Reviews roundup – Saga vs. Hold vs. Fabrizio Poggi & Chicken Mambo vs. Hawksley Workman vs. Forklift Elevator

SAGA Best Of - Now & Then: The Collection 1978 - InfinitySAGA
Best Of – Now & Then: The Collection 1978 – Infinity
earMusic

Now, that’s an unwieldy title.  I mean, just pick one and stick with it, because this is an excellent double disc collection.  Now I couldn’t afford albums when I were a lad, but I remember handing over 10 bob at the Ezy Ryder record stall in Oddfellows Hall, in exchange for a 7″ single of ‘On The Loose’, and then tormenting people with it for a good six months.  I loved that record.  Shame it got stolen by the leader of the Oceanic Left Hand Chapter when he went back home.  But that’s another story for another time.

Back in Saga land, it’s been an interesting thirty years or so, when they often seemed on the cusp of something big, without ever really getting there.  And now, with 21 albums to their name, here’s 21 songs, one from each album, which shows just how good they could be, when it came to pomptastic, melodic prog rock.

Naturally, that hit single is here, along with an array of some top of the range tunes that are essential listening.  Of course, there is a problem, namely there isn’t enough room for all their classic songs, but the one song per album approach does ensure that you get to hear some less heralded numbers, along with more recent material.

It’s a precursor to a series of Saga reissues, with bonus materials, so if you do have all 21 studio albums, you may want to hold fire for now.  Otherwise, essential listening.

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HOLD Hurley/O'Brien/Laramee/DeMarcoHOLD
Hurley/O’Brien/Laramee/DeMarco
independent

Not a good name for a band.  And it’s a lack of imagination that hinders some of the tunes as well.  Granted, if you’re into that whole post grunge Foo Fighters thing, then you will find a lot to enjoy here, but those of who like some oomph (technical term) to our music, won’t be rushing back.

Anthony, Kevin, Pete and Dave are musically adept, and I’m sure they will do well as an opening act.  They could even get onto college radio with songs like ‘You and I’, ‘Still Waiting’ and ‘What I Need’, but they’re not ready for the big time yet.

http://www.holdtheband.com/

FABRIZIO POGGI & CHICKEN MAMBO Spaghetti Juke JointFABRIZIO POGGI & CHICKEN MAMBO
Spaghetti Juke Joint
Appaloosa

If I mention that this album features Ronnie Earl, Sonny Landreth and Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin, then you may as well just buy it, and ignore anything else I say.

Italy has produced some good blues musicians over the years and Poggi is another one of them, which could explain why he’s made it all the way to album number 18.  It’s mainly covers, along with three original songs, and sees Fabrizio on harp and vocals, along with his regular band, as well as the aforementioned Sonny Landreth, Ronnie Earl and Bob Margolin appearing on a track apiece.

And it’s a nice album.  It’s not earthshaking, but the opening double bill of ‘Bye Bye Bird’, the Sonny Boy Williamson II tune and Slim Harpo’s ‘I’m A King Bee’ are very good indeed.  It loses a bit of focus thereafter, and Poggi isn’t the best blues singer around, but the backing remains strong throughout.

The originals are by the numbers blues tunes, but things pick up with an unusual cover – Tom Waits’ ‘Way Down In The Hole’ and another well arranged number on another Sonny Boy Williamson II song – ‘Checking Up On My Baby’.

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HAWKSLEY WORKMAN Old CheetahHAWKSLEY WORKMAN
Old Cheetah
Six Shooter

Here’s someone who’s almost released as many albums as Fabrizio Poggi, and who definitely falls into that “don’t I know you from somewhere” category.  Now whether he’s the bloke who delivers the Giovanni pizzas or the fella who almost had a hit in the noughties is difficult to say.  I’m going for the latter based on this interesting indie-pop offering.

Turns out he likes to keep himself busy with the acting and the soundtracks and the drumming in the Mounties ( a band, not the real Mounties) and the Christmas albums, all of which are a mystery to me, but he has a way with a melody, which makes this worth a listen.

When he sticks to the pop sensibilities, as he does on ‘Make Up Your Mind Tonight’, ‘Teenage Cats; and ‘Don’t Take Yourself Away (Instant Nostalgia)’, then you get a warm tingle in places where its nice to be tingled.  A few of the tunes meander away, but there is enough good stuff to make this a recommended listen.mplaining.

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FORKLIFT ELEVATOR BorderlineFORKLIFT ELEVATOR
Borderline
independent

Lastly, for today, we’re off to Italy for some heavy metal.  And they’re proper heavy metal as well.  None of that shite that Kerrap! tries to pass off as metal.

Nope, Forklift Elevator heard a Pantera album, thought “I’ll have some of that”, and made their way from being a covers band on to this, their debut album.  Now I’m not going to claim it’s the best thing ever. It isn’t.  But they have a passion and a charm that shines through the material.

They can riff as hard as anyone, and Mirco Maniero (rhythm guitarist), Enrico M. Martin (lead vocalist), Stefano Segato (lead guitar, backing vocals), Marco Daga (bass) and Andrea Segato (drums) certainly know how to rock hard.  Sometimes there is a hint of nu-metal, but I’ll let that one slide, seeing as how they probably don’t any better.

Bend an ear to ‘Misery’, ‘Overload’ and ‘Cathedral’ and you’ll hear the sound of heavy.

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