rock & pop music


Big Country - EclecticScottish rock band Big Country formed in Dunfermline in 1981 and became hugely popular for their instantly recognisable blend of alternative rock, new wave, folk, Celtic and post-punk music. Their infectious guitar driven sound was infused with Scottish folk and martial music styles, evoking the inspirational spirit of bagpipes, fiddles and other traditional folk instruments. The height of the band’s popularity was in the early 1980s, although it retained a cult following for many years after. Recorded at Dingwalls in London in 1996, EclectiC features Big Country classics such as River of Hope and King of Emotion as well as ‘B’ sides and album tracks like Winter Sky and Come Back to me. Mixed with these are classic covers including a driving part-acoustic version of The Beatles’ Eleanor Rigby, Springsteen’s I’m on Fire and The Night they Drove Old Dixie Down, with Stuart Adamson poignantly singing ‘they should have never taken the very best’. Guest musicians include the Hossam Ramzy Percussion Section, Bobby Valentino on violin, Steve Harley (the Dylanesque Sling It) and Kym Mazelle (George Gershwin’s Summertime). Other highlights include personally felt versions of Joni Mitchell’s Big Yellow Taxi, the Stones’ Ruby Tuesday, and the beautiful Buffalo Skinners. ‘Terrific album... full of great songs, played very well.’ - AllMusic.


SWEEPING UP THE SPOTLIGHTThis terrific live recording captures Jefferson Airplane in full flight at the Fillmore East in 1969, when this was the place to be in New York City. According to Jorma Kaukoken: ‘To play the Fillmore East was more significant than Carnegie Hall for rock bands like us. We felt we were always on top form when we hit the stage there.’ In its seven years existence, many talented individuals joined Jefferson Airplane but the band’s line-up on this disc is the classic one featuring Grace Slick, Paul Kantner, Marty Balin, Spencer Dryden, Jack Casady and Jorma Kaukoken, who writes in the sleeve notes that ‘Grace Slick and Marty Balin are two of the great voices of my time as well as fine writers. Paul Kantner’s creative writing and arrangement ideas, coupled with his crisp rhythm guitar playing set forth a canvas for Jack and Spencer to lay down some of the most interesting of bass and drum collaborations ...and they all left plenty of broad spaces for me to add shadings as a lead guitarist. I have always felt with bands that the whole is greater than the sum of its parts, and so it was with us. When we played this show, I was twenty-eight years old. At the time I don’t think I realised how blessed I was to be locked in step with this disparate group.’ As well as fine versions of the classics Volunteers and White Rabbit (featuring Slick’s exhilarating vocal), other outstanding tracks include electrified arrangements of the traditional Uncle Sam Blues and Come Back Baby (originally written and recorded by Walter Davis in the 1940s), and Fred Neil’s epic The Other Side of This Life. Jefferson Airplane were an essential part of the 1960s soundtrack and this atmospheric album features the band at its freest and most exhilarating.


DaydreamThe Lovin’ Spoonful rock band had its roots in the folk music scene based in the Greenwich Village section of lower Manhattan, New York City, during the early 1960s. The band’s founder, John B. Sebastian, was the son of a classical harmonicist and grew up in the Village in contact with music and musicians, including those involved with the American folk music revival of the 1950s and 60s. Sebastian formed the Spoonful with guitarist Zal Yanovsky from a bohemian folk group called The Mugwumps (two other members, Cass Elliot and Denny Doherty, later formed half of the Mamas & the Papas), playing local coffee houses and small clubs. The Lovin’ Spoonful’s origins were later memorably described in the lyrics of the Mamas & the Papas’ 1967 hit, ‘Creeque Alley’. Daydream was the band’s second studio album, released in 1966 and featuring the hit single ‘Daydream’ (a favourite of John Lennon and Ray Davies, among others) as well as ‘It’s Not Time Now’, ‘You Didn’t Have to be so Nice’ and ‘Butchie’s Tune’, which featured in the Mad Men television series. As well as John Sebastian (vocals, electric and acoustic guitars, autoharp, harmonica, keyboards), the lineup includes Steve Boone (bass, vocals), Joe Butler (drums, percussion, vocals) and Zal Yanovsky (electric and acoustic guitars, vocals). This is a welcome re-release of one of the sunniest albums from the 1960s, with a dozen songs, mostly written by Sebastian, that remain fresh to this day.


rickie lee- ones- kicksTwo-time Grammy winner Rickie Lee Jones exploded onto the pop scene with her groundbreaking self-titled debut album and has fearlessly experimented with her sound and persona over more than two dozen critically acclaimed releases. Her latest, Kicks, follows her entrancing The Other Side of Desire, and was created entirely in New Orleans, using local musicians, mixers and studios. Produced by Rickie Lee with her band-mate, vibraphonist Mike Dillion, it features ten songs of a highly infectious nature. These include Nagasaki, her traditional jazz offering of tight three-part harmonies, and a seductively menacing version of Bad Company, eponymous theme song for the 1970s British rock band, where Jones cuts loose on electric guitar. Other highlights on this eclectic mix of songs from the 1950s through to 1970s include Kurt Weill’s Mack The Knife, written in 1928 for his Threepenny Opera musical, Lonely People, Lee Hazlewood’s humorous Houston, Elton John My Father’s Gun, Quicksilver Girl (Steve Miller), and You’re Nobody ‘Till Somebody Loves You. The arrangements and instrumentation by producer Michael Napolitano provide a fresh and modern sonic infusion on every song. Rickie Lee Jones is that rare musician who has transcended the singer/songwriter mantle by incorporating different radio genres from the get-go and she continues that tradition on this new collection of songs from the great American songbook. She is making a much-anticipated appearance at this year’s Glastonbury Festival and you can watch her video for Nagasaki here


Sarah DarlingWorking with writers and producers at home in Nashville and in the UK, Iowa native Sarah Darling has developed a distinct and contemporary sound that fuses her own personal blend of US country with UK country and pop influences. Darling’s Darling’s Dream Country album, released in 2017, reached #2 on the iTunes UK country charts, and she was was nominated for ‘International Artist of The Year’ by the British Country Music Awards. Sarah continues to attract new followers and has toured across the US and UK, including performances at numerous summer festivals, including BST Hyde Park in the UK and CMA Fest in Nashville. She has over 12 million streams on Spotify and Apple Music and has appeared on the Grand Ole Opry over 80 times. Wonderland has come at a pivotal time for Sarah and the album represents the culmination of a life’s work. ‘Making Wonderland’ has turned out to be one of the greatest musical adventures I’ve ever had,’ she explains, ‘Every song tells my story, and imprints this very special time in my life; when I got to create a country album in the UK! Wonderland represents the greatest road trip of my life. Each song is a stop on the map, and important lessons along the way.’ A host of exceptional writers and producers collaborateed with Sarah on Wonderland to produce an album that is sure to earn her many more fans. Highlights include upbeat opening track, Blue Sky, the lovely Timelapse and Fire (inspired by a quote from Vincent Van Gogh). Upcoming tour dates in the UK include the FSA Festival, Sage Gateshead and the Cambridge Folk Festival. Watch the video for her new single, Fire, taken from the album.


the-old-testament-of-loveSince 2004, ace rockabilly guitarist Steve Hooker’s Stripped Down Stompin’ Band has blazed a rockabilly trail across France, Belgium, Holland, Germany, Switzerland, Finland, Spain and the UK. Steve also headlined Rough House (Japan) with Boz Boorer in 2003 and toured the East Coast of the USA with an American line up in 2005. With the new line up in 2012 they played at Gaz’ Rockin’ Blues London, Rockabilly Street (Holland), Southend Pier Festival (UK), Streetstyled (Belgium), Secret Garden Party (UK), 100 Ans de Rock ‘n’ Roll (Belgium), recorded live for BBC Suffolk, released ‘Smokin’ Guitar’ CD (2013), ‘Otis Lift Me’ vinyl single (2014), ‘Duende Blues’ CD (2016) and ‘Crowmatic’ CD (2017), and Steve made a cameo appearance in the film ‘Looking For Johnny’(2014). Highlights among the seven spiffing songs (all Hooker originals) on this brand new album, ‘The Old Testament of Love’, include the rollicking Necktie Party, the heartfelt title track, the Stones-like rhythms of Tighten It and Crow’s Legs, and the closing Mr Mojo Man. ‘The Old Testament of Love’ is now available from Listen here


UT - Conviction-001Radical rock group UT was founded by Nina Canal, Jacqui Ham and Sally Young in 1978. Originated in the downtown NYC No Wave scene and inheritors of the collision between rock, free jazz and the avant-garde, UT exploded the rigidity of conventional rock, constructing songs through collective improvisation, swapping instruments and rotating the role of singer/director. Migrating to London in 1981, UT played with bands like The Fall and The Birthday Party and released music on its own label Out Records, including the LP Conviction in 1986. The band recorded several sessions for John Peel’s BBC radio show and released the live compilation album Early Live Life as well as the highly critically acclaimed In Gut’s House in 1988, which made that year’s NME ‘Top 50 Albums’. UT disbanded in 1990, but began performing again in 2010. Ut are now reissuing their entire remastered catalogue on Out Records through Forte Distribution. The reissues have so far included the UT and Confidential 12” EPs, UT Live at The Venue and Early Live Life. Other upcoming reissues will include their studio albums In Gut’s House and Griller. This reissue of first studio album, Conviction, includes previously unreleased material, a booklet featuring posters of cover artwork, song lyrics, photos of the band and an introduction by Stewart Lee. To celebrate the release of Conviction, UT will be playing concerts in Paris, London and Newport in Wales starting this April. ‘I have never seen people make rock ‘n’ roll so much their own, using the normal tools to create a singular, bone-shaking form of expression.’ – The Village Voice.


LINK WRAY - INDIAN CHILDHugely influential rock guitarist Fred Lincoln ‘Link’ Wray was born in 1929 in North Carolina. Although he began in country music, Wray’s musical style went on to consist primarily of rock and roll and rockabilly. While living in the San Francisco Bay Area in the early 1970s, he was introduced to Quicksilver Messenger Service guitarist John Cipollina and subsequently formed a band initially featuring special guest Cipollina along with the rhythm section from Cipollina’s band Copperhead. Building on the distorted electric guitar sound of early records, his 1958 instrumental hit ‘Rumble’ popularised the power chord that would be crucial in the emergence of punk and heavy rock. Rolling Stone placed Link Wray at No. 45 in its list of the 100 greatest guitarists of all time and he is widely recognised as one of the great innovators in the realm of rock and roll guitar. As well as ‘Rumble’, his pioneering work in the use of distortion produced such truly savage recordings as ‘Jack The Ripper’ and ‘Raw-Hide’. Rock luminaries like Jimmy Page, Jimi Hendrix, Jeff Beck, Pete Townshend, Neil Young, Iggy Pop, The Cramps and Jack Rose have all acknowledged his influence. Indian Child was originally released on the CBS / Sony Music label in 1993, recorded in Denmark, where he had relocated from the USA. It’s an album of high-volume, contemporary rock and roll, which focuses on Wray as singer-songwriter. Highlights include the powerful Torture, a Springstein-like Trying To Find Your Love, the haunting title track, a rocking tribute to Presley (It Was Elvis) and the beautiful Bring On The Night – complete with spoken interlude.


JEREMY & THE HARLEQUINS - REMEMBER THISIn today’s musical landscape inundated by cheap hooks and overproduced studio tricks, Jeremy & The Harlequins are here to keep the fire and spirit of rock’n’roll alive. That’s something the New York five-piece have been doing since forming just a few short years ago, both with their debut album American Dreamer (2015) and its follow-up Into The Night (2016). They’re continuing this approach with their third album, Remember This, which they started writing at home in New York, immediately after the recording of Into The Night. ‘By the time that record was released,’ explains front man Jeremy Fury, ‘I had about two thirds of Remember This written. I wrote the songs in my apartment in Hell’s Kitchen and then we worked on the majority of the arrangements as a band together at the infamous Music Building near Times Square.’ The album was recorded in LA with producer Rick Parker and has all the hallmarks of a Jeremy & The Harlequins record, but at the same time seeing the band expand on their own musical boundaries. While Jeremy & The Harlequins’ music has been permeated by nostalgia for the classic licks, riffs and aesthetic of rock’n’roll’s golden age, this new record sees the band widening their sonic horizons. Highlights include the irresistible title track, catchy new single Starlight, California Rock, the soulful With You, and an anthemic American Gold. ‘Ultra-cool New York City rockers ... their lyrics and unique style make them true originals relevant for these whacked-out times we live in.’ - Huffington Post. Watch video


ZAL YANOVSKY - ALIVE AND WELL AND LIVING IN ARGENTINACanadian folk-rock musician Zalman ‘Zal’ Yanovsky was born in 1944, the son of political cartoonist Avrom Yanovsky. He began his musical career playing folk music in the coffee houses of his hometown Toronto and teamed with fellow Canadian Denny Doherty in the Halifax Three. He later joined Doherty and Cass Elliot in the Mugwumps, made famous by the Mamas & the Papas song, Creeque Alley. In 1964 he met John Sebastian and they formed the Lovin’ Spoonful with Steve Boone and Joe Butler, playing lead guitar on classic hits such as Nashville Cats and Summer In The City. According to Sebastian, ‘He could play like Elmore James, he could play like Floyd Cramer, he could play like Chuck Berry. He could play like all these people, yet he still had his own overpowering personality.’ Wearing a cowboy hat and fringed ‘Davy Crockett’ clothes Zal Yanovsky was the ‘guitarist’s guitarist’ as well as an underrated singer. He left the Lovin’ Spoonful following a drug bust and eventually became a chef and restaurateur, establishing with his second wife the Chez Piggy restaurant. Alive And Well In Argentina, released in 1968, was his only solo album. Highlights among the tracks are his version of pianist Floyd Cramer’s Last Date, Raven In A Cage (reminiscent of the Spoonful) and the instrumental Lt Schtinckhausen. The two bonus tracks are the excellent As Long As You’re Here and Ereh Er’ouy Sa Gnol Sa (the same track in reverse!). The mercurial Yanovsky died much too early from a heart attack, aged only 58, and this re-release is a welcome chance to rediscover the unpredictable, sometimes surreal work of this master of the electric guitar.


MARIANNE FAITHFULL - NEGATIVE CAPABILITYOn its release in late 1979, Marianne Faithfull’s album Broken English was an immediate critical and commercial success, bringing her a new image, an international following, a Grammy nomination and the confidence to record more of her own compositions. The wistful teenager and beautiful blonde muse of the Rolling Stones was dramatically reborn as a different animal altogether: wild, and feral, with a voice ravaged by experience and betrayal. The songs were either literally autobiographical or clearly rooted in the singer’s own experiences. Following the equally personal Give My Love To London, Marianne Faithfull’s 21st album, Negative Capability, is the most emotionally powerful yet of her 54-year recording career. Facing down arthritis and bolstered by collaborators including Warren Ellis, Nick Cave, Rob Ellis, Ed Harcourt and Mark Lanegan, the music is charged with brutal honesty and autobiographical reflection as she addresses losing old friends, her loneliness living in her adopted city of Paris, and love. This is an unflinchingly honest and relentlessly beautiful late-life masterpiece that emphasises Marianne Faithfull’s unique place as a force of nature in the beating heart of modern music. ‘It’s been a real journey and I’ve learned a lot about myself and other people. It’s loneliness, but actually love is what it’s really about.’ Highlights among the 11 songs include The Gypsy Fairie Queen, inspired by Shakespeare’s Midsummer Night’s Dream, co-written with Nick Cave and featuring his vocals and piano playing. There are poignant reinterpretations of an early hit, As Tears Go By as well as Witches Song from her album, Broken English, and It’s All Over Now, Baby Blue by Bob Dylan, who she hung out with on his 1965 UK tour. Born To Live is a heartfelt tribute to the late Anita Pallenberg. ‘Negative Capability, that is when man is capable of being in uncertainties. Mysteries, doubts, without any irritable reaching after fact and reason.’ - John Keats.


ENGELBERT HUMPERDINCK -  WARMEST CHRISTMAS WISHESIn 1965, the struggling singer Gerry Dorsey, aged 29, teamed up with music impresario Gordon Mills, manager of Tom Jones, and changed his name to Engelbert Humperdinck, after the German 19th century composer. The changes paid off when he had a huge hit with his ballad Release Me, which reached the top ten on both sides of the Atlantic and was number one in Britain, keeping The Beatles’ Strawberry Fields Forever/Penny Lane from the top slot and spending a total of 56 weeks in the Top 50 singles chart. His easygoing style and good looks earned him a large following, particularly among women (known as ‘Humperdinckers’) and saw him have more hits, such as There Goes My Everything and The Last Waltz. At the age of 82 he remains a highly successful entertainer, touring touring North America on an annual basis and performing in Europe, Australia and the Far East. He also continues to record, notably with guest musicians such as Charles Aznavour, Elton John, Johnny Mathis, Smokey Robinson and Dionne Warwick. Not satisfied with the year-long celebration of his 50th showbiz anniversary in 2017, this iconic singer has now released his first Christmas album in almost forty years. Warmest Christmas Wishes features 14 heartfelt holiday songs, including two new originals especially written for the album. Like its predecessor, 1980’s A Merry Christmas With Engelbert Humperdinck, this new album is a combination of classic, new and unexpected songs. Traditional favourites such as Silent Night and O Tannenbaum sit next to festive standards like Please Come Home for Christmas and White Christmas - the latter reinvented in a Django Reinhardt-inspired swing arrangement. Contemporary tunes include Chris Rea’s Driving Home for Christmas and Gilbert O’Sullivan’s Christmas Song. Perfect music for wrapping presents and getting into the Christmas spirit.


NightstandTancred is the stage name of former Now, Now guitarist Jess Abbott, born in Maine and now Minnesota-based. Her new collection, Nightstand, comes after she experienced a blossoming into a more confident person, but one that came with an unexpected side-effect. ‘After I became comfortable in this new skin, in truly being myself, I was immediately hit with loneliness,’ she reveals. ‘I realized that human connection is really important to me.’ And so Abbott began a new journey of personal exploration, one that involved connecting with other people just as much as connecting with herself. As with her previous work, the writing process for what would become ‘Nightstand’ consisted of Abbott alone in her room with just a guitar, strumming chords and singing words until gradually songs began to coalesce, making it a point to devote three days a week for an entire year to only playing music. As a result, when the recording process began with Lewis Pesacov at his home studio in LA, the focus was less on finishing songs and more on perfecting them. Working with Pesacov offered new approaches - and gear - previously undiscovered by Abbott, affording her avenues of exploration that dialled in the production and tone on each and every song. The positive effects are evident throughout Nightstand, as on propulsive first single ‘Reviews’, showcasing her strong melodic sensibilities balanced with purposeful, well-placed instrumentation. Or ‘Queen of New York’ which captures the feelings of a fleeting one-night stand set against a metropolitan backdrop, all within an effervescent three-minute bop. And it wouldn’t be a Tancred album if the upbeat melodies didn’t also serve to sugar-coat Abbott’s often sombre lyrics about the experience of being a woman and being queer in today’s society. But even she is quick to emphasize that there is still comfort to be found during times of isolation or alienation: ‘Ultimately, we are all feeling these things together, and that can be enough to feel less alone. There’s a hopefulness in the loneliness.’ Tickets are on sale now for Tancred’s tour in November 2018, starting the Waterfront Studio in Norwich on the 14th and taking in many venues throughout the UK, including Birmingham’s Sunflower Lounge on the 16th, before reaching London’s Moth Club on the 23rd. ‘Abbott has polished her songwriting into a resplendent pop shine.’ - NPR. Watch video for ‘Queen of New York’.


JOAN ARMATRADINGJoan Armatrading’s heartfelt lyrics, distinctive voice and multi-instrumental prowess have led to an enduring love and respect from millions across the world. Her words have an authenticity and her vocals an authority that resonate directly with the listener. Since her 1973 Outstanding New Artist award, Joan Armatrading has been making exceptional and distinctive music for over four decades. Her new album, Not Too Far Away, is her 21st and features ten new tracks that take the deeply personal and make it universal. From the Cri de Coeur of the opening song, I Like It When We’re Together, to the heartfelt No More Pain, these are lyrics that don’t prevaricate, but tell it how it is. Other highlights include the haunting and Cover My Eyes, the tough and complex Invisible (Blue Light), the sublimely beautiful title track (watch video), and the anthemic Any Place. From Always In My Dreams with its solo piano accompaniment to the jaunty This Is Not That there is a glorious array of rhythms and tempos. Joan Armatrading has written, sung, arranged and produced all the tracks herself as well as playing all the instruments except for drums which she programmed. The album is being supported by live dates in America and a major tour of the UK in September.


Percy PhillipsOn Saturday 12th July 1958, The Quarrymen (including John Lennon, Paul McCartney and George Harrison, who would later become The Beatles), made their way to the Kensington area of Liverpool to visit Phillips Sound Recording Service to cut a record of the group’s music. Half an hour later, and after paying the studio fee, they walked away with their first ever record, a ten inch 78RPM aluminium and acetate disc on the ‘Kensington’ label, ‘recorded by PF Phillips’ and instructions to ‘Play with a lightweight pickup’. Born in 1895, Percy Philips owned a record shop and created the first recording studio in Liverpool, helping start one of the most the revolutionary Beatles phenomenon. Later, Paul McCartney wrote on the label for side one, ‘That’ll Be The Day, Holly, Petty’ and on side two, ‘In Spite Of All The Danger, McCartney, Harrison’, giving George credit because he had played the guitar solo. ‘When we got the record,’ McCartney remembers, ‘the agreement was that we would have it for a week each. John had it a week and passed it on to me. I had it for a week and passed it on to George, who had it for a week. Then Colin had it for a week and passed it to Duff Lowe – who kept it for 23 years.’ Paul McCartney bought this amazing Beatles artefact, probably the most valuable record in the world, from John Duff Lowe in 1981 and now has it in his collection. This historic recording, along with several other discs made at the studio, are being released for the first time together on a special two CD set and a commemorative vinyl edition to recognise the legacy of the Phillips studio and its fascinating, unheard archive. As well as The Quarrymen, the artists featured in this collection include Liverpool’s original rock n roller, Billy Fury, the legendary Ken Dodd, and the first ever football pop song made for Everton football club. ‘The Percy Phillips Studio Collection’ was launched in Liverpool in August 2018 at the Annual Beatles Convention, which featured a special mock-up of Percy Phillips’ original studio created in the Empire Room of the Adelphi Hotel.


Oh Sees - Smote ReverserThe American rock band Oh Sees formed in San Francisco, California, in 1997. Initially an outlet for John Dwyer (vocals, guitar) to release experimental home recordings, Oh Sees evolved into a full band, featuring Brigid Dawson (vocals, keyboard), Petey Dammit (bass, guitar), Mike Shoun (drums), and Lars Finberg (drums, guitar). Over the course of several releases and genre transitions, the band became noted for their energetic live shows, and whimsical visual aesthetic. The band has changed its lineup and name several times, having previously been known as Orinoka Crash Suite, OCS, Orange County Sound, The Ohsees, The Oh Sees, and Thee Oh Sees. They currently consist of primary songwriter and core member Dwyer alongside Tim Hellman (bass), Dan Rincon (drums) and Paul Quattrone (drums). The band’s sound incorporates a wide range of rock genres, including 1960s garage rock and psychedelic rock, punk rock, noise rock, art punk and 1980s post-punk. With 21 full-length albums, eight EPs, two live albums, four compilations, and at least a dozen seven-inch discs released over the last 21 years, it’s easy to see how this garage-psych outfit has become famous for its prolific discography. Smote Reverser is another frothy LP of head-destroying psych-epics to grok and rock out to. Notice the fresh dollop of organ and keyboard prowess courtesy of Memory Of A Cut Off Head’s Tom Dolas, while the Paul Quattrone / Dan Rincon drum-corps polyrhythmic pulse continues to astound and pound in equal measure, buttressed by the nimble fingered bottom end of Sir Tim Hellman the Brave and the shred-heaven fret frying of John Dwyer, whilst Lady Brigid Dawson again graces the wax with her harmonic gifts. Aside from the familiar psych-scorch familiar to soggy pit denizens the world over, there’s a fresh heavy-prog vibe that fits like a worn-in jean jacket comfortably among hairpin metal turns and the familiar but no less horns-worthy guitar fireworks Dwyer’s made his calling card. Perhaps the most notable thing about Smote Reverser is the artistic restlessness underpinning its flights of fancy. Dwyer refuses to repeat himself and for someone with such a hectic release schedule, that stretching of aesthetic borders and omnivorous appetite seems all the more superhuman! Highlights include a jazzy 12-minute instrumental Anthemic Aggressor that brings back memories of King Crimson and Soft Machine, the hardcore punk of Overthrown, and the brilliantly exciting Enrique El Cobrador. ‘A career-best mind-melter.’ - Q Magazine. The Oh Sees will soon be visiting the UK for much-anticipated dates beginning at Margate’s Winter Gardens on 31 August, followed by appearances at Dorset’s End Of The Road Festival and the Bristol O2 Academy, before ending in London (O2 The Forum) on 3 September. Not to be missed.


