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Reviews Written by
S. GODFREY "Stuart" (Risca, South Wales)

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Time (The Revelator)
Time (The Revelator)
Price: £9.80

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Heart & Soul of Gillian Welch, 9 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Time (The Revelator) (Audio CD)
A friend introduced me to Gillian's music a few weeks ago when he loaned me a copy of "Hell Among the Yearlings". I've been slowly falling in love with her work ever since and Time (The Revelator) is the one that clinches it for me - five stars all the way! This has all the courage, intensity and true grit of the first two CDs with little of the naivety. It's a looser, more relaxed feel (almost drowsy at times) but also a fully realised musical vision which works as a whole piece rather than a collection of songs, although just about every song would be a standout on any singer-songwiter collection. Today, my personal favourite is "Elvis Presley Blues", simply the finest and most moving song about the young Elvis I have ever heard. "Just a country boy, he combed his hair, put on a shirt that his mother made, and he went on the air..." Tomorrow, who knows - perhaps the openly sentimental "Dear Someone" or the defiant "My First Lover". The guitar playing and vocal harmonies are immaculate throughout the album. "I Want to Sing That Rock and Roll" is a tantalising glimpse of Gillian and David live, and the closing epic "I Dream a Highway" is just breathtaking. A classic.

Soul Journey
Soul Journey
Price: £9.22

21 of 22 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Lighter Side of Gillian Welch...., 1 Sept. 2003
This review is from: Soul Journey (Audio CD)
..relatively speaking, of course. Don't worry, Gillian's trademarks of lyrical stoicism and integrity in the face of deprivation and desolation are still here and this album is every bit as special as its illustrous predecessors. The big differences here are in the the more relaxed feel of the songs. Instrumentation is less sparse than before (although still not a single note is superfluous), and the vocals have a lazy intensity to them - a nice trick if you can pull it off. All credit to Gillian for not resting on her laurels and trotting out Time(The Relelator)II. She is clearly a restless soul and the title of this album couldn't be more appropriate. The album is definitely a "grower", any initial sense of disappointment at the relative accessibility of the songs soon gives way to sheer respect for the quality of the writing and the musicianship. "Lowlands" is probably the weakest song with its fairly predictable arrangement and delivery, but it is redeemed by a huge bass riff. "One Little Song" is exquisite, "Wrecking Ball" rocks and "Make Me Down a Pallet on Your Floor" would have Mississipi John Hurt smiling his approval. Whatever Gillian does next, its going to be fascinating.

Hell Among The Yearlings
Hell Among The Yearlings
Offered by Fulfillment Express
Price: £9.86

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Plain Can be Beautiful..., 15 Aug. 2003
...as Gillian Welch proves beyond question. The songs here are simple, relatively unadorned (mostly just guitar, banjo and voice - but what a voice!) and the subject matter can be summed up in the Louvin Brothers' phrase "tragic songs of life". So you get hardship, lonliness, brutality, rape, murder and hauntings - and that's just for starters. Plenty more where that came from as Gillian and her guitarist David Rawlings pick their way through death, drugs, drink and demon posession with such unflinching integrity that the whole thing becomes strangely uplifting. People will call this "country" music, but labels can be misleading, can't they? Gillian Welch is one of that rare breed of writers & performers who really do rise above such categorisation. Honest songs delivered without a trace of artifice, this is music to enjoy on many levels - it sounds great by the way, and you can sing and play along to your heart's content, but it'll get you thinking too.

Flat Baroque & Berserk
Flat Baroque & Berserk

9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Courageous acoustic brilliance from wild man Harper, 18 Jun. 2003
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Flat Baroque & Berserk (Audio CD)
There is plenty to enjoy on this, the most perfectly realised of Roy's early albums. As he says in the liner notes, production quality was up, the instrumentation (though generally sparse) is crystal clear, the songwriting is sharp and Roy is in fine voice throughout. Some of the songs (Davey, East of the Sun, Francesca) are brief but beautiful snippets while others like "I Hate the White Man" and "Hells Angels" are more extended work-outs: "White Man" is a blistering, outraged attack on racial prejudice while "Angels" is a full-on rock blast with members of The Nice joining in and Roy having a whale of a time on electric guitar. The real jewel in this collection, however, is the heartbreaking "Another Day"...a tad more poignant and it would kill you. Great songs, great album, one which Roy has only bettered in "Stormcock".
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Aug 5, 2013 2:24 PM BST

