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Old 04-18-2012, 10:56 AM   #1151 (permalink)
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Nothing's gonna change the way you feel about me now --- Justin Townes Earle --- 2012 (Bloodshot)


Ah, like father, like son! Just like his famous daddy did, Justin Townes Earle struggled with a heavy drug addiction which landed him in rehab and had him ejected from father Steve's band the Dukes until he got his act together. It seems he has, and like his dad, having beaten the addiction he's turned his attention fulltime to making music, this being his third full album. Justin began using drugs at the tender age of twelve, and by the time he was in his teens his habit was threatening to destroy his life. Luckily, he saw sense (no doubt drummed into him by his old man, who had gone through the same thing and knew what a destructive force drug addiction is) and got help, and since then he has become one of the rising new stars of the country music circuit, winning the American Music Award for Best Emerging Artist of the Year in 2009, plus nominations for album of the year for his “Midnight at the movies”, as well as artist of the year. He was awarded the AMA for “Harlem River blues” last year, so he definitely looks to have got his life back on track.

His middle name is of course a nod of appreciation to Steve Earle's late mentor and friend, Townes Van Zandt, to whom he dedicated an album some years ago. He's the son of Steve and his third wife, Carol Ann Hunter Earle, their only child, though Steve himself has four children in total, by different women. Justin espouses more the bluegrass side of country mixed with folk elements, and so doesn't quite follow completely in his father's rockin' footsteps, but he's still a chip off the old block, and no doubt the elder Earle is justifiably proud of his eldest child.

There's an immediate mention of Steve in the opening line of “Am I that lonely tonight”, when Justin sings ”Hear my father singing on the radio” --- a unique position to be in, indeed. The song is far more laidback than even the softest of Steve Earle's ballads, with a lot of acoustic guitar and some nice horns from Jordan Lehning. To my mind, J.T sound more like B.S than S.E, which is to say, he sounds more like Springsteen than his father. It's a nice gentle opener, with a very melancholy feel about it, while “Look the other way” is a little more uptempo, but still not what you'd consider rock. This is far more country flavoured with folk than the sort of country/rock his father favours and made popular. More upfront electric guitar here, courtesy of Paul Niehaus, with more horns carrying the mood of the song; possibly a little closer to Steve's early albums like “Guitar Town”, though again nothing as heavy or indeed hillbilly about this music. The title track then is a slow ballad, very bleak and mournful, in which Justin gets to stretch his vocal talents, a soft organ backing from Skylar Wilson setting the backdrop for the song, while jangly guitar again recalls the best of acoustic Springsteen. My only complaint, or comment, at this point, is that Justin's voice is a little too laconic, too much of a drawl, and doesn't seem to inject any real passion into the songs, at least so far. Almost more Chris Martin than Bruce Springsteen, in ways.

It's very relaxing and soulful, but I would like to hear the band break out and if not actually rock, then at least boogie a little. Just up the tempo and have some fun. And this is exactly what happens with “Baby's got a bad idea”, some happy horns and honky-tonk piano bringing a much-needed sense of fun and abandon into the mix, with a great little piano run by Wilson, almost bringing a sense of Dwight Yoakam into the music, then “Maria” keeps things fairly uptempo, with Justin's voice a little more animated, though you still can't imagine him jumping about on stage and shouting “How are y'all tonight?” (though he probably does). He's certainly inherited his father's songwriting talent, as he pens all the tracks on this album himself, and some of them are very good.

No epic tracks here, as you would probably expect. Like his dad, he tends to keep songs within the two or three-minute mark, one or two going over (one going under), with the longest just shy of five minutes. They're small snippets really, some only really getting going when they're over, but none outstay their welcome. Things slow down again for the swing-ballad “Lower East Side”, with a certain sense of his father's “Fort Worth blues” in it, some really nice upright bass and a great little saxophone solo from Geoff Pfeifer, then Paul Niehaus breaks out the steel guitar for the laidback and bleak “Won't be the last time”, his strings expertly crying along with Justin's sombre voice. Some mournful fiddle from Amanda Shires adds to the melancholic atmosphere of the song, and it has the real broken-down-crying-in-a-bar feel about it.

A powerful stab of organ chords changes the mood as “Memphis in the rain” kicks the blues away and rocks out nicely, the horns again adding to the sense of joy in the same way that they can add to the sense of bleak despair on other songs here. Amanda Shires adds her voice to the backing vocals here, and Niehaus's electric guitar carries things along nicely and at a respectable lick. Everything slows right back down though for “Unfortunately Anna”, an almost acoustic slow ballad reminiscent of Dylan or Cohen, with minimal backing, a song which really showcases his powerful if often understated vocal.

