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Old 10-05-2021, 02:30 PM   #21 (permalink)
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I must have a look for my review of The Carpenters' Greatest Hits then...
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Old 10-05-2021, 02:44 PM   #22 (permalink)
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Oh! Here it is!

Originally posted in The Playlist of Life, July 11 2012

Their Greatest Hits --- Carpenters --- 1990 (A&M)


Yeah, you can snicker, you can roll your eyes, you can make choking noises but we all know we've all listened to at least one song by the mellow duo in our lives. Just admit it: among all those Sigur Ros, Black Sabbath, Porcupine Tree and Dylan albums there's a Carpenters one hidden away on your shelf. You pretend it's your ma's, but hell, she doesn't even listen to records, let alone CDs anymore. Oh, you're just storing it for her, are you? Keeping it safe? The same as that Johnny Mathis and the Barry Manilow that, though you claim it's hers shows signs of recent usage? Fair enough. Your secret's safe with me. Well, it was...

Fact is, music like the Carpenters made can't really be put down. Sure, it may not fit into your usual listening routine, and you may in all likelihood only pull out the album --- and it is the album, the only one of theirs you own --- once in a blue moon, but every so often the mood hits you and you want to listen to something a little easier, a little less complicated or intense than what you usually listen to, and for sheer, indulgent, guilty relaxation music the Carpenters --- oh, you know they're called Carpenters, do you? You leave out “the”, do you? Interesting...

It's nothing to be ashamed of. Of course initially I heard their music because my mother liked them, but even back then I was unashamed to say I also liked their songs. Like everyone, I possess only the one album, one of their greatest hits, as you may have gleaned from the title of the review, and I probably wouldn't even consider buying one of their “real” albums. To quote Genesis: I know what I like, and I like what I know. Their hits are the ones I'm familiar with, and even though during the course of this album you get one or two lesser known hits and some covers, it's still very good value for a greatest hits compilation, and one of the few such albums I can play pretty much all the way through.

They're all there. “Yesterday Once More” opens the album in fine style, Karen Carpenter's smooth, cool, relaxing voice washing over you like warm sunshine on a spring day, Richard on the keys always an integral part of the music, the orchestra swelling and falling away behind them like an ocean wave, crashing, then receding as required by the music. There's hardly any need to go too deeply into the songs themselves, is there? You more than likely know, or have heard, some or all of the hits, even if you pretended to clap your hands over your ears when they came on the radio, or tried to change the station (but were unable, somehow) --- “Top of the World” is joyous affirmation of love and life with a boppy jangly country beat, “Jambalaya” is calypso delight, while “We've Only Just Begun” is a starry-eyed song of two lovers starting out on their life together, a song on which the orchestra plays an important part.

There are, as I said, the covers: Neil Sedaka's mournful cautionary tale, “Solitaire”, nestles alongside a slow, dreamy version of the Beatles' “Ticket to Ride”, with the aforementioned “Jambalaya” itself a cover of Hank Williams' song, and the infectious fun of the Marvelettes' “Please Mr. Postman” is perfectly juxtaposed alongside Bacharach's classic “(They Long to Be) Close to You”. But it's the bitter “Goodbye to Love” that takes top place for me, always my favourite Carpenters song, with that distinctive acapella opening and Karen's defeated voice declaring she's had enough of love and will never trust it again, not to mention the soaraway powerful guitar solo at the end, much unexpected in such an easy-listening song.

And then there's their famous cover of the less-famous Klaatu's “Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft”, which closes the album. Yes it's twee, yes it's cheesy and looking at the future through Gene Roddenberry-tinted glasses --- like, will aliens not just want to destroy us? Did Klaatu ever consider that I wonder? --- but it's at its heart a song of hope for the future of humanity, perhaps misguided but laudable nonetheless. I could have done without the stupid radio DJ bit at the beginning, but again there's a fine guitar solo near the end to really round out the song.

There are twenty tracks on this album, which is good value for a start, and really there's something for everyone. Whether you like to nod your head and tap your foot to the likes of “All You Get From Love Is a Love Song” or “Top of the World”, or sigh and relax to soft love songs like “Touch Me When We're Dancing” or “Rainy Days and Mondays”, or just hear some really good over versions, this album has it all. I wouldn't advise going out and actually buying a full Carpenters album, as I have no idea what their other material, the stuff that didn't make the charts, is like. But if you like their hits, then you could do worse than get this album.

