Category: Reviews

The Bad Flowers – Starting Gun

All the songs on this debut album by the hard rock trio are group compositions. Guitarist and singer Tom Leighton fronts the act, Karl Selickis plays drums and bass and backing vocals come from Dale Tonks.

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Laurence Jones – The Truth

Jones is touring with his four-piece lineup and this new album overall explores contemporary rock elements rather than the rock-blues material upon which he has risen in the field as a live draw.

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Matt Patershuk – Same As I Ever Have Been

Produced by Steve Dawson, this Canadian release stars Matt Patershuk as – going by the tongue-twister titles as chief wordysmith. Sometimes You’ve Got To Do Bad Things To Do Good ( Adolf Hitler – 1944) kicks things off with a dirty girt tone that evokes R L Burnside.

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Sterling Ball, John Ferraro and Jim Cox – The Mutual Admiration Society

In which these three gentlemen – BFC as I am now naming them, to save time – create an album called The Mutual Admiration Society. Tongue in cheek title? Or straight? A lot of familiar numbers, a lot of familiar guests. The collection turns out to be a set of instrumentals of quite staggering variety, on which BFC make everybody sound fine. Skill of this strength is always going to make for an entertaining listen.

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The Koch Marshall Trio – Toby Arrives

Under the label’s The Players Club imprint, this collection immediately rolls into earshot with a Medeski-meets-Jimmy Smith groove in the shape of Toby Arrives. I’d be very surprised if Milwaukee guitarist wasn’t a fan of Harvey Mandel.

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Michael Landau – Rock Bottom

Ace guitar man has played on a ton of albums, for all sorts of people. For this effort he has decided to put together a four-piece with him on guitar and vocal, drummer Alan Hertz, son Teddy Landau on bass and singer David Frazee. Great players, so as ever it’s down to the strength of the material to assess the record’s desirability.

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Midge Ure – Orchestrated

Ure takes some of his best and certainly some of his best-known material into the studio for orchestral reinvention. Let’s look at who’s involved – well the collection is produced, arranged, recorded and mixed by TY Unwin.

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In This Moment – Ritual

Recently beset by difficulties healthwise, original rock creatives In This Moment return with a new album. This is an act that sometimes misses me with their songs but at others just knocks me flat.

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Shane Filan – Love Always

Another album from the still young Irish singer and once again we have tuneful singing, a crisp delivery that still has warmth, clear production and professional arrangements. But once again, what’s missing?

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Zoe Mulford – Small Brown Birds

A quick double take of the cover to check that we don’t have a member of the Mumford family here and whew, what a relief, no. Does the charming 50s style Nature Ramble Annual-style artwork give anything away? We shall press ‘Play’ and find out…

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Kyle Shutt – Doom Side Of The Moon

The Sword guitar player Kyle Shutt tackles the popular Pink Floyd album Dark Side Of The Moon. Fab idea or folly? Gov’t Mule got there first but in dub style, of course. He says he wanted to do a heavy version of Time and it all went from there…

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Dave Kerzner – Static

Man, such prog song titles! Keyboard ace and singer Kerzner has form working with key figures from his chosen field e.g. Simon Collins (son of Phil). Steve Hackett, Keith Emerson, Steven Wilson, Joe Lynn Turner, Jon Anderson, Alan Parsons. You get the picture……

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Ringo Starr – Give More Love

Can’t let this year finish without catching up with this record – the latest from Ringo whose albums more and more reflect the fun and creativity he draws from working with the globe’s finest. Of course it’s an honour to work with the cat who played drums on Rain and Old Brown Shoe and our friend Steve Lukather was genuinely thrilled to be in on the sessions.

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Jane Lee Hooker – Spiritus

A second album for the all-female quintet arrives and it seems the mission to rock the globe remains. Their strong points here are an NYC gang attitude, a move this time to more originals and – in their view – the cleansing credo of recording live, using no pedals and no overdubbing.

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Sonia Leigh – Mad Hatter

Clever lass is Ms Leigh – singing, playing, arranging, producing some of the tracks on this disc. If the record is a success it’s largely down to her and if it is not, not many places to hide.

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David Crosby – Sky Trails

Following on from the airy trip of the previous record Lighthouse, this set sounds more like a performing band and indeed Croz has been out touring with a show based around this album.

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Sheridan Smith – Sheridan The Album

She has had her ups and downs in recent years, but evidently the time is right for her
own musical efforts to be heard. I say ‘own’ but the inclusions overall do point to something of a quandary..do we emphasise her ability to put a well-known song over well with no great risks taken OR do we spotlight her own individual character?

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Shane Richie – A Country Soul

A longtime singer and musician, Richie now mines his love of country and roots music on this new release. Doubtless encouraged by Bradley Walsh’s success with his recent lounge club records, Shane has the depth of knowledge to give this a crack.

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Cheap Trick – Christmas Christmas

As far as I am aware, this is the first seasonal release from the veteran rock band. It’s a mix of well-worn Xmas favourites and less familiar material but all delivered with the group’s customary energetic, guitar-fueled elan. The artwork blends the outfit’s checkerboard graphic with Christmas corn.

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Tom Chaplin – Twelve Tales Of Christmas

After a very successful solo album, Chaplin must feel it is the right time to make his mark on the seasonal release scene and why not? This record has some strange choices amongst pretty original fare and must be counted as an achievement. It will probably have some appeal to listeners not Keane fanatics, too.

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Thunder – Christmas Day EP

From the ace hardrock band comes a seasonal offering of new items which stresses the act’s versatility and quality and won’t make you throw up from too much sugar and corniness. The compositions are by guitarist Luke Morley but sung by Daniel Bowes as if the words were his

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Sarah Darling – Winter Wonderland

Two things strike you as you look at this album – the design has a beautiful charm about it, very striking and suitable for the theme AND it would be hard to pick a more hackneyed choice of songs for inclusion. However context is everything, any reviewer has to ask 1/ what is attempted and 2/ how successful is the project.

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The Harpoonist & The Axe Murderer – Apocalipstick

Described as a ‘Canadian alt/blues-rock duo’, this act played some UK dates a few weeks ago before moving to Europe to perform there. I had the advantage of catching them with friends – notwithstanding local directional ‘advice’ – in an obscure village hostelry down a very long dark lane as they fitted in an extra show in deepest Sussex. They had no trouble charming the crowd.

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Project Mama Earth – Project Mama Earth

This release really has an interesting list of participants – Joss Stone, Nitin Sawhney, Jonathan Joseph, Etienne M’Bappe, Jonathan Shorten. I really liked a previous gathering including Mick Jagger and Dave Stewart and called SuperHeavy but how does this fare ?

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Talk-Show – Permanent Honeymoon

Is Boo Hewerdine of The Bible fame likely to be involved as Executive Producer on a duff project? Is a recording also produced and mixed by Chris Pepper likely to be more than listenable? The answers are definitely No and Yes, respectively….hence Lawrence O’Shea has chosen well as regards cohorts for this album. Originally a one-man project, this is now a band itching to perform, I understand.

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Blitzen Trapper – Wild & Reckless

The enduring Portland rock band recently had a 28-performance run of a musical entitled Wild & Reckless…quite an achievement. And here is an album under that name. It adds new numbers to gems from their catalogue, which seems fan-friendly as a plan.

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Alexander O’ Neal – Hearsay 30

The original 1987 Minneapolis studio album helmed by Jam and Lewis sold over a million copies and the funky key cuts had club crowds dancing night after night. To this day Alexander tours on a glittering career with the Hearsay songs prominent in the act.

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The Cadillac Three – Legacy

The JLTT team have seen this act a couple of times now and they do combine loose and free with good band discipline, to create a sound that coasts from mellow to exhilarating. There seems to be some love and respect in this crew..that or they all deserve Oscars……

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Paul Potts – On Stage

Your scribe does not watch TV ‘talent’ shows. Mainly because the acts become secondary to the self-promotion of the show hosts/’judges’/ principal figures. So I first became aware of Paul Potts when his albums came through the letterbox – as I was able to explain to him in person a few weeks ago.

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Supersonic Blues Machine – Californisoul

This second SBM release consolidates their reputation as a recording outfit of great skill and versatility and the group has undoubtedly benefited from recent live forays. Totally at ease in the company of any musician, the trio put everyone’s contribution in a great dynamic setting and this means each track has its own atmosphere. No wonder that star artists queue to get into the studio with these chaps.