The closer, “Movin' on”, has a sort of bluegrass/hillbilly-***-rockabilly sense to it, some welcome harmonica from Cory Younts giving the thing a real Nashville feel merged with the best of the Delta blues. There's a certain feeling of yearning for change in the lyric, as Earle declares ”I'm tryin' to move on” but we get the idea it's not that simple. He notes ”Maybe I should find the moment/ Where my father broke my mother's heart in half/ Or I could just go back to New York City/ And just learn to live with it.” I would hazard this is a reference to his father leaving his mother for his fourth wife, and you can hear that he has some serious issues, pulled between loyalties to one parent or the other. This must indeed be hard, as he's decided to operate in the sphere in which his father holds court, and has, as already mentioned, played in his band.

As an introduction to the son of Steve Earle, it's an interesting revelation. Rather than try to emulate his old man, or copy his music, Justin seems to have carved out his own musical niche. It's not unique by any means, drawing on influences from folk and bluegrass to blues and jazz, but it's his own specific signature sound that he's trying to create and identify with, and for the most part, he seems to have succeeded. It can't be an easy thing, being the son of Steve Earle. No doubt he wants to succeed on his own terms, not just travel along on the coattails of his famous father, and for that he certainly should be applauded. He even resists the urge to include his dad on the album: whether Steve would have guested or not I don't know, as I'm unaware of their current relationship, but it's nice to see that the son is cutting his own path through life, and music, without relying too much on his famous name.

A chip off the old block? Perhaps, but Justin Townes Earle is fashioning his own block, in his own image, and doing very nicely, thank you very much.

TRACKLISTING

1. Am I that lonely tonight
2. Look the other way
3. Nothing's gonna change the way you feel about me now
4. Baby's got a bad idea
5. Maria
6. Lower East side
7. Won't be the last time
8. Memphis in the rain
9. Unfortunately Anna
10. Movin' on
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Old 04-19-2012, 03:25 AM   #1152 (permalink)
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Page 29-38

Dio: Without doubt one of the greatest vocalists to ever grace metal circles. His really early blues rock stuff with ELF was fairly average, but it was his early tenure with Rainbow where the Dio legend really started and was further strengthened on those two great albums he initially did with Black Sabbath (his third with them is just decent) As for Dio solo artist, I agree with what you've written here. His debut Holy Diver is his best ever solo work and after this it was a gradual decline in quality with each successive work. RIP Dio you were a true legend.

Neil Young: I've always been a huge Neil fan and especially on those albums with Crazy Horse. Now I pretty much can't stand Country music, but I am a fan of Neil Young's and the Eagles' rock/country style when these artists were putting out that sound, Harvest is indeed one of the great Neil Young albums.

David Bowie:Ziggy is one of the greatest albums of the first half of the 1970s and along with Low the absolute cream of Bowie's discography. Ziggy is also the most important album of the whole glam rock movement to boot as well. 1972 was such a great year for classic albums as well. David Bowie-Ziggy Stardust...., Yes-Close to the Edge, Lou Reed-Transformer, Wishbone Ash-Argus, Deep Purple-Machine Head, Black Sabbath-Vol.4 etc...

Robert Plant:Robert Plant as lead vocalist of Led Zeppelin is what hard rock is all about, Robert Plant as a solo artist is just downright medicore. His first two albums which often get good reviews sound downright flat and similiar to the average sounding Zeppelin album Presence. His flirtations with pop were ill-advised and in my eyes lost him a lot of credibilty as an artist. His voice also was never the best, but with Zeppelin it fitted the music perfectly, but on his solo stuff its basically revealed just how poor it can be. At a push the only solo album of his that I would say was really quite good was Fate of Nations. Equally Jimmy Page's work outside of Led is disappointing as well.

Previous Post:
Iron Maiden: Paul Di'Anno has been cemented in metal legend for his performance on those first two albums but sure I agree with what you've said, his voice wasn't suited to the arena type metal sound that Iron Maiden wanted to put out once Bruce arrived on board. Its thanks to that, that Maiden are probably the second most influential metal band after Black Sabbath. Iron Maiden under Bruce basically helped to create the power metal sub-genre.

Blake's 7-I love the cheap and bleak sets of the series, the whole series plays like part of the Doctor Who series of the mid 1970s, which was equally dark, morbid and low budget the Brain of Morbius, the Talons of Weng Chiang and Pyramids of Mars classics! They just don't sci-fi series like this anymore. Absolute classics!
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Old 04-19-2012, 04:42 AM   #1153 (permalink)
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Old 04-19-2012, 04:45 AM   #1154 (permalink)
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Great one this, from the Sisters of Mercy: it's called “This corrosion”.
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Old 04-19-2012, 10:09 AM   #1155 (permalink)
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Default Tips on how to write your own journal

Just a quick note to let anyone who's looking at starting a journal know that I have just begun a thread dedicated to that very subject. So, if you've been reading my journal in slack-jawed amazement and awe and thinking how the hell could I ever be that good, now you can try it yourself!

