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Alexander Tate (Brisbane, Australia)
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The Next Day Extra (Collector's Edition)
The Next Day Extra (Collector's Edition)
Price: £17.76

1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Patient Bowie's Spectacular Comeback, 9 Jan. 2015
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Is the euphoria worth it? The clamour to raise Bowie further, to a previously unmatched iconic plain after an almost silent decade following nearly two being panned by critics and music fans, is all enveloping. Yet, Bowie’s influence has been rumbling away for many years, just very few named him. Only those with very obvious references who had already made their mark were seen above the parapet.

Any androgynous being making electronic music was lazily pinned with a Bowie badge. Any hint of New Romanticism given a stroke of Bowie blush rather than the eye shadow of Duran. Was he really still influencing these people, had no one else sown seeds within young musicians for 20 years? One may suggest the need for an icon like Bowie to shake us from the constant production of plastic bands and synthetic singers. Bowie’s constant recutting of his cloth, the feeling of the fibre in his fabric distinguishes him from many of his contemporaries.

The surprise announcement on his birthday of a new single and new album generated a buzz, almost a meltdown. It seems his silence had produced a rise in stock. Bowie had created a frenzy without lifting a finger.

Keeping out of the public eye gave more credibility to the opinion that Bowie had retired, maybe this time for good. We were all fooled by a carefully structured act of deceit. Of course there was an album coming out. Hidden in plain sight.

The Next Day Inlay WPWhere Are We Now? is a fragile piece of elegia, not to distant from Hours… or Heathen’s more tender moments. As his first new music in a decade this was again Bowie sidestepping the public, it’s not an honest indicator of what The Next Day holds. Yet, as a stand alone piece of music, it was perfectly measured and intriguing enough for the first whiff of his new record.

The rest of this review can be read at alexandertate.wordpress.com/2013/03/15/the-next-day-patient-bowies-spectacular-comeback/


Kings And Queens Of The Underground [VINYL]
Kings And Queens Of The Underground [VINYL]
Price: £16.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Revival Idol, 9 Jan. 2015
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Idol has successfully dug up a thirty year old bottle of peroxide hair dye and used CPR on the contents to create a classic sounding Billy Idol record.

After the catastrophic ‘Happy Holidays,’ Idol’s career was on a knife edge. Fortunately, he pulls back from the edge of the precipice with ‘Kings and Queens of the Underground.’ Idol eschews becoming a cartoon cliche of his past, as the mood here is a little reflective and more reserved.

The LP is more multi-faceted than you’d expect. There’s songs with a flash of flamenco and sensuality, some with a touch of slow, tense doom as Idol’s dusty musical attic is given a spruce by bandmates Steve Stevens and Billy Morrison.

Bitter Pill and lead single, Can’t Break Me Down, are evidence Idol is able to produce pop from his punk and brew up some fun. Energetic, pulsing synths are a prerequisite on an Idol/Stevens track, and their calling card is all over this record, peaking on Postcards from the Past. Where as the rather clumsy title track stumbles with all the deftness of a sixth form musical.

There’s dual PR at work as Idol’s autobiography hits stores just after the record, to suggest the songs are a companion piece would be, well, idle. But when writing your story at 60 it’s hard not to place such reminisces into song.

Love and Glory possesses trace elements of cinematic widescreen grandeur so huge you can see tomorrow’s weather on the far horizon. Impeccably paced, a crescendo is reached via smooth ascendance, with the only place left for Idol to go is full tilt, where Stevens bends his guitar around the holler.

It’s a colossal work of surging energy from an artist whose vital signs were close to flatlining. With his iconic clenched fist, Idol delivers a knockout.

This and other reviews are available at alexandertate.wordpress.com


Celebrate: The Collections
Celebrate: The Collections
Price: £3.60

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kerr-ful in Career, 9 Jan. 2015
Reviews of greatest hits can be considered as superfluous as yet another collection of a band’s work, finest or otherwise. Another Simple Minds compilation maybe considered so too. During the 20 years since their last major retrospective the group have remained busy, touring extensively and releasing albums of varying quality.

