The day my dad went on Radio Lancashire to talk about Dr. Feelgood

BT payphone engineer, music fanatic and familiar figure around many Preston pubs, but until then someone with zero broadcasting experience, some time in the early 00s my dad found himself being invited on BBC Radio Lancashire for a one hour special on Dr. Feelgood.

My dad was, indeed, a huge fan of Dr. Feelgood just as he was a huge fan of many bands but I think one of his regular drunken Saturday night conversations about bands and rock music ended up with an invitation from one of the presenters to take part in a show.

Happily, a friend of his recorded it at the time and I recently rediscovered my copy.

“Alan Johnson has popped in to see tell us all about Dr. Feelgood. We’re doing a feature on Dr Feelgood and he’s ably assisted by Andy Stones,” the show starts off.

As well as playing tracks like ‘Back In the Night’, Down At The Doctors’ and ‘Milk and Alcohol’ the discussion meanders through the band’s early years with Wilko Johnson, then the illness and death of frontman Lee Brilleaux as well as the continuation of the band by Brilleaux’s former bandmates and a new frontman.

My dad reminds the presenter they did, in fact once make the Top 10 singles chart before being asked whether what they play is blues. “Not in the true sense,” is my dad’s rejoinder. “It’s just really good-time music, blues or not.”

The show draws to a close. There’s time for my dad to choose one last song. He says it has to be ‘Milk and Alcohol’ and he recounts his abiding image of frontman, Lee, on stage.

The hour is nearly up.

“Thanks for coming in,” says the presenter.

“I’m getting used to it,” says my dad.

“It can be a bit daunting sitting here with all the microphones and the gremlins,” the presenter says reassuringly.

“Without a pint,” my dad observes.

And with that the show comes to an end. I believe this was the sum total of my dad’s entire broadcasting experience. But I’ve got a recording of the show for posterity and it is comforting to be able to hear his voice. Here’s that clip of him talking about that abiding image of Lee Brilleaux on stage.

Folk: album review – Joshua Burnell ‘Flowers Where The Horses Sleep’

From trad folk to prog rock to avant-garde pop there are many influences at play on Flowers Where The Horses Sleep, the latest album from singer-songwriter, Joshua Burnell.

Following his well-received folk-rock interpretations of traditional song on his two previous albums, Burnell returns to original compositions.

“Having dedicated the past three years to rearranging traditional material, I wanted to build on that experience to produce an album of folk songs for a modern audience,” says Burnell. “The songs were all inspired by people past and present and explore humankind’s remarkable ability to find beauty, even in the hardest of times.”

Nicely packaged with beautiful cover art, the album takes its title from the recollections of a Japanese-American woman who was interned during World War II and spoke of the prisoners growing flowers in the stables they were obliged to take residence in, bringing beauty to the ugliness surrounding them.

Burnell himself is a talented multi-instrumentalist and his impressive musicianship is as much in evidence on this album as his gentle but beguiling vocals. Guests on the album include Frances Sladen on lead and backing vocals, Nathan Greaves on electric guitar and Katriona Gilmore on fiddle and mandarin.

Flowers Where The Horses Sleep takes us on quite a musical journey from the gentle acoustic strumming of opener ‘Labels’ to the lush grand piano of closing track ‘Two Stars’ with many detours along the way. It’s testimony both to Burnell’s creativity and his love of traditional material, however, that for all the quirky left-field musical influences, these freshly-composed songs still manage to retain a strong folk sensibility.

Released: 4th September 2020

News: ‘The Symbol Remains’ first new studio album from Blue Öyster Cult in almost two decades

Following a trio of live albums released this year since signing to the Frontiers label, US hard rockers Blue Öyster Cult are set to release their first new studio album in almost two decades,

The Symbol Remains is due out on 9th October. A new single from the album, ‘Tainted Blood’, written by Eric Bloom and Richie Castellano, is also now available.

The sessions for ‘The Symbol Remains’ began in earnest last year. “As the song demos emerged, we realised there was as much if not more variety in style and content on this record as any in our history,” states BÖC lead vocalist/guitarist Eric Bloom. “We embraced this and the thing tying all the disparate elements together is the band’s sound and performance.”

“The album title comes from a quote of an old Sandy Pearlman (BÖC producer and manager) lyric, which basically we are using to show that the band is back and still rocking after all these years. To me, it means we’re still here and doing what we do,” he adds.

“The goal was for the new music to stand up to the quality and vitality of our legacy recordings and I believe we have successfully achieved that,” says founding member Donald ‘Buck Dharma’ Roeser. “Other than that, the sound of our voices and style of our writing and playing can’t help but sound familiar to fans of our work.”

On the album the two members from BÖC’s ‘classic era’, vocalist/lead guitarist Donald ‘Buck
Dharma’ Roeser and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Eric Bloom – both of whom have been with the band from the late 60s, are joined by Danny Mirando on bass/backing vocals, Richie Castellano on guitar/keyboards and Jules Radino on drums.

“We have wanted to record the current line-up for some time and the result of us giving our all on this album speaks for itself,” says Roeser. “The Covid-19 lockdown slowed the completion of the record and we were prevented from travelling and collaborating in person, although luckily we had already done the basic tracking. We resorted to video conferencing and producing each other over the internet and are fortunate that the technology exists to do that, plus some live performance cancellations gave us a little more time to carefully consider the finishing touches. We sent the album out to be mixed by Tom Lord-Alge and we also worked together over the internet on that.”

Released by Frontiers 9th October 2020

Related posts:

Blue Öyster Cult reissue plus a brand new fortieth anniversary live album

Book review: ‘Chasing Shadows – The Search for Rod Evans: Deep Purple’s original singer’ by Adrian Jarvis

Part biography, part rock ‘n’ roll travelogue and part love-letter in celebration of a teenage musical obsession, I enjoyed Adrian Jarvis’s ‘Chasing Shadows’. Subtitled ‘The Search for Rod Evans’ – the elusive lead singer from the very first line-up of Deep Purple back in the late 1960s – you could be forgiven for thinking it all starts sounding a bit obsessive and stalkerish.

But the book is not really like that at all. For a start, Jarvis is not particularly obsessed with the mysterious Mr Evans, who dropped out of the music businesses in the early 70s, reappeared in 1980 fronting a bogus Deep Purple, was sued by his erstwhile bandmates and promptly disappeared again. The author is certainly a huge fan of Deep Purple in all of their various guises (or “Marks”) over the years but he is open about what he sees as the limitations of Evans’ vocal style and lyric-writing abilities in comparison to his successors and Jarvis’s curiosity about the singer’s whereabouts is more about a symbolic missing piece in the jigsaw of the band he loves rather than an unfathomable obsession with Evans per se.

The “search” takes us down a number of unexpected and meandering routes, some of them with only the most tenuous connections to Evans himself. But it remains an entertaining read nevertheless. Moreover, as someone of a similar age to the author (ie one who was way too young to get into heavy rock/metal during its first wave in the late 60/early 70s but who was to discover an affection for those older bands via the New Wave of British Heavy Metal [NWOBHM] boom a decade later) there is much in this tale that I can relate to.

Published by Wymer Publishing 2017

Related reviews:

Glenn Hughes, Bexhill 2019

Glenn Hughes, London 2015

Deep Purple, London 2015

Ritchie Blackmore’s Rainbow, Birmingham 2017

Whitesnake – The Purple Album

Singer-songwriter: album review – Garnett Betts ‘Highfield’

Canadian singer-songwriter Garnett Betts‘ work springs from a folk/roots sensibility but there is no shortage of other influences, too, from jazz to blues to country to easy listening. With Highfield, his latest album, the result is some compelling story-telling in the best singer-songwriter tradition mixed in with some cool, laid-back jazz-tinged piano.

Featuring Betts on vocals, guitar and penny whistle, the album also includes Rick May on bass, Karel Roessingh on piano and keys and Alex Campbell on hand percussion.

“I definitely think that an up beat and more energetic feel runs through this album than my past work,” says Betts.

Betts’ story-telling really comes to the fore on ‘Smart Guys Don’t Fade Away’ described as a tale of unsolicited advice from youth through to maturity and one of the stand-out tracks on the album.

‘Farther On’ one of the two instrumentals on the album takes on a more overt folky feel with some atmospheric penny whistle giving the track something of a Celtic touch.

The more upbeat ‘Rendezvous’ meanwhile, with its catchy melody and slightly bluesy feel, immediately puts me in mind of one of those classic, mid 70s albums with that sun-kissed, west coast vibe and is another stand-out track.

A singer-songwriter with plenty to say and a diverse set of musical influences distilled into an interesting and coherent album. Check it out.

https://garnettbetts.com/

Folk: album review – Rura ‘Live At The Old Fruitmarket’

Recorded live at a home-town gig in the month before lock-down commenced, Glasgow’s folk instrumentalists Rura celebrate their tenth anniversary with this brand new live album. Live At The Old Fruitmarket documents Rura’s performance for a 1,200-strong crowd on the final day of the Celtic Connections festival back in February.

The foursome – Steven Blake (pipes and keys), Jack Smedley (fiddle), David Foley (flute and bodhran) and Adam Brown (guitar) are joined by former, past collaborators and long-time musical friends to celebrate the band’s decade of music-making. The concert includes guest slots for the band’s former singer and songwriter Adam Holmes, who contributes two songs, and guitarist Chris Waite in addition to other musicians, including Ali Hutton (Treacherous Orchestra) and James Lindsay (Braebach).

Fiddler, Jack Smedley, reflects: “Over the past ten years we have made incredible friends, made ridiculous memories and played a few tunes along the way! We want to thank everyone who joined us on stage that night at The Old Fruitmarket as well as every single person who has come to see us. We had a blast!”

Capturing some of the magic and atmosphere of what was clearly a very special night, the band and their guests are fizzing with energy as they revisit highlights from their back catalogue.

From fast and furious to melancholy and mournful anyone with a love of Scottish pipes and fiddle is going to love this album. And for anyone who was lucky enough to experience this as one of their last gigs before lock-down they are almost certainly going to want to purchase it as a memento of that evening.

Released 11th September 2020

https://www.rura.co.uk/

Folk: album review: Rakoczy ‘Frontrunner’

This review was originally published by Bright Young folk here

From traditional horse fairs, to the wooden ’obby ’oss, to the racehorse, to more mystical creatures, the horse has been an enduring fixture in traditional folk song. Racokzy brings such songs together in an inspired and ambitious approach for her debut album.

Rakoczy, full name Fruzsina Zsofia Rakoczy, was born in Budapest but has lived most of her life in Manchester. Coming to folk music via the Euro dance scene and local sessions, she sings and plays recorder, concertina and bagpipes, all of which can be heard on the album.

The album draws together traditional favourites like Skewbald, Poor Old Horse and Creeping Jane along with covers from the likes of US singer-songwriter Tucker Zimmerman and pastoral prog rockers Jethro Tull, in addition to a couple of originals.

In her biography Rakoczy cites influences as diverse as British and European traditional song, early music, classic rock, gothic and steampunk and draws inspiration from artists like Tom Waits, Marilyn Manson, Lady Gaga, David Bowie and Joan Jett. With a versatile vocal delivery and excellent musical accompaniment, the spectrum of emotions, moods and influences the artist and her backing band take us on over the course of this album is an exhilarating ride.

From the powerful bagpipe and drumming arrangements which lend atmosphere to opening track Hooden Horse, a Kentish calling-on song celebrating the parade of the wooden hobby horse through the streets of Broadstairs, to the sparse and mournful guitar and vocal arrangement on Little Dun Dee collected from septuagenarian Gypsy traveller Mary Anne Haynes in the 1970s, there is plenty for the traditional folk enthusiast to fall in love with on this album.

For their cover of Zimmerman’s Taoist Tale meanwhile, Rakoczy and her band, the Horror Show, channel the spirit of Mancunian indie favourites The Stone Roses. The album ends with a little bit of folk rock – not the late 60s variety but a blast of 1950s rock and roll as the traditional song Dead Horse is repurposed as a vintage electric guitar romp, a glorious and fitting tribute to our equine friends everywhere.

Quirky, inspired and creative Frontrunner is a superb debut and Rakoczy will most definitely be a name to watch out for.

https://www.facebook.com/pages/category/Musician-Band/Rakoczy-Music-101253771590149/

News: ‘The Isolation Sessions’ new album in support of The National Emergencies Trust

From heavy metal to country, rock and roll to folk The Isolation Sessions is a newly-released digital download album aimed at raising money for The National Emergencies Trust Covid Appeal. Assembled by Danny Stoakes, the album features imaginative reworkings of ten of Stoakes’ favourite songs in collaboration with a host of different artists. These include Romeo’s Daughter’s Craig Joiner, Voodoo Six’s Matt Pearce and Tygers of Pan Tang’s Craig Ellis.

Tracks recorded include covers of Pink Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’, AC/DC’s ‘Whole Lotta Rosie’ and The Stones’ ‘You Can’t Always Get What You Want’.

Sicilian guitarist Antonello Giliberto and Tygers drummer Craig Ellis feature on ‘Diamonds and Rust’, a track which is a cross between the Joan Baez original and Judas Priest’s own reworked acoustic version.

Support has come from founding member of Judas Priest and KK’s Priest guitarist, KK
Downing
, who says:

“I would like to say congratulations and a big thank you to Danny Stoakes and all of the talented musicians for this collaboration. The Isolation Sessions is a collection of many well-known and loved songs that have been interpreted in a unique way during these past difficult months, and all in the name of a most worthy and appropriate charity, The National Emergencies Trust Covid Appeal.

“As I listen to the songs it is difficult to find favourites, but I admit I do warm to Diamonds and Rust – a song I have played with Priest so many times. I would strongly urge everyone to get on board and check out The Isolation Sessions, not only for its much needed cause, but for the undoubtable enjoyment you will have from listening to it. Again, much respect to all involved in this creation and my sincere thanks to you all for your support.”

Check out Diamonds and Rust here:

The Isolation Sessions also features Kyle Lamley of THEIA, Hoss Thompson of Thirteen Stars, The Big Dirty Axeman, C. Diddy, Liberty Lies drummer Adam Stevens, Burnt Out Wreck’s Gary Moat, Ian Sanderson and Michael Armstrong. The album has been mastered by Benedict Harris Hayes, of Oceanica and Massive Dynamic, who also features on the opening track, a cover of Floyd’s ‘Wish You Were Here’.

Stoakes himself adds:

“I’d like to say a huge thank you to all the artists who have got involved and got behind this project. They have all done this for nothing ensuring that 100% of the money goes to the charity. Covid 19 is still very much out there and I really hope that we are able to help and support those who most need it. Thank you again to you all.”

The National Emergencies Trust collaborates with charities and other bodies to raise and distribute money and support victims during times of a domestic disaster.

Donate and order The Isolation Sessions via: https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/theisolationsessions

Or via Progressive Gears Bandcamp:
https://progressivegears.bandcamp.com/album/the-isolation-sessions

News: ‘Something on Me’ – new album from Snowy White due out 9th October

A new album from blues-infused guitar legend Snowy White and his band The White Flames is due out on 9th October this year.

In advance of next month’s full album release, ‘I Wish I Could’ a delicious slice of virtuoso blues combined with White’s characteristically laid-back and personal lyrics is now available as a single.

Most famous for his 1983 worldwide hit ‘Bird of Paradise’ from his debut solo album, White has developed his own unique style of ‘English’ blues, a combination of clear, clean blues phrases and harder-edged contemporary rock riffs.

In the seventies he toured the east coast of America, getting as far south as New Orleans and discovering the life of a touring musician was one that suited him. By that time he had become friendly with former Fleetwood Mac guitar legend, Peter Green, and they spent a lot of time jamming together. In the Autumn of 1976 he was invited to tour America and Europe with Pink Floyd and the following year went on to guest on the solo album of Floyd’s keyboard player Rick Wright. In 1979 White accompanied Peter Green on his return to the studio after several years away and the album ‘In the Skies’ was the result. Further work with Pink Floyd ensued which was then followed by a three year stint in Thin Lizzy, leaving in 1982 to commence his solo career.

White’s first solo album was entitled White Flames and included the aforementioned ‘Bird of Paradise’ smash. In 1987 White put together a blues-orientated outfit, the Blues Agency, recording two albums. In the 90s White then toured and recorded with two Dutch-Indonesian musicians, Juan van Emmerloot (drums/percussion) and Walter Latupeirissa (bass and rhythm guitar). As The White Flames they recorded a string of albums, including No Faith Required, Restless, The Way It Is and Realistic, performing all over Europe.

A long stint then followed working with Roger Waters once more,which included Waters’ Dark Side Of The Moon and Wall’ tours. In between tours White founded the Snowy White Blues Project, recording the albums ‘In Our Time Of Living’ and ‘In Our Time…Live’.

White’s most recent solo album, The Situation came out in 2018. The new album Something On Me features Thomas White on drums, Rowan Bassett on bass and appearances by various other White Flames.

http://www.snowywhite.com/

New-wave folk: album review – The Strunts ‘Too Much of Everything’

Describing their style as “post-truth, new wave folk” The Strunts came about as Kintyre musicians, David Fee and Les Oman, reacted to the inauguration of Donald trump as US President with a bout of song-writing. ‘Ranches and Mansions’ one of the songs on this album was the initial fruit of this collaboration, soon followed by several more. The Strunts and their debut album Too Much of Everything were born.

Applying a combination of dark humour and raw emotion with a singer-songwriter folky vibe, the album is quirky and eccentric yet musically appealing – based around Oman and Fee’s bouzouki and acoustic guitar playing. Recorded over the past three years, with the help of musician and engineer/producer Sam Hales at his Campbeltown studio, other local musician friends came on board as the project evolved. These included Alison Leith on additional vocals, Anne Leith on backing vocals, Mark Leishman on drums and percussion, Alex Johnson on double bass as well as Hales on electric guitar.

In spite of being delighted with the result, The Strunts say they will be “equally delighted if POTUS 46 is somebody else, meaning that the ‘difficult second album’ can fly in some other weird and wonderful direction.”

Released: 4th July 2020

Strunts_PR1

https://www.facebook.com/Struntoon