Mariel Buckley EVERYWHERE I USED TO BE

Mariel Buckley
Everywhere I Used To Be
Self-Release

Sad Canadian Country Songs That Will Not Just Touch Your Heart; But Squeeze it Until You Can’t Breathe

This is Canadian, Mariel Buckley’s second release; following on from 2018’s DRIVING IN THE DARK and arrived a bit too close to the date of release for my liking; as it’s meant I’ve probably not listened enough to always ‘get the message‘ in all of these songs.
But; reading her ‘Mission Statement’ (the last time I read a Mission Statement was from Kevin Rowland aka Dexy’s Midnight Runners in his cocaine years!) several songs have now made more sense than the first time I played them on Friday.
In my defence I don’t want to get too involved in Mariel’s backstory; especially her sexuality (Queer) but growing up as an ‘outsider’ in her hometown because of it; and finally throwing away the secrets that surround that part of her life and her associated mental health problems certainly inform her dark and acutely observed songs in a cathartic manner that will resonate with many people around the world.

So; what’s the music like you may well ask.
The first thing I noticed on opening song, Neon Blue is what a fabulous voice Mariel Buckley has. ‘A voice that has lived a life and certainly has stories to tell’ and this story with a very intense arrangement, involves the minutiae of being in a bar that’s not quite her favourite, but the one she’s most comfortable in now a relationship has ended ….. stubbing cigarettes out in plastic cups, two-stepping to the jukebox and having to go around the back because the toilets are out of use.
As that song ends I thought I had a handle on where the album was going; only to have my thoughts rinsed; as track #2, Whatever Helps You finds Mariel in full on Patsy Cline confessional mode; singinging to a pedal-steel and electro-drum sound; which is annoying and fascinating as you’d guess …. but a fabulous song it is.
Most of the rest of the tracks here are in a more traditional mode, with that haunting pedal-steel at the fore on the melancholic Driving Around where Mariel re-visits her old home with tarnished rose coloured glasses, Love Ain’t Enough is a slow and dark Heartbreaker Deluxe that will have (mostly women) thinking ‘that might be about me!’
The pedal-steel is never far from the forefront; but Mariel and producer Marcus Paquin throw plenty of curve balls as we progress through the toe-tapping Twangfest of Shooting At The Moon; the mournful Horse Named Nothing and album closer the Indie infused Let You Down that may be one of the finest modern break-up songs I’ve heard this year.
I know that there’s a lot more to discover in Mariel’s writing over the next few months; but at the moment I’ve already fallen in love with the Byrdsian title track Everywhere I Used To Be, which sounds like a song that may have been on Ashley McBryde’s debut album; only with a smokier and sultrier vocal.
The other; and my actual Favourite is the relatively simply constructed Going Nowhere; which written about a young ‘Queer’ woman who feels misunderstood in her small hometown; hit me straight in the solar plexus and left my gasping for breath the first time UI heard the opening verse ….
I get bored
I talk shit
I getting tired of doing it
I get so damned frustrated
When things don’t go my way
I ‘m always starting fires
Just to walk away
I don’t know what to say.

Who do you know that these words could have been about for most of his life? #RollsEyes
Although she’s won a couple of fairly impressive and lucrative songwriting contests; Mariel is fairly new to the worldwide Americana/Canadiana circus; but boy oh boy can she write a song that will not just touch your heart; but squeeze it until you can’t breathe …. but still leave you smiling while you gasp for breath.

Released August 12th 2022
http://www.marielbuckley.com/

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RMHQ Radio Show @NovaRadioNE Ep:13

RMHQ Radio Show Ep:13
Nova Radio NE
Newcastle

As I say every week on the show; ‘Time is getting away from me’ ….. thirteen shows in and there’s still loads of acts I love but haven’t managed to play yet.
Yet again we brought you another eclectic mix of all things Roots and Americana; including a couple of EXCLUSIVE first plays of new singles, albums you didn’t know you needed and a few oldies to remind you why you like this kind of music.

John Lee HookerDimples
Jimmy Hall (Wet Willie)Jumpin’ For Joy
Blinddog Smokin’If I Died Today
Matt OwensDrinking By The River
Billy HectorLazy Man
Gretchen PetersLove That Makes a Cup of Tea
Danny and the Champions of the WorldStill Believe
Garrison StarrThe Train That’s Bound For Glory
Anton & The ColtsBoy Living For the Weekend
Harry Dean Stanton & The Cheap DatesPromised Land
Lucinda WilliamsLines Around Your Eyes
Slaid CleavesHorseshoe Lounge
Laura Benitez & The HeartachePlaid Shirt
Skinny DyckI’m on The Upswing
Rob Heron & Tea Pad OrchestraShe Hypnotised Me
Hector GannettBlue Murder
LindisfarneMeet Me on The Corner
Townes Van ZandtHonky Tonkin’
Pam TillisLast Summer’s Wine
Low Cut ConnieAll These Kids Are Way Too High
Mary Chapin CarpenterPassionate Kisses
Jay ByrdLosers Like Me
Amanda ShiresBad Behaviour
Scott MatthewsNew Skin
Amelia WhiteHome Sweet Hotel
Chris HillmanFallen Favourite
Blue Rose CodeLove Is
Billy BraggAll You Fascists Born to Lose
Ethan HannaPassenger Seat

Nicki Bluhm AVONDALE DRIVE

Nicki Bluhm
Avondale Drive
Compass Records

A Gorgeous Slice of 21st Century Hook-Ridden Soulful Catharsis

Once in a while, in this reviewing game, you get handed something that you know very little about, but ending up absolutely loving – this is one of those moments.
I’ve seen Nicki a few times over in Nashville, but have only ever seen her guesting with others – her solo stuff was well off my radar – until now.
There are a mix of influences on this release, but the biggest one to these ears is that of Dusty Springfield – there’s Soulfulness and classic 60’s Pop with a 21st Century edge throughout.
Nowhere is this clearer than on the opener “Learn to Love Myself” which, in its production, sounds like a near cousin of Raul Malo’s work on Whitney Rose’s countrypolitan “Heartbreaker of the Year”.
Tinkling piano and Spector-esque drums overlaid with Nicki’s heartworn vocals assault the eardrums in the nicest possible way.

“Love to Spare” moves sideways into evermore Soulful territory with its Philly-style call and response and terrific lead vocal.
”Feel” initially steps up the pace with a bluesy-gospel feel and a distorted/saturated vocal – stop-start rhythms and instrumental dropouts frame another superb vocal performance too – this girl has got S.O.U.L. !!

“Sweet Surrender” is most certainly not the Wet Wet Wet song – this is a minor key late night sultry and soulful reflection where “you gotta earn every scar”.
“Juniper Woodsmoke” keeps things in a similar reflective pace and lyrical mood, shifting between 6/8 and waltz time, albeit in a folkier, rather than soulful musical setting this time.
Though we may never ever settle the score
It don’t matter
‘Cause it won’t be what it was before.
it’s one of those songs which juxtaposes a mainly melancholy message against a sprightly tune and it’s all the more affecting for it.

“Friends” mixes Chuck Prophet style guitar Funk and 60’s Soul revue preaching on which Bluhm duets with Oliver Wood (of the Wood Brothers) regarding various musings on modern day relationship forming and (shudder) the dating scene…
”Mother’s Daughter” moves into a more serious area, dealing as it does with issues of sexual abuse – its mantra of
She is a woman
however, acts as defiant call for survival and survivors to stand strong.
Once again, Bluhm shows herself to be gifted at putting together a dynamic arrangement, with the quieter/louder sections acting beautifully together to frame things lyrically and vocally.

“Fools Gold” has an undercurrent of spaghetti western musical style, where Bluhm savages the false promises of predatory industry Svengalis and other ne’er do-wells.
Things don’t get any easier lyrically on the gorgeous ballad “Leaving Me (Is the Loving Thing to Do)” where
my ring no longer fits your finger
my smile no longer lights up your eyes
it’s a cathartic outburst and acceptance of sad emotional inevitability.
A melancholy fiddle break caps the sentiments perfectly too.
Things end on a more upbeat musical note with the West coast driving open-top anthemic “Wheels Rolling” -there’s doubt in life still, but there are ways to survive and
That’s how you keep the wheels rolling”.

There’s a lot that’s been laid bare, both musically and personally on this gorgeous slice of 21st century hook-ridden soulful catharsis – this is a very strong release indeed and if you’ll excuse me, I’m off down a Nicki Bluhm rabbit hole to see what I’ve missed!

Review by Nick Barber
Released 3rd June 2022

https://www.nickibluhm.com/

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Malcolm Holcombe TRICKS OF THE TRADE

Malcolm Holcombe
Tricks of The Trade
Need To Know Music

Warm, World Weary, Thoughtful and ….. as Dangerously Honest as Ever.

Q) When is a new release, not a new release?
A) If it’s been released before.

But, if; as in this case something was released as a Limited Edition LP; just before the artist took seriously ill, therefore delaying the CD/Downloads coming out; and an unrelated pandemic stopped any promotion and an accompanying tour can take place; would that mean we can count TRICKS OF THE TRADE as a new release?
YES is my answer.
Mercifully Malcolm has come through his operation uncommonly well and I can now breathe a sigh of relief and treat this as ‘just another’ of his releases.
Money Train which opens the album finds our hero in his trademarked ‘piss n vinegar’ angry at the moneymen who rule the world mode; and boy can he write and perform something like this without sounding ‘worthy’ or ‘earnest’ ….. he just ‘speaks for the common man and woman.’
God Bless Him.
I forget how many albums Malcolm Holcombe has previously released; but in recent years he’s had something of an epiphany; writing better than ever; and this album has some belters on it.
Crazy Man Blues and the title track Tricks of the Trade are as good and eminently as ‘listenable’ as anything I’ve heard from the singer in the last 15+ years; and when you finally get to hear Your Kin and Good Intentions you will think you are listening to someone who is evoking the ghost of Townes Van Zandt; and to some great extent he is.
Malcolm has been around long enough not to really need comparisons; but I can’t hear him now without thinking he’s carrying that very torch better and longer than anyone else.
Traditionally a Folk Singer at heart; the arrangements are very sympathetic to Malcolm’s voice of course; but on many songs he transcends Americana and goes seamlessly into Alt. Country with the greatest of ease; especially noticeable on Damn Rainy Day and the magnificent On Tennessee Land; which is the type of song Johnny Cash would have given his eye-teeth for during the American Album series.
The ‘Bonus Track’ here Windows of Amsterdam is one of ‘those songs’ along with Lenora Cynthia that I can only imagine Malcolm Holcombe writing and singing.
For a million reasons this is a very special album indeed; and there are two very special songs here too; and I can’t seperate them so my selection of Favourite Song is a tie between the punchy Higher Ground, which features the joint talents of Mary Gauthier and Jaimee Harris on the exceptional ‘Higher Ground’, bringing home its reckoning on the final chorus:
I got freedom to choose
I got freedom to lose
I got freedom to choose
higher ground.
T’other caught me unawares the first time I played the album; as Misery Loves Company was the perfect soundtrack to how I was feeling that day; but as the days have gone by it’s become a beautiful heartbreaker of a good old fashioned Country drinkin’ song worthy of Hank or more recently Kris Kristofferson …..
I’ve tasted and I’ve wasted
the good life that I had
my poor selfish drinking
made a rich ol man go mad…I passed out and I cried out
my God what have I done
she’s gone… I oughtta be on tv
with a guitar strummin’ smile
cause misery loves company when the neon’s burnin’ bright.
It’s far from a criticism; but the arrangement and backing band; as usual are quite exceptional here and throughout the album too; but I’ve only ever seen Malcolm perform solo; and these songs ain’t gonna sound anything like this when he goes off on one, attacking his acoustic guitar as if it has personally offended him and bringing it on home unlike just about anyone else I can think of these days .
That said; as an album that you will listen to in the comfort of your home …. and you will; the Production team of Brian BrinkerhoffDave Roe and Jared Tyler have managed to make Malcolm’s wheezy growl sound the way the Grand Old Man of Americana should; warm, world weary, thoughtful and above all else ……. dangerously honest.

Released August 20th 2021
https://www.malcolmholcombe.com/

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Vinyl – https://www.malcolmholcombe.com/cds/tricks-of-the-trade-domestic
CD/Download https://malcolmholcombe.bandcamp.com/
https://www.roughtrade.com/us/malcolm-holcombe/tricks-of-the-trade

Markus Rill and Robert Hasleder NEW CROP

Markus Rill and Robert Hasleder
New Crop
Blue Rose

Sad and Simple Americana To Help You While Away The Long Cold Winter Evenings.

It’s that time of year when I’m meant to be winding down; generally ignoring the Christmas Albums and Compilations that are destined for unwrapping on the 25th December; but two new and fairly exciting albums, that I can’t ignore arrived last week for December releases!
The first is the latest album from our friend Markus Rill and his ‘real’ friend Robert Hasleder.
Like so many of his contempories around the globe Markus passed the early ‘lockdown’ days scribbling down note for new songs that could be filled out next month when it was all over.
Then that month passed and the next and …… well, you know the story; and still with time on his hands he actually finished the songs and decided to record themselves in the ‘old fashioned’ way, acoustically and very, very simply.
The ‘simple’ production is perfect from start to finish; most especially for opener Full Grown Love, which sounds like some picking the scab off a decaying affair and questioning everything; including the singer’s own weaknesses.
If you ask him; I think Markus Rill will call himself a Country singer; which he is; but perhaps it’s the acoustic treatment to these songs, but methinks his honesty and romanticism are more suited to Americana.
Rill has always had the ability to find beauty in the mundane and ordinary; but rarely have his songs sounded as haunted as You & My Youth, Two Girls and the crisply cool Siren Song (That Kind of Fool), which daringly and probably unwittingly, enters John Prine territory.
There’s an uptempo belter tucked away in the middle too; and I certainly expect to hear a louder and more raucous version of That’s How I Roll on the next album he records with a band; but until then this sparkling duet will certainly suffice.
And, a duo it most certainly is; as Robert Hasleder’s presence is an integral part of the album as he plays a multitude of instruments: guitar, mandolin, banjo, accordion, bouzouki, with Markus Rill providing his distinctive vocals,guitar and a little bit of harmonica. 
Whether it’s Country or Americana nothing beats a ‘lost love’ song to close an album, does it? Perhaps not absolutely every one of us; but a lot will take a deep breath when they hear The One That Got Away; because there is ‘one’ in all of our lives; isn’t there?
Rill’s raspy vocals and soft, almost whispered delivery alongside a gently strummed guitar and wheezing accordion add up to become an absolutely stunning song.
But, why is that not the RMHQ Favourite Track, if it’s so good?
Well; there’s another that’s even better!
Maybe it was a challenge he set himself; but The Man In The Long Black is so unlike anything I’ve heard Markus record before, in fact it’s a little bit scary.
Albeit a Bob Dylan song; the title initially made me think of Johnny Cash; and his spectre is all over the words and even melody here; with more than a hint of Leonard Cohen in there too, if he’d ever tried to sing a Noirish Country song.
Necessity is the Mother of Invention; or so they say; and in this instance the ‘necessity’ forced on Markus and Robert, has proved to have a silver lining with this rather cracking collection of songs.
As I’m prone to say with Markus Rill releases; in a ‘blind tasting’ 99.99% of listeners would presume that he was American; but he’s not ……. he’s German born and bred; although did spend a good few succesful years in and around Nashville a few years ago.

Released 11th December 2020
https://markusrill.net/

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Dion ft. Amy Grant HELLO CHRISTMAS

Dion and Amy Grant
Hello Christmas
KTBA Records


The legendary Dion releases a new Christmas single ‘Hello Christmas’ featuring backing vocals by six-time GRAMMY® winner Amy Grant. The song was written by Dion along with Mike Aquilina who co-wrote many of songs that are heard on the recent Blues With Friends album.

Dion says about the song: “I was talking with a friend about how the world this year can use a little life-giving love and harmony. I told him that Christmas was the grace that changed my life and that I was looking forward to a shot of that this year. The next day I got together with Mike and I picked up the guitar, started singing and words started to flow. Later I was walking with my buddy [and co-writer] Steve Bottari and he started singing along – with some new words. The song just seemed to write itself, a gift to finish off this challenging year. From the start I heard Amy Grant’s voice on it; she just sounds like Christmas to me. I sent the track to her and she fell in love with it and added a beautiful counter-melody which makes it really sublime.”

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https://shop.jbonamassa.com/collections/ktba-records

Johnny Lloyd CHEAP MEDICATION

Johnny Lloyd
Cheap Medication
Xtra Mile

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Review by Bill Redhead.
Released October 30th 2020

https://www.facebook.com/johnnylloydmusic
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Andrew Cushin Where’s My Family Gone?

Andrew Cushin

Where’s My Family Gone?

As I’m away for a few days COVID-Busting, or something I can’t post this in the normal manner ….. but as Andrew is such a new and exciting talent I’m going to post his new single via my iPhone 🤞

Andrew Cushin is a talent that’s organically earning him a grassroots following: initially at home in Newcastle, where he sold-out The Cluny before officially releasing any music, and more recently with a huge socially distanced outdoor show as guest to Two Door Cinema Club. Andrew Cushin now adds to his rising profile by sharing his new single ‘Where’s My Family Gone’.

‘Where’s My Family Gone’ is the product of a mutual respect between Andrew Cushin and Noel Gallagher. The Oasis icon first discovered Andrew after he hearing an early demo of his single ‘Waiting For The Rain’, which prompted Noel to praise his “great natural voice.” Their friendship grew, which resulted in Noel offering to produce, play guitar and singing backing vocals on the new single.

“I wrote Where’s My Family Gone when I was in a dark place” explains Andrew. “I hadn’t been speaking to my family, or friends. I felt as though I had no outlet for the way I was feeling, and I wrote it in a little hotel room in Leeds before a gig. It started out as a darker track but the production that Noel has added to the song has pushed the track in a way that it’s now so much bigger and more uplifting. I can’t wait to play it live and see everyone’s faces when that colossal chorus hits”.

Robert Vincent (with Robbie Taylor), BIDDULPH, Staff’s

Robert Vincent (with Robbie Taylor), Supported by Emily Lockett
St Lawrence’s Church, Biddulph, Staffordshire.
‘Biddulph Up In Arms’
9th October 2020

Rob Vincent; “I can’t remember how many gigs I’ve done in my life, but this feels like I’ve never done it before.”

This gig – like many others – was supposed to happen back in March – and with a full band; but we all know what happened to things like that.
Credit to Biddulph Up In Arms promoter Craig Pickering for having the tenacity to find a way to make this gig happen.
The venue – a church with Saxon origins, burnt down by the Vikings and with mysterious Templar grave slabs outside, is a wonderful space, both visually and acoustically – keeping the flame of live music burning.
Normal capacity is around 180 but that was down to exactly 60, following a day spent arranging chairs with Tetris like precision to ensure sight lines and appropriate distancing, movement routes, bar location for table service, sourcing temperature checking equipment etc. etc.
The gig was declared sold out on its re-scheduling which meant that early ticket purchasers were going to be rewarded with some very rare and high quality live entertainment.

