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5.0 out of 5 stars A review in several parts...,
This review is from: The Grand Slambovians (Audio CD)Essentially, this is an album review but as GM&TSCD are woefully little known in the UK I am appending what info I have about the band and their recorded works, in case any British buyers wish to explore the band further (something I unreservedly recommend). I'm a British fan and am a relative newcomer to their music but since seeing them at their UK Rhythm Festival debut in 2008 I have devoted considerable time and pennies tracking down as many of their recorded works as I've been able to lay my hands on. I wouldn't claim to be an authority on the band but hope that what little info I can supply will encourage you to do likewise. You will be richly rewarded!
Firstly, the new album. I've been looking forward to this release since the band rolled out a taster of the new material at the 2010 Rhythm Festival. If you read reviews for their 'Flapjacks From The Sky' double LP/CD here on Amazon you might be discouraged to explore it; whilst I respect the reviewers observations about 'filler' I cannot agree. In my humble opinion only 3 of the tracks are dispensable:'Better Life', Big Eight Wheeler' and 'Gonna Get Up'. Apart from those the album is a work of genius and the benchmark against which I have always compared and rated their other releases. With that in mind I was mildly disappointed with their subsequent album, 'The Great Unravel' and I am now applying the same yardstick to 'The Grand Slambovians'.
The first time I played it I felt the same sense of deflation as I did after repeated listening to 'Unravel'. I am now on about my 7th/8th? listen and am rapidly revising my opinion. None of the songs here, apart from the opening and title tracks, have the immediacy and memorability of the great stuff on 'Flapjacks' but listen to it long enough and it gets under the skin and into the soul. All the trademark elements of Gandalf Murphy -country/rock/folk/psychedelia- are present, correct and firing on all cylinders. The band wear their influences on their sleeve and have been well cited by other reviewers (Bob Dylan, Neil Diamond, Pink Floyd, Tom Petty) although I reckon the band themselves would cite many others. For example, I personally reckon their are flashes of Zappa and Jethro Tull as well. Anyone? Anyway, I reckon their influences are beside the point, other than to be (an extremely vague) guide of what to expect. Expect warmth, sensitivity and humour, phenomenal, tight musicianship and a totally mind expanding experience. GM&TSCD are a unique and wonderful band of many parts.
Yes! I like the album! 'Trans Slambovian Bipolar Express', 'The Grand Slambovians' and 'Who Is This Girl?' are as good as anything on 'Flapjacks' and the rest of the material, whilst not as catchy, has much to recommend it in terms of intelligent and emotive lyricism and soaring, majestic musicianship. Acoustic and electric elements weave in and around each other creating a mesmeric, other-worldly experience that I keep coming back to again and again. The music is melodic, heavy at times and pretty trippy throughout. Awesome stuff. Sharkey's slide guitar sends shivers down my spine.
In short, I highly recommend this new album. Well worth the wait and price of entry.
Now for the second part of the review; some more general info.
As far as I can tell the band have a pretty devoted cult following back in the USA but are relatively unknown here. They made their UK debut at the Rhythm Festival in 2008 when they opened the festival on the Friday afternoon. Although not scheduled, due to an artist cancellation (I think?) they then headlined on the Sunday night and rapidly became festival favourites. They book-ended the 2009 RF and last year played the main stage third only to Arlo Guthrie and 10CC. Having got a toe-hold on British soil they have since started landing a few British gig and festival dates (sadly none near me :-( ). If anyone can get there, they are doing one of their Pirate Hillbilly Ball things at the Electric Ballroom on 27th October 2011. I'll be heading up for that one! Especially as they are NOT playing the Rhythm Festival this year.
I agree with the other reviews: visit their website. They host a good selection of their music in audio and video format so you can check 'em out. Their merchandise section has all their material currently available. They're pretty quick and efficient, considering that the stuff is shipped from the States. There are also some reasonable quality videos of them playing live on youtube.
As far as their recorded works, you might have to work at it but these are the CDs/downloads I've managed to get my hands on. I won't review each of them here but will asterisk what I believe to be the most worthwhile.
1. (2000) A Good Thief Tips His Hat (studio CD album)
2. (2001) Live At The Town Crier (live CD and mp3 download)
3 (2004) Bootleg Series - The Fez, NYC 2004 (mp3 download from website)
4. (2004) Flapjacks From The Sky* (studio CD album)(There's also a truncated picture disc vinly version that
I'm aware of)
5. (2005) A Night At The Puppet House (live CD)
6. (2007) Ancient Murphy* (pre/proto Gandalf Murphy retrospective CD album)
7. (2007) Bootleg Series - Roots On The River 2007 (mp3 download from website)
8. (2008) A Very Slambovian Christmas* (live CD of Christmas songs mixed in with GM&TSCD original material.
I highly recommend this CD.)
9. (2009) The Great Unravel* (studio CD album, okay but not great IMHO)
10. (2009) The Circus In The Dance Tent - Falcon Ridge 2009 (Official live bootleg CD)
11 (2010) The Circus Does Dylan* (Fantastic live CD of GM&TSCD performing Dylan covers.)
12 (2010) Radio Woodstock Music Presents GM&TSCD at Mountain Jam, NYC 2010 (Amazon mp3 download)
13. (2011) The Grand Slambovians* (studio CD album)
That's what I've managed to locate so far. If anyone knows of any other releases and/or different versions/formats for the releases I've mentioned, I'd love to know.
In conclusion, awesome band - especially live - so check 'em out!
5.0 out of 5 stars Like sitting on the edge of a dusty road...,
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This review is from: The Grand Slambovians (Audio CD)...Watching the world go by. I first heard of this band when someone on Ken Bruce's morning quiz mentioned that he had just seen Gandalf Murphy and the Slambovian Circus of Dreams in a local gig??? I just had to find out more and visited Slambovia.com to have a listen. I can honestly say I was instantly hooked and this latest offering continues the theme of carefully crafted songs with a laid back hicksville feel. My only regret is that I have not yet managed to get to a concert, which everyone tells me is where they truly excel.
The Grand Slambovians contains just enough rock (especially in the title track and in the Bipolar Express, but really, this is music to play at night, either driving home in the small hours, or in good company, with your favourite glass or two. The music drifts and sways lazily into your ears and Longo's voice echoes the past greatness of Neil Diamond, with a little Dylan thrown in. To my ear, they bring the Traveling Wilburys into the 21st Century. My only regret is that I have only 4 cds to listen to, but I guess quality is produced instead of quantity. Hard to say which is the best, but the Grand Slambovians is as good as anything else they have produced.
5.0 out of 5 stars great band, great CD,
This review is from: The Grand Slambovians (Audio CD)Excellent songwriting and playing. Growing reputation in America and now the UK, after a couple of years` visits. Follows on from 3 previous CD`s that are all uplifting and full of classic songs, but at the moment have to be ordered from the states or picked up at gigs. Worth seeing Josia and the band live, and I think they said they were back in October for a fancy dress halloween gig in Camden. Check out the 'Flapjacks' double CD or listen on their website.
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