home
news
features
demos
live listings
album reviews
forum



Small Faces
Here Comes The Nice: Box Set (Immediate/Sanctuary)

Small FacesWhilst the ‘60s were littered with band’s whose fortunes were poorly (or indeed criminally), mishandled the Small Faces career is the most genuinely heartbreaking as the quality of the music should have seen them not just up with the bigger names of that era but ahead of most, and their output continued to be mishandled until now. At last, this massive box set finally set’s to rights not only the bands legacy but also the actual sounds created. Beautifully presented, meticulously researched and annotated this is the only Small Faces recording you will ever need (those with shallower pockets should plump for the cut-down Greatest Hits double disc set).
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Peter Hammill and Gary Lucas
Other World (Esoteric Antenna)

Peter Hammill and Gary LucasSo what would you get if you crossed The Magic Band and Van Der Graaf Generator? Well, oddly enough, absolutely nothing like this. What you get instead is something really rather beautiful, ambient in the best sense, subtle and immersive but, unsurprisingly with the two participants in question, ever so slightly wonky not unlike post-rock without the towering crescendo’s but with flamenco, folk, blues and jazz flourishes. Awash with guitar effects and Hammill’s delightfully quavery vocals this is pretty much unclassifiable, so actually exactly what you might expect if you crossed The Magic Band and Van Der Graaf Generator then.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Def Leppard
Slang: Deluxe Edition (Frontiers)

Def LeppardHaving lost their way on previous outing Adrenalize (likely not unrelated to the death of guitarist Steve Clark), The Lep’s decided the formula they’d created with producer Mutt Lange on their two massive selling US breakthrough albums Pyromania and Hysteria had become a little tired so, deciding against another ‘everything but the kitchen sink’ wall of sound outing, they slimmed right back and even experimented with (whisper it), grunge and funk! It doesn’t all work but the enthusiasm was clearly back and this expanded double disc version adds works in progress, b-sides and unreleased tracks and has actually aged pretty well.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Peter Murphy
Should the World Fail to Fall Apart: Deluxe Edition (Cherry Red)

Peter Murphy Having been the focal point of ‘love ‘em or hate ‘em’ Goth rockers Bauhaus Peter Murphy had some reinventing to do when the band split in 1983 initially plumping for a link up with Mick Karn in the short lived (and underrated) Dali’s Car before embarking on his solo career in earnest and moving avowedly away from his ‘goth’ past with this album (a guest slot from Bauhaus guitarist Daniel Ash on ‘The Answer Is Clear’ aside), although his penchant for a cover version remains with enjoyable romps through Pere Ubu’s ‘Final Solution’ and Magazine’s ‘The Light Pours Out of Me’, now comes with a further disc of remixes and B-sides.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Banco De Gaia
Maya:20th Anniversary Edition (Disco Gecko)

Banco De Gaia Never perhaps as feted as some other names to come out of the acid house/rave scene in the early ‘90s (like Orbital or The Orb) Banco De Gaia was nonetheless just as groundbreaking and important an act, melding Arabic and Middle Eastern samples with bass heavy trance-like rhythms that became huge live favourites at clubs and festivals alike. Ask most people to name a Banco De Gaia album and ninety percent will likely say Last Train To Lhasa but this is where (after several early tape only releases), Toby Marks really hit his stride, and this three disc expanded limited edition makes a once great album pretty much unmissable.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

Gene
Olympian: Deluxe Edition (Demon)

Gene Never sure if a recommendation by Morrissey is actually a good thing or not but to be fair Gene were more than adept at derailing their own career without any help from others, which is sad as they were actually a great band with some fine ideas and whilst Suede and others hogged the Britpop limelight Gene simply carried on making fine, critically acclaimed, records until they quietly called it a day in 2004. Pretty much their entire output has been buffed up and expanded (much to their fans delight), but if you are a Gene virgin then we suggest you begin with this, their genuinely excellent debut.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Bram Stoker
Cold Reading (Sunn Creative)

Bram StokerMaking the Stone Roses look positively fecund this is Bram Stoker’s first new recording since Heavy Rock Spectacular (Windmill Records) released in 1972. Quite why it has taken so long to follow up is unknown, but there’s little doubt that they were there at the birth of prog-rock so this is no ‘Johnny-come-lately’ outfit making the most of the new interest in all things prog. That said this is from the decidedly more melodic/ symphonic keyboard led end of the proggy scale (think Alan Parsons or Camel) but, probably because they were there at the get-go, it also sounds incredibly authentic, like the 1974 follow up that never was.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Howe Gelb
Little Sand Box (Fire)

Howe Gelb Best known as the husky laconic rasp fronting the prolific Giant Sand (in excess of twenty five albums since 1985) – indeed it would be it his record labels decision that it was too soon for another Giant Sand album in 1991 that led to the beginning of his solo career – Howe Gelbs solo output is no less impressive (six studio albums and one live), all of which are collected, and expanded, here in this beautiful little box, along with a selection of unreleased piano pieces, and whilst everything here has much to commend it 2006's ' Gospel driven Sno Angel Like You and 2011’s Flamenco driven Alegrías are particularly fine.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

David Rodigan
Masterpiece (Ministry Of Sound)

David Rodigan David Rodigan may have been brought up in leafy Oxfordshire but since seeing Millie Small perform her 1964 hit 'My Boy Lollipop' on Ready Steady Go! he has been a passionate advocate of all things reggae, hosting the Roots Rockers show on Capital Radio for 11 years before transferring to Kiss for a further 22 years. So what Rodigan doesn’t know about reggae isn’t really worth knowing and, apart from some Kinks, Yardbirds, Small Faces and early soul tunes this is pretty much choc-full of choice reggae cuts from every era (including many lesser known cuts), and is thus a cracking reggae history lesson.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

Percy Jones
Cape Catastrophe (Gonzo)

Percy JonesFretless bass got something of a reputation during the ‘80s from which, despite honourable mentions to Mick Karn (surely a Jones fan?), it has still to fully recover. But lest we forget innovators like Jaco Pastorius and Percy Jones originally did things without frets that, even today, sound mind boggling. Perhaps better known for his work with Brand X and Brian Eno, Jones solo output is not huge (just this and Propeller Music in fact), but it is remarkable and this solo effort recorded in 1988 and 1989 using an array of early synths to lay down tracks and then accompany live on his five-string bass is gob-smackingly astounding.
Paul Riley

buy this album

******************************************************************

Heart
Jupiters Darling/Red Velvet Car (Eagle Classics)

HeartPart of a new batch of twofers from Eagle/Armoury Classics (also currently available in the series are double disc sets from Jethro Tull, Alice Cooper, Peter Green and Ted Nugent), these two albums hail from the latter part of Hearts career – after a dalliance with folk music - when the gals reformed the band with a new line-up (in 2002) and promptly rediscovered the melodic hard rock template that served them so well in the late 70s and early 80s. Jupiters Darling (2004), despite poor sales due to label problems, setting out their stall and Red Velvet Car (2010) driving them straight back up the charts.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Lee Bannon
Alternate/Endings (Ninja Tune)

Lee Bannon In the same way that, despite a few notable exceptions, the UK doesn’t really successfully do rap/hip-hop, the US, again with the odd exception, never fully came to grips with jungle/drum and bass. Obviously with any number of demi-genres and Atlantic hopping, that distinction becomes more blurred by the day and so it’s probably no surprise to find that one of the better breakbeat moments of the year thus far comes courtesy of Sacramento raised hip-hop producer Lee Bannon, albeit breakbeat swathed in the grimy dubstep vibe which skitters neatly into the current Congo Natty led re-birth of Jungle.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

Mogwai
Rave Tapes (Rock Action)

Mogwai We all know the blueprint here (just don’t mention the ‘p-rock’ label), basically quiet bit, loud bit, minimum of vocals, bobs yer aunties husband. Thing is whilst some (post-r) bands seem happy to tread water Mogwai have continued to take this basic template on all manner of journey’s culminating last year in the terrific soundtrack to Les Revenants for the French television program of the same name, an unsettling but rather beautiful noise that seems to be the kicking off point for Rave Tapes which, whilst managing the barest of nods to the original blueprint, takes the outworn concept of ‘mood’ music onto a whole other plane of existence.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Stephen Malkmus And The Jicks
Wig Out At Jagbags (Domino)

Stephen Malkmus And The JicksNope, we’ve no idea what the hell it means either but to these ears Malk and Co. are sounding more and more like the Kinks as they mature – lo-fi indie flourishes aside - which is no bad thing really (and given Malkmus’s penchant for old school Brit-rock not a huge surprise either), The Jicks are less given to meandering than on their early albums and their boss is now reaching for more age related bon mot’s, but fear not this is not evidence of a band running out of puff as wonky time-signatures, reggae interludes and trombone solos still poke their heads up like surprised rabbits on a motorway.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Various Artists
The Rough Guide To Flamenco (World Music Network)

