Chuck Prophet THE LAND THAT TIME FORGOT

Chuck Prophet
The Land That Time Forgot
Yep Roc Records

Equal Parts Nostalgia, Romance, Politics and a Large Dose of Absurdity.

“The Land that Time Forgot” is Chuck Prophet’s best album since “Temple Beautiful”, which is no mean feat, as “Night Surfer” and “Bobby Fuller Died for Your Sins” were both masterly works.
However, on this latest album Prophet returns to the Bay area for inspiration, conjuring a long player that is equal parts nostalgia, romance and politics, all of which is served with a large dose of absurdity.

Fans of Chuck Prophet will undoubtedly have fallen in love with his vibrant live performances and there are plenty of tracks here that allow the listener to image Chuck in his pomp bouncing around the stage.
Opener “Best Shirt On” is a case in point, as is the rock’n’roll riffing of “Marathon”, where we first really get to hear co-conspirator par-excellence Stephanie Finch get involved.
While “Get off the Stage” carries a political message for our times it also has the kind of hook, which means it could well be the show closer when Prophet can finally tour the album.

This is ultimately a little more chilled affair than some of Prophet’s recent outings.
In a perfect world, “Willie and Nili” could even be record of the week on BBC Radio 2. with the chorus “love me like I want to be loved” offering a great country hook.
Recent single “Love Doesn’t Come from the Barrel of a Gun” is similarly accessible to mainstream audiences, even if the song’s message remains opaque.

At times this is a beautifully menacing record. I am a sucker for songs about Richard Nixon; and “Nixonland” does not disappoint.
Beginning with the reminiscence of a fourth grade field trip, we’re taken up to the fall of Richard Nixon; this is an absolute album highlight. Prophet even finds time to poke fun at the illeism of the former President.
The track becomes a meditation on dishonesty made all the more sinister by the minor chords, tremolo guitar and choral backing vocals.
“Paying My Respects to the Train” is similarly inspired by America’s political past. The train is taking Abraham Lincoln to his final resting place.

But it is Prophet’s signature dalliance with absurdity that really binds the album. “High as Johnny Thunders” treats us to a Dylanesque pseudo-history starring a rogues’ gallery of American greats and literary figures, albeit sung to a lilting melody, later complemented by a swooning sax solo. The chorus gives the album its name.
“Meet me at the Roundabout” also drips with sweet surrealism “meet me at the roundabout, honey don’t be late, I’ve been here since Christmas Eve and it’s almost New Year’s Day”.

“The Land that Time Forgot” is another Chuck Prophet masterpiece offering the listener all kinds of musical shades shot through with the with the kind of absurdity we’ve come to know and love.
It is this which lightens even the most intense moments on the record and marks out Chuck Prophet as one of the most brilliant, but undervalued songwriters we are currently blessed with.

Review courtesy Steven K Driver (from The Agency beat combo).
http://www.chuckprophet.com/
Released August 21st 2020

Rusty Ends & The HillBilly Hoodoo THE LAST OF THE BOOGIEMEN

Rusty Ends & The HillBilly Hoodoo
THE LAST OF THE BOOGIEMEN
Self-Release

The Title and Name Says It All …….. Just Add Beer.

Back in my drinking days we would travel many miles on a Friday or Saturday night to see a band with an ‘interesting name’ (Bessie and the Zinc Buckets? The Baldy Babies? Talisman?) …… just for the Hell of it!
So; seeing the name Rusty Ends & The HillBilly Hoodoo meant I just had to put this straight into the car stereo as soon as I opened the envelope!
Well; my friend …….. or man Frank has done it again; unearthing a minor gem that was probably only ever destines for the merch table at club gigs within a 100 mile radius of Louisville and the Dixie Highway!
The opening chords to Track #1 Cheap Wine, will real you in like a big fat catfish’ and when Rusty Ends busts out of the speakers with his personal love song to the joys and perils of Cheap Wine it’s Friday Night …… somewhere!
Just like the Newcastle bands I mentioned earlier; you just know from that song on the swinging instrumental Unholy Roller which follows that this trio are not just consummate professionals who have ‘trod the boards’ for several decades; but sure know how to give you a damn good time.
When you actually get to listen to the shimmying Stiletto Heels and Fishnet Hose or Forgot To Say I Love You, you quickly realise that these cats know there way around a chord sequence and a melody; but know their demographic better than any damn manager in a suit sitting in an office somewhere on Music Row.
Then of course there are the Rocking and Rolling doozy’s; Rockabilly Boogie #1003, Cottonmouth Rock and Bob Wills Plays the Blues that will bend your senses until they combine to make you wish that you were somewhere dark, sleazy and full of beer; and make you want to dance with that slinky redhead in the corner.
Just like the best of Rock & Roll, Rockabilly and any other Honky Tonk music; Rusty Ends makes something very complicated sound very easy and simple ……. it isn’t! Check out the silky smooth instrumental Sinner’s Strut and the Doo-Wop ballad Let Me Cross Your Mind, then try to replicate any of the constituent parts in the comfort of your own home …. you can’t.
On such a well balanced album it’s been increasingly difficult to select a single Favourite Track, but I’m going for the heartbreaking We Love Our Way Through The Blues; which shivers, shimmy’s and shakes in a way that sounds like Sam Cooke singing a song written by Otis in his darkest of moods.
One other song that deserves a mention is the sleazy Midnight Angels; which sounds fabulous here; but will really come to life at the tail-end of a gig.
LAST OF THE BOOGIEMEN is the perfect title for this marvelous collection of mostly self-penned songs, with the band dipping in and out of musical styles that pull together to create a nicely balanced and spicy Musical Gumbo that makes for a good night on your stereo or a great night in a bar somewhere your Mother warned you against visiting.

