A Re-Imagined Long Forgotten Album Brings Warmth and Beauty To 2020
For a variety of reasons; most notably Martin’s ‘one man band’ approach to everything these days, including PR; has meant that I’m late to the Pink Tank party; but as it’s going to be the perfect Christmas gift for the discerning music lover in your life …… maybe serendipity has played a part in my review going out a month after release after all. I could be wrong, but MG Stephenson just may may be the most prolific of recording artists, and it’s been nigh on impossible to keep up with his releases over recent years; especially the last quarter century when he’s been free of record company shackles and he can now record and release albums on a whim …… and he has more whims than most. Here, he has re-recorded the long forgotten AIRDRIE album in a more upbeat fashion; and has used modern technology to bring in other musicians recording remotely from all across the country into his makeshift studio in rural Scotland; where he has pieced everything together himself (don’t let that shambolic daft Uncle schtick he exudes fool you; he’s a bonafide genius!) and this is the spellbinding result. As I’ve never heard AIRDRIE this is therefore a brand new collection of songs to me; yet when I first heard opening song, the rather lovely bouncy and beautiful Daffodil I was swept back to those heady days of his early Kitchenware releases with the Penny Daintees, and 2020 soon became a rather nice place to be in after all. The winsome Nairn Beach follows, featuring some divine guitar and Martin’s soft Washingtonian tones never sounding more expressive or indeed; lovely. Even if this is the first of his songs someone ever heard; they would realise that this man genuinely transcends Folk Music in a way very few, if any of his generation ever managed. For a songwriter so prolific; I’m stumped to think of a song that’s actually been a duffer over the years; you know ……. ‘filler’ ….. and that is still the case here, with songs like Light Step Travel, Steel String and the harmonica driven The Joy You Give being songs that would be outstanding highlights if released by any of the modern swathe of Boy Songwriters that are currently filling the Hit Parade, but on an album by Martin G Stephenson they just support songs, but are still destined to change people’s lives in one way or another. While feted for his wicked sense of humour and brilliant comic timing on stage; Martin has an incredible sensitive side which comes through in his songs; which every now and again can send a shiver down your back when a story unfolds. I won’t spoil them in advance; but expect the Bluegrass influenced Hell’s Half Acre and then the Easy Road Home to have such an effect on you when you least expect it. It was probably there in his younger days; but in recent years Martin has hidden a few ‘deep and meaningful’ songs onto his albums; and here one such is The Burning of Cathaidh, which is almost Gothic if not Celtic in origin; but Martin’s wonderful voice brings light and shade to a very, very sad song. I have a feeling that’s going to a song I come back to many times in the future; but for now my selection of tracks for Favourite Song status is down to only two; Mountainous Spring, with it’s quirky Shadowsesque intro and the charming imagery it then conjures up; and Beautiful Judas when we are swept off up an Appalachian Mountain for three minutes of British Folk music that has elements of Bill Monroe, Ewan MacColl and even early Bob Dylan oozing out of every note, couplet and melody too. Therefore Beautiful Judas is my Favourite Song here; and not only is it probably the finest song Martin has recorded this century; it’s well worthy of featuring on any prospective Best Of; and with his back catalogue ….. that’s quite the honour!
Three Versions of a Highlight Track From “A Dark Murmuration of Words”
For her birthday, Emily Barker has released this three song EP – a powerful lyrical and musical observation on the interconnectedness of racism, climate change and the polluting nature – both literally and metaphorically – of the industrial behemoth. The previously released, album version is here, with its Tom Waits-ian musical whirring, grinding and response chanting; which lovers of the album will already be familiar with. The alternate take is softer and much more sinister – it has a more distanced, reverb-laced vocal with less forceful vocal responses, eastern string plucking and a constant keyboard pad which gives it an extra eeriness. The third version is an a capella take – just vocals and handclaps and some foot-stomps too and is the best at conveying the lyrical clarity of the message – perfect for a festival set closer! Each listener will have their favourite – but, it’s also an interesting insight into the thought process of an artist’s decision in what makes the final cut and what best serves the song’s intent.
Canadian Folk Songs that Flow With Grace and a Delicate Intimacy.
