Thursday, 28 December 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - WHAM! - "MAKE IT BIG"

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 :)

 WHAM!


"MAKE IT BIG"

 
Wham!'s second album was for me, the defining moment that George Michael became a superstar and brilliant songwriter paving the way for the superlative albums that were to come like "Faith" and "Listen Without Prejudice Vol 1".  With no disrespect to his pal Andrew Ridgeley, Wham! was the vehicle for George Michael, he was the main (if allegedly the only) songwriter and producer of this album.  The well crafted Pop songs with catchy choruses and such a leap ahead of the debut album, "Fantastic".  Where the debut was raw and a poor man's dream this second long player was polished and rich in hooks and melodies.

"Make It Big" made the top of the charts and the three of the four singles made number 1, Band Aid prevented the double A sided "Last Christmas/Everything She Wants" from making it four in a row.  All the singles were big hits the USA.   The first single "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" was a 50s/60s inspired uptempo Rock and Roll/Pop crossover that would encourage every listener to try and stop themselves from singing the infectious chorus! "Careless Whisper" (credited to George Michael for the first time) was the next single and it was the perfect Pop ballad.  Breathy vocals from George for the most part with a fabulous saxophone riff throughout the song.  Full of emotion and a really classy love song, one of, if not THE best from George in my opinion.  The third single "Freedom" was a kind of Motown sounding track, which became a massive hit and the 10th best selling hit in 1984's year end charts.  The vocals and melodies changed throughout and maybe wasn't as much a sing-a-long as "Wake Me Up Before You Go Go" but its still a great Pop song.  The aforementioned "Everything She Wants" had less airplay than "Last Christmas" due to its release date but for me is one of George's best lyrical songs.  I think as a stand alone single it may not have done as well as it is not a catchy Pop song, it doesn't have a catchy chorus, its composition keeps changing in the song, for fans of songwriting like myself though, the lyrics are brilliant.



"Heartbeat" has elements of a slowed down  "Freedom" hidden in the track but its ultimately a Motown Soul song similar to the greats of that genre in the 60s.  It showcases George's blossoming vocals and also his carrying of songs with a minimal backing.

"Like A Baby" in my opinion is the weakest track on the album, it meanders along and doesn't really light up in any way towards the end, I am sure George looking back could have included something better, although the quality of the album was a high one.

"If You Were There", the cover of the Isley Brothers song is a touch of class.  Proving that George could turn his hand to any genre, this R n' B Soul classic is given an updated feel and unlike many cover versions this one works.  A song with a chorus that is instantly in your head also shows Geroge chooses songs that live long in the memory in the most part.

"Credit Card Baby" has a little Jazz Swing feel complete with some brass to help it along.  Its a midtempo bright and breezy song which goes great with the theme of the album.



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Saturday, 23 December 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - DEF LEPPARD - "HYSTERIA"

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 :)

DEF LEPPARD





"HYSTERIA"



In the late 80s I picked up on Def Leppard, they and Bon Jovi were really my only favourite Rock bands (before I latched on to a couple of my brother's favourite bands Thin Lizzy and Rush).  Both bands were similar, catchy Rock songs with the obligatory guitar solos and great vocals from Joe Elliott and Jon Bon Jovi.  Hysteria caught my attention because it had the brilliant "Animal" on it and soon there would be seven singles spawned from this album but this one was the big hit and I had to hear more.  I soon found the previous three albums and realised I remembered songs like "Hello America", "Rock Of Ages" and "Photograph" from my brother's records.

Onto this album, as I said the first single from it, "Animal" was the biggest hit reaching number 6 and rightly so, it set the pace for the album theme perfectly. It had the almost Pop Rock backing similar to Whitesnake at the time, an extremely catchy harmonised echoed chorus, perfect for radio airplay.  "Hysteria" the second single only peaked at number 26, surprising as it reminded me of Fleetwood Mac or The Cars, two popular 80s bands of the time.  A nice ballad, mabe after the much rockier first single fans weren't expecting this.  Another great favourite of mine, "Pour Some Sugar On Me" followed reaching number 18, this was in similar form to "Animal", harmonised powerful vocals, with a simple catchy chorus that everyone could sing along with.  These are the songs that epitomise Def Leppard.  The early Bryan Adams sound could be heard on the ballad "Love Bites", which came before "Armageddon It", an Aerosmith Pop Rock crossover. "Rocket" was the final single two years later which kind of summed up the whole "Hysteria" album with the guitar solos, simple chorus, chanted and harmonised lyrics and crashing drums.  No filler all killer album?


"Women" the opening track of the album is actually not my favourite track here, apart from the big chorus and hints of a guitar solo this isn't that memorable, but this album's standard is high so maybe it just has a high bar to reach.

