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Old 02-23-2012, 07:05 PM   #931 (permalink)
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Blame it on the boogie? The Bee Gees are looking at another culprit altogether...
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Old 02-23-2012, 11:56 PM   #932 (permalink)
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Thanks for sharing, now I have myself an earworm: "The Barry Gibb Show" theme song

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Old 02-24-2012, 06:25 PM   #933 (permalink)
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In advance of my soon-to-be-inaugurated section (yes, yes! Another one! What of it?!) “Lest we forget”, wherein I note dates in each month when we lost someone special to the music scene, be they an artiste, a producer, a songwriter or anyone else connected with the music biz, I see I'm a little late but nevertheless would like to mark the occasion of the first anniversary of the passing of Gerry Rafferty.

I freely admit I have not heard all Gerry's albums, and those I have heard I have not unequivocally enjoyed (“Sleepwalking” is a particular turkey in some ways: watch for it in a “Love/Hate” feature soon), but I've listened to enough about the man to know that he made some excellent music, but sadly will forever be known for the great classic “Baker Street”, which, though excellent, is not the best of his work.

BBC Four are featuring some programmes later tonight/this morning celebrating the man's genius, so I thought I'd just put together some videos of what I consider to be his finest music. As it's late and time is pressing upon me I'll forego my usual titles and comments on the videos, but at any rate I believe you'll agree the music speaks for itself.

“Night owl” was one of the early albums reviewed here, and it is one of his better albums (that I've listened to), so there may be videos here that those of you who have read last year's journal entries have already seen, but my favourite of his will always be “North and south”. I must indeed catch up on his later work, as this was the last of his albums I bought, or listened to, and I know he had three more since that, his last studio album being recorded a full eleven years before his untimely death.

For now, though, these to me represent the very best of the man who started being stuck in the middle and ended up winding his way down on Baker Street, where he found fame, recognition and, one must assume, a certain amount of fortune. But as with all musicians, it's the legacy they leave behind when they go that truly defines them, and their career, and it's certainly true that while everyone dies, the music lives on, and in that way, musicians, like other artists, must be seen as the closest to achieving immortality.

So, lest we forget …. Gerry Rafferty, 1947-2011. May he rest in peace.
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Old 02-24-2012, 06:34 PM   #934 (permalink)
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Old 02-24-2012, 06:40 PM   #935 (permalink)
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Okay, surely THIS has to be the ULTIMATE earworm?
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Old 02-25-2012, 05:31 PM   #936 (permalink)
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Been a while since we all let our hair down (those of us that have it to let down!) and just went crazy rockin' out and headbanging, but never fear, the Devil is here, and His Ballroom has been repaired since the last metal dance we had there. He's now ready to receive us across the dark threshold once more, so strap on your Flying V, dig out your rattiest denim and/or leathers and prepare to have a sore neck in the morning!

We kick off with a band I really like, and the more I hear of their music the more I grow to respect them. It's Axxis, title track from their last album, this is “Utopia”.


Never been into Nirvana, but at least they did give birth to Foo Fighters! Here they are with “My hero”.


This is the mighty Warrant, with the equally mighty “Machine gun”.


I wasn't crazy about Cloudscape's last album, “Crimson skies”, and said so in my review of it, but this is from their followup, “Global drama”, and it's not bad. It's called “Darkest legacy”.


With a curiously Scottish flavour for a German metal band, this is Grave Digger, from their last album “The clans will rise again”, and “Highland farewell”.


Time for the first track from our featured artist, who this time around are Stratovarius, power metal band from Finland, (not to be confused with the famous violin of the same name but slightly different spelling!), and to get us underway here's “Phoenix”, taken from their album “Infinite”.


One of the kings of eighties glam metal, here are WASP, with “Wild child”.


And erstwhile pretenders to the throne of Iron Maiden, from their “Screaming for vengeance” album, it's Judas Priest, with “Another thing comin'”


A band we featured in the second part of our special on the NWOBHM, this is Cloven Hoof, track taken from their debut, self-titled album, called “Laying down the law”.


