Kent-based heavy blues band Big River come back with another new single towards the end of January.
‘The Long Way‘ is the second song to be released from Big River’s forthcoming EP and follows the excellent ‘Don’t Hold Out’ released last Autumn. ‘Beautiful Trauma’ the band’s eagerly-anticipated five-track EP is scheduled for release in the Spring.
I’ve long been a fan of Big River’s riff-heavy classic blues rock and forthcoming single ‘The Long Way’ is testimony as to why I’m predicting a bright future for the band in the months ahead. Their decision to team up with Adam Barron last year (ex Mick Ralphs Band and former Voice contestant) has seen the band go from strength to strength, both as performers and as song-writers. Certainly I look forward to hearing the full EP but click here for a sneak preview of what’s in store from the new single.
“There’s many more where this came from,” they assure us.
Guitarist, Damo Fawsett:“We’ve played this song a few times in the later gigs of 2021 & it’s an ‘All out’ Rocker, from the moment the opening riff kicks in you can see on people’s faces they’re going to like what’s coming, and it just keeps on building.”
Big River are: Adam Barron (vocals), Damo Fawsett (guitar), Ant Wellman (bass), Joe Martin (drums / backing vocals). They will be touring the UK from March 2022 onwards with dates throughout the year.
‘The Long Way’ single released on all digital platforms 28th January 2022
After eighteen months of meticulous crafting, Across The Sea are set to unveil their much-anticipated second album The Wayfarer Triptych, scheduled for release on 1st October. A nine-track concept piece, the album narrates an original story penned by the band themselves, marrying fantasy and folklore, fairytale and philosophy, to present a stirring tale of drama, adventure and mystery.
An artistic endeavour near-cinematic in its scope and ambition, The Wayfarer Triptych sees the genre-defying progressive duo push every aspect of their signature sound to the extreme in order to create an immense work of astonishing musicality, vivid storytelling, dizzying virtuosity, and staggering emotional resonance.
Hailing from Worthing on the West Sussex coast in the south of England, Across The Sea sound unlike any act you’ve heard before. Evocative, otherworldly, and utterly captivating, they defy categorisation, inhabiting a place where the boundlessness of the imagination transcends genre limitations and conventions. A breathtaking synthesis of the haunting, siren-like vocals of classically trained soprano Hannah Katy Lewis and the dynamic, unorthodox and experimental guitar style of Pete Ferguson, their mesmerisingly unique sound is wildly eclectic, fiercely inventive and singularly distinctive.
Their critically-acclaimed first album Infinite Worlds was released in December 2018, featuring on HMV Brighton’s recommended list and being lauded by a diverse range of outlets as a startlingly original debut. The June 2019 stand-alone single Behind the Looking Glass gained further recognition for the duo, picking up considerable airplay in the UK and internationally.
Playing over 150 shows since their inception, the pair have earned a reputation as one of the most tirelessly active and genuinely innovative acts on the live circuit, whose immersive and theatrical performances have enchanted audiences at venues throughout the south and – as part of a successful 2019 summer tour – festivals such as Victorious, Wickham and Rhythmtree.
