Music Banter

Go Back   Music Banter > The MB Reader > Members Journal
Register Blogging Search Today's Posts Mark Forums Read
Welcome to Music Banter Forum! Make sure to register - it's free and very quick! You have to register before you can post and participate in our discussions with over 70,000 other registered members. After you create your free account, you will be able to customize many options, you will have the full access to over 1,100,000 posts.

Reply
 
Thread Tools Display Modes
Old 02-16-2012, 02:32 PM   #901 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Experiments in mass appeal --- Frost* --- 2008 (InsideOut)


Yeah, the asterisk (*) is apparently important, don't know why, but it sure as hell makes this band hard to Google! Formed in 2004 by producer/songwriter Jem Godfrey, Frost* have a remarkable pedigree in the sphere of progressive rock music. Boasting members who have played with IQ, Arena, Kino, It Bites and Jadis, they've released only three full albums in that time (excluding one live set and an EP available only at the concerts) but have nevertheless gained massive respect in the prog rock community. This is their second album, released in November 2008.

There's a very gentle, gradual introduction to the title track, with fragile piano and acoustic guitar slowly coming up in the mix, then falsetto-style vocals from I guess Declan “Dec” Burke, who is credited as lead vocals, though two others are also shown as vocalists. Burke's understated voice gives the music a certain feel of laidback folk (is there any other type, you say? Ask Tyr) --- then suddenly John Mitchell's electric guitar and John Jowitt's bass come through heavily, the vocals also taking on a fresh intensity as the song powers up, and now all realtionship to folk music is blasted away, as Mitchell launches into a powerful solo, Andy Edwards bashing away on the drums like a man possessed.

So, pedigree was mentioned earlier? Well, John Mitchell of course is known from both Arena and Kino, and currently with It Bites, while Jowitt will be a familiar name to fans of IQ and Jadis, also having played in Arena. Andy Edwards thumped the skins in IQ, until being replaced in 2009 by their original drummer. Godfrey, creator of the band, has a more dubious history --- dark whispers of Atomic Kitten and Holly Vallance : sssh! --- but left those influences behind in 2004 to form Frost*.

“Welcome to nowhere” has definite elements both of Jadis and It Bites, a harder, heavier song than the opener, shorter too, and very guitar driven. Burke's voice is at full tilt all through this, and very powerful it can be when used to its best effect. In addition to producing and adding vocals, Jem Godfrey plays the keys, and gives quite a dazzling display on same here, at times work Tony Banks might be mildly jealous of. It's Mitchell's guitar that really drives the song though, and he relentlessly stamps his identity all over it.

It crashes headlong into “Pocket sun”, which opens on a sparse guitar line but soon takes off in a much more solid vein, with some fine drumming from Edwards. There's also a sense of seventies Yes updated to 2008 for this song, with big guitar hooks and keyboard passages, passionate vocals and a very steady rhythm section all helping to make the song come alive. “Saline” starts off on a nice echoey piano melody with soft falsetto singing from Dec Burke, with some really good backing vocals (either from Jowitt or Mitchell, not sure which) joining him, then a nice guitar line as the song seems to be turning into a ballad. There's a certain sense of Divine Comedy in the piano, similar in ways to “Neptune's daughter”, with some lovely --- nah, beautiful--- violin from John Mitchell taking this song to new heights.

“Dear dead days” gets things moving again with a burst of electronica before the keys get rocky again under Godfrey, as he shows off a bit, Edwards keeping pace with him until everything drops away to single piano and the speed falls to almost zero under Burke's delicate vocal, then the electronica kicks in again as the song zips from one genre to another, with some growly vocals almost crossing into metal territory, then the rock keyboard is back. And we're still only less than three minutes into an almost seven minute track! If this isn't classed as progressive, I don't know what would be.

