Reviews roundup – Thom Hell vs. Kaipa Da Capo vs. Bandzilla vs. John Weeks Band

41r-z2b8v50lTHOM HELL
Happy Rabbit
Lost Boy

Never heard of him.  But that hasn’t stopped him racking up seven albums before this one and grabbing three Norwegian Grammys along the way.  Now I don’t know whether that’s impressive or the Norwegian version of my Edinburgh Evening Dispatch Beautiful Baby award but let’s give him the benefit of the doubt.

It’s actually very old fashioned harking back to the more experimental pop sounds of the seventies. And by that I mean the stuff that was actually successful but which was wildly original.  If anyone has seen repeats of Top of the Pops from 1972 through till 1974 they’ll know just how original the music was.  So this is sort of a softer version of 10cc with hints of mid period ELO.

Which is a good thing as the melodies on tunes like “In The Night”, “Leave Me To Die” and the album highlight “Blues In A” are just magnificent.  A surprise and a treat.

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716ribsalgl-_sl1000_KAIPA DA CAPO
Darskapens Monotoni
Foxtrot

Way back in ye olden days, so far back that even I was a mere pup a seventeen year old guitarist called Roine Stolt linked up with Ingemar Bergman and Tomas Eriksson to form a band.  Fast forward several decades an no self respecting progster hasn’t heard of Roine Stolt.

He’s been busy working with The Flower Kings, Transatlantic, Steve Hackett and most recently former Yes man, Jon Anderson. However a couple of years ago he got back together with his first band to play some shows and write some new songs.  And here they are in all their glory.

Because this is the sort o fthing you would expect to have heard back in the early seventies as they write and perform the music they loved as young men.  But it’s not all retro as it has a 21st century production which allows all the intricacies to sparkle.  So if you’ve still got a yen for the likes of Camel, Caravan and Hackett era Genesis, then this is the new album you just have to hear.

They don’t skimp either with several of the songs hitting the ten minute mark and one of them easing up over the quarter of an hour mark.  The music is impeccable prog and even if I don’t understand a word of the Swedish lyrics, the sound is almost too good to be true. One of the prog albums of the year.

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61bfsvyrcul-_ss500BANDZILLA
Bandzilla Rises!
Bandzilla Records

Those of you who read the small print on record sleeves may know that Bandzilla was led by Richard Niles and that the 25-piece jazz-fusion orchestra was originally formed in the studio to play on the Grace Jones track “Slave To The Rhythm”.

That’s not the kind of band that you can keep on retainer although they have recorded with the likes of Ray Charles, Kylie Minogue, Mariah Carey, Michael McDonald, Cher and Tina Turner amongst many others over the years.  But finally Mr Niles has managed to get a Bandzilla record together and the 14-piece band and 9-piece vocal group have put together a fantastic set of jazz fusion.

Coming along for the ride are folk like Randy Brecker (The Brecker Brothers), Leo Sayer, Lamont Dozier Jr., Daisy Chute (from All Angels) and a stellar cast of musicians.  Yes, it’s very seventies oriented in its fusion approach but the stylings of “You Can’t Get There From Here”, “L.A. Existential” and “Why Is This World So Strange?” will make fusion fans moist with enjoyment.  If it’s your bag, then this is essential.

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51zxda9j8gl-_ss500JOHN WEEKS BAND
Dark Angel
Mhp Productions

To Denver, Colorado for some blues.  Strange to say I was chatting to an Aberdonian nurse yesterday who used to work as a beautician in Denver Colorado.  Small world and all that.

You won’t be surprised to learn that the John Weeks Band is led by a chap called John Weeks who started life in France (not that we hold that against him) but is now plying his original blues around the American colonies.  He’s joined in his endeavours by Danny Haynes, Stacey Turpenoff, Stephen Whitfield and Robert Fiorino and they’re a well seasoned bunch of blues rockers.

And it’s best when they do get a bit edgy as they do on the opening “The Hole” which tells the tale of Stacey disposing of her spouses body.  Yes, really.  The vocals are split between her and Mr Weeks as individuals and as duets, and it makes for an enjoyable listen.  There are a couple of acoustic tunes but it’s when they get dark and moody that it makes for a good album.

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