Another one of those albums that slipped between the cracks for a long time. But now surfaced again to claim it’s spot. Besides the off-kilter name, you should know that AC is in essence Mike Weston, a multi-instrumentalist from the UK. Okay, he gets help on several of the tracks from various people (including his dad and uncle Bob) but what we get to hear is his vision.
I guess in many ways this is to be labelled as a progressive record. But bear in mind it is more like (an early) Supertramp kind of progressive. By which I mean that it would not surprise me if a whole bunch of people would like this album a lot, should they get to know about it and actually have a listen. So hopefully this helps a bit…
Because this is just a very pleasant album in every sense. It has great melodies that hook you in with ease. It has extended arrangements that show Mike is not afraid to think outside of the standard pop formulas (hence the prog tag) so you can enjoy instrumental bits, hooks, riffs and so on. It is never too much of anything yet has enough going on to keep you interested. And above all it has songs that are varied, have roots in various styles, and together make for an album that is a joy to hear. Especially for fans of Seventies music.
So go ahead, get in touch with him and have a listen!
From Down Under come Smoking Martha, built around songstress Tasha D and guitarist Mick Broome’s love of raw rock ‘n roll. Joining them are Azz on guitars, Matty on bass and Jordon on drums.
Now I must confess that I wasn’t all that impressed on first listen. Don’t know why, but in hindsight I probably wasn’t paying enough attention. Because repeated play has taught me that this is actually a very solid rock album. Martha has a damn fine voice for this type of rock and the songs do travel beyond the all too familiar. Even when it is sometimes in the details. So, after spending a bunch of time with the album ( I got the version with the 5 European bonus tracks, the album itself has 10 songs) I am totally digging tunes like So Lonely, Say You’re Mine, To The Stars, and so on. The melting pot that make up all the songs is quite broad I think. A bit of punk energy, classic rock , grungy overtones, melodic hard rock and probably even more. And a song like Baby Let Me Go proves that know how to chill too, beautiful!
So in the end I can say that it is a tasty rock affair that shows a singer in possession of an impressive delivery and a band that is able to give the songs energy and flair. And knows how to keep things interesting. More proof that rock is not dead at all. It is lurking somewhere, waiting for you to fall for it again!
A couple of releases into Alan Simon now (check for instance this or this). And now we have Big Bang playing. And it is definitely something different compared to those before. Not only from a technical point of view, with the press sheet talking about 120 musicians or 200 active tracks per song on average… Or the inclusion of the sound bank of the universe from NASA.
This is indeed a musical odyssey from the origins of our universe to the destiny of planet Earth. And one that marries classical themes and orchestrations with contemporary music like never before in Simon’s work. As far as I know it that is. With a starring role of Supertramp’s John Helliwell on various saxes. So the instrumental pieces prevail and are a showcase of diversity, atmosphere and feeling. Lingering dreamy melodies, sound scapes and bits of rock interweaving. Like in Seven Moons In the Sky, where Roberto Tiranti delivers the vocals. Or on Fools, with Saga’s Michael Sadler. And Pink Floyd fans will embrace The Soul Of The Stars, with great guitar playing by Paolo Ballardini. Because of the less obvious rock side, at first I wasn’t too sure about this album. But the more I played it, the more I fell for it. Diversity, dynamics and combining genres has always been part of Simon’s music and this is no exception. There is a certain grandeur to the themes that will get you hooked, sooner rather than later. Else you can always look at the fantastic space photography present in the art.
To put the record straight; the full name of this double disk is Martin Turner ex Wishbone Ash – The Beauty Of Chaos, Live At The Citadel, St. Helens – 26th February 2016. And it is a deluxe 2CD + DVD set. Glad we got that out of the way 😉
And indeed you regular followers of the blog, lots of (ex) Wishbone Ash has been landing in my CD player lately. Not that I mind that much, Argus is a classic record of course. And talking of that, disk 2 features some of that classic Ash tracks with The King Will Come, Warrior and Throw Down The Sword to name a few. But there is a lot more to enjoy on this live album. Some tongue in cheek humour, some fantastic playing, especially from Misha Nikolic who has a great tone in his fingers. And I love songs like Falling Sands (what an enchanting guitar melody) or Interstellar Rockstar. But also the very recognisable harmony singing and dual guitars shine. So the album is very much worthy of your time and money. Even without seeing the DVD yet. No, Martin Turner (bass and lead vocals), Danny Willson (guitar and vocals), Misha Nikolic (guitar) and Tim Brown (drums and vocals) have got a good thing going here. Timeless music.
Peter Banks, is that not the first guitarist of Yes? Indeed he is, he played on their first 2 albums. And what you might not know is that he suggested the name change from Mabel Greer’s Toy shop! This collection contains 3 of his solo albums, namely Instinct, Self-Contained and Reduction.
Now 3 CD’s might sound like an awful lot to digest. But I think you will be surprised should you decide to have a listen. That is if you, like me, never heard them before. Not only is the material at hand of an enormous diversity, it is also larded with intros or short interludes with spoken word that show a keen sense of humour. Back to the music, you will find anything from ambient to shredding, to funky, groovy to progressive here. And I must also admit that I like his guitar sound better than that of his successor in Yes, Steve Howe (who is a fabulous guitarist in his own right of course). Banks shows more of a rock vibe in his playing and sounds, and that suits me just fine. And while I wonder if that diversity might be a reason for some to avoid his music, I was sincerely amazed listening to this. Banks proves to have been an amazing musician and a powerful creative force with the combined abilities of Vai, Satriani and maybe even any other guitarist you can think of.
Should you first want to sample Banks’ talents, there is also an Anthology available in the form of this double disc Be Well, Be Safe, Be Lucky…The Anthology. Disc 1 is a collection of some of his finest work. And disc 2 features a lot of rarities and extended versions. The latter making this release also interesting for the people that already enjoy his music.
For only being familiar with the name, to getting a more deeper insight in this man’s talent, 5 CD’s of discovery for all to enjoy!
How fitting to name your album seafoam, and put a strat in that colour on the cover. Nice touch! What is also nice, is what Greg Hurley is offering us on this debut.
Well debut, it might be his debut album, but in his young days, Hurley spent a lot of time honing his skills on every stage that gave him a home. And now, after years of being inactive (life sometimes gets in the way), he has built a studio and unleashes his work to the unaware public.
And I must say, the man knows how to play and write a decent tune! I guess the songs are a reflection of his influences. And I am confident that The Beatles rank high there. A song like You’re You clearly fits well in the Beatles songbook, and Hold On Tight would sit comfortably on any mid career ELO album (and no, it is not a cover from them). Other influences seem early Santana on songs Where You’re At and Pick It Up or Steely Dan on WiggleRoom. The title track is a wonderful moody instrumental, but actually every track on the album is tasty and well done. Especially considering he played everything himself if I understand correctly.
Bottom line, this release deserves a big audience because the songs will appeal to everyone who appreciates quality pop / rock songs.
Two not so typical Wishbone Ash albums have been released with the “remastered and definitive editions” treatment.
On Twin Barrels Burning (1982), we find Trevor Bolder (Spiders From Mars, Uriah Heep) on bass and vocals. This besides regulars Andy Powell, Laurie Wisefield (both guitar and vocals) and Steve Upton (drums). The regular album holds 3 bonus tracks, bringing the total up to 12 tracks. The second disc features the album, yet with the American remixes. Even when in my mind the original sounds much more American when compared to, say, Argus. 🙂 Since I never heard these albums before, I think they are a solid testament of their time. Still some great songs on it, especially Hold On.
Next one is Raw To The Bone from 1985. The original 10 songs got company from no less than 5 bonus songs, recorded in 1986! The second disc holds 2 live performances with 8 tracks in total, recorded by the BBC. On bass and lead vocals we now get Mervyn ‘Spam’ Spence, whose phenomenal range gives an even more commercial rock vibe to the songs. (The bonus tracks are with Brad Lang on bass and Phil Palmer instead of Wisefield on guitar).
Guess it is safe to say it were trying times for the band, but on their own the albums hold up pretty good in my opinion. Nothing shocking, but then again, I did not grow up with these (you cannot have all). It rocks, and you will always find at least a couple of songs that tickle your fancy…
The fact they are still around, is proof of their will to survive.
The Ted in this release is famed guitarist Ted Turner, whom you might know from his days in Wishbone Ash, or the couple of tracks he played on John Lennon’s Imagine album. Majella is not only his wife, but also a singer and together they invented a new genre called new age soul.
Well I will be honest as always, to me this sounds like a singer songwriter album with lots of pop sensibilities and with heartfelt guitar playing (imagine a bit more rocking version of Mark Knopfler). Yes, there is lots of soul present in the songs, but coming from inside, not akin to the musical genre. And I guess the new age bit refers to their look at the world we live in today. “Everything has a relationship, we are nature, and systems only exist through collaboration. And are bigger than us.”
Nothing wrong with that of course and despite my critique about the genre tagging, there is absolutely nothing wrong with the music. It might be more light-footed compared to the stuff I usually listen to, but everything, from the playing, to the sound, and to the delivery oozes class. Majella has a pleasant voice and her melodies work. The result of all this, is that the album radiates a passion. For life, for each other, and for nature.
So this is beautiful from start to finish and in my opinion suited for the majority of the people. Dreamy and sometimes intense!
Sometimes life as a reviewer is easy. And in this case it is. For those of you who do not know Darryl Way, he is one of the founding members of Curved Air where he delivers the violins. Curved Air recorded a track called Vivaldi some 50 odd years ago and this CD is essentially giving a bit of a rock treatment to the whole of the Four Seasons from the classical composer.
Now a bit of a heads up; when I say rock, in this case that means that bass, drums, rhythm guitars and layers of synthesisers have been added to the movements. The original melodies are still played on violin with only some embellishment in the slower parts.
So what does this re-interpretation leave us with? Well, Way knows how to play and does the music justice. Is it very different? No. Does is rock hard? Again, no, don’t think that was the intention.
This is a well done version, with a bit of extra spice here and there. Nothing more and nothing less. If you like rock and enjoy classical music, this will work since you will be familiar with most of the melodies. If you hate either, avoid. I like this version for what it is.
Reading through the press info I noticed this album is inspired by real life people from Chicago. Combine that with the play with words in the title of the CD and you might wonder how intense this is going to get…
Well let me assure you, for a prog album, this is a remarkably light footed effort. And I mean that in a very positive way. First because there are no epics here as songs range from 2 to 6 minutes. Second it is because of the positive vibes I get from the songs. The way they are arranged might help, as overall I am finding this upbeat, with great singing and harmonies. Over sometimes poppy and sometimes more complex themes , it is still prog after all. Add to this the sometimes achingly beautiful instrumental parts (using violin, cello, flutes, sax, trombone etc, really creates great atmospheric music), and the scene is set for an album that demands your attention and rewards your time with making you feel good about yourself. And the best thing about it all is, at least in my book, I never ever once thought it was going nowhere. The songs are precise, deliver every note and beat with intent and nothing outstays their welcome. And because of the often catchy melodies I am sure a lot of people outside the “prog community” would find this a worthwhile addition to their collection!