Wednesday, 11 September 2019

NEW MUSIC EAR'S THOUGHTS ON: ROXETTE

THESE THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT MUSIC.  THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND, MUSIC IS TO BE ENJOYED AND ALSO DEBATED.  WE ALL HAVE OUR FAVOURITES AND IDOLS AND EACH GENERATION HAS DIFFERENT OPINIONS.  THESE ARE MINE.  SOME YOU MAY FIND INTOLERABLE, SOME YOU MAY FIND AGREEABLE.

ROXETTE


Marie Fredriksson and Per Gessle aka Roxette made great Pop Rock records.  They, in my opinion are that genre's answer to ABBA.  Brilliant melodies, catchy hooks and choruses with many memorable songs.  Since I heard "The Look" in 1988 and bought the album, "Look Sharp!" I couldn't get enough of the band.  From power ballads, quirky Pop, Classic Rock and sing-a-long hits the duo brought fun, emotion and class to the end of the 80s which was full of Stock, Aitken and Waterman productions, too many boybands and dreadful Acid House etc.

After buying this album I instantly bought every album following and sought the debut album, "Pearls Of Passion".  Both Marie and Per were likeable, always seemed friendly and engaging in interviews, no scandals, just two people who clearly loved making music.  Even through the awful brain tumour that Marie suffered in the early 2000's did not stop either from doing what they loved.  Even though Marie is unable to perform live anymore,  but thankfully, she is ok.  I was wondering why the band were so quiet and then found this out and was quite shocked and felt sad for her.  I am sure that the 2016 album, "Good Karma" may not be the last we have heard from the pair.  Both have released solo albums, some in Swedish and Per had revived his original band, Gyllene Tider.

I know my comparison to ABBA could be construed as , "well they are Swedish".  So are a lot of artists and bands but I just think when I listen to my Roxette playlist, all my favourite songs from every album, it's just classic and clever songwriting.  Per is the lead songwriter in both Roxette and Gyllene Tider and he is very underrated.  I used to write songs and poems, in fact have over 300 sets of lyrics so I know how hard it is to write a song.  If you listen closely to the Roxette tracks, there are unusual references, added vocal clips and rhymes that normally you would think just do not go.  This is clever songwriting, knowing how and when to put in the odd quirk but still make the song memorable.

Roxette never really get the credit they deserve, they areot  just a run of the mill Pop band, as I said, their albums contain a variety of genre.  Unlike ABBA in some ways, Roxette's sound cannot be defined into one type.  Roxette's hits collection, "Don't Bore Us, Get To The Chorus", does define them, a memorable band with memorable hits and two very talented and genuine people.



Wednesday, 4 September 2019

NEW MUSIC EAR'S PERSONAL PLAYLISTS - "PRINCE" PART 3

A NEW FEATURE ON NEW MUSIC EAR.  THE PLAYLISTS ON MY IPOD FEATURE LOTS OF VARIOUS ARTISTS SO I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE MY PLAYLISTS WITH YOU.  HOPE YOU SEE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITES!

PRINCE

PLAYLIST PART 3 




1991's "Diamonds And Pearls" is one of Prince's best albums as is shown by the 9 tracks I plucked from it to add to this playlist. Obviously the sexually provocative "Gett Off" is here with the equally saucy "Cream".  The other two singles featured are the socially aware "Money Don't Matter 2 Night" and the simply fabulous title track, which is one of my favourite slower songs.  I also included "Live 4 Love" co-written and featuring rapper Tony Mosley.  I became a lesser fan of rap but Prince used it well in small doses.  The gorgeous Gospel Soul of "Willing And Able" is here with the equally sweet "Strollin'".  The final two tracks are the funky "Daddy Pop" and the quirky but strangely engaging "Walk Don't Walk".



I picked 7 tracks from 1992's almost conceptual "Love Symbol" album, also named by his unpronounceable symbol name as he took on Warner Brothers' methods head on.  The monotonous but weirdly compelling "7" and the two big singles, the James Brown inspired "Sexy MF" and the funky (obviously) "My Name Is Prince", all included in the list.  Two slower tracks appear with the Reggae style of "Blue Light" and the delightful "And God Created Woman".  The jazzy Rock OF "The Morning Papers" is added, as is the epic monster that is "3 Chains O' Gold" which has everything that the album is about!.  Sometimes said to be Prince's "Bohemian Rhapsody", even though Queen and he are totally different legendary artists.



"The Hits/The B-Sides" was an immense package of Prince's back catalogue on 3 discs released in 1993.  I picked 11 of the 56 tracks, obviously most of the previous songs were also included.  The very first single by the man is here, the trademark sound of Prince's early career in "Gotta Stop (Messin' About)".  The brilliant B-sides such as the beautiful "How Come U Don't Call Me Anymore", the saucy and Psychedelic Rock of "She's Always In My Hair" and the "Glam Slam" reverse track, "Escape".  The no holds barred sexual romps "Feel U Up" and "I Love U In Me" are included as well as the cheeky (excuse the pun) "Peach".  The throbbing beat of "Irresistible Bitch" is added along with the atmospheric "Power Fantastic" (akin to Prince's "Parade" album sound).  Two of my favourite songs I chose, the superb "Pink Cashmere" and funky "Shockadelica", both played far too many times to count for me!



After the two mega albums in 1991 and 1992 came the disappointing "Come" in 1994.  It's an "ok" album in Prince terms, such as his high standards.  I only chose two tracks from it, it seems very dark and maybe the wrangles he had with Warner Brothers at the time back this up.  It was to be Prince's last named album after himself in his contract with them.  He would not use his name again until the dispute was over many years later.  The tracks I chose are the laid back Jazz Funk of "Letitgo" and the pulsating "Pheremone".



