Tag Archives: news

News: 40 years of Thunderstick celebrated with limited-edition live album – released 20/3/20

Something Wicked This Way Came – Live in France

Released 20/3/20 on Roulette Records

Order from: https://www.roulettemedia.uk/thunderstick-store

By way of marking forty years since the emergence of the infamous masked drummer ‘Thunderstick’, who became the iconic figure for the then burgeoning ‘New Wave Of British Heavy Metal’ movement, his eponymously-named band are ready to release their first ever official live album. The limited-edition CD will be released by Roulette Records on 20th March.

Thunderstick’s alter ego and creator Barry Graham Purkis announces: “I am so happy to announce that after 40 years of ‘Thunderstick’ a live album will be released this month to celebrate. Comprising both Thunderstick and Samson material with the odd ‘cover’ thrown in for good measure, there has never been any official recordings of the band in concert before so for us this is pretty damn special..!!”

Lead singer Raven Blackwing adds: “I am really excited about the upcoming release of our live album ‘Something Wicked This Way Came’ Thunderstick live in France. The whole gig was a blast from start to finish with so many new friends made, a beautiful way for me to cherish that memory of that performance. It’s my first album with the band and I’m really hoping that people listening to it will pick up on the enjoyment that I and the guys had on stage that night. Much love Raven xx”

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Recorded live in France in November 2019 the album features a full concert with the following track listing:
Riding With The Angels
Go Sleep With the Enemy (I Dare Ya)
Earth Mother
Buried Alive
Dark Night Black Light Monologue Teenage Suicide)
Dark Night Black Light
Vice Versa
Witches Trial
Blackwing …… The Curse
Dark Princess Thunder
Thunder Thunder
Time Warp

Best known for his time with Samson and an early Iron Maiden Barry Graham Purkis (AKA Thunderstick) has been the legendary icon for the NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) scene since the late 70s. His eponymously named band, renowned for its female fronted power rock and theatricality, have a considerable heritage. The band played live and recorded for six years both in the UK and in the United States until playing their last gig in October 1986.

Then In 2016 former lead vocalist, Jodee Valentine, tragically died. In recognition of her memory Barry decided to record some songs that Jodee had performed live. This became the ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ album, the first new Thunderstick product in over thirty years. It was released in July 2017 to enthusiastic reviews worldwide. Following the success of the album Barry put a live band together who have brought the Thunderstick magic to a series of festival dates and live gigs. Now signed to Roulette Records an eagerly-anticipated follow-up studio album is currently being recorded and is scheduled for release in July 2020.

Baz Crowcroft, the band’s resident artist has, once again, delivered spectacular artwork for the album. He was responsible for the artwork on the last album as well as the recent single ‘Go Sleep With The Enemy’. He will, of course, also be creating artwork for the forthcoming new studio album in the summer.

The full Thunderstick band line-up is:

Vocals – Raven Blackwing
Drums – Barry Graham Purkis aka Thunderstick
Guitar – Vinny Konrad
Guitar – Lee Quenby
Bass – Rex Thunderbolt

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/thunderstickofficial/
Roulette Records: https://www.roulettemedia.uk/

News: The Roke – debut album from Scottish piper Ross Miller

The Roke is the town tune of the Ancient and Royal Burgh of Linlithgow where Ross Miller was brought up and where he is the official Town Piper. The Roke is also the title of Miller’s debut album, released on 9th March – his 25th birthday.

“This album has been years in the making,” Ross Miller tells Darren’s music blog. “I’ve been writing tunes and putting sets together for years with a variety of different groups but I felt that the time had come to record my music and release it into the world. The recording process was spaced out over three months and the sound evolved so much into what you hear on the CD. I am over the moon with the way it has turned out and I am hugely grateful to everyone who has supported me through the process either musically, financially or just generally being there to listen to my constant thinking out loud!”

A finalist in the 2019 BBC Radio Scotland Young Traditional Musician of the Year and a Celtic Connections award winner, Miller has also won the World Pipe Band Championships and an array of Solo Piping prizes in his career so far. The tunes on this instrumental album are all either Miller’s compositions or his personal favourites to play. The music ranges from tunes he has played in pipe bands that have been given a new twist to modern Reels and Jigs. The album features full band arrangements as well as more stripped back solo performances and even includes a pipe quartet where Miller performs all four parts.

