Ringo Starr – GIVE MORE LOVE

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Ringo Starr
Universal Records

Surprises Around Every Corner From Rock Royalty.

Ringo Starr holds a special place in the hearts of Mrs. Magpie and myself as his version of You’re 16 is ‘our song’ and a framed 7″ Single hangs in pride of place in our living room.
For the rest of you……he’s a BEATLE FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!!
Even today, nearly 60 years after the event Ringo’s drumming with the Beatles is still the benchmark for great timekeeping, rhythm and tempo; and for several years after the band’s break-up he was actually their most successful solo act #fact.
So; what has he got to offer in 2017?
A lot, actually.
Opening track We’re Back on the Road Again is as much fun as I’d hoped but also a whole lot rockier too; with Steve Lukather making his guitar sizzle as a certain Sir Paul McCartney gives the proceedings an extra portion of class on the bass guitar.
I really don’t want to ge bogged down in naming all the guest stars on each track; as they genuinely are a Who’s Who of the Rock Hierarchy…..as you would expect; and the production is diamond polished too.
The ballad Show Me The Way; finds Ringo in a melancholy mood on a tearjerker that will appeal to lovers of a certain vintage; and later the title track Give More Love follows a similar path; somehow the singer manages to save this intimate love song for ‘the world’ from becoming mushy and mawkish; which is quite some achievement.
King of the Kingdom dips it’s toe into the 80’s Reggae pond and has the potential to be a highlight of any Ringo Starr’s All-star Band concert; but personally I much prefer the rockier Electricity when Ringo looks back to his youth and the ‘Electricity’ he felt when he first heard Rock and Roll.
While I’d have preferred this to be 100% new songs; the inclusion of a couple of re-recorded and updated Hits.
Don’t Pass Me By and the Country-Fried You Can’t Fight Lightning are both fascinating in as much as they show even at his ripe old age, Ringo isn’t afraid to experiment and take risks.
Photograph; on the other hand isn’t a million miles different, if a tad slower and sultrier than the original and was actually a contender for ‘favourite song’.
The other re-do; Back Off Boogaloo is the song that will get most media attention as it is pieced together from an old 1/4″ reel to reel demo he recorded in 72 with George Harrison producing; and subsequently adding ‘magic’ from Jeff Lynne and Joe Walsh.
Then of course there is the absolute Stand-Out song, and very easily RMHQ Favourite……the cool Country Swing of So Wrong, For So Long; a co-write with local lad Dave Stewart and featuring enough pedal-steel and delicious harmonies to bring a tear to a glass eye.
History hasn’t been that kind to Ringo Starr, but GIVE MORE LOVE is a rollicking good way to spend an hour, smiling, dancing and on more than one occasion, having the opportunity to look at your ‘significant other’ and think, “that’s us he’s singing about.”
What’s not to like?

Released 15th September 2017


Howlin’ Ric and the Rocketeers – TEARS BEFORE BEDTIME

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Howlin’ Ric and the Rocketeers
Gin House Records

21st Century Classic Rock n Roll…..And I LOVE IT!

Rock & Roll has evolved into many different shapes and sizes since it first frightened our Grandparents in the 1950’s and 60’s; and we here at RMHQ love 99% of it; but nothing sounds finer coming out of the office Hi-Fi than the likes of our mates Howlin’ Ric and the Rocketeers paying homage to those original pioneers; but tearing up the rule book and making that ‘sound’ appear as fresh and exciting as it must have done before I was even born.
This record of unquestionable delights comes racing out of the blocks with the feisty Secrets & Lies; a tub-thumping and toe-tapping quifftastic slice of Rhythm AND Blues that instantly had my pulse racing alongside the razzle-dazzle guitar; and a rootin’ and tootin’ sax made me want to dance on a Tuesday morning!
It’s no real surprise that the pace slackens for Danger In The Woods which follows; with Ric crooning ‘to his baby’ on a song that bizarrely reminded me of Buddy Holly, James Hunter……and Bruce Springsteen all wrapped up together.
Who doesn’t like a lovely Rock & Roll love song? Well; if you do you are going to love Kiss Me Sometime; as it’s the type of delightful ballad that will appeal to love lorn teenagers and frisky pensioners with equal measure; and that takes some doing.
The tempo and temperature rises again for track #4 Ain’t Gonna Leave; a tightly wrapped bittersweet ‘will she/won’t she leave him’ tale full of BIFF-BAFF-BOP drumming, a heart-attack inducing bass and some sizzling guitar playing that would make Link Wray proud; and that’s without Ric’s purring and pleading vocal performance.
Now I’m going to jump to One Last Drink which closes this exciting little EP; WOW…WOW…WOW…..imagine Little Richard, fronting the Shadows with the Haggis Horns blasting away in the background…..yep; really.
Now; drop back a track to find our favourite song here; and one that I had to play first as it’s the RMHQ Family Motto……Can’t Do Right, For Doing Wrong! Wahay….this 100mph, adrenaline fuelled Rhythm & Blues infused Rock & Roller is every inch as good as I’d hoped and was a show stopper when the band ‘ripped a new one into SummerTyne Festival’ when they played it there last month.
It’s nice to say that the band have actually moved on quite a bit since the release of Cannonball their last EP’ and are prepared to take risks with their music; and not just play the same old same old for the Rockabilly circuit.
Bloody Love it from start to finish.

Released 9th August 2017


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Various Artists
Americana Music Society

Great Music For an Even Better Cause.

Anything with the Sun Records Label attached has to be of interest, hasn’t it? Interest – yes; good? Not always as my record collection will testify; but the source this ‘charity album’ came from was unimpeachable so into the hi-fi it went and YOWZA, YOWZA…..YOWZA!
Everything here was recorded in the two legendary Sun studios for this album with all proceeds going to aid St. Jude Children’s Hospital (children’s cancer specialists btw) in down-town Memphis.
I’d not heard of John Paul Keith before, but his rip-snorting Rock & Roll song Red Cadillac and a Black Moustache straddles Class and kitsch with comfort; and sounds like it would be perfect for an future Happy Days soundtrack.
This is followed by the ever wonderful Valerie June with Jimbo Mathus and Amy LaVere on background vocals, swooning their collective way through Sure To Fall (in love with you) which made me unknowingly clutch my heart half way through. Peggy Lee eat your heart out!
This being a love letter to Sun, we get a lot more authentic toe-tapping and hip-swinging Rock & Roll from not just the title track Red Hot by ‘The Million Dollar Quartet’ but also  Shawn Camp on Lonely Weekends and Jimbo Mathus truly tears the joint apart with High School Confidential.
Of course the Blues have to be here too; and what better servant to add class and cool than Mr Bobby Rush? Oh Lordy, Lord he nearly broke my heart the first time I heard his raw and emotional Tough Titty…..this is the Blues with a capital B, and reminded me what a truly great singer he has always been.
I won’t go into too many details of who the house band are but brothers Luther and Cody Dickinson are at the helm; and Luther gets to close the record with an epic version of Moanin’ at Midnight (Pts 1 & 2) which lasts a total of 13 minutes and not a second is wasted; especially when Lightnin’ Malcolm makes Johnny Winter and Stevie Ray Vaughan sound like amateurs the way he plays that geetar!
While I hardly know of Amy LaVere; I’m aware she can sing a bit,; but wasn’t quite prepared for her sassy and rather sexy rendition of Ten Cats Down which is very much the RMHQ ‘Favourite Track’ on an exceptional album that doesn’t have a bad; or even poor track on it.
What more can I say? This is a wonderful album for an even better cause; there is pretty much something here to titillate every regular reader and even if there isn’t, it’s a charity/hospital well worth supporting anyways.



Released June 16th 2017

Chuck Berry – CHUCK

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Chuck Berry
Dualtone/Decca Records

Enough Reelin’ and a Rockin’ To Bring Out The Marty McFly In All of Us.