Early 2012 saw 5◊5, a box set of the band’s first 5 albums and associated b-sides brought together as a convenient reminder to the bands’ early, often forgotten, history. A time when European inflected disco meant a cool brand of beats and propulsive bass lines soundtracking travelogues delivered in an era before Kerr’s baritone was permanently turned up to ‘anthem.’ The accompanying tour, playing five songs from each of the five records a night, provided some of the band’s best reviews for years and a critical rehabilitation of their early work.

So what does Celebrate+ do? Both the 36 track two disc and 50 track three disc option offer a comprehensive, no stone unturned document of Simple Minds singles. After airing New Gold Dream in its entirety, then the early catalogue dusted down and now a tour of just the hits, Simple Minds are coming to the end of a major clearout, showing the public everything they have to offer, whether we like it or not.

Such a sweeping rundown of Simple Minds songs may seem unnecessary in these days of Spotify, iTunes and other means of digitally accessing songs. What Celebrate+ does offer is new edits to CD, many versions here are direct from the 7”, concise, punchy radio tunes. Completists rejoice! And casual fans can revel in reduced suffering with a host of sub-five minute versions.

The rest of this review is available at https://alexandertate.wordpress.com/2013/04/07/kerr-ful-in-career/


Stratosphere
Stratosphere
Price: £17.55

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Summer Delight, 8 July 2014
This review is from: Stratosphere (Audio CD)
"I have such a fierce joy about playing,” said Lemmy to Matt Sorum, who was sitting in for Mikkey Dee. The phrase stuck with Sorum, so he gave Lemmy a call asking to use it.

Lemmy Kilmister is only one of many influences on Stratosphere: Joni Mitchell, David Bowie, The Beatles, 70’s Genesis and Tom Petty and all be heard on this Sorum penned record.

Matt Sorum made his name as drummer with Guns 'n' Roses, but he's also delivered heavy hitting for Tori Amos, The Cult and Velvet Revolver. His second solo record, under the name of Matt Sorum's Fierce Joy, is Stratosphere, and one he hopes will alter any preconceived ideas of his heavy rock persona.

The Sea has the country rock Americana feel of the Eagles and Flying Burrito Brothers; warm, orange sun shining on an open top car gliding over a coast hugging road. A gentle introduction from a musician more often found in hard rock bands.

It’s perfect opener, one which will intrigue many listeners to hear what Sorum wrote on his acoustic while off in the desert at Joshua Tree. This personal view from a more balanced and aware Sorum gives Stratosphere a reflective feel.

What Ziggy Says has backing horns from the more psychedelic leanings of the Fab Four, while For The Wild Ones has a dirty baseline under a euphoric 80’s synth riff and a snarling vocal, suggesting Sorum is not simply heading down a hard and loud path.

As a producer and writer, as well as a seasoned rock drummer, Sorum has sonically sculpted many ideas and expanded on what the public may have expected, which adds to the positivity surrounding a solid record.

Ian Astbury from The Cult commented on Sorum’s behaviour in the studio in 2001, “We wanted to make the album quickly, but Matt’s theatrical drumming took time to perfect in the studio.” The time taken paid off as The Cult returned with a hard hitting modern rock classic in Beyond Good and Evil.

A wonderful tinkling guitar with soft hammond backed with shuffling percussion evoke a Pacific island beach scene. His earthy vocal runs with the odd deeper guitar twang throughout the glorious Goodbye To You as a delicate slide guitar soars over the middle eight.

Matt S WPA pair of heart felt, meditative offerings lead to Ode to Nick Drake, a quaint acoustic number with some quirky lyrics. Ears prick up at such a song but it does begin a change of vibe. It’s his versatility here which brings the listener back in to a record which could have started to meander into dull predictability.

Rather surprisingly, a song called Blue restores the tempo and the sunshine with bouncy keys and echoes of early 90’s indie rock.

A delicate song to his centurion grandmother, Josephine, is soft and unfussy with appropriate strings and piano, evidence of a musical director getting his message across and letting the talent mould it to create fine results.

There’s plenty of orchestration on the record, and Land Of The Pure gets the best of such arrangements, this time with an Eastern flavour and rhythmic drumming.

The hammond returns with psychedelic eeriness for Killers N Lovers, a hint of Lou Reed vocal leads to a Pink Floyd finale.

