ALBUM REVIEW: SOULFIRE – LITTLE STEVEN
Last year at his O2 Indigo show in London, Little Steven announced that he was going to be back in 2017 with a new album and another European tour. The only UK date that’s been squeezed into his schedule was Manchester but the promised new album is now out and it’s a scorcher!
His first solo album for 18 years (“Born Again Savage” appeared in 1999), the new release marks a return to the sound of “Men Without Women” (his first album with the Disciples of Soul) and the first three albums for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, which he produced and provided a lot of the original material. So you know what you’re going to get – lots of brass, big production, classic 50s and 60s R & B and striking rock guitar
The 15 piece band includes top horns man Eddie Manion (from the Asbury Jukes) and guitarist Marc Ribler (the musical director for Darlene Love), and it’s primarily the band that played over here at the London Blues Fest.
It’s not what you would call a “brand new” album – most of the Van Zandt material has appeared in some form previously. It’s effectively Van Zandt pulling together a set of songs that can be seen as his story so far – and it makes you realise what a good songwriter/producer/arranger Van Zandt is.
You get Van Zandt’s take on 5 of his own compositions (or co-writes) which were first recorded by Southside Johnny – I’m Coming Back, Some Things Just Don’t Change, Love On The Wrong Side Of Town, I Don’t Want To Go Home (the first song he ever wrote) and Ride The Night Away. Also featured is an update of “Standing in the Line of Fire” (originally recorded by Gary US Bonds)
The “old” songs are good and anyone familiar with the Southside Johnny versions isn’t going to be disappointed. “Love on the Wrong Side of Town” is the most changed version- it gets a “Byrds style” intro before the familiar brass parts kick in, and then the instrumental section goes for an altogether different sound which is strikingly different from the horns on the Jukes version.
Even more interesting are the less familiar songs –“Soulfire” the album opener is a co-write which was recorded previously by The Breakers – a band on Van Zandt’s own label. It’s a strong opener and sets out the tone of the album that follows – a big sound and Van Zandt’s trademark vocals and guitar.
Here’s a link to Little Steven’s Youtube site to hear “Soulfire”:
“The City Weeps Tonight” is a new Van Zandt original – and it’s a gorgeous piece of updated doo wop. “I Saw The Light” is another Van Zandt original (not the Todd Rundgren song) which has never appeared before.
There’s an excellent choice of covers – first up (track 3) you get the “Blues Is My Business” a strong blues rock number first recorded by Etta James. This is the track for all you LGA students to plug in the guitar and play along to. Clocking in at over 6 minutes there’s plenty of licks and riffs to get your teeth (fingers!) into. You can play along here at Little Steven’s Youtube site:
The album also features a cover of “Down And Out in New York City” – the James Brown track from the movie “Black Caesar”. Marc Ribler gives it the full-on ‘70s “Shaft” wah-wah guitar sound.
“Saint Valentine’s Day” is another Van Zandt original that was originally given away and recorded by The Cocktail Slippers. It also featured in a stripped down rocky format in the rock movie “Not Fade Away” but this version brings in the full band and horn section to keeps this version within the sound of the album as a whole.
You can hear it here:
If you like the “Men Without Women” album (or Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes) this is definitely an album to go and buy.
- I’m Coming Back
- Blues Is My Business
- I Saw the Light
- Some Things Just Don’t Change
- Love on the Wrong Side of Town
- The City Weeps Tonight
- Down and Out in New York City
- Standing in the Line of Fire
- Saint Valentine’s Day
- I Don’t Want to Go Home
- Ride the Night Away
BLAST FROM THE PAST
Here’s Youtube live footage from the current European tour with Southside Johnny joining Little Steven & the Disciples of Soul for a sing-a-long version of “It’s Been A Long Time” (written by Van Zandt and originally recorded by Southside Johnny & the Asbury Jukes on their excellent 1991 comeback album “Better Days” )
PART 3 GREAT 2016 ALBUMS YOU MAY HAVE MISSED!
