Reviews roundup – Richard Thompson vs. Leonard Griffie vs. Indubious vs. Mungo Jerry
Blimey! You can’t move this year for Richard Thompson acoustic releases. It’s only a wee while since “Acoustic Classics 2” and now here’s “Acoustic Rarities” chapping at the door.
Now I’m no Richard Thompson expert so can’t tell you what the difference is between one of his classics and one of his rarities as anything he sits down and sings sounds like a Richard Thompson song. So, rest assured, there are no weird divergences into obscure grime projects. I’m not sure he knows the difference either as there are a couple of weel kent tunes here with ‘Never Again’ probably the best known of them. At least to the casual punter.
He dips into the Fairport Convention catalogue for a couple of tunes so fans will enjoy visits to ‘Poor Will And The Jolly Hangman’ and ‘Sloth’. If you are looking for rarities though, a listen to his version of ‘Rainbow Over The Hill’ will provide ample reward. Originally recorded by the Albion Band it’s a real treat. Of the actual, previously unreleased songs it’s ‘They Tore The Hippodrome Down’ that really wins out. The whole album is enjoyable and will definitely keep the Richard Thompson fans out there very happy indeed.
Better Late Than No Time Soon
Off to the American colonies now for some Chicago blues.
Leonard Griffie isn’t actually from that part of the world. He’s an Oregon native but his sound is very much rooted in the Chicago tradition. Which is right up my alley. He’s a fine singer who also plays guitars, synth and writes. He’s put a fine band in place to keep him company with Doug McAlister (bass), Mark Stever (drums), Michael Vannice (piano, organ) and the horns of Gordon Greenley and Randy Scherer filling out the sound splendidly.
He’s got a good way with words as well so you find yourself actually listening to what he’s singing on the likes of ‘I’m Not Like That’ and ‘You Done Stepped In It Now’. Most of the material sticks to a medium groove but it doesn’t really matter when the songs are as good as ‘What You Got Is What You Get’ and ‘I Do Love You ‘ it doesn’t really matter. a very enjoyable release.
I’ve really no idea what the hell this is. Which is either a good thing or a bad thing.
A Portland, Oregon based band led by brothers Evan ‘Evton B’ and Spencer ‘Skipwicked’ Burton, this is the thrid album from the band, which mixes up reggae, dancehall, r’n’b, dubstep and all sorts of things that the kiddies will know about.
Turns out that both brothers were born with the genetic disorder cystic fibrosis and a lot of the material is rooted in the difficulties they face in life. They’re helped along their musical way by a variety of singers including Zahira, Vaughn Benjamin and Sizzla (‘Golden Ones’) but the noise they make is all their own, sharpened by a touring schedule that has seen them play with some of the leading lights of the reggae world including Black Uhuru, Stephen Marley and Michael Franti.
They’ve produced the album themselves and have come up with a fresh and vital release. I’m not going to pretend this is a world I live in but for anyone who does, songs like ‘We Got Vibes’, ‘Golden Ones’ and ‘Sky High’ will provide a lot of pleasure.
The Dawn Albums Collection
When I was five years old Mungo Jerry were The Best Band Ever! after all what could be better than a mental sounding jug band blasting out bluesy, skiffle like songs from another planet.
I’m a wee bit older now and I know they’re not The Best Band Ever! but they’re still bloody good. Although this box set which covers five albums and contains eighty one tracks including plenty of bonuses is a lot of Mungo Jerry. So maybe not all in one sitting.
The premise, as the name suggests, is to round up the five albums they recorded between 1970 and 1974 for Dawn Records. So that’s “Mungo Jerry”, “Electronically Tested”, “You Don’t Have to Be in the Army”, “Boot Power” and “Long Legged Woman Dressed in Black”. Bear in mind young ‘uns, those first four albums came out in a two year period, so there was none of this slacking off that modern bands seem so fond of. The first two are the best with “Electronically Tested” their finest work. That’s not just because it has The Hit. Actually ‘In The Summertime’ was never a favourite of mine. But the original band had worked out their sound and ‘Somebody Stole My Wife’, ‘Baby Jump’ and ‘You Better Leave That Whisky Alone’ are utter delights.
Across the discs there are a plethora of bonus tracks, some good, some indifferent and some just different edits but the meat of the main albums, bar “You Don’t Have to Be in the Army”, an album that missed for me, show just how mad the seventies were. After all, this is a band that had eight Top 40 UK singles including two Number 1 hits. As well as USA and Japanese top spot botherers.
Mungo Jerry were never the same after they did a pre “Boot Power” Alice Cooper and became a solo act but this box set which comes with so-so sleeve notes from Alan Clayson and a collection of world wide picture sleeves (delightful but you do have to use a magnifying glass) is a reminder of crazy times.
Kids! The record below got to Number 1 in the UK. That was the fabulous world we lived in back then.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton