Reviews roundup – Anita Harris vs. The Rolling Stones vs. Frances Ruffelle vs. Aron Scott
In My Life
It’s Anita Harris! From the sixties! My first childhood crush! And she’s got a new single out, trailing a brand new album due out in 2016. But you’d better get a shift on, because the three track limited edition CD single, is only running to 500 copies. Johnny come latelies will have to make do with a download AA side version.
Shame then she had to make a comeback with a Beatles band tune, though. At least, it’s the world weary, reflective ‘In My Life’, which Ms Harris ably inhabits. She was never the best singer around, but always had a charm about her, something that translates to the material she’s chose. Next up is a romp through the Brook Benton (now that’s more like it) classic, ‘Rockin’ Good Way’ where she is accompanied by rock ‘n’ roll pianist and singer Peter Gill. And it’s the same combination that makes up the bonus track, a suitably festive ‘Baby It’s Cold Outside’.
Me, I’m delighted to hear her singing again, even if it is for those childhood hot flushes. Welcome back.
From The Vault – Live In Leeds 1982
The latest installment in the Rolling Stones From The Vault series, sees the Anita Harris contemporaries them closing their “Tattoo You” tour in Leeds back in 1982. I was particularly keen to see this, as 1982 was my first Rolling Stones show. That was at the Edinburgh Playhouse a couple of months earlier, and they blew the place apart. Unlike my final Stones show a decade later in a soulless football stadium, which reeked of flacidity.
Now I was wasted for most of the eighties, but unless my imagination has ran away from me, this was pretty much what I saw, although I think the covers section in the middle is a bit different. I remember ‘Chantilly Lace’, but I was very, very drunk. Now this was the last anyone would see of the Stones for seven years, but they bowed out on a bit if a high. Granted, there was a lot of new material, but for at least half the set, the band seems to be on fire.
Keith Richards guitar seems to veer in and out of tune in places, but with Ian Stewart performing his last show with the band, and classic songs like ‘You Can t Always Get What You Want’, ‘Honky Tonk Women’ and ‘Brown Sugar’ bolstering the newbies, it’s a pretty good set. As with all the vintage shows being exhumed, the footage has been restored and the sound has been newly mixed by Bob Clearmountain.
I Say Yeh-Yeh
Tricky one this. I’m a big fan of Ms Ruffelle, but not someone who cares for French music. I used to think it’s because French music is shite, but then stumbled across a BBC4 documentary, which went into great detail about how their take on music, was all about the words, and that the melody was always secondary. Which is a posh, arts degree version of what I said above.
So, “I Say Yeh-Yeh” was always going to be difficult for me. Interestingly, it was produced by Gwyneth Herbert, someone who could have been a contender, before heading off into the world of art and fart. They banged this out sharpish, taking three days to record it, on old 60s equipment in the windowless basement of a converted brothel in East London. Which is nice.
But I’ve struggled to enjoy it. Ms Ruffelle is in fine voice, and the olde worlde production suits her well, but you can’t polish a turd. And there a lot of them here. There are some saving graces, however, with a revisit to ‘Le Brasier’ and a mashup of the Georgie Fame song ‘Yeh Yeh’ and Brigitte Bardot’s ‘Ça Pourrait Changer’ working well.
She also revisits the past, with the opening track, ‘L’un Vers l’Autre’ having been written for Eponine in Les Mis, but then cut from the show, and the closing being a grown up version of ”On My Own’. It’s a vocally great record but, for me, a stylistic miss.
Tattooist turned rocker, Aron Scott, has put together his debut album for your delectation, and it’s turned out rather well.
His thing is balls to the walls seventies guitar rock, with a few dips into the world of eighties melodic metal. It’s a record chock full of attitude, as well as some chunky riffs, shredding solos and enough energy to light up a sweaty bikers club.
For sure, it’s not reinventing the wheel, and not all the songs are worth hitting repeat on, but when it all comes together on ‘Sunshine and Rock ‘n’ Roll’, ‘Cosmic Hog’, ‘No Mercy’, ‘Rattlesnake It’ and a couple of others, then it’s well worth an opening slot on the next Black Label Society tour.