Saturday, 29 September 2018

Rod Stewart - Blood Red Roses, album review

Rod's Return, Again

In an album of occasional yet just reflections from the past – the vocal almost always signaturing itself as enduringly distinctive – and too many duds that prompt immediate fast-forwarding, one of the highlights is the funk and gospel of Give Me Love, better than anything on Chic’s latest release. Rest of My Life follows in this relative favouritism with its Motown aping, and reminds of Stewart’s broad influences.  Perhaps Ed Sheeran is to blame for a couple of hopeful celticfolk hits, though perhaps Rod always had that proclivity in him. You wouldn’t have thought Rollin’ and Tumblin’ would lack spunk in the hands of a true rocker, but…[and though not entirely fair, check out the same on Billy Gibbons' latest]. Julia is, I guess, the power of nostalgia over musical judgement, a fuzzed guitar unable to justify itself swimming in the syrup and about as incongruous as putting that syrup on sausages [though hang on, that is another favourite of mine]. Put a sign on the door – untouchable is a potentially great line from Honey Gold, but this too seems to be more the necessity of a reflecting narrative and hauling in a big chorus as accompaniment: if it is a song about protest and independence, the pop sensibilities do seem at odds. There’s a rumour you even partied with The Faces is, however, another good line. Vegas Shuffle rocks generically strong enough to make getting near the end worth it, just – those cheerleader-esque vocals lost on me. The sweet-end register of Stewart’s vocal on Cold Old London is pretty and plaintive in its reflection on aging, but the song is soppy. And if you are going to title a song Who Designed the Snowflake… Closer, the calypso of I Don’t Want to Get Married, is as jolly as one assumes Rod was in recording this whole album. Fair play if and when you can.

Fruit Music 3

Tony Joe White - Bad Mouthin', album review

Languid Blues

The most languorous blues I may have ever heard – not in that despair of the genre's gut feeling of emotional ennui and/or desperation, but the near indolence of delivery. There is the simplicity of strummed guitar and occasional lead, basic harmonica, and percussion just enough to set a pace where the most energy is displayed in its relative just-woken energy. Tony Joe White is swamped to the deep core of his signature vocal. Excellent.

Eye Music 30

Friday, 28 September 2018

Quentin Collins - The Blue Vanguard Jazz Club, Gipsy Hill Hotel, Exeter - 27th September, 2018

Jazz and Beards

As a generally generously hirsute person, and even after a recent light trim still fully bewhiskered [also having two like-faced friends attending with me: one goateed, the other stubbled] it is a good thing Quentin Collins played such an exemplary trumpet and flugelhorn – including one most beautiful, sublime version of Lover Man – because I’ll therefore forgive him for mentioning near the beginning of his guest-spot last night at the Blue Vanguard Jazz Club how he was from East London where the gigs normally played were attended by many twats in beards.

Quentin and Craig

To be fair, he did say they also wore tweed, and I alternatively had on my psychedelic shirt beneath denim, and he was also setting a contrasting and humorous scene where playing at the BV was like going back in time by at least 40 years. As a building and internal d├ęcor, he was spot on. And to be fair once more [yes, he really is that good to secure this fulsome clemency] he was most appreciative of the full attendance, as it always is, and he’s not the first well-travelled and well-respected jazz musician to comment on the impressive welcome from The Gipsy Hill Hotel venue compared with many other and perhaps ostensibly more ‘prominent’ jazz clubs.

One final quote from Quentin to secure an absolute pardon was the observation on his further pleasure to be playing with these swinging cats that are the Craig Milverton Trio house band that includes Coach York and Al Swainger. This too is a regular comment from knowing and experienced guests – though not as aptly as Collins’ coolly jazzy vernacular – on just how tight this band is and how the extraordinary lack of rehearsal time [one hour last night] still delivers such an accomplished performance.

All together
Craig on keys and Al on bass had as ever their own exemplary solo spots – and these never cease to impress – but I’m giving the biggest shout-out [next to Collins, naturally] to Coach for his on-fire drumming. I do like his solo insertions into closing bars where last night horn and keys alternated and York interjected with both his subtleties and blasts – and there were some explosive drum ‘n’ horn detonations in unison as well.

I'm looking forward to listening to the QCBA Beauty in Quiet Places album [Quentin with saxophonist Brandon Allen] and hearing more of Collins' supersweet tone as well as dynamic, virtuoso runs.

Quentin's trumpet trills visualised
[Opening pic from stubbled Marti, next three from goateed Timbo, final from a shaking Some Awe]

Tuesday, 11 September 2018

Beth Hart - Screamin' for My Supper, album review

Screamin' Supremacy

Released in 1999, this album rests between the two I have just reviewed in the preceding posts – this my furthering appreciation of a special talent.

Songwriting is always a feature, but on this album the credits are largely Hart’s, with assistance naturally here and there. It’s all damn good, but I recommend two tracks:

G.O.P. is a blistering rock number that platforms Hart’s vocal in its full range of blast and beautiful rage, the punching tempo in full empathetic support, riffs abounding and bluesy at times.

Skin is a ballad filled with light orchestral grace underpinning Hart’s highly emotive and vibrated singing, scorching touches as she soars. 

Two Faces Music 22

Beth Hart - Leave the Light On, album review

Life Lit Up

More of the same stunning vocal [see previous post and link therein], this from 2003 and more expansive overall, including accompanying vocal and some powerful brass additions.

Hart continues the confessional with some potent words that reflect lived experience and a sensitivity to honest expression, this the closing verse from the album’s title song:

Cause I want to love
I want to live
I don't know much about it
I never did,
I don't know what to do, can the damage be undone
I swore to God that I'd never be what I've become
Lucky stars and fairy tales
I'm gonna bathe myself in a wishin' well
Pretty scars from cigarettes
I never will forget, I never will forget
I'm still afraid to be alone
wish that moon would follow me home
I leave the light on
I ain't that bad I'm just messed up
I ain't that sad but I'm sad enough
God bless the child with the dirty face who cuts her luck with a dirty ace
She leaves the light on, I leave that light on