Willie Nile
The Day The Earth Stood Still
River House Records

The Elder Statesman of NY Rock & Roll Continues His Creative Roll with Emotive and Catchy Lockdown Tales

Willie Nile is on a roll, after the well-received “New York at Night” comes “The Day the Earth Stood Still”, which in effect is a lockdown record, inspired by Nile’s personal response to the empty streets of New York during 2020’s COVID times.
The opening title track, The Day The Earth Stood Still, is Dylan-esque in its chord progression but like Tom Petty on steroids – it also quotes from the cult 50’s science-fiction film of the same name and is a hook-laden delight.
“Sanctuary”, which follows, starts with a spooky church organ before hitting a Springsteen/Blondie groove with bouncing double-drum beat rhythms – and is yet another total earworm.
“Where There’s Willie, There’s a Way” is a jokily self-promoting Ramonesesque stomp, and the double-entendres seem to be fully intentional, when Willie sings – amongst other things that “The crown jewels are on display”.
Nile’s neighbour Steve Earle pops up on the AC/DC chug-along, “Blood On Your Hands” which takes a lyrical swerve from the humour of the preceding track to demonstrate a social critique an and commentary on those in power – it’s angry ……
Hell will remember all the times you’ve lied
and it’s delivered with the right amount of rage by both Earle and Nile in sympatico.
“The Justice Bell” (For John Lewis)” takes a musical step back into gentler territory but still presents a defiant face of a wish to carry on the work of John Lewis in the eternal quest for truth and justice –
The justice bell will not be stilled/Hear it ring”.
“Expect Change” is reminiscent in feel to Blondie’s “Rapture” and is another paean to the one certainty in life; and the repeated refrain of “it’s coming” underscores the Ozymandias like message that “great” things are but transient.
“I Don’t Remember You” takes a more personal lyrical path and is another in the fine tradition of Nile’s New York character/relationship vignettes. T
here’s an upping in pace again with the joie de vivre of “Off My Medication” and it’s almost stream of consciousness hyperactive lyrical delivery suits the humorously confessional tale of life released from its shackles, with the narrator stating that
“…now I’m running naked with a Bible round the block
(Upon hearing that for the first time, I was expecting a different word that rhymes with “block” to be honest, but this is just as funny) – great handclaps and singalong title too!
Juxtaposed with this is the gently picked expression of romantic solidarity “I Will Stand.”
Penultimate track “Time to Be Great” slips back into funkier territory and is a positive call to arms in times of uncertainty – no better time than now to do what the hell you need to do!
Album closer “Way Of The Heart” is another Springsteenesque power ballad about the redemptive power of love, community and communion
“remember when you’re all alone, you’re not the only one
it’s an infectious optimism in the face of inevitable change and momentary hardship that pervades this album.

Yet again, Willie Nile pulls one out of the top drawer and his fire continues to burn strong and brightly.
As I said at the start of this review – Mr Nile is very much on a creative roll – keep it coming!

Review by Nick Barber

Released August 13th 2021


Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters

Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters
Live From The Blue Moon
Home Perm Records

A Live Set That Leaps Out of the Speakers and Grabs Your Attention from the Git Go.

If you -like many of us, have been missing live music of late, then Ashleigh Flynn & The Riveters has a special treat for you.
Recorded live on the Blue Moon Stage at the Oregon Country Fair during the summer of 2019, this set of country and Americana tunes literally leaps out of the speakers and grabs your attention from the git go.
Ashleigh Flynn and The Riveters initially formed in 2018, releasing a fantastic debut album, and this live set is full of songs from that album as well as a few fun others and definitely bears repeated listens.
Guitarist Nancy Luca, some wonderfully fun accordion by Jenny Conlee, a tight rhythm section in bassist Carmen Paradise and drummer Jolie Clausen, and backing vocalist Samantha Montanaro all perform with Rock ‘n’ Roll abandon; while staying true to the Alt-Country formula of Flynn’s songs and a couple of well chosen covers.
Check out the first track; “How the West Was Won,” which retells all of those Cowboy tales from a more feminine point of view, and “Fly Away” which is pop country sweetness to die for!
There’s even a Jump ‘n Jiving Country Stomp on “Deep River Hollow” (which also has some sweet harmonies!) and their lively cover of Buck Owens’ “Tiger by the Tail,” sounds like they are really ripping up the stage.
“Big Hat, No Cattle” has a deceptively light-hearted approach while it skewers most likely a third of the audience that was probably in attendance the day it was recorded.
Fearlessness is a true sign of a great songwriter, and Flynn delivers in spades; while her top-notch band takes no prisoners at all.
You can call this music Country, Americana, or whatever you want, but the way the guitars bite, the drums pound, and the bass drives, I will say that this is some of the finest Rocking ‘n’ Rolling ensemble playing I’ve heard since the New York band Girls on Grass.
Add to that some delicious accordion and fun and catty background vocals and this whole 45 minute set goes by way too fast.
Ending the set is an exciting rave up of the Tom Petty classic “American Girl,” right after which Flynn ends the show by telling the crowd to come see them later ” …on the main stage!” and I guarantee if I was there I would have helped the band set up just to speed the act along, ready for more.

Review by the Legendary Roy Peak
Released May 18th 2021



RMHQ Radio Show JUMPIN’ HOT CLUB 35th Anniversary Special Pt’s #1 and #2

RMHQ Radio Show
Jumpin’ Hot Club 35th Anniversary Special Pts #1 & 2

Bringin’ the Jive Since ’85

35 years ago this week in 1985 two young men. Graham Anderson and Adam Collerton booked their first act for the Jumpin’ Hot Club; and now in 2021 they are still announcing gigs from new and ground breaking Roots Acts in 2021.

The list of acts they’ve brought to the North East of England just goes on and on; with many household names in the Roots World making their first tentative steps into Europe courtesy of this nomadic club.

As a very minor cog over the last twenty years I’m proud to bring you two one hours shows highlighting the diversity of acts, if not an actual Best Of …….

Here’s Part #1

Hokum Hotshots1st Band Booked#11 PodcastGuitar Swing
Big Town Playboys1st Name Band#11 PodcastYou gotta do more for my baby
Davinia and the Vagabonds#11 PodcastMagic Kisses
Chuck Prophet#11 PodcastBad Year for Rock and Roll
Kim Richey#11 PodcastChase Wild Horses
Dale Watson#11 PodcastAint that livin’?
Howlin’ Ric#11 PodcastLeg Shakin’ Mama
JD McPherson#11 PodcastFirebug
Sarah Shook#11 PodcastHeartache in Hell
James Hunter/Howlin Wilf#11 PodcastI GOT MY EYES ON YOU
Laura Cantrell#11 PodcastThe Whiskey Makes You Sweeter
Everly Brothers#11 PodcastCrying in the rain
Chastity Browndebut#11 PodcastColorado
Otis Gibbsdebut#11 PodcastGhosts of our Fathers
Gem Andrews#11 PodcastCome a Long Way
Willie Nile#11 PodcastGrandpa Rocks
Waco Brothers#11 PodcastPlenty Tough Union Made
Be Good Tanyas#11 PodcastFor the Turnstiles
Danny and the Champs#11 PodcastJust Be Yourself
Sam Baker#11 PodcastMigrants
Mary Gauthier#11 PodcastCigarette Machine
Martin Stephenson#11 PodcastBig Sky New Lights
Frazey Ford#11 PodcastMoney Can’t Buy
Holmes Brothers#11 PodcastPromised Land
Alejandro Escovedo#11 PodcastRosalie
Dave and Phil Alvin#11 PodcastRattlesnakin’ Daddy
Hubert Sumlin#11 PodcastBlues is here to stay
Dan Penn and Spooner Oldham#11 PodcastCry Like a Baby
Brennen Leigh and Noel McKay#11 PodcastMr Wonderful (EXCLUSIVE)

Harry Dean Stanton with The Cheap Dates OCTOBER 1993

Harry Dean Stanton with The Cheap Dates
October 1993
Omnivore Records

The Best Little Bar Band in West Hollywood and Beyond.

More or less, I tend to swerve albums by Actors and/or celebrities for good reason; as, apart from one or two rarities they really shouldn’t ‘give up the day job.’
In Harry Dean Stanton’s defence here, it genuinely appears that he ‘made music’ for the sheer pleasure it gave him; and had no intention of denting the Hit Parade or blagging his way onto Letterman or whatever as an ego trip.
Alongside his long-term friend Jamie James they had been rocking up at Clubs and bars or wherever the mood took them for nigh on 15 years when these songs ended up being recorded. The gig at the Troubadour was booked as the duo, but James suggested calling up some buddies to flesh the sound out; said ‘buddies’ were only Slim Jim Phantom (Stray Cats) on drums Jeff “Skunk” Baxter (The Doobie Brothers), pedal steel, and Tony Sales (Iggy Pop, David Bowie, Todd Rundgren) bass, no wonder the final product sounds like the best Bar Band you never saw!
This album starts in the studio with Country Balladeer rendition of Dylan’s I’ll Be Your Baby Tonight; and it’s evident right from the outset …. that singer is Harry Dean Stanton!
Not that he’s trying to disguise it; even a casual listener would cock an ear and go …. “Is that? It is …. isn’t it? No …. surely …. but it must be!” And he sounds like he’s having a blast!
The Twang carries on right through the punchy version of Promised Land but the Harry and Friends somehow manage to turn William Bell’s epic tearjerker, You Don’t Miss Your Water into a Cowboy ballad with dark gospel undertones; and boy oh boy Harry’s harmonica will send a shiver down your spine.
In my defence I’d not heard Ry Cooder’s own version of Across The Borderline before today; so I had nothing to compare The Cheap Dates version too; but they play to their strengths and while the guitar playing is superb; it is very much a couple of paces behind Harry’s vocals and the assorted voices on windswept harmonies; making it sound like something Willie Nelson or Johnny Cash would deliver.
Even if these four songs had been released as an EP (Record Store Day?) I’d have been a happy chap; but there is the added bonus of some live tracks from that night at The Troubadour; and that’s when these cats really do come into their own.
They come out of the traps like a cat on a hot tin roof; cranking up the excitement right from the get go with a slinky version of You Never Can Tell with Jamie James’s guitar sounding like the strings were made of platinum!
I don’t know if some songs from that night are missing; but the mood immediatly drops by about 70% with Harry crooning the Hell out of Spanish Harlem as if he was in for the roll of Sinatra singing Raul Malo …. listen in and you’ll hear that I’m not wrong.
Jamie James even gets his moment in the spotlight with a stonking rocking and rolling Miss Froggy, with Harry’s harmonica challenging James’ guitar for Top Billing.
With a set-list as eclectic as this one it’s absolutely no surprise that they include Bright Lights, Big City and play it straight down the middle and I’m quite happy with that.
As I said earlier Harry and the Cheap Dates are the Best Bar Band you never saw, and what they do, they do very well with the only surprise really being that their are no surprises …… until …. the last song.
A little known song (?) from the Paris Texas movie, Canción Mixteca finds Harry singing it in Spanish with plenty of whoops and flourishes that give it an extra dimension and; do you know what? It’s my Favourite Song here; because it’s so different, passionate and so damn good.
I’m not sure how many times you will ever play this album; maybe two or three then put it in the rack; until sometime in the future someone will be looking through your CD’s or LP’s (you can’t do ‘that’ with bloody Spotify!) and judging your musical taste …. we all do it; and they will stumble across this and say, “Is this? Really? It is him …. isn’t it? No …. surely …. but it must be!
and the circle of life will go on.

Released February 12th 2021


Johnny And Jaalene
Rip Cat Records

Beautifully Tender Christmas Ballads and Slightly Retro Party Songs.

