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Sarah Shook

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.



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Ruby Boots
Bloodshot Records

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 at Jumping Hot Club, Newcastle

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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.

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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.

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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… event….a night of memories.

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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 –

RMHQ Readers Top 20 Reviews of 2017

rmhq 2017 rEADERS tOP 20
Ho Ho Ho; ’tis the season to be Merry and all that stuff; but it’s also the Season to produce Annual Top 10’s on websites like RMHQ, so being the awkward so & so’s we are we are producing two Top 10’s; with one being my own personal Top 10 Albums of 2017 and because we have reviewed 312 Albums, singles, books and concerts this year…….the Annual RMHQ Readers Top 10 as judged by actual hits/reads will be a Top 20!!

So……tada (drum roll)…in reverse order… is the Rocking Magpie Readers Top 20 Albums of 2017 as read by you lovely people.

20) Grainne Duffy – WHERE I BELONG.
19) Stephen Fearing – EVERY SOUL’S A SAILOR
18) Mark Eitzel – HEY MR. FERRYMAN
17) Trevor Sewell – CALLING NASHVILLE
16) Orphan Brigade – HEART OF THE CAVE
15) The Flaming Groovies – FANTASTIC PLANET
14) The Haley Sisters – ALWAYS BY MY SIDE
13) Project Mama Earth – MAMA EARTH
12) The Raspberries – POP ART (LIVE)
11) Sam Baker – LAND OF DOUBT
09) Rodney Crowell – CLOSE TIES
08) Will Hoge – ANCHORS
07) Colin James – BLUE HIGHWAYS
06) Danny & The Champions of the World – BRILLIANT LIGHT
04) Prosecco Socialist – THIS DOG’S FOR LIFE
03) Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real – SELF TITLED
02) Martin Stephenson & The Daintees – BAYSWATER ROAD

Honourable mentions also go to…….
*Bruce Foxton – SMASH THE CLOCK. (2016 winner but still pulled enough votes to come in at #12!!)
*Blackberry Smoke – Rock & Roll Again (Video) just kept getting watched 2 years after being posted.
* Heather Lynne Horton – DON’T MESS WITH MRS. MURPHY (4 x great days)
* Pickxen – PICKS & VITTLES (Unknown outside their own backyard but the hits kept coming all year)
* Mick Wynne – WORLD OF MICK (Another unknown ‘local musician’ who had an amazing month on the RMHQ Charts)
* Bap Kennedy – RECKLESS HEART (The legend lives on)

As always the Top 20 (plus 6) highlight how eclectic The Rocking Magpie is. I/We just love music regardless of genre……which is why we listen to as much as possible hopefully bringing you your new most favourite album of all time, or at least piquing your interest.

Seasons Greetings.

Alan XXX

Jesse Dayton at Jumping Hot Club Gosforth

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Jesse Dayton
Jumping Hot Club
Gosforth Civic Theatre

27 Oct 2017.

Getting to go to gigs on Friday nights are becoming a very rare commodity these days, but the prospect of seeing local Rock & Rolling legends the Sour Mash Trio alongside Jesse Dayton was far too good an opportunity to miss.
First of all this is a brand new venue for promoters The Jumping Hot Club; but I guess won’t be the last time they circle the wagons here……great stage, great sound and two well staffed bars…..what’s not to like?
Far too easily pigeon-holed as a Rockabilly act, the Sour Mash lads got off to a reelin’ and a rockin’ start with Sugar Daddy, a staple of their act for several years now and has matured nicely; as have others like Drinking Spree and An Empty Bottle (and a Broken Heart) which I remember playing many years ago in their raw demo forms on my old Sunday night Wireless Broadcasts.
With songs this good there’s very little reason to fill out the set with covers, like they used to do; but tonight they did slip in two. One, a Buddy Holly song I didn’t recognise gave new guitarist the incredibly young looking Joe Guillan the opportunity to really, really show what a brilliant and smart guitarist he is (and always has been!).
Although probably too old in the tooth for Global Domination, there’s no reason these three crazy kids shouldn’t go into the studio and record an album of their own self-penned songs some time soon……I know I already receive a helluva lot worse from ‘name’ acts.
Bizarrely I’d passed Jesse Dayton in the foyer earlier in the evening and not recognised him; thinking he was just one of the local Rockabilly crowd…..DOH!
So, no fancy stage clothes for Jesse and his fellow band members; just double denim that looked like it hadn’t been washed since they left home and their biker boots certainly needed a polish (does that make me sound old?).
With no into and the house lights still dimming Jesse called out “1-2-3-4!” and BOOM they ripped into Daddy Is a Badass from the Revealer album and within a minute 5 couples were dancing at the back of the hall, and plenty of chaps were shuffling their feet near the bar.
That song felt like someone sticking the key into a classic Harley, of which Dayton is so fond of mentioning and the monster rumble just got louder and sweeter as the night went on.
With no time for anyone to catch breath, least of all the trio on the stage they immediately launched into an incendiary Holy Ghost Rock & Roller before finally slowing things down with the heartfelt The Way We Are; which is about the trials and tribulations of being a troubadour Bar Band.
After a lifetime on the road (with Waylon, Cash, Willie and Ray Price) Dayton isn’t shy on a stage and has a presence worthy of much bigger venues than he’s playing on this tour (with tonight’s 100+ being the biggest crowd so far!) and his stories that introduced the likes of Possum Ran Over My Grave and 3 Pecker Goat were as funny as they were self-depreciating; leaving me thinking “I wouldn’t mind having a beer in his company.”
Pretty much the whole of The Revealer got played tonight; and the inclusion of the beautiful Mrs. Victoria (a Beautiful Thing) would have been a highlight on any other night but this evening, Dayton’s song about inter-racial tolerance coincidentally came on the weekend Newcastle was celebrating the 50th Anniversary of Martin Luther King being given the Freedom of our Multi-Cultural city; and coupled with all of the crazy things happening in the States these days…’s a very relevant song indeed 10/10.
What more can I say? I half expected a gang of Biker Dudes to march in during Devil’s On The Front Porch and there was a battle of wills between the drummer and bass-player on a ‘White Trash, honky-tonker that is shorter than a Ramones song’ which I missed the title of!
But mostly this was a night for dancing and loving, with the sultry Loretta and the dirty swampy song from True Blood were absolute highlights; but the song I was singing out loud in the car on the way home was I’m At Home Getting Hammered (While She’s Out Getting Nailed)……..Friday nights just don’t get better than this (at my age.)
If you don’t already know Jesse Dayton check out The Revealer and if you get the chance to see him and his band play live…..take it….he is and they are The Real Deal!

Photo-Set courtesy Harrisonaphotos

Strange Blue Dreams Self-Titled CD

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Strange Blue Dreams
Holy Smokes Records

Eleven Sweet Little Rock & Roll Vignettes To Make Your Heart Rejoice.