So, prepare to join Across The Sea on their enthralling musical odyssey The Wayfarer Triptych, as a girl, inspired by her discovery of an extraordinary and beguiling triptych painting, embarks on an epic journey through the remains of a broken world in search of hope, purpose, and a forgotten truth…
The Wayfarer Triptych will be available from Across The Sea’s online store on CD and a variety of digital formats www.acrosstheseauk.com
Across The Sea – what they say:
“Early Joni Mitchell meets Hawkwind in this Space-Rock-fuelled, Folk fusion journey. Set the controls for a far-flung flight of fantasy to a distant galaxy where Space Rock, Folk and Opera are one. Brimming with complex musical ideas and literary concepts, Across the Sea will challenge you to consider where one genre ends, and another begins.” – Alistair Goodwin, Music Producer & Events Organiser, Wickham Festival
“A unique musical act that is virtually impossible to pigeonhole genre-wise, combining amazing vocals with breath-taking guitar work.” – Ivan Roberts, Riff Taff Music Networking
“Something to get drawn into and swept away with.” – Metal Meyhem Radio
“…uncompromising, dark, ethereal beauty…the extreme juxtaposition of Hannah’s exquisitely pure vocal and Pete’s deep and intricate guitar playing is extraordinary and compelling.” – Clare and John Fowler, Dandelion Charm
“Combined they’re a 2 piece that sound like a 10 piece.” – Headlights and White Lines
“Hannah Katy Lewis’ vocal is startlingly good, ranging from Kate Bush theatricals to Middle-Eastern chanting…” – Listen With Monger
“Wow! I’ve never heard anything so intense. This is the best I’ve heard Hannah’s vocal – absolutely stunning! Brilliant guitar work by Pete too.” – Mike Five, New Music Saturday (discussing recent single ‘Nightfall in the Labyrinth’)
The Wayfarer Triptych – release information:
3. Nightfall in the Labyrinth
4. Of Mist, Mountain and Sea
6. Conjure the Tempest
7. Serenity and Chaos
8. Light the World with Wisdom’s Flame
Vocals – Hannah Katy Lewis
Guitar – Pete Ferguson
Written, recorded & performed by Across The Sea
Recorded at Humber Studios & The Mothership, August – October 2020
The farewell tour of glam hero and Glitter Band founder, John Rossall, due to kick off in Blackpool on 4th July, has sadly had to be pulled on health grounds.
Following a hugely well-received comeback album in 2020 John shared news with fans earlier this year that his condition was terminal but vowed to say a special goodbye to fans with a final farewell tour.
In an update shared on his Facebook page today, however, John Rossall’s backing band made the following announcement:
“We all travelled up to Manchester to rehearse John Rossall’s Farewell Tour yesterday. Very sadly it has become apparent that John is not well enough for the upcoming shows. It has been a difficult decision for us all, it is with deep regret and sadness that all shows are now cancelled. You should hear from the venues regarding refunds but please contact them directly if not. We are sure you will, like ourselves, send your love and very best wishes to John, Julia and his family at this very difficult time.
Thank you for your continued support. Dave, Chris, Bob and Corrie”
It’s desperately sad that John can’t say goodbye to fans in the way that he had hoped but he can be very proud of his contribution to UK popular music and in particular taking critics by surprise and going out on such a high point with the incredible Last Glam In Town album last year.
“All tribal beats, honking brass, fuzzed-up guitar, sing-along choruses and enough handclaps and chants of ‘Hey’ to last you a lifetime, The Last Glam In Town is a modern masterpiece of the genre.”
When I interviewed John last year he was immensely touched by the swathes of positive reviews: “It’s like I’ve written them myself almost! It’s a surprise. The reviews everywhere – it’s been beyond my wildest dreams really.”
Best wishes to John and his family and thank you for the music you’ve given us.
With a name like that, various 70s glam heroes cited as key influences and an album due out in July entitled Rock ‘n’ Roll Glitter Suit it’s probably not too much of a coincidence that the paths of Darren’s Music Blog and Velvet Insane would eventually cross.
The Swedish-based band were formed in 2013 by guitarist Jesper Lindgren and describe themselves as a three-piece gang of rockers that reinvented glam rock by mixing the pop harmonies of the 70’s with the heavy sound of today. There have been changes in personnel and switches in record companies along the way but the band’s fortunes received a significant boost when they signed to a deal with Wild Kingdom/Sound Pollution earlier this year.
On the record deal the band commented:
“It feels inspiring and exciting to have signed a deal with Wild Kingdom. After working our asses off for years jumping around on different record companies it feels like we finally found our home. Wild Kingdom got the distinct rock ’n’ roll vein that we all love. Together we have made this glammy high energy rock ’n’ roll album that we feel very proud of. A wam bam beat that will knock you of your feet.”
An initial single and video, the wonderfully-titled ‘Backstreet Liberace’, from the forthcoming album was released back in May to great acclaim. All pounding piano keys, big handclaps, infectious riffs and catchy choruses there’s plenty to love about this.
‘Backstreet Liberace’ was then followed up with a second single from second single and music video ‘Sound of Sirens’ released 11th June. With a change of pace here they define it as 60’s pop gem made for the modern day.
