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Old 08-20-2012, 11:15 AM   #1491 (permalink)
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Tarot --- Dark Moor --- 2007 (Scarlet)


So, is this a concept album, or are the titles of the songs all just named after cards in the tarot? This is Spanish power metal band Dark Moor's sixth album, their third since the “rebirth” of the band following the departure in 2003 of all but two of the original lineup. The band that emerged from this parting of the ways then released a self-titled album in 2004, possibly to show that they were a new band, or that they were still a band. Either way, self-titling an album that is not your debut has happened before, but rarely, and you would have to come to the conclusion that they were recording as the “new” Dark Moor.

Opener “The Magician” is a heavy, dramatic keyboard-led piece, instrumental and just over a minute and a half long, serving I guess as the overture or introduction to the album. It has very progressive elements, some classical influences and is quite cinematic in tone. “The Chariot” gets things going in a very power metal vein, rattling drums, grinding guitars and expressive keys as the vocals are taken by Alfred Romero, with backing vocals from Nemesea's Manda Ophuis. “The Star” is more guitar-led, more straight ahead metal, romping along at a nice pace, with some good vocal harmonies, steamhammer drumming from Roberto Cappa, and some very Iron Maiden-style guitar work from Enrik Garcia.

“Wheel of fortune” ramps everything up further, with a big, dark sound on guitar and some very tight basslines. The vocal harmonies in this band are really quite impressive, and inform many of the tracks, lifting them a level above what they might otherwise be. The fretwork of Garcia and also Hendrik Jong, who is credited with “clean guitar”, whatever that is, is also not to be sniffed at. There's a return then to the style of the opener, with operatic style vocals and chanting on “The Emperor”, which is slightly more restrained in terms of tempo, and also features some of those “unclean/death vocals” I hate so much, though as in bands like Leaves' Eyes, they're only in the background and don't take over the song, where I can mostly ignore them.

Keyboards come more to the fore here, as the song becomes something more of a progressive metal track than previous efforts, and that continues into the next offering, “Devil in the Tower” riding along mostly on a bare piano line from Enrik Garcia which soon explodes into a big, powerful epic, with rather more of those “unclean vocals” than I would prefer. Not sure if Romero does those too, but the only other vocals credited are those of Ophuis, so I guess he does both. Great guitar solo, some fine shredding from Garcia in the middle, then it all slows down again and he's back on the piano, as the music becomes a sort of stately waltz, with strings-style keyboard and choral vocals.

This track is almost eight minutes long, but it's not the longest on the album: that honour goes to the closer. It's also the only one that I can say, with my admittedly minor knowledge of the tarot, is not titled for an actual card, the Devil and the Tower being separate cards. There's a great double-tracked vocal bit at about the sixth minute, where Alfred Romero harmonises with himself, then the whole thing takes off again as it crashes headlong towards the finish, ending on a somewhat bizarre little piano run. Things stay fast and powerful for “Death”, with more heavy keyboards and great vocal harmonies, Romero's rising high above the music, clear and strong; he really is quite a singer.

“Lovers” starts out on a punchy little guitar melody that reminds me of Boston, then settles down into a power metal groove, with a very clean vocal and the keys taking something of a backseat. I can't say that I've seen any concept running through this album, despite the links to the tarot, but then, I've failed to follow concepts before on albums without liner notes, so who knows? The point is, it doesn't really matter, as the music is good enough to carry the album on its own without any need for following a plotline. If it's there, and you can follow it, then more power (metal) to you; I can't, but it doesn't detract from my enjoyment of the album.

With some more Maiden-style riffs and elements, “The Hanged Man” takes off on a rocketride, with some very melodic keyboard passages, the vocal from Romero a little rougher and rawer here, but tempered by the honeyed tones of Manda Ophuis, then we're into the longest, and most ambitious track on the album. Using the works of Beethoven as its backdrop, “The Moon” runs for just over eleven minutes, and opens with a metal reworking of the famous Fifth Symphony, but it doesn't just “metal-up” Beethoven, rather it integrates his symphonic works into an epic track which has Romero on top vocal form, great work from Garcia on the keys and on the guitar, and powerful backing vocals as Dark Moor weave in and out of the Fifth Symphony expertly, obviously very familiar with the piece. As the song moves into its fifth minute there's a beautiful piano and guitar rendition of “Moonlight sonata”, which really works extremely well. Drums crashing in then fill the famous sonata out even more, and though of course there's no substitute for the original, this is very different, and yet very true to the composer's own work. As you might expect, this part is all instrumental, up until about the seventh minute when it takes off on one of Dark Moor's own compositions before re-integrating with the Fifth Symphony and bringing Romero's vocals back in.

