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Trollheart 09-30-2021 07:36 PM

From the Vaults: Trollheart's Album Reviews Thread
 
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Over the course of my ten or so years here, I've reviewed a few albums - I reckon it must come close to in the region of 2,000, between threads and journals - but most if not all of them are now buried so deep in the forum that you'd need a strong bathosphere and a good supply of oxygen, plus a lot of time on your hands to even find them. My journals, in addition to being submerged in the lower levels now of the system, are like old, dilapidated houses left to rack and ruin. Broken video and image links, hundreds of pages of material just waiting to be read but never likely to be.

It's a lot of work, and represents really almost a sixth of the time I've been on this planet, and though I loved doing the reviews back then, I've moved on now and with a few exceptions - my Prince journal, my Iron Maiden thing, and of course the History of Prog Rock - I no longer write album reviews, nor do I intend or want to. But it seems a shame that all that work should go to waste, as it were: lost, hidden away, unread by human eyes, so I've decided to start salvaging it.

Here I'll be collating all my album reviews, from journals and threads I no longer update. My tastes are not as eclectic as some - and there are those who would and will say they're downright boring, and maybe they're right, but after all it's in the eye (or in this case, the ear) of the beholder - but in my time I reviewed everything from prog rock to... prog metal.

No, seriously: my journals were the only place where someone once said (think it was me, but however) you could find a review of an album by Pixie Lott followed by one on Black Sabbath. A prog and metal head from the start, I was turned on to other music by people here, and accordingly reviewed a lot of it, so you will find pop, metal, prog, country, folk, even classical in my reviews. I even tackled the odd musical. So with a bit of luck there should be something here, at some point, to interest everyone.

I never only reviewed albums I liked (or hated), but tried to give a decent flavour of my record collection, and very often I would review an album I had not heard at the same time as I was listening to it for the first time, so some of my comments are interesting to say the least, as I listened to and learned about an album, with no idea as to whether I would like it or hate it. I did, however, always try to give every album a chance, and seldom rejected anything out of hand.

You'll find different styles and formats surfacing here, as I'll be taking reviews from everything from The Playlist of Life (my original and main music journal) and Trollheart's Listening List to Love or Hate? and Trollheart Listens to Every Album on Wiki's List from 2017, from Classic Albums I Have Never Heard to Trollheart Reviews the Music You Hate. Anyone who knows my work may recognise these reviews - none are new and many were written as long as ten years ago - so this may not be of interest to you (or it may), but I hope to provide these writings for those who have not yet read them, or know of them, and perhaps give them new life of a sort.

Anyway, enjoy. If there's an album you want me to post, and I have it and have reviewed it, I'll do so, but unless you can really convince me why I should, I don't intend to write reviews of any albums I either have and have not written about, or new ones I don't have.

Comments as always welcome, and Batty, this is not a rec (recommendations) thread - cue Batty with twenty outlandish recs! Right then!
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Trollheart 09-30-2021 08:05 PM

Originally posted in The Playlist of Life, April 30 2013

Flaunt the Imperfection - China Crisis - 1985 (Virgin)
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Nationality: English
Genre: Synthpop/New-Wave
Familiarity: The hit singles only

A band whose singles I know but whose albums I have heard not one of. I have to say though, pretty much everything that I have heard from them to date I have enjoyed; whether that will turn out to be that the singles were all just their best output and the albums largely uninteresting I don't know, but you can't really judge any artist by their singles. Sometimes the songs released are not that typical of the band's usual output, and are chosen as being the most commercial and therefore the ones most likely to make an impact in the charts, thereby raising the profile of the artist, while other, often more experimental or interesting or just atypical tracks are left on the albums, to be heard only by those who are sufficiently interested to buy them.

It never really struck me to go buy one of China Crisis's albums, and even now I'm maybe not expecting all that much. Seems like their last recorded output was almost twenty years ago now*, so are they still around? Well, yes they are, but since the late nineties they seem to have concentrated on live work only, with pretty much the two founder members forming the mainstay of the band, while others - both previous and new members - have come and gone in a fairly fluid state of affairs. Looks like their last concert was a sell-out last year though, and not in a bad way, so I wouldn't count them out just yet. Who knows? Maybe they'll come back with a new album soon.

But for now, this is what we have to judge them by. One of their more successful efforts, it cracked the top twenty in the album charts and also yielded them three singles, though only two were successful. Of those, though, one hit the top twenty and one just inside that; their biggest hit single was "Wishful Thinking" from the prior album Working With Fire and Steel. This starts off with an almost oriental melody as "The Highest High" gets us underway, an uptempo pop song with some nice keyboards and the by-now familiar voice of Gary Daly sounding to my mind very like Francis Dunnery from It Bites. There's a nice pleasant whistling sound set up by the synth, with soft, laidback drumming and rippling piano, a slick little bass line and it's a good opener. It's typical of a lot of the, shall we say, inoffensive pop of the eighties, not meaning to be scathing here or anything. It just doesn't punch you as some of the music from that era did; there are no heavy political messages, just some guys having a good time making music. And there's nothing wrong with that at all.

"Strength of Character" starts on some high guitar and flowing piano and synth, much slower and relaxed than the opener, though there's a sort of faster percussion set up within the song. It reminds me of Paul Muggleton's best work with Judie Tzuke in the late seventies and early eighties. Super little bit of sax work from Steve Gregory, then one of the less successful singles from this album is up next, with a nice funky guitar and bassline: I always liked "You Did Cut Me" and it bops along nicely, again with some great sax from Gregory, smooth keys from Daly, and a nice arrangement of brass giving the song something of a soul vibe. Great restrained little guitar solo from Eddie Lundon too. The song has a lovely little hook which really should have seen it go further in the charts than it did. That statement can't be levelled though at "Black Man Ray" which was the biggest hit from this album, and China Crisis's second-highest chart placement.

Built on a new-wave, almost Yazoo-style bass line and some perky piano, it's a cool little ballad that trips along on the gentle vocal of Gary Daly, again with a great hook in it, and a wonderful little, again oriental almost, keyboard riff that really forms the chorus without any words. Lundon also gets in a really slick little guitar solo, but it kind of fades out a little too weakly for my tastes, taking us into "Wall of God", which opens with an almost orchestral synth introduction then pumps the tempo back up to the level of the opener, a very upbeat little song again driven on a great bass line with some flowing keys and percussion that ticks along without getting overbearing. Very new-wave style keyboard solo, somewhat reminiscent of Depeche Mode or Fiction Factory, then Lundon rips off another fine guitar solo, and the oriental type piano returns. Gary Daly's vocal throughout rides above everything, the focus of your attention, his voice a little high and lilting in that almost-feminine sound many new wave vocalists of the time seemed to have.

