A treasured find – Double Album of Rory

Notes From San Francisco

Notes from San Francisco is a legacy album of Rory Gallaghers studio pieces and a mixture of some of his great live songs on the second disk.

Rory was the great Irish guitarist that shunned the media, but was a phenomenal live performer. He lived to play and more often than not he fed off the vibe he got from the crowd and to all reports scaled great heights. His playing and song craft were always true to the blues/rock roots he started with in Taste in Ireland before leaving and doing his own thing. He played live at festivals, pubs, stadiums and anything in between.

Rory usually had a ‘power trio’ finding that was more than sufficient to get his music out there to the punters. A lot of studio and live albums and he was probably more successful in his the UK, but had sizeable followings in the USA, on continental Europe and also down under, but never mainstream high rotation radio down here. A pity really, generations have missed out on his playing and his terrific blues songs.

This album is one that has many of his songs on it, some recrafted, but it is a terrific collection and will get played and played, one you won’t tire of. Because it is a double album we get to pick two songs, one off each disk. Wheels within wheels is a standout track but it can’t be picked because its already a favourite. Choosing another was tricky as you get caught up in listening to it, and then forget which song you liked more. Tough challenge this playlust challenge. Long Live Rory’s Music.

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Venus & Mars by Wings

Every now and then we are typing away on the computer or watering the garden and we hear a flashback tune from the seventies and often its linked to The Beatles  or the solo outings of Lennon, McCartney or Harrison.  There have already been a volumes of words written about this icon’s of rock and pop, however as the decades pass there’s still time to  discover or rediscover a bit more about the quartet from which so much has been spawned.

Venus and Mars  – are alright tonight the mid seventies pop/rock album from Wings, the album and touring vehicle for Paul McCartney is a gem.

Not only was the album a collection songs written by the master of chord placement and knowing when to change key, hark back to Penny Lane and that step up in the chorus, it could have gone anywhere but the step up is sublime and a generation thing.  This was the following album from the commercial success of Band On The Run with two new members to work alongside core trio Paul,  Linda  and Denny Laine in Joe English from a band called Sea Level, and Jimmy McCullough who had time with Thunderclap Newman famous for “Something in the Air”.  Jimmy wasn’t long for this planet and died in 1979, he contributed a song on the album and had one written about his habits in Medicine Jar.

The album is always good to listen to as McCartney goes to town with a variety of styles, from the ballads of Love in song and Lonely Old People. There some arena rock and pop here in Rock Show, some sweet  sing along melodies; Listen To What The Man Said, and some homage to 50’s and cartoon pop with Magneto and Titanium Man. Out in the psychedelic range, if in verse and not song structure is Spirits of Ancient Egypt and the ethereal Venus and Mars. Some time since the original album which was packed already there a new edition comes out with extra songs, Lunch Box/Odd Sox, My Carnival, Zoo Gang and Crossroads.  Sometimes you can overdo a good thing, and its great to have more McCartney songs, but with most of these reboots and extended new masters, the can detract from the original album itself and its easy to remember the last song and then not pay too much attend to the bonus as they are often album fillers that didn’t meet the time standards in vinyl production back in the day.  My Carnival is another pop song that he does so well and is a good listen on its own.

In spite of the packers and fillers, if you take the original album on its own, it sets the precedent for a performer who loves being in front of an audience and putting on a great show.  Something he continues right up to the modern day arena masterpieces he’s been putting out to the world recently.  Venus and Mars is written and performed to be taken on the road as a touring album and the colossal response of Wings Over America has shown.

Rounding off the songs, there’s the rollicking of You Gave Me the Answer, toe tapping and all, the punchy rocker  Letting Go, and Call Me back Again. Every now and then you sit, look at the sky, the subliminal programming kicks in and you think.. Paul McCartney – Venus and Mars…. they are alright tonight – aren’t they!

Funhouse by The Stooges

If you’re a listener to modern alternative and indie rock and in tune with the sub-genres of psychedelia, grunge, and garage rock, then you’ll have heard the overtones of The Stooges third album Funhouse.

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This album was created in a drug field burn in the late sixties and released in 1970. The key components are the Asheton brothers Ron and Scott in the rhythm section banging out loud grinds chords and Iggy Pop growling and screeching the lyrics.  The songs all start suddenly and stop as if that was enough.  This is not a big album in the number of ‘packer and filler’ songs, its straight to the bone rock.  Reading other source material and at the time this was a poor seller commercially and critically panned, and yet it has something unique and long lasting about it.  Its not fools rock, its a band who have been indulging and getting strung out, seeking to make amends because they need to play rock   music.  The trappings of the life seek to rend them asunder and it was the lack of success and the overloading of excess that pulled them apart until the great fan Bowie kick started a reemergence.

The swirling guitar chords and vocals stand out on all tracks, with some amazing guitar work on each track. It really grows on you quickly and it is a masterpiece of  genre-hopping rock music, born out of crashing British blues and grimy psychedelic rock.  If you wanted to pick one track to get the overall feel for the style and content, ‘1970’ would cover that with the introduction of saxophones and Iggy’s far off aching vocals. The opening track ‘Down on the Street’ does introduce you to the album and is a portent of whats to come, but one dares not look away for fear of missing out. The title track seems to be a rolling over of the sax from ‘1970’ and some of the vocals, but it eventually gets into its own space and time as Iggy works into a new vocal.

Individualistic artists like Joan Jett followed, influenced by the Stooges, who were influenced by The Doors. Their contemporaries like MC5 still have offerings out there, and Black Flag is another band that has roots in their 1967-1970 period. It is a classic album of music you wouldn’t normally listen too, but I’m glad I did.

Rock on!

Seal The Deal & Let’s Boogie – VolBeat

mi0004067804There’s a lot of amazing entertainment coming out of Scandinavia these days with stunning tv drama’s, and a  plethora of dark, Nordic, death, thrash heavy metal, as well as a history of pop over the years, thinking Aha, and Abba are from up that way too.  Volbeat are a rock/pop and hard rock group out of Denmark. Not content to be labelled a one trick piny, Volbeat mix the heavy rock, with some rockabilly, rock and roll all fused with the flavours of ‘The king’ and odes to ‘the man in black’.

Its a catchy title, as it envisages a broad spectrum of deals and then fun times with the boogie on down to follow.  Other albums by this hard rocking foursome was brought together by Michael Poulson a member of Danish heavy metal outfit Dominus.  The band begun their journey in 2001 and have put together albums since then that all have catch phrase titles including: The Strength – The Sounds -The Songs (2005), Rock the Rebel – Metal the Devil (2007), in 2008 Guitar Gangsters and Cadillac Blood, Beyond Hell-Above Heaven (2010) which became the basis of a live set for 2011’s Live From beyond Hell & Above Heaven.  The highly rated Outlaw Gentleman and Shady Ladies was released followed in 2016 by the album under review.

Opening the album we get to hear Michael Poulsen sing and play and with some nuances he can sound a little like Eddie Vedder, but the strength of the music playing takes it higher and harder with The Devil’s Bleeding Crown. This was the first single released from the album, the second single in April 2016  was For Evigt (Forever).

There is an appeal for this sort of heavy rock of the ilk Black Sabbath, The Cult, and Deep Purple, The Zoo, and Black Country Communion, albeit they have a decidedly blues component to their sound with the maestro Joe Bonamassa out front on lead. Volbeat packs a punch without the verboseness and padding on their albums that ACDC have had since Back In Black.

Battleship Chains is a rocker, a 12 bar boogie, they mix it up with an up tempo Marie Laveau and give us a does of mysticism and pulsing, crashing guitars with ode to the middle east civilisations with The Gates of Babylon. Let it Burn has a slow intro and then some tasty licks,  the rockers Black Rose, and Rebound follow and then the girl-boy song Mary Jane Kelly where the band get to do some backing harmonies. Goodbye Forever has acoustic undertones, and then the album title Seal The deal pumps it all back up and heads off in 12 bar boogie space again.

The album has 15 songs plus a bonus live version of the first single. If you like your music loud, fun, hard and heavy but not enough to give you neck pain from banging then Volbeat will be your thing.  It is fun feel good pulsing rhythmic rock.  Girds the loins and helps you seal the deal and get on with the boogie. Enjoy!

As Above, So Below the latest from Stonefield

For a bit of background, Stonefield, originally started as Iota, however a cabaret singer of the same name arced up and so they cast around for a new name and settled on Stonefield a reflection on the gravel and volcanic rockiness of their home town in Victoria Australia.  The group came to prominence after winning the Triple J Unearthed competition for new bands in 2010. Its part of their website and a band can upload songs for the the wider audience to listen and comment on and for the judges to decide on an annual winner.  The girls started in the shed and cite their influences as Frank Zappa, Led Zeppelin, and Hendrix. Tastes imbued growing up the sounds of those great iconic acts permeated their world.

 

mi0004099285Stonefield are four sisters who punch out some solid rock.  Amy on drums and vocals, Hannah started out with the guitar and now has more tricks than a circus monkey.  Sarah is on keyboards and Holly fills out the band being the bass player.

This album is certainly heavier than their previous outings, and they started high and continue to soar.  Sister starts off proceedings with a good dose of loud crashing guitar and solid rhythm. The vocals as in all the tracks are not laid in there not over doing it, but part of the song, the music takes precedence and yet Amy’s vocals are clear, ethereal and distinct. There aren’t typical pop songs on this album, but the core of it is a rock music outing that is more about the whole album than picking a song and putting it on high rotation playlists.

The band delves into deeper psychedelic rock flavours in particular on Dream the second track. Changes takes a different tack, more melodious and harmonies from the girls give it a great feel and easy to like, its a great track that is probably my favourite.  Strangers is the shortest track of the set, with a groovy rolling bass line throughout. Regardless of genre and labels, these are great rock songs to listen to and the sisters who’ve been doing this since 2012 when they first appeared from the wilderness.

