An Emotional and Honest Journey Between Heaven and Hell – and Everywhere In-between.
There is a spiritual and emotional fire burning throughout this album, Jaime Wyatt’s latest release “Neon Cross”- and even the title itself presages the fiery and turbulent life of the songs therein. Starting with “Sweet Mess”, where Jaime’s soulful lived-in vocals soar against keyboard and strings in an oxymoronic emotional homage to a relationship that’s doomed to fail – but she will enjoy it for what it is anyway. The title track which follows adopts an equally pragmatic yet frustrating world view set to a Peggy Sue ‘type’ beat – “They say life is here to teach me But it kills me slow and easy And I know you got my number But the check still reads my name”. The darkness continues with a fine addition to the tradition of spelled-out words-songs (Think Tammy’s “D.I.V.O.R.C.E.” or Jonathan Richman’s “Girlfriend”) “L I V I N” where “I ain’t afraid of dying, honey I’m a so scared of this L I V I N” – our heroine is stuck in depression for so long that she longs for a slice of (sic) “H E V I N” – she remarks that “Can you let me in? I won’t break nothin’” Emotional frustration continues on the southern boogie of “Make Something Outta Me” where there’s a wonder if life will ever turn out like the movies…but Jaime knows it won’t – but she’s still hoping, caught in purgatory. This embracing of imperfection is further developed on “By Your Side” where some Country Soul pedal steel frames a tale of imperfect love being (slightly) better than nothing at all. A personal favourite is mid-album “Just a Woman” (Featuring Jessi Coulter) which is a biting critique of a male perception of a woman’s role, musically framed as if someone had parachuted Patsy Cline into the 21st century – and she’d brought her no-bull attitude with her too! “Goodbye Queen” on the surface is a tale of a serial leaver, but look a little closer and it’s also a plea to be accepted for what we are – if you’re expecting a leaver – you’ll get one – but don’t try to change me as our heroine says that she’d “have to swing too wide to turn this thing around”. Oh, the joys and difficulties of relationships… “Mercy” which follows is another tale of no compromise, of not being able to be changed – only saved by Mercy. Sometimes this toughness is too much for the world at large though and for some it needs to be tucked away – talking of her friends, the voice in the following track says that “They keep their secrets all covered in sequins” but not for this “Rattlesnake Girl” who found her “Childhood under the pinewood”. Penultimate track “Hurt so bad” featuring Shooter Jennings and lead guitar from the late Neal Casal is a rumination on the frustration of missed opportunity. Final track, the wonderfully titled “Demon Tied to a Chair in my Brain” collects a series of ominous images to create a picture of emotions barely controlled, ready to wreak havoc at any moment – Aubrey Richmond’s fiddle screeches and tears around, symbolising both beauty and pain in this troubled soul – a fitting summation of an album torn and laced with pain and purgatory. Jaime Wyatt has not only lived this album, but she’s done the tough thing – she’s created a world that many of us, if we were equally as honest – will recognise too.
PITCH INVASION Adidas, Puma and The Making of Modern Sport. Barbara Smit. Penguin Books
This will be a surprise for regular readers, as RMHQ doesn’t normally ‘do sport’, but being an Adidas ‘fanboy’ for nigh on half a century, I was asked to write this book review for a magazine a couple of years ago and thought I’d make an exception and share it with you.
