Reviews roundup – Lita Ford vs. Lucy O’Byrne vs. Bellowhead vs. Dominanz vs. Sunrunner
Steamhammer / SPV
Lita Ford has just had an autobiography published called “Living Like A Runaway”, which seemed like a good excuse for digging out some old tapes, tarting them up, and bunging them out as a companion piece.
Now, I grew up in the world of eighties hard rock and metal, and can safely say, hand on heart, that Lita Ford wisnae aw that. I know she had one Top 30 US album, and had a couple of big hits, one of which was a pop rock gem written by Billy Idols bass player (Mick Smiley) and one of which was a duet with Ozzy Osbourne. But I suspect most of her records were bought by 13 year old boys drooling over the pictures.
She made a comebackj in 2009 with a nu-metal album, followed by an attempt to resurrect the eighties, neither of which worked. Or sold. So now it’s time for some ‘lost’ recordings from the late 1980’s, immediately post the platinum “Lita” album.
There are a host of eighties names on here, including Dave Navarro, Rick Nielsen and Robin Zander from Cheap Trick, Gene Simmons and Bruce Kulick (from Kiss), Chris Holmes, Billy Sheehan and a duet with a young Jeff Scott Soto. And it’s as good as anything she did in the eighties. Which was average. A few of the tracks were on her “Black” album, but are arranged differently here. A curio for eighties rock fans.
I am, of course, boycotting The Voice this year, as I don’t believe convicted sex offenders should be given jobs by the BBC, so it’s just as well Ms O’Byrne was on the last series, because she was the standout contestant.
Since then, it’s been an early visit to the world of touring musical productions, but she’s managed to get a debut album out at last. And it’s a bit of a curate’s egg. There is no doubting that she has a magnificent voice, but whoever was picking the songs doesn’t seem to have much an of idea of what to do with it.
So there’s proper classical material, show tunes, and crossover versions of dirges by Blur, Kate Bush and Radiohead. They also don’t seem to think that yer actual classical music fans will buy it, as with the exception of ‘O Mio Babbino Caro’ (which everyone knows), they’ve shoved the non pop / show tunes to the end of the record.
Which is where you will find emotional performances of ‘Lascia Ch’io Pianga’ by Handel and ‘Ebben? Ne Andro Lontana’ by Alfredo Catalani. There are a few tunes from her time on The Voice, in case you’ve forgotten, but it’s an album of some gems and a few what could have beens.
Bellowhead Live: The Farewell Tour
So it’s goodbye from me, and goodbye from him, to the power of eleven. Yes, Bellowhead have knocked it on the head after ten years of being everyone who doesn’t really like folk music’s favourite folk music band.
And they’re going out with a bang, and a deluxe triple disc souvenir of their two farewell tours. Which is a lot of Bellowhead. Fifty two tracks,, in fact, for those that like facts. It was some trip for Bellowhead, what with actually selling and charting records in a genre of low sales, and their farewell tour(s) saw them selling out bigger venues than ever before.
But with lead singer Jon Boden wanting to move on to pastures new, this is as good a goodbye as you could hope for. The double live album is chock full of cracking tunes like ‘Haul Away’, ‘What’s the Life of a Man?’, ‘Gosport Nancy’, ‘Jack Lintel’ and ‘Sloe Gin’, while the DVD features the band’s full concert from Leicester’s De Montford Hall on 19th November 2015.
Fancy some Norwegian extreme metal? Of course, you do. And if you’re going to listen to some, then go for the good stuff. Which this is. It leads you in gently, with some chanting and acoustic guitars, before blowing your head off. Nice.
Roy Mathisen (vocals, bass, guitar, synth), Jørn Tunsberg (guitar) and Frode Gaustad (drums) have put together a master class in modern extreme metal, which looks back to the days of black and industrial sounds, but with a brutality and depth of sound that is a sheer delight. ‘Salvation’, ‘Devoured By The Black Hole’ and ‘Divine Ignorance’ are album highlights, but this is good, no matter where you drop the needle.
Add in a few guest stars like Lars Skulstad (Ex-Helheim), Abbath (Immortal), Olav Iversen (Sagh) and Doro Korsvold (Fairy), and this is everything an extreme metal album should be.
Off to the American colonies now for some mote metal, this time of the progressive variety. Of course, Maine is practically Canada, but we won’t hold that against them, as long as there is music this interesting coming out of there.
You probably knew this already but a heliodromus was a Courier of the Sun, one of the most senior officers in Mithraism, the Roman version of the religion from two and a half thousand years ago. Which explains titles like ‘Keepers of the Rite’ and ‘Star Messenger’. But hopefully without the tauroctony. We’ll leave that to the Spanish.
Away from the historical mysticism, there are plenty of heavy rock parts, overlaid with some progressive sounds, the latter largely generated by some superior synth parts. The twenty one (21!) minute title track is as good a place as any to start, with its complex arrangements. They do like to veer off on tangents, which explains the folky ‘The Plummet’, but I like a bit of variety, hence my love of Seaside Special.
They’ve got violins, ukeleles and a lusty ambition. More power to them.