Tuesday, 29 October 2019

Larry Miller - The Saint and the Sinner, album review

Resonating Return

This album, four years after Miller’s stroke put a halt to its initial recording and the normalcy of his life at that time, is a return to form in more ways than one [to state the obvious].

It is the blues through and through. From ripping it up to acoustic sensitivity, Miller plays brilliantly and is again in fine voice. Opener I Gotta Turn the Corner chugs out the most chugging blues delight imaginable, and we’re off, followed by a riff bliss with Women and the Blues. I Want My Life Back is a Gary Moore-esque lament that resonates for, again, obvious reasons though it is lyrically the blues of romantic loss.

There’s a resonator rendition of Black Oak Arkansas’ Hangman which is superb, and this is followed by the lamenting mandolin beauty of Your Tears Will Hit the Floor, a paradoxical upbeat folkblues in the way it deals with loss again – what goes up must come down.

The Outlaw Named is a sweet acoustic ballad reflecting his continuing deep Christian sensibilities; this followed by Taste My Love, an electric ballad featuring Miller playing his classic full-toned and bending lead, and penultimate track Why Don’t You Believe returns to riff with the addition of accompanying Hammond. Closer Ain’t No Love Anymore is another Moore-esque slow blues with organ also soothing the plaintive tone.

It is genuinely brilliant to see and hear this return. See other Larry Miller reviews on this blog here.

Monday, 28 October 2019

Pig Music 2

Wishbone Ash and The Groundhogs, Phoenix, Exeter, 27th October, 2019

Guitar Duos and Difference

Enjoyed especially seeing the latest incarnation of The Groundhogs [having not before] with original member Ken Pustelnik on drums, and newbies Chris D’Avoine on vocal and guitar, Sol Latif on guitar and Latch Manghat on bass.

It’s not complicated: they play Groundhog music from the band’s heyday, loud and raw and vibrant, encoring on, no surprise here, Cherry Red. There were extended guitar jams between D’Avoine and Latif – the later more shredding and the former more psychedelic – and both were gloriously indulgent [I listened to two guys call it ‘guitar wank’ and wondered why the fuck they went to a Groundhog gig – I’d happily refer to it as guitar spunk, caring less for those indulging their umbrage at the puerile, like this guitar duo could care less for such haughty dismissal]. Pustelnik on drums was such a pulsing core, and Manghat added his own sustained thunder to the riffs and rhythms. Far out, as I shouted at one post-jam moment. 

[Listening to Hogwash album as I wrote the above. Wonderful]

I had to leave the gig early but saw Wishbone Ash play their first number The King Will Come, as polished as ever [that’s what 50 years of playing will do, even with new members] and while the guitar playing was a more refined rock – when compared with The Groundhogs – I wouldn’t knock it [I mean, why would you when it is so good] but just stress its difference.

Eye Music 47

Friday, 25 October 2019

Bruce Springsteen - Western Stars, the film version

Orchestral Cowboy

The introductory orchestral sweeps seem to be announcing widescreen blockbusters at the drive-in, and you can hear the Country guitar-twangs even though this is only strings.

My initial reaction to Western Stars here was a little reserved, probably a little critical, but that was down to interruptus expectation, and as is often the case with great albums [I’ll mention now Neil Young with Crazy Horse Colorado which sounded at first insubstantial but is in its simplicity and after further listening totally gorgeous] Springsteen’s latest has grown hugely on me.

This has been furthered with this filmed-in-a-barn live set, again with orchestra and backing singers and cowboys riding all over the strawfloor’n’plains metaphor, and each by now familiar symphonic intro and/or sudden interjection signals that great personal delight. 

Saturday, 19 October 2019

Butt Music 15

Joe Armon-Jones - Turn to Clear View, album review


This is quite simply a smooth and soothing, at times gently upbeat album with dreamy horns throughout and piano runs that dance as on Gnawa Sweet. There are R&B/soulful influences with a rap injection on the otherwise harmony-layered The Leo & Aquarius. Guest vocalists add to the overall fusion of contemporary jazzsoul this album amalgamates with pleasing ease and some punch of sax with synth atmospherics in penultimate You Didn’t Care and the Afro-grooves and hip-hop on closer Self;Love.