1995's album "The Gold Experience" was Prince back to his best after the average "Come".  6 tracks were chosen for the playlist from this set including the immense and epic title track finale, "Gold".  Obviously included is Prince's first ever number one, the lovely "The Most Beautiful Girl In The World In The World".  The other tracks range from the almost Acoustic ballad "Shy" to the atmospheric Pop Rock of "Dolphin", also one of my favourite songs.  The last two songs included are the frenetic guitar fest that is "Endorphinmachine" and the Motown Soul style of "Shhh".



One of the better Prince albums released during his dispute with the record company was the collection "Chaos And Disorder" .  I have chosen 5 tracks from the album, the brilliant guitar Blues of "Zannalee", and the equally pulsating guitar licks of "The Same December" and the title ttack.  Completing the selection are the sweet "Dinner With Delores" and the Classic Rock track "I Like It There".


I AM SURE MANY FANS WILL BE DEBATING THE INCLUSIONS AND THE TRACKS NOT INCLUDED, BUT I HOPE YOU FOUND THIS PLAYLIST INTERESTING, CHECK BACK FOR MORE ON NEW MUSIC EAR!

Tuesday, 20 August 2019

NEW MUSIC EAR'S THOUGHTS ON: KANYE WEST

THESE THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT MUSIC.  THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND, MUSIC IS TO BE ENJOYED AND ALSO DEBATED.  WE ALL HAVE OUR FAVOURITES AND IDOLS AND EACH GENERATION HAS DIFFERENT OPINIONS.  THESE ARE MINE.  SOME YOU MAY FIND INTOLERABLE, SOME YOU MAY FIND AGREEABLE.


KANYE WEST

I heard Kanye West's name thrown around in music magazines and on music programmes many years ago and had no idea who he was.  I had heard he was some kind of producer but mostly I thought he was just a hanger-on in music circles and certain stars knew of him.  Next thing I know he is with Kim Kardashian and that awful Kardashian family (more people who got famous for pretty much nothing).

Next thing I hear he has been a prat at the VMA Awards being pretty rude to Taylor Swift.  Apparently all this time he had been making "records" though I had never heard of anything he has ever done or of anything noteworthy from this person.  I know I am not big in Hip Hop circles, apparently he is a "rapper", who knew?

Then as a big fan of Prince I hear West giving a half baked insult "tribute" to the great man saying he was "the best the world has ever seen, present company excluded".  So basically he was saying that Prince was the SECOND greatest artist of all time behind HIM!.  I realised this man was a bit of a joke in music circles as everyone seemed to be making fun of him for stupid things he has said or done.

When I looked at his Wikipedia I was shocked, 21 Grammys won from 69 nominations???.  I had never heard of him! I have since heard some of his music, all relatively dull fare, run-of-the-mill Hip Hop that Grandmaster Flash would laugh at.  None of his music is extraordinary, quite average.  The man believes in his own hype, his Wikipedia states " West is among the most critically acclaimed artists of the twenty-first century, receiving praise from music critics, fans, fellow musicians, artists, and wider cultural figures for his work".  Did he write this himself? None of the artists I like have ever mentioned this person, nobody I know thinks he is great.  All I know he is husband of a person who gained fame from a sex video and a massive bottom.

I did see some fashion show he had on MTV I think to show his new clothes line, really that was hilarious.  The man sure has balls to actually think he is that popular.  All I can say is kudos to his promotion team because the hype does not reflect the man.  I don't know who is buying his records but I suggest that maybe they should aim higher.  I have heard ten times better rappers and Hip Hop music than the dross this man is, for some reason being praised for.

Sometimes hype buys you fame, notoriety buys you fame, sadly in this case, talent did not buy him fame.  His views nobody cares about but himself.   I saw him on Ellen DeGeneres' chat show once, and that was enough, what a self centred, arrogant prat who loved the sound of his own voice.  Sadly nothing of note came out.



NEW MUSIC EAR'S THOUGHTS ON: PINK

THESE THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT MUSIC.  THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND, MUSIC IS TO BE ENJOYED AND ALSO DEBATED.  WE ALL HAVE OUR FAVOURITES AND IDOLS AND EACH GENERATION HAS DIFFERENT OPINIONS.  THESE ARE MINE.  SOME YOU MAY FIND INTOLERABLE, SOME YOU MAY FIND AGREEABLE.

PINK


I first heard about Pink like many people with the song, "Get The Party Started" and since then have been a massive fan.  The cool thing is my wife is also a fan so Pink's music is one we can both enjoy listening to together.  Even now I look back on all the albums I am still surprised at the difference in the debut album, "Can't Take Me Home" compared to the later more Rock orientated material.

The first album was (no offence to Pink) pretty average fare, typical R n' B and Britney Spears-like Pop music.  Since the "Missundaztood" album with the aforementioned "Get The Part Started", "Just Like A Pill" and "Don't Let Me Get Me" Pink has in my opinion, soared as an artist.

I recently read that Pink consciously changed her music style because she was being pencilled in with all the other bubblegum Pop artists around and wanted to be taken seriously as a songwriter and artist.

She used to come across as this tough cookie, no shit tomboy character but since having her children we have seen a more vunerable side.  I have always found her interesting, she is knowledgeable about the world at large, intelligent on serious matters and will always give an opinion, whether it is provocative or not.  Her lyrics are always thought provoking with positive messages, twisted romanticism and personal battles.  As a lyricist she is up there with the best.

Pink has a unique sense of fashion, she is a trendsetter, she breaks down taboo boundaries just like one of her idols, Madonna used to do.  She is forthright on all subjects and a keen supporter of animal welfare, LGBT rights and involved in a variety of charity organisations.

Her concerts are a sight to behold, energetic, and she can REALLY sing live, unlike some of today's artists.  I consider Pink and Taylor Swift as the two top major female players in the music industry taking over from Lady Gaga and Beyonce, both without the publicity stories and hype that surround the previous two.  Pink and Taylor are genuine artists, songwriters and can both smash it live, they aren't pretentious and say what they think.

