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Andy Clare (UK)

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God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise
God Willin' & The Creek Don't Rise
Price: 6.52

4.0 out of 5 stars Keep the faith, 30 Dec 2010
I'm going to keep this really short. In an era when so many seem obsessed - or are conned into thinking they should be - with banal and manufactured product, this album is simply a pure joy. Start to finish. That's how it should be listened to - in one sitting. And then keep hitting the 'repeat' button to appreciate the textures and moods all over again. That wonderful, rich and plaintive voice matched - possibly for the first time - by songs and backing that really let it soar and express itself fully. With echoes of Joni Mitchell and Ryan Adams, this is a far, far better album than Neil Young has produced in a long, long time. 'Like Rock and Roll Radio' lays down a marker to anyone making this sort of music and with the possible exception of the first and closing tracks, everything in between is near faultless. Almost perfect. Believe the other reviews and buy it.

Born Again Savage
Born Again Savage
Offered by sdiscs
Price: 28.95

4.0 out of 5 stars Little Steven delivers, 7 Dec 2010
This review is from: Born Again Savage (Audio CD)
I've only just picked up this album (through 11 years after its original release, probably more out of curiousity than anything else. A big fan of Little Steven and The Disciples of Soul back in the 70's/80's, I lost track of him when he put his guitar down for a while. But this is a real 'blast' of an album - huge guitar sound, epic arrangements, weighty subject matter - and should be in your collection if you ever appreciated his previous albums (Voice of America, Freedom No Compromise, etc). Just how LS manages to get such a powerful sound out of just guitar (Litte Steven), bass (Adam Clayton) and drums (Jason Bonham)is testimony to his skills in the studio, clearly always appreciated by Bruce and Southside Johnny. 'St Francis' is for me the standout track but really the whole thing hangs together really well. In the hands of a lesser musician and arranger, this could come across as a bit leaden, clumsy and obvious, but LS tackles the task of delivering his 'fifth political album' with such passion, intensity and energy that it grabs you from the opeing riff of 'Born Again Savage' and doesn't let go until the final chords of 'Tongues Of Angels'. A guilty pleasure? Maybe, but turn it up loud and go with it all the way. A fantastic rock album.


19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Does what is says!, 20 Nov 2010
This review is from: THE SHINE (Audio CD)
What a fantastic release from TJW. Rather like J.J Cale, he doesn't stray too far from a tried and tested formula with The Shine - but why should he when that formula works so well. Actually, to call it a formula is something of an insult because this is music of real depth and integity. As TJW sings here, its got to be simple and have soul and this does and then some. Paired right back to the basics, there is a real mastery to the way the songs retain their simplicity yet get right inside you. No gimmicks, no fancy production - just songs that ooze the blues. In 'Roll Train Roll', I think TJW has given us an absolute gem but to be fair, you won't find a weak song on the whole set. They seemly flow into one another but with subtle little shifts and turns that keep you tuned in. And this isn't just late night background music. I had it playing on a Saturday morning when a guy came to read the gas meter and he made a point of asking who it was. I prefer this to 'Uncovered' and 'Heroines' and maybe its closer to 'The Beginning' but no need for comparisons here. Strongly recommended to fans of TJW and anyone with a liking for laid back, uncomplicated blues and soul delivered by a master of the form.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 6, 2011 7:28 AM GMT