This one ends much better, although it too fades, on a great combined guitar and keyboard solo, and we're into "Gift of Freedom" which opens with staccato, jerking synth then jumps into a mid-paced rhythm with solid keys and sharp guitar. It picks up pace soon after opening though and becomes a pretty upbeat song with a really nice vocal line. There is something more approaching a message in this song as Daly croons "Will this whole damn world/ Fall down?/ Before we learn to share/ What we've found?" Again, nice use of the brass section here, then the final hit single keeps the tempo high, in fact upping it considerably as "King in a Catholic Style" runs on what sound like pan pipes on speed, but is obviously synthesiser, hollow almost African drumming which is then joined by a superb little bass and an almost hurried vocal from Daly. Nice rippling piano on the chorus, and the drumming is now more natural and skipping along nicely. Lundon shows here what he can do on the guitar, delivering one of the best solos on the album so far. The song is though driven on the uptempo keyboard line, everything coming right back down then for the slower but yet poppy "Bigger the Punch I'm Feeling", which has I feel something of a Level 42 taste to it.

Nice jazzy guitar in this, and though I hate that handclap drumming it works well here and doesn't annoy me. Some lovely keyboard work from Daly in addition to his fine vocal, and more smooth contributions from the brass section, particularly Steve Gregory. Great backing vocals on this too. It ends on another slick little guitar piece from Eddie Lundon, taking us into "The World Spins, I'm Part of It", with an almost Genesisesque keyboard line which then metamorphoses into an uptempo, boppy song with the odd trace of calypso in there somewhere. Another star turn for the guys on the trumpets, sax and 'bones, it also has some squeaky keyboard from Daly which kind of resembles a harmonica sound with a pitch bend or something on it. Not my favourite track I must admit, but not bad. The album then closes on "Blue Sea", a soft atmospheric synth with attendant sax and sparkling piano, very laidback and relaxed, though to be fair I wouldn't call this a ballad. Strange in a way, that none of the ten tracks on this album other than "Black Man Ray" could be classed as a ballad. I would have expected more. Nevertheless, this is a gentle and tranquil way to end the album, and overall I must say I'm rather impressed.

TRACK LISTING

1. The Highest High
2. Strength of Character
3. You Did Cut Me
4. Black Man Ray
5. Wall of God
6. Gift of Freedom
7. King in a Catholic Style (Wake Up)
8. Bigger the Punch I'm Feeling
9. The World Spins, I'm Part of It
10. Blue Sea

So would I become a fan of China Crisis? I wouldn't go that far, but I'd certainly listen to some more of their output. There's nothing here that disappoints me or turns me off, and in general I'm pretty satisfied with what I've heard. No massive revelations, no sudden impulse to log on and purchase all of their material, and no huge desire that they should release anything new. But I can see why they were so popular back in the eighties; in fact, given their somewhat limited success in the charts I wonder they weren't better known and liked. Maybe they just didn't stand out from the crowd enough to mark them as really special. In fairness I'd probably agree with that. Good music, good band, but in the end perhaps lacking that certain x-factor that would make them a great band, and a must-listen.

Trollheart 10-01-2021 12:56 PM

Originally posted in Trollheart's Listening List, December 13 2015
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Note: For those unfamiliar with my colour coding, at the time this was the key I used.
Terrible Meh Great Wonderful

The big red number refers to the album's position in the artist's discography (in this case, third) and the little guys with the headphones at the end, well I assume that's self-explanatory.

Title: Beings
Artist: Lanterns on the Lake
Year 2015
Nationality: English
Genre: Indie Rock
Familiarity: I've heard and loved Gracious Tide, Take Me Home
3
Expectations: I don't know. There were mixed reviews for the followup, Until the Colours Run, but I've not yet heard that. I'm hoping this will be more in the style of the debut than the second album. Either way it will be great to hear Hazel again.

1. Of dust and matter: After some radio-tuning noises and effects we're greeted by a single acoustic guitar strumming slowly, and then that angelic voice of Hazel Wilde, with crying synth rising behind her like some sort of banshee. Beautiful lonely piano now as Hazel's voice rises in passion, and it's a strong, strong start and augurs well for the rest of the album. Rolling percussion and really sprinkly piano as we rise towards the conclusion of the song.
2. I'll stall them: Beautiful piano and sweet trumpet leads this in, then it gets pretty passionate and powerful as it goes along, Hazel's soulful voice taking command with a great sort of again crying synth counterpointing the brass and making this just something quite special.
3. Faultlines: More uptempo with some busy percussion and rolling piano, a stronger vocal from Hazel but I feel it could end at the three minute mark whereas it continues on to five. It's not that it's overstretched, as such, but it does seem a little unnecessarily long. Still a great track though.
4. The crawl: The first since the opener to begin on guitar, joined then by Hazel's piano and another ethereal vocal. Love the sort of militaristic drumbeat that is somehow both incongruous and exactly fits. That rising synth (I'm beginning to wonder if it's guitar?) is back and it slots right into the feel of the song.
5. Send me home: Wondering if that's violin accompanying the piano at the opening of this ballad? Short but beautiful, the way LotL do so well.
6. Through the cellar door: Kind of a slightly Prefab idea about this I feel; midpaced with a really nice just gently riffing guitar that then bursts out in a quite unexpected punch, taking the song by the scruff before Hazel and her piano re-establish order. Nice to be shaken up once in a while.
7. Beings: If there's one thing apart from Hazel's voice that makes Lanterns on the Lake so special, it's her exceptional skill on the piano, and here she demonstrates it once again, almost without guile, like someone saying “Yeah, I can do this. So?” Almost as if it's not a big deal. Talk about self-effacing. More beautiful synth and rolling drums. Just gorgeous. Wonderful rising - I don't know: guitar? Vocal? Synth? Just beautiful.
8. Stepping down: I think there's some scratching going on here, or maybe it's samples, but against the serene piano line it really is so effective, almost like listening to the wind howling outside on a cold night as you sit by a nice warm fire. Has a very ambient feel to it.
9. Stuck for an outline: This is where Hazel shows she can coax some real power and almost anger out of her keyboard. Violin added in from Angela Chang helps to calm the song slightly, but there's an unaccustomed bitternness in Hazel's vocal here. Powerful percussive ending that almost, but not quite, shakes the overall feeling of serenity this album gives me.
10. Inkblot: This short track takes ethereal to a new level and is an amazing if slightly muted closer.

Final result: I'm sort of sorry that I have yet to hear Until the Colours Run, as I might have been able to say this is three for three; LotL got a lot of praise for Gracious Tide.. and sometimes we know the one thing music critics love is to kick their darlings, so the negative reviews of Colours might have been some backlash, the expected thing, the reaction to the dreaded second album: we'd better trash them or we won't be cool. Or maybe it was a disappointment, I don't know. But this one certainly isn't, and leading in my case anyway on from Gracious Tide, Take Me Home it's a pretty phenomenal followup.

Rating: :hphones: :hphones: :hphones: :hphones: and a half

(Sorry; almost all the tracks on YT are unplayable in my country, so this is the only one I could get.)

Trollheart 10-01-2021 07:54 PM

Originally posted in Bitesize, April 27 2013

Viva Espana!
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Artiste: Saratoga
Nationality: Spanish
Album: Vientos de guerra
Year: 1999
Label: Aspira
Genre: Heavy metal/Power metal
Tracks:
La iguana
Vientos de guerra
Mas de mil anos
Solo un motivo
Aprendiendo a ser yunque (Para llegar a ser martillo)
Heavy metal
Charlie se fue
Extrano silencio
Hielo liquido
El ministro
Estrellas las del cielo
Manos unidas
A sangre y fuego
Si te vas
Ruge el motor

Chronological position: Fourth album
Familiarity: Nemesis
Interesting factoid:
Initial impression: Christ! Something bad is coming for me! ;)
Best track(s): Vientos de guerra, Solo un motivo, Heavy metal, Charlie se fue, El ministro, Manos unidas
Worst track(s): I liked everything on this album.
Comments: It's always fun listening to metal in another language. The burden of deciphering lyrical themes is taken away and you have to just concentrate on the music, and the talent of the singer without knowing what he or she is singing about! I first heard these guys on their latest album, last year's Nemesis, and I loved it, so here I am checking out one of their older albums. I haven't heard too much Spanish metal, the only others being the old campaigners Baron Rojo and more recently Tierra Santa and Cain's Dinasty, but the more I hear the more I like.

There's an ominous yet exciting sound of hammer-drumming with single beats, like the stomping approach of some huge metal beast, then some guitar shredding before a Sabbathesque groove cuts in leaving the echoey drumming to fade out and we're into track two with all the power and bite these guys can muster. They're not quite as thrash-oriented as the aforementioned Cain's Dinasty, more often along the lines of the likes of early Sabbath or some of the older NWOBHM bands like Saxon and White Spirit, though in fairness this album is almost fifteen years old now. I am however constantly surprised by how easy it is sometimes to translate the titles of songs by Spanish bands: Solo un motivo is surely "only one motive" (or something close anyway) while Estrellas las del cielo certainly refers to stars in the sky, though I'm not sure what "las" means. A sange y fuego is "blood and fire" and even the title track looks to translate into something like "year of the war" or "time of the war".

Still, the titles are not important nor are the lyrics. I don't speak Spanish so can't tell you what the songs are about, but what I can tell you is that Saratoga (one of the larger metal bands in Spain, by all accounts) speak in the universally understood tongue of heavy metal, and they speak loud and clear! Great guitar work, without being showy or "wankery", solid, powerful drumming and a vocalist who really knows how to get the attention. What more could you ask for? They play mostly at close to top speed, again though without descending into breakneck farce, and you can hear the expertise in their playing. It's quite amusing to hear the only song whose title is in English, the appropriately-named Heavy metal is in Spanish --- wonder if the phrase means the same the world over?

Nice to hear that the vocalist can tone it down when required too, as on the grinding ballad Charlie se fue with a really fine guitar solo thrown in for good measure. Arriba! I also like the acoustic Manos unidas; shows what these guys are capable of.
Overall impression: A great metal album, credit to Spain. Who needs to be able to make out the lyrics, anyway?
Intention: Got to listen to a few more of their albums.

Trollheart 10-01-2021 08:10 PM

Originally posted in Love or Hate? August 12 2015
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Title: Familiars
Artist: The Antlers
Genre: Indie
Familiarity: Heard and fell in love with Hospice

1. Palace: All I can say is I hope this album isn't as heart-tearingly sad as Hospice: I don't think my soul could take that again! The track is opening on a lovely soft piano and synth line, beautiful sad trumpet and the vocals of Peter Silberman are as ethereal and angelic as ever. You really just feel like you're falling into a deep chasm when he sings, and it's a fall you don't mind taking. Already this is some of the most beautiful music I've heard in a long time. Is it just me, or is the cover meant to look like an overcoat, and then when you look closer it's two people embracing?
2. Doppelgänger : This time it's trumpet (or trombone, never can separate the sounds) that leads in the song, another slow, moody, fragile one, with piano coming in and Silberman's voice haunting the tune like a ghost patrolling the corridors of your mind, always just out of sight but you can sense he's there, keeping his lonely vigil. Female vocal coming in now, not sure who. Cello also makes its presence known and some fine, very light Fender Rhodes.
3. Hotel: Slightly harder feel to this, more guitar upfront, though the synth echoes seventies Pink Floyd and again it's a slow, relaxed tune.
4. Intruders: A more biting guitar, but again it's nothing like what you would call an uptempo song. Lovely organ and piano. Oh, and more trumpet. Gotta have trumpet. Some really lovely guitar here. Simple song but really nice. I think there's a harmonium or euphonium, or something ending in -onium anyway in there too.
5. Director: Vocal a bit stronger on this one, bit more passionate, but the song is still a relaxing, laidback ballad style with some gorgeous synth and fine guitar. Getting a certain Floydy vibe from this too. Just beautiful.
6. Revisited: Sort of a Country feel to this. Another lovely track.
7. Parade: I suppose I should say something, but to be honest I'm kind of running out of superlatives here.
8. Surrender: Trumpet really drives this one. So laconic.
9. Refuge: And a great closing track, as I expected at this point it would be.

End result: Not as emotionally draining as Hospice, luckily, but still I see this album as more described as one unit, an experience, almost like a symphony, and breaking it up into separate tracks sort of lessens the effect. Another wonderful album from The Antlers.

