Chuck Prophet
The Land That Time Forgot
Yep Roc Records

Equal Parts Nostalgia, Romance, Politics and a Large Dose of Absurdity.

“The Land that Time Forgot” is Chuck Prophet’s best album since “Temple Beautiful”, which is no mean feat, as “Night Surfer” and “Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins” were both masterly works.
However, on this latest album Prophet returns to the Bay area for inspiration, conjuring a long player that is equal parts nostalgia, romance and politics, all of which is served with a large dose of absurdity.

Fans of Chuck Prophet will undoubtedly have fallen in love with his vibrant live performances and there are plenty of tracks here that allow the listener to image Chuck in his pomp bouncing around the stage.
Opener “Best Shirt On” is a case in point, as is the rock’n’roll riffing of “Marathon”, where we first really get to hear co-conspirator par-excellence Stephanie Finch get involved.
While “Get off the Stage” carries a political message for our times it also has the kind of hook, which means it could well be the show closer when Prophet can finally tour the album.

This is ultimately a little more chilled affair than some of Prophet’s recent outings.
In a perfect world, “Willie and Nili” could even be record of the week on BBC Radio 2. with the chorus “love me like I want to be loved” offering a great country hook.
Recent single “Love Doesn’t Come from the Barrel of a Gun” is similarly accessible to mainstream audiences, even if the song’s message remains opaque.

At times this is a beautifully menacing record. I am a sucker for songs about Richard Nixon; and “Nixonland” does not disappoint.
Beginning with the reminiscence of a fourth grade field trip, we’re taken up to the fall of Richard Nixon; this is an absolute album highlight. Prophet even finds time to poke fun at the illeism of the former President.
The track becomes a meditation on dishonesty made all the more sinister by the minor chords, tremolo guitar and choral backing vocals.
“Paying My Respects to the Train” is similarly inspired by America’s political past. The train is taking Abraham Lincoln to his final resting place.

But it is Prophet’s signature dalliance with absurdity that really binds the album. “High as Johnny Thunders” treats us to a Dylanesque pseudo-history starring a rogues’ gallery of American greats and literary figures, albeit sung to a lilting melody, later complemented by a swooning sax solo. The chorus gives the album its name.
“Meet me at the Roundabout” also drips with sweet surrealism “meet me at the roundabout, honey don’t be late, I’ve been here since Christmas Eve and it’s almost New Year’s Day”.

“The Land that Time Forgot” is another Chuck Prophet masterpiece offering the listener all kinds of musical shades shot through with the with the kind of absurdity we’ve come to know and love.
It is this which lightens even the most intense moments on the record and marks out Chuck Prophet as one of the most brilliant, but undervalued songwriters we are currently blessed with.

Review courtesy Steven K Driver (from The Agency beat combo).
Released August 21st 2020

Peter Himmelman PRESS ON

Peter Himmelman
Press On
Himmasongs/Six Degrees Records

Articulate, Grown Up Songs With a Bluesy Vibe.

Obviously a name like Peter Himmelman will stick in the mind; but with so much new music passing under the RMHQ bridge since his last release in 2017 I had to check out the review to find out why and BINGO!
Yep; I remember now ……. “Declan McManus channelling an amped up Randy Newman, and his band sounds like a pub-funk E Street Band with a touch of Mink DeVille“.
Hmmmmm ……. in my new notes I agree with the first half of that statement; there’s a definite Elvis Costello/Randy Newman vibe here; but on this outing Himmelman has stripped everything back to more Bluesier basics; not quite raw; as there is plenty of sweet fat on the bones; but the Blues this most certainly is.
While the production is deceptively simple and stark; the song title Suite For Tambourine and Hand Claps is not just articulate; but shows what a sharp sense of humour Peter Himmelman has on this Honky-Tonky, Jazzy Blues song.
When I say ‘humour’ it’s never ‘laugh out loud funny’ ……. but the type of funny you would associate with early Randy Newman and latter day Elvis Costello and ……. dare I say it …….. mid-period Dylan too (among other songwriters that grown up music fans adore).
While his observations are sharp and shrewd, his writing his generally from the poetic school – which makes the prescient The Wail of Trumpets and The Clatter of Hoofs; which is very much a ‘song of our times’ or Flying Across the Blacktop essential listening for fans of any of those more famous artists.
While the album flows like country stream, no two songs ever sound the same, which obviously is a good thing and he cleverly uses tempos and even musical styles to great effect, too.
A Place in Your Heart and This is My Offering are both love songs; but of the ilk that you have to sit still and listen intently; poring over not just the words themselves, but the way Himmelman delivers them, letting them unravel like a Mystery Play until you finally sigh, and think “That could be me.”
Who’s to say if Straw and Kerosene or Press On are to be taken quite literally or are just the products of a very fertile imagination; but both are as staggering in their eloquence and imagery …… plus their backing music is so intense you may even find yourself in a cold sweat the first time you hear them.
It would be far too easy, but time consuming to describe every song here …… as they are all worthy of your attention; so I’m going to leave you to find them yourself, as I’m now jumping to my Favourite Song Challenge.
It’s a ‘Challenge’ as over the next year or so most songs here will ‘speak to me’ at one time or another; but this week two in particular have stopped me in my tracks.
The quirky and jaunty Truth Spoke in a Hard Time; a beautiful love song hidden inside a dark tale of a man ‘surveying a Dystopian landscape’ ……… which many of us have had to do in way or another in 2020!
The other; and I think my actual Favourite Song, as it somehow encapsulates my own feelings (on a regular basis, sadly) and when you too, first hear Outside Looking In you will presume it was written by one of the industry’s more illustrious and Award laden songwriters; but no …… it is from the pen and mouth of Peter Himmelman himself.
I’m ‘late to the party’ as I only discovered Peter Himmelman via his THERE IS NO CALAMITY in 2017; yet PRESS ON is his 15th album.
Get on board now.

Released 31st July 2020


Robby Krieger
The Ritual Begins at Sundown
The Players Club

Absorbing and Genre Defying Musical Treasure.

Not long before I received this album in for review, I had only just listened to that classic Doors album L.A Woman and what hit me hardest about that one wasn’t Jim Morrison’s “poet as a bluesman” vocal delivery, nor even band leader Ray Manzarek’s classically influenced and well-thought out keyboard passages, but instead, the way Krieger’s guitar lines wrapped around Morrison’s voice, adding emphasis, extending the melody of the vocal; making so strong of a statement at times that the guitar becomes “point” instead of the usual “counter-point.”
I was humming Krieger’s guitar lines for weeks afterwards.
Since the demise of the Doors, Krieger has been busy playing with rock and jazz musicians around the world; as well as picking up a new artistic medium: painting.
He even painted the vibrant and energetic cover art for this album.
He was also recently heard guesting on a song off of the excellent new album Alphabetland by the L.A. band X, one of my favorite albums so far from 2020.
Now, with some help from musicians Arthur Barrow, Tommy Mars, Sal Marquez, and Jock Ellis, we get Krieger’s ninth solo album, his first in ten years.
The Ritual Begins at Sundown, features nine new original songs as well as a fun cover of Frank Zappa’s “Chungas Revenge.”
Punchy horns drive “What Was That” along with a fun and rubbery bass line, and then Krieger’s solo comes out of left field and takes over. At this point it’s Krieger’s show, and he’s well up to the task.
“The Drift” has requisite tight bass and drums, with Krieger’s guitar playing call and response to some fabulously funky horns.
Both “Hot Head” and “Bianca’s Dream” are uptempo jazz stompers, sure to wow the modern jazz aficionados then; In “Yes, the River Knows,” the guitar is practically speaking, wordlessly telling us a story seemingly of time and perseverance, the guitar lines moving through several differing tones and genres as it travels along that river of sound.
My Favorite on this well executed album has to be “Slide Home,” which features seemingly simple, yet slyly difficult and tricky slide guitar passages yet doesn’t resort to showing off.
This is cinematic in the pocket type of playing, letting the melody shine through while playing AROUND that selfsame melody. They don’t teach you this in guitar school.
This is where experience and paying your dues come in.
Rock, Jazz, and Blues are no strangers to one another nowadays and Krieger has crafted here a fine set of instrumentals, along with a magnificent showcase of his own skills; both as a composer as well as a lead guitarist of significant prowess.
If we ever get back to live concerts, the ones for this album are sure to be memorable and a worth the wait.

Review courtesy the Legendary Roy Peak Esq.
Released 14th August 2020

Paul Kelly and Paul Grabowsky PLEASE LEAVE YOUR LIGHT ON

Paul Kelly and Paul Grabowsky
Gawd Aggie/Cooking Vinyl

Inexplicably Cool Arrangements of Legendary Australian Singer-Songwriter’s Classics.

I’ve lost count of the number of Singers and TV Stars over the years, who suddenly ‘re-discover’ their love of The Swing Period (Sinatra, Nat King Cole etc) and coincidentally release an album of ‘standards’ swamped in an orchestral backing on the run up to Christmas ……. invariably the result is a mighty gloop and not worthy of your hard earned cash.
Legendary Australian singer-songwriter Paul Kelly, on the other hand has had fellow countryman and famed Jazz pianist Paul Grabowsky arrange 11 of his own songs (plus one wonderful ‘standard’) into arrangements akin to Sinatra’s work with Nelson Riddle and this is the result.
I’m a recent convert to the work of Paul Kelly, and would never have thought this format could work; but a balladeer and occasionally, a crooner he is indeed; as opening song True To You proves.
I rather like it when artists strip their songs back to basics; but I never expected to hear True to You sound ever more beautiful and, even evocative than the original …… which is due not just to Paul Grabowsky’s new arrangements, but his delicate piano playing too.
This is actually true of every other track here; but with Time and Tide, Winter Coat and When a Woman Loves a Man you will most likely be as startled by their inner beauty in a way you never expected.
It’s fair to say that Paul Kelly is no Sinatra or Bennett; and he doesn’t try to be at any time …….. but he certainly knows how to use his voice to bring something extra special out of his most famous songs, Please Leave Your Light On and You Can Put Your Shoes Under My Bed in this extraordinary format.
Then, there’s Gods Grandeur. Something of a ‘Soundtrack to 2020’, dark, brooding and intrinsically sharply observational ….. plus Grabowsky’s playing is a little bit frightening at times!
I’m not aux fait with all of Kelly’s back catalogue, so a couple of these songs are new to me; and when I first heard Petrichor it genuinely took my breath away; not least because of Paul Grabowsky’s brittle and beautiful playing on the piano.
While I’ve obviously focused on Paul Kelly; be under no illusion this is an album where both artists deserve equal billing; all of these songs; and especially Every Time We Say Goodbye could have easily been an unholy mess if it wasn’t for the delicate and sympathetic way the pianist brings out the very best in the singer.
While this is very much an album that you put on and just sit back and wallow in from start to finish; there are two very, very special recordings here.
Time and Tide sounds like I’ve known it all my life, whereas I don’t think I’ve heard it before in any format and the combination of voice and piano here is truly extraordinary.
Then, there’s my Favourite Song here Young Lovers. I already liked the original version; but if one song actually captures the spark of the Sinatra/Riddle combo, that the duo wanted to capture this is it. This is the song that Kelly will undo his tie for, take a sip of whisky from the glass on the Grand Piano, take a deep breath, give a rye smile and launch (for want of a better word) into this timeless narrative set to music.
This format could easily have failed; and had Paul Kelly only sang Standards, I fear it would have; but choosing his own songs is something of a Masterstroke, as not only will his own fans love this album; but it should surely bring cross-over Jazz fans to the party too.

Released July 31st 2020

Mary Chapin Carpenter THE DIRT AND THE STARS

Mary Chapin Carpenter
The Dirt and the Stars
Lambent Light Records (via Thirty Tigers)

Beautiful Songs About The Aches and Pains of a Very Fragile Soul.

Five time Grammy winner Mary Chapin Carpenters 15th. Studio album is her first collection of all-new material since 2016’s Dave Cobb produced “The Things That We Are Made Of”. As far as female singer-songwriters are concerned she is without doubt one of the most successful alive today and indeed has consistently been so over the last 30  odd years.
Fact is, my wife and I have seen Mary in concert on numerous occasions and the ‘Chief Operating Officer’ of this household religiously follows Mary’s ‘Virtual Concert’ series that she puts out on Social Media entitled “Songs From Home,” which is filmed at her beautiful home in rural Virginia.
The new album was written at that remote farmhouse, but then recorded here in England at Peter Gabriel’s real World Studio near Bath and produced by the highly experienced and very successful Ethan John.
The Dirt and the Stars contains 11 new compositions and follows the winning formula which Mary’s fans have become accustomed to hearing over the years. Sometimes difficult subject matters are covered, without any sugar-coating and often coming from a pain with an almost insular perspective.
This particular set of songs are not for the faint-hearted.
In many ways they are poems and personal stories set to music and therefore the words are so much more relevant than the music. Although, most of the melodies are typically enchanting with slow walking, tortoise paced, laid-back tempos which create a sense of relaxation, until you actually listen to what the lyrics are covering.
Farther Along and Further In” is the opening track, clearly recognising the gradual, sometime distinct, changes that hit everyone as we grow older, whilst “Nocturn” follows the same casual, pedestrian path.
The title track probably tells the best story, recalling a time when the confusion of youthful innocence perplexes and confounds even the clearest of thinkers. Deliberately fusing in the melody from the classic Jagger & Richards’ Wild Horses to transplant us all back to her 17th. summer.
As well as the best story, this track also has a terrific solo from Mary’s long-time guitarist, Duke Levine, conjuring up a single car driving into the sunset, down a long lost highway.
Asking for a Friend” is a deep, dark introspective and soul searching inquest regarding another failed relationship but cleverly using the modern vernacular of the ‘pretend friend’, then “Old D-35” is all about her faithful, iconic, Martin acoustic guitar.
The one song that kinda breaks the mould and stands head and shoulders above the other 10 tracks for me is the politically themed pot-shot “American Stooge”.
Apparently, this clunky uptempo song is all about a candidate who ran for President, lost the race then turned into one of his winning opponents side kicks, not just defending the other sides ideology but metamorphosing into a yes-man, even a lackey, indeed ……. a stooge.
In summary, it sure wasn’t an easy album to review, knowing and loving her previous catalogue of music as well as I do, enjoying all those superb live concerts here in England  and having several family members who all hold MCC is such high esteem.
Yes, the music is beautiful, yes the songs are well structured and oh so superbly played, but be prepared to palpably feel the aches and pains of a very fragile soul.
Released in 7th. August 2020
Jack Kidd
“Messin’ with the Kidd” on

The Supreme Art of Nothing SO THIS IS HOW IT GOES.

The Supreme Art Of Nothing
So This Is How It Goes.
Whackshack Recordings

It’s Indie Rock Jim; But Not As We Know It.

A couple of weeks ago I switched on the radio to a Sports Channel and when the name Pele was mentioned I presumed the conversation would be about the great Brazilian footballer – how wrong I was!
The strong Scouse accent had me struggling to put a name to it but when it drifted towards references to a favourite track of John Peel, ‘Does This Train Stop On Merseyside’ I realised it was Ian Prowse, founding member of Beat Group Pele way back in the late 1980’s.
The tenuous link to this review, is the violin playing of Nico (Crutwell-Jones) who appeared in that wonderful band too; and now, alongside Andi Crutwell-Jones forms The Supreme Art Of Nothing.
A band with a front-line violin player is definitely not something you would expect to see in the current plethora of guitar or hi-fi electronic wizardry bands; so I was keen to see how it compares.
Listening to an album two or three times gives you a proper feel for both the music and the artists involved, although not necessarily the ‘genre’ (a word I dread) and this is no different – see later for my eventual decision.
On the opener ‘So This Is How It Goes’ the violin hits you smack in the chops, before Andi comes in to equally dramatic effect on a track that fair buzzes along to set the stall for the the album, but immediately, its back (to my ear) to the heyday of Pele with ‘March Of The Living,’ with a more subdued feeling to ‘doing it all for love’ with ‘everybody getting high on zombie chemicals’.
A cry to be back in the 90’s – possibly?
Track #3 ‘Backpack’ could find itself classed as Americana with that violin and voice combination of the Crutwells finding the listener in a track that would not be out of place in a modern C&W festival.
This was the first track where I appreciated what the duo offered together on the album.
‘Hey Lover’, is the sort of track that has given Bruce Springsteen a very cool career, and bounces along although it possibly needed a more gruff vocal to get its full effect, but certainly a singalong offering at a gig – the feet and shoulders will all be moving with this one too.
You are then brought down to a much softer level with an excellent girl/boy track as ‘Lord you never show your face’ – with Nico carrying this track along with a superb mid track ‘fiddle’ solo.
Is it possible to have a popular album (in terms of sales) with a violin led band?
It is certainly possible to have a popular album based on tracks such as ‘How Dark Is Your Night;’ but personally, it’s nice to hear a release that isn’t purely down to guitar led riffs etc.
‘Monsters’ for me is the standout track based on the vocals and the contribution of the band – one that is far more on the mark for the current music scene both vocally and lyrically, but I admit I only came to that conclusion on the third hearing of the album.
Nico stars with her vocals on ‘Deep’, the track that I initially preferred to any other as it’s a lovely song that just glides along before the band all come in to compliment another excellent set of lyrics.
I like to find what I refer to as a tap along track and on here it’s another ‘religious’ effort on ‘My Life Crisis’ with God getting a regular mention again – maybe it genuinely is their mid life crisis!
None of the 12 tracks are ‘fillers’ that often seem to pad out many albums of more than 10 tracks. but maybe that’s just my age adding to my critical nature and if it is, I apologise to anyone offended!
Andi and Nico bounce off each other vocally (in a nice way) despite their very different musical backgrounds on a record that I am going to slot into the Indie Rock/Folk genre …… and again, I suspect this will be disputed by plenty of listeners, but life is too short to argue.
Going back to the opening paragraphs; I’m going to use a football related metaphor; so SO THIS IS HOW IT GOES wouldn’t make it into the Brazilian side that Pele graced way back when, but it certainly would get into many of the current Brazilian sides.
I am still listening to this as I finish the review and guess what – ‘March Of The Living’ may be the best track but……..In true Georgie language – all in all, this is a canny album.

Released July 3rd 2020
Review courtesy the Original ‘Rocking Magpie’ Bill Redhead.


Welcome to Hard Times
Thirty Tigers

A Bit of Country, a Lot of Western And Plenty of Heartfelt Honesty.

Just 36 years of age, Texas born Charley Crockett has had a very tough life, learning from family heartache and poor, albeit a series of unlucky personal decisions that most people would struggle to cope with.
He has also recovered from serious health issues in recent years, leaving a prominent scar on his chest as a vivid reminder, acting as inspiration to not let hard luck get him down.
Nevertheless, his music has enabled him to stay ahead of the game and Welcome to Hard Times is his 8th. album in only 6 years.
Generally, I tend to levitate toward artists who are difficult to place into accepted taxonomies, those that glide from one genre to the next with consummate ease. Well, Mr Crockett certainly does that, and some. However, if you want further clarity, then producer Mark Neil proclaimed that “it was a pleasure to be involved in what I believe to be the best Gulf and Western record ever made.”
The albums title track kicks things off with a mid-tempo tinkling piano backing with lyrics that include the profound warning that
the dice are loaded, and everything is fixed
even a hobo will tell you this”.
“Run Horse Run” follows, painting fleeing pictures with equine references, and bringing back some personal childhood memories of “Ghost Riders in the Sky”.
“Tennessee Special” ups the tempo into an almost Western Swing vibe, with a gentle, wailing steel guitar reinforcing the songs’ railroad journey. We then have a banjo intro into “Lily My Dear” that has a chorus asking his nearest and dearest
Lily my Darling, Lily my Dear,
for what awful reason have you come down here,
Is it for money, is it for pride, just for the joy of watching me die”.
Further songs about being down on your luck follow with the likes of “Heads you Win”, “Raining in my Heart” and “Black Jack County Chain” but the dark, self pitied subjects are delivered with plenty of varied instrumentation and different tempos that undoubtedly keep you interested.
It was a toss up choosing my favourite track with “The Poplar Tree,” just missing out to “The Man That Time Forgot”.
Both fell into the predominant noir and Gothic Western theme that runs throughout all the 13 tracks, but when Charley asks
Would you like to know the secret of my misery,
sitting in the pages of my history.
It’s a living hell, this painted veil, of illusions that I can’t stop,
I’m the man that time forgot.
then it’s so easy to visualise and then feel the sadness and misery behind all of these very well crafted songs.
Weirdly, each time I listened to the album it took me back to my childhood, watching black & white TV series like Rawhide, Gunsmoke & Bonanza, that were my Dad’s absolute favourites too. I could see the cattle, smell the leather, and could even taste the prairie dust, plus, there was always Frankie Lane singing too.
In those days the music would have been categorised as Country & Western, well this splendid album from Charley Crockett has very little Country in it, as it is virtually all Western, with and without the Swing; albeit sensitive and moody but paradoxically somehow always enjoyable.
Released July 31st 2020

Jack Kidd
“Messin’ with the Kidd” on

Benjamin Adair Murphy LET’S MAKE A KING

Benjamin Adair Murphy

21st Century Subversive, Exciting and Very, Very Relevant Folk and Blues Protest Songs.

I wasn’t expecting anything like THIS!
Benjamin Adair Murphy is one of those artists that seems to flit around the world making music for an ever growing fan base without ever coming near to touching the mainstream; and that’s the mainstream’s loss!
Opening track Your Gun made my jaw drop the first time I played it a week ago. Phew, Adair doesn’t hold back on his Waitsian Rap about gun-control, or more poignantly ……. the lack of gun-control in the US of A.
Sitting here in the comfort of my Northern English home, I’m left wondering why no one else has written so powerfully on this subject so close to America’s heart.
Adair manages to address many other 21st Century ‘issues’ in a way that’s not always comfortable, but always accessible.
One Hundred Pills Per Person and The White Man Gets Things Done are exactly what you’d expect to hear from reading the titles; but add a band that sounds like it has been force fed Zappa and Beefheart 24/7 and you get real Grown Up Rock Music that will frighten your Granny!
I keep wanting to say Adair’s writing style is Poetic; but the more I listen the more I think he’s been influenced by Old School Hip-Hop …….. but co-opted it into the left of centre Blues and Rock fields.
Nothing is ever straight forward; even the slow and moody acoustic tracks Back Pocket Blues and Teach The Christians are multi-layered and down right emotional, and will be interpreted quite differently by each and everyone who hears them.
While never sounding like a parody, the Tom Waits ‘style’ of singing/talking comes across regularly here; and it is actually quite refreshing and brings out the nuances in Let’s Make a King and the stinging Alabama Goddam! like no other style could even dream of producing.
While 99.999% of music fans will never hear Same Kind of Fascist, I think it should be played on daytime radio across the Western World each and every hour for the next ten years.
Just saying.
It’s fair to say Woody Guthrie will be proud of young Mr.Murphy for daring to not just write and record this missive; but actually release it into the wild too.
Whenever I hear albums like this; and they are more common than you’d imagine …….. I always go back to the interview when Neil Young whinged and whined that no younger artists were writing protest songs any more; he obviously doesn’t get to hear the likes of Benjamin Adair Murphy when he sings the arse off U.S Custody, set to a stark yet melodic Native American melody and totally capturing the current zeitgeist.
If you have got your breath back, the only thing left is my Favourite Track, which is an odd moniker on an album as deep, dark and angry as this …….. but Stupid Followed Evil is a really special song; combining the best of everything here, from the Hip-Hop melody through Zappa and Waits but distilling the very soul of Woody Guthrie in such a contemporary manner that will have them dancing in the aisle while raising a clenched fist in the air!
In his accompanying letter Benjamin mentions his love of the Blues and how he keeps returning to it in his music. Well, that’s not always obvious; but that’s why I’ve had the album on heavy rotation this week ……… it is a Blues album at heart; but excitingly different and adventurous in many ways and never ever ‘obvious’, apart from the messages he tries to get across.

Released 9th July 2020
Buy DON’T Spotify at

Seela COOL


An Eclectic Mix of Grown Up American Pop Music.

I’ve struggled to ‘get into’ this album; if I’m honest; but I’ve finally got there.
Apparently Seela Misra is a ‘mainstay’ of the Austin Musical Community, a ‘go to’ backing singer and this is her 6th solo project ……. for which she herself has animated each and every video for each and every song.
I don’t know what’s come before; but all of that ‘inherent cleverness’ comes across in the construction, production and even delivery of each tiny musical sonnet here.
Opening track Prize has a lot going on in it, which at first masked the clever lyrics; but once I’d sat back on a sunny day in the garden I finally had my ‘light-bulb’ moment.
Next up, Up2Me reminded me of ……. oh…. who is it? (chuckle) even the cryptic spelling tells you that this is homage to The Purple One, but without the deep funky beat which is replaced by a cute melody, worthy of Spector himself ……. perfect AM Radio material, methinks.
Elsewhere there are echoes of Van Dyke Parks, The Beach Boys, Cheap Trick and perhaps even David Bowie (Hunky Dory era), sometimes tucked away in the grooves and other times Seela just wears her influences on her paisley sleeve.
Sometimes it’s all too easy to let the ‘sound’ overwhelm you; Black Blackness and When The World spring to mind; but if you take the time to listen carefully you will hear some rather excellent lyrics behind the melody.
If you can forget the Prince ‘association’ Seela has a very distinctive voice, deep and smoky, which really sounds magical on the acoustic and whistlicious Build a House and Bad at Good.
Selecting a Favourite Track was never going to be easy, as the songs are all very individual and while never actually jarring; tend not to sound akin to anything either side of them; but when I set my mind to it, two in particular do stand out; and would make great radio singles; the title track Cool, features some intricate acoustic guitar and (presumably) multi-tracked vocals to create the harmonies (but I could be wrong and over thinking it) and the other Shine is just a timeless very emotional Folk Song that just about takes the title.
As I said at the beginning, this has taken some ‘getting into’ but the wait has been worth it; as the eclectic nature of the songs somehow manages to create a totally cohesive album of Grown Up American Pop Music.

Released July 24th 2020


The Proper Years
The Last Music Co.

Smile Inducing, Ageless Rockabilly via a Dollop of Boogie-Woogie and Honky Tonk.

This release is a very welcome retrospective “best of” covering all four albums the ‘Titan of the Telecaster’ Mr Bill Kirchen has recorded for UK based Proper Records.

Kirchen originally rose to fame in 1969 when he relocated from Michigan to San Francisco, with his band Commander Cody & The Lost Planet Airmen, where they quickly established themselves as an alternative to the hippy/flower power/rock bands of that era.
Bill split from the band in the mid-1970’s and remained in music, mostly in the DC area, establishing himself with other Telecaster contemporaries and increasing his twanging reputation. His signature sound is often referred to as “dieselbilly” allowing him to effortlessly fuse country, blues, rock-a-billy, western swing, honky-tonk and boogie-woogie, without the blinking of an eye. If ever anyone blurred the lines of accepted musical genres, then here is your man.

So, in 2006 he recorded his 7th. solo album and his first for Proper Records entitled “Hammer of the Honky-Tonk Gods”.
Since then 3 more have followed and the 37 tracks here, spread over 2 CD’s, provide a superb reconsideration for anyone who is a fan but for whatever reason missed out on this quartet of work. Fact is, even if you’re not a fan, but are intrigued, then this is a wonderful way to get to know the unique and compelling Titan of the Telecaster by adding him to your music collection.

When Paul Riley went to work with Malcolm Mills at Proper Records, over 20 years ago,  he told me that their mantra would be “All Killers, No Fillers” and ladies & gentlemen that is exactly what you get with this double album. The tone is therefore set, right from the very first number, being the title track from his first Proper album and regales the history of Leo Fenders luthieral creation. “Get a Little Goner” is a slice of humour, playing on words that may not be in any dictionary, but that just makes the enjoyment all the betterer, if you know what I mean.
There are several covers, including an extremely interesting rendition of “Devil with a Blue Dress On”, which is out of the Motown catalogue plus a couple of Dylan’s best with “It Takes a Lot to Laugh, It Takes a Train to Cry” and also “The Times They Are A-Changin”, the latter featuring his long time friend Austin de Lone.

Here, Merle Haggards “Shelly’s Winter Love” takes on an Everly Brothers type sound with the help of Paul Carrack and Nick Lowe adding the Don & Phil harmonies to perfection.
I particularly liked “I Don’t Work That Cheap”, which has the old Commander himself – George Frayne, engaging in some classic boogie-woogie piano whilst Maria Muldaurs’ bawdy vocals illuminate “Ain’t got time for the Blues”.
Talking about Chicken” almost stole the show for me but, my favourite track has got be the revised hit from almost 50 years ago, the elongated, enigmatic “Hot Rod Lincoln” which has additional sounding snippets of so many musical legends that had me grinning for hours afterwards.
(#EDITOR’S NOTE – Bill doesn’t mention them ……… but Rockabilly Funeral and Down to Seeds and Stems are totally unmissable ….. just saying.)

Bill Kirchen certainly presents his music with a smile on his face, often relaying lyrics with humour and wit, not necessarily PC correct in today’s woke culture but, nonetheless many of these songs had me chuckling.
Prior to setting pen to paper I asked my FB friend James Oliver (recipient of the 2020 Blues in Britain – Emerging Artist Award) just where Bill Kirchen sits in his all-time personal heroes of the Telecaster list; and without any hesitation James stated he is up there at #1.
Say no more, Squire!

Review courtesy Jack Kidd
“Messin’ with the Kidd” WEEKLY RADIO SHOW on

Released in 24th. July 2020