was actually the singer in Noah and The Whale! Not a band I actually know; but I certainly know of them. Thankfully, because of my ignorance this won’t and can’t be a ‘compare and contrast’ review…… just me talking about what I hear and how it makes me feel. There’s a delightfully warm majesty to opening track Lay Down Honey which lends itself to the commercial end of Indie-Folk (if such a thing exists) and has a pedal-steel sliding in and out of the big ole backing. I probably first fell in love with this album via second track Little Tornado. A rather fine and wordy love song with very, very clever imagery, about a wild and strong willed young woman; presumably the singers partner (?) but reminded me of a couple of women in my own life. For a singer-songwriter slash Folk album; there’s a big sound here via Nigel Stonier and Seadna McPhail’s production and mixing; which adds extra sparkle and life to relatively simple songs like the charming Piano at the Greyhound, American Girls in London and the subtly passionate title track, Whiskey and Orchids. Rob Vincent makes two guest appearances; first on Too Far Gone, another complicated and slightly twisted song of love and desire; and the other is one of two dark songs about Christmas time. This one; One Fuck of a Year will appeal to many of us who get tangled in the false bonhomie that abounds; when not everything around us is really shiny and rainbowish. Owens slides in some accurately sharp observations in every single line …… not one for Radio 2 by any means; but a contender for Song of the Year! Christmas Eve follows a similar starkly lit path; but is a lot more personal and come from the dark recesses of Owen’s battered heart. Choosing a Favourite Song for you hasn’t been easy (it very rarely is) but I’m going to toss a coin between two that use ‘sports’ as a metaphor. In Match Day Matt compares being in a band to supporting your football team; “She hates me going Gets me through the week Seems I’m fighting all For this losing streak When you get that feeling I should just stick to dreaming” It’s very maudlin, but very clever too and certainly tugs on the old heartstrings. This album couldn’t close with anything finer than Last Play of The Day, a haunting story of growing old that verges on poetry set to music. So, I’m going for the latter as my Favourite Track on this sublime album. It’s kind odd and perversely funny ‘discovering’ Matt Owens so late into his career; but this sounds and feels like a whole new chapter for him……… and hopefully an even more succesful one.
Cool West Coast Country Music For Driving Long Distances.
Ted Russell Kamp is one of those names and I’m sure even ‘one of those faces’ that will get music fans scratching their chins thinking “Where do I know him from?” Well; primarily he’s been Shooter Jennings bassist since 2004 and he’s toured with and appeared on albums by ‘name’ artists as long as your arm too. With all that in mind it’s staggering to think that this is his 11th solo outing! Where does he find the time? Thankfully he does find the time, because right from the bouncy Rocking Country Twang of opening track Home Away From Home right through to Country Rock of finale Roll On Through The Night his class and quality shines through with every word and note. I really don’t know what has impressed me most here, the songwriting? Heart Under Pressure (Co-write with Jaime Wyatt) and Freeway Mona Lisa would have hipster critics drooling if they were on trendy albums by guys in fashionably battered trucker caps and designer stubble; but here they just help shore up even better songs around them. When I were but a lad, a DJ called Dave Lee Travis on Radio 1 played the likes of the The Eagles, Doobie Brothers and Creedence long before they became Stars; and called it ‘Driving Music’ and that’s what I guess these delightful and well crafted Modern/Alt. Country songs are to me……. when I’ve had this album; and in particular We Don’t Have To Be Alone, Get Off The Grid and the oh so lonesome sounding Just About Time For a Heartache the miles just fly by. While I appreciate the hard work that goes into writing and recording, Ted manages to give both Less Thinkin’/More Drinkin’ and Written in Stone an effortless sense of cool; which is quite an achievement. Speaking of skillful songwriting we have to jump back to the beginning for the two songs that tie for the title of ‘Favourite Song’ here; track #2 Paid By The Mile (co-write with Sam Morrow no less!) is cracking song about the trials and tribulations of a touring musician who if he got paid ‘a dime for every line on my face’ or a ‘nickel for every song he tried to write’ and ‘if he only got paid by the mile’ his life and bank account would be a whole lot more healthier! This followed by This Old Guitar which is probably even a companion piece, as it’s very much a songwriter’s song that will touch other musicians more than fans like me; but when Ted sings, “When you play rock and roll long enough, the blues is what you get” You know exactly how he feels and where he’s coming from. WALKIN SHOES has been like a breath of fresh air this week, with Ted Russell Kamp creating a cracking album that criss-crosses all of the strands we can think of in Country music with consummate ease and skill. Plus these songs are capable of sounding right at home in your local bar or on the stage of some gigantic hall in front of 10’s of thousands.
