Beth Macari – Voodoo (single)

beth c

Beth Macari
Voodoo (single)

Sexy, Sassy and Cool Slice Of Funkilicious Soul.

Beth Macari has been around the local music scene in the North East for a couple of years now; treading the boards and honing her craft; most noticeably as a regular guest of Nick Pride & The Pimptones.
Now the time is right for the flame haired beauty to burst out of the shadows on her own; and this sexy little number has all the hallmarks to blow the socks of Radio Executives the length and breadth of our fair isle; and if there are any in the likes of New York or Chicago reading this; you can thank me later.
Judge for yourself from this video; Beth can not only out sing the vast majority of female singers on the market at the moment; but by golly gosh she looks darn pretty too!
What more do you want? Click the link and order your copy now; then sit back and wait for the album that is due out very; very soon.

Released May 28th 2016

Nick Pride & The Pimptones – Go Deep

nick pride cd review

Nick Pride & The Pimptones
Go Deep
Legere Recordings LEGO 104

The British Jazz-Soul Invasion Starts Right Here!

I’ve said before that I discovered Nick Pride and the Pimptones by accident on an American website; only to find that on a sunny day I can walk to to Nick Pride’s house!
Hey ho…..that’s only important because it goes to show how truly International his take on music is.
While the Pimptones are prodigious releasers of music; I make this their fourth full release and in my humble opinion; is their most cohesive to date; possibly because of the inclusion of the delectable Beth Macari as ‘the singer.’
Go Deep opens with the smouldering What The Heart Wants; and the marker is well and truly thrown down, with Beth sounding uncannily like the singer people think Amy Winehouse may have become on a tune that will have the cool kids grabbing onto their girls as they shimmy left right and centre in their shiny loafers.
It’s always been difficult to ‘pigeon hole’ the Pimptones as they straddle Jazz, Soul, Funk with gracious ease and on Give It To Me they even add a hefty dose of Rhythm to the Blues.
Sometimes with music like this it’s easy to forget that there is a song hiding inside; but I beg you to listen to Baby Can We Start Again? And tell me that you didn’t think it’s a classic Atlantic track or maybe from label dejour Daptone. This is a Soul song worthy of Aretha in her heyday.
Ooooghhh….there are a couple of storming songs here over and above what I’ve already mentioned; Put Your Arms Around Me is as Funky as it is Sexy; with Chicago tinged Jazz montage tucked away in the middle. Then we have the Midnight Jazz of Good Day; well I say Midnight Jazz as that’s what springs to mind; but the overall feeling is a song extolling the virtues of love on a sunny day. Confused? You won’t be.
Now it’s time for ‘pick of the litter’; obviously the single Gotta Leave The Lady Alone; with it’s exhilarating guitar and bass combo; but I’m going have to plump for……..Nothin’ But The Good Times which closes Go Deep and showcases everything that is wonderful about Nick Pride & The Pimptones ‘sound’ and will be an absolute showstopper when played live.
I know Beth Macari has her own career in the ascendancy at the moment; but she sounds so comfortable here that it could be a marriage made in Geordie Heaven rather than a marriage of convenience that I worry about.


Released June 3rd 2016

Wet Wet Wet – Arena Newcastle (2016)

wet wet wet 3

Wet Wet Wet
Arena Newcastle
Friday 11th March 2016

I can never judge the popularity of bands like Wet Wet Wet; so I smiled to myself when I saw that the stage in the 11,000 capacity Metro Arena had been moved about a third of the way forward; making a 7,000 or so crowd looked absolutely packed; clever that.
Still, 7,000 is still a very good crowd to pack in for a 30th Anniversary tour, especially when you haven’t had a hit song in over 7 years.
To give value for money, there were also two interesting support acts tonight; and in some ways both were a bit leftfield and surprising.
First up was Ben McKelvey; who after a couple of false starts in his career has recently released a couple of critically acclaimed EP’s and was promoting his latest album Life & Love in England. The first two songs, Happy Together and Morning I’m Gone were both nice slices of spiky Indie; but it was third song, the melancholic Sunday which caught my attention; and that of quite a few others it appeared too. The classic story of the ‘morning after the night before’ was told very well; and really showcased Ben’s distinctive voice.
With only 30 minutes to play with, McKelvey and his band used every second as if their lives depended on it; building up to an anthemic close with the anthemic Goodnight & So Long.

