Thursday, 30 June 2016

Zoot Money - The Bull's Head, London, 30th June, 2016

Nostalgia Today

Off to see Zoot today with an ol' school friend from many years ago. He sent me the link to the Barbecue 67 Festival Zoot played in 1967 with Hendrix. How cool is that?

Wednesday, 29 June 2016

Into the Distance Music 36

Judy Collins & Ari Hest - Silver Skies Blue, album review

Perfect Blue

Silver Skies Blue has Judy Blue Eyes Collins paired with Ari Hearst in an old-school folkesque duet refulgent with the beauty of their vocals, Collins' crisp and crystal-clear high register is perfectly complemented by Hest's tenor timbre. All good songs, closer Strangers Again is beautiful; Secret Harbour even more so. It's about listening in the right mood. If yearning for sweet and soothing and not averse to the charm of prettiness, then fall back safely into the cushion of its comfort.

Tuesday, 28 June 2016

Stewart Lindsey - Spitballin', album review

With Polish

Continuing with my brief [still examining] reviews, Dave Stewart and Thomas Lindsey combine on an album where a fine set of songs are made special by the startling vocal of Lindsey, a voice that warbles with a natural force and a female tone that seems odd to mention but has to be because it sounds so distinctly so. Single Another Lie has classic Stewart sharp guitar [including slide], but that singing is blues-brilliant in its soaring trill.

Saturday, 25 June 2016

Foghat - Under the Influence, album review

Rock Pledge

A couple of years in the making and many more in their own rock-lineage gestation, this classic rock album is as generically solid as one could hope. There is a stellar Stones-esque stomper in Heart Gone Cold - certainly in the opening riff - and Dana Fuchs adds occasional husky vocal depths as on following track Honey Do List. She also contributes to a raunchy cover of I Heard it Through the Grapevine. A pledgemusic spawn, Foghat was originally 'spawned' from Savoy Brown [I nicked that birthing metaphor and re-used] and Kim Simmonds also guests. A modern resourcing/production method, but the rockgenes remain intact.

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

Branford Marsalis Quartet - Upward Spiral, album review

Specialty Jazz

This is a special album. Other reviews point to the fact it is rare to have such luminaries in their respective fields – Marsalis on sax; Elling on vocal – sharing a whole album, an album dedicated to the partnership. I have no idea about the actual history of that, but it is special simply because it is so sound. As a big fan of Elling, I welcome any addition to his output.

Marsalis does more than contribute to that. Indeed, the album is Brandford Marsalis Quartet featuring Kurt Elling, and the sax playing is, as one would expect, superb, from the bright solo on opener There’s a Boat Dat’s Leaving Soon for New York to the tender tandem tones of sax and vocal on second Blue Gardenia, standards playing out much of the album.

Perhaps surprising, one of my favourites on the album, and the most beautiful, is another cover but not a ‘standard’ – it is Sting’s Practical Arrangement, a delicately performed, emotive rendition, the questioning about a possible relationship [distanced as a prospect by the term ‘arrangement’], has Elling totally plausible in the asking and the yearning. Marsalis adds the saddening saxophone for maximum impact. An extended piano lament by Joey Calderozzo follows that solo before Elling returns to proposition I’m not promising the moon, I’m not promising a rainbow, just a practical solution to a solitary life, I’d be a father to your boy, a shoulder you could lean on, how bad could it be, to be my wife and other pragmatic urgings, you wouldn’t have to cook for me.

One more effective and affecting proffering of pathos is the singular sax and vocal thrust of I’m a Fool to Want You. Two such potent instruments. There’s a rousing combo of spoken poetry and sassy sax on Momma Said; a beautiful song in the co-penned Casandra Song where Elling soars, and a final mention will go to the slowly sultry ooze of Blue Velvet.


Monday, 20 June 2016

Whiskey Music 6

Neil Young: Love And Only Love, O2 London, 11th June, 2016

I do recommend a watch - probably the greatest jam of the night. In my previous review, I did mention the glorious vocal harmonies, and they are here in the wonderful chorus. The ending is a delightful tease.

If you look, you will find excellent audio bootlegs out there to download. I know of two. Great to listen for any fan, but rather special when you were there, as I was, which I simply like saying.

Wednesday, 15 June 2016

Neil Young with Promise of the Real - London O2, 11th June 2016: concert review

Neil Young IS Rock

I have now seen them all: Crosby, Stills and Nash at Bristol in 2013; Neil Young in London a few days ago. It is like a musical pilgrimage, though nothing like those fans who follow them all, everywhere. I accept that.

Similar to that Bristol gig, it was an emotional experience: all that expectation and what the music reflects of a past, growing up with them collectively as a band of four, and then the solo work, Neil Young coming to my attention really with Everybody Knows This is Nowhere in Putney London where a friend lived and had the album. That album is my favourite, for this historical and therefore nostalgic reason, and the songs. And those songs exemplify the classic Young songwriting mix of acoustic ballads and driving rock, exactly as that reflected in the O2 gig, though Young predominantly rocked the night away.

The O2 gig began when two ‘farmers’ strolled onto the stage, casting seeds. This was followed by Neil himself moving in dark shadow to the piano to open with After the Gold Rush, his voice seemingly unchanged after all these years – perhaps a little worn down in the register, but uniquely his falsetto, and a thrill runs though with the listening. Still placed in shadow as lit from above – his hat casting the dark over his face for some unknown sense of mystery at this early point – he stands and moves to centre stage to be handed his guitar for a rendition of Heart of Gold, vocal and harmonica beautifully clear in the amplification.

It is into the fourth quick visit to these acoustic songs that Neil begins The Needle and the Damage Done, everyone joining in, and I try but choke just as I did at Bristol, an overwrought emotive response to a song I used to sing in my bedroom so many years ago. Silly, and soon overcome.

But the rest of the night was basically supercharged by extended jams with brilliant band Promise of the Real [I have liked as a band and reviewed before here and here] as Neil worked through a selection from a genuine cross-section of albums, the following for the fellow nerds but who probably know them as whole albums much better than me:

After the Gold Rush x 1
Harvest x 5
Harvest Moon x 1
Ragged Glory x 5
Sleeps with Angles x 1
Freedom x 1
Neil Young x 1
On the Beach x 1
The Monsanto Years x 1
Living with War x 1
Earth x 1

And if you like a challenge, perhaps you’d like to match the set list for the night to the albums:

1.      After the Gold Rush
2.      Heart of Gold
3.      From Hank to Hendrix
4.      The Needle and the Damage Done
5.      Mother Earth [Natural Anthem]
6.      Out on the Weekend
7.      Western Hero
8.      Hold Back the Tears
9.      Someday
10.  Alabama
11.  If I Could Have Her Tonight
12.  Words
13.  Walk On
14.  Love to Burn
15.  Mansion on a Hill
16.  Seed Justice
17.  Revolution Blues
18.  Monsanto Years
19.  After the Garden
20.  Love and Only Love
21.  [encore song] F*!#in’ Up

For much of the jamming, Neil had his back to the audience, not in dismissal, but as the band clustered together lost in the rock and psychedelic reverie of the communal guitar playing, Neil leading in his inimitable vibrato and minor chord and other blistering mixes. It was joyous for me. I think most others enjoyed, though I have seen very occasional disparaging comments about, for example, the ‘self-indulgence’ of these jams. I couldn’t agree with the characterising; and Neil has earned the right to do what he pleases. I would understand if some missed more of those sweet acoustic ballads, and I would have enjoyed too, but in the end what we heard was the quite defiant and irrefutable reality that Neil Young IS Rock.  

It was a memorable night, and here I am four days later listening as I type to a recording I made of the set list as it is on record, and I have downloaded every live recording of the gig that have already been posted on YouTube.

A final comment: the beautiful harmonies from the band were astonishingly good.

Acknowledgement to Every record tells a story for pics; excellent review of gig

Two Faces Music 8