Released April 30th 2020
https://rustyends.com/

Rookie ROOKIE

Rookie
Rookie
Bloodshot

A 21st Century Rock & Roll Oasis

Oh to be 15 or 17 again and listening to ROOKIE for the very first time!
All kinds of memories have been evoked on listening to this well crafted Rock n Roll album over the last few weeks.
Most of all, I remember once buying Electric Warrior by T Rex from FW Woolworths and rushing home to play it. WHAM! What a game changer that night was.
A couple of days later my bubble was burst when my elder brothers sniffily pointed out the ‘references’ that Marc Bolan had appropriated to make his fabulous music.
Jump forward 20 years or so and I did something similar to son #2 when he became infatuated with Oasis.
Sorry son.
But …… when you’re a teenager in Poughkepsie, Pittsburgh or Palmdale, who the Hell cares what the influences are for your favourite band in the whole damn world?
Dylan ripped off Woody, The Stones stole Muddy and Bo whole back catalogues while the Beatles pinched Buddy Holly’s singles wholesale …….. it’s gone on forever; get over it.
Which finally brings me back to the latest release on the fabulous Bloodshot Records label; Rookie by Rookie.
Right from the get go; they unleash a marvelous Rock and Roll stew that takes in the very best of Southern Rock, Britpop and all points in between to create a launch pad for teenage parties the world over via the stonking Hold on Tight and the crashes and bangs continue with the sleazy I Can’t Have You, But I Want You …….. both hormonal boys and girls will think this song was written for them, and them alone.
Sadly many other reviewers will get all smart arsey with this album; but you have to remember the sheer adrenaline rush you got as a teenager when great new music landed on to your turntable like something from outer space …… thankfully; I can!
In many ways Rookie are a straight up, no frills Rock & Roll bar band; but instead of sticking to tried and trusted cover songs; they have the cojonas to listen to their Dad’s Stones albums and think “We can do better than that;” and with Side of The Road and Michigan they’ve recorded two songs that trump anything Mick and Keef have written this century.
I can only imagine the thrill of being in a packed club or school gym and hearing the band blasting out Miss United States and the primal scream of E-Jam!
Where to go for a Favourite Song? I love the sheer audacity of sliding in the gorgeous acoustic ballad Elementary Blues; but Let’s Get It Right and the musclebound One Way Ticket are genuine contenders; and would be if they appeared on albums by Rookie’s peers; but I’m going for a song that will be one of my ‘Sounds of the Summer’ 2020; the timeless Sunglasses which somehow manages to sound a bit like Cheap Trick AND The Kinks at the same time; but not actually like anything either ever recorded; bizarre but true.
This is very much the music I (and my brothers and our sons) grew up listening to on National Radio; but sadly this generation have so much to choose from on the interweb; Rookie will have to depend on word of mouth referrals from ‘people who know’ to get their message across; so it’s over to you guys and gals……… buy a copy for your favourite son, daughter, nephew or niece ….. it will change their lives; and quite possibly get you a better care home in 20 years time!

Released 13th March 2020
https://rookietheband.bandcamp.com/
https://linktr.ee/ROOKIE


Lilly Hiatt WALKING PROOF

Lilly Hiatt
Walking Proof
New West Records

Swaggeringly Good 21st Century Guitar Driven Rock.