Ya gotta love Motorhead! Especially when they write songs with titles like this!


With the anniversary of his death coming in May, we had to feature Ronnie. Here he is with his band Dio, and a superb track from a superb album, their debut, “Holy diver”. This is “Rainbow in the dark”.


And that takes us back to our featured artiste, who are Stratovarius. This time we're looking at their album “Visions”, with this one, “Paradise”.


Another band I gave something of a hard time to is Charred Walls of the Damned, whose album “Cold winds on timeless days” I was less than impressed with. That was their second, this is from their first, and self-titled, and it's called “Ghost town”.


But a band I've a lot of time for is Cain's Dinasty, so much so that I'm featuring them here again, this time it's from their album “Legacy of blood”, rather than “Madmen, witches and vampires”, which has been on constant loop on my ipod of late. This track is cleverly titled “Two seconds to forget your name”.


And to complete a trilogy of bands whose names begin with C, here are Celesty, with “New sin”.


This is the LA Guns, with “Electric gypsy”.


And the mighty Van Halen --- whose new album I'm afraid I was less than kind about --- with a classic from them. It's “Panama”.


Coming back to Stratovarius, our featured artiste, now, with the opener from their album “Elements, part 1”, this is “Eagleheart”.


Great track from Ozzy, with the legendary, late Randy Rhoads on guitar, this is “Bark at the moon”.


Interesting track from Dark Moor, which not only blurs the line between metal and classical music, but scratches it out completely!


And this is certainly odd. A band called “Berserks”, from their 1982 debut self-titled album, with a song that sounds a little too close to another song that came out, in the same year, by a much more popular and enduring metal band. Can you guess who I'm talking about? Sure you can, once you give it a listen!


With Stratovarius doing Finland proud, who's flying the flag for Sweden? Well, Hammerfall, for one...


… and Evergrey, for another!


Last time we had a featured artiste in the Devil's Ballroom (which was, not very coincidentally, the first time) we ran off a double-play of their music round about here. So let's do that again. First we have a song taken from their album “Episode”, this is “Speed of light”.

And this is from their current album, 2011's “Elysium”, track entitled “The game never ends”.


Proving you don't have to speak (or sing!) in English to be a hard-rockin' metal band, here's one of the old guard. This is Baron Rojo (you know that means Red Baron, right?)...


And the mighty Jane's Addiction, with “Underground”. Cool video!


Must be about time to feature something from Iced Earth, eh? Here's “Ten thousand strong”.


I'm reliably (sort of) informed these guys are from Italy, though you wouldn't suspect it! This is Nasty Tendency, with “Into the fire”.


Time for our last selection from our featured artiste, Stratovarius. Bearing no resemblance but the title to the a-ha song of the same name, this is again from the album “Infinite”, and it's “Hunting high and low”. Expect no whales...


As we wind then towards the end of the second Devil's Ballroom, let's check out a band whose album title pleads “Don't let heavy metal die”. With tracks like this, I'd say that's quite unlikely! This is the opener, “Metal force”.


One more non-English metal band afore we go, this is Trust, with “L'elite” (can you translate that?)


And we'll wrap things up with some seriously heavy stuff, from Slayer, this is “Bloodline”. Hope you enjoyed the dance and aren't too stiff tomorrow! Careful as you go, there's a step down and watch out for those broken bottles on the floor, I said watch out.... never mind. Keep it hard and heavy till we meet again!
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Old 02-25-2012, 05:49 PM   #937 (permalink)
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Old 02-25-2012, 05:54 PM   #938 (permalink)
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It's good advice from Seal, in fairness: you won't survive if you don't occasionally get a little, you know, crazy...
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Old 02-26-2012, 10:47 AM   #939 (permalink)
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Which side are you on? --- Ani Difranco --- 2012 (Righteous Babe)

Okay, all you nitpickers out there, I know the actual title of the album has two question marks, one at the beginning which is upside down, as in the Spanish language, but hey, I don't have a typeface for Spanish, and if I did, I wouldn't reset the whole thing for the sake of one character, so let's just leave it at that, huh?

