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Record Round-up

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
James Last Born Piccadilly Sunshine

JAMES LAST
The America Album

Universal CD

With James Last about to embark on his farewell shows, his “lost” album from 1969 has finally been prized from the archives. As if aiming to hitch a ride on the coat tails of the flourishing counter-cultural experience in the US, The America Album finds Herr Last abandoning his trademark approach of giving mainstream pop hits and traditional melodies the musical wallpaper treatment by turning his attention to hipper material courtesy of reworkings of originals by Jimmy Webb, Rod McKuen, Leiber & Stoller, Laura Nyro, The Cuff Links, Bob Dylan and The Byrds.

Left unreleased by Polydor in ’69 over concerns the sounds wouldn’t connect with Last’s core audience, the album is now seeing daylight for the first time and given the in between times growth in the vogue for all things kitsch, it’s arguably guaranteed a more sussed reception today than might have been the case back in year that gave the world Woodstock.
Grahame Bent

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Born To Be Together: The Songs Of Barry Mann & Cynthia Weil

Ace CD

This latest volume in Ace’s series of songwriter showcases is the second to feature the Mr & Mrs couple and boasts 25 tracks chosen from their treasure trove of lush and romantic songs courtesy of canny compiler Mick Patrick. With the ability to write ballads, northern soul stompers, wistful show tunes and of course bubblegum pop, the performers using their tunes ranged from Dusty Springfield to Marianne Faithfull; Doris Day to The Ronettes; Scott Walker to The Everly Brothers. Even Slade took them on with a fearsome rendition of Max Frost & The Troopers’ ‘The Shape Of Things To Come’. Their songs are such that they seem to work in any style and with any performer (to the extent that I’d imagine the singers often wished they’d written them).

This set features well-known greats (‘Saturday Night At The Movies’, ‘On Broadway’ – they just don’t get tired) alongside some tunes that should have made it but somehow didn’t quite get there.

Delia Sparrow

VARIOUS ARTISTS
Piccadilly Sunshine Part 12

Particles CD

So here’s another hamper of low calorie sooth-sayers with pictures to paint, none more so than that of Alison Springfield, the subject of lament in A New Generation’s ‘Police Is Here’. This time the set is topped and tailed by the ever enjoyable Jigsaw, whose ‘Mr Job’ sets the jaunty tone of the majority of these selections. A few artists seem to be in too much of a hurry to get to the end, with both Marc Brierley and Friday Brown’s contributions clocking in at around 1:30. The indulgence food in this particular feast comes from Heatwave’s “phat” mod-soul funker, ‘Rastus Ravel’, and, appropriately, progsters Egg, whose keyboard-heavy ‘You Are All Princes’ ends rather suddenly.

The numerous ’60s songs about “paper men” is a theme yet uncompiled, but The Brotherhood make a worthy addition to the canon here in a bright, sunshiney style. This series continues to entertain whilst retaining the potential for many more volumes.

Paul Martin

39th Crime Scene Del Lords

39th & THE NORTONS
On Trial

Evil Hoodoo cassette

Presumably taking the name from the site of a murder in the infamous Los Angeles Black Dahlia case, 39th & The Nortons actually hail from Sheffield and are the brainchild of one Nick Wheeldon. There must be gold in them there Yorkshire hills then, as Wheeldon seems to have been mining nuggets of the highest carat.

Coming across like a lo-rent Stones circa Exile On Main Street, or Johnny Thunders in Copy Cats mode – particularly on numbers like ‘Dead Flowers’ and ‘I Can’t Do It’ respectively - the Nortons slip effortlessly between jingle-jangle country style psychedelia and pure ’60s rock ’n’ roll kitsch. Unarguably also influenced by the Nuggets compilation, the garage is never too far away either, along with echoes of Love and The Seeds. The influences may be legion, but I’ve no contempt for this kind of familiarity. An undeniable charmer that just keeps growing on you.

Rich Deakin

CRIME SCENE
Crime Scene

Demo

Crime Scene is a three-piece rock band based in Consett, County Durham. It’s the latest vehicle of original Deviants guitarist Sid Bishop and singer and bassist Geoff Dickinson. Over the years Bishop’s reputation may have been eclipsed by his Deviants successor and Pink Fairies’guitarist, the almost revered, but also largely unsung , Paul Rudolph, but it was Bishop’s fancy fretwork and blistering fuzz guitar forays that graced both The Deviants’ first two albums, Ptooff! and Disposable. Since then, Bishop’s musical flirtations have largely been concerned with R&B combos and rock ’n’ roll outfits like Bishop’s Big Boppers.

His latest band is perhaps a bit of a different beast then, given that they draw on a diverse range of influences such as ’60s and ’70s style rock, blues, heavy metal and punk. By his own admission there’s a bit of “a Velvet Underground meets Ramones kind of thing” going on, and the opening track ‘Mirror’ and ‘Gimme A Sign’ certainly have an edgy, punkish feel. It’s not all heads down, no-nonsense rough and ready rockers though and when Bishop gives free reign to his Strat on the smouldering jazzy blues style number ‘Capture The Moment’, you’ll realise how versatile he is.

Having recently acquired a new drummer following the departure of their previous sticksman Crime Scene are expanding their set-list and will be hitting the road for more live dates again in the near future. Go and see them and grab a copy of the demo whilst you’re at it!

Rich Deakin

THE DEL-LORDS
Elvis Club

Conqueroo CD

These guys invented this stuff. Back in the mid-80s, long before it was given silly little genre-clip-on tags like “Americana”, The Del-Lords were churning out loud, rootsy, country-inflected rock ’n’ roll as if their lives depended on it. Well, wait. Their lives DID depend on it. And it showed. But after four LPs, they folded up and went their separate ways.

Well, they’re back. And even though, it seemed, a whole generation of badly-dressed progeny spent the entire last two decades joylessly wringing the last drop of usefulness out of this kind of music, The Del-Lords have ridden into town, six-guns a-blazing, to steal their legacy back. With resounding success. Halfway through the second song, I was 20 pounds lighter and all my hair was brown again. It’s like they never left.

Buy this. You will get more “Americana” on this one album than you would get from an entire boxcar full of Wilcos and Jayhawks and Hawkwilks.

Mike Fornatale

Future Primitives The Go Golden Shower
THE FUTURE PRIMITIVES
This Here’s The Future Primitives

Groovie LP

Is this is the first time we’ve covered a modern-day rock ’n’ roll group from South Africa? Could be. This is a young, scuzzy-looking three-piece who make the kind of manic garage rock noise that stems from listening to lots of Velvet Underground and Cramps, alongside the usual ’60s punk compilations.

There’s something about the likes of ‘Little Doll’ (not The Stooges) and ‘I Keep Searchin’’ (good Elevators jug here) that resonate with me, nonchalantly spat out by singer/guitarist Johnny Tex. He occasionally affects mannerisms that recall Vic Godard et al, but it doesn’t grate the way some sub-Lou Reed vocalists do. They’ve also had the good taste to tackle Richard & The Young Lions’ ‘Open Up Your Door’, faring none too badly either. Minimal production suits the group’s pared-down approach, and one or two effects, used sparingly, add a touch of atmosphere.

Lenny Helsing

THE GO
Fiesta

Burger 2-LP

Readers will have to pardon the hyperbole as I aver that to my ears this is the best new album anyone’s made in years. Detroit-based The Go started operations back in the late ’90s, and their debut album featured Jack White as a guest player. They have hit their peak to date here. It’s difficult to pin down the sound and style of Fiesta – there are 20 tracks that encompass a wide variety of approaches and feels. Some of it is tough, R&B-fuelled garage; some warm SoCal pop. There are even snatches of ska guitar. Lead vocalist Bobby Harlow’s snarling voice is a cross between that of the recently, dearly departed Reg Presley and Sky Saxon.
The very best songs, ‘Can’t Rely On It’, ‘It Always Happens to You’ and ‘Beyond The Beyond’ are happy-making grooves with a Tex-Mex party feel. Get me a sombrero and a can of Tecate and make room on the dance floor.

Brian Greene
GOLDEN SHOWER
The Strange Case Of The Alaskan Dragon Breath

Revenge Events CD

This oddly-titled third LP from the Italian combo sets out its agenda pretty clearly before you’ve even heard a note: it’s bedecked in a lurid purple and black sleeve displaying what appear to be stills from sleazy ’70s exploitation flicks; and has songs with titles like ‘Pussy Demolition Man’. Their schtick is punked-up R&B, with shots of fuzz and Farfisa, and occasional blasts of sax edging it into garage/psyche territory.

Opener ‘Detroit’ sounds like a youthful Stones on speed. ‘Bad Soul’ lets in a little light and shade with some tasty guitar twang, while the aforementioned ‘Pussy…’ has some nice, freaky sax blowing. The songs rush by in sub-three minute bursts, good and tight and punchy. The guitar sounds range from toppy Telecaster twang to Spirit Of ’77 riffing.

This is not exactly reinventing the wheel, but mostly they have the energy, attitude and songcraft to edge ahead of the pack.

