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Ye Olde Silent Inn [Explicit]
Ye Olde Silent Inn [Explicit]
Price: £6.69

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Review of Ye Olde Silent Inn, 2 Dec 2012
The third full-length CD from Beck Sian "Ye Olde Silent Inn" will delight and amaze her fans and followers whilst winning her many new ones.

Inspired by Beck's visits to that inn, near the village of Stanbury near Haworth in West Yorkshire, the album marks her move into what she terms "haunted and enchanting folk noir" with an enthralling mix of stories and influences - haunted houses, windy moors, spooky moonlit walks, highwaymen, moths, ghostly inns, ruined halls and creaking staircases to name a few.

The album sounds darker than her previous works, but there is also perhaps more coherence here in Beck's talent for creating evocative melodies and lyrics which she seamlessly weaves into the soundscapes that form the album.

Beck's vocal range and power is showcased and lovers of traditional folk songs will delight in her re-interpretation of "Molly Malone", sung unaccompanied amongst distant ghostly echoes of church bells, street traders and horses. "Down in Yon Forest" will particularly delight fans of Beck's first album "Unfurling" with its ghostly cries from the ruined hall in the woods.

However, Beck has also gained a reputation for experimentation. In "Top Withens", one of her few instrumentals, Beck uses her voice as an instrument in itself to depict the howling winds on the moors. These techniques are also used to great effect on "Lady Of The Wind", a poem written and narrated by John Carder Bush and set to Beck's music. The track also features his son Raven Bush, who contributes beautifully sensitive violin motifs.

One of the most atmospheric songs on the album is "The Moon On The 13th", remarkably improvised during an otherwise unproductive session with co-producer and engineer Steve Palmer.

Once again, Chris Gill makes stunning instrumental contributions on four songs, most notably in the opening bars of "The Moors" - perfectly capturing the spirit of the countryside around Haworth and the Plas Teg inspired "The Dark Stairs". These tracks are the perhaps the most rock-inspired songs Beck has recorded to date - in interviews she has cited the influence of heavy metal bands from her childhood.

Whalebone make a hypnotic, mesmerising contribution to "The Old Clock On The Stairs" with their unique blend of guitar and fiddle and together with "Tales Of A Wayside Inn" are perhaps the most catchy songs on the album.

Beck writes in a very visual way. I have had lots of fun in forming my own mental images from the songs and the album well rewards repeated listening. This is an album from the heart and one to treasure.


Waltzing Matilda
Waltzing Matilda

5.0 out of 5 stars Beck reinvents the billabong!, 9 Mar 2012
This review is from: Waltzing Matilda (Audio CD)
This rare CD EP is an absolute gem. Beck reconnects with her folky roots, in a very personal project. With very minimal accompaniment, Beck's haunting, powerful voice really tugs at the heart strings.

The song Waltzing Matilda exists now in countless guises but how often does one come across such sensitive treatment of what is a very melancholic song? With "Beckification" the song takes on new meaning. The song has a strong resonance with Beck's Australian childhood.

The second song 'Dan' is an original track, an ode to Beck's love of her brother. An intensely emotive song, which can be unsettling at first, nevertheless is life affirming in its spirit and hope of the endurance of family love.

My Myfanwy sees Beck sing unaccompanied and pays homage to Beck's maternal Welsh roots.

The final song I'll Take Thee Home Again Kathleen has special meaning to Beck in her memories of her grandmother.

Thankfully, this recording is still available as a download.


Chess In Concert [DVD] [2009] [NTSC]
Chess In Concert [DVD] [2009] [NTSC]
Dvd ~ Chess In Concert
Price: £23.97

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A full London performance at last!!, 17 Jan 2012
Back in the mid to late 1980s, I saw Chess many times at the Prince Edward Theatre with several different casts.

Chess was always a bit different in that the concept double CD was recorded several years before the original London staging and hence there was never a definitive original cast recording as such to match, apart from a few hard to obtain bootlegs made from the theatre soundboard.