Pills and Ammo
Pills and Ammo
Offered by jim-exselecky
Price: 5.99

8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Feelgood Album For These Times, 26 Oct 2010
This review is from: Pills and Ammo (Audio CD)
No need to over analyse this one. John Lyon said he was feeling a little down and needed to do something to lift his spirits. It sounds like he locked himself away with Jukes keyboards stalwart Jeff Kazee and together they came up with 'Pills and Ammo'. Nothing too fancy, just an album of tunes that Southside Johnny and The Asbury Jukes can do better than probably any other similar band on the planet. From the opening guitar chords of 'Harder Than It Looks' and about the time when the horns kick in for the first time, you know you are in for a great ride. 'Cross That Line', 'Heartbreak City', 'One More Night To Rock' and 'Keep on Moving' will have you stomping your feet or drumming the steering wheel, while the more soulfull 'Lead Me On', 'A Place Where I Belong' and the gentle closer 'Thank You' remind you that Southside can soothe just as much as he can rock. But mostly this is a 'turn it up loud' affair and let yourself go with it. Not quite as good as 'Hearts of Stone' or 'Better Days', but definitely in the ball park. Its probably impossible to capture the real pleasure of this band live on a studio album but 'Pills and Ammo' is a joy nonethless. My only gripe? At 12 tracks, its maybe two songs short of the full ticket. But that's why SJ and The Asbury Jukes are so enduring because they leave us wanting more.

Le Noise
Le Noise
Offered by produXa UK
Price: 8.49

5 of 10 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Go Your Own Way, 15 Oct 2010
This review is from: Le Noise (Audio CD)
Another Neil Young album and another split in the fanbase that (if the interview quotes are to be believed)he is growing increasingly indifferent towards. Nothing new there really, as he always, quite rightly, followed his muse with decidely mixed results. I guess part of his enduring appeal is his uncompromising determination to stick to his principles and take risks and push boundaries. That is surely deserving of our admiration - but I am beginning to wonder if he really is doing either on some of his most recent work. Despite the anticipation around this collaboration with Daniel Lanois, I'm increasingly thinking not. Yes, the sonic nuances that Lanois brings to this album are interesting but they cannot hide the fact that most of these songs fall way short of Youngs most incisive and compelling work. At times they sound laboured and leaden, the lyrics repetitive and ponderous. Even the two acoustic tracks that most reviewers single out as highlights would probably struggle to find their way into any appreciation of his better post 80's output. At its best moments, I hear faint echoes of the 'Eldorado' mini CD. But after several plays, it all becomes a little mundane.

I do think there is a danger that Young's formidable live performances (which show no sign whatsoever of diminishing in impact)are clouding objective judgement of his recorded output. For many fans, its probably heresy to question this icon's albums and their default reaction is 'its great'. I really don't think 'Le Noise' is. But I don't buy the notion that Young is insulting or conning his audience by putting out an endless stream of substandard material. He does what he does and we pay our money and take our choice.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 18, 2010 4:56 PM GMT

Two Sides to Every Story
Two Sides to Every Story

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten gem - please re-release, 8 Sep 2010
It's something of a mystery to me that this wonderful solo album (Gene's first and only for RSO after being ditched by Asylum)seems to have disappeared off the radar. It really is a cracking album and for any fans who may have found 'No Other' a little too adventureous, this should prove very pleasing.

Its probably a closer relation to 'White Light' and 'Roadmaster' in style and content, with a mixture of up tempo songs such as 'In The Pines', 'Home Run King' (lovely background vocals from Emmylou Harris), creditable reworkings of 'Kansas City Southern' and 'Marylou' and beautiful melancholic ballads such as 'Past Addresses', 'Give My Love To Marie' and 'Silent Crusade'. The Clark originals and covers sit very comfortably alongside each other and whilst the musicianship is clearly top notch, the production never allows anything to detract from Gene's breathtaking vocals.

I think this album was recorded during a period of retreat and reflection following the disappointment over the reaction to the equisite 'No Other'. It is in some ways a sombre, maybe sober album - but one that really does reward repeated listenings. At the time of release it was considered as a somewhat 'safe' return to basics but I do think after listening to it again in 2010, that's misleading. When you consider that Gene's next recordings were the inconsistent albums with McGuinn and Hillman, this stands heads and shoulders above anything he recorded before his tragic early death (the collaboration with Carla Olsen a fabulous exception).

The two Clark classics, 'White Light' and 'No Other' have both been given the remaster and expanded edition treatment and TSTES is deserving of the same treatment. If you have overlooked this album - and can get a copy from any source - I would strongly recommend it.