The death of Karen Carpenter was a great loss to the world of music. She had the voice of an angel and though she had her detractors and there was smutty gossip about how close she was to her brother, she and he left behind a true legacy of great music, which can be enjoyed by anyone of any age, anywhere, without guilt or irony.

In a word: timeless.

TRACK LISTING

1. Yesterday Once More
2. Superstar
3. Rainy Days and Mondays
4. Top of the World
5. Ticket to Ride
6. Goodbye to Love
7. This Masquerade
8. Hurting Each Other
9. Solitaire
10. We've Only Just Begun
11. Those Good Old Dreams
12. Please Mr. Postman
13. I Won't Last a Day Without You
14. Touch Me When We're Dancing
15. Jambalaya (On the Bayou)
16. For All We Know
17. All You Get From Love Is a Love Song
18. (They Long to Be) Close to You
19. Only Yesterday
20. Calling Occupants of Interplanetary Craft
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Old 10-05-2021, 03:28 PM   #23 (permalink)
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I shall post that up soon..Logan1 will love it..maybe others..you do go the extra Kilometre...
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Old 10-05-2021, 04:09 PM   #24 (permalink)
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TH = The Real. MVP.
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Old 10-05-2021, 06:30 PM   #25 (permalink)
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Originally posted in Bitesize, October 6 2014

Daddy would have been proud...


Artiste: Roseanne Cash
Nationality: American
Album: The River and the Thread
Year: 2014
Label:
Genre: Country
Tracks:
A Feather Is Not a Bird
The Sunken Lands
Etta's Tune
Modern Blue
Tell Heaven
The Long Way Home
World of Strange Design
Night School
50,000 Watts
When the Master Calls the Roll
Money Road

Chronological position: Thirteenth album
Familiarity: Zero
Interesting factoid: Ah you know what I'm gonna say!
Initial impression: Kind of more rocky than I expected
Best track(s):Etta's Tune, World of Strange Design, 50,000 Watts, Night School, When the Master Calls the Roll
Worst track(s):[i] None
Comments: I suppose it's inevitable that if Country icon Johnny Cash was going to have children that some of them at least would take after their late pa and go into the music biz. Roseanne is the eldest daughter from Johnny's first marriage, and so has the inestimable honour of being the first in the “line of succession”, as it were. She has three other sisters, and her marriage to Rodney Crowell in 1979 just solidified her love for and interest in Country music. And so we come to her thirteenth album, in a career that has spanned over thirty-five years, and I didn't even know of her existence until a short while back...

Nice bit of slide guitar to get "A Feather Is Not a Bird" going, and it's really more a sleazy boogie/blues feel to it than Country, while "Etta's Tune" has a lot of early Nanci Griffith in it with some fine male vocals adding to its atmosphere. There's a sense of resignation and weary triumph as she sings “We're just a mile out from Memphis/ And I've finally made it home.” Nice bit of orchestral work on "The Long Way Home", and I'm noticing that much of this album is reflective, I guess Cash is looking back on her life and career and assessing where she is now.

"World of Strange Design" seems a journeyman (or woman) song, with some uptempo guitar and handclaps and the inevitable reference to the Man in Black. It's quite rocky in its way and I really like it. According to ZZ, Jesus just left Chicago, but if we're to believe Cash then he was born in Mississippi! "Night School" has a very Dan Fogelberg feel to it, while "50,000 Watts" is more sort of Carpenters and has a great beat and swaying rhythm to it, almost gospel at times. Another favourite. Great backing vocals on "When the Master Calls the Roll" and some fine accordion I think? Trumpet too possibly. Not to mention that I hear Irish folk artist Mary Black's influence in there. Good stuff.

Overall impression: Damn fine Country album, a credit to her da, but I doubt I'll be listening to the previous twelve. Well, maybe one or two...
Hum Factor: 4
Intention: Might look into more. Might not.
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Old 10-05-2021, 06:42 PM   #26 (permalink)
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Originally posted in Trollheart's Listening List, December 18 2016


Album title: Digital Ghosts
Artiste: Shadow Gallery
Year: 2009
Nationality: British
Genre: Progressive Metal
Rank*: High Priest
6

One of the very first reviews in my original journal is a double one, concerning Shadow Gallery's albums Tyranny and Room V, which together tell a dystopian story, and I have been into them since I found and listened to the latter album, afterwards collecting all their others. The discography was, admittedly, small, and remains so. This is their sixth album, and having been released in 2009 with nothing afterwards, it seems fair to conclude it may have been their last. It was the first album put out by them since the untimely death of former lead singer and founder Mike Baker, and though I've only listened to it I think twice, you can hear the pain and the loss in the songs, and it's a much darker album than they've recorded up to this point.