It’s always up for a drunken discussion as to who actually invented Rock & Roll; but even the pedants among you have to admit that Chuck Berry has to be a contender; and it’s a given that Johnny B Goode is the greatest actual Rock & Roll song of all time…..FACT! It’s even in a capsule on the moon and who can forget the bit in Back To The Future when Marty did a ‘duck walk’ playing a Gibson ES-345 and the guy made a phone call to ‘cousin Charles’?
So, any new album from Mr. Berry has to be worthy of our attention here at RMHQ, hasn’t it?
The opening song on Berry’s first album since 1979 (!), Wonderful Woman is a whole lot better than I dared to expect and a whole lot more Bluesier too. The vocals and guitar are trademark Chuck Berry, but the delightful ‘loved up’ lyrics, wailing harmonica, honky-tonk piano and the funky back-beat had my toes tapping and lips mouthing the words while I played air-guitar along with three generations of Berry men are pure Chicago Blues.
Track #2 is the single Big Boys that was coincidentally scheduled for release the week the week Berry died; and would have been a world wide hit regardless of the timing. Boom-Boom-Boom….. this is a saucy Chuck Berry song with a Twinkle in its eye, in the same way that My Ding-a-Ling is still my ‘guilty pleasure.’ A quality dance tune of the finest order and one that genuinely sits up there with his legendary hits.
I have to take a deep breath here, as not every track here is any where near that high quality threshold; the pop-Reggae of Jamaica Moon and live recording of 3/4 Time (Enchiladas) in particular could and should have been left in the studio. Sorry, but it’s true.
But; when Berry is good he is great…….Lady B Goode uses ‘that’ melody for a lively response song to Johnny B Goode and who would deny Chuck Berry the opportunity to regenerate his classic beat?
There are plenty of pleasant surprises here too, with Berry slowing things down on the lip smacking and hip grinding She Still Loves You; and on Dutchman he regales us by narrating a ‘talking Blues’ worthy of Robbie Robertson or David Olney.
I keep using the word ‘surprised’ here and I have been, many times as this is a whole lot better than it has any right to be after all these years and at Berry’s age while writing and recording; which brings us to the two songs which tie for the ‘Favourite Song’ title; first there is the soulful and melancholia of Darlin’ where Chuck writes and sings his own epitaph in a way I would never have expected in a hundred years; then there is Eyes of a Man which closes the 10 song album. A slow Gospel infused Blues that reduced me to tears the first, second and third times I heard it and while his Classic, bouncy Rock & Roll dance songs will be how he will be remembered; this song is a man coming to terms with his life and how I will now remember Charles Anderson Edward Berry 1026-2017 RIP.

PS #1. Great artwork on the cover and the booklet is worth the admission price alone.

PS #2 Thanks to Markus Rill for the Marty McFly reference 😉

Released June 16th 2017


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Willie Nile
River House Records

CBGB’s Punk Rock & Roller Blows The Dust Off Dylan’s Classics.

I can’t stand Bob Dylan’s voice…..never could; but have always appreciated the Genius that created so many musical masterpieces between 62 and 76; so when I heard a whisper that after playing at a party to celebrate Dylan’s 75th birthday last year RMHQ favourite Willie Nile was recording a record of his favourite Dylan songs I was rubbing my hands with glee.
Before we go any further, any boring Dylanophiles will hate this on principal, so should stop reading now. Gone? Good.
What else could Our Willie start the album with but the timeless The Times They Are A-Changing? Nile’s band apply the musical defibrillator and turn this hoary old Folk song into a Modern day anthem that should be played at 100 decibels outside Trump Towers on the hour, every hour!
Without time to take breath the band fire up Rainy Day Women #12 & #35 making it something that the Clash could have played as an encore; but didn’t.
With a 1,000 or more songs to choose from Nile has somehow whittled everything down to just 10; and put his own inimitable Doc Marten stamp on Blowin’ In The Wind, Hard Rain and Subterranean Homesick Blues; but it’s a couple of other inclusions that have tickled my fancy.
Perhaps the aficionados will tell me that Love Minus Zero/No Limit is similar to the original; but Willie Nile’s gives it a nice modern lick of Americana paint; making it very easy on these jaded ears; and it’s a similar story with You Ain’t Going Nowhere, which does sound like the Byrds version I knew from my teens, but with added joie de vivre and a massive shot of NYC adrenaline.
As I stopped being force fed Dylan music when Brother Magpie #3 left the nest in 1976 I’m deliberately not aux fait with his latter works; so the inclusion of Every Grain of Sand and Abandoned Love may (I say ‘may’) make me review my thoughts on Dylan’s latter works; but more than likely I will stick to listening to Willie Nile bringing new/old music to my ears.
After all these years I’m a bit embarrassed to say I’ve loved this album; thankfully owing as much to Willie Nile’s amazing voice; which brings me to the two songs that tie for the title of RMHQ ‘Favourite’.
One is an oldie that I only vaguely recognised; I Want You, with Willie giving it large on his acoustic guitar while the band roll along behind him now sounds as fresh as a glass of cold home-made lemonade; with just as much tang in the after taste.
The other is a song I’d not heard before; Abandoned Love. Seemingly a very ‘rare’ song; but a majestic choice by Mr. Nile as it perfectly closes the door on a refreshingly dandy set of interpretations of a tiny fraction of Bob Dylan’s back catalogue and Willie sounds like he was having a great time recording them.

The album artwork is pretty damn fine too!

Released June 23rd 2017


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Los Straitjackets
Yep Roc

Legendary Instrumental Guitar Band Pay Homage To A Legendary Songwriter.

You thought it couldn’t and perhaps shouldn’t be done; but it has …….. Los Straitjackets; one of the most imaginative, swaggering and strange band in the world have re-invented 13 Nick Lowe songs as instrumentals What’s not to like?
They rip up the rule book by turning opening track Shake & Pop into a surftastic slice of 60’s Pop then follow it with more than a nod to The Shadows with their take on my favourite Nick Lowe song, All Men Are Liars making it virtually unrecognisable. Okay; all the notes are there……just not necessarily in the right order!
All I could think of listening to this album was ……Quentin Tarantino is gonna LOVE IT! Everything sounds like it should be on one of his soundtracks……..I can just about picture the dance scene with Tom Hanks and Judi Dench shaking their butts to the funky Half a Boy and Half a Man; a car chase around the mean streets of Chicago involving Mark Wahlburg with I Live on a Battlefield on the car radio.
I Read a Lot sounds like it should be in a Spy Movie; conjuring up images of men in Gannex overcoats looking mysterious in the murky shadows of a European city late at night.
Hahaha……seriously (sort of).
This album is everything you would expect; and more…….there are song title here I’d totally forgot about and after hearing the outrageously bang-up versions of Raging Eyes and You Inspire Me I was obliged to pull out the original LPs and revel in Nick Lowe’s genius for a whole afternoon.
Oh……Cruel to be Kind is slowed right down to a Waltz pace and made me smile for the solid 3.18 minutes, as it washed over me like a summer breeze.
Then, of course there is the title track, WHAT’S SO FUNNY ABOUT PEACE, LOVE and UNDERSTANDING, one of the greatest British Pop songs of all time and a song I want played at my funeral. A very brave song to cover in this format; but everything hinges on it and…….well……they pull it off with aplomb! Heavy on the bass and tambourine but with some guitar that Hank B Marvin would be proud of slicing through like a stiletto through hot butter.
This album is not just great fun and not just the soundtrack to your Sunday afternoon; as it was mine but expect it to be on constant rotation in your favourite Hipster cafe all Summer long!

PS The cover artwork is amazing and I’d like it as a t-shirt please!

Released May 19th 2017

Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul -SOULFIRE

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Little Steven & The Disciples of Soul
Wicked Cool/Big Machine

Bringing Sunshine to the Edge of Town!

A few weeks ago and for no apparent reason I decided to make a list of my Top 10 Gigs of all time and at #6 was Little Steven and the Disciples of Soul at the much lamented Newcastle Dingwalls in 1983. The band were so big and the stage so small the horn section actually had to stand beside the stage!
For the uninitiated Little Steven is a) Miami Steve Van Zandt b) the best ever guitarist in Springsteen’s E-Street Band 3) Silvio in the Sopranos d) Frank in Lilyhammer and e) the co-founder of Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes.
Then…..an e-mail arrived asking if I’d like a copy of his/their new album.
Sounding more than a little bit like Springsteen himself; Little Steven’s first ‘solo’ album in nigh on 20 years gets off to a killer start with the red hot title track SOULFIRE. Combining bang-bang Rock n Roll with some blistering Southern Soul the band sound like teenagers swaggering around the stage of a High-school prom; not the ‘men of a certain age’ that they actually are.
That high octane vibe continues through track #2 I’m Coming Back, and the third time I played this song Mrs. Magpie caught me dancing in the kitchen as I made a cup of coffee!
A lot has happened to Van Zandt since those heady days in the early 80’s when this band were in their infancy; and the intervening years haven’t diminished his love of music one iota as you can tell when he revels in the spotlight on the gorgeous ballads Love On The Wrong Side of Town and I Don’t Want To Go Home; with the later having a touch of Sam Cooke about it, if I’m not mistaken.
It’s all too easy to dismiss Van Zandt as ‘just a guitarist and showman’ but listen to the lyrics in The City Weeps Tonight which nods adoringly at the crooners he would have listened to in his teenage years.
Another song that should be ‘listened to’ for the same reasons is Down and Out in New York City, which sounds like it could be an out-take from SuperFly until you listen to Stevie’s razor sharp observations which are very, very topical and a tad Political with a capital P.
Not for the first time this year the title of ‘Favourite Track’ is a toss-up, between the blistering Blues Is My Business which in another world would have been a huge hit for Joe Cocker; and the other is the super-cool Alt. Rock n Roller St. Valentine’s Day which got turned up to 11 the first time I played it in the car (and head-banged and fist-pumped to it!). Let’s just call it a tie, shall we.
Apart from the classy production and a slightly smoother and well worn rasp to Van Zandt’s voice this album is just as exciting in every nook and cranny as the Men Without Women LP was when I bought it in 1982………35 bloody years ago!


Released May 19th 2017

SummerTyne 2017 (PREVIEW) Sage Gateshead


SummerTyne 2017 (PREVIEW)
Sage Gateshead

July 21-23

OOOHEEEEE….it’s that time of year again…..they’ve just announced the headline acts for the three day SummerTyne Americana Festival in Gateshead and I couldn’t be more excited.
OK, it’s not Glastonbury nor Cornbury or even the Cambridge Folk Festival; but it’s on my door step and every year brings more and more music fans to the music I love.
I’ve seen loads of film over the years of the Bacchanalian and bucolic scenes from Woodstock, the Isle of Wight and more latterly Glastonbury but SummerTyne is different, very different and probably different from anything else in the world of music, as it is split into two actual Festivals on the same site. Both are timed with military precision and cross over from the outside concourse to the inside rooms and back again,’ plus this weekend is aimed at families just as much as music bores like me; plus the visitors from outside the area get to stay in hotels or BnB’s rather than tents 5 miles away from the main stage.

I wasn’t there when SummerTyne started in 2006 in a typically understated way; we are like that in Geordieland (eh???) but that first year saw the likes of Seasick Steve, Kris Kristofferson, Laura Veirs, Nanci Griffith and the Blind Boys of Alabama perform across the venue.
I turned up for the first time in 2008 to see Eve Selis on the JHC Outside Stage and fell in love with the whole concept and stopped back that night to see KD Lang (paying hard cash on the door). Checking back now I appear to have missed Jim White and Brandi Carlisle too that year……different times and money was tight in those days.
Since then I’ve seen world famous Roots acts like the James Hunter Six, Martin Stephenson, Willy Vlautin, The Handsome Family, Slim Chance,Tom Russell, Justin Townes Earle and Danny & the Champions of the World and not forgetting the evening the Ian McLachan Band ripped it up for FREE on that JHC Stage as the sun went down; the sun always shines……apart from the year it rained in buckets for an hour, but Otis Gibbs carried on regardless as the umbrellas and mackintosh’s came out and the show just went on, with no one prepared to give up their hard fought positions on Shipcote Hill.