Live At Shepherd's Bush
Live At Shepherd's Bush
Price: 15.17

29 of 29 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Stephen Stills 2008 - Rough, raw 'n real., 29 Oct 2009
This review is from: Live At Shepherd's Bush (Audio CD)
Having been at both Stephen's Shepherds Bush gigs in 2008, I'm probably not going to be too objective here but this, like so much of what Rhino have given us recently, is another excellent package of Stephen Stills work. They are doing the man, and his legacy proud.

This was quite an emotional night. I can clearly remember the warmth of the welcome Stills received from the packed house when he ambled onto stage to open the shows from which this set comes. It struck me that there was genuine affection in the huge wave of cheering, applause and whistling for this enigmatic character - who has captivated, beguiled, alientated and frustrated his fans over the last forty or so years. Always in the shadow of Neil Young and somewhat subdued in CSN in recent years, here was Stills the solo artist, the band leader. And he soaked up the affection and turned in a wonderful, flawed but totally memorable performance.

On the road to recovery following his health scare and surgery, this is Stills seemingly at ease with himself. A warm, humourous and chatty acoustic set features his own, unique guitar style, fluffed and forgotten voval lines (The Blind Fiddler)and lovely versions of Dylan's 'Girl From The North Country' and the inevitable but always welcome '4 +20'. Not to mention a suprisingly good 'Suite: Judy Blue Eyes' - great guitar solo and yes, he hit most of those difficult notes. But, what the hell if he didn't. Its his song and he was singing it. The songs are all well chosen, fitting his weathered vocal chords to a tee and recorded here without any embellishment. It ain't the Eagles and it sure ain't James Taylor. But it really is Stephen Stills.

The electric set follows the same pattern. Great song selection from throughout Stephen's career with welcome suprises like 'Isn't It About Time' and a brilliant 'Rock 'n Roll Woman'. ('Bluebird' features a trippy but economical guitar solo that Neil Young could learn a thing or two from before going off into one of his overlong and meandering guitar-a-thons). The old Barnstorm drum and bass combo of Vitale and Passarelli are a delight and Elton John lookalike Todd Caldwell thickens out the sound with some great keyboard runs.

Listen to the CD and watch the DVD (a brilliant job)and you'll get a sense of what this is about. Its a document of a truly influential and inspirational musician doing what he does at this late stage of his career and not making any apologies for doing it unedited. It isn't perfect, far from it. And he's not pretty, if he ever was. But it's real music played and sung by a real musician and a great band. Recommended to broadminded Stills fans everywhere who understand that nothing stays the same and we all move on.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 9, 2013 6:37 PM GMT

Price: 6.61

17 of 19 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Its a starter - bring on the main course, 26 Sep 2009
This review is from: Pieces (Audio CD)
My guess is that most Stephen Stills fans are huge Manassas fans too. The band was, after all, probably the best vehicle for his talent in the early 70's and arguably he has never bettered 'that' double album. How could he? So 'Pieces' will be rightly welcomed and it is fantastic that Rhino are bringing some of this unreleased material out. But for me, this simply wets the appetite for something more substantial.

Read the other reviews and you'll soon have a sense of what you're getting here. Alternative takes (Lies, Sugar Babe, Do You Remember The Americans?), a pretty naff band version of 'Word Game', the controversial 'White Nigger' - here titled 'High and Dry' and some lovely bluegrass tracks with Byron Berline featured. Don't be fooled by 'Tan Sola Y Triste' because its a prototype 'Pensiamento' - surely Stephen's greatest Latin song?. In his notes, Stills mentions that these are some songs they were silly enough to leave out of the original releases. I'm not sure I'd go with that. 'Like a Fox' and 'My Love is a Gentle Thing' are OK, but I don't think they can hold a candle to anything on the debut - or 'Down The Road' for that matter.

The one real bonus for me is 'I Am My Brother'. Stills, acoustic blues guitar, vocals - nothing else added. We're in 'Bluesman', 'Black Queen' and the original 'Word Game' territory here. Perfect!

