Today’s studio-blog is the final part of the story of AIR Street Oxford Street.
What does it sound like?:
It came into our house like every album in 1970 and early ‘71 did; in a Harlequin Records bag, (or Derek’s Records, Wax, or Bonaparte Records,) carried by my brother, two years my senior; Kev. He was an avid record-buyer, even at sixteen. He had started with the British Blues bands, led by Fleetwood Mac and his hero, Peter Green, and backed up by Ten Years After and Eric Clapton. Free were a constant, as was Rory Gallagher, before Led Zeppelin joined the party, cheered on by Deep Purple and Mountain. Yet, on a day in April 1971, inside that Harlequin Records bag, The Yes Album came into my life.
I may only have been fourteen but, through Kev, I had spent two years being exposed to all of this wonderful music. We shared a bedroom and his huge poster of Peter Green, all long, curly hair and thick beard, and THAT Les Paul, was the first thing I saw every morning. I had been indoctrinated into the most magical, exciting world at an early age and was like a sponge, soaking up every drop of whatever delicious musical beverage he brought into the » Continue Reading.
Today’s studio-blog is the third part of the story of AIR Studios Oxford Street.
Today’s episode of my studio-blog is the 2nd part of AIR Oxford Street.
Today’s studio-blog is the first part of the story of AIR Oxford Street.
John Niven’s novels were described to me once as ‘an acquired taste,’ as if that was a uniquely bad thing. Yet isn’t the work of any author a taste you either acquire, or don’t? Surely the only criteria which really matters when recommending a book to anyone is that it is entertaining or thought-provoking? On that count, Niven’s novels score top marks. He is an entertaining and thought-provoking novelist.
However, O Brother is not a novel.
This new Niven book is the story of his younger brother and his struggle with health, both physical and mental, up to the point at which his life ended at his own hands. Yet it is much more than that. It is the story of the Niven family, of poverty, of inadequate social care and of a section of society marginalised by simply being forgotten.
It is also the best thing Niven has ever written.
I read it in just a few sittings and found myself yearning for another gap in my schedule which would allow me to pick up with Shades and his inexorable journey to a side-room in a hospital, a distracted and overworked staff and a horrible, horrific end.
Today’s studio-blog is about a one-man hit machine and his studio – Rokstone.
Martin Power, an author and biographer from North London, has approached this book from the traditional, chronological standpoint – and has done a very good job of it. The research is extensive and analytical, the writing is concise and empathetic but the thing which makes the book stand out from the norm is that the storytelling rattles along at the pace of one of Gary’s guitar solos.
Gary Moore is such an interesting musician in that he was steeped in the blues, obsessed with Peter Green and Mayall-era Eric Clapton, yet quickly became bored within any structured group which didn’t allow him to fly. It is no coincidence that his greatest success was as a solo artist, playing the blues to a rock audience.
The arrival of the Belfast guitarist in Dublin provides some lovely humour as he hides from his girlfriend’s Catholic landlady when he stays ‘after hours’, and begins his adventures with Brush Shiels, Skid Row and one Philip Lynott. What could possibly go wrong?
The book carries a discography for Gary, including a a section on sessions which he played on for others, and is obviously written from a position of love. It is a » Continue Reading.
Today’s studio-blog is about State of the Ark in Richmond.
My wife has a very precious, signed T-shirt which she wants to get framed. We’ve asked a couple of recommended places and the going rate for both starts at an eye-watering £250.
Has anyone had experience of this for either a t-shirt or a football shirt, and are there any recommended framers who do it regularly, in the southern half of England?
Shepherd’s Bush Empire
Jon Anderson singing my favourite Yes songs, backed by kids from a School of Rock?
One of my biggest musical regrets is that I never got to see Yes in their pomp. I have no idea why, other than you didn’t travel much to gigs in the ‘70’s, and they didn’t come to my town in the six years I was going to gigs every week.
I have seen Yes a few times in the past ten years but never with Jon’s voice singing those songs that I loved so much, at sixteen.
So, when this gig was advertised as Jon Anderson singing Close to the Edge, I really couldn’t have cared less who the other musicians were.
Let me give you a bit of background.
Jon began working with The Paul Green Rock Academy in 2005 when they played some U.S dates. The tour was a huge success and Jon apparently had the time of his life. Fast forward to 2021 and, amidst the complications of the pandemic, plans were set in place for a second tour, this time to celebrate the 50th anniversary of Yes’s best album, Close to the » Continue Reading.
Today’s episode of my studio-blog is about September Sound.
Today’s studio-blog is about Oceanic/Eel Pie/The Boatyard Studios.
What a night at the old Hammy Odeon! Two of my all time favourite singers having the time of their lives in front of a great audience, mixed with fans of each and both artists. Daryl Hall’s ‘Live from Daryl’s House’ band were house-band for the night, with the addition of Mr. Casual himself, the wonderful Hall & Oates sax player, Charlie DeChant in his silver lame jacket and matching shoes.
Todd came on at 7.30 sharp to the opening bars of Real Man and it was clear from the off that the voice was in fine fettle. He let Shane play a faultless copy of THAT guitar solo and it was into Love of the Common Man, cementing my Back to the Bars experience from over 40 years ago at The Forum in London. A beautiful It Wouldn’t Have Made Any Difference and a playful We Gotta Get You A Woman led to Todd strapping on that famous green guitar and asking ‘Do you mind if I rock out a bit?’
The Todd fans around me roared their, (our,) approval.
He fluffed the first solo in Buffalo Grass, almost like he couldn’t hear » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
Let’s take a moment to praise the anonymous people who trawl through tape libraries in studios and record companies, looking for gold. For one of these ‘tape moles’ has unearthed some solid gold bars, here.
Rory Gallagher’s eleventh studio album, Fresh Evidence, came out on 1st May 1990. Recorded over six months – a lifetime, in Rory Gallagher terms – in four studios across London – Redan Recorders, Maison Rouge, Music Station and Audio One – it was an album which Rory was very proud of. His failing health, due to problems with his liver, contributed to delaying the release but a lot of care and attention was taken over getting the right sound for each song. The album used his band; Gerry McAvoy on bass, Brendan O’Neill on drums and John Cooke on keyboards, but had the added input of some wonderful players like Geraint Watkins, Mark Feltham and Lou Martin.
Rory gigged in support of the album, starting on 10th June in Douglas, Isle of Man, but the gigs were more spread out than in years gone by, to help him to recover from the rigours of his stage exertions – two » Continue Reading.
Today’s episode of my studio-blog is about Sphere Studios in Battersea.
The O2 London
Peter Gabriel’s first tour for nine years rolled into London’s ‘enormodome’, The O2, on a hot, Monday night. Seventeen dates in Europe, plus Birmingham, had warmed up the band nicely, and you could tell that the new musicians had found their feet and their place in the rhythm of the band. It’s an eight-piece unit, this time out, with brass, strings and keyboards covered by the newbies. Amongst these, special mention has to go to the incredibly talented Londoner, Ayanna Witter-Johnson, a cellist and singer who has a voice to die for. The core of the band sees Tony Levin and David Rhodes command centre-stage in front of the wonderful French drummer, Manu Katche, a trio of consummate musicians who have given sterling service to Gabriel.
Peter has a new album cdue so it was obvious that we were going to get some unfamiliar songs – except that, these days, several album tracks get put onto the internet, so familiarity was not an issue. The set starts with the musicians assembling in a semi-circle around a fire, playing acoustically. First up is Washing the Water, from 1992’s Us, then Growing Up from 2002’s » Continue Reading.
This month’s Diversity is Identity podcast is a very special one. Host Paul Anderson-Walsh interviews Paolo Hewitt about his life in care. It may surprise you that it is a very uplifting, joyous half hour but it didn’t surprise me.
I am lucky enough to call these two close friends – in fact they are two of my favourite people in the world – and this conversation is just what it’s like when we meet up, (when we’re not moaning about our other mutual love, Spurs,) for an evening in an Italian in Notting Hill, every few weeks.
Honestly, do yourself a huge favour and take 30 minutes out of your day to watch it. You won’t regret it.
What does it sound like?:
The new release from Big Big Train brings together four of their songs about technology and adds a new orchestral piece which links two of them – East Coast Racer and Brooklands.
Recorded at Abbey Road in 2019, The Book of Ingenious Devices itself is a beautiful short orchestral introduction to Brooklands. The 17-piece string section combine perfectly with the band to give the track more presence, more power than the original version on their Folklore Album. Nick D’Virgilio has added new drums and Greg Spawton has recorded new bass guitar and bass pedals to the original track. This version certainly sets the story in a brighter light and raises the impact of the speed and passion which John Cobb felt as he roared around the banks of the old track. The strings really come into their own on the middle instrumental section, beneath Dave Gregory’s blistering guitar and driven by NDV’s incredible drums.