Local support act Emily Lockett has played a couple of support slots for Biddulph Up In Arms and her growth as a songwriter, musician and performer is clear – she’s only in her first year at university and has been playing live since her mid-teens.
Her guitar playing is confident and expressive – lyrically she’s in the Maisie Peters/Taylor Swift camp of angsty relationship experiences’ but she’s growing into her own style and voice too, with songs like “I Wanna Go Out” about the acknowledged teenage frustration of lockdown.
She’s recorded recently with tonight’s soundman, Matt Bishop (Of Honey Ryder) and has more music ‘nearly ready to release.’
While her main target audience might eventually be a teenage crowd, but tonight’s significantly older audience warmly received her self-effacing humour and strong performance.
One to watch.

Just before the gig,Robert Vincent had posted on social media that he’d forgotten that ‘pre-gig adrenaline rush’ – and that rush eventually flowed fully in a one and three quarter hour set of absolute delight.
Superbly aided and abetted by multi-instrumentalist Robbie Taylor the time just flew by.
Opener “So In Love” created a cathartic release for all present, so strong that the waves could probably felt back in Liverpool.
Newer songs that haven’t had the opportunity to be presented live like “In This Town You’re Owned” took on a new life – one of the advantages of the lockdown is the delayed gratification of being able to hear these songs played and sung live; after being familiar with the recorded versions for perhaps a while longer than normal.
Early in the set, “Burns (Like Cotton in the Fields)” set the emotional standard very high indeed; self-effacingly introduced as a “sad country song” there wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
The quality and performance didn’t drop through songs like “Blue,” “Life in Easy Steps” and I’m Still Here,” before a powerfully understated and perfectly symbolic cover – in the light of the evening’s event – of “Come Together” for John Lennon’s 80th birthday.
A selection from the new album followed with “Conundrum” sounding spectacular – and in its duo delivery very much having the recognisable but ineffable qualities of classic music from Merseyside.
The Biddulph crowd is a discerning listening crowd and the millisecond of reverential awed silence that was being observed, leading in and out of each song spoke volumes about the genuine reverence that Rob’s performance created.
Before “The Bomb” Vincent stated that “I can’t remember how many gigs I’ve done in my life, but this feels like I’ve never done it before” – from my side of stage viewpoint, that was a mixture of the freshness of a return to playing, the communion with a crowd/people and the revelation of music that’s been hidden away behind a digital fourth wall.
“Demons” ended the set and there was time for an encore of “I’ll Make the Most of My Sins,” and by this stage, the sense of passionate warmth in the room was palpable.
In trying to make some overall critical sense of this, I found that I couldn’t separate the music from the event.
Tonight was exactly what live music is all about – a shared communal emotional interaction; needing all the ingredients being amplified in abundance by their unfortunate recent absence.
I’m not a religious man by any stretch, but Robert Vincent & Co ‘took us to Church’ in more ways than one tonight; long may that continue.

Review by Nick Barber

Photos – https://flic.kr/s/aHsmRiJvrF

Ian Dury HIT ME! (The Best Of)

Ian Dury
Hit Me! (The Best Of)
BMG

Declaring An Absolute Musical Genius.

My trusty iPhone appears to have a Serendipity button; or should that be a Foresight button?
About 6 weeks ago I was driving to work at the crack of dawn with the ‘shuffle’ mode on and out of absolutely nowhere Dury’s Spasticus Autisticus came seething of of the speakers. To be honest I didn’t even know that album was even on there. My first reaction to to press ‘next’ but some manoeuvre necessitated both hands on the wheel; and before I knew where I was, I found myself howling out the chorus alongside one of our nations finest; if quietly forgotten musical geniuses.

Later that day on checking my e-mails there was one offering me this triple album Best Of/retrospective!!
Come on …… that really is spooky; isn’t it?

A week later the CD duly arrived and ……. wow………. WOW.
First of all, a triple album of Ian Dury’s work is always going to be hard work to get through; especially for the casual listener who vaguely remembers his Pop hits 40 years ago …… and I guess there will be a few spoilt Christmas Days when this is given as a present and subsequently put on the family stereo 🙂

Obviously Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll is track #1; and I can still remember the day I bought the 7″ single from FW Woolworth’s; and the two or three times I ever heard it on radio and the sheer thrill of excitement that caused …… and actually still does.
Bizarrely the song never officially appeared on the debut LP New Boots and Panties (my copy had it; but it was not on the track list) and what a debut that was. I think if pressed I can still name every song there; and of course it is well represented here; with Wake Up and Make Love To Me, I’m Partial to Your Abracadabra and of course; Plaistow Patricia still having the capacity to shock 40 years later.
But couple them with the beautiful My Old Man, Billericay Dickie and the greatest love song of that generation; Sweet Gene Vincent and my personal soundtrack was cast in vinyl.
It was an absolute joy beyond comparison whenever the raggle taggle Blockheads appeared on TV, especially TOTP in the next couple of years.

His singles Reasons to be Cheerful Pt III, Rhythm Stick and What a Waste transcended what we knew as Pop Music; and still sound as sharp as a tack today; plus there were other songs that never made it to radio; I Want to Be Straight and There Aren’t Half Been Some Clever Bastards; which had the first outing for what would become Ian’s trademark judicial use of swearing in song! (Not counting Plaistow Patricia).

I clung in there through Do It Yourself and Laughter, but by Lord Upminster Dury’s new and dynamic progressive songs were lost on me; so I bailed out; but today …….. perhaps it’s my age; hearing Superman’s Big Sister and Billy Bentley or Pam’s Moods again now; it’s fair to say that the man wasn’t just ahead of the game; he made up his own rules and it was our job to keep up with him.
As you delve into album #2, the reggae riffs of You’re More Than Fair and Quiet mask some razor sharp lyrics, that while ‘of their time’ still sound relevent in 2020 …… and sadly, that’s true of a few other songs here too ….. what a songwriter Ian Dury was.

Let’s not forget that Ian was never a solo turn; The Blockheads were each amazing musicians in their own rite; and as the newer songs (to me) creep up on you; and the more they delve into Avant Garde territory, the more I’ve been thinking Ian Dury and the Blockheads were Britain’s very own Frank Zappa and the Mothers of Invention or Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band!
Seriously.
Listen to the later material like Dance of The Screamers, Itinerant Child or The Mumble Rumble and the Cocktail Rock (which pre-dates the Blockheads as it’s a Kilburn’s song) to hear what I’m talking about …. or just cut out all of the Hit Singles.

With so much to choose from it’s been nigh on impossible to select a Favourite Track.
Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll has to be in the offing as it’s one of my Favourite songs of all time; (and may even be played at my funeral), and Reasons To Be Cheerful Pt III has certainly stood the test of time too; but I’d totally forgot what a total joy Dance Little Rude Boy was; and that it featured some pretty amazing piano playing; but there’s another song from that period that has flitted in and out of my head over the years; so must mean something special and that is Lullaby For Franci/es which is the funkiest lullaby you will ever hear and showed back then that Ian Dury wasn’t no One Trick Pony; and was the forerunner to one of several changes of direction in a tragically all too short career.

But, starting with the obligatory Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll single from 1977 and ending 3 hours or so later with a demo of England’s Glory it’s all here; warts and all …….. but as you sit basking in the afterglow, there’s absolutely no denying that this man was an absolute Musical Genius, and hopefully this release will bring that to a whole new generation.

PS If anyone still has a full set of Sex & Drugs & Rock & Roll badges, I’m in the market at a reasonable price.

Released 16th October 2020
https://iandury.co.uk/

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