Of course you should buy this album but it won't tell you anything you didn't already know about Manassas era Stephen Stills or that wonderful band. Its a lovely packaging job too. Great photos and notes and it's how this sort of release should be presented (bravo Rhino). But if you're a Manassas obsessive (a group to which I most certainly belong), it might leave you slightly unsatisfied. Somewhere in the vaults (and not necessarily on a collectors pc) is a great Manassas live show. For a band that on its night was - by all accounts incredible - wouldn't it be great to have a live concert release. Go on Rhino, bring on the main course.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 18, 2010 5:12 PM GMT

Right By You
Right By You

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not quite right by me, but not bad., 29 July 2009
This review is from: Right By You (Audio CD)
This album got something of a mauling when first released by Atlantic in 1983. Stills had rejoined the label after one fabulous (Stills), one patchy (Illegal Stills) and one pretty dire (Thoroughfare Gap)album with Columbia. Perhaps expectations were for a return to the sort of form he showed when he was first on the label and although 'Right By You' isn't that, its actually a pretty solid effort. It suffers from some rather weak song selection in the middle but starts and ends really well.

Ok, its the '80's - get over the over-use of all things keyboard. It happened! But don't confuse that with Stills' ability to interweave great Latin rythmns into his songs. '50/50' and 'No Problem' are great percussive tracks that don't deserve the disco accusations. In fact, the first 5 tracks on this download are all pretty strong, 'Flaming Heart' probably being the most typical Stills rock song with Jimmy Page and Bernie Leadon featured.

Thereafter, Stephen slows things down for the next 3 tracks with mixed results. 'Can't Let Go' is a nice ballad, featuring the great Mike Finnegan on vocals and a trademark yet restrained Stills guitar solo, but is possibly a little overproduced. 'Grey to Green' sounds very thin in comparison to the rest of songs here and even another tasteful guitar solo can't save it from being almost the weakest cut. That dubious honour falls to Stephen's take on Neil Young's 'Only Love Can Break Your Heart'. Some things are best left alone and adding additional verses only adds insult to injury. Strange this, as Stephen had done nice jobs previously on 'New Mama' and 'The Loner'.

Thankfully, normal and rather good service is restored with the final two tracks that would have fit comfortably into the brilliant Manassas repetoire. 'No Hiding Place'(with Leadon and Chris Hillman) is a jaunty country/bluegrass piece (perhaps a little out-of-place on this set) and then the blues/rock workout of the title track brings the album to a close - again Stills trading licks with Jimmy Page. Maybe its not quite in the same league as the great Stills/Clapton combination on 'Go Back Home' from his first solo album - but it's in the ball park.

So, all-in-all, 'Right By You' may not be an essential Stills solo album, but it's still a worthwhile effort and an interesting chapter in his musical history. If you bear in mind that his pal Neil was putting out albums like 'Trans' and 'Everybody's Rockin'around this time, its odd to think his own reputation was getting such adverse criticism on the basis of quite solid albums like this.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 20, 2012 10:13 AM GMT

Fork in the Road (CD+DVD)
Fork in the Road (CD+DVD)
Offered by skyvo-direct
Price: 8.56

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A Forkin' good effort, 10 April 2009
It seems like Fork In The Road has once again split his fan base, something he is obviously not in the remotest way concerned about. So, if you are a fan of his rough and ready, back to basics, man with an axe to grind stuff, Fork is quite definitely for you. If you prefer the gentle, rural and lyrically more sophisticated material (Harvest, Comes A Time, Prairie Wind), you might want to give this one a wide berth.

The album hangs together really well (far better in my opinion than Prairie Wind or Chrome Dreams 2)bringing a casualness and humour to the serious subject matter without really dumbing down. Using some pretty basic blues structures on which to get his point over, that unique NY electric guitar sound drives the songs along - chugging, grinding and soaring but never overshadowing. Standout songs are 'Just Singing A Song' - classic Neil Young sound - and ironically, the slight but perfectly placed acoustic 'Light A Candle'.

But this is about an album that is better than the sum of its parts. It won't find its way into many fans top 5 or even 10 Young albums and will probably lose him some amongst accusations of selling out and trading on his reputation. Yet its a suprising and enjoyable release. Not essential perhaps but quite a welcome distraction from the tedium surrounding the Archives hoopla.

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