1. With Honor: Not surprisingly a tribute to their fallen bandmate, this is a heavy, frenetic piece of progressive metal, and new man Brian Ashland does his best to fill those big shoes, but he's no Mike Baker, nor I guess should be try to be. One thing Shadow Gallery do well is vocal harmonies, and this album is no exception. The core of the band is of course still here, and Gary Wehrkamp and Brendt Allman share guitar, keyboards, bass and backup vocal duties among them, with Wehrkamp even looking after the drumming. The familiar Shadow Gallery melodies are here in abundance, and if you're a fan you would not mistake these songs for anyone else's. Yet there's something missing, as I suppose you would expect: the album is called Digital Ghosts, and there's one huge ghost looming over every part of it, a man who will never be forgotten in the ranks and history of this band.

The song titles themselves speak of this, with titles like “Strong”, “Pain” and “Venom”, and the closer, “Haunted”. It must have been hard for the guys to continue on after losing the friend and colleague they spent sixteen years with (thirteen in the case of Wehrkamp, who only joined in 1995 for the second album) and Baker's a hard ghost to exorcise. His fingerprints are all over the music here, his voice echoes in that of his replacement, and there just seems to be a very deep dark pall over everything. Shadow Gallery didn't tend to write necessarily happy songs, but there's a real sense of gloom and loss over the music here. Starting with a ten-minute track was either a brave or a foolish move, but I've yet to really get into this opening track, and feel it definitely lacks something. Must admit though, the sad keyboard ending is almost like a final salute to Baker, almost a last post.
2. Venom: Kicks things back up with vocals from Suspyre's Clay Barton, sort of reminds me of older tracks like “Cliffhanger” and “Deeper than life”. Some great guitar from Gary here with powerful keyboard work too, and the lyrics spit vitriol as Barton snarls ”I wrap a curse around your throat” and envisages the end of days. Heavy stuff.
3. Pain: Another thing this band do well is look behind the mask, get right down into the details and tear apart the lies. They don't do this as viscerally as the likes of Slayer or Cannibal Corpse do, but I believe they do it as effectively, by exposing the real face of humanity in all its vainglory. Seldom though will they waste time on empty words of love and devotion; they're usually more into the bitter, recriminatory type of message, and here this is exactly what we get when Ashland sings ”And what of all that talk/ About how two become one?”. Laying bare the realities of life is something Shadow Gallery know all about, and they use it to good effect here. There's a nice kind of marching beat to the song, and it's driven well on the twin guitars of Wehrkamp and Allman, with plenty of keyboard flourishes on the way.
4. Gold Dust: Keeps everything running at a high tempo, with some squealing keyboards and grinding guitar. The familiar motif used in many Shadow Gallery songs is here, kind of their signature sound, with again great vocal harmonies. On a long keyboard outro it flows directly into
5. Strong: where guitar takes over, marching along as if the two songs were in fact the one. A searing solo from Gary to get the track underway before guest vocals come in from Primal Fear's Ralf Scheepers. It's a very dramatic kind of rhythm with a sort of boogie feel to it as well. In the middle it rises to a pumping, frenetic keyboard solo from Wehrkamp before guitar joins in too. The lyric really is poor, sub-Rainbow material, quite dated and not really worthy of the band, perhaps another reason why I don't find myself as drawn to this album as to their earlier, far superior efforts. Like I said, there's something missing, and it doesn't help that there are two guest vocalists on the album. There are only seven tracks in all: did Brian Ashland feel he couldn't handle all of them? It makes for inconsistency, and while nobody would want to see Mike Baker's legacy tarnished, and nobody could properly replace him, you'd think they would have given it a decent go.
6. Digital Ghost: Great intro to the title track, really reminds me of the Shadow Gallery of old. Descends into a slow slide guitar passage then, almost reminiscent of Gilmour, then that famous rapid piano comes in and suddenly it's 1995 all over again. Perhaps this will be the one to change my mind about this album. Opening lines ”I believe in the afterlife” shows you right away where this is going. When they all sing in unison ”The circle remains here my friend/ We guard it with trust” you can't help but be moved, even if the wording is a little off. It's a touching song, obviously a tribute to Baker and their final musical farewell to their friend, and it's a fitting tribute. If the rest of the album was like this I'd have no problem with it. There's quite a jazzy little piano piece here at about the sixth minute, and harmonies that put me in mind of early Yes, followed by a truly exceptional guitar solo.
7. Haunted: A fitting title for the last track, the closer to this album and possibly the last song we'll ever hear from Shadow Gallery. This album is certainly haunted by the restless ghost of Mike Baker, and I'm not even sure it's a spirit they want to put to rest. A soft piano with group vocals introduces the song, tolling bells underlining the message with perhaps a little too heavy a hand. A fine vocal by Ashland, and he distinguishes himself well at the end. It is the final farewell though, and all the band take part in it, there being more vocal harmonies and group vocals here than anywhere else on the album, as if everyone wants to have their say, be counted, shake the hand and hold the shoulder one last time. A Brian Maylike guitar solo comes through in the third minute, and you can feel the emotion and the pain in Gary Wehrkamp's fingers, reaching right down from his heart to the guitar strings. The song then takes on a harder edge as it speeds up, keyboard flurries adding to the melody.

