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This is expressive and musical drumming at its aural and visually thrilling best. I'll paint you a picture. Pete Lockett tattooed arms, plaster-protected thumbs and forefinger, fair hair flying and shoeless attacks his drums with passion and purpose alternating with sensitive singing drum patterns from fingers the tiny tambourine-like Kanjira from south India, pitch bending with one hand whilst drumming with the other or voice accompaniment to finger drumming on a frame drum reminiscent of scat singing.
There is a name for this and I know someone will enlighten me. Joji Hirota conjurs up the spirit of Buddhist temples with bowed brass gong, bamboo flute and resonating prayer bell. He is intensely in control of the elements: Together they weave, oppose and compliment one anothers techniques. Their Heartbeat finale, playing the huge Japanese Taiko drums with sticks, is like a display of martial arts or an army at war. The two of them drum in powerful unison until every atom of the venue is vibrating in a huge technicolour soundscape.
There's much more to know and appreciate about this master magician and the rhythms he conjurs. I recommend the following albums, a visit to his website and to get out there and see him ' live ': Network of Sparks featuring Bill Bruford: Springsteen drummer Max Weinberg reckons; the 20 year old Canadian singer-songwriter is the most exciting talent he's come across in years.
I'd have to say he should get out more, but on the evidence of his debut album Taerk pronounced Turk certainly has something going for him.
Crisply produced by Terry Brown, although Grace borrows some reggae drum stylings and People In The Room has 70s soul elements, the default mode is guitar based roots rock, built around big anthemic melodies and delivered in a clear, confident ringing voice that, while a bit harsh at times, has hints of the young Bruce Cockburn in its intonations. Lines about sitting in school listening to someone else's robotic rules in Smell The Roses or 'she's my Claire Fredericks - aka Taj Mahal - is a long-time icon of the blues and roots scene, who rose to prominence in the lates largely through his work with Ry Cooder and a series of widely acclaimed and influential solo albums.
His Massachusetts upbringing exposed him to a veritable gumbo of musical influences, which he carried through into his own eclectic brand of blues, folk and gospel that took in indigenous musics from Afro-America to the West Indies along the way. Passionate and driven, yet at the same time relaxed, this set is a paragon of its type, with universally excellent performances from all ten musos involved.
This timely new reissue of the album licensed from Sony is well presented, with notes which maintain a sensible perspective and give just enough detail to satisfy. If you don't have it already, then don't pass it up this time round. Talbot's fourth album both consolidates and develops the success of 's The Last Star.
And that's the modus operandi for several tracks here, including the gorgeous Rusby-like closer Arcadia, the swirling Parisian-café waltzer title song with Hewerdine and the playful, skittering jazzy-ska Will I Ever Get To Sleep? In fact, the only solely-Talbot composition on the disc is the tender, bittersweet torch-ballad-style I'm Not Sorry. Other joint compositional ventures here include Button Up, a co-write with King Creosote Kenny Anderson , on which the two duet, and sensitive album standout The Loneliest, co-written with and done as a touching duet with Louis Abbott of Scottish indie-folksters Admiral Fallow, this latter cut's sparse backdrop featuring just Mark Knopfler and John McCusker.
Two tracks feature bluegrass maestro Tim O'Brien: And yet another pair of tracks incorporates the lovely voice of Karine Polwart: Having expended a couple-hundred words on ostensibly invidious but rather necessary namechecking of Talbot's fellow-travellers and collaborators, it might now seem somewhat of a miracle that her own musical presence still manages to provide the album such a startling degree of musical unity.
Of course this is down to her sweet but not cloyingly so and pure singing voice, which on quite a number of occasions it's impossible to resist comparing favourably with the aforementioned Kate Rusby. Far from it, for this is a confidently outgoing yet also quite intimate personal statement from one of the scene's most enchanting voices, who should not be criticised for making particularly good use of a circle of super-talented friends.
Once again, it's a mellow, intimate set of recordings, predominantly sweet in character this quality deriving mostly from the timbre of Heidi's voice but, it must be said, not without a necessary degree of fire.
The balance of material is weighted roughly just in favour of the contemporary writing, but Heidi's adaptations of traditional songs in conjunction with members of her team are persuasively managed.
And Heidi's now developing a talent for songwriting too in creative as well as personal partnership with Mr McCusker , on the evidence of the coquettish, charmingly bittersweet and quirky Tell Me Truly, the deep, if finally understated desolation of the title track, and in contrast the comforting Start It All Over Again, the latter composition finding a soul-mate echo in the disc's final track, an ably sensitive cover of the Sandy Denny tearjerker At The End Of The Day.
Heidi's treatment of Kris Drever's composition Hang Me, in contrast, is altogether more sparely contoured, and shows her to be equally capable of expressing more melancholy sentiments I can't avoid hearing more than a touch of Waltzing's For Dreamers in there too. And the broodingly insistent pounding tomtom rhythm and brass backing adds a slightly ominous tone to Boo Hewerdine's Cherokee Rose. I can't praise highly enough the various musicians' contributions, which fit Heidi's singing like a glove yet still allow scope for judicious licks and fills Ian Carr is especially inventive in this regard, I find.
In all honesty, there are still isolated moments when it's impossible for Heidi to completely escape the superficial "Kate Rusby with an Irish accent" tag, notably on songs like The Shepherd Lad Karine's adaptation of a traditional narrative which bears a distinct kinship to Clyde Water and occasionally when singing in her middle-register.
But all through The Last Star Heidi remains very much her own woman, and here she's given us another immensely satisfying personal statement that eclipses even the magic of In Love And Light. Brought up in Co. Kildare, Heidi moved to New York with her brother at age 18, then in she had a lucky break when she was invited to join Cherish The Ladies when their then lead singer Deirdre Connolly left the band.
Since which time, she's subsequently relocated, initially to Ireland and then to Edinburgh, and herself finally left the band last year. In Love And Light turns out to be Heidi's third solo record, and on this showing I can't imagine why the previous two never reached me for review. This latest is an impressively assured collection, with the focus this time in the main falling on songs by contemporary writers Tom Waits and Boo Hewerdine being the best-known and drawing from a diverse spectrum of influences.
Heidi also gives us sparkling renditions of three traditional songs, of which Bedlam Boys is especially vibrant in its reel-rich setting. While the primary purpose of the album is naturally to showcase Heidi's typically "awestruck and tender" vocal timbre, her thunder is almost stolen albeit quite subtly!
Heidi's voice has been described as "impossibly lovely"; her phrasing is smooth and largely intuitive, much like you'd imagine an Irish Kate Rusby might sound that's meant as a compliment to both ladies! There's also a distinctly Rusby-like soft-focus air to the musical arrangements on the majority of the tracks, with light and airy textures skilfully managed, though the additional string section on If You Stay is perhaps a tad obtrusive.
The best of the songs suit Heidi's approach down to the ground and need no special pleading: Less successful to my mind are Whispering Grass no contest with the celebrated Sandy Denny version! The arty design and presentation of the digipack housing the CD are intended to be a selling-point I'm sure, but I find it less appealing simply because the typeface used is rather fussy and cramped and not at all easily readable, and the booklet reprints lyrics for only seven out of the 12 songs presumably for copyright reasons?
Record companies have had a field day releasing 'remastered' CDs of classic albums but the value provided to the listener can, sometimes, be questioned. In this first batch of Talking Heads releases, some benefits are immediately obvious as 'Talking Heads: Surround Sound for those suitably equipped as well as some added videos. I'm sure that I don't have to spell out their legendary status. They are a band without comparison because nobody sounds at all like them.
Though they have influenced many others from their contemporaries such as Gang Of Four to the modern day Franz Ferdinand. Taking each of these in turn, let's look at the detail.
As a debut album, it was staggering and is found here in all its splendour. Great additions to the original record. Here, the additions provide tastier alternatives with growling guitar being layered over versions of 'Life During Wartime', 'Cities' and 'Mind' sat alongside the intriguing, unfinished 'Dancing For Money'.
These are worthy alternatives that might have been preferred at other points in their career. Unfortunately, the four additions are all unfinished outtakes with 'Fela's Riff' flagging up where their influences were coming from at this point.
So, as you'd expect, the additional tracks are variable though they all offer interest to the Talking Heads fan. If there is a disappointing element to this first batch, it is the rather dull videos that are all from live appearances.
However, bleating at this is pretty churlish given that these double discs are currently available for under ten quid. Roll on the next set of reissues from them. You can check out formats and chat of their legendary status in that Netrhythms review. Let's get down to the nitty gritty here. The first one in this second batch is 'Speaking In Tongues'.
