Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Space Music 18

Roger Waters – Is This the Life We Really Want, album review

Bulldozing a Pearl?

Picture a leader with no fucking brains from Picture That sums up the dour focus, not that I disagree, and in Déjà vu, Waters asks if he had been God what would he have done, better. Arrogant, presumptuous, a tad pompous? Possibly, but any more than brainless politicians with only a fraction of the genuine sensibility, overblown or not?

I actually do not know my Pink Floyd like I’m sure many would think one must, and I certainly haven’t followed Waters' musical career post this, and indeed have read more about his political controversies over time than his music. I recall The Wall a little.

So I have no baggage; no expectations. I recognise immediately that this collection of songs, 25 years since his last solo, is obviously his signature sound. That could then suggest it is merely repetitive and/or unimaginative. I don’t know and don’t care. I am enjoying this. He has a grizzled spoken vocal, but he also pushes it through some impressive acrobatics at times, and it works. The lyrics are deeply thoughtful – and that lends itself to the accusation of pedantry – but I am happy to accept the earnest care and concern. Waters really does seem to be ruminating on the ‘what if’ of life today, though acknowledges we cannot turn back the clock, cannot go back in time, but we can say ‘fuck you’ when we’re not listened to in the Moody Blues sounding Broken Bones.

There are lots of soundgrabs from recorded voices, much his own, and the radio, including the weather forecast, and this is derivative of himself, but why not? The sound is at times progressive; at times it is acoustic to foreground the simple melody, and always the message.

Title track Is This the Life We Really Want? is really the epitome of message over melody. There are brooding strings and other orchestration to enhance the list-lyrics of global observation, and the narrative sounds exactly like Ian Drury. It is a litany. It builds into the percussive opening of Bird in a Gale, more soundgrabs from radio announcements, and this is Pink Floyd in a sound we have heard many times before, or you may have and I haven’t, as I said earlier on, and perhaps this informs my tolerance and general liking for the apparent familiarity.

I like the humument of the cover and want to know what the original text was. Should it be obvious?

Monday, 29 May 2017

Ryley Walker - The Roundabout

Not last night at The Phoenix, but a perfect example of the wonderful jamming from Ryley and Health&Beauty, recorded at The Cluny, Newcastle, 23.5.17

Ryley Raga-Reverie Walker - Phoenix, Exeter, 28th May, 2017


We were treated to a different Ryley Walker to the one who performed with Danny Thompson at Bristol back in February of last year. Then it was the folk Walker, the one from Primrose Green and wearing obvious inspirations on the individual but influenced sleeve, and a fine line in banter with Thompson who was always the king of this with one of those influences, John Martyn. There were the raga jams, and the whoops and hollers, but all from Walker on his acoustic, plugged in, yes, but more the solo focus that many will have wanted to see. I did, and loved: read here.

At the Phoenix last night we saw a different Walker, though one you can find all over YouTube, and it was these jam-oriented, band-based raga reveries, this night with Chicago band Health&Beauty who opened with their own jazzrock set and then supported Walker’s with wonderful driving jams, not least the anchoring percussion of Frank Rosaly. Guitarist Brian J. Sulpizio also provided fine guitar work, though he might have ripped it up more here and there – his sound, perhaps, lost a little in the acoustics of the venue, or that lost for my friends and me sitting in the higher balcony.

Those expecting the folk-focus may have been a little disappointed. There was a formula to last night’s performance. Apart from Primrose Green with its distinctive walking up and down bass line, I think all the songs were from Walker’s latest Golden Sings That Have Been Sung [but I can’t be sure] and they were either introduced by expansive instrumental openers or moved into expansive instrumental jams, driven by the riffling guitar of Walker and always building to a crescendo before moving back to the melody – such as it is – of the song.

So the set opened with The Roundabout and this, as melody, is very similar to the others on the album Golden Sings…., his signature sound, and the performance became – and needs to be judged as – a whole. The same with Funny Thing She Said and Sullen Mind. There was also a cover of Tim Hardin’s If I Were a Carpenter, a song from a dead dude [!], and it was immediately evident how Walker’s vocal is very similar, and suited to the song, which did move into another jam, and these jams also reminded me a little of The Doors playing live.

I was caught up in the reverie all night, and still a little this morning. Far out.

Walker and Rosaly

Saturday, 27 May 2017

The Allman Brothers Band - Whipping Post - 9/23/1970 - Fillmore East

Gregg Allman & Cher - Move Me 1977

This won't be regarded as one of his greats - indeed, the album they did together was panned - but it and this song have always been a favourite. My review of the album is here.

One of my earliest reviews on this blog was of Gregg Allman. Read it here.

Gregg Allman

(December 8, 1947 – May 27, 2017)

Sad to hear of his passing. A legend of Southern Rock, and a legendary artist, obviously with the Allman Brothers Band but also his solo career. He made some fine releases of late and I meant to review - and of course still can - but have missed out on celebrating his here and now. Aged 69, another to go before his time, though I guess that is in so many ways a meaningless expression: he certainly packed a lifetime of music into those 69 years.

Hands Music 21

Aldous Harding - Party

No Rockets

The simplicity of instrumentation - essentially unimaginative piano strikes and/or gentle chord sequences - and the overall langour of the pace would suggest this is a dull album. Well, it isn't, ironically, a 'party', but in the singing from Aldous Harding, especially at her lower, sonorous tone, it is a beautiful if brooding set of songs. This singing is often supported by accompanying/harmonising/surprising vocals, though the tone remains the same: sombre. Four songs in the middle exemplify this well - I'm So Sorry, Horizon, What If Birds and The World is Looking, the last having the sweetest of harmony in that other vocal arrangement, and here a simply plucked guitar. Definitely mood music, listen when you want contemplative rather than rocket launching.

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Feist - Pleasure, album review

Complex Depths

I was initially a little disappointed in this new album from Feist, expecting her pretty, if quirky at times, pop-clever songs, but this whole has a rawer quality, demo-like and jagged, though there are the sweet songs [and the distinctive vocal] for example title track Pleasure, and then A Man is Not His Song and I’m Not Running Away, with these as all the others to varying melodic assertions, bold or indifferent, complex and bearing the further listening they need/deserve and which reveal the depths of songwriting and performance.