With 2017 emerging from the Christmas/New Year festivities, LGA reviewer, Paul Wood, continues to cast his eyes (and ears) over his albums of 2016. These are albums which are probably not going to appear on the “popular” mainstream music journals’ list of albums of the year, but which we certainly think are worthy of your attention.
Third off the block is “Hellbound Hymns” by The Urban Voodoo Machine – the capital’s finest purveyors of Bourbon Soaked Gypsy Blues Bop’N’Stroll!
For the album (their fourth) the band comprised:
Paul-Romney Angel – Lead vocals, guitar
Nick Marsh (RIP) – Guitar, vocals
Slim – Accordion, Piano
George “Le Boner” Simmonds – Trombone, vocals
Lucifire – Saxophone, vocals (and outrageous screams!)
Joe “Mongo” Whitney – Bouzouki, washboard
The Reverend Gavin Smith – Upright bass
Anne Angel – Sousaphone
The Late-J-Roni-Moe, -Drums
Jary – Drums
Sadly, guitarist Nick Marsh succumbed to cancer before the album was released, and with the earlier death of fiddle player Rob “The Kid” Skipper there’s an undoubted melancholic feel and sadness to some of the songs. But this being , you also get their trademark ramshackle “band of brothers” sing along sea shanties, death ballads, good old rock’n’roll and gypsy blues bop’n’stroll. It’s one of their best albums so far and well worth a listen (and purchase!)
Here’s a link to the Youtube video uploaded by the band for album track “Fallen Brothers”
It’s a great song and the video is a real example of what you get when you see the band live. Their show is a total “where do I look now experience”, band leader Paul-Romney Angel dominates centre stage but everywhere around him the rest of the band are eye-poppers too!
Although renowned for their stage shows, this album shows that they have the songs and lyrics to be more than just a great live band. The track “Baby’s Turning Blue” – about a young couple with dreams who fall victim to their drug addiction – is one of the saddest songs you’ll ever hear. “While You Were Asleep” mixes Fagin from “Oliver Twist” with the sounds of the Circus and emerges as a warning against the politicians and large corporate entities who are taking over “while we are all asleep”.
Here’s a link to the Youtube video uploaded by the band for a live version of rumbustious album track “Rusty Water and Coffin Nails”.
Buy the album and go see the band live if you can.
1. While We Were All Asleep 2:10
2. Love And Addiction 3:19
3. Shattered Dreams 3:34
4. Hit The Road Rag 2:12
5. The Ghost From My Bastard Past 2:57
6. Bucket Of Blood 4:41
7. Baby’s Turning Blue 4:40
8. All Mixed Up 4:49
9. Let You Rot 2:39
10. Rusty Water & Coffin Nails 3:53
11. Destiny Angel 3:50
12. Fallen Brothers 4:27
13. Lullabye 2:22
There’s a live “Valentine” show coming up in London on Saturday 4 February, (“Vive Le Valentine”) at The Dome in London
For more details of the band and other upcoming dates etc see:
Album released by and available from Gypsy Hotel Records on CD and Vinyl:
Quireboys album review St Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul
LGA album reviewer, Paul Wood, lends an ears to the latest offering by The Quireboys – a four CD album set entitled “St Cecilia and the Gypsy Soul”.
“St Cecilia” is the third album released by The Quireboys over the last three years, following on from the rather excellent “Beautiful Curse” and last year’s multi-disc set “Black-Eyed Sons”.
“St Cecilia” is packaged as a 4 disc set, in addition to the 10 song new album you also get a reissue of their hard to find (but well received) “Halfpenny Dancer” album from 2009 and a 2 disc “Halfpenny Dancer Live” set .
Recorded over one week in Sweden the four piece core Quireboys band (Spike, Guy Griffin, Paul Guerin and Keith Weir) are joined by Bonafide’s Martin Ekelund who acted as co-producer/mixer as well as adding additional instruments to the core sound of the band.