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There are too many acts over the years who have played that ‘free’ stage that are etched in my memory bank to mention; but some of the best were seeing Larkin Poe, Ward Thomas, the Toy Hearts and a young Pete Molinari but not forgetting Bap Kennedy’s last appearance in the area with 6 old ladies in head scarves dancing in front of the stage. Everyone else will have their own memories of a band or singer I’ve forgot about (David Wax Museum? The Bikini Beach Band? John Turrell and the Heed Band? Elizabeth Cook? Sarah Savoy’s Cajun Band?)
Sadly some fans who set up camp on the concourse for the Jumping Hot Club’s ‘free stage’ never venture indoors to experience the delights that are on offer there; and vice versa plenty of music snobs arrive at tea-time for the evening show and look down their noses at the oiks on Shipcote Hill having the time of their lives seeing artists they’d never heard of that morning but leaving with memories of the greatest band or singer they’d ever seen in their lives!
During the afternoon there are several pop-up stages inside the Hall; and this is where I first saw The Shires play in front of less than 50 people, Yola Carter with a choir and Norrie McCulloch entrancing 1,000 people into silence.
The concourse stage and the Sage Rehearsal Room are taken over by the Americana Association UK and experience tells me these 15 and 30 minute showcases are not to be missed.

But, it’s really the evening shows that the SummerTyne Festival is all about, and often the first time music fans ever visit this magnificent music centre.
First and foremost the sound quality in both Hall 1 & 2 is truly exceptional and the seats are comfortable too!
Over the years I’ve lost track of the acts I’ve seen and loved; as you’d expect they are as diverse as John Hiatt, Solomon Burke, Lucinda Williams, Wanda Jackson, Irma Thomas, Emmylou & Rodney, Roseanne Cash, Lyle Lovett, Abigail Washburn, Dan Penner & Spooner Oldham and Imelda May.
Plus one of the joys every year is when the Sage utilises it’s phenomenal Classical musicians to bring us something really special……does anyone else remember Raul Malo and the Royal Northern Sinfonia Orchestra recording a live album? Or the mind blowing night Chuck Prophet was joined by their String Section? I do and will never forget either night.
This year the list of runners and riders inside and outside the Sage is truly amazing; starting on the Friday afternoon with the quaintly named Home Fries stage full of extremely talented local acts including Paul Handyside and Chloe Chadwick.
Then the big party starts with the welcome return of the Shires who have already SOLD OUT Hall 1 (again); but you will also find me nipping in to Hall 2 for a half hour of Merle Haggard’s Strangers featuring his sons Ben and Noel; then later in the same room Marlon Williams who I’ve been waiting to see for ages.
Then on Saturday lunch time…..’YippeeWhyEye Music Lovers’……on the JHC Stage it’s only my tip for ‘Next Big Thing’ status Dexeter……the fabulous Vera Van Heerigan showcasing Proper Brew, Howlin’ Ric with his hi-octane Rock & Roll and the afternoon will be wrapped up by the legendary Earl Thomas bringing the show home with some delightful Soul infused Blues.

All for free money and a panoramic vista of the Newcastle Quayside as a backdrop.
Then just when you think things can’t get any better…. I will have to move inside at 2pm to finally see Angaleena Presley! Yes! Guitar Leena finally comes to the North East….mmm…mmmm….mmmm.
Saturday night on the main stages will be as good as SummerTyne has ever been…..in my humble opinion; in Hall 2 it’s a double header with Jim Lauderdale and Sam Outlaw who both have outstanding albums out at the moment; but in Hall 1 it’s a real bona fide music legend when William Bell and the Stax Revue come to town. As far as I know this is another SummerTyne ‘Once in a Lifetime’ evening……and a guaranteed Sell-Out.
Sunday; and I promise the sun will be shining  if you get there early, as Bradley Creswell, one of the finest violinists of his generation and leader of the RNS will be on stage with the ‘Western Swing Orchestra’ playing the ‘hits and more’……trust me; you will be stunned and amazed.
He is followed on stage by young Rob Vincent; making a fleeting visit and playing tracks from his
https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/2017/01/23/robert-vincent-ill-make-the-most-of-my-sins/ album which will feature in my end of year Top 10.
Also wooing the fans on Shipcote Hill will be harmonica player supreme Errol Linton, the gritty Country of Jonathan Terrell and closing the free stage, the welcome return of the Savoy Family Cajun Band.
As that shuts down at 7 things move indoors to the magnificent Sage Music Centre itself, and things get really interesting.
Beth Neilsen Chapman with Callaghan as support will fill Hall 1 and along the passageway our hero Chuck Prophet will be….doing what Chuck Prophet does; which is better than what just about anyone else of his ilk does and is another show that will sell out pretty damn quickly.
There will be numerous acts popping up all over the site across the weekend and I haven’t even mentioned the River Cruises which are now going down in local legend.
The North East of England never really had a quality Music Festival before SummerTyne and our little world is all the better for it.


The Big Gun Show – THE DOOR (EP)

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The Big Gun Show

The Soundtrack To a Messy Friday Night.

Sadly some albums that are sent to us fall by the wayside and others sit around gathering dust before I get around to penning my magic words about them. This applies equally to the bigger names as well as the many DIY albums that cross my desk by the way.
Then, very occasionally something arrives that instantly piques my interest …sometimes it’s the artwork or Press Release (which rarely get read before the first listen) or in this case a handwritten letter that told me the band found our site via the Sarah Shook review and described their sound as ‘Keith Richards meets Ray Wylie Hubbard’……the sun was shining and there was nothing on the TV so I thought, I would give the 5 track EP a quick go.
Crashing guitars and a singer that sounds like he’s been living on cigarettes, beer and French Kisses since leaving the crib came billowing out of the office stereo; and when Gunter Woodson splutters “I got my Swagger back!” followed by some thumping hypnotic drumming I knew I was gonna love whatever followed.
The song itself, Swagger is the type of 80’s Rocker I loved from the likes of Thunder and The Quireboys……all tight jeans, sweaty t-shirts and Friday night drunken attitude……SWAGGER indeed.
Track #2 the raunchy ballad Begin to Begin slows things down; as Woodson sings straight into the eyes of ‘the hottest girl’ in the front row, making her go weak at the knees and making every fella in the room feel jealous and slightly inadequate.
Not a word I particularly like using, but Bitch is a snarling (unrequited) love song and the way he describes the young lady in question (“trouble in stereo”) I guess she is indeed a ‘Bitch’; but he keeps coming back for more…….we do, don’t we?
With a guitarist who owes a lot more to Slash or (my hero) Warner E Hodges than Keef and a singer who sounds like he’s been around the block at least twice and is now on his third trip, The Big Gun Show have a big, big ‘sloppy bar-band’ sound that only comes from knowing what you’re doing. This type of Rock n Roll just doesn’t get any better than the quaintly titled Chablis and Weed; which is a full-bodied Rock Ballad and will have the crowd swaying from side to side with their arms wound around their lovers or Best Buddies when played live.
The whiz-bang guitar that opens the final track Behind The Barn; coupled with some super-sweet pedal-steel reminds me of something else; but that’s for another day. Until then this cracking Country Rocker is easily my Favourite of the five; and certainly left me wanting MORE!
There are a million bands out there who sound a bit like this; but 99% of them are still playing Freebird and Satisfaction but The Big Gun Show have that extra ‘something’…..great original songs? A great singer? Super cool guitarist? An A* rhythm section? Whatever…..this EP is going straight into the car ready for the drive to work with my Cheap Sunglasses on; then for the drive home After Midnight when the roads are quiet and the engine will be loud.
It’s that type of music.

Released March 28th 2017



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The Persecuted
Dial M For Music.