Sorum has managed the same as many of the Guns ’n’ Roses alumni, he’s created a record of superior merit than his ex-lead singer. He’s stepped away from hard rock and stood tall with a diverse scope of sounds. His experience of arranging within the G’n’R and songwriting with Velvet Revolver allow him to flex his experienced musical muscle with joyful confidence.

More music reviews available at alexandertate.wordpress.com/category/music/


Celebrate: The Greatest Hits [3CD]
Celebrate: The Greatest Hits [3CD]
Offered by BestSellerRecordshop
Price: £12.54

11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Kerr-ful in Career, 28 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Reviews of greatest hits can be considered as superfluous as yet another collection of a band's work, finest or otherwise. Another Simple Minds compilation maybe considered so too. During the 20 years since their last major retrospective the group have remained busy, touring extensively and releasing albums of varying quality.

Early 2012 saw 5◊5, a box set of the band's first 5 albums and associated b-sides brought together as a convenient reminder to the band's early, often forgotten, history. A time when European inflected disco meant a cool brand of beats and propulsive bass lines soundtracking travelogues delivered in an era before Kerr's baritone was permanently turned up to `anthem.' The accompanying tour, playing five songs from each of the five records a night, provided some of the bands best reviews for years and a critical rehabilitation of their early work.

So what does Celebrate+ do? Both the 36 track two disc and 50 track three disc option offer a comprehensive, no stone unturned document of Simple Minds singles. After airing New Gold Dream in its entirety, then the early catalogue dusted down and now a tour of just the hits, Simple Minds are coming to the end of a major clearout, showing the public everything they have to offer, whether we like it or not.

Such a sweeping rundown of Simple Minds songs may seem unnecessary in these days of Spotify, iTunes and other means of digitally accessing songs. What Celebrate+ does offer is new edits to CD, many versions here are direct from the 7", concise, punchy radio tunes. Completists rejoice! And casual fans can revel in reduced suffering with a host of sub-five minute versions.

April 1979 saw these Scot new wave punks offer Life In A Day as their debut single from the LP of the same name. So, in chronological order from non-hits and club hits, the Simple Minds evolution can be clearly heard in snapshot simplicity. A further document of how stadiums became a more natural habitat would be those infant live recordings. A mass audience was on the live radar well in advance of huge ticket sales. But slowly slowly, catchy pop tune, and New Gold Dream's singles presented clear evidence of pop awareness with euro-syth styling's as the UK Top 20 was broken.

What happens next is a complete surprise. The counted intro of Waterfront heralds a trio of thunderous tracks so opposite to any predecessors, it will be a wonder if listeners don't think it is a different band. Waterfront is a stone cold classic though, the sound of a vast ocean liner's engine room propelling the vessel through huge breakers with ease. But it's grandeur is lost in this edit, the fuller version committed to 12" vinyl allows the song to breathe and you're enveloped by its size, unfortunately these three minutes steal it's glory. Speed Your Love To Me and Upon the Catwalk suffer the same consequence, as both extended versions supersede the 7" cut.

Those rough edges are then smoothed away with FM production, but there's no halting of the bombast, it's simply drawn into tighter focus as Don't You (Forget About Me) and Alive and Kicking usher in the American radio hit procession. Simple Minds had reached their commercial zenith. Charlie's huge riffs plying their trade along side Jim Kerr's massive vocal, softened with Robin Clark's soulful voice amongst the percussion ticking boxes for stratospheric sales.

Radio airplay ubiquity continued with Belfast Child hitting UK Number One. But the edited version here again suffers from radio sizing, missing some of the drama of the full-length version; it creates a puzzling song. Where as, Kick it In's four cacophonous minutes are the noisiest parts of the song amalgamated from MacNeil's Hammond, Gaynor's drums and Burchill's rabid guitar. This should have stopped the hits coming. But it didn't.

The booming singles continued, with 1995's Hynotised fluid bass line, toned down vocals and sky-high guitar licks, replacing the usual Burchill solo, becoming one of the bands finest tunes, if not a pop hit, showing the now Kerr/Burchill axis could still write great music in the Simple Minds mould.

Sales tailed off towards the end of the century as the band lost their way, but found contractual and record label issues, further compounding a band running out of steam.