There wasn't much publicity surrounding this DVD on the release date, but I came across it several months later by chance. What a delight it now is to have a reasonably complete version, with all those songs which have only existed until now in my memory such as Commie Bewspapers and the Soviet Machine.

I am not interested in the debate about which performers or productions of this show are best. I think this DVD is best enjoyed in its own right. Adam Pascal bears a strong resemblance to a young Murray Head and Kerry Ellis is poignant as Svetlana.

Just enjoy the nostalgia and immerse yourself in this on a quiet evening. I hope this release stirs renewed interest in Chess (the Chess UK Tour 2010-11 has already happened)


Unfurling
Unfurling
Offered by inandout-distribution
Price: £15.59

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Lose yourself in Beck's haunted forest!!, 21 Dec 2011
This review is from: Unfurling (Audio CD)
Unfurling is Beck Sian's first full length recording, following on from the ideas and themes explored on her Ethereal EP, which is included here as a bonus (worth seeking out in it's own right, if you can find it, for an extra spine-tingling rendition of "Danny Boy"). Her music defies obvious categorisation but may be loosely described as a blend of folk with strong shoe gaze and world music influences.

Unfurling is themed on the environment of an Australian rainforest (Beck was born in Australia of English/Welsh parents), but is remarkably diverse in its influences. She is equally at home adapting traditional music and literature, for example Greensleeves or presenting her remarkable and memorable original poems and songs. Paul Strahan provides sure footed keyboards and arrangements and the innovative use of wind chimes, bullroarers, tropical birdsong recordings and thunderstorm effects create an almost visual light and shade in the musical textures.

Given the diverse range of influences from the Irish of Beck's grandmother to her friend Stax's didgeridoo flourishes, the album never sounds disjointed. Her voice has an astonishing range (most apparent on "The Foggy Dew").

A particularly favourite track is a delightfully mellow early version of her classic "Moss" (based on a poem by Alfred Lord Tennyson). The song contains one of her most sparkling blends of music and lyrics: "music that gentler on the spirit lies, than tired eyelids upon tired eyes, music that brings sweet sleep, down from blissful skies".

Beck's voice is especially evocative when unaccompanied - songs such as "The Night Will Never Stay" and "Messages In Dreams" can melt all but the hardest hearts and burn their way into your memory.

Pride of place goes to the evocative, dark and ominous sounding "Under Thunderous Skies", which ends on an unexpectedly positive note representing the sense of positivity after overcoming the fallout from a failed relationship, an experience common to all.

This album is timeless and will never sound dated. I hope Beck will continue making new music for a long time to come.


Luminous Wings & Unseen Things
Luminous Wings & Unseen Things
Price: £28.96

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Find the faeries in Beck's secret garden...., 18 Dec 2011
The second CD from Beck Sian, I came across this album as a fan of Kate Bush (to whom Beck is related), but this album grabbed hold of me almost from the first listen. She proudly cites Kate's work as an inspiration (most noticeably for me in the opening words of "In the Greenery") however Beck's musical journey is very different having it's roots in folk music, yet interwoven with a vividly surreal mix of Irish, Welsh, Australian, gothic and world music influences.

Luminous Wings & Unseen Things is loosely based on the atmospheres and legends inspired by the various themed gardens of a haunted Welsh castle.

The arrangements are sparse, yet form lush tone poems, occasionally complemented by collaborator Chris Gill's haunting keyboards as in "The Topiary Garden".

Beck has a rare gift for creating evocative and original music, with lyrics often inspired by her own poems and musings as well as texts taken from classical literature. As an independent artist, she follows her own intuition - this is music made with love and care and as such works its way into your soul.

One of the most memorable songs is "Thornfield" with its strong imagery of Jane Eyre. Rather than focus on merely telling the story, Beck draws you powerfully into the hearts and minds of the characters and their dilemma: "lighting strikes and splits our tree. The fire rages, tries to take you from me".

