Little River Band Ultimate Hits & Masterpieces Capitol/UMe
ASoundtrack To a Time of Fast Cars, Short Skirts, No Socks, Big Hair and …. No Worries!
WOW! This is a ‘blast from the past’ in many ways ….. not least because one of the first ‘freebies’ I ever received was a Cassette copy of their 1978 release SLEEPER CATCHER, which I got in a Goody Bag when I attended a Music Industry Fair alongside my mate who was a manager for FW Woolworth! A lot of water and peroxide has flowed under the bridge for all of us since then; bringing us to this delightful and thoughtfully packaged release; coincidentally just in time for Christmas … isn’t that lucky? Apart from that album 44 years ago; which I remember very little about, I know nothing about one of Australia’s foremost and groundbreaking bands, so this has been a journey of discovery. The Triple Album/Double CD starts with an eight and a half minute opus called It’s A Long Way There and the harmonies are so lush you’d half imagine them to be sung by a host of Angels! A bit cinematic for my current liking; but once I’d took my socks off, rolled my jacket sleeves up and put my brain into Miami Vice mode I ‘got it’ and what follows made a lot more sense. As I say I no nothing about Little River Band’s discography; so have to treat this as a whole new release; pretending it’s a soundtrack to some kind of 80’s themed Movie or TV show (cops of course!) from that period …. and doing that it’s been a bit of a blast. I’m surprised how many of the 50+ songs stand up today; it’s almost as if the Punk Wars were all in vain. On CD 1 Everyday of My Life, the chunkilicious It’s Not a Wonder and the atmospheric Down On the Border have quickly become RMHQ family favourites, especially when played loudish in the car on a long motorway journey recently. On the same disc, it’s easily apparent from the strong and astute writing in You’re Driving Me Out Of My Mind (a personal favourite of Mrs Magpie it seems); the ballad Cool Change and Witchery why this band has stood the test of time. CD 2 takes us on a slightly different journey; although the core band’s (Graeham Goble – guitar, vocals (1975–92), Glenn Shorrock – vocals (1975–82, 1987–96) Beeb Birtles – guitar, vocals (1975–83) and Derek Pellicci – drums (1975–84, 1987–98) ) still shines through, even with a variety of personnel changes including none other than John Farnham into the fold. The difference tend to be in subject matter as much as it is the change from cinematic arrangements to something more Soft Rock …. which was a sign of the tomes of course. Here we particularly like Broke Again, the punchy Just Say You Love Me and especially Sleepless Nights all of which would sound fabulous in either a concert hall or an arena. The new ‘subject matter’ shines (if that’s the right word) on Don’t Let The Needle Win; which is sadly not about a tattoo addiction! There’s also a song here that amused me in a contrary way … the finely crafted Mistress Of Mine. I appreciate the sentiment and it really is a beautiful song; but how can a singer get up and sing that every night with his Missus in the audience? I have tried desperately not to use the word ‘pretentious’ on a few songs here; but how else can you describe the wondrous Hard Life (Prelude) which precedes the Floydian Hard Life? But …. these songs were recorded decades ago and were exactly what the majority of the paying public wanted to hear ….. it didn’t do Queen or Fleetwood Mac any harm, did it? As the songs come and go; you can hear how the band progress, in the nicest way …. which comes to the fore on Blind Eyes and I Know It (live) which must have been mind-blowing when they first came out. With so much to choose from it’s been something of a sensory overload for me; especially as I haven’t listened to songs and albums like this in any shape or form this century. But, I have enjoyed the whole package; not as much as Mrs Magpie it has to be said ….. so I’ve passed it over to her to select a Favourite Song …. on each disc. On CD #1 she has chosen The Night Owls… which was a surprise, very much a ‘Big Hair’ Soft Rocker; but with hindsight I guess she was thinking of me as the main character in the song, but won’t admit it. On CD #2 she went for the straight up Retro-Rocker Just Say That You Love Me ; another surprise from a woman full of surprises; but that’s the joy of discovering new music …. it’s always full of surprises.