Yet from this whirl of disorder comes Space, re-recorded and remixed for a potential single release but then shelved amid the chaos. Here it not only sees the light of day but allows Simple Minds to offer a rarely seen subtlety to their music. It's not sparse or lo fi, but with it's Beatlesque intro leading to Kerr's delicate tones, Space is distinctly intimate, a real gem nestled in an era that almost broke the band.

The run of new greats, including 2005's Home, and Stranger with it's radio pop elements, redeem the band so often saddled with poor single choices, leading to the culmination of the Minds' output. Two new tracks shine a light to the band's immediate future, which harks back to their electro heyday. New Wave, European disco, art rock, stadium, folk but never really lacking in confidence. A unique sound that pitches them alone on that hilltop Jim Kerr often sings from.

When the current tour cycle concludes and Jim and Charlie pack away Don't You for the foreseeable future, their catalogue can rest easily having been so thoroughly aired the past two years, providing a reminder of what a great band Simple Minds have often been.

For those with the stomach of a 50 track trawl, you will be rewarded with a feast of prime pop nuggets mixed to near perfection for the format; a producers skill rather than the band's. It's a meaty compilation, and if this doesn't satisfy, then, really my friend, you are one stadium sandwich short of a Mr Creosote career picnic.

For more music reviews visit alexandertate.wordpress.com
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jul 6, 2014 6:02 PM BST


More Light [VINYL]
More Light [VINYL]
Price: £22.07

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Reich 'n' Roll, 28 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: More Light [VINYL] (Vinyl)
Rather than a big fanfare, Primal Scream slipped back into the disco with 2013 in February. With songs appearing on the internet rather than the radio and social media covering every slight movement these days, easing their way back in probably suited the band who had apparently turned down landing at Luton Airport because it wasn't rock n roll enough.

After spending 20 years as magpies to a man and producing a varied offering of albums at every turn More Light shows Primal Scream have found their beat; they actually, finally, sound like themselves. Beautiful Future was the prophetical start and, five years later, this album continues the groove.

But the departure of Mani back to the reformed Stone Roses could have left a gargantuan hole. He singlehandedly woke the Scream Team from a heroin riddled Stonesian nightmare, bringing with him a battering range of bass lines as heavy as an iron army marching with only utter destruction as intent. Simone Butler steps into Mani's size 10 kickers, playing with ingenuity and subtleness on a less bass-centric record.

2013 is a state of the nation address that opens with an almost comedic police siren, its rhythmic Roxy Music sax sitting alongside Neu!'s Hallogallo beat - Krautrock is a touchstone the band continually stroke. Gliding along for over nine minutes gives Bobby Gillespie plenty of time to checklist the ills facing Britain in, er, 2013.

Politics is a subject Gillespie enjoys, rebellious behaviour a stylistic default setting, and More Light gives him over 70 minutes to mix the two. Yet this isn't Billy Bragg or Rage Against the Machine political activism, the message is delivered in the Primal's own bleeding spirit of rock `n' roll style.

A strange Indian mantra teases River of Pain downstream, acoustic guitars with a ripple of castanets, before David Holmes' film score production adds drama to a finale of glorious 1950's MGM strings, as the Eastern rhythm returns like a smoother cousin to Tomorrow Never Knows. These songs are noticeably less concise, and the expanded workout can be sprawling, but the variety within engages the listener, encouraging them into a kaleidoscopic tunnel of sounds and colours. A hint of psychedelia weaves through the LP, where traces of Can and Hawkwind circle the periphery.

Holmes' production hand brings stability to the rock `n' roll train; rather than lurching from disco to dub, the band are coherent and are sounding like, well, like Primal Scream. This isn't to say it's a pastiche of previous primal palettes - although It's Alright, It's Ok is a fair echo of Movin' On Up.

Hit Void's urgent drumming is the foundation for a swelling, industrial grinding backdrop for Gillespie's plaintive repetition of the title. Then a Robert Fripp guitar comes straight from Scary Monsters to accompany a squawking sax to close four blistering minutes. There's more procurement on Tenement Kid as the bass line comes from the same block as Pink Floyd's Money.

For what is thrown at the Scream Team in regards of stealing, massaging and twisting other people's work, here is a group of music fans so devout that it can only produce something that will beat seven bells out of the blandness sent through the airwaves of today.

