Friday, 9 November 2018
It's been a long wait since Mick Terry's excellent debut album, The Grown Ups and although I knew this was coming, it's been a real impatient wait. I'm also a big Jim Boggia fan, so their collaboration seemed like a match made in heaven.
What has transpired is an incredibly mature album, very different to that poptastic debut. Yes those Pop Sensibilities are still present, particularly on the magnificent show stopper, Emily Come Back, but Days Go By goes much further.
This is a real Singer Songwriter album with nods to Motown and Philly, particularly on Arthur's Tale with it's Temptations like feel and Everybody's Talking. Riverbend is like Jackson Browne with a crack Country Rock band.
Pop's A Dirty Word is great 70's Pop Rock, there's a fair few name checks to remind you of this, it's very Elton John, in fact and Elton and Billy Joel spring to mind on a fair bit across the album. Rocking In The Photograph is Terry at his pop best with it's Madness like piano, a sort of take on Ben Folds.The Glitter Guitar makes you think of Pilot on Magic and January.
Stars is in Easy Listening territory and features some great Slide playing, Friends Like That has a Toto like intro accompanied by a splendid Brass Chorus accompaniment. Ignorance Is Bliss has a melancholic beauty in it's stripped down way, with a wonderful Pedal Steel solo.
The album was recorded in London, Philadelphia and New York and that shines through with the influences on display. Boggia's presence glows too. But for all this variance, it's Terry's trademark pop that shines through on the magnificent, Emily Come Back, one of the best songs that you'll hear this or any year.
You can listen to and buy the album here. It is available on Vinyl, CD or download. The CD is available on the Kool Kat label in the States and Elsewhere here.
Thursday, 8 November 2018
20 years since Feeling Strangely Fine! Wow! Released here in the UK at the back end of Brit Pop, Dan Wilson finally got the success that he deserved. He was no newcomer, almost 37 on release on this, the band's second album.
I'd got in to Trip Shakespeare in late 1986. I'd got really fed up of the UK scene, New Romantics was not for me and after brief respite courtesy of Glasgow, it became all dance nonsense. Through the 80's I'd concentrated more on the States and Canada and a few fellow music fans exchanged tapes via Pigeon Post.
One such tape had Applehead Man on it and I was hooked all the way through to the end. I still consider Lulu to be one of the great lost Masterpieces. After being dropped by A and M, Trip Shakespeare called it a day and via Pleasure, Dan Wilson and John Munson formed Semisonic with Drummer, Jacob Slichter.
Pleasure had released an EP, which was followed by the Semisonic debut album, Great Divide. The debut is a fine album, although it felt very different to the Psych of Trip Shakespeare. It was this follow up that hit the bucks.
It was aided by two big singles, Closing Time in the US and Karaoke favourite, Secret Smile in the UK. The album is a fine thing indeed, obviously the two great singles are present, but the rest is pretty dandy. The hypnotic keyboard riff of Singing In My Sleep, probably my favourite song on the album.
Never You Mind is Billy Swan Piano Rock, great Pop. This Will Be My Year, a Slichter Song, is all Jangle and Riffs at pace, it's an absolute corker. California simply weeps. All 12 songs stand next to each other wonderfully. Of The Four Bonus Tracks, Beautiful Regret has long been a favourite of mine, certainly hints of Trip Shakespeare here.
The band recorded one more album, 2001's All About Chemistry, a much lighter softer affair, that to be honest was sadly a tad dull. From there on, Dan Wilson went on to an excellent, if infrequent, solo career. However is work as a Writer and Producer for the likes of Dixie Chicks, Pink and Taylor Swift. He also wrote three songs on Adele's 21, most notably Someone Like You.
Fans will be disappointed to only have 4 Bonus Tracks added, all of them B Sides. It's known that there were around 60 demos for Feeling Strangely Fine, but only 20 were Studio Recorded and apparently, only these 16 mixed originally. But maybe the other four would have been welcome.
However, it is worth noting that the original album sound was really iffy, unfeasibly loud which distorted a couple of songs. I don't know if that was because of the mastering or the way it was recorded with the band. All that is solved here.
I know most of the cool people will already have the album, but the master is great and it's also available for the first time on vinyl. This is also a great time for a generation on to catch up on one of the great 90's albums.
You can buy the album on CD Download or Vinyl everywhere. The likes of Amazon offer a free download with a physical purchase. There are also still some Special related items available on the Pledge Music Site here.
When Music Forums list inspired groups, I often rightly see The Sugarplastic, XTC, The Orgone Box, Ooberman etc, but I rarely see Vancouver's Cinderpop and I have no idea why. They are as equally important and at times more inventive.
Kevan Ellis remains one of the great underappreciated talents. Cinderpop's Back Catalogue stands comparison with anyone and for those of you who have missed out, Bricolage offers you the opportunity to repent and join the Church Of The Poptastic.
This is a Best of and includes their most recent 2017 recordings, Saline and Ephialtes And The Greeks. These two songs bookend the selection of what's gone before. The band's albums were always highly original, so gathering a selection of songs makes them seem even more eclectic and rightly so.
Dead At The Side Of The Road probably sums them up best, it's magnificent, but even that doesn't give you much of an inkling of what you are about to witness across the other 15 tracks. Yokahama and Yogi Bear are gentle Psych Pop, Oliver 8 and Blonder are in your face Indie Rock Outs.
Bumblebee is like a Psyched Up They Might Be Giants, Cinnamon Winter and Folding Time are in The Sugarplastic Territory, the latter almost Prog. Bastion Cooper could be The Orgone Box, Ephialtes And The Greeks is Folk Rock.
What you have here is a collection that would grace anyone's collection and is guaranteed to get you raiding the internet to find their back catalogue. Carlsberg don't do bands, but if they did they'd probably be Cinderpop.
You can listen to Bricolage here and buy it at all good establishments.
One of the biggest surprises from last year were The Sunset Spirit. The debut album, From The Top, was refreshingly great Pop Rock and against all the International competition, only the magnificent Chris Price album beat it to the I Don't Hear A Single Album Of The Year. In any other year it would have won.
Not content with that, the single, To Have It All, also finished as Runner Up in Song Of The Year. Beaten only by Sparks in that section, it is amazing for a debut offering to feature so highly in these parts. You can read my review of From The Top here.
I'm delighted to report that the band are back and Fife's finest have expanded to a six piece. The new 5 Song EP, Sometimes, is more of the same, but with a much expanded sound. The addition of a Lead Guitarist has really fleshed out the sound, particularly on Time To Shine and especially on the magnificent, Mary Jane.
The Organ is still plentiful and Stuart Shields Vocals are as Spot On, again a cross between Glenn Tilbrook and Neil Finn. However. it's the sound that grabs you. The killer riff on Mary Jane, Better Man is wonderfully melancholic, You're Alright has a Classic Rock Feel, particularly on the closing Guitar solo.
Get It Right is the only thing that betrays their roots a little, it's almost Runrig. Anyone thinking that the debut album was a flash in the pan can feel reassured. The Sunset Strip have got bigger and better.
Sometimes is available to buy on the likes of iTunes. You can also listen to it on Spotify here or Apple Music here.
Wednesday, 7 November 2018
No waiting around for a decade for the follow up to New Mourning. Two years on, Ken Sharp releases Beauty In The Backseat. My review of New Mourning covers a lot of Ken's background, you can read that review here. This allows me to concentrate on the job in hand, that being this splendid 2018 affair.
Sharp is very much known Power Pop wise, but Beauty In The Backseat provides much more than that. It feels far more at home in the Pop Rock world of the 70's in all that it does. The 16 songs here last for an hour, something not usually the case in Power Pop and the slightly longer songs allow much more in them.
The style, arrangements and sound are very much into that Post Glam Rock world. Albums that appealed to Mum and Dad as much as the kids. Here in the UK, those albums were gathered up willingly, think Pilot, Jigsaw and even 10cc.
There are quite a few guest appearances here. Ace Frehley riffs on Rock Show, Kasim Sulton adds vocals to Mona Lisa Smiles. Ruti Celli plays some wonderful Cello on The Day That David Bowie Died and even the magnificent Marshall Crenshaw gets involved on Miracle.
It's also quite a coup to get John Oates in on the act for Philly Kind Of Night and nice to hear IDHAS favourite, Rob Bonfiglio on Backing Vocals across the album. For all these appearances though, the greatest plus point is the involvement of Fernando Perdomo. The man never seems to sleep and I don't think that I've ever heard a bad song that he's on. He plays on all of the album and Co-Produces and it shows.
There's a real Summer feel to the whole album. That Philly influence can be heard at times, but it's the Pop that shines through. Pull The Strings is pure John Miles, The Hardest Part is very teeny bop David Cassidy and there's also a song about Cassidy present here, that is much more Jangly though.
You can imagine Sharp playing Ring On Your Finger on Soul Train, the same applies to Sinking. Miracle is almost Motown. Lemons To Lemonade will appeal to most, but it's Mona Lisa Smile that hits my buttons most. You can imagine it in a Partridge Family episode.
The album marches on from New Mourning's welcome return. It's far more Philly Sound than that album and very very 70's, but it works beautifully. It's a corker of an album that should be added to your collection.
You can listen to and buy the album here. You can find out more about all things Ken Sharp here.
Ok it's about time that we got the weekly hour long thing back on the road with Volume 55 after a fair break. This will now only appear on Mixcloud to make things easier to find. The format is still new songs in an hour long mix. No artist intros. I've thought of adding them, but people say they like the hour long no break model. I will sound out people if that needs to change.
The playlist details will be on here and by clicking the Mixcloud tab. You can listen to the previous adventures on Mixcloud here.
The new talky 2 hour radio show is a couple of weeks away, details will be posted on IDHAS and is completely different to this.
This week's show features 14 superb songs, ending with a magnificent 18 minute Rundgren-esque final song. Details of how to listen to number 55 are provided by the link after the playlist below :
01 Ex Norwegian - Good Intentions
02 Andy Bopp - Sure And True
03 Cursed Arrows - Near Death Daydream
04 The National Reserve - No More
05 Greg Pope - She's Already There
06 Groovy Uncle - Howard Eno
07 Matt Berry - Rainbow
08 McPherson Grant - Not My Cup Of Tea
09 Fever Feel - Lose Your Mind
10 Otto Niklasson Elmerås - It's Over
11 Hawk - Allison's Gone
12 Dennis Gurley - Every Other Summer
13 The Imperial Sound - Daylight
14 Nick Frater - The Sombrero Fallout Suite
I Don't Hear A Single Volume 55
Friday, 2 November 2018
One of the advantages of age is to witness the reassessment of artists that you loved when young. I remember ELO being largely disliked by the mass unwashed and at best being a guilty secret. Now everyone loved them all along.
Be Bop Deluxe are another example. To me, they were one of the best bands around. To many more, they were Second Division Rock. Bill Nelson was and still is one of the most innovative guitarists and although the band were incendiary live, you couldn't quite pigeon hole them.
Most Rock Guitarists didn't wear three piece suits or had short hair. Plus, the music was so diverse, in essence a sort of Sci Fi affair, but wrapped in Prog, Blues and Pure Pop. Nelson's Guitar Playing marked Be Bop Deluxe far in excess of average, bordering brilliant.
Now of course, everyone loved them, maybe they always did or feel guilty for missing them, hopefully many are discovering them. Sunburst Finish is the band's third album, a halfway point in their five album career. It's always probably the most accessible and maybe their best.
The Guitar solos of the first two are reined in, with a focus on the songs. Nelson still lets rip on Crying In The Sky and the magnificent Blazing Apostles took on a new life as a rock out live, it could last beyond 12 minutes. The former shows all you need to know about his axe hero reputation.
But the songs here veer more towards Pop Rock, beautifully so, particularly on the opener Fair Exchange, There's a ton of inventiveness across all eleven tracks. Ships In The Night is Pop Reggae, Life In The Air Age is Southern Rock. Sleep That Burns is a mix of the continental and Prog. Sunburst Finish is a masterful album, labelling Nelson as a Pop Rock star that you felt he never wanted to be.
Bill Nelson was not one to stand still. After the mixed reaction to the minimal BBD final album, Drastic Plastic, Bill Nelson's Red Noise was to virtually invent New Romantic and then head for an extensive solo career. His solo work encompasses Instrumental, Ambient and the odd Rock Out. All of it is wonderful and his prolific nature has cost me a lot of money over the years and is probably the best value for money that I've ever bought.
Esoteric have done a lovely job with the set. The 3 Audio CDs contain the remastered album and 2018 Stereo Mix plus outtakes. The third disc contains a 1976 BBC Radio 1 In Concert and a Peel Session.
The DVD contains the 5.1 Surround Stereo Mix plus Video from the 1976 appearance on the Old Grey Whistle Test and the Promo Video for Ships In The Night. The Booklet is a 68 page extravaganza with an essay of Recollections from Bill Nelson.
Also included are a facsimile of The Sunburst Finish Tour Program, Postcards and a replica poster. This really is quite a set and a great testament to a fantastic band and a fantastic album. You can Pre-Order the deluxe version from Cherry Red here. There is also a link on that page to buy the cutdown 2 disc version.