It's a very powerful and interesting end to a good album, made perhaps great by the addition of this innovative piece. It certainly shows that metal has, at its heart, the traditions of classical music, and that not every metal band is about noise and anger, as people outside the genre seem to think. This is thoughtful, progressive music that really reaches deep down into your soul and stirs something there, and I look forward to hearing a lot more from Dark Moor.

TRACKLISTING

1. The Magician
2. The Chariot
3. The Star
4. Wheel of Fortune
5. The Emperor
6. Devil in the Tower
7. Death
8. Lovers
9. The Hanged Man
10. The Moon
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Old 08-21-2012, 09:20 AM   #1492 (permalink)
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This time out I'd like to look at ads for a specific product. There have been some great ones over the years (Kit-Kat and Guinness spring to mind) but I've always thought the different slants Weetabix put on the importance of eating a healthy breakfast have both got across the message and also made me smile. Here are some of my favourites.

Here's one from the 80s. It has pirates in it!
Spoiler for pirates:


Ever been menaced by animated cereal biscuits? “You betta know wot's good fer you!”
Spoiler for skinheads:


Our old friends Bugs'n'Elmer from the 90s...
Spoiler for Bugs Bunny:


Great one with Robin Hood, again from the nineties.
Spoiler for Robin Hood:


This is one of my favourites, with a great parody of “I will survive”.
Spoiler for Driving instructor:


Never trust Greeks bearing gifts... unless it's a box of Weetabix!
Spoiler for Wooden horse:


Haven't seen this one before, but yeah, it's quite good.
Spoiler for Your day:


Quite funny, and it has a talking horse in it!
Spoiler for Jockey:


Something similar, but damn funny, with a historical theme.
Spoiler for Battle:


And finally, this bad quality but funny one on the theme of Samson and Delilah, with apologies to Mister Jones!
Spoiler for Samson:
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Old 08-21-2012, 07:06 PM   #1493 (permalink)
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Slightly off-topic, but we're trying to get people interested in joining the MB Fantasy Football league. It's fun and if you watch the footy it adds an extra dimension to matches you wouldn't usually be that bothered about.

More here http://www.musicbanter.com/sport-rec...ll-league.html
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Old 08-23-2012, 11:32 AM   #1494 (permalink)
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Face value --- Phil Collins --- 1981 (Virgin)


The man you love to hate, it was certainly the case for me with Phil Collins' first album. Having listened to it the once and thinking in disappointment it's nothing like Genesis, I put it away, and it was some time before I fished it out again. Second time around, I could see the merit in it.

At its heart, "Face value" is a stark, morose album, as you might expect from a man who was going through his first divorce. Of course, we all know the big hit "In the air tonight", but my favourite track is the jazzy sax-driven ballad "If leaving me is easy". Just magical.

I also hated the oversaturation of brass and jazz influences on tracks like "I missed again" and "This must be love", and I really didn't (and don't) like his version of Genesis' "Behind the lines". But then there's the likes of the desperate, tragic "The roof is leaking" or the contemplative "You know what I mean" to balance those out.

Not a perfect debut, but on subsequent listens, I grew to recognise how hard it must have been, to bare your soul to the world, and hope it understood. It did.

TRACKLISTING

1. In the air tonight
2. This must be love
3. Behind the lines
4. The roof is leaking
5. Hand in hand
6. Droned
7. I missed again
8. You know what I mean
9. Thunder and lightning
10. I'm not moving
11. If leaving me is easy
12. Tomorrow never knows
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Old 08-24-2012, 06:50 AM   #1495 (permalink)
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When a young boy was found to have fallen down the town well, the great and good of the entertainment industry got together to write and release a song, the profits of which would go to help aid rescue efforts. Well, sort of. As Krusty the Clown explained to Kent Brockman in a news interview, “Those limos out back ain't free!” But although this might seem a harsh, even insensitive thing to say, it did display an open sense of honesty about where the actual proceeds of the charity single were going, an honesty which in other ventures of this kind has been somewhat lacking.

