The Yardbirds LIVE FRANCE

THE YARDBIRDS
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 lionheartradio.com  

Released on 7th. May 2021

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Will Porter TICK TOCK TICK

Will Porter
Tick Tock Tick
Gramofono Sound

A Real Humdinger For the Soul and R&B Cognoscenti .


As is my won’t I’d played this through twice before I picked up the Press Release to ‘tick the boxes inside my head’ …… only to find that this is a far more important release than I’d anticipated!
TICK TOCK TICK is actually a re-release, something we normally avoid; but this 2015 LP was only a Limited Edition in the USA, and only barely distributed across Europe; but is now finally getting World Wide distribution; and rightly so as it’s a real humdinger.
The title track TICK TOCK TICK starts the party and verily oozes out of your speakers like a late night Everglades mist. WOAH, WOAH and thrice WOAH! Will Porter’s voice?
Man …. it’s right up there with Bobby Womack, Barry White and even Brook Benton and Gregory Porter (no relation btw) and the groove will have you inadvertently shuffling feet, shoulders and hips regardless of age, sex or creed.
I instantly recognised the *second voice on the track; but I’m not going to spoil the surprise this early.
This is followed by the beautiful ballad Why Do We Get Blue; full of swooshing and cinematic strings that will whisk you off to a whole new dimension …… and one that Porter will keep you in for the next half hour or so.
There’s a whole lot of everything good and Soulfully Righteous on this album; Porter will melt your heart one moment with the scintillating and heart-breaking duet Make You Feel My Love (this time the lady’s *voice will be instantly recognisable to the Soul and R&B Cognoscenti) then pick you up and fill the dancefloor with Treadin’ Water and the ubiquitous Tear it Up!
Why have I never heard of Will Porter before?
In many ways this is Classic R&B but with some really neat Jazz and Soul tinges in the shadows that mean this is aimed at Old School Clubbers rather than hipsters; but they too are going to instantly fall in love with I’m Blue and the swoonsome Don’t Go To Strangers; which is just begging for a monochrome video set in a Harlem night club to accompany the release.
Choosing a Favourite Song here has been both difficult and awkward; as there is so much to choose from; and all classy and cool in equal measures; but two songs sprang to mind earlier today …..
Everything’s Going to Be Alright closes the album in timeless fashion; and baring in mind what has been going on across the world in the last 18 months; actually sounds like a Soundtrack to the second Roaring Twenties.
The second and actual RMHQ Favourite Song, has been a case of ‘right place/right time’ for the mood I was in the first time I played this LP; I Can Do Bad By Myself ……. WOW! A big production somehow manages to still allow a razor sharp set of love lorn lyrics to breathe and flow like volcanic lava flow of S.O.U.L right into the dark crevices of your heart; and that guitar solo half way through; sounds like a metaphor for heartbreak, all by itself!
There’s nothing else left to say; this album and Will Porter are finally going to get their just rewards as the public at large are now going to be able to buy it and wallow in its beauty for years to come.


PS Don’t let the inclusion of *Guest Stars Dr. John and Bettye LaVette fool ya; they are only here as accompaniment for a bonafide STAR!

Released April 16th 2021
https://www.willporter.com/

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Dr Lonnie Smith Ft Iggy Pop BREATHE

Dr Lonnie Smith ft Iggy Pop
Breathe
Blue Note

Often Dark, Brooding and Dreamy. Jazz at It’s Finest?

