Pete Gow HERE THERE’S NO SIRENS

Pete Gow
Here There’s No Sirens
Clubhouse Records

Tears In Your Eyes and Songs For Your Heart.

Well; here’s a thing …… this album has arrived with no accompanying Press Release save for a note saying Pete Gow is the singer in a band called Case Hardin; and this is his first solo album.
As I have no idea whom Case Hardin is/are (I’m not part of the London hipster UK Americana cognoscenti! ) I will just have to rely on my ears and my heart and let the music do the talking.
With all of that in mind; it was my trusty I-Phone that actually picked out a couple of songs for me by random last week which brought me back to the album today.
One of those songs was opening track One Last One-Night Stand; a darkly morose song sung in a droll and world weary voice that sounds like it’s lived a life that would have shamed Townes Van Zandt; and somehow swoops and soars like a windswept night on the Moors, making it a thing of raw and aching beauty.
Try to imagine how it made me feel driving home at midnight, in the rain after a ten hour shift. Yep; I most certainly had tears in my eyes, but a song in my heart.
For an Englishman, Pete Gow’s voice has no discernible accent, nor even an affixed American drawl; although that would have been my first guess from the way he delivers his marvelous poetical tales.
I’ve been stunned by the articulate way Gow writes his songs; not a million miles away from Townes or Guy I suppose; but with a razor sharp edge that I associate with newer songwriters like Sturgill Simpson and Hayes Carll; taking simple daily things like TV Re-Runs and filling them with all kinds of clever ephemera and imagery that make them sound ever so romantic; albeit in a cracked and flawed manner.
Some times; quite a few actually, you don’t need to know or understand a songs back-story to like it; and that’s the case here with Some Old Jacobite King and the title track Here There’s No Sirens.
But, some songs also just unravel before your ears and you will find yourself knowing both characters from your own intimate circle of friends in Mikaela …..
They sat down and they worked it all out
Instead of running each other out of town
I found a Bonnie to my Clyde
She’d leave any teller bleeding/who refused the combination”

Sometimes you wonder how some people do find each other; but they do and Pete Gow captures that mystery quite exquisitely on this wonderful song.
Another that is a heady mixture of the simple and the complicated is Pretty Blue Flower which closes the record in a gut wrenching kind of way that will make you immediatly reach for the ‘replay’ button.
At first I thought selecting a Favourite Song was going to be difficult; but the more I’ve played the album one song has continued to grow on me and now I’ve played Strip For Me 5 times in a row and feel it’s one of the finest songs I’ve heard in years.
Where to start?
It’s the type of slow and bucolic Country Gothic song about the type of love that will always end in tears; but is ever so compelling for both parties and somehow Pete Gow captures both the excitement and pathos so brilliantly in every line.
Did you think you were one of those girls
Too beautiful to hurt
Too beautiful to cheat on
There’s no girl too beautiful for that
Strip for me like Stormy Daniels
Do you still have a thing for older married men?

I’ve been really, really impressed with Pete Gow’s songwriting and the imagery he creates from start to finish; and coupled to the laid-back Alt. Country musical backdrop and Joe Bennett’s cleverly simple production I think I’ve found another ‘keeper’ for the RMHQ Collection.

Released April 5th 2019
http://www.casehardin.com/



Sarah Buckley YOU’VE GOT ME (Single

Sarah Buckley
You’ve Got Me (Single)

It’s Saturday morning, the sun is shining and I’m watching Geordie Lad Brian Johnson interviewing New Yorker Billy Joel on the TV, while editing photos from a Jason Ringenberg gig last night when I checked my e-mails.
Alongside the obligatory rubbish that arrives on a weekend, there was a short and succinct message from Irish singer-songwriter Sarah Buckley linking me to her Debut Single, You’ve Got Me.
BANG!
I was hooked inside 30 seconds…… perhaps it’s her flame red hair (yup, me and Charlie Brown both!), but mostly it’s Sarah’s eloquent and evocative narrative told via a soft Irish brogue purring out a story of hopeless and unrequited love, that whisked me back to Van Morrison’s golden album Avalon Sunset in the way Sarah uses her words as and conjures up images of infatuation that squeezed each and every single heart-string in my chest.
What a tease!
One song? ONE song…… come on Sarah, I need a whole album by next Friday!

Released March 23rd 2019
https://sarahbuckleymusic.com/



Sonja Sleator VIOLENT STRAWBERRY (EP)

Sonja Sleator
Violent Strawberry (ep)
Tin Man Heart

Heartfelt Songs For After Midnight on a Tuesday Night.

I was 99.9% sure I had lovingly reviewed Sonja Sleator’s previous EP Adams; yet I can find no trace of it anywhere on the website……. has someone pinched it?
But let’s leap forward to today and this four and a half song ‘introduction’ to another of Northern Ireland’s musical jewels that deserves a much wider audience across the Irish Sea.
This is actually young Ms. Sleator’s third release in the EP format, and each has shown a pretty big step forward in both her songwriting and her vocal performance too; with the opening song here Ghost being every bit as ethereal and haunting as the title would suggest. There’s a definite shimmer to her pearlescent voice as she tells a very personal tale of a torrid breakup via the medium of Lo-Fi influenced Country Music.
For a pretty young woman Sonja doesn’t appear to have very good judgement when it comes to love, unless all of these songs are about the same person, with As You Claim is every bit as dark and brooding as Ghost; but here there’s a certain charm to the way Sonja rolls with the (metaphorical) punches.
The one and a half songs I mention at the beginning are really two versions of Goodbye, with a radio edit ending the EP. In it’s own way this song is the most mature writing I’ve heard from Sonja Sleator; mostly because she judiciously uses the F-word at one stage, but in a way that only ‘it’ will do to get her righteous anger across; and in this gentle format it has the perfect effect.
Then there is my Favourite Song here; You Never Said. A very clever and quite intense song; but one that every single second and word will have an effect on.
Again, Sonja uses a ‘swear word’ in a verse, and normally that would offend me (I’m an old man!) but when used in context, it works an absolute treat!
Now just leave me be
You’re a bastard
But so was he
But so was he
You never said sorry to me
You never said Sorry I left
You never said sorry to me
.”
There’s something very special about Sonja Sleator, starting with her distinctive and gently expressive voice; but mostly here very mature and accessible songwriting that will appeal to the demographic that needs a ‘go to set of songs’ for after midnight on a Tuesday when the red wine has run out and there’s only that bottle of brandy your Auntie brought back from Greece in the cupboard.
Without getting too carried away, Sonja Sleator will sit alongside Kirsty MacColl, Beth Orton and even Paul Heaton in both my mind and my record collection.

Released 05th April 2019
https://sonjasleator.com/

Dean Owens MOTHER (Single)