“Gracie B” is the albums opening track – a strong swamp rock blues boogie that will appear to the bands heavier fans. It’s been separately released as an EP download and here’s a link to the official video by HRH TV:
ALBUM REVIEW: ST CECILIA AND THE GYPSY SOUL – QUIREBOYS
“Land of My Father” follows the opening track and is a heavy acoustic guitar singalong number with a very catchy chorus. “St Cecilia” is the album’s title track and is more of a rocker with another strong chorus from the band.
The temp drops again with “The Promise” – a low key ballad with strings (cello) and a Spanish style guitar part.
Guy Griffin takes a rare (and possibly first ever) vocal lead on “Can’t Hide It Anymore” and a rather good job he makes of it too – the song/vocals remind me of an Oasis style acoustic number. “Out Of Your head” has Spike back on vocals and is an uptempo rocker with a good riff and tasty slide guitar.
“Adaline” kicks in with a jangly guitar line and has a simple girl’s name singalong chorus that you just have to love.
The album closes with “Why Did It Take So Long” – just Spike on breathlesss vocals, Keith Weir on keyboards and a drum machine – it brings the album to an excellent .close .
The album’s ten tracks clock in at around 35 minutes and it’s just the right length to make you want to play it again straightaway. It’s potentially the best of their three recent releases and as a 4 disc set available on the internet for around £19 it is excellent value and highly recommended.
Here’s a live clip from the band’s Youtube site of an acoustic version of “Devil Of A Man” which appears on the “Halfpenny Dancer” studio and live CDs.
and “Hates To Please” which originally appeared on the band’s second album (Bittersweet and Twisted”) but which was then dusted off and given an acoustic treatment on “Halfpenny Dancer”
Going from strength and strength and regularly gigging again in the UK – sometimes with a full rock’n’roll set and sometimes with what Spike describes as an “acoustic rock’n’roll” set, they always put on a great show. Catch them if you can.
Main album track list
- Gracie B.
- Land Of My Father.
- St Cecilia.
- The Promise.
- Can’t Hide It Anymore.
- Out Of Your Mind.
- The Hurting Kind.
- The Best Are Not Forgotten.
- Why Did it Take So Long.
Blast from the past
Here’s a rather grainy version of the official video for “There She Goes Again” with the first album line up of the band from 1990:
ALBUM REVIEW: MIRIAM – NOBODY’S BABY
Miriam (Linna) has released her long overdue (but somewhat unexpected) debut album – Nobody’s Baby – on Norton Records.
If Miriam’s name is familiar but not immediately recognisable, it’s because she’s got a long history of association with top class music, both old and new. Miriam worked for Red Star Records at the time Suicide made their UK debut in the late 70s, she ran the Flamin’ Groovies fan club during their period with Sire Records and was the original drummer with US legendary band The Cramps.
ALBUM REVIEW: MIRIAM – NOBODY’S BABY
Subsequent excursions have seen her form Norton Records with her partner, Billy Miller (which they still run) and she has a “permanent” gig behind the drums for The A-Bones (also with Miller). Miriam was last noticeably seen in the UK with the A-Bones when they provided the backing band for the London reunion gig of long time Groovies, Cyril Jordan and Roy Loney ,at Le Beat Bespoke Festival (#7) in 2011.
So what’s the album sound like – well, unsurprisingly it’s a 60s throwback! Twelve songs (11 covers and one original) all with a strong nod to the girl group sounds of the 60s, and the strings arrangements of Jack Nitzsche and Andrew Loog Oldham.
It’s an interesting set of covers – you get “My Love Has Gone” (Del Shannon), “Questioningly” (The Ramones), “There Goes My Baby (Neil Young) and “Not For Me” (Bobby Darin) – but all fit together to form a complete sounding album of music.
