Howlin’ Ric & The Rocketeers WAITIN’ BY THE DANCEFLOOR

Howlin’ Ric & The Rocketeers

Rock & Roll is Here To Stay, Courtesy of Yorkshire’s Finest Purveyors!

‘Happenstance’ is a weird thing!
A month ago, my brother was asking about the different types of music I review and I casually mentioned that ‘I hardly ever got to hear Good Ole Rock & Roll’; and just before he left I checked my e-mails and there was this very album from Yorkshire’s finest purveyors of Rock & Roll, Rhythm & Blues and even Swing; waiting to download! #Spooky
Before I dive right in; I have to tell you that ‘this type of music’ receives more nit-picking complaints than everything else put together! The lovers of Rock & Roll and all it’s offshoots are very, very protective of their niches and when I get the minutiae wrong …….. Oh Boy are they quick to tell me.
Opening track; the red hot Our Lovin’ Days are Through gets the party started with nods and winks to classic singers Eddie Cochran and Gene Vincent on a break-up song that will have both protagonists dancing the night away as soon as the tears dry.
This is followed by Ric showing his range by metaphorically dropping down onto one knee to actually croon I’m Coming Home; and there won’t be a dry in the house when you hear this for the first time.
I’ve seen and heard some stinkers over the years from singers and bands ‘attempting’ Rock and Roll; but just looking at their photos, shows you that Howlin’ Ric & The Rocketeers are indeed the Real Deal and as authentic as anyone can be in the 21st Century; and their rabble rousing anthems Hard To Please, Leg Shakin’ Mama and Shake It show that these cats know their history but can add their own distinctive swagger to a style of music that was first in vogue when their Grandparents were hoppin’ and Boppin’ on a Saturday night.
While the high energy songs are generally the most memorable here; not least because they have had me shaking my own tail-feather in the kitchen at one time or another; but it’s the bands slower smoochier songs that I’ve actually fallen head over heals in love.
Take My Hand will make even the coolest of be-quiffed cats swoon, as Ric goes all ‘Dion DiMucci’ as the band delve deep into the sweet end of the love song canon; and when Ben Powling slides in his sax solo you will find yourself holding your breath so as not to miss a heartbreaking note.
Songwriters never fail to astound me; as I’m constantly staggered that after all these years and millions of individual songs they can still come up with new ideas and twists on hoary old themes that make you think Rock Music must have been invented last Thursday.
Here Howlin’ Ric finds something special in the unrequited love song, Joan Glover that made me check out the label to see who wrote it; and it was he! It was similar with the two songs that are squabbling for the title of RMHQ Favourite Song; the fragile and beautiful ballad Whatever Happened To That Girl has been a contender since Day #1; but the good time Jive of Hard To Please, which may or may not be dedicated to Mrs. Magpie in the sleeve notes has slowly won me over; and it finally takes the title after a hard fought battle.
This cracking and crackling album also gives me the opportunity to moan and groan about one of my biggest gripes …….. Covers Bands! While I have no issue with people making a living in this lucrative market; it’s the fans who will tell you that “I love Rock & Roll/Rockabilly/Country/Blues” or whatever; when what they mean is “I own two Various Artist albums from K-Tel” and “I am prepared to travel up to two miles to see a Covers Band play for free in a pub on a Friday night.”
Show some gumption and discover the delights of exciting young bands like Howlin’ Ric & The Rocketeers who write their very own songs and are the ones who really are keeping the Rock & Roll Flame alive!!!

Released November 14th 2019

Davina and the Vagabonds SUGAR DROPS

Davina & the Vagabonds
Sugar Drops
Compass Records

Bringing The Good Times Back on a Sure Fire Game Changer!