So in an act of honesty Gillepsie, Innes and Duffy invited Robert Plant to sing on Elimination Blues, rather than just ripping off the best voice to hold a senior citizens card. Plant and Gillespie trade lines in this slow country blues take. Some exquisite female backing vocals compliment the deep male semi-drawls as a squally guitar rivals for the spotlight. A standout.

Another bright light is Invisible City, which fizzes and bubbles with funk, its Teutonic pulse and warm bass line creating a joyous dance floor shuffle. Holmes reviving his Las Vegas skills from his work on the Ocean movies liberate the listener from the extreme times the band are documenting elsewhere.

With Relativity we're back to the lengthy tracks of squelches, steady beats with Kevin Shields lending his buzzing, thick guitarscapes, until halfway through it becomes a dreamy, delicate, meandering vision. And this it what makes the album seem longer than it actually is, it's not short, but the lack of a couple distinguished pop gems gives the album a protracted feel, but there's quality shapeshifting within nearly all of the tracks to stave off tedium.

The shackles of parody haven't fully been kicked off though, Movin' On Up It's Alright... closes the record with it's euphoric gospel lifting you away from the apocalypse, doing exactly what is says on the tin.

Unfortunately, Chairman Bob and co will eternally have Screamadelica to chase, and will probably always fail to catch, but a deeper look in to their musical well delivers a few belters. It is, after all their wild forays into various aural pastures through each album, a band who have now located an identity that contains all their influences and they've used this alchemy to produce a cohesive connection to the their last long player and to sound vital on this one. More Light is a knowledgeable and deft record, one which displays creativity and ambition, heralding their rampant diversity while acknowledging the spectre of their influences; a band who, from this awareness, have confidently found their own sound. Maybe the myth of being a universal tribute act has finally been XTRMNTD.

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Don't Forget Who You Are [VINYL]
Don't Forget Who You Are [VINYL]
Price: £20.17

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Sound of Saturday Night, 28 Jun. 2013
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Miles Kane likes to talk. He also likes to dress well. He likes to talk about dressing well. But he knows music is his bread and butter. Kane, after three different debut albums, and one in the vaults, finally creates a follow up in his own smartly dressed guise.

Don't Forget Who You Are is a move away from the previous Link Wray inspired, 60's thriller soundtracks by John Barry and more towards young-scally-heading-out-for-a-few-pints-sing-a-long. Yet, despite his Liverpudlian roots, Kane has never smelt much of Beatlemania, but the potent whiff here is further strengthened by a Gallagher influence. There is also a distinct switch up to a more muscular, noisy set of songs from Colour of the Trap. Live, this energy will create more power within Kane's already blistering live shows.

Taking Over opens with a swaggering glam riff and a steady beat marching towards a chorus of 60's girl band harmonies and zips to and thro as Kane sings about a girl getting a hold on him, until it plays out to a squally guitar. It's quickly followed by a skiffle-like title track, where Kane's clothes get a mention as they make him feel good, and an echo of Hey Jude's la la la refrain inviting listeners to sing-a-long. Kane's musical starting gun probably went off about here, Lonnie Donegan was a great influence on the Quarrymen, and they ran with it.

The Scouse thread continues with the Merseybeat sounding Better Than That sailing straight from America into the King's Dock. The frenzied handclaps came in on the same tide, no doubt provided by girls in mini skirts and heavy eyeliner, and blazes out in a Bowiesque instant. He namechecks Bardot and Brando to get the message across as to how good he's feeling tonight.

With the Lightning Seeds' Ian Broudie overseeing production, the message is clear; timeless pop is the sound I'm looking for. There is, however, influence from later generations British pop. Out of Control sounds like a combination of The Verve and Oasis pieced together by Kane, which underlines the noticeable increase in size of songs, resonating with a similar progression as his generational forbears.

A different angle eventually hoves into view as bubbles of electronica fizz like a nagging echo of Pinball Wizard through Bombshells, and continues with the heavier, White Stripes inflected, Tonight. Both travel at full tilt giving the album an energetic centrepiece, and adrenaline to continue on this night out.

The pace eases with the piano led, acoustic strum of Fire In My Heart, similar in template to the earlier Out Of Control, unfortunately only the tinkling ivories keep it alight. Then the handclaps return with You're Gonna Get It, which, given Kane's sartorial leanings, is it perhaps too cute to suggest it sounds like ZZ Top's Sharp Dressed Man?