Her voice has a remarkable range and power, pitch-perfect, at moments intimate and delicate, yet she is not afraid of using it as a musical instrument in a more experimental fashion as in "Weep Ye No More, Sad Fountains" and "Tall Waving Delphiniums in Storm Light"

She has gained a reputation for her vivid and spine-tingling reinterpretations of traditional folk songs, really getting "under the skin" of the songs, giving them new emotional meaning. In "She Moved Through The Faire" an old familiar supernatural ballad has never sounded so haunting and otherworldly.

In "Lavender's Blue" the strains of the opening tin whistle give way to a beautifully arranged madrigal style keyboard arrangement.

In "Siúil a Rúin", Beck gives this song a dreamlike feel, with the comforting sound of a running stream and birdsong only for accompaniment.

"Old Mr Crow" has a delightful almost maverick eccentricity. The song touches on one level with personal change and growth but I love it's humorous feel.

An album to treasure for years to come!!!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Feb 23, 2012 11:17 PM GMT


50 Words for Snow
50 Words for Snow
Price: £8.85

43 of 49 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Welcome to Kate's magical winter wonderland, 23 Nov 2011
This review is from: 50 Words for Snow (Audio CD)
Being a fan of all Kate's albums, it feels that she has in some ways come full circle, returning to the evocative simplicity of her early work but creating new moods and atmospheres that are fresh and intriguing. After listening to this for a few weeks, it has a special meaning to me. I often play it as a late evening chill out.

Just listening to her in the latest radio interviews, Kate clearly has never seemed happier and her musical Mojo remains undimmed. It seems she already has ideas for her next project and we will be hearing of her more often in the years ahead.

Not so much a collection of songs, but 7 short story 'tone poems'. I welcome Kate's experiment with longer song structures to lose oneself in.

Whilst I would admit this is not an album of catchy seasonal ditties, this album needs patience and repeated listens in order to fully appreciate its beauty. Kate is an artist who produces work on her own terms, free from the shackles of the demands of fan blogs and the music industry establishment.

My general impressions: Shut out the world, put on this album and immerse yourself for an hour uninterrupted in Kate's winter wonderland. Despite only a few listens, new details and elements of the stories are starting to develop in my head. This work is so organic, evocative and dreamy. Forget your troubles and the recession, just escape into Kate's alternative world.

Snowflake: Kate views snow as a substance transforming a landscape or garden with its physical beauty. Kate finds the world so loud and 'lowest common denominator' sometimes, whilst snowflakes are all unique and individual. With repeated listenings, the repeated piano and Bertie motifs become less intrusive and ghostly sounding electronic keyboard details emerge from the mix. Love's Steve Gadds evocation of horses through snowdrifts.

Lake Tahoe: Perhaps the most ambitious song on the album, Kate giving the song an almost classical feel. Stefan Roberts makes a memorable contribution, his opening lines remind me of the end of Hello Earth from the album Hounds of Love. The haunting theme of a dog's almost mythical journey to be reunited with its owner is simple yet atmospheric and moving. This is Kate at her storytelling best.

Misty: I love the almost jazzy feel of Steve Gadd's sunlime drum work. The sequence 'I turn off the light, switch on a starry night' is almost akin to an out of body experience, makes me think of the scene in the film Little Voice, when we first see Jane Horrocks character singing/playing music in her bedroom. 'When I kiss his ice-cream lips' is Kate at her musically bonkers best!!!

Wild Man: The most pop-oriented and perhaps the most immediately accessible track on the album, marking perhaps the beginning of the albums second section. Steve Gadd's hypnotic drums, Andy Fairweather Low's full and throaty chorus and Del Palmer's bells are highlights. Kate's interpretation is an intriguing mix of fear, pity and intrigue for the mythical Yeti.

