Reviews roundup – Whitford St. Holmes vs. Barenaked Ladies vs. Steve Young vs. Michael Livesley vs. Rocker-T

91mnvxdc89l-_sl1200_WHITFORD ST. HOLMES
Reunion
Mailboat

What?  Brad Whitford (Aerosmith) and Derek St. Holmes (Ted Nugent) have got together a mere 35 years after their debut album to make a follow-up.  Eejits. Don’t they know they’re past it and washed up.  For shame.  Oh, hang on.  It’s brilliant!

Yes, indeed, this is a great hard rock, blues edged album from two veterans who really ought to know better.  After all, Mr St. Holmes was off in the B-list world of summer fairs and Mr Whitford has barely a writing credit to his name with Aerosmith.  Which may explain why Aerosmith have been pants for a couple of decades now.  Because the good tunes have been filed away for this.

Seriously, if Tyler and Perry had any sense they’d be begging Whitford for some scraps, because this pisses over their recent output.  Chock full of great riffs, melody and swagger, it’s exactly what you would want from a classic, seventies, hard rock album.  There isn’t a bum track on the album, and with Deek in great voice, it’s one of my favourite records of the year so far.  Add in the fact that they’ve remixed their debut and bunged it in as a bonus disc, and this should be essential listening for fans of melodic hard rock.  Fabulous.

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81wasg84ovl-_sl1200_BARENAKED LADIES
BNL Rocks Red Rocks
UMC

Come again?  “Rocks”? Barenaked Ladies?  Two phrases that do not go together, hence the need for real rockers to stand under the banner of rawk!

I’m probably the wrong person to be listening to this, as I never really got them.  It was all so twee and self satisfied.  The kind of thing a graduate student would listen to while doing a thesis on Liberal Economics.  And sadly my view hasn’t changed, despite them throwing in a Led Zeppelin cover.  Yes, really.  Although, to be fair, singing “been a long time since I rock and rolled” is wholly appropriate.

Turns out that the bloke who sang their hits back in the day actually left back in 2009, so it’s a different BNL who’re on the go these days.  Which means the songs do sound different with a couple of the ladies having a go at singing.  But they’re still twee and smug.  But all of a sudden I found myself grooving to one of their tunes, which took me by surprise.  Until I paid attention and realised that they’d got Colin Hay on stage to sing one of his old Men At Work tunes.  Aha!  They still do the hits, so fans will enjoy “The Big Bang Theory Theme”, “One Week” and “If I Had $1,000,000”.

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51mphc6hksl-_ss500_ss280STEVE YOUNG
Troubadour
Thirty Three And A Third Records

And the continual rise of UK country music, um, continues.  This time around, it’s Steve Young, a well travelled musician who spent time writing and playing with Darren Hayes, as well as hiring himself out to the likes of Lionel Richie (whose own country album was very enjoyable).

But now he’s serving no master as he brings his own country meets pop meets folk to the public stage.  It’s what used to be called Americana, touching on traditional country, but losing the twang in lieu of pop/rock.  So it’s more for Eagles fans than it is for Waylon Jennings ones.  And there are some rather nice tunes here.

After a brief intro, you’re off into the album highlight, “Out Of Our Minds”, which is a driving seventies country rock tune of the highest order.  He gets a bit more New Nashville with the poppy “In My Dreams”, which would get some heavy airplay if he was over there instead of over here.

He goes all acoustic further on with the likes of “Old Friend” and “Life Changes In A Heartbeat”, but where he lays his hat he lands on gold. An excellent release which should do him a power of good.

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61jqlhowc0lMICHAEL LIVESLEY
Sir Henry At Rawlinson End
RRAW

According to the PR bumph that came with this “Vivian Stanshall, widely acknowledged as one of the most influential recording artists of the 20th Century may sadly no longer be with us”.  Eh?  WTF?

I can only assume that it’s unfunny satire written to highlight the unfunny satire that made the Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band one hit wonders in the sixties, which lead to said Stanshall carving out a living on the radio in the seventies to a handful of listeners performing unfunny satire.  Here, he plays a nob who is a bit of a knob. Cue hilarity.

For some strange reason, his creation Sir Henry at Rawlinson End has been resurrected in recent years by Michael Livesley, leading to this cast recording.  If you really want to know about the show, Stephen Fry loves it, and the Guardian think it’s brilliant.  ‘Nuff said.  But, doubtless, there are a few geography teachers at jumped up polytechnics who will snaffle this up, thanks to the appearance of former Bonzo Neil Innes and permanent bonzo Rick Wakeman.

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61qrfhkvnslROCKER-T
The Return of the Tru Ganjaman
Luvinnitt Prods

As if “Sir Henry At Rawlinson End” wasn’t enough punishment for one day, here comes Brooklyn native Rocker-T (Toby Sorensen to his Mum) who has (deep breath) “been guided by a higher power and life experience to vocalize the messages of peace, love and equality worldwide. He is a promoter of truth and rights through music. His array of musical knowledge and the spiritual teachings he’s acquired throughout life have enabled him to not only blaze trails in many genres, but to create a unique voice which touches spirits around the world from all walks of life.”

So that will be second division eighties styled reggae then?  And after pluckily fighting my way from start to finish, I can safely say it’s the sort of thing that would have opened the show at a Black Uhuru gig in 1984, when everyone was still skinning up at the back of the Brixton Academy.  In fact, there is an appearance from Mykal Rose from Black Uhuru, as well as Prezident Brown and Gappy Ranks, and a host of others with equally magical nome dep plumes.

In the finest tradition of reggae, it’s a mash up of new tunes, along with half a dozen remixes of old songs, to make an over long album, which almost makes you yearn for the days of Musical Youth.

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