It was their last release for WEA Records and a point in their career where rumour suggested that the band started to fall out. Certainly, some of the material is fairly lightweight and hardly at the cutting edge of earlier records. It was the dawn of the drum machine and the disco beat in their music. It sparked bemused comment from some disconcerted fans.
However, it does contain the mighty 'Burning Down The House'. There are remixes of this track on the CD and DVD as well as a video on the latter but it seems to be one for the completist. However, the album still had some filler material and the extra tracks - yes, even the Pop Staples version of Papa Legba - are pretty disposable.
The main plus is that the DVD contains the promo videos as opposed to live versions of the songs. With their next record, 'Naked', there was something of a return to form with Mr Byrne's interest in South American music seemingly introducing a funk that had been lost amongst the studio gadgets. Unfortunately, the extras here are pretty limited with interest only added by some more music video promos.
With the last release here, 'Little Creatures', that return to form was sustained and provided one of their best-known songs, 'Road To Nowhere'. If you're a big fan of the song, the DVD contains the music video, too. So, all in all, the second batch isn't as enthralling as the first batch and might suggest that the Talking Heads fan pulls down the 'Storytelling Giant' video from their shelves with all their promo videos on it - what price this available on DVD soon?
Getting a full release after being available for some time as downloads from his website, these cds are ample evidence that James Talley's talent and musical vision remain intact more than thirty years after his debut recording. His vision is to bring us tales of ordinary lives - his own and those he works among - and to mark in song the familiar trials and tribulations that most of us would recognise. All his influences are here: All of these are stamped with his warm, laid -back baritone.
Frustratingly, at times, he has a tendency to sing in stacatto phrases which is a shame because when he connects the phrases you could bathe in the warmth of his voice. On occasion here he sounds remarkably like Willie Nelson - that nasal twang - but mostly he sounds remarkably unchanged from that 34 year old debut record.
As a performer, he's definitely on the mellow side which might lead you to overlook the steel core at the centre of his music. There's sentimentality here and overt Christianity but in his own quiet way it's a radical Christian message that Jesus himself might recognise. On 'Cold Blooded Killers' - a country blues song if there ever was one - and 'The Most Influential Teacher', which has a blunt directness of language that George Orwell would have been proud of, James makes clear his disdain for those in power who would wrap themselves in their bibles whilst pursuing the most un-Christian behaviour.
Performances of songs that cover his entire career, the first selection was released previously as 'Journey'. This second batch of songs has been added to in the studio to flesh out the sound but still retains the warm feel of a performance and features some beautiful musicianship. In fact, throughout both of these albums I'm reminded of liner notes Mike Nesmith wrote back in the 70's in which he said - to paraphrase - that his aim was to achieve the purity of intent and execution that Jimmy Rodgers and Hank Williams achieved in their time.
Making it look easy is where the art lies, and that's what James Talley and his musical pals pull off. Apparently the record made quite a splash at the time, it's simple directness contrasting hugely with most other Nashville product of the time. Sadly, perhaps, for James Talley, it didn't lead to a lasting career as a musician; though still writing, he's had to earn his living in other ways. He takes a deep pride, though, in being a working man, working alongside ordinary folk, so maybe he's happy enough that that was how life turned out for him.
Described in contempotary reviews as country-folk, these songs straddle those fields of music as much, and as well, as any other record you might care to name. The album opens with a swinging tune motored along by Johnny Gimble's fiddle that celebrates Talley's Oklahoma childhood and the Saturday nights when they would dance to "W.
Lyrically, that about sets the tone for the rest of the album: So far, so sentimental, and the sweetness of the singing and the arrangements re-enforces that sentimental sound. Thirty years on when we've embraced the darker moods of alt. There is, however, a rugged spine to these songs, a rootedness in real lives that means they deserve their place of honour in the line that leads from Woody Guthrie to where we are today.
So, "Give him another bottle, let him ease his mind". And whilst the Nashville mainstream would have given this a slow sickly over-sweet arrangement, Talley and his fiddler turn it into a fast-chugging railroad song, a celebration of the drunk's earlier life. Elsewhere, he gives us his take on "Red River Valley", beautifully played and with an added verse of his own in the middle; the famous tune is abandoned for a sparse dreamy sequence at that point in a songwriting experiment that reminds me of stuff Don Maclean was doing at the time, all of which makes it about as "folk" as you can get in an American context.