"Gods Of War" in my opinion should have been a single, it is over 6 minutes long but a great member of the "Animal"/"Pour Some Sugar On Me" club, typical Def Leppard, all the elements are here for Rock radio.

"Dont Shoot Shotgun" is a Classic Rock throwback to the band's previous albums, with a similar sound to "Photograph".

"Run Riot" is a speedy foot stomper in the guise of an Iron Maiden/Kiss hybrid.  Great track.

"Excitable" also reminds me a little of Aerosmith, more electronically composed than the rest of the album , with spoken, vocoded and echoed vocals for effect.

"Love And Affection" is another retro hint to the band's early days with a Classic Rock ballad.  A nice raw look back to finish the album, before Robert John "Mutt" Lange took over production duties. 




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Friday, 22 December 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - THE CULT - "LOVE"

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 :)

THE CULT


"LOVE"


The Cult are one of those bands that could be like marmalade, you either love them or you don't! I am not sure why they are not loved more by the Rock brigade as their albums are guaranteed a mighty whack of guitar based excellence.  I bought this album on the back of the hit single, "She Sells Sanctuary", having not yet found The Mission (that was to come later) this was my first hint of Gothic Rock.  The Cult's sound was like nothing I had heard before, atmospheric, almost mystical with pounding drums and guitar riffs apelenty.  Ian Astbury, looking like a Cherokee Indian brave singing in an unusual Rock style that is unique got me hooked and I had to buy the debut album, "Dreamtime" and all following albums too!  There is always something new to hear in the tracks on each listen.

Now to this album, released in 1985 it peaked at Number 4 in the UK and two of its three singles also reached Top 20.  The aforementioned first release, "She Sells Sanctuary", a superb Rock song with its repetitive train-like backing guitar an drums amidst Ian's powerful vocals and a fabulous catchy chorus made it the band's first big hit reaching number 15.  The atmospheric echoes make it even more powerful.  The second single "Rain", a fans' live favourite reached number 17 in the UK and is one of my favourites from the band.  A more anthemic song than the previous single, the chorus is just great, there are elements of Classic Rock of the 60s and 70s and hitns of Gothic Rock, the repeated almost chant-like chorus is absolutely awesome.  The third single, "Revolution" only reached number 30.  A slower song but still having a similar sound to the two singles prior.  Pretty repetitive and clocking in at 5 and a half minutes, it was maybe too much for the radio listening public.  I personally love it, its a great Rock ballad, with Psychedelic undertones.


"Nirvana" the opening track, has all the Classic Rock elements and could have easily fitted in the "Hair Metal" of the 80s.

"Big Neon Glitter" is a brilliant mash up of off tune vocals but with with a kind of Rolling Stones chorus and screeching guitars that reminded me a little of Big Country amidst some tiny specks of Progressive Rock.  Class song!

"Love" the title track is a superb track, its kind of a Classic Rock/Punk hybrid with sounds like Adam And The Ants' "Kings Of The Wild Frontier" album, searing guitars and thumping drums.  Well I love it.

The epic "Brother Wolf, Sister Moon" is a ballad that stretches to 6 and a half minutes.  I remember hearing this in headphones and the sounds are incredible, more instrumental than the previous tracks and proved the band could experiement with different sounds.

"Phoenix" is a dark, mass of noisy screeching guitars and drums with random solos thrown in for good measure.  Not one of my favourites but then this album has high standards to keep.

"Hollow Man" reminds me a little of Tom Petty, its an uptempo track with a backdrop of Blues and Punk Rock.  It speeds along nicely and keeps your foot tapping!

The final track is "Black Angel" is another slow ballad, prety much in the vein of early Europe especially with Ian's vocals reminding me of Joey Tempest.  This album's experiements paved the way for all kinds of genres to be tried and tested by the band in the future.




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Tuesday, 19 December 2017

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - PUNK ROCK POP BAND "DAGGERPLAY"

Daggerplay are a Finnish Rock band comprising of Pekko Mantzin, Tommi Luostarinen, Ville Ahonen and Sirpa Immonen.  Their sound incorporates Punk, Pop Rock, a little Gothic Rock, Classic Rock and good old fashioned Rock 'N Roll.
I first caught this band on YouTube with the song "Cruel Wind Blowing".  Withing the first minute their are elements of Classic Rock, Goth Rock, a little Punk of The Clash and a hard rock version of Roxette! I kid you not, take a listen for yourself below.  Its a unique sound but all Rock lovers will embrace this band.
The band released their debut album in 2013 entitled "Urban Campfire Songs" and are scheduled to release their follow-up set in 2018.  The album has been preceded by a handful of singles teasers, my favourite being "One Mile Town" which is akin to Big Audio Dynamite with a little Fall Out Boy incorporated within.  
The debur album seems to carry an explicit warning throughout containing the charmingly titled "Brainfuck Euphoria", a Ramones/Generation X style fast Punk rocker and "Glitter Rodeo" a kind of The Damned/Green Day merger.  Interesting band and it will be equally interesting to see how far they can conquer in these boring DJ/Mixers/Pop pap times.  Maybe this edgy Rock band is just what we are crying out for!