The keyboard solo that opened this song cuts directly into the next, and “Falling down” comes in without even a breath. In fact, if you're not watching the monitor you could be fooled into thinking it's all the one song, so seamless is the transition. A fast rocker with plenty of prog in it, it's very catchy with a really nice line in bass from John Jowitt, some moaning keyboards from Godfrey, including a really nice piano solo, more violin from John Mitchell who then swaps his fiddle for an axe, ripping off a fine and effective guitar solo.

“You/I” is then just over a minute of acoustic piano backing Declan Burke's voice in a dreamy ballad which should really have been longer, then “Toys” rocks everything back up with an almost AOR tune, some very hard guitar from Mitchell keeping it heavy even though there's a great hook and it's quite radio friendly. Definitely the most It Bites-like track on the album.

The closer is a fifteen-minute monster, in the tradition of the great prog-rock epics. “Wonderland” starts off with a deep, sonorous synth intro then “Tubular Bells”-like piano with a soft vocal, humming, throaty synth again coming up behind the piano then dropping away to allow some really excellent vocal harmonies through, followed by strong guitar from John Mitchell and powerful drumming from Andy Edwards as the song picks up in intensity and force. Around six minutes in it stops. Completely. Silence. Or at least, nothing I can hear, even turning my amp way up. This goes on for about a minute, then eventually and gradually you hear what sounds like a mechanised voice intoning what may be news reports.

Gabrielesque piano takes up what I guess would be termed the second part of the song, as we get a mid-paced piano ballad with African style drumming from Edwards, lots of bongos and the like (probably not, but that's how they sound), and as this part of the song goes on there's a great feeling of triumph and joy, whether that's intended or not I don't know. Burke's vocal is strong and clear, and Mitchell's guitar, coming in, adds another layer to the emotions engendered by the piece. Everything drops away then on the twelfth minute, leaving the piano holding lonely court, much quieter, almost receding like the tide, then Mitchell's violin slides in, very quietly and in an understated way, helping to carry the song to its (very) slow and fadeout conclusion. (Note: okay, checking back now I see this is actually not fifteen minutes long, but two shorter songs, the second of which is a hidden track, which explains the long pause in the middle. Hmm.)

Nevertheless, as a closer, I think perhaps this could have ended better: it seems to tail off rather than finish triumphantly, fading into the distance, but it's a very good track, even if it's not part of the original one I had reviewed above. I just think I would have hesitated to have used it to finish the album. As a fan of Arena and Jadis, I had intended for a long time to listen to Frost*. Now that I've heard this album, I definitely want to hear more. Unfortunately, it seems there are only two other actual albums to listen to. They're on my list, as of now.

TRACKLISTING

1. Experiments in mass appeal
2. Welcome to nowhere
3. Pocket sun
4. Saline
5. Dear dead days
6. Falling down
7. You/I
8. Toys
9. Wonderland
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2012, 05:58 PM   #902 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default





__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-16-2012, 05:59 PM   #903 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default


Do you find yourself in love on Fridays? The Cure do...
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2012, 01:06 PM   #904 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Inside job --- Don Henley --- 2000 (Warner Bros)


Until this album came out, I had always had something of an ambivalence towards solo albums from the ex-Eagle. His debut, while containing some excellent tracks, also had some duff ones, and as the years and the albums went on this pattern was repeated. His release prior to this, 1989's “The end of the innocence”, was perhaps the worst offender. The fact that it contained such gems as “The last worthless evening”, the title track itself and of course “New York minute” made me all the more dismayed that the rest of the album could really only be classed as filler. In fact, had you taken two or three tracks from each of his releases up to and including that, you could have made quite a decent album. But he always, for me, missed the mark, resulting in my taking songs for playlists from all three of his albums, but seldom if ever listening to one all the way through.

