Reviews roundup – Tora Tora vs. Glenn Shorrock vs. Pinn Dropp vs. Spencer Mackenzie vs. Jollymon vs. Pree Tone vs. Detieti
Bastards Of Beale
Can it really be mumblety mumble years since I huffed and puffed my way up four flights of stairs to a long gone record shop on the corner of Princes Street and Hanover Street to emerge an hour later clutching a copy of ‘Walkin Shoes’ by Tora Tora on 12″ vinyl? Sadly yes. And it’s a long way down from there. Both the record shop and life. But I’ve still got the 12″ if little else. Tora Tora were really good but like every other band I enthused about back then – Junkyard, Rhino Bucket, Salty Dog, Rock City Angels, Little Caesar etc – it wasn’t to be. They had a go but the nineties were cruel to the sweltering hard blues rock that floated my boat.
So it’s been several decades since a Tora Tora record reared its head but the four original members are present and correct on a barnstormer of an album. Vocalist Anthony Corder, guitarist Keith Douglas, bassist Patrick Francis and drummer John Patterson are firing on all cylinders and if I close my eyes and drink a lot (or rather the other way round) it’s as if I’m right there back in the day.
There isn’t a bum track here as they swagger their way through songs that would fitted happily onto “Surprise Attack” or “Wild America”. They deserved props back then and even more so now when they can fire out songs as fresh and vital as Everbright’, ‘Son of a Prodigal Son’, and ‘Rose of Jericho’. If you’ve got any kind of yen for classic bluesy hard rock then this has got to be on your buy list. Now all I need is for them to line up a UK club tour with an Edinburgh show. Hell, Little Caesar came to see me last year so anything is possible. An absolute treat.
…Sings Little River Band
Social Family Records
Oh this is one of those mental music industry stories. In case you don’t know the Little River Band were huge in the USA in the seventies and Mr Shorrock sang eight of their ten Top 10 singles. The Little River Band is still on the go but with the name of the band legally owned by a former member who didn’t join until the eighties and with cease and desist orders flying all over the place none of the original members can get a hold of the name and they, in turn, have at times stopped the touring version from performing the hits that the original members wrote. Mad.
Anyway back to the music and I love the seventies records. No-one will ever dissuade me from believing that ‘The Night Owls’ is anything other than the greatest soft rock record ever. It’s true. So I imagine that this record is a small way of reclaiming some of Glenn Shorrocks musical legacy. Which is fair enough as across two spells he spent about sixteen years in the band and they’ve sold about 30 million records over the years.
On this album he slightly rejigs some of the classic material but he still sounds like Glenn Shorrock, it’s well performed and produced and nothing can diminish the quality of songs such as ‘Reminiscing’, ‘Help Is On The Way’ and ‘Cool Change’. It’s an enjoyable record and if erstwhile fans of LRB find their way here then they’re in for a treat. That said, it’s a real shame that a band of their quality can’t take advantage of the heritage market out there. If you do enjoy this then track down a copy of “Diamantina Cocktail”, which will always be my favourite slice of Little River Band.
Music & More
Some Polish prog rock now and to a band that really, really like the sound of eighties neo-prog. Hey, I was there. In the basement of the Spiders Web listening to the likes of Pendragon, Twelfth Night, Pallas and Solstice.
So I’m inclined towards this and, in places, there is a really good band here. They formed about four years back and this is their debut, although they put out an EP a couple of years back. They’re good musicians and they’re certainly ambitious as they set out to create a widescreen album. Thing is, whether it’s budget or trying to over achieve they’re not quite there yet.
I mean I can thole a five part, twenty minute concept piece as well as the next man but you’ve got have the material to hold the attention and I drifted more than once. But when they scale things back a little and concentrate hard then there are some good offerings here. The opening and closing tracks are particularly good. So a few more like ‘Significant Someone’ and ‘Fluorescent Dreamscape – part two’ and they could make a name for themselves. Musically they’re talented enough so maybe they just need a good producer to do some arranging editing. That said there is a lot here worth encouraging.
