Following the release of his debut album (reviewed here) back in April, the alt-folk musician James Auger aka A Choir of Ghosts releases a new single. ‘Skin & Bones’ is released on November 20th with an accompanying video.
“The song is about the realization that you can’t always ‘fix it’ for the people you love. Sometimes they have to solve it themselves, and you can’t do anything but watch and hope for the best. In order for things to grow to its full potential, you sometimes have to let go,” says Auger.
“It’s a hard realization but I think a lot of people can identify with the feeling of sudden emptiness, when you come to something in your way that you cannot share, but rather have to go about alone. Your only hope lays in that once the obstacle has been passed, you can rendezvous on the other side.”
A spring 2020 European tour was cancelled due to Covid-19, but Choir of Ghosts has now sprung back into life with this gentle, longing beautiful song and atmospheric video filmed deep in the Scandinavian forests.
October 2020 marks fifty years since the release of the Led Zeppelin III album. Greater Manchester Rock Radio’s Stewart Taylor recently devoted one of his ‘Classic Albums’ shows to celebrating the album’s anniversary. The show included exclusive interviews with all three surviving members of the band. GMRR have kindly shared those recollections from Jimmy Page, Robert Plant and John Paul Jones for this piece.
Led Zeppelin III showed a marked progression in style from the previous two albums where the hard rock and blues influences were accompanied by folk influences and acoustic-based tunes. To begin preparing for the band’s third album Page and Plant had decamped to the isolated Bron-Yr-Aur cottage in Wales:
Jimmy Page: “The creative process for Led Zeppelin III changed because the first album had been – I wouldn’t say in a hurry because it was done efficiently and from the period before that we had already started doing a few dates in Scandinavia – and we didn’t stop! We didn’t stop working, all the way through 1969. And we’d managed to do the second album and we were also doing dates and tours in America. And we got our first – what you would call a break. And it was nice because it was fabulous all the energy of being on the road. But it was nice to breathe a sigh of relief and take in the general scent of the countryside… There was still writing going on but it wasn’t the frantic pace of having to do a show that night. The cottage in Wales was one of Robert’s ideas… It was good because it was acoustic guitars and whatever. There was literally no electricity. It was log fire, gas lights and little tape recorders. So the electricity that was in that place was the electricity we were producing with the music if you like.”
Robert Plant: “It had been a real fast quite a rollercoaster to get to that point. From what I remember we really needed to take stock and we were very aware or wished to make a departure of some kind and to calm it all down a bit….We wanted to try and break off, break away and we had an affinity he and I. And even if it wasn’t absolutely the most fruitful moment of the time, it at least allowed us the space to have space. And that meant that when we went on to write further on down the line we had developed the ability to create more space in the music.”
The pair were then later joined by John Bonham and John Paul Jones at another location, Headley Grange:
John Paul Jones: “I suppose it was the first time we’d ever we just sat down together and just tried things, you know, tried lots of different things. We had acoustic instruments as well hanging around. And it was just really nice to sit around a stretch out a little bit I suppose and just experiment. The band was never about making the same album twice.”
On the decision to plant themselves firmly in the ‘albums band’ camp:
Jimmy Page: “It was really apparent what was going on in America. There’d been a number of FM stations that had been established. And these FM stations were playing what we’d now call alternative music – to the singles. And you’d even get to hear them playing a whole side of an album. And I thought – oh boy! This is wonderful. This is the area to go in. Not the singles market because the problem with the singles market, you’d have a single that everyone has worked on… and you’d find bands who did that, the rest of the album material wasn’t very good. Because they were a singles market band. Not only that you’d find when they did the next album… they have to do something that sounded very much like the single off the first album so everyone knew who they were. We didn’t do that.”
Led Zeppelin III saw the band exploring more acoustic material:
Robert Plant: “The thing opened up much more then. Although it was there – I mean on the second album there was ‘Ramble On’ and on the first album there was ‘Babe I’m Gonna Leave You’. There was the kind of acoustic element. The variety was there. My performance I wasn’t that pleased with on the first and second but by the third… ‘Gallows Pole is one of my favourite tracks and ‘Immigrant Song’ is, too. They were just so far between the two. And that to me was the beginning of me actually saying yep, boy, you can do something. Rather than it all being in the one idiom if you like. So yeah, I started getting a bit of pride then”
At the end of the hour-long show each of three are asked for their final thoughts on the album, listening back on it now:
John Paul Jones: “Well it reminded me how good a band it was. Also, it reminded me how much I miss John Bonham.”
Robert Plant: “All we wanted to do was keep stretching. This is the whole thing about Led Zeppelin.”
Jimmy Page: “If the band was going to stay together then you could really start going on this road where these initial ideas are expanded…right over the horizon in every direction.”
Following a reissue of the band’s three 1980s albums a year ago, a fourteen-track Best Of Heavy Pettin compilation is set to be released on 27th November.
The compilation features tracks taken from the Scottish hard rockers’ three studio albums: Lettin Loose, Rock Ain’t Dead and The Big Bang, including the hit singles ‘Love Times Love’, ‘In and Out of Love’ and ‘Rock Me’.
The cover is a previously unseen photo by David Plastik taken at The Louder Sound festival in France in 1984. Ross Muir provides liner notes on the band’s history.
The group dissolved in 1988 with the final album, The Big Bang, being released the following year. Heavy Pettin reformed in 2017. The new version of the band, featuring original members Gordon Bonnar and Hamie, recently recorded a 4-track EP, the first batch of new material bearing the band’s name in over 30 years.
Original Heavy Pettin drummer, Gary Moat, meanwhile, now fronts his own band, Burnt Out Wreck, who have released two well-received albums: Swallow in 2017 and This Is Hell in 2019.
Delivering punchy yet polished hard rock Heavy Pettin were often regarded as a cut above many of their contemporaries in the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal. It is good to see their legacy given the treatment it deserves, with this new compilation now joining the reissues of their original three studio albums.
Best Of Heavy Pettin – Track List:
IN AND OUT OF LOVE
BORN TO BURN
LOVE TIMES LOVE
DEVIL IN HER EYES
10.DON’T CALL IT LOVE
THROW A PARTY
ROCK AIN’T DEAD
HELL IS BEAUTIFUL
Best of Heavy Pettin released 27th November 2020 by Burnt Out Wreckords/Cherry Red
Fans of guitar whizz Orianthi can look forward to a new album. Released on 6th November on the Frontiers label ‘O’ will be Orianthi’s first studio album in seven years and follows her recent signing to the Italian based rock/metal label.
“It is a very inspired album, with things kept pretty raw. I didn’t overthink it,” explains Orianthi. “Marti [Frederiksen, producer, mixer, co-songwriter] and I wanted to create a unique sound and vibe with every track and we experimented a lot with synths and different guitar tones. Lyrically, a lot of this record comes from life experience and other people’s stories. It’s going to be so fun to play these songs live!”
‘Impulsive’ a single and video from the forthcoming album was recently released.
The Australian vocalist/guitarist first came to public attention back in 2009 when ‘According to You’ became an international hit for the then 24-year old. She soon became a go-to player for a number of the best known rock celebs, including Alice Cooper, Carlos Santana and Steve Vai and was also slated to appear as part of Michael Jackson’s planned series of concert dates at the O2 until the singer’s shock death put an end to that.
“I am thrilled about this new chapter with Frontiers!” she adds. “Their passion and enthusiasm for music is such a great reminder of why I love creating music. I couldn’t be more excited to release my upcoming album with them.”
UK hard rock outfit Burnt Out Wreck, fronted by former Heavy Pettin’ drummer Gary Moat, are the latest band to announce their own line in alcoholic beverages. The band have teamed up with Staffordshire-based brewers Lymestone Brewery to produce a 7% ABV Indian Pale Ale called ‘Burnt Out Wreck’.
“Music and beer go hand in hand and so we are super excited to announce the collaboration between Lymestone Brewery and Burnt Out Wreck. Twelve perfect beers to go with the perfect album This is Hell,” say the band.
“When Claire reached out to us to collaborate with the band to produce a beer, we were more than happy to get involved,” adds brewery boss Ian Bradford. “We love the band and the album so it’s a real treat for us to be able to do this together.”
“The beer is not for the fainthearted!” they warn. “Three powerful US hops dominate this monster of an American Pale Ale. From its crisp Maris Otter base to its massive hoppy finish this is a beer that will have you on the edge of your seat.”