So, Love or Hate? After all the blue, you have to ask? True Love.

Trollheart 10-01-2021 08:24 PM

Originally posted in Trollheart Reviews Albums Nobody Cares About, August 24 2015 (pure coincidence, I do assure you)
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Burning Bridges --- Bon Jovi (2014)

Okay then, the first thing I have to say is **** me sideways with a cucumber but that is one horrible album sleeve! It looks like they just wrapped the thing in brown paper and asked a six-year-old to write on it! If this level of couldn't-give-a-****ness translates to the music, then I will be very disappointed and all you haters can laugh and point at me and tell me you told me so. Described as a “fan's album” (whatever the hell that is!) this is Bon Jovi's thirteenth studio album and their first since 2013's What About Now? Unlucky for some? I don't know, but apparently they're already planning the fourteenth for next year, so I wonder how much actual care and attention has been put into this?

Well, according to Jon, the album consists of “song that weren't finished, songs that were, some new ones...” Yeah, getting excited already, JBJ. No, not really. Hopefully I'm wrong, but this whole idea gives me the feel of something that's maybe contractual obligation, or thrown out to keep the fans happy till they can release their real album. Perhaps I'll end up eating my words, who knows, but right now I'm looking and feeling very small in my corner as I prepare to defend one of the most maligned and reviled rock bands since Nickelback.

1. A Teardrop to the Sea: Okay, this is a bit weird the way it starts, kind of downbeat, then that familiar and overused “Woh-oh-oh!” comes in. Nice basswork. Song reminds me of something off These Days, the chorus sounds very familiar. Bon Jovi are known of course for using the same ideas and themes in various songs. Can't place the melody but it is familiar. Not exactly the explosive start I expected, but not bad.
2. We Don't Run: This kind of sounds like a sub-Imagine Dragons song. Meh. Not very impressed I must say. Parts of the vocal are almost delivered in a rap style, and if I didn't know better I'd suspect Steinman's hand in the music, but he doesn't appear to be involved. Okay, it has that us-against-the-world motif that Bon Jovi use so much in their songs, and I will remember it more than the opener, but it's still a little substandard.
3. Saturday Night Gave Me Sunday Morning: Before I even start listening to this, let me say that I am sick of Bon Jovi using Saturday night in their lyrics. That said, it looks like it's going to develop into a decent song, but again, the melody is very familiar. Quite anthemic, probably the best so far.
4. We All Fall Down: The “don't let the bastards grind you down” message is getting a little stale. This is okay, but just okay. Slower song, though not what I'd call a ballad really. Another anthemic chorus. They're really writing for the kids now, which is a little silly, given the age of these guys.
5. Blind Love: Could I hope for a Waits cover? Thought not. Nice piano though, seems like this may be the first ballad. Alright, this is beautiful. Orchestral accompaniment? Can't tell; there's very little information and the Wiki and Discogs pages are useless. Don't even know who's taken Sambora's place on the guitar. Is there something in the fact that this is one of only two tracks Jon writes solo? On the rest he's mostly collaborating with either John Shanks, Billy Falcon or, on one, Richie, which I assume is an older track.
6. Who Would You Die For: This has a somewhat sort of trip-hop feel to it, another quite downbeat song; doesn't really do it for me. Great guitar solo. The middle eighth is stupid though.
7. Fingerprints: This is much, much better. Sort of a swaying balladic song, mostly on acoustic guitar.
8. Life is Beautiful: The “Woh-oh-oh!”'s are back. :rolleyes: I guess we need a bit of an uptempo track after the last three, but this is a little weak to be fair. Also, it's a little easy for a millionaire like Jon to tell us life is beautiful. Maybe it isn't for those sleeping rough or who can't find a job. Just sayin', it's not all roses out there and sometimes Bon Jovi seem to live in a world separate from the rest of us.
9. I'm Your Man: Please be the Wham! song, please be the Wham! song, please be the .... aw. :( That would have been so cool, and also funny. Oh well. Bon Jovi don't really do covers, and the chances they'd do that one... Meh, it's another throwaway. Lyrically it's very close to “I Could Make a Livin' Out of Lovin' You” from Crush.
10. Burning Bridges: Oh. Dear. God. No. Just no. A Country song? Dear God in Heaven, why?

Conclusion: Certainly not the greatest Bon Jovi album I've ever heard. Not the worst either, but some of the filler is hardly even good enough to be called that. There are some very good tracks, but whether they justify the pretty low-quality collection of songs that masquerades as an album here is very debatable. I suppose if you look on this as not really an album maybe you can get away with it, but all I can say is the next one had better knock it out of the stadium or I'll be seriously rethinking my devotion to these guys.

Rating: 3/10

Trollheart 10-01-2021 08:38 PM

Originally posted in Trollheart Listens to Every Album On Wiki's List for 2017, September 19 2017

Note: Sorry for all the different formats: I did warn you!

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Album title: Hai Noi Duo
Artist: Nguyên Lê & Ngô Hong Quang featuring Paolo Fresu
Genre: Jazz/Folk/World Music
Nationality: Vietnamese
Release date: January 13
Position in Discography: Seventeenth
Fear Factor: Low
Familiar with this artist? No
Familiar with the genre or subgenre? No
Check out more from this artist? Yes
Check out more from this genre or subgenre? Yes

The keen-eyed among you may have noticed that the last two jazz albums that came up on this list have not been reviewed by me, but it's pure coincidence that I could not find them. Guess some jazz is like that. I actually wanted to, but if it ain't on Spotify or the Y then I'm ****ed. I never expected this one to be on the former, but hey, it is, so let's give it a spin. Nice mixture of what I assume to be ethnic sounds and instruments with the normal jazz feel, and now what sounds like a native chant or possibly a didgeridoo or something similar. Very tribal anyway. Good so far. Some damn fine guitar work here, almost shredding. Yeah, this is, as Frownland would no doubt say, cool as ****. Real Asian melodies and rhythms with a jazzy base. If more jazz was like this I might get into it more.

The singing/chanting on “Like Mountain Birds” took me by surprise initially and I thought I wouldn't like it but it's really grown on me. Guitar work is pretty phenomenal too. Yeah, I really like this. Who woulda thunk it, huh?
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Expectation Index: 10

Trollheart 10-01-2021 09:01 PM

Originally posted in The Playlist of Life, September 21 2012 (I swear, the dates really are just a coincidence!)
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Last of a Dyin' Breed - Lynyrd Skynyrd - 2012
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Nationality: American, duh!
Genre: Southern Rock
Familiarity: "Freebird", "Sweet Home Alabama". That's it.