Eyes, is a slower ‘Zeppelin’ type number, perhaps not with the soaring solo’s of Jimmy Page, but the guitar work is really tight and solid with a lingering distortion.  The layered keyboards also gives this a Deep Purple feel too. Midnight is a departure into a slow ballad style song with the keyboards of Sarah being highlighted, slower and sensual and easy to get lost in. Lonely is another rocker, and then Eagle the ultimate track ebbs and flows along its entirety weaving a musical and vocal soundscape.

Stonefield bring the rock, these girls put on a good show, and clearly spend time writing songs and then building them into gems.  Changes, Midnight and Eagle are my favourites on this album. As Above, So Below is a great outing from this all girl, all family rock band and impresses!

 

Finely Crafted, Psychedelic Nuanced Blues-Rock

Firstly thank you Jamie from Dukes Vega for making contact, and giving me the opportunity to listen and review another Victorian rock band.

Fresh from the  heart pounding vigour of The Revenators, and not knowing what to expect, Dukes Vega provides me with a strong link to the era of the late sixties, early seventies.  The band is also genre bending in that they may have influences from the great maestro’s like Led Zeppelin, a hint of 13th Floor Elevators, Stooges, The Doors, with subtle hints of later bands like the seminal Jesus & Mary Chain.  Good news though, they are playing a live show at Music Man in Bendigo on Saturday, March 19th.  (its early in the review but i like what I am hearing so go and see these guys!)

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This band does it well. I found myself engrossed in the slow meandering tale of Lizard that was like enhancing day dreams, taking me out of the chair and into the verdant hills of a faraway land. Packing lots of punch, great delivery and full of great bluesy riffs and hooks.

Promoted to go on and listen to the rest of the work available on the album this is a great album to play from go to woe as it really draws on all the essential elements of rock, blues,  and psychedelia. The later is a rich vein throughout the bands work however it’s not overloading the underlying pulse of the blues which the band builds on.  The other great aspect is these songs are crafted to build, plateau and then find a strong denouement like individual short stories.  They are not short hip, poppy dance numbers, these are songs we older folks grew up with, Dutch Tilders, Billy Miller and the Great Blokes, Mick Pealing, Spectrum, there is a strong Melbourne rock lineage in this band and they would be right at home in a pub gig, pumping it at a college ball, or on stage at the Bendigo Blues & Roots Festival.  The pulsing harmonica drum opening of Same Forms gets one eyebrow up and then thinking about other bands that can do it start to come to mind.

For me, its always hard to choose the best of the best, however if I must, these are some that will give you en entree to the workings of Dukes Veda.  I’ll add the link to the bands sites below.   To start with Stoned, Lizard (Tuesday Blues) are two that really highlight the craft of the band and they should give you the listener incentive to indulge like a naughty kid with a box of cupcakes in the rest of the tracks.  Free takes you on another long traditional blues rock journey, interesting it was like the last cupcake, left me wanting a bit more, and thats a good thing.  The songs are crafted, layered and built up, rather than stick to a traditional 12 bar format, and that takes the format and bends it into something new and exciting, with solo’s, faster tempo, slower grinding beats, and that resonance and fuzz to give it another tinge of the surreal.

Dukes Veda Facebook Page

Dukes Veda

Dukes Veda does the old masters justice and are well worth a listen. The whole album is a bargain so help the guys out and get to see them ,or canvas a local venue and get the rock/blues enthusiasts along to enjoy the show. You’ll be surprised how many people out there love the blues and hearing it played live in whatever form it takes.  This was treat!

The Sunday Music Eclectic

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The fabulous Texan guitarist Eric Johnson teams up with fellow guitarist Mike Stern, who was once in famed out fit Blood Sweat and Tears to deliver an album of contemporary jazz rock fusion. Heavy on the instrumental and lots of sweet melodic solo’s, jazz licks that is very easy to listen too.

These guys can play guitar. Johnson started playing psychedelic rock and then moved to a band called the Electromagnets.  He is renowned as being a perfectionist guitarist and has played in the seventies and eighties with Carole King, Christopher Cross, and in the last decade tours as G3 with fellow maestro’s Steve Vail and Joe Satriani.  Stern is a jazz guitarist and after a couple of years with Blood Sweat & Tears, played with Miles Davis as well as recording solo records and winning Grammy awards.

Not well known outside the states, Johnson has a guitar hero cult following and has played on lots of songs and albums for others.  This album also features a blues tune with lots of riffs and solo’s.  Red House, one of the few vocal tracks is probably  my instant favourite. They both lay into some call and response blues solo’s and its one of those sit back and soak in it blues songs.

The opening track Roll With It is also a punchy number and the slow it right down to an almost psychedelic dirge almost with Big Foot. Other notable examples are Dry Ice and Benny Man’s Blues which is a light punchy number laced with melody.

A pleasant album to play if not wanting to bang, thump, but sit an read the paper or a book. A crisp, clear, note perfect album from two very fine musicians.