What starts out as a lovely story, which sounds like something Catherine Cookson may have written; about an extended family in a quaint German town as the 19th Century turned into the 20th. What could possibly go wrong? WW1 actually. Facts from this period are a bit sketchy; but when the elder brothers come back from the Front Line to join the youngest, Adolph who was too young to join the Army; the story soon revolves around two of the brothers; Adolph who quickly became a genius Artisan shoe maker and the other, Rudolph, a flamboyant salesman; who together not only built up two very successful business’s, making and selling running shoes, but changing in history and fashion in the process. Although times were tough between the wars in Germany, sports and particularly running became very popular and Adi Dassler’s ever improving and ever lighter shoes meant the family business kept growing, and growing with Rudi taking over sales in 1923, leaving Adi in his factory office constantly experimenting and designing, using whatever materials came to hand. The first of the twists occurs as the story moves into the 1930’s and Hitler arrives on the political scene. Like everyone else in the country Adi and Rudy joined the National Socialist Party; with the younger sibling not appearing to have been an active member but Rudy, on the other hand embraced The Party and all it stood for. Adolph’s first Marketing Masterstroke came when he talked his way into supplying footwear for the burgeoning Hitler Youth movement which swept the country. Then, the first of the truly fascinating facts that you will discover, happens around the infamous 1936 Olympic Games themselves. It was no real surprise that Adi Dassler’s footwear were the shoes of choice for the German National Squad; as the Master Shoemaker’s many contacts finally came to fruition; but Adi was also made aware of a young American sprinter called Jesse Owens, who was winning races all over Europe and made it his business to make his acquaintance; and………Jesse Owens actually wore ‘Adidas’ shoes when he made history setting world records and winning four Gold medals. You can’t tell from the photos; because the iconic Three Stripes hadn’t been thought of at that time; but ‘Adidas’ trainers they most definitely were. As WWII beckoned Rudolph Dassler’s role in the National Socialist Party backfired as he was conscripted into a division of the Gestapo, while Adi was quickly returned home to run the family business, which was now manufacturing boots and rucksacks for the army! Thankfully both brothers and their other siblings all survived; but the infamous ‘fall out’ slowly came to fruition over the next few years. As the Dassler footwear business flourished, predominantly because they were in the American Quarter of Germany and Adi spotted that the GI’s played baseball and basketball in tatty canvas Converse sneakers…..he began making stronger and more supple leather versions; and when they discovered Adi had made the shoes worn by Jesse Owens; production went through the roof! It’s not clear; but it’s surmised that the ‘Fall Out’ was brought on by everyone living in the same house and both men’s pushy wives believing that their respective husband deserved more accolades than the other with the rift finally coming to a conclusion in April 1948 when the brothers agreed to split the business. Adi, as he now preferred to be called originally named his new company Addas, which was also the name of a German children’s brand, so he added the extra ‘i’ and the Adidas legend was created. Rudolph attempted something similar calling his company Ruda; but finally settled on the more aggressive sounding and sporty Puma. At this stage, and when you take another look at the Jesse Owen photos; none of their shoes actually had anything distinctive on the side. Strips of leather did adorn their athletic shoes; but were normally self-coloured or dark scraps that were used to strengthen the pressure points. Adi though, knew he needed something to make his shoes stand-out on both the track and shop shelves, experimenting with anything between two and six white stripes on each side; but eventually deciding on three white stripes; while the Puma ones just used one thick stripe. The split wasn’t as simple as the brothers hoped; with Adi keeping one factory and it’s workforce on one side of the local river and Rudy a smaller factory and the company offices on the other with his sales team. The next couple of years were difficult for both company’s, but as expected Adi’s new Adidas brand kept innovating and inventing; coupled with the shoemaker’s hard nosed approach to ‘product placement’ they quickly expanded into the burgeoning football market across Europe; culminating with the 1954 World Cup in Switzerland, when unknown to anyone outside the company; he had *invented ‘screw in’ and interchangeable studs; which helped West Germany win the World Cup on a rain soaked and muddy pitch. *there were already screw -in studs in England, but Adi never mentioned that! All of this left Puma trailing in their wake; and to some extent they drift out of the main story as a whole new rival to Adi Dassler is soon to make an appearance. With our hero Adi tucked away in his design room his devoted wife Kathe evolved into head of sales; and even began exporting product to Canada when International Sales of sports goods was virtually unheard of. Still a family business at heart, Adi’s eldest son Horst enters the story in 1956 when the Olympics were held in Melbourne Australia. The shenanigans began before the first race had been run; with Horst somehow managing to ‘convince’ some Customs men to impound a shipment of Puma shoes that were destined as giveaways to athletes; leaving the door well and truly wide open for the 20 year old to give away their exciting and light weight Adidas running spikes……which many victorious and ‘Amateur’ athletes took with glee. Young Dassler made contacts left right and centre during these games; and several would eventually go onto high positions within the Olympic movement, as well as the seeds being planted for the Company’s ultimate world wide domination. Flushed with what he saw as his own success, Horst felt restrained under his Mother’s watchful eye so following some volatile disagreements was eventually dispatched across the border in 1959 to run the family’s new French operation. Over the next few years Horst does deals within deals, unknown to his parents only 40 miles away; making friends and influencing people in not just the Olympic movement but EUFA and FIFA too, alongside numerous individual International Committees; and growing his own division until it was soon bigger and more profitable than his parent’s German operation. Your jaw will drop when you read how much cash swilled around in endorsements, both over and (mostly) under the counter in the next 40 years and the names that littered the newspaper columns a couple of years ago when the FIFA offices were raided; are all here too. By the 1970’s Adidas was less about manufacturing the finest product, as it was Horst Dassler’s quest for supreme power in the sports industry; regardless of who got caught and hurt in his slipstream. When the story arrives in the 80’s Horst is so arrogant and power mad he totally dismisses new brands Reebok and Nike; as he thinks he has every corner of the market covered; not realising fashions change on a whim. This story is so fast moving, engrossing and convoluted; that by the time the Russians gave one Adidas executive a dog as a gift, everyone presumed it must be bugged and treated it as a spy!
