Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Mamas Gun - Golden Days, album review


A timely listen and review for me, hot on the heals of yesterday's Lamont Dozier - no, this isn't a direct comparison - but this neusoul ol'soul outing, led by singer, writer and arranger Andy Platts, is an empathetic and informed part of the lineage.

There's clear nods to Marvin Gaye and Smokey Robinson in the vocals, and upbeat soul overall, even in London Girls [there's a geographical touchstone for the band] some fuzzed instrumentation to add dimension. Platts' falsetto sets its own marker at times, as in The Spooks, though I'm sure this signals The Stylistics for many. Whatever, the style is fresh and vibrant.

An excellent album.

Bird Head Music 2

Tuesday, 29 May 2018

Lamont Dozier - Reimagination, album review

Sweet Reimagining

It helps. It helps that the songs are greats. Great songs. Actually, some of the greatest songs ever written.

And then the production is brilliant. The acoustic guitar base of Baby, I Need Your Loving, for example. Then all of the other production elements. How about the gospel rendition of Reach Out, I’ll Be There? Sublime. Spanish guitar on Berandette.

The guests too. Gregory Porter as an accompaniment. Stellar.

There have over the years been many of these ‘reimaginings’, done primarily for copyright reasons [as I recall] where the artist/s needs to re-record in order to earn royalties that have otherwise gone elsewhere [record companies/management] from those original and hugely popular recordings and playing. But these have so often been second-rate, the artist/s no longer at the peak of their initial recordings.

And can Lamont Dozier sing these classics made famous by others?

Have I been pleasantly surprised?

You haven’t worked that out yet?

I think this is a superb album, great songs given this fresh airing, even Cliff Richards on This Old Heart of Mine had me in goose-bumps – it’s the song I know [those memories that come flooding in with the listening] – but it is a gorgeous, simple piano arrangement – with some chorus joining in – and Richards here has a gravel in his voice that may well be more than aging and a result of what he too has been through, as these songs have travelled through and across our collective times.

Take Me In Your Arms (Rock Me a Little While) rocks. Then there is the sweet, nostalgically parenthetical I Can’t Help Myself (Sugar Pie, Honey Bunch) – no not as great as the original, that’s not what I’m saying, but here a piano and Lamont solo reminding of the perfection of the songwriting. Reach Out, I’ll Be There gets a reprise with Jo Harman accompanying, and this too reminds of all I have said about the whole of this excellent revisit, a gospel celebration again of this song.

The album has a strong start: beginning on Supremes Medley with, a little surprisingly [but no more than Cliff Richards…], Graham Nash joining on vocals, essentially as sweet harmony; the fourth track is Baby I Need Your Loving with Lee Ann Womack, and the second track is the stand-out, with Gregory Porter guesting on How Sweet It Is (To Be Loved By You). How sweet indeed.

The Delta Sound on Spotify

Britpop Howls with the Wolf

Check this out on Spotify here - it is very fine music, and I do so like the guitar on Indian Queen. Hear it resonate in Time Please too.

Sunday, 27 May 2018

Eye Music 26

Deerhunter - Double Dream Of Spring

mirroring mirroring mirroring mirroring...

With just a few weeks to go to see John Etheridge playing a local jazz gig, I have been thinking much of Soft Machine and their album Third, the only one I know reasonably well – and I will never forget hearing for the first time back in the day – and I have of late reviewed work that uses the repetitions and loops of Terry Riley et al found in this SM album, so listening this morning to Deerhunter’s latest I was struck by the clear influences of all I have just mentioned on the album’s second track Dial’s Metal Patterns, with the piano repeats and the saxophones and other, these sounds and loops and backwards playing and so on occurring elsewhere in the album too. But this track at eleven minutes is most reflective of that Soft Machine sound and it has been a timely, most enjoyable mirroring. A stand-out.

Hands Music 43

Saturday, 26 May 2018

Nigel Kennedy - Kennedy Meets Gershwin, album review

Being Candid, Kennedy Plays Better Than Villa Did Today...

The opener, Rhapsody in Claret & Blue, sounds initially like the theme music to a 60s BBC drama serial, nothing literary and instead homegrown in black and white clich├ęs and with its title an obvious cop/detective duo [that’s one named Claret, the other….and yes I know it’s actually the colours of Aston Villa FC, who lost their play-off game today, my son-in-law a lifelong fan and season ticket holder, so my sympathies all around, Rhapsody in Blue a perfect empathetic original title], but it soon enough reveals itself as a Gershwin, as it would being in the title of the album, but it also quite quickly becomes rather playful, as it would being Nigel Kennedy.

The playfulness is infectious because it seems full of affection for the original songs, and of course it is virtuoso in its frolicking. Knowing such famous songs so well the listener expects to hear their melodies, and does, and so it is the dancing around and in these which adds further delight. Summertime, however, takes its time wonderfully to get to that melodic line, the violin strains building and building, bluesy and swirling, and the brooding pace with sharp string hits and then light touches is tauntingly compelling. As is its psychedelic close: far-out.

The accompanying ensemble of players add their own brilliant tones, like the flute in Summertime, and the players are:

Howard Alden & Rolf “die Kobra” Bussalb (guitars)
Beata Urbanek-Kalinowska (cello)
Tomasz “Insomnia” Kupiec (bass)
Members of the Orchestra of Life: Alicja Smietana & Sonja Schebeck (violins), David Heath (flutes)

with Nigel Kennedy (violin, viola, piano, Hammond, harpsichord)

Porgy and Bess is beautiful, by the way.