Where do start? The opening of the envelope, I suppose…….neither the CD cover nor the bands name took my fancy when I first perused the contents; and the PR who sent it is primarily known for Folk Music rather than the Roots/Americana/Country I normally favour; so things didn’t get off to a very good beginning. But…..there’s always a ‘but’……there was an intriguing photo of a quirkilly dressed beat combo set inside a vintage TV on the Press Release; which I normally don’t look at so early.
So; into the CD Player it went…….crackles, pops and whizzes came out of the speaker until a velvety male voice began ‘Ooohing and aahhhing” before crooning “This City got electricity /for the first time/when you came to me,” in a style reminiscent of Billy Fury, and the band sound quality too. The song, Electricity just blew me away……I’d not heard anything like it since…..maybe my Rock n Roll period in the mid 70’s when Showaddywaddy ruled the British airwaves.
WOW and WOAH…..the second track Reverberatin’ Love is full of Duane Eddy ‘Twang’ guitar; coupled to singer David Addison’s classy voice crooning again…..yes…..he croons; and croons in a way that will makes ladies go weak at the knees.
That was it for me……I immediately went onto Twitter declaring my undying love for The Strange Blue Dreams…..and nothing has changed in the ensuing three weeks.
What I love most about this album is the glorious ‘Retro’ feel to it; but instead of going for the obligatory Eddie Cochran/Gene Vincent 90 MPH sort of Rock and Roll, these five lads from Glasgow Town have opened a secret door on 1960’s British Rock & Roll with added Country tones and even a bit of Swing at one stage ; pretty much the music I grew up with, and I’m pleased to say they do themselves proud.
The album title makes an appearance in The Ballad of the Sun and the Moon; which sounds like it should have been on the soundtrack to an Alan Ladd Western; and if Quentin Tarantino hears it; it may still make an appearance in a film in the future.
It’s difficult for me not to just list every track with my notes next to the title; as everything is here on merit – All hits……no shit!
Even Mrs. Magpie looked up from her magazine one evening when the delicious Pretending Everything came on; and I don’t blame her for nodding her head along with the pleasing Waltz like tune and sweet lyrics.
This Twilight Zone isn’t the TV Theme; it’s actually got a bit of a Hawaiian lilt to it; and a set of lyrics that will make you want to cuddle the love of your life, and sway along long into the night.
There’s no denying that these songs are what they are because of singer David Addison’s unique voice; but the other four lads; Ross Wilson, Duncan Kennedy, David Rae and Richard Anderson ain’t no slouches either, they not only play their respective instruments like Nashville’s finest but know when to let the song takeover and not swamp the vocals; which says a lot for their lac of ego as this is a self-produced album.
No ‘one trick ponies’ they aren’t afraid to dabble in the Pop side of this iconic sound; with the glorious Up To The Stars and Jungle Drums which must be a hoot when heard live.
Picking a ‘favourite track’ has proved a nightmare; as last week it was Lyrebird, a quirky song unlike anything else here, and this morning it was the Film-Noir enhanced That’s The Place (I’m Falling) but I’m going for……..Towards The Warm Place; a Buddy Holly (or Shakin’ Stevens if you are my generation) influenced toe-tapping beauty that has actually had me dancing as I listened; until I saw my reflection!
Don’t let the band’s name nor the weird artwork on the album cover put you off; as they nearly did me…..because this group and their debut album are……bloody amazing from start to finish!
Released October 20th 2017


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JD McPherson
New West Records

It’s Not Just Rock & Roll; And I Like It!

It only seems like 5 minutes since Signs and Signifiers was released and JD McPherson was the ‘bright new thing’ of Rock & Roll; here we are 6 years later and he is releasing his third album.
A lot has happened in the intervening years; McPherson appears to be conquering the USA one town at a time and the music just gets better and better.
UNDIVIDED HEART & SOUL opens with a crashing guitar chord followed by JD going into his best Roy Orbison meets Ritchie Valens crooning mode, as he plays some raw and almost dirty guitar licks.
It’s fair to say he hasn’t rested on his laurels in the last couple of years; as his songwriting has certainly matured, with Crying’s Just a Thing That You Do and Style (Is a Losing Game) is pure R& R but shows a new and more melodic direction than his previous releases.
McPherson’s ballads are pure romance on vinyl; with Hunting For Sugar and Jubilee owing a lot more to the Everly Brothers than Elvis.
Don’t worry though…..the kid still makes his guitar growl and moan on the Diddleylicious Bloodhound Rock, then later on Under The Spell of The City Lights he combines a Hank B Marvin groove with a sizzling vocal performance.
While I adore quality Rock & Roll, it’s no good playing the same chords over and over again for fifty years; as Buddy Holly showed in his all too brief career. McPherson certainly knows and appreciates his heritage, but I’m thrilled to see and hear him not alienating his core fan-base; but still having the nerve to move out of the safety-zone with Indie influenced tracks like Let’s Get Out of Here While We’re Young and the fabulous Style (Is Just a Losing Game) which is good enough to be a crossover/breakout hit (or whatever the hip kids call these things).
That last song was very nearly our ‘favourite track’ but we’re going for the classy Lucky Penny, because it has a little bit of everything that is great about this album all rolled into a catchy 3 and a half minutes of unclouded heartbreak.
This another one of those albums that is cool and commercial in equal measures; which is quite an achievement in an industry that craves one or the other but very rarely both.

Released 6th October 2017


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Lauren Ruth Ward

She might be new to us here at RMHQ but we’ve fallen in love with Lauren Ruth Ward’s straight-up, no-nonsense Rock & Roll single WELL HELL this morning. An exhilarating high speed journey in the spirit of the 70’s Rock we loved as school kids, that just grabs your full attention from the very first note; Lauren’s smoky yet electrifying voice hits you in the face and leave you wanting for more of her cheeky, timeless lyrics and incredible energy.

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… 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