But as we reach the sixth minute it slows down again, taking on a stately, almost reverential tone with a a particularly poignant line in ”Another good man goes down” and the last minute or so of the song is driven by impotent, frustrated anger, guitars whining and the final lines, as bells toll, an appeal perhaps for there to be something beyond this life, continuity beyond the grave as they sing ”And on and on, and on and on...” the drums beating out a final sad tattoo as they fade into the distance.

Conclusion: I can understand the album better now, having read the lyrics for the first time, but it still stands as one of Shadow Gallery's weakest efforts for me, and this rankles. If this is to be their final recording, their swansong and their tribute to Mike Baker, it really needed to be a whole lot more cohesive than it is, and better written. I've looked over the lyrics and some of them are so embarrassing it's painful. I wouldn't expect that from a band whose first language was not English, never mind from one for whom it is their native tongue. It's also something of a mishmash of styles, with no real common thread going through it, and as I said, the reliance on guest singers really damages Ashland's chance of making his mark as the new vocalist, should they go on to record more material. Even if they don't, had his been the one voice carrying the album then the message would have been stronger; as it is, it's very confused. Do they think nobody could replace Baker? Probably true. Are they afraid to try, for fear of sullying his memory? Perhaps. But if this album is, as it surely must be, a tribute to him, should Shadow Gallery not have made it the very best they possibly could? I feel in this, though they hit the mark later on, overall they missed the opportunity.

And there may not be another one.

Rating: 6.9/10
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Old 10-05-2021, 06:53 PM   #27 (permalink)
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Originally posted in Trollheart Listens to Every Album on Wiki's List for 2017, May 1 2018


Album title: InFinite
Artist: Deep Purple
Genre: Hard Rock/Heavy Metal/Progressive Rock
Nationality: English
Release date: April 7
Position in Discography: Twentieth
Estimated Rating:

Familiar with this artist? Yes
Familiar with the genre or subgenre? Yes
Average RYM Score: 3.22
Some classic bands know when to call it a day; they've had their fame, made their money, carved their place in history (literally, in the case of Deep Purple and 1970's In Rock!) and can gracefully retire, while others, like Hawkwind, have been almost constantly going for half a century and slow no signs of slowing down. Which is preferable? Carry on by all means if you can maintain the high standards you set for yourself in your heyday, but if all you're doing is trading on past glories in a vain attempt to hold on to your youth and/or fame, maybe it's time to hang up the guitars and unplug the keyboards?

Not that I'm suggesting this is the case with the legendary Deep Purple, but there's no question they didn't reform in 1984 for one reason and one reason alone: money, which they surely don't need, but then, when was money more about want and less about need, at least among the rich? So, like Pink Floyd's going-away “present” to their fans in 2014, you can't be blamed for approaching this with a certain amount of skepticism. Not that I've been a fan of the “new” Purple; my last encounter with them was 1974's Stormbringer and the “reunion” album Perfect Strangers left me cold. But to their credit I guess they've soldiered on, but now, with a lineup that only includes three of the original members from the classic lineup that produced such gems as In Rock, Machine Head and the aforementioned Stormbringer, is this even the same band?