Andrew Cushin You’ll Be Free/Dream For a Moment Strap Originals
More than most musicians, the Pandemic and associated lockdowns affected Newcastle singer-songwriter more than most; as the momentum he was building up, courtesy of Popstar chums like Noel Gallagher and Sam Fender; stopped quicker than a stolen Golf GTI going over a police stinger! But; like everyone else he did use the time at home productively; and here’s his latest Double A-Sided single to show for it, which is released at the end of a pretty much sold out, first headlining UK Tour. You’ll Be Free will probably came as a bit of a surprise; being a breathless, piano driven ballad …. but full of Cushin’s trademark angst and melodrama; yet veering more towards ELBOW territory than either Noel or Sam. Although the windswept orchestral sweeps and swoops in the background are new to me; t’other side of the single; Dream For a Moment is another leap into the future. It could be my imagination, but his voice sounds ‘fuller’ and perhaps more ‘mature’ than when I last played his music …. and, even though I loved his ‘Geordie Twang’; now moving slightly off centre will certainly make it easier for him to attract mainstream radio attention with these two songs.
After a while you forget when you first heard an act; they just seem to be an integral part of your life; so it was a bit of a shock (#groan) to find it was 2017 when I first reviewed Sarah Shook’s SIDELONG album when Bloodshot Records re-packaged and released it to an unsuspecting world. Roughly the same time, Shipcote from Newcastle’s premier Roots Promoters the Jumpin’ Hot Club came back from SXSW raving about a young singer called Sarah Shook he’d seen one afternoon at Bloodshot’s infamous Yarddog gigs; and how he’d left his details for when she was going to tour UK and Europe. Nothing happened for two years then e-mails and contracts were exchanged for a UK Tour …. only for Covid to stop it in its tracks… TWICE! That out of the way Sarah hit the UK earlier this week like a runaway train, blowing fans, old and new totally away …. including several of my more ‘hard to impress’ friends. Although the gig itself was officially Sold Out, there were about 30 people in Cluny 2 when local support act Holly Rees started their set; and after 40 minutes of their Punky/Garagey/Grungey hybrid, the crowd had probably trebled, and seemed in particularly good spirits cheering every song from the young trio as if they were headlining. While a tad too ‘noisy’ for my delicate ears; I was impressed with a couple of songs, Careless and Getting By (with choreographed audience handclaps) that a good producer could really get the best out of. As the Disarmers nervously made their way onto the stage Cluny 2 was totally full with barely a two feet gap between the front row and the stage (I was here camera in hand for two songs then made my way upstairs ….. for my ears’ protection!) With no introduction and barely a nod between the band members all night, they went full tilt into the crunchy Good as Gold, which came and went in barely two minutes. This was the template for the evening ….. very, very little chit chat …… ‘less talk more music’ (where have you heard that before Pop Pickers?) and the music was quite phenomenal. Since Shipcote and I first heard and fell in love with Sarah Shook barely 5 years ago; her music has evolved beyond belief; and tonight’s 22 songs (TWENTY TWO!) in barely 90 minutes was a veritable Best Of, with songs coming from all three albums; some I recognised, while others (even some of the older ones) were now arranged so much they too sounded like exciting new songs. As the gig progressed, I was transported back to the late 70’s Punk gigs and later in the early 80’s the Mod Revival gigs I attended; tonight was sweaty, noisy and adrenaline fun filled from start to finish. Highlights? Talking To Myself and Been Loving Youfrom Nightroamer were both outstanding; sounding like the Go Go’s on steroids; Parting Words from Years and Sidelong were both cranked up to be virtually unrecognisable from the original versions ….. but worth the entrance fee themselves. In many ways tonight’s gig wasn’t about individual songs; it was more about ‘being there.’ My notes are certainly in that vein ….. “all lean and sinewy no – fat or flab anywhere” elsewhere I describe the band as being ‘a bar band in Ozark or Breaking Bad that get talked into joining the bad guys by transporting their wares over State Lines in drum cases;’ with that in mind Sarah looks like the ‘brains’ of the operation, with the other members being her older brothers who would kill you in the blink of an eye. The word that got used in conversations earlier in the week and again tonight on the way out was ‘tight’ …. as in ; “the band were the tightest I’ve seen in years” …. and they most certainly were. As I said earlier, there was next to no chit chat, and as I have a copy of the set list there were 5 handwritten changes; telling you these guys know their licks without playing the same songs over and over again, night after night. 24 Hours later I’m still not 100% sure how to describe Sarah Shook & The Disarmers’ ‘sound’ …. there’s still plenty of Insurgent Country in there of course; but this is such a complicated and clever mix I was lost until this morning I read a Tweet from @AlanMuttley1066 …. “Doc Martens & Cowboy Boots …Country with a (Punk) Attitude.” I can’t disagree …. but tonight’s finale was a 7 minute Pink Floydian odyssey that went way beyond Prog, with everyone; including the pedal-steel player getting the opportunity for a short and sharp solo …. that again; was totally mind-blowing.
The Vandoliers Jumpin’ Hot Club The Cluny Newcastle
Thursday 7th July 2022
It’s well documented now that my gig going days are becoming fewer and further between; especially midweek. My theory is that ‘reviewing’ these nights is what has took the excitement away; standing scribbling notes as the crowd around you are totally engrossed really does take away some of the magic. So it was a tad of a mental struggle to go out the door tonight; even though I’d been waiting expectantly for over two years since the original gig was meant to take place. Cluny II is a compact venue in a basement on the hottest night of the year; and thankfully was only about half full/empty (although I really should be criticising the ‘stay aways’) allowing breathing space for each spectator. Opening the show were local girls Phoebe and Phillipa who regaled us with some delightful Bluegrass/Hill Country music that belied their youth. Phoebe played same majestic acoustic guitar, sang a couple of songs and mostly provided heartstopping harmonies for Phillipa who gave a Masterclass in Country fiddle playing as well as telling the stories behind the songs that she sang with gusto and class. As expected their set was only thirty minutes long; but was surprisingly full to the gunwalls with goodness. Personally I only recognised one song; Easy Chair; but noted that Deep River Blues, Squirrel Hunters and Red Rocking Chair were all worthy of 3 Stars, which is as good as it gets in my book. I got the feeling that this is something of a hobby for the girls; but I’ve paid a lot more money and travelled a long way for acts half as good ….. I think that they are onto ‘something’ so if any Festival promoters are reading …. get on board ASAP. After a 30 minute break where I met up with friends I hadn’t seen since Covid became trendy; the six Vandoliers made their way onto the cramped stage, and without very little in the way of introduction launched straight into a song I didn’t recognise; but was so full of swagger and bravado, sensitive fans may have feared for their lives …. but the rest roared their combined approval at the end. Singer Josh Fleming then announced that much to people’s expectations The Vandoliers aren’t a ‘Country Band’ …. they are a ‘Noisy Band!’ The second part was certainly correct as the night progressed; but in the way Jason and The Scorchers, The Waco Brothers and every combination Dan Baird has ever concocted; they most certainly ARE Country …. but Cow Punk infused Insurgent Country …. IMHO. This was followed by 16; which allowed fiddle player Travis Curry several opportunities to shine and shine he most definitely did! Already I noted ‘you can’t take your eyes off Fleming’ …. and you can’t; although he never upstaged his colleagues while they were in the spotlight ….. the guy just can’t stand still for a moment. For once I managed to combine note taking with enjoying the show ….. the new single; Bless Your Drunken Heart was dedicated to ‘Tommy’ as he was wearing a Bloodshot work shirt; and I wrote ‘Putting the Punk into the heart of Country Rock‘ …. today I’m not sure what that means; but it’s true! Then Bluebonnet Highway …. ‘if the Pogues had been Texan.‘ Something else I wrote may come back to haunt me; but I believe this to be 100% true …. “professionally sloppy/ they never miss a note or beat/Just like the Faces‘ honestly; you watch them and think ‘I could do that’ …. but listen carefully those songs on every levey are highly intricate and articulate ….. don’t be misled; The Vandoliers are exceptionally good at what they do; but add fun, fun, fun to the mix to create a brilliant night out. On that point; Fleming calmed the masses to explain what the following song, Simon Says, was about ….. ‘Partner abuse’ and when you knew that and actually listened to the words he was singing as if his life depended on it; the song was worth every single one of my 3 stars. I liked his self-deprecating stories; not least Wild Fire, which was one of their earliest singles and he had personally handed it to a DJ on a local Ft Worth radio station; only for them to tell him “It’s not Country enough!“ “Damn Right!” was his response and it isn’t but ….. it’s still one helluva song! I couldn’t keep up with the songs as they came and went at 100mph, so I can’t tell you every song they played ….. and the set list a purloined appears to written in code; so was little help this morning! What I did scribble down was that Cigarettes In The Rain was ‘fabulous‘ and Fleming insisted everyone sang the chorus …. and we did, with gusto. Miles and Miles (?) was ‘fiddlacious‘ and was ‘The Clash with a fiddle and Mariachi trumpet;’ which sounds silly in the cold light of day …. but was the only way I could describe the song at the time. Even when he wasn’t playing his fiddle; Travis Curry was a one man dance troupe in the background, acting out the story for the hard of hearing perhaps. By the time the gig rocketed to a close; drummer Trey Alfaro had long since discarded his t-shirt and half way through Every Saturday Night Cory Graves despatched his in-between trumpet solos! Then as Fleming thanked everyone (for the 7th time?) Fiddle player Curry decided to remove his own colourful shirt; which sent the females in the crowd crazy! That song was the Proclaimers 500 Miles; which was so full of adrenaline tonight it took a mighty lurch into the golden garden of Country Rock and will stay there forever. As I packed my camera bag, the merch table was doing a roaring trade with Vinyl and koozies, which were pretty much all that was left after a hugely successful UK Tour. Now I must wait patiently for the August release of the new album; and hopefully another tour to support it before Santa Claus comes.
Marc Valentine Future Obscure Arcane Wires Records
The Second Wave of New Wave and a Bit of Post-Punk Too.
First and foremost, this is a bit left of leftfield for what we normally review; but I’ve had a blast over the last couple of days playing this in the car ….. sometimes Post Punk/New Wave really is the answer! It was really only going to be a quick ‘courtesy listen’ but the crashing guitars that kick start Last Train Tonight grabbed me by the short and curlies; and didn’t let go until Mark Valentine’s Buzzcockian vocals had finally filtered out of the speakers via closing song the Twang Meets Punk in a Manchester back lane on a Wednesday night infused Electric Chains! There are plenty of other influences dotted around FUTURE OBSCURE; but the nasally/drole way he sings will bring The Buzzcocks to mind for everyone who hears them ….. and that’s a huge compliment. The songs and intense guitar work throughout are seriously ‘intelligent’ and ‘articulate’ ….. but always with melodies and hooks to die for. On Mornington Avenue the pace really picks up with three electric guitars battling for prominence; but the winner will always be Valentine and his darkly witty words; that are as crystal clear as you’d hope. There really is so much to like here; especially if you lived through the first wave of Post Punk and/or New Wave back in the early 80’s, like what I did ….. songs like Break My Heart Anyway, the moody Broken Satellites and Ghosts of Amsterdam too; but the CBGB’s influenced Zodiac Hotel will all have you turning the volume up in the car as you relive your sweaty youth on the way a business meeting somewhere drab. Although the might be from personal experiences; I really think that Marc Valentine has an amazing imagination; which shines like a Glitterball on Swiss Launderette and the exceptional Linear Slopes too. ‘Back in the day’ each and every song here could and should have been a 45RPM single; but those days are now in the mists of time; but that won’t stop me choosing my Favourite Song with that medium in mind ….. Fade Out In Blue is a mind bending 3 minutes and 40 seconds that will certainly appeal to anyone still hanging on to their wedge/flick haircuts and pastel sweaters in 2022; whereas Death is Overrated dabbles in that traumatic cusp between Joy Division and the nascent New Order that will make your eyes wobble the first time you play it; and like those cherished 45’s I mentioned earlier ….. having you pressing ‘repeat’ on your iPhone until the kids finally make you put some Ed Sheeran on to cheer the partygoers up. Even with a couple of dark and deep miserable songs; FUTURE OBSCURE has been a real ‘blast from the past’ and one Hell of a pleasant surprise for me and I hope thousands more out there; but don’t be surprised when your teenage offspring download it and demand you play it on the car stereo while transporting them to school/college.
Billy Hector Rock Night in Jersey Ghetto Surf Music
Bodacious Blues Rock That Errs on The Side of R.O.C.K …. But is Only a 5 or 6 on The Richter Scale!
I first uncovered Billy Hector two albums ago with his OLD SCHOOL THANG release in 2015; and if pulling them out of the cupboard for accompaniment on long car drives makes me a fan; then …. I’m a fan! Two things I need to tell you before I go any further; a) Billy used to be Hubert Sumlin’s tour guitarist and b) While this is Blues Rock music that errs on the side of R.O.C.K …. it’s only a 5 or 6 on the Richter Scale; which is all I can cope with these days. The magnificent I Know How To Party gets the show on the metaphorical road; with Billy and cohorts showing the kids how to ‘do it’ both in deed and music. This is followed by the slow burning She Don’t Love Him Anymore, which leads into some glorious slide-work from the Maestro that will live in the memory long after the album has been replaced by his next release. There’s a ‘slick cool’ to many of the songs here; and I’m pleased to tell you that the songs themselves take precedence; and the intricate and even revolutionary at times; fretwork and super-pro backing, take a secondary position; regardless of how good it is …. and it’s Damn Good BTW. Too many ‘famous’ guitarists these days concentrate on guitar fireworks; forgetting that the words in their songs are just as; if not more important than their technical showing off …. which certainly isn’t the case with Billy’s writing on and in Doctor, Doctor and the funkalicious Lazy Man which has a groove so good, Mrs Magpie looked on in disbelief as I boogied around the kitchen to it one night! There also two covers here too; and while I didn’t recognise either, the choices really are exemplary; Hector does to Leadbelly’s Poor Howard what the Cream did to Crossroads 50 years ago; and the other is actually one of my favourite songs here; France Chance which features some genuinely sizzling guitar work and industrial style powerhouse backing from Sim Cain and Wilbo Wright was actually written by Mississippi Joe Callicott in 1967 on a long forgotten album of his own, that sounds nothing at all like this. I have no idea how a musician can hear Folk Songs like these; and then turn the words and melody into pumping Rockers ….. it’s witchcraft methinks! Speaking of Favourite Tracks here, I’ve eventually narrowed it down to three (not including France Chance); with the horn section turned up to 8; the slinky Tell Me What You Want has a big band feel to it, with hints of both BB and Freddie King in there too; then there’s the feisty Ms Martha where Billy not just growls his vocals but makes his Strat growl too! Which only leaves the actual winner; Rockstar Betty, which I fell in love with the first time I played it. More laid back than most songs here; but the bodacious story and supercool refrain; made it an obvious choice, even though the others ran a very close race. I hear quite a few albums ‘like this’ every year, but there’s ‘something special’ about Billy Hector’s way with words and geetar playing that appeals to me over many more ‘famous names’ on the circuit these days ….. and I can only hope against hope that he visits NE UK sometime soon …. as the audience is ready and waiting.
Drive-By Truckers Welcome to Club XIII ATO Records
After 25 Years They Still Have the Ability To Surprise and Please
Another Drive-By Truckers album? Their third in less than two years? ….. guess someone used lockdown fruitfully. YIKES! Opening track The Driver, is so unlike anything I’ve heard from the band ever before ….. angry, grungy, claustrophobic and edgy beyond belief that I had to double check that I was playing the right CD. That said, it’s powerful and altogether ‘different’ in an excellent manner; although when I played it on my radio show …. I hadn’t realised that there was an F-Bomb quite early on! The grungy guitars and diesel powered bass lines continue through second track Maria’s Awful Disclosure; so much so I even imagined the guys standing with their heads bowed down as they play their instruments as if they are a tip-top Nirvana tribute act! Things move back into normal Drive-By Truckers land on the gorgeous, wordy and waltz time Shake & Pine which in lesser hands could easily become a guitar fest; but here the guys show amazing restraint while Patterson Hood shows us how to deliver a modern Alt. Country Classic. The title track Welcome to Club XIII takes us back in time to when we/they used to go clubbing at the weekend; although this particular one sounds way more fun than The Oasis or Jimmy’z that I used to frequent. As the songs come and go, they reel you in like a big ole catfish; and after 12 previous albums over the last 25+ years, the Truckers still have the ability to surprise you; none more so than Billy Ringo in The Dark, which deals with depression with incredible sensitivity; yet still managing to be a classy Rock song that will live in our memories for decades to come. Reviewing albums can regularly take the fun out of listening to music; but the first couple of times I played WELCOME TO CLUB XIII I kept forgetting to scribble notes as I quickly became immersed in the music; which might explain nothing being noted against Forged In Hell and Heaven Sent, which is quite fabulous from start to finish ….. and back again. The album closes with Wilder Days, which is actually the polar opposite of its title as it’s a ballad of exceptional proportions as the singer mournfully looks back on his Wilder Days,through misty eyes that are slightly foggy with age. For an actual Favourite Song I’m torn between the slow and sultry We Will Never Wake You Up in the Morning, with its mysterious backbeat underneath another dark tale of ‘losing hope’ but is nonetheless very, very listenable over long periods. The other, Every Single Storied Flameout is a veritable foot to the floor Rocker in the vein of Tonight’s The Night era Neil Young; plenty of grungy and squalling guitar juxtaposed against a brass section in full flow; which occasionally takes your mind off the fascinating story; another tale of ‘looking back – to look forward’ and played at 11 in the car on a Summers evening makes for quite the soundtrack. Hence this is very much my Favourite Song here. I think it fantastic that after a quarter of a century together, Drive-By Truckers still have the capacity to fascinate and please their fan base in equal measure … as they do here.