This is another album that nearly fell by the wayside; primarily because I had mis-filed it on my I-Phone; only for it to ‘pop up’ quite by accident one morning last week, on my constitutional stroll around the ‘hood.’ While I was actually expecting some loudish Country Rock; the starkly beautiful Melt took me by surprise that I actually stopped in my tracks. At first it was to find the album I wanted, but by the time I’d took my gloves off and was fiddling with the buttons; I was already smitten. WOW! What a beautiful and pearlescent voice this young lady has; and the chill in this tale of lost love actually made me glow faster than a bowl of Ready Brek. Coincidentally Terra uses the metaphor of a melting snowflake for the ‘warmth her lover’ showed her; which shows what an articulate writer Ms Spencer is. Although my walk was meant to at quite a fast pace; this collection of delicate and languid stories was the perfect accompaniment; possibly because of the bright Autumnal sunshine and cold wind; or possibly because I was just in an old-romantic mood. Normally with Folk Singers; and that’s undoubtedly what Terra Spencer is; I try to imagine what the songs will sound like stripped back to just an acoustic guitar when played live; but not this time. As most readers know, I try not to read Press Releases too early; as I like to make my own mind up about the music; and I’d already decided Terra must be Canadian when I got home and read her bio; and she is; from Nova Scotia actually. I don’t know why but Canadian singer-songwriters have a ‘certain something’ that other English speaking nations don’t ….. go figure. While the bio says the songs are all written with a ‘Canadian Winter as a backdrop’; I can’t disagree; but to me there’s a sense of loneliness and longing that weaves their way through too; most noticeably on the intense and theatrical In The City; which is just waiting to be included in a sad Rom-Com; just before the couple ‘accidentally meet and get back together again’ IMHO. At first the title track Chasing Rabbits sounds like charm personified; as Terra compares herself to her slightly faulty puppy dog; but listen two, three or more times and her words unravel like a stray thread on your favourite sweater and if you don’t then have tears in your eyes; you’re listening to the wrong LP! It’s a brave songwriter who can pull off a song like Coyotes. I’m not going to spoil it for you; but the first time I heard it I couldn’t believe my ears as it actually sounds like a short ‘Thriller Story’ bordering on the Gothic; but I’ve come back to it several times in the last few days. To some intents and purposes CHASING RABBITS is for playing on a long dark and preferably cold evening, snuggled up on the sofa with the lights turned down low and a flickering fire across the room; only then; like a good robust red wine; will you get the best out of Lunenburg Moon, Manitoba Maple and most importantly Training to Fly (which is another weepy). No two songs are the same here; be that in setting or actual musical construction; but there’s a definite golden thread that holds them all together; which is best shown by the two songs that close the record and actually tie for the accolade of Favourite Song. While I can only presume there’s at least a little bit of Terra’s own life in every song here; the words and story in Feels Like Home surely must be autobiographical? Another song that I really and truly don’t want to spoil for you; but Terra Spencer really captures the loneliness someone can feel moving away from home to ‘live the dream’ in a way I’ve not heard for many years. This is followed by Saigon; which could easily be the same young woman several years later; deeply in love … but is the magic and romance still there? Who’s to say? You’re left to make your own mind up. Terra Spencer’s songs flow and grow with a grace that comes from her luscious and intricate arrangements; be that the occasional flourish of electric piano, a swooping cello or violin and when that trumpet makes an appearance the hair on the back of my neck stood on end. These songs aren’t for small Folk Clubs, they are destined for Concert Halls with audiences sitting in awe of the talent on stage.
#I haven’t even mentioned that in her parallel life; Tera Spencer is an actual Funeral Director!
The cusp of Modern Folk, Lo-Fi and a few Avant Garde Poetic Flourishes.