Dean Owens
Mother
At The Helm Records

If you recorded a song called ‘Mother’ and it was very good anyway; you’d release it around Mothering Sunday; wouldn’t you?
Of course you would; and our mate Dean Owens is no different…… releasing his new single and video MOTHER to celebrate Mothers Day (31 Mar, UK and 12 May, USA). From his acclaimed Southern Wind album, the song was co-written with regular collaborator Nashville based Will Kimbrough (also one of Emmylou Harris’s Red Dirt Boys) and Danny Wilson (of Danny and the Champions of the World/Bennett Wilson Poole).
Oh; there’s a couple of exciting tours on the horizon too; in USA (April/May) he will perform a mix of shows, partnering up with Will Kimbrough, Wild Ponies, Buffalo Blood and The Two Tracks, with gigs taking him from Florida to Chicago, Virginia, Nashville, Memphis, Louisville and Indiana to South Dakota, Wyoming and California, and many points in between, including a return to Albino Skunk Music Festival in South Carolina, where he got a standing ovation and immediate invitation for a return visit when he performed last October.
The UK tour in June is a celebration of the Song of the Year Award and sees him teaming up with UK Instrumentalist of the Year 2018 Tom Collison and guitarist Jim Maving to tour as Dean Owens and the Southerners, hitting London, Brighton, Bristol, Colchester, Wavendon, Crawley, Folkestone, Liverpool, Biddulph and Manchester, before returning to Scotland to play some solo shows and return to Fringe by the Sea Festival in North Berwick with his Celtabilly Allstars band (which sold out in 2018).
On the single Dean says: “My mum used to jokingly have a go at me for not having written a song about her so this started out as just a bit of fun. Every now and then my mum comes out with these sayings like ‘you can’t break a cracked cup’. I felt I had to get that into a song. Will and I got together on it and it was just about there, but was still missing a few words. I was considering just setting it aside for another time, but then went on tour with Danny & The Champions Of The World. I was messing around with it in the dressing room one day and Danny said he really liked the sound of it and encouraged me to try and finish it. So while staying at Danny’s one night he helped me fill in the missing words.”

Keith Richards TALK IS CHEAP

Keith Richards
Talk is Cheap
BMG

Legendary Guitarist Gets His ‘Funk On’ and Finds His Voice.

I actually remember this on it’s original release in 1988. My mate Malcolm bought it and brought it straight round to my house for us to listen together; as you did in the olden days.
We played it twice and I doubt he ever listened to it again.
We just didn’t get it.
Fast forward 30 years and it’s now been on auto-repeat for three days in the RMHQ office…….. and I ‘now get it!’
It’s been difficult listening without remembering that day when we both had long hair and droopy moustaches, vaguely remembering my ‘thoughts’….. but today; I’m taking it at face value and it’s fair to say, TALK IS CHEAP may actually have been ‘before it’s time’ in 1988.
If this was a brand new release, opening track Big Enough would be a cool Rock-Reggae hybrid with a funky back-beat, mostly supplied by Maceo Parker on saxophone and a bit of an edge to the singer’s brusque singing style (that’s Keef, that is btw).
Track #2 Take It So Hard features some really chunky guitar, the kind we normally associate with the Stones; but the mood is a lot more New York Eastside than it is South East London; which is probably why I’ve been tapping my fingers to it this week, and thirty years ago I was mystified!
Keith’s signature guitar licks are littered throughout every song; but the album is much more about the actual songs; and there are quite a few ‘keepers’ among them.
Make No Mistake is on the mellower side of Rock, and is more akin to Hall & Oates than anything Muddy Waters ever recorded as Richards’ almost croons a lovely song alongside the delightful voice of Sarah Dash.
With a lot of water flowing under my musical bridge since I first heard Whip It Up; it’s now a song that fits perfectly into the burgeoning Alt. Country canon; especially the bands who’s Roots are in Exile on Main Street as opposed to Bakersfield!
Kieth actually goes back to his own Roots on the fiery and eminently danceable Rock & Roller Could Have Stood You Up; and it’s worth checking out if only to hear the dual between Johnnie Johnson on piano and Chuck Leavell on organ; which mesmerised me so much it made me miss Mick Taylor’s astonishing solo half way through!
I’m going to take a deep breath and say that TALK IS CHEAP has aged a lot better than anyone could possibly have expected; which brings me to the two songs that tie for Favourite Track Status……. the final track here It Means a Lot is one helluva Funk-Rocker, and bizarrely Keith’s vocals and guitar playing actually remind me of Johnny Winter somehow! But the song itself has all the hallmarks of being a crowd pleaser if ever played live. The other ‘winner’ is the straight-up ‘four to the floor’ How I Wish, which is just a certified doozy! No more and no less.
That’s the ‘normal release’ but I urge you to splash the cash and invest in the Deluxe 2 x CD release with a superb booklet and another disc of unreleased tracks.
The first time I played this album I skipped over track #1 Blues Jam but as I type and listen on headphones, it’s obviously a bunch of Master Musicians ‘getting their groove on’ akin to that Al Kooper/Mike Bloomfield album and I’d love to be in a cafe when it comes on over the speakers.
Would it have been fair to have selected a song from the rarities as my Favourite? I think not; but this sparkling version of My Babe alongside a coolly rambling take on Big Town Playboy has gone onto three ‘playlists’ on my trusty I-Phone!
The finale, Brut Force starring Keith and Bootsy Collins is smouldering, fascinating, intriguing and well worth the record company dusting it off for this release.
My initial expectations weren’t very high; as I said at the beginning, but honestly and truthfully TALK IS CHEAP in either or both formats has certainly aged very well indeed; and is well worthy of your hard earned cash over the coming weeks (the LP will be available around Record Store Day coincidentally!).

