when I was young (around the middle of the last century) we had only a few bands (and no Simon Cowell).
These bands made their own music and played their own instruments.
Some were very very good, and some were just awful - but they all had a go, and rose or fell on their own merits.
One such band was called Jefferson Airplane (the Jefferson after the US President, and the Airplane after Jefferson... (c) A A Milne).
Their singer was a young (in those days) lady called Grace Slick. She had an amazing voice which could soar and roar and whisper and knock down walls.
At one point the 'Airplane was playing a concert in a rain storm and Grace Slick stood at the front of the band, put her head back into the storm and let rip with the lyrics. Thunder and lightning... She has retired now. You may have heard "White Rabbit" - the psychedelic version of Alice in Wonderland (although I suspect the Alice story had something to do with psychedelics as well...) - Grace Slick had a kind of reckless abandon when singing, and her voice was magnificent. Try listening to some of the tracks on "Baron Von Tollbooth and the Chrome Nun" or "Sunfighter", they may remind you of someone...
During these dying days of the European Experiment, I listen to a variety of music (mostly Jazz I have to admit - perhaps it's an age thing?), but I am blessed with a number (4) of daughters who visit and bring their latest favourite CDs... and sometimes the music is Good (Pearl Jam, Bluehorses, Smashing Pumpkins, Evanescence, kd lang, the National, Tori Amos, Hole) and sometimes it isn't (<names removed to protect the guilty>).
And then sometimes I listen to Jools. 'Cos he has people like Roy Harper (another real musician from the 1960s), and now and again some new group that stirs one's interest.
So the other night there was a band fronted by a red-haired Pre-Raphaelite 'stunner' called Florence.
And during the second song (whose name escapes me) she put her head back and let rip... Tingles down the spine - there was the sound and glory of the Slick in full flight... Magnificent, inspiring, reckless abandon. Now that is a voice. A true, natural, unembellished, magnificent vocal machine... Just glorious.
And so here we are - Florence and the Machine. Ceremonials. I just had to rush out and get the CD. And I was not disappointed at all.
The spirit (and lungs) of Grace Slick - fronting a splendid band, playing their own tunes, and not bowing to the miserable Cowell effect. And with a harp - brilliant.
This is a magnificent album - worthy of the five stars - and I am so delighted that half a century on from the birth of rock music, there are wonderful, independent, brilliant musicians carrying on the glory...