Your editor takes a look at some of the non- Genesis material that is keeping him occupied when not hard at work on a new edition of TWR for your delectation and delight (or something like that!).

First up is the latest in the series of re-issues of albums by Jethro Tull who, as many of you know, are in fact your editor’s favourite band. This time we reach the halcyon days of 1976 and an album whose title gave the critics plenty of ammunition at the time and ever since. Yes, I am talking about Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll And Too Young To Die…. I admit this is not my favourite album by the band but even so, it has once again been given the Steven Wilson treatment and is a further example of what can be done when an artist (and their record company) are prepared to invest the time and effort into giving the fans what they actually WANT instead of what they think we want. As such, this release breathes an entirely new life into an album which I thought I was familiar with.

For the collectors among us, the project offers us several bonus track, alternate takes and enough previously unnreleased material to keep us happy. It is fascinating to compare the re-recorded version of the album done for the TV special along with the remaining tracks from the original album recordings too and the accompanying eighty page booklet once again gives us a marvellous insight into the development of the album from its initial stages as a putative stage play to the album we now know. It is also a treat to see the 1976 TV special on DVD and although time has not been kind to the performance it is nevertheless, a joy for any genuine Tull fan. 11/10 for effort - an essential item for any Tull collection or any serious music collector.

Jethro Tull: Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll: Too Young To Die The TV Special Edition. Chrysalis 0825646035519

Next up is the latest album by Karda Estra who are also no strangers to the pages of TWR. The brainchild of composer and multi-instrumentalist, Richard Wileman the latest EP goes under the slightly misleading title of Future Sounds. Don’t let that title fool you though, as purveyors of some of the best “Gothic” music you will ever hear, what we have here is another fine example of music that will unsettle you, chill you and perhaps even scare the living daylights out of you. From the very opening of the deceptively titled September Song, there is a sense of unease which grows as the album progresses. Season’s Greet is probably about as close to a proper “song” as you are likely to get from Mr Wileman and his good lady Ileesha’s vocals certainly lift the track to a slightly higher ethereal plane.

We return to normal service with the discordant Niall which to my ears is redolent with the sounds of early King Crimson at their most avant garde whilst Yondo - based on the story The Abominations of Yondo by American fantasist, Clark Ashton Smith is another deeply unsettling performance which will leave you looking under the bed or sleeping with the light on after you hear it! Richard is a past master of suspenseful music and Future Sounds is no exception. Listen to this one with the lights on folks!

Karda Estra: Future Sounds. No Image NI CDR 20

Next up it is a delight to be able to include a brace of albums by the legend that is Judie Tzuke. Judie’s profile may be somewhat lower these days than it was in the late 1970’s and 1980’s but that has not stopped her continuing to produce music that is both enchanting and mesmerising by turns. These two albums: Songclub and Sonclub Too are a fascinating look behind the scenes, comprised as they are of songs that did not make it to albums for one reason or another.

Right from the start one thing is apparent, Judie has lost none of her vocal power and these two collections have too many moments of excellence on them to really be selective but I’ll take the plunge and pick a few Outside, Cha Chango, Spotlight and Ugly from Songclub demonstrate the variety of styles that Judie has always populated her albums with and with some incredibly potent lyrical moments too I do wonder why it has taken so long for these songs to see the light of day but no matter, they are here now and my musical world is all the better for their presence!

Judie followed this up last year with Songclub Too another selection of marvellous musical moments. I love the rocking Demons which harks back to some of Judie’s rockier moments from the past and proving that she can still belt out a tune when she wants too. Venus is an altogether more atmospheric performance while Broken with its use of what sounds suspiciously like a drum machine is the only track that sounds slightly dated to my ears. Nothing On My Mind once again takes us back to the days of Jeannie No and Nighthawks a stomping up tempo rocker a-la- Tzuke of course!

Click to enlarge
Click to enlarge

There is nothing substandard about any of the tracks on either of these albums, they are both solid and equally satisfying and the fact that these songs are of such quality only bodes well for Judie’s next studio album which I for one hope will be with us soon!