Released March 29th 2019
http://www.keithrichards.com/news/talk-cheap-30th-anniversary-reissue-out-march-29-163016



‘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-relined ash wood with original Fender guitar elements, handmade at the Fender Custom Shop in California









Ben Bedford THE HERMIT’S SPYGLASS

Ben Bedford
The Hermit’s Spyglass
Cavalier Recordings

Idiosyncratic Guitar and Folk Songs That Paint Vivid Pictures In Your Head.

It would be all too easy for me to skip past this album as I am being inundated with Review albums from the great and the good in the musical world; as even though he’s a Kerrville New Folk Winner Ben Bedford is highly unlikely to headline Coachella or Glastonbury and is even less likely to win a Grammy; but even on one cursory, background listen you instantly sense you are in the presence of a very special singer-songwriter indeed.
With hindsight I think it’s Bedford’s idiosyncratic guitar playing that really caught my attention last week; but then again his cracked and worn voice; from years as a lonely troubadour I’m sure is the type that only a Mother or me could love too.
Then of course there are Ben Bedford’s songs; starting with Morning Rise a Folk Song from the Tom Paxton end of the spectrum, and so simple yet prophetic I found myself taking a deep breath so as not to miss a word or note.
For one man, a guitar and no fancy post-production wizardry Ben Bedford surely can capture your attention with the beautiful and melancholic vivid vivid pictures he paints in your head with the dark Little Falcon and Coyotes as well as the introspective Morning Conversations too; which is quite some achievement.
Back to Bedford’s guitar playing; for someone who isn’t Richard Thompson or indeed Bert Jansch on the beautiful instrumentals Thunderstorm and Quiet on the Green Hill he manages to captivate and intrigue without ever singing a word.
I’m trickily undecided regarding my choice of Favourite Song here as I rather like Moon and March End a whole lot, but it is just edged out by Morning Coffee; another very simple idea and concept but one that I, you and everyone around us will associate with; so that’s the one.
Is this Americana? I guess so as Ben Bedford is American and these are American stories; albeit with more than a cursory nod in the direction of some of the 1960’s British Folk Singers that were inspired by the likes of Tom Paxton, Phil Ochs and later Guy Clark.
Expect to see Ben Bedford in a Coffee House, pub backroom near you or perhaps even a tent at Glastonbury, go check him out if you can…… you won’t be disappointed.

Released UK March 29th 2019
http://www.benbedford.com/

Grand Canyon Le Grand Cañon

Grand Canyon
Le Grand Cañon
Bodan Kuma Recordings

From LA to New Jersey Via Route 66.

Sadly a few really good releases are falling by the wayside these days at RMHQ, and this belter nearly did too, bizarrely as I wrote another review recently I was reading this Press Release while listening to something so very and completely different!
‘Everything happens for a reason’ my Sainted Mother used to say; and today I have now immersed myself in the correct music and I now feel a whole lot better than I did when I got out of bed.
I’d love to think that the raw Alt. Country Rock of opening track Lucinda is at leased dedicated to Ms. Williams if it’s not exactly about her, as singer Casey Shea drops a musical time bomb of Springsteen or maybe early Bon Jovi proportions…… so I guess there might be more New Jersey than LA where the band come from, in the mix .
With that in mind it’s all too easy and a little lazy to describe this as ‘Classic Rock’ when it’s nothing of the sort. OK there is more than a hint of Bruce and Jon in New Yorker Shea’s singing drawl; but it’s quite distinctive in its own rite too; as is the Masterclass in Rock Guitar from Joe Guese on every track from the restrained beauty of Heaven and the all out, head down boogie of Kansas City which will sound even better coming from the speakers on a 58 Camero rather than my ’58 plate Laguna.
Listeners of my vintage will obviously pick up on the band’s inspirations and influences; of which there are many; but hey…. if you are under 30 and out for a good time on a Friday night then the likes of Shangri La-La Land and Made in LA will most likely be the most exciting music you’ve ever heard in your life; and will be just as thrilling the following Tuesday on the drive to work.
Two songs in particular have stood out for me; and both showcase not just Casey Shea’s singing and songwriting alongside Joe Guese; but the multi-faceted talents of all of the musicians that actually make up Grand Canyon.
The piano led Theory of Everything finds Shea and Amy Wilcox swap verses in a way not bettered since Meat Loaf was top of the Pops and the other, Standing In the Shadows ticks every box I have for a truly great modern Rock & Roll song, from the clever duet between Shea and Wilcox through the power chords from Guere’s guitar and a bass n drum combo that could grace any musical troupe from the Heartbreakers through the Pretenders and even the E Street Band!
There’s not a bad track here and nor is there a duplication either; and for all of the grey haired and grumpy music fans out there sporting Neil Young, Bruce, Dylan or Fleetwood Mac t-shirts there really is new, interesting and exciting music in the Classic Rock format if you are only prepared to scratch the surface and look for it…… Grand Canyon are the perfect starting point.

Released November 2018
http://grandcanyonband.com/




The Mekons DESERTED

The Mekons
Deserted
Bloodshot Records


Quasi-Alt. Country Folk Meets The Punk Rockers Uptown

If I’m being brutally honest I’ve always liked the ‘idea’ of the Mekons more than their actual music; and that includes seeing them live several times alongside a couple of pals who are more or less tribal followers.
But, that might actually finally change with this album, their 22nd (?) full length album.
It was probably opening track Lawrence of California that won me over last week; with the pumping bass and Quasi-Alt. Country Twang masking an articulate, nay poetic Folk Ballad of epic proportions ……. quite perfect for a midnight drive home from work in a mood as dark as the Black Hole of Calcutta.
It’s quite an uncompromising start; and to misquote someone else, The Mekons ‘start with a bang and move upwards!”
Mercifully for me, the songs here are more on the Folky spectrum of their combined talents than the noiseniks that I saw at the Riverside in Newcastle; with How Many Stars being almost pastoral as Tom Greenhalgh’s deadpan vocals unravel a magical and occasionally mystical tale. 
For Alt. Country fans like what I am; The Mekons are a veritable Who’s Who of the genre, with many being the backbone of some of my favourite Bloodshot albums.
I have a couple of Sally Timms albums and when she comes to the fore on In The Desert and the punchy Electro-Punk of Into The Sun (alongside Jonboy Langford?) a much maligned genre becomes very cool indeed.
That’s the joy, but not the biggest surprise that this album has to offer; the sum of all the individual talents combine to go off on a multitude of tangents yet remain a quintessential Mekons album.
Where to go for a Favourite Track? Who knows, as every song here will appeal to different people for different and often quite extraordinary reasons.
Weimar Vending Machine is dark and brooding; and really touched a spot that first cold night?
Tom Greenhalgh droll vocals brings an acid drenched excitement to HARAR 1883; and the lyrics are quite mind bending too making it a contender.
But; and this may even be controversial among the more astute longstanding Mekons fans; I’m plumping for the quirky and, dare I say it…… poppy Andromeda. It’s as left-field as The Mekons get….. and boy can they go way, way out left! In my defense it’s just four and a half minutes of gorgeous musical wizardry that sums up what the Mekons are, and should be. A tune that can’t decide if it’s Folk, Indie or World, an array of classic and even classical instruments that shouldn’t work together but do; a singer who wouldn’t get past the auditions on X-Factor and a weird set of lyrics that has me singing along the the odd line or two.
What’s not to like?
Not for the first or indeed the last time this year I’ve fallen in love with an album that “Isn’t for everyone” and that’s intentional ……. The Mekons tread their very own idiosyncratic path that leads the listener into dark, dangerous territories that will scare the casual listener; but the musical world is a much better place for bands and albums like this.

Released 19th March 2019
http://www.mekons.de/mekonhom.htm
https://mekons.bandcamp.com/album/deserted




Marvin Gaye YOU’RE THE MAN

Marvin Gaye
You’re The Man
UMC/Island Records

A Collection of Lost Gems Create an Absolute Diamond of an Album.

Yikes! Who knew there was a ‘Great Lost’ Marvin Gaye album?
Well, many of the songs here have actually turned up on those horrible re-hashed budget records that litter the Sale bins, but never in a fully formed format like this, as YOU’RE THE MAN is an accumulation of everything the Great Man recorded in the year following the original release of WHAT’S GOING ON, but was shelved by Tamla as the lead single and first track here; You’re The Man stalled in the charts at #50, which they thought wasn’t good enough.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard this song before; and listening today this ‘sarcastic riff on political non-action’ may not be as hard hitting as anything on What’s Going On; but that funky Sly Stone guitar and bass coupled to some biting lyrics is as relevant today as it was nearly half a century ago.
I always worry when I hear tracks that have remained ‘in the can’ as I always reckon they weren’t released for a good reason…… they weren’t good enough.
Unlike the Tamla Motown Executives I’m not going to compare and contrast this album with What’s Going On, which was groundbreaking and rightly argued about as one of the greatest albums of all time; I’m just taking it sing by song and putting them where they belong in 2019.
The only thing I will say on that point is, I find it really sad that so many songs here really are still relevant today as I type; starting with The World is Rated X, originally written about Gaye’s brothers experiences in Vietnam; but could have been written last week about our soldiers still patrolling the streets in the Middle East in the 21st Century. A superb song on a sad, sad subject.
One of the key ‘selling points’ about this remarkable album will be the three remixes by SaLaAM ReMi; My Last Chance, Symphony and I’d Give My Life For You; all of which slide easily into any retrospective of Marvin’s finest work, especially the beautiful ballad My Last Chance, which finds the troubled genius at his crooning best, in my humble opinion.
Obviously there are surprises around every corner; and good ones at that, with the smoother alternate take on You’re The Man having a super-cool back-beat, which is guaranteed to get yer Soul Shoes shuffling; as will Checking Out (Double Clutch) which surely influenced at least a dozen hit Soul-Pop songs in the intervening decades.
I understand why they’ve been included as they come from the same sessions; but there’s always something really odd about listening to Christmas songs in March! I Want to Come Home For Christmas is a super song that will touch many hearts; but when you peel away the wrapping and realise it’s actually about a captured soldier (in Vietnam) singing to his sweetheart your heart will surely burst. I don’t normally associate Marvin Gaye with instrumentals so the rare b-side Christmas in the City; although ‘of its time’ is well worth the entry fee alone, as he sounds a very troubled man indeed.
Selecting a Favourite Song here hasn’t been easy, as I’ve been swept up in the history of everything here more than once; but I’m going to throw two at you, the modern mambo beat of Woman of the World must have been groundbreaking in 1972; but leap forward to 2019 and Marvin’s prophetic words could easily be an anthem for Women all over the world.
The other is actually a song I already knew; but tucked away here the heart-aching ballad Piece of Clay is heady stuff indeed and has stood the test of time as well as anything else Marvin has possibly ever recorded; and deserves to be a huge hit for our dear departed Marvin.
Now I’ve played this album 4 times; I just think Marvin simply recorded them at the wrong time; if this album had been released before What’s Going On it would surely have been a hit and a natural lead in to what was coming; but I guess the ‘decision makers’ subsequently wanted Marvin to record a copy-cat follow up; and not this fascinating, mature and often very intelligent bunch of songs.
God Bless Marvin for having the courage to initially record them; and the nice people at UMC/Island who have lovingly put everything together to celebrate what would have been Marvin Gaye’s 80th birthday in a package that I’m sure the singer would have been proud of.

Released 2LP Gatefold Vinyl and Digital  29th March 2019
Released CD April 2nd 2019.

Don Gordon’s Bandolier BANDOLIER TALES

Don Gordon’s Bandolier
Bandolier Tales
Self-Release

Pure Dead Quality From Start to Finish.

Don Gordon? Apparently an ex-member of Glaswegian band The Primevals and a long time collaborator with our chum Wily Bo; which hiked this release straight up the to-do list!
Before I actually tell you about the wondrous music on this album, I have to tell you that it’s ‘not for everyone’ as Mrs. Magpie and her famous scowl will testify! But, if you enjoy singers who are blessed with larynx’s like Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen and two of Glasgow’s finest; Messr’s Alex Harvey & Dave Arcari you are gonna love these songs!
The jangly guitar that leads into opening track September Rain will remind you of Teenage Fanclub at their height; but when Wily Bo enters the fray, drawling Don Gordon’s magnificent words with Louise Ward double-tracked on backing vocals; you know you aren’t in Kansas any more Toto. The song is really, really special in a way that defies categorisation….. is it the Blues? Sort of. Is it Rock? Not really, but maybe. Is it Contemporary Pop? Yessish; but add all three together and it’s the perfect introduction to Don Gordon’s Bandolier and the music that they create.
That classy, enigmatic theme continues through Pictures of Lanark, a duet between Wily Bo and Louise which reminded me of those songs Nick Cave and Kylie recorded; but with a catchy melody.
There are but 7 songs here and each is as memorable as each other, but invariably ‘different’ too; with the Bandoliers getting all smouldering and swampy on I Will Be There but turning Cryin’ Out into a thrill a minute car chase of a twisted Gospel song, and closing the album with Walking In The Past which sounds like it could have been the soundtrack to a Film-Noir LA Cop thriller; which features some extraordinary diesel powered bass and drumming from Clarky and The Rocket.
This leaves but two other songs to talk about. Bandolier/Prayer whizzed me back to those nights when I would sit in my bedroom listening to the Sensational Alex Harvey Band on headphones; trying to make sense of the exciting and mesmerising sound that was filling my head. It’s the same here; if I tell you that it’s a sort of Epic Rock Song featuring The Doune & Deanston Pipe Band (them’s real bagpipes btw), Louise Ward sounding all floaty and siren like while Don Gordon makes his guitar strings sound like they are made from slithering snakeskin and Wily Bo partly sings through a decoder before summoning up the demons in our Souls you will think I’m mad….. but give it a listen; it’s bloody cracking!
Then of course, there has to be my Favourite Song, and it was an easy selection. While possibly the most commercial song here Who’s Kissing You? not just fits in perfectly but stands out like a sunflower at noon too, as Gordon makes his guitar not just weep but bleed too as Clarky and The Rocket keep better time than a brand new Rolex, behind him and the glorious singers Wily Bo and Louise Ward.
While I’m always flattered to receive albums by household names and even the occasional Superstar at RMHQ, but albums like this are not just the life blood of my site but the Music Industry too…… with ‘Quality’ being the word that kept coming into my head as every song came onto the stereo and again now, as I type.

Released October 2018
https://www.facebook.com/guitarmannn
https://bandoliertales.bandcamp.com/album/bandolier-tales