Musical prodigies are reasonably rare, and perhaps even moreso in this age of the pre-packaged, freeze-dried and ready-in-ten-minutes pop star, but when you begin busking at age nine, have your own record label by nineteen and release your debut by twenty, I'd say that pretty much qualifies! Ani Difranco has released, up to now, seventeen studio albums, and has carved out a career as one of the most respected and talented female singer/songwriters in the USA, if not the world, over the span of her twenty-two year career.

Like fellow contemporary Joseph Arthur, whose “Redemption City” was reviewed here a few weeks ago, Difranco also plays and sings all parts on her albums, which just goes to show she's not only talented as a singer and penner of tunes but as a multi-instrumentalist and indeed as a producer. Her stand on various issues from political to socio-economical, embracing such themes as gay rights, racism, poverty and war, much of which is contained in the lyrics to her songs.

The album opens on “Life boat”, which begins with a somewhat stuttering, staccato acoustic guitar and then what sounds like a violin, then her distinctive folky voice takes over as the guitar gets a little more solid, and there sounds to be some electric piano coming in too. The song goes along at a fairly gentle rhythm, which perfectly belies the frustrated angry lyric: ”I got red scaly hands/ And purple scabby feet/ And you can smell me coming/ From halfway down the street.” Don't, however, ask me what this song is about! It gets a little half-jazzy with “Unworry”, a more uptempo yet halting beat, with some nice rolling percussion, and some unexpectedly fast vocals that seem to attempt, Jim Steinman-like, to fit more into the moment than can fit. I have to say I don't like this practice: it sounds rushed and for me it just doesn't really work. Steinman knows how to do it properly, and I'm not saying Difranco doesn't, but I find Steinman's method yields much more pleasing results.

Bluegrass banjo opens the title track then, with angry electric guitar taking over as she hits out with her first overtly political song, as she declares “Come on all good workers/ This year is our time/ There are folks up in Washington /Who really care what's on our mind/ So come on all you voters/ Let's all vote next time.” The rhythm, too, is the first time I've not been turned off her songs since the album began, with a nice bopping rhythm and a real protest style about it. Her declaration, though, would appear to be a little naïve, as it would certainly seem that having a black president has not been the panacea for America's woes that so many thought it would be. Still, he's better than McCain, I guess! This is like one of those old sixties folk/protest songs brought right up to date, like maybe the female version of the “electric” Dylan. Good stuff.

Nice blast from flutes and indeed horns as the song gets into its stride, the drums taking it along on a semi-triumphalist wave. Definitely the standout so far. I had my doubts as the album opened, but this has changed all that --- assuming this isn't the one good track on the album, of course, that is. And is it? Well, “Splinter” has some nice latin guitar licks, bongo-style drums, taking the tempo right back down again after the powerful title track; this one is a lot more laidback, with a sort of lazy summer's day sort of rhythm, like lying out in the sun playing your guitar with not a care in the world. Then some heavy tubular bells kick things up and some nice strings before it slips back into the easy groove.

Yeah. It's a little weak after its predecessor, but let's see what happens as the album unfolds. “Promiscuity” is a boppier, happier track, with some pretty guitar and a joyful little bassline too, but at this point my attention is beginning to wander... “Albacore” is more gentle, lazy melody with a nice rhythm, with a nice piano accompaniment, then there's an almost reggae tone to “J” --- yeah, that's what it's called: what, couldn't you think of a title? --- but I feel like I did when I recently reviewed, after several hearty recommendations, Bon Iver's album: although this has not been recommended to me by anyone, and although I have heard none of her material prior to this, I somehow expected it to be better. But I'm getting frustrated and bored now.

There are five tracks left, so let's see if we can get through them. I've never yet stopped a review before getting to the end, and I don't intend to start now, so let's plough on. “If yr not” has a much heavier, almost grunge-rock feel to it, with hard electric guitar, stamping drums and some unaccountable strings, a sense of despair and anger in the song, which at this point in the album I can identify with. Much more stripped down and basic is “Hearse”, almost a ballad, with acoustic guitar and bass, a little percussion and not much else, and it's quite nice. Considering what I've experienced in reviewing this album so far, this would probably be only the second track I even like. Not a good percentage, is it?

There's a more uptempo, almost indie-rock idea running through “Mariachi”, with some nice guitar and piano, and I begin to wonder if perhaps the album is going to come in with a strong finish, just as everyone thought it was out of steam? This is certainly some of the best I've heard on this recording, and while it doesn't exactly excite me, at least it's refocussed my full attention on the album. Can it last? “Amendment” starts off with a slow Springsteenesque rock guitar, circa “Nebraska”, and it's obviously another highly politically-charged song, but perhaps a little too long at nearly six and a half minutes. Maybe it's a case of drowning in its own furiously pro-feminist sentiment, I don't know, but it comes across as quite poe-faced, which is unfortunate, as it kind of breaks the good vibe that had started to rise as the album headed towards its end.

And that end comes with a limp, boring, almost unnoticed song as “Zoo” meanders about rather aimlessly and disinterestedly before falling off the edge of the album, and finally allowing me some blessed relief. To me, it's almost like someone walking into a room, wandering about shuffling magazines and looking at dishes, turning on the telly then switching it off, shrugging and just going out again. The sudden, unexpected surge right at the end turned into a refusal and a departure off the field, throwing the jockey and leaving him on the ground to nurse his wounds. Can be a mug's game, sometimes.

One of the points of reviewing 2012 albums is that I usually, almost always, hear them for the first time as I sit writing the review. Now of course this can be a two-edged sword (really, whoever heard of a one-edged sword? Would it not be useless?) as often first impressions do not last, and your opinion of an album changes over time, but I'm prepared to take the risk, and anyway many of these albums are ones I'm unlikely to listen to twice soon, if at all. But the point is that there is just as good a chance that an album I select for review could be a disappointment as there is I'll love it. Cases in point: The Atomic Bomb Audition, Charred Walls of the Damned, Peter Gabriel's “New Blood” and indeed Van Halen's new one, which was a surprise as I really thought it would be great. It wasn't.

So now add this one to the list. For 2012, that's a pretty poor ratio really: the only album --- new album --- I've reviewed this year that clicked with me was “Redemption City” by Joseph Arthur, so I'm way behind as regards good reviews. But that's how it goes: you don't know what an album is going to be like --- by and large --- until you listen to it, and anyway, if all the reviews here were positive I'd have to change the name of the journal to something like Trollheart's Happy Smile Time Music Journal! Ain't doin' that!

Therefore, whether the albums I review turn out to be good or bad, I'll continue to present them for your perusal and listening pleasure (or pain), and not worry too much which ones are good and which are bad. It's equally difficult to review a bad album --- and I mean review, not trash, which is very easy and also unprofessional --- as a good one, so I guess I can look upon it as a way to hone my writing skills and my critique methods.

But I'd better damn well hear something good pretty soon! It's almost March, people!

TRACKLISTING

1. Life boat
2. Unworry
3. Which side are you on
4. Splinter
5. Promiscuity
6. Albacore
7. J
8. If yr not
9. Hearse
10. Mariachi
11. Amendment
12. Zoo
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Old 02-27-2012, 05:27 AM   #940 (permalink)
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Page 2 to 4

Gary Hughes:
Not much of a Gary Hughes fan mostly because he sounds somewhat akin to David Coverdale in the 1980s and puts out a similiar sound, but I've never heard the album you highlighted and it does look interesting, also what do you think of his band Ten?

Moody Blues: Every Good Boy Deserves Favour is the sixth album, in what Moody Blues fans think of as the bands best ever period. Like you I'm not much of a fan and really have to be in the mood for them. I'd say the best two albums though are Days of Future Passed and my personal favourite On The Threashold of a Dream all the other albums in this Moody Blues cycle are accomplished works though.
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