Although it was in 2012, I can still distinctly remember the night I ‘discovered’ the wondressness that is Davina and the Vagabonds at the Jumpin’ Hot Club in Newcastle which is now in my Top 10 gigs of all time; and their headline appearance on the JHC Outside Stage at SummerTyne at couple of years later certainly runs it close.
Unashamedly ‘traditional’ and even ‘old fashioned’ in the way Davina & The Vagabonds go about their business breathing new life into New Orleans Jazz infused Swing, you forget everything that’s on the other side of the door when this larger than life character enters your life.
While 99% of what happens live and on record revolves around the Divine Miss D, be under no illusions kiddies, this is very much a Band effort with a capital B.
This latest album opens with Bone Collection; a bit of a leftfield love song in the style of Satchmo or a young Ella, with Davina Lozier (nee Sowerby) deftly making the piano break your heart as Zack Lozier makes the clarinet cool for the first ever time!
Love, heartbreak and redemption are the obvious golden threads that weave through every song here; and Davina’s songwriting is undoubtedly up there with best of her contempories today; with the swoonsome Mr. Big Talker and Another Lonely Place sounding as if they wouldn’t have been out of place on an album by Ella, Dusty or Amy, such is their majesty and the single Little Miss Sunshine has quite rightly been a radio hit across the world.
Then, there’s the title track Sugar Drops with Davina underplaying some rather beautiful piano playing as she shows what a wonderful singer she really is under all the hoopla and facial shenanigans that we associate with her.
My copy of this album is as a download, but for once I understand where the Vinyl Fetishists are coming from; as songs like I Can’t Believe I Let You Go and Magic Kisses, with Zack Lozier trying to blow his larynx out on trumpet extraordinaire deserve your full attention and will only benefit from the drama of placing the record on a turntable then having to turn it over to hear the rest.
While this an old fashioned Long Player (with some very commercial singles too) there is one particular song stands out like a bright red poppy. I’m going to make a brave statement now …….. with only a modicum of airplay and judicial TV Appearances, Devil Horns will be a Game Changer for Davina and The Vagabonds as it has all the hallmarks of becoming a modern day classic, and the cute inclusion of Ring of Fire’ by the horn section halfway through does it no harm at all.
I’ve been a fan for 7 years now and SUGAR DROPS just may be the break-out album that Davina and the Vagabonds have worked so very hard at to deserve.
Fingers crossed.

Released August 2nd 2019

Blue Note Records 80th Anniversary Vinyl Reissue Series.

Blue Note Records are Set To Release a Vinyl Reissue Series In Celebration Of Their 80th Anniversary.

In honor of Blue Note Records’ 80th anniversary, the legendary Jazz label is launching the Blue Note 80 Vinyl Reissue Series.
Distinct from the Tone Poet Audiophile Vinyl Reissue Series, this 2nd series, curated by Don Was and Cem Kurosman, features mid-priced 180g vinyl releases in standard packaging with albums spanning the many eras of the label’s history presented by themes: Blue Note Debuts, Blue Grooves, Great Reid Miles Covers, Blue Note Live, and Blue Note Drummer Leaders.
The series launches on May 10th with the reissue of 3 Blue Note debuts—Herbie Hancock Takin’ Off,
Dexter Gordon Doin’ Allright
Robert Glasper Canvas

and will continue with 3 albums released each month for the coming year.

Blue Note 80 Vinyl Reissue Series:

May 10 – Blue Note Debuts, Part 1

&#8226                       Dexter Gordon – Doin’ Allright (1961)
&#8226                       Herbie Hancock – Takin’ Off (1962)
&#8226                       Robert Glasper – Canvas (2005)

June 14 – Blue Note Debuts, Part 2

&#8226                       Johnny Griffin – Introducing Johnny Griffin(1956)
&#8226                       Freddie Hubbard – Open Sesame (1960)
&#8226                       Grant Green – Grant’s First Stand (1961)

July 12 – Blue Grooves, Part 1

&#8226                       Lonnie Smith – Think! (1968)
&#8226                       Reuben Wilson – Blue Mode (1969)
&#8226                       Bobbi Humphrey – Blacks And Blues (1973)

August 9 – Blue Grooves, Part 2

&#8226                       Lou Donaldson Alligator Bogaloo (1967)
&#8226                       Donald Byrd Ethiopian Knights (1971)
&#8226                       John Scofield Hand Jive (1993)

September 13 – Great Reid Miles Covers, Part 1

&#8226                       Freddie Hubbard – Hub-Tones (1962)
&#8226                       Kenny Dorham – Una Mas (1963)

&#8226                       Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers –Indestructible (1964)

October 11 – Great Reid Miles Covers, Part 2

&#8226                       Jutta Hipp – Jutta Hipp with Zoot Sims (1956)
&#8226                       Herbie Hancock – Inventions & Dimensions(1963)
&#8226                       Joe Henderson – In ‘n Out (1964)

November 8 – Blue Note Live, Part 1

&#8226                       Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers Meet You at the Jazz Corner of the World (1960)
&#8226                       Horace Silver Doin’ The Thing (1961)
&#8226                       Grant Green Alive! (1970)

December 13 – Blue Note Live, Part 2

&#8226                       Jimmy Smith – Groovin’ At Smalls’ Paradise(1957)
&#8226                       Lonnie Smith – Live at Club Mozambique (1970)
&#8226                       Lee Konitz – Alone Together (1996)

January 10, 2020 – Drummer Leaders, Part 1

&#8226                       Art Blakey & The Jazz Messengers – Buhaina’s
Delight (1961)
&#8226                       Pete La Roca – Basra (1965)
&#8226                       Tony Williams – Foreign Intrigue (1985)

February 14, 2020 – Drummer Leaders, Part 2

&#8226                       Art Taylor – A.T.’s Delight (1960)
&#8226                       Elvin Jones – Mr. Jones (1972)
&#8226                       Brian Blade – Brian Blade Fellowship (1997)

March 13, 2020 – Great Reid Miles Covers, Part 3

&#8226                       Jackie McLean – A Fickle Sonance (1961)
&#8226                       Dexter Gordon – A Swingin’ Affair (1962)
&#8226                       Lee Morgan – The Rumproller (1965)

April 10, 2020 – Great Reid Miles Covers, Part 4

&#8226                       Andrew Hill – Smokestack (1963)
&#8226                       Kenny Dorham – Trompeta Toccata (1964)
&#8226                       Larry Young – Into Somethin’ (1964)

‘Jazz Reference’ series Re-Released.

‘Jazz Reference’ series
BMG Records

Available for the first time on vinyl (and CD) with brand new artwork by Seb Jarnot; featuring Chet Baker, Count Basie, Dinah Washington, Django Reinhardt, Frank Sinatra, Lester Young, Louis Armstrong, Miles Davies, Nat King Cole, Oscar Peterson, Sarah Vaughan, Sidney Bechet, Stan Getz and Thelonious Monk

The ‘Jazz Reference’ series was originally created by Francis Dreyfus at the very start of the 21st century. This incredible catalogue regrouped the biggest names in Jazz at a groundbreaking sound quality.

Almost twenty years later it is still perceived as one of the best ever created. To help a new generation rediscover this amazing collection, BMG is reissuing a carefully curated selection of these releases. This series will available for the first time on vinyl, and all formats display a brand new artwork from Seb Jarnot, exclusively created for this special reissue.

Having released the first selection of 14 titles in 2018 with praise from Jazzwise, MOJO, Record Collector, the Guardian, The Financial Times, The Daily Express, BBC Music Magazine and more, the series now continues with a further 14 new reissues from the collection including inimitable legends such as Thelonious Monk, Miles Davis, Chet Baker, Oscar Peterson, Stan Getz, Frank Sinatra, Count Basie and many more.

Speaking about the collection on it’s original release, the late Francis Dreyfus, said:

“Since my early childhood, I’ve been crazy about Jazz. This childhood fascination is what inspired me to create Dreyfus Jazz.
I am releasing these masterpieces in order to discover, through another perspective, a collection of the most beautiful tracks ever recorded before 1960 by the biggest and most renowned creators of the lively and flawless language of jazz.

Who is this anthology for?

