= January 2017 =  
Piano Magic
Taming Power
The Honey Pot
The Higher State
Us and Them
Forest/Wold comp
A Year in the Country
Suzuki Junko
Terry Dolan
Marvin Gardens
Rolling Stones


(LP from Second Language)

Piano Magic have long been favourites of ours. Well, of mine anyway. Their sound variously references baroque folk pop, the apocalyptic post punk of Joy Division and the stripped down minimal arrangements of Felt, but there’s something elemental and yet otherworldly about them that’s theirs alone. Emerging in London twenty years ago out of the home-recordings of Glen Johnson and Dick Ranse, Piano Magic was originally envisioned as an outfit with a revolving door membership akin to groups like This Mortal Coil. This in turn inspired Johnson to ask his friend Rachael Leigh to sing on two tracks, ‘I Have Loved A Suicide’ and ‘Wrong French,’ the latter of which formed the title track of their debut EP. 1999 was their breakthrough year, not only performing at Terrastock III but releasing a slew of singles for various hip underground labels (including the stunning ‘A Trick of the Sea’ EP for Darla’s Bliss Out series) along with their debut LP ‘Low Birth Weight’ on the hippest label of them all, Rocket Girl. The following year saw the release of what was up until now my favourite Piano Magic album, ‘Artists’ Rifles’ – although I have to say, ‘Closure’ is giving it a run for its money.

Cleverly referencing a track on ‘Artists’ Rifles’ entitled ‘No Closure’, Piano Magic’s final album is entitled ‘Closure’. For this record, the band consisted of Glen Johnson (guitars, voice, programming), Franck Alba (guitars, more programming), Jerome Tcherneyan (drums, percussion) and Alasdair Steer (bass) with Paul Tornbohm on keyboards. Both Johnson and Tornbohm also played on ‘Artists’ Rifles’, but there the similarities end.  The utterly brilliant ‘Landline’ runs along at a comparatively blistering pace, the pearlescent feedback guitar sounding not unlike Michio Kurihara’s work with Damon and Naomi (high praise indeed!), while closing side 1 ‘Let Me Introduce You’ features an engaging riff lifted (no doubt inadvertently) from Hendrix’s ‘1983… (A Merman I Should Turn to Be).’  

All of the attention will no doubt be focused though, and rightly so, on the brooding ten minute title track, ‘Closure’. It’s steeped in nostalgia, features all of the elements that have endeared fans to Piano Magic down the years (including the spine-tingling guitar lines that first drew me in); and as fitting endings go, it’s absolutely the kittens’ whiskers. Which is in itself rather apposite, given the subject matter of the cover of their debut album. Piano Magic; Goodnight, thank you, and may your God go with you.

(Phil McMullen)




(2x cassette)

Norwegian musician Askild Haugland (a.k.a. Taming Power) creates melancholic freeform psychedelic drones involving tape loops, radio noise, electronic keyboards and guitars. Some recordings feature tape manipulation almost exclusively: the 10” record ‘Selected Works 2000’ for instance contains nothing but two connected reel-to-reel tape recorders feeding back as they recorded one another.

This most recent collection of glorious instrumental dissonance spans almost 20 years and  has been beautifully packaged by the Winebox Press. It features two C50 cassettes held down by tacks and rubber bands in a wooden box, with typewritten inserts and screen printed photographs from Haugland’s collection.

The tapes are grouped according to instrumental sound source – one side of electric guitar pieces; one side of electric guitar and tape recorders; one side of analogue feedback; and one side of varied instrumentation. Track titles are simply recording dates, and quite frankly that’s all that’s needed. For what it’s worth, 12-9-10 and 13-4-01 part V from side A are personal favourites, along with 25-11-97 from side C.

(Phil McMullen)



(Double LP from Fruits de Mer Records

Much cherished vinyl-only imprint Fruits de Mer notch up their 100th release with this celebratory double album conceived by The Honey Pot frontman Icarus Peel and featuring a bumper crop of Fruits associates in a fitting salutation to a fine landmark achievement.

Although died-in-the-wool Brits, The Honey Pot are often at their best when evoking post-psychedelic California and this provides the touchstone for the first couple of numbers here - ‘1969’ featuring James Low (Electric Prunes) and ‘Solomon Deep’ showcasing Dick “Pretty Things” Taylor on some raucous blues guitar. ‘Love is Green’ wades back across the Pond for some Crystal Jacqueline bucolic balladry that while not quite acid folk but you can almost hear them knocking out Laura Ashley smocks in the background. It kicks into life courtesy of some Grateful Dead style down-home boogie in the coda courtesy of Jack Ellister.

You just have to love a song called ‘Dr Crippen’s Waiting Room’ (originally by Orange Bicycle) despite the fact that the subject matter is belied by a happy-go-lucky bubblegum psychedelia. This is where the Pots could hit a bit of turbulence but here they are redeemed by some tight interplay and top notch arrangement. Fondly remembered, ‘Can’t You See The Witch’ was originally a hit for German band The Rattles (featuring Achim Reichel) back in 1970 and here receives foot to the floor treatment featuring a blistering guitar and assured vocal interplay twixt Jacqueline and Carey Grace. A cover that stands favourable comparison with the original, never a bad thing.

July’s Cook and Newman take the helm for ‘Half A Memory’, the gravelly vocal evoking either Mark Lanegan or Lee Marvin depending on which way you happen to be facing and the classy hook-ups continue with Judy Dyble/Us and Them on the very nearly disc 1 highlight, ‘Sitting Alone’ before the “house band” themselves pull out all the stops with “I’ve Been So Tired”.

Disc the second is equally blessed with abundant talent and top notch crafts(wo)manship kicking off with the ascendant ‘Time Machine’ featuring a couple of young tyros named Saloman and Shaw before Gregory Curvey leads the band for ‘Lucky Spaceman’, another which grows in power and passion as the track hurtles towards its climax. The eerie reeds at the beginning of ‘Rainy Day Mushroom Pillow’ ought to be enough of a giveaway that our own Stephen Palmer is Mooching about there somewhere, for indeed it is he.  It’s a beautiful version that throws in elements of more reflective Airplane and distils by turn pretty much everything that is enduringly familiar and enjoyable about West Coast rock from that era.

The appeal of Nice’s ‘America’ has always been closed to me and, as a mark of respect, really been laid to rest along with its architect. That said, The Honey Pot’s instrumental spine manage a passable cut and shunt, bookending the bombast either side of some Floydian interlude. I still never want to hear it again mind. Bruce Woolley (a Buggle, it says here) then fronts up an airbrushed and somewhat over produced take on the Pot’s ‘Into The Deep’. It’s all very grown up AOR, perfectly decent fare and of course Jacqueline on companion vocals adds richness and good value as per always. 

And then it’s back to the Fuschia, with Tony Durant lending a thoughtful take to ‘River Runs By’, a wistful and only slightly underwhelming coda to what has been a thoroughly commendable team effort and a fitting tribute to one of our favourite labels.

Happy 100th Keith, you don’t look that bad on it, we must say.

(Ian Fraser)

Editor's note: Andrew Young also reviews this album for us here



(LP from 13 o’Clock Records)

It has taken me so long to review this album that it is on its second pressing, a good thing as those of you with January sales money still burning a hole in your pocket may wish to grab a copy of this fine disc.

    Treading the line between Garage and Psychedelia, with a folksy groove at times, The album contains 12 sweet musical nuggets, none of which break the 3 minute barrier meaning each one is a small yet perfectly jewel with plenty of hooks, fuzzed guitar, and lysergic Farfisa keyboards to be found in their grooves.

    Opening with a classic Psych/Garage sound, “Long Someways to go” is an instant hit, energy and melody dancing joyously together, the guitar rippling above waves of organ bliss. Equally energetic, “The Worst of Their Treason” has buckets of attitude and a frantic rhythm section that rocks, the guitar angrily buzzing throughout. Elsewhere, “When We Say” offers a more jangly sound, reminding me of “Masters of war” in the guitar riff at least, whilst “Forest Through the Trees” turns up the fuzz creating an authentic sixties sound that could come straight from that Pebbles box set.