A Challenging Move On Through the Dark Shadows of The Blues That Hits All The Right Spots
There’s an element of guilt attached to this review; as Eliza promoted its release a couple of days ago; for me to make a sarcastic response as I hadn’t received a copy …. to whit she DM’d me immediately stating she’d posted a CD several weeks previously! Any hoot; a download arrived within the hour so all’s well, that ends well ….. even if was being a bit huffy. Was my wait worth it? Hell yes! Taking a massive leap forward from the BLACK CROW MOAN album, Eliza spreads her talents far and wide; even challenging herself at times across the Blues gamut here; starting with the Diddleyesque United We Stand; which has the hallmarks of a rocking good ‘protest song’ the likes of which most rockers shy away from; but Ms. Neals always wears her heart on her sleeve and damn the consequences. This is immediately followed by some low down and bittersweet Soulful Blues with the heartwrenching ballad Queen of the Night; which features the subtle touches of Lance Lopez on geetar and Lynard Skynyrd’s Peter Keys on actual ‘keys’ making for an intense love song that comes in just shy of 7 minutes long; but has your attention for every single second. There’s plenty of power chords and riffs a’plenty throughout; made all the better by Eliza and her co-writer’s strong storytelling; most astutely on King Kong, the Rustic Rocker that is Fuelling Me Up and the emotionally charged and slowed down retake of Queen of The Nile II, which closes the album and like the best gigs; leaves you wanting ‘more… more …. more!’ In between there are some really adventurous moves from Eliza; Lockdown Love is as sexy as it’s sleazy with the lady switching between purrs and growls like a she-cat on heat; leaving the male of the species listening sweating and a little bit scared! Heathen takes us on yet another left of centre journey as Ms Neals taps into her S.O.U.L on Heathen which finds her hitting notes I had no idea were in her range; but when she hits them; they know they’ve been hit! As usual I hadn’t read the Press Release or even the tracklisting when I first played this album; so it was probably a minute or so into it that I recognised Can’t Find My Way Home; the Blind Faith missive which has been a personal favourite for 50 years now ….. and while she plays around with the melody and tempo; plus the addition of Lance Lopez’s trademarked dirty geetar licks; makes for a really special version that will impress fans old and new. This a Blues album; so it’s no surprise to find at least one ‘cheating’ song on it; and here the toe-tapping Hammond melody and guitar riffs camouflage the fear her man should have from ‘this woman done wronged‘ Got a Gun …… which had me going “Oh! Yikes!” the first time I heard the chorus. For my selection of Favourite Track I initially made a notation next to Fueling Me Up, as it;s a great song with some mighty powerful musicianship all around that keeps you tuned in so as not to miss a note or syllable; but in the last 48 hours I’ve been drawn to the ‘Power Ballad’ Bucket of Tears ….. for no particularly personal reason; just that it’s a ‘grower’ that took my unawares maybe four plays of the album in ….. which impressed me a lot. Even though her voice is as distinctive as ever; making this a recognisable Eliza Neals album and pleased to tell you it’s a thrilling move on from her last two albums; and hints at some fantastic gigs in the near future.