I can only apologise for being so late with this review; it certainly arrived in time for the Release Date but …. you know; life just got in the way …. and this needed time and patience; which have both been in short supply recently.
First of all; in some ways this is an odd release, as the middle six tracks are Live Recordings from 2017 when Smith celebrated his 75th birthday; and they are bookended by two tracks with the Bad Boy of Punk, Iggy Pop supplying vocals ….. in itself; something well worthy of my time and patience.
Opening song; the Soul Classic; Why Can’t We Live Together? is quite dreamy; especially the way Smith plays the Hammond and Iggy; much to my surprise adds his part straight down the middle; who knew he could do crooning? Well, he can and the combination must surely beckon a full album in this mode one day?
Then comes Dr Lonnie Smith and his band; guitarist Jonathan Kreisberg, drummer Johnathan Blake, as well as an expanded septet featuring John Ellis on tenor saxophone, Jason Marshall on baritone saxophone, Sean Jones on trumpet, and Robin Eubanks on trombone, and they moved me in such a way I thought I might cry like a baby when I first heard track #2 Bright Eyes (no, not ‘that’ one!) ….. it is simply beautiful; Jazz at it’s finest? A matter of opinion of course ….. but hey; the way these cats come together as one?
It’s not that what follows is inferior; far from it but Smith ‘challenges’ the listener at times; ok this isn’t the most dangerous Jazz I’ve ever heard (thankfully) but you have to invest time (and patience) to let the wonders of Too Damn Hot and Epistrophy unravel to get the best from the intricate musicianship from the players …. and it is worth it.
Smith and the compilers have a bit of fun at our expense too; adding Track 9 at #4 in the running order; but this noire instrumental could come at any stage and still send a shudder down your spine.
The album closes with Iggy Pop making his second appearance in the studio; this time on a cool reworking of Donovan’s Sunshine Superman; and KERPOW! It’s absolutely wonderful in a soulful groove; and was an early contender for Favourite Track; but two more fitting other tracks actually scrap for that title.
The 12 minute opus, World Weeps, first appearing in 2014 couldn’t be a more fitting soundtrack for where we are in 2021 after one of the worst years in the world’s history. Dark, brooding and almost ‘Prog’ in the way the piece plays out; with individual musical interludes segueing from one to another to create something that was heart stopping that night in 2017.
This is Jazz; but not as I know it.
The other track; and the one that possibly tips the balance is the only actual song from that night, Pilgrimage, featuring Smith’s daughter Alicia Olatuja on vocals; which with me not reading the bio or notes; came as quite a surprise and a rather lovely one at that, as Smith’s playing already had me mesmerised so when Alicia makes her appearance after a couple of stunning minutes; I actually gasped ……. much to my wife’s amusement; as I was listening on headphones!
Oddly enough; between immersing myself in this recording and now typing up my thoughts, I’ve been part of a playful ‘spat’ on the Twitter regarding Jazz. Much like my friends there, there’s a lot I’ve tried to get my head around over the years; and failed miserably to understand, with too much being the musical equivalent of the Emperors New Clothes; and far too many Jazz Buffs being ‘holier than thou’ when it comes to discussing this style of music; but I’m really, really enjoying and appreciating what I’m receiving these days; and long may it continue.

Released March 26th 2021
https://shop.bluenote.com/*/CD/Breathe/6VFJ0WPJ000

James Holvay SWEET SOUL SONG

James Holvay
Sweet Soul Song
Mob Town Records

A Delightful Homage to the Golden Era of Sweet S.O.U.L Music.

The older I get the more I’m drawn to Americana and Rootsy albums; but my first love as a young teenager was Soul Music; and I guess that’s true of James Holvay too as this delightful homage to the Golden Era certainly proves.
I certainly didn’t know what to expect when I first played this EP last week; especially as the cover shows a grey haired white guy looking a bit like Jeff Goldblum or even Tom Hanks …… so when the dancetastic Working On It came out of the kitchen speakers I couldn’t stop myself shuffling along as I buttered my toast (not a euphemism!). Man …… what a smooth and, cooool voice this cat has; and alongside producer Steve Cohen and engineer Cameron Lew can put together a melody and groove worthy of Stax, Atlantic and Philadelphia International too; with occasional nods to what I know as Northern Soul.
The title track, Sweet Soul Song comes at you like a warm wind a Spring morning; and while Holvay sings about being on the Southside of Chicago ‘dancing till dawn’ in 1963; this is the type of Soul Music I was dancing to in the Black Cat Disco (above an undertakers) in Stanley Co. Durham in 1975/6 …… but it; alongside the other four tracks here are absolutely timeless in my mind.
The only sad thing about this release is that I don’t know where it fits in any more; as all of the Soul Radio stations are ‘Golden Oldie’ based; and in my experience only seem to own one copy of That’s What I Call Soul and play it on random 24 hours a day; and the current resurgence of Modernist/Soul Clubs across the UK seem fixated the other way; unearthing genuine old treasure i.e. songs you never heard first time around …… but if James was to print up a 100 45 RPM copies of Love Has Found A Way with Talkin’ About It as a B-Side; plaster a white label on them and knock them out on E-Bay with subtle hints to them maybe being rare songs by Curtis, Major Lance, Don Covay or in the case of the latter ….. my personal favourites; The Tymes …. the DJ’s would crawl over each other to buy them!
Speaking of The Tymes; that’s who I thought of when I first heard the bum-hugging smoocher, Still The Fool; which made me go weak at the knees. Remember when we used to have a ‘last song of the night’ at Discos? Well; my friend this would have been a nailed on floor-filler; and later when you got home (alone) you’d melt the vinyl playing it over and over again thinking about ‘the one that got away’.
Hence; Still The Fool is by far my Favourite Song here; and as I type I can’t help thinking about …… no ….. you don’t need to know her name….. it was half a century ago …….. sob.
Seriously, obviously coming from a group of musicians etc. who love and loved this type of Soul Music this is a peach of a release; all hits ….. and no sh**!

Released April 16th 2021
https://jamesholvay.com/

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Hasaan Ibn Ali METAPHYSICS: THE LOST ATLANTIC ALBUM.

Hasaan Ibn Ali
METAPHYSICS: THE LOST ATLANTIC ALBUM
Omnivore Records

Modernism From 1965 Still Sounds Fresh and Exciting in The 21st Century.

As the name of the website implies; I’ve always been a bit of a Magpie where music is involved; and while I’ve tried several times over the years to sit among the Cool Kids and ‘like’ Jazz; it’s always been hard work.
Bits and pieces have certainly took my fancy; but in general too much I’ve listened to has been high brow for the likes of me, and I tend to go back to what I know.
Then along came Omnivore Records last year with a couple of releases that I became fascinated with and now, there’s this ‘great lost album’ from Hasaan Ibn Ali.
Being totally honest, the name didn’t mean a thing; but I trust the source implicitly and played it one night as I was reading a long form article in GQ Magazine …… and it was the perfect accompaniment.
With that under my belt; I’ve now played METAPHYSICS: THE LOST ATLANTIC ALBUM six times and each time enjoyed it more than the last.
Recorded in August/September 1965 in New York the album was shelved by the label (Atlantic) because Ali was in jail on drugs charges! Different times indeed.
Subsequently the original tapes were lost in a warehouse fire; but a second copy mysteriously turned up a couple of years ago and …. here ’tis.
Not being any form of expert it’s always going to be difficult reviewing an instrumental Jazz album; but opening track Atlantic Ones simply oozes Class, with a capital C. Ali’s piano playing is breath-taking; but first and foremost, Odean Pope’s tenor sax playing simply sizzles in a way I’ve never heard before.
While I wasn’t wrong using this as ‘background music’ that night; but heard on headphones; or my favourite …. late at night in the car (a very early foggy morning was pretty fine too)…… WOW!
The darkly brooding El Hasaan could be from a Hitchcock soundtrack and the 11 minutes plus of True Train have held me totally transfixed twice; as the music smothered me like a warm blanket.
To my untutored ears, this is as close to Classical Music as I’m ever going to get and the interplay between Ali on piano and Pope, Saxophone on Viceroy and the majestic Epitome while Art Davis, bass; and Kalil Madi on drums hold the whole thing together like velvet covered steel, allowing the virtuosos the time and space to make their magic happen.
I may not understand the actual title, but the intricately beautiful ‘Richard May Love Give Powell’ gives the title track Metaphysics a run for its money in the Favourite Track Stakes; but for no real other reason than it is just plain brilliant; with the latter taking the title by a short head.
The three additional tracks are the obligatory ‘alternate takes’ and there’s nothing wrong with them at all; but phew the playing and energy earlier is truly spellbinding; and well worth discovering if you are only vaguely interested in this style of music; as I am.