Tuesday, 12 December 2017

CLASSIC ALBUM REVIEW - BIG COUNTRY - "THE CROSSING"

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 :)

BIG COUNTRY


"THE CROSSING"


This debut album certainly gave me a new music ear (no pun intended), it was something I was just blown away by.  A Rock band with a sound that incorporates the energy of Punk, the anthemic sound of Rock and incredibly the unmistakeable Scottish bagpipes! It was like nothing I had before and have not heard since.  Big Country are an exceptional band of musicians and even though they are still playing today, the superb gutsy vocals of the late Stuart Adamson were the key to their success.  I personally think they were a very underrated band, they were unique, they wrote great songs and also incorporated Folk styles into their own brand of Scottish Rock.

Onto this album, "The Crossing" gave us four singles, the debut "Harvest Home" failed to chart in the UK.  It was a brilliant introduction to the band's sound, a pulsating almost Punk-like chanted spoken track with Scottish drum and bagpipes (guitars) abound, like a marching band rhythm.  The first hit for the band came with their next single, the exciting "Fields Of Fire", I remember listening to this in headphones and the guitar sounds were so pure and the Celtic Folk elements were heard in abundance.  More melodic than the debut single which was probably why it was a bigger hit, a great chorus and more atmospheric.  After this single reach number 10 in the chart came, the most well known song of their repertoire although only reaching number 17, "In A Big Country".  The track became a massive hit in the U.S.A. too.  As the opener to the album it was simply huge and a fantastic song.  Everything that "Harvest Home" and "Fields Of Fire" gave us appeared in this track.  Celtic drums, catchy chorus, chants, the classic Bagpipe guitars, simply a brilliant song and one of my alltime favourites by any artist.  Great singalong and one for the Air Guitar enthusiasts! "Chance" the fourth single reached top 10 and peaked at number 9.  A ballad, and it was a gorgeous song, simple in its composition but incredibly emotive, no big booming crescendos just a light, lilting backing to Stuart's sensitive vocals.  Love this song.


"Inwards" was a more Pop Rock song than the singles, with minimal normal Big Country traits, also parts of it reminded me of Medieval ambience.

"A Thousand Stars" reminded me of U2 at the time for some parts but then the guitars kick in with that familiar pipe onslaught and it brings you back to where you belong.  A little more Instrumental than usual but its a nice song.

"The Storm" is a beautiful song, some intricate musicianship here.  Amazing ambient sounds with some choral backing and harmonies amid a light chug-a-chug guitar and drum which at times features on its own to give a mysterious feel.  Again, my advice to you is listen to this album in headphones to get the full effect!

"Lost Patrol" is almost Goth Rock, minimal lyrics and the familiar atmospheric whirring backing akin to The Mission and The Cult who came later on the scene.

"Close Action" hints at Progressive Rock with a little Folk thrown in for good measure.  A reasonably slow track but nonetheless excellent.

The album ends with the 8 minute epic "Porrohman".  A fitting end as it incorporates every sound and nuance of the previous 9 tracks.  For this track see above! Its epic and sums up the whole amazing album by a great, original and unique band.




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Monday, 4 December 2017

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - POP ARTIST "JESSICA BOSWELL"

Jessica is a British singer songwriter who hails from Nottingham before attending Leeds University and completing a Masters degree at the Leeds College of Music.  She is about to release her first E.P. this month and big things surely await this lady.


After releasing her debut single, "Did You Know" the E.P. "Alive" will feature the dbut as well as the lead single "Alive" and three other tracks.  Upon seeing the video to "Did You Know" on YouTube I see a few genres involved in her songs.  This song is a mix of Country, Pop with a little Folk thrown in for good measure.

There is a purity in Jessica's voice which reminds me of early Taylor Swift and obviously the comparison is easier with seeing her playing guitar too.  The song is a very "live" sounding track which I always like, not too over produced letting the artist convey more emotion into the track.

Although I have done this review on the basis of one song, I would like to hear more from Jessica.  I think she is a real talent crossing genre boundaries that could set her up well in the music world.