Well Wishers --- “We're sending our love down the well” --- 1991
Music and lyrics by Sting and Herschel Krustofski

The single was a gathering of a who's-who of the cream of Springfield talent: Krusty and Sting were the main instigators, and they were joined by Reinier Wolfcastle, Sideshow Mel, Mayor “Diamond” Joe Quimby, The Capital City Goofball, Troy McClure (you may remember him from such charity singles as ...), Bleeding Gums Murphy and, er, Doctor Marvin Monroe. The record, “We're sending our love down the well”, shot to number one on the back of both its celebrity appeal and the hope that sales of the song would help free the young boy.

Unfortunately, it later turned out that the whole “boy down the well”story was a hoax, perpetrated by Springfield bad boy, Bart Simpson, and when this was revealed sales of the single plummeted. In something of a twist of poetic justice, Simpson ended up himself trapped down the well, when he went to retrieve evidence which would have implicated him in the scam, but by then, well, nobody really cared any more. You couldn't blame them really: the “Lincoln Squirrel” had been assassinated!
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Old 08-25-2012, 01:18 PM   #1496 (permalink)
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Ah yes, Anthony Phillips, the “forgotten man” in the Genesis story. With them from the beginning, he played on both their debut album, “From Genesis to Revelation”, which was quite a long way from the prog-rock masterpieces they would later turn out, but a nice little album, and also on their first “real” album, 1970's “Trespass”, but then he developed a severe bout of stage fright. This is not a good thing to have in a band, and his doctor advised him he should quit the band for the sake of his health, which he did. We all know what happened to Genesis of course after that: under the guidance of Peter Gabriel they became one of the most important and influential and loved progressive rock bands of the 70s and early 80s, but after Gabriel left and Phil Collins took over they drifted more towards a commercial/pop sound, eventually losing it in 1982 when they released “Abacab”. They recovered slightly with the next few albums but eventually Collins himself left and the band more or less imploded under the pressure of trying to keep pace with the demands of the charts.

As for Anthony? Well, whether he recovered from his stage fright or not I don't know --- though I haven't seen any evidence of him touring ever --- but he certainly did not give up music. Far from it. After leaving Genesis --- and worldwide fame, had he known it --- behind, he released his first solo album in 1977, and has pretty much put out one a year since then. He's also guested on other albums, most notably ex-bandmate Mike Rutherford on the guitarist's first solo album, and again with ex-Genesis guitarist (but not bandmate, as he was not there at the same time) Steve Hackett's “Out of the tunnel's mouth". In addition, he has collaborated with figures in the world of classical and soundtrack music, like Joji Hirota and Harry Williamson. In total, he's recorded, played on or assisted with over fifty albums. Not bad for a man who was too scared to get up onstage with Genesis!

After a somewhat disastrous attempt at breaking into the world of commercial, chart music in 1983, Anthony swore to concentrate on film, classical and instrumental works, and in that sphere he has been rather wildly successful. This is his latest collaboration, a partnership with composer Andrew Skeet, and it's a double album.

Seventh heaven --- Anthony Phillips and Andrew Skeet --- 2012 (Voiceprint)


There are thirty-five tracks to get through here, but most stay within the 2/3 minutes mark, with one or two under 2 minutes, and just the one clocking in at almost seven, so it shouldn't be too hard to get them all reviewed. It opens, rather annoying and unsettlingly for me, with an operatic vocal. I personally have no time for opera (other than rock opera!): I just can't stand the high-pitched voices, and the fact that it's a story you're supposed to follow while being written --- and sung --- in a language foreign to me has always made it totally inaccessible to these ears. So opera is not what I want to hear as my first impression of this album. Still, like most of the tracks on this album, “Credo in cantus” is short, just over two minutes, and the music is certainly nice. Mostly driven on violin and guitar, with some nice plinky piano played by Andrew Skeet, it's not as harsh a vocal from Lucy Crowe as I often hear in the few operatic pieces I've been subjected to, and it's a slow piece, which gives way to “A richer earth”, a sumptuous strings arrangment carrying the melody, which gets a little heavier and more dramatic and builds to a crescendo, very film-like, and very moving.

