Big Gun Show
SHAKEN NOT STIRRED (Deluxe Edition)
Ooh La La! Austin’s Coolest Bar Band Really Shakes Some Action.
Serendipity or what?
Only a couple of weeks ago I was bemoaning the fact that there doesn’t seem to be any bands out there taking up the Faces/Stones mantle any more……then out of the blue; along comes the new EP from our favourite bar band in Austin….The Big Gun Show!
First of all I was shocked; nay *disgusted at the sexist CD Cover as it slithered out of the plain brown envelope; but hey this is bar band music after all and I forgive them.
With all five songs here vaguely and very loosely dedicated to two of the bands ‘heroes’ Keef Richards and James Bond; opening track ‘true story’ of loving and losing, Got What You Wanted is the solid, four to the floor, powerhouse Friday night rocker that I’ve been waiting months to blow my cobwebs away. Even after a cursory listen it was evident that singerist Gunter Woodson hasn’t been on a macro-biotic diet since the last record; this guy has moved on from ‘beer, cigarettes and French Kisses’ to whisky and wild, wild women judging by his amazing voice; and now a month later I think I was correct!
Although they named ‘Keef’ in the accompanying letter; track #2 Sick and Tired is Bona-fide Ronnie Wood all the way through on a song the Faces would have been proud to have recorded on Ooh La La; and dig that cool piano and violin too, baby!
Sadly Gunter had already pointed me to track #3 00 Stud in his letter; so the ode to our favourite Spy; now masquerading as a singer in a Rock n Roll band was less of a surprise than it will be for you……although I’m possibly spoiling that surprise too as I’m making it my Favourite Track.
What you will normally buy or stream will be those three songs; but there’s a Deluxe Version too (which is what I have in my grubby paws right now) featuring two more sleazy and professionally sloppy Rockers of the finest order.
Let It Shine starts with a cool acoustic under Gunter’s pleading to his lover; then the band who sound as tight as a copper coil; glide in and out like a Summer Breeze. Tres Cool, methinks and well worthy of a single release itself.
Then there is Anyway; a slightly left of centre Jonathan Richman Poptastic three minutes that just goes to show that these crazy kids aren’t just one trick ponies; they can shake some action with the best of them.
*This only applies if any of my more militant feminist friends are reading this review. Otherwise I bloody love it!
Released June 1st 2018
Susan Cattaneo & The Bottle Rockets
WORK HARD, LOVE HARDER (single)
Wow, last August I introduced you to Susan Cattaneo with her fabulous double album The Hammer and The Heart https://rockingmagpie.wordpress.com/2017/08/25/susan-cattaneo-the-hammer-the-heart/ and now a year or so later she has re-recorded one of the key tracks and produced a video with RMHQ favourites The Bottle Rockets.
Turn on, tune in…..enjoy.
Robbie Fulks & Linda Gail Lewis
WILD, WILD, WILD
Hey, hey, hey you crazy kids! Check this rascal out……a rip snorting collaboration between two of our favourites……. Mr Robbie Fulks and the delectable Linda Gail Lewis (the star of TWO SummerTyne Festivals) on Bloodshot Records; and a forerunner to a whole album on August 10th.
“The album Wild! Wild! Wild! was recorded in Chicago with Alex Hall (JD McPherson, Cactus Blossoms, Pokey LaFarge) and features musical contributions from Redd Volkaert (Merle Haggard), Danny B. Harvey, Scott Ligon and Casey McDonough (NRBQ, The Flat Five), Kelly Hogan (Mavis Staples, Neko Case), Joan Collaso, Yvonne Gage, and others.”
I don’t know about you…….but I can’t wait!
Low Cut Connie
DIRTY PICTURES Pt.II
High Octane Rock n Roll and Red Raw Punk Drenched R&B.
I’d not heard of Low Cut Connie prior to seeing them rip the roof off a Jumpin’ Hot Club gig earlier this year with their high octane blend of Rock n Roll and red raw R&B so couldn’t wait to finally hear if they could replicate that energy on record…..which would take some doing.
The roof remained in tact the first time I played opening track All These Kids Are Way Too High; but when I turned the volume up even higher the second time the windows definitely rattled!
Revolving around singer, piano player and Showman Extraordinaire Low Cut Connie really know how to put on an unforgettable show and here with an exhilarating mixture of slow and almost dirty Blues ballads like One More Time and Every Time You Turn Around with the rip-snorting scuzzy 50’s inspired Rock & Roll of Hey! Little Child and more than a smattering of London Punk on Please Do Not Come Around and when put together in this form they sizzle and burn like a forest fire.
Weiner deliberately cuts a figure based on Jerry Lee; but there’s more than a hint of Joe Strummer in the way he and the band drop sexy Rock Bombs like Beverly and Suzanne on the unsuspecting listener……and they are so damn good; you come back for more and more.
At face value this is a high-rolling and fun album from a well rehearsed band; but dig deeper and you will find some really interesting, eloquent and thought provoking songs masquerading as ‘Only Rock and Roll’……….Desegregation takes the casual listener down a dark road in a way I can only think Randy Newman can; and again but more importantly on Hollywood when Weiner uses a beautiful ballad to describe what it’s like to be an aspiring star but ultimately a failure in Tinsel Town, again proving what an exceptional songwriter he is.
Then there is the RMHQ ‘Favourite Song’……..Master Tapes which has a delightful melody to it masking a very biting set of lyrics; with Low Cut Connie using the musical metaphor of ‘Master Tapes’ for all the things he’s said during a break-up…….and again the windows rattled.
I’m not sure what else to say; but Low Cut Connie are one of the best and most entertaining bar bands I’ve ever seen; and I’ve seen a lot and, yes they can transfer that excitement and magic onto record and more importantly make you actually listen to the songs you thought you could only dance to.
Released May 18th 2018
Rip Cat Records
Timeless Rhythm and Blues With More Soul than Detroit and most importantly, it’s Got a Rock and Roll Heart!
WOW! A new Kid Ramos album after an unsightly gap of 17 years has to be worth investigating hasn’t it? The answer is YES by the very way.
As regular readers will know I’m quite prone to judging an album by the cover way before I ever hear a note of music, and yet again that is the case here…..look at that artwork……who among us wouldn’t pick that up in a record store and not care what the contents were like?
Old School opens with a gilt edged instrumental that harks back to the days when Duane Eddy, Link Wray and Dick Dale ruled the roost; but this one certainly has the Kid’s trademark stamped all over it.
The low down and slinky All Your Love follows and features the recorded debut of Kid Ramos’ son Johnny on lead vocals; and boy oh boy does he make this love song sound very, very sleazy indeed.
Recorded over only two days this album never sounds rushed at all; but there is an exciting tingle to these versions of Rock & Roll classics Heartbeat and Anna that comes from a first or perhaps second take; if it sounds this exciting…..use it; and move on to something else ASAP.
That ‘something else’ includes a Tex-Mex version of Mona Lisa that Raul Malo would be proud of and on the Wes Montgomery tune Wes Side, Kid Ramos and Bob Welsh on the organ, Kedar Roy (bass) and Marty Dodson (drums) hit such a cool groove you would think you were in late night Jazz dive listening to Blue Note’s finest at any time in the last half century.
Obviously as a Kid Ramos album this is always going to feature red hot guitar instrumentals like the sublime Mashed Potatoes and Chilli; but the surprises here come thick and fast with even hotter songs like Johnny Tucker half singing half growling Tell Me What You Need; plus there are a couple of super-cool songs too. Weight on My Shoulders featuring the voice of Mr. Jon Atkinson immediately springs to mind but when Johnny Tucker takes You Never Call My Name down the dangerous end of Lonely Street you just know you are listening to Blues Deluxe.
Then of course there has to be an RMHQ ‘Favourite Track’ doesn’t there?
Not easy at all, but after an evening listening to this over and over again I’m going for the sultry rendition of T-Bone Walker’s High Society Woman sung by Kim Wilson but featuring some outstanding and sizzling guitar playing from Kid Ramos himself.
What more can I say? OLD SCHOOL is exactly that…..it’s timeless Rhythm and Blues, it’s got more Soul than Detroit and most importantly, it’s only Rock and Roll…..and I love it to bits!
Released March 16th 2018
A Fitting Epitaph From one of America’s Finest Singer-Songwriters
What do you expect from a legend like Don McLean’s 19th album? Some people won’t expect very much as the hits all came nearly half a century ago; and others like me, will be intrigued to hear what the All American Troubadour who penned both American Pie and Vincent, has to offer in 2018.
The title track Botanical Gardens opens proceedings and suddenly the dark world we inhabit suddenly seems a nice place after all. Apparently the idea for the song came from an actual walk in a park in Sydney, Australia then McLean realised that it was something of a metaphor for his own life (and many of us too) as he looks back fondly on a life well lived.
A marvelous blending of acoustic and electric guitars coupled with a delightful melody and a delightful story make for a single that is just perfect for daytime radio and/or the stereo in the RMHQ conservatory.
While nothing else matches the commercialism of that particular song there is plenty more here to please the ear (and the heart). With actual Hit Singles not being worth a jot any more; it’s been wonderful just sitting back and devouring songs like The King of Fools, the cinematic When July Comes and Waving Man just because they are what they are; well constructed, imaginative and heartfelt songs that will make your heart tingle as you think they are about someone you know; or it may even be you yourself.
Baring in mind McLean is of ‘a certain vintage’ I’ve been pleasantly surprised to find he can still Rock & Roll with the best of them. I’m not talking AC/DC Rock & Roll I’m talking more 1950’s Original Rock & Roll in the style of Buddy Holly, Ricky Nelson and even Eddie Cochran with The Lucky Guy, Ain’t She a Honey and of course Rock & Roll Your Baby which is a Toe-Tapper Deluxe.
Whichever way you look at this album, there’s no denying Don McLean is still a first-class storyteller with the ability to tug at the heart strings. Grief and Hope has a sting in the tail and the love songs You’ve Got Such Beautiful Eyes and A Total Eclipse of the Sun are both timeless and contemporary in equal measures, with both bringing a lump to this tired old throat the first night I played them (on headphones) as I looked across the room at Mrs. Magpie who was ignoring me as she watched TV.
The closing track Last Night When We Were Young finds McLean crooning another touching song about ‘looking back’ Sinatra style, as Tim Migliore beautifully plays a piano in the background as a string section flutter and flow behind them. Hence; and this is no surprise this song is easily the RMHQ favourite by a country mile.
I’m not sure Don McLean still sounds like the famous Don McLean of American Pie fame; but why will he…..as I said at the beginning, that was nearly half a century and if the rumours are true, this is his last ever studio album; it’s very fitting epitaph from one of America’s finest singer-songwriters.
Released 23rd March 2018
Don McLean: Official Website
Barrence Whitfield & The Savages
SOUL FLOWERS of TITAN
21st Century Rock & Roll So Raw Your Heart Will Bleed as Your Feet Dance.
This is possibly/probably Barrence Whitfield’s 20th album; yet hardly anyone I know has ever heard of him but whenever he comes to Newcastle the gig is Sold Out weeks in advance. How Bizarre
I only own two of his previous albums, and they are his most recent, plus a Best of CD that a mate lovingly compiled a few years ago when I had a radio show; and in fairness I can’t even remember the last time I played any of them……but…….here’s the thing, I can also bore you with the minutiae of his last four visits to Newcastle (including a never to be forgot aftershow party at the Schooner pub!).
(SPOILER ALERT) But, I think that this latest release will change all of that; not just for me…..but the world at large.
From what I know of those older albums; they’ve never quite captured the magic and excitement of seeing Barrence Whitfield and the Savages in full flow on stage in a hot n sweaty club somewhere on the wrong side of town.
Then, halfway through the rip snorting red hot Rock & Roll of opening song Slowly Losing My Mind I found myself thinking “How on earth can they capture this on stage?” Trust me….they will find a way.
Barrence sounds as menacing as ever but the Savages to a man; have never sounded ‘fuller’ on record…..they sound like The Blues Brothers on Amphetamines; if such a thing is possible!
That sound carries on right though the album; especially with track #2 Pain and later Adorable both reminding this listener why our parents and Grandparents were frightened of Rock & Roll when we first heard our Elvis, Gene Vincent and Little Richard records…..this is scary music kids…..but oh so much fun.
