Reviews roundup – Michael Schenker vs. Twombley Burwash vs. Dan Patlanksy vs, Stacey Solomon vs. Guitar Ray

MICHAEL SCHENKER Spirit On A MissionMICHAEL SCHENKER
Spirit On A Mission
Inakustik

It’s been a real treat seeing Michael Schenker emerging from the wastelands over the last few years, and I’m delighted to report that the new album from his Temple Of Rock band is another fine step in his rehabilitation.

For a while there it looked as though he was going to be just another one of those talents who pissed it all away, but somehow he’s dragged himself back up, and with a fine band to support him, this is a more than worthy successor to some of his best albums.

“Bridge The Gap” was good, but this is better and heavier, as he fires out some tremendous riffs alongside Doogie White on vocals Wayne Findlay on 7-string guitar and keyboards, as well as his the old Scorpions rhythm section of  Francis Buchholz and Herman Rarebell.  Songs like ‘Vigilante Man’, ‘Something Of The Night’ and ‘Wicked’ power themselves into your brain, and it’s a joyous noise.

It’s an absolute treat to hear these veterans at the top of their game, and this is the best yet in his Temple Of Rock.  It’s also coming out as a Deluxe Edition with a bonus DVD.

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TWOMBLEY BURWASH GrakTWOMBLEY BURWASH
Grak
Kevin McDade

Right, now, this is as mad as a badgers arse at full moon.  But, for reasons unknown, it’s also really, really enjoyable.  Apparently, one Kevin McDade had decided to record the one song he’d written over they years, and teamed up with his son Bruce, thus mixing up McDade seniors hippy dallying with McDade juniors dance ethos, in a messy Cubase battle.

That one song, became an album, with every song starting out as the same song: ”Caragaggio’ before heading off in a thousand and one directions, involving prog, psych and some noises still unconfirmed by science.  They roped in a real drummer who had mistakenly admitted to a familial connection, hence the appearance of Gareth Roberts, who had drummed in the pit with “We Will Rock You”, “Les Miserable” and even turned up on the Whitesnake related Snakecharmer album.

The opening track, ‘Buzzard Of Us’ (nope, me neither) is all you need to hear before the white van turns up to take you away, and if you evade capture long enough to reach the brain draining finale of ”A Sense Of Texture’, then you’ll think more kindly of badgers arses in the future.

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DAN PATLANSKY Clear Silence ThievesDAN PATLANSKY
Dear Silence Thieves
Dan Patlansky Music

Some South African blues rock now from Dan Patlansky, whose seventh album this is.  It’s my first, but he seems to be well known over there in the former colonies, having opened the show for some fella called Bruce Springsteen last year, at the FNB Stadium in Johannesburg, in front of 64,000 people.

And it’s really good.  He has a soulful edge to his blues rock, which lifts out of the biker bar circuit into an area with a much wider appeal, and songs like ‘Backbite’ and ‘Fetch Your Spade’ have crossover appeal, as do the ballads such as ‘Hold On’.

He’s an excellent singer and guitarist, and when he takes a sidestep, as he does on the acoustic ‘Windmills And The Sea, you can hear close up just how talented he is, and how deserving he is of a wider audience.

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STACEY SOLOMON ShySTACEY SOLOMON
Shy
Conehead

Well, here’s a turn up for the books, as Stacey Solomon is about to release her debut album, a mere six years after appearing on the show and over three years since her only single (for charidee), ‘Driving Home for Christmas’.  And that was a year after she sang ‘At Last’ on the Royal Air Force Squadronaires Glenn Miller album.  So she’s certainly taken her time.

The lead single and title track sees a writing credit for Rita Ora (which is never a good thing) and will be released on March 2, with the album following in April.  And it’s basically an album which could be defined as the antI-Amy.  Because yes, she’s mining the whole sixties, retro, soft jazz stylings but, thankfully, minus the heroin and spitting.

Now, don’t get me wrong, I voted for Stacey. One of only two votes I’ve ever cast, but it was mainly down to her personality.  I mean she’s a good singer, but not a great one.  And as much as I loved her “Top Dog Model” show, that means that this albums rests on the quality of the songs.  And fair play, bar a dreadful Lily Allen contribution and an out of place Johnny Cash cover which closes the album, there are some nice songs here.

There’s one from Duffy, a Coldplay (via Embrace) cover, and some Stacey co-writes with well respected music bods like Boo Hewerdine, X Factor contributors Nigel Butler and Ray Hedges, as well as Jon Kelly (The Beautiful South, Tori Amos, Paul McCartney, Kate Bush, everybody else), who also produces.  Give it a Radio 2 record of the week and a prominent Tesco till display, and “Shy” will do well.

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GUITAR RAY & The Gamblers PhotographGUITAR RAY & The Gamblers
Photograph
Pid

I previously reviewd this for Blues Matters magazine, so will simply repeat muself here.

Off to Italy now to meet Ray Scona aka Guitar Ray and his Gamblers.  They first got together back in 2002, and have toured with the likes of Sonny Rhodes, Keith Dunn, Bill Thomas, Paul Orta and Jumping Johnny Sansone, with their first two albums New Sensation and Poorman Blues produced by Mr Otis Grand.

They’ve been working steadily ever since, and now their new Photograph album is out now.  This one has been produced by Canadian singer-songwriter Paul Reddick, who has also co-written most of the songs with Guitar Ray, and it certainly ranges far and wide, taking in blues, rock and a wee bit of funk.  The band – Ray Scona (vocals and guitar), bassist Gabriele Dellepiane, keyboardist Henry Carpaneto and drummer Mark Fuliano – are very good, and they’ve brought in some guests to round out the sound.  It hits peak midway through the album when a horn section augments ‘Mary Lou’ and ‘Do The Dance’, and they almost attain the Albert King Stax vibe that Guitar Ray is so keen on.

A few more like that, and this would have gone from good to great. As it stands, though, it’s certainly worth a listen, even if just to catch that glorious mid-album treat.

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