Some nice rolling drums, as there often are in pieces of this nature, quite little in the way of guitar I have to say, but then although he made his name as mostly a guitarist, Anthony Phillips is a multi-instrumentalist, and plays at least eight different instruments on this album, many of them guitars but also piano, bazouki, oud and fylde. It's in the next track though, “Under the infinite sky”, that we hear his expertise on his instrument of choice, and though there is a lot of strings backup on the piece, it's mainly taken on the guitar melody, reminiscent of Steve Hackett's “Horizons” from Genesis's album “Foxtrot”. It gets a little frenetic, of sorts, halfway through, but then drops away into a heavenly, celestial strings melody that itself falls away to leave Anthony solo on the acoustic guitar to take the song to its end.

Nice harpsichordal opening to “Grand Central”, and though we're really reviewing this as an Anthony Phillips record, praise must also be given to his partner, who not only composes almost all of the album with him, but also plays the lovely piano melody on this track. Great violin attack too, taking the whole thing up a notch, then softer violin and classical guitar takes us into the lovely “Kissing gate”, very pastoral and relaxing, evoking memories of summer days and lazy warm nights under the sky. The strings swell here too, but the main melody is carried by the guitar and the violin, while “Pasquinade” has a very Mozart feel to it, with pizzicato strings and oboe, a slow stately piece with some lovely sighing violin coming in.

There's much more lively violin on “Rain on sag harbour”, a very short piece, just over a minute and a half, but it bounces along nicely, then another short track and a chance for Phillips to shine on the piano in “Ice maiden”, a beautiful little almost intermezzo on the keys, a solo piece for the composer, while lush strings carry “River of life” alongside his gentle acoustic guitar lines, but he really breaks out the classical guitar for one of the longer tracks, almost four minutes of “Desert passage”. Almost a solo spotlight for more than half of the song's length, it's eventually joined by percussion and flute and strings, with a definite ELO-style feel near the end, and taking on a very arabic texture. It's followed by the second vocal piece, this time voiced by Belinda Sykes, with an ominous strings melody as “Seven ancient wonders” continues the eastern-styled music with more of a chant really than singing from Ms. Sykes, very effective.

This takes us into the second-shortest track on the whole album, just three seconds over a minute, with “Desert passage reprise” carrying on the arabic/easern influence and then some lovely acoustic guitar leads in “Circle of light”, again recalling some of Phillips's best work with Genesis, particularly “Stagnation” and “Dusk”: very introspective, and again a solo performance from the composer. It takes us into “Forgotten angels”, which seems to start on a glockenspiel melody, joined by strings and very nursery-rhyme or music-box themed, with choral vocals sounding like a flock of angels (what is the correct collective term for angels, anyway?), some lovely oboe and something that may be a harp. Very celestial, very ethereal, very relaxing.

“Courtesan” on the other hand borrows just a touch from the melody of “Speak softly love”, the theme to the movie “The Godfather”, by Nino Rota, and travels on soft acoustic guitar aided by lush strings and perhaps some mandolin: always hard to know when a full orchestra is involved. Great sense of space to this piece, evokes images of staring out to sea over a high cliff in some mediterranean locale. Strings drive “Ghosts of New York”, accompanied by some soft piano and some tenor saxophone, or possibly clarinet. There's a sense of drama, urgency, even panic about “Shipwreck of St Paul”, rising strings building the tension along with some low brass, then there's a suitably grave tempo and mood to “Cortege”, which closes the first disc. Very funereal, very stately, low bassy strings are joined halfway through by high, soaring ones, and the two meld to create perhaps hope out of despair. I must say, this reminds me of nothing more than the theme to Anne Rice's “Interview with the vampire” movie.

And so we come to the end of the first disc, and I feel like I've already reviewed a full album, but there are seventeen more tracks to go. And with quality like this, I'm glad it's not over yet. Disc two opens with the full instrumental version of the piece that began disc one, “Credo in cantus”, and without the vocal it's possible now to appreciate fully the nuances of the piece. It's very grand, very expansive and has a lovely violin and cello melody complemented by piano, with Andrew Skeet again behind the keyboard, reprising the role he played in the vocal version. An upbeat tune then for “Sojourn”, with happy violins and cellos, guitar adding its own special flavour courtesy of Anthony, giving the piece at times a very Genesis flavour.

Anthony is back at the keyboard though for a piano solo piece in “Speak of remarkable things”, another short track, just over a minute, then “Nocturne” is one of the longer pieces, just under four minutes, again recalling Hackett at his best as Anthony puts in a beautiful performance on the classical guitar, backed by some swelling strings that only complement his playing, never seeking to take from it. “Long road home” is another piano piece, again backed by powerful strings with some intense percussion that really helps up the drama, then gentle flute or clarinet reduces it all back down to basics again, this theme maintained for “The golden leaves of the fall”, driven on quiet piano backed up by soft strings, then some cinematic style rolling percussion ups the drama level in a melody that's, to be fair, not a million miles removed from John Williams' theme from “Jurassic Park”. Sorry, but it is.

There's a short guitar piano and cello piece then for “Credo”, then rolling thunder effects start off “Under the infinite sky (Guitar ensemble version)” --- the parentheses being there to separate it from the version on disc one --- which is, not surprisingly, a showcase for Phillips's guitar talents on the acoustic, while there's far more of a full classical, even chamber feel to “The stuff of dreams”, mostly led by clarinet and flute; reminds me a lot of “Neptune, the Mystic,” from Holst's “The Planets suite” opus. It gets a little heavier though with that rolling drumbeat and some bassoon (?), then slips back into the lighter groove it began on, almost ethereal with some lovely full strings coming in.

That takes us to easily the longest piece on either disc, “Old Sarum suite”, which is almost eight minutes long, and is broken up into five separate movements. As a suite, it changes and evolves as it goes, and is perhaps the most versatile of the tracks on the album, showing a breadth of experience, expertise and talent in the different moods, themes and tempos used. It seems to be concerned around some sort of battle (see track listing) but I'm not familiar with it. I'd go into it in more depth, but there are still seven tracks to go before we close, so moving on, next up is “For Eloise”, which I have to admit I thought would be an adaptation of the Beethoven classic, but seems to be an original guitar piece.

The next track puts me in mind, uneasily, of the old kids' scary TV show “Children of the stones”, but it's actually called “Winter song”, and is a solo for cello, gorgeous and breathtaking thanks to Chris Worsey, with Michela Srumova providing the soprano voice at the beginning that gave me the willies. She comes back in near the end again, after the piece has jumped into something of a Russian folk song melody, but it slows back in and ends on sad cello, taking us into “Ghosts of New York”. I know we had this already, but this is a piano solo version, with Skeet again showing his prowess on the Steinway, then “Daniel's theme” is another classical guitar piece, with horn and low violin backing, another slow, melancholy tune, with some powerful strings coming in, while “Study in scarlet” is led by horns and violins, evoking images of Sherlock Holmes, which I would assume it's intended to.

It is in fact the shortest track on the album, exactly one minute. It ends on sudden powerful dramatic strings, and then everything eases back for “The lives of others”, a soft violin-and-piano driven piece, and we finally close on the shimmery piano of “Forever always”, a lovely, slow, soothing piece which closes an album that really evokes that kind of mood. Some absolutely wonderful musicianship, some amazing compositions, a fine melding of two fine talents, even if neither are that well known in the world of commercial music.

An interesting aside, before I finish: the artwork on the album cover (at least, the layout and design) is by one Mark Wilkinson, best known for his work with Marillion and later Fish, and most recently on Jon Anderson and Rick Wakeman's “The living tree” (and for Ki, the Reasoning's live album from last year, “Live in the USA: The bottle of Gettysburg”) --- nice to see there's some some prog rock linkage to be had, even if Anthony is no longer really working in that side of things, mostly.