Some albums really, really deserve your full attention when listening; and this latest offering from Nashville’s Anne Malin is one such. Before I go any further I may have to reconsider telling you she is from Nashville, as that mat pre-empt what you feel you are going to hear; be that mainstream Country from Music Row or something dark, dangerous and broody from the Est end of town. What Ms Malin does transcends either or both and has a more International ‘feel’ to it as it straddles the cusp of Modern Folk and what we used to know as Lo-Fi, with a few Avant Garde flourishes thrown in for extra flavour. If you fall instantly in love with opening song Empty Is The Day; as I did, you are in for a veritable treat; but if like Mrs Magpie you sniff and look disdainfully at the hi fi, then the man who put the disc in the player, before leaving the room ……. you are missing a very special record indeed. The quavering pity in Anne’s voice carries on throughout the whole album, and really brings out the pathos in her tragic tales; most especially the richly detailed What Brings My Eyes Open and Sleep. I said earlier that there are ‘Avant Garde flourishes’ here; and that’s how I feel about the painful poetic delivery in Mountain Song and again the title track The Waiting Game which somehow sounds something like Anne is channeling both Edith Piaf and Norma Waterson via a lifetime of heartbreak. While it’s often said that ‘there is nothing new in music’ THE WAITING SONG is as different an album as I’ve heard in ages; there’a Gothic sensitivity to many songs here; but in there lies a tragic beauty; none more so than the song I’m selecting as my Favourite; Pearly Sleigh, which finds Anne singing as she tinkles the piano; (or is it a harpsichord?) who knows or cares; it will never see the light of day on the wireless and I guess will scare the pants off the average Spotify listener; but to you and I it is a rare thing of poetic beauty. Anne Malin alongside partner William Johnston, and their album THE WAITING SONG are either destined for greatness, Awards and becoming the darling of the broadsheet newspapers; or will become something of a cult performer with winsome and brokenhearted young ladies and gentle-men hanging on her every word and deed; I doubt there will be a middle ground with some minor commercial success ……. unless the likes of Tim Burton uses one or more of her songs on a film soundtrack; which would be the perfect combination for me.
The Acoustic Equivalent of Driving a Mini Cooper Around a Beautiful Hairpin Bend.
#DISCLAIMER Singer-Songwriter, bass player extraordinaire, producer/engineer, poet, ace record reviewer and all around nice guy, The Legendary Roy Peak is a friend of mine and regular corespondent for these pages …… so I may be a tad over enthusiastic about this; his latest release ….. but hey; it’s my site so I can do what I want!!
In my defence I am a genuine fan of his and most especially his world weary and tattered singing style; and add to that some haunting pedal-steel from Brian Homan and you will immediatly know why I let out a huge sigh via an enigmatic smile the first few times I’ve heard opening track Walk With Me (There’s a Wolf on The Prowl); which just might be Roy’s finest song to date. The mood takes a massive left turn on Far From Nowhere; with Roy sounding angry and angsty in a Folk-Rock troubadour stylee that I normally expect from the likes of RMHQ Favourites Malcolm Holcombe and/or Ray Wylie Hubbard …… which isn’t a bad thing at all. At only 7 songs long; this is a short journey the singer takes us on; but that still includes some scary musical hairpin bends. Even as a fan and a friend, Evel Knievel was and no doubt will remain to be a huge surprise every time I hear it. An acoustic guitar instrumental that somehow still manages to rekindle imagery of the mad motorcyclist of my youth. This is immediatly followed by the much gentler love song, Your Heart which steps gently into Guy Clark territory but via a very pained voice poring his broken heart out. When you listen to as much and as varied a collection of music as what I do, it’s easy to become a bit jaded; but every now and again albums and more usually individual songs can restore my faith in the power of music. Here; and still using my ‘hairpin bend’ metaphor’ Roy does that not just once; but twice. And a Wolf Will Devour The Sun AND Queen of the Knock-out Rose are both the acoustic music equivalent of driving around the Lake District in a 1970’s Mini Cooper with suspect breaks but a superb stereo system! The first; And a Wolf Will Devour The Sun is obviously not a song to be taken literally; poetry set to music, I guess but nonetheless something I advise you to listen to when you need something of a gee-up. Queen of the Knock-out Rose on the other hand is a sad and thorny Country Love Song that could be from Hank or John Foggerty’s lost back catalogue. Which all leaves us with only more song; Daughter of the Sun. Phew. Gentle? Deep? Heart shredding? All three actually; and add in Byrdsian harmonies behind Peak’s voice which simply aches with longing; and you will know why it’s quite simply my Favourite Song here; and in a week when I’ve been listening to some very important albums; my Song of the Week too. Because Roy is a friend I’ve walked away from this review twice; just in case I’ve gone overboard with my words; and …. do you know what? I don’t think I have. I can think of 5 or 6 ‘famous’ singer-songwriters in this genre who sound a bit like this; and if this was released under their names the likes of No Depression, Americana UK and Brooklyn Virgin would be collectively wetting their knickers with excitement ……. but as this is Roy Peak, there’s probably only a handful of website will get to hear it …… and then shout its glory from the rooftops. Trust me here ……. squander the kids College fund on a Bandcamp download then thank me later.
It’s Nice to Know That The Folk Troubadour Tradition Is In Good Hands.
Some folks are made for the troubadour life, and one of those souls is Canadian singer-songwriter Scott Cook. His latest album Tangle of Souls—his seventh, if you’re keeping score—is a modern day folk troubadours delight. An easy-over of a dozen folk songs played simply and close to the belt by a group of Australian musicians known as The She’ll Be Rights. The perfect complement of upright bass, guitar, mandolin, dobro, and a couple of fiddles wonderfully fill out these tunes. Cook has an admirable way with words and melody, crafting songs that are tried and true, simple and pure, yet deep, deep, deep. The song that kicks off this collection, “Put Your Good Foot in the Road,” kicks down the door with in your face vocals and a sharp, quick melody to make it sweetly unforgettable, coupled with nice interplay between the fiddle and mandolin. An instant classic around campfires and folk gatherings from here on out, I’m thinking. “Leave a Light On” starts off a little clunky, then recovers nicely, one of the most heartfelt songs on the album. “Just Enough Empties” takes a familiar theme and runs away with it, creating a fresher story in the process. And did I say Cook has a way with words and melody? Another one you’ll find yourself singing along to the first time you hear it is “Let Love Have It’s Way” features some wonderful understated banjo. And even though he’s lived in Canada since he was a child, Cook has traveled enough through the United States to craft a true vision of our time in “Say Can You See.” This is the “standout singer-songwriter song” on the album, the one which may rightly get the most attention. Writing a patriotic folk song about a country divided against itself, that doesn’t point fingers is tough. Cook doesn’t lay blame here, he tells simple, universal, truths. This song SHOULD get airplay on modern country radio—lord knows more folks need to hear it—but it won’t. But it should! In a day where ‘Nobody buys CDs anymore” Cook has done the unthinkable and produced a physical product that more than meets the eye. Included with these twelve songs is a 240-page booklet containing gorgeous photos, stories about each and every song, lyrics, and even chord charts for every song. He writes about traveling on the road, trying to leave a more even carbon footprint, the trials of stage-fright, and tells some wonderful stories in the process. This ain’t no vanity project, he’s not overestimating the music buying public at large, he’s creating a product that stands alone, that makes a statement. Cook may come off to some as “just another naive folkie” but he’s a natural born thinker. His songs aren’t just a tumble of words and chords, they come from the life of someone trying to make sense of this crazy world we all live in, not just through his music, but in his words, his stories, his travels. When I first saw there was a 240-page book to accompany the music, I thought it a bit silly, even a bit pointless, but Cook has managed to create a lasting piece of art that hits on many levels, through several dimensions. It’s nice to read the words of an accomplished human being and heartfelt writer, someone who’s writing it all down because they have to, because they’re compelled to. This isn’t just “product,” this is Art. It’s nice to know that the Folk Troubadour tradition continues.
Review Courtesy the Legendary Roy Peak (new album due in October!)
Our Man in The Field THE COMPANY OF STRANGERS Rocksnob
Pearlescent Lo-Fi Folk With an Added Americana Spark.
I really wasn’t sure what to make of this remarkable debut album when I first received it a month or so ago. Perhaps I wasn’t really in the mood for Alexander Ellis’ pearlescent lo-fi; although I should have been; because I was in a really flat and dark mood …… but I had my regular ‘go to’ albums for such occasions. But now the ‘black clouds’ have disappeared and I can now recognise the strength and wisdom in these enchanting songs and tales. Sounding battered and bruised, accompanied by his acoustic guitar and Henry Senior Jr’s sublime pedal-steel guitar, on opening song Thin (I Used to Be Bullet Proof) our man somehow manages to see the light at the end of the tunnel; albeit after a long and troubled journey. That song certainly sets the mood for what is to follow; windswept Folk songs that transcend normal boundaries; slipping and sliding between the common or garden English variety, that we associate with John Martyn and Nick Drake (Easy Going Smile and Pockets, spring to mind) via the intensity that some of our RMHQ Favourites Stephen Fearing and Lake Poets have brought us in recent years; It Is What It Is and Don’t Speak are prime examples of the beautiful intensity they can all bring to our world; speaking what we often feel but can’t actually articulate. The ever so simple production and arrangements (it was all recorded ‘as live’ in the studio) masks some amazing lyrics and heartbreaking stories. Several songs actually sent a shiver down my spine when I first played this album; wow …… how deep, yet accessible is Swansong (Don’t Play With Matches)? Listen carefully and somewhere beyond Ellis’s hypnotic voice and you will hear some mighty fine guitar and pedal-steel that will blow your mind (I was listening on headphones yesterday …. WOW!). For a young man, taking his first steps in the wacky world of Rock & Roll Alexander Ellis is a very mature songwriter in not just words, but deeds too; as the finale I Like You So I Will Kill You Last proves. Starting with some extraordinary and ornery harmonica it builds and builds as the guitar, bass and drums arrive as if uninvited guests, before Ellis eventually pours his heart out as if in a confessional. While possibly the cleverest and possibly most interesting song on the album, it’s not even my Favourite Song though; as two others completely took me unawares and even today; to paraphrase Norman Gimbel’s Killing Me Softly With His Song: Ellis feels to me like he’s: “Strumming my pain with his fingers Singing my life with his words.” When he sings the sorrowful and expressive It Is What It Is and more especially, It Was Ever So; which probably wins the accolade as it really, really does sound like he has lived a life of heartbreak and knows the only way out is to put it all in a song. There’s not a lot more I can tell you about Alexander Ellis as he seems to enjoy hiding behind his Our Man in The Field, pseudonym, which is fine …….. because his songs certainly do the talking for him.
There are but a handful of songs that transcend categorisation and can genuinely be deemed Classics. John Prine wrote many great songs in his short time on earth; but the beautiful and powerful Angel From Montgomery is by far; a shining light that will be still be sung in concert Halls and Folk Clubs around the world long after his name is forgotten.
On the night of his passing, earlier this year Wynonna rushed to the studio to record this staggeringly heartfelt version to honour the Great Man; and proves to be the cornerstone for a fresh new EP called Recollections, coming in late October.
“I was sitting in the kitchen when I got the news that John had flown,” Wynonna explains. “I told Cactus I needed to sing ‘Angel From Montgomery’ that night because I needed to honor how much John had meant to me. I learned that song when I was a teenager, and now, forty years later, I’m still singing it, and hopefully passing it on to the next generation who will keep on singing it, too.”
“I’ve learned a lot being at home these last few months,” Wynonna reflects. “When there’s no touring, no concerts, no band, no lights, no action, all that’s left is you and the song. All that’s left is your gift.” It was precisely that freedom that led Wynonna to ‘Recollections’, a project so spontaneous and organic she didn’t even realize she was making it at the time. “This EP was a labor of love without the labor,” she laughs. “As a songwriter, you can get bogged down in your own craft sometimes, but there’s something so liberating about letting go of all that and just inhabiting someone else’s writing.”
“I feel like I’m right back where I started,” she continued. “Like I’m 18 all over again. When I sing these songs, it feels like I’m coming home.” ‘Recollections‘ also features performances of ‘I Hear You Knocking’ by Fats Domino, “King Bee’ by Slim Harpo, ‘Feeling Good’ by Nina Simone ‘Ramble On Rose’ by the Grateful Dead. It will be released digitally and on CD on 30th October.
RICHARD & LINDA THOMPSON HARD LUCK STORIES (1972 to 1982) UMC / Universal RELEASED September 11th 2020
An expansive 8 CD set featuring all 6 studio albums remastered from the original tapes, with 31 previously unreleased recordings including outtakes, demos and rarities along with live concerts from 1975 and 1977. This first ever comprehensive career retrospective was personally curated by Richard and Linda and compiled and mastered by Andrew Batt.
Alongside the 3 classic Island Records releases, ‘I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight’, ‘Hokey Pokey’ and ‘Pour Down Like Silver’, the box set also includes the long out of print albums, ‘First Light’ and ‘Sunnyvista’ (both new transfers from recently relocated masters) as well as their final LP, ‘Shoot Out The Lights’. Disc one, called ‘Sometimes It Happens’ compiles their formative collaborations as solo performers with The Bunch and Brian Patten and disc five, ‘The Madness of Love’, contains 5 stunning live performances recorded at the Queen Elizabeth Hall in April 1975 and a further 5 songs recorded live at The Theatre Royal, London in May 1977.