Author Barbara Smit has done a remarkable job piecing together the 100 year story of Adidas, making it not just a history lesson but a roller coaster thriller too and will make an excellent TV Series.
Dubbed “Shania’s natural successor” and described as “America’s new Country Music Sensation”, Jessica Lynn has a style and range that certainly appeals to fans of Country and Country Rock but reaches out and beyond to wider Rock-loving audiences, as it did when she played Ramblin’ Man’s Outlaw Country stage in 2017 – her first performance at a Rock festival, where her cover of AC/DC’s ‘You Shook Me All Night Long’ had the whole tent rocking, as did her own songs and stagecraft!
‘Run To’ is Jessica’s first single release of the year. Jessica wrote the song and explains its roots and significance for her: “‘Run To’ is about longing for someone or something no longer in your life, and it details the desperation of wanting to truly FEEL again after love and loss. I wrote this song from deep in my heart and am very excited that it is my debut single of 2020.”
Perhaps in these strange, locked-down and socially-isolated times, the lyrics may take on extra significance and poignancy, as we find out how much we miss those we love when separated from them, or even – sad to say – lose them, and find out just how much we yearn to run to them?
Intensely Melancholic and Angst Ridden Songs of Love and Loss.
With so many albums passing across my desk each and every day you will have to forgive me for forgetting some that I reviewed some months ago; never mind last year or beyond ……. even ones I liked! Dylan Rodrigue’s CAT’S GAME from 2019 is one such, and it wasn’t until he mentioned it in his e-mail that preceded this album/EP that I went back and re-listened; yup …… I did like it; didn’t I? Plus it still sounds just as good today ……. go buy it! His latest release HUMAN MUSE is something of a ‘Concept Album’ …….. but don’t fear; it’s more songs about a series of people who have touched the writer’s life in some small or large way; rather than some High Art nonsense 🙂 Opening song, Annie is a heartfelt ode to lost love of the extra-marital kind. Not the normal subject for public consumption; but totally fascinating in a darkly brooding and deeply intense manner. This is followed by Happened Upon; a meaty mix of tinkling piano and a bass/drum combo that will make the house shake as Dylan is deliberately faded into the mix to emphasise the protagonists feeling of helplessness ….. which is both very clever and intriguing as you find yourself having to crane your neck to hear his words. The first time I heard these songs, Ryan Adam’s name sprung to mind ……. not someone I ever listened a lot to; but the angst, intensity and melancholy that Dylan Rodrigue fills the likes of First Time For Everything with, certainly reminds me of the man whose name shall not be mentioned in polite company. As the songs come and go, there’s a definite restrained ‘Punky edge’ to For You and the all encompassing fog of the title track Human Muses. Don’t think the Clash or Pistols; go for an introverted Green Day or even …….. takes a deep breath ……. Nirvana at times. Sometimes songwriter’s can be ‘clever’ for the sake of it; whereas Dylan Rodrigue appears to be genuinely articulate and astute in his storytelling; mature even; which goes someway to explaining why I like Because I Love You so much. Not a typical love song by any means; breathy and strained vocals over a gentle piano and ‘dinner jazz’ drumming, it’s truly captivating in a strange manner …… and is now my Favourite Track. After playing this a couple of times I went back to Cat’s Game and while it’s obviously the same singer; this sounds like someone searching for the light at the end of the tunnel, seeing it’s flicker and still fearing that it’s train rushing headlong towards him. Human Muses isn’t for the feint hearted; but for lovers of the darker aspects of relationships (like me) ……… it’s one for turning the lights off, snuggling up on the sofa and wallowing in.
We received Soul Asylum’s latest album a few weeks ago and like it a whole lot; and a review will be on RMHQ very soon. In the meantime being the nice chaps they are, they are releasing a Double A-Side single on the back of the recent murder of George Floyd ……. for FREE. To show their support for George Floyd, his family, and everyone peacefully seeking justice to be served SOUL ASYLUM are releasing free downloads and streaming of our song “Black And Blue” as well as a cover of “Nazi Punks F*ck Off” by the Dead Kennedy’s, available for download below. We highly encourage donations to “Official George Floyd Memorial Fund” on Gofundme, and also encourage you to sign the petition “Justice for George Floyd” on change.org.
Everyone should also register and vote in all elections, especially locally where you make the largest impact on change in our police and justice departments. Systems can be changed through voting, and it is important to learn about your local and national elections so you can elect people who share your points of view. We must vote out systemic racism.
Let’s all unite to fight racism peacefully and intelligently. Nazis, racists, white supremacists and fascists, you have NO BUSINESS in our amazing city. To the rest of you beautiful people, love from Minneapolis, MN!
A Proudly Traditional Yet Forward-Thinking Musical Stall,
On his previous release, 2016 “Little Windows” with Kelly Jones, Teddy Thompson tapped into the earliest forms of Rock and Pop. On this 2020 release he’s still mining classic musical types but there’s a slight shift to the soulful side of the spectrum, both in arrangements and melodies. Opener “Why Wait” with its “You can’t hurry love” back-beat is a bittersweet tale of splitting up and recognising inevitable failure in a relationship…sadly; we’ve all been there. This juxtaposition of catchy melody and insistent rhythm set against the difficulties of love is also seen in the penultimate track “It’s Not Easy”, whereas“At a Light” lyrically attempts to stage a bit of a fightback with it’s “you’re gonna miss me” refrain set against an arrangement that is straight out of the Radar Records playbook. Title track “Heartbreaker Please” begs the question “Will you come back?” accompanied by a series of major-minor shifts and Knopfler-ish guitar. “Brand New” takes things down a notch and binds cautious optimism in the kind of laid-back soul that Squeeze mined on “Black Coffee in Bed”. Following this, “What Now” moves on a step in tempo and in the development of the stages of the singer’s relationship–and it’s insanely catchy. After all the questions of the earlier part of the album Teddy comes to the conclusion on track #6 –quite reasonably-that he has “No idea” what is going on, but that he’s a bit sad about it all, “When the comfort you find/ doesn’t last through the night”…things get a bit bleak so “run” and “hide” seems to be the conclusion. What else can one do? Frustration of a different kind rears its head “Record Player” where Teddy rages against modern music that sounds like “fingernails on a blackboard”; it’s the album’s manifesto and it unsurprisingly draws on handclaps, Stax-alike horns and a girl-group beat. “Take Me Away”, after the uncertainty and misery of earlier engages with a Parisian sounding string quartet waltz to offer hope in new love. Following the aforementioned “It’s Not Easy,” the album closes with “Move at Speed” looking back on the preceding emotional maelstrom and painting a melancholy overview of the difficulties in engaging emotionally when everything is going by in a blur. On this album, Teddy Thompson sets out a proudly traditional yet forward-thinking musical stall, genetically I’d place this as the troubled offspring of Lowe,Costello, Difford and Tilbrook–intelligent songwriting with a super-refined ear for melody and arrangement.
Hannah White and the Nordic Connections Hannah White and the Nordic Connections Paper Blue Records
Cool, Crisp, Country with an Articulate Americana Edge.