Hey, perhaps I'll be eating my words. Odd though how it starts off with a kind of robotic chant before the first track gets going, but once it does there's the old hard rock sound of the band who made rock history and helped create heavy metal. I must say, that doesn't sound like Ian Gillan: the power seems to be gone from his voice. Don Airey is a great keysman, but who could replace the late Jon Lord? And Steve Morse is no Blackmore. But enough comparisons. On the face of it, this does have the Purple sound, and mostly it sounds like any of their seventies albums. The first thing that impresses me though is “The Surprising”, which has a different sound, including some Eastern stylings and a very prog rock feel. “Birds of Prey” has something too, but overall I feel this is just another hard rock album, even an album out of time, almost as if Deep Purple are trying to force the seventies back. I couldn't say in any honesty that they've moved with the times, and generally this feels very dated and perhaps even a little sad. And why is there a version of “Roadhouse Blues” to close with? I mean, I love the song, but living in the past much? It's almost as if they're saying - with a touch of desperation - "Hey look! We used to rock like this!"

I suppose you have to give them credit for still going, but the question is, as I posed at the beginning, should they be? I'm not sure what proper Purple fans will make of this album, but I'd rather hear Machine Head personally.

Check out more from this artist? Probably, if only out of curiosity
Check out more from this genre or subgenre? Yes

Actual Rating: 7/10
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Old 10-05-2021, 07:19 PM   #28 (permalink)
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Originally posted in The Playlist of Life, December 2 2013

Time --- Rod Stewart --- 2013 (Decca)


Yes, I’ve been raving about this for months now, and it’s odd because I’m not a huge fan of Rod’s. Like everyone, I know the hits --- “Maggie May”, “Do Ya Think I’m Sexy”, “Sailing” etc --- but would not, prior to this, have considered buying one of his albums, bar his greatest hits, which I do own. And it was more curiosity than anything else that drew me to this on the new releases section of my favourite album vendor. At first I took it to be a greatest hits compilation --- after all, what did Rod do these days other than release greatest hits compilations? But looking further into it, I discovered it was a whole new studio album; new tracks, new songs, an original composition, his first since 2001, not counting his various covers and tribute albums released since then.

So I was intrigued. The guy’s a legend, after all, but would he still be able to cut it in the twenty-first century? Would he, like so many others before him and from his general era, try to update his sound, adding influences from today’s music? Would he collaborate with some of this century’s better-known stars? Or would the album sound dated, ageing, out of, as they say, time? Only one way to find out, so I bought it and played it. What I discovered was a man who, at the age of sixty-eight and with over twenty albums to his credit, over twenty top ten singles, five of which were number ones, can still stand shoulder to shoulder with the best and show ‘em how it’s done, and remains relevant even thirty-five years after his career took off.

It’s a little depressing to note that the singles released from this album so far have failed to even make a dent in the charts, and I guess ol’ Rod doesn’t have the pulling power he used to, when almost everything he touched turned to gold, and he only had to record a song for it to be a hit. But these are different times, people want different things, and this, so far as I can see with my limited knowledge of his music, is a very different Rod Stewart album. Of course, there will be those of you --- most of you, probably --- who will scoff and jeer at my championing the cause of the music of an old man, and to be honest I’m as surprised as anyone that this album impressed me as it did. But then, everyone seems to be raving about Elton John’s first album in seven years, and he’s from the same time period. It is however gratifying to see that Time slipped right in there at number one in the album charts, so someone appreciates good music.

It opens with a big, bright, bouncy love song which affirms Rod’s happiness with his new love, and Celtic instrumentation being the thing these days he has fiddle, accordion and also dulcimer and maracas giving the song a very folky feel. The album has been praised as his “most personal to date” and indeed it is: all through the album Rod either reflects on his past or looks to the future, and in every track, on every song he seems to be thankful for what he now has, his bad boy days gone. In many ways, he’s the antithesis of Robbie Williams, whose new album I reviewed some time back. Robbie, now fast approaching forty, is still trying to be the Peter Pan figure and hold on to his fading youth on Take the Crown, trying to hold back time and age and live in a perpetual world of booze, birds and bad boy behaviour. Rod, on the other hand, seems much more comfortable in his skin, at peace with himself and his place in the world.