Of the latest single the band say:
“We feel very proud about this catchy singalong pop gem and that it shows a slightly different side of Velvet Insane. Strongly influenced by The Beatles and 60’s pop music it gives you shivers and shows our passion and love for all kinds of music. A song we really looking forward to playing live and feel the energy from the audience in the future. With the video, we want to celebrate where we come from: the 70’s. Kiss, ABBA, Slade and glam rock/pop in general have meant so much to us in our musical upbringing. 1970’s influences in pictures and music but with the sound of today.”
The track is written by the legendary Sulo Karlsson of the Diamond Dogs who also produced and wrote the tracks together with the band on the upcoming album.
After Comes The Dark – the long-awaited fourth album from Kent-based folk rock band Green Diesel is set for release on 16th July. The album was recorded during 2020 at Squarehead Studios in Sittingbourne and is the first to feature the band’s new five-person line-up. The album also marks the debut of drummer, Paul Dadswell, from Kentish acid-folk band Galley Beggar.
The current formulation of the band has enabled Green Diesel to explore new sounds and new directions. A noteworthy feature, and a distinct departure from previous albums, is that every single band member has written at least one song on the album. The result is an album of stunning folk rock with an inventive twist and innovative use of their studio surroundings.
Guitarist, vocalist and multi-instrumentalist, Greg Ireland, comments:
“After Comes The Dark is a kind of ‘folk in technicolor’. We used the studio to experiment with different sound textures and extra layers of vocal harmonies and you can hear that we’ve been inspired by more psychedelic sounds, too. There are plenty of prog rock and ‘Canterbury Sound’ bands influences in there.”
“The record is still very definitely a ‘folk’ album though. The major themes we explore are cycles, rebirth, the natural world and folklore. As each of us in the band grow older, the concept of the passing of time is apparent through many of the songs.”
As the band were preparing and arranging the songs, bands like Caravan and Genesis proved major influences – allowing Green Diesel to take a more experimental approach compared to past albums, exploring different time signatures and different musical structures. The twelve-string guitar features prominently on the album with suitably breath-taking results. The band were able to make full use of the fantastic array of keyboards available to them at Squarehead Studios.
After Comes The Dark was produced by Rob Wilkes whose previous work has included Smoke Fairies (as producer), along with Foals and Lianne La Havas (as engineer).
Hailing from Faversham in Kent, Green Diesel first emerged back in 2009, taking their inspiration from the depths of English folk lore and legend, and the classic folk-rock sound of their predecessors: Fairport Convention and The Albion Band. Blending violin, mandolin and dulcimer with electric guitars and drums, Green Diesel’s sound is born from a love of traditional English music and a desire to bring it to a modern audience. Green Diesel’s three previous albums: Now Is The Time (2012), Wayfarers All (2014) and The Hangman’s Fee (2016) have all won praise from critics and fans alike for the quality of song-writing and musicianship and the band have been a popular draw at festivals, from Broadstairs Folk Week to Beverley Folk Festival.
After Comes The Dark – track by track
‘Follow The River’ has been a Green Diesel live favourite for some time now and showcases the band’s rich vocal harmonies. Written by Greg while on a retreat to the Isle of Skye, the song was inspired by the power of water and the idea of simply surrendering to the current and being swept out to sea and to freedom. It also invokes childhood memories for Greg: “I have a vivid memory of staring at the water at Lydia Bridge in Devon for hours while on walks with my parents.”
‘Northern Frisk’, written by Ellen, is a song built around a tune, rather than a tune fitted into a song. Ellen: “I learnt the tune from the Pete Cooper book when I was looking for English 3/2 hornpipes. I knew from the start I wanted it to be about dancing and liveliness (frisk meaning to skip or leap playfully). The undead spirits emerged from the slightly darker undertones of the tune. I really like the layered crescendo as the tune builds up and imagine more and more dancers joining a whirring frenzy.”
‘Dusty Fairies’ is the band’s customary instrumental on the album. It comprises three tunes – ‘King of The Fairies’ and a couple of 3/2 hornpipes learnt from Pete Cooper’s English Fiddle Tunes book, namely ‘Dusty Miller’ and ‘Rusty Gulley’. Ellen’s dad, Chris, guests on concertina and helps create a mood that is in equal parts homage to a folk festival main-stage and tunes in the back garden with a glass of (homemade) cider.
‘Sea Song’ sees Greg returning to one of his favourite subject matters – the sea. Lyrically it plays with traditional folk ballad forms around heartbreak and loneliness. Musically, it has some medieval touches in places. Beautifully sung by Ellen, it is one of several slower songs on the album which sees the band broadening their musical palette with a contrasting array of styles.
‘I Wish My Love’ is a traditional song sung by Greg, based on Lisa Knapp’s reading of ‘The Pitman’s Love Song’. “Lots of time signatures on this one!” says Greg. “And an electric guitar solo that may not have been what A.L. Lloyd had in mind when he wrote about the song…”
‘The White Hart’ is bass-player Ben Holliday’s writing debut for the band. Ben plays guitar on this track and Greg plays bass. It is one of the more psychedelic tracks on the album, with an outro inspired by the likes of Espers and Mellow Candle. Ben: “The White Hart is a song inspired by a good friend of mine, who sadly lost her battle with a serious illness. It tells the story of resilience and grace when facing inconceivable adversity.”
‘Underworld’ was released in May as a single. Written by new drummer, Paul Dadswell: “The music was originally inspired by Philip Glass’s celebrated soundtrack to the 1982 experimental film Koyaanisqatsi, which got me playing about with an arpeggiator. I already had some lyrics about a moment of limbo when you have to choose between fantasy and reality, being born, or growing up, or moving past addiction. The moment of choice between living in the past and embracing the future. Feeling endlessly suspended between the familiar and the unknown. Or just getting out of bed in the morning…”
‘Katy Cruel’ is a traditional song, learnt from vocal trio Lady Maisery. Ellen: “There are various versions of this song, some that emphasise the plight of Katy but we wanted to make our version one that emphasises her defiance. She’ll take her own path!” The instrumental section is a 3/2 tune often known as ‘The Key To The Cellar’ and perhaps best known to folk rock fans as the tune for Steeleye Span’s ‘Cam Ye O’er Fae France’
‘Never Reach The Dawn’ is another song written by Greg, a dream-like song where the narrator is visited by the ghost of someone from the past. Lyrically, it was inspired by the canon of night visitor songs. Greg: “This is one of the tracks that helps define what the band aim to do – the inspiration and ‘launchpad’ is very traditional but we take that and bring in musical influences from outside the genre to create something completely new.”
‘Storm’ is written and sung by Matt in his customary enigmatic style! Matt: ‘Storm is an allegory for despair when met with insurmountable odds. A lament against scapegoating, denial and historic recurrence, but also a celebration of resilience and hedonism in the face of adversity.”
‘After Comes The Dark’ the album’s title track and closing song is another written by Greg. It uses the studio to create an unsettling texture – rural psychedelia meets folk horror. The song sums up the album’s themes of death, rebirth and the power of the natural world. Greg: “It doesn’t matter how many jewels and trophies you accrue – we all end up in the same place.”
Green Diesel – what they say:
“Green Diesel has skyrocketed into my top few bands” – FATEA
“Folk-rock in the grand manner” – R2 Magazine
“A band with roots deep in the native soil, playing their own electric interpretations of ancient English music” – Shindig!
“An established band simply getting better” – FolkWords
Back in April 2016, on the 40th anniversary of their Agents of Fortune album Blue Öyster Cult marked the occasion by performing the album in full for a televised concert at Red Studios in Hollywood. Frontiers music is now releasing the recording in CD, vinyl, DVD and Blu-Ray formats.
On the recording BÖC’s original core duo of vocalist/lead guitarist Donald ‘Buck
Dharma’ Roeser and vocalist/rhythm guitarist Eric Bloom are joined by Richie
Castellano on guitar/keyboards plus the long-standing rhythm section of bassist
Kasim Sulton and drummer Jules Radino. Founding member Albert Bouchard also appeared as a special guest on selected tracks.
Originally released in 1976 Agents Of Fortune was BÖC’s fourth album, going on to
achieve platinum status in the States on the strength of songs such as ‘(Don’t Fear) The Reaper,’ the band’s biggest hit and a staple of classic rock station playlists. Here in the UK Agents of Fortune has featured in numerous publications’ lists of the greatest rock/metal albums of all time, including the likes of Kerrang! and Q magazine.
Frontiers are also reissuing BÖC’s thirteenth studio album Heaven Forbid. Released in March 1998, it was the group’s first full studio set containing original material since Imaginos a decade earlier. Science fiction author John Shirley contributed
heavily, writing lyrics for all except two of its new songs, while a live version of ‘In Thee’ (from 1979’s ‘Mirrors’) was also included.
40th ANNIVERSARY AGENTS OF FORTUNE 2016 live album and HEAVEN FORBID both released 6th March 2020 by Frontiers Music
Cleveland International Records, the US independent record label that brought us the likes of Meat Loaf’s Bat Out of Hell and Ronnie Spector’s collaboration with the E Street Band in the late 70’s and early 80’s, is back in business, relaunched earlier this year by the son of its late founder, Steve Popovich Sr.
“My dad’s story is pretty fascinating, here’s this guy who grew up in a small coal mining town in Pennsylvania to becoming one of the most beloved and respected people in the history of the record business,” says Popovich Jr. He began working at the label out of high school during its second incarnation (1995-2003). “The idea to relaunch had been simmering for a while,” he adds, “when my father’s estate was finally settled after seven in a half years after his passing, it seemed like the perfect segue to me transitioning away from my company, Wrecking Ball Entertainment to relaunching Cleveland International.”
In the 90’s Popovich Sr. famously took on the might of Sony – and won. Popovich sued Sony for non-payment of royalties from Bat Out of Hell royalties. The case was settled out of court for nearly $7 million. As part of the settlement, Sony was required to place the Cleveland International logo on reissues of Bat Out of Hell. When Sony failed to comply, Popovich took to the courts once again and a jury awarded him an additional $5 million in damages in 2005. In 2012, Sony reached a final out-of-court settlement with Popovich’s estate over more unpaid royalties revealed in an audit performed prior to Popovich’s death in 2011.
The label is marking its relaunch with a CD and LP re-release of its mid-90’s all-star compilation called, Cleveland Rocks. In addition to Meat Loaf’s “Paradise By The Dashboard Light,” the 13 track collection includes classics by Ian Hunter (“Cleveland Rocks”), Ronnie Spector & the E Street Band (“Say Goodbye to Hollywood”), Southside Johnny & The Asbury Jukes (“I Don’t Wanna Go Home”), Just Us Girls (“Time Warp”), Iron City Houserockers (“Have a Good Time But Get Out Alive”), Euclid Beach Band (“There’s No Surf in Cleveland”), The Boyzz (“Too Wild To Tame”), Essence (“Sweet Fools”), Mike Berry (“I Am A Rocker”), The Rovers (“Wasn’t That A Party”) and Bat out of Hell collaborators Jim Steinman (“Rock and Roll Dreams Come Through”) and Ellen Foley (“We Belong To the Night”).
The album ends with Ian Hunter’s iconic paean to Cleveland. Although originally released by Chrysalis on the You’re Never Alone With A Schizophrenic album it became something of an anthem for both the city and the label. Hunter writes on his website The Horses Mouth, “The inspiration for Cleveland Rocks goes back to the old days when people used to make fun of Cleveland. Cleveland was ‘uncool’ and LA and NYC were ‘cool’. I didn’t see it that way. Lotta heart in Cleveland.”
Cleveland Rocks released by Cleveland International Records April 5th 2019
Some great reviews coming in for ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’ the first new Thunderstick album in over 30 years. Here is a selection of what has been said so far:
Knac.com Pure Rock:“And what an album it is. As the first album with new THUNDERSTICK material in thirty years, its ten tracks literally burst with ideas.”
Read full review here
Sea of Tranquility:“Considering it’s been over thirty years since we’ve heard new material from this outfit, the band are locked and loaded here on Something Wicked This Way Comes, their blend of melodic metal, hard rock, and a touch of punk gives songs such as Dark Night Black Light.”
Read full review here
Eternal Terror:“Hats off to Thunderstick (the drummer) and his cohorts for managing to craft a wonderfully organic and raw record that perfectly captures the mood of the old days and yet sounds sharp…
First noticed playing with a developing Iron Maiden in the seventies then moving to Samson (being instrumental in finding a very youthful Bruce Dickinson) Barry Graham Purkis became the figurehead of the newly emerging NWOBHM (New Wave Of British Heavy Metal) scene. This was done by creating an alter ego Thunderstick, a masked persona known not only for his wild style of playing his drums but doing so from inside a cage and terrorizing audiences. He went on to form his own highly theatrical band in the eighties. Fronted by a female rock ’n’ roll wildchild Thunderstickthe band was a perfect ‘Beauty and the Beast’ combination, playing live and recording for five years until it folded in 1987.
Never to be seen again until now……
Thunderstick is back with a brand new studio album which remains true to the band’s original ‘classic rock’ style: ‘Something Wicked This Way Comes’
Thunderstick: “This is an album that is befitting of the Thunderstick of another era, but screams relevance for today.”
“The whole thing came about because of the tragic death of our former vocalist Jodee Valentine at just 55. Jodee’s passing hit me really hard and I wanted to do something in her memory. There are some songs that we were playing live first time around that had never been released, coupled with some new tracks that have been written purely for this album. A new line up. A new album. A new era.”
Scheduled for release at the end of July 2017 this is the classic Thunderstick band format of female vocalist, two guitars, bass and drums and the first Thunderstick album of new material in over three decades.
New album ‘Dublin Cowboy’ out April 7th and available for download and pre-order now
Retrowrek Records RTRK204
‘Dublin Cowboy’ is the new three-disc album from former Gillan guitar legend, Bernie Tormé, comprising an electric disc, an acoustic disc and a live disc.
Bernie: “I always wanted to do a triple album and also an acoustic album, and combining the two seemed like the obvious idea though truth is it nearly killed me: I’m still in recovery! But on top of all that, and with two albums of screaming wails and dive-bombs, I am totally knocked out with how the shred-free acoustic album has been received! Fans who pledged and have heard it absolutely LOVE it! Quadruple album next time? Nah, I really don’t think so!”
The album was made following a phenomenally successful pledge-fund appeal that hit its pledge target in less than nine hours. Containing twenty-nine tracks in total across the three discs, the first two are made up of brand new material, including title track ‘Dublin Cowboy, and the infectiously bluesy ‘Power Of The Blues’ on the electric disc; as well as the rich unfolding tapestry of sounds on ‘Shine’, and ‘Wolfgirl’ which both appear on the acoustic disc. The third disc, recorded live in South Shields in January 2016, contains live versions of classics that span Bernie Tormé’s career, including old favourites ‘Wild West and ‘New Orleans’.
The album is available for purchase in CD and digital download formats via pledgemusic.com/projects/bernietorme2017
Fan reaction from pledge-funders has been overwhelmingly positive:
“This acoustic one cuts me to the core. Can’t stop listenin’…Love it!!” DP
“What I’ve heard is sounding great, and Janus is just awesome!” PW
“Beyond the obligatory 5 stars!” OBN
“My favourite is the live one where it can be seen if an artist still has the “beans”. U certainly do dude, u absolutely rocked it.” RS
To tie in with the release of the album there is a 2017 UK Tour next month and the album will be formally launched at the Borderline, London on 7th April. Bernie: “Got a bunch of rock ‘n’ roll pint-spillers from the new Dublin Cowboy album that we will be rocking out live on the tour! I can’t wait, get ready people, this one will be total killer!”
UK tour dates are as follows:
1st April SOUTH SHIELDS The Unionist Club
2nd April GLASGOW Nice n Sleazy
3rd April EDINBURGH Bannermans
4th April GRIMSBY Yardbirds
5th April MANCHESTER FAC251
6th April WOLVERHAMPTON The Robin 2
7th April LONDON The Borderline
8th April BRIGHTON The Prince Albert