Don’t for a nano-second think that this is a regressive record; Hell no! I found myself thinking of the MC5 and the Damned too, as well as more recent rockers like Foo Fighters as I inadvertently danced around the office to I Can’t Get No Ride and Sunshine Don’t Make No Sun which makes band like the Flamin’ Groovies and Rocket From The Crypt sound like teenyboppers.
I have always thought of Barrence Whitfield as the last real torch-bearer for Rhythm & Blues; but here he delves into his Punk Rock; Blues Rock and at times even Heavy, Heavy Rock heritage as the band swing through all superficial genres like an invading army, sweeping aside all that comes before them.
It’s fair to say SOUL FLOWERS OF TITAN has also made me smile more than any other record I’ve played in at least a year with Tall, Black and Bitter shaking my personal cobwebs off but Tingling and I’ll Be Home Someday have both restored my faith in S.O.U.L Music; proving that it doesn’t have to be just exist the domain of singers like Bruno Mars and John Legend to be sexy……this man makes even my heart skip a beat when he pours his own heart out.
But; it’s the uptempo songs like Edie Please, Adorable and the wondrous Let’s Go To Mars that will make this record a firm favourite in the Rocking Magpie Mobile for many years to come.
Then of course, after all of my hyperbole there is also one more song that I’ve absolutely fallen in love with……and that is my ‘Favourite Track’………the richly beautiful ballad Say What You Want that closes the album. Ooohee……you can easily imagine Barrence dropping down onto one knee as he pleads….pleads….pleads with his lover as a B3 Organ leads the band on a trip that will never be forgotten; or at least not at RMHQ.
I’ve been blown away by this album, and especially when I play it very loud in the car (Mrs. Magpie has banned it from the living room btw) and it not just shows a powerful shot of self-confidence from not just Barrence and the band, but the label it’s released on; as this is as uncommercial as anything else on the Bloodshot label….but in a quirky way, could be his most commercial album for decades as the World has been waiting for a sound like this to shake it to the core and make it dance, dance, dance across the Summer months.
Released 2nd March 2018
GOOD AS GOLD (Single)
It doesn’t seem 5 minutes since Sarah Shook released her fabulous album SIDELONG in 2017; but she hasn’t sat around wallowing in the glory of her reviews; no sirree Bub; Sarah is releasing the follow up YEARS on 6th April; and has let us have an early copy of the video for her lead single GOOD AS GOLD.
We love it and we are pretty sure you will too.
DON’T TALK ABOUT IT
Sharp, Strong and Spirited 21st Century Rock & Roll.
Some the most powerful and interesting music I’ve listened to over the last few years has come from the Females of the Species and no one record label has done more to support and promote strong and feisty women than Chicago’s Bloodshot Records; and yet again they have come up trumps with Australian born songstress Ruby Boots.
Leaving home aged 14 to pursue her dream of a career in music, Ms Boots has quite the backstory which certainly inhabits her songs. Nothing is spared on the opening track It’s So Cruel, a twisted and feisty love song (of sorts) that straddles Power-Pop and Glam with a side order of Alt-Country grit too.
This is followed by the wondrous Believe in Heaven, a multi-layered Rocker with Ruby breathlessly purring her lyrics over a thunderous piano and enough over-layered harmonies to wall paper the Sistine Chapel; and a cracking song it is too.
While very much ‘of the moment’ Ruby makes her ballads Break My Heart Twice and the feminist call to arms I Am A Woman sound absolutely timeless and make musical boundaries absolutely pointless.
First and foremost though Ruby Boots is one helluva ROCKER…..with I’ll Make It Through and Infatuation having the sensitivity of Lucinda or Tanya Tucker but the swagger of Suzi Quatro and Joan Jett too!
Choosing a ‘Favourite Track’ here is as difficult as ever; simply because everything has it’s merits and how do you compare the Poptastic title track DON’T TALK ABOUT IT with the all out Rocker Somebody Else and the classic Rocking and Rolling ballad Don’t Give a Damn? Each is a minor masterpiece and I am going to go for……..drum roll……Don’t Give a Damn as it probably does stand out from the crowd here and shows not just a singer on the cusp of stardom but a songwriter too.
