Reviews roundup – Joe Bonamassa vs. Banjo Bones vs. Simon Felton vs. Darren Hayes

Live At Radio City Hall
Provogue Records

Ladeez and genellmun, please put your hands together, for the hardest working man in show business, Mister. Joe. Bonamassa!

It’s true you know.  What with all the solo albums, collaborations and live records, there must be a firmly enforced no sleep rule in the Bonamassa household.  And here’s an other live one, as you may have gathered from the title, to keep his legions of fans happy.

January this year saw him fulfilling an ambition, when he played two nights at the world famous Radio City Hall in New York, promoting his “Different Shade Of Blue” album.  Which means there is a fair whack of that record, whilst it also heralded the ending of the half acoustic / half electric tour of the preceding year.  And as with all Bonamassa releases, there is a great deal to enjoy here.

The CD version has thirteen songs and sees the lineup of Carmine Rojas, Reese Wynans and Tal Bergman alongside a horn section of Lee Thornburg, Nick Lane and Paulie Cerra putting on a very strong performance indeed.  The highlights are a plenty with the back to back ‘One Less Cross to Bear’ and ‘Living On The Moon’ the absolute peak.

If you bought “An Acoustic Evening at The Vienna Opera House” then you’ll know how well the acoustic section works, and this is no exception.  It’s out in various formats which between them encompass  75 minutes of music, two newly recorded songs, nine unreleased live tracks, over 2.5 hours of live footage, a special 45-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, a 40-page collector’s book with exclusive photos, and a sneak peek into Bonamassa’s childhood home.


The Place Of Dead Roads

Well, that’s a bad start.  Naming your album after a book by arch shitester, William S. Burroughs.  But, I’m bigger than that, so ploughed ahead, regardless.

And what you’re getting is rootsy, alt-Americana, that genre so beloved of people too dull to enjoy proper country music.  You know.  The ones who bought the Rick Rubin Johnny Cash albums, but would never dream of having a copy of “From Sea to Shining Sea” about their person.

JL Espada, who is Banjo Bones, normally performs these songs as a solo act, but in the studio he’s pulled in a full band to flesh out the music.  A one time member of a post-punk band, he left music for 15 years or so, before returning in this new incarnation, releasing an EP and some singles prior to this one.  And it’s quite good in places.  The ones where he remembers about melodies and forgets about beat pretensions.  So I’ve been spinning ‘Barstool Confession’ and ‘Borrowed (classic love song)’ with merry abandon.

It’s more for Calexico fans than it is Clint Black, but I’m sure that’s exactly what he intended.


Emotional Feedback
Pink Hedgehog

Solo album number three from Simon Felton, who has been singing and playing bass with indie-pop stalwarts Garfields Birthday since the 90s. That’s when he’s not busy running Pink Hedgehog records and walking his dog, Frodo.

It’s a proper solo album this time, with only some Steve Wilson guitar for company, and this sees him firmly in confessional, seventies singer-songwriter territory, which is a sidestep from his psych pop first solo offering.  But there are still plenty of melodies on offer, and it’s amazing what you can do with a computer these days, as I’m assuming that the retail industry doesn’t pay enough to hire a real string section.

That’s ‘Audrey’, that is, probably my favourite song, along with ‘Coffee And Lies’, but you could throw a dart at this record and never fail to hit a good tune.  The cheapos among you can play what you like for the download over at Bandcamp, or make an old psych popper very happy and pony up for a CD.

The Time Machine Tour
Powdered Sugar

This is the last of the DVD rereleases from onetime Savage Garden singer, Darren Hayes, reviews of which you will find elsewhere.

The Time Machine World Tour was in support of Hayes’ third studio album, “This Delicate Thing” and by the time it arrived at the Queensland Performing Arts Centre (in Hayes’ hometown of Brisbane, Australia) on 25 October 2007, the theatrical event, replete with choreography and set decorations, such as a giant bridge and a 24 foot animatronic steel and neon origami-made bird were in full effect.  It had been put together by U2 and Rolling Stones designer Willie Williams and is a sight to behold.

He was promoting the “This Delicate Thing We’ve Made” album, so there are appearances of album highlights such as ‘How to Build a Time Machine’ and ‘Casey’, and it’s a package his fans will really appreciate.