David Ackles - Five & DimeCritically acclaimed singer-songwriter and pianist David Ackles was born in Rock Island, Illinois, in 1937. His mother came from a family of English music hall performers and after his family moved to Los Angeles David became a child actor, appearing in Columbia Pictures’ Rusty children’s film series as the character ‘Peanuts’. After studying English literature at the University of Southern California, followed by a master’s degree in Film Studies, he began his recording career as a staff songwriter at Elektra Records. His first album, the eponymous David Ackles (1968), failed to achieve commercial success even though it contained ‘The Road to Cairo’, but it proved influential among singer-songwriters, especially Elvis Costello, Elton John and Phil Collins. Describing Ackles’s style in 2003, critic Colin McElligatt wrote, ‘An unlikely clash of anachronistic show business and modern-day lyricism...deeply informs his recorded output. Alternately calling to mind Hoagy Carmichael, Irving Berlin, Robbie Robertson, Tim Hardin and Scott Walker, Ackles forged an utterly unique sound out of stray parts that comprise a whole that is as uncompromising as it is unrivalled.’ David Ackles died in 1999 and his his final album, Five & Dime, has been reissued by the Retroworld label. Originally released on the CBS record label in 1973, the album was poorly promoted in the intervening forty years, Ackles’ standing as a singer-songwriter of great insight and musical invention has grown. Five & Dime, his fourth album, was released the year after his epochal, Bernie Taupin-produced American Gothic, now regarded as his finest achievement. Ackles made the album on a four-track recorder at his home on the US West Coast and the songs are slightly looser as a result, including a surf music spoof, ‘Surf’s Down’, as well as classics such as the beautiful ‘I’ve Been Loved’, ‘Aberfan’ (an ambitious song about the tragic Welsh mining incident), ‘Run Pony, Run’ (which concerns the slaughter of horses for the meat trade!), the Brechtian ‘Everybody Has a Story’and his homage to his home, ‘House Above The Strand’. It’s an underrated gem of an album, which has been deleted for years, and is a welcome addition to the amount of Ackles music generally available.


GRACE SLICK & PAUL KANTNER - SUNFIGHTERIconic singer-songwriter, musician, artist and former model Grace Slick was born in Chicago in 1939. Best known for her role in San Francisco’s burgeoning psychedelic music scene in the mid-1960s, her career spanned four decades as she performed with The Great Society, Jefferson Airplane, Jefferson Starship and Starship, and also had an occasional solo career. She provided spine-tingling vocals on songs such as Somebody to Love, the immortal White Rabbit, We Built This City, and Nothing’s Gonna Stop Us Now. An unrepentant bohemian free spirit, Slick has survived years of drug and alcohol abuse, been arrested several times (once for pointing an GRACE SLICK & THE GREAT SOCIETYunloaded gun at a police officer), had many lovers (including Jim Morrison) and on one memorable occasion turned up at the White House for an informal party hosted by Tricia Nixon (Grace and Tricia were alumnae of the prestigious Finch College finishing school in New York). Slick intended to slip LSD into the President’s vodka martini but was unsuccessful. Retroworld specialist reissue division celebrates the career of this enduring legend with two welcome releases. Sunfighter was recorded in 1971 and features Grace Slick’s then partner Paul Kantner. It was released in the wake of the birth of their daughter, China Slick, who appears on the album sleeve. The music for this collaborative project is wildly discursive and occasionally strident, featuring members of Jefferson Airplane as well other West Coast Rock contemporaries such as Jerry Garcia, David Crosby and Graham Nash. GRACE SLICK & THE GREAT SOCIETY LIVE AT THE MATRIX 1966 (RETROWORLD FLOATS6348) takes us back to the very earliest days of Slick’s career, before Jefferson Airplane, when she fronted The Great Society. This recording of one of the band’s legendary shows at San Francisco’s Matrix comes from the personal archive of her brother-in-law Darby Slick, lead guitarist with the band. The album features early recordings of future classics Somebody To Love and White Rabbit as well as a driving version of Bob Dylan’s Outlaw Blues.


Marianne FaithfullThis is the twentieth solo album by unique singer and songwriter, Marianne Faithfull, and marks the 50th anniversary of the beginning of her recording career. Produced by Rob Ellis and Dimitri Tikovoi and mixed by Flood, this is an intriguing release that features an impressive roll call of musicians, including Adrian Utley (Portishead), Brian Eno, Ed Harcourt and Warren Ellis and Jim Sclavunos (The Bad Seeds). Songwriting contributors and co-conspirators include Nick Cave, Roger Waters, Steve Earle, Tom McRae and Anna Calvi. Marianne Faithfull wrote the majority of the highly personal lyrics and the outstanding tracks include the highly personal title track, Nick Cave’s beautiful Late Victorian Holocaust, the angry Mother Wolf (partly inspired by Rudyard Kipling’s The Jungle Book), the exhilarating Sparrows Will Sing (written by Roger Waters) and the lovely honesty of Going Home. To mark her half century as an artist, Marianne returned to the stage for a world tour and was the subject of a luxury photo book Marianne Faithfull: A Life On Record, edited by herself and Francois Ravard and featuring iconic images of the singer by major photographers such as Helmut Newton, David Bailey, Ellen Von Unwerth, Bruce Weber, Cecil Beaton and Robert Mapplethorpe.


DON MCLEAN - BOTANICAL GARDENSBorn Donald McLean III in New Rochelle, NY, in 1945, Don McLean is one of America’s most enduring singer-songwriters, inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2004. He is best known for his nostalgic 1971 song American Pie, which was a number-one US hit for four weeks in 1972, and was later a hit for Madonna. McLean’s original recording has five million certified airplays and was selected for preservation in the National Recording Registry by the Library of Congress as being ‘culturally, historically, or artistically significant. Other well-known songs include And I Love You So (sung by Elvis Presley and Glen Campbell, among others), Vincent (three million certified airplays), and Castles in the Air, which he recorded twice. ‘The voice of the century.’ - Roy Orbison. Botanical Gardens, McLean’s 19th studio album and the first in eight years, is arguably one of his most reflective to date. As he puts it, ‘The inspiration for the project started years ago when I would walk in the beautiful gardens in Sydney Australia near the Opera House. I would dream young dreams and it was a comfort and an inspiration. I was always young inside, like we all are, and I felt it again there... I realized that the gardens are really a metaphorical heaven, and there’s a kind of death and rebirth.’ Intimacy can be found at the heart of this record, with personal songs looking back on his life as well as his observations on youth and love. Recorded in Nashville, McLean and his band maintain a raw, yet tight sound throughout. As ever, Don McLean’s songs sound timeless, as the album mixes country, Americana, folk, and boot stomping rock. Highlights include the scene-setting opening title track, the brilliant Duane Eddy style guitar on The Lucky Guy, the epic King of Fools, and a fine version of the classic Harold Arlen/Yip Harburg classics, Last Night When We Wete Young. Following the release of Botanical Gardens, Don embarks on a two-year World tour starting with 32 dates in April-June in the UK and Ireland.


rare bird - somebody's watchingProgressive rock band Rare Bird formed in London in 1969, originally playing keyboard dominated progressive rock and shunning the use of guitars. Their eponymous debut album achieved critical success and they went on to release five albums in all. They never achieved commercial success though one magnificent single, Sympathy, became their only UK hit and reached No. 1 in Italy and France, selling over a million copies globally. The band dissolved in early 1975, victims of a lack of recognition in their own country. Rare Bird’s fourth album, Somebody’s Watching, was was released in 1973, by which time the lineup consisted of founder members Dave Kaffinetti (keyboards) and Steve Gould (guitar and vocals), with Fred Kelly (drums), Andy ‘Ced’ Curtis (guitar) and Nic Potter (ex-Van Der Graaf Generator, bass). Bassist John Wetton guests on one track. The album includes their classic interpretation of Ennio Morricone’s iconic theme to A Fistful of Dollars. Other highlights include the title track, the soulful More and More and the wistful High in the Morning. This is melodic rock music at its best, well written and superbly performed songs reminiscent of Supertramp and late period Barclay James Harvest. Hard to find for many years, this reissue Somebody’s Watching from Talking Elephant is a wecome reminder of a band that shouldn’t be forgotten.


Sex PistolsIconic punk rock band The Sex Pistols were formed in London in 1975 and initially lasted two and a half years, producing four singles and one studio album, Never Mind the Bollocks, Here’s the Sex Pistols. One of the most influential acts in the history of popular music, The Sex Pistols initiated the punk movement in the UK and inspired many later punk and alternative rock musicians. The first incarnation of the Sex Pistols was singer Johnny Rotten (John Lydon), lead guitarist Steve Jones, drummer Paul Cook and bassist Glen Matlock, who was replaced by Sid Vicious (real name John Ritchie) early in 1977. Under the management of Malcolm McLaren, the band provoked controversies that generated a hugely satisfying amount of publicity. Almost 40 years to the day since the Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols was originally released this CD set revisits the out-of-print super deluxe edition of the album, which was issued in 2012. Released in limited numbers at the time, it is widely considered to be the definitive collection. This new, budget priced smaller-sized edition of three CDs includes the original studio album with 1977 B-sides, a disc of outtakes and one disc of 1977 live material. Additionally there is a DVD featuring 1977 footage of the band playing live from the infamous boat party held on the River Thames, London, the Winter Gardens, Penzance in Cornwall and the Happy House, Stockholm, Sweden. Bringing it all together is a 48-page hardback book with narrative from music journalist Pat Gilbert plus rare photographs. Never Mind The Bollocks, Here’s The Sex Pistols condenses the very essence of 1977, from its day-glo cover designed by Jamie Reid in collaboration with the Sex Pistols to its risqué title which led to an infamous court case, the album encapsulates a moment in time when the Sex Pistols set the world of music on fire.


PRETTY THINGS GREATEST HITSFor over fifty years, The Pretty Things have proudly, unapologetically and righteously scorched their own, unique trail through contemporary music. A half-century (plus) of the raunchiest white-boy rhythm and blues, of punch-ups, dazzling highs and epic struggles, of innovation and exultation, lauded by their peers, vilified by authority, a crucial influence on successive generations of acts, The Pretty Things make it to the mid twenty teens with mojo intact and edge unblunted. They created some of the most exciting and innovative records of the late 1960s and early 1970s, and in 2009 the band were awarded the Hero award at the Mojo Honours. Famous fans have included The Clash, David Bowie, Aerosmith, The Libertines and Kasabian. The Pretty Things: Greatest Hits features many of the band’s classics, including the immortal Rosalyn, Don’t Bring Me Down, Midnight To Six Man, L.S.D. and S.F. Sorrow Is Born. The album has been released on CD, double vinyl LP and as a double CD in 6-panel digipack, complete with an exclusive recorded gig at London’s 100 Club on the second disc. The packaging on all formats also features individual track commentary from band members Dick Taylor and Phil May, plus liner notes from long-time manager Mark St John. The final track, Mr Tambourine Man, was originally offered to The Pretty Things (guitarist Brian Pendleton was good friend of Dylan) but they turned it down. The Byrds then made their version and now the band have finally cut their own take in 2016, keeping true to their style of the time. Essential listening.


CARLA BRUNI - FRENCH TOUCHInternationally acclaimed singer-songwriter Carla Bruni has been writing and performing music since 1997, starting with her first release (Quelqu’un m’a dit) in 2003 and selling over three million albums worldwide. Before fulfilling her childhood dream of becoming a professional singer and songwriter, Carla Bruni had already been included on Business Ages list of the 20 highest-paid models, had appeared in the films Prêt-à-Porter and Unzipped, and had been romantically linked to Mick Jagger, Eric Clapton, Kevin Costner, and Donald Trump (and been married to French President Nicolas Sarkozy). French Touch, Carla Bruni fifth studio album release, is an English-language collection of cover songs produced by composer and musician David Foster. Since her youth, Carla has assembled a trove of all-time sentimental favourites - songs associated with a person or place or moment in time. The sort of records that she says, borrowing the French term for love at first sight, ‘have been a coup de foudre.’ This new collection is richly melodic, warm yet minimal, and often slyly playful. All the songs have been given that ‘French Touch’ yet still have the appeal of their originals, albeit with a sultry flavour all their own. Highlights include Love Letters (first made famous by Kitty Lester in the 1950s), Abba’s The Winner Takes It All, a tender version of Lou Reed’s A Perfect Day, and a wistful Moon River. ‘French Touch’ is sexy, warm and familiar, and inimitably Carla. Watch the video (directed by Fabienne Berthaud) for first single, a stripped down and sexy version of the Depeche Mode classic Enjoy The Silence.


Carly SimonCarly Simon’s career as a singer-songwriter has lasted for half a century. She rose to fame in the 1970s with a string of hit records, including gold certified singles Jesse, Mockingbird (a duet with husband James Taylor) and Nobody Does It Better (from the James Bond film, The Spy Who Loved Me). She achieved international fame with her third album, No Secrets, which was No. 1 on the Billboard 200 for five weeks, launched the worldwide hit You’re So Vain, and for which she received three Grammy nominations, including Record of the Year and Song of the Year. For her 1988 hit, Let the River Run, from the film Working Girl, Carly Simon became the first person ever to win a Grammy Award, an Academy Award, and a Golden Globe Award for a song composed and written, as well as performed, entirely by a single artist. Her candid memoir, The Boys In the Trees, was roundly praised when published in late 2016, and so this reissue of two of her albums - Have You Seen Me Lately? (1990) and Letters Never Sent (1994) is a timely reminder of her idiosyncratic songcraft and melodic skills. They are released here as a double CD set on the Retroworld reissue division of the North London indie label Floating World. Have You Seen Me Lately contains eleven songs - two written with her long-time collaborator Jacob Brackman - that saw Simon reflecting on middle age, with typical candour and humour. As well as the stunning title track it includes her hugely successful single Better Not Tell Her, the uplifting Life Is Eternal, and Fisherman’s Song (with Judy Collins on backing vocals). Letters Never Sent is informed by her finding a box of old letters that she had never sent, and Simon seems to have cast aside the mid-life wondering of Lately in favour of something more playful. Highlights include Like A River, written in honour of her mother, and Touched By The Sun, for her friend Jackie Onassis. These two albums feature quality songwriting and melodic power, with music of commensurate strength from one of the finest artists of the last forty years.


MelanieWith her idiosyncratic voice, insightful songwriting and free-spirited hippie persona, Melanie epitomised the ‘flower power’ counterculture of the 1960s and 1970s. Born Melanie Safka to Ukrainian/Italian parents in 1947 in New York City, she grew up in the Astoria neighborhood of Queens and made her first public appearance aged just four, singing on a radio show. She began performing in Greenwich Village folk clubs while studying acting at New York’s American Academy of Dramatic Arts and signed to Columbia Records in 1967, releasing her first single, Beautiful People. After signing with Buddah Records, her debut album received positive reviews and she began to find chart success. Melanie was one of only three solo female artists to perform at the Woodstock Festival in 1969, which inspired her first hit song, Lay Down (Candles in the Rain). Even greater success came with the irresistibly upbeat Brand New Key, which stayed at #1 on the Billboard charts for three weeks, sold over three million copies, and later featured on the soundtrack of the film Boogie Nights. Melanie was voted Billboard’s Top Female Vocalist in 1972 and continues to record and perform live all over the world. This quirky icon of the ‘60s peace and love movement is celebrated here with collection featuring 20 of her best recordings. These include the joyous Good Book, her superb version of The Rolling Stones’ Ruby Tuesday, the Kurt Weill influenced I’m Back In Town, the anthemic Lay Down (Candles in the Rain), a live Leftover Wine, Look What They’ve Done To My Song, Ma, Peace Will Come (According to Plan), and a couple of Dylan covers (Lay Lady Lay and Mr Tambourine Man), There’s a chance peace will come, in your life.


Charly Bliss - GuppyCharly Bliss is a four-piece power pop band from Brooklyn, NY, featuring effervescent frontwoman Eva Hendricks (vocals and guitar), Spencer Fox (vocals, guitar), Sam Hendricks (drums), and Dan Shure (bass). They have opened for alt-rock bands such as Sleater-Kinney and Veruca Salt and received widespread critical acclaim for their debut full length album, which Guppy AV Club called ‘an instant classic’. At a time when so many of their peers have taken to writing music that is akin to oblique navel-gazing, Charly Bliss is more interested in exploring other extremes of feeling - namely unbridled glee. ‘Pop music can actually be very subversive,’ says Eva Hendricks. ‘The lyrics that I’m most proud of on the record are me existing both in and out of this overgrown teenybopper feeling - feeling like everything I was going through was the most extreme thing that had ever happened to anyone ever. The songs are often about being totally in the throes of this stuff, but also being able to step out of it and make fun of myself. It’s possible to write songs that really get at all of these dark feelings while also just being really fun to sing and dance to. You can be serious and also sing about peeing while jumping on a trampoline.’ Charly Bliss have released a video for Westermarck, one of the stand-out tracks from Guppy, which Billboard says ‘captures summer camp in all its nostalgic, carefree glory.’ Among the other joyful, finely-crafted songs are the exhilarating Percolator, Ruby (honouring Eva’s therapist), the ambiguous Julia (dedicated to an ex’s new girlfriend), DQ (‘Does he love me most now that his dog is toast?’) and the glamorous, fuzzy lament of Glitter. It’s no wonder Guppy has received ‘Best Album Of The Year So Far’ accolades from Billboard, Stereogum and others. The band recently announced a UK tour and a Brooklyn, NY show at Music Hall of Williamsburg in September, and their magnetic live shows are not to be missed.


Tim RoseAcclaimed singer-songwriter Tim Rose was born in 1940 and grew up in Washington, D C, where he won the top music award at High School. After studying as a priest (dismissed for ‘inappropriate behaviour’), he worked as a merchant seaman and as a US Air Force navigator before beginning his professional career playing acoustic guitar with the Journeymen folk group, which also included John Phillips and Scott MacKenzie. In 1962, he joined ‘Mama’ Cass Elliot and James Hendricks in The Big Three, recording two albums and appearing on many US television shows. When the group split in 1964, Tim Rose embarked on a on a solo career, maling his eponymous first solo album in 1967. Now widely recognised as a classic, CBS found it difficult to market this unique blend of blues, folk and rock. The tracks include a dramatic version of I’m Gonna Be Strong (previously recorded by Gene Pitney), a searing version of the anti-war song Come Away Melinda, his arrangement of Hey Joe (soon to launch Jimi Hendrix to stardom), and Morning Dew, which became a hit single for Tim Rose and a signature song of the Grateful Dead. Other highlights include the soulful Eat, Drink And Be Merry (for Tomorrow You’ll Cry), worthy of Ray Charles, and the reflective Where Was I? An outstanding live performer as well as a successful songwriter, Tim was was held in high regard by discerning rock fans but never quite made the big time. He moved to England in the mid 1970s, performing in clubs around London, sometimes with his fellow American Tim Hardin. He later went into semi-retirement from music and moved back to New York, where he worked on building sites, did voice-overs for television commercials, took a degree and worked as a geography teacher and as a Wall Street broker. Tim Rose returned to music towards the end of his life (he died in London in 2002) but his emotionally charged performances and gravelly voice - he was a chain-smoker and heroic drinker for much of his life - can best be heard on this memorable album now reissued by Talking Elephant.


dino valenteDino Valente was something of an enigmatic character within the mid-sixties San Francisco rock scene. Born Chester Powers in Danbury, Connecticut in 1943, he had changed his name by the time he reached Greenwich Village in the 60s and wrote the deathless Get Together, one of the great anthems of the American counter-culture. Sadly, he was unable to capitalise on that success, owing to his being jailed for drug possession. On his eventual release in 1967, he was ushered into a recording studio under the great Bob Johnston (who produced Bob Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited and Blonde on Blonde) to cut this, his self-titled solo debut album, originally released in 1968 on the Epic Records label. Comprising ten tracks (with two bonus tracks on this CD release), Dino Valente was very much an album of its time; with a legendary reputation as being something of a ‘Ladies Man’, many of the songs deal with interpersonal relations with the many women in his life. Valente’s emotionally charged voice, rich twelve string acoustic guitar work and melodic songs are adorned with orchestration and elements of the baroque in the arrangements, with tinkling harpsichords, muted lead guitar and brass charts. The effect is unique yet has overtones of Valente’s contemporaries such as Fred Neil, Tim Buckley, Gene Clark, Richie Havens and Pearls Before Swine. Highlights include ‘Everything Is Gonna Be OK’ and the mysterious ‘Me And My Uncle’ (later a staple for the Grateful Dead). Dino Valente would go on to join up with old friends in Quicksilver Messenger Service, but after their initial split in the early seventies, he seemed to fade away into the shadows. There were rumours that he had been suffering from a brain disorder, which resulted in short-term memory loss and the side-effects of anti-convulsive medication. He died suddenly at home in Santa Rosa, California, in 1994. His solo recorded legacy is slim; but Dino Valente - this album - is a work of great poignancy and beauty, the best of which sounds utterly timeless.


steve hooker crowmaticRockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, emerging primarily in the southern United States in the early 1950s. The term rockabilly is a portmanteau word combining rock (from rock ‘n’ roll) and hillbilly, a style of country music. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues. The influence and popularity of the style waned in the 1960s, but during the late 1970s and early 1980s, rockabilly enjoyed a major revival of popularity that has endured to the present day. Steve Hooker is a rockabilly virtuoso who has shared stages with Chuck Berry and Johnny Thunders. Crowmatic is a limited edition CD mini album featuring another great collection of six irresistible rockers and instrumentals (all Steve Hooker compositions) - Don't Look Behind You, Nine Yards, Keep On Keepin' On, a new version of Catch On, Two Trains Running, and Hound Dog Shake. Crowmatic is now available from Steve Hooker has been touring and recording since 1977 and celebrated with a free 40th Anniversary show featuring special guests and DJ in June 2017 at the Railway Hotel in Southend on Sea.


Fresh CreamCream were the first and best British rock supergroup of the 1960s. Formed in 1966, the band consisted of bassist/singer Jack Bruce drummer Ginger Baker, both formerly jazz-influenced members of the Graham Bond Organisation, and blues guitarist/singer Eric Clapton, who had worked with The Yardbirds and John Mayall & the Bluesbreakers. As premier musicians, they naturally became the ‘cream’ , creating a unique sound that fused blues with rock music and and psychedelia. Clapton’s superb guitar work, Bruce’s powerful vocals and prominent bass playing, and Baker’s pulsating drumming were the perfect medium for Pete Brown’s poetry-inspired lyrics. Their music included songs based on traditional blues such as Crossroads and Spoonful, as well as modern blues such as Born Under a Bad Sign and powerful, idiosyncratic songs such as Strange Brew, Tales of Brave Ulysses and Toad. Polydor has now released a deluxe edition of the band’s debut album, Fresh Cream, with highlights that include the brilliant harmonica work-out and the call and response excitements on Muddy Waters’ Rollin’ and Tumblin’, a spine-tingling vocal on the Willie Dixon classic, Spoonful, as well as the self-penned Sleepy Time Time, which gave Clapton a free hand to wake up all and sundry. Their rousing treatment of the traditional standard, Cat’s Squirrel, alerted listeners to just how well Clapton, Baker and Bruce musically complemented each other. This comprehensive 3-CD + 1 Blu-Ray Audio disc comes in a gatefold sleeve and includes a 64-page hardback book, featuring new sleeve notes by respected Rolling Stone writer, David Fricke. The set comprises various alternate and new stereo mixes plus several, previously unreleased BBC sessions. A special 6LP 180g Vinyl edition of Fresh Cream will also be released in April 2017. The volatile relationship between Bruce and Baker, who were notorious for their quarrelling, led to the break-up of Cream after just two years, but the band’s musical legacy remains immortal and this new release makes essential listening for many fans of this groundbreaking band. ‘The only good music is when good musicians play for each other. I believe that’s what made Cream so different from the other rock groups.’ - Jack Bruce.


Big Brother & The Holding CompanyAmerican rock band Big Brother and the Holding Company formed in San Francisco in 1965 as part of the same psychedelic music scene that also produced the Grateful Dead, Quicksilver Messenger Service, and Jefferson Airplane. Their 1968 album Cheap Thrills, featuring Janis Joplin as their lead singer, is a masterpieces of the psychedelic era and was included in Rolling Stone’s the 500 greatest albums of all time. Be a Brother, recorded in 1970, was their first album after Janis Joplin’s departure, and includes ten original Holding Company compositions. Guitarist David Shallock and singer-songwriter Nick Gravenites contributed to lead vocals. Highlights include Home on the Strange, the brilliant Heartache People, Mr. Natural, I’ll Change Your Flat Tire, Merle and Be a Brother. How Hard It Is, released a year later, features the barnstorming title track and other delights such as Black Widow Spider, the instrumentals Last Band on Side One and Maui, and the laidback Promise Her Anything But Give Her Arpeggio. North London indie label Floating World’s Retroworld has now reissued both these epoch-defining albums on one CD. The album comes with a liner note by Sam Andrew - singer, songwriter, composer, artist and founding member and guitarist of the band.


Nils Lofgren1The evergreen talent that is Nils Lofgren has again proved his worth throughout 2016 as part of The E Street Band, backing Bruce Springsteen on a record-breaking, sold-out international tour that has earned huge critical acclaim. The likes of Springsteen and Neil Young have for decades featured Nils Lofgren in their recordings and live sets with his consummate guitar and keyboard playing skills and backing vocals. The diminutive Lofgren is also a fine singer, songwriter and performer in his own right, as can be heard on these excellent reissues on the Retroworld label. The double CD set features the first three albums by Lofgren’s own band - Grin. The albums Grin (1971), 1+1 (1972) and All Out (1973) were originally released on the Spindizzy label, and were produced by longtime Neil Young / Crazy Horse alumni, David Briggs. These are early examples of Lofgren’s rare talent for harnessing trenchant rock guitar with appealing melody, with the power to mine deep layers of emotional affect. Grin featured the then just out of his teens Lofgren (guitar, keyboards, vocals), Bob Gordon (Bass, vocals) and Bob Berberich (drums, vocals), joined on All Out by Lofgren’s younger brother Tom Lofgren on guitar and vocals. The debut album also features rare vocal cameos by three quarters of Crazy Horse - Neil Young, Danny Whitten and Ralph Molina - on the tracks Outlaw and See What A Love Can Do. On 1+1, Graham Nash also lends his vocal skills singing harmony with Nils on the touching Hi Hello Home. Grin illustrated Lofgren’s uncanny capacity for shifting musical gears, moving from gutsy rock to tuneful confessional, as well as his now-customary heart-on-sleeve balladry. This double set is a welcome reminder of Nils Lofgren’s enduring musical charm.


Yardbirds, LIve at-the BBCThe earliest version of the Yardbirds band was formed in the London suburbs in the early 1960s as The Metropolis Blues Quartet, but by 1963 the line-up had settled with Keith Relf (vocals, harmonica), Chris Dreja (rhythm guitar), Paul Samwell-Smith (bass) and Jim McCarty (drums), in addition to lead guitarist Anthony ‘Top’ Topham. When sixteen-year-old Topham was pressured by his parents to leave, Eric Clapton stepped in. The band took over the Rolling Stones’ residency at the London club Crawdaddy and became a a key part of the city’s R&B scene. In 1964, the Yardbirds signed with Columbia Records and released the group’s debut album, Five Live Yardbirds. They had a string of hits during the mid-1960s, including For Your Love, Heart Full of Soul and Over Under Sideways Down, became one of the most progressive bands around, launching the careers of guitarists Jimmy Page and Jeff Beck as well as Eric Clapton. After the Yardbirds broke up in 1968, lead guitarist Jimmy Page founded Led Zeppelin, while Keith Relf and Jim McCarty formed the symphonic rock group Renaissance. This comprehensive collection of The Yardbirds BBC ‘live’ recordings, assembled with the assistance of the BBC, brings together these rare BBC archive recordings the first time on a newly restored and remastered 2CD set. The 40 restored and remastered Radio One recordings (over 1½ hours of music) date from the 1965-68 era, with Jeff Beck and Jimmy Page in various Yardbirds line-ups alongside front man Keith Relf, Paul Samwell-Smith and Jim McCarty. Many tracks have been expertly repaired from rare, hard-to-find and archive sources and include hits such as For Your Love, Heart Full Of Soul and Yardbirds classic stage favourites Too Much Monkey Business, Smokestack Lightning, I’m A Man and Train Kept A-Rollin. The accompanying booklet has detailed information, including authoritative liner notes by Richard Morton Jack, editor of ‘Flashback’ magazine as well as new quotes from Jim McCarty and Paul Samwell-Smith.


Carina Round - Deranged to DivineBorn in Wolverhampton in 1979, Carina Round is a brilliant singer/songwriter/guitarist now based in Los Angeles. She has worked with the likes of David Gray, Elbow, Ryan Adams, Dave Stewart and Brian Eno, and toured the USA and Europe. This self curated collection of 18 eclectic tracks brings together, for the first time, material released over the last 15 years and taken from her first four critically acclaimed albums: ‘The First Blood Mystery’, ‘The Disconnection’, ‘Slow Motion Addict’, ‘Tigermending’, as well as her EP ‘Things You Should Know’ (featuring the wonderful ‘For Everything a Reason’), together with two previously unreleased recordings - the powerful ‘Gunshot’ and an alternate version of the track ‘Want More’. Other highlights include the Latin-influenced ‘Message to Apollo’, a jazzy ‘How I See It’ and the atmospheric final track, ‘The Secret of Drowning’ (a Brian Eno/Dave Stewart collaboration). This collection perfectly illustrates the uniqueness of Carina Round’s voice, barbed wire lyrics and her catalogue of haunting and beautiful songs. It makes a great introduction to the music of one of the UK’s most enigmatic singers and extraordinary performers, who constantly pushes boundaries and has created her own unique sound, admired by highly regarded musicians such as Lou Reed. Carina will be touring the UK in August 2016.


VulnicuraCharismatic Icelandic singer-songwriter Björk Guðmundsdóttir has, over her three-decade career, developed an eclectic musical style that draws on a wide range of influences and genres spanning experimental, pop, electronic, trip-hop, underground dance, classical, and avant-garde styles. Vulnicura was her eighth studio album, and released in 2015 by One Little Indian Records, and it expresses her feelings before and after her breakup with American contemporary artist Matthew Barney and the healing process. The album received widespread critical praise for its emotional honesty and musical daring in its exploration of deeply personal themes. Rolling Stone included it in their list of favourite albums of the year, describing it as ‘the most heart-rending music she’s ever made.’ A live version of Vulnicura has now been released, featuring a collection of fourteen songs selected and mixed by Björk, Arca and Chris Elms that were recorded on the highly successful Vulnicura tour. As well as original Vulnicura tracks, it includes new versions of Bjork songs including ‘Come To Me’, ‘Undo’ and ‘I See Who You Are’ by Arca and Bjork, and ‘Mutual Core’ and ‘Mouth Mantra’ by The Haxan Cloak and Bjork. The album is available on CD, on double-vinyl and as a limited edition luxury box set which includes CD, vinyl, a set of six live Vulnicura photos and a Björk paper mask.


jeff beck - loud hailerThe legendary Jeff Beck was born in London in 1944 and began his career as a virtuoso rock guitarist in the early 1960s, drifting from one group to another. He was one of the three noted guitarists who played with The Yardbirds (the other two being Eric Clapton and Jimmy Page) and went on to form The Jeff Beck Group with bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice. Beck’s recordings have spanned genres ranging from blues rock, hard rock, jazz fusion and electronica, and he has played on albums by Mick Jagger, Tina Turner, Morrissey, Jon Bon Jovi, Malcolm McLaren, Kate Bush, Roger Waters, Donovan, Stevie Wonder, Les Paul, Cyndi Lauper and ZZ Top. He was ranked fifth in Rolling Stone’s list of the ‘100 Greatest Guitarists of All Time’ and is often referred to as the ‘guitarist’s guitarist’. Loud Hailer is his first new album in six years and sees him combining fluid fretwork with topical lyrics to make a powerful statement about everything from the love of power, to the power of love. The title is entirely appropriate for an album that isn’t shy about speaking its mind. The eleven tracks were written with the help of two fierce new talents from London, vocalist Rosie Bones and guitarist Carmen Vandenberg, and the album also features drummer Davide Sollazzi and bassist Giovanni Pallotti. Highlights include the sexy first single, Live In The Dark, the intense opening track (The Revolution Will Be Televised), the tender ballad Scared For The Children, infectiously noisy Right Now, the pop sensiblity of Shame and O.I.L., and the tranquil, ultimately optimistic album closer, Shrine. Jeff Beck is famous for his signature innovative instrumentals and Loud Hailer features two more: Edna and the ferocious Pull It. Two-time Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Beck explains: ‘I really wanted to make a statement about some of the nasty things I see going on in the world today, and I loved the idea of being at a rally and using this loud device to shout my point of view.’


Booker T and The MG'sBooker T & The MG’S are pioneers of Memphis soul music. They formed as the house band of Stax Records in summer 1962 with 17-year-old Memphis born keyboard player, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, producer and arranger Booker T. Jones, guitarist Steve Cropper, and two seasoned players, bassist Lewie Steinberg and drummer Al Jackson Jr. Together they provided backing for many of the label's brilliant singers, such as Wilson Pickett and Otis Redding, and went on to have hugely successful instrumental hits of their own. This double CD compilation features all Booker T & The MG’S greatest hits, including the irresistible classic Green Onions, along with rarities, studio and live recordings from 1962-1968. Detailed sleevenotes by London DJ Garth Cartwright are included in an 8-page booklet. Booker T. & the M.G.’s continue to perform and the latest line-up will be playing four live dates in the UK this July, including the Brroklyn Bowl in London, the Cornbury Festival in Oxfordshire and Birmingham's Mostly Jazz Festival.


PAUL BUTTERFIELD - LIVE IN NEW YORK, 1970RICK DANKO - LIVE AT MY FATHER’S PLACE 1977Blues harmonica player and singer Paul Butterfield was born in Chicago in 1942. He developed his interest in blues harmonica as he explored the blues scene in his native city, where he met Muddy Waters and other blues greats, who provided encouragement and opportunities for him to join in jam sessions. He soon began performing with fellow blues enthusiasts Nick Gravenites and Elvin Bishop and formed the Paul Butterfield Blues Band in 1963, which recorded several successful albums and performed at the Fillmore West in San Francisco, the Fillmore East in New York City, the Monterey Pop Festival and Woodstock. After the breakup of the group in 1971, Butterfield continued to tour and record until his death in 1987 of a heroin overdose. Live In New York 1970 is a tremendous double CD set, with Butterfield in imperious style, fronting a ‘Big Band’ version of his combo, including a young David PAUL BUTTERFIELD - LIVE FROM THE BLUE NOTE 1979Sanborn on sax. Butterfield gets to stretch out on several tracks, showcasing his magisterial harmonica and vocal work. Featuring a blistering take on the Albert King opus, Born Under A Bad Sign, this set is a remarkable showcase for an artist and his band at the top of their collective game. Butterfield and another giant of North American roots-rock, Rick Danko, are in cohort on RICK DANKO & PAUL BUTTERFIELD: LIVE FROM THE BLUE NOTE 1979 (RETROWORLD FLOATS6257). The show was recorded in Boulder, Colorado in 1979, with a band that features sometime Beach Boy Blondie Chaplin on guitar. Their set includes high energy versions of Stage Fright, Lost My Best Friend, and a great take on the Beach Boys’ Sail On Sailor. RICK DANKO: LIVE AT MY FATHER’S PLACE 1977 (RETROWORLD FLOATS6262) features The Band’s bass player fronting his own solo combo on the tour he undertook to promote his solo debut album. Danko is in energised, electrifying form, storming through a set recorded for radio broadcast that includes numbers such as Small Town Talk, Loving You Is Sweeter Than Ever, The Weight and Stage Fright. Sadly, both Danko and Butterfield are no longer with us, but these fiery in-concert recordings provide rich evidence of their remarkable talents.


ROGER THE ENGINEERThis two-CD box set includes the Mono and Stereo versions of a classic Yardbirds band album, known as ‘Roger The Engineer’ because of Chris Dreja’s quirky cover design., plus 12 bonus tracks including eight Mono recordings featuring a non-album Yardbirds Single and Stroll On (from the original soundtrack of the film Blow Up), as well as five Keith Relf solo recordings. Four rare alternate Stereo recordings are also included here the first time. All the tracks are restored and remastered. The illustrated 28-page booklet has authoritative liner notes, including detailed data and quotes and also studio recollections from Paul Samwell-Smith. Jim McCarty writes a new sleeve note, looking back at the 50 years since the album’s release in 1966. This new release celebrates an iconic rock album that is rated by many critics and collectors as one of the finest recordings of all time. The all-original Yardbirds material includes Over Under Sideways Down and other exciting performances such as The Nazz Are Blue and Jeff’s Boogie, spotlighting ace guitar legend Jeff Beck. This album is essential for Yardbirds and Jeff Beck fans alike, and for all collectors of classic 60s pop. Roger The Engineer will also available be on 180g vinyl, mastered at Abbey Road Studios: MONO LP (V172 / REP 2277) & STEREO LP (V115 / REP 2220).


Graham BondBorn in Romford, Essex, in 1937, Graham Bond was adopted from a Dr. Barnardo’s home and learned music at the Royal Liberty School in East London. He first gained national attention as a jazz saxophonist with the Don Rendell Quintet, then briefly joined Alexis Korner’s Blues Incorporated before forming the Graham Bond Quartet with an illustrious lineup featuring Ginger Baker on drums, Jack Bruce on double bass and John McLaughlin on guitar. Bond adopted the Hammond organ as his main instrument and the group became The Graham Bond Organisation as John McLaughlin replaced by Dick Heckstall-Smith on saxophones. Sadly, Graham Bond’s drug addiction and mental health problems led to his early death aged only 36, but for a while in the 1960s he was one of the most exciting and influential people on the vibrant British music scene. This 4-CD set of exciting jazz-influenced rock music represents the ultimate Graham Bond collectors’ item. It contains Graham Bond’s entire BBC output - under his own name and featured with other acts - with all the unreleased BBC recordings, plus numerous bonus tracks that include ultra rare and private recordings made available for the first time ever, and a hard to find EP. Features an amazing 1962 hour-long jam session from Manchester’s Club 43. The excellent sleeve notes are by Cream lyricist and Bond associate Pete Brown.


Steve Hooker’s album is a rousing rack of rockin’ Blues ‘n’ Twang featuring more irresistible rockers and instrumentals (all Hooker compositions). This rockabilly virtuoso has shared stages with the likes of Chuck Berry in a career spanning 40 years. ‘Some names have been changed to protect the innocent.’ Highlights include the hard-driving Oil and Water, a spookily brilliant instrumental Pirates Grave, raunchy Devil Took That Woman, and the irresistible Toots Shuffle. Highly recommended.


Pretty Thing Live at the BBCThe career of this epochal British rock ‘n’ roll band has recently been celebrated by their box set Bouquets From A Cloudy Sky, followed by a brand new album, The Sweet Pretty Things (Are In Bed Now Of Course…). The celebrations continued with a series of well-received shows at home and abroad during 2015, including a triumphant guest slot from Phil May on the Jools Holland BBC Radio 2 show. This 4 CD box set features 60 remastered archive recordings, assembled with the assistance of the BBC and including several previously unreleased tracks. Tracks include songs from the 1960s and 1970s such as Rosalyn, Don’t Bring Me Down, Midnight To Six Man and Route 66, together with later classic album tracks Defecting Grey, S.F. Sorrow Is Born, Singapore Silk Torpedo and Dream/Joey. These sessions were recorded for BBC Radio One shows such as Top Gear, Saturday Club and the later Peel Sessions as well as the BBC In Concert series and TV shows such as the Old Grey Whistle Test. The collection has been expertly remastered by Jon Astley and comes with authoritative liner notes by Richard Morton Jack, featuring new quotes from the Phil May and Dick Taylor.


JEFFERSON STARSHIP - TREE OF LIBERTYJEFFERSON STARSHIP - SOILED DOVEAmerican rock band Jefferson Starship was formed in the early 1970s by members of the psychedelic rock group Jefferson Airplane, including singer-guitarist Paul Kantner, singer Grace Slick, and bassist/keyboard player/vocalist David Freiberg, who had been a founding member of Quicksilver Messenger Service,. The band has undergone several changes in personnel and genres through the years while retaining the same Jefferson Starship name. Still led by co-founder Paul Kantner, the band currently more closely resembles its original mix of psychedelic and electric folk music than the pop-driven tunes it was known for in the early to mid-1980s. The enduring legend that is Jefferson Starship is celebrated by way of these two excellent releases from North London independent label Floating World Records, via their Retroworld reissue division. The two albums are the band’s last studio effort, 2008’s Tree of Liberty and a combined CD and DVD release, the in-concert recording, Soiled Dove. Tree of Liberty, on its original release, was regarded as something of a late-flowering return to form. Paul Kantner, with help from vocalists Marty Balin, Diane Mangano, Cathy Richardson and other alumni such as David Freiberg (plus a rare Grace Slick cameo) turned to his earliest, pre-Psychedelic influences - such as The Weavers, Woody Guthri, Bob Dylan and even later inspirers such as Bob Marley, to produce a vivid, musically revitalised collection that still sounds great. Soiled Dove was recorded in 2003 at the venue of the same name in Denver, Colorado. This was the first time that the band had been recorded in a predominantly acoustic setting, and was made in HD format. An absorbing set includes classics such as Wooden Ships, Ballad of You and Me and Pooneil and the Blows Against The Empire Suite.


Small Faces - The Decca YearsThe Small Faces formed in London in 1965, with singer and guitarist Steve Marriott (one of the great voices of the 60s), bass player Ronnie Lane, drummer Kenney Jones and keyboardist Jimmy Winston, soon to be replaced by Ian McLagan. Although together for only four years in its original incarnation, the band remains one of the most acclaimed mod groups of the 1960s whose innovative music greatly influenced the Britpop movement of the 1990s. With memorable hits such as Itchycoo Park, Lazy Sunday, All or Nothing, Tin Soldier, and their concept album Ogdens’ Nut Gone Flake, the band evolved into one of the UK’s most successful psychedelic acts before disbanding in 1969. Marriott went on to form Humble Pie and the remaining three members were joined by Jeff Beck Group regulars Ronnie Wood and Rod Stewart in a new line-up that was renamed The Faces. In celebration of the 50th anniversary of their debut single, Universal has released this definitive five-CD boxed set which brings together, for the first time, everything that the Small Faces recorded for Decca during their 18-month record deal with the label, along with the last remaining recording sessions that the group made for the BBC during the same period. Hitherto ‘lost’ tapes have been unearthed from the Decca archives and BBC material, long thought lost, have been found, including a great Steve Marriott interview with Brian Matthew. In total, five BBC interviews with Steve Marriott are featured. All of the audio, including the rarities and alternative versions, has been carefully remastered from original analogue sources under the supervision of Small Faces’ last remaining member, Kenney Jones. This handsome deluxe box set of CDs comes with a 72-page booklet that includes liner notes by respected music journalist and Small Faces aficionado, Mark Paytress, illustrated by fascinating press cuttings and photographs from the time. This is a fine tribute to the ‘ultimate Mod band’.


Donovan RetrospectiveScottish singer, songwriter and guitarist Donovan Philips Leitch developed an eclectic and distinctive style that blended folk, jazz, pop, psychedelia, and world music (notably calypso). He has lived in Scotland, London and California, and, since at least 2008, in County Cork, Ireland. Emerging from the British folk scene, Donovan broke through in the UK in early 1965 with live performances on Ready Steady Go! as he scored memorable hits with gentle songs such as Catch the Wind and Josie, influenced like Bob Dylan by Woody Guthrie and Ramblin’ Jack Elliott. Working with producer Mickie Most, Donovan went on to even bigger success with the revolutionary Sunshine Superman, Mellow Yellow and Hurdy Gurdy Man. The 1960s legend and poet remains one of our most enduring singer-songwriters and this year to mark his 50th year in the music business, an anniversary likely to prompt a major renaissance for an influential artist whose fingerprints can be seen throughout the last half century of popular music. He was inducted into The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame in 2012 and The Songwriters Hall of Fame in 2014, and received The Mojo Maverick Award from Jimmy Page. Donovan will be playing at this year’s Glastonbury Festival andhe 29 tracks on this celebratory two disc anthology have been chosen by the 60s icon himself, including selections from his classic catalogue of songs as well as a brand new reggae-style single ‘One English Summer’. Other highlights include Universal Soldier, the immortal Colours, Jennifer Juniper and Ballad of Geraldine. ‘Like the good troubadour he was Donovan played the mystic, the sage the carnival barker, the prankster and even at times The Star, if that’s what you needed.’ - Billy Corgan (The Smashing Pumpkins).


Rickie Lee JonesRickie Lee Jones’s album, The Other Side of Desire, was written, recorded and rooted in the battered yet resilient city of New Orleans, where Jones lives on the opposite side of the street made famous by Tennessee Williams. Produced by Englishman John Porter (who has worked with Roxy Music) and Canadian Mark Howard, this is the first new music Rickie Lee Jones has written in over a decade. ‘This work is inspired by many years of sitting with all the events of my life until I had something to paint with,’ she says. ‘I came to New Orleans to write and to live a different way than what I have known on the west coast... Here is another record then, made of my imagination, and whatever else that has no words, using the clay of this place and the shapes of my eyes to form some kind of picture of my life, or my heart, that I alone can understand, and hopefully that others can enjoy.’ Throughout 2015, Rickie Lee Jones will be touring the US and Europe, and filmmaker Gail Harvey shadowed Jones in New Orleans for the soon to be released documentary, The Other Side of Desire. This new album, funded through a PledgeMusic campaign and by selling off old stagewear, ends a 10-year writing drought: finally struck by the urge to make new music after three LPs of covers and re-recordings, Jones has looked to her newly adopted home for inspiration. New Orleans has got under her skin and subtly colours these 11 ravishing tracks. Highlights include the yearning Valtz De Mon Pere (Lovers’ Waltz), the Fats Domino-influenced J’ai Connais Pas, wistful Infinity, the achingly beautiful Christmas In New Orleans, and a delightfully quirky Finale (A Spider In The Circus Of The Falling Star). The Other Side of Desire is a triumphant return by Rickie Lee Jones after years of writer’s block. Highly recommended.


Brandy ZdanBrandy Zdan has been performing for nearly half her life, from the time she played her first solo acoustic coffee house gig in her native Winnipeg when she was 15 to being lead guitarist for the Austin-based female outfit Trishas. Now based in Nashville, the indie-alt rocker who was also formerly the female half of critically acclaimed Canadian Roots/Americana duo Twilight Hotel, has released this confident, self-titled debut album. As well as writing all the songs and singing, the multi-talented Zdan plays electric and acoustic guitars, lap steel, piano, Vox Continental organ, omnichord (an electronic autoharp) and percussion. The other musicians are the record’s producer Teddy Morgan (guitars, lap steel, mini Moog and background vocals), Carl Broemal (pedal steel), Tom Plankenship (bass), Richard Medek (drums) and Little Brave (drums, vocals and piano). Brandy Zdan writes great songs and sings with real conviction. Highlights among the eleven edgy Indie rock tracks are her first single, the catchy More of a Man, the soulful Only The Sad Songs, the epic Courtship Of Wild Horses, and the introspective beauty of Median Artery.


jOHN COINMANJohn Coinman is an award winning singer-songwriter who grew up on the Kiowa Grasslands in northeastern New Mexico. He now lives in Tucson, Arizona, and those expansive spaces of sand and heath can be heard in the music of this ‘son of the desert’. Coinman has an actor’s skill for inhabiting a character into a song and has written for various films, been musical supervisor on the film Dances With Wolves, and played the part of a musician in The Postman. Early influences include Bob Dylan, Roy Orbison, Marty Robbins and The Cream, and he has recorded five solo CDs. Many of his songs have appeared in films and on television, and he has collaborated with artists such as John Densmore of The Doors, James Intveld, Michael Blake (the writer of Dances With Wolves), Amy Rigby, Tony Gikyson, Troy Olsen and Teddy Morgan, as well as Kevin Costner And Modern West (KCMW). He has been touring and recording with KCMW since 2006. When not on the road, he lives in the Tucson Mountain foothills with his wife Jo Andersen, Brown Dog, Meowski the cat, ten hens and their adopted injured raven Poe. This new album, Already Are, features eleven of John Coinman’s own songs sung in his distinctive, sun-baked voice. They include the sensitive title track, a funky Turn The Page, the Dylanesque For You, an affecting lament for Oklahoma City, and the impressive Sky Full Of You.


Pretty Things 2015Quickly following the acclaimed Pretty Things box set collection, Bouquets From a Cloudy Sky, this most unrefined and unrepentant of Great British Rock and Roll combos returns with their first new studio album in seven years. Bob Dylan fans will note the reference in the album title from his Tombstone Blues - Dylan befriended the band on his 1965 UK tour and original band guitarist Brian Pendleton is immortalised in the film Don’t Look Back. This excellent ten-track collection celebrates the core Pretty Things values - a ‘live in the studio’ ensemble recording feel that radiates a luminous energy, cut on vintage analogue equipment and 2-inch recording tape with minimal over-dubbing and an immediacy that few can dare to achieve in these days of auto-tuning and digital anaesthesia. Like Dylan, the Pretty Things are not a band for wallowing in nostalgia, and The Sweet Pretty Things has them looking forward with unsentimental, uncompromising honesty and a direct mainline to the heart of classic rock and roll. The album is a truly collaborative effort, with individual members of the band swapping instruments, and it not only vindicates the bands’ continued existence. Vocalist and mainstay Phil May suffered a near-fatal health scare in 2014 but the man’s stamina and too ‘tough to die’ demeanour finds him still handling the vocals with a vigour and determination that belies his years. The current line-up also includes Dick Taylor (lead guitar, vocals), Frank Holland (lead guitar, mellotron, vocals), George Woosey (bass guitar, vocals, rhythm guitar), and Jack Greenwood (drums, percussion, vocals). The Pretty Things still have the remarkable energy and vitality that they possessed at the start and this new album shows none of the quiet professionalism, dignity and taste that other ‘heritage’ acts put into their later recordings. This is as lively, relevant and energetic music that shows today's whippersnappers how it should be done. Highlights include the heavily bluesy And I Do, Renaissance Fair (a Byrds song by David Crosby and Jim McGuinn), the rocking You took Me By Surprise, a bouncy Turn My Head, and Dark Days (with a great chorus and mellotron accompaniment). Greenwood Tree features a fine drum solo and Here and Hell, Here and Nowhere is a long acoustic track. Such is Phil May’s drive and desire to inspire that for closing track, Dirty Song, he composed the lyric on the spot as the tapes were rolling. His appetite for taking the album out on the road has the band playing over a hundred live engagements for the rest of 2015. Not to be missed.


The Pretty ThingsBouquets From A Cloudy Sky is a lavish multi-media Box Set that celebrates The Pretty Things and includes the following: Eleven studio albums on CD (housed in gatefold digi-sleeves, including 42 bonus tracks), two bonus CDs with 45 previously unreleased demos, alternate versions, live recordings and outtakes), two DVDs with new documentary Midnight to Six 1965-1970, a 10-inch vinyl replica ‘acetate’, a lavishly illustrated 100-page book with rare photos and memorabilia, posters, a new art print by Phil May - the original of which will be randomly placed in one lucky set of this limited edition! Produced with the full co-operation of The Pretty Things to commemorate the band’s 51st anniversary, this superb box set features all of the band’s official works plus a host of rarities. Highlights include the classic Rosalyn and Don’t Bring Me Down as well as a fine version of the Beatles’ Helter Skelter and the wonderfully raucous Alexander, recorded live in Amsterdam. ‘One of the greatest R&B bands of all time.’ - Van Morrison.


The JamAlong with the Sex Pistols, the Clash, and the Buzzcocks, The Jam (although not technically a ‘punk’ band) were one of the most popular and influential bands to emerge from the 1970s British punk rock scene. Originally formed in Woking, Surrey, they drew on a variety of stylistic influences over the course of their career, including 1960s beat music, soul, rhythm and blues and psychedelic rock, as well as 1970s punk and new wave. Led by Paul Weller, who would later form The Style Council, The Jam achieved a remarkable 18 consecutive Top 40 singles in the UK and had a fanatical following. This double-CD features a comprehensive, 47-track anthology of the band’s music released to coincide with an eagerly anticipated exhibition of the same name at London’s Somerset House from 26 June – 31 August 2015. In May 1977, The Jam appeared on Top Of The Pops with an explosive single called In The City, fizzing with energy and sense of purpose that launched New Wave with one of the most incendiary debuts ever. The Jam had a phenomenal impact on popular music and the wider youth culture before five and a half years later, when Weller was still only 24, the band split up. But in those five years they released an incredible array of music and influenced a generation with their music, style, attitude and inspiration. Each phase of their progress features in this collection: the period when they brought eloquence and creative dazzle (‘Fire and Skill’, as a sticker on Weller’s guitar put it) to the musical moment that had been started by the Sex Pistols and The Clash; their flowering into a group with incredible depth and breadth, positioned at the end of a lineage that went back to English pop’s purple patch in the mid-’60s; a sharp transition into the wiry, unsettling and quite brilliant music that defined the career-high that was 1980s Sound Affects; and their final embrace of an influence that had bubbled away in their music from the start - soul, which sparked some of the best music they ever made. The collection includes all the classic singles, key album tracks, b-sides and live favourites; as well as the unreleased demo - Takin’ My Love from 1977 and the rare radio ad for ‘In The City’, both exclusive to this release. The package also features sleeve notes by John Harris plus period photos and memorabilia.


Bill WymanBill Wyman was born William George Perks in London in 1936 and is now, amazingly, 78 years old. Lack of funds in his early years led him to create and build his own fretless bass guitar but fame and fortune came his way after he joined the all-conquering Rolling Stones in 1962. Most artists put out a record every couple of years but this is Bill Wyman’s first solo album by the illustrious ex-Rolling Stone in 33 years. Back To Basics is only his fourth UK solo album in all, though he hasn’t been idle. Since quitting the Stones at their peak in 1993 having spent 31 years with them, he has been the author of seven learned books which have sold two million copies, a globally exhibited photographer, a metal detecting expert with his own patented brand of metal detector, a producer, a composer for film and TV and the founder of the very successful Rhythm Kings who release CDs and tour regularly. It was only when archiving old demos that he realised he had around 60 songs he had never released… and the notion of Back To Basics formed. He chose three songs that needed reworking and put them together with some brand new songs then went into his studio to record them. The resulting CD comprises 12 tracks, nine of which are brand new songs, while the digital version also features a bonus track, ‘Exciting’. Musicians joining Bill Wyman include long time collaborator/guitarist Terry Taylor, Guy Fletcher (of Mark Knopfler fame), Graham Broad and Robbie McIntosh while co-production credit goes to Andy Wright. Back To Basics is unashamedly stripped back and wears its influences on its sleeve - Tom Waits, Leonard Cohen, JJ Cale - and makes more than a passing nod to Wyman’s English background. The styles and genres meld together well and the music drives along with a rhythmic muscularity, then slows the pace for more autobiographical lyric and melody. As a revered septuagenarian, Bill’s singing is suitably laid-back and he still plays a mean bass. The music is both mellow and irresistibly funky, with highlights that include urgent opening track What & How & If & When & Why, the tender She’s Wonderful, a highly personal November and the brilliant, world-weary I Got Time.


RocklandAlt-folk-country-rock mavericks Katzenjammer are nothing if not distinctive. The members of this English-language Norwegian band from Oslo met while studying at a private music school and formed the group in 2005, brought together by a common feeling of being outcasts at the school, which they felt that didn’t encourage originality. The band is named after the Katzenjammer Kids, the oldest comic strip continually in syndication (Katzenjammer is German for ‘lament of a cat’ and is used in Norway to describe low-grade music and instrumentation). The four girls - Anne Marit Bergheim, Solveig Heilo, Turid J. Honerud and Marianne Sveen - play a diverse blend of country, folk, blues, pop and rock. From Tennessee’s Bonnaroo to Australia’s Woodford Folk Festival, the quartet have enraptured tens-of-thousands with their genre-mixing, instrument-swapping and riotous shows. Their 2008 debut, ‘Le Pop’, showed that they were as fun on record as live and 2011’s ‘A Kiss Before You Go’ was a symphonic journey through the emotions, full of vigour and vocal harmonies. Throughout this they have always done things their own way and Rockland is their most refined and accomplished effort so far - a more focused version of the adventure and unbounded excitement for which they are known. Each member travelled across the world to write the songs, including separate visits to Nashville for Anne Marit and Marianne and to London for Solveig. A staggering total of 83 songs was the result, though this was reduced to the eleven which made it on to Rockland. Highlights include the stunning Old De Spain, sassy Curvaceous Needs, the infectious Lady Grey, a soulful Driving After You, the intimate My Dear, and the concluding title track. One of the most accomplished, instinctive, charismatic and nonconformist bands around, Katzenjammer will follow a successful UK tour this May with more dates here in November alongside their largest UK headline show to date at Shepherds Bush Empire. Starting in Bristol on November 12th, the tour will stop at Birmingham, Manchester, Cambridge and London before concluding in Edinburgh. ‘Fun, fearless and fierce. Fantastic.’ - Mirror.


Echo & The BunnymenRock band Echo & the Bunnymen formed in Liverpool in 1978 with the original line-up of vocalist Ian McCulloch, guitarist Will Sergeant and bass player Les Pattinson, supplemented by a drum machine. Pete de Freitas joined as the band’s drummer in 1980, when their debut album, Crocodiles, was a critical acclaim and made the UK Top 20, establishing them among other ‘post punk’ bands like U2 and Joy Division. Their second album, Heaven Up Here (1981), reached number 10 in the UK Album chart and was voted NME’s Album of the Year. The Bunnymen became the biggest band to come out of Liverpool since The Beatles as cult status was followed by mainstream success in the mid-1980s with the landmark albums Porcupine (1983) and Ocean Rain (1984), which provided hit singles such as The Killing Moon, Silver and Seven Seas. One more studio album, Echo & the Bunnymen (1987), was released before McCulloch left the band to pursue a solo career in 1988. The following year, de Freitas was killed in a motorcycle accident, and the band re-emerged with a new line-up. Do It Clean is a definitive, double-CD anthology of the band’s best music recorded between 1979 and 1987and the 38 tracks include Lips Like Sugar, The Killing Moon and Bring On The Dancing Horses. The excellent sleeve notes by Paul Lester are accompanied by memorabilia, photos and press clippings.


God Damn - VulturesGod Damn-001Wolverhampton based heavy-weights God Damn released a special split single with their friends, chaos-merchants Baby Godzilla, for Record Store Day in April this year. Released through One Little Indian Records on limited edition 10" grey vinyl, the single featured the God Damn track We Don’t Like You, which is one of the highlights on their exciting debut album Vultures’, available on either CD or Vinyl. God Damn began life as a three-piece playing in and around Wolverhampton influenced by alternative rock bands such as The Pixies and early Nirvana. Now consisting of Thom Edward (guitar/vocals) and Ash Weaver (drums) God Damn make music that appears - initially at least - as curt and brutish as their name suggests. But scrape away the layer of the greasy grime that coats their early singles and there is much more on debut album Vultures than just machismo, bombast and bluster. There is nuance and melody. Purpose and meaning. Heartfelt intent. Vultures is a stunning and diverse debut, a dizzying blend of barbed wire guitars, lung-shredding vocals and drums that run away like wild horses. After the opening atmospheric whispers of Horseley Fields, the area where the band practise, the music kicks off in ferocious style with When The Wind Blows and scarcely lets up throughout. Highlights include Silver Spooned - ‘like Blur meets Electric Wizard, Jesus Lizard and MBV’, the instant classic of By The Wayside, the brilliant title track, the explosively epic Skeletons and the surprisingly gentle, reflective Sullen Fun. God Damn play thrilling, gloriously noisy rock music that takes no prisoners. Further cementing their reputation as one of the loudest, most head-pummeling live bands in the UK, God Damn demonstrated their noise to the SXSW Festival in Texas and are preparing to detonate at the Download Festival in June. Highly recommended.


NRVS LVRSSan Francisco 6-piece NRVS LVRS began their journey at the beginning of 2014 when a collection of songs, written initially for the purpose of musical experimentation, found themselves at the centre of a newly forming band. The resulting group was driven by the desire of Andrew Gomez and girlfriend Bevin Lee to link their creative muses and express their thoughts and feelings on their rapidly-changing city. Circuit bent bleeps, grimy drum loops, buzzy toys, humming synths, processed handclaps, and failing 80s keyboards are all creatively edited together with the flesh and blood sounds of guitar, bass, & drums, resulting in an album that presents a band ready to explore the fading art of political music. With sweeping melodies and insistent rhythms, this is anthemic music with real pop sensibility. Listening to these tracks gives one a front row seat to San Francisco’s ever-changing and fast-developing technological environment, but this album is by no means just about that. ‘What is happening in SF is happening in NYC, Detroit, and to my knowledge, just about every major city in the US & Europe, so the album’s themes of dread, uncertainty, and displacement feel pretty timely, if not universal,’ Gomez explains. A collection of talented friends and adept musicians bolster the album with their contributions. Bassist Wendy Brents writes and sings the twinkling opener, City Lights, a moody slow-burner that simultaneously foreshadows and summarizes the emotional heart of the record. Drummer Aaron Hazen adds humanity and weight to the loops, guitarists Charles Belvedere and Rye In The Sky cleverly play off each other with their separate dalliances in shoegazy haze and layered, articulate counter-melodies. A large majority of the album’s production took place on cold, late nights in their apartment in San Francisco but some was also captured with co-producer Patrick Brown at his historic Different Fur Studios in the Mission District of San Francisco. From such disruption and discontent comes a truly stimulating collection of ‘sonic collages’. Highlights as well as the sparkling City Lights include the uplifting title track and the irresistible My Star Turn. Gomez says, ‘There is a dark side to SF’s latest economic boom, and this is our snapshot of it’. The music on this terrific album will resonate with listeners in many cities around the world.


Scott Matthews - Home part 1Born in Wolverhampton in 1976, Scott Matthews started playing guitar when he was seven, going electric aged eleven. After playing in local bands in and studying graphic design he began to concentrate on writing his own songs. Often compared to Jeff Buckley, he has been influenced by folk and blues as well as the Beatles, Bob Dylan, Joni Mitchell, Jimi Hendrix and Led Zeppelin. His acclaimed first album, Passing Stranger, reached the number one spot on BBC 6 Music’s chart and his ground-breaking single, Elusive, won an Ivor Novello Award for Best Song (beating the Arctic Monkeys). Sell-out tours followed, including shows alongside the Foo Fighters and a supporting spot on the Robert Plant and Alison Krauss Raising Sand tour. Scott Matthews recently became the first British artist to be signed to the Nashville-based Thirty Tigers entertainment company and his brilliant new CD has been released on San Remo Records. Home Part 1 is his fourth studio album and the first to be recorded by Scott himself in his home studio without the help of an engineer or producer. The result is his finest album yet, with Matthews’ soulful, haunting voice heard to great effect on eleven introspective, superbly crafted songs, including the single Virginia and a lovely instrumental, The Clearing. Inspired by events in life, the album is dark but wonderfully heartfelt and personal. ‘Our Black Country sky was for Turner black as night, But for us it burns a light like oil burners down the mines, We are grateful, For the land we occupy keeps us grounded...’ As well as acoustic and electric guitars, Matthews plays cello, piano, flute, flugelhorn and drums. Other musicians involved include Sam Martin on drums, Danny Keane on cello and Scott’s older brother, Darren Matthews playing piano on The Clearing and The Night is Young. Highly recommended. ‘Engagingly thoughtful and classy singer-songwriter.’ - The Guardian.


Love SongsLove was a greatly admired Los Angeles rock group of the late 1960s and early 1970s, led by visionary singer/songwriter Arthur Lee. He wrote most of the Love’s songs, though some of their best known were by Bryan MacLean, and this was one of the first racially mixed American bands. Their music combining elements of rock and roll, garage rock, folk and psychedelia. While achieving only modest commercial success, Love were widely praised by by critics and their third album from 1967, Forever Changes, is an undisputed masterpiece and a favourite of Led Zeppelin’s Robert Plant as well Jim Morrison of Elektra label mates The Doors. This excellent two CD compilation includes the best of their albums Love, Da Capo and Four Sail (the last featuring Lee as the only original member), and the wonderful Forever Changes in its entirety. The accompanying booklet features reproductions of original promotional materials and singles, as well as liner notes by Shindig! magazine’s Andy Morten. This anthology of Arthur Lee’s Love from 1966 to 1969 is an ideal introduction to the music of one of the most revered and influential rock bands of all time.


Dionne WarwickBorn Marie Dionne Warrick in 1940 in East Orange, New Jersey, Dionne Warwick comes from a family of singers. Her mother, aunts and uncles were members of the Drinkard Singers, a renowned family gospel group that frequently performed in the New York area. Her sister Dee Dee Warwick also had a successful singing career and her her cousins included Whitney Houston (daughter of vocalist Cissy Houston) and opera diva Leontyne Price. In 1962 Dionne Warwick released her first solo single, Don’t Make Me Over, one of many Burt Bacharach and Hal David songs that she would record as she carved an enviable career on both sides of the Atlantic and her songs were covered by British singers Cilla Black, Sandie Shaw and Dusty Springfield, most notably Black’s Anyone Who Had a Heart. Dionne Warwick was named the Bestselling Female Vocalist in the Cash Box Magazine Poll in 1964 and the magazine made her Top Female Vocalist in 1969, 1970 and 1971. Hits such as I Say A Little Prayer and Do You Know The Way To San Jose? combined soul with sophistication and emotional dexterity. In a career of over 50 years, she has established herself as an international music icon, with 75 charted hit songs and over 100 million records sold. Divas come and divas go but, as this hit-packed package proves, five times Grammy-winner Dionne Warwick’s impeccable style, technique, class and staying power put her in a league of her own.


ART OFFICIAL AGEplectrum-electrumBorn in Minneapolis, Minnesota, Prince Rogers Nelson developed an interest in music at an early age, writing his first song when he was only seven. The prolific singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist and actor has since written hundreds more songs, produced ten platinum albums and thirty Top 40 singles, and promoted the careers of artists such as Sheila E. and Carmen Electra. This latest studio album with its defiantly psychedelic album sleeve marks the return of the prolific Prince to the Warner label and to musical form. Art Official Age was produced, arranged, composed and performed by 56-year-old Prince and the music is a contemporary concoction of soul, R&B and funk. There are prominent melodies and rich vocals that take full advantage of his vocal range and innate style. The Daily Telegraph  described it as a ‘slick, seductive electro funk sci-fi concept album.’ The simultaneously released PLECTRUMELECTRUM (WARNER 936249 3335) is a classic band record featuring 3RDEYEGIRL, which include Prince, Donna Grantis (guitar), Hannah Ford Welton (drums) and Ida Nielsen (bass). Recorded live and in analogue the album is an electrifying funk-rock statement. Many of the tracks were performed live on the ‘Hit & Run’ tours of the UK earlier this year – incendiary performances in a series of historic venues – which led The Guardian to declare, ‘These are performances by one of the greatest funk-rock bands ever.’ As well as touring and producing albums, Prince launched NPG Music Publishing in 2014 - the first time his vast catalogue ooof songs has been independently controlled and administered in over twenty years. The irrepressible musical phenomenon also found time to headline and curate the Essence Festival on July 4th in New Orleans and appear on the hit TV show ‘New Girl’. Prince continues to innovate and surprise, thrilling his faithful fans while reaching out to new audiences.


Smoking GuitarRockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, emerging primarily in the southern United States in the early 1950s. The term rockabilly is a portmanteau word combining rock (from rock ‘n’ roll) and hillbilly, a style of country music. Other important influences on the sound include western swing, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues. The influence and popularity of the style waned in the 1960s, but during the late 1970s and early 1980s, rockabilly enjoyed a major revival of popularity that has endured to the present day. Steve Hooker is an ace exponent of the genre, best known for his stagecraft as guitarman for garage trashers The Shakers and, Morrissey and Polecats mainman Boz Boorer. He has shared stages with Chuck Berry and Johnny Thunders and has toured relentlessly since the 70s throughout Europe and across to New York and Japan. His latest CD features eight exhilarating tracks in which he takes no prisoners, adopting a fundamentalist rocking mode reminiscent of the early Rolling Stones. All but one of the tracks (an alternate version with Shine Eye of Mocking Bird) are original Hooker compositions and the album certainly lives up to its name, especially on Steel Sedan and the other exciting instrumentals. See more Steve Hooker releases here and on his website at


Big CountryBig Country’s second studio album, Steeltown, was originally released in 1984 and is arguably their best. Passionate, energetic and sometimes angry, it remains one of the most heartfelt and exhilarating albums of the 1980s. Recorded at ABBA’s Polar Studios in Stockholm with Steve Lillywhite producing, it was the band’s only UK number one album and included the singles East of Eden, Where The Rose Is Sown and the glorious Just A Shadow. The outstanding title track was written about the town of Corby, where many Scots went to work at the Stewarts & Lloyds steelworks when it opened in 1935 at the height of the Great Depression, but later found themselves unemployed when the steelworks declined in the early 1980s. Following on from the critical and commercial success of the 2012 Deluxe Edition of The Crossing and last year’s Super Deluxe Edition of Big Country at The BBC, Universal Music has now released this 30th Anniversary release of a two CD Deluxe Edition and two LP set of Steeltown. Both formats now also boast the single Wonderland, which was released between The Crossing and Steeltown. Disc Two of the CD Deluxe Edition now features the single A-Sides and B-Sides plus seven previously unreleased rough mixes, including two work in progress mixes of Wonderland recorded at Castlesounds Studios near Edinburgh. The 24 page booklet comes complete with rare memorabilia and sleeve-notes by respected Scottish journalist and life-long fan, Tim Barr. The band will be embarking on a World Tour later this year, including extensive dates in the US, and will be playing selected highlights from both Steeltown and The Crossing.


SHE KEEPS BEES - EIGHT HOUSESRock and roll band She Keeps Bees is a from Brooklyn, New York, and consists of Jessica Larrabee on vocals and guitar and Andy LaPlant on drums. ‘They’re like the White Stripes in reverse.’ - The Guardian. That dynamic between Larrabee and LaPlant has become more pronounced with each passing record, allowing for more stylistic experimentation. Eight Houses is a haunting and beautifully timeless album that revels in the raw power of subtlety, silence and space. Ruptured by riffs and rattled by rhythms, it is a record gently balanced with lean piano lines, hazy horns and warm organ rolls. Larrabee’s timelees voice is sometimes reminiscent of Grace Slick as her dense lyrics explore a wide range of universal emotions coupled with the search for answers to questions never completely addressed at school - from the blood-splattered, controversial war hero status General George Armstrong Custer earned during his ‘last stand’ at the Battle of the Little Bighorn to the forced assimilation of Native Americans. Among the album’s ten highly individual tracks, the impassioned, soaring Raven is an attempt to reconcile the past and move forward, and Burning Bowl is eerily beautiful. Moody and magnificent, this is powerful music, superbly produced by Nicolas Vernhes.


Wishbone Ash - Bare BonesThe hugely successful British rock band Wishbone Ash formed in Torquay in 1969 with Martin Turner (bass & vocals), Steve Upton (drums) and guitarists/vocalists Andy Powell and Ted Turner. Their seminal album, Argus, sold over four million copies and their total sales to date are in excess of 16 million. Wishbone Ash was one of the first bands to use twin lead guitars, and Melody Maker described Powell and Turner as ‘the most interesting two guitar team since the days when Beck and Page graced The Yardbirds’. Wishbone Ash subsequently evolved through many line-ups and in 1995 began recording the first of three albums that would take up the challenge of making a completely new start. Illuminations (1996) was the band’s seventeenth studio album and featured Tony Kishman, Roger Filgate and Mike Sturgis alongside the only original member remaining, Andy Powell. Bare Bones (1999) is an allWishbone Ash - Illuminations-acoustic studio album (the band’s first studio Unplugged release) featuring re-arranged versions of old classics as well as new original and cover songs. Special guests include former vocalist Claire Hamill and the lineup featured Andy Powell and guitarist Mark Birch, with Bob Skeat (bass) and Ray Weston (drums). Ben Granfelt replaced Mark Birch for Bona Fide (2002). Power of Eternity (2007) was the first recording to feature the band’s new drummer, Joseph Crabtree, and Muddy Manninen on guitar a lineup that continues today and is the longest continuous one the band has seen. These excellent reissues of all four albums by Talking Elephant in new Deluxe double CD editions that include exclusive interviews with Andy Powell about the making of each album, and special material that has never been previously released. ILLUMINATIONS (TECD252), BARE BONES (TECD254), BONA FIDE (TECD256) and POWER OF ETERNITY (TECD258) all have the original album as well as bonus discs of live versions of some of the songs. Essential listening for the many fans of the band’s recent recordings.


Mirel Wagner - When The Cellar Children See The Light Of DayMirel Wagner was born in Ethiopia and grew up in peaceful conditions in Espoo, Finland. She learned violin from the age of seven then violin switched to guitar at 13 and soon began writing her own songs. After a while she dared to join open mic events in Helsinki, where Jean Ramsay, an American music journalist living in Finland, came across her. He became convinced of her talent, raved about her in an early article and recommended her to others. Without producing a demo and contacting record labels, she found herself recording (on acoustic guitar in about 48 hours) her eponymous debut album of songs filled with dark themes of suicide, death and even necrophilia. Her second album, When The Cellar Children See The Light Of Day, surprisingly finds her working with producer Vladislav Delay, who crafted the 2000 house music classic Vocalcity. The pairing might seem strange, but Delay brings brilliant sound design to Wagner’s stark, funereal sound. On the first single, the devastating Oak Tree, she intones a dark tale, singing from the perspective of a buried corpse as multi-tracked vocals gently moan in the distance. In addition to Delay, the album features contributions from Oscar winning composer Craig Armstrong. Highlights include the spooky 1 2 3 4, the brilliant Ellipsis, the doom-laden Dreamt Of A Wave, The Devil’s Tongue (a folk tale told from a child’s perspective), the estranged intimacy of What Love Looks Like, and the sexy, insistent Taller Than Tall Trees. Mirel Wagner’s music is unique - dark, unnerving, powerful and intimate.


The Ghost WolvesCarley and Jonathan Wolf named themselves The Ghost Wolves as a symbol of the band’s ferocious, primal sound and a nod to Carley’s ranch upbringing among hybrid wolves. The married duo are inspired by delta blues, loud garage rock and American roots music - a genre they call ‘stomp and roll.’ The duo are known for their infectious on-stage chemistry and raw energy, presenting ‘face-melting riffs and unfettered noisy productions’ (Austin Independent Music) to live crowds across the USA (more than 500 shows to date). With nothing but a four-piece drum kit and an electric guitar, Carley and Jonny create huge sound and their garage swamp stretches beyond just the US, garnering international attention. This brilliant new album, Man, Woman, Beast, was recorded in Austin’s Arlyn Studios, which the likes of Ray Charles, Willie Nelson and Stevie Ray Vaughan have used, and was mastered by Howie Weinberg, who worked with Nirvana, the Ramones the Clash. The irresistible Gonna Live (watch video) is reminiscent of The White Stripes and seductive Baby Fang Thang showcases Carley’s bare-boned electric guitar and devilish vocals. The heavy, femme fatale track Shotgun Pistol Grip, recorded on Carley’s signature one-string guitar, was featured on this season of Shameless. Other highlights include the punkish Grave Dollas, some particularly fine guitar on Itch, and the joyfully aggressive Attack Attack Attack. There are ten listed songs, plus three bonus tracks, featuring uncompromising, earthy music that takes its inspiration from tradition while giving it a good shake. As the sleeve says, ‘Play it loud, play it for your grandma!’


Sharon Van EttenSinger-songwriter Sharon Van Etten was born and grew up in New Jersey, where she sang in her high school choir and taught herself how to play guitar. After dropping out of college she ending up working at the Red Rose, a coffee and record shop and music venue in Murfreesboro, Tennessee, and started writing songs. After moving to Brooklyn, New York, she self-released several recordings while working as a publicist in the music industry. Her debut album, Because I Was In Love, was released in 2009 followed by the ironically titled epic a year later. Her break-through third album, Tramp, was much acclaimed in 2012 but Sharon Van Etten is an artist with a hunger to turn another corner and to delve deeper, writing from a place of honesty and vulnerability to create a bond with the listener that few contemporary musicians can match. Compelled by a restless spirit, Van Etten is continuously challenging herself. The result is Are We There, an album of exceptional intimacy, sublime generosity and immense breadth. Self-produced with veteran music producer Stewart Lerman, it features Van Etten’s beautiful, haunting voice and the talents of her band - Heather Woods Broderick, Doug Keith and Zeke Hutchins - together with friends such as Dave Hartley and Adam Granduciel from The War on Drugs, Jonathan Meiberg (Shearwater) and Jana Hunter (Lower Dens). Many of these highly personal, defiantly brave songs deal with seemingly impossible decisions, anticipation, and then resolution. Van Etten sings with passionate of the nature of desire, memory, of being lost, emptiness, of promises and loyalty, fear and change, of healing and the true self, violence and sanctuary, waiting, of silence. Are We There is an album from an artist who continues to evolve and explore. Emotion and drama is transfused in these intense songs into powerful, lucid poetry. I Know is a devastating masterpiece and other highlights include the intimate Every Time the Sun Comes Up, the unnerving and cathartic Your Love is Killing Me, the sexy Afraid of Nothing, the reflective Our Love and the brilliant I Love You But I’m Lost. Highly recommended.


Zombies in StereoThe Zombies formed in 1962 in St Albans, led by Rod Argent (piano, organ and vocals) and Colin Blunstone (vocals). They enjoyed success with British and American hits with singles such as She’s Not There and their 1968 album, Odessey and Oracle, is ranked number 100 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 Greatest Albums of All Time. This 4CD, 90-track compilation is a comprehensive collectors’ edition that explores the band’s stereo recordings history of the 1964-66 Decca era. Some of these tracks were subsequently mixed into stereo from original mono tapes – at first in ‘fake stereo’ for an American version of the 1965 debut album, then in ‘true stereo’ in the late 60s for a further US release, followed by European compilations from the 1970s onwards - all issued to meet popular demand for stereo versions. This collection features original 1960s ‘True’ and ‘Fake’ stereo tracks then progresses in the second half to the more recent 2002 stereo versions that were remixed from the master tapes of the Decca era. All have been newly remastered by Jon Astley to provide superb sound. The lavish booklet has liner notes written by respected journalist and author Michael Heatley and includes insights on stereo aspects from Jon Astley.


The SuburbsArcade Fire’s phenomenally successful debut album, Funeral, was the musical sensation of 2004/5. Time Magazine put them on its cover beneath the headline: ‘Canada’s Most Intriguing Rock Band’ and as their reputation exploded they were extravagantly praised by such luminaries as David Byrne, Lou Reed and David Bowie. The band’s second album, the darker and more intense Neon Bible, met with an almost equally ecstatic response. It’s been a long wait for their third but this has given Win Butler, Régine Chassagne and friends time to produce their most melodic, ambitious and satisfying work yet. The 16 finely crafted tracks here were inspired by brothers Win and William Butler’s upbringing in the suburbs of Houston. Texas, and according to Win, the album ‘is neither a love letter to, nor an indictment of, the suburbs - it’s a letter from the suburbs.’ Recorded in Quebec and New York City, the songs reveal a new maturity as they reflect on the pain, alienation, mystery and joy of life in the suburbs and beyond. Standout tracks include Wasted Hours, the irresistible Modern Man, the lovely Rococo, City With No Children and the wonderful Sprawl II (Mountains Beyond Mountains), with Régine’s sweet voice to the fore. From Depeche Mode to Neil Young by way of Blondie and Bruce Springsteen, The Suburbs captures the time and the place with sharp-eyed tenderness. It’s a mystical masterpiece that gets better with each listen, and the perfect response to that ‘difficult third album’ question. Highly recommended.


Neon BibleFollowing their debut album, Funeral, Arcade Fire sensibly opted out of the usual hoopla and most members of the band declined to be interviewed. Instead, they spent most of 2006 in a church in a small town near Montreal, taking lots of time to record tracks for their second album (could they overcome that ‘difficult’ tag?). They didn’t know how long it would take, or what it would be called, or what songs would be on it, or what instruments they would use, but they were determined to produce it themselves, with the help of engineers Markus Dravs (Bjork, Brian Eno) and Scott Colburn. Frontman Win Butler is joined as usual by Régine Chassagne, Richard Reed Parry, William Butler (Win’s talismanic brother), Timothy Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld. Martin Wenk and Jacob Valenzuela (the horn players from Calexico) contribute winningly, as do Hadjii Bakara from Wolf Parade and Owen Pallett, who helped to orchestrate (as he did on Funeral). Pietro Amato and his horn playing associates add some brass and the band travelled to Budapest to record an orchestra and a military choir. By Christmas 2006, Neon Bible was ready and the highlights include a stormy opener, Black Mirror, the mantra-like Ocean of Noise, the triumphant Intervention, Black Waves Bad Vibrations (with Régine Chassagne to the for), the Springsteenesque Antichrist Television Blues, the angsty protest of Windowsill and a moody instant classic, My Body is a Cage, as the climax. Featuring piano, slide guitar, violins and mandolin as well as a huge pipe organ, bass steel drums, various synths and a hurdy-gurdy, this wonderfully audacious and eclectic music requires close listening before you discover that ‘the best band in history’ have created another masterpiece.


THE ARCADE FIREThe Arcade Fire hail from Montreal, Quebec, Canada. The members of the band are husband and wife duo Win Butler and Régine Chassagne, with Richard Reed Parry, William Butler (Win’s brother), Timothy Kingsbury, Sarah Neufeld and Howard Bilerman, who played drums on Funeral, has since moved on. Others involved here include violinists Owen Pallett and Sophie Trudeau, cellist Michael Olsen and the harpist Anita Fust. Famous for their exhilarating live performances, The Arcade Fire use of a wide range of musical instruments, augmenting the basic guitar, drums and bass guitar setup with piano, violin, viola, cello, xylophone, keyboard, accordion and harp (band members often switch instruments between songs). Funeral, recorded in 2004, is their first full-length album, its title chosen because of the death of several family members during recording. These events created a sombre feeling on songs such as Une année sans lumière, In the Backseat and Haiti, Régine Chassagne’s reflections on the homeland her family were forced to leave. Four of the ten tracks are titled Neighborhood and tell stories of towns trapped in snowstorms, and the loss of relatives and friends. Every track has intelligence and originality, reflecting the band’s many musical influences. Rebellion (Lies) is irresistible and all the music transcends dark themes to produce sounds of beauty, romance and passion.


thumbnailimage.aspFrankie Goes To Hollywood emerged from the late 1970s Liverpool punk scene. Lead singer Johnson had played bass with Big in Japan and had released two solo singles and Paul Rutherford had sung in seminal Liverpool punk band The Spitfire Boys. In 1982 the group recorded a John Peel Session for BBC Radio 1, including a version of Two Tribes. A video for Relax was shown on Channel 4’s The Tube and Trevor Horn signed the controversial group for his new label, ZTT Records. They quickly became one of the most popular British bands of the mid-1980s after their provocative debut single Relax (banned by the BBC) topped the singles chart for five consecutive weeks in 1984. It eventually became the seventh best-selling UK single of all time and was followed up by Two Tribes and The Power of Love. Frankie Said (Deluxe) brings together - for the first time ever - Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s greatest singles, remixes, videos and TV appearances. Noise-shots from the Welcome To The Pleasuredome and Liverpool albums, and rare and unreleased footage from Top Of The Pops, The Oxford Road Show 84 and the Zang Tuum Tum archives. The 24-page booklet features a new essay from Paul Morley. This CD/DVD collection is an invaluable release that gives a real insight into the FGTH phenomenon and Britain in the 1980s.


Mickey Jupp - Long-Distance RomancerMickey Jupp - OxfordA witty and tuneful writer, Mickey Jupp may not have made many records but whose small catalogue of work is of the highest quality, with some of his songs charting in cover versions by Dave Edmunds, Dr Feelgood, Nick Lowe and others. Jupp emerged from the 1960s Southend scene and after Stiff Records brought him back to prominence in 1978, he made 1979’s Long Distance Romancer with musicians Lol Creme and Kevin Godley, formerly of 10cc, bass player Gary Tibbs and Roxy Music’s Andy Mackay. The album features the single You Made A Fool Out Of Me, stage favourite Switchboard Susan and You Know What I Mean (later covered by country-rock legend Rick Nelson). Bonus track is the rare non-album single Rooms In Your Roof. Oxford dates from 1980 but was never released in UK and is much sought after by collectors. The album was produced by Gavin and Iain Sutherland of Sutherland Brothers fame, and includes the key track Don’t Talk To Me. The band includes Dave Bronze (a bass player who worked extensively with Eric Clapton) and drummer Bob Clouter, veteran of Mickey Jupp’s Legend band of the early 1970s. The CD booklets come with authoritative liner notes by respected Record Collector/Guitar & Bass author and journalist Michael Heatley, including quotes from Mickey Jupp. Later in 2014, Repertoire Records will release a multi CD and DVD box set celebrating this under-appreciated singer-songwriter who Wilko Johnson called ‘The best white singer I’ve ever heard.’


Dan HicksNever an artist who has ever figured in the ‘Best Seller’ listings books, the venerable Dan Hicks is one of the great unsung talents of American Roots-Rock. He first started making waves in the San Francisco scene in the mid-sixties as a member of The Charlatans, a bunch of sharp-dressed dudes who favoured the sartorial look of late 19th Century Western dandies, variations of which theme the Hickster has rocked for all the forty-odd years since. The Charlatans were decidedly cool and a great influence on their West Coast peers. Hicks convened his Hot Licks in 1968 when the original SF scene had become dissipated and diluted. Originally, Hicks co-opted violinist David LaFlamme before replacing him with Sid Page, who has worked with Hicks ever since. The first Dan Hicks & His Hot Licks album, Original Recordings, was recorded in 1969 and this re-release is a welcome reminder of the enduring qualities of one of the US West Coast’s most undervalued of singer-songwriters. Forty-five years later, Dan Hicks, once called a ‘young guy doing old music’, is now an ‘old guy doing old music’ - and still going strong with a list of notable fans that includes Elvis Costello


StreetwalkersBest known for their outstanding live performances, the Streetwalkers were a five piece English rock band formed in 1973 by two former members of Family - vocalist Roger Chapman and guitarist John ‘Charlie’ Whitney. The band’s version of soulful rock had considerable success in USA and Europe, particularly Germany, but musical trends of Punk rock and New Wave music meant their chances of becoming more established in Europe evaporated. These two shows recorded at the legendary German music TV show Rockpalast in 1977 were among the last before the band broke up. The box set includes two separate previously unreleased performances on one DVD and two CDs, featuring just under 2½ hours of film. This includes footage of the band running through a ‘first take’ set, before re-starting with the ‘second take’ - with other songs in the mix. Both full sets are included in these expertly restored and remastered concert performances on a region free NTSC DVD, with a choice of Stereo or 5.1 surround sound. The remastered stereo soundtrack also features on the CDs. Two different backing bands perform, both led by guitarist Bob Tench, who also played with Humble Pie and Jeff Beck and would go on to work with Van Morrison. Fun, interesting and raunchy - the Streetwalkers were a proper band with a great vocalist and real instruments playing real music. The songs are from both Streetwalkers’ and Family’s back catalogues, with iconic Family classics Burlesque and My Friend The Sun. The accompanying 24 page booklet comes with authoritative liner notes - in English by respected author and journalist Chris Welch and in German by journalist and broadcaster Uli Kniep.


Timothy J SimpsonTimothy J Simpson is a lyrical, leftfield singer/songwriter from Nottingham, England, who began his career at 12 years old playing punk, then funk, then odd electronica, before rejecting the whole lot for music that he can make with just his hands, his voice and and the words in his head (some would say voices). His songs are mostly skewed kitchen sink tales about modern morality, the individual’s place in society and the crushing inhumanity of the workplace. Naturally his sound is tinged with cool accents of Blues and Americana but mostly prevails by its memorable arrangements and melodies, not to mention his particularly fierce skill on the guitar. In 2009 he got to the finals of the UK songwriting competition and released his debut album, Our glorious hero battles the man, and released a follow up, You’ll be alright in Florida, in 2011. The Monstrous Dead, also featuring Marq (guitar), Laura Jean Brady (bass) and Lizzie Ball (drums), are one of the most engaging live bands around, powered by pure soul, blues and the enduring spirit of rock’n’roll. Oh, These Endless Fears is a conflicted album which underpins flippant songs about marriage and lust with metaphorical yet omnipresent dark forces of unemployment, compulsion and fear. Simpson’s voice is either softly resigned or howling in futility, clawing towards the light. The band started recording the album in London, finding themselves in Hackney in the middle of the riots in 2012. The sessions provided the backbone for much of what followed and the band continued to record while wowing crowds at live gigs. These powerful melodic songs blend mercurial wit, soulful vocals and oddball rhythmic guitar playing, spinning tales of everyday drudgery, love and habit. Highlights include the defiant opening title track, the brilliant You Lot, You’re All Different, and Bad Girls - an immediate classic. As the sleeve note advises, ‘If you like it turn it up’.


Velvet UndergroundNew York City in the mid-1960s was an inferno of exciting ideas: sexual liberation, pop art, poetry, drugs and rock music. All of these and more were combined in the exhiarating music of The Velvet Underground. The band’s freewheeling ebullience and daring improvisation sometimes threatened to get out of control, creating an electric tension that remains thrilling to this day. The band’s White Light/White Heat album is one of the most confrontational, transgressive and inspirational ever made. Recorded in a matter of days at the end of the summer of 1967, a season in which everything seemed possible in rock and much of it happened at now-mythic speed, White Light/White Heat reeks of gritty NY street life. The group’s classic-quartet lineup consisted of singer-guitarist Lou Reed; bassist-organist and viola player John Cale; guitarist-bassist Sterling Morrison; and drummer Maureen Tucker. First released by Verve Records in 1968, the LP made only a modest impact but later became one of the most influential albums of all time, laying down the blueprint for punk and experimental rock, critically acclaimed and included in Rolling Stone’s 500 Greatest Albums Of All Time. ‘Cited by nearly every group in punk’s long lineage and by more than a few arty types, the Velvets defined New York rock, poised between street-level grit and literary irony, rock simplicity and minimalistic drones, clarity and noise.’– The New York Times. To mark the 45th anniversary of the original rlease of White Light/White Heat, Universal Music has released this definitive Deluxe Edition developed in conjunction with Lou Reed and John Cale. The three-disc, 30-track set features both the original stereo and mono releases, remastered and with bonus tracks that include alternate versions, unreleased outtakes, John Cale’s last studio sessions with the band. The third CD is the first official release of The Velvet Underground’s show recorded at The Gymnasium in New York in 1967, which includes five previously unreleased performances taken from John Cale’s personal copy. ‘No one listened to it. But there it is, forever – the quintessence of articulated punk.’ - Lou Reed.


MontereyThe Monterey International Pop Music Festival, famously documented by filmmaker D.A. Pennebaker, was a three-day concert event held at the Monterey County Fairgrounds in Monterey, California from June 16 to June 18, during the ‘summer of love’ in 1967. Huge crowds gathered in the festival grounds and crammed into the performance arena for mind-blowing experiences featuring the first major American shows by Jimi Hendrix (guitar pyrotechnics in more ways than one), The Who (including a frenetic ‘My Generation’ and ‘Summertime Blues’), a four-hour performance by Ravi Shankar, the first large-scale public performance by Janis Joplin with Big Brother & The Holding Company, and the introduction of Otis Redding to a predominantly white audience. The Monterey Festival was a turning point in rock music history, celebrating California as a focal point for the counterculture. This was the first widely promoted, heavily attended rock festival and it became the template for future events such the Woodstock, held two years later. The music from Monterey can be heard on this four-CD set in all its intense, ragged glory, accompanied by a fully illustrated 88-page booklet. Other artists appearing include The Byrds, Jefferson Airplane, The Mamas & The Papas, Canned Heat, Booker T & The MGs and Scott McKenzie. Monterey was the finest flowering of the hippie dream, a freak out, a turn-on and a tune-in that Art Garfunkel described as ‘the maraschino cherry on top of the sundae that was the ‘60s. It was totally unprecedented and the audience was totally unprecedented in their joy.’


UndertonesNorthern Irish punk rock/power pop band The Undertones formed in Derry in 1975 and featured the O’Neill brothers – John and Damian on guitars, Michael Bradley on bass, Billy Doherty on drums, with Feargal Sharkey on vocals. This original line-up released four superb studio albums before disbanding in 1983. The Undertones shared much in common musically with The Ramones in the USA and The Buzzcocks in England, but it wasn’t until 1978 that their rousing music were preserved on vinyl. The classic debut single, Teenage Kicks, featuring Sharkey’s distinctive high, emotional vibrato, was released originally on the Good Vibrations label and became a firm favourite of Radio One’s influential DJ, John Peel. The presenter made it his ‘favourite record of all time’, played it incessantly and famously asked to have the opening lyric inscribed on his headstone. This debut was followed by a dozen perfect pop singles, including Jimmy Jimmy, Here Comes The Summer, My Perfect Cousin and Wednesday Week. This excellent CD and DVD set features 22 of The Undertones’ finest tracks, together with a 2003 documentary in which John Peel makes a pilgrimage to Derry to meet the band, seven promo videos, fifteen vintage live performances filmed in the UK and France, and an illustrated 24 page booklet. The band’s addictive music, with its lyrical invention, flair and strong chorus hooks, triumphantly stands the test of time.


The PretendersThe Pretenders formed in 1978, when the band consisted of founder and main songwriter Chrissie Hynde (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), James Honeyman-Scott (lead guitar, backing vocals, keyboards), Pete Farndon (bass guitar, backing vocals) and Martin Chambers (drums, backing vocals, percussion). Both Scott and Farndon later died from drug overdoses less than a year apart from each other and many personnel changes have taken place over the years, with Hynde (born Christine Ellen Hynde in 1951 in Akron, Ohio) the sole continual member. Still one of the most successful British based rock bands, The Pretenders feature in this great value CD+DVD set. The Pretenders eighth studio album, Loose Screw, arrived to widespread acclaim in late 2002. It was, as is customary, full of classy Chrissie Hynde compositions and yielded numerous new live highlights, many of which can be experienced here on the accompanying DVD. Recorded at the Wiltern Theatre in Los Angeles in February 2003, it captures the band in superlative form. Troubled, tough and tender songs steam off the stage, tight as a knot, loose as you like... Includes 12-page booklet.


The Big HuntThe Lonesome Southern Comfort Company are a Swiss band based between Lugano and Zürich that started in 2006 as a solo project of John Robbiani (guitar, pedal steel, nanjo and vocals), who was soon joined by friends Duke (drums), Boris (viola) and Abraham (guitar). The Big Hunt is The Lonesome Southern Comfort Company’s third album and their first to be released in the UK. Don’t be put off by the band’s quirky name or its unlikely origins, this is impressive, melodic music that combines Americana influences with bittersweet lyrics to create a unique, seductively rich sound. This is a collection of nine tracks that at first appear fragile, but on repeated listens, demonstrate a band as rousing as they are heartfelt. The album beguiles and entrances – never letting the listener feel too safe despite the apparent melodic tenderness. The opening track, ‘When he’s Down’, for example, spits spiteful lyric after not-so-veiled-threat; before descending into a surprise Flaming Lips-esque finale. Other highlights include the irresistible title track and a wonderfully mesmeric ‘64 Warwick Way’.


Mona & MariaNorwegian duo Mona & Maria (Mona Andersen and Maria Knudsen) have written songs together for many years, both being members of the band Bazooka Boppers, with which they released two albums. After the band’s break-up in 2010, Mona and Maria continued playing together and it worked out so well that they decided to continue as a duo. Their impressive debut album, My Sun, features ten self-written songs that combine harmony-based pop with folk elements and great, and often grand, arrangements, though still with an acoustic feel. Mona & Maria say: ‘We strongly felt the need to create something more personal, and we started making melodies to something obscure that had been lying dormant in both of us ... We wanted to have both the low-key and intimate, and the grandiose and dramatic, to have both darkness and light at once.’ Some of Norway’s finest musicians also appear, including percussionist Martin Horntveth, keyboard player David Wallumrød, guitarists Knut Schreiner and Marcus Bror Forsgren, and members of KORK, who contribute strings and bassoon. The result is an album of music with ethereal beauty that has a touch of steel to add strength to the sweetness of the voices.


Garland JeffreysThis new album by seventy-year old rocker Garland Jeffreys is his twelfth in a career spanning four decades and marks the 40th anniversary since his debut solo release. Truth Serum follows 2011’s The King of In Between, which was the songwriter’s first album in thirteen years and earned rave reviews from critics and artists alike for harkening back to the candour and social consciousness of his early work. One the world’s most revered undiscovered artists, Jeffreys has played with artists such as Lou Reed, John Cale, Bruce Springsteen and Dr John. Born into a mixed race family in 1940s Brooklyn, he achieved a level of commercial success in 1973 with the song Wild in the Streets, which influenced the arrival of punk later in the decade. A keen social critic, he has regularly made issues ranging from race relations to marital fidelity the subjects of his songs and prides himself on artistic freedom. With the help of some of NYC’s top musicians, including Steve Jordan, Larry Campbell, Zev Katz, Duke Levine and Brian Mitchell, Garland Jeffreys has crafted an exquisite, soulful record from a large collection of cassette sketches. Truth Serum is an album that stands among Garland Jeffreys’ finest, combining the wisdom and perspective that come from age and experience with the passion and grit made The New Yorker call him ‘one of New York’s rock and roll treasures’. Highlights include the bluesy title track, a gorgeous Ship Of Fools, the Rolling Stones-like It’s What I Am, Dragons To Slay (a song worthy of Bob Marley) and the outstanding Collide The Generations. ‘A remarkable talent ... musical dynamite.’ - The Sunday Times.


Dana FuchsAmerican singer, songwriter, actress and voice over talent Dana Fuchs is most famous for her performance in the 2007 film Across the Universe, in which she played the role of Sadie. Born in New Jersey and raised in rural Florida, she joined the First Baptist Gospel Choir at the age of twelve and at sixteen she fronted a popular local band at a roadside Holiday Inn. The songs on her honest and unflinching album, Bliss Avenue, were co-written by her with long-time wingman and guitarist Jon Diamond and laid down without unnecessary gloss or polish. ‘If there’s one line that sounds thrown away or dialled in, it has to be redone,’ says Dana. ‘Every word needs to express the emotion of the song or no one will get it and it leaves me cold.’ The resulting album is a window into the singer’s worldview, drawing on everything from the tragic loss of her beloved brother to the loneliness of life on the road. ‘I’m excited for people, especially those fans who have stuck so close with me, to hear Bliss Avenue, because I really purged my soul in a starker, more naked way, both lyrically and musically.’ Highlights include the storming title track, a bluesy Handful Too Many, the irresistible Rodents in the Attic, country-influenced Nothin On My Mind, and the beautiful Vagabond Wind. Dana Fuchs sings with the sort of conviction and take-no-prisoners attitude reminiscent of the great Janis Joplin.


Dandy WarholsSinger-guitarist Courtney Taylor-Taylor and guitarist Peter Holmström formed The Dandy Warhols in Portland, Oregon in 1994. They were joined by keyboardist Zia McCabe and drummer Eric Hedford, who left in 1998 and was replaced by Taylor-Taylor’s cousin Brent DeBoer. They performed in bars throughout Portland playing music that winningly combined 1960s garage rock with 1990s shoegazing music. The band signed to Capitol Records, releasing their first major label album in 1997. Thirteen Tales from Urban Bohemia came out three years later and was both a critical and commercial success, the hit single Bohemian Like You featuring in a memorable music video and on the TV Show Buffy The Vampire Slayer. The album revealed a matured, less overdriven sound with less overt psychedelia as Courtney Taylor-Taylor fronts the Dandys with winking, irony-laced lyrics accompanied by a versatile range of arrangements, from space-rock jams to synth-driven popscapes. On the making of the album, Courtney Taylor-Taylor said that ‘we felt like we needed to make the last classic rock album. A record that would be, sonically, shaped somewhere in-between All Things Must Pass and Workingman’s Dead.’ To celebrate the thirteenth anniversary of Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia, the band has overseen this newly remastered and expanded edition released as a double CD that includes the original tracks as well session outtakes, early and alternate mixes, and home demos of songs. Thirteen Tales From Urban Bohemia begins with the 16-minute opening suite of Godless, Mohammed and Nietzsche, leading to signature songs including Get Off, Cool Scene, and of course Bohemian Like You, which, Rolling Stone praised, ‘combines a particularly wry socio-cultural vignette with what may be the most muscular Stones guitar riff of the last 20 years.’ This joyous and eclectic album now sounds better than ever and makes essential listening.


Dave DaviesDave Davies was lead guitarist with The Kinks for over thirty years and helped create Heavy Metal with the raunchy guitar sound that graced You Really Got Me. he makes a welcome return to the world of recorded music with this new album, featuring fourteen tracks. Collaborators on I Will Be Me include The Jayhawks, Anti-Flag, the award-winning young blues guitarist Oli Brown, The Bloody Hollies, British session guitar veteran Chris Spedding, the American stoner-rock band Dead Meadow, and Aussie rockers The Art. The album is a typically absorbing and inventive musical journey that includes such gems as his autobiographical Little Green Amp, about the time he discovered the distorted guitar sound that gave The Kinks their early musical cutting edge and had a huge influence on successive generations of guitar-slingers ever since, including White Stripes and hundreds of punk bands. Davies artfully moves through an impressive range of styles and moods, clearly taking delight in orchestrating the various guest contributions, shaping the sound and incisive style of an album takes an amused look at societal retro obsessions. The more reflective Healing Boy, graced with a sitar part provided by Jonathan Lea, shows that Dave Davies, sounding remarkably like his brother Ray, has lost none of his melodic gifts. The defiant Cote Du Rhone (I Will Be Me) is a biting, withering look at the ugly side of contemporary society, enhanced with a raw and savage slab of slide guitar. Other highlights include the stream of consciousness that is Livin’ In The Past, the gorgeous melody of The Actress and a raucously exciting Erotic Neurotic. Dave Davies will be touring venues in the UK to promote the album and shows are already booked for the USA.


SandieSandie Shaw - MeSandie Shaw was the original Brit Girl, famously discovered by Adam Faith. Chiselled cheekbones, sophisticated pop operas, independent girl about town. Otherworldliness, impossible glamour, voice of an angel. She had her first number one single at 17 years old and two more under her belt by the time she was 20. A bevy of hits in UK, Europe, USSR, Canada, South America, Japan, Australia and New Zealand followed. First to perform behind the Iron Curtain, last to perform in Iran, denounced in Russia and banned in The States, Sandie Shaw is loved everywhere by the young at heart. Along with a series of well-crafted smash hit singles, the teenage barefoot contessa released her first LP (another chart smash), in 1965. Alongside the Chris Andrews originals, Sandie Shaw showed she was confident enough to stamp her own identity on covers of pop standards such as It’s in His Kiss, Baby I Need Your Loving, Love Letters and Always. This remastered version features 12 bonus tracks, including her first two number one singles (There’s) Always Something There to Remind Me and Long Live Love. ME (SALVOCD063) was her second LP (also released in 1965) and saw her take significant strides in recording more demanding material. For the first time she featured one of Sandie Shaw - Love meher own compositions, Till The Night Begins to Die, and the 12 bonus tracks on this beautifully produced re-release also include two UK Top Ten hits: Message Understood and Tomorrow. After two hugely successful years and although she had only just turned twenty, Sandie Shaw reached a crossroads in her career. Already the biggest-selling female singer of her generation, she empathised with the kids and was initially reluctant to enter an event as uncool as the 1967 Eurovision Song Contest, which she nevertheless won in a landslide with the contagious Puppet On A String, which inevitably went to number one in the Spring of 1967. Sandie’s profile soared and her third LP LOVE ME, PLEASE LOVE ME (SALVOCD064) was released a few months later. This featured more grown-up fare, with standards by the likes of Jacques Brel, Cole Porter and Antonio Carlos Jobim. The 16 bonus tracks on this re-issue are a round up the songs from the single and EP releases of ‘67 and early ‘68 – including Puppet on a String and many fine Chris Andrews compositions such as the hits You’ve Not Changed and Today. Sandie Shaw has an instantly recognisable voice that can soar, swing, seduce and thrill, transcending the pop medium to express real emotion with rare honesty – and sexy with it.


DreamoirsDave McPherson is a hard-working English singer songwriter from Brentwood, Essex. Best known for his work as lead singer and principal songwriter in award winning British rock band InMe, he has also had success in a different style as a solo artist. He began working on solo material as early as 2004 during down-time from InMe’s touring cycle and has since released a string of independent EPs, all hand made and self released. He has also toured extensively, playing close to 200 shows a year. 2013 looks set to be his busiest year yet as he embarks first on ‘The Good People Movement: 365’ – the mammoth task of writing and recording a song every day of the year. His latest album, Dreamoirs, explores new depths for this gifted musician, who uses his skills to great effect on an abundance of self penned material. The concept of the album is, as the title suggests, based around dreams. It is also an album that sees full band instrumentation (performed on the record by McPherson himself) and his supporters will be able to hear these songs live in some rare full band Dave McPherson performances this summer. Whereas his debut album, The Hardship Diaries, was essentially a ‘break-up’ record, at times rushed and spontaneous, Dreamoirs is reflective and explores more varied subject matter: it’s a focused record that features an impressive amount of work, thought and passion.


WampireSince forming Wampire, Rocky Tinder and Eric Phipps have steadily made a name for themselves in Portland, Oregon. The US duo’s Polyvinyl labelmates include STRFKR so it’s no surprise that Wampire opened for STRFKR at a hometown show by the band. Unknown Mortal Orchestra’s bassist Jacob Portrait produced this debut full-length album, the irresistibly haunting Curiosity. Tinder and Phipps each brought fragments of song ideas into the studio, before deconstructing, re-arranging, and fitting them back together piece by piece - at times lyrics and melodies were thrown out, brought back from the dead, or improvised on the spot. This loosely structured approach made the process truly collaborative, with producer Portrait occasionally chipping in ideas for lyrics, arrangements and instrumentation. The resulting nine tracks are instantly memorable, while defying easy categorization. This diverse combination of sounds ultimately helped give birth to the title, Curiosity, and the album is instantly memorable, from the opening notes swelling with electronic organs and driving drum beats, to infectiously breezy melodies, bass grooves and vocal harmonizing, it leaves the listener with a lasting impression of satisfaction. In the words of Wampire, ‘It’s sexy, sounds huge, and by all means should be blamed for future babies.’ Highlights include the band’s first single, The Hearse, the spookily beautiful Orchards and Spirit Forest, laid-back Trains and the funky Magic Light.


Tracey BrowneManchester-based Tracey Browne is a singer-songwriter with years of experience behind her as a talented multi-instrumentalist (vocals, guitar, piano), record producer and regular musician in Thea Gilmore’s band. Admirers of her work include Thea herself, Lavinia Blackwall of ‘Trembling Bells’ and Nigel Stonier, producer of this debut album, Everyone Is Ordinary. Tracey Browne’s unique sound is often deceptively straightforward and shot through with a pop sensibility. The songs seem hand crafted to catch those fleeting, transient moments, the times in lives where the axis tilts and the season begins to change. The album was recorded in a 17th century church in Northenden, Greater Manchester. Perceiving something magical in the acoustics, she gathered a team of musicians to create 11 stunning tracks album in which the emotions of her songs take flight on the empathy of the musicians and the combination of spirit and quirk brought to the recording process. Highlights include Paradise Found, tender Cat And The Moon and the poignant Comfort Brings Pain. Nigel Stonier, who has worked with Thea Gilmore, Joan Baez and Martha Wainwright, does a superb job on production and also plays guitars, piano, hammond organ, quatro, ukelele, harmonica, percussion an bass. Other musicians featured are James Trott, Sarah Kemp, Thea Gilmore, Becca Williams, Liz Hanks, John Kirkpatrick, Roy Martin and ‘Duke’. ‘Tracey Browne is the real deal, an exciting new talent. Heartfelt melodic songs that echo the spirit of Kirsty MacColl, a brilliant voice which can swoop from a rock holler from a tender whisper, and a lively spunky stage presence. Once heard, she’s in your head and your heart for good.’ - Thea Gilmore.


Melinda OrtnerMelinda Ortner was born and raised in California, and for the past five years she’s been based in LA, cultivating a burgeoning music career. Her first single Heartbeats was chosen for the hit film ‘American Pie: Book of Love’ which introduced Melinda Ortner to a vast audience, with more than 40,000 views on Youtube. In 2012, she released the elegantly dark 4 track Strangers EP in the UK and has since performed at Sundance Film Festival and embarked on a full band US West Coast Tour. In summer 2013, she will base herself in the UK and announce European tour dates through summer and fall. This year also sees the release of her debut album, I Wanna Be OK. Her lyrics are refreshingly honest and forthcoming, and her songs are written with great care, with an eye for the details as well as larger picture. ‘While I am a huge advocate for chasing dreams, the pursuit of music as a career, can be very trying, very discouraging, and more than anything scary as hell. I would of course like to feel ok about it all.’ Persuasive melodies, intelligent lyrics and assured production complement Melinda Ortner’s smooth voice and highlights include the highly personal title track, the retro-energy of Jezebella, a lovely Say Those Things and the wistful Maybe.


Nils LofgrenNils Lofgren was born in 1951 in Chicago and has had an intriguing career as a rock musician, recording artist, songwriter and multi-instrumentalist. His first instrument was the accordion, and after studying classical music and jazz he switched his emphasis to rock music. He joined Neil Young’s band at the age of just 17, playing piano and guitar on the classic album After the Gold Rush, and maintained a close musical relationship with Young thereafter. In 1968 he formed his own band, Grin, was briefly a member of Crazy Horse, and along with his work as a solo artist, he has been a member of Bruce Springsteen’s E Street Band since 1984. The underrated and seemingly ageless Lofgren’s genial, engaging demeanour and worldview are evident on a succession of fine albums and he has frequently toured the UK, thrilling audiences with his startling ringing guitar virtuosity, dazzling keyboard work and tough and tender original songs, as well as his irrepressible showmanship (although the onstage trampoline was long since gone!). This album captures a crackling live set recorded at London’s fabled Town & Country Club in 1990. Included in Lofgren’s backing crew that night was fellow E Street Band member Max M Weinberg on drums, alongside Lofgren’s brother Tommy (keyboards, guitar and vocals), Larry Cragg (guitar, organ) and Ronnie Newmeyer (bass, vocals). The sell-out show included such luminous Lofgren numbers as his heartfelt ode to Keith Richards, Keith Don’t Go, his explosive Grin-era opus, Moon Tears (boasting dazzling guitar interplay), the epic Shine Silently, that rarest of songs - an ode to a washed-up pugilist, No Mercy, as well as his rousing version of Carole King’s, Goin’ Back (made famous by Dusty Springfield), which Lofgren imbues with the sense of wide-eyed optimism and hopefulness that BADhas always been one of his signature motifs. There’s also an energetic homage to The Beatles (Anytime At All) and a rousing finale in I Came To Dance. Retroworld is a lao releasing another dynamic album recorded at the Town & Country Club in the 90s, BIG AUDIO DYNAMITE: CLASS OF ‘92 (RETROWORLD FLOATM6181), featuring the band formed by Clash founder-member Mick Jones. This performance was part of a series of concerts sponsored by the NME, known as Viva Eight. The widely acclaimed show was also broadcast by Central TV and the eight tracks featured here are from the soundtrack. The band were known as BAD II, the second incarnation of the band line-up, and featured Mick Jones (guitar, vocals) Nick Hakins (guitar), Gary Stonadge (bass), Chris Kavanagh (drums) and Mickey Custance (keyboards, decks). The enthusiastic crowd was treated to a typically energetic, fired-up, adrenaline-fuelled event, with acknowledged BAD classics such as Medicine Show, E=MC2, The Globe and The Bottom Line, as well as a delightfully ragged-but-right interpretation of the Prince magnum opus, 1999 closing the raucous set.


Concert for Kirsty MacCollKirsty Anna MacColl was born in Croydon, South London on 10th October 1959. Her father was the legendary folk singer Ewan MacColl, though she grew up seeing him only at weekends, being raised by her dancer and choreographer mother, Jean Newlove, alongside older brother Hamish, whose record collection the young Kirsty commandeered to immerse herself in the sounds of the Beach Boys and Neil Young, which she later credited with inspiring her love of harmonies and songwriting skills. Her many hits include There’s A Guy Works Down The Chip Shop Swears He’s Elvis and Billy Bragg’s A New England as well as her performance with The Pogues on the wonderful Fairytale Of New York. A CONCERT FOR KIRSTY MACCOLL (SALVO CD054) is a souvenir of one memorable evening in 2010, when fans and friends packed London’s Shepherds Bush Empire to hear Kirsty MacColl’s fellow artists celebrate 12 of her greatest songs. Alongside her regular band of musicians, the likes of Ellie Goulding, Amy MacDonald, Billy Bragg, Andrea Corr and Alison Moyet took to the stage to pay tribute to a unique artist and a much-missed friend. With an unrivalled A New Englandear for melody and a legendary wit, MacColl’s work was infused with an authenticity and catchiness that has earned her a place alongside the likes of Ray Davies, Elvis Costello and Ian Dury in the front rank of English songwriters. A NEW ENGLAND (USMTVCD005) brings together 21 of her finest songs on one CD, including hit singles and favourite tracks. The album showcases every facet of Kirsty MacColl’s rare talent; her unique wit in Don’t Come The Cowboy With Me, Sonny Jim!; her sassiness in Walking Down Madison, her deftness for creating perfect pop in They Don’t Know, and her love and command of Cuban music in In These Shoes and My Affair. Not to mention her singular skill for owning other people’s songs, including Ray Davies’ Days and the Smiths’ You Just Haven’t Earned It Yet, Baby. A New England: The Very Best Of Kirsty MacColl is also released in a Collector’s Edition (USMTVCD005D). Available exclusively from, this Limited Edition two disc set includes the CD as well as a bonus DVD of videos. Highly recommended.


Million Dollar Quartet1On Tuesday December 4, 1956, in the Sun Record Studios in Memphis, Tennessee, an impromptu jam session took place featuring Elvis Presley, Jerry Lee Lewis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash – ‘The Million Dollar Quartet’. Perkins, who had had a hit with Blue Suede Shoes, had come into the studios with his brothers Clayton and Jay and drummer W.S. Holland to cut some new material, including a revamped version of an old blues song, Matchbox. Sam Phillips, the owner of Sun Records, brought in singer and piano man extraordinaire Jerry Lee Lewis to play on the session. Former Sun artist Elvis Presley, still only 21 years but already the biggest name in entertainment, dropped in to pay a casual visit and later joined the jam session, as did Johnny Cash, though there is some dispute over how much Cash contributed here. Luckily sound engineer Jack Clement kept recording this joyous session and the result is the preservation of a unique slice of musical history. This indispensable two CD set captures every minute of that informal yet momentous get-together, including the fascinating banter between the musicians, along with a bonus selection of great original tracks that inspired Who - Live at the Isle of Wightthem, with music by Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Sister Rosetta Tharpe among others. Union Square has also released another hugely important historic document, THE WHO - LIVE AT THE ISLE OF WIGHT FESTIVAL (SALVO SALVOSVX007). At 2am on Sunday August 30th, 1970, one of the great British rock bands gave one of the most memorable concerts of their career. Academy Award winning director Murray Lerner was there to capture this superb performance for posterity, and for the first time The Who Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970 is here available on both DVD and two CDs in the same package, together with an excellent 12-page booklet. The recordings have been expertly restored and capture The Who at the height of their powers. The DVD includes two bonus tracks that were cut from the original film. Highly recommended.


Transvision Vamp - Pop ArtTransvision Vamp - VelveteenBritish alternative rock band Transvision Vamp were formed in 1986 by songwriter/guitarist Nick Christian Sayer and Wendy James, the lead singer and focal-point of the group, who attracted much media attention with her sexually-charged and rebellious image. Other members of the original lineup were Dave Parsons (bass), Tex Axile (keyboards) and Pol Burton (drums), who had previously been in punk bands. Transvision Vamp enjoyed considerable chart success in the late 1980s after being signed by MCA and in 1988 the band released their debut album, Pop Art, which stayed on the UK album chart for thirty-two weeks. The big single from this was I Want Your Love, which with its snarling guitars and punk rush was especially exciting to teenage audiences who had missed out on new wave the first time around. Another hit single, Baby I Don’t Care, featured on the band’s brilliant second album, Velveteen, released shortly afterwards. Both these classics have now been released as 2­CD sets, each featuring a bonus disc of B­sides and rarities. This expanded edition of POP ART (287994), through all its mixes, BBC sessions and B­sides demonstrates how hard the group worked and how much intelligence went into their fifteen minutes of fame. It was a bold start for a group that were destined for big things and had the chutzpah to put their money where their mouth was. VELVETEEN (287970) was big, bold, brash, a bit daft, funny and exhilarating, all the things that rock’n’roll is supposed to be. Today, with all its bonuses, session material and B­sides, it’s a vibrant flashback to when Transvision Vamp were there at the cutting edge, with the exuberance, passion, anger and naïveté that pop breakthrough acts possess.


Marianne FaithfullMarianne Faithfull’s groundbreking 1979 album, Broken English, featured songs that were either literally autobiographical or were rooted in the singer’s own experiences. The title track came from a book on the Baader-Meinhof terrorists and other highlights include the wild Witches Song, the pounding Brain Drain, Guilt (Barry Reynolds’s song about addiction), John Lennon’s Working Class Hero (‘I wasn’t working class, but we were poor and this process he describes, it happens to everybody’), Shel Silverstein’s Ballad Of Lucy Jordan and the shocking Why D’Ya Do It. This definitive album has now been reissued in a luxury double-CD package that includes the 1979 version, the original ‘lost’ band sessions recording, a generous selection of bonus tracks and the Derek Jarman directed short film of Witches Song, The Ballad of Lucy Jordan and Broken English, which was initially shown in cinemas and gets its first commercial release here. Also included is Sister Morphine’, a song she co-wrote with the Rolling Stones and first released in 1969, re-recorded it for a special Island 20th Anniversary release of Broken English in 1982.


Kirsty MacColl - KiteKirsty MacColl returned to the studio as a solo artist with Virgin in 1989 to record perhaps her best album, Kite, which included her version of the Ray Davies song Days. This album is re-released here in a double-CD set that also includes a disc of b-sides and remixes as well as an excellent 28 page booklet. SALVO has also released Kirsty MacColl’s follow-up LP, the splendidly named ELECTRIC LANDLADY (SALVOMDCD31), with songs written in collaboration with Smiths guitarist Johnny Marr. As well as the rap infused dance hit Walking Down Madison, the album also featured MacColl’s first fully formed attempt at Latin music and reunited her with the Pogues on The One And Only. This expanded version features the related non-album b-sides, as well as four acoustic BBC session tracks recorded at the time of the UK release. Following the break-up of her marriage to Steve Lillywhite, Kirsty MacColl bounced back in 1994 with what she called her ‘sad divorce album’, TITANIC DAYS (SALVOMDCD32). Superbly arranged with typically sharp lyrics and classy melodies, it yielded the beautiful single Angel, which received plenty of remixes (added here as bonus tracks), including a recently unearthed ‘Mysterious’ mix. Disc two also features her outstanding performance at the Fleadh Festival in 1995.


American Dream‘A Slice Of 50s Americana’, this terrific two-CD collection features some of the most enjoyable recordings of all time. The 40 irresistible tracks are by rock and roll icons such as Chuck Berry (Johnny B Goode), Jerry Lee Lewis (Whole Lotta Shakin’ Goin’ On, Great Balls Of Fire), Little Richard (Long Tall Sally), Buddy Holly (Peggy Sue, Oh Boy!), Eddie Cochran (C’mon Everybody) and The Everly Brothers (Bye, Bye, Love and Wake Up, Little Susie). It’s great also to hear the sexy twanging guitar of Duane Eddy, The Champs, Johnny & The Hurricanes (storming Red River Rock), Brenda Lee, Carl Perkins, Larry Williams (Bony Moronie), Fats Domino, Gene Vincent, The Coasters, Johnny Burnette and the underrated Freddy Cannon (Tallahassee Lassie). Essential listening that brings to life one of the most exciting and revolutionary eras of popular music ever. This release is one of a great value series from Union Square Music that also includes MY KIND OF MUSIC - HERE COME THE GIRLS (USMMDCD023) featuring fabulous performers such as The Shirelles (Will You Love Me Tomorrow), Nina Simone, Teresa Brewer, Ella Fitzgerald (Baby It’s Cold Outside), Doris Day, Peggy Lee (Fever), Etta James, Kay Starr, Marilyn Monroe (Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend), Gladys Knight & The Pips, British pop legend Alma Cogan, Jane Morgan (The Day That The Rains Came), Patsy Cline and the immortal Sarah Vaughan.


Becky Jones, better known as Saint Saviour and formerly of the electro band The RGBs, toured with Groove Armada as their lead singer in 2010 before deciding to create her own solo act. As she says on her website, ‘I’ve been hanging about the periphery of music for a few years now, mainly collaborating with electronic producers, writing really positive, upbeat pop/dance tunes.’ Originally from Stockton-on-Tees, she moved to London in 2003 and adopted the name ‘Saint Saviour’ after seeing it regularly while running in the St Saviour’s Dock area of London. Her voice has been compared with, among others, Kate Bush and Tori Amos, and this debut album - self-written, produced and funded entirely by fans via Pledge Music - reveals her considerable talent and has been getting rave reviews. Highlights include the subtle Beauty Queen, the emotional Mercy, the brilliant Tightrope, Liberty, This Ain’t No Hymn, the heartfelt Fallen Trees, a spooky Jennifer and the gorgeous closing track, Horse. Saint Saviour will be on tour in the throughout October and November, performing this haunting, ethereal music at the Slade Rooms, Wolverhampton on the 6th November.


Singer songwriter Josephine Oniyama was born and bred in Manchester - her mother being originally from Liberia and her father from Jamaica. She started writing songs and playing guitar when aged 12, getting her first gig in Manchester when just 15. Since then she has worked with, among others, Jimmy Cliff, Paolo Nutini and British musician Michael Kiwanuka. Josephine’s beautifully produced album, Portrait, features her affectingly soulful voice on ten of her own songs, including the recent singles What a Day and Original Love. Mixing influences from her West African heritage with her upbringing in Manchester she has crafted a unique and breathtaking sound with fellow musicians Ed Harcourt, Leo Abrahams, Seb Rochford, Jimmy Hogarth and Ben Hillier. Highlights include the Björk-like melancholy of When We Were Trespassers, the sixties-influenced title track with hints of Dusty Springfield, the bluesy I Think It Was Love, a lively Pepper Shaker, and the gorgeous House Of Mirrors. This assured debut album shows that Josephine has the passion, talent and emotional intelligence that should take her far. Highly recommended.


Skiffle is folk music with jazz, blues and country influences, often played using homemade or improvised instruments such as the washboard, tea chest bass and kazoo, as well as more conventional instruments like acoustic guitar and banjo. Skiffle groups were originally referred to as spasm bands and the music was being played in Louisville and Memphis by the 1920s. Skiffle’s roots can also be found in the jazz bands of the 1940s and 1950s. The British skiffle craze in the 1950s and early 1960s encouraged countless amateurs to get started, including The Quarry Men formed in 1957 by John Lennon. This double-CD collection features a generous 61 tracks recorded between 1952 and 1958, including music by such greats as Lonnie Donegan, Chas McDevitt, Alexis Korner, Ken Colyer, The Vipers, the exhilarating Johnny Duncan & The Bluegrass Boys, and George Melly, as well as rarities by Dickie Bishop & His Sidekicks, The Station Skiffle Group, The Betty Smith Quintet, Les Hobeaux Skiffle Group and The Original Barnstormers. Highlights include Light From The Lighthouse and Lonesome Traveller (Lonnie Donegan & His Skiffle Group with Miki & Griff), Ken Colyer’s bluesy I Can’t Sleep, Alan Lomax, Guy Carawan & Peggy Seeger’s version of This Train. As the complier Dave Travis says, ‘Despite the panning skiffle often received in the 1950s’ press, an extraordinary quantity of fine music was laid down at the time and thankfully has survived. So rest assured this Volume 3 of British Skiffle is bang up to standard. Sit back, remember and enjoy…’ Other new double CDs in the Smith & Co ‘As Good As It Gets’ series include Great Rockabilly, Vol. 3 (SCCD 1170), Great British Rock ‘n’ Roll, Vol. 3 (SCCD 1171) and Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Instrumentals (SCCD 1173), featuring stirring tracks from the likes of Duane Eddy, Link Wray, The Champs, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. See also Lonnie Donegan.


Bruce SpringsteenAmerican singer, songwriter and guitarist Bruce Frederick Joseph Springsteen’s a brand of heartland rock has earned him countless awards, including 15 Grammies and an Oscar, along with a devoted international fan base. He has sold over 60 million albums in the USA alone, usually alternating between commercially accessible rock and more sombre folk-oriented collections. In the year after Born To Run was released Springsteen recorded upwards of 40 songs - four albums’ worth! Some of these found their way on to 1978’s Darkness on the Edge of Town, but the rest have been hidden in the vaults for 30 years - until now. For this invaluable double CD release, The Boss has revisited those that didn’t make it and worked on them where needed with the help of long-time collaborator Bob Clearmountain. The result is a collection of music that demonstrates Springsteen’s eclectic influences, from Elvis and Dylan to Lieber and Stoller and many more. The 21 tracks feature big choruses, strong melodies and rich arrangements that show Bruce Springsteen to be the master of classic American rock music - a working-class troubadour with the soul of a poet. Highlights include Racing in the Street, the never-before-released original recordings of Because the Night, Fire and Rendezvous, the wonderful Someday (We’ll Be Together), the hilarious Ain’t Good Enough for You, the superb The Brokenhearted, the haunting Breakaway, and the fully orchestrated masterpiece and title song, The Promise. And don’t miss the brilliant extra track, The Way, hidden and unlisted at the end of the second CD. Essential listening.


Rockabilly DollsEssex boy Levi Dexter was groomed by Leee Black Childers - the American manager of New York Doll Johnny Thunders and aide to Iggy Pop and David Bowie who formed Levi and The Rockats around him and took them to the USA where they starred on the Louisiana Hayride. After Levi split from the band he formed the Ripchords and was also successful in Japan with Levi and Magic. Steve Hooker has the scars to remember The Heat, The Shakers, Boz and The Bozmen, Rumble, Wilko Johnson and Captain Drugbuster. Touring the UK, Europe, Japan and the USA he has shared stages and jammed with musical friends and heroes like Johnny Thunders (R.I.P.) who is covered and namechecked on this terrific album, Rockabilly Dolls.


‘Mockingbird’, based on the folk song ‘Hush Little Baby’, was written and recorded by Inez and Charlie Foxx in 1963’ It was a huge hit for them in the USA, though they had to wait until its 1969 re-issue for success in the UK. The song was subsequently covered by Dusty Springfield and Aretha Franklin as well as by Carly Simon and James Taylor. This new single features a version of this classic soul song by chanteuse Dee Shine Eye duetting with ‘The Rockabilly blues and Soulman’ Steve Hooker and The Stripped Down Stoppin’ Band. The title track is backed by a terrific, raunchy bottleneck Hooker instrumental, Steel Sedan, and more stomping music can be found here on his excellent albums.


This reissue of Steve Hooker’s 2001 album, Don’t Try To Understand 'Em, features six more great rockabilly tracks by Steve Hooker. Highlights include the excellent Leather Heart and Dollar Short. See more Steve Hooker releases, including his new single, Wicked Blues.


Steve Hooker’s compilation album features more irresistible rockers and instrumentals, including Howlin’ Wilf’s mood-setting opening track, Game Over. Other highlights include Soulful Dress by Shine Eye, a great version of Dark End of the Street by The Ugly Guys, Burning Song by the spendidly named Jonah Gold And His Silver Apples, Lovers Curse by Fagin (featuring Boz Boorer) and the Shine Eye version of Steve Hooker’s brilliant Steel Sedan. Highly recommended.