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K-Syran – Dizzy

One thing you can be sure about with K-Syran the Norwegian singer-songwriter is that a new album release will not be a repeat of the last collection. This time around the production team of Philip Larsen and Manhattan Clique is involved plus she is working with some of her regular musicians Gauthier Toux, Erwan Valazza, Axel Lussiez and Leon Phal. These coves know how to get the best out of the artist’s voice and altogether these colleagues point to and achieve an international sound.

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Bootsy Collins – World Wide Funk

I have fond memories of that exciting show at Hammersmith, Mothership descending and all and featuring Parliament, Funkadelic, Bootsy’s Rubber Band with Mudbone Cooper AND a spliff-riding standup guy…so this new Bootsy and guests set is pretty welcome. Even for a guy who cannot dance..and never could.

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Black Stone Cherry – Black To Blues EP

As anyone who has seen Black Stone Cherry perform will know, these Kentucky lads are never far from the Blues. The clues are the way they play off each other, the use of dynamics, the occasional slide guitar but moreover the raspy vocal stylings of Chris Robertson.

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Imagination feat. Leee John – Retropia

We have much time for Leee John. He makes great records, can readily turn his hand to jazz and we have never seen him give a bad performance, rather he has given some of the best we have seen, singing like an angel and giving his muscular band room to explore the funk. Here we have a set of twelve new songs plus some extra’s. And very welcome, too.

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CousteauX – CousteauX

This early 2000s act returns with a new album and adding a letter to their group name. Cousteaux is in essence a duo of deep-voiced singer originally from Cork Liam KcKahey plus Davey Ray Moor, and Aussie born in Beirut.

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Janis Ian – The Essential 2.0

There’s always room for a Janis Ian compilation album and this double might be the strongest yet. It certainly has lots of highlights and for the newcomer to this stalwart artist’s work will be a revelation. Broadly chronological, this is a trip through a creative artist’s world and back again. Quite a trip from guesting on the very first Saturday Night Live TV show to filling concert halls worldwide today…

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Dixie Chicks – DCX MMXVI

Sooner or later a great live act will be tempted to get the best of their stuff out on a CD / DVD set and here is the country-rock trio’s offering on three discs. These performances were recorded on a set of US and Canadian dates and it sounds as though they were fun. Selling 30 million albums must teach you something, in this case it was plainly how to entertain and put together a fine setlist.

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Alice Cooper – Paranormal

A treat from Vincent! A new studio album AND a live performance on a second disc with a show out in Columbus. Produced by old sparring partner Bob Ezrin, too. What can go wrong? Turns out, not much at all….in passing, Alice was surprised that guest drummer Larry Mullen from U2 insisted on seeing the song lyrics before working on the drum parts..unprecedented, says Cooper.

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The Bad Flowers – Thunder Child (Single)

The new single release from The Black Country’s act The Bad Flowers features guitar man Tom Leighton, bassist Dale Tonks and drummer Karl Selickis, session helmed by producer Adam Beddow. Lead cut Thunder Child has the trio plunging into the number like an amphetamined Cactus but with the unmistakable Brit Metal vocal declamatory vocal style.

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Little Big Town – The Breaker

Well just look at those titles, readers – very Brian Wilson/Beach Boys, are they not ?
But this talented quartet (adding a band for touring) can play many instruments and all sing lead, so they have their own thing going.

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Simo – Rise & Shine

‘Rise & Shine’ …a phrase I heard many a time from my late father, too early in the morning ! But his military background as a Sergeant Major never left him, we his hapless offspring his platoon…but the phrase also heralds the return of funky psych-rock trio from Nashville.

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Aubrey Logan – Impossible

We are all about sounds and listening, in the main. But your scribe must take time out to mention that this artist has a face that is simultaneously beautiful and 100% wicked. She must have had a terrible time at school, she just looks as though she definitely did it or masterminded it. She also bears a resemblance to…oh, more of this another time…..

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Keith Urban – Ripcord

Master of the live performance, Urban seems to release records to no conventional, regular pattern. So when one appears it is generally worth getting hold of a copy to see what Urban is up to.

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The Strypes – Spitting Image

A few days after The Thin White Duke passed, image man John Bull and I were up at the Garage in London to see the Strypes and hear their new material. They strode on, plugged in and burst – I mean burst – into Rebel, Rebel.