Seriously, if you're trying to start, or thinking of starting a journal here, or if you have one but it's not going as you hoped it would, then try checking out http://www.musicbanter.com/album-rev...ml#post1179957 and don't be afraid to post questions: that's one of the main reasons it's there.

Hope it'll help you. And if you don't personally need help, but know someone who does, point them in that direction.

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Old 04-19-2012, 01:42 PM   #1156 (permalink)
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown Soldier View Post
Page 29-38

Dio: Without doubt one of the greatest vocalists to ever grace metal circles. His really early blues rock stuff with ELF was fairly average, but it was his early tenure with Rainbow where the Dio legend really started and was further strengthened on those two great albums he initially did with Black Sabbath (his third with them is just decent) As for Dio solo artist, I agree with what you've written here. His debut Holy Diver is his best ever solo work and after this it was a gradual decline in quality with each successive work. RIP Dio you were a true legend.
I can't really add anything to that. I haven't heard the Elf stuff, though I will be listening to it all soon, as I put together my tribute next month. I was really disappointed that he didn't maintain the quality of "Holy diver" and "The last in line" on the subsequent albums, but what amazed me was how really bad some of them ended up being. Have you heard "Angry machines"? Still, he's probably my favourite Rainbow vocalist, and same for Sabs.
Quote:
Neil Young: I've always been a huge Neil fan and especially on those albums with Crazy Horse. Now I pretty much can't stand Country music, but I am a fan of Neil Young's and the Eagles' rock/country style when these artists were putting out that sound, Harvest is indeed one of the great Neil Young albums.
Neil Young I don't know all that much of, musically. I listened to "Rust never sleeps", the live album, about thirty years ago, but other than that I only know what I hear on YouTube, TV or the radio. I wasn't terribly impressed with "Harvest", to be honest, that being the first time I'd heard of it. As for country, you should try Steve Earle...
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David Bowie:Ziggy is one of the greatest albums of the first half of the 1970s and along with Low the absolute cream of Bowie's discography. Ziggy is also the most important album of the whole glam rock movement to boot as well. 1972 was such a great year for classic albums as well. David Bowie-Ziggy Stardust...., Yes-Close to the Edge, Lou Reed-Transformer, Wishbone Ash-Argus, Deep Purple-Machine Head, Black Sabbath-Vol.4 etc...
My first Bowie album was "Diamond dogs", then I tried "Low", but was too young and wet behind the ears to properly appreciate it. After that it was the inevitable best-of collections. I recently acquired his discography, so will be working through that. I reviewed "Heathen" a while back, thought it was a very decent album.
Quote:
Robert Plant:Robert Plant as lead vocalist of Led Zeppelin is what hard rock is all about, Robert Plant as a solo artist is just downright medicore. His first two albums which often get good reviews sound downright flat and similiar to the average sounding Zeppelin album Presence. His flirtations with pop were ill-advised and in my eyes lost him a lot of credibilty as an artist. His voice also was never the best, but with Zeppelin it fitted the music perfectly, but on his solo stuff its basically revealed just how poor it can be. At a push the only solo album of his that I would say was really quite good was Fate of Nations. Equally Jimmy Page's work outside of Led is disappointing as well.
Yes, highly overrated I found. Nothing like Zep material at all. I was very disappointed with "Now and zen". What happened to the legend?
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Old 04-20-2012, 05:47 AM   #1157 (permalink)
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Old 04-20-2012, 09:03 AM   #1158 (permalink)
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It's only when you start listening to Big Country's greatest hits that you realise how many great songs they had. Here's one called “Thirteen valleys”.
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Old 04-20-2012, 11:11 AM   #1159 (permalink)
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It's been a while since this section was announced by the Newsfoxes --- anyone wondering where the girls are, I gave them a few months off after the great job they did on the Pollys last month --- so probably about time I got off my arse and made it happen.

This section will feature artistes known for their expertise behind the keyboard, whether they're pianists, masters of synth or just great keyboard players. Expect to see everyone from Jean-Michel Jarre to Rick Wakeman and from Tony Banks to Sergei Rachmaninov in the coming months and years. The only stipulation I have to make here is that they have to have produced something solo: keyboard players in a band who have not done so cannot be considered for inclusion, no matter how great they are, as this feature intends to showcase albums created by and starring them. Some mention will be made of those who also play/ed in bands, just to give context, but mostly we'll be concentrating on their solo output.

We'll also just be featuring the one album from each artist. May not necessarily be their best, or most famous, but it should in all cases be the album that I consider to be the most representative of their talents. I'm also going to try to ensure that only those who play the keys as their prime, or indeed only, instrument get considered for inclusion. That doesn't include voice, but multi-instrumentalists like Peter Gabriel or indeed Kate Bush may find it hard to make the cut.

Probably a bad place to start, considering I'm not exactly a Dream Theater fan, but I was a little intrigued to see if their erstwhile keysman could make me feel differently about his solo work, so this is the one I've chosen to open the section with, for better or for worse.


Oceana --- Derek Sherinian --- 2011 (Music Theories)


Longtime keyboardist with Dream Theater up to 1999, Derek Sherinian has gone on to found both Planet X and Black Country Communion, and in addition has released seven solo albums, of which this is the most recent. For this album he has gathered together some stellar talent, including Steve Lukather and Steve Stevens on guitars, as well as Tony Franklin and Jimmy Johnson on bass. Sherinian has been called “King of the Keys” by Guitar World magazine, in deference to the rock and almost guitar approach he takes to playing keyboards, and indeed you can hear that right away on opener “Five elements”, where he easily matches the guitarist work of guest Tony McAlpine as he pounds along on a mid-paced rocker which he peppers with a very jazzy piano solo halfway in, showing off his expertise on the piano. Now I'm no fan of jazz, but I have to admit Sherinian knows how to play the keys!

The track returns to rock for the ending, borne mostly on deep organ, with “Mercury 7” coming on on a fast, almost Vangelis-on-speed synth, with nice guitar riffs again from McAlpine, the song rocking along nicely with solid drumming and squealing guitar, getting a nice progressive rock feeling as it rockets along.”Mulholland” swaggers along on a sort of walking, stride blues/boogie beat, with some elements of jazz thrown in for good measure, guitar duties this time taken by Lukather, Sherinian's keys going back to the organ melody of the previous track, with a nice little honky-tonk solo right in the middle. Gives me the impression of Steely Dan meets ELP, if you can envisage that, or your ears can!

“Euphoria” has much more of a Floyd feel, Lukather doing a passable Gilmour impression at the start, and it's a lot slower, the first slow piece in fact. But instrumental albums by their very nature can be terribly boring, and it takes a lot I find to listen to one all the way through. I think Vangelis is about the only one I can listen to again and again; even my favourite keyboard players like Tony Banks or Tony Carey use vocals on their albums most, if not all of the time. I find my attention starting to wander when there's no vocal to tie the music together --- although I love a good instrumental, but a whole album? Hard to maintain the interest.

Also very hard to review, as you're so restricted in what you can say. For what it is, “Euphoria” is a nice change of pace, but it does seem a little overindulgent --- the old problem I find with Dream Theater, it would appear, has followed an ex-member into his own solo work, much to my disappointment. Perhaps some habits are harder to break than others. Still, it takes a lot of self-discipline to keep concentrating on the music and to find things to say about it. To his credit, there are only nine tracks, and no epic monsters: nothing here is over six minutes, but even so, six minutes multiplied by nine is forty-five minutes (roughly) of just instrumental music. Tough call.

“Ghost runner” gets things up and, er, running again, with a splendid solo from the third guitar man to guest on Sherinian's album, the great Steve Stevens. It's a fast, rocky little number with of course plenty of keyboard fills and twiddling, but really it's Stevens' agility on the frets that makes this song what it is. “I heard that” has a mildly interesting mix of reggae and jazz, with some very good guitar from Joe Bonamassa, while “Seven sins” revisits Sherinian's prog roots with DT, a nice heavy Hammond and some very seventies-style keyboards, and the title, and closing track, finally introduces a recognisable melody, rather than just a sense of musicians jamming, but at this point it's way too late. I've lost all interest now and am just waiting for the album to end.

You could be kind and say that this album is a display of pure musical expressionism, or you could be unkind and say it's technical wankery and showoffism (is that a word? It is now) where the players just outdo each other to demonstrate how great they are, what notes they can play, how versatile they can be on their instruments. But whichever is the case, in my opinion it makes for a very sterile and boring album. More to the point, being the solo effort from a keyboard player, I found myself hearing more of the guitar than the keyboard, and that surely can't be good?

Not the greatest start to our new section, certainly, but we had to start somewhere. I think next time though I'll pick an album that has at least some singing on it. This purely instrumental stuff is hard on the old attention, and it's murder to critique. No more Derek Sherinian albums, that's for sure!

TRACKLISTING

1. Five elements
2. Mercury 7
3. Mulholland
4. Euphoria
5. Ghost runner
6. El Camino Diablo
7. I heard that
8. Seven sins
9. Oceana
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Old 04-20-2012, 07:19 PM   #1160 (permalink)
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