Here we are again with a look at some of the other musical efforts getting an airplay here at TWR HQ…
First up is the new album by Seth Lakeman, Tales From The Barrel House. Lakeman is no stranger to the pages of TWR as I have reviewed his last few albums in this feature. Tales… is a welcome return to form after the somewhat lacklustre Hearts And Minds. Recorded in a tin mine, this one contains the usual mix of new and traditional songs which are all given superb performances from Lakeman and his band. This is classic folk music but with a modern twist and like his Welsh counterpart, Martyn Joseph, the lyrical observations are keen, sharp and delivered with a breathtaking passion. Another fine album of well crafted and performed music which will delight his existing fans and I am sure bring him many more.
Seth Lakeman: Tales From The Barrel House. Honour Oak Records HNRCD01.
Next, a long overdue plug for Amanda Lehmann’s EP; Shadow. Amanda has been a welcome addition to Mr Hackett’s live and recording band over the last few years but here we have a small sample of her own work and it is a brilliant introduction featuring her wonderful vocals and proving that Amanda is no slouch in either the guitar playing or song writing department. A tantalising offering this one but one which definitely left this listener saying… “more, please!”.
Amanda Lehmann: Shadow (No Catalogue Number)
The Hackett association continues with Nick Beggs’ Stick Insect album. Quite a surprise this one I have to admit, from the haunting harp driven Science Fiction which is a brittle delight to the Reggae Man’s Hairdo, with its syncopated rhythms, here you have a brilliant insight into the music of Nick Beggs. We also get TAVA or as it has since become known; The Darkness In Men’s Hearts which is a superlative example of Stick playing. As you might expect from Nick, some of the track titles are definitely tongue-in-cheek. Who else could give tracks such intriguing titles as The Last Bitch In Hellville and Death By Cleavage - that’s Mr Beggs for you! A brilliantly executed album of music that is as thought provoking as it is entertaining - well done Nick, can’t wait for the new album!
Nick Beggs: Stick Insect SE-2002.
Next we have the latest release by your editor’s favourite one-legged flautist. It is of course, Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson and Thick As A Brick Two. The original Thick As A Brick album is without doubt one of the finest “concept” albums ever created and here we have another thoughtful re-working of the original character based around the premise “whatever happened to Gerald Bostock?” Bostock of course, being the fictional central character to the original album.
Here we have a variety of ideas based around the various life paths that our hero could have taken as he grew up. So, we get an acerbic look at a public school boy spiv, a fat cat banker and even a cynical evangelist among other possibilities all delivered with a fine line in irony and wit by Mr Anderson. OK, so these days the old pipes aren’t what they used to be but there are few lyricists who can match Anderson in terms of sheer inventiveness and this is matched by the usual Tull trademark sound making this another album that Tull fans old and new will relish.
Ian Anderson: Thick As A Brick 2. EMI Records 5099963872729.
More years ago than I care to remember, a Mr S Hackett recommended the next album to me and I have been seeking it ever since until I finally found it quite by chance in my local record store. The album in question being the incredibly titled; Sir John A Lot Of Merrie Englandes Musyk Thyng & Ye Grene Knyghte by John Renbourn. Fans of Steve’s may recognise the album’s opening track; The Earle Of Salisbury as Steve has included a version of it on his Tribute album. Renbourn is one of England’s finest exponents of what has been lazily pigeonholed as Folk music or Folk Rock. Certainly his work with the group Pentangle took him into the realms of Progressive Rock as well but here what we have is a heady mix of arrangements of traditional pieces such as the glorious The Trees They Do Grow High and his own compositions including the sumptuous Morgana, which demonstrate not only his command of the style and form of the work he was interpreting but also amply demonstrating why he has been consistently revered among his peers and fans as one of the finest exponents of guitar music that this country has ever produced - an essential album in any music fans’ collection!
John Renbourn: Sir John A lot Of Merrie Englandes Musyk Thyng & Ye Grene Knyghte. Castle Music CMRCD597.
Next up we have the latest album from Judie Tzuke. One Tree Less continues to find Judie in fine voice with the emphasis being on more acoustic setting for her music. The end results are just the same however, haunting vocals, and some impeccable lyrics always her trademark, this is another album that existing fans will relish and one which newer fans will savour in equal measure - excellent stuff!
Judie Tzuke: One Tree Less Big Moon Records OTS001.
It’s amazing how your past sometimes creeps up with you, isn’t it? So imagine my surprise when a few weeks ago our next CD popped through the letter box at TWR HQ. Some of our older readers and those who were also readers of The Pavilion may remember my review of a disc called Ghost Ships by Brendan Eyre? Well, here Mr Eyre is again, this time as part of a band called Riversea and this is their debut disc: Out Of An Ancient World. Dealing with such weighty topics as the creation of the world; In The Beginning (where have I heard that title before…?) questions of faith and the very existence of a God; Is That What God Wants? Among others, there are some serious issues raised here but the album isn’t a sermon in miniature thankfully but instead a brilliantly executed and performed album of excellent music in which Brendan and vocalist Marc Atkinson are aided and abetted by some of Prog’s most talented musos including several members of Mostly Autumn and ReGenesis’ Tony Patterson. If art makes us ask questions then it has more than done its job and here you have an album which will delight and intrigue listeners - it certainly delighted me!
Riversea: From An Ancient World RSM001. For more info check out the band’s website: www.riversea-band.com
Finally we have the farewell album by A-ha; Live At Oslo Spektrum December 4th 2010. A-Ha were always a cut above your average pop fodder and this live recording from their last ever gig only serves to confirm that view.
Here you have in effect a greatest hits package although one with a twist, not all of the tracks here were hits in the established sense of the word but the contrast between an out and out pop song such as The Sun Always Shines On TV and even there you have a more pithy message if you look beyond the catchy rhythms, to a track such as Summer Moved On, you have an idea of the sheer breadth of talent that this band had. Of course, the familiar strains of Stay On These Roads, The Living Daylights (so much more entertaining than the film of the same name) and Take On Me, will delight existing fans but taken as a whole, this one will definitely serve to illustrate what a great band A-Ha were and they will be greatly missed.
A-Ha: The Final Concert Live At Oslo Spektrum December 4th 2010. Universal