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Music Index

The starting point for an index of all my musical sections.

 

Historic Album Reviews

I am gradually building up my reviews of historic albums from America to U2

 

The Music Years

Albums reviewed by years from 1963 until the present day.

 

The Gig List

A list of concerts and gigs I have attended over the years with reviews when I can remember what they were like.

 

Music Writing

My music writing - both published and unpublished.

 

Here and Now

Details of Eastern Evening News Here and Now columns I was involved in.

 

2009 Album Reviews

Major 2009 albums reviewed and rated.

 

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Free music - Best of 2009

 

Free music - Best of 2010

My favourite tracks from 2010 compiled as a playlist.

 

 

 

 

 

The Music Years - 1972

The following albums were released in 1972 and have been reviewed thanks to the following legal music sites:

David Bowie - The Rise and Fall of Ziggy Stardust and the Spiders From Mars - 10

Every song a gem. Every song important in the history of rock music. Every song dripping with class. This was where Bowie had been heading for - the weird androgynous character, the space artist insisting that we lose our sensibilities and enter his world with 11 songs about space, time and a new world. All you need to do to realise the greatness of this album is to transport yourself back to the early 1970s - a time of political unrest, three day weeks. A time of rebellion where the fanciness and experimentation of the 60s had given way to the harsh realities of a rather aggressive decade. This album is released and you play the opening track "Five Years" and the lyrics "News had just come over, we had five years left to cry in, News guy wept when he told us, earth was really dying." One of the most apocalyptic songs to be written and all this with a melody more akin to a love song - pure magic. The great music just continues throughout the album. Soul Love, Starman, Lady Stardust, Star, Ziggy Stardust and the sheer brilliance of Rock N Roll Suicide. These are the songs that are quite extraordinary in their power. Alongside them are the great rock efforts like Suffragette City, Moonage Daydream and Hang On To Yourself. This album has a brilliant balance. Bowie said it all in Ziggy Stardust with the immortal line "Ziggy played guitar" and how. So with two all time classic albums under his belt, where would Bowie go. Surely he couldn't produce a third classic or could he?

 

America - America 9

Some albums just sound good, however many times they are played. Some are just part of the growing up experience. Here is one of those albums - part of my musical heritage. The album oozes class and warmth. It's full of period pieces with attitude, close harmonies and instantly hummable choruses and hooks. In the folk rock canon this album has undeniable beauty and as a first album compares with and betters most in its genre. Songs of love, songs of desire. America could at times be obtuse with their lyrics, never more so than on the hit single Horse with No Name. This track was excluded from the vinyl album I first bought but has subsequently been restored and the album is more representative of the group with it included. It's just one of those albums that sits well with the world from which it comes. Individually I Need You is one of the most romantic songs. This album made me sit up to close harmony groups like The Eagles, Crosby, Stills, Nash and Young etc. It also made America enter into my consciousness as one of my favourite bands

Listen to America on we7.com

 

Harry Chapin - Heads and Tails - 8

Could You Put Your Light on Please/ Greyhound/ Everybody's Lonely/ Somewhere Sometime Wife/ Empty/ Taxi/ Any Old Kind of Day/ Dogtown/ Same Sad Songs

Harry's first real album as a singer-songwriter introduces us to his unique view of Americana - a world full of characters, lovers, Greyhound buses and much much more. It shows his beginnings as a chronicler of American life and the singing equivalent of Edward Hopper. More than anybody else Chapin told stories. His stories have a beginning, a middle and an end. Many are autobiographical and ooze stories of missed opportunities and  underline the human condition better than any songwriter before or since. Heads and Tails introduces us to one of his most endearing songs and the one voted by his fans to be his best - Taxi. Taxi is a typical Chapin effort - exploring relationships through the eyes of a San Francisco cabbie who comes across an old lover in his cab. Later he wrote the next chapter in the song Sequel. His lyricism shines through from the brilliantly evocative opening lines "It was raining hard in Frisco. I needed one more fare to make my night." Elsewhere the album is full of small scale vignettes and beautifully orchestrated songs - Chapin used the cello to great effect. This album is uplifting, thought-provoking and sad in equal amounts from the beauty of Everybody's Lonely and Any Old Kind of Day to the raw energy of Dogtown.

Listen to Heads and Tails on we7.com

 

Harry Chapin - Sniper and Other Love Songs - 8

Sunday Morning Sunshine/ Sniper/ And the Baby Never Cries/ Burning Herself/ Barefoot Boy/ Better Place to Be/ Circle/ Woman Child/ Winter Song

Harry's ability to mix beauty and the beast is illustrated with the opening two tracks of this album where the whimsical singalong beauty of "Sunday Morning Sunshine" gives way to the stark realism of "Sniper" which chronicles the life of a killer. overall the similarity between this album and Heads and Tails is very marked. This album introduces us to two more Chapin classics in the wonderful Better Place to Be and Circle. The former is again one of the best loved songs, a tail of loneliness and ultimate redemption with the lines. "And if you want me to come with you, then that's all right with me. 'Cause I know I'm goin' nowhere and anywhere's a better place to be." Once again the album produces starkness and beauty in equal amounts.

Listen to Sniper and Other Love Songs on we7.com

 

Neil Young - Harvest - 8

I'm sure many people waited eagerly for this release and I was certainly one of them. The fear was that it would be a huge disappointment after Goldrush - well it wasn't. Harvest has taken on almost a mythical feel over the years. Many consider it his best work and certainly it met with critical acclaim and is still talked of today. When Young releases a low key, tuneful album it is always described as "The New Harvest" and the composer also references the album many times in his subsequent offerings. It was more progressive than Goldrush. To me the songs aren't quite so effective but there is no denying the power and beauty of an album that once again contained some outstanding music with the likes of "Harvest", "A Man Needs a Maid" "Heart of Gold" (I can hear you singing it now and two songs with much stronger messages "Old Man" and a foray into drug culture "The Needle and the Damage Done." The only question on the lips of Young fans were "where does he go from here and can he produce a trio of essential albums?"

 

The Carpenters - A Song For You - 8

A Song for You/Top of the World/Hurting Each Other/It's Going To Take Sometime/Goodbye to Love/Intermission/Bless the Beasts and the Children/Flat Baroque/Piano Picker/I Won't Last a Day Without You/Crystal Lullaby, Road Ode/A Song For You.

Virtually every song a winner - virtually every song ready to slip onto a best of or greatest hits compilation. If one song sums up the brilliance of Richard and Karen Carpenter it is the opener on this album "A Song For You". They don't so much as interpret Leon Russell's brilliant song as much as inhabit and own it. Just when Karen's vocals threaten to reach a crescendo, Richard's arrangements bring them back to the recognisable soft harmonies that made the duo famous. Then in the middle of all this we get a jazz sax break which hints a little at some of the sharper edges on this album. A Song for You merges into one of the duo's most endearing songs "Top of the World" a sunny song of hope written by Richard and John Bettis. The great songs keep coming. "Goodbye to Love" became one of their biggest hits and the first soft rock song to include a sharp edged guitar solo, "Bless the Beasts and the Children and Paul Williams' "I Won't Last A Day Without You." You will see from my ratings that the three albums starting with Close to You and ending with A Song For You are all universally superb within their own genre and difficult to judge apart.

 

Jethro Tull - Thick As A Brick - 7

Thick as a Brick Part One/ Thick as a Brick Part Two

The fact that Thick as a Brick still stands up to scrutiny over 35 years after it was produced is testimony to Tull's lasting appeal. A vast sprawling "chuck in the kitchen sink" piece divided into just two tracks, it was heralded as one of the greatest and first truly prog albums. The influences vary from classical to jazz, folk to rock and just about everything in between. After comments in the media about Aqualung being a concept album, the band decided to produce a  true concept album, although we should use the word in its loosest connotations here. Ian Anderson dressed up the rather intense lyrics as the work of eight year old Gerald Bostock (i.e Anderson himself). The words are often obtuse, often obscure but always interesting. The album also provides a great challenge through the sleeve notes which, on the original LP, took the form of a mock newspaper The St Cleve Chronicle with a variety of jokes and spoof stories that lambasted local newspaper journalism at a time when I was a trainee journalist. This is not an easy album to listen to and shouldn't be judged until it has been given close scrutiny, although I'm not sure that's just what Anderson envisaged as he debunked the myth of over pretentious prog rock bands. It is a dense piece with so much going on - so many swirling tunes fading and returning, but remains a landmark album for the band.