Miles Kane Louche WP

The tough and heavy Give Up brings back the shouty choruses with the "You're pretty good lookin'/but I'm looking for a way out" festival participation line. Maybe a nod to former girlfriend, model Suki Waterhouse.

Kane shouldn't be held responsible for being influenced by acts such as Bowie, Weller, Gallagher or the Beatles, who have, incidentally, been influencing musicians for over 40 years. He isn't claiming to be offering anything new. Don't Forget Who You Are is not cerebral; the songs aren't deep. Kane's lyrics are as straightforward as his clothes are sharp and these pop darts hit their Mod target. But any quirkiness that made Colour of the Trap and The Age of the Understatement so appealing is abstracted via the new collaborators, who do what they do best, and, in Weller's case, very little of anything else - Weller's Sonic Kicks is weighty evidence of this - and his offerings are the most pedestrian here.

The lack of real commercial success from this earlier pair of recordings may have ushered him into seeking the mainstream. Inviting Broudie, and his pure pop nous, to produce and co-write suggests it is what Kane wanted, and often serves him very well.

Don't Forget Who You Are is an exuberant romp of a Saturday night out, full of cheeky charm where Kane sings with an infectious wide mouthed joy encouraging you to join him and his mates in having a pint and pulling the birds. This is a rollicking little album packed with short smacks of 60's and 70's rock `n' roll highlights shot through with more modern good time elements which should keep Kane on the airwaves, on festival line ups and in the beer gardens of Britain this summer.

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Choice Of Weapon [VINYL]
Choice Of Weapon [VINYL]
Price: £21.22

2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wolves, wilderness, life and death combine for The Cult’s stunning return., 1 Dec. 2012
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This review is from: Choice Of Weapon [VINYL] (Vinyl)
With claims from singer Ian Astbury, that the album format was dead, there appeared no more chance of another Cult full length record than the Wolfchild settling down to a pen pushers dream job. Yet after working with UNKLE and Japanese noise rockers Boris, plus two Cult EP’s, Astbury soon had other ideas. He and guitarist Billy Duffy headed in to the studio, along with Masters of Reality’s Chris Goss as producer, and started work on Choice of Weapon.

Having been ahead of the game with Love and Electric, The Cult were soon caught up by other players, and further Cult offerings lacked invention. The creative war between the Earth Fofo and his mystic woo woo stylings failed to ignite when struck against Duffy’s pure rock aesthetics, leading to the 90’s albums where the band lost its footing atop Mount Rock and took an indefinite break.

Come the turn of the century Beyond Good And Evil showed Astbury/Duffy axis could still lay down an album of rock menace. Although a powerful set of songs it gained The Cult no ground, and another hiatus began. A shorter, shoutier album took five years to arrive. Born Into This showing a stripped back Cult could still land punches in a hard rock bout.

A further five years on and Choice of Weapon presents a depth and breadth of musicality on an expanding canvas never dreamt of in the cock rock of yore. Orchestration and piano infiltrate a Cult camp previously inhibited by guitars, drums and bass. Moments of theatre echo Bowie’s Ziggy aftermath, letting six strings share the spotlight with Ian’s baritone.

A buzzsaw chord with a pressing drumbeat announces the arrival of The Cult’s ninth lp. The raucous backing vocals consolidate Astbury’s call to arms with Duffy’s garage riffs displaying an urgency that flows through the album.

Elemental Light shows The Cult are still aiming for a big arena sound, proving a success for Bob Rock, who added to Goss’s earlier production work. Having birthed Sonic Temple, Rock aims at the same target this time. But The Cult’s intelligence and experience, allied with confidence, allow them to bravely tread a few steps away from their ground zero.

With a settled line up completed by Chris Wyse and John Tempesta The Cult’s sound is breathing new life into the bloated rock corpse of 15 years ago, yet without abandoning the windmilling arms and swinging microphones so beloved of rock fans.