Voyager was always one of my favourite BBT songs and the changes here are only subtle tweaks. The strings however bring a new perspective and combine with the BBT Brass Section for a lush, rich sound, especially on the closing » Continue Reading.
Today’s studio-blog episode, No.80 in the series, is about Riverside Studios.
The London Palladium
The house-lights were still going down when Bonnie and her band walked onto The Palladium stage and she seemed genuinely moved at the sight and sound which greeted her. A roar of delight from the audience that one of the best singers on the planet was back in town and a gasp from her that she had packed out this wonderful old theatre as she looked up at the third tier of adoring fans. “Look at you,” she said, waving up at the gods. I suspect the Gods were waving back.
Like a favourite comfort-blanket, the sound of the Bonnie Raitt band kicking into Made Up Mind just felt right. The Bros. Landreth song from her most recent album, Just Like That, is a perfect Bonnie-cover – a mid-tempo, bluesy stroll which allows for a little slide-guitar and some spot-on harmony vocals from the boys in the band.
It’s a new band, this year. Canadian, Glenn Patscha, from the band Ollabelle, is a revelation on keys, pumping that Hammond at every opportunity but also playing beautiful, delicate piano when required. On guitar is Boston’s Duke Levine, best known from Mary Chapin Carpenter’s band. » Continue Reading.
The Apex, Bury St. Edmunds
Billed as her farewell tour, this was a celebration of a catalogue of great songs, rather than a goodbye. Gretchen has been touring these shores for 26 years and admits that, certainly initially, she was pulling in small, select audiences here, when she couldn’t get arrested back home. She has a loyal following who, tonight, fill The Apex and lap up every last drop of music they can.
Kim Richey is the support act but she is much more than that. Touring-buddy, backing singer and superb songwriter in her own right, her 35 minutes is a joy. Yes, the songs. Yes, the patter. But, oh my, THAT voice. It soars into the rafters of the hall and, on her cover of Kris Kristofferson’s Sunday Morning, Comin’ Down, stops my heart beating. Chase Wild Horses is another highlight and Kim leaves to a huge ovation.
Gretchen Peters, her husband and piano player, Barry Walsh, plus bassist Conor McCreanor and guitarist Colm McLean walk onto the stage to huge applause. They start with one of Gretchen’s most well-known songs, Blackbirds, followed by Wichita, from her most recent album, Dancing With The Beast. As » Continue Reading.
Today’s studio-blog is about Metropolis Studios in Chiswick.
I cannot explain why last night was my first Ron Sexsmith gig – it’s just life, dates, calendars, diaries, work, you know? Just ‘stuff’ has got in the way.
I will also confess to being a late-comer to RS, even though I was aware of so many of his songs. It was 2011’s Long Player, Late Bloomer, his 11th album, which drew me in and forced me to go back and discover the window-full of delights from this songwriter-extraordinare.
As everyone had told me, a RS gig is relentless, song after brilliant song, somewhere between 25 and 30 per night, with the odd pause for a self-deprecating joke or a sip of water. One guitar, one baby-grand piano, two monitors and a few mics are all he needs because it’s the songs which are the stars here. We get a ‘greatest hits’ setlist, liberally sprinkled with some songs from his newest album, The Vivian Line, and the whole night is a complete joy. Secret Heart, Lebanon Tennessee, In A Flash, Speaking With the Angel, Gold In Them Hills, Strawberry Blonde, (“I have to concentrate so hard when I sing that one. If I get » Continue Reading.
What does it sound like?:
In my world, a new album from the Go West singer is to be celebrated. When it is this good, it is to be cheered from the rafters.
If you ask many songwriters they’ll tell you that upbeat songs, those which work best on stage, are the hardest to write. During lockdown, PC found himself wondering if his career was over, if that was it. He began to write, (he admits himself that ‘prolific’ is not his middle name,) and found a batch of up-tempo songs coming out. As soon as he could he re-engaged with Go West-producer Gary Stevenson and with old friend, John Mitchell, (guitarist with It Bites and Frost*) to help him, and their production-skills shine through. Stevenson even remixed the album, at the last minute, because he felt he could do better. And he was right. This is an album which ‘sounds’ fantastic, has brilliant, accomplished musicians and is packed with melodic, up-tempo songs which stick in your head like the very best of friendly ear-worms.
Too Far Gone and She Wants Magic open Side One and are the best of what I describe – they have already both » Continue Reading.