The Rubinoos CBS TAPES

The Rubinoos
CBS Tapes
Yep Roc

Garage Meets Power Pop and Begets Punk ….. PLAY BLOODY LOUD!

BERKELEY, Calif. — On November 2, 1976, Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States. The events of November 3 were less earth-shaking, although it was the day the power pop pioneers The Rubinoos recorded this album. The group walked into CBS Studios on Folsom Street in San Francisco to, as band co-founder and singer Jon Rubin recollects, “have a ‘set up and get comfortable in the studio’ kind of affair.”

…….and, to some extent that’s what you get …… a Garage Band of young fearless musicians without a care in the world; or more importantly ‘Hit Records’ in the forefront of their mind.
All first takes; this in many ways is a Live Recording and to my ears; the forerunner of many Punk album that would follow in the next few years.
The only thing that would make opening track All Excited any better would be if the drummer counted everybody in ….. “1,2, 3 ….hit it!” The following couple of minutes is very much ‘of its time’ as is the album itself; mid 70’s Power Pop with edges so rough and ready they all become timeless …. and certainly haven’t dated as much as many of what their peers would record in the next 12 months.
That track is one of only three self-penned songs here; and all three sit very comfortably alongside the myriad of cover songs that the Rubinoos put their very own twist on.
If I’d had a band in 1976 it’s quite conceivable that I would have insisted the Archies’ Sugar Sugar and my two favourite Beatles songs; She Loves You and I Want To Hold Your Hand were included in the set list; just like Jon Rubin did; but I wouldn’t have had the wit or imagination to have the Funk Classics, King Curtis’ Memphis Soul Strut and The Meters Cissy Strut in the mix too; as both only entered my collection ten or more years later ….. and here The Rubinoos certainly do justice to and show what great musicians they were at such a tender age.
For a Favourite Track I very nearly went for the Surf Instrumental Walk, Don’t Run …… but that’s because I’m re-discovering that much neglected sub-genre; which leaves a coin toss between Heartbeat, It’s a Love Beat (DeFranco Family? No; me neither) which has melodies and a chorus that sounds like The Adverts covering The Osmonds!
T’other is a Rubinoos original; and a song that blew my metaphorical socks off ……. I Want Her, So Bad …… a genuine contender for the very first Punk Rock song (although there are other contenders) and one I’ve subsequently totally fallin in love with.
The all too short album comes to a close with a Jonathan Richmond Song; Government Song done absolutely straight and possibly the one song here that actually is a forerunner to the fun time edgy Power Pop that The Rubinoos became famous for; but everything that precedes it; warts ‘n all, has to be there too to create the magic; doesn’t it?
Four weeks ago I had absolutely no idea what to expect; as I’m particularly suspicious of ‘previously unreleased albums;’ but 2021 is probably a case of ‘right place/right time’ for The Rubinoos to take over your car stereo for the second time as you re-live your youth and scare the bejaysus out of your kids and Grandkids ……. PLAY LOUD and PLAY OFTEN!

Released June 25th 2021


The Yardbirds LIVE FRANCE

Live in France
Repetoire Records

Shapes of Things From Their Early Days R&B Pioneers Through To Prototype Heavy Rock Gods.

Okay folks, we all know that nostalgia is a thing of the past and most of us are more than delighted to still be interested in all the new music that is available, from all corners of the globe. Occasionally though, someone comes along with some historic and pertinent music just to remind us (whatever your age) where the embryonic roots of popular music in Europe were formed.

Repertoire Records are that someone with the release of Live in France which captures some of The Yardbirds concert recordings (audio from French TV and Radio) over a 4 year period in the 1960’s and subsequently collated into a glorious 21st. century package.
The album is available in either CD or Deluxe Vinyl options that have both liner notes and a 16 page booklet by Chris Welch, including exclusive interviews with Jim McCarty and Paul Samwell-Smith.
Aficionados of the Swinging Sixties will undoubtedly appreciate the detail and absolute care taken in pulling this package together.

Like many in-depth retrospective releases Live in France has a few songs that are duplicated (even triplicated), from different venues and dates, but that should not have a negative impact on the obsessive collector of such memorabilia. Logically it flows in chronological order covering three actual concert performances plus one TV show.

For Your Love” and “I Wish You Would” kick off the album, recorded at Palais Des Sports on 20th. June 1965 (whilst sharing the bill with The Beatles btw) and has Keith Relf and his band-mates showcasing their Pop hit (written by a young Graham Gouldman) and then a typical mid 1960’s R&B harmonica effort.

There are then three tracks from 27th. June 1965 when they played at Music Hall de France, firstly a cover of Tiny Bradshaws “Train Kept A Rollin” followed by two collective band compositions that both made the charts, “Shapes Of Things” as well as  “Over, Under Sideways, Down” (Where he Eastern and therefore ‘progressive’ influences clearly prominent).
As per the 20th. June recordings the lead guitar comes from Jeff Beck.

The next seven tracks were all recorded at Grand Spectacle de Jeunes, Paris on 30th. April 1967 after Beck had left the group and Jimmy Page taking over on lead guitar.
Shapes Of Things”, “Train Kept A Rollin” and “Over, Under, Sideways, Down” are all repeated along with four other tracks including another of their hits “Heart Full Of Soul”; with all now being increasingly ‘different’ from the original versions.

Less than three months before The Yardbirds would call it a day we have the final batch of live performances coming from a TV Special ‘Live at Bouton Rouge;” recorded on 9th. March 1968.
There is a third rendition of “Train Kept A Rollin” as well as “Goodnight Sweet Josephine”. However, the highlight of the entire package is “Dazed And Confused” where you sense the distinct metamorphism, from Rhythm & Blues to the Prog Rock/Heavy Rock which would end the bands days, with Page’s stinging guitar indicating just what the future holds (for him, at least).

Personally, I don’t remember too much from the 1960’s, preferring to ensure that alcohol consumption was more important than musical memories. With the benefit of hindsight I should have stuck with the Amber and not been enticed by the Broon.
But, we all know that well-worn quotation “if you can remember the sixties, then you weren’t really there”.
Well folks, I confess that I was definitely there, no; not in France, but enjoying myself in the clubs & pubs where there was live music and somewhere in the back of my mind I think I did catch The Yardbirds, probably down the bill on a Package Tour at Newcastle City Hall.

So, as your classic ‘Baby Boomer’ listening to these recordings, complete with the odious screaming from hordes of pubescent French fillies, it brings back clouded memories and stirs long lost retrospective recollections and has put a silly grin on my well worn façade.

Jack Kidd Messin’ with the Kidd” on  

Released on 7th. May 2021



The Mono LPs
Fretstore Records

The Cellos Aren’t Real and the Mono LPs Just Don’t Exist?’

I find myself in a strange situation on this album review as  Ste Reid, from Mono LP’s believes “people don’t listen to albums in their entirety any more, due to the likes of Spotify etc“.
An interesting statement and one that in many ways may be accurate but it’s the exact opposite of my personal modus operandi.

Provided time permits I prefer to listen to an entire album (usually on my morning strolls) to get a true feel for the set, although it may take a couple of listens before I feel totally happy with my ‘views’ – not that they are always the populist ones, of course.
I made a point of listening to the previous release; ‘States of Decay’ before finally deciding on the review, as it allowed the chance of a comparison between the two and even more relevant, the chance to see where the band are aiming with this offering. And it’s clear that they are certainly not the sort to be stuck in a rut as ‘Shuffle/Play’ is deliberately a step up in musical terms and arrangements.
The opener ‘Think About It’ just hits you immediately, pleading with the listener to ‘think about it when everybody says you are wrong’.
A heavy 80’s style number and an ideal set opener.
Any thoughts this would set the theme for the album are blown apart with ‘Make Your Mind Up;’ much softer and a re-styling of an older track to an electronica number a la The XX so we have had two opposite ends of the spectrum on the first two tracks – what was to follow?
The answer is ‘The Bomb’ delivered in an unmistakably obvious Liverpool accent – ‘you’re living like a queen’ but ‘it’s in an ivory tower’. A great arrangement making full use of their individual talents and one of the best tracks on the album.
We are then back into real 70s rock style for ‘Hell’, one of their newest tracks from their writing endeavours, but to be honest, it was the only track that did not gel with me straight away. More down to me not being a fan of that genre; rather than the actual track possibly.
You can’t win ‘em all!
Their aim of an album dealing with different periods and genres isn’t going to have every track to the liking of even those with the most catholic tastes, but they were back in my good books on ‘Getting Away With It All’.
Back to the 60s ( my era)?
The highlight of the album (and video) is ‘Love Me’, a story of true love in true indie style – a real toe-tapper and one to get the crowd ‘up for it’. The arrangement and the vocals come together perfectly.
For Peter Sellars fans who can remember him in ‘Being There;’ track #6 ‘Chancy Gardener’ glides along helped by the tremendous cello parts ( in a ‘rock’ band?) of Vicky Reid aided and abetted (in the nicest way) by the violin of Amy Chalmers, a friend of the band but also in Two Black Sleep.
The Country/Americana track to add another string to their bow is ‘Sunlight’, very much influenced by The Coral before the penultimate ‘Not The Only One’, another more indie-style tune, with the catchy jangle of guitars to the fore.
The sad finale ‘You Say’ deals with the death of a close relative from Cancer – ‘please stay with me tonight’ as the family gather together for possibly the last time.
A beautiful violin and piano duo provide just the right atmospheric mood for a song genuinely written ‘from the heart.’
They have glued together a set based on older tracks pre ‘States of Decay;’ plus a lot of newer offerings and this clicks perfectly to bring a very enjoyable album and an array of (deliberately) differing moods.
I don’t usually mention accompanying videos but just check out the video for ‘Love Me’ – a cracking song and an even better video of the ‘tortured souls’ variety; living out their ironic and humorous apprehensions of their love and the band.
Well I listened to it all the way through THREE times and each time I seemed to pick up something I had missed previously, but it didn’t improve my mood re ‘Hell’ – it would seem I’m an old dog who can’t be taught the trick of liking 70’s RAWK!!
Now that there are signs of life on the gig front, I will add these to my ‘to see’ list (it’s getting longer by the day).
I have a feeling that seeing them with their cello live would be something I would really enjoy.
An album of changes and I am reliably informed ‘change is for the better’.

Released April 23rd 2021

Courtesy Bill Redhead


The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco DON’T GO ANYWHERE

The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco
Don’t Go Anywhere
Bandcamp Inc.

Contemporary All-American, Grown Up Pop Music From a Sleeper Unit Based in Essex.

The 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco are riddled with many and various secrets ….. some I am privy too; and others that are part of an elaborate FBI plot to plant American ex-popstar sleeper units deep into the UK countryside; and when the time is right, will send them a codeword (‘Lockdown’ ?) so they can spread jollity and happiness across the airwaves.
Or not ….. depending on your imagination.
It’s got to be something like that; or why else would this 100% American belter; made in Essex sound so almost perfect and fully formed; if the Tail Fins hadn’t previously spent the the last 20+ years touring the Western Hemisphere and releasing Grammy Winning albums?
It all starts with the Reno’s Electric Stairs; funky Contemporary All-American Pop Music in all its fabulous multi-layered glory ….. What’s not to like?
Sadly most of the descriptive prose I want to use may likely put you off; and that would be a damn shame; as these songs; one and all, are perfect slices of intellectual, articulate and melodious slices of Grown Up Pop Music in the same vein as RMHQ favourites Barenaked Ladies and most of all; a band I fell in love with by accident when I once bought the wrong LP ……. Steely Dan!
While I don’t normally get lost in the rabbit hole that is full of vinyl fetishists; but these songs like Best Bitters, 1909 GTC and Here All Week are chock full of hidden musical chambers that you simply must take the time to listen either on headphones or most likely damn good (and balanced) hi-fi speakers to get the best out of the them.
If we use their new FBI names, 1957 Tail Fin Fiasco are; more or less, the brainchild of David Myers and Malcolm Moore who have proper day jobs; meaning these songs and their intensely clever and intricate arrangements are, to all intents and purposes …. a hobby!
Hence my FBI ‘Witness Protection’ theory ….. surely, Heligan Begin Again and J is For Genius (with that funky as Hell bass line!) can only be from musicians who studied at Harvard Tango University?
Also; I can only dream/fantacise about hearing Open Your Windows & Doors in all it’s Sgt. Pepper filtered through Pet Sounds glory at Sage Gateshead or even Newcastle City Hall with its majestic acoustics; but more than likely it will be at the Fox and Hounds on a Thursday night in the Latin Quarter of Chigwell; which is such a shame.
Even though I loved their last album HARVARD TANGO and was privy to a secret single a few weeks ago; nothing has really prepared me for the leaps and bounds Myers and Moore have made in the interim; which has made choosing a Favourite Track nigh on impossible; just about every song merits its place here …….’all killer – no filler’, but I’ve concentrated this morning and narrowed it down to three ……. the quirky Sparks-a-like Banana Beer and Other Cults; the self-depreciating Silverback and the slow and sultry Best Bitters; which really and truly sounds like it was the ‘secret track’ in the run off to first edition CD’s of Steely Dan’s Aja or Gaucho!
Seriously; and I know I am capable of excessive hyperbole some days but this album is a MUST BUY if you like any of the bands I’ve name checked above; or you just like Classy Music.

Released 25th March 2021



Twin Flames
Paper Bag Records

From Canada; Life’s Happiness and Sadness (But Not in Equal Measures)

Quite a few years ago I read an article extolling the virtues of the number of successful Canadian bands on the Indie/Rock scene, so not long after; I took the chance to see a few bands from this ‘new scene’ whenever they visited my Home Town of Newcastle.
Two of the earliest I was able to catch up with were Woodpigeon and Wintersleep. Both were excellent, so I have CDs from both in my collection (something that definitely needs to be tidied up ASAP).
In the latest edition of MOJO Magazine, is their small review of ‘Twin Flames;’ the band were described as ‘inventive envelope-pushing indie rock’.
The link between the two points?
Paul Murphy that’s who; and POSTDATA is his side project to Wintersleep; and is releasing this album under the expert production of Ali Chant (Perfume Genius, Portishead and P J Harvey).
In addition; among the performers offering quality helping hands are Grant Hutchison and Andy Monaghan from Frightened Rabbit, one of my favourite UK outfits.
Having set out with the aim of producing a more intimate offering Paul has managed to to manufacture an album that not only reflects that, but also suits his quite distinctive voice quite perfectly – the end result is his best release so far, in my opinion.
Nine tracks that retain the dual target of an excellent album filled with excellent individual songs.
Sadness and happiness abounds; albeit in unequal measures.
‘Haunts’ drifts in slowly and gently behind Murphy’s vocals ‘you were the first to say I love you,’ backed by percussion and bass to start us off on the road through ‘Twin Flames.’
This is followed by a dreamy pop style ‘Inside Out’ and one that Murphy maintains he has left in its ‘poppy’ state.
Catchy is the ideal adjective for track #3 ‘Nobody Knows’ where he is backed by friends and family shouting ‘not good’ behind him.
This is the track that Murphy has modelled on the musical leanings of the late Scott Hutchison. 
The title track is delivered in a cool spoken manner and is certainly the darkest song here, in terms of meaning and lyrics
holding you tightly in the endless night til there was nothing left’.
The beautiful horn backing offers the ideal back set to this track.
Favourite track?
For me?
‘Kissing;’ about a relationship that is so alive, you can literally feel the Frightened Rabbit influence in here – sadness is always just a heartbeat away.
The last few tracks offer Paul the chance to demonstrate his ability to mix the upbeat ‘Behind You’ and the need to just get through tough times and make the most of life with ‘My Mind Won’t,’ dealing with love in its many complicated ways, not least being the difficult part of simply staying together;
I don’t want to let you go but my words are meaningless.’
Another great song
‘Tomb’, the finale, covers the aftermath of a death, with the memories that are so clear yet all they do is to bring these almost to life, so he can’t get away from them in real life.
An album of happiness and sadness (not in equal measures) that does definitely reveal the friendship and influence that existed with the members of Frightened Rabbit, but overall  it is a tremendous set, one that will go down a bomb in a smaller more intimate venue.
My ‘test’ is to listen on the daily morning walk and this one got regular re-plays and I even found myself looking at the lyrics, something I very rarely do.
Did I mention that Canada have more than a few decent indie/rock outfits?
POSTDATA are well and truly in that category.

Review by Bill Redhead



Glowing In The Dark
Because Music

Possibly Their Finest Album To Date? You Decide.

When their initial album was released a few years ago I was extolling its virtues to a couple of lads from work – both really liked it, but couldn’t understand the spelling or pronunciation of DJANGO.
I explained about Django Reinhardt but still received blank looks, so they decided to look it up.
After asking how to spell both Django and Reinhardt they listened to my suggestion and they both bought the album and went to see the band live, so I must have been correct in my original view of the band and the album.
Having enjoyed the previous three albums (to varying degrees) I was really looking forward to their 2021 offering to see if there had been any changes to their philosophy over the last 2/3 years.
I was not disappointed.
I’ve always had the view that bands need to hit the listener early via the opening track; and ‘Spirals’ does that in spades; being the sort of track that just deserves to be the opener on any live set.
At 5 minutes it could have the audience on a high immediately.
A smashing opening.
Over their 4 albums the band have tried to change/progress/evolve musically but at the same time retaining that ‘definitive sound’ that hit us all on their debut album. It’s a hard path to try and walk without slipping off but track 3 ‘Got Me Worried’ is ideal in that respect, leading onto ‘Waking Up’ featuring the tremendous Charlotte Gainsbourg, whose voice just suits this arrangement.
This switch of lead vocalist is a real winner. Probably my favourite track.
It is hard for me to put this band into a genre and even more so on their 4th album, but I think it’s fair to slot them into a Electro-Rock category, if that exists but I suppose it does now.
‘Free From Gravity’ is a real toe tapper with an almost hypnotic and repetitive percussion backing to emphasise the title.
As a band, Django Django have relied on the close and catchy vocals on previous offerings and they’ve not lost any of that here; on ‘Headrush’ with Vincent Neff keeping ‘the spirit up in a headrush’.
If it works well don’t change it so ‘Night Of The Buffalo’ keeps us on our toes through the middle third of the 13 tracks.
There is a sudden drop in tempo with ‘The World Will Turn’, a pleasant softer tempo number that wouldn’t be out of place on say, an Admiral Fallow album. This toning down soon disappears on ‘Kick The Devil Out’ with (to me) a hint of the Beta Band on another very catchy melody.
The title track doesn’t show until track 11 and this ‘sounds just like a Django Django number;’ was my first thought and I still feel that after a longer listen. Really catchy with the stuttered delivery.
We finally see this set out with ‘Hold Fast’ and the appropriately named ‘Asking For More’. Drum rolls, soft vocals and a finish that the album has earned – one where we are still listening as intently as we were back on ‘Spirals’.
My customary practice of listening to this a couple of times on my morning walks (no interruptions so a clear head), have me needing to decide if this is their best album so far.
That’s a tough one, but on reflection, I think it’s best to say that DD fans will not be disappointed at all.
In a gig free society in which we live/survive, does it make me want to go out to see this being played in front of an excited crowd? Absolutely 100%.
I reckon that’s a good way to end and a good decision to make.
‘Glowing In The Dark’ will be glowing on a lot of turntables (or CD players)

Released 12th February 2021



The Dark and the Water
Fresh Yo! Record Label

A Power-Pop Trio That Fully Rocks and Engages Too
GUMO is a band of Tuscany musicians: Alberto Serafni, Manuel Schicchi and Juri De Luca, who split their time between Italy and Texas,, and were the award winning backing band for Americana artist Vanessa Peters on three of her albums from 2006 through 2009 (credited to their former band name Ice Cream On Mondays.)

As a backing band they were spot-on, both tasteful and adventurous when needed. On their own, they’re all jangle pop with pounding drums, searing guitars, thick bass tones, and dry, under sung vocals that remind me sometimes of glam rockers T-Rex, other times of Scot’s pre-grunge band the Vaselines, and even Dinosaur Jr. all wrapped up with the wryness of the Velvet Underground.
This is fun stuff, indeed. Lead guitar melodies that’ll stick in your brain for days, along with smart poppy lyrics and sing-a-long choruses.
Their closest modern counterparts are probably that Philadelphia madman Jo Kusy and perhaps Scott McCaughey (Scott the Hoople, himself.)
GUMO isn’t as lo-fi as Kusy, or as prolific as McCaughey, but they share the same sense of whimsy and free for all rock ‘n’ roll spirit hard to come by nowadays.
Leave the heady trips for the “Americana” bands, this is fun rock to dance and shimmy fearlessly to all night long and then some—and lord knows we all need that right about now! Listen to those up and down guitar leads on their song “Alright,” a glam-rock rave-up if I ever heard one.
“Lord” is a down tempo twang-drone with marching snare and circular melody while “Stood Up Straight” slams relentlessly as it barrels past you like a New York subway train.
“Trying” kicks off with funky bass and guitar before the vocals slink in and the drums keep your feet moving. A toe-tapper of a song for sure!
All of these tunes are played hard and furious, precise and cool— if this is GUMO in the studio; they must be one helluva band live!
I’m trying to think of some criticism here but really have none. A great band is the sum of their parts, and GUMO’s parts fit together seamlessly. A power trio that fully rocks and engages its listeners, paying homage to their inspirations, while shooting for the stars.

Review courtesy The Legendary Roy Peak.

Released October 16th 2020



King King
Channel 9 Music

Between Rock and a Heavy Place?

It took a while; but I was eventually won over and counted myself as a Fan of King King; when I received an e-mail saying that the band were splitting up; but ….. to ‘watch this space.’
The key ‘news’ when it came; was that frontman, Alan Nimmo was not just putting together a whole new band; but being joined by … brother Stevie!
For Blues fans of my generation this was a huge shock, as while we knew that they had ‘kissed and made up’ a couple of years ago; but surely their ‘fiery relationship’ precluded a full on reformation of the fantastic Nimmo Brothers?
Well, that appears to be a yes AND no answer.
After years of hard graft the King King brand is at an all time high; so it appears that the future lies under that moniker; but Hell’s Teeth! Their sound has changed so dramatically.
Although MAVERICK has been one surprise after another; the concept shouldn’t be, as no two previous King King albums had been the same, even though there was always a distinctive ‘sound’ that I grew to love.
From the outset, this is now nearer the Heavy Rock of Rainbow, Dio and Europe, than the Bluesmen of yore.
The new Heavier sound comes at you straight from the traps with opener Never Give In sounding like they are cramming a 9 minute workout into 3 and 1/2 claustrophobic minutes; and daring you to take your mind off what they are doing for even a second.
While never shy of including actual stories and/or ‘messages’ in his songs; after all these years, Alan Nimmo still retains the power to astonish and astound …….. the powerful and anthemic One World Forever and Dance Together are almost ‘political’ statements, with the latter being a banker to be the last song of the set before the encores come in; plus it’s so rifftastic it’s almost guaranteed to be what we used to call a Radio Hit.
Alan and band also show their mellow side on the bittersweet Power Ballad Whatever It Takes To Survive and when you hear him pour his heart out alongside Johnny Dyke’s pathos laden piano playing on When My Winter Comes you will absent mindedly find yourself waving your mobile phone in the air as you sway from side to side.
Maybe I’m being a bit ‘tongue in cheek’ there; but it’s a strikingly beautiful song; the likes of which I never expected to hear from King King.
On an album full of twists and turns; there’s even a funky bass/keyboards slant to I Will Not Fall and the grizzly guitar interplay will come close to making several heads implode!
Before I let loose with my Favourite Track; which is actually a ‘given’ for fans who remember the halcyon days of the Nimmo Brothers in their prime; but I have to say that this album has taken some getting used to.
I’ve never really been a fan of Heavy Rock; and to all intents and purposes that’s where this will sit; albeit with more melodies and actual tunes than you will hear listening to Classic and Planet Rock radio for 24 hours back to back!
So; it’s to the finale, End of The Line that I go for my Favourite Song; and it’s an easy choice as it’s a top quality Love Song, with the glorious fluid guitar solos I was hoping for from both Nimmo Brothers; but scratch away the veneer and while it’s certainly a Love Song; damn me if it isn’t from one brother to another!
OK I’m spoiling it for some of you; but it’s one Hell of a brave thing to do on record; and all power to Alan and Stevie Nimmo for burying the Claymore and bringing their very special brand of music back for the masses.

# One last thing; if I didn’t know any better I’d have pictured the singer here being a tall, slim Lothario, long hair flowing across his tattooed shoulders, while wearing skin tight leather trousers ala David Coverdale or maybe Ian Astbury; but nope …… this lad is the one and only Alan Nimmo who couldn’t be further from that description at all!!

Released 26th November 2020



Johnny Lloyd
Cheap Medication
Xtra Mile

Love Is The Drug Or Is It The Other Way Around?