With so much going on in my life at the moment this release very nearly ‘fell through the cracks’ and I may never have forgiven myself. Bizarrely opening track, Never Get Along seemed like a simple ‘break up’ song when I first heard it a couple of weeks ago. Quite lovely in its own way, and HP Gundersen’s pedal-steel is mesmerising; but listening over the weekend as the Western World is at odds with itself politically and a-politically it now interprates as something of an anthem for love, peace and understanding …….. but perhaps it was just a love song after all; WHO KNOWS? Phew; let’s leave that debate for another day; as the other songs here are quite magnificent; and in Hannah White Britain is flying the flag for Traditional Country music as high and fervently as possible. Whooooo….ooo…ooo, the second song Start Again sounds a bit Country Gospellish and the way White’s voice wobbles and warbles on the chorus; like a cross between Loretta and Bobbie Gentry…… and the words are well worthy of both singers too. Normally I’m non-plussed when acts make a big thing of recording in the analogue format; but here it genuinely gives Hannah’s pearlescent voice an added shimmer; and the every instrument played seem to twinkle like fairy lights on a Christmas tree. Let’s get back to the songs ……… as they are what you will remember in years to come; with Pay Me a Compliment and When You’re Not Around both showing a songwriting maturity I hadn’t expected; and the sentiment in each will make women weep as they clutch the record sleeve to their heaving bosom and when men hear them, they should rightly think, ‘should do better.’ I find it quite amusing it that male Country singers write homilies to their Sainted Mothers and the female of the species write about their strong and wise fathers; and Hannah White is no different; with a rather lovely homage to her own Papa in My Father; which actually opens up lots of questions about him that I’d like answered ……. but I will leave that for another day. While owing a lot to Classic Country in many ways; Hannah White’s songs still manage to be contemporary and even edgy in an Americana kind of way; My Father certainly fits that description as does the Murder Ballad The Darkness which surely begs an accompanying video to set your hair on end. There’s a remarkably restrained energy on many of the songs here; possibly because of the Nordic/Norwegian connection; which brings me to the choice of song for Favourite Track status; the finale Man Without Men is as cold and icy as I’ve heard for many a year; and chillingly beautiful because of it; whereas City Beats is real olde fashioned toe-tapper with a stark undercurrent (if you listen carefully) but for the accolade itself I’m plumping for Gotta Work Harder; as Country as Country gets these days and as Contemporary as the genre gets; with a ‘full on’ production worthy of Gus Dudgeon and if you know your history; Lars Hammersland makes his Hammond sing and swing like Augie Meyes did in the Sir Douglas Quintet! I was initially charmed by the band’s moniker which is what made me put the disc in the player; and now, a month later it’s taken on a life of its own at RMHQ and in the Magmobile too ……… and don’t be too surprised if it finds its way into the year end Top 20!
The Yardbirds Most Blueswailing (1964) Repetoire Records
British R&B at It’s Hottest, Rawest and Most Blueswailing!
Without boring you again; In the Summer of ’69 when I was 11 and about to go to Senior School I ‘discovered’ music and my elder brothers collated a box of 45’s and LP’s from the Rolling Stones, Beatles, Dusty Springfield, The Animals and The Yardbirds, among others that they had grown out of and donated them to me, to further my education. Seriously …….. who’d have thought that the music they deemed old-fashioned 4 or 5 years after release would be a lot more relevent half a century later, than the likes of the Incredible String Band, Quintessence and Family which they had moved onto! The original 5 Live Yardbirds is still one of my favourite albums of all time; and the very best Live Album ever! Here we find another recording from the same time finding the light of day; and finds the band playing around and experimenting with a few of the songs on 5 Live and adding a few newer ones too. First off, the sound quality is exceptional for a Club recording that’s nigh on 60 years old. The Yardbirds come out ‘all guns blazing’ with Someone To Love Me; a song I’m not aux fait with. Clapton’s guitar glides between Jazzy and choppy with infinite ease and I’d forgot what a powerful and crystal clear voice Keith Relf had. The song itself comes to a sudden and surprising end; followed by ‘tuning’ which isn’t explained; so we can only imagine Eric must have broke a string or something. Next up is their version of Chuck Berry’s Too Much Monkey Business …… which is still fast, but not quite as breathless as the other and earlier live version. There’s a bit more chat here; with Relf talking about Eric’s new Fender Jazzmaster, the only one in the country and cost him ‘about £300’ at the end of Got Love If You Want It and prior to a gut punching rendition of Smokestack Lightning. In line with all of their contempories at this time, The Yardbirds showed great taste and insight with their