Screamin’ John & TD Lind LITTLE BIG MAN

Screamin’ John & TD Lind
Down In The Alley Records

Dazzling Adaptation Of Classic Down-Home Blues For the 21st Century.

So many things have conspired this week to try and stop me finishing writing this review; but I’m adamant that I will get it done and posted by close of play!
Even from the opening rinky-dinky piano chords that lead into opening track the breezy Rollin’ Joanna I knew that this album was going to be right up my street; and when TD Lind’s slightly grizzled vocal cuts in I knew that this was indeed; the Real Deal.
A polite mixture of self-penned originals and Classic Blues Oldies has conspired to hijack every CD Player I have this week; and I haven’t minded a minute.
I hardly recognised BB King’s The Letter; primarily because this powerhouse duo have stripped it back to the bone and feature Joel Pinkerton’s ‘most Blues wailin’ harmonica’ as lead instrument instead of the geetar …… and the combination works a treat.
This is followed by Jimmy Reed’s Shame, Shame, Shame and short of howling Hallelujah! I can’t think of a better way of expressing my admiration for this startling 3 minutes of Blues Heaven.
I will come back to a couple of the cover songs later, as the duo’s own work is rather good too ……. with the title track Little Big Man the type of R&B you would associate with John Lee Hooker; but these cats have a sound very much of their own, and not a bit like the big man.
I always chuckle when unbelievers think that The Blues is depressing music; Hell’s Bell’s it’s anything but as Screamin’ John and TD prove on the rambunctious Gonna Drag You and Seth Walker and Jarod Dickenson’s Way Past Midnight …… this is Shotgun Shack dance music at its finest.
They can do dark and dangerous too; Reaper’s Knockin’ is a great example; and a tune I now want played at my funeral …….. just to scare the Grandkids!
I’m lucky in as much as I do hear Blues albums like this more than the average bear; but that doesn’t stop me being not just impressed but thunderstruck when I unearth songs like Cold Stone and Emptiness. On an album that will be stacked in the Classic or probably Chicago Blues rack; Screamin’ John and TD Lind turn the genre upside down on this very, very contemporary song; and one that deserves a much wider audience than what I can give it via these pages; hence it is the Official RMHQ Favourite Track here by a country mile.
There’s another song here that deserves an ‘honourable mention’; Huddy Ledbitter’s Goodnight Irene. A staple of most Blues bars and clubs I frequented as a young man; and probably you too; and more recently a song local troubadour and friend of mine Paul Handyside once recorded for my old radio show; gets a whole new lease of life here. Honestly there’s no way anyone under 50 hearing this beauteous song for the first time would ever guess it was over 100 years old.
This duo; producer Glyn Johns and their friends have created a brand new album, that can comfortably sit shoulder to shoulder with Classics of the genre in my collection (and yours).

Released October 12th 2019

Rod Picott at Jumpin’ Hot Club, Newcastle

Rod Picott
Jumpin’ Hot Club at Live Theatre
10 Oct 2019

I’m still suffering from a bit of a ‘block’ when it comes to seeing live music these days; so it takes someone special to get me out of the house on a cold and miserable Thursday night.
On the back of a trio of exceptional albums, Rod Picott is one of the few capable of getting me to load up the camera and sharpen my reviewers pencil.
Sporting a big ole Epiphone semi-acoustic guitar, 0pening act was Yorkshire Lass Elaine Palmer, who informed us early on that she’s been playing at the Jumpin’ Hot Club for 20 years (yet she looks so darn young!).
Obviously I’ve seen her a few times over those years, but there was something a bit ‘special’ about her performance tonight. Her first song Coulda Been Lovers was as sad as you’d expect; but the next song No Fear was a huge surprise as it was full of Post-Punk angst that made it very memorable indeed.
This was followed by the dark and brooding Make Believe, in which the guitar played its part by providing a rumbling accompaniment, which was near perfect for such a dank evening.
Perhaps she’s mentioned it before, but she spent a lot of her childhood flitting between Yorkshire and Arizona; which came to play in the Country tunes Blackened Heart and Drive By; which had her attacking the gritty end of her guitar’s fret-board.
It was quite a performance and goes to show you should always go to see the support act, regardless of how many times you’ve seen them before.