This is a long album, there's no denying that. But with the tracks all so short, it really doesn't seem like it runs for the over an hour and a half that it does. It's great for background music, or to listen to as you fall to sleep (hardly any, if any, surprises in sudden fast/loud tracks) but it's also an album that deserves to be listened to in depth, paying attention to all the little tunes and melodies and idiosyncrasies of the full composition. As a collaboration this is a real triumph. As an album it's great value for money: where else are you going to get one with over thirty tracks? And as a reminder to those who knew him in the early years, it's proof that Anthony Phillips, though he missed out on the “big time” with Genesis, has quietly and determinedly forged his own path through the music world, playing the music he likes, and following his own dream.

Over forty years after he left them, Genesis are now gone as a band, and Anthony Phillips is releasing yet another new album. Doesn't that say something about the man?

TRACKLISTING

Disc One

1. Credo in cantus
2. A richer earth
3. Under the infinite sky
4. Grand central
5. Kissing gate
6. Pasquinade
7. Rain on Sag Harbour
8. Ice maiden
9. River of life
10. Desert passage
11. Seven ancient wonders
12. Desert passage (reprise)
13. Forgotten angels
14. Circle of light
15. Courtesan
16. Ghosts of New York
17. Shipwreck of St. Paul
18. Cortege

Disc two

1. Credo in cantus (Instrumental)
2. Sojourn
3. Speak of remarkable things
4. Nocturne
5. Long road home
6. The golden leaves of fall
7. Credo
8. Under the infinite sky (Guitar ensemble version)
9. The stuff of dreams
10. Old Sarum suite
(i)Sarabande: Song of the Shires
(ii)Feast of the ice saints
(iii)Stormchaser : the path to war
(iv)The fleet assembles: Raising the standard
(v)Sarabande: Song of the Shires II
11. For Eloise
12. Winter song
13. Ghosts of New York (Piano version)
14. Daniel's theme
15. Study in scarlet
16. The lives of others
17. Forever always
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Old 08-28-2012, 05:11 AM   #1497 (permalink)
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A silver lining --- We Shot the Moon --- 2009 (Afternoon)

I've never been quite clear on what the phrase “shoot the moon” means, though I've seen it around quite a lot. Whatever it does mean, it was the name Honor Roll from San Diego changed their band to after their previous band, Waking Ashland, officially broke up in 2007, having been together four years. Like a lot of my purchases, these guys were just a band I happened across, liking the name (though still not understanding it) and further, liking the sample tracks I heard from their newest album. Deciding to put that on hold just for the moment, I thought to go a little back into their catalogue, and so this is actually their second album, which was released two years after they formed. Or reformed, whichever you prefer.

There's a nice upbeat mix of piano and guitar on the opener “Miracle”, very commercial with elements of the likes of Embrace, Snow Patrol and a bit more uppy Coldplay, the piano certainly carrying a lot of the melody on at least this track. Singer Jonathan Jones has one of those indie/emo voices which can be found in nearly every alt-rock band these days, but that doesn't take away from its integrity, and this is very enjoyable stuff. I hear elements of Deacon Blue in there too, and it's a good kickoff for the album, then “Woke her up” borrows a very familiar piano opening from a Coldplay song, but rocks along nicely once it gets going and certainly sets WStM's own stamp on the song, another uptempo rocker with a lot of angst and certain touches of Irish band The Script in it. It's followed by “Should have been”, another fast rocker with bippy keys reminscent of China Crisis or a-ha. You could certainly hear most of these songs so far being used as those “bridging songs” or backdrops to the latest teen drama, you know the sort of thing.

Credit should be given to Michael Grimm too, who keeps the edge hard and rockin' with his fine guitar playing, especially here, as the piano takes something of a backseat, Jones relying on his vocals to carry the song through, but they're back for “The bright side”, which I realise I already know, with some very nice classical-style piano alternating with hard, sharp, punchy guitar to create a really fun song. This also seems to be the ethos of We Shot the Moon, or at least the way I see to approach them: the songs on this album are all short, two to three minutes average, and are obviously written with a view to radio airplay and singles (whether they achieved any chart success I don't know), and are not to be delved into too deeply. It's just happy, carefree music, which is no bad thing.

What sounds like the first ballad is led in by acoustic piano from Jones, with his smooth vocals overlaying the song as “Come back” gets going, with a rather nice laidback guitar solo from Grimm, the song itself very catchy, like most of the rest of the album it would seem. Inoffensive would be a cruel way to describe this music, but it's unlikely to get anyone too overexcited or passionate, while at the same time being entirely listenable. They do their best to inject some proper rock life into “Red night”, and it does rise a little above the more radio-friendly fare that they've purveyed so far on this recording: I can see audiences jumping up and down to this onstage, and things stay relatively heavy for “In good time”, with again Grimm's guitar taking charge.

The title track then cuts back a little, scaling back the guitar just a touch to allow the piano to shine through again, while yet adding plenty of riffs as the song goes on, and it's another uptempo, honest piece of rock, leading into “Amarillo”, which, thank the rock gods, is not a cover of the old Tony Christie pop hit, but a totally different song altogether, again very upbeat and rocking along nicely, clocking in also as the longest track on the album, just short of four minutes. Very happy and positive, like much of We Shot the Moon's music, which you really can't fault. No, it's not the most involved, technical or deep music ever written, but neither is it wallpaper or filler music, and I definitely would not describe it as by-the-numbers rock.

“Amy”, the second ballad, is carried on a gorgeous little piano line, though it gets a little heavier as it goes, mostly due to the input from Michael Grimm's powerful guitar, which indeed rips off a fine little solo towards the end. And speaking of the end, we're approaching it now as the final track comes into view, with “Candles” closing the album on a nice uptempo punchy little rocker.

I'd be the first to say that We Shot the Moon don't exactly bowl you over, but they definitely have something. Yes, a lot of their music is derivative and really there's nothing that terribly new or inventive about it, and you would really be hard-pressed to pick them out from a lineup of twenty other alt-rock/indie bands, but as I've said about other bands, for what they do they do it well, and sometimes that's all you can expect. They're not likely to go setting the world on fire, but they could contribute to helping keep it from falling asleep.

Shooting for the moon, they may not have quite reached it, but on the way down they've definitely grabbed something sparkly.
TRACKLISTING
1. Miracle
2. Woke her up
3. Should have been
4. The bright side
5. Come back
6. Red night
7. In good time
8. A silver lining
9. Amarillo
10. Amy
11. Candles
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Old 08-30-2012, 05:08 AM   #1498 (permalink)
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For me, the time is right. There has been some discussion in one of the threads about this song, and I've just finished watching a documentary on the making of the album, so have a little inside information to put into this article. In another way though, the time is perhaps not right, as I was so bitterly disappointed, not only with Gabriel's latest album, the reworking of his standards set to orchestral arrangement in “New Blood”, but with the heinous --- as I saw it --- butchery of this song by another singer duetting with him, who completely ruined the song for me. I suppose in some ways you could say that there was only ever one artiste who would have, and did, fit the bill for this amazing song, but then again, you might be surprised to learn that she was not the first choice.

Don't give up --- Peter Gabriel and Kate Bush


Yeah, turns out that due to the country roots of the song, with it being based essentially around the idea of the Great Depression and the Dustbowl of America, Gabriel wanted a country singer to share the vocal duties with him and went for ... Crystal Gayle? No. Emmylou? No. Shania then? No. Dolly Parton, would you believe? Can you imagine it? Hey, she did a good job with Kenny Rogers, but I just couldn't have seen her handling the gentle nuances and translating across the fragility and at the same time indomitable spirit and strength that's conveyed through Kate's stellar performance. Of course, it's easy to say that now, when she's inextricably linked with the song, but apart from perhaps Stevie Nicks I can't really think of anyone else who might have fit that role.

The song you surely know: it's a gentle, rolling drumbeat that carries it, with soft keyboard, whistles and horns, a lot of ethnic-sounding instruments, but the most important instrument, and the one that stands out the most, is the voice, both of Gabriel and of Bush. She takes the reassuring role, as the documentary pointed out, rather interestingly soloing on the chorus, while he sings the verses. It's a song of despair and hope, impotence in the face of an uncaring world coloured by the support of a loved one, who assures the man that all will be right in the end, he will find work, he will regain his self-respect. Perhaps in today's world of job losses and lengthening dole queues, with no real hope of change in sight, this song resonates even more than it did when it was penned over a quarter of a century ago now.

There can be few messages so potent and so reassuring, so determined and so understanding, and perhaps in some ways those three little words could be more important than, or at least as important as, the three we most love and need to hear. In writing this song, Gabriel captured a mood that unfortunately is timeless and repeats throughout history, but added in the unquenchable, indestructible determination of humanity not to stay on the ground too long. As Steve Hogarth of Marillion once wrote: “Failure isn't about falling down, failure is staying down.” This song proves that you may be able to hurt the spirit of man, or woman; you may be able to make it bleed and fall to its knees, but it won't remain there forever. At some point, we all struggle to our feet like the wounded boxer everyone has counted out, and we come back, stronger than before.

A tribute to the human spirit, and a song for the ages, with a timeless message.
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Old 08-30-2012, 05:55 AM   #1499 (permalink)
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When it's no longer fun, it's time to call a halt...

No, I'm not closing my journal: wipe that smile off your face, you there at the back! But certain aspects of it have become a little tedious and so I just want to explain what's happening with

This began, back in March, as an idea to namecheck and pay tribute to some of the more famous and/or deserving of mention who passed away over the years in the music world. For five months I combed the entries, checked the names, found the videos and posted the tributes, but in the last two months I realised that the amount of work involved had led to me beginning to dread writing this feature, and as each month turned into another I began to think to myself Oh no! I haven't done “Lest we forget” yet! Better get on that! and so it would become a chore, something that had to be done, a deadline that had to be met, every month.

Nothing else I do follows this strict aderence to a monthly entry. My journal is generally freeform and I post sections as and when I like. Sometimes months can go by without my featuring one section, sometimes I might feature it twice a month. On occasion, it may be posted once and never again, though that isn't to say it won't be in the future. But that's all up to me. It's my call, and no-one is going to force me or impel me to do anything I sort of really don't want to do. But “Lest we forget” was quite unforgiving. I have no-one but myself to blame for that of course: I decided to start the section, and knew it would be tough, but I thought I could handle it, thought I could manage to put time aside every month to research and write the entries, while still doing all the other things I did with my journal.

But now, particularly with a second journal to update, it's become clear I can't. Or to be more honest, I can, but I don't want to. Someone once noted that they stopped updating their journal because it had “become like homework”. I don't ever want that to happen to me, but with “Lest we forget” it has become very close to that. Sometimes I sit down and think, yeah, I want to write a review of a new album, or I want to focus on AOR or Prog or Metal or whatever this week, but if that becomes too much I can change my mind: no-one knows what I have planned, so who's to know and who does it hurt? But this section has been running now for nearly half a year, and although the likelihood is that not even one person reads or appreciates it, much less looks forward to it and god forbid would miss it, I still felt I should explain why I'm not doing it any more.

So that's it: as a wise man once said, “When we stop enjoying it we'll stop doing it”, as I sort of paraphrased as the title to this short article, and I've stopped enjoying it so there won't be any more. Hopefully that won't upset anyone (oh yeah, right: I can see the complaints flooding in even now!) and I wouldn't want it thought that I was disrespecting or not caring about those who have died in August-February, but the joy and interest has gone out of it and I just don't want to do something that feels too much like a job. Freedom and self-expression is the name of the game, not being trapped in a box or forced into a cubicle to hit a deadline every month. You do that, you sure as hell better be getting paid for it! I did that for almost thirty years, now it's time to relax and do things on my own terms.

That's it. You can go about your business now. Oh, and as for “As the years go passing by”? (What?) Yeah, that's out too: what was I thinking?
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Old 08-30-2012, 10:54 PM   #1500 (permalink)
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Hmm. I think I might have said something akin to journal posts being like homework? I don't remember. But anyway, I kind of had to make a decision once I started getting busy doing other things to stop trying to update my journal every day. It wasn't enjoyable after a while, and I kind of burned out all of a sudden. You're fortunate enough that you've had this journal going for so long that you can guess at which sections might be more appreciated/ worth writing than others, and which ones are more enjoyable to write.

Anyway, good points as usual, sir. And good advice for amateur journal or blog writers in general.
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