The Rough Guide To FlamencoWhilst Flamenco traditionalist will probably steadfastly maintain that a CD showcasing ‘the latest developments in Flamenco’ is an audio oxymoron (as Flamenco has very structured rules that are not to be taken lightly), the fact is that for music to survive it must evolve, and evolve it most certainly has if these are the results. Of course the basics - bravura guitar playing and tricky ‘Compás’ rhythms – still remain the basic building blocks but the more jazzy leanings of ‘nuevo flamenco’ acts like Al Toque Flamenco (who have a whole second disc to themselves) show the music is both in touch with its own past whilst heading off into the sunset.
Paul Riley

buy this album

******************************************************************

Poemss
Poemss (Planet Mu)

Poemss It probably won’t help to know that this is the brainchild of Aaron Funk and Joanne Pollock as, if you have the vaguest idea who Aaron Funk is, then you will doubtless be expecting the sort of brain scrabbling and bowel loosening hardcore breakbeat blatter that his Venetian Snares day job delivers. Well this ain’t that. This is something altogether ‘other’, whimsical, gentle, and ever so slightly queasy like a marriage between late ‘70s UK synthpop and a David Lynch film. If you want scattershot synapse frazzling clatter look elsewhere, if however you fancy something as creepy as it is lovely then look no further.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

William Shatner
Ponder The Mystery (Cleopatra Records)

William ShatnerTaking the blueprint first explored on Has Been where a slew of famous musicians underpin Shatner’s bizarre bumper car delivery prose-poems and continued on his cover versions album Seeking Major Tom, Ponder The Mystery (helmed by ex Yes chappie Billy Sherwwod) takes the king of ham acting and alarming pauses to perhaps his spiritual home ‘prog rock’, albeit rather glossy prog rock, but you can’t argue with guests like Al Di Meola, Steve Vai, Rick Wakeman, Edgar Froese, George Duke and Robby Krieger. How seriously you take this is down to your feelings for the eccentric star, but this listener smiled happily throughout.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Paul Rodgers
The Royal Sessions (429 Records)

Paul Rodgers Generally the sort of album that singers of a certain age resort to when they’re running short on original ideas – and, more often than not, results in pretty run-of-the-mill versions of old classics. Where this album differs is firstly in that Paul Rodgers is possibly the most underrated of the class of ’70 blue’s rock vocalists and can do real justice to songs like ‘Walk On By’, ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’ and ‘Born Under A Bad Sign’ and secondly the backing (recorded at Memphis Royal Studios) is supplied by many of the musicians who played on the original recordings and is consequently a joy from beginning to end.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra
Fuck Off Get Free We Pour Light On Everything (Constellation)

Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial OrchestraAlso known as (amongst other things) Thee Silver Mt Zion Memorial Orchestra & Tr-La-La Band – one assumes the Tra-La-La band were not available this time around – SMZ are in fact based around the central core of Thierry Amar, Efrim Menuck and Sophie Tudeau of Godspeed You! Black Emperor, the major difference in approach being the use of vocals (something GY!BE seldom utilize outside of samples), the whopping great walls of noise GY!BE often trade in are however present and correct, only here the post-rock sturm und drang is leavened by moments of gentle beauty and considered subtlety. Without doubt their finest outing thus far.
The Oracle

buy this album

****************************************************************** Mick Farren & Andy Colquhoun
Black Vinyl Dress (Gonzo)

Mick Farren & Andy Colquhoun Michael Anthony 'Mick' Farren, writer, journo, poet, counter-culture rabble rouser, ‘proto’ punk and serial collaborator with, amongst others, Lemmy, Chrissie Hynde, Hawkwind, Wayne Kramer and, on this his final outing, ex-Deviant and Pink Fairy Andy Colquhoun. Sadly no longer with us since collapsing onstage during a Deviants performance in July of 2013 Farren, never a fan of his own voice, elects to narrate songs here, his delivery a cross between John Cooper Clarke, Alan Rickman and William Burroughs as Colquhoun ensures there is more than enough sonic variety to keep the results more than just a glorified poetry reading.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Mark Lanegan
Has God Seen My Shadow: An Anthology 1989-2011 (Light in the Attic)

Mark LaneganFormer front-man for the Screaming Trees, one half of the Gutter Twins, fully paid up member of the Queens Of The Stone Age extended family, collaborator with Isobel Campbell and possessor of one of those gravel and honey baritone growls most singers would sell their old mum’s for, Mark Lanegan has quietly but steadily built a genuinely fine body of work which, if you have missed it (and many have), you can catch up with right here as the first CD acts as a neat summation of his solo career to date and for those of you already au courant a second CD contains a dozen unreleased tracks, some interesting sketches, some real gems.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

****************************************************************** VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL

Max Richter
Memoryhouse: Deluxe Vinyl Reissue (Fatcat/130701 Records)

Max Richter Equally at home working with Future Sound Of London and Roni Size as stood waving a stick in front of an orchestra (in this case the BBC Philharmonic), Max Richter’s debut Memoryhouse - shades of Nyman and Glass with an added frisson of atmospheric electronica and goose-bump inducing post rock dynamics - was first released on the BBC's Late Junction label back in 2002 but subsequently spent many years out of print, something happily addressed by Fatcat Records, and for real collectors this deluxe DMM limited edition (1000 copies), 180gm coloured, double-vinyl, gatefold sleeve version will be manna from heaven.
Johan Wakely

buy this album

VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL ******************************************************************

Deep Purple
Now What?! Gold Edition (EARmusic)

Deep PurpleWidely reckoned to be the best thing to appear under the Deep Purple banner since Perfect Strangers, Now What?! Gold Edition adds a few extra tracks and a whole extra live album mixing up DP classics with new material in a natty Made In Japan referencing gold cover. Ok Mr Blackmore is no longer on board but Steve Morse is no lightweight fret mangler and Don Airey ensures that the whole album is positively dripping in Jon Lord style keyboard flourishes – in fact ‘Uncommon Man’ and ‘Above and Beyond’ are both dedicated to Lord – and Gillan, Glover and Paice remain as sprightly as men a third their age.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Throwing Muses
Purgatory/Paradise (The Friday Project)

Throwing Muses Not the first Book/CD release from the redoubtable Kristin Hersh (the driving force behind Throwing Muses), that would have been 2010’s excellent Crooked – she’s also been busy writing her immensely readable memoirs (more here) and working with her more ‘in yer face’ outfit, the blistering 50 Foot Wave - but this is the first release under the Throwing Muses banner for ten years and there’s obviously been a huge backlog of muses fermenting as this album boasts 32 tracks with, remarkably enough, not an ounce of fat to be found plus, since the demise of vinyl, how cool is it to have a beautiful collection of writing, lyrics and pictures to pore over when listening to music again?
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Michael Nyman
Classic Album Collection (Universal)

Michael Nyman Bit of a misnomer this really as the title suggests this might be some of Nymans concerto’s or opera’s whereas in fact it is a collection of his better known soundtrack albums including three for Peter Greenaway (The Draughtsman’s Contract, Drowning By Numbers and The Cook, The Thief, His Wife & Her Lover), his best selling work on Jane Campion’s The Piano and, the most recent (and apparently his own favourite), the soundtrack to Michael Winterbottom’s Wonderland, all of which are terrific in their own way and, at this price, are a cost effective way to dip into Nyman’s own brand of Reich/Riley-esque repetitive, modular, minimalism.
Johan Wakely

buy this album

****************************************************************** VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL

Various Artists
Rainy City Punks: Manchester Punk And Post Punk Independent Singles (Ozit Dandelion/Rabid)

Rainy City PunksMore lovely heavyweight 180 gram vinyl (this one a natty shade of blue) from Chris Hewitt’s Ozit imprint, this time around collating tracks from the archives of northern indie labels Rabid, Absurd and Razz and apparently this is just the the first in a series of Manchester punk and post punk albums planned for release under the re-launched Rabid Records imprint (via Ozit Dandelion). Including prime slices of punky clatter from Slaughter and The Dogs, The Nosebleeds, Ed Banger, Jilted John, the mighty John Cooper Clarke and the late lamented Chris ‘Frank Sidebottom’ Sievey amongst others. Really what's not to like?
Ray Harper

Buy this album

VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL ******************************************************************

Regal Worm
Use And Ornament (Quatermass Records)