I get the impression this album was not necessarily released as an assault on the charts, or to prove he still has it, or even to make money, for why would he need that? To me, this seems more an affirmation of life, a joyous celebration of everything he has achieved, and perhaps as a thank you to the fans for putting him where he is today. Then again, maybe it is just for the money. But it certainly does not give me that sort of vibe. I also find that, despite the fact that the music here is pretty great really, this is an album which really transcends music. Yeah, that’s incredibly pompous, isn’t it? What I mean to say is that in many ways the music is not the most important thing on the record; it’s almost more a state of mind, a way of looking at things and the pure and simple joy of realising you’re alive, and all that entails, that informs the album. Granted, it’s a lot easier to be happy about life when you’re rich, but even so I get a sense of exuberance from Time which, while fully realising he is the age he is, makes you think of Rod as a younger man, full of hope and promise for the future.

Indeed, the second track almost confirms this, as “Can’t Stop Me Now” chronicles his early success and rise to fame, namechecking his famous hit along the way - ”Then along came Maggie May” - while still realising that it’s his millions of fans who put him where he is today. ”Thanks for the faith” he sings, and it really sounds sincere, ”Thanks for the patience, thanks for the helping hand.” Another upbeat song, it’s full of the youthful enthusiasm that must have filled the young Stewart as he suddenly realised he was on the way to making it big. It’s more a rock track than the previous, with harder guitar and a nice Scottish sound on possibly some sort of pipes; probably keyboards if I’m honest. It’s hard though not to get swept up in the optimism and excitement, and to feel yourself in the young man’s shoes, the world at his feet.

The first single from the album, which sadly did far worse than I would have hoped it would, is a bittersweet ballad where Rod realises a love affair has come to an end, and it’s best just to let it go. “It’s Over” is full of regret and loss, sorrow and pain, but also a sort of fatalistic acceptance. Well, no, not fatalistic. Realistic. It’s got some lovely orchestral arrangements, gentle piano and soft acoustic guitar, then the percussion cuts in and it gets a little harder - ”All the plans we had together/ Up in smoke and gone forever” - and for a man who’s been through more than his fair share of divorces, there’s a pragmatism about what’s important: ”I don’t want the kids to suffer/ Can’t we talk to one another?” It’s truly a beautiful song, and was the first point in the album where I sat up and thought, yes this is quite possibly going to be a great album. And it is.

Many of the songs here trace moments and events in Stewart’s life, such as the aforementioned second track with his rise to fame, divorce in this one, and the reflecting on a love that could have been in “Brighton Beach”. Not one of my favourite songs on the album I must say; I find it a little dull and pedestrian, but not bad. Evokes those memories we all have about what if and wonder where he/she is now? Carried on nice acoustic guitar backed by some mournful violin, another fine orchestral outing. Things get back rocking then with “Beautiful Morning”, as Rod lets loose and just exults in the joy of living. It’s a simple song, but then it needs to be. This is no complicated lyric, no deep meaning of life stuff; it’s just something we can all relate to, that morning when you wake up, the sun streaming in your window, your bank account fat and your lover by your side and just think what a fantastic morning to be alive. A real rocker, and one to make you come alive after the somewhat boring previous track.

Time doesn’t really hit that midpoint I often speak of, but there are weak tracks. Luckily, they come and go, and are followed by better ones, and the quality of the album only flags, if at all, momentarily before picking up again. As you might expect with all his songwriting expertise down the years, Rod pens every track, mostly with his producer Kevin Savigar, and occasionally other writers. All that is except one, which we’ll come to. “Live the Life” is a good track but it suffers from something that recurs through parts of latter half of the album, which is plaigarisation. The opening is a rip-off of his own song “Maggie May”, while the main melody recalls Albert Hammond’s “It Never Rains in Southern California”, the bridge to the chorus putting me in mind of Carole Bayer Sager. There’s just a lot of influences in the song, too many to allow it seem original. Even the sentiment expressed in it is somewhat tired and overused, but it’s not the worst song on the album. That’s probably held for the next one, and “Finest Woman” is Rod back to his old bad boy days, leering at the girls and flashing his, er, smile. It’s perhaps a little disappointing given the lessons he’s telling us through this music that he’s learned, but I suppose everyone needs to let their hair down once in a while. Still, it’s not for me; sort of mixture of rock, soul and bit of gospel. Uptempo certainly, just a weak track in my opinion. Some sweet brass in it and good female backing vocals, but I’m waiting for the title track.

