Tuesday, 17 July 2018

Jimmy LaFave - Peace Town, album review

Rest in that Town

This posthumous album by Jimmy LaFave resonates for two main reasons: the first is in its total beauty, mainly wonderful covers of great songs, made distinctive by his sweet, sweet voice, and of course the interpretation [also such fine supporting musicians]; and secondly in honour of his passing just over a year ago. This two cd collection was recorded not as a farewell, but it collects his last studio work focused specifically on favourites of his to mainly cover [with a particular fondness for Dylan], and serves as a memorable statement of a distinctive artist.

I didn’t realise he had passed and there should have been a louder knell, or I should have been paying attention more.

There are so many fond and knowing reviews/reflections out there and I defer to their already stated affections and accolades. I as ever lean to the beautiful and plaintive tilts he makes at and with well-known songs, but I also commend the upbeat and the blues and the rock’n’roll. He was a class act and this collection is burnished with that talent and sensitivity for empathy and meaningfulness.

A previous review of mine here will support my high regard, and I thoroughly recommend this. 

Thursday, 12 July 2018

Scott Matthews - The Great Untold, album review


Strange to read [somewhere] Scott Matthews stated as the natural heir to John Martyn – or words to that effect – and clearly drawing musical parallels. I don’t see/hear it at all, unless the suggestion is Matthews is a fine artist, which he is.

What I hear is much more Rufus Wainwright and Jeff Buckley, perhaps early Ron Sexsmith: fine enough touchstones for tracing a lineage, and this is in the sweetness of the vocal – which John Martyn of course had in his early work, though quite a different sweet factor, and his latter jazz slur became its own phenomenal and distinctive instrument.

This is a genuinely pretty collection of popfolk songs that are finely crafted and performed, which is a rather clich├ęd assessment but that too is quite genuine.

Thursday, 5 July 2018

Cream: Strange Brew - The Very Best of Cream

More Marking Music

For afterwards, chilling at the end of an examining day.

There are other compilations, and they all have the same hits, in different orders.

Two things:

1. I have a soft spot for the track Anyone for Tennis. An odd one out, quite pretty by comparison, but full of nostalgia as I played the single often.

2. When I listen to these great tracks, I am by and large thinking of Jack Bruce. The mastermind. And Pete Brown.

White Room

In the white room with black curtains near the station
Black roof country, no gold pavements, tired starlings
Silver horses ran down moonbeams in your dark eyes
Dawnlight smiles on you leaving, my contentment

I'll wait in this place where the sun never shines
Wait in this place where the shadows run from themselves

You said no strings could secure you at the station
Platform ticket, restless diesels, goodbye windows
I walked into such a sad time at the station
As I walked out, felt my own need just beginning

I'll wait in the queue when the trains come back
Lie with you where the shadows run from themselves

At the party she was kindness in the hard crowd
Consolation for the old wound now forgotten
Yellow tigers crouched in jungles in her dark eyes
She's just dressing, goodbye windows, tired starlings

I'll sleep in this place with the lonely crowd
Lie in the dark where the shadows run from themselves

Songwriters: Jack Bruce / Pete Brown
White Room lyrics © Warner/Chappell Music, Inc

Monday, 2 July 2018

Paul Rodgers - Free Spirit (Live), album review

It Just Is

A great performance from one of the true greats, recorded live at the Royal Albert Hall in 2017 and just released. It is as good as it gets, covering Rodgers' career, but for me the Free songs are the stand-outs in the 16 song collection: nostalgia and some of the very best riff-driven rock songs ever written and performed by one of the tightest bands. Platitudinous but as it is. I've seen him twice - long after the demise of Free - and he was brilliant then as he is now, all these years later. That's not nostalgia - that's how it actually is.

That's it. No more to be said. Listening now and loving it.

Friday, 29 June 2018

Marcus Miller - Laid Back, album review

Laid Back as a Speeding Freight Train

My break and music-injection from marking this evening is the brilliant bassist Marcus Miller’s latest Laid Back where the live opening track Trip Trap is as far from laid back as a bass funk fest on a frenzied freight train can be with its stunning Miller lines and other accompaniments.

This is followed with an on-fire funked-up Que Sera Sera with Selah Sue on iconoclastic sassy vocal with this Doris Day classic that delights as much as it surprises after the album’s explosive instrumental opener.

And so it continues – majestic music from the premier bassist and his creativity in collecting such fine musicians around him as well as song selection, as in penultimate Keep ‘Em Runnin’ where vocal and bass merge beneath the actual vocal lines and their hip hop roots [and this song based around Earth Wind & Fire’s Runnin’], and in closer Preacher’s Kid written as a tribute to Miller’s recently passed father, where its beautiful opening chorus pans out to such joyous exclamatory saxophone play offs.