RHYTHM OF THE RAIN
White Wolf Records
Mmmmmm, Smokey and Sultry Songs of Love, Life and Grief.
Sometimes it’s difficult to put into words why you like a particular singer or band; but with Amelia White her voice tugged at my very heartstrings the first time I heard it 5 or 6 years ago; and the stories she tells and the way she sings them makes me go weak at the knees every time they come out of the office Hi-Fi. RHYTHM OF THE RAIN is Amelia’s 8th album in nearly twenty years and ( #SpoilerAlert ) is by far her most mature and probably the best I’ve heard. The intro to opening track Little Cloud Over Little Rock sounds like a cool Indie Alt. Country band is about to kick in; them Amelia’s haunting and slightly smokey voice filters out of the speakers and a whole new aura envelopes the proceedings. The story is full of intimate detail you’d normally associate with writers like Dylan and Joni or maybe Springsteen; not someone you’ve probably never heard of before. The character in the song has ‘dyed black hair and ear feather rings/she’s gotta put three kids through school/she’s sipping on the sly/to keep her cool’…..see what I mean? And it’s got a cool melody too. Songs like Sinking Sun and Yuma probably sum up my feelings about Amelia White best; not quite Southern Gothic, but pretty damn close and with a swampy Country feel to them too; sort of as if Bobbie Gentry was singing her saddest songs with Creedence backing her. There are Love Songs here aplenty; but not the ‘Moon in June’ type; these are dark and mysterious; the type you find later in life……listen to Sugar Baby and Supernova without getting a shiver down your back, and you are a stronger person than I am. If this is your type of music; and I presume it is if you are still reading this far; you will absolutely love the title track Rhythm of the Rain; and my personal ‘favourite’ song here…….Let The Wind Blow, which closes the proceedings. In theory a simple enough song until you listen a second time, and even more intently the third and fourth times as a gorgeous story unfolds and unravels like a magical fairytale. While these songs were written long before Amelia went into the studio; but when you realise that this album was written in the four short days between her Mother’s funeral and her own wedding; you will find an extra special spirituality in the way she delivers these beautiful songs.
#UPDATE This is finally being released in the US of A with a brand new cover and the the addition of one new song, Pink Clouds a charming duet with RMHQ favourite Will Kimbrough which, if you’re patient runs out into a rather special treat for Amelia White fans…….
Rob Heron & The Tea Pad Orchestra Soul of My City Tea Pad Recordings
Insightful and High Quality Roots Music Deluxe.
When not fronting the Tea Pad Orchestra Rob Heron will usually be found scavenging the singles racks (45’s AND 78’s) of record shops for rare and usually obsolete records from every single genre of Roots Music known to man; and if he’s not playing them at Record Hops in the back (or occasionally front) of pubs around Newcastle; he’s devouring them for influences for his delightful beat combo the Tea Pad Orchestra……. as is instantly evident on this; the band’s fourth fully formed LP. The seed is firmly planted for all to hear on the swinging Honky Tonk love Let’s Go Back in Time which comes out of the speakers like the Wabash Cannonball fired up on High Octane Diesel! While it’s obvious these cats know their history; The Tea Pad Orchestra are more than capable of writing a contemporary song; albeit with a Classic/Traditional rocking beat (check out previous singles High Speed Train and The Devil Wears a Blue Tie!) and here the second track There’s a Hole in My Pocket (Where My Pocket Used to Be.) is a clever and articulate take on the sad plight of the working man in today’s economy; and a very danceable tune will do it no harm either. That’s always been the joy of Tea Pad music; it may ‘sound’ old fashioned; but listen to Rob’s often biting and always insightful lyrics and your head will spin like one of his favourite 78’s. There’s fun and frolics around every corner here, with Life Is a Drag, Fool Talkin’ Man and the cheeky Double Meaning, Double Entendre all being intricately clever songs masquerading as joyful romps. I’m sure he’s written a love song before but I can’t remember one catching my attention like Holy Moly (I’m In Love Again) does; and that’s not just because of Tom Cronin’s superb harmonica interludes and the Doo-Wop harmonies. This is immediatly followed by a 60’s pastiche tale of heartbreak; One Letter Away From Lonely; which shows not just Rob Heron’s quirky sense of humour but highlights his maturing songwriting ability too. As I alluded to earlier, Rob and the Teapads constantly hide razor sharp contemporary ‘messages’ behind Rootsy melodies; and that’s exactly what they do with the amazing title track Soul of My City; which could be about most cities around the world these days; but none more so than mine and Rob’s precious Newcastle Upon Tyne; with the singer barely containing his anger and resentment at the mess town planners are making of this characterful, historic and beautiful area; but letting you tap your toes at the same time. Just when you’d think the songs couldn’t get any better……. Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra crank the quality factor up to 11 on the two songs that tie for the RMHQ Favourite Track honour. Even though it begins with Rob yodelling his little heart out in a homage to Jimmie Rogers, the song Lonely Boy in The Dole Queue could have been written in the 1920’s but sadly is just as apt in 2019…… and Rob’s astute and insightful words will bring tears to your eyes as you shimmy around the dancefloor. An intrinsic part of the North East music scene Rob Heron and Tea Pad Orchestra also support their friends by including a ‘cover’ from a local writer on their albums; and this one is no different with the inclusion of a song I once played an exclusive demo version of on my short lived radio show many years ago…….. Drinking and Carrying on, written by mutual friend Davy Patton, of Sour Mash Trio fame; and this lovely Rumbatastic version is my other Favourite Track on a classy album chock full of radio friendly songs. I’ve known Rob Heron since before he could shave and it’s fair to say I’ve watched him and the various incantations of the Orchestra evolve from being a raggle-taggle Olde Timey covers band playing for fun and beer into the fully formed and (by far) the best Good Time band on the planet! This dear reader; is a collection of Classy Roots Music Deluxe!
Mean, Moody and Introspective Soulful and Bluesy AOR.
First of all what a cool and eye-catching cover on the CD; I’m pretty sure it would have made me pick it up had I seen it in a Record Shop. To some degree the artwork captures the mood of the music on the album too; quite laid back and difficult to pigeon-hole. A glorious swampy sounding ‘chant’ opens the record; Go Down Ezekiel sounds like something Eric Bibb or Keb Mo may have recorded had they got to it first; most notably because of the dirty guitar licks throughout. With that in mind probably the third time I heard the next song Ghost In the Basement I got to thinking that the best way to treat this album of divergent Roots music was to imagine it a soundtrack to mean and moody Detective drama starring Idris Elba or Kevin Costner. Nelson has a fascinating voice; part velvety crooner and part dime store gangster as he inhabits the characters in his songs. There’s a claustrophobic sense of menace on Lay a Little and the title track Over, Under, Through which sounds like Chet Baker re-mixed into a Levon Helm track creating a diamond cut mysticism. Nelson’s re-working of Cash’s I Walk The Line sounds a lot more Soulful in the way our man purrs the heartbreaking lyrics, as if he’s drowning in molasses; but still keeping the original pathos intact throughout. The production and musicianship is spell binding throughout making something like the sultry Secret or Relative Weeping sound quite extraordinary at times; and defying categorisation, with AOR being the nearest I can think; but with added Blues and a dash of Southern Rock in the shadows. I still think my original description of this album being a soundtrack to an ‘imaginary Detective series or film’ but there’s a subtle touch of contemporary politics slid in too with the slow and Funky Silent Majority; but it could easily fit into my Soundtrack concept too. If you’re still with my Soundtrack concept; my Favourite Song would be the title for the Film/TV Show; Colour It Blue. Just imagine if you will, what the opening verse conjures up…… “I can take a sunny day and fill it with rain Hijack your peace of mind Drag you to a house of pain Pretty Rainbows fade to grey At the sound of my weeping guitar.” Surely it’s an anti-hero PI or Cop in an overcoat trawling the mean streets in the and shadows of the dark end of town. Surely it’s not just me? Even if you don’t go with my theory this album is the perfect antidote for what life is throwing at us these days; turn the lights down low and wallow in not just Paul Nelson’s pain and sorrow; but his amazing voice and the magical musicians supporting him.