A Series of Very British Melodramas Labelled With Love.

It seems like a lifetime since I first heard The Persecuted’s self-titled 2015 debut album which I loved and quaintly described as ‘Gastro-Pub Rock’, so I was giddy with excitement when I opened the envelope and read the handwritten accompanying letter (remember them kids?) that came with this, their second disc BRITAINICARNA.
That was two days ago and if I tell you I sat outside my house last night at midnight, after a ten hour shift at work just so I could listen to the last minute of Pushing Me Away you will understand how much I love this one too
Opening track I Think We Need To Talk About Kevin begins in much the same way the previous album ended; a complex slice of family life encapsulated in a three minute Country-Pop song. Don’t get frightened by the word ‘Pop’ …..it’s only because the Persecuted use catchy melodies and actual ‘tunes’ to accompany their Kitchen Sink melodramas. ‘Kevin is about a teenager who sits alone in his bedroom ‘wacked out on cyber porn’ and his parents worry for him. Does that ring any bells with anyone? Hmmmmm; it’s a sad state of affairs but the Persecuted manage to tell this gripping story with grace and black humour.
Baring in mind the state of the world at the moment a song entitled Revolution could be quite scary and angry; but in these lads hands it’s a sad lament about someone like me (or you) who just shouts at the TV and pretty much leaves it at that.
While there’s an Alt. Country type ‘vibe’ to the Persecuted their sound and songs are quintessentially English, with absolutely no pretence at being American like so many of their contemporaries.
There is a definite Country ‘Twang’ to I Just Couldn’t Say It To Your face; and the theme of a coward trying to get out of a relationship is universal, as are all of the stories here; and Johnny Black’s droll voice makes it the very essence of what they have dubbed ‘Britainicana’.
Although these songs are perfect for AOR Radio; I doubt they will ever get played on that medium which is a loss to people everywhere; especially if Dropping Like Flies gets lost in the midst of time. While we’ve all moved on this ode to the death of David Bowie captures the feeling of embodiment seeing Ziggy on TOTP that first night gave a whole generation then 40 years later the utter sadness at the Dame’s passing.
There’s a song here called Desperate Housewife that is disorienting in the way a man articulately manages to capture the sense of loss and decline that a young woman/mother feels in her two bedroom flat. The only other song I can equate it to is Mothers Little Helper by The Rolling Stones from half a century ago and I defy you not to hear this and not think of someone in your circle of family and friends and then have a tear in your eye.
Those Twangtastic guitars rip it up again on Mid Life Crisis; with Echoes of The Waco Brothers the Persecuted nod to Chuck Berry with the chorus of “Go Johnny Go!” as they sing about a married man who “buys a motorbike and grows a goatee beard” as he searches for his long lost youth; but only finds heartache. If I ell you I checked the album to see if this was a Springsteen/Bragg co-write (it’s not btw) you will realise what it sounds like.
On a similar tip is the quirkilly titled Natasha Kaplansky Keeps Singing The Blues; where the singer is fed up with “getting checked for lumps and bumps….but still waiting for a heart attack” and because of all of the bad news he’s stopped reading the papers and watching the news because ” Natasha Kaplansky Keeps Singing The Blues.” Again it’s a Universal topic; but given a very British theme, especially when Black lists all the fun and food stuffs he’s no longer allowed.
Where do I start in picking a ‘RMHQ Favourite’ when just about every song here resonates with me in some way; my first choice was Pushing Me Away but Mrs. Magpie may read this review so I will toss a coin between Proving The Doubters Wrong of which 90% really, really could be about me! And the other is probably the Byrds inspired Death on the Dance-floor which closes the album. A very modern take on a life long fear for me and I presume many men out there.
The Persecuted are a bunch of musicians based in East London who all have other jobs to pay the rent; and sadly have to do this malarkey for love alone, which is a huge shame as the quality of songwriting is exceptional and musicianship this good only comes from years of hard work and I, for one would like to see them get even 10% of the fame and fortune they deserve.

Released May 1st 2017