While I’ve no intention of buying it myself (given I’ve got more Slade albums, Slade singles, Slade reissues and Slade compilations than you can shake a stick at) I was well chuffed to see Slade’s new greatest hits compilation Cum On Feel The Hitz go straight in at No. 8 in the UK’s album chart last Friday.
This is the band’s highest ranking in the UK album charts since Slade In Flame was released back in 1974. Even during the days of the band’s early 80s comeback, a decade after glam, Slade albums were still struggling to make it to the Top 40, even when they had a second run of hit singles.
What has been nice, and clearly what has helped with sales, is all four original members working to publicise the release and celebrate the band’s shared legacy – even if they do not all see eye to eye these days.
While some bands of a certain vintage split into two rival camps, with Slade it’s all been a bit more complicated. Noddy doesn’t get on with Jim these days but rubs along just fine with Dave and Don. Jim doesn’t have time for Nod or Dave but is on good terms with Don, sending the latter heartfelt good wishes when he suffered a stroke earlier this year. Dave doesn’t get on with Jim and had a pretty acrimonious falling out with Don earlier this year, too, when he sacked him as drummer from his continuing version of Slade. But Dave does get on well with Nod, the two keeping in touch with one another by phone through lockdown. Don, meanwhile, gets on just fine with Jim and Nod in spite of that big falling out with Dave. Got all that?
Still, it’s nice that the four of them put on a united front to promote Cum On Feel The Hitz which collects most of Slade’s singles from 1970 to 1991. The double CD comprises 43 tracks, while the double vinyl features 24.
Noddy: “It’s been remastered. They sound bloody great and there’s a double vinyl out as well. The record company wanted to do it. They wanted to make it a definitive collection, which it pretty much is. In this time of lockdown, I think people need a bit of Slade. We always put a smile on people’s faces. This is the perfect time to cheer people up. Hopefully it’ll reach a new generation too.”
Dave: “The thinking behind it is that BMG signed us for this big deal and really when you’re looking at something like this you’re almost giving us a reappraisal of how many hits we really had.”
Jim:“I’m absolutely thrilled with the chart placing of ‘Cum On Feel The Hitz’ tonight. Many thanks to all the fans for buying the CDs, vinyl and downloading the album. Great to see it in the Top Ten. Rock on!”
Don: “This is fantastic news! I never thought that I’d see us back in the Top Ten again. I was told earlier that BMG thought the album would enter the charts around #7 or #8 – and if it’s been confirmed that the official position in the UK chart is number 8 then that’s great!”
Cheers guys – great to see you back in the charts!
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.”
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.
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.
Uriah Heep celebrate their 50th anniversary this year. An anniversary tour, like pretty much everything else this year, has now been rescheduled for 2021 but Greater Manchester Rock Radio’sTony Charles recently caught up with Heep’s Mick Box to reflect on the band’s past half century.
In a fascinating hour-long programme that GMRR have shared with me for this blog, Mick and Tony takes us through the band’s entire history starting with the very early days and the band’s formation. The classic David Byron-fronted years of the early to mid 70s are discussed in some detail, of course, but Box’s reflections on the years that came after that are definitely worth hearing.
Talking about the late 70’s and the band’s temporary implosion following the release of the Conquest album in 1980, Box reflects: “I’ll tell you what it was. I think the writing got a bit too poppy. We started off as a rock band and then you got songs like ‘Free Me’ and ‘Come Back To Me’ and although they were good songs we didn’t really associate them with Uriah Heep if you like and I think a lot of fans fell by the wayside because we lost that rocking edge.”
Uriah Heep bounced back in 1982 with a new line-up and the Abominog album. Box looks back on that now as: “Very much an album of the 80s in its production, in its writing and everything and we had great success with it.”
In more recent years the band has returned to a more classic sound with the last album Living The Dream receiving heaps of praise. Box: “With Living The Dream we had a great producer Jay Rushton and what he did was he kept the heritage of the band and all the trademarks that the band is known for – with the five-part harmony and the wah-wah guitar, the solos, the Hammond organ – and he kept all of those elements but he had a wonderful way of blending them to make them sound very modern.”
Thanks to Tony Charles and Greater Manchester Rock Radio – you can listen to the full hour-long interview on soundcloud here: