Archive for the ‘General Music’ Category

Christmas Bounty Sprouting

Saturday, December 15th, 2018

The Beach Boys Christmas bounty continues – a week after two 1968 studio collections were released, an extensive live set was announced. On Tour:1968  consists of 114 tracks from seven shows from 1968, including live performances in both the USA and UK.

Regular blog readers will know my love for Paddy McAloon and Prefab Sprout, and in particular, I Trawl The Megahertz.  So, in interesting news, this obscure but brilliant record will get a re-release  in February 2019, interesting re-positioned as a Prefab Sprout record, rather than a solo. Even better news is the possibility of a new Prefab Sprout album in September 2019 -the Sprout bounty may not at Christmas, but could herald a musically very good 2019. Santa seems to be very generous this year.

50 Years, 30 Directions

Thursday, November 22nd, 2018

Almost eighteen months after Sgt.Pepper ( a gap longer than Pet Sounds to Smiley Smile), the Beatles released their next album, simply called The Beatles, in plane white packaging. It was the single biggest outburst of new Beatles music; 30 unheard tracks, none released on a prior single or available for early listening on Spotify…

The title and white packaging may indicate a move towards simplicity and group harmony. There was certainly a move away from the psychedelia of 1967, but in about 30 different directions. We got the softest side of the Beatles (Goodnight, Honey Pie) at the same time as the hardest (Helter Skelter, Yer Blues), the weirdest (Revolution 9) alongside straightforward rock and pop. It’s unlikely you will love all 30 tracks, or even want to listen to some of them again, but it’s also very possible that some of your favorite Beatles songs, if not your favorite songs of all time, are part of this album.

And now the White Album is exactly 50 years old, and tearing up the charts again,courtesy of a comprehensive 50 year anniversary release, showcasing the legendary Esher demos plus a lot more on the deluxe editions. The Esher demos demonstrate that John, Paul and George were not short of inspiration after Rishikesh. George, in particular, was starting entering his composing high-point, where one song per side of a Beatles record would not accommodate his brilliant creativity –Long Long Long is probably my favorite “unknown” Beatles song.

Indeed, the White Album sessions in retrospect indicated the beginning of the end for the Beatles as a group, and the white color is pretty much the only unifying theme of the album. The brilliance is very much there, but there is a sense of disunity and division, which is very much a theme of our 2018 world. We can’t run away from this reality, but we can temporarily forget about it in the brilliance of this album, or at least the parts that reflect our own musical idyll.

23 Songs For Today

Friday, November 16th, 2018
  1. Under -Carla Werner
  2. Sweet Ride -Courtney Jaye
  3. Strawberry Wine -Deana Carter
  4. This Land Is Mine -Dido
  5. Hold Me Like a Gun -Elise Davis
  6. Dreaming Trees -Emma Stevens
  7. Oh Do Not Fly Away -The Innocence Mission
  8. In Perfect Time -Jill Barber
  9. Bo Ba Bo -Joanna Wallfisch
  10. Love Is a Wild Thing- Kacey Musgraves
  11. You’re Not Mine -The Last Detail
  12. Everywhere I Go -Lissie
  13. Going Home -Mary Fahl
  14. Lying To The Moon -Matraca Berg
  15. Wrong Impression -Natalie Imbruglia
  16. The Way It Is -Nicole Atkins
  17. Manhattan -Sara Bareilles
  18. I Could Not Ask for More -Sara Evans
  19. Starry Eyes -Sarah Darling
  20. Sounds of Water/ Change Your Mind -Sarah Slean
  21. I Know Myself Too Well -Swan Dive
  22. You On My Mind- Swing Out Sister
  23. Snow Canyons -The Watson Twins

First Blood

Saturday, November 10th, 2018

Yesterday saw the 50th anniversary re-release of the White Album, and there will be more on that on this blog in due course.  But another classic album has just given the “official bootleg” treatment, and it is my favorite Dylan album Blood On The Tracks.

More Blood, More Tracks may sound like a death metal record, but the heart of the collection is a disc of early takes of the entire album plus Up To Me, which reflects a stripped down alternative version of the classic album. Blood On The Tracks was always a fairly acoustic album, but this alternative version is more like Blood On The Tracks..naked, with just Dylan, his guitar and harmonica.

The anger of Idiot Wind is replaced by a more world-weary resignation, but the album shows that the song were fully-formed and brilliant from the start, with an interesting twist to the track order, including a strong finish with Idiot Wind, You’re Gonna Make Me Lonesome When You Go and Up To Me, with the final track providing a more a downbeat finish than the slightly more optimistic Buckets Of Rain. The original album is in my views Dylan’s most “perfect” album, but this is a very interesting alternative take on one of the all-time classic records.

Eddy, Back At Last (Detail)

Sunday, November 4th, 2018

In the first half of the naughties, A Girl Called Eddy (Erin Moran) delighted with us with her eponymous debut album,  plus a few EPs and singles. Then, for 10 years, nothing. In 2014, there were a few guest vocals on a Gramercy Arms album, and the first rumblings of a follow-up album. But nothing concrete until this year- and specifically the release of The Last Detail album.

The Last Detail is Erin Moran and Mehdi Zannad from Fugu. It is a collaborative album, but on Fun Fair, You’re Not Mine, Fairweather Friend, Talk To Me and Lazy, it feels like a reunion with an old, dear friend that you haven’t seen for almost 15 years. The romantic, world-weary vocals accompanied with breathtaking melodies are all there, and that alone is worth the price of admission. But the contributions from the other half of the band are also noteworthy, especially the gorgeous pop tunes Places and Trust Your Buddy. The final track, Photographs, is a fitting seasonal closer, and the only real duet on a great album.

But…that isn’t all. Eddy is now promising her second solo album early in 2019, a few months after this wonderful release. It’s not so much London buses, but it feels like a long-lost, beloved railway branch line now has a full service of regular trains. Thank-you A Girl Called Eddy (and Mehdi Zannad), for making a weary world suddenly a better place.

The Engineer Of The Beatles

Wednesday, October 3rd, 2018

Sad news today is the passing of Geoff Emerick, the sound engineer for the many of the Beatles best known recordings. You can read about his important contribution to the Beatles legend here.

Old Times Good Times

Sunday, September 30th, 2018

The last two albums reviewed on this page have both burned up the charts, despite the veteran status of both artist. Macca (76) has seen Egypt Station top Billboard and reach #2 in the UK, while Paul Weller (just turned 60) has reached #2 with his 14th solo album, and effectively 26th in his career.

But the most exciting news for veteran musicians is no doubt the 50th anniversary White Album collection, available in 3CD and 7CD configurations, including the Esher Demos. We may just see a group that broke up almost 50 years ago also tearing up the charts.

23 Songs For Today

Monday, September 24th, 2018
  1. ) Why I’m Like This- The Autumn Defense
  2. ) Kind Woman -Buffalo Springfield
  3. ) Here Without You -The Byrds
  4. ) Hickory Wind -The Byrds
  5. ) Nothing Was Delivered -The Byrds
  6. ) Lady Friend -The Byrds
  7. ) Say Oh Say -Courtney Jaye
  8. ) New Day -Courtney Jaye
  9. ) Southbound Train -Crosby, Stills & Nash
  10. ) Wasted On The Way -Crosby, Stills & Nash
  11. ) Landslide -Dixie Chicks
  12. ) Hot Burrito #1 -The Flying Burrito Brothers
  13. ) She’s The Kind Of Girl -Gene Clark
  14. ) Photographs And Memories -Jim Croce
  15. ) I Got A Name -Jim Croce
  16. ) Crying In My Sleep -Jimmy Webb
  17. )  Land’s End/Asleep On The Wind -Jimmy Webb
  18. ) If I Knew Then -Lady Antebellum
  19. ) Drinkin’ Problem-Midland
  20. ) Burn Out -Midland
  21. ) Getaway Driver -Miranda Lambert
  22. ) Things That Break -Miranda Lambert
  23. ) Southern Man -Neil Young

Weller Country

Tuesday, September 18th, 2018

Late 1967 and 1968 saw many artists move in a simpler, more pastoral direction (think Friends, John Wesley Harding, Sweetheart of the Rodeo). 50 years later, Paul Weller has also moved in this direction with True Meanings. Weller, who has just turned 60, has been prolific , with six albums in the last 10 years, including last year’s A Kind Revolution. All of these recent records have been well-received, with Weller’s willingness to experiment and innovate earning favor with the critics and the public.

True Meanings may be something of a musical retreat to an acoustic, lightly orchestrated sound, but in the mayhem in 2018, this is no bad thing, especially when there are such gorgeous melodies among the fourteen tracks. All of the songs are well-crafted, but standouts include Aspects, Books and What Would He Say?

Macca Station

Tuesday, September 11th, 2018

Macca is back with his new album Egypt Station –and back in the public consciousness especially on the back of the Carpool Karaoke video with James Corden. The new album, as with the previous New album, sees McCartney trying to modernise his sound for a new generation, especially on the rather gimmicky Fuh You –however his strength remains the modular pop songs like Hunt You Down/Naked/C-Link and especially Despite Repeated Warnings, which subtly but obviously digs at the current US Presidents environmental policies. The other strength is the traditional McCartney ballads such I Don’t Know and Do It Now. Overall, it may not in the upper echelons of McCartney’s work, but it shows that he is still a creative force to be reckoned with.