Pink's albums of late have been sets of hit after hit, an amazing and clever transformation from "Can't Take Me Home", she really took stock and built up a tremendous back catalogue and legacy.  She can make you want to battle, love, be angry at the world or cry with her, her voice can transcend genres.



 

Thursday, 15 August 2019

NEW MUSIC EAR'S THOUGHTS ON: RUSH

THESE THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT MUSIC.  THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND, MUSIC IS TO BE ENJOYED AND ALSO DEBATED.  WE ALL HAVE OUR FAVOURITES AND IDOLS AND EACH GENERATION HAS DIFFERENT OPINIONS.  THESE ARE MINE.  SOME YOU MAY FIND INTOLERABLE, SOME YOU MAY FIND AGREEABLE.

RUSH


Rush were one of those bands I got into late, mainly because I just thought they were one of those bands my brother used to play that I would never understand like Pink Floyd (still don't get it!) and to a certain extent Led Zeppelin.  These reminded me of a kind of "university" music that only posh kids and "higher education" could really understand, to me the likes of overlong instrumental hippie stuff was boring as hell.  It pretty much opened my ears to a different kind of Rock music.  Sneaking into my brother's room playing gems on his much better stereo than mine when he was out, playing loud stuff like Thin Lizzy and the ultimate Rock introduction compilation, "Axe Attack"! I was hearing Rainbow, Iron Maiden, U.F.O and other giants.

When I heard "Closer To The Heart" and "Tom Sawyer" I thought this new Electronic styled Rock was amazing.  I started to appreciate the musicianship of Rock players and Rush were so dfferent to anything I had ever heard.  The music they made kind of filled the room and whizzed round your head in a wall of sound.  I never thought I would like this kind of music, being into the New Romantic, Synth Pop and mostly Pop styled genres of the 80s.  This was kind of a guilty pleasure.

Rush and Thin Lizzy were the basis of my more Rock orientated favourites.  Rush had the Electronics wizardry and Thin Lizzy had the glorious guitar combos.  I have listened to more and more Rush over the years, the futuristic concept-style album "2112" is most fans' and my favourite set.  Love older tracks like "The Trees", "Bastille Day", "Working Man", "Freewill" and "The Spirit Of Radio".

Geddy Lee's vocals are like Marmite, high pitched at times. I suppose like Axl Rose, you either love that style or you don't.  It took a lot of getting used to, but with Rush's sci-fi sound it works perfectly.  I have heard a lot of Rock since and there is nothing out there that sounds like the band, they are very unique and difficult to imitate I guess.  That's another thing that makes them special and a one-off.

Playing the band's music in headphones is a great experience, you hear every little pure sound and realise there is a lot going on than you thought.  It's like a live experience and sometimes like watching a movie as the song's mostly have a lyric like a story so you are imagining the imagery while listening.

It just shows that if you don't give something a listen you may miss out on something great, its worth the risk to find some great music.  That's why I look up new bands and singers, there is some awesome stuff out there that may be out of your comfort zone but you may get to love.  I listened to The Beatles albums, every one, from one of my friend's dad's collection.  Just to see what the fuss was about, it didn't work for me, I still did not get it, I found the songs simple and more boyband-ish than classic songwriting, but that's just me.  With Rush I found a new sound just by sneakily exploring my brother's record collection, I recommend it!



NEW MUSIC EAR'S THOUGHTS ON: MADONNA

THESE THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT MUSIC.  THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND, MUSIC IS TO BE ENJOYED AND ALSO DEBATED.  WE ALL HAVE OUR FAVOURITES AND IDOLS AND EACH GENERATION HAS DIFFERENT OPINIONS.  THESE ARE MINE.  SOME YOU MAY FIND INTOLERABLE, SOME YOU MAY FIND AGREEABLE.

MADONNA


Love her or hate her, Madonna sure has divided the music industry and its listeners for many years.  Although my Madonna music collection almost matches my Prince collection, the excitement of any forthcoming album since the release of "Music" in 2000 hasn't been as great as before said collection. My comments on her new album and any material from "American Life" onwards have met with such abuse in Facebook groups who obsess about the lady and would like an album of her opening an envelope in different places if it means defending her.

Like I said, I have been a Madonna fan since seeing her perfom "Holiday" on The Tube programme in the UK in 1984 at The Hacienda club.  She was fresh, captivating and you could tell this lady was going to be a star and the song was damn infectious.  I began collecting her music since then, with Prince I collected everything I could.  She became a pioneer, an original, she broke boundaries about females in music and sex taboo subjects in general.  She was loved by males and females alike and also in the gay communities promoting their rights.  A real star and legend of Pop music.

She tried acting and with various success, I loved "Desperately Seeking Susan", "Who's That Girl" and in "Evita" she was awesome.  "Dick Tracy" showed her in a different light too alongside Warren Beatty.  Starting her own record company Maverick also paved the way for the success of artists like Alanis Morissette.  Madonna was a force to be reckoned with and was a major power in music.

The hits flowed with such originality and various provocative videos, every album was greeted with critical acclaim and I couldn't wait for the next lot of material and a new look and sound.  From "Madonna" ("The First Album") to "Music" in 2000 every album was a classic.  Since then, in my opinion, the music has detoriated gradually with each album, the creativity and originality that she was known for seems to be lacking more and more.  Although "Hung Up" was a huge hit, it seemed to be the start of using samples and more vocoded vocals, even after she improved dramatically vocally for "Evita", why waste this new talent?

"American Life" was a big disappointment for me, with only a handful of tracks that could have matched "Ray Of Light" for class, "Love Profusion" and "Hollywood" included.  "Confessions On A Dancefloor" has a couple of quality songs such as "Sorry" and "Hard Candy" was almost Madonna back to her best, with a few great tracks.  "MDNA", "Rebel Heart" and the latest offering, "Madame X" had moments of brilliance but mostly disappointments.  Collaborators that are not known globally, average songs, copycats of other other artists, too many samples with no substance to please the younger generation.  This woman duetted with Prince, Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake now its relative unknowns such as Maluma and Quavo(????), who are these people?

I still buy every album Madonna releases to complete my collection and hopefully find a couple of gems and classic tracks among the less quality output.  I realise not every song can be a "Like A Prayer", "Into The Groove", "Secret", "Ray Of Light" or "Erotica" but surely if she didn't care so much about selling records to the kids, and putting out quality to keep her regular fans happy for music's sake it would be better.  Prince didn't care about sales or pleasing the "new generation", he loved music and had respect for his loyal fans.  Experimenting is fine but ultimately us older fans get these stars where they are and should be respected not left behind.  Keeping up with the times is ok too but if the quality suffers, older fans lose interest and that is where the problem lies.





Tuesday, 13 August 2019

NEW MUSIC EAR'S THOUGHTS ON: FAMOUS BANDS, NEW VOCALISTS?

THESE THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT MUSIC.  THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND, MUSIC IS TO BE ENJOYED AND ALSO DEBATED.  WE ALL HAVE OUR FAVOURITES AND IDOLS AND EACH GENERATION HAS DIFFERENT OPINIONS.  THESE ARE MINE.  SOME YOU MAY FIND INTOLERABLE, SOME YOU MAY FIND AGREEABLE. 

FAMOUS BANDS, NEW VOCALISTS?


I was thinking about this debatable subject when I came upon Spandau Ballet supposedly ditching Ross William Wild because it was "not working as we hoped" after only a few gigs.  I also found in some Facebook groups about Queen that fans were actually wanting Adam Lambert and others to "replace" Freddie Mercury.

In my opinion if you change a vocalist with such a famous voice like Tony Hadley and Freddie Mercury for someone else you should also change your band name, not pretend that its the same band that had all the hits before, it isn't!

The vocalists more often than not make those songs hits, yes the band members may change every now and then such as the guitarists or drummers but the vocals make the songs.  The only exceptions I can think of to this rule are that Bon Jovi lost a lot i their sound when Richie Sambora left, it was noticeable.  The same can be said with Slash, the Guns N' Roses' long awaited album, "Chinese Democracy" still had Axl as vocalist but that "special" unique playing style of the man in the top hat was sorely missed.

I digress slightly so back to my point.  If Spandau Ballet changed their name to Spandau or Second Ballet or Queen changed their name to Queen Two or something it would be ok.  This would show that they were not trying to be the same band because it will sound different.  When Fish left Marillion it wasn't the same sound when Steve Hogarth took over, although the music may still sound good, this was a different era and should be noted by a name change.  Gary Kemp said "this is a new chapter for the band" but it wasn't, it was Spandau Ballet singing the same songs that only Big Tone could sing immaculately, with someone else, it was a rehash.

Bands change singers regularly before they become famous, that's normal, such as Simon Le Bon replacing Stephen 'Tintin' Duffy in Duran Duran.  Adam Ant had to find a completely new band when Malcolm McLaren fiendishly stole the original Ants to form Bowwowwow but he kept the name and never looked back, even though the first album was decidedly dfferent from anything later.

Queen can never replace Freddie, or get someone else to sing the songs he made famous.  He was a legendary frontman, a big act to follow in any terms but trying with a new singer and keeping the same name, singing the same songs, to me disrespects the legacy he left.

Sometines it works, when AC/DC's Bon Scott died in 1980, they almost quit but Brian Johnson took over on vocals and the rest is history.  Bruce Dickinson replaced Paul Di'Anno after the first two albums for Iron Maiden and they had fabulous success.  When Bruce left in the 90s to be replaced by Blaze Bayley the songs lacked his power up front until he returned.

So, it sometimes works, mostly it doesn't if you are a top, top band with a succession of hits.  It is dangerous to still say, "this is still the same band" when the voice that pretty much sold the records is not there.  It's a crazy point but imagine Blondie without Debbie Harry, would they still be Blondie?, no chance!



Sunday, 11 August 2019

NEW MUSIC EAR'S THOUGHTS ON: RAP AND HIP-HOP

THESE THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT MUSIC.  THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND, MUSIC IS TO BE ENJOYED AND ALSO DEBATED.  WE ALL HAVE OUR FAVOURITES AND IDOLS AND EACH GENERATION HAS DIFFERENT OPINIONS.  THESE ARE MINE.  SOME YOU MAY FIND INTOLERABLE, SOME YOU MAY FIND AGREEABLE. 

RAP AND HIP-HOP


I always tell people that I am not a big fan of Rap and Hip-Hop music which is partly true.  The 90s and beyond Rap is intolerable.  I remember hearing "The Message" by Grandmaster Flash And The Furious Five and "Rapper's Delight" by The Sugarhill Gang. These songs and tracks like "White Lines", "Step Off" and others by other top rappers such as Melle Mel made valid points, political and social and you could hear and understand every word.  They meant something.

Then Rap and Hip-Hop evolved into something strange, apart from LL Cool J who was still carryng on the 80s vibe, it became angry and evoked gangland imagery and aggressive actions instead of positive reactions.  The breakdancing songs and films promoted something positive as well.

Eminem is a case in point, I have no idea what that man says in his songs, its all mumbo jumbo to me.  He could be writing intense messages in his songs but who would know? Its all fast talking and electronic weirdness that nobody understands but himself and any loyal fan who bothered to look up the lyrics.  I find this ridiculous, when I was writing song I wanted listeners to hear the lyrics, understand them and find something for themselves within the songwriting.  

It gradually got worse, almost every video of Hip-Hop or Rap would feature the "artists" decked out in gold chains, making aggressive actions to the camera and surrounded by half naked girls.  Check out videos in the 90s and beyond, and you will see what I mean.  No wonder the scene got a bad reputation, it was being promoted as such.  Swearing became more prominent in the songs to an excessive extent which made no imprint on the listener only to provoke the censors.

