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VINE VOICEon 28 July 2003
An truly, excellent, heart-felt jazz/rock album from 1978. The Yorkshire guitarist formerly with The Graham Bond Organisation and Miles Davis uses an array of fine musicians including Jack Bruce, Tony Williams, Carlos Santana, Billy Cobham, Jerry Goodman, Michael Walden, David Sanborn, Alphonso Johnson, Chick Corea, Stanley Clarke and Jack DeJohnette amongst others.
The stunningly, excellent opening New York On My Mind features sterling work from Jerry Goodman on violin. Friendship has two guitar solos, first Santana then McLaughlin. They are both sublime.
Every Tear From Every Eye is a slow burner with Sanborn’s sinious sax following the leaders thoughtful, constrained guitar break. McLaughlins guitar comes back before Patrice Rushen adds some deft keyboards allowing Johnson to add some wistful bass. This is a track that gets better every time you hear it.
Do You Hear The Voices That You Left Behind is dedicated to John Coltrane and features Clarke, DeJohnette and Corea.
A slow, emotive opening theme soon slips into an up-tempo vamp behind McLaughlins stuttering, decayed guitar sound. Corea then shines with a flurry on the electric piano. Clarke and DeJohnette propel things a long with aplomb.
Are You The One features Jack Bruce and Tony Williams. Its just a not-too-serious barnstormer with Bruce and Williams shouting the title. McLaughlin opens with some fine waw-wah and Jack powers up a brief, chugging solo, but it is Williams work towards the end that is just jaw-dropping. Utterly brilliant.
Phenomenon: Compulsion is a brief, energetic, monstrous jam between McLaughlin’s distortions and Cobhams powerplays. Ferocious.
The leader plays the album out on his own with a subtle rendition of My Foolish Heart. A performance of true beauty with each nuance clearly and carefully shaded. Lovely.
Overall a quality addittion to the McLaughlin output. Limited availability suggests that this album did not ever manage to record decent sales figures. Cannot fathom why, cos it really is a belter. Seek out and enjoy.
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on 20 August 2013
For 25 years since Del Amitri hit the British consciousness with their breakthrough album "Waking Hours" that spawned the hit single 'Nothing Ever Happens' Justin Currie has been universally acclaimed within the music industry as one of the finest singer songwriters of his generation. Despite that album selling over a million copies in the UK alone it has nevertheless been a mystery as to why he has not had even more recognition.

However this may be about to change with the advent of the latest of his 3 solo efforts this week, the new CD: "Lower Reaches"

This album takes your breath away with its sheer virtuosity and range. The naked promise hinted at in the first track Falsetto, is realised as track after track hits you between the eyes, right through to the final and arguably best track on the album "Little Stars".

With Currie its the lyrical and poetic excellence that elevates his work into the stratosphere. His avowed intent is to "Get more Poetry into Rock and Roll" and on this outing it is clear that not only has he succeeded, but his instinct for subtle but wry observation of the human condition is as sharp and scathing as ever. This is one album that could stand up alongside, or even surpass the scathing poetry of Jim Morrison. Its truthful, and it covers a thousand universal conditions. Love, death, everything. Its all here.

The music itself is more diverse than one might expect, the production was done by Mike McCarthy in Austin, Texas. His studio is known for its use of old fashioned gear that eschews digital equipment and sounds warmer for it. What is remarkable here however is that this album has managed to retain that spirit whilst using some interesting and adventurous effects, like the sometimes intrusive but insistent programmed drum loops that become contagious on repeated play. Its remarkable that this works alongside good old country boy session musicians from the deep south that play Curries intelligent melodies. But it does.

Genuine quality these days is so scarce, craftsmanship and beauty being hard to find. But its alive here, and its supported by the distinctive and velvety range of Currie's stunning voice. He really is getting better with each release. Its unbelievable, and I'm thankful for it. For the price of 3 or 4 Latte's you can buy something here that will probably affect you for the rest of your life. I suggest you do. Thanks for reading this.
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on 24 August 2013
This is Justin Currie's 3rd solo album and and although I do not love it as much as the prior two (his first, "What Is Love For" is for me, simply the best album ever made), it is another fine example that once again shows he is a master.