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Becca Stevens – Regina

‘Regina’…Latin for ‘queen’. One listen to this collection confirms that indeed Stevens is queen of what she is creating. Her involvement with David Crosby and his recent music attracted my attention. Crosby is free with his praise of her songs and singing. He knows a bit about both. Female voices are much in evidence on TV and radio at present, but not this kind of voice…..

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Dave Stewart – Nashville Sessions The Duets Vol. 1

One of the best Tony Joe White albums is the one featuring duets with female vocalists. Here music maestro Stewart puts together the various duets to be found on his Blackbird Studio Sessions trilogy of albums, which I have – to form a compilation of the best tracks in this format.

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ZZ Ward – The Storm

This artist had one of the better, grittier tracks on the recent Cars 3 film which we reviewed and she social’d – thank you Ms Ward – and the actual song Ride can be heard on this album release.

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The Hallows – Of Time And Tides

What if you took a supple, versatile drummer, a lofty bassist with a cool line in subterranean bottom-of-the neck riffs and nimble top-strings fusion figures and added an alluring female vocalist with a crisp keyboard style and lyrical inspiration running far beyond romantic odes? Well THIS is what you would get – The Hallows.

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Shaman’s Harvest – Red Hands Black Deeds

The title track is quite tribal as Matt Fisher (bass) lays down the bassline and Adam Zemanek (drums) provide a hypnotic beat which goes straight into ‘Broken Ones’ which is a real head banger with a classic rock approach (The band used analogue effect pedals and vintage amps as they simply did not want to use anything digital.)

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Andreas Moe – Borderline (Single)

Andreas Moe is a singer-songwriter and guitarist who was born and raised in Sweden. He has made quite a name for himself in Europe with appearances on shows such as Holland’s biggest prime-time talk show DWDD which has an audience of over 1.5 million as well as several European radio stations.

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Triggerfinger – Colossus

I’m fairly familiar with this band’s previous output and I was fortunate enough to see their first headline London show at a packed sweaty Barfly in Camden. The band have now returned with a new musical approach with Ruben Block (vocalist/guitarist) commenting “Anything goes’, that was our motto.”

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Jonny Lang – Signs

Well dear reader, I have to start this review by being completely honest and say that I have been patiently waiting four years for a new Jonny Lang album.

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Low Society – Sanctified

Sanctified is the third studio album from this outfit and the Memphis-based Rezonate Records. The group features vocalist Mandy Lemons – though that may be an anagram – and she is aided by guitar man and producer Sturgis Nikides.

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George Thorogood – Party Of One

My abiding memory of this is entertaining artist is being backstage at the Shepherds Bush Empire trying to interview the opening act Big Head Todd & The Monsters, with a gruff voice coming through the cracked door intoning “ We owe it all to George Thorogood ! He is The Man !”…

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Alison Krauss – Windy City (Deluxe)

I don’t know quite what to make of the ‘Stepford Wives’ image of Alison Krauss on the cover of this new record. She looks a tad fragile, brittle..but we all know she is one of Americana’s strongest female performers.

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Yasmine Hamdan – Al Jamilat

I heard this songstress first on – of all things – the CNN television news channel. They had a documentary feature about creatives in Lebanon and Ms Hamdan was briefly interviewed. She seemed to have drive, ideas, a great and haunting voice and a striking appearance. Prompting me to find this album which I think is her third?

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Stanton Moore – With You In Mind

The subtitle of this release is The Songs Of Allen Toussaint. You have likely heard more Toussaint numbers than you realise. Santana and Little Feat regarded him as a major writer and arranger. Towards the end of his life he made appearances in the UK and by luck or skill or a mixture of both, he had plenty of material to draw upon.

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Cars 3 (Soundtrack Album)

The soundtrack to the latest motoring animation family film arrives and like the previous related albums for Cars and Cars 2, you can expect upbeat tunes by various artists that sound fine….er, especially in the car.

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Robin Trower – Time & Emotion

The veteran guitarist, singer and songwriter really does deserve the term ‘artist’ and is on a run at the moment, producing a recent series of albums that blend artistry with soul, stuffed with atmospheric songs and played with punch and when required, the gentlest touch. As I have said before, the man paints pictures for your ears….

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Albert Hammond – In Symphony

I was talking to the genial Albert one time at Ronnie Scott’s and he casually said that probably I hadn’t heard half the records he had made. When I politely challenged this he explained that 50 per cent of his output was sung in Spanish, solely for the South American/Latin market…such is the industry and artistry of this man.