I liked the positive messages and quirky styles by the likes of Flash and Melle Mel, it was listenable.  Now I cannot stand any of it, I worried when Prince intoduced a couple of rappers for his "Diamonds And Pearls" album but to be fair the rap was a minor inclusion, some was annoying, some melded well in songs.  I became ok with tiny bits of Rap but the main Hip-Hop artists' songs, no way.  It is a pity that some music styles don't always evolve into something great but actually demean the origins.





NEW MUSIC EAR'S THOUGHTS ON: ED SHEERAN

THESE THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT MUSIC.  THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND, MUSIC IS TO BE ENJOYED AND ALSO DEBATED.  WE ALL HAVE OUR FAVOURITES AND IDOLS AND EACH GENERATION HAS DIFFERENT OPINIONS.  THESE ARE MINE.  SOME YOU MAY FIND INTOLERABLE, SOME YOU MAY FIND AGREEABLE. 

ED SHEERAN


For regular readers of my blog it may have been expressed previously my confusion about Ed Sheeran.  I don't get it, I don't understand it and I am confused at all the adulation this guy gets.  Sure he can play guitar and he sings ok but to sell so many records and critics to be claiming he is one of the best songwriters ever is alarming

I admit I secretly liked "The A-Team", his debut single but then again I liked Coldplay's "Yellow" until they started releasing every song that sounded the same and was as twee and dull as the last.  I also liked Oasis' "Live Forever" before all the rest sounded like the others.  With Mr Sheeran he has not been out of the charts since 2011, is clogging up all charts with releasing a song every five minutes and instantly they are appearing in half the top 10.  

For me, there are better singers with guitars around who simply haven't had a break.  I find Ed Sheeran average and is definitely NOT one of the best ever songwriters.  The kids of today may think that but they would also see One Direction as the best ever "band" despite not playing instruments.

Now he is appearing in films and TV such as Game Of Thrones and The Simpsons just because he is Ed Sheeran.  How has this happened?.  I blame the Internet and the talent shows for allowing average entertainers to be stars.  I know people must like his music somewhere, but surely there are better alternatives?.  I don't think he's a great singer and how sure are we that all his lyrics are his own.  The alleged incidents involving copying other artists' material is well documented and I won't comment too much on that as I don't know the facts.  

To me Ed will always be the famous busker on the street who got lucky and a lot of hype and airplay (which most brilliant new artists don't get) got him known.  Legendary songwriters like Paul Simon and Ray Davies of The Kinks must be wondering what the hell happened when compared to the likes of Ed Sheeran!



NEW MUSIC EAR'S THOUGHTS ON: BEYONCE

THESE THOUGHTS ARE MY OWN RANDOM MUSINGS ABOUT MUSIC.  THEY ARE NOT INTENDED TO OFFEND, MUSIC IS TO BE ENJOYED AND ALSO DEBATED.  WE ALL HAVE OUR FAVOURITES AND IDOLS AND EACH GENERATION HAS DIFFERENT OPINIONS.  THESE ARE MINE.  SOME YOU MAY FIND INTOLERABLE, SOME YOU MAY FIND AGREEABLE. 

BEYONCE


Beyonce seems to have it all, men lust after her, women idolise her, she is in a powerfully rich couple and she seemingly can do no wrong.  For me, I used to really like Beyonce, she was part of a great girl singing group, Destiny's Child and like every red blooded male I thought she was gorgeous.

I had all the Destiny's Child cds and thought the video to "Bootylicious" was awesome.  This girl was obviously destined (no pun intended) to branch out on her own.  No disrespect to the other girls but Beyonce stood out.

I used to like the girl group En Vogue and I thought Destiny's Child were the closest thing to them with the sassy lyrics and attitude and great vocal harmonies.  Great songs like "Say My Name", "Survivor", and of course the previously mentioned, "Bootylicious".

When Beyonce decided to release her solo album "Dangerously In Love" I was intrigued and I already loved the "Work It Out" song from the Austin Powers film, Goldmember.   This was what I expected Beyonce solo tracks to be like.  Then came "Crazy In Love", a brilliant video and song until..Jay-Z came in and ruined the song with his poor rapping.  I have nothing against the guy but he is pretty average at what he does and I am sure he has had a lot of input in Beyonce's last few releases, hence my reduced enthusiasm.  I think he has been a bad influence if I am honest.

I liked a few of her next singles, including "Naughty Girl", the brilliant "Beautiful Liar" with Shakira and even "Telephone" with Lady GaGa.  There seemed to be something missing until the "I Am... Sasha Fierce" album with some great tracks, the now famous "Single Ladies(Put A Ring On It)", "If I Were A Boy" and "Halo".  I have only really liked the song "Run The World(Girls)" since.

The whole Beyonce thing has become a bit stale in my eyes, the posing with her baby bump, really? It's all been done before many times.  The way she portrayed herself as some kind of royalty figure was a little sad.  I used to admire her but its all become a little boring, the releasing of every song on the "Lemonade" clogging up the charts seemed to be a desperate attempt to reclaim her fans' faith after a few strange incidents and stories were floating around at the time.

I still think she is gorgeous, that would be stupid not to think that but her music has become stale, when it could have been a lot more.  There are more inspirational female pop stars around at the moment and she is sadly behind them, becoming yet another run of the mill R n' B act like Rihanna and many, many more.

Beyonce and her personal life has become more important and prominent than her actual musical output which I find rather sad for someone obviously so talented.





Friday, 26 July 2019

NEW MUSIC EAR'S PERSONAL PLAYLISTS - "PRINCE" PART 2

A NEW FEATURE ON NEW MUSIC EAR.  THE PLAYLISTS ON MY IPOD FEATURE LOTS OF VARIOUS ARTISTS SO I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE MY PLAYLISTS WITH YOU.  HOPE YOU SEE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITES!