His lyrics are brilliant, as is his voice. I read something that likened his voice to Franks Sinatra, but a more accurate assessment would be that Justin Currie is Frank Sinatra crossed with Franz Kafka. He is quite sincere as either a cynic masquerading as a romantic, or a romantic masquerading as a cynic, and this ambiguity is what makes all of his great songs work.

This album does have a more Del Amitri "feel" than his other solo albums because it contains many more up-tempo songs (not to be confused with "up-beat"), and continues with his trademark Justin-Currie lyrics that are dark, yet somehow still optimistic, and quite funny in that "that was a stab of truth" way.

The first single from the album, "Bend To My Will" starts with a riff from the Eagle's "Already Gone" and ends with "I won't leave her until she bends to my will".

"I Hate Myself For Lovin' You" is the catchiest song (best candidate for a single??) and the second-best song to dance to.

"On My Conscience" is a kitschy/catchy/country-western tune that is great for a country-swing, with ouch lyrics that are funny-mean and show a poor reflection on the character of the character singing the song (vintage Justin Currie).

Some of the tracks do suffer from intrusive instrumentation, especially the percussion (drum machine?) on "Little Stars" and "Priscilla". Unfortunately, "Priscilla" is almost unlistenable because of it, but the lyrics are stellar and this is a great song to hear live. There is a video on you-know-who-tube of "Little Stars" that really shows the power of this song (search for Mrs Craig).

The lyrical standouts: "Into a Pearl" reminds me of the person I wish not to ever be and some dear people I wish better for. "Half of Me" has some of the best lines ever written, and oh yeah, they are about regret and the human struggle to be true, whatever that might mean:

but half of me
knows that half of me regrets
rippin' through the years
without a hope of happiness
but failure never held me any fears
until I had success

but half of me
deserves everything it gets

"Falsetto" re-imagines the standard "Dad doesn't get it" relationship between a father and a son as God and Jesus, and the denouement with a spot-on use of the f-word is quite satisfying.

"Lower Reaches" is missing a nice scather like "Nothing Ever Happens" or "No, Surrender" or "The Fight To Be Human", but there is enough to soothe the long-time Justin Currie fan while hopefully appealing to fans of the Dels who may not have heard him solo and to the new fans I hope will flock his way (baa baa from us all).

Compared to his other albums, this seems a bit more light-weight and is very short; but hey, sometimes you want something a little less deep, and it is still quite good.

Many of his fans (myself included) consider him to be the most underrated songwriter and singer on the planet. "Lower Reaches" is a much more accessible work than his prior solo efforts and may help to change that. And that's what both halves of Justin Currie, singer/songwriter, deserve.
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on 19 August 2013
For some reason this country seems to settle for mediocrity and third rate music for the mindless reality TV and junk food masses. Along with the peerless Ian Mcnabb Justin Currie crafts eloquent, melodic, heartfelt and inspiring music time and time again. Lower Reaches maintains the high bar he has been producing since What is Love For and I can't recommend it highly enough. As with all his work it takes a few listens to really get into and hear the pain, the cynicism and just the fantastic tunes he creates. On my 4th listen and gets better every time.Can't wait to hear the tracks performed live at Salford in September.
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on 20 August 2013
I have been an avid fan of this exquisite songwriter and singer since 1989 and with each new offering I remain captivated.
His lyrical genius is full of poetic, melancholic beauty, cleverly crafted verse, accompanied by hauntingly beautiful, slick melodies.
His voice still remains perfectly toned and as smooth as velvet.
And if you think the album is good, go see him live, incredible!
A must buy.... SUBLIME.
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 23 August 2013
If Scotland had won the World Cup in 1998(I know, don't laugh)and not "Come home too soon" Del Amitri may have survived longer than they did and Justin Currie would be recognised for the great songsmith he was and indeed still is. This is a quality album of nagging, insistent excellence, of catchy songs with often deep or melancholic lyrics. Currie has a quality of delivery that most artists can only dream about. It may be too late to gain new converts but please give this guy a listen if you haven't already because he is head and shoulders above the current crop of performers.
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on 22 August 2013
Well I said this time I wanted to be one of the first to buy his next release [if you like see my reviews of 'What Is Love For' and 'The Great War'] and I am. Even though I received a free mp3 version of 'Lower Reaches' I waited until I had the actual cd to play as imo the quality is better and I like to listen while reading the lyrics, to digest every word Mr Currie pens and utters, as I like to feel his pain in any way I can. Yet again this is a 5* offering, even though I liked Del Amitri imo his best work is his solo work. Justin Currie is a man deep and I mean DEEP in thought, he writes what he feels and what I believe runs through him, he doesn't write what he thinks people will like to hear or what may sound like a hit song, it's as if this is what he feels forced to write as if he needs to get all this out to try to clear it from his head and for one i'm glad he does. My fav's are 'Falsetto', 'Half Of Me', 'Little Stars', 'Into A Pearl', ' Every Song's The Same', 'Priscilla', but there isn't a bad song. The production is sympathetic and respects the writing and the meaning of each song, it's just enough without over powering and without taking away any feeling from what has been written or sung, each song is very well played and recorded with plenty of sounds that give each song the feeling they deserve without obscuring Justin's fantastic vocals, his voice is faultless and filled with emotion , love the 'lower reaches' and the 'falsetto's'. It's great to hear the whistle ending to 'Priscilla' as he did this part live when my wife and I saw him in concert for the first time last feb. With the song 'Half Of Me', I think we may all have a little 'Half Of Me' in us, especially if we are in our 40's. Imo with so much rubbish out there these days it's great to hear some class now and then, so do yourself a favour and buy a peace of art that will last you a lifetime. Mr Currie thank you for doing what seems to come naturally to you and please keep doing so, you are a JOY to listen to, in a SAD kind of way. Looking forward to seeing you in concert again next month, from a very big fan, that only came across your solo work by chance this year. RESPECT. Hi again, day 2 of my review. Last night I listened to 'Lower Reaches' on headphones, wow, Mr Currie does not mess around here this album grabs you from the very first note of the opening track 'Falsetto' and doesn't let go for 33.56 min's, there's no easing you into this album, the production and atmosphere of this track is fantastic and sucks you straight in. With the track 'On My Conscience' Justin Currie manages to turn a jolly up tempo tune, into a dark place to be. If you get the chance please have a listen on headphones, it's amazing how much emotion can be crammed into just over 30 min's. 5* are not enough, CLASS.
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on 7 December 2008
'Electric Guitarist' (1978) came to fruition due to McLaughlin arriving at a very distinct crossroads. His record company CBS/Columbia pressurised McLaughlin to return to the electric guitar after the inevitable drop-off of record sales since disbanding wild electric Hendrix-influenced 'Mahavishnu Orchestra' and emerging with the sophisticated acoustic Indian-fusion ensemble Shakti (despite the immense quality of the latter). Thus, this was the first of McLaughlin's two 'contractual-obligation' albums (Electric Dreams followed in 1979). Not that this means a diminished sense of responsibility and reduction of quality compositions and performances. In fact, instead of a re-hash of the Mahavishnu formula that Columbia probably expected, McLaughlin finds a new 'sound' that is more Indian (using a scalloped electric guitar neck to facilitate Indian-esque micro-tonal string bends in 'New York On My Mind'), more funky (using a Mu-tron Envelope Follower in 'Are You The One?' or a 'Flange' effect in 'Phenomenon: Compulsion'), and more Jazzy (although amplified via a Leslie cabinet plus with a extra heavy bass string tuned down to a low A pitch to create a drone effect on 'My Foolish Heart'). Even the title 'Electric Guitarist' (complete with a boyhood picture of the maestro on the front cover) may even be a subtle dig at his record label.