Because she’s been around the Blues scene for 20 years or so; I kind of think of Dana Fuchs as ‘Godmother’ of the female Blues scene. OK, I shouldn’t seperate the ladies from the gentlemen these days; but I can’t help myself …. sorry. Then again; because she’s trod such a varied path with her albums over the years; perhaps I should be comparing and contrasting with the males members of the species? Or I could just tell you about the fabulous music contained within this; her 10th full length album. Normally less dependent on the electric guitar than her contemporaries; Dana kick starts BORROWED TIME with the raunchy Double Down on Wrong; which is full of fizzy electric guitar ….. just to prove my memory wrong! Though the production always keeps her distinctive throaty vocals to the front of the mix …. which is how it should be. Not for the first time; Dana takes us on an emotional rollercoaster; using electric guitars on the uptempo Blues Rockers that will shake your soul; like the funky-ass Star and the full-on righteous Last To Know ; which owes a nod to the guitar playing of the late Johnny Winter if I’m not wrong; although the song is deeply personal to Ms. Fuchs herself. Speaking of ‘personal’ Dana delves really deep into her imagination for the slower and more emotional Blue Mist Road and Nothing You Own; which was ‘inspired by a report about impoverished South Africans in a Cape Town Slum‘ and will bring a tear to a glass eye. Long term fans of hers; and there are plenty, will love the new direction Dana’s writing takes with Curtain Close and Not Another Second, which sort of dabble into the Southern Rock territory I associate with Molly Hatchet and even Black Oak Arkansas if my aged memory doesn’t deceive me. When I first received the album I ‘presumed’ it was going to be a ‘pedal to the metal’ full on ‘rocker’ ….. but Dana really shows her class by following the beautifully gentle Call Me Name, which again shows the diversity in Ms Fuch’s writing for this album; as this tale of two women riding out the Liberian War in a refugee camp, becomes a universal story about love and companionship with the intensely feisty Save Me which is going to be a sure fire winner when played live. I’ve been torn between another Southern Rocker Hard Road and the heartfelt Country Blues of Lonely Lie for my actual Favourite Song; not least because of the harmonica intro and occasional haunting salvos on said instrument as Dana channels both, her inner John Prine AND Bonnie Raitt…. which is why it gets my casting vote. I’m no expert regarding Dana Fuchs’ career so I’m not sure where her fan base will place this in her Top 10 releases; but I will be surprised if history will show it’s in the Top 3 ….. and for me; as the proud owner of only two other of her releases, it’s my Favourite as there’s more than enough to keep me coming back time and time again.
The Warmbabies Let’s Live Underground Kool Kat Musik
Dust Down The Vespa, Break Out The Raybans …. Summer’s Here!
Who’d have thought a 60’s British Invasion inspired French Pop album could thrill and surprise me so much? Certainly not me – that’s for sure! In fact knowing all that very nearly put me off playing said CD …. but I weakened yesterday afternoon just as the sun came out ….. and KERPOW! I was under the Warmbabies spell even before opener It’s Not Her had ended ….. jangly guitars, militaristic beat from the drummer and liquid lines from a slick bass player behind an angsty yet bewitching vocal; then throw in a hook that would catch a marlin and a chorus that’s simply crying out to be sung at full throttle when played live ….. what’s not to like. It’s a given that the jangly guitars are at the forefront of every song here; as are the hooks and melodies which will make you want to dance like no one’s watching. I’m knocking on a bit now; so can remember The Beatles circa 1965/66 and the actual British Invasion of America in the 60’s; and subsequently every 10 or 15 years later there’s been a Mod revival somewhere across the globe resurrecting those very sounds; and if these songs are anything to go by; At The Kiss and Fly, You Should Never Have Crossed My Mind and especially Hey Little Child will all be at the forefront of Scooter Rally discos all across Europe this Summer. Thankfully, not everything is 60mph poptastic; just like the forefathers of these sounds; The Beatles, the Warmbabies are more than capable of dropping in a harmony drenched ballad when the mood takes them; and I defy you not to sigh or swoon when you hear the Merseybeats/Searchers influenced Let’s Live Underground and/or I Can’t Find a Reason; which will bring out the lovelorn teenager in all of us. Apparently The Warmbabies are something of a French Supergroup who don’t really intend going out on the road; which is a shame …. even if it was just the Festival Circuit because songs like I Am Like Everybody Else and Hey Little Girl are perfect for sweaty clubs or claustrophobic and crowded tents! At the very least I hope there are a series of 60’s inspired videos to accompany Lucille and the psychedelic flower power fired When You Walk Into My Room too. While this is most certainly a ‘fun’ album, be under no illusions that these guys are fundamentally excellent musicians at heart; who make this all sound ever so easy ….. it’s not! Hmmmm ….. where to go for an actual Favourite Song? The chunky Girls Don’t Like It, which sounds like it could be a Flamin’ Groovies B-Side is an obvious contender; as is I Should Have Killed That Love, which will touch the hearts of teenage Mods and Modettes as well as their parents and Grandparents reel from their own fractured relationships too. But; and I promise you this isn’t a lazy choice but Last Days of Summer is the obvious winner …… as it’s crisp and crunchy as anything I remember on the first Secret Affair LP and absolutely perfect for cranking up to 10 on the car radio ….. I bloody love it! Whichever generation of Beat Music fan you belong to; you will love this album as much as I do ….. trust me; I know stuff!