choices of songs to cover; all of which would have been brand new to the audience and when introduced just imagine how exotic names like Slim Harpo, Howlin’ Wolf and Chuck Berry would have sounded to teenagers from the suburbs and villages around the UK. It was only when I was playing the album today that I heard Good Morning Little Schoolgirl in a ‘new light’ …….. Mrs. Magpie rolled her eyes and sighed; “That hasn’t aged well!” OK by today’s standards it wouldn’t get past the radio-censors but every band singing it in the 1960’s would have still been teenagers themselves; and it’s best not to think too hard about how old Chuck Berry was when he wrote it! As a kid I absolutely loved the way Respectable blends into a frantic Humpty Dumpty, and still do today; as it’s not something I’ve ever heard from anyone else. You will all know the pocket-history of the Yardbirds, with Eric Clapton never sounding finer as he did here (IMHO) but eventually leaving because he felt the band were moving in too much of a Pop Direction and he wanted to be a ‘Blues Player’ which brings me to the finale; a song I’ve never heard from the band before; The Sky Is Crying which is absolutely mind blowing and must have been added at the behest of EC, as it’s a really slow and intense Blues of the finest order and must have screwed with the young audience’s already hormonaly befuddled minds. Which only leaves one more song to mention; a song that has been a cornerstone of my musical life for half a century; and took on a life of it’s own in the mid 70’s when I would make cassettes for the future Mrs. Magpie ……… Got Love If You Want It. To this day I doubt she ever liked the song; but hey …… it was from my heart; and this Diesel powered version with Relf blowing the reeds from his harmonica as Paul Samwell Smith and Jim McArthy providing a backing worthy of the Swampers a decade later; which easily makes this my Favourite Track here. This is neither better nor worse than 5 Live Yardbirds; just a bit different with the band experimenting with arrangements plus adding and subtracting songs from their repertoire; it’s another snapshot in time and should be listened to by any or all guitar bands regardless of their age. I’ve never been sure how kind history has been to The Yardbirds; and even here far too much credence is given to the ‘Featuring Eric Clapton’ than I think is necessary; as this version of the band is British Rhythm and Blues at it’s very best; but blew out like a spark in the wind of change.
Living in the North East, I suppose it’s due to my close proximity to ‘the Border’ that I have had a soft spot for many bands out of Scotland over the years – most of them don’t miss the chance to visit the North East when they tour; and that’s a plan that suits both bands and fans alike. When I mentioned that I might be reviewing BONNY I did get a “my friends really like him but he is very … Scottish!” remark from both my daughter and son in law; but as I had not really heard a lot of him I took that to mean he had a pronounced Scottish accent. Having worked in Glasgow for about 6 months a few years ago I was suitably prepared. Any bloke who can sell out gigs in big numbers without a record label etc has to have ‘something about him’ (other than a cute accent) but what really intrigued me was the videos of his gigs where, literally, every audience seemed to know and sing the words – as they say in poor musical reviews, for ‘an overnight sensation’. The first thing that hit me on Canter was his voice once the guitar opening had finished – he sounds like the guy from Frightened Rabbit or was it Twilight Sad or The View? He just hits you in the face….. so I can fully understand the sing-alongs at his gigs – he is that sort of singer – one who genuinely seems to be enjoying himself. He already had me humming along as I listened on my morning exercise walk – my usual listening time. So far so good. Track 2, War Song Soldier is completely different right from the opening bars – the same ‘in your face’ voice but on a much more serious level. The lyrics are far more serious and thought provoking ‘I could write a song and pretend it’s worth my time’. The very moody harmonica fits in perfectly. ‘Can I get back to my loneliness?’ – the plaintiff opening to Where We’re Going follows a similar thread but slightly more upbeat with the addition of a more noticeable drum accompaniment. The one common link through these openers – his excellent voice. I won’t go through each individual track ( there are 12 in total) but there is something about a Scottish drawl that allows the singer to play with words in terms of the meaning of words in Scotland that might have S E England struggling – nought wrong with that in my opinion. It’s them what talk differently!! Not many albums contain a line with ‘ a load of palaver’ playing a vital part as it does in Head In The Clouds’. You are in a bit of a pickle and you can’t just run away from it so just face up to it. It’s love that he is trying to run away from! The Bonny for the uninitiated is a bonfire ( as well as being used to describe a good looking bairn) but Gerry is basically describing his dreams of something bigger in the future… but there will always be someone waiting to ‘piss on your chips/Bonny’. Highlights for me are