Various Artists Songs & Rhymes From The Mines (an East Midlands View) Trent Editions/Nottingham Trent University
A Glorious and Heartbreaking Collection of Coal Mining Stories, Songs and Poems.
I had big plans for today, and started off so well until this mysterious package arrived. To those who don’t know me very well wouldn’t understand why a book of poetry and local industrial history from a region in England quite alien to me, and it’s accompanying CD of Folk Songs (several are the finger in the ear variety) would a) interest me b) reduce me to tears several times c) make me as proud as Punch! Well, dear reader I come from three generations of Coal Mining stock dating back to the turn of the 20th Century and my own Father working down our village pit for nigh on 40 years, only disrupted by his time serving in the Navy during WWII; plus two brothers who also spent their best years hewing coal too. This project is part of Nottingham Trent University’s project to keep their local dialect alive while teaching schoolchildren of their heritage too. The CD is a complex mix of short stories, poems and old and relatively new songs about Coal Mining; with a couple already in my collection, from The Most Ugly Child, who’s intricate and beautiful My Pony which opens the CD, through my mate Al’s DH Lawrence Vaudeville Show ‘kitchen sink drama’ Sons and Lovers and the mighty Misk Hills Rambler III’s sadder than sad The Dance of the Miner and the powerful history lesson of When Coal Was King. There are plenty of songs here that tell very local stories from the East Midlands; but if you come from a similar community in NE England or the West Coast of Scotland or anyway in Wales; or even North America, Australia, Holland or Germany you can tape over the village in the song and replace it with your own on Bill Kerry’s anthemic Folk Song The Greatest Loscoe Miner and the sorrowful Annesley Headstocks sung by the King of Rome (who I must search out more from). The King of Rome turns up again with Tiny Giant, which reminded me so much of my own father’s story and alongside the haunting ballad The Deaths of Child Miners sung a’ Capella by Bill Kerry both had me blubbing as I listened while reading poems from the book. Choosing a Favourite Song isn’t fair on the others here; but choose one I must. It could easily have been Terry Faulkner’s heartbreaking and unaccompanied Working Man and perhaps should have been the beautiful Cob a’ Coalin’ by Jennifer Reid (trad. with additional lyrics by the Heyman Primary School) but with a deep breath I’m picking…….. John Stafford’s Mine Eyes; because it reminded me so much of the men my Dad sat and drank with in the Legion on a weekend; and yet again brought me to tears the first two times I played it. I’ve flicked through the book; and need more time to really devour everything here; but several poems tugged on my heartstrings like dead weights…… especially Mina Ahmed’s Because Nothing Comes Close, which is on the very first page and you can’t help getting a lump in your throat too reading Barry Harper’s Father of Mine, or especially the poignant The Striker’s Wife (1984). Perhaps the biggest (and best) surprise is reading the names of the people who wrote the poems. Several are actually ex-miners who had never previously been involved in anything like this but found great solace in putting their words onto paper and having strangers; educated ones at that telling them how good the work is. But; there are many family names here who obviously never worked down a pit, especially later Mina Ahmed (again) with her intricate and intuitive My Tiny Hands at Work and if I had to pick a Favourite Poem it would have to be The Bevin Boy by Sandhya Sharma; a wonderful tale of a 9 year old questioning a 92 year old about why people call him The Bevin Boy. Read it and weep! There are photos a’plenty too and some charming drawings from the children at Heymann Primary which will bring a smile to your face as they did mine. SONGS AND RHYMES will always have a special place in my heart and my collection; and I hope that someone will do a similar exercise in County Durham and Northumberland; but in fairness everyone has done such a quality job here…. it may not actually be necessary.
Matthew Logan Vasquez Trailer Park Dine Alone Records
HEY! HEY! HEY! We loved Delta Spirit and here’s the news……. singer Matt Vasquez is releasing his third solo album in March 2019 and he’s letting RMHQ launch first single TRAILER PARK……. and we couldn’t like it more if we’d stumbled on it by accident. Feast your ears…… in readiness for the release of LIGHT’N UP on March 29th.