Released April 23rd 2021

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The Ghost of Helags WE CAME FROM THE STARS

The Ghost of Helags
We Came From the Stars
Warsaw Recordings

These Ghosts Will Intrigue, Surprise and Please You.

When I was first offered the chance to review an album by a ‘Swedish outfit,’ I had visions of blokes with long blonde hair and beards dressed in outfits that looked as though they had been used in Jurassic Park!
How wrong I was proving again, that with music pre-conceptions are not a good idea and certainly not where you are about to listen to a band for the first time.
So it’s congratulations to this Berlin-based Swedish duo of Teresa Woischiski and John Alexander Ericsson for their debut album. Synth pop, Electronica and Shoegaze were all potential genres into which this would easily slot but to do so would be an injustice to the overall effort. Imagine the XX or Alt-J just delivering a set without any background jumping around and you’ve got The Ghost of Helags.
They have followed several recent singles with a 12 track album that makes the most of the excellent vocal range of Teresa with the lush electric backing of John as they got together an array of songs written in several far flung places.
‘Chemistry’, the opener sets the  scene with the drum machine being the ideal partner to the delightful vocals of Teresa, a voice that is very much in vogue at present with a plethora of high quality female vocalists making their mark on the music scene. A toe tapper to start us off.
More of the same with ‘Mary’ as ‘she forgot to stay in touch so it’s over now’ – another lovely track delivered beautifully before one of the album highlights ‘InThe Dark Honey;’ a track that wouldn’t be out of place on a Phoebe Bridgers set.
Looking for trouble but I can’t say it found me as I hide in the shadows.’
A mention here for the backing vocals of Hayley Ross, a Brighton based star in the making.
The further we get into the album the more the feeling that Teresa’s voice deserves more recognition than it has earned so far. Each track gives her the chance to show her full vocal output. ‘Bye Bye Tokyo’ is a little diamond – just sit back and listen to the dreamy backing to her so soft feathery emotional vocal on a track that was apparently written on a plane as the flew over the islands of Japan.
‘Under My Skin’ and ‘Autobahn Lullaby’ are the real bright spots of the second half of the album with the latter a tribute to their home in Berlin where the bulk of the tracks were finally mixed, mastered and produced.
The album was all written in the old days (before Coronavirus) with ‘Mary’ created somewhere in Eastern Europe; while ‘Parallel’ was written during a summer festival at Antibes and you can feel the influences of the likes of Kate Bush and Chemical Brothers on several tracks.
I have to admit that I do have a penchant for female artists and for bands/groups with a female vocalist; so this was literally right up my music street – Teresa is certainly well worthy of the praise for her part in this dream pop offering.
Personally, I did not find a weak track amongst the twelve and it is great to hear a new album that not only surprises but delights in equal amounts and I just hope that it dies get the play time that is has warranted.
I know ghosts usually frighten people – on this occasion they surprised me in a great way. Thanks again.

Review Billy Redhead

Released 12th Mach 2021
https://www.theghostofhelags.com/

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Zen Baseballbat RATIONS

Zen Baseballbat
Rations
Self-Release

Musical Fizz-Bombs Re-imagined as Electro-Ska.

