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Can't Forget: A Souvenir Of The Grand Tour
Can't Forget: A Souvenir Of The Grand Tour
Price: £8.00

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Can't Forget: A Souvenir of the Grand Tour by Leonard Cohen, 14 May 2015
"Can't Forget" is more than just another live album. The collection contains some of Leonard's finest lesser-played material along with some previously unrecorded live songs from his grand tour. The album opens with "Field Commander Cohen" and it's apparent that Leonard is in great voice with some excellent musical accompaniment by Javier Mas. There is a nice vocal interlude by the ladies, and overall this version is arguably better than the original studio recording. Next comes the title track "I Can't Forget", which is one of my very favourite Leonard songs. Here, it has some delicate touches of guitar, and a spoken message at the end (which could potentially have made it the last track on the album). The live version does full justice to the original, as does the next track "Light As the Breeze". Organ and harmonica carry this along, as do the vocals of Sharon Robinson and the Webb Sisters.It concludes with a lovely violin solo. Next up is the first previously unrecorded song, a cover of Georges Dor's "La Manic". A marching drum beat leads into a song that is perfectly suited to Leonard's voice. His French vocal sounds very fluent, and the audience respond with a European enthusiasm. This is an outstanding track, and possibly the best on the on the album. "Night Comes On" is another of my all-time favourite Leonard songs. Although the tranquil and transcendent mood of the original is hard to better,this version is very good with prominent Jew's harp, supportive "oohing" from the ladies. and violin again at the end.

The mood changes with the bluesy "Never Gave Nobody Trouble" (recorded at a sound-check) which has Leonard growling along like a latter-day Bob Dylan. There is some nicely-restrained guitar playing on this, and also a strong blues guitar solo. Next comes one of Leonard's greatest compositions "Joan of Arc". I was there when he sang this at the Royal Albert Hall in 1970, and it's been interesting hearing the song at different stages of his career. Hattie Webb has her big moment taking the lead female vocal on this, and she does it admirably. She is joined by her sister Charley for the sublime harmonies that we have come to expect from the Webb Sisters. Next comes "Got a Little Secret" which is a more upbeat blues number, with some energetic organ and drum playing. It's good to see that Felicity Buirski (a beautiful Cohenesque singer) gets credits for her lyrical inspiration. This is followed by another fine cover song "Choices", which was originally recorded by George Jones. This country and western number is another that Leonard manages to make his own, and it's carried along by the drums and organ. Melodically, it's not unsimilar to "You Got Me Singing" from Leonard's last great studio album "Popular Problems". The final track "Stages" has a humorous spoken intro that is a rumination on the various stages of a man's life. It leads into the first two verses of "Tower of Song", concluding with the reference to Hank Williams (maybe where Leonard wanted it to end?). In conclusion, this is a superior live album that showcases the musical skills of Leonard's superb band. The CD contains an attractive booklet with photos, lyrics and band info.


Fumes
Fumes
Price: £9.99

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Five-Star Gem, 11 Nov. 2014
This review is from: Fumes (Audio CD)
On a friend's recommendation, I was lucky enough to catch Lily and Madeleine's first London gig in autumn, 2013. Their debut album (released soon after) was a thing of such timeless beauty and quality, that I would definitely rate it as "the album of the year". Thus,considering the sisters are still teenagers, I wondered whether their second album could possibly match the first. The good news is that "Fumes" is another five-star gem, though suitably different from its predecessor. This time there's a greater variety of tempos and a fuller and more adventurous musical accompaniment that includes mellotron, mandolin, glockenspiel and baritone guitar. However, this does not in any way diminish the sisters gorgeous voices and harmonies.

After the haunting title track, the album gains momentum through the next few numbers. Shannon Lee Hayden's cello playing plays an integral part on tracks such as "Rabbit", "Ride Away", "Can't Admit It" and "Peppermint Candy". "The Wolf Is Free" is remarkably atmospheric, and "Hold On To Now" extremely poignant. The evocative closing track "Blue Blades" would be well-suited to Neil Young. This is one of those rare albums where almost every track could be a single. The lyrics are also excellent and express a wide spectrum of emotions. Although Lily and Madeleine have said that they hope to inspire young women with their songs, their work is of such a high calibre and maturity that it cannot fail to have a cross generational appeal. Indeed their tuneful and harmonious music continues the tradition of some of the best music of the Sixties and Seventies. I would also recommend them to anyone who likes those other talented sister duos, First Aid Kit and The Webb Sisters, with whom they are in the same league. Finally, it's pleasing that "Fumes"contains a clearly-printed booklet with the lyrics and details of the contributions by everyone involved in this outstanding work.


I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen
I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen
by Sylvie Simmons
Edition: Hardcover

65 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars I'm Your Man: The Life of Leonard Cohen, 1 Nov. 2012
This is unquestionably the finest biography of Leonard Cohen to date, and one that is unlikely to be bettered in the foreseeable future. Sylvie Simmons illuminates Leonard's life in greater detail than any of the previous biographies, and covers his family background and the main developments in his artistic and spiritual journey. This achievement results from the author having interviewed numerous key figures in Leonard's life, as well as the great man himself. Sylvie's book is lucid, beautifully-written, and truly hard to put down. It is also well-structured, with an appropriate amount of space being given to the various stages of Leonard's life. His early days as a young poet and author in Montreal, Hampstead, and Hydra are brought alive as never before, as is his transition to recording artist. All of his best-known relationships with women are put into context, and I particularly took interest in the part covering New York, Nico, and Janis Joplin. Leonard's use of drugs in the Sixties and early Seventies is also well-covered. Thus, we see the complexities of his life unfold before our eyes, through depression, to happier days in recent years.

Although I have followed Leonard's career consistently since 1968, Sylvie's book still brings many revelations. Stories that were only touched upon by the music press are explained more fully; Leonard's tour of mental hospitals in the late Sixties; his communication with artist/psychiatric patient Daphne Richardson, his stint with the Israeli army, his arrival onstage at a festival in France on a horse, his interest in Velikovsky, and most surprisingly an early encounter with Jimi Hendrix. Sylvie doesn't attempt any deep critical analysis of Leonard's writings, but she gives sufficient outlines, and makes astute observations about some of his songs such as "The Gypsy's Wife". She also writes a relatively lengthy piece about "Hallelujah". The later years are covered thoroughly, with mention of all of Leonard's lesser-known projects in the Nineties and new millennium. There is a vivid evocation of his life as a Buddhist monk, and his time with Ramesh Balsekar in India. There is also a detailed description of the financial crisis that led to his remarkable return to touring in 2008, and the release of his album "Old Ideas" in 2012. That said, I would still like to see the recorded evidence for Leonard's birth time!
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: May 13, 2014 12:12 PM BST


THE COLOGNE CONCERT
THE COLOGNE CONCERT
Price: £14.49

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Eric Andersen - The Cologne Concert, 21 May 2012
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: THE COLOGNE CONCERT (Audio CD)
"The Cologne Concert" is an outstanding live album by an artist who remains one of the few great cult musicians still to achieve the full recognition he deserves. I came to fully appreciate Eric Andersen's work through two of his excellent later albums, "Memory of the Future" and "Blue Rain". However, this live concert from 2010 is perhaps my favourite of all. Although live,it has all the qualities of a well-recorded studio album. Potential purchasers should not be put-off by the fact that there are only seven songs, since it has a running time of over forty minutes.

On the album, Andersen plays piano, guitar and harmonica, his wife Inge sings harmonies, and Michele Gazich plays violin. Piano and violin are the main instruments here, and they create an exquisite musical landscape for Andersen's voice, which to my ears has never sounded better. The album opens with an evocative new song "The Dance of Love and Death", and Andersen's poetic lyrics are on finest form. This is followed by a lengthy and hauntingly beautiful version of one of his great songs "Time Run Like a Freight Train". However, the piece de resistance is the new track "Deeper Into You", which is one of the most deeply-moving songs I've heard in recent years.

"Woman She Was Gentle" is given a similar treatment to Leonard Cohen's "Gypsy Wife", while Andersen's phrasing on "Salt On Your Skin" is not unlike Bob Dylan's on "Isis" (the comparisons to Cohen and Dylan are fully justified, and perfectly complimented by Inge Andersen's harmonies). Next comes a reworking of Andersen's classic song "Blue River", which I personally prefer sung here with his mature voice. The album ends with an original and highly effective treatment of Tom Paxton's song "The Last Thing On My Mind". In conclusion, this is an album which will draw you in and keep your attention from start to finish. It has elaborate packaging, and a back cover that has some striking similarites to Cohen's "Old Ideas" (even though the latter was released in 2012).


Watching You Think
Watching You Think
Price: £14.56

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Watching You Think" by NEeMA, 17 July 2011
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Watching You Think (Audio CD)
I fell in love with this album the first time I heard it, and I appreciate it more with every play. NEeMA (yes that's the correct way to write it!) is an exotic lady of Egyptian and Lebanese descent from Montreal, who writes most of her own material. She plays acoustic guitar, and is accompanied on this album by a group of fine musicians who play instruments such as mandolin, cello and violin. The album has a cover drawing of NEeMA by Leonard Cohen, and comes with a booklet of beautiful photos and lyrics. The album was produced by NEeMA in association with Pierre Marchand and Leonard Cohen.