A sadly appropriate title in more ways than one, Lynyrd Skynyrd's latest album sees them reduced to one remaining original member, as those who survived the horrible plane crash that wiped out half the band in 1977 have left the band, passed away or been in some cases forced out, one by one. Remaining founder member Gary Rossington is however joined by some big names, including former member Ronnie Van Zant's younger brother Johnny, Blackfoot's Rickey Medlocke and the aptly-named Peter Keys on, well, keys. Overall, allowing for the hiatus the band took during the period 1977-1987, following the tragic crash and the loss of their friends and bandmates, this is Lynyrd Skynyrd's thirteenth album (not including a Christmas one; who does?) - let's hope it's not unlucky for them, although some would say that the guys have had more bad luck than any rock band should ever expect to, or deserve.

The familiar sound of the growling slide guitar opens the album before the drums thunder in and things get truly rockin' with the title track, and the Skynyrd train is rollin' again, full speed down the tracks! Hell, it might be the seventies! No-one would ever think to level the description of progressive in Skynyrd's direction, nor I think would they want to be seen as such. There's no real need for their music to develop; it's perfect as it is. The formula works, why mess with it? These are, after all, the godfathers of southern rock, and while you may be able to teach an old dog new tricks, you also risk getting bitten. Or to put it another way, if you grab a rattlesnake by the tail, better make sure you've got protective gloves on!

Slower and bluesier is the grinder “One Day at a Time”, with a great twin guitar attack and some fine vocal harmonies, a real workingman's song. Of course, I should point out that most if not all of the members of Skynyrd mentioned above have been with the band for years: it's just that this is the first of their albums I've heard since, well, ever. I have to admit to knowing nothing of theirs past “Free Bird” and “Sweet Home Alabama”; just never got round to it. To be honest, I really didn't think they were still around, but they're certainly proving me wrong, rocking with the same power and downhome honesty that characterised their popularity in the seventies and on into the late eighties and beyond. One new member though is ex-Black Crowes bassist Johnny Colt, who seems to fit right in, as if he's been here for years. “Homegrown” ups the tempo a little more, throwing in a good dose of ZZ for good measure, with powerful squealing organ from our man Peter.

Speaking of Mister Keys, there's a totally beautiful gentle piano intro to “Ready to Fly”, with just Johnny's voice accompanying it till some what sounds like violin comes in, shortly followed by the guitars and drums. A real southern rock ballad, with fine slide guitar and a heart as big as Texas. Er, Alabama, I mean. Okay, okay! Florida! Just doesn't have the same ring, y'know? Anyway, great big guitar solo that just rips the heart right out of you as Rossington lets us know he's still around, and not yet ready to ride into the sunset and follow those surviving bandmembers who have left the ranks. He certainly sounds like he's enjoying himself, as does Ronnie's brother, doing his late sibling proud. Some lush string arrangements add the final layer to this song, which at the moment I pick as the standout. It's also the longest track, just under five and a half minutes.

Surely must be a banjo starting off “Mississippi Blood”, though none is credited, but I wonder could that be Rickey Medlocke's grandfather Shorty, being drafted in? Nah, surely he'd have passed on by now! He sounded in his seventies or older when he guested on Blackfoot's “Rattlesnake Rock and Roller” back in '81. Tempo continues to rise with “Good Teacher”, one of those good ol' rock songs about “wimmen”, then there's a tear coming to my eye for the poignant “Something to Live For”, with some deep soulful, almost gospel organ from Keys and a deep political message in the mould of Springsteen or Earle. You can hear the pain in Johnny's gravelly voice as he sings about the breakup of his relationship, linking it subtly to the breakup of society in the USA, and that pain comes through almost as a palpable force through the emotional guitar solo unleashed by Gary Rossington.

The only song on the album not written by Skynyrd, “Life's Twisted” seems to have been composed by two of the members of Black Stone Cherry, and it's a good edgy rocker with a great piano and organ line, but true to their reputation Skynyrd are in fact first and always a guitar band, and this is shown by their having no less than three guitarists, in Medlocke, Rossington and Mark Matejka, with Marilyn Manson's infamous Johnny 5 even adding additional guitars! This all shows in hard rocker “Nothing Comes Easy”, another workingman's anthem with a real boogie feel to it, and not surprisingly some excellent guitar solos.

With a sort of feedback start and somehow putting me in mind of the American Civil War, “Honey Hole” is not what I expected at all. With a title like that I thought we'd get a rabble-rousin', drinkin', screwin' goodtime song, but though it breaks out for the chorus into a big guitar sound, the song is mostly hard acoustic, with harmonica and slide, then halfway in we get the big southern rock guitar part we've been waiting for, and it has been worth the wait. Quite a lot of Zep in this one, methinks. And we close on the philosophical “Start Livin' Life Again”, a powerful blues statement of intent, with banjo and some truly exquisite guitar from Rossington; if ever a man let his instrument do his talking for him, you're hearing it right here.

Earlier I voiced the hope that this, Lynyrd Skynyrd's thirteenth album, would not be unlucky for them. Having listened to this, I think I can promise that's very unlikely. I'm sure we'll be hearing a lot more in the coming years from the kings of southern rock, as it seems this is one band that stands up even to death himself. Don't fear the reaper? Don't think it ever crossed the minds of these guys! They just go from strength to strength, laughing in the face of adversity - well, perhaps not laughing, that would be disrespectful to the memory of their fallen comrades. But they keep that memory alive by continuing on the legacy Ronnie Van Zant, Steve Gaines and the others started, and making sure their work goes on.

As Frank Marino once remarked: ain't dead yet.

TRACK LISTING

1. Last of a Dyin' Breed
2. One Day at a Time
3. Homegrown
4. Ready to Fly
5. Mississippi Blood
6. Good Teacher
7. Something to Live For
8. Life's Twisted
9. Nothing Comes Easy
10. Honey Hole
11. Start Livin' Life Again

Rating: 9.8/10

Trollheart 10-02-2021 06:17 AM

Originally posted in Bitesize, May 7 2015
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Artiste: John Grant
Nationality: American
Album: Pale Green Ghosts
Year: 2013
Label: Bella Union
Genre: Synthpop
Tracks:
Pale Green Ghosts
Black Belt
GMF
Vietnam
It Doesn't Matter to Him
Why Don't You Love Me Anymore
You Don't Have To
Sensitive New Age guy
Ernest Borgnine
I Hate This Town
Glacier

Chronological position: Second solo album
Familiarity: Zero
Interesting factoid: The title of the album refers to a line of trees that stand on the highway outside his home
Initial impression: Oh man! Dancy synthpop? This is not what I expected :(
Best track(s): GMF, Vietnam, It doesn't matter to him, I hate this town, Glacier
Worst track(s): Black Belt, Sensitive New Age Guy
Comments: Apparently John Grant used to front alternative rock band The Czars, but I don't know anything about that. I've never heard of him, so this will be a classic “Bitesize” review as I dive headlong into unknown territory. Will I bang my head on the rocks and drown? Will I swim like a dolphin in the clear blue sea? Will I even remember I can't swim? Well we open with a thick bassy synth line which gives way to an echoey vocal before the percussion kicks in. It's odd, because looking at the guy on the album sleeve synthpop is not what immediately comes to mind: I expected this to be a Country, if not Folk sort of album. Some good synth hits there add a sense of drama to the song, which I have to admit right away doesn't impress me that much, but let's give it a chance.

Ah, now here we go. The second track is much ... worse. Don't like this at all. Very disco-dancey and sort of Europop I feel. Meh. In fairness, “GMF” is much much better (seems it stands for Greatest MotherFucker), a nice acoustic-y ballad with a clever lyrical line in it and a real hook. And “Vietnam” is beautiful, with orchestral arrangements that are lush and sweeping, a soft vocal and some handclap percussion that somehow is not incongruous. The slow, laidback --- and yes, folky --- influence remains through “It Doesn't Matter to Him”, as the album slowly but consistently gets better than I had expected, or hoped. After a rocky start, I'm really getting into this now. “Why Don't You Love Me Anymore” is darker, has a sort of almost complaining, moany feel to it, very bleak and self-pitying; not sure how I feel about it. I don't hate it, but I sure don't love it, and the addition of Sinead O'Connor on backing vocals does nothing to help.

“You Don't Have To” gets things back on track, some pretty mad organ in there, nice kind of stuttering bass too, not mad about “Sensitive New Age Guy”, too dancy and poppy for me, very electrobeat or whatever the fuck it's called; reminds me of Depeche Mode or Yazoo or some shower like that. Erasure maybe. Yeah, Erasure. Cunts. “Ernest Borgnine” slows it all down while still bringing in the thrumming, throaty synth and also some nice sax. A cool little bitter ballad with a lot of Divine Comedy in “I Hate This Town”; really like this one, possibly my favourite. Sort of a mad Carpenters-on-crack vibe from this too. Sinead O is back for the closer, “Glacier”, with some totally gorgeous orchestration, a laidback ballad with more bitter lyrics, it swells triumphantly in the midsection as O'Connor lends her voice, but to be honest it could be anyone; she's just not that powerful a force on this album as I've heard her be on, say, The The's Mind bomb. She tries, but Grant holds court over everything. I must say I've really grown to like this.
Overall impression: Didn't like it at first, slow to get going but once it did, with a few little valleys it's mostly really quite excellent, with sharp lyrics and a real couldn't give a fuck attitude that's refreshing.
Hum Factor: 7
Intention: I think I'll listen to some of his other stuff.


Reviewer's Later Note: This is what I mean when I say I often - very often - reviewed albums as I listened to them for the first time. The impression it made, or didn't make, on me is carried through the review, and it's not something that can be contrived. It happens organically, sometimes against my will, sometimes to my delight. Here, I was quite prepared, after the first few tracks, to dismiss and hate this album, but I grew to really like and then love it as I went on, and now I'm a big John Grant fan. I always thought it was fun - hopefully also for those reading - to see how my preconceptions or original impressions were blown out of the water sometimes, as they were here.

Trollheart 10-02-2021 10:21 AM

Originally posted in The Playlist of Life, November 18 2014

Note: This was, at the time, for me anyway, an important review. Written as part of my occasional series Swan Song, in which I reviewed the final album before a band broke up, it concerned the bowing-out of one of the planet's biggest and finest progressive rock bands, who had decided to, as I saw it, take the chance to squeeze a few more dollars/Euro out of their adoring and long hard-pressed fans before vanishing over the horizon. Yeah, Pink Floyd had decided to call it a day, and the prevailing wisdom was quite vociferous in its dismay that they had brought the curtain down in such an unsatisfactory way.

Were those voices justified? Read on.

---------------------------------------------------
It's tough when a band breaks up. Tough on their fans, and tough on them. Whether it's an enforced end, such as with Ronnie James Dio dying, an unforeseen end as in Genesis, or indeed a planned lowering of the curtain like REM decided to do, it's the end of a era and quite possibly signals the end, to many people, of an association they have had for most of their lives. In some ways, it's probably like a death (sometimes, of course, it is exactly that), or the worst break-up you've ever had, and there's no going back, usually. It's not you, it's them.

Then there are the albums that get released after the band or artist has finished recording forever. Unreleased material. Newly discovered tracks, unfinished songs. Enough to squeeze out a whole new album after the artist has died, or retired. Posthumous albums - whether released after an actual death or just the end of the artist's career - are always a little hard to take. They can have a certain creepy quality, as you realise you're listening to the words and/or music of a man, woman or band who in many cases is no longer alive.

Although still with us, the corpse of Pink Floyd has been floating down the (endless) river for some time now, just waiting for someone to fish it out and give it the decent burial it deserves. There are those (and they are many and vociferous) who will tell you that Floyd died when founder and creative light Roger Waters left them in the acrimonious split to end all acrimonious splits in 1985, and indeed even before that, The Wall was 99% his vision and his project and the last album to feature him, The Final Cut, featured so little input from the other two members (and none at all from Richard Wright) that it may as well have been his solo album in all but name. Shortly after that he left the band to pursue that solo career, and Pink Floyd were considered all but dead. Hey, some - and they're not few - reckon Floyd should have split after Syd.