Titles like The Wolf and Wilderness Now give credence that rock’s newest renaissance man still sees himself born of nature and not of tight leather trousers. Life>Death show the subtle touches previously obscured from the view of a casual listener as the cowboys hats got in the way. The abrasive attack of Lucifer is highlighted by some squealing guitar work from Duffy. A Pale Horse reminds listeners of Dreamtime era titles but Astbury sings of love and death hiding in the shadows on this bar room rocker.

Choice of Weapon is laced with meanness, panic and violence as Astbury considers the world around him. He worries about humankind’s frailty and where we’re going. He’s causing us to think. Billy Duffy’s first class guitar work throughout serves up the musical platform for Astbury’s concerns, and stops them becoming soap box bluster of an earnest rock star. His playing resonates with the singer’s fear, allowing his guitar to further elaborate the anxiety.

It’s been a long time coming but perhaps now the public’s perception of the 80’s rock behemoth is not as neanderthal as once believed. But Astbury has always taken a more earthly viewpoint and hoping that all the tribes can get along. At the same time Duffy has played his White Falcon turned up to 11, drawing the listener away from deft musical touches. Same Cult, New Cult? Well, the combination may still be the same, but the outcome is surprisingly new.

This review first appeared at alexandertate.wordpress.com


Say It To My Face (180gm LP + HD Download Code) [VINYL]
Say It To My Face (180gm LP + HD Download Code) [VINYL]
Price: £16.17

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Alexander Tate Twitter RSS Home About A warm glow comes out of New York as Huey goes straight., 1 Dec. 2012
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What could a record from a band fronted by Huey Morgan offer that a new Fun Lovin’ Criminals record couldn’t?

Openly celebrating their high times with a debut record of party tunes and relaxed beats, the Fun Lovin’ Criminals bought fun and law breaking to the fore in 1996. Quite a different sound to the ubiquitous Britpop, but you don’t expect Yanks to do Britpop – although they sang with as much pride about New York as Blur did about Mile End and Clacton. Often unnecessarily compared to the Beastie Boys, this fun lovin’ trio gave a less slapstick take on hip hop, rock and funk.

Being a staple of the northern European festival circuit kept the band busy in to the 2000’s, even with a steady decline in success as LP’s came and went. Huey ventured in to acting and hosting radio shows, with a smattering of television appearances while legal concerns disrupted the band’s output to two records since 2005. Recent improvements with more rounded offerings, such as 2010’s Classic Fantastic, a return to the colour of their debut, showed Huey, Fast and now Frank on drums could still knock out a decent batch of songs, even if not quite capturing the success of the early days.

So what drew Huey Morgan from his settled broadcasting life into the recording studio without his foil, Fast?

The album players are all from the Di Fontaine ‘family’, including long standing producer Tim Latham I.S.P., which suggests an easy going attitude to the recording process, but a presence of urgency could have given the songs that boost they require.

Morgan’s existential writing style, whether politics, recreational drug use or even the odd bank robbery permeate this record, even with King and Chris Scianni as his writing partners. Urban story telling is still an itch Morgan needs to scratch.

Stick It To The Man opens Say It To My Face with an easy bass line, which keeps the song jumping along like warm days relaxing with an umbrellad drink in Maui. Dirty Bird has a classic Hammond shrill evoking the 70’s while Let My People Go has a little more energy amongst the default Huey rap/rock delivery. In fact the rozzers should be looking into a theft as so far, so Fun Lovin’ Criminal.

The FLC have always been adept at fusing so many styles into their sound, and on Shaniqua Huey is in possession of one of the best country rock ballads since Gram Parsons complained that love hurts. Guitars strum and ivories lightly tinkle to create a honeyed tinge, yet it’s the appearance of B.J. Cole plucking his pedal steel to this, and other numbers, which give it a more authentic country feel. It’s a track which offers the most from the album, but oddly it’s the least New York of them all.

Then it’s back to Criminal business. The album sounds so much like an FLC record you could hand pick these 14 songs from their back catalogue to create it. Fans of the band will no doubt realise the criminal template and have their expectations aligned. The others? Well, they’ll also enjoy the warm glow of sunshine radiating from the record.

However, the record lacks a real standout punchy track, such as 100% Colombian’s Southside, here the mellowness giving way to a uniform sound. The feel is of an FLC LP due to the range of songs and Huey’s vocals, even Uncle Frank keeps the drum stool working out. Many of the quieter, slow songs through much of the LP carry a little more tempo than the lounge feel of the FLC from the late 90’s.

