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Reviews Written by
David J. Kelly (Scotland)
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Angels Of Destruction
Angels Of Destruction
Offered by westworld-
Price: £6.79

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great start to 2008, 10 Feb. 2008
This review is from: Angels Of Destruction (Audio CD)
Marah are rock traditionalists who have had The Boss guest on a previous album. This is their latest release and finds them expanding and refreshing their sound. The music is playful with smart lyrics and some great choruses. It sometimes fells as if they've thrown everything in, except for the kitchen sink, there's even bagpipes. Some of the songs use religious imagery (Jesus In The Temple, Wilderness) or are road songs (Songbirdz) but they all rock. None of the songs outstay their welcome and the album is just the right length.It took a few listens but this album is probably the most played on my I-pod at the moment. My CD contained a bonus track called Tippecanoe County Correctional Theme Park Blues.


Crusaders
Crusaders
by Richard Kelly
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.99

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Ambitious but falls short, 29 Jan. 2008
This review is from: Crusaders (Paperback)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
This is a first novel by Richard T Kelly and it is an ambitious tale of religion, politics and crime set in Newcastle as the New Labour movement reaches it's zenith under Blair. The central character who links all the others is an idealistic Anglican vicar who is sent to "plant" a church in sink estate area of Newcastle. This vicar is a card carrying Labour party member who's sister is the PA to the local Blairite MP, who is the second major character. In the first few days of his ministry he meets the third character, a local crime boss, and the single mum who is the fourth.

The atmosphere of the mid nineties in the fag end of the last conservative government is captured, as well as flashing back to some of the character's formative years. The hope of the labour politicians and the priest contrast with the cynicism and hopelessness of the lives of the inhabitants of the estates. The characters are mostly sympathetic, even the thug with a heart, except for the MP. The political back story's only purpose seems to be to anchor the characters in a specific time and milieu. This could have been cut out, the book would have been shorter and the basic story of the failing of liberal good in the face of crime, poverty and moral indifference would still have been there.

I enjoyed this book, partly because I remember the period it's set in and partly because it does have a good story but it was too long and the plot could have been moved along a bit faster.


Trinity Revisited: +DVD
Trinity Revisited: +DVD
Price: £16.51

0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Going back isn't always a mistake., 29 Dec. 2007
This review is from: Trinity Revisited: +DVD (Audio CD)
Customer review from the Amazon Vine Programme (What's this?)
Before I received this album I had not heard much of the Cowboy Junkies material. I was aware of them but they were pretty low on my radar. This means that I am not familiar with the original Trinity Sessions album but after hearing this I think it's really something I need to check out.

The concept here is that the band get some guests, Nathalie Merchant, Vic Chesnutt, Ryan Adams and Jeff Bird (who was on the original), and celebrate the Trinity Sessions by gong back to the Church of the Holy Trinity in Toronto and revisiting these songs. Does it work? Yes! The album is great with beautifully arranged songs, sometimes slow and spare and at other times more bluesy and up-tempo but without a weak song. This is so called alt.country at its finest.

In addition there is a DVD which contains an interesting documentary about the making of the original album and the reasons why they decided to revisit it. The DVD also has a performance of the whole album and seeing this just brings these great songs to life.

As I said at the start, I really have to check out more of this band's stuff.


The Scene Of The Crime
The Scene Of The Crime
Offered by westworld-
Price: £7.89

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great voice meets a great band, 6 Oct. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: The Scene Of The Crime (Audio CD)
Bettye Lavette's excellent "I've Got My own Hell To Raise" showed how a solid, sympathetic backing band could showcase her superb phrasing and kickass vocals. For her follow up her record label asked loud, raucous and exuberant Alabama rockers - the Drive-by Truckers to provide the backing. They took Ms Lavette back to Muscle Shoals Alabama, where her lost classic 1970s album was cut for Atlantic Records and then shelved, hence the title.

The Truckers Patterson Hood and their cohort David Barbe take the production duties as Muscle Shoals sessioneers Spooner Oldham and David Hood (Patterson's father) join the Truckers to add further layers of meaning to the sessions. The Truckers sound nothing like the Truckers, they sound like a great R & B backing band. This is Ms Lavette's album and they kepp in the background bringing her gritty, emotive voice to the fore and filling in the spaces.

It is an album full of great interpretations of songs but the one original song, the autobiographic "Before the Money Came (The Battle of Bettye LaVette)" is a highlight. What an achievement!


Bottle Rockets
Bottle Rockets
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £25.48

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Let's start as we mean to go on!, 6 Oct. 2007
This review is from: Bottle Rockets (Audio CD)
The Bottle Rockets may be the best bar band in the world. Their music is a mix of roots rock and outlaw country and this, their first album showcases their particular brand of alt.country. It opens with a song that describes the barfly's view of dawn "Early in the Morning" which is followed by two songs of small town americana before the anti redneck polemic of "Wave that Flag". All of the songs are excellent, stories of love and loss and pride in being from America's rural hinterland. The highlight of the album is the closer, "Lonely Cowboy" which is a sympathetic song about a man born out of his time. This is a reasonably rare CD but well worth getting hold of if you like this particular type of alt.country/roots rock, which really began with Neil Young. It sets the template for the Bottle Rockets later work.