But I'm one of the few (hah) that enjoyed the two non-Waters Floyd albums that followed his departure, and while 1987's A Momentary Lapse of Reason and 1994's The Division Bell can't in fairness hold a candle to albums like Wish You Were Here, Animals or Dark Side of the Moon, I thought they were pretty cool. I've always been one of those who refuse to cry “Band X is no use without singer Y!” I went through the trauma of Fish parting ways with Marillion, got used to Genesis without Gabriel and enjoyed an Ozzy-less Sabbath. To me, a band is more than just a singer or a frontman, and those who whine that the band will never be the same without the main vocalist and/or creator/founder are I think doing that band a great disservice. And so it was that I was prepared to accept Floyd after Waters, and though it was odd to hear the songs without his distinctive, tortured voice, I thought Gilmour did a decent job. But when the final notes faded away on “High hopes” as The Division Bell came to an end, I, like probably everybody else, believed we were hearing the very last music ever to be released by this band which was now a shadow of its former self. With the death of Richard Wright in 2008, I mourned and thought well that is definitely it: they can't come back now. It's over.

But it isn't over.

Or is it? When news broke of a “new” Pink Floyd album there was of course a flurry of expectations and my own emotions went from disbelief to joy to finally settle on suspicion as the details began to filter through. Not so much a new album then as a collection of studio outtakes and cutting-room floor debris from the sessions for the last “proper” Floyd album. But the obvious question came up: if this material was not deemed good enough to find its way onto The Division Bell, why was it now thought suitable for release? What had changed? All right, the story goes that much of the music that appears on The Endless River was composed by Wright, and Gilmour and Mason wanted to create a sort of tribute to him, and that's all right as far as it goes. But to announce it as a new album? Was that not pushing it ever so slightly?

I'm reminded uncomfortably (numb) of a comment Gilmour made in the book Comfortably Numb: The Inside Story of Pink Floyd when speaking of the making of The Final Cut. He asked, “If these songs (the ones being considered for The Final Cut which had been part of the sessions for The Wall but had not made it) were not good enough for The Wall, why are they good enough now?” Indeed, David. Indeed. A question we must all have been asking ourselves about this "new" project.

So are they? Good I mean. It's a perfectly valid question: if, when making what should have been their final album, Gilmour, Wright and Mason discarded these pieces of music (can't really call them songs) then why should they be considered acceptable not only to be released now, twenty years later, but to form the basis of a so-called “new” Pink Floyd album? Have the guys suddenly realised they were after all better than they believed they were in 1994, or is it really just that they want to honour their fallen bandmate by presenting to the world music he wrote but which never saw the light of day, until now?

Or, indeed, as many have hinted and I have to also ask, is this new album, the last ever from Pink Floyd - and we have that officially: no Eagles “Hell freezes over” ambiguity here! - nothing more than an exercise in cynicism and money-grabbing, a last chance to make some cash off the hard-pressed fans in this troubled economy? And if so, shouldn't the remaining members of Pink Floyd hang their heads in shame, having already broken records by releasing arguably the biggest attempt to rip fans off with their Immersion boxsets, each of which contained approximately SIX discs PER ALBUM and cost in the region of 100 EURO EACH! Sure, nobody put a gun to anyone's head and forced them to buy the sets, but if, as a diehard Floyd fan, you had to have these, then even for the main albums you're looking at shelling out over a THOUSAND Euro! That's bigtime rip-off in my book, I don't care what anyone says.

So if, as one of these diehard fans, you outlaid the money on these sets in 2011, what would you expect from a new Pink Floyd album? I'd venture to say it would not be rehashed, re-recorded half songs that were not deemed good enough for the recording of The Division Bell. But that's what you get, and as this is your final ever chance to hear new (!) Pink Floyd music, do you buy the album and take a chance, or refuse to be the instrument by which Dave Gilmour buys a new house or Nick Mason adds to his classic car collection? This is Pink Floyd's final ever album, their swan song, as I note above, but is it one worth hearing? Or to put it another way, in the words of the ever-witty and acerbic humoured, and badly missed, Urban, is this The Endless River or The Endless Pension? After all this waffle - over a thousand words before we even get to the review, but that's me for you - and two decades, it's time to find out.
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The Endless River --- Pink Floyd --- 2014 (Parlophone)

The first thing I'm struck by, despite the album's filching of the last few words of “High hopes”, is the echoes (hah, again!) of 1987's A Momentary Lapse of Reason. That album began with the sound of a man rowing, and here on the cover of this album we see ... a man rowing. Well, punting, but it's very close. So the themes of rivers has been something flowing (sorry, sorry) through the post-Waters Floyd, has it? Well, no not really. Other than those two songs, which reference waters (ah, I know: sorry, I couldn't resist!) there's no real connection, but when you look incidentally at the track listing for both albums there are song titles there, many of which could refer to this album and its release: “What Do You Want From Me?” might be an idea of Gilmour's frustration at some of the reviews of the album, though if he's surprised at its reception then he should not be. “Poles Apart”? Sure. “High Hopes”, certainly, though probably in vain. Not to mention “Coming Back to Life” and, er, “Lost For Words”. As for A Momentary Lapse? Well “A New Machine” is a possible link, as is “Yet Another Movie”, but in reality I think the closing track from that album sums up a lot of feelings about the direction this has gone. Yeah, “Sorrow” more or less covers it.

But in all this analysis and all these clever, self-congratulatory comments, has the music itself become lost, relegated to the sidelines, a bit player destined to be overlooked as critics argue back and forth about the merits of releasing an album of basically extra tracks from a twenty-year-old recording session? Well not here anyway. Grab a set of oars, make sure your lifejacket is inflated, and take your seasick pills if you need them, cos we're climbing on board and we're going in.

Well, ambient they said it would be and ambient is definitely the feeling as “Things Left Unsaid” opens with a spacey keyboard and spoken words, sort of putting me in mind of the start of Dark Side of the Moon, then one big bouncy echoey drumbeat before the keys go into a melody that this time reminds me of “Signs of Life” from A Momentary Lapse of Reason. Gilmour's guitar comes in then, moaning and crying like a violin as the spacey atmospheric soundscape continues to pulse behind him, but it's now clear that, as ever, Gilmour is in charge and standing in the spotlight. In much the same way as, in the beginning, “Shine On You Crazy Diamond” rode on Wright's keyboard, but once Gilmour broke in he took the tune over, so too here he stands astride the piece like an undeniable colossus. Some really nice organ from the ghostly fingers of Wright before we're pulled into “It's What We Do”. Gilmour has said that this album is not for “the itunes, download-a-song generation” and needs to be listened to in one sitting, and you can see the intention there as the music all drifts together, one piece flowing seamlessly into the next, so that it's almost like one long symphony. However, it's hard to forgive the second track being basically the closing section of “Shine On” polished (sorry) up and extended. I do love the classic song - who doesn't? - but this is something of a cop-out. If these are unused tunes from the Division Bell sessions, why is such old material here? There are echoes of “Welcome to the Machine” too, particularly in Gilmour's chords. It drifts right back to the “Shine On” theme though, and as the piece comes to an end you're really waiting for Gilmour to sing “Remember when you were young”...