Sun Queen ( a really good ‘join in lads and lasses’ track) ‘music from the 50’s where we used to keep the streets clean’ – for us of a certain age we can all remember that AND Outsiders where his aim is to try and stay away from the madness that is the ‘music industry’ as it wouldn’t pay no mind to your opinion even if you had one’. A plea from the heart? If you strip out the voice (it’s Scottish) the guitar/harmonica/ drums wouldn’t be out of place in an Americana/Indie Folk album on many tracks. I suspect that dropping him into a small club offering those genres wouldn’t trouble him at all – sleeves rolled up he would just muck in. The guitar is his gun, his six shooter – acoustic not electric. The finale, Everyman’s Truth deals with a load of things like ‘fake news’ and rubbish bombarding everyone via social media etc – ‘I think I’m gonna die if I don’t know why’. You can only deal with what you know not what they try to want you to know! I haven’t listened to his first album deliberately as I wanted to judge this on its own merits, without any pre- conceived ideas and it’s obvious why he is so good at live shows with his (infectious) manner and his well thought out lyrics. They suit sing-alongs and that isn’t a criticism in any way – his audience want that and he has loads of time to alter his thoughts in that respect. He is a good wordsmith although that doesn’t come through in all the tracks. Did I enjoy it? Absolutely; even though he is very ‘Scottish’ but so are Frightened Rabbit etc etc. I can see him doing well with this – at this time folks need to be entertained and he certainly does that. You do what your audience likes and he knows what that is and he does it well. I would guess his next offering will see him changing slightly possibly towards a more Americana type album but if he does, I would expect him to just hit us from track one with that smashing ‘Scottish’ voice. Well done ‘young un’
Review by ‘The Original Rocking Magpie’ Bill Redhead
Dirty Electric Blues Made From Fire, Brimstone and Lust.
Well; with so much music landing on our doormat at the moment it’s proving ever more difficult to even select music to listen to in depth let alone actually review ……. it takes time and lots of it. In this album’s case I’d never heard of Albert Castiglia and the artwork was uninspiring; but because it is on Mike Zito’s new record label Gulf Coast Records it did make its way onto the hard drive and then eventually the I-Phone; but that still didn’t guarantee a ‘play’. But my trusty I-Phone came up trumps again last Saturday afternoon on the way to work. I was in a foul mood as I left the house and didn’t know what to play on that miserable drive. But, ‘Albert’ is obviously at the start of the alphabet so I pressed ‘play’ ………. YIKES! The dirty opening guitar stanza of Big Dog was just what I needed and the dial was immediatly cranked up to 11! The amazing guitar playing that followed and Castiglia’s grizzled growl and yelps were so reminiscent of 70’s Johnny Winter it was frightening ……. ye gads this is one Hell of a Slice of Contemporary Urban Blues; and there’s not just more ……. but even better to follow. It’s a ‘given’ at this stage that Albert Castiglia is a mighty guitar player, in the style of not just Johnny Winter, but Walter Trout and possibly Albert Collins too; which is no surprise when you find he played in Junior Wells’ band for years before going out on his own. This is the lustful, Fire and Brimstone end of the Blues; and while it definitely Rocks; Castiglia is a Bluesman pure and simple; as the low down and sultry Heavy encapsulates and Keep on Swinging oozes out of every single note and groove; this guy is channeling all of his legendary forefathers and adding his own special ‘magic’ too. Back to the beginning; I’m not saying you have to be in a bad mood to get the best out of these songs; no sirree; the following day was bright and sunny; and the windows were wound down so I could share the glory of Loving Cup and the exceptional Boogie Funk with the world at large; whether they wanted to hear them or not! Choosing a Favourite Track was both easy and difficult, as there are some real zingers here and Castiglia ain’t no noise merchant; he has subtlety in not just his words but those fingers too; which comes out in the majestic Searching The Desert For The Blues and Too Much Seconal, which could and should be worthy Favourite Tracks and they have been earlier in the week; but another song has finally won me over as it draws on the Classic era that I grew up in during the 1970’s and is so shiny and bright it couldn’t be anything other than my eventual Favourite Song; and that is Put Your Hoodoo On Me……. man it takes me back; but forward too as it really showcases not just Albert Castiglia’s guitar skills and singing too; but everything I have loved about Electric Blues for half a century! The album is actually a ‘Live Recording,’ (from The Funky Biscuit in Boca Raton, Florida) with some tracks stretching out to 8 minutes or more, but the audience applause and any chit-chat between songs is pretty much edited out; but that leaves music that bares repeated plays then repeated again that all have that ‘fire and brimstone’ that comes from a Live set that 99% of the time can’t be replicated in a studio.