That changed with the release of this, his fourth and so far last solo album. No, it's not perfect, but to be honest, it's really not far from it. There are no real filler tracks, and some quite amazing ones. It's a collection of really great songs that finally, after eighteen years, I truly consider a great Don Henley album, one worthy of the name. Perhaps it's because he left it so long between albums ---eleven years before this was his last outing, while there were only five years between it and his second, “Building the perfect beast”, and a short two between that and his debut, “I can't stand still”. Sometimes, it's better to wait and get it right.

Or maybe it's nothing to do with the length of time. Perhaps on this album Henley has finally come of age as a writer, though you would have to say that given his long career with the Eagles, songwriting should have by now come second nature to him. Maybe it was that old chestnut, with age comes wisdom? At the time of this album's release Henley was fifty-three, and perhaps the older eyes saw more clearly. Whatever the reason, this album is a gem.

In fairness, it does not start off as well as I would like, with the dancy, funky “Nobody else in the world but you”. With a stripped-down bassline and sparse drums, it's the tale of selfishness and perhaps reflects a bad love affair, or maybe Henley is anthropomorphising the whole world, and saying that people are generally only ever thinking of themselves. It's something of a theme that runs through the album, as Henley spits out his dissatisfaction with the world, and his anger at the way things are, and a desire to change it while perhaps feeling quite impotent to do much about it.

The second track, also a single, changes the game totally. A lush, beautiful ballad, “Taking you home” is Henley reflecting on the change his newest love brought into his life, with heartbeat percussion and deep, emotional keyboards and piano. Great backing vocals from a host of guest stars, including his compatriot from the Eagles, Don Felder, Carmen Twillie and Valerie Carter, add an almost sepulchral feel to the song. It's just a pity this didn't open the album, as not only does it make a bigger impression but fits in much better with the overall mood of the album.

There are of course plenty of guest musicans, many of which are only credited as “musician”, so hard to say who plays what, or on what, but among them are as already mentioned Felder, plus Randy Jackson, David Paich, Randy Newman, Glenn Frey and Stevie Wonder. The acoustic, simple “For my wedding” is the only cover on the album, and again slightly out of step with the themes on the album, but nice to see the band put to one side while Henley concentrates on what must indeed be a very personal song for him.

Things soon go up a gear though with “Everything is different now”, where Henley pays tribute to the woman he married in 1995, Sharon Summerall. The song is written in the form of a letter sent to an ex-lover, where Henley tells her ”I found somebody with a heart/ As big as Texas/ I found an angel/ With golden wings.” Played in a kind of dark blues mode, there's a lot of bass and deep keyboard and organ on the song, the verses almost intoned, the chorus then expressing his joy at finding the woman he loves, with a big breakout of drums and guitar. A chorus of backing vocals adds to the sense of exuberance and joy as the song fades out.

He changes tack for the next song, indulging his political side on “Workin' it”, another funky shuffle deploring the capitalist system, a little on the same lines as “Gimme what you got” from the previous album. The eternal pursuit of money and power is treated to Henley's acid contempt, including a sort of tannoy announcement where he declares ”We got the hardware, software, CD-ROM/ We got the exploitation dot com!” More good backing vocals from the many backing singers employed on the album, with a great little guitar solo from either Henley, Felder or Frey --- hard to say which, though I suspect Frey. Maybe.

After this workout, he decides to go all eco-friendly, with a ballad based on John Graves' book of the same title, “Goodbye to a river”. It's a slow, lazy melody, almost emulating the graceful flow of a river to the sea, and Henley's impassioned vocal betrays his anger at the disappearance of our natural resources and man's need to control everything. Built on Benmont Tench's mournful synth melody backed by piano and muted drums, the song is one of the standouts on the album, in fact I would say one of Henley's best ever solo songs. Some very effective mandolin comes in and fades out, adding a nice little touch. It's followed by the title track, where Henley goes back to his political views, and sings of a government that does as it likes and is answerable to no-one, a theme that would be revisited on the Eagles' comeback album, “Long road out of Eden”, with in fact the title of one of the songs on that album taken from part of the lyric here, “Business as usual”.