It's great music, there's no doubt about that. It's just that it is, generally, music we've heard before, and many years ago in most cases. “Ebb and Flow” sounds very close to the last few moments of “Shine On, You Crazy Diamond, Part IX” stretched out to an unnecessary and in some cases unsustainable two minutes almost, and while there are lovely organ and synth touches from Wright, as well as of course superb piano, it's a bit of a non-event. More looking back to “Signs of Life” then for “Sums”, throwing in some effects used in “Welcome to the Machine” with some shimmery keyboard before finally we get a proper attack from Gilmour as his guitar screams in fury at having been held back so long, but again it's “Welcome to the Machine” all over again. It's a great guitar piece, sure, and it reminds us what a god Gilmour is, but have the idol's feet turned to clay? There's nothing very new or innovative here. In fact, I'm surprised to say that we're now four tracks in and I don't hear anything resembling any track from The Division Bell, nothing that could have been considered for that album, as this is supposed to be.

Oddly, though this is all on one disc, Floyd (one assume Gilmour) seem to have published it almost as a double LP, with track sets broken up into "sides", like they used to be. Nostalgia rearing its head perhaps, or another attempt to make people feel they're purchasing an original Pink Floyd record? Hmm. At any rate, quickly then we pass into “Skins”, where Mason gets to unleash his expertise on the sticks, almost a drum solo with Gilmour adding little flourishes here and there. Only just over two and a half minutes but my lest favourite on the album so far. As Vim Fuego said in Bad News, can't stand drum solos. Then with more “Shine On” descending keys we're into “Unsung”, a mere minute of almost trancey keyboard with guitar screeching over it, reminiscent of The Wall I feel, as “Anisina” closes out "side two", sounding to me unaccountably like The Alan Parsons Project's “Time”. Weird. Very piano driven, nice tune, and at least it doesn't sound like any previous Floyd recording. The first one I've actually enjoyed on the album. Sounds like it has sax on it too: yeah, definitely sax, courtesy of Israeli jazz hornman Gilad Atzmon. Very stirring and dramatic.

Of the seven tracks that follow ("side three"), six are less than two minutes and three, weirdly, are exactly 1:43. Not only that, but they're the first three. “The Lost Art of Conversation” has a deep, luscious synth and Gilmour's high-pitched guitar, but then settles down to allow Wright's sumptuous piano to drive it. It is however only getting going when it's over, and “On Noodle Street” carries the tune into a sort of Knopfleresque slow boogie, with Gilmour coming much more to the fore and Guy Pratt filling in really well for Waters, as he has done for some time now. Electric piano from Wright comes in before “Night Light” returns the spotlight to the man on the frets, and again we're back shining on, you crazy diamond, with a slight, almost Genesisesque twist in the melody.

“Allons-y (1) gives us “Run Like Hell” revisited, with Gilmour cranking up the guitar and the tempo, Mason's drumming much more animated and the organ from Wright pretty much pushed into the background. It's derivative, incredibly and annoyingly so, but at least it kicks the album up the arse and gives you something to tap your fingers to, if not shake your head. In other words, it lifts the album out of the quiet, soporific torpor it has been sliding into and delivers something of a punch from an album that seemed to be falling asleep. An almost Bach-like organ takes “Autumn '68”, slowing things back down with a feeling of Pink Floyd meets Vangelis before we move into “Allons-y (2)”, which builds a lush soundscape on the synth, then kicks up into another memorable Floyd piece, kind of more “Run Like Hell” really. Then we have the pretty godawful (and terribly titled) “Talkin' Hawkin'”, which is essentially the spoken parts from “Keep Talking” extended, backed with a slow organ melody, the first appearance of those iconic Pink Floyd female backing vocals so associated with Waters and never, to my recollection, used after he departed. Nice guitar work certainly, but I could do without the Professor droning on. I didn't like it on “Keep Talking” and I certainly don't like the extended version. It's also very badly mixed, (the only one that is, and it's so odd it stands out) as Glimour's guitar and indeed Mason's drumming often overpower the spoken parts, making it hard to make out what is being said, which is pretty ironic for a song so titled.

And so we move into the final part of the album, or “side four”, with a strange little ambient beginning to “Calling”, then some moaning guitar and thick bass before the keys rise into the mix and an almost Arabic passage takes the tune. More nice understated piano, then guitar surfaces like some beast out of the depths. As the piece nears its end it drops back to soft piano, choral vocals and slow, echoey drumming and takes us into “Eyes to Pearls”, a definite vehicle for the strumming guitar work of Gilmour, but very – and I mean very - close in melody to Marillion's “Berlin”. Spooky. Rushing, crashing percussion washes over the tune and carries us away, and we find ourselves “Surfacing”, with acoustic guitar and more “Shine On” closing parts, with echoes of “Your Possible Pasts” there if you listen for them closely enough, or are as anal as I am.

There is some lovely interplay between Gilmour and Wright here though, and I'd probably class this as my second favourite, one of the longer tracks at just shy of three minutes. Personally, I think both in title, mood and music this would have been the perfect track to end the album on, but this is seen as a new Pink Floyd album after all, the last one ever, and the record companies will have their pound of flesh (“We're just knocked out/ We heard about the sellout”) meaning that the instrumental nature of the album has to be destroyed by a vocal song. Now while I really like “Louder Than Words”, it comes as something of a jarring experience after nearly forty minutes of pure music. Gilmour still has it as a vocalist though, and it's a good song, it's just it's a pity it's so transparently written as an attempt to hit the singles charts. One final sellout before you go, lads?

TRACK LISTING

1. Things Left Unsaid
2. It's What We Do
3. Ebb and Flow
4. Sums
5. Skins
6. Unsung
7. Anisina
8. The Lost Art of Conversation
9. On Noodle Street
10. Night Light
11. Allons-y (1)
12. Autumn '68
13. Allons-y (2)
14. Talkin' Hawkin'
15. Calling
16. Eyes to Pearls
17. Surfacing
18. Louder Than Words



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