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Music Review Section

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My music writing - both published and unpublished.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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My Amazon Reviews
Free music - Best of 2009

 

Free music - Best of 2010

My favourite tracks from 2010 compiled as a playlist.

 

 

 

 

 

The Music Years - 2011

The following albums were released in 2011 and have been reviewed thanks to the following legal music sites:

Glen Campbell - Ghost on the Canvas - 7

A Better Place/ Ghost on the Canvas/ The Billsrown Crossroads/ A Thousand Lifetimes/ It's Your Amazing Grace/ Second Street North/ in My Arms/ May 21st, 1969/ Nothing But the Whole Wide World/ Wild and Waste/ Hold on Hope/ Valley of the Sun/ Any Trouble/ Strong/ The Rest is Silence/ There's No Me .. Without You.

One of the great things about music is suddenly coming across a wonderful album that is totally unexpected. There is a great sadness but at the same time tremendous hope about this album. Destined to be Campbell's last studio album following his admission that he has Alzheimers, this is a fitting passing shot. For a start Campbell's voice is as good as ever and the production on this album is sharp and crystal clear. It really is up there with the final offerings from Johnny Cash and sadly treads a similar path. The songs are sharp vignettes, worldly observations interspersed with short instrumentals. Many are co-written by Campbell and Julian Raymond. The title track by Paul Westerberg is a gem and much of the album is a celebration of the life of a remarkable musician. Wailing guitars, country licks, folk sensibility and a touch of rock n roll is all thrown in, but it's the lasting impression that makes this album such an important one and one I have found myself returning to time and time again. The Amazon MP3 and ITunes store version has a couple of bonus tracks including Jimmy Webb's "Wish You Were Here." Other writers and collaborators include Jakob Dylan and Teddy Thompson.

 

Yes - Fly From Here - 7

Yes I know that Yes purists will probably hate this as much for the fact that Jon Anderson isn't present as for what they will claim is its lack of musicality. But you have to put such things aside and comment on what is before you and what turned up in 2011 was a half tidy album with some excellent passages. I am of course coming at this from a totally different angle of never having been a Yes fan and never really liking Mr Anderson's vocals which have always seemed to be far too high pitched, Now we have a replacement Benoit David - a Canadian straight from Yes tribute bands. I find his voice more acceptable which Yes fans will find insulting and ridiculous but I can only comment on how this album sounds to me and by and large it sounds good

Kate Bush - 50 Words for Snow - 7

Snowflake/Lake Tahoe/Misty/Wild Man/Snowed in at Wheeler Street/50 Words for Snow/Among Angels

A wonderfully atmospheric offering from Kate Bush where the subtleties of the song outweigh the fact that some people would claim them to be slightly repetitive. There is almost something hypnotic about these winter-based songs and the duet with Elton John on Snowed in at Wheeler Street and the duet with the brilliant Stephen Fry on the title track provide two of my favourite tracks of the year. The idea of Mr Fry reciting 50 different words for snow with the occasional contribution from Kate Bush encouraging him to keep going might not sound like a solid basis for a piece of music but it turns out to be both catchy and strangely tuneful. This is a highly rhythmic album that demands respect and many of its nuances and subtleties do not become apparent until a number of listens. Stick with it because it's more than worth it and it does take some listening to. There's almost a Laurie Anderson feel on some of these tracks - particularly the opening offering "Snowflake" 

Nick Lowe - The Old Magic - 7

Stoplight Roses/Checkout Time/House for Sale/Sensitive Man/I Read a Lot/Shame on the Rain/Restless Feeling/The Poisoned Rose/Somebody Cares for Me/You Don't Know Me at All/Til The Real Thing Comes Along

Another great surprise of the year is this reflective almost meditative album from old rocker Nick Lowe that lends more to the ilk of Richard Hawley and the crooners than to out and out rock. In many ways there are parallels with the Glen Campbell album - man grows old, can't believe so many years are behind him, reflects on his mortality. And this is a very reflective album of the best kind - "I am 61 years old now, Lord I never thought I'd see 30" from Checkout Time - a desperate appeal to be remembered. Age is a theme throughout this excellent album. Lowe has forsaken his previous lifestyle to tell us that "I read a lot these days." But don't think that this is totally a depressing and miserable album. There is plenty of hope for the future. It all comes together to produce an excellent series of songs that could even reduce you to tears.

Blackfield - Welcome to My DNA - 6.5
Smith and Burrows - Funny Looking Angels - 6.5

In the Bleak Midwinter/When the Thames Froze/As the Snowflakes Fall/Funny Looking Angels/Wonderful Life/Only You/On and On/Rosslyn/This Ain't New Jersey/The Christmas Song.

A Christmas record that actually hits the spot. In places it's an implied festive offering with a number of the songs only having tenuous Christmas links. Nevertheless it comes as a surprise - a surprise that Tom Smith, lead singer of the Editors and Andy Burrows, drummer with Razorlight should combine and a surprise that actually they are very good as a duo, although we could have done without the rather Gothic opening of their version of In The Bleak Midwinter. When the Thames Froze is one of my favourite tracks of the year with a hook chorus to die for as it just builds and builds amongst brass band and chorus accompaniment. Just sublime. Elsewhere there is a very good cover of Black's Wonderful Life and plenty of other good festive stuff as well like As the Snowflakes Fall where they sound like Badly Drawn Boy.

Sirenia - The Enigma of Life - 6.5

The end of it all/Fallen Angel/All My Dreams/This Darkness/The Twilight in Your Eyes/Winter Land/A Seaside Serenade/Darkened Days to Come/Coming Down/This Lonely Lake/ Fading Star/The Enigma of Life/Obscura Realidad/Enigma of Life (acoustic version)

Another one of the real surprises of the year was my liking for this album from Norweigian Gothic metal band. That may sound horrible but what we have here is an album of great light and shade and considerable melodic charm as the band fuse death metal voices (basically men growling into the microphone) with the beautiful vocals of Spanish vocalist Ailyn with some Monastic almost plainsong chants in the background. Please don't be put off by that description as the whole think blends together exceptionally well. It's a pounding album with the title track and outstanding piece of music by anybody's standards and A Seaside Serenade is another particular favourite