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Peter Donegan – Superman

Once I had a call from the leader of a big band I was in to get my butt over to Hounslow the next day – a Sunday afternoon – to play at a festival. To my delight I found we were on before the headliner – Mr Lonnie Donegan. Hence I had a cuppa and chat about the blues with the early rock’n’roll star. Pleasing it is that his talented son Peter is recording and here is his new mini-album.

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Chuck Berry – Chuck

Described by some as America’s Greatest Living Poet, Charles Berry took his T Bone Walker and Muddy Waters influences and crafted a unique body of rock’n’roll and blues songs of classic, timeless quality.

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Nikka Costa – Nikka & Strings, Underneath and In Between

Long this writer’s favourite r&b singer, Nikka Costa’s recording are often played hereabouts. Her work with Prince is well-known and her duet on an early Van Hunt recording ( Mean Sleep) remains an example of stellar collaboration. So on this occasion she has completed a crowd-funding venture to create a collection of – mostly – versions of songs by others. And in the company of a set of string players.

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Jen Gloeckner – Vine

Iowa act Jen Gloeckner has some pretty interesting collaborators on this new record. The promo notes suggest similarities in style with Lana Del Ray, Mazzy Star, Cocteau Twins, P J Harvey. But I played it anyway….

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Hank Marvin – Without A Word

The master of the twanging electric guitar returns. We were all set to meet the man and talk guitars, this record and everything else, but his trip over from Australia for promo was cancelled, as we understand it for family reasons.

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Debbie Bond – Winds Of Change (Single)

With a career that embraces performing alongside Eddie Kirkland, Willie Smith and Johnny Shines, Bond heads to Tuscaloosa to record a song that winds up at Muscle Shoals for mixing and mastering. She sings, plays guitar, writes material and her multi-instrumental musical partner ‘Radiator’ Rick Asherson – warms the room wherever he goes – who grew up in England assists in creating this number.

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I, The Betrayer – 7 EP

Seven songs from a rock band based in Oslo, Norway and in a suitably bleak and black album package. They look as though they have come to kick your door down. I always wish with metal bands that just one member would have a Fairisle sweater on, or a trilby hat…

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Kat Eaton – When You’re Not Around EP

One of the best things about Ms Eaton is that she seems so pleased to be singing, performing, entertaining. To describe her musical style, it’s almost best to tell you what she isn’t. Kat is not a twister of notes all over the shop a la Mariah Carey.

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The Fabulous Thunderbirds – Strong Like That

Kim Wilson has become over time an almost John Mayall figure within US music – sticking to the music that brought him initial fame and always changing his backing musicians. I read a piece a while ago wherein Wilson opined that touring with younger players was refreshing as the old-timers did little but say how good things were Back Then….

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Naturally 7 – Both Sides Now

The accomplished American singing group return with a new album. It’s good to hear their voices again, blending mellow and enthralling, smooth and rousing. This time around they have some guest artists aboard.

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Devon Allman – Ride Or Die

As any rational human being should really be, Devon Allman cares about the Earth and his fellow Earthlings, but does not let his fears and concerns taint his music with the negative.

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Dreamgirls – OST

So… thirty five years after its original inception, a new theatre musical version the show and of course in the wake of the fabulously-received musical film heads for London and this double-CD album gives us all the songs.

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Alice Cooper – 21 Reasons To Love Alice Cooper

There’s something endearing about the notion of one of the Great Wild Men Of Rock playing golf with the late dry-as-dust comedian George Burns. But Alice Cooper – born Vincent Furnier – has some intrinsic skills that have ensured his staying power as a performer.

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Sheryl Crow – Be Myself

An artist who never strays far from rock and roots music and selects musical cohorts who will act as catalyst figures in arranging and recording. And that’s not as a cold business decision – or she would have Chris Martin or Sheeran in – but a brave challenge to herself to take chances and keep things fresh.

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Garland Jeffreys – 14 Steps To Harlem

One fascinating guy and creator – best friend of the late Lou Reed no less – and a songwriter who can take in any style and pull it off. Born into the explosion of culture on all fronts, Jeffreys has witnessed plenty in New York and beyond and never had a fear of making social commentary.

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