Neil Hussey
McDowell Chamber Psychotic Reaction Sendelica
McDOWELL CHAMBER UNION
McDowell Chamber Union EP
Self-released CD

Mark McDowell’s debut album from 2011, Community Heat, was excellent – an inspired slice of Brian Jonestown Massacre-influenced psych with a side of acid-folk on tracks like the epic ‘She Fell’. On this new-ish EP, the singer and his new band, seem to have swallowed the Steeleye Span songbook wholesale, delivering three tracks they claim are from “medieval times by the way of outer space”. They’re good too.

The opening ‘Girls Of Belvoir’ has that English folk gone weird sound off a to a tee, with its droney vocals, phased guitar, jaunty flute and extended psych fade. For me though the highlight is the third tune, ‘Sally In the Woods’. After an intro that recalls Nico’s ‘Chelsea Girl’, the track blossoms into the type of tune The Stone Roses excelled at (well before the drugs and record company hassles kicked in), done in a folky style and with a lovely psych climax.

Ashley Norris
THE PSYCHOTIC REACTION
Lost And Found
Paisley Archive CD

I never happened across this East Midlands combo during the time they were together in the late '90s, although they had a self-released EP and a single out on Detour, before going to ground in 2000. I sense enough going on throughout this hour-long set, however, to imagine it would've been a blast to have caught them live. Fascinated by the ’60s look and sound, they created a whole bunch of songs to reflect that stance. 'Barry's Got Brain Damage', ‘Here And There’ and 'Clown On The Town' show they also had their own peculiar slant; strands of dark reality, and twisted humour integral elements of their make-up.

They tackle covers of 'Writing On The Wall' and The Kingpins' 'You're My Girl', but are perhaps best represented by their own all-out fuzz raunch. Peter Feely, the group's flamboyant lead singer and main songwriter, now with Silver Factory, recounts the basics of the group's story in the booklet.

Lenny Helsing 
SENDELICA
The Satori In Elegance Of The Majestic

Stonegazer

Vincebus Eruptum LP
Sendelica’s latest album has been available on CD for a while but has recently been released on the vinyl imprint of Italian heavy psych magazine Vincebus Eruptum. There couldn’t be a better album to inaugurate the label.

The Welsh band hit a number of styles on this LP from full-on psychedelic rock to immersing electronica and Hawkwind-inspired space-rock. There are numerous thrilling sonic detours across the mescal grooves and acid-drenched arrangements. Opener ‘Magical Ninin’ roars straight out of the blocks with a monster wah-wah guitar riff and obligatory whooshing noises. Thereafter, it doesn’t just follow the same template, touching on numerous bases with subdued electronica soundscapes and some neat instrumental touches like electric sitar and heavily treated sax.

As you can probably tell from the artwork and album title alone, the band are clearly operating on some different plane of consciousness. Join them.

Austin Matthews
Smoke Fairies Peter Stampfel  
SMOKE FAIRIES
Blood Speaks

Year Seven 2-CD/LP

The mesmerising British folk/blues duo of Jessica Davis and Katherine Blamire, otherwise known as Smoke Fairies, have been impressing audiences and critics alike since 2007 with their spectral melodies, homespun, spot-on harmonising and broodingly existential, entrancingly imagistic songs. Released last year in the UK and “inspired by London and by travelling”, this Stateside issue is beefed up with five additional tracks on a separate disc that encompass a sonically adventurous remix of the Fairport Convention-recalling ‘Film Reel’ along with four selections from an earlier EP.

Other larksome toe-curlers include the intrepidly nostalgic ‘The Three Of Us’, an ominously haunting ‘Daylight’, the lengthy, anecdotally exploratory title track and the reflective, bittersweet “traveling song” ‘Take Me Down When You Go’. Music that nearly levitates. More please.

Gary von Tersch
PETER STAMPFEL
Live

Mystra LP

Peter Stampfel, one half of the pioneering acid-folk old-timey hybrid group The Holy Modal Rounders, is still an energetic and enthusiastic performer of traditional material and idiosyncratic originals alike. This very limited vinyl-only album – complete with a handmade sleeve and fascinating linear notes – preserves a live set from sometime in the mid-90s.
His zeal for the crazy old American traditions, goofy and weird, is singular. Hushed reverence is not for him and he’s always ensured that a song, in his hands, is a roaring beast. He includes Holy Modal Rounders tracks in his repertoire, so here we get a feisty take on their classic ‘Euphoria’ and the raucous ‘Half A Mind’. His between-song banter is considerable, and utterly wonderful. It’s not a perfectly played set – but it’s loose as a goose and strong as moonshine. Peter Stampfel is a timeless wonder and this is a delightful document of his appeal.

Jeanette Leech