Friday, 27 October 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - TORI AMOS - "LITTLE EARTHQUAKES"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

TORI AMOS


 "LITTLE EARTHQUAKES"
 
 
I first saw Tori Amos on some TV show, I can't remember which one, and I thought how intriguing this lady was.  A mass of red hair, legs astride a piano stool, with an organ behind and a piano in front.  This quirky yet attractive lady was writhing her legs in a playfully sexy way, curling her pouty red lips and singing the most pure and sultry whispered vocal around sometimes manic Rock keyboards and sometimes slow and Classical.  I bought this album and every album since, until "Cornflake Girl" became a big hit the UK hadn't caught this alternative singer songwriter just yet.

Although "Crucify" became Tori's breakout single as it reached number 15, she had dallied with the Top 30 with "China" and "Winter".  One of my favourites of Tori's is "Silent All These Years", amazingly the worst placing from the singles off this set.  Its quiet minimal piano and beautiful vocals reminiscent of Sarah McLachlan and to an extent Kate Bush.  Its such a lovely song.  "Crucify" has a little more punch with a slight drum beat and a 70s Psychedelic Rock segment and harmonising vocals.  "China" is another piano ballad, with soft whispering vocal verses leading into a crescendo chorus and back down again.  A very romantic song about a distant lover who doesn't share her views on the relationship.  "Winter" written about her relationship with her minister father is an absolute gem, as with most of Tori's songs you can pick up the emotion and sense this is autobiographical.  Tori is not afraid of any subject however tough it may be, as we find out on this album.


"Girl" has a little orchestration and light drumbeat as well as Tori's unmistakeable vocals and keyboard skills, it also has a kind of Progressive/Psychedelic Rock middle segment.  

"Precious Things" has a quicker pace, a frantic piano with a more powerful Rock drumbeat and with screeching vocal accompaniment and a range of other atmospheric vocals.  This is a darker track, a powerful angry emotive track that us fans have grown accustomed to over the years.

"Happy Phantom" is one of those funny, bright and breezy Tori tracks that even if the lyrics are somewhat strange and maybe dark you can't help but smile, she has this given talent for music composition.  I think its her thinking how her death would impact on a lover or so I read somewhere.

Tori makes light of one of the most traumatic experiences of anyone's life, her rape at knifepoint, maybe its her way of dealing with it, the song is light but the lyrics if you listen closely are quite dark on "Leather".  "Me And A Gun" is a more vivid recollection of the whole ordeal, just Tori singing a cappella, this was released as a debut single but "Silent All These Years" the B-side was preferred.  The former is is bright and positive while the latter is quite disturbing and you feel sad that Tori or any woman has been put through this.

"Mother" is another minimal sounding track and seems to be about a controlling mother, maybe being forced into the Church in some way or someone making her do something she does not want to do.  Not a favourite track of mine but the insight into Tori's upbringing is interesting.

"Tear In Your Hand" has like a Classic Rock or Rock Pop vibe, with more Psychedelic moments, I love this track.  It has a great full musical backing and more produced than other songs Tori has made, and it works to full effect.  

"Little Earthquakes", the title track and unusually at the end of the album, is simply gorgeous, almost Gothic, and almost sounding like Alanis Morissette at times.  It has off tuned segments, a little sixties psychedelia, screeching vocals, soft vocals, basically is Tori Amos in a nutshell, well in 6 and a half minutes!


  CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!




Wednesday, 25 October 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD - "WELCOME TO THE PLEASUREDOME"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

FRANKIE GOES TO HOLLYWOOD





"WELCOME TO THE PLEASUREDOME"



The Liverpool quintet fronted by Holly Johnson blasted onto the scene amidst controversy, thought provoking hit singles, 3 consecutive number ones, plethora of remixes and risque videos.   I remember seeing the band live at Manchester G-Mex on the Rage Hard tour.  Hearing whispers in the media that the band couldn't actually play (as Trevor Horn allegedly used session musicians for the records) and being a big fan of this unusual group I had to see what the live show was all about.  The band could play, it was a blistering gig, great musicians, good banter with the crowd, Holly's voice on full throttle and with great support from Terri Nunn and Berlin.

This album was probably one of the most eagerly anticipated albums of the 80s, the double vinyl album I bought was like nothing I had seen before.  It was released on ZTT(Zang Tumb Tumb) records and mastered in music by Trevor Horn and in words by Paul Morley.  The striking Picasso-esque erotic gatefold sleeve was not something mum and dad would ever see! I loved the intrigue, the mystery and probably yes the naughtiness which at the time I was not quite sure of! Anyway the album is packed with great tracks, the energetic disco classic "Relax" , the brilliant loud raucous war anthem "Two Tribes" and the beautifully romantic "The Power Of Love" all hit the top spot in quick succession.  The shortened and remixed "Welcome To The Pleasuredome" peaked at number 2.