Having formulated the plan to issue an (ideally) annual album release, Johnny has taken time out from his soundtrack score writing to follow ‘Next Episode Starts In 15 Seconds’ with ‘Cheap Medication’, an album finally completed in the legendary Abbey Road Studios.

Lloyd was part of a trio that wrote the score for the successful ‘I Hate Suzie’ series on Sky Atlantic – his fellow collaborators being his partner Billie Piper and playwright Lucy Prebble at the same time as he re-connected with his former outfit, Tribes.

The title comes from the effect that music has on him, a type of drug or ‘cheap/free medication’ to get him through the day – something that probably resonates with a lot of music lovers and listeners, like you and I, especially through the last 6 months of lockdown, Covid and gig cancellations or postponements.

It’s always nice to have friends to rely on and Johnny has pulled in friends from The Kooks, Mystery Jets and a backing band of Tom Odell to put together an album of tracks with which he feels has ‘something for everyone’.

I always try to get the feel for an artist by listening to previous stuff before finally reviewing a new album so I knew (after digging deep into my memory) that the term Indie Rock’ would not be a good fit to describe his work. His voice feels far more suitable to albums like those of Elvy.

The various arrangements are all very gentle and very melodic and the opener ‘Suze’ has a shoe gaze feel, before ‘Real Thing’ is the first chance to hear the almost Americana drawl in his voice
it feels just like the real thing when I am with you’ –
the harmonica hitting just the right note to complement this track.

The guitar picks out the start to the title track, the best on the album for me, as he is accompanied by Shelby Bennet and this is the track that is the first to really hit the listener with the range of Lloyd’s voice. It isn’t clear how much the fine tuning of the album and some individual parts owed to the assistance of the trio mentioned above but I suspect it was the perfect ending to an already good set of songs.

I particularly liked his solo section on ‘Based On Real Life’ a track that wouldn’t have been out of place on a National album and this was definitely the ‘it grows on you’ one in the first part of the album. He follows this with an equally pleasant ‘In This World’, delivered like a sort of soft Johnny Burrell!.

‘Better Weather’ is the sort of a track that the lead singer would knock out on his own as the rest of the band drift into the shadows, a great little number where the voice and the lyrics just come together perfectly on a delightful song.

The longer I listened, the better I liked not only the individual tracks but also the overall sound and it is probably a set of songs about the various aspect of love, but not necessarily being love songs – there is a big difference in my mind.

This is very much a ‘HIS’ album where Lloyd uses his full range to bring out the best in the various songs that he has penned and he brings things to a conclusion with ‘Don’t Take My Word For It’ (hang on as there is a mid track silence) but it doesn’t drag at all and is a cracking song that Johnny Cash would have loved -‘ three men go away but only one goes back’.

The verdict – a total change of both emphasis and direction from his 2019 release and yet again, it may well be the effects of lockdown etc that have probably brought about some changes that would not have been envisaged or contemplated when the release was nearly ready a few months ago.

The result – a much more commercial album than last year and definitely one that grew on me each time I have listened to it. This will certainly get valuable play time on the more discerning music shows.

There isn’t really a dud track in the 12 as they all have something worthwhile to offer but I still feel the title track is the ‘fave’!

Review by Bill Redhead.
Released October 30th 2020


Jason Mandell
Soul of America

Jason Mandell’s a new name to us at RMHQ, but this song nearly blew me away this morning ……. and just may be the anthem that all Left of Centre ‘right-thinking’ Americans need to hear this week…… and then sing out loud!

Jason Mandell is a singer and songwriter in Atwater Village in Los Angeles, California. After releasing several albums with his band The Coals (“romantic, musically poetic material that gnarled Nashville bards would kill for” – LA Weekly), he is out on his own. “Soul of America,” his first single, is a lament for our nation’s woes and a prayer for its healing. The song begins as a lyrical folk ballad in the tradition of Woody Guthrie, Pete Seeger or early Bob Dylan, but swells into a rousing anthem, with mariachi horns and a gospel choir – a musical reflection of the diversity that defines the American experience. Its lyrics paint a stark picture of a landscape haunted by shuttered union halls, burning crosses and buried soldiers, as its restless narrator searches for the joyous and generous spirit that lives in the wilderness and the soil, while dreaming of Billie Holiday and Robert Frost – two patron saints of American self-expression. 

Don’t forget ……. VOTE Biden!