It’s for those who already love Jazz, and for those who will find great pleasure in re-discovering it, thanks to the sound quality that is unexpected and unequaled. It’s also for the younger generation who don’t yet realize that they are going to love this music that burnt down from its creative violence and its jubilant swing throughout the entire twentieth century.
First, I had to achieve the near impossible: “Break the wall of sound” in order to enhance the already sublime tracks of yesterday… to make them sound as though they’d been recorded yesterday. Thanks to technological information storage and the resolute research of exceptional sound engineer René Ameline (with never ending passion and patience) it was possible to give a “new youth” to the voice of Ella and Billie, and to offer an unheard freshness to formidable improvisations by Louis Armstrong and Coleman Hawkins. We have included the best sources, the best songs, the best documents and there were no “second takes” or “false starts”.

I wanted to start from the original signals inscribed deeply in the wax, to enlarge and enrich the entire sound spectrum until it was inaudible and mute. It was necessary to carefully clean each chosen song, meaning that every useless scratch and annoying click had to be wiped, whilst avoiding stripping away the original grainy sound. With this we were able to achieve a more spacious sound, offering more depth and fullness compared to the original 78 record collection. The result is spectacular!
This collection is truly unique. From the will of a passionate perfectionist who manifested its conception like bearing a child, it was championed by a team of specialists who are lovers of jazz in all its dimensions: Claude Carrière, Noël Hervé and Daniel Nevers.

To really define the spirit of this adventure, which has lasted almost two years, I cannot think of a better way to conclude but to quote Claude Debussy: “Finally, a savage music with modern comfort”!”

Full list of 14 titles:

Chet Baker – Easy To Love
Count Basie – Swinging The Blues
Dinah Washington – Blues for a Day
Django Reinhardt – Souvenirs
Frank Sinatra – I’ve Got You Under My Skin
Lester Young – Blues Lester
Louis Armstrong – Fireworks
Miles Davies – Milestones
Nat King Cole – For Sentimental Reasons
Oscar Peterson – Get Happy
Sarah Vaughan – Lover Man 
Sidney Bechet – Summertime
Stan Getz – Imagination
Thelonious Monk – Misterioso

Due out 31st May 2019

Dom & The Ikos – Live (and Loose) at the Hippodrome


Dom & The Ikos
Live (and Loose) at the Hippodrome
Hambone Records

A Little Bit of New Orleans From Deep in the Heart of London Town.

Dom & The Ikos have been a firm favourite at RM Towers for a couple of years now; and their live shows are truly something to behold; so it was with baited breathe when we opened this package last week.
First of all the colourful artwork on the CD cover is certainly eye catching and goes some way to proving my Mam wrong; as you can judge this CD by the cover!
Opening track is the Iko’s jazzy and jaunty interpretation of Hank Williams’ Jambalaya; OK Country purists will probably get an attack of the vapours if they hear this; but I rather like this version.
Next up is a slow and soulful rendition of the Allen Toussaint classic; Get Out of My Life Woman; with Dom sounding like a smoother version of Georgie Fame; if I’m not mistaken.
Only two songs and we are already 15 minutes into the concert; but that’s what you get with the Iko’s; if a tune is worth playing; it’s also worth riffing on.
As usual there is very little between song chat; apart from the perfunctory odd introduction; but hey….it’s the music we want, not chatter.
Although this concert was recorded in 2014 (13th March to be precise) the band sound a lot more ‘mature’ and even ‘focused’ than some of the gigs I’ve seen; and tracks like Pipkin’s own Nothing But the Blues and my personal favourite Skinny Man Skank actually benefit from that approach; plus it makes for a live album that bears repeated plays; which is a bonus in my opinion.
The album comes in at just over an hour long and I presume audience applause has been judiciously edited out; as the likes of Those Lonely, Lonely Nights must surely have garnered a standing ovation, surely?
A wonderful concert comes to a close with Dom and the Iko’s tipping their collective hats to their mentor, Professor Longhair as they showcase their collective talents on a raucous and musically perfect Mardi Gras in New Orleans.
Then the evening is wrapped up with their signature tune….Iko Iko; which had me tapping my feet; so I can only imagine that the dance-floor was jam packed with people shimmying, shaking and shuffling along to the finest New Orleans band never to come from Louisiana.

Released March 21st 2016