Come For A Dream: The U.K. Sessions 1970-1971 By Dusty Springfield

December 27, 2015

Caroline no sweden

Dusty Springfield enjoyed some main stream commercial success but was never able to grab the brass ring despite being one of the best female vocalists of the second half of the 20th century. Fate was very unkind to her as she passed away several months before her induction into The Rock And Roll Hall Of Fame.

During the late 1960’s and early 1970’s she recorded in both the United States and the United Kingdom. Her 1969 release, Dusty In Memphis is considered to be one of the better albums of the era. She also recorded a number of tracks in her home country for an English release. See All Her Faces was released in 1972 but only contained nine of the newly recorded songs. The other five tracks were taken from her American recording sessions. Now all of the material from her English recording sessions has been released together under the title Come For A Dream: The U.K. Sessions 1970-1971.

When approaching anything recorded by Dusty Springfield, the expectations are always high and this newly released material lives up to those expectations.

The album is a little more pop oriented than her American releases from the same time-period. She was not a songwriter and so had to choose her material. She was, however, a great interpreter of songs and when given the right material, the results could be spectacular.

Springfield is backed by an orchestra on all the tracks, which was a departure from the past. The Rascals “How Can I Be Sure” and the Chi-lites “O-O-Child” have soulful vocals amid the lush backing. Songs such as “Yesterday When I Was Young,” What Are You Doing The Rest Of Your Life,” Jimmy Webb’s, and “Mixed Up Girl” are pure pop. Leon Russell’s “A Song For You” and Antonio Carlos Jobim’s “Come For A Dream” both have some blues elements.

Many Of The Tracks have been not been available for decades and while she travels across a number of styles; when taken individually they add some luster to her legacy. A must release for her fan base.


Live In Glasgow 1982 By Girlschool

December 27, 2015

Caroline no sweden

Girlschool was and is your basic hard rock/heavy metal band. The fact that the members were all female made them unique almost 40 years ago.

Formed in 1975 as Painted Lady, by 1978 they had morphed into Girlschool. In 1982 original members guitar/vocalist Kim McAuliffe, guitarist/vocalist Kelly Johnson, drummer Denise Dufort, and newest member bassist Gil Weston, who had just replaced Enid Williams, were touring in support of their third studio album Screaming Blue Murder. They took the stage at the Apollo Theatre in Glasgow, Scotland, May 6, 1982, and the tape was running.

Girlschool in the studio and especially live in concert is a kick-butt, in your face, no nonsense band with attitude. This definition was on display at their 1982 concert in Glasgow. Songs such as “Race With The Devil,” “Hit And Run,” “When Your Blood Runs Cold,” and “Screaming Blue Murder,” as the titles suggest, are not for the faint of heart. Early in their career they were an opening act for Motorhead, which is the ultimate training ground for a heavy metal band.

Unlike many other hard rocking female bands, it quickly becomes apparent that the music is at the center of band’s persona and you quickly forget about the male vs. female split that many times exists in rock and especially heavy metal music.

The sound is more than adequate for a concert recorded 33 years ago. Each of the musicians is distinct and there is a good mix with the crowd noise.

Girlschool is still on the road today. Original bassist Williams returned to the line-up after a few years and along with Dufort and McAuliffe form ¾ of the original group. Johnson passed away from cancer in 2007.

If you are a fan of hard rock then Glasgow 1982 will be a diamond in the rough for your music collection.


Midnight Mist By Voo Davis

December 27, 2015

Caroline no sweden

Voo Davis is an artist who has learned his craft. The guitarist/singer has now returned with his latest release Midnight Mist, which is another concoction of roots music and blues all stirred into  a tasty mix.

While Davis combines many musical elements and styles into his music, he is at heart connected to the roots of the southern blues.

He continues to use the simple approach. He just goes into the studio and plays; one take … one song. What he plays is what you get, which gives his music an authentic and intimate feel, Tracks such as “When I Get Back To You,” “Cajun Sun,” “Howling Out Your Name,” and “Riverside Blues” all crackle with energy.

Backed by drummer Craig Borchers, keyboardist Michael Borkart, bassist Reggie Winterland, and harmonica/fiddle player Calvin Conway; Voo Davis has created his most mature and accessible album of music. A nice pot of southern style cooking for the mind and soul.


That’s What They Say By Brad Vickers & His Vestapolitans

December 11, 2015

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Brad Vickers produces an excellent brand of modern day blues that every once in awhile adds a little Americana and country elements to the mix. What sets him apart is he really seems to enjoy his music. and sometimes that can make all the difference. Now with his backing band The Vestapolitans, he has returned with his new release That’s The Way.

His new release combines six originals, six tunes by Margey Peters, and several traditional covers, which all come together in an album filled with music that pays homage to the past.

Tampa Red’s “Seminole Blues” is given a hard-edged treatment with just bass, guitar, drums, and vocal. Leadbelly’s “Don’t You Love Your Daddy No More” is filled out with sax and clarinet.

Other highlights includes his own “Everything About You Is Blue,” which includes work by fiddle player Charles Burnham, a sparse tribute to Appalachia with “Martin Sparrow,” and a full blown brass infused production of Margey Paters “Mama”s Cookin.’ ”

Brad Vickers has created another album that will be enjoyable both to himself and his listeners.


Raise Your Hands By Sam Butler

December 11, 2015

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Sam Butler is the former rhythm guitarist/second vocalist for the legendary Blind Boys Of Alabama. Now on his own for the first time, he has issued his debut album, Raise Your Hands.”

Rooted in gospel traditions, he has stayed true to his heritage but with a unique and creative twist. He has taken songs by the likes of Bruce Springsteen, Eric Clapton, Van Morrison, Johnny Cash, and Tom Waits and moved them from their secular foundations to a bluesy gospel sound.

It is an eclectic group of songs that he molds into a cohesive whole. “Heaven’s Wall” (Bruce Springsteen), “The Lord” (Bee Gees), “Lead Me Father” (Johnny Cash), “Gospel Train” (Tom Waits), “Full Force Gale” (Van Morrison), and “Presence Of The Lord” (Eric Clapton) are a sampling of his creative process in action. His voice is very different from the original artists, which give the songs a very different feel.

His guitar work is backed by drummer Marco Giovino, bassist Viktor Krauss, and very important for the sound, pedal steel guitarist Roosevelt Collier.

Cash’s “Lead Me Father” undergoes a complete transformation and emerges as a bluesy Jimi Hendrix type rocker. “Full Force Gale” is now a gritty southern meeting house performance. The Old Impressions song, “Wherever You Leadeth” is a deep soul piece.

Sam Butler has taken gospel music in a very different direction and in doing so, expanded its parameters. Butler has issued a impressive debut album, which serves to whet the appetite for the next chapter.


Dark Sky Island By Enya

December 11, 2015

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Enya is who she is. If you like one Enya album, you will probably like them all. She has now returned with her first new studio album in seven years titled Dark Sky Island.

Her music and voice are instantly recognizable. He angelic voice supports music that is otherworldly and would be right at home in the world of Tolkien. Even her song titles reflect her style and sound as now; The Forge Of The Angels,” “Diamonds On The Water,” “Dark Sky Island,” “The Humming,” and “The Loxian Way” are added to the Enya lexicon.

The songs, individually, are less distinctive than her past work; rather they form a cohesive whole and the album is best approached as a unit.

The album is basically a three person project. Enya provides the vocals, writes the music, and except for the bass part on one song, plays all the instruments. Nicky Ryan produced the album and Roma Ryan wrote the lyrics and helped with the design.

Enya’s music has always appealed to the emotions more than the mind. It is a reflective experience that just washes you along. Roma Ryan’s lyrics are the perfect musical partner for Enya and their relationship now extends back decades. She has even written lyrics for Enya in the Loxian language, which she created. That language makes a return on the album.

While much of her music is layered, “I Could Never Say Goodbye” is more sparse and reaches back to her Irish roots and is a nice counterpoint to what surrounds it. Her vocal prowess is on display in “Echoes In Rain” as it soars higher and higher while telling the story of journeys end. “The Loxian Gates” is an entrance to Enya’s and Roma Ryan’s fantasy world.

Dark Sky Island will appeal to her huge world-wide fan base. There are no great leaps of faith here but the moods and textures are well thought out and constructed and should find a place in her ever increasing body of work.


Mrs. Brown You’ve Got A Lovely Daughter By Herman’s Hermits

December 9, 2015

 

There was the British Invasion of The Beatles, Dave Clark Five, and Rolling Stones. Then there was the British Invasion of Freddy & The Dreamers and Herman’s Hermits.

The Hermits may have been the light pop side of the English sound but 1965 was their year. They had seven singles reach the Billboard Pop Chart and all seven reached the top 10 with two becoming number one hits.

Peter Noone was a child actor before he became Herman. While they were a legitimate band, many of their studio tracks music were played by outside musicians including Jimmy Page and John Paul Johes, who would become one half of Led Zeppelin.

Mrs. Brown reached the Billboard Hot 100 Chart April 17, 1965 at number 12. Two weeks later it was the number one song in America where it remained for three weeks.

 


Drifted: In The Beginning And Beyond (CD)

December 6, 2015

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The Continental Drifters were not your typical Indy band. They were very smooth, wonderfully creative, and a very tight group of multi-talented musicians. They formed in 1991 and for little over a decade produced music that blended pop, country, and Americana into a spicy mix. Now, about a decade after their demise, Drifted: In The Beginning & Beyond fills in a lot of gaps in their career with one disc of early original material and a second disc of live covers, unreleased material, and studio tracks.

The 15 tracks contained on the first disc are culled from three separate recording sessions. It is interesting to compare the early songs that do not include Peterson and Cowsill as their inclusion brought a different mix to the band both vocally and persona wise.

Ray Ganucheau, Gary Eaton, and Carlo Nuccio were the principle songwriters and vocalists. They were incisive composers and despite having voices that were dramatically different, they could harmonize on an intimate level that could both soar and purr. Songs such as “I Didn’t Want To Lie,” “The Mississippi,” “Made In Heaven,” and “No One Cares” have a wonderful complexity of instruments, voices, and words that merge into a creative whole.

The second disc has a more eclectic feel given its diverse nature. The live tracks are highlights. “Dedicated To The One O Love,” The obscure Beach Boys song “The Farmer’s Daughter,” and Sandy Denny’s “At The End Of The Day” are previously unreleased gems that present the band’s concert sound well.

Also included is their European only EP “Listen Listen,” which was a tribute to Richard Thompson and Sandy Denny Of Fairport Convention.

The 20 page booklet contains comments and memories by various band members.

The Continental Drifters were a band that had, and still has, a rabid fan base, but huge commercial success inexplicably eluded them. Drifted: In The Beginning & Beyond is a nice introduction to a band that produced creative and very listenable music during their existence.

 


Live In Germany ’78 (DVD) By The Boomtown Rats

December 6, 2015

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Today, Bob Geldof is admired for his many humanitarian causes and projects. It is often forgotten that from 1976-1985, he fronted the Irish cutting edge rock band, The Boomtown Rats.

Guitarist Gary Roberts, keyboardist Johnnie Fingers, bassist Pete Briguette, guitarist Gerry Cott, drummer Simon Crowe, and vocalist Bob Geldof were originally known as the Nightlife Thugs but by 1977 were performing and recording as The Boomtown Rats, They released their self-titled debut album in 1977 and followed that with their 1978 breakthrough release A Tonic For The Troops.

The year 1978 found them embarking on an extensive European tour. The German stop on that tour is chronicled on a new DVD/CD set with the appropriate title Live In Germany ’78.

This is the early, raw, angry, and primitive Boomtown Rats. Their debut album contained nine tracks and eight of them form the foundation for this live album. “Lookin’ After No. 1” is a blast from the late 1970’s New Wave Era. “Mary Of The 4th Form” is a sexually explicit tale of a teacher and a young girl, which would have a very difficult time getting any airplay today. “Do The Rat” comes from the same era and was a B side to a European single. It is more of a free form approach.

The tour is dated from 1978 but probably took place before the release of their second album. Only two songs, “She’s So Modern” and “Don’t Believe What You Read” appear on that release. While they fit in with the other live material, they are more sophisticated than the other songs and show that the band has already started to mature.

An interesting inclusion is a copy of their 10 page contact rider containing such tidbits as payments, merchandising, damage (no responsibility whatever), dressing rooms, security, and guess lists.

The DVD and sound is at the mercy of the technology of the day. It probably was not recorded with a general release in mind, and certainly not with the sophistication of today’s technology. Still the gritty nature of the performance can be appreciated against this backdrop.

The original incarnation of the Boomtown Rats lasted until 1986, when the members went on to other projects. They reformed in 2013. Live Germany ’78 is an excellent glimpse of a band beginning to develop their persona, and who would become an important element in the emerging New Wave scene.