Boz BoorerMorrissey collaborator and a stalwart of the UK rock’n’roll scene for over twenty years, one-time Polecat guitarist Boz Boorer plays his irrepressible music full-on and straight. He has been musical director and co-writer with Morrissey since 1991 and played on the Morrissey solo albums Your Arsenal, Southpaw Grammar, Maladjusted, Beethoven Was Deaf, You Are The Quarry and Ringleader Of The Tormentors. He’s also recorded with the likes of Joan Armatrading, Adam Ant, Edwyn Collins, Jools Holland and Kirsty MacColl. His brilliant album, MISS PEARL, first released in 2008, features sixteen full-throttle rockabilly classics, including Jimmy Wages’ unreleased classic Miss Pearl and a ferocious version of Hank Mizell’s Jungle Rock (with backing vocals by Adam Ant). Other highlights include B29 (Droppin’ Bombs on Your Heart), Atom Bomb Baby, Rock’n’Roll Ruby, Yakety Yak (with Chrissie Lane), The Ramones’ Rockaway Beach and guitarman Steve Hooker’s composition, Dollar Short (on the wages of sin). Long-time Boz collaborator Steve Hooker also plays on an alternate version of In the Witchin’ Hour from his own Boptown album. This is fine, rip-roaring music full of raw, high-octane excitement, bringing real freshness to the great Fifties rockabilly tradition. The album has now been re-issued, with three extra bonus tracks, as part as part of a digitally remastered double CD set that also includes Boz Boorer’s MY WILD LIFE, released ten years earlier and filled with equally joyous old-school rockabilly played with consummate flair. ‘Tremendous vibrant rock and roll.’ – Maverick.


Before The Rooster CrowsRockabilly is one of the earliest styles of rock and roll music, emerging primarily in the southern United States in the early 1950s. The term rockabilly is a portmanteau word combining rock (from rock ‘n’ roll) and hillbilly, a style of country music. Other important influences on rockabilly include western swing, boogie woogie, and rhythm and blues. The influence and popularity of the style waned in the 1960s, but during the late 1970s and early 1980s, rockabilly enjoyed a major revival of popularity that has endured to the present day. Steve Hooker’s album features pulsating rockers and instrumentals, including the storming slide-guitar opener, True Delta. Steve is joined on these 14 tracks by a fine array of talent, including Boz Boorer, Levi Dexter and the legendary Wilko Johnson of Dr Feelgood fame. Check out also Steve Hooker’s excellent Shrink To Fit CDs, Volumes 1 & 2: Blue Jean Boppers and Cotton Pickin’ Rockers.


Fall For MeRosie Doonan is an exciting new singer songwriter and musician. Raised in Yorkshire within a family of musicians, dancers and performers, her influences are a heady brew and range from the music of the sixties to Sheryl Crow and Portishead. Moving On, her first solo album, focuses on making a fresh start and developing new ideas. Her songs suggest feelings of moving on, travelling and all the emotions of elation and despair of falling in and out of love. Her new single, Fall For Me, supported by an excellent video, is the first to be taken from her new album, which will be released on 15th Nov. Meanwhile, you can catch Rosie Doonan at the following venues: The Newhampton, Wolverhampton (23rd Oct), The Adelphi, Leeds (30th Oct), The Peacock Lounge, Huddersfield (12th Nov), Thornesians Rugby Club, Doncaster (19th Nov) and The New Roscoe, Leeds (20th Nov).


Chrissie Hynde formed The Pretenders in 1978 and was the band’s main songwriter as well as its lead vocalist and rhythm guitarist. Hynde is one of the few women ever successfully to front a rock band and she continues to struts the stage to great effect - cool, sexy and in fine voice. This gutsy, raw debut album from JP, Chrissie & The Fairground Boys is an epic love story, albeit not a conventional one. Everything you need to know about the heartbreaking, but ultimately uplifting and fruitful relationship between Chrissie Hynde (aged 58) and talented Welsh singer-songwriter JP Jones (32) is contained within Fidelity!’s 11 songs - from passion and desire, to sadness and acceptance. As Hynde sings in the wrenchingly candid opening track Perfect Lover: ‘I found my perfect lover but he’s only half my age / He was learning how to stand when I was wearing my first wedding band / I found my perfect lover but I have to turn the page / But I want him in my kitchen and standing on my stage.’ This is solid, adult music by one of rock’s most charismatic performers, with songs that express the passion, humour and honesty of a relationship - musical and otherwise. Chrissie Hynde and JP Jones (vocals, guitar, bass) are backed by the excellent Patrick Murdoch (guitar), Sam Swallow (piano, keyboards), Vezio Bacci (bass) and Geoff Holroyde (drums).


GownSinger, composer and multi-instrumentalist Jo Hamilton is the daughter of a Jamaican mother and Kenyan father, although both families trace their roots back to Scotland. She spent her first decade in the remote Scottish Highlands and at the age of 12 was awarded a music scholarship at Gordonstoun School before going on to study viola at Napier University in Edinburgh and at the Conservatoire in Birmingham, the city where she is currently based. She as also lived in Kuwait, Turkey, Saudi Arabia and Sri Lanka, and her travels have clearly influenced the music on her debut album, Gown, an eleven track collection of intriguingly original music, smoothly produced by Jon Cotton. The result is a unique mix of colour, imagery and exotic musical textures from as far afield as Cambodia and ‘Bollywood’. Jo Hamilton’s voice combines strength with vulnerability, showing here why she has been compared to Kate Bush, Alison Goldfrapp and Annie Lennox, or even Bjork. The last of these atmospheric tracks, an uninhibited and celebratory lullaby called Think Of Me, is now available to download as a single. Recently, Jo Hamilton became only the second person (behind the inventor) to play a prototype of an air piano This innovative musical interface allows the user to play and control software instruments on an attached computer just by moving their hands in the air above it. What is so magical about the instrument is that it makes extremely high technology completely invisible and so is the perfect compliment to the performer’s graceful stage presence, enabling her to literally pick sounds out of the air. ‘Singular and unforgettable, Hamilton is quite a discovery.’ - The Guardian. Jo Hamilton has a new Blog site and interactive Facebook page, and in December will put on a live internet concert using high-quality video and audio streaming. The performance will take place in the studio where much of Gown was recorded and you will have a chance to talk directly to Jo during the performance via a live chat-room. Tickets to this intimate, exclusively fan-only event will be free, but to be eligible for one you must be a Facebook fan of Jo or a member of the Jo Hamilton mailing list, and own a copy of the album, Gown. To be added to the list for tickets, please email proof of purchase of Gown to


Celebrating sixty years in show business, the iconic Liza Minnelli’s new release is the most intimate and revealing recording of her career. Confesssions is a collection of American classics featurong some of Minnelli’s favourite songs, arranged simply and elegantly, with accompaniment by her long-time pianist Billy Stritch. Minnelli maintains that the origins of the album were entirely organic, almost accidental, and says: ‘It just sort of happened. I used to have these evenings at my house, usually on a weekend, and people like Tony Bennett - or more surprising people like Janet Jackson - would come by, and we would end up singing around the piano.’ Inspired by the intimacy of those evenings, Minnelli decided to start recording some of those songs, giving a personal glimpse into her musical world. The timeless songs are by great writers such as Jerome Kern, Cy Coleman, Irving Berlin and Peggy Lee (He’s A Tramp). Standout tracks include a heartfelt version of Sammy Cahn’s All The Way, Ray Noble’s I Hadn’t Anyone Till You, and Harry Warren & Arthur Freed’s This Heart of Mine. Liza Minnelli’s voice has grown huskier with the years but remains as sincere, funny and vulnerable as always. This is a triumphant return to the most basic configuration of all - a voice, a piano and some magnificent songs. Confesssions is the first non-cast album studio recording in almost fifteen years by one of the world’s most vivacious and best-loved performers. It follows her acclaimed 2008 return to Broadway, ‘Liza’s at the Palace’, which was nominated for a Grammy and won the Tony Award (her fourth) for Best Special Theatrical Event. As a companion title to the new album, Decca has released a DVD of LIZA’S AT THE PALACE (DECCA 2741478), which captures her thrilling midnight performance at the MGM Grand in Las Vegas, where she re-created her Broadway show and pays tribute to her influential godmother, Kay Thompson. Songs include Maybe This Time, He’s Funny That Way, Shine On Harvest Moon, Cabaret, Basin Street Blues, Look For The Silver Lining, ending with an encore of Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas. Bonus features include a confidential conversation between Liza Minnelli and director/choreographer Ron Lewis about the creation of the show and other experiences they have shared.


Singer-songwriter and musician Harper Simon, born in 1972, is the son of the great Paul Simon and his first wife, Peggy. Like Jakob Dylan and James McCartney, Harper Simon’s debut album has been a long time coming but proves well worth the wait. Taking psychedelic country and rock music of the late 1960s and 70s as inspiration the album features a host of musical talent. Harper produced himself, enlisting the legendary Bob Johnston to help him put together a band for a series of recording sessions in Nashville. The musicians include harmonica player Charlie McCoy (who played on Bob Dylan’s Blonde on Blonde and Nashville Skyline), pedal steel player Lloyd Green (The Byrds’ Sweetheart of the Rodeo), drummer Gene Chrisman (Dusty in Memphis), bassist Mike Leech, pianist Hargus Robbins and guitarist Al Perkins. These sessions resulted in basic tracks for four songs on the album: Ha Ha, All I Have Are Memories, Tennessee and The Shine. He then completed the album in Los Angeles and New York, with contributions from, among others, Sean Lennon, Steve Nieve and Paul Simon, with Tracey Emin contributing the cover art. Highlights include the beautiful Shooting Star, The Shine, the sunny Berkeley Girl and Wishes And Stars, co-written with Nigerian author and Booker Price winner Ben Okri and recently released as a single. Paul Simon is a hard act to follow but his son’s intelligent songs and lovely harmonies show him to be an unmistakable chip off the old block. ‘adopting the various styles of American folk-rock cheerfully and unselfconsciously... it’s a treat’ - The Guardian.


Singer and double-Grammy nominee Monica Mancini is one of the twin daughters of ace film composer Henry Mancini. She began her career as a member of the Henry Mancini chorus, appearing on countless film scores and recording with artists such as Placido Domingo, Quincy Jones and Michael Jackson. Her latest album - produced Phil Ramone, who produced a number of the original recordings - is an 11-track collection of classic 60s songs by artists who had a profound impact on the singer’s formative years. These include Lennon & McCartney, Paul Simon, Stevie Wonder, Jackson Browne, Harry Nilsson, Brian Wilson, Billy Joel and Janis Ian. Joining Monica Mancini for duets on I’ve Loved These Days are original composers Jackson Browne (guitar and vocal accompaniment on These Days), Brian Wilson and the multi-Grammy winning vocal group Take 6 (vocals and arrangements for God Only Knows), Stevie Wonder playing harmonica on Blame It On the Sun, and the Young Rascals’, Felix Cavaliere provides B-3 organ accompaniment for his classic How Can I Be Sure. This is an well chosen collection of songs, beautifully crafted and performed with sophisticated style that does justice to her impeccable family heritage.


Charlotte GainsbourgActress and singer-songwriter Charlotte Gainsbourg, the daughter of British actress/singer Jane Birkin and French legend Serge Gainsbourg, was born in in London 1971 and raised in Paris. She made her cinema debut playing Catherine Deneuve’s daughter in Paroles et musique and has since appeared in films such as The Cement Garden, Jane Eyre, the Bob Dylan biopic I’m Not There (contributing a cover of Dylan’s ‘Just Like a Woman’ to the soundtrack) and won the award for Best Actress at the 2009 Cannes Film Festival for Antichrist. Her musical debut was with her father on the controversial song ‘Lemon Incest’ in 1984, and two years later she released her album Charlotte for Ever, also produced by her father. Charlotte Gainsbourg’s second album, 5:55, was a critical and commercial success, reaching the top of the French charts and selling over half a million copies. This latest album, produced by Beck at his studio, was much influenced by her time spent filming Antichrist and the head injury she received (IRM is the French translation of magnetic resonance imaging - MRI). While receiving a brain scan, she began to think about music. ‘When I was inside that machine,’ she said, ‘it was an escape to think about music. It’s rhythm. It was very chaotic.’ In her own words, ‘We started with Master’s Hands, which has a sort of African beat and then we did In The End, which is very melodic and much quieter. Heaven Can Wait followed, which is a much more classic pop song. So in that same [first] session we went in three different directions’. This is adventurous, idiosyncratic music with subtle lyrics that express a wide range of emotions, and Charlotte Gainsbourg’s breathy voice and charming accent give the songs a dream-like quality that draws you into another world. watch video


American singer and songwriter Maia Sharp is the daughter of country songwriter Randy Sharp and grew up in the San Fernando Valley in the ‘70s - the era of Jackson Browne, Joni Mitchell and Rickie Lee Jones. By the age of twelve she played piano, saxophone, oboe and guitar, and by her twenties she was performing her own jazz/folk songs in L.A. acoustic venues. Sharp’s songwriting won the attention of manager Miles Copeland, who signed her to his new Ark 21 label and released her debut album, Hardly Glamour, in 1997. Her tunes have been recorded by Cher, Kim Richey, the Dixie Chicks, Art Garfunkel, Trisha Yearwood, Bonnie Raitt and many others. Four years ago Maia Sharp achieved a lifelong ambition when Bonnie Raitt invited her to open for and perform with her on the road. Sharp’s latest album, Echo, featuring her US hit single ‘John Q. Lonely’, will be released in the UK on May 3rd. Produced by acclaimed studio magician Don Was, the album shows her to be a uniquely gifted singer, writer and multi-instrumentalist. Her way with a melody, her sophisticated chord movements, the twist and flow of her lyrics all testify to a writing technique that’s equal to the best in the business. Highlights among these twelve cracking songs include the catchy ‘Polite Society’ and ‘Death by Perfection’ (a duet with Bonnie Raitt). ‘Her finest release to date, an album whose rootsy songwriter pop crackles with shrewd insight, keen writing and a strong dose of carpe diem.’ - Nashville Scene.


Grammy Award-winning American songwriter and musician J.J. Cale is probably best known for writing two songs that Eric Clapton made famous - After Midnight and Cocaine. Born John W. Cale in 1938 in Oklahoma City, he changed his name in the mid-1960s to ‘J.J.’ to avoid confusion with the Velvet Underground’s John Cale. As one of the originators of the Tulsa Sound, J.J. Cale’s music draws on blues, rockabilly, country and jazz influences to produce a highly personal, laid back style characterised by shuffle rhythms, simple chord changes, relaxed vocals and clever, incisive lyrics. Cale is also a distinctive and idiosyncratic guitarist, incorporating both fingerpicking and gentle, meandering electric solos. Because of his aversion to stardom, extensive touring or even recording, he has remained a relatively obscure cult artist but has influenced many others, including Johnny Cash, The Band, Captain Beefheart, George Harrison, Santana, Mark Knopfler, Neil Young and Bryan Ferry. The Tulsa Sound has been adopted particularly by Eric Clapton, and the title track of this new album, Roll On, is a previously unreleased collaboration between Clapton and Cale. Other standout tracks include a Down In Memphis groove, Oh Mary, Old Friend, the jazzy Former Me and the relaxed Where The Sun Don’t Shine. The new album is full of timeless grooves and the meticulously understated production that he is known for, but it also adds new dimensions to the ‘classic Cale sound’.  Listen to clips of all the tracks on the album.


The American songwriter, singer, musician and occasional science fiction author Janis Ian was born Janis Eddy Fink into a Jewish family in New York City in 1951. Her father was a music teacher and her mother ran a summer camp in upstate New York, and in that Cold War era they were often under government surveillance because of their left-wing politics. Young Janis admired the work of folk pioneers such as Joan Baez and Odetta, and at the age of twelve wrote her first song, Hair of Spun Gold (later recorded for her debut album). At age thirteen, she changed her name to Janis Ian, taking her brother Eric’s middle name, and wrote her first hit single, Society’s Child (Baby I’ve Been Thinking), about a forbidden interracial romance. This became a national hit on its third release, after Leonard Bernstein featured it in a television show. In the mid-seventies via the classic single, At Seventeen, and a string of commercial and critically-acclaimed albums, Janis Ian became one of the most talked about artists of her generation. Edsel has now released this double CD pairing of two of those albums, Stars and Aftertones, together with live tracks available for the first time officially in the UK as well as detailed booklets with notes and memorabilia provided by Janis herself. BETWEEN THE LINES & THE OLD GREY WHISTLE TEST CONCERT (EDSEL EDSD 2044) is an invaluable CD and DVD set featuring the classic Between The Lines (which includes At Seventeen), and, for the first time, a DVD including an entire concert recorded for BBC TV’s The Old Grey Whistle Test. Bonus features include performances from The Shirley Bassey Show and The Lena Zavaroni Show, which have never been aired since their original broadcast in 1976 and 1980 respectively.


Gordon Giltrap is an acclaimed acoustic and electric guitarist and composer whose work cross many musical genres - folk, blues, folk rock, pop, classical and rock. He started to learn the guitar at the age of twelve, never receiving any formal tuition on the instrument, and gradually developed his own style and technique. His career started to take off in the 1960s when he played live in London folk clubs alongside contemporaries such as Bert Jansch, John Renbourn and Mike Oldfield. The 1970s brought much wider recognition as he started to concentrate on more instrumental pieces and formed the Gordon Giltrap Band, which toured extensively. The legions fans of this supremely gifted musicians will be sure to welcome this reissue of a two CD set comprising of Music For The Small Screen and The Solo Album, together with a CD / DVD set TROUBADOUR & LIVE AT VENTNOR WINTER GARDENS (EDSEL EDSX 3007). These collections come superbly-packaged - the DVD includes a bonus interview with Gordon Giltrap which recorded in 2009 with Rodney Hearth - and illuminated by humorous and informative liner notes from the man himself. More releases of his back catalogue are scheduled throughout 2010 as well as the release of a brand new album and a lengthy UK tour in the middle of the year.


Cotton Pickin' RockersFollowing on from Blue Jean Boppers, this Shrink To Fit denim themed compilation from Steve Hooker sports an evocative, previously unpublished photo of Eddie Cochran in jeans and jean jacket on its cover and features Levi Dexter, The Rizlaz, The Atomics, GT Rockers, Roddy Radiation and The Bonediggers, new German band Switchblade, Darrel Higham and The Enforcers, Johnny Legend, The Jooks of Kent and Steve Hooker. The ten outstanding tracks include a storming opener, Snake Eyed Mama, the instrumental Scratchin’, Eddie Cochran’s C’mon Everybody, the terrific blues-influenced Cotton Mill Rag, and the last guitar-driven track, Cotton Pickin’, surrounded by atmospheric railroad sounds.


Alejandro Escovedo’s career in music stretches back over thirty years, from his days as a member of the San Francisco Punk band, The Nuns, with Delphine Neid, Jennifer Miro and Jeff Olener. He comes from a musical family, including brothers Coke Escovedo and Pete Escovedo, both percussionists, and Prince collaborator Sheila E, as well as brother, Mario, who fronted the hard rock band, The Dragons. Alejandro Escovedo moved in the 1980s to Austin, Texas, where he adapted a roots rock/alternative country style sound in the bands Rank and File and the True Believers. It was with the release of his first solo albums, Gravity in 1992 and Thirteen Years in 1994 that he really found his true voice. These albums were written in the wake of his wife’s suicide and are understandably sombre in tone, though Escovedo is such an accomplished writer that there is much light and shade in the recordings, both in terms of the lyrical and musical content. Both Gravity and Thirteen Years come with a bonus disc of rare live recordings, including cover versions of songs by The Velvet Underground and Mott The Hoople, two of Escovedo’s biggest musical influences. Retroworld has also just released several great blues albums, including harmonica maestro James Cotton’s MIGHTY LONG TIME (featuring guest stars such as Matt ‘Guitar’ Murphy and Jimmie Vaughan) and SNAKEBITE, a terrific double CD with Buddy Guy, Otis Rush and Magic Sam - 49 cracking tracks from the late fifties and early sixties originally recorded for the Chicago independent blues label Cobra. Highly recommended.


Shrink to Fit Volume 1- Blue Jean BoppersThis CD brings together an invigorating selection of nine contemporary US and UK rockabilly numbers about jeans, an intrinsic part of the culture. Produced by ‘rockabilly, blues and soulman’ Steve Hooker in association with the world famous Slick 50 barber shop, the album includes The Polecats (featuring guitarist Boz Boorer) with a live version of Gene Vincent’s Blue Jean Bop and God’s Blue Jeans by US band The Atomics. A number of tracks were specially recorded for this collection, including those by The Arizona H-Bombs, Steve Hooker, The Vegas Valentinos, and Dawghouse. The Carlos y Bandidos track, Develine, is a great rockabilly fans’ favourite, and other highlights include the Lennerockers’ Five Jeans Jackets Are Ready To Go and Switchblade’s Tight Blue Jeans. Steve Hooker has also released a new 7” vinyl single on Witchcraft International (WCI 102). There are three storming tracks including the swaggering title song, Sugar Devil. Great stuff.


History of Rhythm and Blues, Volume Two02Rhythm and blues, or R&B, is a term coined by Jerry Wexler in 1947 to refer to several types of postwar African-American popular music, as well as for some white rock music derived from it, but the term is more commonly understood to describe the sophisticated urban music that began in the 1930s, when Louis Jordan started making blues-based records with humorous lyrics and upbeat rhythms that owed as much to boogie-woogie as to classic blues forms. This music, sometimes called jump blues, set a pattern that became the dominant black popular music form during and for some time after the Second World. This paperback-sized 4-CD box set features the post-war years and includes a fascinating 64-page book containing in-depth analysis by compiler Nick Duckett of the 101 tracks, pointing out relevant stylistic and musical innovations. Disc One - Jumpin’ From Harlem To The West Coast - includes such greats as Dinah Washington, Big Joe Turner and the Nat Cole Trio, together with rarities by the likes of Lucky Millinder, the wonderful Cecil Grant, Henry ‘Red’ Allen and the splendidly named Rubberlegs Williams. Disc Two - Guitar Boogies, Sax Screamers & Gospel Roads - has the wonderful Arthur Crudup, Big Joe Williams (Baby Please Don’t Go, first recorded in 1935), Johnny Otis, Lightnin’ Hopkins, Sonny Boy Williamson, Muddy Waters (I Can’t Be Satisfied) and John Lee Hooker’s Boogie Chillen. Disc Three - Have You Heard The News? There’s Good Rockin’ Tonight - includes Wild Bill Moore, Roy Brown & His Mighty Men, Louis Jordan’s famous Saturday Night Fish Fry, Hal Singer’s Rock Around The Clock, the awsome Howlin’ Wolf and bottleneck guitar genius Elmore James (Dust My Broom). Disc Four - Soul Train Mambo - Destination New Orleans - has Ella Fitzgerald & Louis Jordan’s irresistible Stone Cold Dead In The Market, Professor Longhair & His Shuffling Hungarians, Antoine Fats Domino (The Fat Man), Lloyd Price (the classic Lawdy Miss Clawdy), the underrated Ruth Brown and Ray Charles. This superb collection brings together some of the most powerful, influential and joyous music ever recorded. Also highly recommended is THE HISTORY OF RHYTHM AND BLUES, VOLUME ONE (RHYTHM AND BLUES RECORDS RANDB001). This is another wonderful four CD box set with a 32-page booklet containing analysis of 97 great tracks dating from 1925-1942. Disc One features country blues, spirituals, jug bands and ‘hokum’. Disc Two highlights piano boogie-woogie ragtime and jazz. Disc Three - Up River To Chicago – has urban blues and gospel. Disc Four - Jazzin’ The Blues – features after hours swing boogie and jive. An excellent A1 sized History of Rhythm & Blues 1900-64 wall poster from Rhythm and Blues Records also traces the story of the music from its roots in Texas and the Mississippi Delta through its migration to the big cities. For more details see the website at


Skiffle is folk music with jazz, blues and country influences, often played using homemade or improvised instruments such as the washboard, tea chest bass and kazoo, as well as more conventional instruments like acoustic guitar and banjo. Skiffle groups were originally referred to as spasm bands and the music was being played in Louisville and Memphis by the 1920s. Skiffle’s roots can also be found in the jazz bands of the 1940s and 1950s. The British skiffle craze in the 1950s and early 1960s encouraged countless amateurs to get started, including The Quarry Men formed in 1957 by John Lennon. This double-CD collection features a generous 61 tracks recorded between 1952 and 1958, including music by such greats as Lonnie Donegan, Chas McDevitt, Alexis Korner, Ken Colyer, The Vipers, the exhilarating Johnny Duncan & The Bluegrass Boys, and George Melly, as well as rarities by Dickie Bishop & His Sidekicks, The Station Skiffle Group, The Betty Smith Quintet, Les Hobeaux Skiffle Group and The Original Barnstormers. Highlights include Light From The Lighthouse and Lonesome Traveller (Lonnie Donegan & His Skiffle Group with Miki & Griff), Ken Colyer’s bluesy I Can’t Sleep, Alan Lomax, Guy Carawan & Peggy Seeger’s version of This Train. As the complier Dave Travis says, ‘Despite the panning skiffle often received in the 1950s’ press, an extraordinary quantity of fine music was laid down at the time and thankfully has survived. So rest assured this Volume 3 of British Skiffle is bang up to standard. Sit back, remember and enjoy…’ Other new double CDs in the Smith & Co ‘As Good As It Gets’ series include Great Rockabilly, Vol. 3 (SCCD 1170), Great British Rock ‘n’ Roll, Vol. 3 (SCCD 1171) and Great Rock ‘n’ Roll Instrumentals (SCCD 1173), featuring stirring tracks from the likes of Duane Eddy, Link Wray, The Champs, Chuck Berry and Fats Domino. See also Lonnie Donegan


The streetwise American singer-songwriter and guitarist Liz Phair was born in New Haven, Connecticut in 1967, and was raised in Winnetka, Illinois. After majoring in art history at Oberlin College, Ohio, she began her music career in the early 1990s by self-releasing homemade audio cassettes under the name Girly Sound while supporting herself by selling her drawings on the streets of Chicago, where she became part of the alternative music scene. Gerard Cosloy, co-president of cool indie label Matador Records, offered a $3,000 advance, and Phair began working on a single, which turned into the 18 songs of her debut album, Exile in Guyville. Produced by Phair and Brad Wood, Exile in Guyville was released in 1993 to critical acclaim. The album’s blunt, often sexually explicit lyrics are combined with a winning hybrid of indie rock and pop and her low, vibrato-less voice gives many of the songs a detached, deadpan character. In the spring of 1994, the album briefly made it to the U.S. charts and was ranked 15 in Spin’s ‘100 Greatest Albums, 1985-2005’. It was also number 328 on Rolling Stone magazine’s list of the 500 greatest albums of all time and has inspired many other artists to imitate its lo-fi sound and emotional honesty. Fifteen years after its release, Exile in Guyville has finally been reissued, complete with three B-sides and Guyville Redux, a 60-minute DVD of interviews filmed by Phair herself. As well as Liz Phair (guitar, piano, vocals) the album features Casey Rice (guitar, cymbals, background vocals, handclapping), Brad Wood (organ, synthesizer, bass, guitar, percussion, bongos, drums, background vocals, drones, feedback), Tony Mariotti (bass) and John Casey (harp). This song-by-song reply to the Rolling Stones’ 1972 album, Exile on Main Street, remains essential listening.


Lonnie Donegan was born Anthony James Donegan in 1931 in Glasgow, the Scottish/Irish son of a professional violinist. He moved with his mother to East Ham, London, at an early age, after his parents divorced. Inspired by blues music and New Orleans jazz bands heard on the radio, he bought his first guitar at the age of fourteen and later played banjo in Chris Barber’s trad jazz band. In 1952 he formed his first group, the Tony Donegan Jazzband, who on one occasion opened for the blues musician Lonnie Johnson (Donegan was a big fan of Johnson and took his first name as a tribute). During the time he sang and played for Chris Barber, Donegan began improvising what he called a ‘skiffle’ break during the intervals. With a washboard, a tea-chest bass and a guitar, he entertained audiences with folk songs and blues by artists such as Leadbelly and Woody Guthrie, giving the impression that anyone could do it. He recorded Leadbelly’s Rock Island Line with Chris Barber in 1954 and two years later this was a smash hit, becoming the first debut record to go gold in Britain and reaching the top ten in the United States. This 50 track, double-CD collection features all of the King of Skiffle’s ground-breaking recordings made between 1953 and 1956, with none of the later cabaret knockabout songs such as My Old Man’s A Dustman, which were commercially successful but poorly received by skiffle fans. Donegan’s love and knowledge of the music is evident throughout and he performs with infectious drive and enthusiasm. Highlights include old favourites such as Don’t You Rock Me Daddy-O, Rock Island Line, John Henry and Wabash Cannonball, as well as the soulful Bury My Body, blues such as In The Evening, When The Sun Goes Down and many great live performances. He even manages to breathe fresh life into the ubiquitous Frankie & Johnny. ‘He was the man’ - Paul McCartney. Other highly recommended double CDs in this As Good As It Gets series include Great British Skiffle (SCCD 1122), Great British Rock ‘n’ Roll (SCCD 1124) and Great Rockabilly (SCCD 1125).


The Pigeon Detectives are from Rothwell near Leeds, where they formed about six years ago. The band features vocalist Matt Bowman, Jimmi Naylor (drums), Ryan Wilson and Oli Main (guitars) and Dave Best (bass). An increasing presence on the live music circuit, the band supported fellow West Yorkshiremen Kaiser Chiefs on gigs around Europe and were nominated for Best New Act at the Q Awards in 2007. But why the silly name? According to Jimmi Naylor, ‘It came from an Australian guy who we met at the Leeds Festival. We were just discussing band names and he came up with The Pigeon Detectives. When it came to our first gig in Leeds the promoter was saying, ‘What’s your name?’ We were like, ‘Oh, um The Pigeon Detectives.’ The bands first album was the hugely successful WAIT FOR ME, including such standout tracks as Take Her Back, I’m Not Sorry and You know I Love You. It’s followed now in a short space of time second, Emergency, which entered the charts at number three and has since achieved platinum status (a first for independent label Dance to The Radio). The album was made with producer Stephen Street (who previously worked with Blur, The Smiths and Babyshambles) in between a frantic schedule of gigs, touring and festivals. Catchy tunes and riffs abound, with rousing choruses that have sing-a-long irresistibility. Standout tracks include the bouncy opener, This Is An Emergency (also a single), the unambiguous Keep On Your Dress, She’s Gone, the compelling I’m a Liar, and the Clash-influenced You Don’t Need It. The Pigeon Detectives recently announced their second major UK tour for 2008, after playing to over 70,000 people earlier this year and appearing at several major UK festivals over the summer. The new tour starts in Grimsby on 24 November and ends with two dates at Leeds Carling Academy on 17-18 December, taking in cities such as Glasgow, Manchester and London en route. Tickets for all venues are on sale now and details can be found here


US garage punk trio The Blakes consists of Garnet Keim (guitar/vocals), brother Snow Keim (bass) and Bob Husak (drums). They met in Seattle in 1999 and started to play together, turning up with their instruments wherever there was the chance of a gig, or just a place to busk. They moved to LA and slept three to a single room whilst writing and continuing to play, refining and producing the sound that they have now recorded for this excellent eponymous debut album. The Blakes recently made their first trip to Europe (after a four month long US tour) when they released a 7” single Two Times and played several shows. They supported Reverend & The Makers at an NME Awards show in London and toured France with Gossip and The Kills, and are due back soon for several festival appearances. Their rousing and energetic brand of indie rock is well represented by this impressive bunch of songs. Outstanding tracks include the terrific opener, Two Times, as well as Run, the reflective Lintwalk, Vampire, the Kinks-like Lie Next To Me, Picture and Streets, with its superb guitar work. Irresistible music from a great live band.


The Black Angels are a psychedelic rock band from Austin, Texas. Formed in 2004, the band originally comprised six people (now five) from very different backgrounds. Singer/vocalist Christian Bland is the son of a Presbyterian Pastor and was raised in a devoutly religious household. Bassist / guitarist Nate Ryan was born on a cult compound and drummer Stephanie Bailey claims she's a descendent of Davy Crocket. She and Alex Maas (vocals/guitar) believe a little girl in a red linen dress haunts the group's home. Their name is taken from the Velvet Underground song ‘The Black Angel's Death Song’ and the band’s music is clearly influenced by that hypnotic mid-1960s Underground sound. They call it ‘hypno-drone ’n roll’ and it’s the sound of long nights on peyote, of dreams of a new world order, and of half-invented memories of the seamy side of ’60s. Other influences include Spacemen 3, mid-1980s Jesus and Mary Chain, and the early Rolling Stones. The new album, Directions To See A Ghost, is a psychedelic epic - seventy minutes of darkly lyrical music that reflects the band’s current preoccupations. ‘Our central theme is that people need to open up their minds and let everything come through, and to learn from past mistakes,’ says Christian Bland. ‘Only then will we understand the reality of this world and progress beyond where we are now as humans.’ Highlights include the relentlessly infectious opening track, You On The Run, the tribal Vikings, the hypnotic Snake In The Grass, Never/Ever, the spiritual Deer-Ree-Shee, and the relatively upbeat You In Color. This is an altogether sexy and eerily brilliant album from one of the most interesting bands around.


The Raveonettes are an award-winning Danish pop duo consisting of Sune Rose Wagner (guitar, instruments, vocals) and Sharin Foo (bass and vocals). Their stripped-down two-part vocal harmonies are partly inspired by The Everly Brothers and the songs combine the simplicity of 1950s and 60s rock with intense electric instrumentation, driving beats and often dark lyrical content similar to another of the band’s influences, The Velvet Underground. The Raveonettes have also been inspired by The Ronettes and Buddy Holly’s Rave On (hence the band’s name). ‘Lust Lust Lust’, their third album, finds them in reflective mood as they look both deep inside themselves and far outside their environment for inspiration, though the degree of sonic mischief remains undiminished. Highlights include a hypnotic opener, ‘Aly, Walk With Me’, which resembles a Velvet Underground reworking of the theme for A Fistful Of Dollars, the lovely ‘Hallucinations’, the pop-drenched heartache of ‘Sad Transmission’ and the excellent ‘Blush’. Legend has it that these twelve odes to sex, drugs and rock have been carved from a mountain of over a hundred songs, and the dynamic duo have moved on from the greasy rider sound of their earlier albums into a world of deadpan eulogies and troublegum-laced pop songs. This combination of retropop and lush noise finds its perfect, irresistible synthesis in ‘You Want The Candy’, which revisits 1988 by merging The Primitives’ ‘Crash’ with Jesus & Marychain-style malevolence. The songs on this intriguing album have an easy grace, but disturbing complexities often lurk beneath the surface of these sweet harmonies backed by dark, sleazy guitar work. ‘The Raveonettes are super-cool Scandinavian noise-rockers who’ve created their most engrossing album to date’ - NME.


Good Arrows is the third album from Tunng, the British experimental folk band often associated with the folktronica genre. The CD takes its title from a favourite phrase of co-founder Sam Gender’s brother and is the first album to be recorded with the full six-piece band - founder members Sam Genders and Mike Lindsay with Ashley Bates, Phil Winter, Becky Jacobs and Martin Smith. Taking influences from Icelandic prog rock, choral music and film soundtracks, Good Arrows marks a significant development for Tunng as they move beyond electronica influences to emphasise here organic sounds, melody and harmonies. In effect, they have become a fully fledged and wonderfully experimental pop band. Recorded in the Play Industries studios in East London between January and May this year, the sessions found the band introducing new instruments – the hammer dulcimer, a steel-strung harp – alongside familiar elements like field recordings from their tape machine - the ‘beats’ in Arms are actually fire crackles recorded in Big Sur, California. But while Good Arrows retains the sense of experimentalism that is Tunng’s calling card, this is their most accessible album to date. Highlights include the inventive Bullets, Bricks, Soup (which begins as a Tubular Bells-style instrumental and morphs into a heavy metal freakout), the bewitching Secrets, the acoustic dreaminess of Hands, the magical Arms and the beautiful losing track, Cans. This is the best album yet by one of the most interesting bands around. ‘Unadulterated genius’ – NME.


In 1961, the group known as The Four Lovers evolved into The Four Seasons, with Frankie Valli as the lead singer, Bob Gaudio on keyboards and tenor vocals, Tommy DeVito on lead guitar and baritone vocals and Nick Massi on bass guitar and bass vocals (Massi was replaced in 1965 by Charles Calello, who was in turn replaced in 1965 by Joe Long on bass guitar and bass vocals). Known off and on since 1967 as Frankie Valli & The Four Seasons, this pop group was distinct from many similar groups of the early to mid-1960s in keeping its traditional Italian-American sound. By the mid 1960s they had become internationally famous and in 1990 the original members (1961–1965) were inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame and in 1999 into the Vocal Group Hall of Fame. Rhino honours Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons here with a comprehensive box set featuring three CDs filled with 76 tracks of the band’s biggest hits along with album tracks, some great B-sides and a DVD featuring rare live performances. The accompanying 84-page booklet includes photos and track-by-track commentary by the likes of Bob Dylan, Brian Wilson, Barry Manilow, Quincy Jones, Cher, Neil Diamond, Fats Domino, Steven Van Zandt, Barry Gibb, Dion, Johnny Marr, Billy Joel, Itzhak Perlman, Regis Philbin, Nicole Kidman, Keith Urban and Joe Pesci. The album title ‘Jersey Beat’ is a play on ‘Jersey Boys’, a highly successful Broadway musical about the Four Seasons, and the ‘Mersey Beat’ of the early Beatles music scene in Liverpool. These superbly remastered tracks sound as fresh as the day they were made and span the career of Frankie Valli & The 4 Seasons from 1962 to 1992. They are the authentic original versions, in stereo or mono as is appropriate, and the DVD shows the group at its peak (in particular the soaring, ethereal harmonies of Saturday’s Father and two 1971 TOTP recordings - Let’s Hang On and I’ve Got You Under My Skin). Essential listening.


Skiffle is a type of folk music with a jazz and blues influences, often using homemade or improvised instruments such as the washboard, tea chest bass, kazoo, cigar-box fiddle, musical saw, and comb and paper, as well as more conventional instruments such as acoustic guitar and banjo. Skiffle first became popular in the early 1900s in the United States, starting in New Orleans, and by the 1920s and 1930s was being played in Louisville and Memphis but had mostly faded from view by the late 1950s, when the music was reborn in Britain. This was the British equivalent of rockabilly, a new form of music, loud and fast, with a direct communication between the band and the audience. Like rockabilly, British skiffle provided new opportunities for the more adventurous professional musicians. Lonnie Donegan, the father of British skiffle, had become a professional musician in 1953, and joined the Trad jazz band of Ken Colyer. Between sets, Donegan would entertain the crowd with folk and blues, backed by bass and washboard. Colyer termed it skiffle, and soon it was more popular than the jazz that was being played. When trombonist Chris Barber left to form his own band in 1954, he took Donegan with him, and featured him on the New Orleans Joys LP, recorded in July 1954. Thanks in large part to Donegan’s raucous cover versions of Rock Island Line and John Henry, the ten-inch LP sold an unprecedented 50,000 copies. Decca put out Rock Island Line as a single in 1956, when it spent an astonishing eight months in the Top 20 and Donegan went on to be one of the biggest stars of the 1950s, with 34 UK hits. While skiffle is often credited only as a simple forerunner to British rock and roll, a lot of the early skiffle was played by skilled trad jazz musicians. The Vipers Skiffle Group and Chas McDevitt & Nancy Whiskey were examples of this, and they feature on this second volume of British skiffle in Smith & Co’s excellent ‘Just about as good as it gets’ series. The double album includes 30 tracks, and as well as such greats as Lonnie Donegan, Johnny Duncan and Chas McDevitt, there are many cherishable rarities from largely forgotten groups of the period from 1952 to 1957. Other new releases from Smith & Co include Great Rockabilly, Vol. 2 (SCCD 1145)., Great British Rock ‘n’ Roll, Vol. 2 (SCCD 1146) and Acker Bilk (SCCD 1144).


TIM HARDINTim Hardin was born in 1941 in Eugene, Oregon, USA, and spent an itinerant childhood moving around the country with his musician parents. He enlisted in the US Marines and served a tour of duty in Vietnam. After leaving the Marines, he moved to New York and started to develop his singing and songwriting, appearing regularly in Greenwich Village cafés and creating his unique blend of poetic folk/blues. His first recordings were made in 1964 but these were considerd a failure and were shelved for several years before being issued This Is Tim Hardin and Tim Hardin 4. Meanwhile, he met actress Susan Yardley Morss (‘Susan Moore’) and signed to the Verve Forecast label, producing his first authorised album, Tim Hardin 1, in 1966. This album saw a transformation from his early traditional blues style to the fragile, introspective, jazz-influenced style that he made his own. This debut album included Hang on to a Dream and Reason To Believe, later covered by Rod Stewart among many others. Tim Hardin 2, released the following year, featured such delicate songs as If I Were A Carpenter (a huge international hit for Bobby Darin and the Four Tops), The Lady Came from Baltimore, the beautiful How Can We Hang On To A Dream? and Tribute to Hank Williams. For a brief period in the mid-1960s, it could be argued that Tim Hardin was the greatest singer/songwriter in the world. Unfortunately his diffidence, together with a long-standing heroin addiction, meant that his career soon declined and Hardin died from an overdose in 1980. This excellent 27-track anthology from Raven features essential recordings from five labels over almost 20 years, making it the only disc to bring together the entire Hardin saga. Highly recommended.


Magic is Bruce Springsteen’s first with the E Street Band since 2002’s Grammy Award-winning The Rising. Produced by Brendan O’Brien, Magic features eleven new songs, plus a hidden track, ‘Terry’s Song’, a beautiful harmonica-driven tribute to Springsteen’s long-time assistant Terry Magovern who died in July 2007. Magic has already proved huge a success, debuting at number one. Highlights include the powerful Radio Nowhere, Gypsy Biker, the wistful Girls in Their Summer Clothes, Last to Die, the acoustic title track, Long Walk Home (with Clarence Clemons’s classic saxophone) and the haunting Devil’s Arcade. A new Bruce Springsteen album always raises high expectations and Magic doesn’t disappoint, being perhaps his best since Born in the USA. Fans of the Killers and Arcade Fire will find that The Boss did it first and still does it better.


Stiff Records was created in London by Jake Riviera and Dave Robinson in July 1976 and became the blueprint for the independent label of today. Robinson had briefly worked for Jimi Hendrix in the late 1960s and also managed Brinsley Schwarz. Riviera, a.k.a. Andrew Jakeman, had been an early manager for Essex pub rock band, Dr. Feelgood. The Stiff Records label was started with a loan of £400 from Lee Brilleaux of Dr. Feelgood and the first release was by Nick Lowe (So It Goes). Stiff soon became known for its provocative, rebellious stance and eccentric though highly effective promotional campaigns. The label signed The Damned and a young singer-songwriter called D.P. Costello, who Riviera renamed Elvis. The first Top 20 single was Costello’s Watching The Detectives and in 1979 Stiff Records achieved its first No. 1 - Ian Dury’s Hit Me With Your Rhythm Stick. This fine box set is the ultimate anthology, charting thirty years of one of the most daring and influential labels in UK pop history. The 98 tracks range from number one hits to rare curiosities and a 68 page full colour booklet is included in the package. Nick Lowe, Kirsty MacColl, The Damned, Elvis Costello, Ian Dury, Lene Lovich, Madness, Tracey Ullman and The Pogues mingle with the likes of such wonderfully named acts as Wreckless Eric, Jane Aire & The Belvederes, Humphrey Ocean & The Hardy Annuals, Pointed Sticks, Department S and Eskimo Disco. Not to mention legendary music hall veteran Max Wall’s celebratory England’s Glory. Essential listening.


James Marshall ‘Jimi’ Hendrix was born in Seattle in 1942 and died in London in 1970, aged only 27. In his short lifetime he became the best and most exciting electric guitarist in the history of popular music, as well as an fine singer and songwriter. Largely self-taught the left-handed Hendrix used a right-handed guitar that he restrung and played right side up. He was influenced by of blues artists such as B. B. King, Albert King, Buddy Guy, T-Bone Walker and Muddy Waters, as well by rhythm and blues and soul music guitarists such as Curtis Mayfield, and by modern jazz (Rahsaan Roland Kirk was one of his favourite musicians). Jimi Hendrix revolutionised the tradition of rock guitar by developing techniques such as feedback and distortion, making them an integral part of his compositions. Despite a frantic touring schedule and his notorious perfectionism, he was a prolific recording artist and left behind more than 300 unreleased recordings besides his five official albums and various singles. He became legendary as one of the all-time greats who, like Janis Joplin, Jim Morrison and Brian Jones, took the 1960s by storm then died young. This CD features nine outstanding live performances, including Hey Joe, Wild Thing, Purple Haze, and an extended version of Voodoo Chile. The music still sounds astonishing after forty years and this bargain-price CD is highly recommended.


There must be something in the Sheffield air that generates a musical vibe somewhere between popular tradition and quirky, left-field individuality. From the city that created the all-conquering Arctic Monkeys as well as highly successful art bands such as The Human League, Pulp and Cabaret Voltaire now come The Long Blondes, who have steadily built up a fan base since getting together three years ago. Long touted as ‘Britain’s Best Unsigned Band’, despite having to juggle day jobs with playing gigs, The Long Blondes have now signed with the esteemed Rough Trade label, home of Arcade Fire and the Libertines. Despite all the hype, their first recorded album does not disappoint. The striking Faye Dunaway-inspired cover contains a set of energetically escapist songs - witty, intelligent and sometimes disturbing, driven along by insistent guitar work and rhythmic drum crashes. The sultry voice of the band’s sardonic ‘style icon and protagonist-in-chief’ Kate Jackson blends perfectly with guitarist Dorian Cox (who writes most of the lyrics), bassist Reenie Hollis, keyboard-player Emma Chaplin and drummer Screech, to produce an idiosyncratic sound in which you can pick out such disparate influences as Jarvis Cocker, Nico, Blondie and Franz Ferdinand. ‘Someone To Drive You Home’ was produced by Pulp’s Steve Mackey and captures much of the band’s exhilarating live sound. Exhilarating and sexy, The Long Blondes represent all that is fresh and exciting about indie-pop, and this debut album could easily take them from underground favourites into the mainstream. ‘An unexpected delight’ - The Guardian.


Formed in 2002, Johnny Boy take their name from the eponymous character in Martin Scorsese’s film Mean Streets. The duo’s single, ‘Johnny Boy Theme’, featured Harvey Keitel’s opening dialogue from the film and the acclaimed ‘You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve’ was produced by James Dean Bradfield (frontman of the Manic Street Preachers), who has also co-produced this debut album. Johnny Boy - a.k.a. Davo (guitars, loops, vocals) and Lolly (more guitars, loops, vocals) - describe their sound as ‘Church bells, boy-girl vocals, loops, twists, warps, walls of sound and edgy guitars combined to rekindle the idea of Sandista-era Clash having an, erm, shootout with Phil Spector’. It’s a joyous, heady mix of anti-materialism, well-written, catchy pop songs with strong melodies that are built up, twisted and contorted and pulled back straight, before another few rounds of morphing can begin - avant-garde and pop at the same time. The album includes ‘You Are The Generation That Bought More Shoes And You Get What You Deserve’ with its glorious spiralling melody, drums stolen from the Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’, psychedelic backwards guitar, brass that recalls the theme tune to Rocky, massed vocal harmonies and firework sound effects. Other highlights include the pounding ‘Living In the City’, ‘War on Want’ and ‘Bonnie Parker's 115th Dream’ with its rapping and rousing chorus. The album is a glorious celebration of popular music from the past 50 years, referencing everything from Motown and Spector to Northern Soul and the Kinks.


Rockabilly is the earliest form of rock and roll - a fusion of blues, hillbilly boogie, bluegrass music and country music. The style has its origins lie in the American South and Bill Flagg was the first to name the music when he recorded for Tetra Records in the mid-1950s and recorded ‘Go Cat Go’. Elvis Presley’s 1954 Memphis sessions for Sam Phillips’ Sun Records were perhaps the first rockabilly recordings. The early records of such legends as Buddy Holly, Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis, Eddie Cochran, Ricky Nelson, Johnny Cash, Gene Vincent and Roy Orbison were also heavily indebted to rockabilly. Billy Burnette was born in Memphis, Tennessee in 1953. His father was Dorsey Burnette, part of the famous Rock'n Roll Trio which included himself, his brother Johnny Burnette, and Paul Burlison. Billy started in the music business at the age of 7, making his record debut as Billy Beau, and went on to master both the acoustic and rhythm guitars. He has also made a name for himself as a singer/songwriter, with songs recorded by, among others, The Everly Brothers, Roy Orbison and Ray Charles. In 1986, he was nominated for Best New Male Vocalist by the Academy of Country Music but put his solo career on hold the following year to join Fleetwood Mac. He toured and recorded with the band for eight years and later played on an Australian tour with Bob Dylan (an admirer of Dorsey Burnette). Billy Burnette’s reputation continues to grow as he tours with Creedence Clearwater Revival’s John Fogerty and makes wonderfully fresh albums such as Memphis in Manhattan. The songs here are some of the best around, including Bob Dylan's Everything Is Broken, a terrific version of Peter Green’s Oh Well, two Dorsey Burnette classics (It’s Late and Tear It Up) and three self-penned numbers, most notably the brilliant My Love Will Not Change. This wonderfully infectious music is immaculately performed and benefits hugely from Chesky's commendably sparkling ‘live’ recorded sound. Highly recommended.


Surfing, the sport of Hawaiian kings, arrived California at the turn of the 20th century. In 1959, the sport became popular after the movie Gidget and innovations in surfboard design, replacing heavy wooden boards with a lightweight polyurethane models that could be handled more easily. Surfing became a craze in Southern California and inspired two kinds of music, vocal and instrumental (the latter featuring throbbing compulsive tom-tom tattoos and twanging guitar riffs). Both strands of surf music are fully represented among the 60 tracks on this thoroughly enjoyable three-CD set. As well as well-known music by the likes of the Ventures, Jan & Dean, the Beach Boys, the Everly Brothers, Del Shannon and Eddie Cochran, there are obscure tracks by artists such as Ace Cannon, Preston Epps and the Honeys. Best of all are the wonderfully atmospheric instrumentals by Sandy Nelson (Teenbeat, Let There be Drums), Link Wray (Rumble) and the Ventures (Walk Don't Run). These irresistible sounds are perfect for in the car when driving to the beach, or just dreaming about it.


So far as recorded music is concerned, Memphis, Tennessee, can claim one of the most influential cities in the USA. Not only has it been home to Sun records, where Elvis Presley and rock 'n' roll first exploded into a wider world, but other great labels were based here too. These have included Hi (Al Green and Ann Peebles), Muscle Shoals in nearby Alabama (Percy Sledge and Etta James) and the magnificent Stax (Otis Redding, Sam and Dave, Isaac hayes, Booker T). These two CDs, issued to coincide with a major celebration of Mephis music at the Barbican in London, features a wide range of recordings from the mid 1950s to the present. Elvis appears as part of the Million Dollar Quartet (with Carl Perkins, Jerry Lee Lewis and Johnny Cash) and there are outstanding tracks by, among many others, Booker T. and the MGs., Howlin’ Wolf (whose earliest Chess hits were recorded in Memphis), The Mar-Keys, Eddie Floyd, William Bell, Isaac Hayes (a wonderful 18-minute version of By The Time I Get to Phoenix) and Al Green. Memphis has been a crucible in which blues, soul, gospel and country were shaped into unique and often revolutionary sounds. This diverse collection has clearly been lovingly assembled and the music sounds is fresh as ever. Essential listening for anyone interested in delving into some of the best popular music there has ever been. ‘Perfect in-car entertainment’ - Independent On Sunday.

[new classics] [world/roots] [folk] [jazz] [blues] [Rock & Pop]