Snowed In At Wheeler Street: Whilst not particularly well versed in the music of Elton John and despite the controversy evinced by some fans, I think this really does 'work', particularly with Elton's soulful delivery. The idea of the love and loss of friends and lovers by humanity as a universal trait through the centuries is great. Love Kate's increasingly frantic vocal towards the end.

50 Words For Snow: No Kate album is ever complete without a lighter, fun moment. Wacky, this song follows in the tradition of the Big Sky and the song Aerial, whilst keeping to this album's feel. I don't think this track needs to be over-analysed.

Among Angels: A return to the piano-based delivery of the first 3 songs, it is clearly not about snow. Quite simply this song is to me one of the most moving songs she has ever written in her whole career. There is an underlying theme of personal loss, perhaps partly inspired by the recent death of her father, but I feel there is a more general message, about self-belief. We often overlook that the beginnings of a resolution to inner conflicts lies within our own souls.
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Nov 5, 2013 11:23 AM GMT


The Kick Inside
The Kick Inside
Price: £7.89

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Vintage Kate Bush to cherish..., 13 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Kick Inside (Audio CD)
I became a Kate Bush fan in the late 1980s and so I can only write in a retrospective context.

The album gives a fascinating insight into Kate's formidable songwriting talents. As Kate's unique experimental style of production and arrangements developed later, the tracks on this album can sound a bit 'samey' on first listen compared to later works like Hounds Of Love. However, there are complex thoughts and images to warm the soul if you stay for this unique musical journey.

Songs like Wuthering Heights, The Man With The Child In His Eyes and Strange Phenomena are to me cherished classics.


Lionheart
Lionheart
Price: £7.99

3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Follow up rescued by Oh England My Lionheart.., 10 Nov 2011
This review is from: Lionheart (Audio CD)
This album seems to have been rushed out by eager record company bosses to capitalise on Kate's early success with her debut The Kick Inside. As a result some tracks feel underdeveloped and lack the experimentation and audacity of Kate's later collections.

However Oh England My Lionheart and Hammer Horror offer an early and stunning example of Kate's talents as Britain's foremost musical genius.

An album full of tracks of this quality would have been worth 5 stars.


Never For Ever
Never For Ever
Price: £5.88

1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A defining moment in Kate's musical journey, 9 Nov 2011
This review is from: Never For Ever (Audio CD)
A fan who prefers Kate's later works, I recently played this album again after a gap of several years - having bought the album in the late 1980s.

Looking back, this album is remarkable as the defining first early indication of Kate's genius as a self-producer of her work, (with Jon Kelly's support for this debut). The first two Kate albums sound relatively "conventional" in their musical arrangements but here we see the first evidence of the shear complexity of the musical genius that is Kate.

The mood and atmosphere of Delius and Night Scented Stock would later gain a fuller outing in Kate's masterpiece Sky of Honey from the album Aerial.

As noted on my review of The Dreaming, some of the more obscure tracks on here are to me the most memorable and a signpost to her later work.

Particularly love the beautiful lush eastern arrangements for Egypt.

By far the best of Kate's first three albums.


The Dreaming
The Dreaming
Price: £7.99

15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Like a fine wine - improves with age. Keep faith with Kates experimental debut!!, 3 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Dreaming (Audio CD)
As stated by other reviewers, this recording can be challenging at first listen, but has stood the test of time.

This is a landmark record for Kate - her debut having been freed from the shackles of direct record company influence. Not everything works but Kate was still refining her art, experimenting both with her voice and in the complex musical arrangements. This would later establish her as a producer as much as a singer/performer.

Strangely, the singles The Dreaming and Sat In Your Lap are not what holds my attention. The real triumphs are the less well known tracks. Houdini, Night of the Swallow, All The Love and Get Out Of My House are all haunting and atmospheric.

Being mainly a fan of Kate's later work, I would encourage new fans to buy this, but needs effort from listeners over a period of time to appreciate it fully. This record will be played more often by me from now on.


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