Regal WormAdd the peculiarly British jazzy squonking of early Soft Machine or Henry Cow to the bumper car instrumental convolutions of mid period Mothers Of Invention then layer on some late 60s psychedelia and some lugubrious Caravan style humour and you have a useful signpost to Use And Ornament, Jarrod ‘Henry Fool/I Monster’ Gosling’s paean to Prog, the marginally sub thirty minute '6:17 PM The Aunt Turns Into An Ant' being the albums crowning glory careering around like Genesis’s ‘Suppers Ready’ with a bug up its arse. If you feel prog went downhill after Hatfield and The North packed it in (in 1975) you will love this, I know I do.
Ray Harper

download this album

******************************************************************

Robert Coyne with Jaki Liebezeit
The Obscure Department (Meyer Records)

Robert Coyne with Jaki LiebezeitSo what do you get if you pair possibly the greatest Krautrock drummer of all time with the offspring of a famously eccentric singer/songwriter (who oddly enough died in Nuremburg in Germany in 2004). Well not what you might imagine, especially as things being hit with sticks here are in very scarce supply. Those of you who already own Coyne’s Woodland Conspiracy may have an idea what to expect as this album takes the sparse mini-songs of that album instrumentally a stage further, although to be honest you do feel like Liebezeit is a touch wasted. Nonetheless this is a very intimate, and rather lovely album.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Blind Willie Johnson
The Rough Guide To Blues Legends (World Music Network)

Blind Willie JohnsonAnother from the increasingly excellent World Music Network (see about subscribing and building your music collection here), and in truth we could just as easily have picked anyone from their ‘Jazz And Blues Legends’ series (recent Jimmie Rodgers and Blind Lemon Jefferson collections are equally fine) , but this collection of earthy bottleneck and gospel from the 1920’s is a revelation as Johnson adapts hymns and biblical passages into languid but electrifying blues gems. Johnson’s recording of ‘Dark Was The Night, Cold Was The Ground’ was included on the Voyager space probe so ET could well be listing to this right now.
Raft Thong

buy this album

******************************************************************

Steve Jansen
Slope: Deluxe Edition (Burning Shed)

Steve Jansen Better known to many of you as the brother of David Sylvian and joint founder member of Japan drummer Steve Jansen hasn’t had the most prolific of solo careers (although he has worked extensively as a session musician and can be found on underrated classics like Snow Born Sorrow by Nine Horses or the equally fine 'Japan in everything but name' Rain Tree Crow. However what he has released has pretty much all been well worth hearing especially this debut album which features guest slots from David Sylvian, Tim Elsenburg (Sweet Billy Pilgrim), Joan Wasser (Joan As Policewoman), Thomas Feiner, Anja Garbarek, Nina Kinert, and Theo Travis and now includes remixes, live recordings and instrumental soundtracks.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Jason Isbell
Southeastern (Southeastern Records)

Jason Isbell Not a major name on this side of the great pond but singer-songwriter Jason Isbell (probably best known to listeners here as a member of southern men the Drive By Truckers), is a lyricist of no little skill and on this, his fourth solo outing, he gets even more stripped back, down and dirty dealing with subjects from cancer to sexual abuse all coming under Isbell’s gimlet gaze plus references to his own, recently rehabbed out, alcoholism, all of which sounds a bit bloody dour but worry not, Isbell’s masterful wordsmithery is a positive delight and when the DBT-esque ‘Super 8’ poled up this listener was completely sold.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Tim Bowness
California, Norfolk: Deluxe Edition (Burning Shed)

Tim Bowness Originally released back in the mists of time (oh alright it was 2002), California, Norfolk was the debut album from No-Man and Henry Fool’s Tim Bowness and Eno collaborator Peter Chilvers and it was Burning Shed’s first ever official CD release which sold out pretty quickly and has been unavailable more or less ever since. Described variously as Ballad Electronica or 21st Century Ambient Folk California, Norfolk is actually just good songwriting backed with lush arrangements and this reissue features the original album plus alternate versions, unreleased material earmarked for a follow-up album, and an EP''s worth of live performances and the double CD set is presented in a deluxe dvd-sized digibook.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Linda Thompson
Won’t Be Long Now (Topic Records)

Linda Thompson Her first album in six years, and Linda Thompson had a reputation to live up to that may well have artistically crippled some, but despite the weight of expectation she gathers her family around her (clearly no problems sharing the spotlight here), with Teddy, Kami, Muna and, remarkably enough, Richard all lending a hand alongside folk stalwarts like Liza Carthy and Susan McKeown (on the roistering ‘Mr Tams’) Dave Swarbrick (‘Father Son Ballad’) and Martin Carthy (‘Nursery Rhyme of Innocence' and 'Experience’), and still manages to make this album completely her own, one of the best she has put her name to in fact.
Raft Thong

buy this album

******************************************************************

The Pineapple Thief
Tightly Unwound (Kscope)

The Pineapple Thief Pineapple Thief, on occasion Bruce Soord in all but name, have been beavering away for almost fifteen years now and along the way have amassed a slew of cracking albums (the most recent being last year’s highly regarded All The Wars), including this one from 2008 (which incidentally was Kscope's first release) now given a deluxe buffing up, and including a bonus disc with tracks from their brace of 2009 Dawn Raids EPs plus an acoustic version of 'Shoot First', all of which make this the perfect time to find out more about the Pineapple Thief story. In fact if you have a love for post-rock style proggery, you really should dive in.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel
Birmingham - Live With Orchestra & Choir (Comeuppance)

Steve Harley and Cockney Rebel Steve Harley has always been a spiky chap, shedding band-mates like sloughed skin and never backwards in coming forwards, perhaps that’s why his career has been such a rollercoaster. But one thing beyond dispute is that The Human Menagerie and The Psychomodo albums are both one hundred percent classic slices of glam/art rock genius so this show, recorded and filmed at the Birmingham Symphony Hall with Orchestra and Choir performing both albums in their entirety promised to be something very special, and it really doesn’t disappoint. If you loved these albums, and you should, then buy this now (and it’s also available on DVD).
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Wau Y Los Arrrghs!!!
Todo Roto (Slovenly Recordings)

Wau Y Los Arrrrghs!!!Hailing from Spain Wau Y Los Arrrghs!!! (and yes that does translate as Wau and the Arrrghs!!!, the singer of course is called Jaunito Wau), unleash their third album (translates as All Broken) and is as demented as you might imagine with shouty vocals, cheap wavery vox keyboards, Dick Dale style guitar and all run through a Cramps meets Rocket From The Crypt mangle, sounds pretty good huh? Of course it does. No idea what they are singing about (we could Google it but it’s more fun not knowing), we’ve been doing the hully gully on pretend surfboards to this for weeks, altogether now ‘No Puedo Entender’.
El Oráculo

buy this album

******************************************************************

The Grid
Electric Head (SFA/Cherry Red)

The GridReckoned by one Amazon reviewer to be the best album ‘ever’, Blimey! It’s not (that would be The Best Of Lieutenant Pigeon), Electric Head is however a damn fine album, one of the first full length ambient house/techno releases (beating both Orbital and The Orb to the record plant) which at the time sounded groundbreaking and still stands up well almost 25 years later. Unavailable for a while now this will be snapped up by fans with knackered cassette versions, especially as it features a second disc of remixes and rarities. If you don’t have this and fondly remember dancing all night in the early ‘90s you can remedy that now.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

idmonster
Be More Like Water (Knitted Cat)

idmonster The solo project of composer and Butterfly Child guitarist, the fantastically named, Pendle Poucher, Be More Like Water is likely to get lots of ‘soundtrack music for a film that hasn’t been made yet’ type reviews as this is a collection of ten hugely atmospheric tracks from chugging Kosmiche to dark ambient fusing electronics, acoustics, field recordings and various battered instruments. Of course I’m buggered now and can’t say the ‘soundtrack…’ thing, so I’m suggesting you get hold of an Oliver Postgate film - Noggin The Nog should work – mute the sound, bung this on and watch Olaf the Lofty and Graculus get weird.
Ruby Palmer

buy this MP3 album

******************************************************************

Motörhead
Aftershock (UDR)

MotörheadThere’s little in life as reliable as a new Motörhead album. You know what to expect and, regular as clockwork, Lemmy and Co. deliver. Twenty one (studio), albums in and the thunderous ‘head racket continues unabated, and I do mean unabated as whilst most rock and roll acts mellow with age Motörhead only know how to do ‘nutting a brick wall, balls out, gonzo metal’ and Aftershock is brim full of just that. Lemmy may be 68 this year (and currently recovering from being a bit poorly), but he’s gonna be making albums this hi-octane until the day he keels over, here’s hoping there’s a good few still to come.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Oli Brown
Songs From The Road (Ruf Records).

Oli Brown Culled from three superb studio albums, this has Oli in front of his hometown crowd which really brings out his best and believe me he is one of the best. 'Speechless' and 'Next Girl' personify raw power but it is 'Love Is Taking It’s Toll' where the trio flower. Pulsing bass, crashing cymbals and Oli’s lightning fingers providing a highlight. Lengthy solos are provided on 'Mr Wilson' and 'Manic Bloom' but it’s not all power as the strolling 'Devil In Me' and 'Stone Cold' show but his whipping, ripping guitar is never too far away. Credentials confirmed as a live act with 'Thinking About Her' and 'You Can Only Blame Yourself'.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Satelliti
Transister (Cuckundoo)

SatellitiWhat we know about Italian duo Satelliti could fit on the back of a stamp with room to spare (actually the word Italian would be about it), although further research reveals that they are keyboard chap Andrea Dalle Luche and drum chap Andrea Polato. So far so peculiar line-up, however the eight sequencer and drum driven instrumental tracks found herein are intriguing enough to make you re-hit play pretty much as soon as the original forty odd minute’s are up as the hypnotic Kosmiche jazz sorta just keeps nagging away in the back of your noggin, the ten minute plus ‘Bright Tunnel’ in particular suggesting Can, and Faust in full flow.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

Steven Wilson
Drive Home [CD+DVD] (Kscope)

Steven Wilson So what’s this all about then? Given that we’ve already have the terrific Raven That Refused To Singthis year (more here), well Drive Home is a double disc CD + DVD set featuring the new video for 'Drive Home' and the video for 'The Raven That Refused To Sing', four incendiary clatters through tracks recorded live in Frankfurt during the recent tour plus two previously unreleased tracks (the ELP-esque ‘The Birthday Party’ and an orchestral version of 'The Raven That Refused To Sing'). So not a new album proper then but a fine companion piece to the Raven… that fans will definitely want to add.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Dana Fuchs
Bliss Avenue (Ruf Records)

Dana FuchsThis is Fuchs’ third album and follows 2011’s Love To Beg. Opening with the eponymous title track, a rough and ready blues rocker with Janis Joplin style vocal, she rips through 12 original songs and she’s not a one trick pony changing style with ease; there’s country ('Rodents In The Attic', 'Daddy’s Little Girl', 'Nothin’ On My Mind'), rock ('Vagabond Wind', 'How Did Things Get This Way') and blues ('Handful Too Many'), but despite her songs rarely sticking strictly to one genre, one constant is her gravelly voice and this is used to best effect on 'Livin’ On A Sunday', 'How Did Things Get This Way' and 'Baby Love The Life'.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Levin Minnemann Rudess
Levin Minnemann Rudess (Lazy Bones)

Levin Minnemann RudessAlways keen to hear a new Tony Levin release but this latest project with his old Liquid Tension Experiment band mate Jordan Rudess and multi-instrumentalist drummer (yes, you read that right, Marco Minnemann is a multi-instrumentalist drummer, they’re not all the butt of The Vicar jokes you know), has got class stamped all over it. After the more improvisational nature of Levin’s terrific last album with David Torn and Alan White (more here), you might be forgiven for assuming this would be a collection of grandstanding ‘chops’ but not a bit of it, this is as structured and gargantuan as prime time King Crimson and Mothers Of Invention.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

The Orb
History Of The Future: Box Set (Commercial Marketing)

The Orb Also available in a two disc version but we suggest you head straight for the box set with disc one containing all the singles from 1990 to 2001 disc two crammed with rare and unreleased mixes, disc three unreleased live songs from 1993/94, a DVD featuring promo and live videos – including the infamous ‘game of chess’ TOTP’s (non) performance of ‘Blue Room’ - and all bundled up with a nicely illustrated, forty plus page, booklet (including a new essay by Kris Needs). Long term fans will doubtless head straight for disc two's remixes, but for any Orb newbies this is a terrific starting point to begin your voyage.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

Martin Barre
Away With Words (Edifying Records)

Martin Barre Given that Martin Barre and long time foil Ian Anderson are currently estranged (which surely won’t remain the case for ever), and MB is not currently undergoing trial by Tull tours he clearly has a little free time on his hands, free time that he has filled most efficaciously by re-arranging some lesser known Tull songs like 'Deadbeat to an old Greaser', 'Protect and Survive' and ‘Pussy Willow’ in a, mainly, acoustic style complete with classical/flamenco flourishes and folkie arrangements which, in the main, works beautifully and ends with a flourish with new track ‘Sundown’ which builds to a most satisfying climax.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Gentleman’s Dub Club
FOURtyFOUR (Ranking Records)

Gentleman’s Dub ClubApparently something a bit special live (there are several million of them in the band) the Gentleman’s Dub Club’s might have struggled to transfer that energy to tape, fortunately that isn’t the case as they run the gamut of reggae from ska, and lovers rock to dub and digital they may be white boys but, like the Specials and Madness, they ‘get it’ and they aren’t shy of letting more current influences like grime and dubstep (even techno) get a look in, and if that all sounds like they’re trying to cover too many bases don’t panic, the overall vibe is definitely reggae, and it all holds together very well indeed.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

Yes
Close To The Edge: CD+Bluray (DGM/Panegyric)

YesIt’s often forgotten this was the fifth Yes album (if only the second to feature the ‘classic’ line-up of Anderson, Howe, Bruford, Wakeman and Squire), and although there were definite hints of what was to come on 1971’s The Yes Album, and almost the finished article on Fragile (also '71), Close To The Edge was the complete package, probably the most fully realised progressive rock album ever, three tracks, just over thirty seven minutes and not one duff second. Presented in a mini vinyl replica gatefold card sleeve with extra tracks and mixed for 5.1 Surround Sound and stereo by Steven Wilson this is now the definitive version.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Adrian Utley's Guitar Orchestra
In C (Invada)

Adrian Utley's Guitar Orchestra The brainchild of Portishead's Adrian Utley who, building on the ‘guitar orchestra’ ideas of composers like Rhys Chatham roped in twenty four musicians from Bristol (nineteen other guitarists including John Parish and Jim Barr plus four organs and a bass clarinet) to interpret Terry Riley's minimalist classic In C - originally written in 1964 and simply requiring that fifty-three musical phrases in the key of C are played by the musicians but with no specific duration - and, on the whole, this works really well as a sort of cyclical post rock, occasionally meandering, occasionally swirling into peaks as the music seeks out and then finds its own path.
Johan Wakely

buy this album

******************************************************************

Banco De Gaia
Ollopa: Apollo remixed (Disco Gecko Recordings)

Banco De GaiaSo, the remix album, a genuinely new take on an existing idea or a hastily compiled grab-bag of money spinners? Certainly both have been true over the years but, as long time admirers of Mr Marks, we’re happy to relate that this collection is certainly from the former camp and serves as an indispensible companion piece to the recently released new album Apollo. In fact this remix album was not even on the cards until the flood of mixes from the likes of System 7, Eat Static and Gaudi, convinced Toby that not only was a remix album possible but also could be neatly compiled into a conceptual arc of its very own.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

The Band
Live at the Academy of Music 1971(Commercial Marketing)

The BandWhether you purchase the two or five disc version of this reissue of The Band's 1972 live album Rock Of Ages, will depend very much on just how deeply you wish to delve into the minutia of their four night residency (and, with a 5.1 surround sound mix on DVD, how much of an audiophile you are). To these ears the new Bob Clearmountain mix is superior to the 2001 re-mastered release in pretty much every way, and of course the five disc version includes unreleased versions of songs from across the four night run. If however you are unaware of the Bands music do yourselves a favour and get the double-disc set.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Ministry
From Beer To Eternity (AFM Records)

Ministry Ministry was always Al Jourgensen’s (mostly) serious project – other projects, like Revolting Cocks and 1000 Homo DJs, give you a clue about the humour involved – and whilst it occasionally feels like being battered around the head with a wardrobe full of scrap metal Ministry was always an avowedly political beast welding clonking great riffs, hi-speed programmed drums and samples to Jougensen’s demented bellow and their thirteenth, possibly final outing is more of the same. Sadly soon after completing the sessions guitarists Mike Scaccia died onstage playing with his other band Rigor Mortis. This stands as a worthy testimony.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Dreadzone
Escapades (Dubwiser Records)

Dreadzone OK, history lesson for ya. Dreadzone rose phoenix like from the ashes of the first incarnation of Big Audio Dynamite when drummer, Greg Roberts, bassist Leo Williams and keyboardist Dan Donovan, teamed up with engineer Tim Bran, taking the eclectic BAD template of hip hop and rock and adding dub, folk and electronica. Naysayers, and they were legion, insisted it was a cynical attempt to hit as many markets as possible but they missed the point as this willingness to cherry pick from numerous genres was neatly stitched together with an ear for melody and pop hooks, a knack that has yet to desert them.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Linval Thompson & The Revolutionaries
Boss Mans Dub: The Lost 1979 Dub Album (Hot Milk)

Linval Thompson & The RevolutionariesWe’re in real danger of looking like we’re getting back-handers from the Hot Milk PR Dept of late but sod it, we’re still going to have to add this to the releases by Keith Hudson and The Mighty Diamonds already on our essential purchase list. Not a major name outside of reggae circles Linval Thompson is nonetheless one of those producers whose back catalogue is crammed with terrific sounds like this, damn near impossible to find, set which was recorded in 1979 and features superb dub versions of tunes produced by Linval with artists including Freddy McKay, Michael Black, Anthony Johnson, Sammy Dread and Cornell Campbell.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

Pete Brown& Phil Ryan
Perils Of Wisdom (Repertoire)

Pete Brown& Phil RyanFor those of you too young to remember Pete Brown is best remembered for his lyrical contributions to the reasonably popular rock trio Cream (also to much of Jack Bruce’s solo output) and who then went onto form the less world straddling but still highly regarded Piblikto where he met current collaborator (ex-Man keyboard prodder Phil Ryan) with whom he has now recorded four albums (Ardours of the Lost Rake and Coals to Jerusalem have also just been reissued by esoteric), all displaying lyrical wit, including a nice twist on the old car/sex chestnut, musical dexterity and an admirable lack of any devotion to a specific genre.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

BT
A Song Across Wires (Armada Music)

BT Complaints that this album is ‘too commercial’ or just a collection of ‘Johnny come lately’ forays into dubstep, trance or straight up floor filling dance is kinda missing the point of what Brian Transeau is all about. Anyone who has followed the man’s career to date will be well aware that he seldom stands still so to compare this to something like the ambience and glitch of If the Stars Are Eternal, So Are You and I is ludicrous. No this isn’t pushing boundaries in the way Morceau Subrosa did, but it is chocka-block with whopping great arse shaking trancey anthems, and I’m willing to bet the next album will be different again.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

The Blues Band
Live at Rockpalast (Repertoire)

The Blues Band Recorded at the Grugahalle in Essen in 1980 and featuring the original line-up of Paul Jones, Tom McGuinness, Dave Kelly, Gary Fletcher and Hughie Flint this excellent CD/DVD package captures the band in fine form (and clearly having a lot of fun). Originally recorded for the music German TV show Rockpalast (Rock Palace) - which has a four decade long archive that is a positive goldmine for rock fans. This double disc set also includes a 24 page booklet with liner notes in both English and German and is pretty much an all killer no filler best of set which is sure to delight both fans and blues buffs alike.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

The Vicar
Songbook No. 1 (DGM/Panegyric)

The VicarIn conjunction with his recent forays into publishing (more here) the mysterious DGM in house cleric has now finally lent his legendary production skills to a project all his own. Featuring, amongst others, Tony Levin, Theo Travis, Tim Elsenberg and Jakko Jakszyk plus The Vicar's string and chamber arrangements and a host of guest singers this is, suitably enough given its author, pretty hard to classify. But imagine a world where the Beatles recorded with The Beach Boys and then gave the resultant tapes to XTC’s Andy partridge to muck about with in his garden shed and you’re not a million miles shy of the truth.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

George Duke
Follow the Rainbow (SoulMusic)

George DukeAs we are all now sadly aware George Duke is no longer with us (more here), and as is often the case when an old favourite passes you’re tempted to drag out the old Vinyl and have a misty eyed wake. If however you’re not up on Dukes long and illustrious solo career then we suggest that this, Don’t Let Go or A Brazilian Love Affair are fine starting points. Having moved into more commercial areas Duke often gets a sniffy reception from Jazz (and indeed funk) buffs but frankly they’re talking bollocks as the mixture of funk, jazz, Latin beats and soulful vocals ensure these albums still stand the test of time.
Paul Riley

buy this album

******************************************************************

UB40
Getting Over The Storm (Virgin/Universal)

UB40There’s been some online discussion concerning the, erm, AOR leanings of the new UB40 country/reggae direction, but let’s be honest the harder edged political leanings of debut album Signing Off have been long gone since the massive pop hit 'Red Red Wine', and to complain that the lads have cornered an easy listening version of reggae sort of misses the point as they continue to sell bucket-loads of albums which, sadly, U Roy doesn’t. Expertly reggae-fying some smart country choices by the likes of Willie Nelson and George Jones (they even cover The Allman Brothers), this is another grown up instalment in a very successful career.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Larry Carlton
Then and Now (Wienerworld)

Larry CarltonWith thirty solo albums to his credit and performances on over one hundred others (many boasting gold or platinum sales), Larry Carlton’s genius with six strings has never been in any doubt, so frankly it’s high time we had an overview of his work, something which is expertly addressed on this 3 CD box-set, with disc one featuring tracks from classic recordings (Larry Carlton ‘78, Strikes Twice ’80 and Sleepwalk ’82), disc two the previously unavailable on CD outside of Japan Mr. 335 Live in Japan and disc three Four Hands & A Heart Volume One (also available separately), featuring new stripped down arrangements of the tracks on disc one.
Paul Riley

buy this album

******************************************************************

Hamilton Loomis
Give It Back (Ham-Bone Records)

Hamilton Loomis Already a seven album veteran despite his youth, Give It Back provides an eighth dose of ‘funkified Texas music’ and if funk is what you are after then this is the place to find it. From the funky rocker 'Stuck In A Rut' with its fluid guitar solo through the strong bass of 'One More Take' and the grinding, George Benson sounding 'Give It Back' to the Average White Band influenced 'Peer Pressure' it’s just a joy. Throw in soul in the form of 'A Woman Like You', the dirty slow rocker, 'High' and the slashing guitar and fuzzed vocal of 'Partner In Crime' and you have all the makings of a truly excellent album.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Brooklyn Rider
A Walking Fire (Mercury Classics)

Brooklyn Rider Yes it’s classical music, but we’re all grown-ups here so can we stop all the elitist rock bollocks (Holst’s ‘Mars The Bringer Of War’ is as heavy as any Dio song), as string quartet Brooklyn Rider are doing their utmost to bring classical music to a younger audience and this, their major label debut, includes a mix of old and new as Bartoks ‘String Quartet No. 2 Sz. 67' sits alongside Lev 'Ljova' Zhurbin’s five part Romanian gypsy music inspired ‘Culai’ plus the Riders own Colin Jacobsen’s ‘Three Miniatures for String Quartet’, inspired by Persian folk music, to these ears the highlight.
Johan Wakely

buy this album

******************************************************************

Caldera
Caldera/Sky Islands (SoulMusic Records)

CalderaIf we had a page dedicated to great lost albums (it’s in the works – Ed) then the first album by Caldera, active from 1976-1979, would certainly be a contender (actually all four of their albums are well worth a listen), so this collection featuring their first two albums is doubly worth tracking down. Ostensibly Return To Forever style jazz/funk Caldera’s albums also feature everything from Spanish flamenco and Afro-Cuban salsa to Brazilian samba and ends up sounding not unlike Santana jamming with Weather Report. Let’s hope SoulMusic have their other two albums Time And A Chance and Dreamer due for release soon.
Paul Riley

buy this album

******************************************************************

Nils Lofgren
Keith Don`t Go - Live At The T&C (Floating World)

Nils Lofgren People often forget that Nils Lofgren had a very successful career long before becoming part of the E Street band (and also that he played on After The Gold Rush with Neil Young when he was just 17 years old) so this set, which was recorded at London's Town & Country Club in 1990, will be a delight for fans as he runs through many of his classic tracks and reminds us what an effective live performer he always has been in his own right. If you have never seen Lofgen without his big-chinned, be-denimed blustering sidekick then Keith Don't Go - Live is a pretty good place to start, you won’t regret it.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Various Artists
Get Up! Stand Up! (Eagle Rock)

Get Up! Stand Up! A collection of highlights cherry picked from five of The Human Rights concerts staged between 1986 and 1998 to raise awareness and funds for the human rights organisation Amnesty International and, as you might expect all of the big names are here (Springsteen, Gabriel, Radiohead, The Police), but some thoughtful bod has also seen fit to include lesser known, and often far more interesting, moments from the likes of Ruben Blades, Miles Davis, Lou Reed, Jackson Browne and Third World and needless to say all of the profits from sales will be going towards helping people whose human rights are being denied.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Albany Down
Not Over Yet (AD Recordings).