The Last Waltz [1978] [DVD]
The Last Waltz [1978] [DVD]
Dvd ~ The Band
Price: £5.99

14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Probably the best concert movie of all time.....although Levon would not agree, 28 Mar. 2003
This review is from: The Last Waltz [1978] [DVD] (DVD)
You don't have to be a committed fan of The Band to appreciate and enjoy this DVD. It is obvious from the start that this was a VERY special concert, and that Martin Scorcese rose to the occasion by creating a VERY special movie of the event. Above all what comes through is this consumate film-makers evident desire to capture not just the spectacle of a live concert, but something of the way musicians of such calibre as The Band and their guests work together on stage. The eye contact, the nods and grins (and the odd puzzled look - what is Dylan going to play next?) place you right up there, feeling every moment. Among many special touches: Robbie Roberston kicking effortlessly into an impromptu guitar solo when Eric Clapton's guitar strap comes undone...Neil Young cracking up without missing a note when Rick Danko gazes skywards to see the "big birds flying in the sky" on "Helpless"...Ronnie Hawkins fanning Robbie's blazing guitar with his cowboy hat...Muddy Waters' towering performance of "Mannish Boy"..the whole thing is just brilliant.
Having just read Levon Helm's remarkable autobiography "This Wheel's on Fire" (some years after submitting this review),I'm compelled to see this movie in a slightly different light...it still is a great concert movie but read Levon's excellent book to see what I mean.

The Blues Alone
The Blues Alone

19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Landmark Solo Album from British Blues Legend, 12 Aug. 2002
This review is from: The Blues Alone (Audio CD)
In the light of John Mayall's justly celebrated work with ever-changing band lineups (including the odd future superstar), it would be easy to overlook this solo effort which appeared shortly after Hard Road with Peter Green. "The Blues Alone" is pretty much what it claims to be, just Mayall on vocals, guitar, keyboards, harmonica (and surprisingly, celeste!) with unobtrusive support from drummer Keef Hartley on a couple of tracks (oh, and a steam train on "Catch that Train"). Fittingly, it is a very personal album, deeply moving in places ("Down the Line" and "Broken Wings" are both eerily beautiful), assertive in others ("No More Tears" and "Don't Kick Me" both feature driving guitar from the man himself) and just plain rockin' in others ("Sonny Boy Blow" is a joyous boogie-woogie blast with jangly piano an some pretty wild harmonica). Mayall's vocals are superb throughout. Along with "Turning Point" and "Laurel Canyon", this remains one of my personal favourites by this truly great performer.

Complete Vanguard Years
Complete Vanguard Years
Price: £20.19

11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Crown Prince and Princess of the Sixties Folk Revival, 29 July 2002
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Complete Vanguard Years (Audio CD)
The story of Richard and Mimi Farina has become the stuff of legend: he the precociously gifted and wildly ambitious writer, would-be performer and friend of Bob Dylan, she the delicately beautiful and naturally talented younger sister of the formidable Joan Baez...briefly famous as a folk duo after an inspired performance at the 1965 Newport Festival...Richard's tragic death in a motorcycle accident just after completing his novel "Been Down So Long It Looks Like Up To Me"...and now Mimi is gone too.
But the music is still here - indeed all of their studio recordings and that famous 1965 Newport Festival performnce are gathered together in this wonderful collection. Unlike Dylan and Baez, who often performed together before Dylan went electric, Richard and Mimi were a true dou. The performance of each was enhanced by the other - for all his bravado Richard was still a relative novice on his chosen instrument, the dulcimer. Mimi was a superb and subtle guitarist but not a natural performer - they needed one another, and together they produced songs and music of deathless beauty. "Pack Up Your Sorrows" became an instant and well-deserved classic; "Reno Nevada" and "Hard-Lovin' Loser" helped to define folk-rock while "Blood Red Roses", "Bold Marauder" and "Quiet Joys of Brotherhood" acknowledge traditional British folk influences. The instrumental tracks, many of which pick up on well-known themes, are a simple delight. Many of the lyrical references are "of their time", of course - this was the Sixties after all - but for the most part this is timeless and readily accessible music. A real treasure.
Comment Comment (1) | Permalink | Most recent comment: Sep 21, 2011 5:53 AM BST

Full House
Full House
Price: £6.99

18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great Album - Great Re-Master, 20 Nov. 2001
This review is from: Full House (Audio CD)
Fairport Convention has proved over & over again that it is greater than the sum of its parts by surviving (and even growing from)departures of key personnel over the years. "Full House" was their first without the formidable talents of Sandy Denny, and it would be fair to describe the vocal efforts of the "boys in the band" as mainly tentative. Understandable enough, but for the most part they suit the material well, especially on the gloriously dark "Doctor of Physick" and the very moving "Flowers of the Forest". Dave Swabrick actually turns in a great vocal on the inspirational single "Now Be Thankful" (here included as a double bonus in both mono and stereo). But hey, this album is about instrumental versatility more than anything, and here it is in spades. The arrival of Dave Pegg on bass introduced a rock solid bottom line to underpin the adventurous forays of Swarb on fiddle and mandoline and the ever-magnificent Sir Richard of Thompson on titanic guitar ("Sloth", "Poor Will & the Jolly Hangman"). "Dirty Linen" and "Flatback Caper" bear eloquent testimony to the tightness of the band's ensemble playing and the whole collection bears out the oft-repeated claim that Fairport were/are the best folk-rock band ever. This remaster is a great improvement over the original release, with "Poor Will" restored to its rightful place, both sides of the "Thankful" single and the wonderful "Bonny Bunch of Roses". Superb stuff.

Journeys Edge
Journeys Edge
Offered by streetlight_records_us
Price: £20.01

12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Early Post-Incredibles Brilliance and Qurkiness, 12 Oct. 2001
This review is from: Journeys Edge (Audio CD)
Although undisputed genius Robin Williamson must have had a pretty clear vision of the direction he intended to take after the demise of the Incredible String Band in 1974, it took him a few years to settle to a musical formula which enabled him to express his richly varied ideas. This first album featuring the excellent Merry Band shows him still experimenting, nearly always with very enjoyable results. The overall sound is relaxed and easy on the ear, with a gentle swing to tunes like "Border Tango" and "Red Eye Blues", although there is no shortage of of ISB-style vocal and instrumental magic from Robin as he swoops and soars through "Tomorrow" and waxes suitably deep and, well, mythic on "Mythic Times". To say that this is the album's standout track and that it would not be out of place on "Wee Tam" is not a put-down of the Merry Band, just a reflection of the huge reputation Robin had built up from the glory day of the Incredibles. "The Maharaja of Mogador" is a typical example of Robin's humorous songs (be warned!)In many ways, this album represents for Robin what "461 Ocean Boulevard" was for Eric Clapton - getting back to the kind of music he always loved to write & perform while retaining much of the "feel" of the music which made him famous. The Merry band went on to make better albums with Robin, but "Journey's Edge" has its own great charm and no fan of the String Band, or of Robin's later solo work, will want to be without it.

Spirit Of Love
Spirit Of Love
Price: £10.44

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Clive Palmer: a true original, 30 July 2001
Verified Purchase(What is this?)
This review is from: Spirit Of Love (Audio CD)
On first hearing the overall tone of this album can seem rather sombre,even depressing, but there are enough pleasing instrumental touches and intruiging lyrics to bring you back for further listens. Gradually realisation dawns that in C.O.B., Incredible String Band founder Clive Palmer had hit upon a formula which brought him near to the greatness being achieved by messrs. Williamson and Heron (at least in artistic terms). Clive sings and plays with his trademark zen-like simplicity throughout, although there is nothing simple about the spiritual depths of meaning in the lyrics of such songs as the title track (featuring some lovely guitar playing by producer Ralph McTell), Evening Air and Serpent's Kiss. For some reason "Wade in the Water" appears to be absent from the CD track listing - hopefully that is just an oversight as it is a powerful closer to side 1 of the vinyl album. It is a mystery how both this album and the following "Moyshe McStiff" were largely ignored by the record buying public and became collector's items, but this re-issue should encourage the still-growing army of ISB fans to discover one of the true greats of the British folk scene in one of his most creative periods.

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