There's a great sense of paranoia and fear as you would probably expect, with Henley's trademark anger and outrage as he snaps ”You think that you're so smart/ But you don't have a ****ing clue!” Nice almost-guitar-solo quickly cuts off to be replaced by a piano and keyboard melody then the whole thing ramps up as the passion and anger reaches fever pitch: ”They know the road by which you came/ They know your mother's maiden name/ And what you had for breakfast/ And what you have hidden in the mattress!” The song fades out on somewhat shaky guitar, as if Henley is challenging the listener: yeah, now you know: what you gonna do about it?

After the emotional rollercoaster of the last few tracks, there's pure fun in “They're not here, they're not coming”, though with a serious message, as Henley envisions aliens visiting us, but declares they won't be coming because of man's inhumanity to man. ”They're not here, they're not coming/ Not in a million years/ Till we lay aside our hatred/ Put away our fears.” A boppy, uptempo song driven by Henley's energetic, almost dustpan-lid drumming, with some nice guitar touches and a very sarcastic vocal from the man himself: ”Would they go screaming through the universe/ Just to buy McNuggets?/ I don't think so!” A real rocker with some quite clever and dark satire.

The acoustic ballad “Damn it Rose” seems to concern a girl committing suicide, Henley reflecting on how it affects those left behind: ”You could have given us the finger/ Much more constructively than that/ Now I sit here with the empty vase” --- lot of tension and unresolved anger in the song, as indeed there is in many of the tracks on this album, which almost --- almost --- sounds like it was written by a younger person, but then, often clearer and more directed anger also comes with age. As we see the world for what it is, we realise how pathetic it can be, and often, how pathetic we are. Hey, I'm not pathetic, but you know what I mean! “Miss ghost” is another uptempo, almost funky number, with snapping guitar and spooky organ, the tale of a visitation from the beyond. Whether it's a dream, or something viewed through an alcoholic haze I'm not sure, but it's got a certain Dire Straits vibe, while “The genie” is more rocky, with some insightful drumming, thick guitar and exuberant organ, then “Annabel” is a beautiful little acoustic piano ballad, presumably written for Henley's youngest daughter, very touching, as he tells the sleeping child ”You've got my hard head/ And your mother's grace” and sings to her of the kind of life he hopes she will have, and the kind of person she will grow up to be. It's a tender little song, extremely personal, and would in fact have been a great closer, but there's one more track to go.

I guess the title says it all, as “My thanksgiving” expresses Henley's joy at what he has in his life, the good luck he has received, the chances that have come his way that might not have. He has a last pop at the entitlement culture before he goes, grinning ”The trouble with you and me my friend/ Is the trouble with this nation:/ Too many blessings/ Too little appreciation/ And I know that kind of notion/ Well it just ain't cool/ So send me back to Sunday school.” It's a nice mid-paced rocker to end the album, as he hits one last parting shot: ”Have you noticed that an angry man/ Can only get so far/ Until he reconciles the way he thinks/ Things ought to be/ With the way things are?” Sage words indeed.

Should we read anything into the fact that Don Henley has not had another solo album since this, eleven, well, twelve years now? Probably not. The reunion with his former bandmates and the Eagles' subsequent world tour would surely have taken up most if not all of his creative time, and I have no doubt that there will be more solo work coming from this most insightful of songwriters in the future. But for now, “Inside job” stands, finally, as the album I always hoped Don Henley would make.

TRACKLISTING

1. Nobody else in the world but you
2. Taking you home
3. For my wedding
4. Everything is different now
5. Workin' it
6. Goodbye to a river
7. Inside job
8. They're not here, they're not coming
9. Damn it Rose
10. Miss ghost
11. The genie
12. Annabel
13. My thanksgiving

Recommended further listening: “I can't stand still”, “Building the perfect beast” and “The end of the innocence”
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2012, 01:55 PM   #905 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default


Horse of a different colour --- The Revenants --- 1993 (Hunter S)


The greatest Irish band that never was, that was the Stars of Heaven (who?) and the Revenants were an offshoot of them, when they split, with singer and guitarist, and focus of the Stars, Stephen Ryan, forming the band. "Horse of a different colour" was their first of two full albums, and it's a little gem.

Full of the sort of country/indie rock that made the Stars' "Speak slowly" album so infectious, and one of my favourite Irish albums, "Horse" kicks off with two good pieces of advice: "Let's get falling down" and "Marry money". Can't fault yiz there lads! Great guitar work, excellent organ and a real Western-sounding voice on Ryan that wouldn't be out of place in Nashville.

Whether it's the pure, joyous energy of "Ted's tune", or the melancholy "Speak slowly" , Eileen Gogan's guest vocal on "William Byrd" or the exuberant, irreverent "The drinking side of me", or indeed the tender, ethereal closing instrumental, “Forbidden mourning”, the Revenants deliver on all counts.

The Stars of Heaven have gone out, and like their mythical counterparts, The Revenants' music haunts the lonely corners of Ireland, waiting in the bargain bins, crying out to be heard. Is no-one listening?

TRACKLISTING

1. Let's get falling down
2. Marry money
3. Ted's tune
4. You for whom silence
5. Sympathy
6. William Byrd
7. The drinking side of me
8. Capercayle
9. Xmas card
10. Speak slowly
11. Doctor said
12. Forbidden mourning
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2012, 02:58 PM   #906 (permalink)
Horribly Creative
 
Unknown Soldier's Avatar
 
Join Date: Jul 2009
Location: London, The Big Smoke
Posts: 8,220
Default

Having just discovered your journal I'm going to go through it page by page and making some comments on some of the interesting stuff you've got.

Pages 1-2

Genesis Seconds Out: Now I've never heard this album as I've always been really anti-Phil Coillins over the years, but noticed most of the vids you put up are of the Gabriel era but sung by Collins. Maybe I should give the Collins era another chance, well at least the 70s stuff.

Marillion Happiness is the Road: Again not heard this, but I am a fan of Steve Hogarth era Marillion and really love the Brave and This Strange Engine albums.

Iron Maiden
Brave New World:This was a good album despite not being brilliant, but did mark the return of Bruce Dickenson to the fold, but I have to say that A Matter of Life and Death was the classic late era Maiden album and a real return to form and probably their best since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.

A-ha Analogue: I've always been a huge A-ha fan and they are probably one of the few pop bands that I can really enjoy, Morten Harkett's vocals have always been something special and their first 5 albums something special and the first 3 classics. Analogue is without doubt the best of the comeback albums and came after the poor Lifelines album.

Rainbow Rainbow Rising: Loved the review of this album and its without doubt one of the most influential heavy albums of the 1970s, it was a classic line-up and just a pity that Ritchie Blackmore didn't persevere with this batch of musicians. This is big arena metal and the Dio legend was born on these albums. I also think Long Live Rock n Roll to be as good as this album. Martin Birch also produced both these albums
Unknown Soldier is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2012, 06:09 PM   #907 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default





__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-17-2012, 06:11 PM   #908 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default


Good one from the Pretenders to get the weekend underway, this is “Don't get me wrong”.
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2012, 03:28 AM   #909 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Oh man! You have just started on page 1? Have you some catching-up to do! We're currently on page 90, almost! Well, hopefully you'll enjoy some of what I have here, and thanks very much for commenting: not enough people do. If you would like to see something reviewed, if it's within my sphere of musical influence and I have or can get it, let me know and I'll do my best.

Meanwhile, let me just comment on your comments...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Unknown Soldier View Post
Having just discovered your journal I'm going to go through it page by page and making some comments on some of the interesting stuff you've got.

Pages 1-2

Genesis Seconds Out: Now I've never heard this album as I've always been really anti-Phil Coillins over the years, but noticed most of the vids you put up are of the Gabriel era but sung by Collins. Maybe I should give the Collins era another chance, well at least the 70s stuff.
For Phil Collins Genesis, I agree that in ways he pushed the band away from the largely art/progressive vibe of Peter Gabriel, but then again some of their most successful (and excellent) albums were under his reign. Take a look at, in particular, "A trick of the tail", "Wind and wuthering", "Duke" and the excellent "And then there were three". Avoid "Abacab" at all costs! To be reviewed soon...
Quote:
Marillion Happiness is the Road: Again not heard this, but I am a fan of Steve Hogarth era Marillion and really love the Brave and This Strange Engine albums.
There is no praise high enough for Marillion in my view. I was with them from "Script", and love the Fish-era stuff, but Hogarth has put a whole new slant on the band (rather like the Gabriel/Collins thing), and even though they've become more a mainstream rock band, even verging into pop on occasions, I think they've retained their mostly prog roots. If you haven't already heard it, "Marillion.com" is a great album, as is "Marbles" and "Radiation": in fact, everything, though if you work through later to my "Last chance saloon" feature you'll see that I have no love for "Somewhere else"...
Quote:

Iron Maiden
Brave New World:This was a good album despite not being brilliant, but did mark the return of Bruce Dickenson to the fold, but I have to say that A Matter of Life and Death was the classic late era Maiden album and a real return to form and probably their best since Seventh Son of a Seventh Son.
I only listened to AMOLAD once or twice, but would stand by BNW as being their best since SSOASS: I just love it, particularly the sense of relief after the last two Blaze albums being so disappointing.
Quote:
A-ha Analogue: I've always been a huge A-ha fan and they are probably one of the few pop bands that I can really enjoy, Morten Harkett's vocals have always been something special and their first 5 albums something special and the first 3 classics. Analogue is without doubt the best of the comeback albums and came after the poor Lifelines album.
Again, no praise is high enough for a-ha from me. Love all their stuff, and if you look further on I've featured their career in my "Taking centre stage" section. What a pity they decided to break up.
Quote:
Rainbow Rainbow Rising: Loved the review of this album and its without doubt one of the most influential heavy albums of the 1970s, it was a classic line-up and just a pity that Ritchie Blackmore didn't persevere with this batch of musicians. This is big arena metal and the Dio legend was born on these albums. I also think Long Live Rock n Roll to be as good as this album. Martin Birch also produced both these albums
I just love this album, start to finish, even though I'm not a huge Rainbow fan. Dio rules! Watch for a special on him in April...
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Old 02-18-2012, 04:51 AM   #910 (permalink)
Nobody likes my music
 
Trollheart's Avatar
 
Join Date: Oct 2008
Location: In Cognito
Posts: 21,747
Default

Heathen --- David Bowie --- 2002 (ISO)


Seen as Bowie's comeback album after a patchy period from 1984 onwards, “Heathen” was his biggest selling album for almost twenty years, and features some star guests such as Dave Grohl, Jordan Rudess and the legendary Pete Townshend performing on some of the songs. Although frequently linked with the attacks on New York in September 2001, Bowie has categorically denied any such link, at least any deliberate link, advising that all the songs were written before the attacks. His denial has not stopped critics lauding it though as perhaps as big a musical influence on 9/11 as Springsteen's “The Rising”.

You don't often find cover versions on Bowie's albums, but “Heathen” has three, of which more as we get to them. For now, the album opens on “Sunday”, a nice gentle easing into the album, with deep synth backing and Bowie's clear and unmistakable voice as ever in perfect nick. It's a very understated opening, almost a prequel to the album, and there's some weird but very effective sounds which I think may be an omnichord in the background, keeping pace with the synth. The drums come in hard right at the end, and the song then fades out too quickly I feel: just as it was getting going. Next one up is one of those covers I was talking about. It's the Pixies' “Cactus”, with acoustic guitar, little reminscent of the arrangement for “Starman” before it picks up and electric kicks in, dramatic organ getting in on the act too. I'm not that familiar with the Pixies' work, but the song sounds ok. I'm not sure why an artiste of Bowie's calibre needs to include cover versions on his albums, but there you go. Maybe he likes the band.

Things slow down again and get all Eno-atmospheric for “Slip away”, the longest track on the album at just over six minutes, with a very Ziggy-like vocal, nice Waits-style acoustic piano, choral vocals backing the thin white duke. This comes across to me as a very Roger Waters-era Floyd song, like maybe something out of “The final cut”, and it has a nice gentle but dramatic feel to it. Pete Townshend shows up to play some fine guitar on “Slowburn”, a more uptempo track, and indeed the first fast one (of his own) on the album so far. There's a soul/jazz feel to this, created in part by “the Borneo Horns”, consisting of Lenny Picket, Stan Harrison and Steve Elson.

“Afraid” has a kind of fifties rock guitar with some nice keyboard work from Jordan Rudess, and some lovely strings, but is the second uptempo track, very catchy. It's Dave Grohl then who straps on the strat for Neil Young's “I've been waiting for you”, a mid-paced hard rocker with Bowie in more “Diamond dogs” voice, then “I would be your slave” bops along in a slower, more stately vein with some beautiful violin and viola (there are two violinists and one viola player on the album, and a cellist) and some programmed drums which really suit the song. Things change totally then for the last cover, “I took a trip on a Gemini spaceship”, by the Legendary Stardust Cowboy, a huge influence on Bowie's early career, and instrumental in the creation of Ziggy Stardust. The Borneo Horns are back in town, and there's some pretty good funky guitar too, lots of spacey sound effects and a very seventies disco feel to the song, though I think it may be from the sixties: can't confirm that though.

There's a slowing of pace then for the somewhat introspective (I know: one of my favourite words! Buy a thesaurus: I have one, but I don't like using it as it runs the batteries down!) “5:15 the angels have gone” with some very “In the air tonight”-style moaning keyboards from Rudess, and some gentle piano. The pace kicks up a little then for the semi-balladic “Everyone says hi”, with some really smooth strings arrangements, Bowie's voice very soft and restrained in a musical postcard song, and “A better future” is a pleasant rock/pop song, with bright, happy keyboards, an infectious bassline and again Bowie singing in a sort of intoned way. The album then ends on the title track, and “Heathen (the rays)” veers between downbeat synthpop and a guitar riff out of “Rebel rebel”, with Bowie at his impassioned and tortured best.

It's clear to see why this was his best-received album since 1984. It's a lot more commercial and accessible than the likes of “Outside”, “Earthling, “Never let me down” or “Black tie white noise”, or indeed the two Tin Machine albums. It's got some near-classics on it, and even though it's almost perfectly crafted music, it's evidence --- if any were needed --- of an artist who does this effortlessly and flawlessly, almost as an afterthought. A man who can create beautiful music that lasts the test of time hardly without thinking about it. It's instinctive, it's natural, it's second nature. It's David Bowie, and this is one great album that returns him to the top of the tree, where he belongs, and always has done.

TRACKLISTING

1. Sunday
2. Cactus
3. Slip away
4. Slowburn
5. Afraid
6. I've been waiting for you
7. I would be your slave
8. I took a trip on a Gemini spaceship
9. 5:15 the angels have gone
10. Everyone says hi
11. A better future
12. Heathen (the rays)

Recommended further listening: are you KIDDING me???
__________________
Trollheart: Signature-free since April 2018
Trollheart is offline   Reply With Quote
Reply

Thread Tools
Display Modes

Similar Threads



© 2003-2019 Advameg, Inc.

SEO by vBSEO 3.5.2 ©2010, Crawlability, Inc.