And here it is. And man, was it worth waiting for! A slow, powerful ballad with very much gospel overtones, “Time” tells us all that we need to know when to move on, when it’s finally time to quit. ”Time” Rod advises us ”Waits for no-one/ That’s why I can’t wait on you.” A gorgeous organ intro, almost church-like with a lot of blues in it pulls in some fine piano and excellent backing vocals from the ladies. There are echoes of Country in the song too, blues and a bit of soul. Superb work on the organ and keyboards by his producer, and Savigar really testifies on the keys as Rod pours out his heart and soul. Talk about personal! Super little guitar solo, but again it’s almost note for note from Bon Jovi’s “I Want You”.

Rod has made no secret of his love of the music of Tom Waits, and the influence it’s had on his own music, and indeed he’s had two big hits with Waits songs. Here he takes a slightly lesser-known track, from the Mule Variations album, and does a great job with “Picture in a Frame”. I’ve never had an issue with his interpretation of Waits’ songs, and he doesn’t disappoint here either. For those who may not know it, it’s a simple, piano-led ballad telling the story of the realisation of the singer that his girlfriend means more to him than he had originally thought. Truth to tell, he also covers “Cold Water” but it’s a bonus track and I just don’t do those, so let me just say he also does a great job on that. “Sexual Religion” is another “old” Stewart style song, with Rod marvelling at the power a woman has over him, and what she can make him do.

There’s a certain sense of seventies ABBA in the song, with powerful production values and a strong female backing chorus, the track itself a mid-paced one as Stewart sings ”If there’s one thing I don’t understand/ It’s the power of a woman/ And the weakness of a man.” Yeah, and the rest of us, Rod! It’s kind of close to the general melody of his big hit “Do ya think I’m sexy”, but a much different song at the same time. More restrained and low-key is “Make Love to Me Tonight”, in which Rod takes on the persona of a working-class grunt, facing the hard times but determined to make it once his girl is by his side. Sort of similar, lyrically is not musically, to “Livin’ On a Prayer” - wonder if Rod listens to Bon Jovi? On a bouncing, mostly acoustic rhythm, it’s an us-against-the-world song full of passion and optimism, and recalls some of Rod’s harder times, such as when he slept under the bridges in Paris while gigging, and it certainly speaks to the everyman in us all. Simple, perhaps simplistic, with a nice Celtic lilt to it, it’s hard not to be engaged by its almost blind, determined sense of hope.

That old bugbear however resurfaces in the closer, and it really is a pity because it’s such a beautiful song, and a perfect way to end a really strong album. Maybe I’m just being a pedant and overly critical, but listen to the melody of “Pure Love”, and if you know the song you can’t help but hear the 1952 classic “You Belong to Me”, not to mention that the opening intro is “Send in the Clowns”. But that aside, it’s a touching, emotional message to it would seem one of his daughters, a father’s advice, carried on gorgeous piano and violin, with a heartfelt vocal as Rod sings ”Don’t ask me now where all the time has gone/I’ve loved you since the minute you were born”. A truly stunning upsurge of orchestral strings near the end just paints the final stupendous layer on a finale to what is truly a remarkable album, and a real tribute to a man who has seen it all, done it all, and is, in the words of one of his contemporaries, still standing.

TRACK LISTING

1. She Makes Me Happy
2. Can’t Stop Me Now
3. It’s Over
4. Brighton Beach
5. Beautiful Morning
6. Live the Life
7. Finest Woman
8. Time
9. Picture in a Frame
10. Sexual Religion
11. Make Love to Me Tonight
12. Pure Love

Look, you can all laugh: I’m used to that. People read a review of Andy Williams (not yet), Neil Diamond or Pixie Lott in my journal and make choking noises, and move on. Doesn’t bother me. But it’s sad if you avoid this album purely on the basis that it’s Rod Stewart. As I said, I’m no big fan but I was quite amazed by how mature and accomplished this album is, given that he could have just trundled out another greatest hits or even a by-the-numbers album of pop singles, paying others to write for him. He didn’t. This is, first and foremost, a personal account of where he has been, what he’s learned and how he’s dealt, in different ways, with different situations, to arrive where he is now.

