Reviews roundup – Vanishing Point vs. Landon Spradlin v. Derrick Procell vs. Zhongyu
Tangled In Dream (2-CD Special Edition)
What is it? Five albums in twenty years from the Australian prog metal band Vanishing Point. That’s not much of a turnover but now they’ve graduated to a major indie they’ve decided to reissue their second album from 2000 with a second disc of bonus tracks.
Thing is, it wasn’t that memorable the first time around and age hasn’t been kind. Don’t get me wrong. The band are a lot better now than they were then and their last two records are well worth a listen. But it won’t impress recent converts to their cause. At least the bonus disc has some interesting material on it with 10 bonus tracks (9 of these available on CD format (outside of Japan) for the first time ever).
Among the better ones are the newly recorded version of “Samsara II”, “Separate Ways” (a Journey cover) and the Pink Floyd tune “On The Turning Away”. There are also five unplugged tunes recorded live in 2003 so completists will certainly take this to their bosoms with abandon.
No More Blue Mondays
Twenty plus years ago was when Landon Spradlin released this record and it’s now getting a well deserved reissue.
Back then he came to London to record this with Eric Clapton’s rhythm section of Dave Markee on bass and Henry Spinetti on drums and there is certainly a sixties Brit blues boom feel to the record. That’s helped by the fact that Mr Spradlin has an incredible blues voice.
It’s remarkable to think that he never became a big name in the blues world especially when you add in his great guitar work and some cracking original songs alongside the four covers. All of the songs are spirituals in one form or another right from the opening Rev. Dan Smith song “I’ve Never Been To Seminary”.
Halfway through the album shifts tone from blues to soul but it never loses its inherent power. A recommended release.
Why I Choose To Sing The Blues
Derrick Procell has been a working musician for a long time. He’s had a couple of Americana albums released and he’s also an in demand studio singer for television and advertising. You’ll have heard his voice without knowing it on programmes like Boston Legal and True Blood.
But this is his debut blues album. One that came about by accident after he started writing songs with Grammy winning lyricist Terry Abrahamson (whose songs have been recorded by songs have been recorded by Muddy Waters, The Chambers Brothers, John Lee Hooker, Joan Jett, Clarence Clemons and George Thorogood). A happy accident that has resulted in a great album.
Mr Procell is a multi-instrumentalist but he’s brought in an array of talent to help him out including Eddie Shaw, Billy Branch and Steady Rollin’ Bob Margolin. But it’s his voice and the songs that sell the record with the former a soulful delight. Add in some great material like “The Wolf Will Howl Again”, “The Eyes of Mississippi” and the BB King tribute “Who Will Tell Lucille,” and this is a gem of an album that blues fans should be checking out immediately.
Despite the name, Zhongyu is an American band where composer Jon Davis had linked up with three members of the acclaimed fusion outfit Moraine and well regarded jazz drummer Randy Doak to make an excellent album of jazz meets prog meets fusion.
Zhongyu means finally in Mandarin and are so named because Davis finally has a band. And musically he couldn’t have done better in this idiom. He did live in Beijing for three years so there are some flavours added to the music but it’s mainly what you would expect from an outfit who channel King Crimson and electric jazz.
Some of the musical pieces are blink and you’ll miss it moments but when the assorted members get a chance to stretch out and find each other is when it works best. So you’ll want to give “Hydraulic Fracas” a listen if you’re teetering on the edge of purchase. At times it’s hard to believe they’re a put together outfit albeit one where three members play together regularly and it’s certainly a record for those who like some adventurous 21st century fusion sounds.