The album opens with "The World Is My Oyster" including "Well" and "Snatch of Fury" which serves as a teaser for what is to come.  Siren-like singing, mysterious ancient film extracts and Holly announcing the world is his oyster and giving us his best maniacal laugh!.

The 13 minute plus version of "Welcome To The Pleasuredome" is a riveting listen, just what you expected, the unexpected! It was cinematic, chanting abound, little instrumental breaks ending with another maniacal laugh and a little Holly giggle having fun.

The cover of "War" by Edwin Starr is also a much remixed song by FGTH.  The mainly bongo-like drumming with some minimal guitar backing sends a powerful message and is one of my favourite tracks by the band.  Chris Barrie (Rimmer in Red Dwarf) portrays Ronald Reagan informing us about Love and War.

"Tag" was an orchestrated track (snippet from Two Tribes), with Prince Charles (Barrie again) giving us thoughts on orgasm and ejaculation.  No idea why this was here, but hey, I am sure it caused controversy which was their forte at the time!

"Fury" was a shortened "Ferry Cross The Mersey" and became a backdrop for the unemployed as it is a really nice cover version that ends with (possibly Paul?) stating he left his DHSS card at home and the jobcentre lady says the supervisor will put him on daily signing if it happens again! 

In like a bullet straight after "Fury" was the blistering Rock classic "Born To Run" previously made by Bruce Springsteen.  Holly does a great job and the track really hits the spot, to me band make it a little more rocky than the original.

The Dionne Warwick song "San Jose" is next for the Frankie treatment, its a lovely song and just like "The Power Of Love" Holly proves he knock out a ballad as good as anyone.

"Wish (The Lads Were Here)" is a funky original song by the band, with a catchy chorus "love is on the run, wish you were here, my love has got a gun, wish you were here" and its another song that could have been a hit in my opinion.

"The Ballad of 32" is an almost Progressive Rock song with searing gutiar solos and minimal atmospheric backing and breathy vocals faintly heard.  

"Krisco Kisses" isn't one of my favourites from Frankie, it seems a bit muddled, fast paced uptempo manic Rock, then slowing down with repetitive lyrics.  Not a bad song but seems a bit of a last minute addition.

"Black Night White Light" is one of my favourites, a really accomplished song, a little Funk, a little Electro and a little Pop Rock.  A really good track.

"The Only Star In Heaven" could have been a hit single as well.  Building up and up into a fast paced crescendo, great chorus, great percussion and guitar licks, a great original song.

"Bang" ended this awesome album like it began, a small snippet of Electronic orchestation finishing with the great Chris Barrie ending everything as Ronald Reagan stating "Frankie Say...No More!"




 CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!





Monday, 23 October 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - ERASURE - "THE INNOCENTS"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

ERASURE





"THE INNOCENTS"



I have everything by Erasure and although "Wonderland" and "The Circus" were good albums this third album really showed the great songwriting and maturity in the sound.   I remember first hearing Erasure and I thought it was Yazoo, as Andy Bell sounded very much Alison Moyet (Alf) from Vince Clarke's previous dual partnership.  The Erasure Synthpop sound became their own, great little Pop tunes with sublime melodies and foot tapping choruses.  However, this album as I said, was more mature and showed a deft craft to song composition.

The album contained two of my favourite singles from the band, the quite wonderful emotive song, "Ship Of Fools", a really lovely song and the classic party singalong song "A Little Respect" (some might remember the great Wheatus cover version in 2000).  "Chains Of Love" competes the trilogy of single releases with its almost Motown Soul structure and catchy chorus.


"Phantom Bride" is perfect 80s electronic Pop, catchy, bright and breezy and a nice positive uptempo number while "Hallowed Ground" sounds a little like "A Little Respect" backing slowed down a touch but with mysterious ambience and downbeat vocals from Andy.

The instrumental "65,000" is a Jazzy almost Art Of Noise type track which you would probably hear on a detective show theme, a little like Dragnet maybe?

"Heart Of Stone" is classic Erasure, foot tapping Electro Pop with a memorable and singalong chorus.

"Yahoo!" is a great song, absolutely love this.  Bright Pop and with a catchy chorus that has a Gospel-like backing harmonies.

"Imagination" is a little disappointing but the repetitive catchy chorus redeems it a little, seems too simple and the same goes for "Witch In The Ditch" which for me is quite bland and just reminds me of a school assembly song!

"Weight Of The World" fits in nicely with the theme of this album, it has elements of the 3 singles but just in need of a kick to make it a memorable song, although the chorus is quite nice.

Another favourite of mine is the beautiful "When I Needed You", full of emotional vocals from Andy, and the song itself is a Synthpop classic ballad. 

