Thursday, 28 June 2018


Kezia Johnson aka Kezia Soul is a singer/songwriter from Birmingham, England.  Influenced at an early age by Reggae, Folk, Rock and R n' B she has an updated Jazz Funk/Soul style.

As her name suggests, she has a beautiful soulful voice and certainly demands your hearing attention, as with great female Jazz pioneers of the past.  Kezia is from a talented family and along with her sister Phe Phe she is rapidly taking the music world by storm.

Kezia has already appeared as backing vocalist  to up and coming Hip Hop stars around the UK and has tour experience with Birmingham based Jazz/Funk band Genius Collective.  Her first single was released on iTunes and Google Play and was entitled "I Love You" produced by My Boyz Beatz on GT's Records.

Kezia Soul's performance at The Jazz Café in London in October 2014 was a major highlight which got everybody talking about this hot new star.  She has appeared in such shows and festivals as The Limegreen Festival, Simmer Down festival, Artsfest, Strawberry Fields festivals, Oxjam the Jazz Café , Town Hall, The Jam House, The Glee Club which all received outstanding reviews.

Wednesday, 20 June 2018


First of all, this isn't an anti-Beatles article, although I could do that as their overall lasting appeal and worship sometimes confuses me.  I know this is going to be controversial as for some reason it is sacrilege to say ANYTHING bad about The Beatles! I am a lover of the city of Liverpool and support the famous English football club Liverpool FC so people wonder why I don't like The Beatles, being an avid listener of music too!  I was not force fed the "fab four" as a child as my mother and father were listening to Elvis Presley and The Drifters respectively and other 50s artists of the time.

I think if there was that variation and my 70s and 80s childhood for the kids of the 60s then The Beatles may not have been so popular.  In my view they were the boy band of the age, like McFly, Busted, The Vamps etc.  I respect these so called boy bands who can actually play and respect The Beatles musical ability but the songs were mostly very simple and not really what you would expect from 20-something guys.  Surely they would want to do more than "hold your hand"!

Anyway, I respected John Lennon and George Harrison's solo work.  I do think there were better songwriters around in the 60s than John and Paul.  Eric Burdon of The Animals, Ray Davies of The Kinks and of course the brilliant Simon and Garfunkel.  So The Beatles appeal bewilders me.  This article is to show that The Beatles were not the only Liverpool artist to make a mark on music or remotely the most interesting!  Let's look at a handful of Liverpool born artists.
The Fifties

Frankie Vaughan was a singer of traditional songs and probably be listed as a "crooner".  He released over 80 singles in his lifetime and in every decade from the 50s to the 80s and over 20 albums.  He was called "Mr Moonlight" after one of his most popular hits.  Not bad for a young Jewish lad from Merseyside named Frank Ableson!

The Sixties

Billy Fury, born Ronald Wycherley was a Rock and Roll singer who released 5 albums and over 40 singles in the 60s.  His supposedly "swivel hips" suggestive stage routine gave him the mantle of England's Elvis Presley.  My mother used to love this guy and I remember his records well.  He was a major international star and equalled The Beatles' 24 hits in the 60's and was also a film star appearing in "That'll Be The Day".

Gerry And The Pacemakers fronted by Gerry Marsden (his brother Fred was a co-founder and drummer) might by better known for the adopted Liverpool Football Club anthem "You'll Never Walk Alone"(originally from the musical "Carousel").  They were the first act to reach number one with their first 3 singles which was only equalled in the 80s by another Liverpool band which I will tell you about later in the article.  They were ironically managed by The Beatles' manager Brian Epstein and recorded by their producer George Martin but the similarity ends there.  Their unique brand of Rock and Roll brought them 20 singles and over 11 albums.

The Searchers released over 30 singles and a few albums most of which are compilations of some of their most catchy and brilliant songs.  I remember having a cassette with this band and Manfred Mann's hits.  The songs instantly capture your ears and the choruses your vocal chords.  Originally a Skiffle group formed by John McNally and Mike Pender they soon transformed into a British Rock and Roll band, forming part of the Merseybeat sound.

The Seventies

I've included Elvis Costello in the 70s as it was the late end of the decade that he (along with his band The Attractions) took music by the scruff of it's neck.  Born Declan Patrick MacManus, he was voted 80th in the 100 greatest music artists of all time by Rolling Stone magazine in 2004.  Able to play guitar, bass, keyboards and drums and also a music producer and prolific writer, Elvis is still making records today.  He has performed under different guises and also with different genres, he has adapted through the years to gain a more eclectic fan base.  He has released 30 albums and over 60 singles spanning the decades since his debut in 1977.

The Real Thing first formed in 1970, their brand of RnB, Soul and Disco were perfect for the glitter and glam years of the decade.  Releasing over 20 singles and 4 albums throughout the 70s and 80s, they are most notably know for their massive hits "You To Me Are Everything" and "Can You Feel The Force".  They were England's most successful black Rock/Soul act in the 70s.

Big In Japan had a lasting effect on British music, they were in fact a backward super group.  The band members became big stars AFTER they left!  Members included Ian Broudie (The Lightning Seeds and producer of records by Echo and the Bunnymen, The Coral and The Zutons), Holly Johnson (later of Frankie Goes To Hollywood, who we will come to later), David Balfe (The Teardrop Explodes' keyboardist) and Budgie (technically from St Helens but later was drummer in Siouxsie And The Banshees).  The band released a couple of singles and albums but were more a gig band as their members were constantly changing.

The Eighties

My era and most of the bands I remember having an influence on my musical tastes in the future.  Most notable as hinted on earlier were Frankie Goes To Hollywood, often overhyped, amidst claims they couldn't play and they were too outrageous.  Holly Johnson, Paul Rutherford (two openly gay singers) and The Lads (3 typical Scouse lads), add the production skills of Trevor Horn (The Buggles) and the journalistic propaganda of Paul Morley this was a marriage made in heaven.  Only 7 singles and two albums but the legacy was left.  Shirts bearing slogans, 3 number one singles in 3 releases, blatantly provocative videos, and then it was over.  Holly left and the band disbanded.  Holly continued to record and had a successful album with "Blast" in 1989.  The band COULD play by the way, as I saw at the G-Mex in Manchester (supported by Berlin).

The Icicle Works fronted by Ian McNabb caught my imagination with their debut single "Love Is A Wonderful Colour" in 1983.  A kind of atmospheric Psychedelic Rock I had not heard before.  Ian's unique vocals compounded beautifully with subtle harmonies and melodies.  I loved this band and was a little sad they were not given enough credit, McNabb's lyrics were brilliant and they should have been more successful.  5 albums and 20 singles throughout this decade splitting up in 1990.  McNabb still records today as a solo artist and major gigging artist releasing 10 albums and a few singles.

Other notable singers of this time, Carol Decker fronted T'Pau, Colin Vearncombe became the melancholy Black, Andy McCluskey fronted Synth Pop act Orchestral Maneouvres In The Dark and Ian Astbury fronted Rock band The Cult.  Notable bands Julian Cope and The Teardrop Explodes, The Christians, Pete Burns and Dead or Alive. The La's, Ian McCulloch and Echo and The Bunnymen, A Flock of Seagulls, The Lotus Eaters.  All with their part to play on defining the new generation of music.


One of the bands that caught my ears in the 2000s were The Coral, who are still playing today, with their brand of Indie Rock/Psychedelic folk sound they remind me of what The La's could have become if they had carried on.

The Zutons were also a band I liked also.  All in all, I think this article proves that Liverpool is not all about The Beatles, and that more interesting music can be found from Merseyside.  Of course, there are other influential bands from other parts of the UK, which I may look into at a later date.  For this article, the purpose was to show there was and is life in the Liverpool music scene except the fab four boy band of the Sixties.

There are lots of relatively unknown but great artists emerging from the town as well such as Chasing Infinity and Eleanor Nelly.  So when people ask me "oh, Liverpool, that's the home of The Beatles??"  Yes, it is also home to some amazing talent that left a mark on music history and also home to bright, young talent who are far more interesting and inspiring than the so called "Fab Four".

Monday, 11 June 2018





By Andrew Goodwin for NEW MUSIC EAR

ALBUM SUMMARY -  "Microwave" is an E.P. with a host of 80s and modern day Rap/Hip Hop styles and influences.  Originally from Los Angeles, California but currently residing in St. Paul, Minneapolis, ATR has an original vision using all the elements he has acquired during his learning process.  Like Prince and other artists based in Minneapolis there is always that feeling that this is a refreshing new slant on cliched music styles.  ATR's grandfather was first cousin to Joe Jackson and also made records so I guess music is in this guy's veins.  It is an interesting set of tracks comprising his influences, his original lyrics and sometimes angry but honest lyrics on his life and the world today.

01 "NO CHILL" - An angry but heartfelt, touching song about ATR's personal situation concerning his son.  It reminds me of an angry De La Soul mixed with a little Beastie Boys effects with an added Eminem verbal attack on the controlling forces behind these sorry circumstances.

 02 "GEORGE JEFFERSON" - Maybe a namecheck to the TV character George Jefferson from "All In The Family" and "The Jeffersons"?  Also there are references to Hugh Hef(ner) and Mr Miyagi!  A slow usual Hip Hop beat with a repetitive chorus that can either get chatchy in time or get annoying.  It depends on your mood I guess!

03 "NO OR LATER" - It has a catchy chorus that sticks in your head and reminds me a little of LL Cool J in that laid back, cool style of his.  Also has elements of the original Kings of Hip Hop, Grandmasters Flash and Melle Mel with that slow to mid tempo minimal backing and basic rap vocals.

04 "SUMMER DRESS" - This track features 9Gotti, Huncho and 11Sota in a Public Enemy style slow Hip Hop jam.  It has a little of everything, mild harmonising on the various ranged vocals, catchy lines and effects abound.

05 "I KNOW BETTER" - A Hip Hop ballad which I guess is a Political swipe at the leaders of the United States and the society it has breeded.  The line "dead presidents no matter the weather" is a tough talking line in anger.  The minimal backing serves this Gangsta Rap vocal well.

06 "MARCH MADNESS" - Not my favourite on this set, it is a little mish mash by the other songs' standards.  Unlike the other songs on this E.P, the chorus is not catchy but a little grating in comparison.  It takes away from the actual lyrical verses which is a shame.  Featuring 9Gotti this one is a bit of a miss for me personally.  It is like LL Cool J who has lost his "cool" and replaced it with something a lot less cool.

07 "YAH" - An almost funky Hip Hop track, which, with a little more funkiness would be a great track.  Reminds me a little of s Tribe Called Quest and possibly the R N' B male stars that were prominent in the 90s and 00s.

08 "PEEKACHOO" - A catchy little song with a little Cypress Hill and De La Soul fun and quirkiness.  Probably my favourite on this E.P., it has a great tempo, is a great composition and keeps the listener interested.  The "Peekachoo" chorus will not leave your head!Should be a single release.

Monday, 4 June 2018





By Andrew Goodwin for NEW MUSIC EAR

ALBUM SUMMARY - John Heinrich is an esteemed writer, singer and multi-instrumentalist who has worked with such diverse artists as Jerry Lee Lewis, Rick Astley, Steppenwolf and Reba McEntire.  With such a background you can imagine the different styles he has been a part of.  This album shows all those experiences of many genres.  There is something for everyone here, Rock N' Roll, Country, Jazz and 60s, 70s and 80s references.  On the whole it has some outstanding tracks and others which show John and his collaborators' musicianship, creativity and experimentalism.

01 LEAP INTO THE STORM - The opening track of the album is a light, mid tempo Rock song. It very much reminds me of Tom Petty And The Heartbreakers with that laid back, cool style.  It is a Country Rock Pop track which includes a great guitar solo interlude at around the 3 minute mark!It is a fine album intro!

02 ANSWERS - This is an unusual and strange track.  The music is Alternative 80s Pop Rock and that is fine by me.  I am never negative in my reviews but the singer Billy Anderson's vocals seem a little out of place in the song.  The monotone Bob Dylan style drops the song into bland territory.  It seems to just meander along and the vocals just don't work for me, but it is just my opinion.  The music is great but is dragged down by the voice.  However, the big redeeming feature is the 20 seconds or so Rock guitar near the end but its a little too late to save it.  More of the guitars and a different singer may have got five stars from me.  Not my favourite but many may disagree.

03 HEY MOLLY - A great pick-me-up from the previous song, this one is a bright, breezy, cool Rock N' Roll/Country/Folk mix.  An upbeat, positive tune with a sweet, catchy chorus that makes this memorable.  It gives you a nice upbeat feeling although the lyrical story sounds a little sad.  This reminds me of Simon & Garfunkel and similar Folk style Rock bands of the 60s.

04 SO SLOW - I love this track, a great Rock mash up of the 60s, 70s and 80s.  The 60s Folk/Psychedelic feel of the 60s and 70s and a great Pop Rock chorus akin to the late 80s melodic based bands such as Del Amitri and Deacon Blue.  A top song.

05 BED, BATH & BEYONCE - An interesting one for me.  A melancholic 80s Pop intro with a bit of sax and a lady laughing.  Actually reminds me of those quirky songs my idol Prince made from time to time.  Various echoed vocals, special effects and a mish mash of experimental musical phases with sax make this a big favourite with me.  Excellent experimentation I like when it really pays off.  Nice one!

06 LONER - Sax and guitars compliment each other superbly here to create a great Rock based track.  There are more experimental electronic noises in the middle but it is just a kickin' rockin' instrumental! I think this is my favourite on the album. When the guitars help out the sax its a little Classic Rock and ZZ Top blues. Masterful.

07 WILD DARK HORSES - If you like early Heart or Fleetwood Mac this is for you.  The soft and pure vocals from Lori Hall here are sublime reminding you of Ann Wilson and Stevie Nicks.  They mesh excellently with the musical backing to create a hypnotic, ambient Classic Rock track.  Another exceptional composition.

08 SHAZAM - Another change in direction here, hints of Jazz forms on this track.  This is like a movie soundtrack moving from melancholic romance to Bossa Jazz to Classixal Jazz to Salsa and Ballroom.  It is an eclectic experiment.  Interesting and creative, giving the musicians a workout, jam style.

09 TIT FOR TAT - Again, am instrumental mash up.  I would suggest this for a definite movie soundtrack in the background.  There is a lot going on to be any kind of "radio freindly" and is not really a straight forward track.  Orchestral pieces, flute, medieval style and cinematic romantic imagery abound.  Intriguing but hard to review as there is so many styles interspersed with each other.  There is no definitive genre or pattern.  A+ for the musicians though, they can definitely do their thing.

10 ZO KEWL - Another Prince instrumental style track so already this has a plus point with me.  When saxophonist Candy Dulfer played with Prince there were a lot of these funky jams in the shows.  Even though this is an instrumental it keeps you gripped and at 1 minute 50 seconds there is a nice guitar solo just to break it up a little.  Then it eases back slowly into the original funky flavour.  Great song and great ending to a fine album.