Keith Richards Talk is Cheap (30th Anniversary Reissue) BMG Records
I remember this little charmer when it was first released in 1988 when a friend bought it……. it wasn’t my ‘cup of tea’ way back then and I doubt it is now; but I think a lot of you will be interested in this Re-Issue and Deluxe Package.
RELEASED March 29th 2019
In 1988 Keith Richards released his first ever solo album, ‘Talk Is Cheap’, an eleven track masterclass in everything good about rock ‘n roll. It all began in 1986 when Keith was restless. The Stones were inactive and as Keith says It was one of those “forget about it times”. He’d worked with drummer Steve Jordan on the Chuck Berry film ‘Hail Hail Rock ‘n Roll’ and was looking for another challenge. He’d never before considered making a solo album and admits to initially being “dragged kicking and screaming” into the studio. Throughout his storied career with the Rolling Stones, he had always been a one band man. “My central focus had always been that one thing,” Keith says. “I felt like in the Stones I had the perfect vehicle for what I wanted to do. I couldn’t imagine putting something else together would be equally satisfying.” Thankfully he put together the incomparable X-Pensive Winos. From the start it felt like a band, with guitarist Waddy Wachtel an obvious first addition to Steve Jordan. “Waddy and I are like Ronnie and me,” Keith says. “Within five minutes it’s like you’ve known each other all your lives.” With Charley Drayton, who plays bass and drums, three became four, then five with singer and keyboard player Ivan Neville. All of them were mutli-instrumentalists, musical all-rounders who set up camp at Le Studio, outside Quebec. Isolated from big city distractions, the music flowed from the start. “There was a roll going on and all I had to do was hang onto it,” Keith says. One of the first tracks they recorded was the explosive ‘Take It So Hard’, a tight but loose classic that easily illustrates why Keith is called the human riff. It defines modern rock music. Recording later moved onto Montserrat, Bermuda and other locales with guest appearances from an all-star cast including Sarah Dash, Bootsy Collins, Maceo Parker, the Memphis Horns, Patti Sciafia and Mick Taylor. There’s a joyous swagger to ‘Talk Is Cheap’ that permeates each and every song. It sounds as good today as it did thirty years ago – in Keith’s words “as fresh as the day it was made”. This reissue also includes 6 bonus tracks, four of which feature pianist Johnnie Johnson including Eddie Taylor’s ‘Big Town Playboy’, ‘Blues Jam’, ‘’Slim’ and the kinetic Jimmy Reed cover ‘My Babe’. The Super Deluxe and Deluxe box set includes special, exclusive housing and folios, extensive sleeve notes by Anthony De Curtis telling the story” of the album’s production, release and cultural impact, unseen photo’s and rare memorabilia. “This album still holds up,“ Keith Richards says. “I’ve been listening to it and not through the mists of nostalgia either because it doesn’t affect me that way. This is more than the sum of its parts. I really admire it. We were having fun and you can hear it.”
‘Talk Is Cheap’ Single CD and vinyl full track listing: 1. Big Enough 2. Take It So Hard 3. Struggle 4. I Could Have Stood You Up 5. Make No Mistake 6. You Don’t Move Me 7. How I Wish 8. Rockawhile 9. Whip It Up 10. Locked Away 11. It Means A Lot
‘Talk Is Cheap’ Deluxe & Super Deluxe Box Set includes these extra bonus tracks: 1. Blues Jam 2. My Babe 3. Slim 4. Big Town Playboy 5. Mark On Me 6. Brute Force
‘Talk Is Cheap’ Deluxe Box Set also comes with – 180g LP album &180g LP bonus material – the 7” Single (Take It So Hard / I Could Have Stood You Up) – the 7” Single (Make No Mistake / It Means A Lot) – CD album & CD containing bonus material – 80 page hardback book featuring Anthony De Curtis essay, new interview with Keith Richards and extensive photos, – Memorabilia: 1x tour laminate, 2x lyric sheets, original ‘Talk Is Cheap’ playback invite, tour guitar pick and 2x posters – Housed in a folio pack wrapped in Fender guitar case material
‘Talk Is Cheap’ Super Deluxe box set – Limited & Numbered – All content matches the Deluxe Box set – Comes with added special feature, a one-of-a-kind exclusive casing replicating Keith’s favourite Fender Guitar ‘Micawber’ – Features hand-reliced ash wood with original Fender guitar elements, handmande at the Fender Custom Shop in California