ben mc bk
Judging by the queue of smiling ladies wanting a photo with him afterwards I think this tour could be setting him on the road to some kind of success.
The next act was Markus Feehily; once a member of ‘housewives favourites’ Westlife, but now embarking on a solo career.
I did my research and found that Markus was the young, pretty one in the group so was a touch taken aback to see that he had actually grown up in the intervening years; and was virtually unrecognisable from those early promo shots.
As Mrs. Magpie was never a fan of boy bands, I had no idea what to expect from the Irishman, so sat back with an open mind.
With only a keyboard player and two girlie backing singers (with excellent voices, I hasten to add) to accompany him; Markus’s first three songs were all from his new album, Fire, and showed what a cracking and expressive singing voice he has; going smoothly from a deep and funky growl to some very challenging high notes; that he hit with room to spare. I was really impressed with Wash That Rain Away; a modern R&B sound that should appeal to teenagers in their souped up Corsas and Ford Fiestas.

Sadly; for me the Westlife songs, while receiving a warm reception by the ‘ladies of a certain age’ didn’t really work; as he tried to reconfigure them for his voice with sparse arrangements. While I wouldn’t rush out to buy the album; I wouldn’t mind hearing Sanctuary and his debut single, the Euro-Disco Love is a Drug on the radio as the Summer approaches.
As they re-jigged the stage Mrs. Magpie and I took a wander around the foyer and had a giggle at the stuff for sale – Wet Wet Wet pyjamas anyone? But, as it was her birthday earlier in the week I treat her to a (plastic) glass of wine…….at an eye watering £4.90! I dread to think how much the the ice-cream seller was charging for bottles!

wets pyjamasWETS WINE
Once I’d got my breath back and stopped staring at my 10p change it was time for the Wet Wet Wets; who are something of a ‘guilty pleasure’ of mine.
I love it when the lights go down at venues like this as there is always an audible gasp followed by a roar as the band run onto the stage; and when the lights came on everyone was in place and blasting out East of the River as singer Marti Pellow shimmied and shook his way from one end to the other of the stage; milking the adulation from the screaming ladies in the front 6 or 7 rows. With no time to catch their breath this was followed by Wishing I Was Lucky and Sweet Surrender; cranking up the already electric atmosphere to almost dangerous levels for some of the older ladies in the crowd.
Pellow didn’t help as he strutted around like a Junkyard Cat sniffing out the females of the species that are on heat (and plenty were!).
The pace had to drop eventually; and when it did, it was for the gorgeous ballad Julia Says; which highlighted what a helluva voice young Mr. Pellow actually has.
Although this tour was celebrating the band’s 30th Anniversary time hasn’t diminished their collective love of being onstage; especially Pellow; who is a born showman, and if he hadn’t made it this high up the showbiz ladder would still be knocking out the act in pubs and clubs and karaoke nights; just for the buzz.
At one stage he sat on a monitor to serenade a woman in the front row (it didn’t matter which one; they all thought it was them alone), and looked genuinely surprised when the 7,000 strong crowd took over the chorus; giving him a fit of the giggles. OK he may do that shtick every night; but it comes across so well and really endears him to his fans.
As they say ‘the hits just kept on coming’ with thousands holding their phones in the air for Angel Eyes and during 1995’s She’s All On My Mind he shared the spotlight with the sax player as #WetsFans selfies littered the big screen.
For me (and Mrs. Magpie) it was the rarer songs that captured our imagination; the Roy Orbison inspired All I Want was one particular highlight; as was the acoustic slot which featured John Martyn’s Sweet Little Mystery; not the greatest interpretation but finger clicking good anyway.
When they left the stage after a funktastic Temptation; which allowed bass player Graeme Clark to finally nudge guitar supremo Graeme Duffin out of the spotlight for a few minutes on I Can Give You Everything.

wet wet wet 23
The Funk continued for the first of two massive encores; Big Sister Midnight got a revamp and had the masses dancing in the aisles; and how else could a Wet Wet Wet end but with their zillion selling biggest hit; Love Is All Around; which began with the crowd amusing Pellow and friends by singing verse, chorus, verse, chorus with only Tommy meticulous keeping time on drums; before KAPOW the band turned the once mushy song into a Power Ballad to end all Power Ballads and bring a cracking night to a wonderful close.


Funk & Soul Classics – Craig Charles

craig charles

Funk & Soul Classics
Craig Charles
Sony Music

The Best and the Rest of Soul and Funk from the UK’s Master DJ

A couple of weeks ago I was chatting to my brother about music in general and the albums that I’d recently reviewed when I flippantly said “I can’t remember the last time I listened to music for fun.”
We laughed at the time; but it preyed on my mind for the next few days. I absolutely love music; and I hope that comes across on the website; but not to listen to music is sacrilege surely?
By sheer coincidence this album appeared on the TV adverts and I decide to fork out my own hard earned cash to purchase it; and it acted as a bit of a ‘pallet cleanser’ as I played it non-stop on a return journey to London (5 hours plus, each way) and a couple of times this week as I caught up on some paperwork and reports as part of my day job.
For those outside the UK Craig Charles started life as poet in the halcyon days of Punk; eventually evolving into one of the nation’s favourite actors (well; in our house anyway) all the while spinning discs for the pleasure of Soul and Funk fans across the country on his national radio show.
At face value; there shouldn’t be any surprises here as Craig has been a musical taste-maker for many years; but there are gorgeous surprises lurking all over these three discs.
Disc 1 is pretty much a Classic Soul album with timeless hits from the Otis Redding, Temptations, James Brown, Marvin Gaye, The Jacksons and Freda Payne rubbing shoulders with leftfield tracks by Little Richard, The Isley Brothers, Sly and the Family Stone and the golden larynx of Al Green.
But we also get a smattering of Northern Soul from Edwin Starr with 25 Miles; and who among us will ever tire of listening to Al Wilson singing The Snake?
The rarities from Bobby Byrd, Maceo and Bill Withers are well worth listening too.
Craig gets his ‘Funk On’ with Disc 2; and this was where my ears pricked up; as this genre is still a learning curve for me.
Starting with a couple of crossover hits from Wilson Pickett and Sam & Dave, I was soon in uncharted territory with Give Me a Little More Time from Chairman of the Board and Frank Wilson’s Do I Love You? Then the MFSB tune TSOP rekindled memories of Youth Centre discos and my mind was completely blown when I heard P-Funk by Parliament for the first time – Yowza! Yowza! Yowza!
I was thrilled to hear both Charles Bradley and Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings included as I love them both; but disappointed that there was no place for someone like the Commodores; although Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson performing Ain’t That a Bitch? Isn’t a million miles away from Brick House.
Surprises land left right and centre on this disc with British R&B stalwart Georgie Fame reinventing Papa’s Got a Brand New Bag and seriously making it his own; and it’s a similar story with Sandie Shaw’s oblique version of the Stones Sympathy For the Devil. Why the Hell have I never heard that track before? It’s bloody amazing!
Those of us who listen to Craig’s radio shows wouldn’t expect anything less than a couple of tracks from Gil Scott Heron and Terry Callier to be included; and they are, but not the obvious by any stretch of the imagination – the Gil track is Inner City Blues (Make Me Wanna Holler) done in his own distinctive manner; and Terry Callier very nearly steals the show with Ordinary Joe.
Disc 3 is worth the entry fee alone; as Craig Charles introduces us to 20 brand new acts that you ain’t gonna hear anywhere else; and the world is a better place for hearing them.
Opening with the only hit here Aloe Black – I Need a Dollar, my groove was most definitely ‘on’ as we sublimely glide through things of rare beauty from Omar, Shaun Escoffrey, The Excitements (from Spain and I saw in a Newcastle club two years ago), Betty Davis and The Apples.
Elsewhere the Funk gets a Jazz injection on cool tracks by Cookin’ on 3 Burners, Mario Biondi and the High Five Quintet and the exquisite Nick Pride and the Pimptones; all of which will make you do a soft shoe shuffle as you cling on to the one you love.
The track selection, order and mix is so intricate and clever you might even think thought had gone into the balance; as nothing here jars at all as one track seamlessly slides into another; whether you’d heard of the act or not.
It wouldn’t be fair if I didn’t highlight the one song that doesn’t quite work and sticks out like a sore thumb; and when I tell you what it is you will think I’ve lost my mind.
This version of RESPECT by the Sainted Aretha is actually a live track; and is presumably included because Craig loves the song but the fees for the original were too expensive. Sadly this version doesn’t do anyone any favours.
Three discs of this quality for plus or minus £10 is value beyond belief in my humble opinion.

Released October 2015