I first discovered Johnny via his appearance in his Dad, Kim Ramos’s 2018 OLD SCHOOL album and said I’d love to hear a whole album by him.
The following year that album appeared and it wasn’t what I was expecting; as it was an album full of Retro sounding duets with the dazzling Jaalene ….. and once I’d got over the initial surprise fell in love with it.
Now; out of nowhere this delightful Christmas EP has arrived just as I was about to close the site for the holidays.
When I say ‘Retro’ that is going to mean different things to different people; so in this case the first song; Christmas Means Love finds young Johnny Ramos taking lead and crooning the very soul out of a tender ballad that won’t leave a dry eye in the house.
The couple first met at Church; and the ‘innocence’ that alludes to comes across in every note the couple sing; there’s no false sentimentality anywhere; and when Jaalene DeLeon sings Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas you are immediatly swept back to the days of black and white TV on Christmas Eve and someone like Nat King Cole or Andy Williams introducing a ‘fabulous new singer from Anaheim in California ……… Jaalene.’
Do you know what? She actually sings this age old song as if she wrote it that very morning and means every single word.
That was the joy of their LP, the couple sounds as if they ‘live’ their songs and are singing to each other, with you being an eavesdropper.
The pace picks up on the duets Let’s Go Carolling and Christmas Medley, which will have you tapping your feet and shaking your watusi as you sip egg nog and hot chocolate, while looking lovingly at the love of your life.
It’s no surprise that the Best is kept for last, with the title track Under The Mistletoe being as contemporary as it’s wonderfully retro and is surely destined to be the finale in some future Christmas Blockbuster movie?
I suppose I’m legally obliged to tell you that Kid Ramos plays lead guitar on every track; but he’s so wonderfully understated, you’d never know it was him as he leaves the spotlight for the young couple themselves; as any doting Father should.

Released December 1st 2020



Jeremy Ivey
‘Waiting Out The Storm’

Out of Distress Comes a Triumph.

I suppose it’s only fair to state that prior to his 2019 ‘The Dream and The Dreamer’ I wasn’t exactly an expert on his work apart from knowing his involvement (musically) with Margo Price, but it was so enjoyable that I looked into his career etc in more detail – the internet can be very useful!
Margo Price (his wife) has produced this new album and on this occasion Jeremy wrote the words first, with the actual music initially a secondary consideration.
The result is an album that reminds me in many ways of John Stewart/Buffy Ford associations – as a Stewart fan the link (in my mind) is a major plus factor.
But you just ‘hear’ Dylan on several tracks, whether this is intentional or not I will leave to more expert aficionados than myself.
The single and the accompanying 6 minute video of ‘Someone Else’s Problems’ from the album deals with the attitude of many businesses/individuals meandering through life without any concerns for the situation of others. In the video; each time he comes out of a lift he finds himself in a different (but the same ) environment with each being worse than the place he has just left.
This was written over 12 months ago before the pandemic and Jeremy then found himself ill for a number of months and the grim reality of his situation plays out in the album ‘dealing with his own mortality changing his outlook on life’.
The opener, ‘Tomorrow People’ questions if those in the future are ‘in a movie where you already know the end’. Delivered in a Dylan like drawl his voice is ideally suited to the query behind the future.
A taste of his sharp humour?
The album is released on Anti- Records, a label that have been referred as ‘leaning slightly towards punk’ and they are probably a perfect fit for an artist coming out of the shadows ( in a nice way) of his previous work with his wife and at the same time maintaining their team ethic.
He admits that he tried to be political; but in an evenly balanced manner and this comes through in ‘Things Could Get Much Worse’ after a brief harmonica opening he bemoans how he is ‘stuck in a hole where the only way out is a hearse’ while on ‘Loser Town’ he is back on the Dylan like poetic verse treatment of finding himself living in a town where their ‘soul is sold for rock and roll’. A really catchy little track.
‘Movies’ is a great little softly delivered track about ‘movies not being like they used to/ so no more heroes made of celluloid.’
I can picture him sitting in a Nashville cinema with a pen and paper and scratching down lyrics as the film goes on in the background.
They just don’t write stories like they used to!
‘Hands Down In Your Pockets’ is another hard hitting tome that races along before slowing down and dealing with ‘the golden rule turning into dust’. People having to live in tented villages below the Motorways  will sadly become the norm in a downbeat dystopian future of Ivey.
Probably a scenario he has seen all too often already, within Nashville.
‘White Shadow’ asks how folks can manage when even the devil doesn’t want their soul – Ivey’s poser after the storms that shattered his home town of Nashville as ‘the repo man came to call but there is nothing to move.’
The problems of business disregarding the situation of those in distress in ‘What’s The Matter Esther’ maintains Ivey’s pop at the economic situation, where so many are not even treated in a correct or decent manner.
What’s tearing You up Esther?’ 
The final track deals with inequality as ‘half are in jail while half have the keys;’ so you are basically identified from birth into one of the defined categories – rich or poor.
He name checks Neil Armstrong, Walt Disney, Andy Warhol among others but ‘that’s how it goes /that’s how its meant to be.’
In a way this is a sort of protest album but delivered in a way that doesn’t have you reaching for the ‘off’ button.
Instead, it’s very thoughtful and the listener probably doesn’t pick up on its questions until a few hearings.
And it is an album that certainly deserves a few hearings.
Americana? Indie? Alt. Country? Rock?
You could offer any or all as a genre; but let’s just accept this is a well written and produced album from an artist seasoned in his trade and opening up his options on a very good second album.
Very different to his 2019 album it demonstrates that Jeremy Ivey does warrant some time up front; with Margo slipping into the background for a period in a more supportive role.
Nashville storms, COVID 19 infections  – out of distress comes a triumph with this album.

Review: Bill Redhead

Released 9th October 2020



Little Richard
The Rill Thing & King of Rock & Roll

The King Who Never Really Abdicated.

This must be the first time I have reviewed any album(s) by an artist who I actually saw about 60 years ago, and who made the first 78 that I can recall purchasing and who was genuinely one of the music ‘all time greats’.
That single was ‘Tutti Frutti’ and that man was ……… Little Richard.
If I am asked which artist had the immediate impact on me he is one of the first to come to mind – everything about him was dynamic and different from his stage outfits to his actual performances on the piano.
Absolutely Electrifying.
Omnivore Recordings have re-issued (with bonus tracks) 2 of his comeback albums from 1970 and 71 THE RILL THING and KING OF ROCK & ROLL; in very commendably packaged CD sets and for readers of certain age these will be ‘must haves’; and for the younger readers these are a chance to hear someone who was a legend.
King of Rock and Roll saw Little Richard allowing H B Barnum to handle production and the result is a heady mix of Motown, Rolling Stones and CCR covers plus a couple of Little Richard originals, but from the very first minute you hear those first words you just know that this can only be Little Richard and his take on the likes of ‘Dancing In The Street’ and ‘Brown Sugar’ bear comparison to the original artists.
However, do not fall into the trap of assuming this is just another outright R&R album, as he demonstrates on ‘Midnight Special’ where his voice moves from that of a gospel singer to hammering out a superb track in a way that is totally unique.
In the same manner, he attacks ‘The Way You Do The Things You Do’ as well as any other offering I’ve ever heard of this tremendous song.
To me, the outstanding track is The Three Dog Night ‘Joy To The World’ as he details
all of the folk here tonight to hear the man who started it all
and he never spoke a truer word – the Georgia Peach was the star and he just kills this song.
I can honestly say Little Richard sounds every bit as good and dynamic as he did in the mid 50’s when he was hardly ‘allowed’ on TV because of his unpredictability.
The original album was 11 tracks but the new version has the addition of 6 further tracks which include two instrumentals.

Moving onto ‘The Rill Thing,’ originally released in 1970, we see a different side to the man – the voice is still great but the emphasis is more towards a Blues sound, backed by a rhythm section set out together by Rick Hall at his Muscle Shoals studios and with Bumps Blackwell, now Richard’s manager, he gives a tremendous performance.
The opener ‘Freedom Blues’ is a song of hope, that freedom should replace oppression with a killer groove from Travis Wammack we are up and running.
‘Greenwood Mississippi’ was apparently intended for John Fogerty but LR took it into the Top 100 Singles Chart, but the reverse side of that single was one known to everyone as a Beatles standard, ‘I Saw Her Standing There’ and he gives this a completely new treatment, one that was really special to him.
Little Richard’s vocal range gets the full treatment on ‘Somebody Saw You,’ moving from falsetto to a low whisper and back again; but it’s the backing that makes this a highlight track – nobody played sax like they did back then or so it seems to me!
New listeners to LR would probably not have previously appreciated his depth of music leanings and ‘Spreading Natta What’s The Matter,’ has a hint of Good Golly Miss Molly and Lucille,  but LR keeps it moving along 20 years after those unforgettable tracks.
There was a feeling that once his highly succesful ’50s era had come and gone that LR would kind of fade away, but we are dealing here with an artist who once shone brilliantly and then adapted himself to set up a second career in the seventies; and a successful one at that.
He was now welcomed onto TV shows and the world saw this top class Soul and Blues artist – a type of Joseph but of many genres rather than many colours.
The 9 original tracks here have a further 4 bonus tracks added, and backed up with another smashing presentation set, this is a view to another side of Little Richard.
Two excellent albums for fans and (hopefully) newcomers alike, but to me I will still remember him as the small guy who walked onto a stage with only a piano on it, and who then launched himself into a set completely unlike anything I or anyone present that night had seen the likes of before or even; possibly since.
If only I still had that 78 it would be worth a blooming fortune.
Loved him then and I still do today.
I hope many more will want to join the Little Richard Club on the back of these two releases.

Review courtesy Bill Redhead (The Original Rocking Magpie!)
Released 18th September 2020


Bruce Springsteen LETTER TO YOU (Single)

Bruce Springsteen
Columbia Records

Any Bruce Springsteen release has to be celebrated; doesn’t it?
Add to that release the fact that he’s getting the gang together again i.e The E Street Band!
Well; what’s not to like? …….. break out the imported beer kids!

Bruce Springsteen’s new studio album with the E Street Band, ‘Letter To You’, will be released by Columbia Records on 23rd October.
A rock album fuelled by the band’s heart-stopping, house-rocking signature sound, the 12-track ‘Letter To You’ is Springsteen’s 20th studio album and was recorded at his home studio in New Jersey.
“I love the emotional nature of ‘Letter To You,’” says Springsteen.
“And I love the sound of the E Street Band playing completely live in the studio, in a way we’ve never done before, and with no overdubs. We made the album in only five days, and it turned out to be one of the greatest recording experiences I’ve ever had.”

‘Letter to You’ includes nine recently written Springsteen songs as well as new recordings of three of his legendary, but previously unreleased 1970’s compositions, ‘Janey Needs a Shooter,’ ‘If I Was the Priest’ and ‘Song for Orphans.’ Springsteen is joined on ‘Letter To You’ by Roy Bittan, Nils Lofgren, Patti Scialfa, Garry Tallent, Stevie Van Zandt, Max Weinberg, Charlie Giordano and Jake Clemons. The album was produced by Ron Aniello with Bruce Springsteen, mixed by Bob Clearmountain and mastered by Bob Ludwig. ‘Letter To You’ is Springsteen’s first performance with the E Street Band since ‘The River’ 2016 tour, which was named the year’s top global tour by both Billboard and Pollstar.


1. One Minute You’re Here
2. Letter To You
3. Burnin’ Train
4. Janey Needs A Shooter
5. Last Man Standing
6. The Power Of Prayer
7. House Of A Thousand Guitars
8. Rainmaker
9. If I Was The Priest
10. Ghosts
11. Song For Orphans
12. I’ll See You In My Dreams 

Album released October 23rd
Pre-Order here https://brucespringsteenstoreuk.com/


Various Artists
Paradiddle Records

Passion Is No Ordinary Word When it Comes To Our Favourite New Yorker.