The album opens with the intriguing "Unspoken", and is followed by NEeMA's version of Dire Straits "Romeo and Juliet". While I often find covers a waste of time and something to be skipped, NEeMA's version is the exact opposite. She sings the song with such sensitivity and yearning that she transforms it into something that is arguably even better than the original. This is followed by two particularly haunting tracks - "Unwinding" with its chorus "Letting go, letting go/ I'm letting you Go", and "Running" (with the line "I think the darkness scared me"). The guitar and cello on this song have distinct similarites to those on Nick Drake's "Pink Moon" and "Five Leaves Left".

Another outstanding track "Eternity" contemplates childhood fears of an eternity in Hell. This is followed by the highly melodic and upbeat "Escape", which has a catchy chorus, and all the hallmarks of a hit single. Meanwhile, "Sidewalk" (a NEeMA composition) could easily have been written by Leonard Cohen himself, as it has the qualities of his work on "Recent Songs", which includes tracks such as "I Came So Far For Beauty".

NEeMA'S lyrics are excellent and articulate feelings that many people have, but are rarely able to express so eloquently (sometimes evoking feelings from childhood). One strong track "Lost in LA" has the chorus "Jack be nimble Jack be quick, like a puppet chasing its fix". "Jealously" meanwhile conjurs a dreamlike/nightmarish scenario. The shortness of life is considered in the song "Bone to Pick With Time" and also in NEeMA's beautiful "Elsa's Lullaby" (dedicated to her dog) in which she movingly sings "I grieve a little at the brevity of your time here with me".

To complete the album there is one bonus track - the powerful eco/peace prayer "Masi 2010" which has a middle-Eastern feel. In conclusion, "Watching You Think" is an outstanding work that seamlessly weaves together a varied and interesting range of songs. It is an album to be listened to in its entirety, and unquestionably one of the best that I have heard, in recent years.


Savages
Savages
Price: £9.99

25 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Savages" by the Webb Sisters, 14 May 2011
This review is from: Savages (Audio CD)
"Love...hate...oh what a fine line we walk" sing the Webb Sisters, as Hattie gently plucks her harp strings. The scene is set for a sequence of songs about separation and troubled relationships, that also have a healing quality (Leonard Cohen devotees - this is our world!). The third album is always a crucial one, but Charley and Hattie Webb need have no worries; they've created a classic.

An outstanding sequence of songs opens the album - namely, "Baroque Thoughts", "Calling This a Life", "Words That Mobilise" and "Savages". The breaks between the songs are minimal, adding to a building momentum. The Webb Sisters previous album, "Daylight Crossing" was a fine piece of work with excellent harmonising and harp playing. However, the quality and variety of the songs on "Savages" raises Charley and Hattie's artistic profile to a whole new level. The songs reveal a great depth of feeling, and showcase the full spectrum of their lyrical, vocal, and musical skills.

The album is produced by the legendary Peter Asher, who also plays guitar. Other notable musicians featured include Roscoe Beck, Russ Kunkel, and Leland Sklar. Eight of the tracks on the album are from the sisters two limited-edition four-track CDs, and now have the advantage of being available for a much-wider audience. If I had to pick one track as a potential single, it would be the mesmerising and beautifully-arranged "Words That Mobilise".

At the centre of the album are three inventive new tracks - the acapella "Dark Sky", a driving country-rocker "Burn" and a more-subtle grower, "Amelie's Smile". The remainder of the album includes the sublime "If it Be Your Will" (with Leonard Cohen's spoken introduction), the moving "In Your Father's Eyes" and the anthemic "1000 Stars". There is also a haunting bonus track, "Yours Truly". This album deserves to be a huge success, and may well become the best-selling album by any of Leonard Cohen's female accompanists. Five stars? More like 1000 stars!
Comment Comments (2) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Dec 4, 2013 3:17 AM GMT


Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin (Digipack)
Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin (Digipack)
Price: £9.14

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Brian Wilson Reimagines Gershwin, 21 Oct. 2010
Hearing the 67-year old founder of the Beach Boys sing "I Loves You Porgy" is initially rather odd, but "oddness" is something that Brian Wilson specialises in. Brian has often cited Gershwin as an influence; hence this tribute from a living musical genius to an earlier one. This may be the first time that many of us post-war kids have taken Gershwin on board, even if we know that he wrote classics such as "Rhapsody in Blue", "Summertime" and, um...lots of others.