When I review albums I try to imagine who will buy the album, why and what will they think.
Using this formula had I been scanning through the racks of a record shop looking for something new, interesting and/or exciting; I most certainly would have picked this out of the Ska racks; as I fondly remember Zen Baseballbat from their days on the Moon Ska label too many years ago to mention.
Now, if I hadn’t asked the shop assistant to play a couple of tracks; and why would I? I would have been not just shocked when Track #1 Whipping The Lash bounced out of the car speakers; but confused too.
Not just not how I remember them; but NOT Ska in my humble opinion!
Thankfully, I’m doing this for review purposes and have stuck with the album for a week now ….. and …… and …… I’ve got my head around these ‘re-mixed’ and ‘re-imagined’ songs from their back catalogue.
Before we go any further we must remember that Ska came out of a number of different musical genres and has been an ever evolving feast ever since; so as long as there’s a Heavy, Heavy Bass line ….. it’s Ska … OK!
This version of Whipping The Lash owes more to Kraftwerk and Depeche Mode than it does Rico or The Specials; but don’t be afraid …… it’s a real humdinger of a dance tune.
Next up, Captain Midnight has more of a traditional Ska sound to it; but with that Electro-Pop backbeat and a Bass Line that feels like an Anthony Joshua punch to the ribs.
If you’ve stuck in this far, you are in for some real unholy treats; Brown Cows of Elocution is a veritable modern Dub sensation and The Returner Prize totally dancetastic; which is what this is all about first and foremost; but listen to the lyrics and you your head will spin at the ‘piss n vinegar’ observations that haven’t changed in nigh on twenty years.
Speaking of the songwriting; Signed Off R Mutt and the funklicious Masochistic Motown are both up there with the best of Madness and late period Specials; IMHO.
For my Favourite Track it’s becoming a coin toss between Matching Houses; another song that sadly hasn’t dated even though I wish the back story wasn’t still relevent in 2021; and a Love Song with strings that wouldn’t be out of place on a Buddy Holly record; The Injection of Love (Is Wearing Off); and I’m erring on the side of the latter as perhaps, it’s easier on the ear ……. but listen carefully and there’s a dark thread in this tale too.
With nothing to lose after all these years; this is still a very brave album for Zen Baseballbat to release; as it sounds nothing like anything they or their peers have ever released before; and for that I applaud them ……. and think they may even win a horde of new younger fans; especially across Europe.
Zen Baseballbat are the Gleavey twins, Jordan Donaldson, Mike Wilkinson, Jogga, Anoushka Gleavey, Jane Anderson, Colin Mackay.

Released January 08th 2021
https://www.facebook.com/ZenBaseballbat/

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https://zenbaseballbat.bandcamp.com/album/rations



Do The Dog SKA A GO GO Vol 3

Do The Dog
SKA A GO GO Vol 3
Bandcamp/Self-Release

Skanking Good Fun

Ya gotta love Do The Dog skazine; doncha? Not only do they bring us world wide Ska News every month; but they promote the bands via these magnificent Compilations.
This time we have 47 ….. yes FORTY SEVEN scintillating tracks covering as wide a Modern Ska Spectrum as you could ever imagine.
Starting with the wacky 2-Tone inspired Kinda Together by Bad Operation, we cut straight into the dancetastic Unlove You by Barbicide and the groove just keeps on and on until the party comes to a stonking close with The Bruce Lee Band and their sobering Still Down For Tomorrow which sounds like an offshoot of the Specials in style and mood.
Even a cursory look down the list of runners and riders should make you want to part with your cash when you see The Bakesys, Maroon Town, Zen Baseball Bat, The Skapones and (RMHQ Favourites) Cartoon Violence are included but it’s the new bands that will get you to part with your pocket money over the coming months.
Obviously I can’t talk about every song, but there are some absolute stonkers from bands I’ve never heard of before, but have already done Google searches on!
Italians, Los Fastidios & Elisa Dixon really, really got my adrenaline pumping with Radio Babylon and the quaintly monikered Some Ska Band’s Forty Dubs (Agent J Mix), Wayside by Boomtown United and Ska Time by Rude Monkey Bones from Ecuador are all well worth checking out (alongside their back catalogues I hasten to add).
Ska has never been a one horse race, with many variations filling the airwaves over the years and hear I found the punky Boys Who Never Gave Up by Dope Times and Ripoff World by The Filaments surprisingly easy on my ears; and I even found myself shouting along with the latter’s chorus in the car one night!
There’s even a few nods to Original Ska; albeit with neat modern twists too; with Buzz Buzz by Beer Beer Orchestra from France being a prime example; but there are others too.
Blooming Heck choosing a Favourite Song was never going to be easy, with so much to choose from but two bands caught my attention the first night I played this album; London’s JB Conspiracy weave a Ska thread through an Indie tune with Falling Down and The Detroit Riddim Crew’s instrumental Trafalgar takes Old School Ska and spices it up very nicely indeed; but for me there is one more song that really took my breath away and that’s the dangerously catchy, Break My Neck ( A Love Song) by The Planet Smashers from Quebec in Canada, which, at any time in the last fifty years would have caught my attention on the radio and on subsequent plays has proved to transcend everything else on offer; and there are plenty of belters here.
As I implied earlier; this BANDCAMP ONLY release is an absolute bargain; but will eventually prove very expensive on your bank balance.

Released January 2021
https://dothedogmusic.bandcamp.com/album/do-the-dog-ska-a-go-go-vol-3

The Bakesys COMPLETE BAKESYS

The Bakesys
Complete Bakesys
Bandcamp

All Shapes and Sizes of British Ska From One of Our Favourite Bands

My heart generally sinks when someone says “I love Ska Music too.”
Why?
Well; 99.99% of the time it means they once saw Bad Manners or the Specials at Uni and own Madness’s Greatest Hits, possibly a Two Tone Compilation plus every Christmas go to see a Lookey-Likey Ska Band on the annual ‘lads night bash’.
On the other hand there are literally hundreds of bands across the globe still keeping the flame that was first lit in the Alpha Boys School many many years ago, not just lit, but sparking off in a hundred new directions; and lovingly heralded by the Do The Dog Skazine.
One of my favourite bands over the last 20 + years has been the Bakeseys; and I’d forgot how much they’d evolved in that time until now; when you can hear everything in one sitting (warts n all).
Nothing for the Vinyl Fetishists here; as Kevin Flowerdew knows his demographic probably all listen to music on their phones now; so this is a Bandcamp Exclusive and therefore download only …… which I appreciate.
The party starts with their (nearly) hit Sunnyside Up; and is very much the song that non-believers will instantly recognise as Two Tone Ska; with its fabulously bouncy and danceable melody and razor sharp lyrics.
Bizarrely this is followed by a live track, Looking For Love from 1994, which opens with “This is our last song!”
I appear to have missed this early incantation as it certainly sounds highly influenced by The Buzzcocks of all bands; but the instant excitement from this and the other live tracks on the release prove that from Day #1 The Bakesys were a fantastic night out.
All in all there are 82 tracks here; and I sure ain’t going through them one by one!
Even with that bonkers amount of songs on offer; there are a lot more hits and misses.
We won’t deal with the latter category; but in the former; footstompers like Pickle My Brain, Life So Tuff, Yesterday’s Man and Old certainly beligh the theory that this is just Pop Music; probably by the third or fourth time of listening you will be too tired to dance; so actually listen to the words; they every inch as potent a Social Commentary as Madness and The Specials my friend.
If you really know your Ska it won’t come as a surprise to find a couple of demos and Dub Versions here; a bit of a ‘guilty pleasure’ back in the day; but generally hard work today; but then again I did find myself turning the volume up in the car for Rainy Day Dub.
Speaking of ‘turning the volume up’ that has become an involuntary action for the Live Tracks here; they just demand to be played L.O.U.D ……. try Don’t Worry, Be Happy and the ubiquitous Liquidator; your car will rock so hard it will scare the Bejasus out of that kid in the Corsa playing Hippity Hop at the traffic lights!
For my Favourite Song Animated Violence and Rich Boy Rude Boy have been a bit of a pleasant surprise here; and the title should probably go to Sex Freaks as it’s been in my Top 100 Ska Songs for a lot of years; but no …… I say no …… as The Bakesys have come back kicking and screaming in the last few years; regaining the piss and vinegar of their youth ……. getting all political again; which is a good, good thing.
Do The Austerity Skank, while an instrumental is rather haunting and bordering on the existential; but I’m plonking for a bit of bonkers Ska, which somehow seems a bit apt for 2020 as the pandemic gets worse and worse; so When The Zombies Come gets our seal of Ska approval.
Because it’s a download only; this obviously isn’t aimed at the Christmas Market; but it is the ideal ‘What the Hell’ present to yourself and will give pleasure for years to come as you dip and delve into one of Britain’s unsung heroes back catalogues.

The Bakesys 1990 – 2020

Kevin Flowerdew – keys
Stu Flynn – vocals
Stef White – bass, vocals
Anthony Baker – guitar
Robbie Howe – drums, vocals
Nasser Bouzida – drums, percussion, vocals
Toby Courage – drums
Clive Cornwall – drums
Colin Milne – road crew
Harry Hayward – road crew
Mark Whittaker – drums, guitar
Nick Nicholls – drums
Keith Langley – steps, vocals
Grant Stone – vocals
Darren Trent – vocals
Antony Finn – vocals
Gwyn Edwards – guitar
Phillip King – saxophone
Will Kevans – trumpet

Released November 15th 2020
https://www.facebook.com/thebakesys/

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JOHN WALLACE WHEATLEY Spent the Morning Watching TV and Looking Through My Phone.

John Wallace Wheatley
Spent the Morning Watching TV and Looking Through My Phone
Self-released

Intelligent Classic and Soulful Pop Music of the Grown-Up Kind.

Suburban Dirts frontman John Wheatley takes a step aside from the acoustic Americana of the SD’s epic album, “I Want Blood” and launches full on into a self-effacing, philosophical, witty white Soul nee Classic Pop collection, on this very aptly titled (for the times in which we’re living) solo release.
Opener “Cemetery Smokes II” is one of two versions of the song on the album – the first version – which is number #2 – is very Style Councilesque musically and more tongue in cheek than version one (which is midway through the album ….. kids today, eh?) and is darker and a bit more like Sensational Alex Harvey in its storytelling tone.
Both versions were inspired by JWW finding a big grave slab with his name on – and the two versions reflect the different ways that one could take that…
“Heartstrings” fits well after the opener in musical style and Andy Fairclough’s Mellotron punctuates a soulful backbeat tale of phonies – and being a phony one’s self.
“Last Man Standing” – it seems to be a song title in fashion these days
My friends are all busy – or under the thumb” sums up the mid-paced cathartic ballad.
Again, the Philly-soul sound is prominent, yet mixed in with a bit of Mott the Hoople too – sounds a bit strange – but it genuinely works well.
The tempo lifts with “Neurotic Dancer” – but there’s a clear dissonance between the catchy melody and the fact that “you make me feel like a neurotic dancer”….
“In the End” (which comes halfway through) is a late-period Beatles/Beach Boys sounding slice of reassurance
it’s going to be alright in the end”…although JWW doesn’t sound totally sure in the melancholy musical way that those sentiments are delivered – the eternal pessimist can’t shake the fear but there’s more than enough positivity.
Following the aforementioned second/first take on “Cemetery Smokes;” “I’ve Only Just Realised” is reminiscent of the band Jellyfish with its 60’s harmonies and stop-start rhythms and classic pop sensibilities – lyrically, again there’s a glorious incongruity between the confident music and edgy, questioning lyrics.
“World War III” continues in a similar musical and lyrical vein with
She’s been told too many times she’s emotionally dead,” not being the sort of lyric that will find its way onto chirpy commercial radio, but will hopefully find its way into the ears and hearts of those who will appreciate its depth and appeal.
“The Singularity” starts as a piano ballad and then becomes an epic stomper quite rightly calls for us to get “the fuck out of here” in a rant against commercialism and “leaders who don’t want to lead”
and many others of society and culture’s ills.
Listen to this and you’ll be double-nodding – at the sentiments and the melody too.
Closer “The Morning Never Came” is a musically trippy rumination on the meaning of life, about regrets and the ultimate realisation that
none of this was meaningless
and it runs the gamut of feeling and musical styles before ending in randomness – quite deliberately.
This is quite a gem of an album – fans of 90’s band Jellyfish and their like will adore this and there are shades of classic stylings all over the place, yet used in both original and cohesive ways to create an album that will withstand a serious amount of re-listens.
In a just world, John Wallace Wheatley’s music would be listened to in a million bedrooms, on millions of sets of headphones and streamed in supermarkets.
People – make it so.

Review by Nick Barber
Released November 27th 2020

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BUY DON’T SPOTIFY
https://johnwallacewheatley.bandcamp.com/