Song choices swing from the well known e.g. “So You Say You Lost Your Baby” – Gene Clark to the (relatively) obscure – “Cut And Come Again” – Billy Nicholls.
All the music (other than strings) is provided by Miriam’s partner for this venture, Sam Elwitt, with Sam also doubling up as the record’s producer. The 60s sound is spot on and you hear reference points to well known classics on almost every song.
Miriam get’s the 60s vocal sound down pat, whether it’s on the “bad boy” songs such as “Let Him Go Now” (where Miriam gets to channel her inner Shangri-Las, and the Crystals) or the lonely boy (girl) folk/pop rock sound on songs such as “It Happens Every Time (think Tim Buckley, Gene Clark etc).
The first single from the album is “My Love Has Gone”, with its Jackie De Shannon/Searchers guitar style intro, followed by a wonderful rolling 60s drums sound. Here’s the accompanying video from Miriam’s Youtube channel:
The response to the album has been positive and this has led to Miram going out upfront and on the road with Sam Elwitt and a full band in the States. No news yet on any UK dates but we’ll let you know if we hear anything.
Here’s Miram’s cover (from her Youtube channel) of “Questioningly” from the live shows in the US:
My Love Has Gone
So You Say You Lost Your Baby
There Goes My Babe
Cut And Come Again
Walking Down The Street
I’m Nobody’s Baby Now
I Never Told You
Let Him Go Now
It Happens Every Time
Not For Me
The album’s available on Vinyl and CD from Norton:
If you are interested in looking back at the originals, here’s a link to the Gene Clark version of “So You Say You Lost Your Baby”:
And to Del Shannon’s version of “My Love Has Gone”
Here’s a clip of Miriam thumping the drums live with the A-Bones – rockin’ it up on “Ooh Poo Pah Doo” in front of a very enthusiastic crowd in Japan circa 2009:
Paul Wood London Guitar Academy.
LONDON GUITAR ACADEMY NEW ALBUM REVIEW:
OUR FRIEND PAUL WOOD SHINES SOME GOLDEN LIGHT ONT THE NEW ALBUM FROM THE STONE FOUNDATION – TO FIND THE SPIRIT
“To Find The Spirit” is the recently released album from the Midland’s based, seven piece band, Stone Foundation
Check out the band’s official website:
The album has been getting strong reviews since its release on March 10 – making number 1 on the Amazon UK Soul and Funk chart and a highly creditable number 80 in the UK album charts.
Check out the official video (a mini-film shot by Lee Cogswell) for title track “To Find The Spirit”:
The band’s influences are clearly numerous but the best idea of their sound is to imagine a melting pot of Dexy’s Midnight Runners, Van Morrison, Mod/Northern Soul and the US guitar/brass deep soul sound of the 60s.
Despite the influences the band has stirred this altogether into its own sound and clearly has its own view on what it is trying to do. The new album has a strong selection of up-tempo and/or strong/catchy numbers but they’re also not afraid to include the jazzy atmospheric “Telepathic Blessing” and a spoken word number “Child Of Wonder” (with guest Paolo Hewitt). Live stomper “Don’t Let The Rain” has a strong bass part which is ably suited to the Dennis Bovell Dub mix on the CD version
Here’s the official video for the first single from the album: “That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life”
The band has been steadily building up a sizeable live fan base. They’ve previously toured with The Specials and last year they played a mini-tour with Northern Soul legend, Nolan Porter (“Keep On Keepin’ On”, and “If I Could Only be Sure”), including incendiary live shows in Leicester and London.
Here’s a live clip with Nolan Porter and Stone Foundation doing Nolan’s song “Fe Fi Fo Fum”:
The band is super tight, has a good front man/vocalist/guitarist and in their live shows the whole band play their part on stage from a visual perspective. You can see the whole room light up in smiles when the three piece brass section kick ins!
The band has stepped up a gear in 2014 they’ve already done a short tour in Japan, played UK support dates with The Selecter, and released the new album.
Here’s live clip of the band playing album track “Hold On”:
Buy the album and catch them live.
Check out the classic 60s US soul rhythm guitar and licks from Neil Jones on “That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life”
The album cover is a painting by Horace Panter (Specials).
The album is out on vinyl and CD. The vinyl version comes with a plain (disc only) copy of the CD. The CD version of the album includes an extra track – the Denis Bovell Dub remix of “Don’t Let The Rain”
Upcoming live dates in the London area include:
4 May – Modfest (Brighton)
17 May – Under The Bridge (Chelsea) (support to The Blow Monkeys)
6 June – Prince Albert (Brighton)
Full track listing:
- To Find The Spirit
- Bring Back The Happiness
- That’s The Way I Want To Live My Life
- When You’re In My World
- Stronger Than Us
- Don’t Let The Rain
- Crazy Love
- Telepathic Blessing
- Hold On
10. Child Of Wonder
11. Wondrous Place
12. Don’t Let The Rain (Denis Bovell Dub Mix) (CD only)
Blast from the Past
Here’s the Nolan Porter 1972 45rpm version of “If I Could Only Be Sure”
NEW ALBUM REVIEW:
“Too True” is the recently released third album from U.S. band the “Dum Dum Girls”.
Although live the Dum Dum Girls are a full 4 piece band, they are primarily a vehicle for the musical output of Dee Dee Penny, lead singer, songwriter and the only musician (other than co-producer Sune Rose Wagner) actually credited on the album. The band is signed to Sub Pop – check out the band’s official website:
The album is relatively short (and none the worse for it) – it’s ten tracks clocking in at just over 30 minutes. If anything, the shortness means you want to play it again as soon as it finishes.
The album is more of a “grower” than the instant appeal of acclaimed second album “Only In Dreams” – the tunes are darker and more subdued.
Sound-wise, if you can imagine Debbie Harry being lead singer for the Raveonettes, you will get a pretty good picture of the sounds on offer – classic girl pop vocals over reverb drenched guitars, bass and drums.
This shouldn’t come as too much of a surprise to anyone who checks out the album details – the albums co-producers are the legendary Richard Gottehrer (Blondie) and Sune Rose Wagner (one half of the Raveonettes).
Interestingly, Debbie Harry joined the band on stage for a surprise performance this month at the SXSW festival where they played Blondie’s 1979 hit “Dreaming”.:
You get a strong feel of Suede (circa 3rd album) in particular on the single that preceded the album release – “Lost Boys and Girls Club”. Check out the official video:
And here’s a live TV clip of the full band performing their recent 7” vinyl only release from the album – “Rimbaud Eyes”:
Definitely one to buy and give repeated plays
The guitars are generally buried low in the mix – it’s the overall sonic sound of the songs as a whole which is worthy of study. If you are looking for a guitar part, try the low solo in the play-out (from 1.42) of the album’s lead off track “Cult of Love”:
Closing track “Trouble Is My Name” – catch it here (along with pictures from the album):
Full track listing:
Cult of Love
Are You Okay?
Too True To Be Good
In The Wake of You
Lost Boys and Girls Club
Under These Hands
Trouble Is My Name
Blast from the Past
For fans yearning for the upbeat guitar jangle of second album “Only in Dreams” here’s the official video for the excellent track “Bedroom Eyes” from their 2nd album:
Here’s the band’s bio on Southside Records:
Although the influences are clear, the songs themselves sound fresh and are well worth hearing. All but one of the 13 tracks is an original composition – the one cover being the band’s take on the Lovin’ Spoonful classic “Summer In The City”.
The three piece line up of Stuart Farnham (guitar, vocals), Brian Hall (bass, vocals) and Richard Metcalfe (drums) are augmented on various tracks by guest musicians (including Style Council ‘s Mick Talbot) on keyboards and horns. The extra musicians allow the sound of the album to move beyond the basic core three piece sound and gives an “old school” American R & B/Blues feel to some of the tracks.