    Over the whole album, the pace or quality is never compromised, each track a delight to listen to and perfectly placed on the album, with “Break The news” sounding like a primitive Beatles, whilst “Tomorrow You'll Find Today” out-jangles the Byrds, the whole thing topped off with “Smoke and Mirrors”, another ball of manic, fuzzy energy that makes you grin, a bit like being attacked by a kitten for no apparent reason.

     Having finally got around to playing this album I have listened to it several times over the last couple of days and it gets better every time, a psych/garage classic for future generations to discover, beat the rush. (Simon Lewis)



(EP from Fruits de Mer Records )

Something of a dream come true for label owner Keith with Britt and Anders from the band covering six Sandy Denny tunes ( Sandy being Keith’s favourite singer).

‘Winter Winds’ introduces this project with some fine gentle meshing acoustic guitars and Britt’s ethereal untrammelled pure vocal, It has a nice icy feel, not just because of the song title but it just feels wintery.

‘Farewell, Farewell’ is the Richard Thompson song, a fairly straight forward treatment of it accompanied by some Mellotron from Tony Swettenham.  

‘Next Time Around,’ one of the three songs written by Sandy on this EP, is lovely, a dreamy number with plenty of space for the instruments to frame the beautiful voice of Britt. Not many singers can take such a classic and do it justice but hats off to Britt, she does a fine job here.

‘Banks Of The Nile’ (trad) is the standout song for me, imagine Willow’s song from The Wickerman crossed with Scarborough Fair, that should give you an indication of the style here. The song is actually a pretty harrowing tale, concerning a conscripted soldier’s fate.  Sung by Britt and Anders, It has a lovely chamber folk arrangement with some cool orchestral touches, accompanied again by Tony’s sympathetic Mellotron programming.  It is a stunning song, capable of thawing the most icy of hearts.

We end the EP on the short but sweet ‘Take Away The Load’, a delicate song of release, and an acoustic song, again written by Sandy.

Pure and perfect, this is a record to play again and again though the long winter months ahead, a keeper. (Andrew Young)



(CDs from Bandcamp )

Released within a month of each sometime towards the end of 2016 and then kinda lost in the Christmas madness, these two collections continue the excellent work that a year in the country always produce, each filled with strange and wondrous sounds.

     Taking as its inspiration ancient woodlands and tangled forest, both real and imagined, the first collection is music for fairy tales, primal ritual and daydreams, with the magnificent Bare Bones leading us into the trees with a haunted meandering banjo as “The Abney Ritual” calls us back through our ancestral memory banks. One inside, we rest awhile in sacred grove with “The Hawthorn Heart” a delicate and beautiful folk song from Magpahi that drifts eerily around the listener. Changing styles and atmosphere again, electronic sparkles through the leaves as Polypores introduce sequencers and a tangerine Dream vibe to proceedings with “Deep Undergrowth” an elegant track with a hallucinogenic cloaking. Over twelve tracks the album moves between these styles, folk colliding with electronica, drones and experimentation weaved throughout the collection, with Time Attendant proving particularly unsettling, whilst David Colohan gets us lost in a ghostly mist, the trees becoming the myths and fairy tales from our youth. Elsewhere,both Sproatly Smith and The Hare and The Moon put the wyrd back into wyrd folk. With the former walking the forest of our dreams as “Tomo's Tale” unfolds around us in slow splendour, whilst the latter turn “A Whisper In The Woods” into a ghostly nursery rhyme complete with ringing bell and droning strings, a similar approach taken by The séance with Lutine on the delightfully creepy “Trees Grew All Around Her”. To complete our journey A Year In The Country return to the electronics and field recordings as “Where Once We Wandered Free” coils around you, a slow moving piece that begins in an unsettling way before shaft of light burst through the fog, revealing the landscape and lifting your heart.

