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Wednesday, 30 November 2022

Andy Bopp - An Andy Bopp Compilation

 

Andy Bopp enjoys a stellar career from his part in Love Nut, Myracle Brah and Alto Verde to his splendid solo career. Nick Bertling is a solo artist and fellow member of Alto Verde. Even more relevantly, he is a producer and engineer of repute and involved in far more than you realise with IDHAS's favourite albums, particularly with the Futureman Records label.

So there is no better match than Berling revisiting and reimagining a Bopp compilation. For my part, I was an early adopter of Myracle Brah and after those first two albums, catching up on Love Nut. An Eight album career made Myracle Brah the darlings of the Power Pop scene on two really influential labels, Not Lame and Rainbow Quartz.

The band were always a bit more than just Power Pop, true they were anthemic, but nearer the likes of Badfinger or a rocked up Jellyfish with a lot in common with Brit Pop. There was also a Beatles feel at time, particularly with Bopp's vocal which was somewhere between Harrison and Lennon.Much as though the MB years were, a testament being their continued fan following, the solo years have been far more inventive and satisfying. 




Bopp isn't afraid to take chances solo wise. He can do the straight ahead at will, but there are bigger hints at Psych Pop, inventive twists and turns instrumentally and unexpected arrangements. The man can still write a killer chorus and his Guitar work is still jaw dropping. Plus one of his best solo albums contained little Guitar. Bertling revisits 15 Bopp songs, 8 Solo offerings including a new song and 7 from Myracle Brah's output. The results are truly outstanding.

Myracle Brah wise, the songs sound as good as ever, but sharper and a little more focussed. Song 37 is wonderful Psych Pop and Eleven's chorus is still celebratory and glorious and I still think The Way You Are out Weezer's Weezer at times and you get the bonus of Simplified, a fantastic slice of Guitar Power Pop that only appears on a Not Lame compilation and deserves greater attention.




But if you haven't caught up with Andy Bopp since those Myracle Brah years, now is time to catch up. Shadow is pure George Harrison and Maker's Push And Pull is very Berlin Bowie. The other track from Maker is its closer, Lights And Saviors out of kilter with the rest of that album, it is pure Bopp in its melodic joy.

Minneapolis sound like an 80s Soundtrack's stand out song and Maybe Just Maybe proves that the man doesn't always plug in and can do sensitive. The new song is King Of The Day and is splendidly moody with an outstanding Twang. Proof that Bopp is still at the top of his game. Look out for the upcoming EP. Bertling has done a fantastic job here. As someone is always about the new, it was a thrill to be reminded how ace Myracle Brah were and returned me to the albums.





You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Tuesday, 29 November 2022

Ex Norwegian - On The Sidelines - The Albums 2015-2017 (2CD)

 



I hate the term "Best Kept Secret" just as much as "Criminally Underrated" Why would anyone want or aim to keep a fantastic band secret? Equally why use a term that suggests everyone is ignorant or hit out at a music fan's missing out. Ex Norwegian have been described as both, regularly. Without doubt, Roger Houdaille is one of the great Pop Rock songwriters.

People congratulate my taste at times which I baulk a little at. All I do is tell you about great artists, many ignored. I don't make the music, they do, all the praise should go to them. However, if you do rate my selections, I will tell you that Ex Norwegian are probably my favourite band of this century.

They don't make it easy for themselves though. The band name leads to wrong assumptions. Album to album, the direction changes between Psych Pop and Pop Rock, both being fantastic, but confusing the casual or potential listener and as these albums reveal, names like Glazer/Hazerr and Tekstet (Subtitled) conjure up thoughts of industrial electronica, Kraut Rock or some non English Language Indie Garage Rock.



Ex Norwegian though are fantastically inventive, have a pop sensibility that is hard to match and are a killer live act. Any band that counts both Chris Price and Fernando Perdomo as helpers underlines that pedigree. So on to these three albums which I look upon as The Road To No Sleep, a 2018 IDHAS Album Of The Year containing Making Deals which was probably the Single of that year.

Pure Gold has 7 Covers amongst its 11 songs, but this is no easy way out album. Rather like Caddy's last album, the choices are inspired and in many cases reworked dramatically. Tintern Abbey's Beeside and Jimmy Campbell's Close My Case And Move On are splendid choices. The standout is the cover of It's A Game, one of the great lost Power Pop singles and showing that 1977 wasn't the dying out of the Bay City Rollers.

Three Bonus Tracks accompany the album including an ace version of Todd Rundgren's International Feel. Glazer/Hazerr adds a Radio Session from 2016. The album is a wonderful example of lo-fi Psych Pop that would feel right at home with trends in 2022, yet it became more of an acquired taste then. It is really inventive in its retro aims, but seemed to confuse as many people as it delighted.



Tekstet was a return to Pop Rock and was largely a Houdaille solo album with Michelle Grand chipping in. I like it a lot, but it does seem a little haphazard without the usual attention to detail. The songs are fine, but it seems a bit lacking melodically. Any Old Time though is one of the best things ever committed to an album under the Ex Norwegian name. It could be suggested that if this album provided the direction to No Sleep with its big production and melody fest.

Three of the songs on Glazer/Hazerr were recorded by Houdaille's side project, Plastic Macca previously and those versions are included in the nine bonus tracks here. All three albums show the inventiveness and at times unique approach taken by Ex Norwegian. The band are taking on the world and the success of the Think Like A Key label as shown Roger's musical nous with a roster of classic and new artists. 

I have a real affinity with the directions that Ex Norwegian take. IDHAS may seem to centre around inventive melodic Pop Rock, but my life away from it is spent listening to Psych Pop, Prog and Indie noise. The band have successfully created a back catalogue of quality and variety on their own terms and remain an inspiring presence in an X Factor world. They deserve your attention as much as any and more than many.


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I have chosen one song from each album to give newcomers a small taste of what the band are about. You can buy and listen to the album here. The Think Like A Key label can be found here.


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Monday, 28 November 2022

The Move - Live At The Fillmore 1969 (2CD)

 

I spend most of my time writing about the new, but whilst being under pressure to tidy up the music room, I pulled out this and it brought back so many memories that I can't stop playing it. The set is still available at a really decent price on CD and download and you can also find people selling the 3LP version for around £27.Armed with a Record Token for my Birthday, one of the first three albums that I bought under my own steam was an MFP collection of The Move. I'd bought it on the strength of the three minute singles that I'd heard, but my eyes were opened by the much longer songs. 

The band's second album, Shazam was so different to the debut, it was like two different bands. It was only recorded post these shows and there was such a lack of new Roy Wood material for it, that the album's six songs contained three covers and so it became more of a mirror of the band's live set. With such a lack of new material for the album, it is surprising that the album turned out so splendidly. It is many Move fans favourite album and I can understand why, although the following Looking On remains my favourite and is in my Top 10 albums of all time. 




1969 was a tortuous year for the band, having already lost Ace Kefford the previous year due to his drug problems, Trevor Burton left having become disenchanted with the commercial direction of the band culminating in Blackberry Way, a song he hated. Even bigger tensions existed between Roy Wood and Carl Wayne. Wood had become tired of touring the Cabaret circuit and wanted to move the band into a heavier direction. Wayne was happiest playing the songs from the debut album on the circuit. Wayne left before the album was released and moved into cabaret allowing Jeff Lynne to join after being asked for the second time.

The Fillmore album reveals how heavy the band had become musically and is an absolute revelation. The Wood-Wayne-Bevan-Price were astonishingly great. Rick Price had replaced Trevor Burton and eventually followed Roy Wood into Wizzard. On their debut American adventures, The Move supported Joe Cocker And The Grease Band and Little Richard for four shows at The Fillmore on October 16 - 19. The recordings were gathered by Carl Wayne who set out to restore the recordings in 2003, but his untimely death the following year meant that the project wasn't. The Tapes were restored and remastered for this release.




The nine song set contains three Wood originals, a mind blowing version of the magnificent Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited, Hello Susie and a 10 minute version of I Can Hear The Grass Grow. The covers are inspired though including two Todd Rundgren Nazz compositions, Open My Eyes and a 15 minute Under The Ice. Tom Paxton's Don't Make My Baby Blue is rocked up Shazam style, Fields Of People which was originally a 3 minute single for Ars Nova becomes a 14 minute Psychedelic epic. The Brill Building is raided for Goin' Back and Don't Make My Baby Blue. There is also the bonus of 11 minutes of Bev Bevan reminiscing about the 1969 US Tour.

Rounding of the set are three repeated songs from alternative nights namely Cherry Blossom Clinic Revisited, Last Thing On My Mind and Don't Make My Baby Blue There are other bootlegs around from The Move including the BBC Colour Me Pop set, but no other complete show exists. Many people will think Of The Move as a singles band or of the wonderful pop of the debut album, but this reveals them to exhilaratingly Progressive and is one hell of a listen. It also shows what a sad loss Carl Wayne was to Cabaret. Grab it whilst you still can.




You can listen to the songs on You Tube here.


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Sunday, 27 November 2022

IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 43



Better late than never. We stretch out in Episode 43 with 10 Songs in 40 minutes. A more rounded affair maybe, as we look to mither the Global Mixcloud Charts once more. Delight for your lugholes! 

The Mixcloud link is below and at the foot of the page is the Mixcloud Player which takes you directly to the music. Thank you for your continued listening. The Mix is certainly more popular than we ever expected. 

Here is the playlist of the ten songs this week :

01 Paul McCann - Divide And Conquer

02 Night Shop - Forever Night

03 Communicant - She Moves The Sky

04 Rob Clarke - Tik Tok

05 Dungeon Of Skeletons - Turn The Key

06 The Great Affairs - Fever Breaks

07 Sweet Teeth - Dont Be Afraid

08 The Pastel Waves - Dish It Out

09 Martha - Beat, Perpetual

10 Scrambled Limbs - Dancing On Your Feet


IDHAS Ten Songs Mix 43



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Sweet Teeth - High Anxiety

 


Over the past week, I have listened to a lot of music and you will read about the results throughout the coming week. There's been a lot of great albums, but most have centred on more restrained songs. I craved something a bit noisier and I found it with Sweet Tooth's debut full length album.

The Swedish quartet offer up a wonderfully messy and chaotic affair that never loses sight of the hooks and choruses. It is also far more varied than you'd imagine. A heady mixture of Alt Rock, Noise Rock, Grunge and at times, Power Pop.




Sweet Teeth are splendidly up and at 'em. The best description I can provide is that they are a bit like a Punk band doing Power Pop. Don't mistake that for Pop Punk as this leans more on Classic and College Rock. Don't expect them to come up for air.

At times they are a little Wildhearts, even a much smaller Andrew WK, but they never lose sight of the melody. You will find yourselves singing the choruses whilst shaking your fist. If Lemmy had done Power Pop, it might not have been a million miles from this. 




You would expect IDHAS to pick out the poppier angles and both Love Panic and Compared To You are great examples of Guitar Pop.  Soul Sunday is built around a killer melodic riff and the title track is a real get out of bed joyful shouty opener.

There is also a wonderful closer in Don't Be Afraid which instrumentally steps into Crazy Horse territory. High Anxiety is a classic example of how music can change your mood and this will certainly liven up the ears and get you in the frame of mind for anything. 



You can listen to and buy the album here


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The Rubs - Dust

 

Chicago's Joey Rubbish is The Rubs and Dust is a top notch Pop Rock affair, almost a Now album, revealing the variety of a genre that used to be denigrated as throwaway pointless. These 11 songs cover a wide spectrum, but more importantly show what a fine songwriter Rubbish is. 

The range is really deep from the late 70s UK New Wave of What Did I Do and Waste Of Time to the Thin Lizzy (ness) of Hang On To Me. Including the cross between Psych Pop and Status Quo of The Same Thing and Merseybeat of When I Dream About You.



I Want You could be Del Amitri and the excellent Dana is reminiscent of The Motors. Here In My Dream is very Lindisfarne and I Don't Wanna Wait is very American 80s sounding. Yer Trouble even edges towards Glam Rock.

Dust is a winner on two fronts. It is a reminder of times past and offers a wondrous variety of different directions for a younger audience. It is deliciously melodic and glorious in its lo-fi-ish sound. An absolute gem of an album and highly recommended.



You can listen to and buy the album here.


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Night Shop - Forever Night

 

When dealing with grief and regret, the easiest thing for a musician to write a dark album as a confessional.  This can be wonderfully melancholic, but a hard listen. This year there have been two or three albums when the pain has been revealed lyrically, but in an instrumentally more upbeat setting.

Forever Night is another example and it is a wonderful listen. From the album title onwards, this is a sad album, but cocooned in arrangements that mean that if you were not a lyric listener, you wouldn't necessarily notice the darkness.



These almost chirpy affairs allow the more intense songs to breathe. The darker arrangements have a more Americana / Country feel allowing even more variety. Los Angeles's Justin Sullivan, for he is Night Shop, has provided a second album to remember.

His vocal at times is a drawl akin to Lou Reed or maybe even Mink Deville, but the material stretches far beyond that. Slow Dancing At The Weekend can be compared to Marc Bolan fronting an 80s Glaswegian Guitar Pop combo.



Let Me Let It Go borders on Glam Rock and the title track fairly stomps along, built on a killer riff. Indeed most of the songs on show here are riff led, even the slower ones. The End Of Time even sounds a little Bruce Hornsby or Marc Cohn at times.

Yet Just To Get Home is reflectively dark with a feel of The Band with its wonderful organ accompaniment and hypnotic riff. Then there is the magnificent closer, At The Opera, based around a jangled riff. It is an epic effort



You can listen to and buy the album here. https://nightshop.bandcamp.com/album/forever-night


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