The eclectic range showcases the fine musicians within the New Yorkers, Huey is a very underrated guitarist, but the masterpiece never quite appears. Though perhaps the real stroke of genius is that it all hangs so well, rather than a patchwork of songs, they are all seamlessly woven in one piece of middle of the road, easy groove fabric. The easy listening country feel could be Eagles on American FM radio, whereas Huey isn’t Don Henley, Eagles never had the groove laden bass lines that King lays down here.

From inside his mancave, Huey told his website, “I wanted to make a record of what was inside me. I wasn’t gonna do a dub-step record, I’m not trying to keep up with the times.” Which is essentially what he delivered, a record from Morgan’s heart and soul.

New York Bluez sounds like half a dozen drunk buskers playing 6 different songs at the same time. Christmas By The Side Of The Road has a down home bass suggesting it would be even more fun if seen live having had a couple of drinks and everybody was clapping along, it has the ability to make you smile. But Scooby Snacks and The Fun Lovin’ Criminal will make you smile even if you’re down in the dumps at the bus stop and it’s pouring with rain. It is that lack of effect which is missing through the whole album.

Despite taking influences from all facets of musical history, tin pan alley through 70’s American rock and 80’s hip hop, Huey and the New Yorkers have produced a record of great musicianship but is absent of new ideas. Only as it closes does the album seek new territory, the outro to The White Guard carries a sense of an epic, almost Floyd like touch as a vast space is filled with cosmic guitar playing.

I’ve never felt Huey, or indeed the rest of the FLC, had any grand plan to become the best band in the world or the greatest live act. It is this easy going nature that has perhaps followed their career and now flows into Morgan’s new band.

I still haven’t got an answer to my original question, somehow I doubt Huey is aiming to give us one. After all his years telling stories about New York life he writes what comes naturally in the styles he does best, in his own accomplished, unique way.

This review first appeared at alexandertate.wordpress.com
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jan 15, 2013 7:08 PM GMT


United Nations Of Sound [12" VINYL]
United Nations Of Sound [12" VINYL]

4.0 out of 5 stars The sound of new ground walked with the swagger, 10 Feb. 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
Whilst much of the press has given this record a panning there are many good points and subtle references within the music to show it is not fully deserved.

Are You Ready? comes on like Rocky running out for training at the break of dawn. It is full of potential energy waiting to burst free, possibly the catalyst behind the promo clip. When the wah wah kicks in after 4 mins 20 seconds all the energy is released in a massive wig out. But there is more depth to the record than the opening bluster.

It is America's refrain of "Spend Spend Spend" that gives the game away with its echos of Bowie's Fame, the tune written with John Lennon and other crack session musicians of 70's Philadelphia. Here, it is another crack set that help Ashcroft do his gospel as he plays the pastor in this evangelist church that praises the high heavens. The calls of self indulgence are misplaced. Why would someone as singular in his vision as Ashcroft go at this record half cocked? It would make no sense.

There is familiar territory, such as when Ashcroft sings with sugary emotion over a string laden backdrop. Only the guitar kicking in stops the sick bucket being filled. It's nice, if you like that sort of thing, and you'll hear it on She Brings Me The Music.

But the new ground is walked with the swagger expected from the man. It is the same swagger that will put people off buying this record as the expectation of his head disappearing up his behind is in the air. This can quickly be dispelled though. Richard Ashcroft is an emotional singer, he feels what he is singing and playing, its this passion that shines through all his work. Even the overlong Human Conditions, his second solo record, was an honest and genuine effort and here this is exactly the sound he wants.

About three quarters of the way through the album starts to reflect some of the more meandering moments of The Verve's catalogue with jams and grooves but this time with beat poet vocals. Album closer Let My Soul Rest is more like Ashcroft's previous work and that may be explained by the production of Chris Potter, who has worked extensively with Ashcroft in the past. These later songs relax the mood as the record fades out.

RPA and the United Nations of Sound cover a lot of ground in these 14 tracks and it keeps the interest of the listener. In all areas the quality is high, the pace of the record is spot on and and it should be lauded as a great step by Ashcroft, but I fear this record may not be listened to with an open mind, or open ears.


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