PRINCE


 PLAYLIST PART 2


After the experimental surprise of "Around The World In A Day" came another, a stripped back album with lots of orchestration to accompany the film, "Under The Cherry Moon".  1986's "Parade" was quirky, strange and at times brilliant and unique.  I picked out 5 stand out tracks for my playlist, the well known and copied bare bones "Kiss" single and the laid back "Anotherloverholenyohead" are here.  The other two lesser known singles, the eclectic "Girls And Boys" and powerful and funky "Mountains" have made the list too.  The only other non-single I include is the simply magical ballad "Sometimes It Snows In April", ironically poignant now as it was the month Prince died in 2016.


 
1987 brought one of the most groundbreaking albums of the 80s, maybe ever, and in my opinion the best Prince album.  Of the massive 16 tracks I chose 12, and that was a hard decision to take only that many for the playlist.  Obviously the immense and thought provoking title track "Sign 'O' The Times" is included along with the Camille sung "If I Was Your Girlfriend" and Sheena Easton's duet "U Got The Look".  The epic master jam "It's Gonna Be A Beautiful Night", the powerfully spiritually charged "The Cross" and quiet masterful slow pumping ballad "Forever In My Life" make the list.  The bright and breezy "Strange Relationship" takes us back to the earlier 80s Prince music while "It" is a brazen sexually charged romp stating that Prince wants to do "it" pretty much constantly.  "Hot Thing" about a "barely 21" conquest and the funky jam "Housequake" cannot be left out.  The final two tracks I chose are the very playful band jam "Play In The Sunshine" and the honest, gentlemanly(?) statement "I Could Never Take The Place Of Your Man".



The infamous nude cover photo of Prince on the 1988 album, "Lovesexy" caused a bit of a stir but the album again confused critics.  Prince loved to experiment and this was another of those albums, and more often than not, it worked.  I only chose 5 tracks from the given 9 because these were the ones that I played regularly.  The almost psychedelic singles, "Alphabet St" and "Glam Slam" are obviously included and the quiet lovely ballad "I Wish U Heaven".  The two non-single tracks I chose are the pounding drumbeat Funk of "Dance On" and the sexy "bit of everything" title track "Lovesexy".



1989 saw the much anticipated "Batman" movie starring Michael Keaton hit the screens and also Prince's second soundtrack album.  Of the 9 tracks I have picked 6 songs for my Prince playlist.  The inventive "Batdance", complete with lines from the movie was the obvious lead single.  The Joker-inspired "Partyman" is a funky "party jam" while Sheena Easton again duets on the beautiful "The Arms Of Orion".  The three final songs are pretty similar but great pumping beats, searing guitar sounds abound on "Lemon Crush", "Electric Chair" and "Trust".



"Graffit Bridge", the soundtrack to the film of the same name, featured Prince's new backing band, the New Power Generation and boasted Mavis Staples, George Clinton, The Time and Sheila E on its credits.  Released in 1990, it was a massive collection of 17 tracks including tracks by the aforementioned artists, I have chosen 6 of the Prince tracks (although every track was written by the man!).  One of my favourite Prince tracks, "Thieves In The Temple" is here, a brilliant funky, soulful gem of a piece.  The dark and eerie "The Question Of U" and the strangely engaging, weird dance track "Elephants & Flowers" are included along with the frenetic quickstep styled "Can't Stop this Feeling I Got" (akin to "Jack U Off" and "Horny Toad" in tempo).  The final two songs are the band jam "New Power Generation" and one of my alltime favourite Prince ballads, the wonderful and highly emotive "Still Would Stand All Time".


I AM SURE MANY FANS WILL BE DEBATING THE INCLUSIONS AND THE TRACKS NOT INCLUDED, BUT I HOPE YOU FOUND THIS PLAYLIST INTERESTING, CHECK BACK FOR MORE ON NEW MUSIC EAR!

Sunday, 21 July 2019

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - ROCK BAND "CHASING DRAGONS"

Rock band Chasing Dragons are a female fronted quartet form Leeds in England.  The group comprise of Tan, Adam, Murf and Kate.  The style of music they play are undeniably heavy Rock, but with the melodies and superb combinations of the likes of Europe, Heart, Bon Jovi and Whitesnake.  Add the punky angst power of Guns 'N Roses and you get the idea!


In 2014 the band released their second E.P. "Checkmate" following 2012's debut "Take Flight For A Firefight".  I first heard Chasing Dragons on the track "Broken Jaws" and originally thought it was Evanescence.  On checking the song on YouTube there was this striking looking female vocalist (Tank) angrily stomping the stage.  Add this to a backdrop of heavy metal riffs and with the unique Rock imagery and the energy of the performance I was hooked.


"Checkmate" contained "Throw Down Your King" which has elements of Iron Maiden then slows down to a Heart vocal performance that Ann Wilson would be proud of, then it explodes into a Metallica-like riff fest.  You just never know what you're going to get and that's why this band are heading for something big. Check out the "Hindsight's A Bitch" single, a Joan Jett/Pat Benatar hybrid and "City Of Steel" from the first E.P.  The beautiful Acoustic number "It's Bravery, Honestly" and the band's cover of Alannah Myles' "Black Velvet" are pretty damn awesome too!


The band released their debut album, "Faction" in 2018 and contains the hard hitting, anthemic "Like Gravity" and my favourite tracks "Whitehorse" and "Devil In Her Eyes".  This is Rock at its best, dynamic and energetic, with enough melodies and vocal emotion to please even the hardest anti-Rock listener.  As a great lover of Rock in all its forms over the years this is just what the world needs, chase these dragons down, your ears won't regret it!