There are parallels with Jack Bruce's Things We Like (1970) too as an example of another 'contractual' album, this time completed for another major record label Polydor. The ex-Cream Bassist turned to McLaughlin back in 1970 for his help (plus McLaughlin needed the money to fund his invitation to join with Tony Williams' Lifetime, a trip to the USA that he could ill-afford). Bruce returns the favour on 'Are You The One', a vocal narrative stating the title by the former 'Lifetime' Trio which is a brilliant tongue-in-cheek fusion of blues and funk with just a hint of Shakti's Get Down And Sruti.

Further backwards glances are found in the tribute to John Coltrane 'Do You Hear The Voices You Left Behind' (Chick Corea on Moog synth plus Stanley Clarke and Jack DeJohnette). The harmonic progression from Coltrane's Giant Steps are re-worked into this new McLaughlin tune, which commences with a brief slow and thoughtful melody followed by an up-tempo recapitulation plus some of the best improvisation on any McLaughlin album.

Each track consists of different ensembles - a formula that McLaughlin would return to on The Promise (1995) - all with old band members such as ex-Mahavishnu's Billy Cobham (a Mahavishnu McLaughlin-Cobham duet 'Phenomenon: Compulsion' returns to wild rock), Michael Walden, Stu Goldberg and Jerry Goodman, ex-Lifetime Tony Williams and Jack Bruce, ex-Miles Davis' Chick Corea and Jack DeJohnette. Carlos Santana appears after the 1973 McLaughlin/Santana collaboration Love Devotion Surrender album, plus many notable others including Stanley Clarke, David Sanborn, etc.

For it's inventiveness, diversity, and multiple personalities 'Electric Guitarist' would very well be one of my top 10 'desert island disc' selections. This is a also favourite of my five year old niece; which in many ways shows that inherent directness and simplicity is at the heart of the music. Thus, one can nullify the 'pre-conceived' notion of McLaughlin complexity so that both fans and new listeners to the work of one of the most-important jazz-guitarists of the 20th Century should absolutely adore.
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on 10 September 2013
Well, Justin Currie has released his third solo album, let the stars rejoice as he is surely one of our most original hidden talents, as a poet and songwriter he has written some of the most poignant and meaningful songs out there. It's his uncanny knack of making light of loveless relationships, desperation and disappointment with beautiful uplifting tunes and sings them with a voice that has not wavered in over 25 years.

It will not surprise you that I have followed Mr Currie's career since 1989's Waking Hours where at the tender age of 24 he wrote songs that connected with my experiences in life, Nothing Ever Happens, Move Away Jimmy Blue, Kiss This Thing Goodbye and This Side of the Morning all struck a chord with this particular poor downtrodden unlucky in love soul!

Fast forward 24 years and he is doing exactly the same thing! His voice transports me back to those times when how you felt about your relationships was the only important thing in life, now with children, a mortgage and the everyday pressures we all feel, I can identify with Half of Me as if I wrote it. A song about half of you being the dutiful husband, the loving Father, of sometimes feeling trapped in a life where you question "what is the point of it all?" whilst the other half of you yearns for excitement in any form, to be reckless once again and to hell with the consequences, resonate with me totally!

Justin Currie is a marvellous talent and it beggars belief why he is not more appreciated than he is in music circles, I'm off to see him at Bristol in a couple of weeks' time and can't wait. This album is almost 34 minutes of musical poetry at its best, some say that's too short but I'm just glad that he's still writing, still observing life in his own inimitable style and still sounding fantastic.

Oh and by the way, the other half of me loves this album too!
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on 19 August 2013
Third record in for the vastly underrated Justin Currie (Del Amitri), nothing new here but his knack for a melody and lyric hasn't deserted him. Unlike other acts when they leave the umbrella of their main band he's improved as a songwriter after the demise of Del Amitri. Catch him live if you can as he's the real singer songwriter troubadour. Buy it.
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