 

Focus III - Focus - 7

Round Goes the Gossip/ Love Remembered/ Sylvia/ Carnival Fugue/ Focus III/ Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers!/ Anonymus II/ Elspeth of Nottingham/ House of the King.

A sprawling album from Dutch band Focus that somehow managed to mix searing melodies and guitar work with more experimental freestyle prog rock. Plenty of jazz and classical references there as well. Ironically the two outstanding tracks on the album are both heavily guitar based but written not by guitarist Jan Akkerman but by classically inspired Thijs Van Leer. Sylvia and Focus III are both wonderfully melodic examples of guitar prog at its best. Elsewhere the album is a real hotch potch with Anonymus II weighing in at a huge 27 minutes and Answers? Questions! Questions? Answers 14 minutes. This is essentially an instrumental album apart from a few Latin ramblings on the open track. Nevertheless in the context of the times it was almost a ground-breaking effort from a band who have always been one of my favourites in the overblown world of prog rock. Elspeth of Nottingham and House of the King are both quiet and stylish pieces.

 

Nick Drake - Pink Moon - 6.5

Pink Moon / Place To Be / Road / Which Will / Horn / Things Behind The Sun / Know / Parasite / Ride / Harvest Breed / From The Morning

There is a sparseness about Pink Moon that almost makes it hard to take. No backing musicians, just Drake, his guitar and his depression that would help to mark this as his final album. Overall I find it less impressive than his previous two albums, but that is purely a matter of personal choice. I know a number of people rate this as the best. Weighing in at well under 30 minutes there might just be a hint here that Drake was becoming disillusioned with his lack of success and maybe  running out of ideas. Sadly instead of immersing himself in his music and trying to promote it whilst fighting the lack of attention, he shifted into his inner turmoil. It is therefore particularly fitting that there is no embellishments to this album.

Rod Stewart - Never A Dull Moment - 6

Every Picture Tells a story established Stewart as a great British rock n roller - somebody whose albums were added to a collection without question. There were hopes that Never A Dull Moment would reach the same heights as "Picture." Sadly this wasn't to be true. Certainly after the previous offering this was a disappointment but that, of course doesn't make it a bad album and it needs to be reviewed in its own right as comparisons with the previous album were never going to be fair. Again Stewart trod the well worn path of mixing folk, rock, blues and country but sadly the songs weren't of the same strength. Stewart and Quittenton reprised Maggie May in the form of "You Wear It Well" which was still a good song. Jimi Hendrix' Angel is also excellent and once again we have the mandolin work of Ray Jackson.But the overall feeling of this album is perhaps Stewart has gone down the same road just once too often - perhaps there is a similarity between the quartet of albums that is now becoming slightly dull (perhaps that's why the title was chosen). It weighed in at just over 32 minutes - eight minutes shorter than Every Picture and contained just nine tracks which rather asked the question "Hey Rod are you getting short of material?" Another question posed is where would he go to progress his career. In retrospect we know the answer to that.

 

Moody Blues - Seventh Sojourn -  6

Lost in a Lost World/New Horizons/For My Lady/Isn't Life Strange/You and Me/The Land of Make-Believe/When You're a Free Man/I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)

In many ways Seventh Sojourn has a looser feeling about it, at times overtly political as on Lost in a Lost World and at times more like a collection of individual songs than music that clings together. Generally thought of as the final of the Moodies seven ground-breaking psychedelic albums, it has all the hallmarks and some very strong material. To me, however, there seems to be a missing spark that would lift it up a notch, despite the strength of Isn't Life Stranger.

After seven albums in six years the band seemed to hibernate before bringing out Octave in 1978.

 

Lindisfarne - Dingly Dell - 5.5

All fall down/Plankton's Lament/Bring Down the Government/Poor Old Ireland/Don't Ask Me/O No Not Again/Dingle Regatta/Wake Up Little Sister/Go Back/Court in the Act/Mandolin King/Dingly Dell

There is still some charm about this album but overall it's rather disappointing after the delights of Nicely Out of Tune and Fog on the Tyne. Too much politics (Bring Down the Government and Poor Old Ireland) which make it sound dated. The band do try and keep the oldie English village green charm with some decent fun instrumentals, but overall it lacks the originality of the first two albums and at times feels very lame indeed. Nevertheless there are still some high spots such as the romping Wake Up Little Sister and the soaring chorus of the title track

 

Al Stewart - Orange - 5

You Don't Even Know Me/ Amsterdam/ Songs Out of Clay/ The News from Spain/ I Don't Believe You/ Once an Orange, Always an Orange/ I'm Falling/ Night of the 4th of May

A pretty straightforward and anodyne selection of songs, which is really not what you would be looking for from a songwriter of Stewart's ability. There is a feeling of this album marking time before moving on to a more successful phase - a kind of rights of passage between the personal nature of Bedsitter Images and Love Chronicles to the more historical nature of the material that was to follow and to be so successful. There are pretty enough songs here but a distinct lack of inspiration and direction.

 

 

Obscured by Clouds - 4.5

Obscured by Clouds/When You're In/Burning Bridges/The Gold It's In The ,,,/Wot's...Uh the Deal/Mudmen/Childhood's End/Free Four/Stay/Absolutely Curtains

This was a strange direction for the band to take. Floyd turn their attention to more film work - this time for Barnet Schroeder's French film La Vallée. As such it seems to be a real marking time album between the excellence of Atom Heart Mother and Meddle and Dark Side of the Moon. There are hints of what is to come in songs such as Childhood's End and Mudmen. It's as if the band are taking a break from ultra serious work and almost between albums. So overall it's a disappointing mix of instrumental averageness and simple songs that fail to make a great deal of impact. 

 

To be reviewed - You can listen to the albums on we7.com by clicking on their titles.
  • 666 - Aphrodite's Child
  • The academy in Peril - John Cale
  • Ace - Bob Weir
  • Aerie - John Denver
  • Album III - Loudin Wainwright III
  • All Directions - The Temptations
  • All the Young Dudes - Mott the Hoople
  • All Together Now - Argent
  • Amazing Grace - Aretha Franklin
  • America: A 200 Year Salute in Story and Song - Johnny Cash
  • An Anthology - Duane Allman
  • Argus - Wishbone Ash
  • Aztec Two-Step - Aztec Two Step
  • Back To Front - Gilbert O'Sullivan
  • Bandstand - Family
  • Bare Trees - Fleetwood Mac
  • BBC Radio 1 Live in Concert - Nazareth
  • Below the Salt - Steeleye Span
  • Ben - Michael Jackson
  • The Best of the Byrds: Greatest Hits Volume II - The Byrds
  • Black Sabbath Volume 4 - Black Sabbath
  • Blue Oyster Cult - Blue Oyster Cult
  • Bolan Boogie - T Rex
  • Boot Power - Mungo Jerry
  • Border Lord - Kris Kristofferson
  • Burgers - Hot Tuna
  • Burning Love - Elvis Presley
  • Bustin' Out - Pure Prairie League
  • Can't Buy a Thrill - Steely Dan
  • Caravanserei - Santana
  • Carl and the Passions "So Tough" - The Beach Boys
  • Carney - Leon Russell
  • Carnival in Babylon - Amon Duul II
  • Cass Elliot - Cass Elliott
  • Catch Bull at Four - Cat Stevens
  • Cherish - David Cassidy
  • Chicago V - Chicago
  • Close to the Edge - Yes
  • Cold Blue Excursion - Ray Dorset
  • Come From the Shadows - Joan Baez
  • The Concert for Bangladesh - George Harrison
  • Demons and Wizards - Uriah Heep
  • The Divine Miss M - Bette Midler
  • Doremi Fasol Latido - Hawkwind
  • Dr John's Gumbo - Dr John
  • Eagles - The Eagles
  • Eat a Peach - The Allman Brothers Band
  • Ege Bamyasi - Can
  • Elvis: As Recorded at Madison Square Gardens - Elvis Presley
  • Elvis Now - Elvis Presley
  • Emergency Ward - Nina Simone
  • Europe 72 - Grateful Dead
  • Everybody's in Show Biz - The Kinks
  • Exercises - Nazareth
  • Exile on Main Street - The Rolling Stones
  • Expectations - Keith Jarrett
  • Faro Annie - John Renbourne
  • Faust So Far - Faust
  • For the Roses - Joni Mitchell
  • Foxtrot - Genesis
  • Free at Last - Free
  • Fresh - Raspberries
  • Garcia - Jerry Garcia
  • Garden Party - Rick Nelson
  • Genesis Live - Genesis
  • Garden in the City - Melanie
  • Get on the Good Foot - James Brown
  • Give it Up - Bonnie Raitt
  • A Good Feelin' To Know - Poco
  • Got to Be There - Michael Jackson
  • Graham Nash, David Crosby - Crosby and Nash
  • The Grand Wazoo - Frank Zappa
  • Greetings from L.A - Tim Buckley
  • The Harder They Come - Jimmy Cliff
  • Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes - Harold Melvin and the Blue Notes
  • He Touched Me - Elvis Presley
  • Heavy Cream - Cream
  • Hendrix in the West - Jimi Hendrix
  • Henry the Human Fly - Richard Thompson
  • Hobo's Lullaby - Arlo Guthrie
  • Hogwash - The Groundhogs
  • Homecoming - America
  • Home Free - Dan Fogelberg
  • Honly Chateau - Elton John
  • Hot August Night - Neil Diamond
  • I Am - Pete Townshend
  • In Concert - Janis Joplin
  • International Superstar - Johnny Cash
  • Into the Purple Valley - Ry Cooder
  • I Sing the Body Electric - Weather Report
  • Jackson Browne - Jackson Browne
  • Jeff Beck Group - Jeff Beck
  • Jesus Was a Capricorn - Kris Kristofferson
  • John Renbourn - John Renbourn
  • The Johnny Cash Family Christmas - Johnny Cash
  • Journey Through the Past - Neil Young
  • Just Another Band from LA - Frank Zappa and the Mothers
  • Kapt, Kopter and the (Fabulous) Twirly Birds - Randy California
  • Keeper of the Castle - Four tops
  • The Killer Rocks On - Jerry Lee Lewis
  • The Kink Kronikles - The Kinks
  • The Lady's Not for Sale - Rita Coolidge
  • The Last of the Red Hot Burritos - The Flying Burrito Brothers
  • Let's Stay Together - Al Green
  • Live at Max's Kansas City - The Velvet Underground
  • Live at the Paramount - The Guess Who
  • Live Full House - The J Geils Band
  • Live in Japan - Chicago
  • Live in Tokyo - Weather Report
  • Live Cream Volume II - Cream
  • Living - Judy Collins
  • Living in the Past - Jethro Tull
  • Loggins and Messina - Loggins and Messina
  • The London Chuch Berry Sessions - Chuck Berry
  • A LOnely Man - The Chi Lites
  • Long John Silver - Jefferson Airplane
  • Lou Reed - Lou Reed
  • Machine Head - Deep Purple
  • Made in Japan - Deep Purple
  • Madman Across the Water - Elton John
  • The Magician's Birthday - Uriah Heep
  • Mardi Gras - Creedence Clearwater Revival
  • Mark, Don and Mel: 1969-71 - Grand Funk Railroad
  • Manassas - Stephen Stills
  • Moods - Neil Diamond
  • More Hot Rocks (Big Hits and Fazed Cookies) - Rolling Stones
  • The Moviegoer - Scott Walker
  • Moving Waves - Focus
  • Music of the Mind - Steve Wonder
  • Nervous on the Road - Brinsley Schwarz
  • No Answer - Electric Light Orchestra
  • No Secrets - Carly Simon
  • One Man Dog - James Taylor
  • Paul Simon - Paul Simon
  • Phoenix - Grand Funk Railroad
  • Pictures at an Exhibition - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
  • Piledriver - Status Quo
  • Procol Harum Live with Edmonton Symphony Orchestra - Prociol Harum
  • Prologue - Renaissance
  • Pure Prairie League - Pure Prairie League
  • Raspberries - Raspberries
  • The Real Thing - Taj Mahal
  • Really - JJ Cale
  • Recall the Beginning . A Journey from Eden - Steve Miller Band
  • Rhymes and Reasons - Carole King
  • Rio Grande Mus - ZZ Top
  • Roadwork - Edgar Winter's White Trash
  • Rock of Ages - The Band
  • Rock Me Baby - David Cassidy
  • Rockin' - The Guess Who
  • Rockpile - Dave Edmunds
  • Rocky Mountain High - John Denver
  • Romany - The Hollies
  • Roy Orbison Sings - Roy Orbison
  • Roxy Music - Roxy Music
  • Sail Away - Randy Newman
  • Sailin' Shoes - Little Feat
  • Saint Dominic's Preview - Van Morrison
  • Sandy - Sandy Denny
  • School's Out - Alic Cooper
  • See All Her Faces - Dusty Springfield
  • Seven Separate Fools - Three Dog Night
  • Shades of a Big Orphanage - Thin Lizzy
  • Simon and Garfunkel's Greatest Hits - Simon and Garfunkel
  • Sittin' In - Loggins and Messina
  • Slade Alive - Slade
  • Slayed - Slade
  • The Slider - T Rex
  • Sloppy Seconds - Dr Hook and the Medicine Show
  • Small Talk at 125th and Lenox - Gil Scott-Heron
  • Smokin O.Ps - Bob Seger
  • Solomon's Seal - Pentangle
  • Someplace Else Now - Lesley Gore
  • Something/Anything - Todd Rundgren
  • Some Time in New York City - John Lennon
  • Son of Schmilsson - Harry Nilsson
  • Space in the Place - Sun Ra
  • Squawk - Budgie
  • Stoneground Words - Melanie
  • Striking It Rich - Dan Hicks and the Hot Licks
  • Styx - Styx
  • Summer Breeze - Seals and Croft
  • Sunday Morning Coming Down - Johnny Cash
  • Super Fly - Curtis Mayfield
  • The Sweet's Biggest Hits - Sweet
  • Talking Book - Stevie Wonder
  • There It Is - James Brown
  • They Only Come Out at Night - Edgar Winter Group
  • A Thing Called Love - Johnny Cash
  • Together - Golden Earring
  • Together - Jesse Colin Young
  • Toulouse Street - The Doobie Brothers
  • To Whom It May Concern - Bee Gees
  • Transformer - Lou Reed
  • Trilogy - Emerson, Lake and Palmer
  • Trouble at Mill - King Earl Boogie Band
  • Trouble Man - Marvin Gaye
  • Understanding - Bobby Womack
  • The Unnamables - Magma
  • Waka/Jawaka - Frank Zappa
  • War Heroes - Jimi Hendrix
  • Waterloo Lily - Caravan
  • Who Came First - Pete Townshend
  • Who Will Save the World? The Mighty Groundhogs - The Groundhogs
  • Weird Scenes inside the Gold Mine - The Doors
  • Wild One - The Guess Who
  • Will the Circle Be Unbroken - Nitty Gritty Dirt Band
  • Wind of Change - Peter Frampton
  • Wolf City - Amon Duul II
  • The World is a Ghetto - War
  • Young, Gifted and Black - Aretha Franklin