Mega 16 cd plus 2 bluray box ‘In Search of Hades’ covering the prime 1973-79 years is coming in June according to the SDE site – won’t include the link in case it causes the usual technical problems – looks great though!
No, I’m not twisting your melon – Shaun Ryder has followed such luminaries as Kate Bush and Neil Tennant by having a book of his selected lyrics published. Not the most obvious of choices perhaps, but nevertheless this slim volume collects thirty three songs from across both the Happy Mondays and Black Grape eras. Each lyric is accompanied by some revealing reminisces from the author, shedding new light on the often previously obscure, impenetrable verses, which suddenly snap into focus and make perfect sense for the first time. It’s odd reading these lyrics without the musical accompaniment, and to be honest not all work without that missing element, but overall Ryder’s observations make a perfect replacement – indeed these are the most interesting, informative and entertaining part of the book. The lyrical style reminded me very much of that of Mark E Smith, and also (and here’s a left field comparison if ever there was one) of Jon Anderson of Yes, in that the rhythm and sound of the words is far more important than the literal meaning and sense of them. Indeed, Ryder himself says his lyrics are like captions to cartoons running constantly through his head, » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
This four cd set was originally part of one of the box sets issued late last year, but now, as is often the way with these things, it’s been made available separately, which must be quite annoying if you bought said box set just to get hold of it. It’s 34 tracks round up material that never made it onto albums, comprising B sides, remixes and cover versions – rather like another mercurial artist, Prince, in her prime Bush created a plethora of songs for which she just didn’t seem to have a ready outlet for release..
The first cd deals with 12 inch mixes (remember them?), which are more extensions of the originals than actual reinventions. I’m not a huge fan of the genre to be honest, and some work far better than others – my favourite is the alternate Hounds Of Love, although a bonkers Big Sky runs it close.
The second and third cds cover original compositions that never made the final cut for albums. These are the centrepiece of the album for me, a real motherlode of gems such as Under The Ivy, Burning Bridge and You Want Alchemy. Of » Continue Reading.
Rumour has it a Later Years box is in the works for November, covering the band from 1987 onwards. Seems a bit of an odd one, with only two studio albums, both of which are already documented on existing live sets, plus the posthumous Endless River release.
It seems the Animals box has been pushed back to 2020.
Meanwhile a concert film of Roger Waters’ recent Us and Them tour, similar to the one done for The Wall tour a few years since, will come to cinemas later this year, followed by a cd/dvd release.
The winner is announced this weekend – anyone read any of these, or any other recommendations that really ought to have been included?
What does it sound like?:
In 2015 the band’s studio back catalogue was remastered for digital release, those versions of the albums being subsequently used for the vinyl reissues, and now they are on cd for the first time. This batch comprises Powerslave, Somewhere In Time, Seventh Son and No Prayer For the Dying, covering the years 1984 – 90.
First up is Powerslave, containing maybe the band’s best ever track Rime Of The Ancient Mariner, although it also has long standing favourites such as Aces High and Two Minutes To Midnight, not to mention the title track. Quite a good record, although as with many Maiden albums it has its share of filler!
Next up is Somewhere In Time, an album where guitarist Adrian Smith took a more prominent role, coming up with tracks like Wasted Years and Stranger In A Strange Land. The album marked something of a change in sound with guitar synths being heavily featured throughout. Again, a good album in parts but with the usual quota of average stuff.
Now we reach what for me is the highpoint of the band’s career, Seventh Son Of A Seventh Son, a classic from start to finish » Continue Reading.
Anyone interested in reviewing their upcoming album, The Universe Also Collapses, out in May ?
What does it sound like?:
When you think of the big AOR bands, Journey and Foreigner will always be near the top of any list. Here we have two live releases from them, one archival from 1978, the other a more contemporary show from 2017, both coming as cd/dvd combos..
First up is Foreigner with a show recorded at the Rainbow in 1978, and my, aren’t they a young, fresh faced group – mind you, weren’t we all forty years ago! This set far pre-dates their later monster, but much blander, hits such as Waiting For A Girl Like You and I Want To Know What Love Is, and showcases a much hungrier band, with fine performances of most of their highly successful début album, including the likes of Feels Like The First Time and Cold As Ice, as well as previewing material from their then upcoming Double Vision album. The downside is that some of the lesser known material borders on being rather generic and forgettable. However, on the whole the good stuff makes this is a show well worth checking out.
The Journey set is a 2017 concert filmed at the iconic Budokan in Tokyo, and » Continue Reading.
All good things come to an end, and sadly this is the final volume of the excellent Bernie Gunther series. Philip Kerr sadly passed away last Spring, and .a very warm and heartfelt tribute to him from friend and fellow author Ian Rankin introduces this, his final bow..
This novel doesn’t continue chronologically from the previous volumes, as Kerr didn’t want to end the series with a lonely,ageing Gunther adrift somewhere in Europe..Instead, and unlike recent novels which are mostly set post World War II, this tale takes us back to the beginning, to 1928, the era of the Weimar Republic, when a young Bernie is first seconded to Berlin’s homicide department. The Berlin of that era is virtually synonymous with decadence and debauchery, where the rich play while the dispossessed beg on the streets.When a series of prostitutes are murdered the authorities don’t give it the highest priority, until the next victim turns out to be the daughter of the head of the city’s major criminal gang, whose father wants revenge. As more murders follow, including those of disabled war veterans, it seems someone is intent on clearing the streets of anyone who doesn’t fit their image » Continue Reading.
A double header – a chance to interview one of the band members by phone this coming week, and also (separately) an opportunity to attend one of their UK shows in June. Anyone interested?
David Hepworth channels Bryan Ferry for the title of his new book, coming hot on the heels of last November’s ‘Nothing Is Real’, and dealing with, as its subtitle suggests, how the LP ‘saved our lives’. Indeed, he dedicates the book to anyone who knows how it felt to carry an album down the street, something I suspect we can probably all relate to.
He classifies the era when the album was at its peak as a serious influential art form as beginning in 1967 with the release of Sgt Pepper and ending in 1982 with Michael Jackson’s Thriller, after which the coming of the Walkman, followed by cds, downloading and streaming, would gradually strip away the relevance and importance of the LP as a concept.(I can already hear dissenting voices!) For each of the intervening years, he picks out a couple of releases which he perceives as being particularly significant and influential (including some rather surprising choices it has to be said!), and puts them in the context of both then and now, covering not just the music and the artists, but also the way in which the music was actually listened to by its purchasers.
A couple up for grabs if anyone fancies having a go…..
Stevie Nicks – Stand Back – 3 cd best of (stream)
One for prog fans perhaps – reissue of Patrick Moraz – The Story of I – with bonus tracks (download)
As always, first come…..
The genesis of this book was a lengthy article in The Word way back in 2011, which some on here may well recall reading at the time. It’s now been extensively reworked and expanded to form the basis of this complex, interesting volume about the protracted demise of EMI.
It’s a book with lots of technical details about the intricacies of how big business, and particularly the music industry, works, and how takeovers happen – or don’t!. There’s an awful lot of information about the mechanics of the deal, which makes the book quite dry at times – having worked in law and finance for many years I could follow it, but I’m not sure how intelligible or indeed interesting it would be to a layman.
The gist of the book is how Terra Firma, a private equity firm specialising in leveraged buyouts of underperfoming companies, along with the help of their main backers Citibank, purchased the ailing EMI in a deal that was then unexpectedly hamstrung by the subsequent worldwide financial crash. An initially manageable deal was quickly made intolerable as interest charges, debt repayments and covenants imposed by the lenders soon became nigh on impossible » Continue Reading.
Another book in this excellent series, this time concentrating on the work of Long Island’s finest Blue Oyster Cult, put together by super fan Jacob Holm-Lupo. This is a band I originally encountered, as did many I suspect, in the mid seventies via Don’t Fear The Reaper, and it’s parent album, the excellent Agents of Fortune, together with the subsequent live album Some Enchanted Evening.. From that point I worked backwards to Secret Treaties (containing the epic Astronomy), Tyranny And Mutation and their self titled debut album, calling in along the way on their previous live set On Your Feet Or On Your Knees. I was disappointed though with the next two releases – Spectres and Mirrors — and rather lost track of the band at that point. In the course of reading this book, I have Spotified the subsequent albums, the highlights being 1980’s Cultosaurus Erectus and 1988’s Imaginos, but overall found them quite patchy as though the band had lost their way somewhat, not being able to decide on whether to pursue the heavier themes of their early work or the more commercial vein of ‘The Reaper’ era. It would be interesting to discover how any » Continue Reading.
When I first became aware of this book, I have to confess part of me expected it to be one of those unauthorised efforts you see in The Works a few months after publication at a fraction of the cover price, full of photographs you’ve seen a hundred times before and text lazily cut and pasted from old interviews and articles. I hold my hands up – I couldn’t have been more wrong! This is a first class read, rounding up all The Boss’s studio work from 1973’s Greetings From Asbury Park,NJ through to 2014’s High Hopes. It comes in a large format (roughly A4 size) on top quality paper, and has been authored by Brian Hiatt, a senior writer for Rolling Stone, and a man who has interviewed Springsteen on a number of occasions for that publication. He also spoke extensively with members of the E Street Band, along with other musicians and producers who have worked with Springsteen over the years. He goes through each album, song by song, and also adds to each set songs from the album sessions that didn’t make the final cut, but which were later released on outtakes sets such as » Continue Reading.
Author:Stephen Lambe & others
The concept behind this newly published series of paperback books is to take the works of the chosen artist, and go through each album, song by song, as well as providing some interesting background information on each release. They have been put together by a number of different authors (a couple with connections to the Classic Rock Society), but each one is very obviously a fan of the band involved, and these books seem to be something of a labour of love, written by fans for fans. I don’t see that much here that would particularly interest a casual reader or someone with just a passing interest in the featured music,but there’s plenty on offer for the dedicated devotee.
