Reviews roundup – Rossington vs. Derek Jacobi & Anne Reid vs. Kevin Simm vs. Aeonic Impulse vs. Levee Town

71fatwxgnxl-_sl1200_ROSSINGTON
Take It On Faith
Loud & Proud Records

I was worried about this.  After all I still get a shudder every time I skip past ‘Love Your Man’ by the Rossington Band in my vinyl rack. The worst Lynyrd Skynyrd related album by a long shot.

So even though he claimed this was to be his blues record I put on my hard hat in case I ended up stoatin’ ma heid oaf the wa’.  Thankfully it’s turned out an awful lot better than I could have hoped for.  It’s not his blues album.  It’s bluesy but it’s still basically southern rock.

It’s 28 years since Mr and Mrs Rossington made an album together and it features mainly cover songs along with a band put together by the album’s producer and engineer David Z, along with some guest performers including ZZ Top’s Billy Gibbons who also co-wrote “Good Side of Good.”

It ranges across the south from the blues of “Highway Of Love” to the gospel tones of “Light A Candle”.  Even the ballads work with “Where Did Love Go” the best of them while the closing “Two Very Different Things” is one of the finest performances I’ve heard from Rossington in years.  Southern rock fans need this album.

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615mplbb2bplDEREK JACOBI & ANNE REID
You Are The Best Thing… That Ever Has Happened To Me
United Agents Records

Well now.  Who saw that coming. Sir Derek Jacobi and Anne Reid MBE releasing a record.  “National treasures” you know.  This is a slightly belated spin off from their turn on the telly show ‘Last Tango In Halifax’ and sees them along with the Jason Carr Quartet performing a set of standards.

And I use the word performing advisedly.  Because they certainly can’t sing.  It’s more Hermione Gingold and Rex Harrison than anything else.  Over the space of a couple of songs it has a degree of charm but a whole album is a bit tiring.

When they stick to songs such as the title track and one of my favourite songs “I May Be Wrong (but I Think You’re Wonderful) ” they get by.  Although the Doris Day version of the latter from ‘Young Man With A Horn’ will never be bettered.  But when they launch into “If I Said You Have a Beautiful Body” then it’s time to move away from the scene of the crime.

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a1ga987nlfl-_sl1500_KEVIN SIMM
Recover
Globe Productions

Probably nobody noticed but The Voice was won earlier this year by Kevin Simm, a fella who used to be in Liberty X, a pop group who were the five finalists of the ITV talent show Popstars who failed to make it into the group Hear’Say. They went on to have ten consecutive UK Top 20 singles before vanishing into the world of Heat magazine and reality TV.

But here’s our Kevin with his non-debut album ‘Recover’.  I say non-debut because he released his actual debut in Japan about eight years back.  It will come as a surprise to people who remember Liberty X as he has shorn himself of his pop roots and moved into the more earnest world of the 21st century singer  / songwriter.  So it’s less “Got to Have Your Love” and more “Thinking Out Loud” as he aims for some of that lucrative Sheeran market.

He’s been working with some top pop people like Jim Duguid (Paolo Nutini), Pauline Taylor (Dido), Starsailor frontman James Walsh and Ed Drewett, acclaimed for his work with One Direction, Olly Murs and Craig David.  And if this weren’t by a former Liberty X / The Voice bloke it might do really well.

It’s got all the touches needed for success with its acoustic pop and heartfelt vocals.  And some of the songs are excellent as well, with “Wildfire”, “Trains” and “Good News” worthy of being medium sized hits.  If people could put prejudice aside, then this could be good news for Mr Simm.

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410vob5pzzl-_ss500AEONIC IMPULSE
A Night For The Troubled
independent

Some heavy prog rock from California now from Aeonic Impulse.

It’s that modern heavy prog rock which falls shy of being metal, with the requisite Porcupine Tree, Tool and Dream Theater influences all on show.  It’s a guitar heavy album which works quite well and the band are all extremely proficient as you have to be when you’re producing this style of music.

They’ve got a gutsy approach to pieces such as “Part I: View of the Sunset” and “Part V: Awaken Away” but even though they shy away from some of the more nuanced aspects of prog rock they never sacrifice melody for bludgeon.

It’s early days for them but they show a lot of promise especially when you sense them reaching out for something adventurous.  A name to watch.

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81iz1ugp6bl-_sl1425_LEVEE TOWN
Takin’ & Givin’
independent

Here come Kansas City’s power blues and soul trio with their sixth album.  Now I can’t vouch for the previous five, never having heard them, but this one is definitely worth a listen.

Bassist/singer Jacque Garoutte, guitarist/singer Brandon Huspeth, and drummer Adam Hagerman (for it is they) know how to mix up their blues with some funky rhythms and some rock power to deliver their music

The songs themselves are fairly straight down the middle offerings but the passion of the performance and the strength of the arrangements keep everything going int he right direction.  It’s mainly original material with only a single cover but you can’t see where the join is as they rattle through enjoyable material like “High Flyin’ Mama”, “Kansas City Women” and “I’m a Damn Good Time” (from the pen of the late Ace Moreland).

A really enjoyable record.

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