Albany Down The follow up to 2011 debut South Of The City, and the blues are represented on the strong opener, 'Back Again', the contemporary 'Travelling Blues' and the epic 'You Ain’t Coming Home'. Straight out rockers such as 'Take The Town', 'You’d Better Run' and 'The Working Man' pepper the album. Throw in Middle Eastern themes on the beefy 'She’s The Light' and the country rock of 'Man Like Me' and the diversity shines through. Paul Muir is a true rock singer and Paul Turley’s guitar is formidable; expansive in places, lightning fast elsewhere. I hear Steve Earle, Joe Bonamassa and Dr Feelgood but no doubt, they are their own men.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Primus
Sailing The Seas Of Cheese: Deluxe Edition (Universal)

PrimusMuch has been made of the style of music Primus make, or rather the inability of anyone to satisfactorily posit a neat little genre into which the band fits. So we’re gonna take a run at it. Take one large dose of Bonzo Dog humour add a soupcon of Residents lunacy, a hefty dollop of Bootsy funk, a substantial side order of tricksy time signatures and mix well with some bumper car metal and there you have it and if you feel you would like such a peculiar beast (and in truth how could you not), then this is definitely the place to start, now xomes complete with a DVD packed with Terry Gilliam style visual tomfoolery.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

****************************************************************** VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL

King Tubby
Balmagie Jam Rock (Probe Plus)

King TubbyThere have been some doubts cast, on certain reggae blogs, concerning the veracity of this album’s authorship (i.e. is it really King Tubby?). Well I’m no musicologist so I’m not able, with any degree of certitude, to confirm or deny these doubts, but to these uneducated ears everything herein would sit very nicely alongside the great man’s current body of work and if you, like most of us nowadays, are keen to rebuild your vinyl collection then this is a genuinely terrific piece of late ‘60s early ‘70s rootsy dub featuring a who’s who of reggae musicians and, amongst others, the vocal talents of Prince Far I and I Roy.
The Oracle


Buy this album

VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL ******************************************************************

Tess Of The Circle
Thorns (Vintage Voice Records)

Tess Of The Circle Tess is Tess Jones and an impressive circle of musicians brought in to perform his songs and Thorns is produced by BRIT award winner, Chris Potter. However, the album has either missed its time or is a resurrection vanguard. To explain; songs like 'History' and 'Eyes Of A Clown' could be seen as old fashioned and certainly not Nu-Folk. Al Stewart, early Chris De Burgh and Gordon Giltrap are brought to mind with 'Say What You Want (Run)' and 'Girl In The Window' the best of the bunch. 'Vagabonds And Rogues' and 'No Place Like Home' could easily fit into a musical. It’s a mixed bag and Tess will divide opinion.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Aynsley Lister
Home (Straight Talkin’ Records)

Aynsley Lister Home is Aynsley Lister’s 10th album - and the first on his own label - his big brand of blues rock showcased on the bold eponymous title track, a classy blues with driving drums from Wayne Proctor but he’s not afraid to funk things up on 'Possession', 'Inside Out' and 'Hyde 2612', all of which have standout drums and bass (Steve Amadeo). However, ballad 'You Make It Real' aside, blues rock is his real forte and 'Free', 'Sugar', 'Broke' and 'Insatiable' are all fine examples of this whilst the old classic 'Feeling Good' more than matches Muse’s version. Aynsley goes from strength to strength on this showing.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Marcus Bonfanti
Shake The Walls (Jigsaw)

Marcus BonfantiWith his 2010 album, What Good Am I To You, listed in Classic Rock’s top 50 albums of the year, the follow up could have been difficult. The opener, 'Alley Cat', dispels the fears immediately with its great riff and deep, velvet vocals. That voice is the constant despite some genre switches – Country Blues ('Jezebel'), classic Rock ('Cheap Whisky'), R&B ('My Baby Don’t Dance'), Americana ('We All Do Bad Sometimes') and Blues ('Honest Boy'). Highlights are 'Honest Boy' with images of the old Blues shouters and the high octane rocker 'Bang Of A Gun'. Where that big voice comes from in such a little dude I don’t know.
David Blue

buy this album

****************************************************************** VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL

Dr John
Splinter Trip Revisited - Live At Hayfield 1988 (Ozit/Morph)

DR JohnHaving sold off, or just plain lost, pretty much all of my beautiful album collection over the years it’s pretty galling to have to go out and re-buy everything. Fortunately labels like Ozit are unearthing cracking old material (see also their Tractor collection) and then releasing it on lovely weighty 180 gram vinyl (two discs in this case) encased in a good old gatefold sleeve containing all that lovely trainspottery info we have got used to not being able to bloody read on CD’s – or not getting at all on downloads. Oh and it’s also a bloody fine live set featuring Mac’s old sax buddy from Gris Gris days Plas Johnson.
Ray Harper


Buy this album

VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL**VINYL ******************************************************************

Tricky
False Idols (False Idols/!K7)

Tricky Adrian ‘Tricky’ Thaws career to date may be littered with albums of varying quality but even his least impressive efforts have a couple of killer moments, and his previous few efforts on Domino (Knowles West Boy and Mixed Race) certainly suggested he was nearly back in touch with the muse he tapped into for his first three albums Maxinquaye, Nearly God and Pre-Millennium Tension. Well guess what? This is a belter, and yes if you loved his early albums then you are going to be delighted with this which neatly recaptures that claustrophobic paranoia, that unsettling mixture of mumbled whispers and sweetly soulful crooning.
Drew Base

buy this album

******************************************************************

Sigur Rós
Kveikur (XL Recordings).

Sigur RósTheir first album since the departure of multi-instrumentalist Kjartan Sveinsson and things are sounding somewhat heavier (not in a doom-metal sense, more in a boulder rolling down a mountain sense), whether this is as a result of now being a three piece or not remains to be seen but the post rock dynamics we expect from Sigur Rós are considerably more spooked here, Jónsi’s falsetto still a thing of beauty but here occasionally leaving you feeling a little unsettled, the music alternately tense and uplifting. Once again Sigur Rós take the quite loud dynamics of post rock down another road entirely.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Tangerine Dream & Brian May
Starmus: Sonic Universe (Eastgate Music)

Tangerine Dream & Brian May Not perhaps the most natural of bedfellows but as both parties found themselves at The Starmus Festival - held in 2011 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Yuri Gagarin's first spaceflight – a live collaboration was mooted and the results actually work really well (fans of System 7 will immediately feel at home). Of course, given that the incredibly prolific Tangerine Dream are now approaching the 100 mark in studio/live albums (not including soundtrack albums) whether you want this will depend on how often you already have many of these tracks, but for the floating fan who may only have Phaedra or Rubycon this is worth investigating.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Nosound
Afterthoughts (Kscope)

Nosound Just a quick mention of the ignorant racists whose Amazon reviews take exception to Giancarlo Erra singing in English with an Italian accent, an apparently heinous crime for an Italian (wonder if the reviewers in question speak anything other than English? The twats). So vocals aside (which are fine by the way), this is the latest instalment in Giancarlo’s Nosound project and fans of those other fine Kscope outfits Anathema and Porcupine Tree (in fact ex Porcupine Tree percussionist Chris Maitland joins Erra here, as does cellist Marianne De Chastelaine) will find much to love on this beautiful, lush, prog/post-rock follow up to A Sense Of Loss.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Tom Odell
Long Way Down (Columbia)

Tom Odell Reasons not to like Tom Odell; if you’ve heard the single ‘Can’t Pretend’ there’s no denying he’s very talented but he looks about eight years old and as that wasn’t enough his debut album Long Way Down is the Brits Critics Choice Award 2013 winner! So it has to be so much major label funded fluff right? Sadly no, as Tom proves to have rather more about him than one good song as this album (including his two other singles ‘Another Love’ and ‘Hold Me’) sounds like a cross between Elton John and the Cure, and if it's not all killer material 'Supposed To Be' really doesn't work, it's still early days for this, very, young man.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

The Dandy Warhols
Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia (Commercial marketing)

The Dandy Warhols It could be argued that The Dandy Warhols really hit their stride on this, their third, album but then completely failed to capitalise on the success of hit single ‘Bohemian Like You’ by going all weird and synthy on follow up Welcome To The Monkey House. What is beyond doubt however is this is easily their most fully realised effort with nary a clunker to be found, ok so it’s occasionally a little ramshackle and seems to have been produced in a sock but it’s still a great mix of Psyched out rock and alternative yank cool. This re-release comes with a load of studio floor sweepings but it's the original album that still excites.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

José Feliciano
No Jive The Very Best Of… (Salvo)

José Feliciano A select few performers take the reinterpretation of other peoples songs to an altogether more elevated level – the late lamented Richie Havens springs to mind - and although there are plenty of Feliciano originals on this excellent ‘best of’ it’s his Latin/Flamenco tinged cover versions that really stand out ('Light My Fire' and 'California Dreamin’' being the two most obvious classic reinventions). Of course there are any number of Feliciano ‘best of’s around but we’re saying that this double disc set (with well researched booklet) has now become the benchmark and if you don’t have any José in your collection you should fix that right now with this.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Jello Biafra and the Guantanamo School of Medicine
White People and the Damage Done (Alternative Tentacles)

Jello Biafra Ex-Dead Kennedy front man Jello Biafra’s career has been nothing if not entertaining – he ran for mayor of San Francisco on a policy that would have forced businessmen to wear clown suits within city limits – but to expect him to create an album as spittle flecked and in yer face as Dead Fruit For Rotting Vegetables almost thirty five years on is expecting a little much isn’t it? Ha! Far from being past it Biafra and Co. are a genuine and refreshing kick in the nads, the music sounding like beefed up prime time DK’s with Biafra in lyrically fine form, without doubt the best thing he has put his name to since Frankenchrist or The Power Of Lard.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

At The Drive-In
Relationship Of Command (Transgressive Records)

At The Drive-In The problem with At The Drive-In was they had one hell of a job capturing their utterly unhinged live vibe on tape (watch their performance of Relationship Of Command's lead single ‘One Armed Scissor’, possibly the most fearsome performance ever recorded for Jools Holland’s Later, here). But this, their last album before fragmenting into The Mars Volta and Sparta comes closest to capturing their melding of thought provoking lyrics and aggressive adrenaline fueled racket. The more stripped down but also superb debut album Acrobatic Tenement is also being re-released by Transgressive but if you only get one make it this.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Transept
Buff as Fuck (Dronehenge Records)

Transept The second outing from Norwich based Transept and once again unsettling drones and lurching rhythm’s are the order of the day, opener ‘Happysburgh’ taking fifteen plus minutes to slowly evolve into a shuddering racket (which sounds not unlike the far off echo of a washing machine on rinse-cycle being scraped with a sitar). But fear not there is beauty to be had amongst all the industrial sonority, not least the stripped back re-reading of ‘Death Of The Sea Sentinel’ from debut TRSPT001 (just called ‘Sea Sentinel’ here) and the fantastically woozy take on Art Garfunkel’s 'Bright Eyes' which leaves you feeling seasick but content.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Paul Rose
Double Life (Mita Records).

Paul Rose Rose has built his fan-base over the years but this, his 12th album, may well be the one to bring him widespread attention. A mix of classics like 'Honey Hush', 'If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want To Be Right)' and 'Stormy Monday' would seem commonplace, however, the treatment of these standards and Rose’s superb guitar playing makes the album well worth seeking out. Guest vocalists pepper the album; Terry Evans on the beautiful, Gospel influenced 'Dark End Of The Street', Sweet Pea Atkinson on the rocking 'Ball & Chain' and Raffia Ford on the excellent R&B of 'Crazy ‘Bout You Baby' are standouts.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Johnny Guitar Watson
Ain’t That A Bitch/A Real Mother For Ya (Robinsongs/Cherry Red)

Johnny Guitar Watson Johnny ‘Guitar’ Watson’s career was a long and illustrious one, beginning in the ‘50s when he was still just a teenager developing an aggressive blues guitar playing style that would go onto influence a generation of guitarists (including Stevie Ray Vaughan and Frank Zappa who was a big fan), but it was his reinvention in the 1970s as a funk artist that proved to be his most successful period, and this double disc set collects his two finest funk moments (originally released in 1976 and 1977) in one natty package. If you only ever buy one Johnny Guitar Watson album (and you should), then make it this one.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Carrie Rodriguez
Give Me All You Got (Ninth Street Opus).

Carrie Rodriguez Rodriguez’s sound is rooted in Americana (country/pop of 'Devil In Mind' and' Whiskey Runs Thicker Than Blood') and Jackson Browne and The Eagles influences abound (the ballads 'Sad Joy' and 'Cut Me Now', the latter a triumph). She uses her fiddle to great effect on the instrumental version of 'Devil In Mind' and the gritty country rock of 'I Cry For Love'. She’s not just a fiddler though; her voice is powerful in places ('Tragic'), soothing in others ('Get Back In Love') and her easy to fall for style is exemplified by nu-country songs 'Lake Harriet' and 'I Don’t Mind Waiting' as well as the strangely effective 'Brooklyn'.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Girlschool
Torch Of Freedom (Hot Milk)

Girlschool Several bands could lay claim to breaking the ‘all boys’ rock club (we’re plumping for the aptly named Fanny from the early ‘70s), but the bubblegum rock of the Runaways aside the real first ladies of heavy rock have to be Girlschool (and any band who get the thumbs up from Lemmy have to be taken seriously). So this VFM collection of all their output for Bronze Records will be manna from heaven for rock fans the whole shebang collected together in a box which comes with four individual albums in wallets depicting original LP artwork plus bonus tracks and a booklet with detailed liner notes on the bands career with Bronze Records.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Eric Burdon
‘Til Your River Runs Dry (Abkco)

Eric Burdon One of those performers that you often wondered about, Eric Burdon never actually stopped working he simply got nudged out of the spotlight, so genuine fans continued to buy, increasingly rare, albums and attend his, very regular, live performances, whilst the rest of us wrongly assumed that great voice was being wasted selling double glazing, which brings us neatly to this excellent collection of, mainly, original new material plus a brace of high fives to one of his heroes Bo Diddley (one a cover; one a tribute). No reinvention of the wheel here, just a 71 year old master blues singer doing what he does best, and doing it bloody well.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Devon Allman
Turquoise (Ruf Records)

Devon Allman Being the son of a Rock legend doesn’t guarantee you success but Devon Allman has enough talent to make it on his own. Fresh from his collaboration with Cyril Neville and others in Royal Southern Brotherhood, Allman releases his debut solo album mixing blues with country ('When I Left Home' and 'Don’t Set Me Free'), soul ('Into The Darkness') and rock ('Homesick', 'Strategy' and Tom Petty’s 'Stop Draggin’ My Heart Around') delivering an album that you can use to rock out to or find your mellow side. Santana style guitar, excellent backing vocals from Samantha Fish and songs that make you feel at ease are trademarks.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Henry Fool
Men Singing (Kscope)

Henry FoolCan’t imagine that a less ‘cool’ album will be released this year as progressive jazz rock is about as hip as, erm, actually is there a genre less hip than progressive jazz rock? It’s also only got four tracks, two of which are over thirteen minutes in length and, natch, there are no men (or women) to be found vocalising herein. So why should you buy it? Well how about the fact it features loads of great dusty old stuff like Mellotron’s, glockenspiel’s, flutes, Moog's and Phil Manzanera’s most angular guitar noises in years? It also sounds like Caravan meets Hatfield and the North via Echoes era Pink Floyd. Cool be damned this is hot.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Martin Harley
Mojo Fix (60/20 Records)

Martin Harley Welcome to the big time, Martin Harley! Mixing things up with the reggae beat of 'Rum Shack' and acoustic folk of 'Cardboard King', the latter rivalling current overlords, Sheerin and Howard. However, it’s when he unleashes Ry Cooder influenced electric slide on 'Working For The Man', 'Mean Old City' and 'Ball & Chain' that he shines. The title track hints at the White Stripes and 'Wrecking Ball' at Jazz, Blues and Big Band whereas 'Tightrope' and' Treading Water' show acoustic class, the former a marriage of Paolo Nutini and The Stereophonics. Harley has it all – voice, guitar artistry and the songs. Can’t wait for a live performance!
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Klaus Schulze
Shadowlands (Synthetic)

Klaus Schulze For those of you unaware of the man, Shulze was once a member of both Tangerine Dream and Ash Ra Tempel and is regarded by many as one of the major precursors of ambient music – but as we imagine hardcore fans will already have this we’re going to review it for the uninitiated with no reference to previous works, and the first thing you need to know is that it’s long, five tracks, none under seventeen minutes, and two in excess of forty, the second thing you need to know is that everything happens at the speed of treacle climbing up a mirror and the third is that it is all really rather beautiful.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

Julian Sas
Bound To Roll (Cavalier Recordings)

Julian Sas Dutch master Julian Sas’ latest album confirms his growth into a top blues guitarist. Trademark bludgeoning blues arrive in the shape of the opener, 'Life On The Line', the eponymous title track and Steve Marriott’s '30 Days In The Hole'. 'Swamplands' and 'Tear It Up' are boogies at either end of the speed scale, whilst the remaining two covers, Dylan’s 'Highway 61 Revisited' and Rory Gallagher’s 'Shadow Play' are high octane versions with slinky slide guitar and lightning fingers respectively. Throw in the offbeat blues of 'The Blues Don’t Worry' and you have an album to be proud of.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Boduf Songs
Burnt Up On Re-Entry (Southern)

Boduf Songs Being entirely unaware of Boduf Songs (apparently one Mat Sweet), until this particular waxing it’s hard to make comparisons with previous work which was apparently largely acoustic, however such is not the case here as occasional walls of distorted guitars via with spooked and frankly rather scary electronica and minimal drum machine pattering, Sweet’s almost whispered vocals buried amongst the malevolent mire. There’s precious few giggles to be had here but this is a fascinating work nonetheless managing to leave you with a sense of creeping dread and a reluctant desire to dive right back in.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Erja Lyytinen
Forbidden Fruit (RUF Records)

Erja LyytinenFinnish songstress Lyytinen’s latest album shows a more personal side and the bittersweet 'Joyful Misery' is a fine example. She goes through a number of styles, from the funky 'Soul' to the slow blues and jazz of 'Hold On Together'. Blues themes permeate the album with the eponymous title track being a contemporary blues, Lil Johnson’s 'Press My Button' continuing the tradition of blues double entendres and 'Things About Coming My Way' traditional Delta. Her trademark slide playing is all over Son House’s 'Death Letter' and everything is backed with emotion laden vocals, wonderful harmonies and expert guitar playing.
David Blue

buy this album

******************************************************************

Richard Thompson
Electric (Proper)

Richard Thompson The ludicrously prolific Richard Thompson returns with, what can best be described as, a stripped down, ‘recorded live in the studio’ set recorded in Nashville with Buddy Miller, which finds our hero exploring both his poetic lyricism and his blistering guitar chops. As always his songs are populated with flawed people, grim situations and violent repercussions (he’s never seemed to have any problems remaining in touch with his baser instincts for a committed Muslim). As is also always the case there are a clutch of songs here that will sit happily alongside his best work, and if anything his guitar playing is actually getting better with age.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

Osibisa
Heads (Repertoire)

Osibisa Many older readers will doubtless first recall being drawn to London based afro-rockers Osibisa due to their first two Roger Dean designed album covers Osibisa (’71) and Woyaya (’71) - although this, their third album, was designed by Mati Klarwein, known for his Abraxas and Bitches Brew covers – and then been blown away by the groundbreaking amalgam of western rock, African percussion and jazzy brass. This was the final album featuring the classic line-up, and probably their last great record and if nowadays this doesn’t sound quite as mind-boggling to young rock fans as it did at the time it still stands up really well.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Fleetwood Mac
Rumours (Warners)

Fleetwood Mac I've been trying hard to think of an album that was so enormously successful and that came in for quite so much derision, whether from old Fleetwood Mac fans who missed the old blues line-up or rock and roll fans who found it too polished (probably didn’t help that it came out at the height of punk in 1977), regardless this isn’t an album that found many fans outside the millions and millions of people who purchased it, which just goes to show how snobby and idiotic music fans can be, ‘cos this is brilliant, loaded with fantastic, yes grown up, pop music, and now with plenty of added live cuts and outtakes for the faithful.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

The Beat
Live ASt The US Festival ’82 & ’83 (Floating World)

The Beat We’ve said it before an we’ll say it again The Beat were a hideously underrated band releasing just three excellent albums before morphing into General Public and The Fine Young Cannibals and on the back of the recent fine re-issue packages of those album comes this, really rather good, CD/DVD set made up of two fine live performances, separated by eight months, at (the Apple funded) The US Festival. Both sets highlight the bands, well deserved, live rep (for this reviewer the ’82 just pipping the ’83) and, given the paucity of decent visual Beat material, these are well worth adding to any Beat fans collection.
Drew Bass

buy this album

******************************************************************

Scott Walker
Bish Bosch (4AD)

Scott WalkerMy neighbour is a big fan of Scott Walker, or at least he was a big fan of the early solo albums (and those great Walker Brothers singles). See the leap from ‘The Sun Ain’t Gonna Shine Anymore’ to Scott’s Jacques Brel solo covers, whilst a stylistic leap, is still a surmountable gap, however the gap between ‘Jackie’ (from Scott 2) and ‘SDSS14+13B (Zercon, A Flagpole Sitter)’ from Bish Bosch is such that my neighbour actually looked a little frightened until I took it off. This is an astonishing album and probably the most genuinely ‘difficult’ thing I have encountered in years however I love it (I think), just don’t expect ‘Make It Easy on Yourself’.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Dark Horses
Black Music (Last Gang)

Dark HorsesThe debut album by Kasabian endorsed Brighton-based outfit Dark Horses is many things, however cheerful ain’t one of ‘em - as some reviews have been at pains to point out. But that’s like complaining that the Velvet Undergound (whose influence reverberates here) were a bit glum, I mean the album is called Black Music for god's sake, and it contains some cracking moments melding motorik beats, blurred electronica, post-rock racket, ice-maiden vocals (think Shirley Manson meets Hope Sandoval via Elizabeth Fraser), and if it’s perhaps a couple of tracks too long it’s still a fine debut and leaves you very keen to hear what’s coming next.
Ruby Palmer

buy this album

******************************************************************

Travis & Fripp
Follow (Panegyric/DGM) )

Travis & Fripp Not the first improvisational link-up between Theo Travis and Robert Fripp (see also 2009’s Thread and 2010’s Live From Coventry Cathedral), but certainly the most interesting thus far as the trance like ambience of T&F pieces to date, utterly lovely though they are, receive an angular and thoroughly noisy shot in the arm on final track 'So There'. So There! indeed. The package is rounded out with a short live set recorded in a church in Cornwall, and if Mr Fripp is to be believed about giving up live work entirely (and we sincerely hope he is not), then this is as close to seeing the great man perform you are now likely to get.
Ray Harper

buy this album

******************************************************************

The Clarke & Ware Experiment
House of Illustrious (Mute)

The Clarke & Ware ExperimentClearly we have no hope of doing justice to a 10 CD box-set in such a short review but if you're a fan of challenging, darkly ambient electronica then you will definitely want to get hold of a copy of this link-up between Vince Clarke and Martyn Ware, just don’t expect it to sound anything like their previous days jobs in Depeche Mode, Yazoo, Heaven 17 or The Human League (although there are certainly echoes of Ware’s B.E.F. project). This features both 1999's Pretentious and 2001's Spectrum Pursuit Vehicle albums plus a further eight CDs of previously unreleased material, but you’ll need to get a wriggle on as they are limited to 1000. You can check out samples from the album via the 'buy this album' link.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Godspeed You! Black Emperor
Allelujah! Don't Bend! Ascend! (Constellation)

Godspeed You! Black Emperor F. Scott Fitzgerald once wrote that ‘an exclamation mark is like laughing at your own jokes’ which as a writer is certainly a bad thing, however in GY!BE’s case it is probably exactly the sort of joke they really enjoy. See GY!BE are about as removed from the whole record/promote/tour treadmill as it’s possible to get and like previous albums this has had no pre-publicity it was just suddenly available (their first in ten years in fact) and is worth getting for the immediacy of the twenty minute post-rock on steroids sturm und drang of ‘Mladic’ alone although the three remaining tracks definitely repay repeat listens.
The Oracle

buy this album

******************************************************************

Album Review Archive

Album Review Archive...

******************
Features

features
Including interviews with Supergrass, Ryan Adams, Patti Smith and our features archive.
more

****************** Live listings

live listings What's on and where Check the listings for all the latest news on where to go and why
more

******************
Demos

Possibly the most important demo page this side of a recording contract.
more

******************
DVD Reviews

DVD Reviews
Our roundup of all the latest DVD releases, top notch or bottom drawer we watch then let you know if they’re fit to pop in yer slot
more

****************** Class act


A full page monthly retrospective look at the most Influential acts from the last fiftyyears
more

******************
Book Reviews

Book Reviews
All the latest music related tomes, top shelf or under the counter, we read ‘em and then pass on the good (or bad) word
more

******************

twitter / totalmusicmag



Copyright: The Fearless Organisation 2004
Web site designed and built by Craig Goult at XUNY in association with CaPhun Ung at Phyo.net