The Queen book is perhaps the most detailed, especially on the early part of their long career, even analysing a number of key songs on a minute by minute basis! That’s the exception, but all the books are extremely thorough, including information on songs that were recorded but ultimately left off albums. I would particularly single out the Yes one as it gives an in depth coverage to the various and numerous comings and goings in » Continue Reading.
Bit of an odd choice given the riches in his back catalogue?
Blog recounting the recording of their new album…….
What does it sound like?:
I remember buying this set on dvd way back on it’s original release in 2003, when it also appeared on cd – hard to credit that’s a whole fifteen years that have slipped by since then! It now makes a somewhat belated appearance on vinyl for the first time, coming as a magnificently presented four album set on 180 gram vinyl in a gatefold sleeve, and there’s even a download code thrown in for good measure. It comprises the full show of the last night of the band’s Vapour Trails tour in 2002, which marked their return after a long hiatus, and is supplemented by two further pieces recorded slightly earlier on the same tour. The show captures the band at the top of their game, and covers every era of their lengthy career. You want early Rush, there’s Working Man and By-Tor The Snow Dog, later period features among others Distant Early Warning, Red Sector A and Bravado, and from the then current era you get the likes of Ghost Rider and One Little Victory. However, for me, the band would never surpass their classic mid seventies to early eighties work – a » Continue Reading.
Anyone interested in having a go at a review for her upcoming Live in Hollywood, 1980 (stream) ?
What does it sound like?:
This two cd set is effectively the soundtrack to the Netflix film of Springsteen’s long run on Broadway with his one-man show. As I’m sure everyone knows by now, the show was heavily based around his autobiography, and some of the monologues here are pretty much taken word for word from it. Some songs are delivered uninterrupted, while others, such as Growin’ Up and Tenth Avenue Freeze Out, are used as vehicles to support the story he’s telling. The anecdotes are fine to listen to once, but on subsequent plays I found myself skipping them to get to the music – once you’ve heard a tale you’ve heard it! The music itself is great, although for me there’s not enough of it, only sixteen songs in 135 minutes, but I suppose if you were there in person that wasn’t so noticeable. I really enjoy stripped back versions of songs in general, indeed my favourite Thunder Road is the one that opens the Live 1975-85 box set (taken from The Roxy in ’75), so there’s plenty on here to like, and it’s revealing to hear some of these songs stripped of the bombast of the » Continue Reading.
It’s not that unusual to see a novel start with a song lyric, but until now I don’t think I’ve ever come across one that uses a line from an Alvin Stardust song! That’s the case in this new work by Scottish crime writer Alan Parks. This is his second novel, and I guess you’d describe this as tartan noir – a gritty police procedural set in the Glasgow of the seventies, with lots of drinking, drugs, swearing and ultra violence – all the ingredients you might expect in fact. Detective Harry McCoy, a man with a troubled past, is the main protagonist, and the novel is set against a background of rival gangs competing for control of the city as new drugs flood in to the market. With a strong supporting cast of colleagues and underworld characters, some of whom he has dubious connections with, McCoy has to track down a serial killer, whose calling card is to carve grisly messages into the chests of his victims. The policing is definitely of the ‘Life On Mars’ vintage, but the characters are well developed and there are some evocative descriptions of the city of Glasgow itself, which almost » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
A pair of expanded reissues from ex Genesis man Ant Phillips, both coming with extra cds of unreleased material plus a dvd with a 5.1 mix of the album. Field Day marked his return to guitar playing after quite a long lay off, and comprises numerous short instrumental acoustic pieces. All are well played, but none really leap out you – you certainly can’t fault the technique but this is really background music rather than something you’d sit down and listen to intently. The more interesting release is Seventh Heaven, a collaboration with composer and keyboardist Anthony Skeet. Originally a double cd set, it is primarily an orchestral work, and although it veers a bit towards Classic FM territory at times, I think this is one of Phillips’ more interesting efforts. Much of the music has quite a pastoral, dare I say even heavenly, feel to it., some of it being reminiscent of very early Genesis. The stand out piece is the Old Sarum Suite, which, being the longest work here, has the time to evolve through a number of different moods and feels. A bonus cd has a further ten previously unreleased pieces, » Continue Reading.
One thing that never fails to lift my post-Christmas spirits is the annual arrival of a new Gerald Seymour novel. Full disclosure – I absolutely love his writing, and always look forward to a new book. Don’t make the mistake of thinking his novels are always espionage based, because many, including this one, are not. I will say though that as the author has got older (he’s 77 now), his novels seem to have become more dour, grim and unrelenting., and there are usually no happy endings on offer for the main players. This tale revolves around a terrorist plot, in conjunction with the criminal underworld, to bring an automatic rifle into the UK from France, and the undercover police operation to thwart and subvert it. Intertwined with this as a sub-plot is the story of the weapon itself, from its manufacture to the numerous hands it passes through over the years before reaching its present location. I’m not sure this is a totally successful idea as for me it doesn’t add that much to the overall story, and at times actually distracts attention from it. Nevertheless, I found myself immersed in the plot – not many of » Continue Reading.