Over the course of her career, Lilly Hiatt has steadily developed a strong musical identity and everything good comes together on “Walking Proof” to create her best album yet – yes, even better than the breakthrough “Trinity Lane”, according to these ears.
Those who have been fortunate enough to see Lilly live over the last couple of years have born witness to the development of a fuller, confident guitar-driven sound – and that comes over more than anything on “Walking Proof” – this album rocks – in all the right ways.
“Rae” is a reflective opener with gloriously melancholy riffs over a gorgeous melody and thoughtful loud-soft dynamics throughout.
“P-Town” is air guitar boogie heaven from the off, yet has a vocal vitality and nicely placed and played bottleneck guitar that it’s impossible not to move your ‘dancing parts’ along to.
“Little Believer” moves the listener along to Alabama, lyrically at least with a thumping staccato rhythm and descending Pearl Jam guitar lines.
“Some kind of drug” sets a minor chord Nirvana-ish guitar against a reflective and resigned tale of past relationships; again, the arrangement is sublime – there’s loads going on, but the playing and production is balanced and powerful.
“Candy Lunch” takes a quieter, melodic turn across Lilly’s relationship with the disparate parts and people of her home city.
Title track “Walking Proof” is a stomp-box led Irish tinged statement of intent……..
“I could tell you
That it’s easy
But that wouldn’t be the truth”
things may turn sour, but our heroine is “Walking Proof” that you can get out there and still score little victories.
“Drawl” – “You’re beautiful and you don’t know it” is a message of reassurance support and strength …… “Don’t you ever lose that drawl again”.
“Brightest Star” leaps out of the speakers and is the 2020 summer anthem – positive, life-affirming and if you don’t want to head bang to this, I’m afraid you’re just no fun or plain dead.
“Never play guitar” references the joys of having noisy neighbours, being a noisy neighbour and realising that
“I can’t write a song
If I never play guitar”
“ Move” takes a shuffle rhythm and spacey twangy country guitar – again, thematically it’s about getting on with stuff’n’shit. Life’s there – get on with it.
“Scream” takes things down a notch to round things off with a note of defiance and independence that musically builds and throws off the past and reaches off with a fierce realism into a limitless future.
Lilly and co have joined all the dots on this album – from the colour synaesthesia of the Kim Radford cover, through the thoughtful pacing, to the epic yet sympathetic Lincoln Parish production, plus guest appearances from Amanda Shires, Aaron Lee Tasjan, Luke Schneider and a certain Mr John Hiatt – it’s all there, wrapped up in an album of huge strength, fragile beauty and immense power.
Wow, I say ….. WOW!

Review courtesy Rock Photographer #1 …… Nick Barber. https://www.flickr.com/photos/efsb

Released 27th March 2020
https://www.lillyhiatt.com/
Buy it here – https://store.newwestrecords.com/collections/lilly-hiatt-walking-proof

RMHQ EXCLUSIVE The Gunboat Diplomat JUDGMENT ROAD

The Gunboat Diplomats
Judgment Road (Single)
Self-Release

There’s been a lot going on recently in my ‘personal life’ and coupled with the extreme heat across the UK I’ve been left feeling a bit weary; and not in the mood for listening to new music.
Then, last night along came an e-mail from ‘Gunboat’ Smith leader of The Gunboat Diplomats who are a ‘song shop that records pop music with a vintage vibe in a variety of genres’; well; that piqued my interest as it could be the by-line for RMHQ itself!
He hasn’t told me a lot about the band; but linked me to this fabulous rocking slice of rural Americana; equal parts Bruce, Waco Brothers and Chuck Prophet!
I’ve not had time to listen to the rest of their “Manifest Destiny project” also named JUDGMENT ROAD, but young Gunboat assures me that there are Rootsy tunes a’plenty and a Motownish R&B number and even a Reggae song too on the album ……. and personally, I can’t wait!

https://gunboatdiplomats.bandcamp.com/track/judgment-road
https://gunboatdiplomats.com/

JD McPherson SOCKS!

JD McPherson
Socks
New West Records

Rockin’ and Rollin’ the Billy-Oh Out of Christmas. 

I’ve been send six Christmas albums this year, and have only decided to put pen to paper on two; this and the Rodney Crowell release which coincidentally are on the same label but like chalk and cheese when it comes to the singer’s approach to the Holiday Season.
 As I sit here on a grey, wet and miserable December Monday which has followed a similar weekend JD McPherson has got me smiling and tapping my toes to his red hot and equally cool LP of Rocking and Rolling songs. 
You know exactly where you’re going with the traditional intro and ongoing melody that accompanies All The Gifts I Need which opens the album; and had me doing a Peppermint Twist as I made coffee with this in the background yesterday…….and to some greater or lesser extent; who doesn’t like a honking saxophone on a Christmas song?
Maybe I don’t listen to enough rootsy Rock & Roll, but there’s something very refreshing about hearing songs like Hey Skinny Santa, What’s That Sound and especially Claus V Claus, which all have that authentic 50’s feel to them but are just what I need to hear as 2018 blends into 2019.
If you already know JD’s cannon of work you will know he has a mean sense of humour which comes across fabulously well on the title track Socks and the lovely ballad Ugly Sweater Blues, which both find the McPherson tongue pressed firmly into his cheek….. but hey, man….it’s Christmmmaaasssssss!!! 
It’s fair to say that McPherson takes enjoying Christmas very seriously, with Holly, Carol, Candy & Joy being an intricately constructed song about all of the girls in his life at this time of year and on Hey Skinny Santa you could easily daydream Eddie Cochran or Bruce Springsteen blasting this out at the top of their voices.
While this is a ‘brand new album,’ the absolutely fabulous Twinkle (Little Christmas Lights) was first released in 2012 and hasn’t aged a single day in all that time. 
If that single hadn’t already been on the official RMHQ playlist it would have definitely been our Favourite Track here; but being the contrary fool I am; that title is now going to be a tie between the frantic Santa’s Got a Mean Machine and the slightly menacing Bad Kid, which is  as cool a slice of Rock and indeed Roll as was ever released at Christmas time. Does the Bad Kid get redeemed by the end? That’s not for me to say is it?
Oh boy; this is a keeper…….a Christmas album that you can pass down to the Grandkids because it genuinely is timeless and will never age. 

Released December 14th 2018
https://www.jdmcpherson.com/