Alabama Ass Whuppin
Alabama Ass Whuppin
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £20.29

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A killer live album, we need a new one, 6 July 2007
This review is from: Alabama Ass Whuppin (Audio CD)
The Drive-by Truckers are one of the best live bands in modern rock but their career had two distinct stages. Their first two albums contained some killer tracks but sometimes they verged on being novelty alt-country act. Then came the faux Stadium Rock of Southern Rock Opera and a whole new band was born.

This live set captures the DBTs in the transition and is none the worse for that. Great country punk songs like Buttholeville sit alongside the definitive version of Patterson Hood's wedding present to his mom and Chester in 18 Wheels of Love. Mike Cooley's Love Like This is just a perfect evocation of someone's disfunctional marriage. Steve McQueen is a classic punk song interspersed with two verses from Lynyrd Skynyrd's honky tonk boogie Gimme Three Steps. The Living Bubba stands as a typically humane and unsentimental Truckers' song about a cult Atlanta musician and his own personal fight against AIDS.

If you can get hold of this album for a reasonable price then do just that. As I said, the DBTs are one of the best live bands on the planet and in this snapshot recorded before they achieved "greatness" you can see just why. Whether there were 20 or 200 or 2000 people in the hall you get the same rock show.


Slippage
Slippage
Offered by rbmbooks
Price: £38.16

3.0 out of 5 stars An apt title, there was some, 6 July 2007
This review is from: Slippage (Audio CD)
Slobberbone are one of the great unsung bands. Imagine Steve Earle, the Clash and the Boss in a threeway hybridisation and you have Slobberbone. They produced three classic albums of literate cow punk, each of which gets 5 starts in my book. This was their last album and, while it was still very good, it did slip from tha stratospheric standards they had set themselves.

There is still a classic muder ballad in "Sister Beams" and a great Bee Gees/The Byrds cover "To Love Somebody". Brent Bests's songwriting is still up to scratch but it just doesn't match the heights of Crow Pot Pie, Everything You Thought Was Right Was Wrong Today and Barrel Chested but since each of these was a stone cold classic album Slippage had a lot to live up to. This isn't a bad album, it's a very good album, just not in the same class as it's predecessors.


Winged Life
Winged Life

3 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars For a rainy sunday, 23 Mar. 2007
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Winged Life (Audio CD)
The lead protagonist of Shearwater is Will Shelf, an ornithologist and keyboardist with Texan indie rockers Okkervil River. Winged Life is the third album by his own band and it is a reflective, wistful record about being an adult. Songs deal with themes such as the break up of your circle of friends as they all go off and start families or the realisation that you have to play with the cards you've been dealt or the pleading to be given a chance to shine.

Highlights are Whipping Boy with its compelling banjo picking and percussion echoing Shelf's vocals. the melancholic keyboard and strum of The Kind, and the metronomic cynicism of The Makeover or the Convert. This is a great introspective record, perfect for a wet Sunday morning nursing a mild hangover.


REBELS, ROGUES, & SWORN BROTHERS
REBELS, ROGUES, & SWORN BROTHERS

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Lucero add light to their sound, 31 Oct. 2006
like a few other bands Lucero lie at the more raucous end of the "alt.country" spectrum. They tell stories of lives gone awry and loves lost and of bars and bottles. I would say the closest bands to them in style are Marah and Slobberbone. On this album they vary their attack, the songs tell the same stories of loss, regret, longing and whisky but somehow they have adeed sophistication and a little lightness of touch to the mix. This has come through the addition of a keyboard player and on this album he is allowed to come to the fore in many songs. The lead singer, Ben Nicholson, has a gruff, throaty voice and it is complemented by the lighter tones of the piano, organ and accordion they have added to their sound.

If you are a fan of the kind of American roots rock that includes the aforementioned Slobberbone and Marah, as well as the Drive-by Truckers, the Bottle Rockets and even Wilco then it is probably worth checking this superb latest album from Lucero. It's just a pity we're unlikely to see them live on this side of the pond, but I live in hope.


Zoysia
Zoysia
Offered by muzicmadnezz
Price: £14.99

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A great, intelligent roots rock CD, 7 Jun. 2006
This review is from: Zoysia (Audio CD)
The Bottle Rockets are one of my favourite bands, they are on the more raucous end of the alt.country spectrum. This quartet from Missouri have written some great, rootsy and literate songs and they continue this with their new album Zoysia. Like a band they are sometimes likened to, the Drive-by Truckers, they can tell stories in their songs but the Bottle Rockets' songs tend to be rooted more in personal experience and the humour is much more to the fore.

Zoysia is their eighth album and, although I am not familiar with all their releases, this is certainy one of their best. The highlights for me are the angsty yet jokey second track Middle Man with it lyrics just for me. The fourth track, Happy Anniversary, is a great bluesy number which combines brilliant guitar with a song that evokes both regret and toe curling awkwardness at the same time. The final song, the title track, refers to a popular variety of grass used in the US but is an appeal to some of the values the United States prides itself in. We are all different but if we accept those differences then the world can be a better place. If that happens then when you can't mow your lawn, then your neighbour will.

In all this album is a little political, but not partisan and some of the slightly more humourous elements in the band's songwriting have been laid to one side. I would certainly recommend this as a purchase and I am looking forward to seeing the Bottle Rockets in the UK this autumn.


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