Category Archives: Album

SMITHS LEGEND MORRISSEY BACK WITH NEW SOLO ALBUM AND HOLLYWOOD BOWL SHOW: HOW TO SCORE PRESALE TICKETS

English singer Steven Patrick Morrissey is better known by his stage name “Morrissey,” and he shot to fame as the singer with 1980’s alternative band The Smiths. Morrissey captured the attention of a worldwide audience, but The Smiths music resonated most strongly with those in his native Manchester. Morrissey’s lyrics reflected the lives of working class youth in England and his dry, acerbic wit, and his political views hit out at the establishment and at Margaret Thatcher’s brand of politics. With songs like “Heaven Knows I’m Miserable Now” Morrissey’s lyrics were downbeat and hard-hitting, a theme that continued into his solo work after The Smiths broke up in 1987.

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NEW ALBUM ‘STRENGTH OF A WOMAN’ SETS MARY J. BLIGE FREE FROM DRUGS, DIVORCE AND HER CHEATING PROTÉGÉ

Soul singer Mary J. Blige is back with a new 2017 album Strength Of A Woman. Released on April 28, Strength Of A Woman is a powerful and emotional record that deals with hard hitting topics, and it is Blige’s first releases since 2014’s The London Sessions. According to Vulture, Strength Of A Woman is essentially Mary J. Blige’s “divorce record.”

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Muddy Summers

Muddy Summers And The Dirty Field Whores – Under Cover

Muddy Summers and her Dirty Field Whores have recently released a 7 track EP of cover versions and a very interesting selection of songs it is too.

Muddy Summers is of course know and loved by many in her other persona as Gail Something – Else, she of the Something-Else tea tent and a series of grassroots music festivals.  Whilst at this years Something-Else-In-The Dean music festival I was listening to here band in the company of some friends when one friend (who shall remain nameless) remarked “This band are great, Gail’s isn’t the best but it all seems to work”.  I had that comment in mind when I sat down to listen to the EP (or mini-album).

Lets get that issue out of the way first off.  When Gail sings she does have a limited range.  This however is not a bad thing.  When you listen to the way these songs are interpreted I hope you will understand what i mean.  Gail’s voice is slightly gruff, a little breathy and throaty, she paces the songs slowly and they are delivered with feeling.  Now when I say here range is limited she sticks to the key she is comfortable with.  She doesn’t attempt vocal gymnastics.  When I say her range is limited it is limited in the same way as Eliza Carthy’s range is limited.  I was reminded of Carthy as I listened.  If you are not familiar with Eliza think Marlene Dietrich or Marianne Faithful.  A limited range didn’t do any of them any harm.

Next to the musicianship; I can sum this up in two words, excellent throughout!  The album is largely acoustic, guitar, banjo, accordion, harmonica and keyboards being the main players.  It is all played sympathetically and with feeling, entirely in keeping with the mood of the whole piece.

The songs:  Opener ‘Bella Ciao’ has a distinctly Mediterranean feel which is entirely in keeping with its roots as an italian anti-fascist folk song, I suspect this version has it roots in the version released   on Chumbawamba’s acoustic album A Singsong and a Scrap.

Next up is a nice version of the Inner Terrestrials anti violence anthem Battlefield.  The Smugglers Song is a musical interpretation of a Rudyard Kipling poem which has been a staple folk song in Norfolk and elsewhere for some time.  Devon’s Show of Hands used large tracts of the poem on the track ‘The Napoli’ on their Arrogance, Ignorance and Greed album.  I really liked this version as it carries a lot of the menace that coming up against a team of smugglers would have carried in Kipling’s day.

Finger’s is a cover of a song by ‘Les Carter’s’ Abdoujaparov and ‘Wind Blows’ a cover of a song by Jonny Daniels from Pure Evil.  So five great tracks by a litany of great bands but it has to be said that this EP saves the best for last.  The final two tracks are simply brilliant.  The first is a cover of the brilliant Doozer  McDooze’s “Ain’t gonna beg for this’ and the final track is a superb cover of a ‘Funke and the Two Tone Baby’ track ‘Tomorrow Brings a Better Day’.  This is a quite brilliant cover, the highlight of the whole piece for me is a section where the lyrics are whispered over a plucked guitar part.  It is simply superb.

Now lets get serious for a moment.  Gail Something-Else runs her Tea Tent and her grassroots festivals for a reason that in my humble opinion is beyond reproach.  She gives artists a platform to perform.  In an era when it is increasingly difficult for musicians to get a break Gail does all she can, and a little bit more, to give musicians an opportunity to showcase their talents.  The project has been a huge success, so much so that Gail now needs to expand and improve her facilities.  This EP is released as a fundraising project.  If, like me, you believe in what Gail is doing then, go here and spend a couple of quid on this great EP.

Better still go here and make a donation to help this brilliant project.

Beans on Toast – The Grand Scheme of Things

Jay McAllister is an uncompromising UK based folk singer, better known to his fans as Beans on Toast.  His uncompromising, down to earth style combined with reverent lyrics delivered with a sense of fun has won him legions of fans up and down the country.  To date he has released 5 albums, appeared at numerous festivals, including several appearances at Glastonbury, and toured with his friend, collaborator and label mate Frank Turner.

2014 has been quite a year for Beans, he has played to his biggest audiences to date, he is currently out on a headlining tour which covers the length and breadth of the UK, he has become engaged to Lizzy Bee and today, 1st December sees the release of his 6th album ‘The Grand Scheme of Things’.  The album, as is his tradition is released on his birthday.Beans on Toast-10

McAllister has never shied away from difficult subjects and ‘The Grand Scheme of Things’ is no different in that respect.  Sex, drugs, politics and social affairs all get a run out in his usual no-holds-barred style.  He tackles the political agendas of UKIP & Russell Brand in ‘Whole Lot of Loving’ alongside his experiences of being shunted between London areas by ever-increasing gentrification-generated rent hikes (‘All I See Is Wagamama’) with his customary irreverent nous.

Whilst Beans has undoubtably kept his political edge and sense of fun ‘The Grand Scheme of Things’ does take a couple of interesting new turns.  He shows his more tender side by expressing his love of Lizzy and of home life in ‘Lizzy’s Cooking’ and in ‘New Orleans Honeymoon’, an interesting turn for a man who regaled us with stories of recreational drug taking.

His touring in the USA  has clearly influenced his sound on this album, several songs have a distinct Country feel, most notable in ‘Fuck you Nashville’ which tells the story of his experiences touring in the USA.  I guess we shouldn’t be surprised by this as Beans has always written about what he observes in his everyday life.  This is amply demonstrated in the hilarious look at animal welfare in the ‘Chicken Song’.  Make no mistake, it may be amusing but there is a very clear message about the dangers of modern farming methods.

‘The Grand Scheme of Things’ features and was produced by Sam Beer who taught Beans on Toast his first song on the guitar over eighteen years ago on a camping holiday in SBeans on Toastpain.  It also features contributions from  Will Varley who is supporting Beans on his current tour.  It is certainly true that the Grand Scheme of things takes a different track but what hasn’t changed is Beans on Toast’s unrivalled ability to tell a tale, his no holds barred social commentary and his ability to tackle difficult subjects from an everyday point of view. He continues to deliver his thoughts with honesty, humour belief and passion.   This is an album that broadens his musical horizons, it will delight his fans and doubtless win him many new ones.

Tracklisting

1. Folk Singer 2. The War on War 3. Fuck You Nashville 4. The Chicken Song 5. Stinging Nettles 6. Lizzy’s Cooking 7. A Whole Lot of Loving 8. Flying Clothes Line 9. All I see is Wagamama 10. NOLA Honeymoon 11. NYE

 

75 Essential Albums – Day #58 – Killing Joke

Here goes with day 58 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

Killing Joke – Killing Joke

Killing Joke are a British Hardcore band and their eponymous album was released in 1980, self produced and was considered ‘underground’ when it was released.  Killing Joke were formed in 1979 by ‘Jaz’ Coleman, ‘Geordie’ Walker, Martin Glover and Paul Henderson.  From the start they were way outside the mainstream, like nothing else around at the time.  I guess that in today’s music scene they would be categorised as ‘industrial’.  With screaming guitars and throbbing Synths they blended hardcore punk with tribal rhythms, punk rage and reggae Baselines to create something unique.

Killing Joke feels akin to how you would imagine the the world after nuclear holocaust, it  is bleak, fiery and disturbing.  Ferguson once described their music as “the sound of the earth vomiting” and opener Requiem demonstrates why he would say this.  Pulsing synth and thick heavily distorted guitar set the scene, add a thumping bass drum and the tension climbs until Coleman’s vocal adds to the mood with pure aggression.  Wardance is faster with shrieking guitars and a tribal drum & bass beat.

Side 2 opens with The Wait which is probably better known for Metallica’s cover version on the Garage Days album.  A heavy lead from the rhythm section sets the tone until suddenly breaks into an oasis of a chorus, with Jaz singing the single word ‘wait’ over and over again.  Complication is an incredible piece of heavy punk, full of anger and aggression and for my money the best track on the album.  The album ends with Primitive, guitar driven over a funky-tribal rhythm and punctuated by sudden stops. It is great stuff and a must for Hardcore Punk and Industrial fans alike.

As always thanks for dropping by my blog.  if you like what you read please hit the like button or leave a comment.  If you don’t like what you read then please leave a comment explaining why 🙂

75 Essential Albums – Day #57 – Bob Dylan

Here goes with day 57 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

Bob Dylan – Desire

Desire was Dylan’s 17th Studio album and one of his most collaborative.  Many of the tracks feature the musicians involved in the ‘Rolling Thunder Review’ and vocals from Emmylou Harris.  In true Dylan fashion he bounced up from the agonised navel gazing of Blood On The Tracks with a more buoyant, less cynical album.   Desire is a much more optimistic album filled with epic tracks that tell a story in themselves rather than across the album as a piece.  His collaboration in the writing of the songs make desire a unique Dylan project.

Desire marks a move away from the 3 -4 minute song and goes beyond Dylans epics, he moves from 7 minute epics to 11 minutes plus.  Album opener ‘Hurricane’ tells the story of ‘Rubin Carter’ a boxer who was allegedly framed for a murder and clocks in at 8.33 in length.  The longest song of the album is “Joey”. A twelve-verse 11.30 minute ballad, it describes the life of deceased gangster Joey Gallo.    Dylan presents Gallo as an outlaw with morals, a picture that may well have been inaccurate and which attracted a great deal of controversy with Dylan being accused of glorifying gangsterism.

Isis is one of Dylan’s most celebrated songs, a symbolic travelogue that plays out against a backdrop of minor chords and droning piano.  Lyrically, Dylan speaks his mind with an uncharacteristic bluntness, he addresses his crumbling marriage (Sara) with a raw emotional hostility.   Dylan is at his most controversial where he tells a tale of racism in Hurricane.  Dylan returns to a theme of inequality that was prominent in ‘The Lonesome death of Hattie Carroll, a decade earlier.

It is the drawing together of a range of genres and cultures that make desire a great album.  This is very obvious in both Mozambique and especially in Romance in Durango which displays a distinctly Latin feel  where Harris and Dylan clash in Spanish verses, while horns and Latin percussion chime behind them.

The album closes with the gorgeous Sara, arguably Dylan’s most personal song ever.  A tribute to his wife It is touching and painful, beautiful but desperate, an opus to one he loves but is losing.  Desire is an engaging and captivating album, it is full of allegory and the interpretation is left to the listener.   Multi-layered, beautifully produced and full of interest it is a Dylan classic.

As always thanks for dropping by my blog.  if you like what you read please hit the like button or leave a comment.  If you don’t like what you read then please leave a comment explaining why 🙂

75 Essential Albums – Day #56- Van Morrison – Moondance

Here goes with day 56 of my countdown of 75 Albums that in my opinion should have a place in everyones music collection.  They are not in any particular order though the top 10 will be my personal take on the top 10 albums ever released.  You might be surprised at some of my picks and some of my omissions.  Feel free to chime in with your comments and let me know if you love (or hate my choices).

Van Morrison – Moondance

Let me stay straight out that Moondance is an almost peerless recording, it is innovative, displays a wide range of influences, has probably the best ‘A’ side of any album ever, the musicianship is nothing short of extraordinary, the lyrics sublime and Morrison’s voice is simply incredible.  This is an album that deserves to be in anyones top 10 albums.  So why isn’t it in mine?  Two reasons!  Firstly I hate the title track.  Most definitely a case of over exposure, I have seen Morrison live over 200 times and frankly I just got sick of hearing the song.  it has also been covered by just about every jazz influenced artist on the face of the planet.  The second reason is the track on side 2 ‘Everyone’, it is a pretty dreadful song and so out of place on this great album that it sticks out like a sore thumb.

Across the album van displays his love of American Blues, Jazz and Soul music.  The jazz infused creativity and spontaneity of Jeff Labes on keys, John Platania on Guitar and Jack Schroer on Sax blows through the album like a warm summer breeze.  The ‘A’ side of the album is as near a perfect 20 minutes of music as you are ever likely to hear.  From the opening notes of ‘And it Stoned me’  to the closing foghorn whistles of ‘Into The Mystic’ you should simply sit back, close your eyes and let Morrison and his band transport you to a much better world.  A world of Jelly Roll (Morton), of letting your soul and spirit fly into the mystic, of dancing with Emma Rose by the firelight next to a Gypsy Caravan.  As Morrison says in ‘Caravan’ Turn it up, turn it up, so you know it’s got soul.  It is a marvellous, joyful, life affirming, uplifting experience of life, love, passion and hope.

“It Stoned Me” is a folk infused tale of childhood reminiscing, Moondance a jazz influenced soul classic, “Into the Mystic” and  “Crazy Love” are slow burning addictive, slow dance numbers that gradually worm their way under your skin filling every fibre of you being with warm comfort.  It is the perfect antidote to a cold winter evening.  Through it all Morrison’s voice is pure gold, stunning in its delivery, pace and phrasing.

The first side of the album sets the bar impossibly high and to be honest, at least for me, the second side doesn’t quite hit those heights.  With the exception of ‘Everyone’ the songs are of a quality that lesser mortals can only dream of attaining.  That said it does feel a little like ‘after the Lord Mayors Parade’ to me.  Nonetheless a quite brilliant album from a master songwriter.

As always thanks for dropping by my blog.  if you like what you read please hit the like button or leave a comment.  If you don’t like what you read then please leave a comment explaining why 🙂