A few years back I waxed lyrical about a young (very young) Canadian bluesboy by the name of Spencer Mackenzie who put out a rather good debut album called “Infected With The Blues”. Well fast forward a few years and he’s all grown up (not really, he’s still 19) and put out a new record.
And it’s another wee cracker. Eight new tunes and a cover apiece from Gary Clark Jr and Robert Cray, this is a rerr treat. His guitar playing is as good and tasteful as it ever was but he really seems to have found his voice on this one. Add in some excellent arrangements which sees horns and Hammond taking their place and you’re left in good company.
As well as the usual blues staples of girls, girls and more girls the title track ‘Cold November’ takes on the serious subject of the terrorist attacks that took place on 13 November 2015 in Paris. Can music change the world? No, of course not. But it’s interesting to see someone in the blues world addressing the world we live in. Something that happened in the olden day but not so much now.
Back in the more familiar world and songs like ‘Move On Down The Track’ and ‘Haunt Me’ are instant hits and it’s easy to hear how he’s got a clutch of blues awards under his belt already.. The two covers close the album and the Robert Cray tune is done particularly well. His clear tone, way with melody and instrumental chops could easily pave the way for him to be a breakthrough artist in the way that Cray did back in the day. It’s overdue so fingers crossed.
A mere eighteen years after their fourth album and stoners Jollymon – Mark Blackburn (drums) , John Colgate (guitar, vocals) and Carey Rich (bass/vocals) – are back with a fifth release. As you do.
I say stoner but Jolly Mon (as they were first time out) also take in some psych, spacerock, metal and more. They can also write tunes which is something a lot of folk in their chosen field forget about. But the likes of ‘Slice of Life’ and ‘Missile Commander’ actually have hooks you can hold on to. So well played.
There is also some fantastic guitar work which take from every genre going and which would be equally at home in an interminable jam band. But the rhythm section really holds things together and drag the guitars back to the world they’re rooted in. Add in some vocal harmonies which really took me by surprise and this ended up a real treat. If you’re tuned into the world of Atomic Bitchwax and early Fu Manchu then you won’t find yourself out of space and time here. It’s not all gold but there is enough her to make prospecting worth your while.
We’re off to Kiev in the Ukraine for some spacey shoegaze drone.
Not my first port of call, it has to be said. However this lot do lean towards the spacey side of things so in between the drone there was enough to hold my attention.
They’ve been around for a few years, releasing five records between 2014 and 2017, went through the usual assortment of lineup changes and ended up with Serhii Kupriichuk, Levgan Ivanchenko, Vladislav Bjesky and Volodymyr Onyshenko. If you’ve ever wandered into the worlds of Spacemen 3, the Jesus & Mary Chain or Slowdive then you’ll probably be more at home than me. A bad acid trip at a JACM gig around 1984 put paid to my adventures in that world.
But the repetitive beats, driving rhythms and occasional psych mellow breakdown works here. The riff in ‘Maze of 60 Ticks’ was the winner for me and had me hitting the repeat button. They know how to do the fast / slow thing , play with dynamics well and if I were looking for feedback, synths and a trippy vibe, this is where I’d be coming.
I don’t know about you but I’ve waiting for a concept album about a one eyed grandad, a wooden robot, a beaver and a snake who decide to build a submarine so that the grandad can go exploring. Of course it turns out the grandad has been doing a lot of coke so it makes considerably more sense then.
Fair play to Detieti though, who were formed in 2004 in Moscow by bassist Mikhail “Han” Ivanov and drummer Roman Karandaev. It all makes sense to them so who am I to argue. Add in the fact that their synth players nickname is ‘Peyote-R’ and you won’t be surprised to learn that this has ended up as a fearsome stoner meets psych meets spacerock mindfuck while a deranged chicken squawks.
They’ve had a couple of albums out over the years but I like to think of this existing in a vacuum where you send the demented just to show them that, actually, they’re not as mental as they thought they were. Then they can return home to become valued members of society while Detieti remain stranded in a world violent, experimental, metallic rhythms. The alternative is to allow ‘Lazy Madonna’, ‘The Dream of Woodland Animals’ and ‘In Latrine (Cocaintro revisited) into our world. And we’re just not ready for that. Absolutely fantastic.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton