Reviews roundup – UFO vs. Joseph Veloz vs. Johnny Ray Jones vs. Bottoms Up vs. Nathan Hall
The Salentino Cuts
An odd one this. I’m assuming that the record company probably made this a condition of the deal as they’re no longer with major minor SPV and have relocated to Cleopatra, a label with a lengthy track record in covers albums.
The last few UFO albums haven’t really hit the heights of old with “A Conspiracy Of Stars” a couple of years back lacking in any killer songs so I suppose this is one way of trying to keep things ticking over. It’s certainly well produced despite the fact that the band don’t seem to have met during its production with backing recorded in Germany, Vinnie Moores guitars in Texas and Phil Moggs vocals in England! The modern world, eh.
At least the songs tend to be from the not covered very often catalogue. The sixties songs work best for me as you can almost imagine the early UFO padding out their live set with the likes of ‘Heartful Of Soul’ and ‘It’s My Life’.. There are only two tunes from the last thirty years and neither the Tom Petty nor the Mad Season one really work. They take a good crack at ‘Rock Candy’ and the version of ‘Ain’t No Sunshine’ is, um, interesting. Best of all, though, is the run through of the Robin Trower classic ‘Too Rolling Stoned’ which actually sounds like a long lost UFO classic.
I’m glad to have heard it, glad that UFO are still going and even if Phil Mogg can’t quite hit all the notes of old, the near septuagenarian has still go most of his pipes working.
Big O Records
Run for the hills! It’s a bass solo.
And as you would expect there is a swathe of seventies fusion here. It’s mixed up with funk and blues, though, and he’s been considerate enough to bring in some guest vocalists on a few of the tracks. Phew. There is no doubting his ability as a musician though, as he blasts off into ‘Just Jammin’ with his five string bass at the ready. It’s a mix of originals and covers with his own material sticking to the instrumental fusion approach and the covers (with guest vocalists Biscuit Miller, Lucky Peterson, Greg Nagy, Jennifer Westwood and Joey Soina) reflecting the time he’s spent playing with the likes of the aforementioned Luckey Peterson, Mississippi Heat, Joanne Shaw Taylor and others.
That includes diversions into songbooks as varied as that of Dolly Parton and Prince! It’s a really enjoyable release even if the split mentioned above means it sometimes seems like two different records. But both records are rather splendid and certainty worth dipping into.
JOHNNY RAY JONES
Feet Back In The Door
Apparently it’s taken nigh on twenty years for this album to be finished, something that makes Guns n’ Roses seem like Speedy Gonzales. But it’s here and it’s a shame it took so long as I’m sure it would have pushed Johnny Ray Jones quite a ways up the blues ladder.
He’s not got the broadest range you’ll ever hear but he knows what songs suit him and can turn his hand to sixties soul styles to more mainstream Robert Cray type blues with equal aplomb. He’s got a rock solid band backing him with Johnny Lee Schell on guitar, Tony Braunagel on drums, Mike Finnigan on keyboards and bass player James “Hutch” Hutchinson really locking things down. The former duo also co-produce and Mr Jones has dipped into his address book to pull on guests of the calibre of guitarist Coco Montoya and percussionist Lenny Castro.
There are some outstanding tunes here with ‘Hard Times Won’, ‘Hole In Your Soul’ and ‘High Cost Of Loving’ becoming instant favourites. Back in my drinking days this is the kind of thing I liked best pumping out in the Broughton Street Blues Basement Bar. Groove, feel and a whole lot style. A great release.
BUY AT AMAZON
Everybody Rock n Roll
Bottoms Up have been on the go since 2004 and have punted out a few releases prior to this. They seem to be one of the go to support bands in their local area opening for the likes of Judas Priest, Scorpions, Vince Neil in their native New Hampshire.
The nature of the beast means their club shows mix covers with a few originals but at least that means Eddie Jean – Guitar & Vocals, Brent ” Wildman” Enman – Bass & Vocals and Jéan “Boomer” Grenier – Drums & Vocals have honed their musical chops on some classic seventies and eighties rock and metal.
And that’s where their original material has its roots as well so expect plenty of apostrophes and plenty of gritty tunes like ‘Throwin’ Me Away’, ‘Walkin’ With Me’ and ‘Old Enough To Rock n’ Roll’, all of which stand up to repeat plays. It’s a mix of hair metal, melodic rock (‘Be My Girl’) and to those of us of a certain vintage it rings a lot of bells. I can’t claim that this rock and roll will change the world but sometimes you kust need some rockers who know how to rock.
NATHAN HALL & The Sinister Locals
The Volga Sturgeon Face EP
In case you don’t know, Nathan Hall is the frontman of psych outfit Soft Hearted Scientists, who’ve bunged out seven albums over the years and are now having a year off to try other things.
In the case of Mr Hall that seems to involve getting a band together who sound an awful lot like Soft Hearted Scientists. So what you’re getting is slightly fey psychedelic rock which could have come from the fertile period of 1968 – 1971.
So if you’re looking for songs about nature defeating mankind, allied to 1971 Genesis guitars then this is somewhere you’re going to be happy living. It’s all mellow, well produced and arranged and with plenty of meandering twists and turns. Any Soft Hearted Scientists fans who were worried about having nothing new to listen to this year can rest easy. This will do you nicely.