Co-produced with Craig Irving,  Ross Miller has assembled a strong cast of musicians for the album:

Ross Miller – Bagpipes
Craig Irivng – Guitar (a BBC Young Folk Award winner and former member of Scottish bands Manran and Talisk)
Charlie Stewart – Fiddle, Double Bass (BBC Young Traditional Musician of the Year 2017)
Rory Matheson – Piano (Fara)
Callum Edwards – Drums, percussion, marching snare drum (Red Hot Chilli Pipers)
Craig Baxter – Bodhran (Gnoss)

The Roke by Ross Miller is released on 9th March 2020 by Avontoun Records.

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Photo credits: Martin Venherm

https://www.rossmillermusic.com/

News: Cladaich Loch Iù – debut album from Gaelic folk singer Steven MacIomhair

Cladaich Loch Iù is the debut album from Gaelic folk singer Steven MacIomhair. In English meaning ‘Shores of Loch Ewe’ his album has been inspired primarily by songs from his own part of the world combined with other well-known Gaelic songs that he has picked up over the years.

“It was a great experience to come together with such brilliant musicians and take some of my favourite Gaelic songs and breath new life into them. Everyone involved in the album brought a different element with them which created a final product of which I’m very proud,” Steven tells Darren’s music blog.

“It was important for me to include, in the album, some songs from my own village and bring these excellent works to a wider audience’s attention.”

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Born in a small village in the West Coast of Scotland, Naast, near Poolewe, he grew up in a musical home where he developed a love for singing. During his school years his interest and passion for the Gaelic language grew and lead him to Sabhal Mòr Ostaig where he completed a course in Gaelic broadcasting, and most recently, an Honours Degree in Education and Gaelic. Steven started competing in both local and national Mòds when he was 12 years old and won the James C MacPhee Memorial Medal in 1999, just 10 years later he went on to win the coveted An Comunn Gàidhealach Gold Medal. He is currently a Gaelic primary school teacher in Dingwall.

Initially launched on the 28th of August 2019 at a gig he organised in Dingwall and available digitally the album is now also available on CD.

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The CD, Cladaich Loch Iù, is available to buy from:

Glasgow: Gaelic Books Council Shop, Mansfied Street, Partick.
Stornoway: An Comunn Gàidhealach Office
Online: www.BirnamCDshop.com

The album can also be downloaded through:

iTunes
Spotify
Amazon Music
Google Play Music

News: Comfort Zone – debut album from Prophecy Playground released on Friendly Folk Records

Prophecy Playground is an alternative-folk project founded by guitarist singer-songwriter and composer Or Izekson. They combine gently-written melancholic songs and instrumental themes with a carefully-arranged string section, taking elements from classical European chamber music. The melancholic nature of the songs combined with Izekson’s distinctive guitar means comparisons have often been made with the likes of Nick Drake.

Founded in 2018 in Tel Aviv, Prophecy Playground started performing in local bars and small music venues with the band’s live setup consisting of a cellist, violinist and percussionist plus singer-guitar player Izekson surrounded by his four acoustic guitars, each tuned differently.

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Released on the Dutch International folk label Friendly Folk Records, Prophecy Playground’s debut album Comfort Zone is something of a concept album. Izekson’s lyrics deal with themes such as the struggle for inner-self embetterment, the lack of purpose in the virtual age, and a perpetual longing for a home, both in the physical and the spiritual one. The album contains three instrumental pieces and two cover versions – a tribute to 60’s British folk-rock pioneer Kevin Ayers and legendary blues guitar player Mississippi John Hurt, two of Izekson’s most influential musical figures.

A single from the album ‘Politely Polluting’ was released in December with this experimental video filmed in Wales.

The instrumental arrangements for the album include the violin, cello, upright bass, harp, trumpet and flute, and were written by the Tel Aviv pianist/composer Yasmin Raviv. The aim behind the album’s production was to combine skillful acoustic guitar playing with carefully-written arrangements for string section and other orchestral instruments, whilst taking care not to harm the gentleness and fragility of the songs. The album was recorded with producer Gil Smetana, one of Israel’s leading and most experienced music producers, who contributed his distinctive touch.

The band is currently touring Israel in different venues and festivals and will hold album launch mini-tours in US and UK this coming spring, followed by a full European tour in the summer.

Comfort Zone released 15th February 2020 on Friendly Folk Records

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https://www.facebook.com/ProphecyPlayground/

News: Slade legend Jim Lea releases video footage in bid to locate recently stolen guitar

Jim Lea, one of the four members of Slade throughout the original band’s entire twenty-five year career, has released a video in the hope that it will prompt members of the public in helping reunite him with his guitar. The multi-instrumentalist’s cherished Fender Stratocaster was stolen in central London on 31st January.