Stuart Farnham’s voice has that “magical” Steve Marriott ingredient but all the band contribute on vocals (live and on the album), and the album has rockers and slower based numbers, so you get a good blend of sounds across the album as a whole.
The album gets a thoroughly deserved 8/10 review in the last issue of “Blues” magazine.
Catch them live if you can…
Recommended listening for London Guitar Academy students
It’s short and sweet at only 2 minutes long in total but check out the guitar riff in the album’s opening track “Two Time Loser”:
The slowed down bluesy “Sail On”:
The band has a regular end of month (Friday) residency billed under the banner of “The Real R & B” at the Pelton Arms in Greenwich. Other upcoming gigs include 14 March (Billericay Town FC) and 23 March (New Cross Inn).
There is a shortage of good sound quality live web footage of The Get-Go but here’s the band doing a sound check performance of album track “Down The Line”:
For other gig dates, check them out on Facebook at:
You can buy the album on download from Amazon or iTunes, or get the album on CD from specialist outlets such as Rowed Out/Heavy Soul Records (www.rowedout.co.uk)
Full track listing:
Two Time Loser
Ain’t No Fool
Summer In The City
Down The Line
Let Me Tell Ya
All Fine (Now Your Mine)
So Sad The Morning
No Love Inside
If anyone wants to go back to ’66, here’s the original version of “Summer In The City” by the Lovin’ Spoonful:
NEW ALBUM REVIEW:
BRUCE SPRINGSTEEN – HIGH HOPES
The Boss takes a rather unusual path with his latest album “High Hopes”. The album is not only a mix of new tunes and old tunes, originals and covers but also was clearly recorded at various points in the latter stages of Springsteen’s career – the track credits on two songs each include the sadly deceased E Streeters, Clarence Clemons and Danny Federici.
Previously heard tunes (either live or on other albums) brushed up by the Boss for “High Hopes”, include “The Ghost of Tom Joad”, “American Skin (41 Shots)”, and three covers :“High Hopes” (Havalinas) , “Dream Baby Dream” (Suicide) and “Just Like Fire Would” (The Saints).
The album features the various members of the E Street Band but the main change to the “expected” Springsteen sound is the addition of guitarist Tom Morello (Rage Against The Machine). Morello stepped in to play live shows with Bruce when Steve Van Zandt was unable to play some of the dates on the last Springsteen World Tour. According to Bruce’s own comments, Morello was the guitar muse that inspired some of the reworked songs and was an instrumental factor in the release of “High Hopes”.
You can hear Bruce talk about the new album here:
“High Hopes” was the album’s lead-off single and heavily features Morello’s guitar work:
The album lacks the cohesion of Springsteen’s best work but the “already known” songs (Tom Joad, American Skin) are up there with his best compositions and well worth hearing in their new incarnations.
This probably isn’t an album to convert anyone to Springsteen (and reading the liner notes from the Boss this probably wasn’t the intention anyway) but anyone who is already a fan of Springsteen will find something they will enjoy.
Check out the sonic guitar squall provided by Tom Morello on “The Ghost of Tom Joad”. Here’s a live version with a great Morello guitar wig out from 6.25 in:
“Dream Baby Dream” – the Suicide cover is given a gentle Springsteen rendition and is the most different of the covers on “High Hopes”
If you buy the deluxe CD version of the album you also get a live DVD of Springsteen and the E Street Band playing the whole of their “Born In The USA” album.
Full track listing:
American Skin (41 Shots)
Just Like Fire Would
Down In The Hole
Frankie Fell In Love
This Is Your Sword
Hunter Of Invisible Game
The Ghost of Tom Joad
Dream Baby Dream
Check out the original versions of the songs that Springsteen covers on “High Hopes”:
“High Hopes” – Havalinas
“Just Like Fire Would” (The Saints).