After a very brief break we were called back into the ‘sold out’ hall as Rod was already on stage.
(A confirmed Anglophile. he was keen to get back to his friends house to watch the politics show Question Time on BBC1!)
With no introduction he eased straight into a very intense version of Getting To Me, during which he screwed his face up everytime he sang the chorus.
That’s one of the beauties of watching Rod Picott perform; he really inhabits his songs each and every night.
Early on he announced that he was going to concentrate on singing and try to keep the chat to a minimum; which he did ……. but his stories are always insightful and often very funny indeed.
This meant some songs were introduced and others from his vast back catalogue came and went with the wind.
Of the newer songs Take Home Pay and Welding Burns were both rawer and more passionate than on record, and the man from Maine really dug deep for Workshirts and Turpentine.
As a relative newcomer to Rod Picott’s music, I had no idea he had been in a longish relationship and toured the USA with Amanda Shires; but he did and the story behind the delicate ‘break up song’ I Might Be Broken Now was fascinating, as the couple wrote it together as they were breaking up.
Fancy that?
As was expected Rod included a couple of songs from the new album; and that was no hardship at all with The Folds of Your Dress, the incredibly beautiful Ghost and especially 38 Special and a Hermes Purse were all simply outstanding tonight.
As is his won’t Rod asked for requests, but didn’t expect any as ‘You English are so reserved.’
Ha! He was inundated with three mumbles …… which begat my own favourite, Black T-Shirt (but I was too embarrassed to shout for it), Uncle John which was new to me, but made sense following his back story; and a song I mostly know from his occasional writing partner Slaid Cleave’s version …….. Tiger Tom Dixon, who was actually one of Picott’s long lost relatives, but the story in the song was very accurate and astute too.
After an obligatory 10 second gap, when he walked off stage counted to three then re-entered the arena Rod gave us another Classic I’d never heard before; the fabulous Mobile Home and another song which sounded all too familiar but I couldn’t quite place it until it was virtually finished ……… it was only Bruce’s Badlands! Which, it has to be said sounded very authentic in Rod Picott’s hands.
Thin in the blink of an eye he was behind the merch desk glad-handing, posing for selfies with fans and selling more CD’s than HMV did in 2017!


Rob Heron & the Teapad Orchestra – Artisan Tap Newcastle-under-Lyme.

Rob Heron & the Teapad Orchestra
Artisan Tap
Thursday 10th October 2019

Sometimes, the thing that makes a great gig is placing the right band in the right venue – and thanks to the good taste of ‘Biddulph Up In Arms’ promoter Craig Pickering, this was a perfect example of how to do it right. The Artisan Tap – a converted storeroom and shop – is now a craft beer bar with a curry house right next door, that puts on regular live music.
It’s only small – capacity of 80 – but what it lacks in size, it makes up for in character and atmosphere, no small thanks to proprietor Wayne Lucas, who also happens to be an experienced soundman and musicologist par excellence.
A healthy part of the crowd were in early to enjoy the support from Joe Strouzer – playing New Orleans blues on a resonator with some beautifully grungy harmonica too and dry observational humour.
He deservedly went down well.

Although they claimed that it was their first visit to Stoke-on-Trent, the Teapad Orchestra had played just ten miles away in Biddulph in 2016. Tonight was a much more exuberant and feisty performance featuring songs from the new EP “Eta Carinae” as well as old favourites like ‘Une Bouteille De Beaujolais’ “Rich man now”, “Cats and Chickens” and the opener “Still go Honky Tonkin’”.
This line-up of the band is minus Tim Bloomer who played with the Teapad Orchestra over the summer and instead of adding another lead guitar recruit, the role has largely been taken by Rob himself, giving the band, (if anything) a more rhythmic sound.
Even mentioning that he’d heard that Stoke-on-Trent is the Brexit capital of the UK – followed by huge booing and then the comment – “Obviously not in here” to cheers – Rob and the band completely won over an audience of fans familiar with them and those less so too.

