Reviews roundup ~ Ellis Mano Band ~ Age of Aquarius ~ Feral Ghost ~ Dexter Allen
ELLIS MANO BAND
Do you like to get your groove on? And when I say groove, I mean slow, funky, bodyrubbing sexytimes. Because that’s what you’re going to get here.
Absolutely dripping with candle wax and seventies soul, this is the latest single from the Swiss-based blues rock Ellis Mano Band, taken from their latest album ‘Ambedo’. Like Bobby Caldwell? Well, you’re going to love this.
The band themselves are well known session musicians in their homeland but this is the music they want to play and as befits in demand fellas, the performance is flawless.
Vocalist Chris Ellis really hits some sweet soul notes while the band with bonus horns just get on with getting their groove on. It’s absolutely delicious and in an ideal world would only be dispensed via a chocolate fountain. Their ‘Here And Now’ album a couple of years back was really good. This one threatens to be great.
AGE OF AQUARIUS
That’s clever that is. The band is called Age of Aquarius see. And track 5 on this, their second LP is called “Fifth Dimension”. That’s a good one. I like that. Mind you, there debut was called ‘Dawn Of The Age Of Aquarius’. So.
As I always say it’s not that Peter Cox. It’s the Chinawhite / CranstoN / Forest Field Peter Cox and the second record he’s recorded with vocalist Nakoma Z. I didn’t hear the first one and, to be brutally honest, I don’t think I missed much. Which is a shame as Mr Cox has been involved in some really good records.
It’s sort of melodic pop prog but falls between the stools rather badly. Some of the music is alright. I quite liked the violin enhanced “Face Of The Unknown” but there aren’t many saving graces here. And let’s not talk about the vocals. Actually, we have to. They’re completely wrong. If memory serves Nakoma Z has been involved in some ambient styled projects in the past but her voice really doesn’t work in the world of rock. Having said that, Mr Cox is no great shakes either. So this concept-ish album about aliens visitors to Earth falls flat. The mellower tracks work best so “Alone In The Universe” is a rather nice melancholic ballad with a lovely Pink Floyd styled guitar line, in search of a singer.
If memory serves this is the first Rock Company record I’ve heard that hasn’t floated my boat in some way. Shame.
Speed of Light
Yellow Rhinestone Records
I would not have guessed that. Certainly not from the band name or the cover art. I’m thinking psychedelic stoner doom or bittersweet goth.
I’m not thinking seventies melodic rock vibes. But that’s what I got. Good vibes, mind. Not the vibes where your soul is crushed like a star collapsing in on itself.
Anyway, Feral Ghost is band from darn sarf in London town, the brainchild of singer / songwriter Danny Warwick and have been around since 2012. They actually released their debut ‘A Gathering Storm’ back in 2014 but fast forward to the future and here comes ‘Speed Of Light’. And it’s really good. I’m not just saying that because I’m an auld fella. I know it’s hard for some folk to believe but I was still a wee school boy back in the seventies so was listening to Showaddywaddy rather than West Coast styled album rock.
The Mac comparisons are mainly relevant when Chloe Hunter chimes in on harmony vocals and, to be honest, that’s when this goes from good to great. But there are no duff tracks here and Mr Warwick certainly knows his way around a melody. The America (the band) infused “Invisible” is a prime example of this. It’s an absolute gem of a track that in a fair and just world would be on heavy rotation at Radio 2. He also does melancholy well which, obvs, is a favourite musical stain of mine. “It’s Been a Long Time My Friend” is the kind of tune that on the wrong day will have you reaching for the hankies.
I must admit that I get really pissed off when something this good flies under the radar. Frankly, you’re an absolute shower and you don’t deserve this. Gits.
Keep Moving On
Endless Blues Records
Damn right I’ve got the blues. You haven’t lived my life so don’t come at me with your platitudes. Bandits.
Anyway. Dexter Allen. Nope. Although it turns out he spent many years working with Bobby Rush so there’s a better than even chance that I’ve heard him playing his guitar. But he’s been out there doing his own thing for a while now and his thing is a good thing.
He likes a shuffle and he likes to sing about the ladies. These are Very Good Things to like so it’s both thumbs aloft from me. He’s got a warm voice well suited to singing tales about love, loss and the aforementioned ladies. I’m not going to deny that the music is quite old fashioned or, as I prefer it, timeless but when he launches into a Buddy Guy styled up tempo number like “Pack Up My Bags” you can’t help but shake your thing. Not something for the faint hearted to witness.
He’s a multi-talented fella what with the singing, writing, guitar, bass, keyboards and production and you get the feeling that given the right breaks he’d be a lot better known. There are shades of Malaco Records about “I Just Love That Woman” where he gets his Little Milton on and you’ll be hard pushed to find a song that doesn’t hit the mark. In fact you won’t. Over on “F.A.B.U.L.I.S.T. Woman” he hits an Albert King sweet spot that is just absolutely glorious. There are nods to Chicago, Muscle Shoals and beyond on what is a real treat of a blues record.
One of the best I’ve heard this year, fans of classic blues should be dropping everything to get this.
St Columba’s Hospice Tribute Fund for Linda Hamilton
The Rocker monthly reviews sampler now available on Spotify