Monthly Archives: January 2016

Rock: album review – Whitesnake ‘The Purple Album’

As I’ve noted before, it’s understandable on the one hand but a real shame on the other that classic Deep Purple songs from the Mark 3 and Mark 4 eras are now all but forgotten by the band themselves. So efforts by both Glenn Hughes and now David Coverdale to celebrate the legacy of that era of the band and keep the music alive are to be applauded. Certainly in a live context anyway. But the question is do we actually need a CD of the David Coverdale-fronted Whitesnake performing cover versions from the David Coverdale-fronted Deep Purple?

I was a little bit sceptical and refrained from buying the album for several months. But seeing Coverdale’s erstwhile Purple bandmate, Glenn Hughes, the other month re-awakened my interest in all things Mark 3. So it was that I put this CD on my Christmas Present list.

And the verdict? There’s no doubt from the lengthy sleeve-notes penned by Coverdale of the passion and pride he feels for the musical output of his former band. And The Purple Album revisits thirteen tracks from the three albums (Burn, Stormbringer and Come Taste The Band) of the Coverdale-fronted Purple. They don’t attempt to be exact replicas of the originals. But while the tunes on the album have the sound and feel of the modern Whitesnake in many ways, neither have they been messed around with too much either. There’s great versions of Burn, You Fool No-one, Mistreated and Stormbreaker and there’s some great guitar work from Whitesnake guitarists Reb Beach and Joel Hoekestra. And there’s some nice, gentle and beautifully melodic versions of Sail Away, Holy Man and Soldier of Fortune, too.

Obviously, if you have not already got the Burn, Stormbringer or Come Taste The Band albums then get those before you think about buying this. But as a celebration of the tunes from those classic albums this is worth having. Because yes – those tunes certainly deserve to be celebrated.

Released May 2015

http://www.whitesnake.com/

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Related reviews:
Glenn Hughes at The Electric Ballroom
Deep Purple at The O2

Folk: album review – Peter Knight’s Gigspanner ‘Layers of Ages’

Layers of Ages, Gigspanner’s long-awaited third album received numerous plaudits from folk reviewers when it was released last year. Deservedly so. Fiddle-player, Peter Knight, guitarist, Roger Flack, and percussionist extraordinaire, Vincent Salzfaas, have returned with another absolute gem.

Bows Of London opens the album, a song exploring those age-old themes sibling rivalry, murder and haunted musical instruments made out of human bones (well of course…) What really adds to the macabre nature of the subject matter though is the beautifully calm, understated way in which Knight delivers the lyrics. Death And The Lady is another highlight. Coming in at over nine minutes long, dark, brooding electric violin blends with pounding conga drums and Spanish-flavoured guitar to create a wonderfully atmospheric soundscape. However, for those yet to experience Gigspanner it’s difficult to emphasise the breadth of musical influences that this band explore. There’s lots of well known traditional material on the album, of course. But folk doesn’t even begin to describe the vast range of sounds you get to hear coming out of the speakers when Gigspanner are playing. King Of The Fairies, for example, has a Latin American feel while Louisina Flack immediately puts you in mind of a furiously energetic Cajun hoedown.

Not only have Gigspanner brought a fresh perspective on some really well-known traditional songs, the album revisits a couple of songs closely associated with Knight’s former band, Steeleye Span. There is a great version of Mad Tom of Bedlam which is given that unique Gigspanner treatment, as well as a new version of Hard Times Of Old England. The latter was recorded by Steeleye Span at the height of their rocked-up, mid-70s commercial peak. But it gets a thorough reworking here as a gentle, mournful ballad, providing a lovely finish to the album.

Having played Gigspanner’s previous two albums to death over recent years, it’s been wonderful to finally have a new one to play over these past few weeks. And what a masterpiece it is, wholly deserving of all the praise it’s received thus far.

Released: May 2015

http://www.gigspanner.com/

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Previous reviews:
Gigspanner at Whitstable 2014
Gigspanner at Hastings 2014
Gigspanner at Hastings 2015

Metal: album review – Judas Priest ‘Redeemer of Souls’

After being so impressed with Judas Priest on their recent UK tour, it wasn’t long afterwards that I found myself putting their most recent studio album, 2014’s Redeemer of Souls, on my Christmas present list.

When the album was being launched guitarist, Glenn Tipton assured that fans that they need not expect something wildly experimental. “Sometimes in the past we may have come under fire for being too adventurous musically…so we have listened,” he claimed. “From start to finish, ‘Redeemer of Souls’ is 18 songs of pure classic Priest metal.” Well, I have only got the bog-standard 13 track version rather than the deluxe version, but other than that I’m not going to argue.

The album opens in strong form with Dragonaut which pretty much contains everything you want from a classic metal album, crunching guitars, tuneful melodic solos, thunderous vocals and an accessible, well-written tune you can sing along to.  Other memorable, stand-out tracks on the album include the title track, Redeemer of Souls, as well as Down In Flames and Metalizer. But if truth be told there’s not a weak track on the album. This is the first album with new guitarist, Ritchie Faulkner, who replaced founder member KK Downing. But as was also evident on their recent tour he certainly “gets” the Judas Priest sound.

In spite of having a reputation of purveyors of fearsome uncompromising metal, however, Judas Priest have also been able to pull the odd nicely-judged hard-rock ballad out of the hat. Beginning Of The End, the last track on the album, does the job beautifully.

After so much confusion around the band’s future only a few years ago, Redeemer Of Souls is a real return to form for Judas Priest. The line-up refreshed. The band rejuvinated. And with a clear sense of musical direction apparent from the outset. This is an album that stands up well against the band’s classics of the late 70s and early 80s.

Released July 2014

http://judaspriest.com/home/

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Previous review: Judas Priest at Brixton Academy 

Rock: album review – David Gilmour ‘Rattle That Lock’

Only a year after releasing what was billed as Pink Floyd’s final album, The Endless River, late 2015 saw David Gilmour bring out a new solo album, too. Rattle That Lock is his first solo offering since 2006. While Sid Barrett and Roger Waters both have their enthusiastic advocates as the holder of the creative genius behind Pink Floyd, for me it was always David Gilmour I looked to first and foremost. Gilmour’s vocals and guitar are the sound of Pink Floyd for me. I found the Waters-inspired The Final Cut little more than a self-indulgent ranty dirge, but hugely enjoyed both of the post-Waters albums, A Momentary Lapse of Reason and The Division Bell. And Gilmour’s 2006 solo offering, On An Island, very much continued in the same vein.

So what, then, of Rattle That Lock? I’ve played it several times over now. All of the musical ingredients you would expect from a David Gilmore album are there: the beautiful melodic guitar solos, the lush atmospheric keyboards, the deliciously rich backing vocals and that clear, sensitive unmistakable lead vocal. But somehow, unlike previous offerings, it doesn’t quite seem to add up to something greater than the sum of its parts. It’s not a bad album and there are some really beautiful moments on it. But in places it does begin to sound a bit like Pink Floyd by numbers. On An Island followed exactly that same formula, of course, but perhaps had the benefit of featuring a number of really well-written memorable songs that added to the creative output of, rather than merely sought to copy, the classic Floyd back catalogue.

There are some lovely stand-out tracks, like Faces of Stone and In Any Tongue. And apart from the truly horrendous disco beat on Today there are very few low points on this album. But overall, although it’s mainly songs rather than instrumentals, Rattle That Lock is more in the business (like 2014’s The Endless River) of offering atmospheric Floydish soundscapes rather than genuinely classic new material. Having said that, it’s still a thousand times better than The Final Cut

Released: September 2015

http://www.davidgilmour.com/rattlethatlock/

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