NEW MUSIC PROFILE - INDIE POP FOLK ARTIST "DODIE"

Dorothy Miranda Clark aka Dodie started out as a YouTuber with her own channel playing piano and ukulele cover songs.  The channel is called "DoddieOddie" and has thousands of followers and subscribers.  I first heard about Dodie when watching "The Sara Cox Show" on ITV on a weekend morning, I loved this girl's voice, so soothing, gentle-like but such a pure vocal and effortless.


When I looked up more on this lady for this blog I found she had already released 3 E.P.'s including the most recent, "Human".  Born in Enfield but now residing in Epping, Essex in the UK, Dodie plays a variety of instruments, is considering writing a book and is currently writing material for her debut album.


With a YouTube fanbase already in place and her incredible talent this lady is sure to go far and still in her early 20s.  For the full impact of the emotion of this unique voice I recommend listening through headphones.  I have not heard a voice singing like this since I first heard Tori Amos, her songs in a whispered style had the most powerful emotions behind them. 


My favourite songs so far are the delightfully quirky, uptempo Folk of "Absolutely Smitten" from the debut E.P. "Intertwined" and the gorgeous, haunting "Secret For The Mad" from the second E.P. "You".  Check out the latest single, "Guiltless", this great new singer songwriter is bringing a mix of Tori Amos/Michelle Branch and Sara Bareilles with that pure vocal full of emotion and intelligent and fabulous melodies.





Saturday, 13 July 2019

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - ROCK BAND "FIRE TIGER"

Los Angeles rock band Fire Tiger fronted by big voiced Tiffany Alkouri bring back the 80s Glam/Classic Rock.  Reminding me initially of Heart, with a little Starship (80s version) the songs evoke  memories of that glorious decade, the guitar solos and the anthemic power ballads that we associate with that time.


I first heard the band through the foot stomping title track from their first album "Energy" released in 2014.  Scouring YouTube for new bands this video caught my eyes and ears.  I was transported back to the 80s as I searched for more songs such as the gorgeous ballad "He Has Changed".  The "Energy" video was a taster for the album and got thousands of likes and positive comments.  The album contains brilliant tracks that also incorporate some late 70s style arrangements which only adds to the enjoyment.


The band have since released a second album, "Suddenly Heavenly" which contains the fabulous Heart/Berlin style Pop Rock title track and the classic 80s Pop and ironically summery and upbeat "Ice Age".  Other favourite tracks of mine from the album include "Love The Way" and "You Changed Me".


It is like the band have just been frozen in the 80s and brought back to ensure the decade lives on in a new generation.  A really great band who are in the process of recording their third album hopefully out in 2019.  If you are an 80s lover like me this band will indulge your thirst for the days before boybands and DJ music etc.!



Friday, 7 June 2019

NEW MUSIC SINGLES REVIEW - SIX FOOT UNDER - "SINGIN' IN THE RAIN" & "POSTCARDS FROM A DYING WORLD"

MUSIC ARTISTS? WANT YOUR NEW ALBUM OR SINGLE(S) REVIEWED TRACK BY TRACK PLUS FREE PROMOTION ON NEW MUSIC EAR AND SHARED TO TWITTER, LINKEDIN, INSTAGRAM AND FACEBOOK? IF YOU LIKE THIS REVIEW, PLEASE CONTACT ME :)

SIX FOOT UNDER


"SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (Featuring Chrystina Tomlin)
&
"POSTCARDS FROM A DYING WORLD (Featuring Adrian Green)"


By Andrew Goodwin for NEW MUSIC EAR www.newmusicear.com.

SUMMARY - Six Foot Under were an innovative Rock band and released four albums.  Both these tracks appeared on the ground breaking mega five album box set "Breaking Free" (the third album) released in 2005.  The founder member Jeremy Holtom (an entrepreneur, poet, pianist and numerous other attached strings to his bow!) and fellow band member Adrian Green set up Beyond Reality Music to originally promote the band but now bringing new and creative artists to the world.  In the 90s Jeremy suffered 5 psychotic episodes so it is amazing that the driving force within him and determination to create and showcase genre breaking music has kept him going even now in his later years.  These two tracks are very unusual on different levels.  The songs don't have catchy choruses or hitting lyrical hooks but they have an intense feeling and atmospheric essence that somehow draws you in and keeps you entranced.


"SINGIN' IN THE RAIN (Featuring Chrystina Tomlin)" - Where do I start? 10 seconds into this track you're thinking "this is drum and bass then?", only to merge into a Stone Roses/Prog Rock twang of pumping guitars and pulsating drumbeat.  Then the Psychedelic feedback echo effects come in the background with some eerie, medieval chant-like vocals.  All of this and we are only 1 and a half minutes in!  At about 1 minute 45 it all starts getting a bit "out of this world", lots of spooky screams and haunting, tortured vocals fly in and out while the guitars and drums continue their throbbing combination play.  My best description would be Marillion with an Electronica/Trance makeover! The track has that epic style of Fish's band but with a very unusual twist! This is rocky, it's a bit Psychedelic trippy, it's strangely dancey, it's a bit gothic and pretty much 6 minutes of very cool kookiness! I can see why some listeners have been calling it "magical", it certainly has that unique aura about it.  It's unusual, it's weird and it's wonderful.


"POSTCARDS FROM A DYING WORLD (Featuring Adrian Green)" - This track, according to Jeremy was created by Adrian Green "off the cuff" amidst a conservation the two had.  Jeremy has said, "It was like he was doing the knitting while watching television!".  The track is basically a 17 and a half minute drumming solo jam.  I am not new to this kind of track, being a big fan of Prince, I have seen he and his band jamming on their instruments using a variety of techniques in a few minute bursts. It is quite a skilled art to play drums so well and incorporate different genres just by using sticks, different parts of the drum or added percussion.  This track contains (but not limited to) from what I can find, Eastern influences, quickfire and slow sticks work, jazzy interludes, electronic shoots, funky riffs and sniippets of African tribal beats.  For the music connoisseur who has an interest and indeed appreciates styles of playing this is for you.



Friday, 19 April 2019

NEW MUSIC EAR'S PERSONAL PLAYLISTS - "PRINCE" PART 1

A NEW FEATURE ON NEW MUSIC EAR.  THE PLAYLISTS ON MY IPOD FEATURE LOTS OF VARIOUS ARTISTS SO I THOUGHT I WOULD SHARE MY PLAYLISTS WITH YOU.  HOPE YOU SEE SOME OF YOUR FAVOURITES!

PRINCE



PLAYLIST PART 1


We start the playlist off from the debut album, released in 1978, "For You".  The first album to have the words that all songs were "produced, arranged, composed, and performed by Prince".  The man played all the insruments and sung all the vocals.  Amazing for someone so young.  I chose 3 tracks from this album for my playlist, the R n' B/Soul naughtiness of "Soft And Wet", the intense searing guitar driven rocker "I'm Yours" and the epic disco funk of "Just As Long As We're Together".  "I'm Yours" made me realise early that this man was a serious guitarist.




Hot on the heels of the debut came the second album in 1979, entitled simply "Prince".  Disappointed with "For You"'s lack of recognition he rushed out a follow up which was more diverse.  A much more polished album I chose 5 tracks from the 9 on the album.  The sublime big hit "I Wanna Be Your Lover" is here along with another single, "Why You Wanna Treat Me So Bad?".  Such is the problem that Prince released lesser songs but still miles ahead of their time I had to choose very carefully.  I included the manic rocker "Bambi" and the lovely soft ballad "With You".  The final song is one everybody has heard, although by Chaka Khan, this is the original "I Feel For You".



For Prince's third album in 1980, the lyrics were more raunchy yet the abum was more critically acclaimed.  I chose four tracks from this set including the light Disco Funk title track and the song later given to Cyndi Lauper for her debut album, "When You Were Mine".   The 70s Disco inspired "Uptown" is also included as is the infamous "Head" which is all about seduction by oral sex.  Prince's sexual lyrics were later to become more noticed a couple of albums down the line!



1981 brought the next album, the 4th in four years, entitled "Controversy".  It was a much more socially aware album than the previous three.  Personally I don't like to hear music stars being political too much, as music is supposed to free us from that.  I chose 3 tracks from the album including the 7 minute epic electronic Disco Funk of the title track.  The other two tracks are the manic "Sexuality" and the fans' favourite dance track "Let's Work".



"1999" came in 1982 and was a tour de force in Prince's career, it got him noticed big time on MTV and in the U.S. although mega stardom would come two years later.  The album has 11 tracks and I chose 8 for the playlist, such is the brilliance of this album.  The fantastic title track, the pumping "Little Red Corvette" and quickstep dance number "Delirious" are all here.  The rather naughty and delicious "Lady Cab Driver" is included as well as the gorgeous ballad "Free".  The atmospheric, effects laden "Automatic" and the funky "Let's Pretend We're Married" are selected with another 8 minute epic, "D.M.S.R.", a sing along dance number.



The album made Prince a global icon, "Purple Rain" was released two years after "1999" and what an album it was! Every non-fan knows "Purple Rain", the guitar solos at the end always gave me a tear and even more so now the man is no more.  The most passionate and tear jerking "crying" guitar solo ever.  The other singles are obviously here, "When Doves Cry" and "Let's Go Crazy".  The duet with Apollonia Kotero, "Take Me With U" is included as is the cutesy but dark "I Would Die 4 U".  The playful but true "Baby, I'm A Star" and the "bit of everything" style of "Computer Blue" completes the set.  A mega album, but I wish non-fans would actually note another song when they say "I'm a fan of Prince, I love "Purple Rain".  So annoying for us real fans, there's much more to the man!



When "Around The World In A Day" came in 1985, everybody expecting "Purple Rain 2" were going to be disappointed.  A bare bones album and a little psychedelic, it was far away from the mega selling predecessor.  This is what us fans loved about Prince, you had no idea what as coming next, to the public and critics this was a huge curve ball.  I loved all the singles, "Raspberry Beret", "Paisley Park" and "Pop Life", all very different in style but with that unusual Prince experimentation.  I added "America" with its pumping beat and the beautiful ballad "The Ladder".



I AM SURE MANY FANS WILL BE DEBATING THE INCLUSIONS AND THE TRACKS NOT INCLUDED, BUT I HOPE YOU FOUND THIS PLAYLIST INTERESTING, CHECK BACK FOR MORE ON NEW MUSIC EAR!

Saturday, 13 April 2019

NEW MUSIC PROFILE - INDIE ROCK BAND "CLEAN CUT KID"

Clean Cut Kid are a quartet from Liverpool, I've seen their music described as "soulful pop ballads washed in Mersey water".  I'm not sure if this was the band's own description but it is very apt.  The band first caught my ears as they were soon to release their debut album, "Felt".  I heard the single "Vitamin C", an atmospheric, raw track with elements of Electronic and Pop Punk with a catchy little chorus like an old 70s Folk hippie anthem.  I knew I wanted to hear more.


Other songs I liked from the first album include "Runaway", laden with harmonies and U2-like Rock guitars complete with chants and catchy lyrics and "Pick Me Up", a brilliant rip-roaring catchy foot tapper which gives a good feeling of what the band are all about.


The group seem a bit wacky on the whole, and the music is experimental and unusual.  There are catchy hooks and melodies within the songs that will reach inside your brain and hang a while.  There are many elements to their music including Indie, Rock, Electronica, Folk, Pop Punk and melodies akin to the likes of Fleetwood Mac on the light Rock side.


Their latest album is out now entitled "Painwave", and contains the brilliant songs "Emily" and "I Don't Like You But I Love You". Catch these guys live around the UK now, a refreshing brand of music that is much needed at the moment in these stale and boring chart music we are fed with.