Me? I’m a newcomer and have only been a fan of Willie Nile for …….. phew …….. 15 years? 16 years?
In the 1980’s he was a stalwart of the CBGB’s ‘scene’ but never had that ‘hit single’ that many of his contempories had; and although he released a couple of ‘critically acclaimed’ albums he never really troubled the chart compilers.
Then; leap forward to the cusp of the 21st Century, and our favourite Noo Yawker; songs and guitar in hand decided to have another go ……….
Which brings us to this wonderful homage to one of my generations best yet generally un-feted songwriters.
What better way to start such a collection than with ‘fan favourite’ Hell Yeah! But; what’s this?
It’s been disseminated slightly; but Emily Duff still manages to stir the emotions with her very own passionate and l.o.u.d rendition, that runs the original a good race.
Some songs that follow are straight ‘covers’ of Willie’s enigmatic and often poignant Rock & Roll songs; but as is my won’t I love the twisted and left of centre versions that simply prove what a great songwriter Willie Nile is.
Kenny White makes Vagabond Moon sound as if it was always meant to be played in a smoky nightclub at two in the morning; and Dan Bern’s New Wavey/Indie turnaround of Life on Bleecker Street is both charming and anthemic in equal measure; then when Leland Sundries strips The Day I Saw Bo Diddley in Washington Square back to some kind of Americana passion play, I was left stunned ……. and the occasional Bo Diddley ‘beat’ does it no harm either.
Obviously there are going to be surprises around every corner; Richard Barone? Gene Casey?
Never heard of ’em; but both are simply outstanding with great voices; Barone’s take on Streets of New York makes it sound young, fresh and even ‘Indie’; and the way Casey turns American Ride into a Springsteen epic, that wouldn’t have been out of place on Western Stars.
This is still only album #1 btw; and while every track is well worth your time; two especially have captured my heart ……… Graham Parker belting out One Guitar offers no surprises to me; as it’s a marriage made in Heaven; but when (another new name to RMHQ) Quarter Horse reinvent themselves as The Band to sing When Levon Sings, my heart actually skipped a couple of beats …….. and did anyone ever write a finer verse than:
Born on a farm down in Arkansas
Best damn singer that you ever saw
Now he’s keeping time with the man upstairs
When the lightning cracks that’s Levon’s snare
The lightning cracks that’s Levon’s snare!

Then, of course there’s the second album!
WOW! Is that Nils Lofgren?
Yes indeed; it is he who starts this side with a Gospel version of the already beautiful All God’s Children (Gonna Sing) all done in Lofgren’s own inimitable manner …….. simply stunning.
There’s a crazy juxtaposition by following this with Caroline Doctorow singing Lonesome Dark Eyed Beauty in the most fragile and beautiful manner; and yet again proving Nile’s songs are Classics waiting to be discovered.
As I already know every song here and associate them with Willie’s world weary and often angry voice; it’s been a genuine pleasure hearing them re-interpreted for a female voice; and indeed perspective.
Which happens again with Jen Chapin’s intricate singing of The Crossing and Lucy Kaplansky singing When The Lights Go Out on Broadway; makes Nile sound like a great lost American poet.
If you already know Willie Nile’s work, you too will have been wondering who will be covering House of a Thousand Guitars ….. and how.
Well; it’s someone called Allen Santoriello; and while still paying reverence to the original (warbling geetaahhhrs!) he turns it into one hell of a Honky Tonker! This could only have been bettered in this style if it had been Hank Jr.
Again; for Nile’s devotees ……. there’s a lovely little ‘Easter egg’ with the album closing with long time cohort; and the handsomest man in Rock and Roll; Johnny Pisone who goes back to One Guitar and gives it a Reggae riff ……. not foe the purist; but I’ve grown to love it over the last few weeks ….. especially when the sun was shining.
Just like Album #1 a couple of songs jumped out at me the first time I played them; the beautiful love song Sideways Beautiful has been a firm favourite ever since I first heard it on The Innocent Ones in 2010; and when sung by RMHQ Favourite Slaid Cleaves, I welled up and made Mrs Magpie stop doing what she was doing to listen.
She did; and smiled at me.
It’s that type of song.
Another Friend of RMHQ, Rod Picott then strips Lookin’ For Someone into what may become one of Americana’s finest ballads, with a stinging pedal-steel in the background; which I doubt Willie ever intended or thought about.
I’ve physically forced myself not t select any of those as my Favourite Song; although they would certainly be worthy; but I’m going slightly left of centre and selecting a singer, whom I’ve not heard of as he has turned a great piano ballad inside out and made it into a Folk Song that defies the aging process; John Gorka and his wonderful version of I Don’t Do Crazy Anymore.
Both powerful and beautiful …….. oh; and tear inducing too.
Personally I’ve always thought Willie Nile to be a great songwriter; but didn’t realise that so many other people, especially so many other esteemed singer-songwriters did too.
One of the great joys here is that Willie Nile’s fans (like me) have the opportunity to discover some great new acts; plus the fans of those acts can now discover the genius of Willie Nile too.

Released August 21st 2020


Chuck Prophet
The Land That Time Forgot
Yep Roc Records

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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