If you leave your prejudices at the door and wipe that disparaging grin off your face long enough to give this album a chance, you may find that you’re pleasantly surprised. I know I was.

Rating: 9.0/10
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Old 10-10-2021, 05:28 AM   #29 (permalink)
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Originally posted in Love or Hate? August 15 2015


Title: Monument
Artiste: Cor Scorpii
Genre: Melodic Black Metal
Familiarity: Zero

1. Ei fane svart: Now this is interesting! Melodic Black Metal? Melodic? And they're Norwegian, too. Well, mythsofmetal hasn't steered me wrong yet, so... Opening with piano, that's hopeful certainly. Expecting a big nasty guitar or a roar of .... and there it is. Strong, but almost in a Power Metal way? Ragged vocal, no real surprise there. Put him to one side and let him rant away and concentrate on the music. Guitar work is great and there's some sort of choral vocal thing going on, which almost makes me think of this more in the vein of Viking or Pagan Metal really.
2. Endesong: Not letting up here (you wouldn't expect them to now would you?) but yes indeed some very melodic music if you kind of shut out the vocalist. Nice orchestral piece at the end. Ok, not the end, but near it.
3. I, the damned: Two of these tracks are in English, and this is the first. Not that it matters, as I can't make out a word this guy is singing, but still. Pretty damn fine melody. Sounds like violins there. Breaks down on some nice piano too later on in the song. Kinda hear a few progressive metal elements in here.
4. Our fate, our curse: The other English one, but to be honest I don't feel it has much going for it. Pretty generic.
5. Helvetesfossen: This sounds much better, and is an instrumental which means I don't have to listen to the scratchy vocals. Everybody wins!
6. Oske og innskit: ... and he's back! Good rattling guitar here. You know it's odd, but there's someone credited with “clean vocals” (think he's the keyboard man) but I have yet to hear ... oh right. I hear them now. Well. Yeah, they add a different dimension to the music. Guitar work is amazing here at the end.
7. Kjettar: This is just totally chaotic. Nah, not feeling this. Um, is that harpsichord? Really? Goes into a kind of reel at the end...
8. Bragder i stein: Kind of like a mixture of folk, pagan and black metal. Not bad, not bad.

End result: As Black Metal albums go, this is pretty good, and I can see why the term “melodic” was added. It's certainly a lot less br00tal than some BM I've listened to. Vocals still put me off though. Decent, but I wouldn't see myself returning to these guys any time soon.

So, Love or Hate? Still, for what it is I didn't hate it, so it gets a Love.
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Old 10-10-2021, 05:32 AM   #30 (permalink)
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Originally posted in Trollheart Listens to Every Album on Wiki's List for 2017, February 24 2018


Album title: Burials in Several Earths
Artist: BBC Radiophonic Workshop
Genre: Electronic/Ambient
Nationality: English
Release date: May 19
Position in Discography: Twenty-fourth
Estimated Rating:

Have I heard of this artist? n/a
Have I heard anything by this artist? n/a
Average RYM Score: 3.27
When I read the artist here I assumed it was just an artsy-fartsy name for some ambient producer or band, but no: this is THE BBC workshop that brought you such amazing sound effects as those you hear on Doctor Who, Blake's Seven, The Hitch-Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, Quatermass and other well-loved and some obscure programmes (mostly sci-fi) transmitted on the BBC – some on the radio - since about the 1950s. I'm not quite sure what the point is in releasing this though, but it certainly gives an insight into the massive amount of work that went into making all those spooky, eerie and occasionally disturbing sound effects that populated the shows I used to watch as a kid. Oh, I see the workshop was forced to close in 1998 and this is one of many efforts to catalogue and release music and sounds created by them in their heyday. So, a kind of retrospective, of sorts. Well this is certainly interesting. It's hard, almost impossible to review though. There are some nice piano runs, synthy soundscapes, but mostly weird sound effects that those of us who grew up in the seventies on this side of the water will remember fondly. I imagine OH and Frownland will find a lot to like here, but this could likely be listened to and enjoyed by just about anyone. It's hardly an essential album, but definitely worth a listen.

Check out more from this artist? n/a
Check out more from this genre or subgenre? n/a

Actual Rating: 10/10 (For historical reasons, and as a mark of respect)
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