An excerpt from "Rhapsody" with Brian and band harmonising opens the album. Then a lush piece of orchestration transports us to a cosy 1930s setting. First song is "The Like in I Love You", one of two unfinished numbers here by Gershwin, recently completed by Wilson. Lines such as "the muse in music, the pain in painting..." have the trademark of Scott Bennett; band-member and lyricist on Brian's previous master-work, "That Lucky Old Sun". Next comes a sultry and steamy "Summertime". Brian can't quite reach the high notes, but that doesn't matter. "Porgy" follows with Brian in fine voice. By way of contrast, "I Got Plenty o' Nuttin'" is played as a sort of barn-dance themed instrumental. Banjo, harmonica and bass harmonica make a rousing noise which I'd sing along to, if I knew the words. Sweeping cellos and woodwind then segue into a swampy "It Ain't Necessariliy So". This features some pleasing "bom bom boms" and "oooh ooohs" from Taylor Mills (no-one can "oooh" quite like Taylor!).

"'S Wonderful"teeters on M.O.R (Ray Conniff, anyone?) but is saved by a satisfying flute interlude. A potential single is "They Can't Take That Away From Me", which inventively imitates "California Girls". Then it's back to crooner mode with the romantic "Love is Here to Stay". The rest of the album encompasses doo-wop ("I've Got a Crush on You"); Spector influence ("I Got Rhythm"); torch song ("Someone to Watch Over Me") and mid-tempo rock `n roll, Springsteen-style ("Nothing But Love"). The album ends with a brief reprise of "Rhapsody in Blue". In conclusion, this is a lovingly-conceived work, and another triumph for Brian and his multi-talented band, as everything fits together, remarkably well. Brian's voice may not be to everyone's liking, but his arrangements and production are hard to fault. Gershwin's lyrics veer more to "Moon in June" than "columnated ruins domino", but his melodies have a lasting appeal.


Under the Surface
Under the Surface
Price: £16.40

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Under the Surface" by Taylor Mills, 10 Aug. 2010
This review is from: Under the Surface (Audio CD)
Taylor Mills second album "Under the Surface" re-affirms the fact that she's a significant artist in her own right, as well as being an integral member of the Brian Wilson band. The album is a collaboration with (fellow band member) Scott Bennett and her husband, Todd Sucherman who respectively play keyboards/guitars and drums/percussion. Todd and Scott are co-producers, and Scott has written most of the songs. Taylor's first album "Lullagoodbye" was excellent and had more of a classic pop/rock style. However, "Under the Surface" is even better. It has a more contemporary feel, and reveals new dimensions to the talents of all concerned. The main instruments featured are piano/keyboards and drums. The sound and production are excellent, and complimentary to Taylor's beautiful, emotive and sensual voice.

The album starts, with "Melody" - a strong track with an arresting chorus. Scott's lyrical skills are on fine form, with lines such as "dreams don't age gracefully" and "truth is worthless when it follows lies". I particularly like the sounds of the drumming and bells at the end of this track. This is followed by "Sparks Will Fly"; a beautifully-crafted number which starts with sparse guitar and a plaintive vocal which moves gently into a memorable and lilting title-verse. Throughout the album there are interesting key changes and captivating layers of sound that, along with Taylor's voice, ensure the listener's full attention. "Kiss My Soul" has an anthemic chorus, which would surely go down well, live. The momentum picks up on the exhilarating "Just a Second", and features great drumming from Todd.

In my opinion, the absolute highlight of album is "Best Intentions" - a majestic song, written by Scott and Allen Keller, with some lovely touches of cello. Another exceptional track, "Remember It Right" has a catchy and melodic chorus - "there is water in the day, there are spirits in the night..." (the rhythm on this has a kind of Police/Sting feel). Meanwhile, a gorgeous version of the Jellyfish song "I Wanna Stay Home". features Probyn Gregory on flugelhorn and trumpet. The up-tempo "Living Room" has a more immediate impact, with its sexy vocal and driving percussion work "If We Let Go" is relaxed and jazzy, with some lovely harmonizing as Taylor and Scott sing together. The album ends with a poignant little gem "St. Louis Misery" (written by Allen Keller). In conclusion, "Under the Surface" is an album that is well-worth "diving into" deeply. Those who do so, will find much buried treasure. The album comes with a beautifully designed cover by Lois Keller that depicts Taylor emerging, mermaid-like, from Neptune's waters.


Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love
Forever Changes: Arthur Lee and the Book of Love
by John Einarson
Edition: Paperback
Price: £14.95

23 of 23 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Definitive Arthur Lee and Love Biography, 14 Jun. 2010
At last - a biography that does full justice to Arthur Lee and the Love Band. This is an extremely well-written book, and John Einarson has made every effort to chronicle the Arthur Lee and Love story as accurately as possible. Prior to this, the main source of information for Love fans has been David Housden's fanzine/labour of love, "The Castle". In Einarson's book, most of the key people associated with Love are interviewed, including Johnny Echols, Michael Stuart, Snoopy Pfisterer, Jac Holzman, Mike Randle, and Diane Lee. Where differences of opinion occur, Einarson lets each have their say. The book includes substantial italicised quotes from Arthur Lee's previously unpublished autobiographical writings, and Einarson has carefully structured his work to cover the whole of Arthur's career. The first part of the book is a worthy companion to Chris Hall and Mike Kerry's excellent movie "Love Story". The centre of the book focuses on the making of "Forever Changes", and this section is particularly illuminating with fine contributions by key figures such as musical arranger, David Angel. The rest of the book brings much new information to light. The shooting incident which led to Arthur's jail-term is given full coverage, though (possibly out of respect to all concerned) little is said of Arthur's previous convictions. Arthur was clearly a Pisces, whose fish were swimming in opposite directions, and the multifaceted aspects of his nature are considered - his unpredictable and self-defeating behaviour, his drug use, and also his intelligence, kindness, spirituality and genius. I can personally testify to the accuracy of the coverage of the story between 2002 and 2005, as I was close to the Love world during this time. The end of Einarson's book is very moving, and brought tears to my eyes. The book has a good type-face and is well-illustrated (334 pages,including a brief index).
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Jun 14, 2010 7:13 PM BST


Tangle-Free World
Tangle-Free World
Offered by EliteDigital UK
Price: £12.85

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Anny Celsi "Tangle-Free World", 27 Feb. 2010
This review is from: Tangle-Free World (Audio CD)
I was blown away by this CD from the very first listen. "Tangle-Free World" is a collaboration between Anny Celsi, and Nelson Bragg of the Brian Wilson band (who also produced and arranged the album). It is, in fact, one of the rare albums that I felt compelled to replay instantly! "Tangle-Free World" is gorgeous, melodic, musically interesting and totally enjoyable. There is absolutely not one dud track on the album, and I would go as far as saying that virtually every song could be a single. The first track "Tangle Free World" is delightful - kind of like Mamas and Papas meet "Marakesh Express" on "Pleasant Valley Sunday"! There are some lovely touches of sitar and a trumpet arrangement that would be at home on "The Notorious Byrd Brothers".

All that said, Anny Celsi is an excellent songwriter with a unique and affecting voice. Everything sounds so good here, that I hesitate to pick favourite tracks, but Thanksgiving in Hollywood", "First Love Freezes", "The Night She Learned to Drive" and "Own Sweet Time" are the songs that particularly stood out on my first listens. "Dream Boy" rapidly became another personal favourite. "Now You Can Hurt Me" has the soulful sound that you might hear on one of Van Morrison's best albums. As well as featuring Nelson on drums and percussion, it also features other members of the multi-talented Brian Wilson band (as do some of the other tracks here). "Own Sweet Time" features Probyn Gregory on bass, trumpet and slide guitar, and a string arrangement by Paul Von Mertens. The guitar playing at the end sounds uncannily like George Harrison's on "Cloud Nine".

Leonine creativity shines throughout the album, giving several songs a jingly-jangly Byrdsy sound that could also be likened to Suzanne Vega's "Luka" or some of the Pretenders' music. Anny and Nelson's cover of Lee Hazelwood's "Some Velvet Morning" is a wonderful surprise, and one of the rare occasions where a cover version does full justice to the original. "Sally Go Round the Roses" (which I recall Joan Baez singing in "Don't Look Back") is here given an interesting treatment. It has lovely harmonies and organ playing not unlike that of Ray Manzarek. After a (Sixties-style) brief reprise of "Tangle-Free World" the album closes with the beautiful and poignant "Paper Umbrella".

Despite all the instruments featured (including violas, violins, cellos, horns and piano) Anny's voice remains at the heart of the music. In conclusion, "Tangle-Free World" is a triumph for all concerned - for Anny, for Nelson as producer/arranger, and for the members of the Brian Wilson band who display their remarkable versatility and talent. I also reccommend Anny's earlier albums - "Little Black Dress" and "Annyland" (which I purchased on Amazon).


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