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After an initial appeal for information two weeks ago proved fruitless, Lea’s website has issued the following statement, along with a video of him playing the guitar in question.

“Tuesday 18th February 2020 – Two weeks ago we advised that Jim’s prized Fender Stratocaster was stolen from Central London. We put out the word for fans to share the details of the theft on social media in a bid to try and get it recovered.

Unfortunately the guitar has still not been returned or found. We do not have the serial number to pass on to fans – and to date we have only shared photos of the guitar on social media in a hope that fans might see it and recognise it.

However today Jim has released this, previously unseen studio footage, for fans to see. It shows close ups of the famous guitar and we hope this will help fans recognise it.

​Once more we ask that fans look out for the Stratocaster in music shops, or on internet websites such as Gumtree and eBay. A reward is offered. Please email website on jimleawebsite@aol.com with any info if you find it’s whereabouts.

We have made the video downloadable. Please share on social media.”

As well as being downloadable direct from Jim’s website the video can also be viewed via YouTube here:

Photos and video courtesy of Jim Lea's website

http://www.jimleamusic.com/

Related posts:

EP review – Jim Lea ‘Lost In Space’

Interview with former Slade legend Jim Lea

Jim Lea at the Robin 2, Bilston 2017

Veteran drummer Don Powell out of Slade

News: Kankou Kouyate’s ‘Kuma’ album – when the Mali singer-songwriter met the Scottish folk-rock guitarist…

Back in 2017, Kankou Kouyate a singer and songwriter from Mali from a renowned musical family, met Scottish musician Mark Mulholland. A collaboration ensued which led to a batch of original songs fusing both African and western influences. The ten-track album Kuma (meaning “words” in Bambara – Mali’s most common language)  is the result of that collaboration.  Parisian musician Olaf Hund adds electronic beats and on a couple of tracks Vincent Bucher provides some beautifully evocative harmonica. Combined with the rock, blues and folk influences of Mulholland’s guitar work and Kankou’s enchanting voice they have created something altogether special.

Mali. Bamako. 06/2017. Kankou et Mark Mulholland.

In Mali, Kouyate has worked with musicians such as Toumani Diabate, Bassekou Kouyate and Cheick Tidiane Seck. She’s collaborated in Africa Express and also contributed to the soundtrack for a 2015 documentary about musicians displaced by Mali’s civil war while internationally she has worked with the likes of Damon Albarn, Brian Eno and Nick Zinner.

Released: Cannery Row Records 6th December 2019

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https://www.facebook.com/Kankou-kouyate-Malian-music-300084397563791/

News: Veteran drummer Don Powell out of Slade

In a statement on his website, veteran Slade drummer Don Powell reveals he has been informed by Dave Hill his services are no longer required. Although the original Slade broke up in the early 90s with the departure of Jim Lea and Noddy Holder, Dave Hill and Don have continued to tour under the Slade banner.

Don Powell’s statement is as follows:

“Monday 3rd February 2020 – It is with great sadness and regret that Don needs to inform his fans that he now is no longer a member of Dave Hill’s Slade.

Dave has sent Don a cold email to inform him that his services are no longer required, after working together and being friends since 1963.

However, the great news is that Don is now fully fit to play drums again! He is coming back with his band who will be called Don Powell’s Slade He is forming it with ex-Slade 2 bass guitar member Craig Fenney. We will post more news about the recruited members in due course. Don so looks forward to going on the road and seeing all the fans again.

More news! Don is currently recording a solo album. He is in North West England at the moment – recording tracks with Paul Cookson and Les Glover. All these tracks will be issued in Don’s debut solo album!

Additionally, as previously mentioned on this site, Don has finished and completed a new album with Don Powell’s Occasional Flames which will be released this year.

Don hopes that all his loyal fans will support his new ventures which he is very excited about.”

http://www.donpowellofficial.com/

*** Update 4th February 2020 – Statement from Dave Hill ***

Following Don’s statement Dave Hill has since responded with his own, released via his band’s Facebook page.

Light on detail, it seeks to refute Don’s account of his departure but does not offer any alternative sequence of events.

“I am sad to announce that Don and I will no longer be working together our parting of the ways has not come out of the blue and his announcement is not accurate. I wish Don every success in his future efforts. I will, of course, carry on and look forward to many future performances and meeting fans. Dave Hill”

 

Header photo taken from Don Powell's website
Below: me with Don and Dave in happier days

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News: ‘The Final Trawl’ – 19th annual CD of the students of the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music

Situated in Plockton on the West Coast of Scotland, the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music first opened its doors to students in 2000. Uniquely, each year the Centre has produced a CD of material chosen and arranged by the students themselves. Featuring twenty-one musicians this year, The Final Trawl double disc CD features both traditional material and the students’ own compositions.