A boisterous encore of “She don’t like the fish” finished the night and left the room bubbling. Rob himself thanked the audience on not staying in and viewing “Bake Off or whatever you’re supposed to be watching at the moment”.
Thankfully, this was one of those nights where several people living in the murky border between Stoke-on-Trent and Newcastle-under-Lyme discovered that there is indeed a great deal of wonderful stuff out there – and tonight its name was Rob Heron & the Teapad Orchestra.

Review courtesy photographer extraordinaire, Mr Nick Barber

Link to Flickr Photo Album –

The Herbal Remedy LAND OF THE LIVIN’

The Herbal Remedy
Land of the Livin’

Still Flying The Flag For British Blues.

Here at RMHQ we inhabit a small clique of like-minded people who spend ALL OF their spare time either writing about music for you or playing it on niche local radio stations; normally unheralded and always unpaid. Occasionally one of us rises above the parapet to actually receive an accolade for their hard work; and one of those is my mate Gary Grainger; who presents a Blues Show on Bishop FM and has now won several accolades for his prowess and exquisite musical taste.
But what I didn’t know was that he is also highly proficient on the electrical bass guitar too!
This, I only found out a couple of weeks ago when he sent me this album from his band The Herbal Remedy; which also features other stalwarts of the local Blues scene in the NE; Davey Curtis and Nick Phillips; currently of Auld Man’s Baccie plus John Timney who has bashed the drums in numerous bands over the years.
Now; why would anyone outside my local area care a jot about this release? Well; it’s bloody excellent from start to finish and certainly stands shoulder to shoulder with most of the albums I review from similar bands in the US of A!
Proceedings get under way with the Chicago styled stomper Money’s Gone and you are never allowed to settle for a moment until final track, the maudlin Closing Time fades to a dark and windswept close; courtesy of Helen Armstrong’s gorgeous melancholy Celtic fiddle playing.
In between we get more exemplary Chicago Blues with Stomping Ground, Full House and Lunatic Blues; there’s even the risque Shotgun Blues, but it’s on the slow and sultry Delta songs when they really sparkle; with the bottleneck guitar on Dead Man’s Shoes sending a shiver down my back and then on Church of Lost Souls you could be listening to the love child of Frankie Miller and Maggie Bell …… honestly, it’s a cracker!
I’m pleased to tell you that every song here is an original, courtesy Davey Curtis; yet each and every song has a timeless and even sentimental touch to it, where I was sure several times that I’d heard songs before; but I hadn’t.
Hmm; what’s my Favourite Song though but? Any of the above could qualify; and the jangly Country Blues of Lifetime Guarantee will be a showstopper when played live; but I’m going for the title track Land of the Livin’ which is one of those classy Blues Rockers that we all grew up on, growling vocals, slide-guitar, an industrial pneumatic powered rhythm section, and an actual song of the type that we still argue about today, as to which is the ‘best’ …… well; I’ve got a new contender for that debate.
Like so many bands of this ilk, it’s too late for The Herbal Remedy to worry about filling the Albert Hall; but with those particular shackles thrown off, it’s obvious that these talented musicians are having the time of their lives and they are letting us join the fun too.

Released October 11th 2019


Margot Polo

80’s Inspired Synth-Pop For the Discerning Hipster.

I don’t know what’s come over me today, as I woke up expecting to be reviewing two new Bluesy Albums, yet here I am immersing myself in Pop Music; and not just any old Pop Music but Synth-Rock!!
Perhaps it was David Provenzano’s adopted moniker Margot Polo, or more likely the photo of him wearing a Summer Suit covered in pineapples that caught my attention; but the music contained therein has been the perfect accompaniment for a morning editing photos and doing a pile of ironing.
The eclectic and electronic opening bars on Let’s Get Out certainly piqued my attention; and the luscious over-layered harmonies and synthesiser beat, whizzed my memory bank back to many a Friday night drinking heavily and dancing to Barney’s Blue Moon Disco at Barmston Club.
Sometimes songs don’t necessarily have to have an arc or indeed narrative to still be ‘good songs’; and that is the case here with Someone New and The Feeling, although both have ‘stories’ I was more caught up in the ambience and sensory overloads ……. which is quite a change at RMHQ.
The other two songs on this all too brief EP are actually polar opposites; but both have charmed me in completely different ways; making selecting only one of them as my Favourite Track devilishly difficult.
Earlier today Electric Girl was the obvious 1st choice; with echoes of Gary Numan, Howard Jones and even Depeche Mode in the way Margot Polo drive a dominating bass-hook and tsch-tsch-tsch drum bullets through your heart; but I’m going for the cinematic and windswept Poison as my choice; simple because it’s classy, well constructed and so powerful it just carried me along in its slipstream.
Certainly not my normal musical fodder; but then again I’ve always had eclectic taste and every now and again something brand new and totally unexpected comes along and wins me over…… this is one such recording.
Certainly not for my regular readers; but I’ve already sent a download to my 10 year old Granddaughter who is currently into “all things 80’s” ….. and this will sit perfectly in one of her current i-phone playlists.

Released October 11th 2019

Sam Lee THE GARDEN OF ENGLAND (Seeds of Love)

Sam Lee
Cooking Vinyl

We are not normally big fans of Traditional English Folk Music around these here parts; as normally it has us running for the hills.
But; this beautiful single and video from Sam Lee transcends all of our pre-conceptions, and the message it conveys is very important.
Released as a) a Pre-Cursor to his album coming out in January 2020 and b) to coincide with the two-week climate actions led by *Extinction Rebellion happening globally and across central London which Lee, a committed conservationist and environmentalist, is playing over a dozen shows as part of the protest. 
Watch the stunning film and listen intently to Sam’s intelligent words and you too will go weak at the knees.

Released October 2019

*While I fundamentally agree with the argument about Climate Change that Extinction Rebellion are protesting about; I personally disagree with the way they are trying to get their message across. Alan.

Uncle Brent & The NoStone MONKEY ROAD (ep)

Uncle Brent & The NoStone
Monkey Road (EP)
Nostone Music

Swaggering and Articulate Americana Rock & Roll.

In a month when we’ve been inundated with new music from the Great and the good in the industry as well as numerous singles, EP’s and bloody links to Spotify from every other level too; our favourite Texan Bar Band; Uncle Brent and The NoStone have kept us sane with this; their latest release.
There’s no time to breath as the band come swaggering out of the block on a meth fuelled Faces/Quireboys/Black Crowes hybrid called Forget About U, and I just adore the way the guitars squeal and crunch as Uncle Brent disguises a very socio-political song about self-belief as a Rock and Roller Deluxe.
Then things slow down to about 85mph on the title track Monkey Road which follows at #2; and just like the last single I keep listening to this Rock n Rolling Blast of Modern Americana and remain mystified as to why these guys aren’t playing to huge crowds in stadiums or at least Concert Halls around the world.
Trust me; they certainly have the chops and songs to open for the Who or Stones!
While not as loud or rocky as those first two songs; disc closer Tequila Nights is every bit just as Rock & Roll; but tipping it’s hat more in the direction of the harmonious Burritos or perhaps even the first Eagles album.
Then; phew proving Uncle Brent & The NoStone ain’t no one trick ponies ……. there are the two slower, smoochier and certainly more mature and eloquent songs; Her Pain and Bullets.
By sheer coincidence I’m writing this on #WorldMentalHealthDay and wow; does Her Pain fit that bill. I’m not going to spoil it for you; I will leave it to you to listen and decide; but listen intently you must.
Bullets though just about edges it as my Favourite Song; and again it’s not a particularly ‘easy listen’ as Uncle Brent throw a beautiful and courageous curve ball; sounding all CS&N and even utilising their a cutting edge, to tell a horrific tale that is all too pertinent in the US of A today.
I keep looking at the band photos and realise that these guys are all of ‘a certain vintage’; which explains the excellent musicianship and smart songwriting; but I will repeat myself; why the Hell are they still playing bars in their Home State? I receive albums every week from acts who are headlining Concert Halls across the globe yet have less than half the talent than Uncle Brent & The NoStone!!!

Released 18th October 2019


Dan Israel

An Album of ‘Grown Up Pop Music’ For the Alt. Generation.

Dan Israel has been a ‘follower’ of RMHQ for a while now, but only recently plucked up the courage to ask if I would ‘listen’ to his latest (and 15th!) album.
It’s been a bit complicated finding a compatible download system; but finally last weekend I got to ‘stream’ SOCIAL MEDIA ANXIETY DISORDER for the first time via his Bandcamp page; and it most certainly will NOT be the last time!
First and foremost, should I to be idling away an hour or two in an Independent Record Store the Cover Art would most certainly would have caught my attention; as it pays homage to those amazing VA albums of the 1980’s that were in the record collections of all my friends.
But, it would be the music that would make me shell out my hard earned pocket-money; and the opening Power-Pop blast of opening song Be My Girl would certainly have me fumbling in my back pocket, and if the shop-keeper allowed me to hear a second track, and that was the swoonsome Might As Well Been Me, I wouldn’t be able to hand over my cash quick enough!
In a ‘good way’ Dan and Band bounce between musical styles throughout; `with the constant golden thread being quality songwriting; and pretty damn cool melodies and rhythms too.
There’s a little bit of all that is good in American Music here; with nods in various directions, but no single song here is ever a pastiche of anything or anyone I can think of.
I rather like his take on Soft-Rock with Another Day and the punchier Alright, which swings ‘like a pendulum do,’ with both tracks sounding great when played LOUD with the car widows rolled down.
Still I’m Lost and Just Can’t Take It are both biting Indie pot-boilers; but when he ‘Revisits’ the latter song it becomes a bit leftfield; and while the Hip-Hop lite track is quite fun at first; Israel’s intro and talk-over quickly becomes irritating.
Other more ‘original’ and inventive tracks though; work very well …… most memorably Out of My Hands and especially the piano led Never Go Away, which sounds not unlike someone who can actually ‘sing’ covering Randy Newman.
It’s no real surprise that ‘love’ in all it’s guises thematically appears many times; and as a sucker for a good Love Song, the rocktastic Be My Girl; with its echoes of The Rubinoos, The Knack and even The Kinks has been a contender for RMHQ Favourite Track; but that accolade goes to the groovy and psychedelic 125, which has just caught my attention and now I can’t get the bloody melody out of my head! (Which is a good thing, of course).
After all the hullabaloo, SOCIAL MEDIA ANXIETY DISORDER has been a blast, and in his own merry way; Dan Israel has constructed an album of ‘Grown Up Pop Music’ for the Alt. Generation.

Released October 11th 2019

Coming Soon!! PREFAB SPROUT Remastered VINYL .

Prefab Sprout
‘Steve McQueen’, ‘Protest Songs’, ‘Andromeda Heights’
& ‘Let’s Change The World With Music’

Off the back of the incredible last album ‘I Trawl The Megahertz‘, and following last month’s first hit of remastered vinyl, Prefab Sprout have announced an exciting next batch, featuring four of the band’s classic albums – out October 25th – all overseen by Paddy and Martin McAloon.

The releases include Prefab Sprout’s renowned hit album ‘Steve McQueen’ – this time arriving as a ½ speed remaster from the original tapes and follows its 2007 ‘legacy edition’ release. An album that frequently graces critics’ “all time best” lists, it’s a record that is highly-revered. The BBC labelled it as “one of the greats. What really matters is the music. Really. If you have never listened to this album then I urge, no, demand that you do.”

The releases include Prefab Sprout’s fourth studio album ‘Protest Songs’ – an essential release for the band that secured them a UK Top 20 record, as well as their sixth album ‘Andromeda Heights’, that spawned singles ‘A Prisoner Of The Past’ & ‘Electric Guitars’ and comes on 180g black vinyl for the very first time.

Finally, the fourth part in the latest batch is the band’s newly mastered and remastered release of 2009’s ‘Let’s Change The World With Music’ – seen widely as the band’s comeback album, which received critical acclaim.

The full package comes remastered and available as digital versions. Format details below:

●      Steve McQueen (Remastered) – 1LP on 180g black vinyl & ½ speed remaster from the original tapes

●      Protest Songs (Remastered) – 1LP on 180g black vinyl

●      Andromeda Heights (Remastered) – 1LP on 180g black vinyl for the very first time

●      Let’s Change The World With Music (Remastered) – 1LP on 180g black vinyl for the very first time, newly mastered and remastered

Steve McQueen (Remastered)

Side 1
Faron Young
When Love Breaks Down
Goodbye Lucille#1

Side 2
Moving The River
Horsin’ Around
Desire As
Blueberry Pies
When The Angels

Protest Songs
Side 1
The World Awake
Life Of Surprises
Wicked Things

Side 2
Talking Scarlet
‘Til The Cows Come Home
Pearly Gates

Andromeda Heights
Side 1

Electric Guitars
Prisoner Of The Past
The Mystery Of Love
Life’s A Miracle
Anne Marie
Whoever You Are

Side 2
Steal Your Thunder
Avenue Of Stars
The Fifth Horseman
Andromeda Heights

Let’s Change The World With Music

Side 1
Let There Be Music
I Love Music
God Watch Over You
Earth: The Story So Far
Side 2
Music Is A Princess
Last Of The Great Romantics
Falling In Love
Sweet Gospel Music
Meet The New Mozart
Angel Of Love

Rob Heron and The Tea Pad Orchestra ETA CARINAE (EP)

Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra
Eta Carinae (EP)
Tea Pad Recordings

An Exotic Musical Cocktail That Will Make Your Heart Swing.

#Disclaimer ….. Rob Heron is a genuine ‘Friend of RMHQ’ and one of the very, very few people who grace these pages that would recognise me in a crowded room; and has bought me a cup of tea on more than one occasion.
The Teapads came bursting out of a wave of young musical madness that erupted in the North East around 2011/2012 and and it was instantly apparent that they were ‘special,’ in a ‘different’ kind of way.
While most of their peers have disappeared into the world of marriage, mortgage and holidays in Magaluf; Mr. Heron and friends have ploughed a very singular field that has evolved with not just every recording but, it could be said every live appearance too….. as no two gigs are ever the same.
While not a million miles different to the casual listener, from their debut LP in 2012 MONEY ISN’T EVERYTHING, to those of us who have followed the band, this is actually light years away in construction, writing, playing and production!
The party starts with some feisty and danceable Western Swing on the ‘breakup song’ Swinging Like a Brick ……….
“You left my poor heart,
Shoulda been singin’
Swingin’ like a brick!”
We’ve all been there haven’t we? But Rob somehow makes this absolute tearjerker not just touching but toe-tapping too; which is a rare talent indeed.
Now anyone who knows these crazy cats, will know that they are no ‘one trick ponies’; as they can slip, slide and jive between musical modes with the greatest of ease; utilizing Rob and Tom Cronin’s bizarre and extensive record collections to great advantage.
Which brings us to the dark Gypsy Jazz of Black Dog; a daring step into the world of depression and wow…….. do they turn this very mature subject into a beautiful love song!
The title track, Eta Carinae appears twice; with a ‘Radio Edit’ tagged on at the end; although the original only comes in at 4.42 minutes; which is hardly Meat Loaf, is it?
The song is actually all that is good and great about The Tea Pad Orchestra; they are far more than just the man whose name is emblazoned at the front; here the Tea Pad Orchestra and Rob Heron, give his words the full Orchestral treatment and make it all as if it should be gracing a pre-WWII film set in Paris or Berlin (or Byker if you have a very vivid imagination!); with everyone giving their all without ever overshadowing the song itself.
Now, let’s just hope there’s a radio programmer brave enough to play it outside of Newcastle.
Then we skip back to track #2 Basket Full of Nothing for the RMHQ Favourite Track. In many ways, while the other songs are a massive leap forward for the band, this is Trademark Tea Pad; but that in it’s own little way is a beautiful thing …… sometimes you have to look backwards to move forwards.
As always it’s a love song of sorts; but one straight out of left field, and featuring some stunning violin playing, guitar and slap-bass ……. and those finger-clicks do it no harm at all either.
I know it’s a cliche but Rob Heron and the Tea Pad Orchestra just may be the hardest working band in the country, with each member nipping off to join other bands in their ‘down time’ and Rob Himself has several other side projects on the go at any time; and I can heartily recommend his occasional DJ spots …….. Tony Blackburn he ain’t!!
All of which comes together like a 1,000 piece musical jigsaw to create these fabulous four songs.

Released October 11th 2019