One of the things I love most about Bloodshot is their ability to have a huge rosta of artists and no two sound alike; and in Ruby Boots they have discovered another gem who fits in perfectly well but compliments everyone else around her.
Released February 9th 2018
Low Cut Connie & Curse of Lono
Jumping Hot Club
The Cluny II
Friday 8th December 2017.
For a variety of work and family reasons I’ve hardly been to any gigs this year so I thought all cherries had dropped at once on the one armed bandit of music, when Mrs. Magpie’s health picked up quite dramatically in readiness for my ‘long weekend’ from work and both coincided with this amazing triple header at the Jumping Hot Club.
The evening got off to a wonderful start with ‘One time Australian’ and now full-time Geordie Gypsy Dave Smith made his annual appearance a the club. The only problem with Dave is that we take him for granted in his adopted home town. Everywhere else he appears in the UK and indeed Europe his is feted like the star he is and tonight his skills on a beautiful new Dobro coupled with his gruff voice were as raw and authentic Delta Blues as you will hear anywhere on Planet Earth.
With his debut album to promote (after only 50 years on the road!) he opened proceeding with a footstompin’ Don’t You Hear Jerusalem Moan; and the hair on the back of my neck stood on end and during Jacklyn I swear I saw sparks coming from the strings; so fast were his fingers.
The audience were still filtering in as he closed his 30 minute set by re-inventing Red Rooster; or at the very least took it right back to what it must have sounded like at its inception, leaving the a couple of people visibly stunned.
As Dave exited stage left, Curse of Lono appeared from stage right setting their gear up with well practised ease and after about 5 minutes were regaling us with the beautifully atmospheric Just My Head, which was received with rapturous applause as it weaved to an end.
Surprisingly (for me) this was followed by He Takes My Place which is by far my favourite song of theirs; and just like the rest of the set was a bit tighter and arguably even better than on record or when I saw them at SummerTyne.
As with Gypsy earlier Lono were still promoting their recent album; but still slid in a new song No Trouble (written 9 years ago about a young friend who died, but only recently recorded) and the twin guitars conjured up memories of the Flying Burrito Brothers; which bodes well for a possible new album.
Another song that has had a makeover since the Summer was I Need My Girl which now has swirling keyboards and Jaggeresque “Whoo-oohs” in the chorus.
Then, just when I was thinking things couldn’t get any better the finale, their (nearly) Hit Single Pick Up The Pieces was simply outstanding and what could sound finer than two Fender Jaguars sparking off each other?
It was nice to see a queue already forming at the merch desk as the band tidied their gear away too.
Low Cut Connie were actually new to me before this week; as I was attending to see Curse of Lono….but….Whahay……what a discovery!
Another very short intermission ended as the unfeasibly young looking band took to the stage when hardly anyone was watching and….BOOM….let rip like the Ramones on steroids, which certainly caught our attention then after a minute or so songwriter, singer and piano player extraordinaire Adam Weiner made his ‘entrance’ into the hall; glad-handing everyone in his path and whipping the crowd up into something of a frenzy.
As I said earlier I know nothing of the band so can’t tell you what they actually sung; although they ran through the whole Rock & Roll compass – fast and furious plus low down and dirty with a nice ballad here and there too; but for once that’s not really the point at this stage of their career winning hearts and minds across Europe……because this was a show…..an event….a night of memories.
The band were individually technically excellent and combined RED HOT; watching Weiner like hawks for key changes and the like; and Weiner? An amazing pianist, but primarily a showman…. looking and even sounding uncannily like a young Jerry Lee Lewis channelled via Fonzie. He couldn’t sit still; sliding beneath his chair, standing on it (and the piano top!) jumping into the crowd and dancing like a crazy person while never, ever missing a note!
On a night when Hall I next door was filled to capacity to see a Dr. Feelgood tribute band (or Dr. Feelgood as the cheekily call themselves) the smaller venue was sadly half full/half empty; but every single person there was blown away tonight and will bring three friends each, who will bring another four friends the next time Low Cut Connie come to town.
Photo sets –