The cover version is not the best I have heard of "River Deep, Mountain High" but I guess we can excuse the guys to have a little fun with one of their favourites.  Its one of those songs that needs a big vocal and not an Electronic backing.




 CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - COUNTRY ROCK ARTIST "CHANCE MCKINNEY"

Chance McKinney is a CMT Music City Madness Winner and hails from Missoula, Montana in USA.  Last year he released his album on iTunes entitled "Down To Get Up" following a couple of previous releases.    A Country inspired crossover artist brings some toe tappin' Rock elements together with the customary slide guitars and a little bit of Americana.
Chance was always the kid at school that was supposedly left behind and was told "you're not good enough".  The guy has something that only a handful of people possess, guts and determination to succeed.  Touring his new style of Country Rock excessively Chance is no stranger to the live circuit.
Before getting his big break at CMT Music City he had already toured with such greats as Kenny Rogers, Dwight Yoakam and Lynyrd Skynyrd.  He is becoming a superstar singer-songwriter in his own right.  
The album "Down To Get Up" has brilliant crossover appeal, if you're a Soul/Motown lover check out the sweet "Gonna Be A Song Someday" or if you're more rocky check out the cool "Trouble With Trouble".  




NEW MUSIC PROFILE - ALTERNATIVE ROCK BAND "CURSE OF LONO"

Curse of Lono are a London based quintet who I could describe as mysterious storytellers! Felix Bechtolsheimer, Dani Ruiz, Charis Anderson, Neil Findlay and Joe Hazell make up this unique band.  The sometimes Alternative, Gothic Rock seamlessly slips into Folk and Blues with brilliant musicianship and gravel-like vocals.  
The sound just takes you into a dark novel setting where you sit in a dimly lit bar sinking whisky shots and telling your stories like an old style detective.  New album "Severed" is out now, a favourite of mine is "He Takes My Place".  
There are similarities to modern bands like Liverpool storytelling band The Coral as well as 60s artists like The Kinks and Simon and Garfunkel or even the Everly Brothers. The sound is raw and has a "live" feel to it that would sound awesome in headphones as you while away an afternoon being transported into another time and place.
The band are currently on tour around Europe amidst rave reviews of their debut album.  I look forward to hearing more from the band, the "Severed" album is just a laid back, mature piec of work and surely plants a seed for a bright, blooming future!


 

 

Friday, 20 October 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - MADONNA - "LIKE A PRAYER"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

MADONNA


"LIKE A PRAYER"




As a big fan of Madonna and with her whole back catalogue to choose from my own collection it was difficult finding a favourite but "Like A Prayer" has to be it.  I remember buying the vinyl edition and smelling the patchouli oils that the first pressings had been scented with to give the effect of church incense.  Like Prince and Adam Ant, my other big idols, Madonna had a different look and style to each album she released.  This was no exception, after the pure Pop Dance of the debut, the ultimate Pop album in "Like A Virgin" and the Motown singalong feel of "True Blue" this album saw a mature Madonna complete with brunette hair! The songs were different, various and she co-wrote all the tracks mostly with Patrick Leonard but also songs with Prince and Stephen Bray.

5 singles were released from this album 3 Top 5 hits and one number one, the title track.  "Like A Prayer" joined the album at the top of the charts, complete with a controversial video.  Well I say controversial but it wasn't to me, it was just Madonna being open to all scenarios and expressing her creative art.  The "black Jesus" controversy was a little silly to me, and yes there were burning corsses etc.  To someone like me who isn't at all religious and finds the whole religion blasphemy etc an incredible waste of energy and thought.  Madonna has always pushed boundaries and to me, this was an awesome song and great video.  The gospel parts were absolutely gorgeous and its a very spiritual song no matter what anyone else thinks!  "Express Yourself" was classic Madonna, Disco Pop and prompted a horde of remixes for the clubs.  "Cherish" was my favourite video, and a favourite song of mine, light and breezy akin to "True Blue", its cute Pop at its best and Madonna playing with the Merpeople in the water was sweet.  "Dear Jessie" was a Disney-like children's bedtime story, complete with "candy kisses", "pink elephants and lemonade", lovely song and "Oh Father" was a beautiful ballad which showed Madonna could deliver emotion as well as a Disco classic!


"Love Song" was a brilliant collaboration with my other idol Prince, I wish they had made more songs together.  It was classy, experimental and off beat, but the influence of Prince is unmistakeable,  it was similar to the songs he was making for the "Batman" soundtrack.  Pure class by two icons.

"Till death Do Us Part", an uptempo kind of ballad, a sign of a much more mature sound to come, reminds me a little of Abba and Roxette.

"Promise To Try" is a nice song but a little too "musical" for me, maybe she was thinking about the "Evita" film a few years later.  A little too unremarkable for this album although its a big shoe to fill as its full of gems.

One of my favourites, the singalong "Keep It Together" also spawned many remixes for the 12" and party lovers.  Classic Funk Dance with a message, I think it was a massive dancefloor hit in the USA.

"Spanish Eyes" is a Latin sounding song, really nice and in the vein of "La Isla Bonita" only more of a ballad. "Act Of Contrition" is a weird concoction of sounds, allegedly its a Prince's guitar work, the choir's gospel backwards from "Like A Prayer" and Madonna reciting the Roman Catholic prayer of confession and repentance! Strange but I guess there was needed a fill in for the running time of the album!


 CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!


CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - INXS - "LISTEN LIKE THIEVES"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

INXS


"LISTEN LIKE THIEVES"


I was probably as big a fan as any other of INXS before the 1990 album "X" and the band became a little too safe and commercial after the amazing global success of "Kick", which is probably most fans' favourite due to the many radio friendly singles.  This is my favourite album because it is the band at their most original rocky best and seemed to be the logical step forward from the previous 4 albums.  "Kick" had some great moments but it was a little overkill, songs were similar and even poor minimal songs like "New Sensation" bacame a hit on the back of the album.

Anyway, to this album, the 4 singles released in the UK didn't even make the Top 40 which is surprising.  The title track "Listen Like Thieves" had a Rolling Stones Rock vibe, saxophone parts, typical guitar riffs and a funky bassline, with Michael Hutchence giving his almost Mick Jagger-like vocals.  Absolutely loved this song on first listen.  "Kiss The Dirt (Fallng Down The Mountain)" was similar to songs on the previous album "The Swing", a little more Pop and a swaying gentle song with a lovely chorus.  "What You Need" was similar to the title track, it had a bit of everything which was unusual in Rock songs at the time, it became a big hit in the USA though! The fourth single was "This Time" which was the worst placed UK chart entrant but it was a great song, reminding me a little of SImple Minds early material united with Crowded House style melodies and easy listening vibe.


"Shine Like It Does" is Classic 80s Pop Rock, the band find their niche, lyrically and musically a brilliant track, which progressed later and brought us the classics such as "Mystify" and "Need You Tonight".

"Good And Bad Times" is a mix of searing guitars, powerful vocals, and funky riffs and keyboards, a heavier backing than the singles exploring their Rock.  Some moments remind me of New Romantic summery saxophone elements akin to Duran Duran and Spandau Ballet in 1983 but essentially this is INXS Rock at its best.

"Biting Bullet" is a venture back into the old INXS sound of the debut abum with a catchy chorus  and fast paced tempo, similar to the early songs, the debut single "Simple Simon" and "Just Keep Walking".

The one disappointment on the album is "Three Sisters", quite obviously a filler, its an experimental Electronica/Howard Jones style track which is pretty uneventful or attention grabbing.

"Same Direction" is Classic Rock at its best, a Simple Minds/Mick Jagger hybrid while "One X One" is a strange one, it reminds me of Go West, Thomas Dolby, Howard Jones and The Smiths all rolled into one, but it works! Great song.

The album ends with "Red Red Sun", Punk rebels meet The Specials! Manic ending to the album with unconventioanl guitar riffs and feedback galore.


CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!

Thursday, 19 October 2017

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - SOUL ARTIST "ELSA CHAPMAN"

Elsa is a big Soul voice from London.  Check out her original song "Get Me Up" in the video below.  Just imagine Alicia Keys, Diana Ross with a sprinkle of Aretha Franklin's powerful energy and you have Elsa.  I saw a couple of covers of "Saving All My Love" and "I Want You Back" and this lady has a voice, a big big voice.
Elsa's vocals encompass a little Funk and R 'n B thrown in for good measure as well as the Soul influence. Once you hear this lady you really want more.  "Get Me Up" is quite funky and soulful but I think she could turn her voice to any genre such is the talent that is evident in her performances.#
When watching Elsa at the piano and belting out her new style of Soul it reminded me of Tori Amos, such is the confidence and the ability to grab attention and keep it focused on her voice.  I said she also reminded me of Alicia Keys, which is a big compliment as I think she is an original performer.
Check out some of Elsa's live performances on YouTube, she is going to be a force to be reckoned with.  I also recommend finding the track "Rewind", a really great song, I look forward to a debut album from this bright star!





CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - SPANDAU BALLET - "TRUE"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

SPANDAU BALLET


"TRUE"



This is probably a predictable choice but this album was just ahead of my second favourite Spandau album "Parade".  After the first two albums were almost medieval sounding, experimental and perfect New Romantic Pop, this third album was classy and the band's song composition and style was of the same calibre.  Like most of the 80s bands they evolved and grew up musically, which almost always loses the little girls who idolise the looks' makiing the media label them as a "boyband".  Spandau had great songwriting, great songs and great musicians, and should be recognised so.  The Jazzy Soul theme set the boys on the road to world domination.

The album contained the classic singles, the ultimate Pop ballad in "True" and the advertising companies' favourite much to its detriment, the singalong "Gold" (both showing Tony Hadley's incredible unique powerful vocals).  The former made top spot and the latter number 2.  "Lifeline" also made top 10 with its Pop summery style and sax and harmonies while "Communication" became an unusual Disco club classic, I remember the 12" version being awesome but it only reached number 12 in the singles chart.


"Pleasure" opened the album and set then classy stylish tone for this record.  A real snappy chorus and matches perfectly with the singles released from this set.

"Code Of Love" would be a great James Bond theme, slow and mysterious with fabulous vocals from Tony.

"Heaven Is A Secret" is a great song, complete with memorable chorus and clever harmonies, one of my favourites from the band.

"Foundation" is upbeat with a pounding drumbeat with an easy singalong chorus and Tony exercising his vocal range to the max, would have been a great Summer hit single I think.


CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - FOLK AND BLUES ARTIST "SEPHTY"

Sephty is a young singer-songwriter playing Folk and Blues from Reading but now based in Newcastle.  His debut album "The Crow Moon" is released in 2017 and is sure to be a success.  Sephty (who is happy to answer to Joseph, Joe or Joey) has a soothing tone to his vocals, its very calming and easy to listen to.
 
The pure vocals and crisp sounding guitar playing remind me of Chris Isaak and Paul Simon.  Joseph has been hooked on music since listening to Led Zeppelin, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones as a youngster.
Dylan is the obvious influence here but another hero is Woody Guthrie, with modern day influences of the likes of Ray Lamontagne.  Watching a couple of videos with Sephty playing live he has a great stage presence.  His voice just captivates the venue and shows a maturity beyond his years.
Sephty released his single, "November" this year taken from his debut album entitled "The Crow Moon".  The single is a light, breezy Folk Pop number and is sure to be a favourite on radio playlists!



Wednesday, 18 October 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - EUROPE - "THE FINAL COUNTDOWN"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

EUROPE


"THE FINAL COUNTDOWN"


Europe were thrust into the similar Rock bands of the time, Bon Jovi, Def Leppard, Whitsenake and the like.  All with big hair, and anthemic arena style tracks that the heavier Rock fans just didn't buy and thought it was too "poppy".  This was the album that got me curious about the band and I bought the previous two albums which were very raw and you could hear the progress being made within to make this great Rock crossover album.  I also have singer Joey Tempest's solo albums which are superb.

The lead track "The Final Countdown" has been the last song on many a New Year's Eve night playlist.  Based around a simple keyboard riff it became a huge hit around the globe with Joey's powerful vocals and the virtuoso guitar strumming at around 5 minutes added to the song's legendary status.  Two more singles were released off the album, the re-worked and more polished singalong "Rock The Night" (from the previous "Wings Of Tomorrow" album) and the emotional ballad "Carrie" which like Jon Bon Jovi, Joey can deliver the lyrics in that unique emotive Rock style amid orchestral laden backing.


"Danger On The Track" is a great Pop/Rock crossover track coming complete with screeching guitar and a keyboard.  "Ninja" sadly fails to deliver the high standards of this album, and is surely a filler here, its a little like the first album, a little bit too Rock standard with all the usual riffs and its pretty basic.

"Cherokee" was released internationally as a single but not in the UK and it reminds me of The Cult a little and also for some reason "Since You been Gone" by Rainbow, love this track though.

"Time Has Come" is a mix of fast tempo Rock streaming into an anthemic ballad with obligatory guitar solos abound with a simple but effective chorus. 

"Heart Of Stone" is typical 80s Rock, catchy chorus with the chug a chug of the guitar, mid song solo and light atmospheric keyboard backing.  Classic Rock at its best.

"On The Loose" reminds me of early Heart and is easy going Pop Rock for the radio friendly listeners.  Its catchy and could have easily been a hit single.

"Love Chaser" has a tiny snippet intro similar to "The Final Countdown" which is a perfect ending to the album.  This final track is a slightly Fleetwood Mac/Heart influenced mid tempo song with catchy chorus and guitar solos.  


CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!


NEW MUSIC PROFILE - ROCK BAND "STARTS HILL"

Starts Hill are a three piece Rock band based in London comprising of Conor Barclay on vocals and guitar, Charlie Hawkins on bass and backing vocals and Ben Bardsley-Ball on drums.  The debut E.P. cunningly titled "Starts Hill" was released to widespread acclaim in 2015.
Currently the band are working on their second offering.  Their sound is very pure and raw and reminds me of the 60s bands, bare bones melodious Rock with a "live" feel.  The lead single from the E.P. "Grace" is pure Punk pop and there are possibly elements in the other songs of an early Jam influence.
The band have been playing together since 2013 and the debut E.P. was called a "four track wonder of music" by Genius Babble. They have a really good Punk Rock vibe but as I stated in the last paragraph the recordings give off that live sound of a gig.
The most recent single "I'm A Dog" reminds me of a hybrid Clash/Stooges song, its perfect power Punk.  Although this band are in their fledgling stage in terms of recorded music their talent is maturing beyond their years, I sense big things for these guys!




CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - BLONDIE - "EAT TO THE BEAT"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

BLONDIE


"EAT TO THE BEAT"


This album was Blondie at their peak of their powers, the fourth album seems to get overlooked when fans name their favourite album by the band, most preferring the classic Punk Pop of their previous albums.  This was the album that was just superb throughout and the first "video album" that was ever made, where each song had a promo.  I was already a fan of the band and of course like very young man at this time I had a big crush on lead singer Debbie Harry!

"Eat To The Beat" should have been the platform for ultimate domination but the next album "Autoamerican" for me was a big disappointment although brave experimentally.  This set included the 3 hit singles, the fast uptempo New Wave classic "Dreaming" the atmospheric apocalyptic anthemic number one "Atomic" and "Union City Blue", a light sultry playful number in the usual Blondie style.

 
"The Hardest Part" is one of my favourite tracks and although wasn't released as a single in the UK it was in USA.  A Funky electro sounding uptempo groove with a video that has Debbie in brunette wig, dark shades and a black split dress that oozes sex appeal. Ironically the blonde bombshell became the brunette beauty! It is classic Blondie for a new age.

"Shayla" is a gorgeous slow ballad, almost Motown sounding with a hint of Country guitar playing thrown in for good measure, backing the sweet vocals from Debbie.

"Eat To The Beat" is a manic fast Punk rocker that is similar in composition to "Detroit 442" from "Plastic Letters" while "Accidents Never Happen" has an opening similar to "Maria" on Blondie's comeback album "No Exit" of  1999 and is in the typical Blondie vein, keeping their Punk and New Wave roots.

"Die Young Stay Pretty" is a favourite of mine, its Reggae style suiting Debbie's vocals beautifully.  I like the line "deteriorate in your own time", sometimes the stars of today just want to crucify themselves for success and they have nothing to look back on because they're not around anymore.

"Slow Motion" is another Motown style with harmonising backing echoes like the old 60s classics and is followed by a really lovely lullaby-esque track called "Sound-A-Sleep", and trust me you can fall asleep to Debbie's sweet voice quite easily here!

"Victor" is probably my least favourite personally, lots of screaming, chanting and heavy music in the background.  Maybe I have just been spoiled with all the great quality tracks here that I missed something I don't know.

"Living In The Real World" ends the album on a high note much like it started.  A heavy Rock sound akin to the Runaways or any of the girl Metal bands, top stuff!


CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!

 

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - BON JOVI - "SLIPPERY WHEN WET"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

BON JOVI


"SLIPPERY WHEN WET"


Bon Jovi have a massive following all around the world, and although their music today is sometimes slated as the "same old Bon Jovi record" from non-fans I love the fact that they just keep on putting out good old fashioned Rock 'n Roll.  From raucous guitar driven rockers to the anthemic emotional ballads the guys still claim a big space in my music collection.

Although "New Jersey" runs this album close as my favourite with its multitude of hits I prefer this because this was the album that got me hooked on the band.  From this I also went out and bought Jon's Power Stations tracks, the debut Bon Jovi album "Bon Jovi" and "7800 Fahrenheit" and now all the albums since of Jon, Richie and the band.


The 3 top 20 hits are here that everyone who hasn't been living under a rock recognises.  Every non Bon Jovi fan knows "Livin' On A Prayer", the epitome of the mature Bon Jovi sound, quick fingered keyboards, pounding drums, guitar riffs galore and Jon's powerful vocals make up a Classic Rock singalong.  "You Give Love A Bad Name" is similar in vein with another memorable chorus that everyone enjoys at 80s parties.  "Never Say Goodbye" is a really lovely song and a romantic Rock classic, Jon really got the emotional vocals to a tee in this one, amazing it only reached 21 in te chart but I guess the album was in everybody's household by then!  

One of my favourite singles from Bon Jovi and on this album is "Wanted Dead Or Alive", a cowboy song with the hero in question having a gutiar instead of a gun, riding a "steel horse" and with a "loaded six string".  Probably telling the story of the dives and bars that the band played in to learn their trade.  Great harmonies and great Rock twangs and atmosphere.

The album opens with "Let It Rock", possibly one of the best openers of a record in my opinion.  A huge church organ opening then an explosion of screeching guitars, thumping drums and anthemic chorus paved the way for the new Bon Jovi sound.

"Social Disease" and "I'd Die For You" are probably the lesser tracks on this album but they have stiff opposition here.  The former is a song that I like but maybe it lacks a real catchy chorus to stand out while the latter is akin to "Shot Through The Heart" but without a good chorus, it kind of stumbles through to the end like an afterthought filler.

"Raise Your Hands" is guaranteed stadium participation but not a particularly great song, it seems a bit mixed up for me.  "Wild In The Streets" is a brilliant party rocker, singalong chorus and bouncy enthusiasm in abundance!

"Without Love" to the soppy Rock lover like me has the best of both worlds, similar lyrical emotion to "Never Say Goodbye" but its half ballad/half Rock works superbly and yet another memorable chorus which has been at the centre of Bon Jovi's popularity for decades!


CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!

DEBATE ARTICLE - "HAVE DJ's AND PRODUCERS TAKEN OVER FROM GENUINE SONGWRITING ARTISTS?"



On looking through the music charts the last few weeks there are only a couple or so stand alone artists and bands that are actually featuring.  In the 90s it started to increase and now it is very very rare you don't see a song by "DJ Whatever featuring someone and someone" or some mixer or producer with or featuring some singer.


Before the mid 90s came, producers were exactly that, producers.  They would produce the music of artists and bands.  Mixers would remix the single for 12" records but it would still be the artist name.  I am all for everyone getting credit but have mixers and producers killed the art of the songwriting artistes?.  Anyone it seems can have a hit record now when it used to be sales alone, and you would have to be a recognised artist.  I am a music journalist and I hear a lot of music but I just can't fathom out who half these names are, maybe I am out of the loop or old fashioned?


The following is the top 10 this week (at the time of writing this article...)
(ft = featuring)

1. Post Malone ft 21 Savage (never heard of either) 2. Camilo Cabello ft Young Thug (no clue) 3. Sam Smith (I know of but don't rate)  4. Dua Lipa (vaguely familiar with) 5. Avicii fr Rita Ora (Acicii is known to me purely by the name popping up in place, Rita I know) 6. Zayn ft Sia (I assume this is the One Direction lad and Sia I know) 7. CNCO & Little Mix (CNCO no clue, Little Mix obviously)  8. J Balvin/Willy William (who?)  9. Stefflon Don & French Montana (who?)  10. Logic/Alessia Cara/Khalid (who?).


Well you get the idea...tha albums charts are usually more familiar.  Ok it gives the opportunity of some unknown singer to make a record if a producer, DJ or mixer likes what they hear but it is getting ridiculous.


I review new bands and artists all the time and because of this kind of "all in one" chart the REAL artists can't make it and maybe those of lesser determination may call it a day because sales are everything to popularity.  I remember buying the New Musical Express...there was a Disco chart, a novelty chart, Rock chart, 12 " chart etc.  That went on sale of physical discs though.  Today you see an average artist like Justin Bieber claiming the top 3 songs, Ed Sheeran and Beyonce claiming half the chart releasing every song on downloads.  A single is a single and an album is an album, that's how it should be.  There should be a physical chart, those people who have actually gone out and bought a cd/cdsingle/vinyl single or album and a download chart, not lump them all together.  I used to buy vinyl all the time and a host of cd albums.  I don't buy and download that much now.  So al the kids who are buying from iTunes are filling the "all in one" chart with basically mindless, not very creative drivel.


I'm not being all Grandad about this, I am just a lover of music and since making this blog, I have found some fantastic bands and artists who are determined for everyone to hear their music.  This is why I do this blog to give them a fighting chance to get noticed by new fans, who will then buy their music and give them the success they deserve.  Gone are the days of Bon Jovi going round the clubs and dives to get noticed, Blondie and The Ramones playing the downbeat CBGB.  Now with the days of the Internet if you make a good video on YouTube you could get noticed.  I don't mind this, its great to find new talent.  What I don't like is that everyone has a job, don't muscle in on other's fame.  Even though Stock, Aitken and Waterman, Berry Gordy with Motown and Phil Spector all wrote songs for artists, they never put their names on the title frame.  If they want to write someone a song and give them credit great, but come on, don't call yourself an artist just because you found someone who can sing your song!  Mark Ronson this goes out to you and others like you, great that you play some instruments and can produce and DJ but you don't sing! If you don't sing or get someone to sing and its an instrumental by YOU then by all means put your name in the title frame!.

 
I know this is controversial but I am old school...music is about the music, not muscling in on other's talent and definitely not pushing out someone who actually deserves to be there through hard graft and determination!















































































































































Monday, 16 October 2017

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - ROCK ARTIST "KALEB MCKANE"

Kaleb McKane is one of those rare acts that even after hearing only one song you want more.  On listening to the single "Talk To God" with its superb Lego guitar man video (enjoy it below!), I was blown away.  This singer-songwriter gave me snippets of old 70s Rock, Hendrix, Guns 'N Roses and Bowie. 
The atmospheric, almost psychedelic and eclectic guitar playing mixed with powerful vocals is a joy.   The Hendrix influence is obvious as he plays a couple of his songs live, check out some of Kaleb's performances on YouTube! Especially check out "Voodoo Child" and "Hey Joe".
Kaleb is a great energetic performer, vocals evoking Axl Rose in his prime and his guitar playing with a little Hendrix, a little Slash imagery.   If "Talk To God" is anything to go by this guy should be huge, even though its only a taster it bodes well for the future recordings!.
Kaleb has announced the release of the E.P. "Universe In Reverse"(check out the new video below!), this guy surely has more in his locker and many strings to his bow.  Playing a mix of Classic, Alternative and Progressive Rock themes he is going to be big hit with all Rock enthusiasts around the world.



Friday, 13 October 2017

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - BLUES AND COUNTRY ARTIST "LUCY ZIRINS"

Lucy comes from Burnley in Lancashire and after a criticaly acclaimed debut album, "Chasing Clocks" in 2013 she followed this up with a 6 track E.P. in 2015 ("What's In Front Of Me") which includes the beautifully soulful "Falling To Pieces".
Gigging since the age of 16, playing guitar since 12, surely the time is right for Lucy to be thrust onto the big stages! The E.P. features her live touring band The Southern Company and is a mix of different styles such as Country and Blues.
The young singer songwriter has been nominated for the British Blues awards in several categories and won in 2013.  Touring constantly Lucy graduated from BIMM London in 2017 studying for a BA in songwriting.  A talented lady with the purest of sweet vocal comibining with some beautiful musical backing.
I actually was told by a friend of mine to look up Lucy as I said I was looking for new artists to review.  I am glad I did, Lucy shows a maturity beyond her years both in songwriting and song composition.   My favourites from the album are "Tearing Me Down" and "Lullaby", but the whole set is full of emotional and very mature tracks.



Thursday, 12 October 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - DURAN DURAN - "RIO"

THESE ALBUM REVIEWS ARE FAVOURITES FROM MY OWN VAST AND VARIED ECLECTIC COLLECTION! I AM A FAN OF THESE ARTISTS SO MY OPINIONS MAY NOT BE ON A PAR WITH YOUR OWN BUT PLEASE ENJOY AND MAYBE THERE ARE SOME ALBUMS YOU MAY LIKE TO SAMPLE FOR YOURSELF OUT OF CURIOSITY :)

DURAN DURAN 


"RIO"


I always really liked Duran Duran and I have all their albums, there was supposed to be some rivalry with Spandau Ballet although later denied, I am a fan of both.  Both matured visually and musically with every album and having loved the self titled debut set I was curious to what Simon Le Bon and the boys would come up with for the follow up.  

The band hit the charts with ease during their first album reign so how would they cope with all the new attention from the music press and beyond, would it hinder their progress? No is the answer.  "Rio" is for me the best album they have made and a tour de force sequel.  There were still hints of the sharp Electro Pop and catchy choruses of the previous set but the musical backing was more grown up in terms of superb melodies and the maturing lyrics.

 

From the four hit singles on the album only "My Own Way" did not make the top 10, which ironically was the track that could have been on the first album in terms of style.  "Rio" and "Hungry Like The Wolf" were classy Pop tracks, one taking you to a hot sunny beach and the other a good 80s singalong but not one of my favourites I have to say. "Save A Prayer" is superb, a big favourite of mine and lots of fans I think.  Just a really heartwarming song, great lyrics and an accomplished song all round.

"Lonely In Your Nightmare" is an unusual one, it reminds me a little of a Gary Numan track in his prime, with its mix of haunting guitars and electronics.  However, the chorus is quite catchy and its a nice song. "Hold Back The Rain" is similar but a little more upbeat with a powerful chorus.

"New Religion" is one of my favourite Duran Duran tracks, Simon's vocas really suit this mix of singing and speaking and a great chorus.  Love this track on the live Arena album, would have been a great single.

A perfect fit for the whole style of this album, similar to "Rio" and "Hungry Like The Wolf" but without the catchy choruses.  A great uptempo song nonetheless.

The album finishes with the classy "The Chauffeur", its mysterious, dark and and minimal but has a medieval feel and its a big favourite of mine, I think its probably not chart material which shows the band's experimental side which came through in later albums.  This is the kind of track I like, the "fans favourites" not the public popularity chart buffs.  


CHECK NEW MUSIC EAR FOR MORE COLLECTION FAVOURITES!