Writing in the album’s sleeve-notes Dougie Pincock, Director of the Centre, remarks:

“The student’s choice of Archie Fisher’s great but gloomy song as the title track is singularly appropriate given that the state of the Scottish fishing industry is one of the more contentious issues of the day. But while, as in the past, I’m happy to commend our young people for their political awareness, I’m always glad to be able to say that they counterbalance the doom and gloom with their creative energy and the joy they take, and give, in the creation and performance of their music.”

The Centre came about when, following devolution in 1999, the Scottish Executive established its Excellence Fund for education, and invited the 32 Scottish local authorities to submit bids for appropriate projects. Recognising the wealth of traditional music activity generated by the Fèis movement and others, the Highland Council submitted a bid for a residential Centre of Excellence specialising in traditional music. The bid was successful and the National Centre of Excellence in Traditional Music was established at Plockton High School in May 2000 with funding of £500,000 from the Scottish Executive’s Excellence Fund. The Centre is now directly funded by the Highland Council.

The CD is available for purchase via the Centre’s website

https://www.musicplockton.org/

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News: Drew & The Devotees ‘Hard Working People’

With the general election coming Drew and The Devotees have re-released their single ‘Hard Working People’. A slice of pop punk influenced by the early work of Billy Bragg and The Clash, the song rails against poverty and injustice with all proceeds from the single going to the food poverty charity the Trussell Trust.

Drew Howgill: “Hard Working People was written in 2014/15 inspired by (Green MP) Caroline Lucas’s book in which she criticised politicians for the over-used phrase – which by implication excluded carers, students and others unable to do the 40 hours a week grind. The song is about poverty and observations of increasing use of food-banks. 41,000 in 2010 now up to 1.6 million.”

Drew and The Devotees were formed in 2006 as a songwriting project band, initially with Alef Ahmed in 2008 and from 2010 onwards with US producer Jeffrey Teruel of STIC Studio, Manchester. A follow-up single is due next year with an album out later in 2020.

‘Hard Working People’ is available via digital platforms including Spotify, Amazon and Soundcloud https://www.amazon.co.uk/Hard-Working-People/dp/B00WITORFK

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News: “Thirty years and a lot of hard work” – back catalogue of Heavy Pettin’ released on 29th November

Scottish hard rock band Heavy Pettin‘ see their 1983 debut and two subsequent releases being reissued on CD on 29th November.

Named after UFO’s 1976 studio album the band was formed in Glasgow in 1981 when guitarist Gordon Bonnar, drummer Gary Moat, bassist Brian Waugh, vocalist Steve ‘Hamie’ Hayman and lead guitarist Punky Mendoza joined forces. They gigged extensively before releasing their debut single, ‘Roll the Dice’ in 1982 on Neat Records. The single caught the attention of record bosses at Polydor and the band soon found themselves with a major label deal and Queen guitarist, Brian May as co-producer. Their debut album Lettin Loose was released in 1983 to very favourable reviews.

Hard rocking but more polished than most of their contemporaries on the New Wave Of British Heavy Metal scene, with their punchy choruses and harmony vocals Heavy Pettin’ took some of their cues from the previous decade’s glam and classic rock era. Touted as a possible next-big-thing after the mega success of Def Leppard two more albums followed: Rock Ain’t Dead in 1985 and The Big Bang in 1989. In the latter part of the 80s, however, things never really quite worked out for Heavy Pettin’ and the band had already spilt by the time their final album was released in 1989.

Heavy Pettin’ (now featuring two original members Gordon Bonnar and Hamie) reformed in 2017 and a brand new album is planned for 2020. Original Heavy Pettin drummer, Gary Moat, meanwhile, now fronts Burnt Out Wreck who released their second album last month.

Reflecting on the Heavy Pettin’ re-releases Gary Moat tells me:

“It’s taken 30 years and a lot of hard work from my management and wife to finally have the three Heavy Pettin albums back in safe hands. This time through Burntout Wreckords the royalties will make it back to Universal & Heavy Pettin!”

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This official licensed re-release of Lettin Loose includes newly written liner notes by Ross Muir and two rare bonus tracks: ‘Roll The Dice’ and ‘Shadows Of The Night’

Lettin Loose, Rock Ain’t Dead and The Big Bang are all released on CD on 29th November by Burnt Out Wreckords via Cherry Red Records.

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Related post:

Burnt Out Wreck – interview with Gary Moat