Not content with that , "Sing Song Kitty", which I only knew from Doc Watson's version, turns up with different words - nonsense and otherwise- as "Daddy's Song", and sounds just great. It seems there are as many versions of that song as there are households that sang it. Throughout, the playing is warm, lively and sensitive and Johnny Gimble's fiddle is a particular delight; recording back in was a protracted and informal affair and the core musicians were augmented by more than a dozen others who "happened by", including a young John Hiatt who contributes the lead acoustic guitar on one track.
All in all, a quiet delight. For his latest release, Jeff Talmadge has gathered some of Nashville and Austin's top musicians and produced an album that is as gentle as it is deep. Texan Talmadge has a rich experience to draw on for his poetic songs and has worked as a janitor, a Capitol Hill Congressional press secretary, an associate scout for a major league baseball team and a board-certified lawyer.
Country and very easy going. Let Her Go showcases Talmadge's velvet voice and is some more easy going Country. Wrong Train sets me to thinking that it is going to be gentle sounds all the way through the album. This guy is so laid back and the idea for the song came from a time that he caught the wrong train in Groningen in the North of Holland.
He says that he enjoyed the journey even though he was going in the wrong direction and sometimes in life we have to go in a different direction to reach our destination. Austin When It Rains has an obvious drumbeat! However, it picks up only slightly from those that have gone before but does have a sense of melancholy.
Talmadge says that this is one of his favourite Dylan songs and that he'd always wanted to record it. He should be pleased with the result as the band plays as one. Because Of You gets him out of first gear - almost. Like the others, this skirts the area between folk, Americana and Country. Train From Amsterdam slows things back down again and is just so easy to listen to. This song came from his thoughts about how much his life had changed whilst on another train in The Netherlands.
White Cross remains firmly in the slow lane and mixes Americana with Country. In the US it is common practice for people to place small white crosses at the scene of road accidents and it was spooky that both Talmadge and his friend, Claudia Russell, were both working on a song on this topic at the same time. They thought it would be best if they collaborated and the result is here. Scrapbook is an almost seamless transition from its predecessor and keeps up the gentle theme.
This idea came from Talmadge thinking that every place he visits is like turning the page of a scrapbook. The slightly jazzy Chet Baker Street closes the album and Talmadge doesn't crank it up, even for the last song. This album is perfect for when you have a few friends around and don't want the music to completely drown out the conversation but still want to raise a few talking points.
Texan singer-songwriter Jeff writes strongly and powerfully, much in the tradition of Townes Van Zandt and Guy Clark those especially called to mind - well at least that's on the evidence of Blissville , which would seem to be Jeff's fifth CD release. I was very much taken with the warmth of Jeff's idiomatic, honest, intimate, sometimes half-spoken vocal style, and by his plain-speaking and simply evocative lyrics. He cloaks his stories of regret and oblique reminiscences in attractively homespun and often decidedly ironic philosophy, a fetching combination that yields as much intellectual as pure listening pleasure.
Examining the liner notes, though, Blissville would also seem to be, at least in part, an anthology of sorts, for it's stated that of the album's thirteen tracks, three had originally appeared on Jeff's album Bad Tattoo , whereas a further two are from 's Secret Anniversaries and two others from 's The Spinning Of The World the versions here differing in that they benefit from remixed vocals, it says.
That leaves just six tracks having been newly recorded in But whatever the provenance or vintage of the songs here, Jeff's output is heard to be mightily consistent and always better than likeable, with the more recent tracks in particular really characterful in a soft-edged alt-country mode that's often reminiscent as much of the rootsy mid-period Band albums as anything else.
Blissville sure makes you want to hear more of Jeff's work; indeed, I can't quite fathom why he'd never appeared on my own personal radar before. Jeff Talmadge - The Spinning World Bozart Records Singer-songwriter, acoustic guitarist Jeff Talmadge is an impressive talent from Austin, Texas who we haven't heard of this side of the pond for the usual reasons: We are privileged at NetRhythms that sometimes we get sent music that we wouldn't otherwise get to know about. Who is Jeff Talmadge?
His website gives a little background information about the man, ' Associate Baseball Scout for a major league baseball team, Capitol Hill spin doctor, award-winning poet, practicing lawyer Jeff Talmadge is a man of multiple talents and many hats.
The Spinning World is an album of polished songs which I've found easy to play again and again and hard to chose a favourite from.
Care and craftsmanship are evident throughout - the lyrics are sharp and insightful, wry and witty, the musicianship with the assistance of Stephen Bruton on slide guitar, mandolin and mandola is excellent and on the twangy side of folk, and the backing vocals from Iain Matthews and Eliza Gilkyson are a joy. Throughout the collection of eleven songs the professional production by Bradley Kopp is bright, full and warm with acoustic guitars, gentle bass and percussion, strings cello and violin and touches of accordion and harmonica.
His latest release, Bad Tattoo, which I've yet to hear, brings back several players from The Spinning World plus and she's always a ' plus ' Annie Gallup on backup vocals. Want to hear more? You may download soundclips from his website before clicking on to Amazon. We may live in a spinning world but Jeff Talmadge's albums are for those important ' time out ' moments - lay back and enjoy! Singer-songwriters of the Saharan desert, the Touareg ex-rebels Tinariwen, birthed distinctive blues grooves - intense and enthralling - now taken up by the young seven-strong Touareg blues-rock band Tamikrest.
Their name "Tamikrest" is Tamashek the Touareg language for "union" and "knot" - a symbol for the desert, language and culture which unifies and binds them. And unified they are. A western band might be considered "tight" but Tamikrest are another thing entirely.
The slow-paced caravan of bass-driven rhythms, electric guitars, tunes layered with claps and harmonies punctuated by the ululation of female backing singers and even echoes of the Eagles and a few reggae beats , become trance-like. Tamikrest's début album "Adagh" another name for the Touareg is a wondrous work of hypnotic beauty. The words of lead vocalist of Ousmane Ag Mossa in the Tamashek language seem totally comprehensible to the Western heart, even if to the ears they aren't.
It's the universal voice of pain and passion of struggle, of war, the beauty of the desert, of travelling grooves and - ultimately and hopefully - prayers for freedom. If you need an actual translation, the sleeve notes are also in English and French. John Tams - The Reckoning Topic. John Tams rocks - oh, yes he does! You don't believe me? You think he's all songs of desolation, Napoleonic adventure and industrial turmoil? Think again, my friend. Just as it was surprising to realize that Unity , the album before this, was Tams' first solo outing, it's still a little shocking that, with more than 30 years' experience and a hand or two in at least one of folk-rock's seminal albums, Home is only the second collection to carry the Tams monicker.
And, as might be expected, he's learned a thing or two with all those years under his belt. One of those lessons is to keep your material varied, for that way is the path to holding the attention of your audience. Thus, possibly with that thought in mind, he's penned some stirring uptempo firecrackers and sprinkled them, like hundreds and thousands, across his latest home-baked offering.
The first of them, to draw the punters in, is track number one, You don't know me anymore. With telling, hurting observations, it concerns a man's realization that the relationship with his lover has lost its spark.
But, though the song brims with sadness, it's sung to a strident beat pushed along by Keith Angel's drums, swollen by the lovely rich tones of Alan Dunn's Hammond organ and lifted by the first of many fine lead guitar breaks from Graeme Taylor. In stark contrast to the superficial happiness of the album's opener, track two is like a damp, overcast afternoon stood among the ruins of a derelict northern mill. Featuring just Tams - singing and playing guitar, bass and keyboards - and Angel, it's dark and doomy, with the percussionist really coming into his own.
His marimba soaks through the melody with all the persistence of a relentless drizzle at the same time as his staccato drums seem to mimic short, sudden downpours. The song has a bleak beauty that's hard to ignore. In The ballroom , Tams slips into his pumps for the first of two songs marking the lure of the dance.
Littered with characters looking for something they'll not find in this palais de danse, the song's filled with a sadness not entirely bereft of hope. Dunn again shines, initially on piano accordion and then with a delicious Hammond organ pattern filling the latter half of the song. Red gown starts with Tams' acoustic guitar and vocals, and the organ, this time played by Barry Coope, before Taylor lets rip with a perfectly measured lead break.
Unlike The ballroom , the lyric is filled with the excitement and expectation of an evening's fun: But it's historical ballads at which Tams excels and Home has a belter right at its heart. She was an angel all in my eye, which made me from my colours to fly". He is eventually betrayed, court martialled and executed with a timely warning to all young men who fall in love. Other top-notch tracks on a top-notch album are: Right on time - Tams solo with his acoustic guitar - The traveller and Bound east for Cardiff.
It may say John Tams on the front of the package but due credit must go to his fellow players, each of whom more than earns his crust here.