Reviews roundup – Martin Turner vs. Wilson vs. Yuka & Chronoship vs. Cutting Crew
Written In The Stars
A good few court cases down the road, and Martin Turner, formerly of Wishbone Ash, has decided to release a record instead of sitting in a courtroom, scowling at Andy Powell.
It’s been recorded with his live band which consists of Danny Willson (guitar/vocals and ex-Showaddywaddy), Misha Nikolic (guitar/vocals) and Tim Brown (drums/vocals). ANd it’s very Wishbone Ashy, which is only right considering that Mr Turner was there at the beginning, contributing to all their classic albums. However, the band themselves aren’t performing at that level, which means a lot is riding on the quality of the songs.
And there are a few that get you nodding in appreciation, even if his always light voice has diminished over the years. So when they get their melodic rock flying, with just the merest hint of prog around the edges, then it’s enjoyable. It’s certainly better than some of the nineties releases that came out with the WA name attached to them. With the vocal issues mentioned, the instrumentals actually come across best, while the closing ‘Interstellar Rockstar’ is probably closest to the seventies heyday of Mr Turner.
It’s a good album and, hopefully, Ash fans exhausted by litigation, will give it a fair listen.
Old School, New Rules
Wilson, or to give them their full name, The Artists Formerly Known As The Steve Wilson Band, haven’t released many albums over the years, with the preceding “Sideshows and Fairytales” coming out, what, eight years ago? But they’re back with another set of enjoyable, yet melancholic, melodic pop songs.
Or maybe that’s just me, seeing as how I was born without a smile on my face. Either way, it’s another excellent compendium of gentle songs about life, love and the everyday nuances of being alive. As before, he’s wheeled in one Robbie McIntosh (Pretenders, Paul McCartney, Norah Jones, John Mayer, everyone) to play guitar, one of the perks of being bass player in McIntosh’s own band. Amongst the other pickers is Simon Felton from Garfields Birthday, so you know that the melody is always going to be up front and centre.
It’s quite a calming record, but without being boring, so if you’re looking for a reflective interlude during the stormy waters of modern living, then songs like ‘Silver Lining’ and ‘The Moment You Walked By’ will do the trick nicely. If you get yourself a CD, you’ll also get a lovely wee digipack which brings back memories of childhood days.
YUKA & CHRONOSHIP
The 3rd Planetary Chronicles
Album number three from Yuka Funakoshi and her talented band of prog musos. And it really doesn’t get more prog than this. After all, their debut album was centred around the theme of perpetual and cyclic transmigration of water, the follow up was a three piece suite with Roger Dean artwork, and this latest is, deep breath, a concept album themed with scientific / technological revolutions including Copernican theory, the industrial revolution and the theory of relativity. See, prog.
On listening, it’s actually just as close to modern classical, as it is traditional prog, with recurring motifs, lengthy instrumental passages, and the voice of Funakoshi being used as a tonal instrument, rather than actual singing.
When they do go prog, it’s the likes of Camel that spring to mind when it comes to the melodic content, although when they jazz it up, they do actually get quite jazzy. It’s always interesting and sometimes challenging, but prog fans could do themselves a favour and check it ou.
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It’s Cutting Crew! From the eighties! From ‘(I Just) Died In Your Arms Tonight’! Well, to be fair, it’s Nick Van Eede and sidemen, but as he was one of the co-founders back in the eighties, along with the late guitarist Kevin MacMichael, e can let that slide.
These days he’s joined by guitarists Gareth Moulton and Joolz Dunkley, bassist Nick Kay, keyboardist Jono Harrison, drummer Martyn Barker and the Blackjack Horns. And not a lot has changed in his world over the years, as he’s still operating in a world of melodic pop.
This is album number five, and the second since he resurrected the name, and one that is chock full of solid pop tunes like ‘Till the Money Runs Out’ and ‘Berlin in Winter’. The big ballad, ‘Kept On Loving You’ is just aching for an eighties romantic comedy, preferably with one of the protagonists dying, and the up tempo ‘Biggest Mistake of My Life’ could easily be a Radio 2 airplay hit.
A thoroughly enjoyable album from a songwriter who should be known for more that One Hit.