This comprehensive box set covers the couple’s entire career and is a must-have for fans of Richard and Linda Thompson as well as a definitive introduction to a body of work which resonates, and is still revered today. The set also contains a 72-page hard cover book featuring brand new essays plus many rare and previously unpublished photographs by some of rocks greatest photographers including Keith Morris, Gered Mankowitz and Pennie Smith, as well as images from Richard and Linda’s own archives. Sleevenotes for the box set are written by Patrick Humphries and Mick Houghton.
During the 10 years they officially performed together, Richard and Linda Thompson created a seminal body of work, ground-breaking in its time and, as this new box set demonstrates, still sounding fresh and relevant today. Their lasting impact on the musical landscape is unparalleled, evidenced by the numerous contemporary artists who cite them as major influences and the enviably high regard in which they continue to be held.
DISC ONE – SOMETIME IT HAPPENS – THE EARLY YEARS
01: Sweet Little Rock and Roller – The Bunch – Alt version ( 3:48 ) Previously Unreleased 02: The Locomotion – The Bunch from Rock On ( 3:02 ) 03: My Girl In The Month of May – The Bunch from Rock On ( 2:13 ) 04: When Will I Be Loved – duet with Sandy Denny ( 3:17 ) 05: Amazon Queen ( 3:58 ) – Previously Unreleased 06: Shaky Nancy from Henry The Human Fly ( 3:28 ) 07: The Angels Took My Racehorse Away from Henry The Human Fly ( 4:02 ) 08: Embroidered Butterflies from Brian Patten’s ‘Vanishing Trick’ ( 3:17 ) 09: After Frost from Brian Patten’s “Vanishing Trick” ( 1:57 ) 10: Sometimes It Happens – Demo – from ‘Dreams Fly Away’ ( 2:06 ) 11: Restless Boy – Demo – from ‘Give Me A Sad Song’ ( 4:17 ) 12: The World Is A Beautiful Place from ‘ Give Me A Sad Song’ ( 3:30 ) 13: Shady Lies – Live at London University College, 25/10/1972 ( 2:23 ) 14: Napoleon’s Dream – Live at London University College, 25/10/1972 (2:02)
DISC TWO – I WANT TO SEE THE BRIGHT LIGHTS TONIGHT – EXPANDED
01: When I Get To The Border ( 3:26 ) 02: The Calvary Cross ( 3:52 ) 03: Withered and Died ( 3:25 ) 04: I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight ( 3:08 ) 05: Down Where The Drunkards Roll ( 4:06 ) 06: We Sing Hallelujah ( 2:51 ) 07: Has He Got A Friend For Me ? ( 3:33 ) 08: The Little Beggar Girl ( 3:25 ) 09: The End Of The Rainbow ( 3:56 ) 10: The Great Valerio ( 5:23 )
BONUS TRACKS 11: Mother and Son ( 2:21 ) – Previously Unreleased 12: Down Where The Drunkards Roll – Take 1 ( 4:04 ) – Previously Unreleased 13: The End Of The Rainbow – Linda Thompson vocal version ( 3:57 ) – Previously Unreleased 14: A Heart Needs A Home – Demo version ( 3:58 ) – Previously Unreleased 15: The Great Valerio from Live at the Rainbow 16/03/1975 ( 5:16 )
DISC THREE – HOKEY POKEY – EXPANDED
01: Hokey Pokey Song (The Ice Cream Song) ( 3:22 ) 02: I’ll Regret It All In The Morning ( 3:36 ) 03: Smiffy’s Glass Eye ( 2:53 ) 04: Egypt Room ( 3:52 ) 05: Never Again ( 3:08 ) 06: Georgie On A Spree ( 3:40 ) 07: Old Man Inside A Young Man ( 4:26 ) 08: The Sun Never Shines On The Poor ( 3:41 ) 09: A Heart Needs A Home ( 3:47 ) 10: Mole In A Hole ( 3:26 )
BONUS TRACKS 11: Hokey Pokey – Live on Marc Time – 1975 ( 3:13 ) – Previously Unreleased 12: A Heart Needs A Home – Alternate 1976 version ( 4:03 )
DISC FOUR – POUR DOWN LIKE SILVER – EXPANDED
01: Streets of Paradise ( 4:17 ) 02: For Shame Of Doing Wrong ( 4:43 ) 03: The Poor Boy Is Taken Away ( 3:34 ) 04: Night Comes In ( 8:11 ) 05: Jet Plane In A Rocking Chair ( 2:49 ) 06: Beat The Retreat ( 5:52 ) 07: Hard Luck Stories ( 3:51 ) 08: Dimming Of The Day / Dargai ( 3:52 )
BONUS TRACKS 09: Wanted Man ( 5:35 ) – Previously Unreleased 10: Last Chance – Previously Unreleased ( 3:42 ) 11: Dimming Of The Day – Demo version ( 3:52 ) – Previously Unreleased 12: Things You Gave Me – Live at Oxford Polytechnic, 27/11/1975 ( 2:35 ) 13: It’ll Be Me – Live at Oxford Polytechnic, 27/11/1975 ( 4:24 ) 14: Calvary Cross – Live at Oxford Polytechnic, 27/11/1975 ( 13:24 )
DISC FIVE – THE MADNESS OF LOVE – LIVE – * Previously Unreleased
01: Dargai – Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall 25/04/1975 ( 3:33 ) * 02: Never Again -Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall 25/04/1975 ( 3:07 ) * 03: Dark End Of The Street – Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall 25/04/1975 remixed ( 4:19 ) * 04: Beat The Retreat – Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall 25/04/1975] remixed( 6:24 ) * 05: The Sun Never Shines On The Poor – Live at Queen Elizabeth Hall 25/04/1975( 3:48 ) * 06: If I Were A Woman and You Were A Man – Theatre Royal, London, 01/05 1977 ( 2:54 ) * 07: The Madness of Love – Live, Theatre Royal, London, 01/05 1977 ( 7:00 ) * 08: Night Comes In (Linda vocal) – Live, Theatre Royal, London, 01/05 1977 ( 12:53 ) * 09: A Bird In Gods Garden – Live, Theatre Royal, London, 01/05 1977 (9:33) * 10: The King of Love – Live, Theatre Royal, London, 01/05 1977 ( 6:55 ) * 11: Layla – Live, Theatre Royal, London, 01/05 1977 ( 8:48 ) *
DISC SIX – FIRST LIGHT – EXPANDED
01: Restless Highway ( 3:58 ) 02: Sweet Surrender ( 4:53 ) 03: Don’t Let A Thief Steal Into Your Heart ( 4:43 ) 04: The Choice Wife ( 2:06 ) 05: Died For Love ( 7:01 ) 06: Strange Affair ( 3:08 ) 07: Layla ( 4:22 ) 08: Pavane ( 5:07 ) 09: House of Cards ( 3:30 ) 10: First Light ( 4:22 )
BONUS TRACKS 11: Strange Affair – Demo version ( 4:09 ) – Previously Unreleased 12: Drunk – Demo version ( 2:14 ) – Previously Unreleased 13: The Dust Of Your Road – Demo version ( 2:33 ) – Previously Unreleased 14: Layla – Demo version ( 4:38 ) – Previously Unreleased 15: Died For Love – Demo version ( 4:47 ) – Previously Unreleased 16: First Light – Demo version ( 4:03 )
DISC SEVEN – SUNNYVISTA – EXPANDED
01: Civilization ( 5:01 ) 02: Borrowed Time ( 5:34 ) 03: Saturday Rolling Around ( 3:24 ) 04: You’re Going To Need Somebody ( 3:47 ) 05: Why Do You Turn Your Back ? ( 5:09 ) 06: Sunnyvista ( 4:24 ) 07: Lonely Hearts ( 5:05 ) 08: Sisters ( 4:47 ) 09: Justice In The Streets ( 4:00 ) 10: Traces Of My Love ( 4:05 )
BONUS TRACKS 11: Georgie On A Spree – 7” single version ( 3:28 ) 12: Lucky In Life – Demo version ( 2:42 ) – Previously Unreleased 13: Speechless Child – Demo version ( 4:17 ) – Previously Unreleased 14: Traces of My Love – Demo version ( 4:13 ) – Previously Unreleased 15: For Shame Of Doing Wrong [Gerry Rafferty version] ( 4:16 ) 16: The Wrong Heartbeat [Gerry Rafferty version] ( 3:09 ) 17: Back Street Slide (Gerry Rafferty session, 1996 remix) ( 4:27 )
DISC EIGHT – SHOOT OUT THE LIGHTS – EXPANDED
01: Don’t Renege On Our Love ( 4:17 ) 02: Walking On A Wire ( 5:26 ) 03: A Man In Need ( 3:34 ) 04: Just The Motion ( 6:17 ) 05: Shoot Out The Lights ( 5:22 ) 06: Back Street Slide ( 4:31 ) 07: Did She Jump Or Was She Pushed ? ( 4:49 ) 08: Wall of Death ( 3:43 )
BONUS TRACKS 09: Living In Luxury – 7” single version ( 2:32 ) 10: The Wrong Heartbeat – Shoot Out The Lights version ( 3:20 ) 11: I’m A Dreamer – Gerry Rafferty session – 1996 remix ( 4:09 ) 12: Walking On A Wire – Gerry Rafferty session – 1996 remix ( 5:12 ) 13: Pavanne – Live, Bloomington, Indiana 29/5/1982 (5:38) – Previously Unreleased 14: High School Confidential – Live, 2nd Story, Bloomington, Indiana 29/5/1982 ( 4:29 ) – Previously Unreleased
