Reviews roundup – Raven vs. Jamie Thyer vs. Claudio Delgift vs. david’s you me & us vs. Tim Hodgkinson & Yumi Hara vs. Stimuli
Screaming Murder Death From Above: Live In Aalborg
Ah! Raven. One of my favourite bands when I was a wean. In fact some of their Neat singles are still lurking up the stairs after all this time. A few years ago I was reminiscing in Another Place about a show they played in the Hard Rock Cafe, Edinburgh (nothing to do with the USA thing, this was a dingy club above the Playhouse which is now an artsy farty restaurant) when only six people turned up but Raven still put on a full Crash Bang Wallop of a show. Who should then join in but a certain John Gallagher.
After a Spinal Tap type timeout the Real Gallagher brothers have been in fine fettle with “ExtermiNation” their most recent album a bit of a cracker as they shun the likes of “The Pack Is Back” instead concentrating on their earlier proto-speed metal years. As It should be. This album came as a surprise to the band as they didn’t know that it was being recorded but as John Gallagher explains. “We had a flash drive with the recording delivered to us and when we checked it, we realized that – barring some small technical problems – we had a truly magical live recording on our hands. It was a near perfect concert thanks to the great atmosphere inside the hall and our out of control attitude – since, you know, we weren’t aware the show was being recorded.”
And nearly 50 years on from their first tottering steps it’s a pleasure to hear the Raven Lunatics blasting their way through some top notch metal the way it used to be. Drummer Mike Heller puts in a fine stint as (Spinal Tap Part 2) drummer Joe Hasselvander suffered a heart attack 2 days before a string of US / European dates with a string of temps filling in until the arrival of Heller. As befits a surprise recording it’s rough and ready but that adds to the pleasure, especially on the material that warmed the cockles of my nascent metalhead youth. And it’s classics all the way although they do dip into the last album for ‘Destroy All Monsters’ and ‘Tank Treads (The Blood Runs Red)’.
But when you can fire out the likes of ‘All for One’, ‘Rock Until Your Drop’, ‘Break the Chain’ and ‘Crash Bang Wallop’ with as much vigour as you did decades ago there will always be someone metal thrashing mad along. A bit of a treat.
Meets The Dominators…At The Dyed Roots Of Blues Rock
Road Dog Records
I rather enjoyed “Cafe Racer”, the 2018 album from Jamie Thyer and The Worried Men who I reckoned had the sound of a good night out down your local biker bar.
And he’s back for more of, well, the same with a right mouthful of an album title. Which is fair enough as if you’re a blues rocker then stick to blues rock instead of that difficult jazz instrumental concept piece. None of that here just a another serving of chunky, well rounded tunes that fans of Gypie Mayo era Dr Feelgood would feel right at home with. The rhythm section of Rob Brian on drums and Dave Hellhound (koff) on basso profundo are absolutely on point driving the music along while the guitar of Thyer soars above, around and in and out. He really is a cracking guitarist as demonstrated on the best tracks – the Diddly-esque ‘On My Way’ and the pounding ‘My Own Company’.
He does chill out in a couple of places with the balladic ‘Frigid Air’ a treat and on the fiery instrumental ‘Wicked City’ he shows a talent for mood and space. He’s still nae singer but we’re not here for that. We’re here for guitars and beer. A good one.
We’re off down Argentine way for some melodic prog rock from Claudio Delgift.
He’s released seven studio albums but hasn’t made much of a stir globally but now the Dutch Rock Company have put together a compilation to try and raise his profile elsewhere.
And it’s a very enjoyable release. It’s been remastered and as it comes in non-chronological order they’ve done a good job as you don’t notice the joins. It kicks off with a couple of recent tunes which will appeal to Gilmour led Pink Floyd fans before heading off into the earlier material. He’s certainly a gifted musician and after a couple of listens you can sort of work out which songs are old and which are new as he has definitely progressed as a composer.
So it’s ‘Tricapsule’, ”Vortex’ and the fantastic ‘Ascent Of The Core – The Descent Of The Stars’ that are going to get prog fans wibbling and dribbling with delight. He’s not much of a singer, mind, so it’s just as well there are lengthy instrumental passages between the vocals. There are complex arrangements but it’s all underpinned by a strong sense of melody that keeps you hooked. He’s certainly worthy of being better knows so fingers crossed this does its job.
daevid’s you me & us
This is essentially a home video which became a bit of a posthumous tribute to Daevid Allen, the once and then frontman of pothead pixies, Gong.
He was supposed to tour Japan in 2014 with you me & us but had to pull out due to ill health. The rest of the band went anyway and as a gift for ticket holders who went along anyway this DVD was given to them featuring part of the groups performance on their previous tour. As you would expect it’s not a cinematic experience but it does capture the free Canterbury jazz vibe of the experience.
So if free jazz meets Soft Machine meets Gong then you’ll like this. The piano of Yumi Hara resounds of the unique glissando guitar styles of Allen while drummer Chris Cutler fills out the spaces admirably. Best for me was the reworking of Gong’s ‘Dynamite’, here as ‘Da-i-na-ma-i-to/Deta’ which showcases the trio at their experimental best.
TIM HODGKINSON & YUMI HARA
We’re still with Yumi Hara from you, me & us, as well as numerous other collaborations set in the world of prog tinged free jazz.
This one saw her performing live at an art exhibition with lap steel guitarist and clarinet player, Tim Hodgkinson with Ms Hara utilising percussion, found objects, keyboards and voice.
This CD was recorded live at Laure Genillard in 2014 as part of the Schema*Sukima exhibition curated by David Connearn and saw the duo addressing the art for the first half of the performance and the audience for the remainder. The best of the music is the more familiar with ‘“E=mc2’ and ‘Walk In The Middle Of The Road’ particularly engaging. Removed from the visuals some moments just don’t work for me with the opening ‘The Offering – R Y B’ nearly making me switch off early in the show.
But it was worth hanging around for and by the time they reach the captivating ‘Latifundia’ fans of experimental fusion sounds will be glad they made the trip.
They Are We
Some post-grunge from California. So far, so meh. But wait.
Founded by Jimmy Tomahawk (guitars, vocals) and Tai Hake (bass, theremin) in 2013, they linked up with drummer Cole Andrew leading to this their debut album. Now basically you are getting a set of mid temp post grunge which wouldn’t normally unfurl my flag. But the two founders have come up with some interesting arrangements that manage to keep you listening.
As well as the lead theremin they’ve found room for Native American flute, sitar and some ambient synth, finding room for their heritage. It’s what keeps you going when another Tool lyric or Alice In Chains riff pops up. And it’s enough to indicate that if Stimuli find a writing voice they could be a good band. At their best – ‘Fire In Disguise’ and ‘Pushing The Stone’ – they show enough to indicate that if they keep on pushing more of an original sound they could be a band that makes people sit up and pay attention.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton