Reviews roundup – Nazareth vs. Jared James Nichols vs. Stolen Hearts vs. Frail Sincerity vs. Heidi Breyer

NAZARETH No Means Of EscapeNAZARETH
No Means Of Escape
Eagle Vision

That’s just careless, that is.  You keep the same vocalist for 45 years, then you lose the next one after 45 minutes.  Well, nearly.  This DVD was probably intended to capture a glorious new chapter in the history of Scotch rock legends Nazareth with their new lead singer, Linton Osborn, up front and centre.  But now it’s a curious footnote in the history of Nazareth, as he’s gone, and one time NWOBHM legend, Carl Sentance is in his place.

But back to this live in the studio DVD, in front of an invited audience of just 150 people.  Like a lot of heritage acts such as Deep Purple, Nazareth are down to one original member.  In their case it’s bass player Pete Agnew, alongside his son Lee on drums and guitarist Jimmy Murrison.  They make for a good band, but as a long time Nazareth fan who first saw them in the seventies, it really is odd hearing the songs sung by someone who isn’t Dan McCafferty.

But they put on a good show and by the end you can’t help think that it’s a shame that it didn’t work out with Osborn, as he does a bang up job.  It’s also nice to hear them digging into their back catalogue, ranging from their debut single, ‘Dear John’ right through to the title track of the final McCafferty album, “Rock n Roll Telephone”.  The only thing that didn’t work for me was the acoustic treatments of ‘May The Sun Shine’ and ‘See Me’, although fair play for trying something different.

But the hits were out in force as well, and you can’t go wrong with the likes of ‘Turn On Your Receiver’, ‘Bad Bad Boy’, ‘Shanghai’d In Shanghai’, ‘Hearts Grown Cold’ and many, many more.  It comes with a 50 min documentary on the history of Nazareth, as well as interviews with Dan McCafferty and Pete Agnew.

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JARED JAMES NICHOLS Highwayman Tour EPJARED JAMES NICHOLS
Highwayman Tour EP
Listenable

Ooh, this is nice.  Hot on the heels of his debut album, and timed to tie in with a UK Glen Hughes support slot, here comes Jared James Nichols with an EP to get us all hot and bothered.

Well, that’s what his debut album did, and to be honest, how was I not going to like this when it kicks off with a cover of a classic by Messrs Grand, Funk and Railroad.  That’ll be ‘We’re An American Band’, and it’s a real highlight.  But he’s also thrown in three new originals with ‘Gone’ as close to straight blues as he gets and a spanking blues rock tune in the shape of ‘Old Glory’  There is also a cover of ’30 Days In The Hole’ from Humble Pie, with the only miss being ‘Fallin’ Down’ which just didn’t work for me.

With his raw roar, both on vocals and guitar, he makes a rare noise, and this EP is a real treat.  If you don’t have the album, listen to this and you soon will have.  If you do have the album, then this is an essential bonus.  Rawk!

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DIRTY SOUTHERN SOUL Stolen HeartsSTOLEN HEARTS
Dirty Southern Soul
independent

A blues meets soul duo comprising Pam Taylor and Robert Johnson, Jr., Dirty Southern Soul certainly make for an interesting listen.

It’s not as bluesy as you would expect from someone called Robert Johnson, but it’s probably wise to try to make your own way.  They’re both multi instrumentalists and vocalists, and their sound takes in soul, rock, funk and blues.  They probably wish they were in Muscle Shoals back in the seventies, but they put on a good show, nonetheless.

The main body of the album comprises ten originals, and there are some really good songs in there.  Tunes like ‘Werewolves (Make Lousy Boyfriends)’, ‘All I Got Left’ and ‘Do You No Harm’ are real treats, well worth a listen.  They finish off with two live bonus songs in ‘Already Alright’ and the weel kent ‘I’d Rather Go Blind’ which sees them stretch out for nigh on ten minutes.

The full band sound of the live closers worked best for me, but it’s a record well worth investigating.

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FRAIL SINCERITYFRAIL SINCERITY
same
Shining Records

Two NWOBHM mentions in one day!  I feel positively young again.  Hot on the heels of Persian Risk, I vaguely remember Legend as being a proggy kind of NWOBHM band in the vein of Saracen.  I’m sure there was even a CD anthology about 15 years back.  Well, Frail Sincerity guitarist Neil Haworth passed through their ranks in the early eighties and has now put together a new project.

Rather than returning to metal, this goes a step further back into the world of seventies rock.  And it has some charm to it.  Haworth has roped in some fellow Jersey (Channel Islands, not New York) musicians in the shape of Gav Bartlet (Drums), Matt Bougourd (Bass) and vocalist Zoltan Pallot, and they make a good noise.  In particular, Pallot has a fine voice that is a pleasure to listen to.

You might want to try streaming a couple of the best songs like ‘Hell Or High Water’ and ‘Sweet California Dreaming’ before taking the plunge, but I reckon you might like what you find.

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HEIDI BRYER Letters From Far AwayHEIDI BREYER
Letters From Far Away
independent

Something a wee bit different for me now, as I head off into the world of New Age piano.  Yes, it’s not all beer ‘n’ pills round my way.  Not on a Tuesday, anyway.  But here is what Ms Bryer has to say for herself.  ” ‘Letters From Far Away’ is my musical interpretation of a handful of experiences in the story of one couple, each from different countries, who met in 1960 and after 5 years apart, against all odds, walked the rest of their lives together. It is also about love in all it’s forms, how love is the common denominator that transcends time and links the generations over the course of decades. It is the one thing that connects us all.”

So a concept album about love, then.  The first disc sees a vocal run through, along with some very sympathetic backing, while the second disc is the solo piano interpretations.  And there is no doubting that Ms Bryer has some mad skillz on the piano.  And she can write a delightful melody as well.  All of which leads the first disc into unfamiliar but very enjoyable territory.

A lot of the songs are about small things.  But that’s what love is.  It’s not the huge “see me” moment.  It’s the quiet times between two people.  And songs like ‘Small Café’ and ‘Touchstone’ bring those moments to life, in a sweet and affirming manner.  However, I remain a Northern barbarian at heart, so I’m not going to pretend I’ll be listening to the solo piano disc again.  However ,the main album turned out to be an unexpected and pleasurable listen.

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tsm

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