Reviews roundup – Kerry Ellis vs. Garfields Birthday vs. Joanne Shaw Taylor vs. Strange Boat: Mike Scott & The Waterboys
Hands up, I’m not a big fan. I’m sure she performs wonders in a theatre show, but her last CD did nothing for me, and as for her collaboration with Dr May, well the less said the better.
But I’m a sucker for a collection of show tunes, so thought I’d give it another go. And it’s OK. That is when you get past the dreadful ‘Let It Go’ from “Frozen”. To be fair, that’s a tune that’s beyond rescue, and not even a choir can save it. But then ‘I Could Have Danced All Night’ arrives and things take a turn for the better.
And it’s the oldies that work best. So, enjoy the tunes from “Oliver” and “My Fair Lady”, and give a body swerve to anything with the words Ed and Sheeran attached. Dr May turns up on ‘The Way We Were’, as does ex-X Factor bod Joe McElderry, and pound for pound, this is an improvement on “Anthems”.
You Are Here
Four years it’s taken for a new album from pop psychsters Garfields Birthday and, even though nothing is worth waiting four years for, this has turned out to be a wee treat.
The Feltons are without a drummer, so they’ve turned to Alan Strawbridge (Schnauser / The Lucky Bishops) to firm up the back beat, as they embark on a very enjoyable series of vignettes, taking in flying bicycles, cross dressing, commercial radio, and all the other things that people obsess about on a daily basis.
The flying bicycle song is probably my favourite (‘Magic Bike’), but I’m also rather taken with the sixties styled throwback, ‘Water (It Looks Like Rain)’. There’s even an extremely delightful ballad, in the shape of ‘Oxford’, which only needed a John Betjeman introduction to make it into a classic.
JOANNE SHAW TAYLOR
The Dirty Truth
it’s back to her roots for Ms Shaw Taylor on this, her fourth album, as it sees her going back to work with Jim Gaines. Five years ago they worked on “White Sugar”, still her best album. She’s tried out some different things since then, but this sees her back at her best.
The songs are much more memorable, which helps, and even if she’s never going to be a truly great singer, this record sees some good vocal performances coaxed out of her. Of course, it’s the guitar playing that’s always been the big sell, and there is some sterling work on offer this time around.
When the music, the vocals and the guitar work all comes together, as it does on a handful of tracks – ‘The Dirty Truth’, ‘Shiver & Sigh’, ‘Mud, Honey’ amongst them – then you can really see what the fuss is all about. Fans will enjoy the return to form, and it could win some new converts along the way.
Fight The System
Jaded Heart are one of those bands that seem to have been around forever, without ever quite breaking through into the big leagues. This latest effort sees a new line-up in place, after co-founder and drummer Axel Kruse left, to be replaced by Bodo Stricker (Callejon), and live guitarist Masa Eto is now a full member.
But musically, not much has changed. It’s still proper melodic metal, with tinges of prog and power metal around the edges. They seem to looking at early nineties Queensryche for their sound, and that’s not a bad thing to aim for. Songs like ‘Schizophrenic’ and ‘Control’ (which features Masterplan vocalist Rick Altzi), are excellent examples of the style.
They seem to have gone for a kitchen sink approach to things, which works a treat for me, as I do like things to be over the top, and there is plenty of that in about the riffage. For fans of old school metal, there is a real gem to be found here as well. Album highlight (for a man of my years) ‘Nightmare’s Over’ is a monstrous throwback Thursday metal tune, which is rocking my world on repeat.
Is it going to be the big breakthrough? Probably not, but it’s a heap of fun.
Strange Boat: Mike Scott & The Waterboys – Book Review
I’ve never cared for the Waterboys. I find the music ropy, the lyrics worse, and the whole hippy thing that Mike Scott has going on makes me want to reach for a shotgun.
But I’m happy to read books about any musician, and as Ian Abrahams is responsible for the “Hawkwind – Sonic Assassins” book, it seemed like this should be a good one. Of course, with Mr Scott liking to cultivate an aura of mystique, he’s nowhere near this, and a lot of it seems to have been culled from assorted publications, but it’s still a good read.
There is some input from the likes of former Waterboys Anthony Thistlethwaite and Colin Blakely, but no-one currently associated with Scott seems to have raised their heads above the parapet. To be fair, though, even these ex-associates speak highly of him. It’s not top of my list of books to re-read, and I have no urge to further investigate his music, but it filled an otherwise dull Monday afternoon quite comfortably.