Sharp and Canny Folk Songs From the Traditional to Contemporary
Like many ‘local singer-songwriters’ around the globe, Chris Riley has to adopt many guises to make a living; and we’ve previously reviewed two of his previous diverse releases; the Irish influenced Folk trio The Dicey Rileys and his Rhythm & Blues combo The False Poets, but here he throws caution to the wind and goes completely solo! The opening song Syracuse features a deceptively clever acoustic intro which is sure to catch your attention; and Riley’s warm and expressive voice; hewn from the Durham coalfield takes us on a delightful journey to love in a foreign field. The next track, Pocket Full of Rhymes could have been an alternative album title; as it’s the cornerstone for most every other song here; a gently observational and autobiographical song about the life of a wandering troubadour. Like all of his peers in the Folk World; be that traditionalists like Ralph McTell and Tom Paxton or romantics such as Jackson Browne or James Taylor; Chris Riley manages to find beauty and interest in many things around us all, the things most of us miss and he manages to make Mad Machine into a brilliant example of a songwriter’s art. Here Chris explores the dark side of life too on Gaia’s Answer and When The Roses Bloom, with both making me sit quite still and really focus on the lyrics each time I’ve listened. As a collection of songs created over many years, it’s nice to hear his various influences and styles filter through each and every song, from Traditional Folk (both British AND American) through a bit of Country and coming out with some experimental, nee Prog Folk at the end! Love songs you ask? Of course – the brittle Autumn Colours will send a shiver down your spine, and When The Roses Bloom too, but don’t expect ‘Moon in June’ imagery. Then there’s the instrumental Fistful of Quavers nodding to the Clint Eastwood Spaghetti Westerns as it does; as well as my wife’s favourite snack at the same time. But; there’s also the creepy and poetic The Dirge; which is almost cinematic in concept and the guitar work tips towards the work of both John Williams and Martin Carthy, if such a thing is possible. Although both are absolutely lovely; I’m by-passing Kirsten’s Song and the charming Charlotte’s Tune in my quest for a Favourite Song, and debating between two tracks. The first, and this is quite sad for a Reviewer of Universal acclaim like what I is; I’ve been sorely tempted to go for the title track Cestrian; simply because of the title ‘Cestrian’ (i.e a dweller of Chester le Street, which is about 4 miles from where I live and a drinking area which I regularly frequented in my youth); but the bizarre, almost Prog-Folk instrumental actually misses out to Fortune All Around Me; a wonderful song which evoked memories of the teenage me discovering Ralph McTell and Richard Thompson and the dark and evocative delights of British Folk Music which, when done well; is as good as any other style of music in the world; and Chris Riley has written and produced a minor gem with this one. Chris Riley is probably too old with a day job to boot, to tour the world bringing his songs to adoring audiences of all ages; but thankfully his music will always be available to download and also buy on Compact Disc (for the hipsters out there) and bring joy to you and yours in the comfort of your own homes for years to come.