Scott Cook
Tangle of Souls

It’s Nice to Know That The Folk Troubadour Tradition Is In Good Hands.

Some folks are made for the troubadour life, and one of those souls is Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Cook.
His latest album Tangle of Souls—his seventh, if you’re keeping score—is a modern day folk troubadours delight.
An easy-over of a dozen folk songs played simply and close to the belt by a group of Australian musicians known as The She’ll Be Rights. The perfect complement of upright bass, guitar, mandolin, dobro, and a couple of fiddles wonderfully fill out these tunes.
Cook has an admirable way with words and melody, crafting songs that are tried and true, simple and pure, yet deep, deep, deep.
The song that kicks off this collection, “Put Your Good Foot in the Road,” kicks down the door with in your face vocals and a sharp, quick melody to make it sweetly unforgettable, coupled with nice interplay between the fiddle and mandolin. An instant classic around campfires and folk gatherings from here on out, I’m thinking.
“Leave a Light On” starts off a little clunky, then recovers nicely, one of the most heartfelt songs on the album.
“Just Enough Empties” takes a familiar theme and runs away with it, creating a fresher story in the process.
And did I say Cook has a way with words and melody? Another one you’ll find yourself singing along to the first time you hear it is “Let Love Have It’s Way” features some wonderful understated banjo. And even though he’s lived in Canada since he was a child, Cook has traveled enough through the United States to craft a true vision of our time in “Say Can You See.”
This is the “standout singer-songwriter song” on the album, the one which may rightly get the most attention.
Writing a patriotic folk song about a country divided against itself, that doesn’t point fingers is tough. Cook doesn’t lay blame here, he tells simple, universal, truths. This song SHOULD get airplay on modern country radio—lord knows more folks need to hear it—but it won’t.
But it should!
In a day where ‘Nobody buys CDs anymore” Cook has done the unthinkable and produced a physical product that more than meets the eye. Included with these twelve songs is a 240-page booklet containing gorgeous photos, stories about each and every song, lyrics, and even chord charts for every song.
He writes about traveling on the road, trying to leave a more even carbon footprint, the trials of stage-fright, and tells some wonderful stories in the process.
This ain’t no vanity project, he’s not overestimating the music buying public at large, he’s creating a product that stands alone, that makes a statement. Cook may come off to some as “just another naive folkie” but he’s a natural born thinker. His songs aren’t just a tumble of words and chords, they come from the life of someone trying to make sense of this crazy world we all live in, not just through his music, but in his words, his stories, his travels. When I first saw there was a 240-page book to accompany the music, I thought it a bit silly, even a bit pointless, but Cook has managed to create a lasting piece of art that hits on many levels, through several dimensions.
It’s nice to read the words of an accomplished human being and heartfelt writer, someone who’s writing it all down because they have to, because they’re compelled to.
This isn’t just “product,” this is Art.
It’s nice to know that the Folk Troubadour tradition continues.

Review Courtesy the Legendary Roy Peak (new album due in October!)

Released 9th October 2020

Stacie Collins DAMN GIRL!

Stacie Collins
Damn Girl!

She’s Done It Again; Harmonica and Twang Infested Country Rock Deluxe.

Where do I start with my love and adoration of Stacie Collins?
Probably the year of our Lord 2000, when I bought my first ever copy of No Depression; from the late lamented Goldrush Records shop in Perth Scotland. As I sat poring over this amazing publication I spotted an advert for her debut album ……. I can picture it now, one leg bent and her foot planted firmly against a tree she was standing against; and the fresh faced lovely smiling from beneath a big ole Cowboy Hat; and a strap-line that read something like ‘the best Country Harp player in Tennessee.’
These were the days before the internet; so I had to send a letter enquiring about purchasing this CD; weeks later I got a handwritten reply with the price inc. postage.
As I couldn’t get the actual price in dollars (and Paypal was 10 years away from being invented) I then had to buy 3 x $10 bills from work and duly posted them off.
Again; some weeks later a parcel arrived from the Colonies, baring a CD and a T-Shirt to make up for the difference in price!
There are more stories to tell; but I’ll leave them for my Autobiography 😉

Which now brings me to Stacie’s fifth album; DAMN GIRL!
Originally a self-financed and subsequently crowd funded release that was held back because of this pesky Coronavirus malarkey; but is now finally being released out into the wild.

You can only imagine the excitement in the air when I pressed ‘play’ for the first time and the noise that crackled out of the office speakers sounded like a Perfect Storm as the Al-Mighty 3 build up the tension until Stacie blasts out; all guns blazing ……. no prisoners taken; on the feisty as Hell, You Don’t Know Me.
Certainly erring on the Rockier end of Country; this is one belter of a song; and when Jonathan Sudbury delivers the first of his guitar solos my heart skipped a beat and the butterflies in my stomach flew around like starlings at roost.
That one song throws down the marker for what is to follow; as Stacie and Band are totally synched as one; which is what happens after years on the road.
While DAMN GIRL! certainly fits into Stacie’s cannon of work perfectly well; it’s as different as chalk and cheese from anything (apart from possibly the Live album) that has come before it.
For a studio album; songs like Down For The Count, Got Me Going and the 90 mph Darlin’ Why all have that glorious ‘one take’ feel about them; perhaps they took months to overdub (I doubt it, knowing how Al Collins works) but when a band is as tight as this they genuinely spark off each other like a forest fire.
While I’ve always loved Stacie Collins’ rockier numbers; and the powerful Hey Now, which opens with a steam train of a harp solo; is right up there with her best and is a certain to be a Live Favourite; but I’ve always been drawn to her slower, sultry ballads which invariably are Heartbreakers Deluxe.
If Things I Meant To Say doesn’t squeeze the life out of your heartstrings you are reading the wrong website …….. this is written by and for sloppy Old Romantics like me; and works perfectly in every word, syllable and note.
It’s an odd thing to think and even say; but I think Stacie has finally ‘grown into’ her voice; which has always been a power-tool; but on the heads down, no nonsense You’ve Been Gone and Down For The Count; her vocals are actually quite subtle; whereas the younger Stacie would have tried to blow every word off the Richter Scale …… here, she actually leaves that for the delightful harmonica/guitar interplay.
This is far too early for me to make a considered judgement as to selecting a Favourite Song; Hell’s Bell’s ……. I haven’t even played this in the car yet!
But; so far the intense and intricate Straight To Hell doesn’t sound anything like anything I’ve heard on Stacie’s previous releases; which has to be a good thing.
The cheeky giggle that starts Stuck In a Ditch gives an already doozy of a Twang infested Country Rocker one extra point; but I keep being dragged back to the Harmonica laden I Can’t Take It, as it is as good a song as Stacie and Al have ever recorded …….. man; there’s plenty of young Lady Rockers out there who could learn a lot about a singer and songwriter’s craft from this one song alone; and the band behind her ain’t too shabby either.
We all have acts like Stacie Collins in our collections; personal Favourites who we firmly believe should be Superstars; yet are still trawling the Clubs around the world barely scratching a living.
It’s not too late, that’s for sure ……. as Stacie Collins may have just released her most balanced album to date; and with the Western World all in ‘Lockdown’ of one sort or another; this might actually be the best time to release DAMN GIRL! as fans can actually kick back and let Stacie Collins take you to a secret place where only you and her songs matter.

Released September 20th 2020


Rory Gallagher THE BEST OF

Rory Gallagher
The Best Of

The Flame Burns Brighter Than Ever.

Does the world really need a BEST OF Rory Gallagher?
Seriously, that’s a serious question.
Rory Gallagher fans; like my good self will undoubtedly already own all, if not most of his recorded work; (he has that effect on people) but ……. and here’s the genius behind Brother Donal’s management of Rory’s archives; this is ‘all killer and absolutely no filler’ whatsoever; and is; no doubt intended for the lucrative Christmas market.
Although a cynical old sod by nature; I have no issue with that at all …….. because just imagine handing this Double Album over to your favourite son, daughter, nephew, niece or just about anyone under the age of 40 who may have only heard about the legend that is Rory Gallagher and watch their faces light up as they hear What’s Going On by the Irishman’s incarnation in the Taste for the very first time!
Then the music takes a magical leap forward 8 short years to Shadow Play; which is mystically completely different but somehow showcases the guitarist’s guitarist and his distinctive singing like probably no other here.
I’m reviewing the Double Album; which is what you should buy; as the Single release will surely leave you feeling short changed; and if you’ve received it as a gift left thinking the giver was a cheapskate and didn’t love you as much as you thought.
One of the funny things about this is that the tracks aren’t in chronological order; but that’s no problem as you get to hear and appreciate Rory’s amazing diversity in a whole new manner; CD 2 starts with the dirty Blues of 1979’s Bad Penny then follows with the Bluesiest song I’d ever heard in 1973, Walk On Hot Coals; then we get transported back to 1969 with Blister on the Moon (from Taste’s debut album) then if your senses aren’t already off the Richter Scale by this stage, our Man goes acoustic AND electric on Loanshark Blues.
Even if we just judge him by those 4 songs alone; I defy you to give me the name of another act who could possibly evolve so much, while still maintaining quality control like no other?
That was always the beauty of buying a new Gallagher album; you didn’t really know what to expect in advance, but you were always sure that your blind faith in his talents would be rewarded to the hilt.
In theory there should be no surprises here; as I already own every song and every album he ever released (plus a couple he and his record company didn’t know about #wink) but there are ………. I’ve not heard it in years, so Philby blew me away last week and again this morning; what a fabulous song ….. and let’s not forget what a truly great songwriter Rory was; which again comes to the fore on the slow and sleazy Bought & Sold, Jinxed (which I’d completely forgot about!) and even Cruise On Out which is perhaps the Rockiest song here.
There was nothing wrong in what his contempories were releasing in this period; but I loved and indeed, still love the way he sometimes went left of centre in his subject matter; Tattoo’d Lady? This was 1973 when such creatures were only seen in Fairgrounds and not in the Asda on a Tuesday afternoon.
Philby of course was an infamous Spy in the 1960’s and one of my favourite songs of all times, Daughter of The Everglades now sounds like Rory invented Americana!
With hindsight, the imagery in Rory’s songs really does transcend what most everything those around him were releasing back in those days. Moonchild? Ghost Blues? Calling Card? None are really his most ‘famous tracks’ but show a man who had a fertile imagination; and a romantic one too when you re-hear They Don’t Make Them Like You Anymore (which now sounds a bit like latter day Taste? Discuss?), Just The Smile and I Fall Apart after all these years.
There’s obviously an obligatory ‘never before released’ track to tempt completists; and it’s been a bit of a slow burner for me. Although famous for including older Blues standards in his repertoire; I can’t think of another contemporary track he’s ever recorded (or played live; apart from a Born Under a Bad Sign and Politician with Jack Bruce) so hearing him turn the Rolling Stones (I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction alongside Jerry Lee Lewis into a down and dirty Chicago Blues has been fascinating and illuminating in it’s own way.
To some greater or lesser degree I could stick a pin in and find my Favourite Track, as they probably were at some time in my life; but today I’ve narrowed it down to three; all of which I hadn’t played in donkey’s years and have not just surprised me but re-kindled my admiration for Rory Gallagher …….. It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again from the much maligned ON THE BOARDS by Taste, with it’s Jazzy undertones and liquid gold guitar playing; then there’s Crest of a Wave which still sounds nothing like anything else he ever recorded; and conjures up memories of seeing him play it live several times.
The winner though (I think) is A Million Miles Away; possibly because I had forgotten about it; but the sublime skill and nuances in his guitar playing are truly exemplary and the song itself is as romantic a Blues tale as ever straddled what we now call Americana as I may ever have heard.
Old Farts like me are always going to look at the track list and think, “why is X not here?”
But, even if your favourite track isn’t here (and these are all from the studio albums; before you ask) ……. what would you actually miss off?
Every album is featured in one way or another; and remember …… this is a retrospective of an all too short career destined for a whole new generation to discover ……. so if that’s you, get over yourself and Trust in Brother Donal to keep the flame burning brightly.
Damn ……. in this format, Rory Gallagher just may be even better than I have been telling people for half a century!

Released October 9th 2020



Tom Joshua
Undergrowth (EP)
A Modern Way

Steel River Delivers Another Set of Gems.

I recently heard a very interesting discussion about the effects of lockdown on artists that had just made it onto the ‘middle rungs of the ladder’ prior to March.
Interesting, it certainly was; but my thoughts and my heart too, went out to those artists who need someone to buy them a ladder from B&Q, just so they can try to get their foot on the bottom rung!
Surely all musicians are in the same boat; although to differing degrees.
The absence of live music gigs means that those trying to make a mark must be finding it really tough; and this must apply to acts like Tom Joshua more than most, with the almost inevitable loss of his Hit The North Festival appearance – a real shame because this EP is an absolute little gem to my ears.
I knew little about him apart from the release of a single that was very well received in terms of ‘hits,’ but after hearing this beauty he would definitely be on my ‘one to watch’ list.
The ‘Undergrowth’ video certainly comes into the odd category but so do most music videos these days to my old eyes. It seems as though the more unusual the better BUT this backed by a great vocal and sadly, that is not always the case.
He has a voice very much along the lines of Everything Everything offerings, a sort of falsetto that is ideally suited to his words.
Apparently, it is based on a rather (odd) dream Tom had and it is his Teesside friends that play the equally odd roles in the nocturnal setting.
The middle verse is the one that will get fans up and bouncing – 100% guaranteed.
‘Cinema’ is a very smooth opening track dealing with the singer describing himself to be
born to imagine things greater than himself
with his love of the cinema and the ‘score that took his heart’.
This would not be out of place on a album by a lot of the current fashionable singer/songwriters.
An altogether cracking little number.
‘Knock On A Hollow’ is about a row of deserted shops in Tom’s home town of Eaglescliffe, above which he was living and is probably the toe tapper of the EP.
It moves along at an upbeat level and for me, it would be the last track on a live set or the encore (if these still take place).
 ‘This Is Still Life’, brings this set to a great finale after opening with a piano that could be taken straight from Bruce Hornsby (before he became a bit more way out and wacky).
His voice and the production by Cam Blackwood (BSP and George Ezra) dovetail beautifully.
The EP was produced at the Voltaire Studio in London and it is certainly easy to see the influences of Big Thief etc. but overall, this is a Tom Joshua offering and he provides a great performance throughout.
Let me know when you hit Newcastle Tom – I will be in that queue.

Review by Bill Redhead

Released October 9th 2020

Kim Wilson TAKE ME BACK (The Bigtone Sessions)

Take Me Back (The Bigtone Sessions)
MC Records

The Blues; Precisely Like They Outta Be Played.

For someone who will reach their 70th. birthday next January Kim Wilson shows no signs of slowing down.
He has re-joined MC Records, following a hiatus of 17 years and they will release what will be his first solo album in 3 long years, which according to my calculations will be number his #7 under his own moniker.
You also have to add the 14 or so studio albums (plus the Live ones and Compilations etc.) he has recorded with The Fabulous Thunderbirds, the legendary Austin band he formed with Jimmie Vaughan in 1974 and still continues to lead to this day.

Just like in the old days, all 16 tracks on Take Me Back were recorded in Glorious Mono and “live in the studio;” at Big John Atkinson’s Big Tone Records in Bristol, Virginia.
Being in the Blues business for something like 50 years means Kim can call on some notable musicians and genuine friends to play on the album, not just the studio owner but also the likes of Billy Flynn, Rusty Zinn, Barrelhouse Chuck and Kid Andersen.

The respect and affection Wilson has for Jimmy Rogers means that 4 of the cover versions here are lesser known gems from his honorary uncle’s Chess period.
There are then renditions from the catalogues of Little Walter, Howlin’ Wolf, Percy Mayfield, Larry Williams and Jimmy Nolen too; plus seven self-penned numbers, four being instrumentals and they all point directly to the ultimate pantheon of the blues that is the Windy City.

Take Me Back” is the title track and a fine cover of a Little Walter beauty that was a B-Side to “It’s Too Late Brother”, first released in 1956.
The opening track is also one of the covers; Jimmy Nolen’s “You’ve been Goofin’” featuring some very distinctive guitar punctuated with baritone saxophone.
We then have the first of Kim’s instrumentals, “Wingin’ It” followed by a terrific Blues shuffle where we hear all about his “Fine Little Woman”, learning that
you don’t wanna mess with that woman,
she got the devil in her eye”.
Larry Willliam’s Rock’n Roll classic “Slow Down” then gets the party truly swinging without deviating too much from the original.

Howlin’ Wolf’s “No Place to Go” is genuinely respectful of the mega Blues icon and then Percy Mayfield’s “Strange Things Happening” slows things down again, with Kim’s familiar harmonica well to the foreground of the mix.
The mood picks back up again with “Play Me” bouncing along, guaranteeing sub-conscious foot tapping for any listener.

My Favourite Track is the penultimate “Goin’ Away Baby” which is one of the four Jimmy Rogers covers with its long 32 second harmonica intro followed by Kim’s vocals being interspersed or answered with his trademark, stinging harmonica.

In summary, 16 solid killer tracks, providing value for money, all concise and only lasting between 2:25 and 3:57 minutes each; that make the 50 minutes absolutely fly by; just like they used to back in the golden era of juke-box (nay juke-joint) singles.
In many ways Kim Wilson can be like that ‘marketing strap line’ used by Ronseal, he is ‘what it says on the tin’ …… quite simply the consummate musician who knows no other way to sing and play the Blues; precisely like they should be played.
So, no worries for Kim, Blues lovers everywhere will undoubtedly Take Him Back.

Released on 9th. October 2020

Review by Jack KiddMessin’ with the Kidd” on

The Ska Librarian’s 2 TONE TIME MACHINE

The Ska Librarian’s
Do The Dog

A Pocket History of Ska & 2 Tone in the Hellzapopin’ 1980’s

Our friend Kevin at DO THE DOG Skazine has done it again; looking back into his ‘back pages’ from the 1980’s when he ran RUDE Skazine.
Sooner or later one of us will win the lottery and these A5 magazines will be published as an actual book; but until then we we go with what we have, four magazines split covering two years each.
It’s fun looking back to see bands that became Household Names getting their first ever mentions in print.
Starting in 1979 it’s an absolute hoot as we start with the news that 2 Tone Records have already had 6 Top 20 singles and a Top 20 album …….. remember those exciting days; waiting for then watching Top Of The Pops hoping that one of our favourite bands would appear?
Madness’s debut album is described as ‘literally jaw dropping in its excellence’ …….. which history proves the writer correct, of course.
Then there is ‘a London trio injecting their fab songs with reggae and 2 Tone rhythms’ ….. who could that possibly be?
The Police; back in the days when they were cool.
For me it wasn’t easy reading in order; as band names are all in bold type which meant I kept jumping from page to page, reading about the new Bodysnatchers single (which I bought and cherished) then two paragraphs about Prince Buster, nearly missing the news that Birmingham band Dexy’s Midnight Runners were on the verge of signing for 2 Tone!
Baring in mind this was 40 years ago, I’d forgot how exciting this all was, especially remembering acts like Arthur Kay and Mark Foggo’s Secret Meeting (again) for the very first time.
Oh; if you were surprised at seeing The Police included; I couldn’t help but giggle when I read about an Australian band and their ‘self-penned Ska Tunes which have been a mainstay of their live act.’
Who could that be?
INXS of course – really!

1981-83 saw the first cracks appear in our nascent Ska and 2 Tone ‘movement’; as Madness are still top of the charts and the Dance Craze film comes out; but after The Specials start the year well they then split and beget Fun Boy Three and eventually The Special AKA.
Thankfully Bad Manners, The Selector, The Police and new boys The Beat are still ‘flying the flag’ but RUDE Skazine was now concentrating on Ska bands in the urban towns around the country and Europe; with nods to The Riffs, Belle Stars, Dixo Wankers (Holland), Geier Sturzflug (Germany), Duck Soup (Denmark) and American outfits Blue Riddim Band, The Targets and Fishbone!
By 1984/85 British Ska and 2 Tone was on the wain to some degree, although Liverpool’s The Farm and following the Beat splitting up three members founded a band called Fine Young Cannibals come out of nowhere; but ‘our music certainly appeared to be on the rise everywhere else.
Again; I got a helluva buzz re-reading about a Bim Skala Bim and ‘cool new band from California’ called Camper Van Beethoven …… whatever happened to them?
As 2 Tone and Ska was no longer dominating the UK Charts; by 1987/88 The magazine had now evolved into what we now know as Do The Dog Skazine; concentrating the the shadows of the industry; which is why it is now essential reading.
Where else where/are you going to read about La Ppisch, Korroskada, El Bosso & Die Ping Pongs, Los Intocables, The Donkey Show alongside Madness, Ranking Roger, The Toasters and the ubiquitous Bad Manners?
It’s been a hoot and a blast re-living my musical youth; and there’s been surprises on every page ………. none more so than on page #4 of the 1981 issue.
Tucked away between things about Chicago’s Heavy Manners new 7″ and an emerging band from Sydney called The Allniters is a note about young Kevin’s “Favourite new Ska song called Love On The Run, an insanely catchy earworm of a sing along 2 Tone Ska/Pop track from an up and coming NYC pop vocalist called ………. Madonna!
Yep ……… ‘that’ Madonna!
OK I doubt they will ever unearth another Madonna; but looking back to the days of RUDE Skazine will hopefully make you appreciate Do The Dog even more.



Chris Smither
Signature Sounds/Mighty Albert

Timeless Songs Full of Rustic Charm and Tattered Love.

As regular readers will know I listen to albums a couple of times, so as to pass judgement before picking up the accompanying Press Release.
Today, this caused some consternation as I thought/presumed that this was a brand new, shiny album from one of our favourite singer-songwriters; but apparantly these are actually leftovers from 2013’s SONGS FROM THE LEVEE sessions, which actually begat a fabulous Double Album; and without giving the game away too early ……… that must have been some special water Smither was drinking at that time if this collection weren’t deemed good enough to make the ‘initial final cut’!
I couldn’t stop thinking about ‘that’ this morning when I sat down to start writing and listened again to opening track Caveman.
Come on guys; if 99% of other songwriters had written this song; and even sung it in the way Smither does, it would be a career highlight!
But for Chris Smither it only made the reserve list! Such is his quality threshold.
In fairness you can play a 20 year old Chris Smither album and his songs don’t sound like they’ve aged a day; such is the timeless quality of his writing and singing; which is why I presumed that Father’s Day and Lonely Time; which are all full of Smither’s trademarked quintessential rustic charm were brand new songs written and performed this year.
Perhaps I missed something when I first heard and fell in love with the gloriously downbeat Old Man Down; which actually has a Leonard Cohen vibe to it; but it will also touch the hearts and souls of most listeners of my generation as Chris digs deeper than most other songwriters can; or even dare.
Of course that ‘sitting on the back porch’ ‘easy come/easy go’ feeling that saturated SONGS FROM THE LEVEE is still here; especially so on Hey Hey Hey and What I Do; where Chris just oozes effortless cool in every word and note.
But; I’m going to the darker edges of the album to choose a Favourite Song.
As you’d expect the ‘aging process’ is something of a shadow here; although yer man never feels sorry for himself; and nor should we as he celebrates a ‘life well lived’ in one form or another on the tattered and inspirational Lonely Time and, the song that squeezed the the actual oxygen out of my heart the second time I played it and understood it ………. Confirmation; with its delightful twangy melody and toe-tapping beat; but listen to Smithers clever and introspective words and …….. phew ……… this is a song that’s well worth the entrance fee alone.
Just like the opening track Caveman; it’s staggering to think that songs this good weren’t deemed good enough to be included in the original Double Album; and to be fair ……. they weren’t even missed; where they?
There is actually one brand spanking new song here; and it closes the album just perfectly’ as What I Do fits in like an aging hand into a well worn leather glove.

Released September 25th 2020



Our Man in The Field

Pearlescent Lo-Fi Folk With an Added Americana Spark.

I really wasn’t sure what to make of this remarkable debut album when I first received it a month or so ago. Perhaps I wasn’t really in the mood for Alexander Ellis’ pearlescent lo-fi; although I should have been; because I was in a really flat and dark mood …… but I had my regular ‘go to’ albums for such occasions.
But now the ‘black clouds’ have disappeared and I can now recognise the strength and wisdom in these enchanting songs and tales.
Sounding battered and bruised, accompanied by his acoustic guitar and Henry Senior Jr’s sublime pedal-steel guitar, on opening song Thin (I Used to Be Bullet Proof) our man somehow manages to see the light at the end of the tunnel; albeit after a long and troubled journey.
That song certainly sets the mood for what is to follow; windswept Folk songs that transcend normal boundaries; slipping and sliding between the common or garden English variety, that we associate with John Martyn and Nick Drake (Easy Going Smile and Pockets, spring to mind) via the intensity that some of our RMHQ Favourites Stephen Fearing and Lake Poets have brought us in recent years; It Is What It Is and Don’t Speak are prime examples of the beautiful intensity they can all bring to our world; speaking what we often feel but can’t actually articulate.
The ever so simple production and arrangements (it was all recorded ‘as live’ in the studio) masks some amazing lyrics and heartbreaking stories.
Several songs actually sent a shiver down my spine when I first played this album; wow …… how deep, yet accessible is Swansong (Don’t Play With Matches)?
Listen carefully and somewhere beyond Ellis’s hypnotic voice and you will hear some mighty fine guitar and pedal-steel that will blow your mind (I was listening on headphones yesterday …. WOW!).
For a young man, taking his first steps in the wacky world of Rock & Roll Alexander Ellis is a very mature songwriter in not just words, but deeds too; as the finale I Like You So I Will Kill You Last proves.
Starting with some extraordinary and ornery harmonica it builds and builds as the guitar, bass and drums arrive as if uninvited guests, before Ellis eventually pours his heart out as if in a confessional.
While possibly the cleverest and possibly most interesting song on the album, it’s not even my Favourite Song though; as two others completely took me unawares and even today; to paraphrase Norman Gimbel’s Killing Me Softly With His Song: Ellis feels to me like he’s:
Strumming my pain with his fingers
Singing my life with his words
When he sings the sorrowful and expressive It Is What It Is and more especially, It Was Ever So; which probably wins the accolade as it really, really does sound like he has lived a life of heartbreak and knows the only way out is to put it all in a song.
There’s not a lot more I can tell you about Alexander Ellis as he seems to enjoy hiding behind his Our Man in The Field, pseudonym, which is fine …….. because his songs certainly do the talking for him.

Released September 25th 2020.

Bradford LIKE WATER (Single)

Like Water
Republic of Music

Morrisey’s Prediction Finally Comes to Fruition …… 30 Years Later!

When I saw the band’s name, Bradford on the review request I tried to recall if I had seen them way back when; but as I tended to turn up only to see the headliners back then, they may well have been on the bill without me even realising.
It was 30 years ago that Morrissey came out with his ‘the band to blaze a trail in English indie music’ prediction – said band being Bradford, a Blackburn skinhead outfit. Released in 1990 and backed up with support slots for Joe Strummer and Sugarcubes surely stardom loomed.
The best laid plans etc….
Bradford found themselves swamped by ‘Madchester’ and lost their label in 1991.
History lesson over – now the good part.
After the re-release of their album, Bradford hit the studio again and an album is planned (all being well) for early 2021 with this track ‘Like Water’ a ‘starter for ten’ to get fans on board again.
It’s a catchy little track delivered by a band that seem to have slotted back into their previous regime very easily. The track mirroring their own experience ‘as you pour water into the ground it just disappears quickly’ in the same way that the hopes and dreams of Bradford disappeared.
A guitar based funky song that is certainly evidence that their song writing ability hasn’t disappeared like water – a very catchy number a la The Coral dealing with the locals ‘shouting about their medication’ in a comment equally applicable to 2020 or 1990.
Enough to make their 2021 album something to look forward to but with ‘better luck next time’.

Review courtesy The Original ‘Rocking Magpie’ Bill Redhead.

The Neptunas MERMAID A GO GO

The Neptunas
Mermaid A Go Go
Altered State of Reverb

A ‘Happy Pill’ And a Glorious Musical Antidote for 2020.

I’m pretty sure I know the RMHQ demographic; and firmly believe them to be of an age when music was meant to fun; and not necessarily ‘worthy’ or ‘cerebral’; which obviously has a big place in my personal collection; but come on kids ……. and, if nothing else ….. we all need a ‘Happy Pill’ as an antidote for this Musical Annus Horribilus, don’t we?

Well; we have just that here in the third album from The Neptunas.
Imagine, if you will a day when you were nonchalantly flicking through the racks of your local Record Store (as such things are for life and not just RSD!) and you stumbled on the Archies inspired artwork on the cover.
You’d pick it up.
When you see that the first track is called Billy The Squid Water Pistol, who among couldn’t resist asking the shop assistant to play a couple of tracks?
Well; Billy The Squid is a surf inspired Ventures meets The Shadows instrumental of Uber-Cool proportions my friend!
If you still needed convincing to part with your pocket money; then the second track Secret of the Sea, continues with that 60’s kitsch theme only now we get to hear Leslita Neptuna sexy vocals on Secret of The Sea; and I know a sexy voice when I hear it! If these two tracks alone don’t make you want to hear the whole album and become an honorary Mermaid; I’m wasting my time here.
While I don’t want to do the Neptunas or their producer, Los Straightjackets’ Danny Amis’ production a disservice; there’s a distinct ‘one take’ lo-fi feel to each track; but that’s a good thing ……… it captures the ‘magic’ and excitement in every groove on Shark Tooth Necklace and the dancetastic title track Mermaid A Go Go and by the time you get to the two ‘Bonus Tracks’ Neptuna Car Wash and Hey Jimmy Freak you will be Shimmying and doing The Mash as if you are dancing with The Fonz in Al’s Diner.
By the way; it takes years of hard toil on the road to make the recording process ‘sound’ as simple and easy as this.
My only criticism is that this should have been released way back in May or June so the likes of Undersea Grand Prix, The Abyss and Nancy Drew’s Wetsuit could have been the soundtrack to our Summer ……. God knows we needed some smiles.
There are two left of centre covers here; The Kinks’ ‘Til The End of the Day which takes it back to it’s grungy beginnings and; a personal favourite of mine from my childhood; The Lonely Bull, which actually shows what clever musicians the three Neptunas are.
Selecting a single song from all of these potential 45’s is never going to be easy; but re-living my teenage years on School’s a Drag has to be a contender; as does Lord Jim and Sorority Stomp, which somehow both have an X-Ray Spex meets CBGB’s era Blondie feel about them; and I guess when played live are both revved up another 50mph.
Which all brings me to Laura Bethita’s sexy vocals again; if you have as vivid imagination as me you’d hope she could talk in French to you ……. well she goes one better; she actually sings in French! Yep; Poupee de Cire Poupee de Son sounds just like a French Kiss set to music. I have no idea what she’s singing about, and don’t even care …… What’s not to like; it’s now my Favourite Song of Lockdown.

Maybe there’s a whole political subtext here that I’ve missed; but I’m taking it all at face value and Mermaid A Go Go has been a fun filled blast from start to finish, and works just as well blasting out of the tinny speakers in my kitchen as does with the windows down in the car on a sunny day ……… and don’t get me started about the potential for a soundtrack to a beer fueled BBQ full of my/our hip friends!

Released September 25th 2020