     Taking as its inspiration a youth spent immersed in club culture, the rush of strange electronic music and the memories of these experiences, “No More Unto The dance” is described as a mixtape, although in this case the tape is haunted by time and distance, the twelve tracks writhing around each other as beats, come and go, electronics pulse and soothe and melodies almost bring back lyrics long forgotten. As the music moves forward it seemingly becomes more personal, euphoric moments mixed with the come-down, friends lost by time, shared joy now an individual memory tinged with nostalgia. Yet, throughout, there is still the euphoric rising chord and the beat, creating the chance to dance in your dreams, the chance to turn back life's pages and remember. Even without a past with these experiences this music stands alone as a fine electronic album that is atmospheric, intense and flows beautifully. If you too were seduced by the rise of electronic sounds then this album is a warm slice of nostalgia that remains current and relevant.  (Simon Lewis)



(LP from Nod and Smile www.nodandsmilerecs.com)

Well it’s a 12” vinyl and its over 40 minutes, yet according to Spotify on which I’ve based my first listen in order to preserve the hard copy (that’s earmarked for the reviewer’s obligatory second and subsequent plays, folks) it is a single. Beat that for value for money.

One suspects that the artificially unintelligent cyber goblins that spin the digital cogs of the corporate specialists in negligible royalty payments have been fooled by the number of tracks – just three which might suggest an EP. Goodness knows what they make of Tubular Bells or Metal Machine Music for example (or indeed what anyone makes of the latter).

The side long ‘G-E.M.J/G-E.M.J’ builds layer upon layer from an acoustic guitar intro that harks back to John Martyn circa ‘Bless The Weather’. The drums pad in gently ushering forth gradually the rest of the instrumentation, including bass played by one Lonesome Death Dick, who must go down a wonder on dating sites. Despite the incremental increase in freakiness it never quite slips its organic moorings as a result of which the overall effect is as much Six Organs as Acid Mothers.

Confusingly Spotify screws up the running order on Side 2 – it should be the compact ‘Skins Of Silver Spoon’, a vocal track and the most focussed thing here and not just because its short duration. A laid back, solo acoustic guitar ballad full of descending chord sequences, it’s a beautiful thing indeed.

The 16 minute title track is built around a scuzzy cosmic boogie, one long stream of joyous abandon during which Suzuki and co. get a bit too excited. As a result it occasionally veers off course, at times sounding as loose as a carrier bag of change. Hugely entertaining, sure enough, but you’d need to go a long way to find a textbook willing to provide this as a template for “how to do things properly”. There again, when did we pay too much heed to THAT? Extra marks, then.

All good fun and of interest to anyone with as much as a passing interest in Japanese alternative music. Oh and needless to say, but it’s going to be said anyway, the LP sounds better than the version coming out of your computer.
(Ian Fraser)



(CD/Digital LP from Onomastic Records www.onomastic.org)

These three lengthy ambient explorations come courtesy of the acclaimed Philadelphia/Indianapolis pairing Adam Holquist (Onewayness) and Charles Shriner (aka the spell-check bothering dRachEmUsick).

Brooding and pulsing, ‘Your Invisible Power’ is minimalist drone mixing electronic wind instruments and synthesis, acoustic guitar and bass to haunting and transcendental effect. The title track ‘Part I’ is equally horizontal in inclination but imbued of a different mood, reminiscent in a way of those curiously beat-less ECM offerings from decades past. It also possesses a vaguely perceptible Satie quality, while the understated yet profound ‘Part II’ (of a similar duration of just under 20 minutes) slows the iceberg down to a glacial pace at times barely perceptible through the auditory mist.

In one respect it is all unnerving and uneasy but at the same time strangely calming and fulfilling, especially ‘Mirrors To The Bonfire II’. It won’t get any parties started. It might even put pay to a few but it is oddly beguiling music ideal for deep space cryogenics followed by a long, slow thaw. (Ian Fraser)


(CD/LP http://n5md.com/ )

Recent news events have spoken of a huge iceberg a quarter the size of Wales that is about to break free from the Antarctic coastline, this album should surely be the soundtrack to such an event filled, as it is, with electronic landscapes that are vast and often icy, great swathes of sound that creep from the speakers like a huge unstoppable glacier.

    Created by Dutch duo, Ralph van Reijendam and Robert Kok, this collection shimmers with an elegant beauty, deep drones and slow pulsing beats combined into music that soars, taking the listener to vast open landscapes unspoilt by progress, a land that nature continually shapes and reforms, the eleven tracks merging into each other, themes emerging then being submerged to create a subtly changing whole.

     To begin, “Percieved Horizon” is a distorted drone that flows in like a Northern wind bringing change, a deep bass pulse (that got our cats attention), sounding like the Earth's heartbeat over which electronics creak and squirm before “Dawn” adds more layers of percussion and some warmer chords to the sounds. From here on in, the drones and beats collide, re-arrange and dissolve as the album moves forward creating an album that needs to be heard in one sitting before “Inward Collapse” slowly disintegrates before your ears, distorting and processing all that has gone before into one final storm of sound.

Released in September 2016 it has taken me a while to fully appreciate just how good this album is, hopefully you will get there much more quickly. (Simon Lewis)



(LP/CD/DL from High Moon Records

The late Terry Dolan was a Bay Area stalwart (and founder of ‘Frisco “super group” Terry and the Pirates), who many would claim never reaped his just rewards.

Straddling the singer-song writing West Coast cowboy scene and soulful country-blues rock, his self-titled debut album was pulled at the last moment by Warner Bros in 1972 and his recently signed contract cancelled. This effectively scuppered Dolan’s seemingly promising solo career. It’s still not clear who he managed to upset at the label to warrant his execution or how he managed to pull the dead rabbit out of the toilet bowl. It seems there is still a story to be told.

Well a mere 44 years after the event Dolan receives his posthumous dues and it’s a tale of two sides. Nicky Hopkins, the session keyboard man with the fullest order book in town was originally brought in as producer and assembled a top-notch Bay Area cast. There was by all accounts a tremendous atmosphere and gelling in the studio, and this is plainly evident on side 1. Dolan’s voice bore resemblance to Gene Clark and a fair bit of the material here (including the lone cover of JJ Cale’s ‘Magnolia’ on Side 2) anticipates Clark’s No Other by at least 12 months. His voice is strong throughout, best served on the first slab by the ballad ‘Angie’ (not that one) and ‘Inlaws and Outlaws’, something of a genre classic and which can lay fair claim to being the best of a more than decent bunch. Hopkins is in boisterous form too on the upbeat ‘Rainbow’, which wouldn’t seem out of place on a Little Feat album or, dare one suggest, the post-Duane/pre-first split Allmans, and on which he serves up plenty of his wonderful trademark runs.

Alas, some names and numbers in The Little Red Book exert a greater gravitational pull than others and Hopkins was called away to record and tour with The Rolling Stones midway through recording. Following a gap of some months, during which Dolan lost the services of most of the Hopkins-assembled musicians (including John Cipollina, the Pointer Sisters and percussive duo Spencer Dryden and Prairie Prince) another virtuoso Brit, Pete Sears, was recruited to produce and play bass and keys. Not to detract from Sears’ performance either in front of or behind the desk (exemplary, both) but there is an inevitable loss of momentum on side 2 although the soaring ‘Purple An Blonde’ and the aforementioned ‘Magnolia’ are both classy ensure to drag the rest to home base.

And there we have it. It may be a mystery why Warner Bros chose to keep this one in the vault, but bear in mind there was so much exceptional music at this time and more marketable commodity to push that label execs are unlikely to have lost much sleep as a result of their decision to shelve the album. Like we said, there is a story still to be told but in the meantime it’s so good that this finally gets to see the light of day and full marks to High Moon Records and Mike Somavilla for making it happen.

(Ian Fraser)




Originally released in 1982 and limited to 2000 copies, most of which were faulty as well having been mastered at the wrong speed, this album sounds like it should have been released a decade earlier, the record crammed with proto hard rock, some trippier moments and the occasional melody laden ballad, all of which is well recorded and has some great playing throughout.

     Opening track “Key to my Heart” sounds like a cross between Alice Cooper and Jack White, a meaty guitar riff and rock and roll piano overlaid with typical seventies vocals, the tune containing plenty of dynamics and flow. Another fine riff heralds in “Rock and Ride” a song complete with swirling organ and a fine guitar solo, the three-piece band making plenty of noise, whilst “State of Mind” shows the band's softer side, acoustic guitar and synths providing the backdrop for a sweet vocal performance, time for those lighters to go up in the air.

    Originally formed in the late seventies by three club veterans, the band's crowning moment was a support slot with Mountain, a band they seem perfectly at home with, (must have been a great show), as bass heavy “Courageous Cat” takes chunks out of the speakers, primitive hard rock meeting the Doors, the energy levels kept high for “Movin' On Down” and “Party Party” both great examples of classic hard rock with the latter being particularly enjoyable, especially after a few beers. Elsewhere, there is an instrumental and vocal version of “Today”, both lovely to the ears, whilst the whole thing is brought to a close by the spoken word, synth weirdness of “Young and Angry”. Maybe not the most original album you will ever hear but a damn fine on for all that.

     Created and recorded by brothers Joern and Dirk Wenger, born in Paraguay but of German origin, this 1971 album featured music made in 1969 and earlier, the music collated after the brothers had moved to Germany and studied under Stockhausen, the album a mix of primitive Garage, Psychedelia and general strangeness. Recorded in their own studio, the album opens with “Experiment” a reverb laden slice of Garage with echoes of The Velvets,energy a-plenty and some unexpected whistling added to the mix. With a more psychedelic sound, “Memories of a Russian Friend” is undeniably sixties, whilst “Icy Reflexions” gives The Monks a run for their money in the lo-fi garage stakes.

     Over, 12 tracks the music never loses it appeal, always interesting and original despite working within a limited palette/genre with “Mild Wave” sounding like Kraut – Pop, jangly, catchy, yet strangely cloaked in a weird vibe, whilst “Jodi Rytmus” has some great farfisa like organ, again having a Grarage Kraut sound that explodes from the speakers, one of my favourites.

   Also included are five bonus tracks, three unreleased until now, plus one from an ultra rare EP and one from the boys Paraguay band The Rabbits, the rather excellent “Buscandote, an excellent piece of South American psych that reminds me of Traffic Sound and definitely needs to be heard by fans of the genre.

   Two great album that have been rarely heard, kudos to the label for digging them out and giving us the chance, keep up the good work. (Simon Lewis)



(LP/CD/DL from High Moon Records )

Faturing rare demos, studio and live recordings, this collection from unheralded flower power era late-comers Marvin Gardens owes rather too much to cover versions of rather safe folk standards that would have seemed old hat in 1965. By 1968 as psychedelia was giving way to heavy blues rock or else getting its head together in the country this must sounded totally anachronistic.  

The worst of this is there is a major kazoo alert on track two, ‘Titanic’ (an old Leadbelly number) so be warned. The rest of the studio cuts yield few dividends either. ‘Close The Door Lightly’ evokes a more swinging mash up of The Seekers and Sally Army pop band the Joystrings and leaves one yearning for them to slam the bloody thing shut as loud as they can. Buffy St Marie’s ’97 Men’, though, gives a better indication of Carol Duke’s impressive vocal delivery (a “wisecracking Texan lesbian” it says here, inferring a thrift store version of Duke’s more sexually ambivalent fellow-Texan Janis Joplin) which when given a free reign is pretty impressive and lacks neither presence nor conviction. Best though it the only band original here, the single ‘Whips and Chains” which for a short time made them darlings of the Gay Biker Club and is a passable enough slice of commercial sounding psychedelia with a pleasant sunshine-jazz midsection.

The second part of this disc captures the band live at the legendary Matrix Club in 1968 by which time founder Marty Balin had sold his share and the club was no longer quite the scene shaping haunt it had been a couple of years previously. Jaunty versions of ‘Gloryland’ may have pleased a residual protest folky element but is unlikely to have embedded itself in the walls of the club in the same way as the likes of the Airplane, Big Brother and others had a couple of years previously or the Velvets would go on to do the following year. However ‘I Know You Rider’ though is a fine example of what they were capable of when they let loose and features some blistering guitar by Fred Waxler. Their alternately atmospheric and exciting take on St-Marie’s ‘Ananias’ also gives a frustrating glimpse of a potentially fine band that otherwise seemed intent on squandering a not inconsiderable talent. A pity that we don’t get hear enough of this side of them and a shame that not many people did on the night, too, judging by the muted audience response.
(Ian Fraser)



(CD/DL/ 10” 3-SONG PICTURE DISC from Bandcamp )

A couple of months ago a bright pink and blue picture disc fell through my front door with a hand written note that was hard to decipher. After some detective work, I discovered that the vinyl contained the first three tracks from “Shin”, the latest musical offering from The Solilians, their music a drifting take on Shoegaze, Dream Pop and Sun Ra, intriguing indeed.

     With brass drones, bells, and devotional vocals, opening track “Hine Ma Tov (space drone dreams mix)” does what it says on the tin, a dream laden , slow motion drone that stretches out like a mirage fuelled ride through a burning desert, a musical heat-haze that is completely engaging, the music wrapping itself around completely for thirteen glorious minutes. On the shorter “Rev's Gold” a repeated drum pattern keeps time as clouds of sound roll by, a constantly shifting musical landscape that seemingly last longer than the scant three minutes allotted to it. Occupying the last slot on the vinyl, “Lamedvavniks” loses all sense of time and rhythm, a soft-focused drone that swells and recedes, sounding like a lost seventies electronic album, the vocals coming over as if heard on a distant radio, music for a film that never existed.

   So that is the vinyl EP, three excellent tracks that work beautifully together, timeless and relaxing, worth investigating on their own, but there is the rest of the album as well, five more tracks that are  equally as fine, including a different and shorter mix of “Hine Ma Tov” a reprise of “Rev's Gold” and the outstanding thirteen minutes of “Planet Binah”, quite possibly the finest track on the collection. Huge chords that sing like lost horizons to the soul mixed with haunted vocals and a rich musical atmosphere that takes you deep within the mysteries, the sound pure and lingering long in your memory, psychedelic and very beautiful. (Simon Lewis)



(LP from Polydor Records, France)

What’s happening here? What year is this? Those are the first two questions that came to mind when I first put this platter on the turntable. To say I was gobsmacked would be an understatement. I checked the date on the calendar and made sure the label was correct, as well. Then I poured myself a tall glass of scotch (on the rocks) and listened to all four sides of this incredible new double album.

  That’s right, the Stones have just released their best album in at least 37 years. (‘Some Girls’, I reckon). How did this happen? Well, it seems that the band was booked into unfamiliar surroundings for this recording, (Mark Knopfler’s Grove Studios), and decided to warm up by playing Little Walter’s ‘Blue and Lonesome’. When producer extraordinaire Don Was heard the playback, he asked the band to listen to the results. It was decided right there and then to record an album full of blues classics, written by their original heroes, the Chicago blues masters. 

  Without the weight of the well documented Jagger/Richards song writing clashes of the last few decades, the Stones sound like they’re having fun again, playing loose, off the floor, balls to the wall blues…the way God intended it.

  Beginning with Little Walter’s “Just Your Fool” and ending with Willie Dixon’s “I Can’t Quit You Baby”, the Stones play the blues like only the Stones can.

  Charlie Watts still plays like the late great, Earl Palmer, while riding on a Chinese cymbal, (which I’ve never heard another blues drummer do). But, somehow it works. Sure, he comes off his fills just after the beat occasionally, and doesn’t necessarily end when everyone else does. But dem’s de blues, ain’t it?

  I can’t tell Keef’s or Ronnie’s guitars apart on this recording, which is a good thing. They both sound great. But, there’s a Rolling Stones drive to it, like the Brian Jones / Keith Richards sound in the ‘60’s, but tougher. Darryl Jones plays a subdued and subtle bass throughout the record, and one wonders why he’s not a legitimate ‘Rolling Stone’ after all these years. Chuck Leavell (keys) and Jim Keltner (percussion) play understated yet important parts throughout the disc.

  The highlight of the album is Mick Jagger, and I can’t believe it myself, but his vocals and harp playing have never sounded so committed, and The Rolling Stones have never sounded better.

  ‘Got live if you want it’…finally!    (Rick Skol)