FEBRUARY 2006 - PART 1

CANTERBURY/FUSION:
GONG: Opium For The People DBLCD
For those who can't get enough of the things or those that just simply want an entire essential early Gong collection of classic seventies tracks on one complete album, at a price that is pretty outstanding, then this comes heartily recommended. Across nearly two and a half hours of tracks, you'll hear all the classic Gong tracks from albums such as 'Camembert Electrique', "Flying Teapot', 'Angel's Egg', 'You', as well as a clutch of classics from the immortal seventies Planet Gong (Daevid Allen + Here & Now) band album, including the full fifteen minute space-psych blitz that is ''Allez Ali Baba……' which closes the second CD and some of the best tracks from the Divided Alien Clockwork Band (Daevid Allen & Material ft Bill Laswell & Michael Beinhorn) album. Overall, with not a filler in sight, this is a stunning album for those who want their Gong colection cheap and cheerful.

SOFT MACHINE: Floating World Live CD
Recorded live on Radio Bremen (thus, the sound quality is perfect) in 1975, this is an ultra rare document of the actual 'Bundles' line-up featuring Allan Holdsworth and Mike Ratledge alongside Jenkins, Babbington & Marshall and it's seventy three minutes of sheer brilliance. Opening softly and deceptively with the shimmering dual electric pianos and languid rhythm section of the five minute title track, the band then fire up and let rip into an unbroken medley of 'Bundles' and 'Land Of The Bag Snake', ten minutes of music where Holdsworth just unleashes a blisteringly fast sea of notes over the solid backing from the rest of the band for the whole ten minutes, one of the most jaw-dropping lead guitar runs this side of seventies John McLaughlin with whom, on this evidence, he could have more than given a (guitar) run for his money. In stark contrast, again unbroken, this lead into the six minute 'Ealing Comedy' that's a vehicle for Babbington's bass work as he illustrates everything from delicacy to roaring fuzz basin something you'd not heard since Ayers did it on 'Joy Of A Toy' - in other words, a bass solo that works!
This segues right into the five minute 'The Man Who Waved At Trains' as the tinkling electric piano emerges amid crashing cymbals, the bass begins to run and slowly the band cruise into the piece, this time Holdsworth unleashing a beautifully weaving violin solo above the languid backing, a complete contrast to the guitar heat of earlier on. It may be sacrilege to say this, but this band on this form, were truly a British answer to the best that the Mahavishnu Orchestra had to offer just a couple of years before, while still managing to maintain the "Canterbury" groove that keeps this from falling into a mass of burning fusion. Straight into six and a half minute of 'Peff' and it's Karl Jenkins vehicle as he lets go a seriously steaming sax solo above the driving bass and clattering cymbals, solid drums and surrounding electric piano work to provide a really tight and on fire rendition of the track, as Holdsworth's guitar joins the fray and the whole thing switches into overdrive as the quintet take things up more than a notch. From there on in, the band play a blinder of a set, a four minute vehicle for Ratledge on synthesizer and a fantastic near nine minutes of 'Riff III', which starts sedate and builds into an awesome group performance full of dynamics and power, just two of the many highlights of what is, yet another, outstanding album from the Soft Machine glory days of the seventies.

EURO-ROCK/CONTEMPORARY:
GENRICH-NEUMEIER-SCHMIDT: The Intergalactic Travel Agency CD
Two thirds of the original Guru Guru trio tam up with bassist Schmidt to provide a massive seventy nine minute follow-up to the equally massive 'Psychedelic Monster Jam' CD that came out a while back. Featuring five tracks between eight and twenty three minutes, this is, overall, a much less explosive and more subdued affair than the first, in many ways, the perfect partner to it, as you can have your head on fire to the first then douse the flames with the fluid potency of this one. But don't be fooled - when this one DOES take off, it goes into orbit and then some. The playing by the trio as an organic unit is brilliant and they have a telepathy for jamming that is truly inspiring. The way the tracks build and flow is totally enjoyable and while most of the time the music is on the restrained side of powerful, the dynamics of the musicians are sublime. From the more "out there" cosmic guitar trio jams of the seventies to some of the better new millennium "shoegazing/post-rock" bands, this is an outstanding album that has an appeal to all that audience and more, in fact anyone into the more relaxed end of psychedelic guitar-bass-drums improv with a melodic core and a Krautrock edge, would do well to steer in the direction of this album.

GROOVE STREAM ATTRACTOR: Into The Vortex CD
A nine track, seventy five minute album that's all instrumental and exceedingly seventies influenced. With tracks short and long, this is an album that stretches out into the far reaches of the cosmos and beyond. For the line-up consists of saxophones and Yamaha WX7, synthesizers, electronic drums and fretless bass, and musically it alternates between trips around the cosmos and decelerated cosmic grooves. The use of synths and sax as co-lead instruments, surprisingly, works a treat. There's a languid feel to the melodies and soundscapes, balanced by the strength of the solid and flowing rhythm section, always there, wonderfully produced but never obtrusive. At no time does this come across as fusion or jazz or new age - it's far too entrenched in a kind of "Krautrock" timeframe and way of improvising for any of that to rear their ugly heads. Instead, you are treated to a number of extremely addictive tracks, predominantly rhythmic, where the bass and drums playing really hooks you in. The synths and sax tend to weave seriously atmospheric spells above the rhythmic drive and it really is like some old forgotten seventies classic unwinding to great effect, with influences felt from a good few of the early seventies cosmic fusion bands.

STEREOLAB: Stereolab ABC Music DBLCD
Stereolab? Euro-rock? Surely some mistake - well, I can see you point if you've not heard this album, but this album - THIS album - is THE one. Forget all the rest - this is the business!!
This double CD celebrates and showcases ten years of their Radio One Sessions between 1991 and 2001, and THIS is what the version of La Neu! With Victoria on vocals SHOULD have been. Across a staggering 32 tracks over a near two and a half hour running time, you'll hear songs between three and ten minutes long, revolving around the core duo of Tim Gane on guitars and Laetitia Sadler on vocals, with a load of assorted guests on a whole manner of guitars, bass, drums, keys and effects as the years went by. In essence, it's the perfect meeting place of Can, La Neu! and Heavenly Vocals - for Ms Sadler has the voice of a sultry, light and airy, warm-hearted angel. If you like the idea of mid-seventies Can with a female vocalist, then this is for you. There are several tracks along the way where the rhythmic content is not as overtly "Krautrock" as much of the album, but the sheer quality of the songs and her gorgeously floating, spiralling vocals, allied to many arrangements that wreak of seventies Krautrock influences, all go to make this the essential Stereolab album and the one album that most of you who would shy away from an album like this, would do well to hear as it will undoubtedly surprise and delight.

UNIVERS ZERO: Live CD
Recorded live in 2005 and pristine sound quality throughout. A sextet consisting of drums, electric bass, violin, keyboards, oboe/horn/bassoon/melodica and clarinet/bass clarinet/tenor sax, they veritably blow the roof off with a huge sound and driving rhythms, so many different textures and layers thanks to all the various soloists, but all under the muscular, tungsten-strength guidance of drummer Daniel Denis and bassist Eric Plantain. To review this massive sounding sixty six minute performance in any detail is pointless, Instead, you just have to know that it's a contemporary music symphony of epic proportions where the instrumentalists combine and solo in a myriad combinations to provide one of the strongest, most complex bodies of music around, yet one that is both intense at one end and darkly delicate at the other. With all the compositions - for they are compositions, structured, fluid and flying - the work of drummer and all-round unsung musical genius Daniel Denis, this is, like Magma before them, the remarkable culmination of a musician's vision, mind and mastery in one all-encompassing melting pot of massive sounding multi-instrumental sympho-fusion-classical music.

ZAAR: Zaar CD
Out of the ashes of the old Sotos band comes this new quartet featuring three guys on electric guitar, electric bass and drums, plus a fourth guy playing a hurdy-gurdy - yep, you got that right - a hurdy-gurdy!! A treated, electrified hurdy-gurdy, at that!! So, before you get well and truly put off by the prospect, let me tell you that the contraption sounds more like a weird guitar and a violin than anything, and, bizarrely, fits in perfectly with what's going on here, when featured. As to what's going on here, we're talking mid-late seventies instrumental King Crimson if you need a reference point, only here, instead of building and erupting, we have a kind of silent power that owes more to dynamics as much as brute strength, although on the occasions on the opening twenty minute track, when they do let loose, the effect is even more astounding, as searing leads from the guitar and the hurdy-gurdy, fly over pounding bass and crunching, tumbling, driving drum work, on a track that justifies every second of its running time, and, like the whole album, is actually a shedload better than you think it's going to be. Following this Crimson- esque epic comes four short tracks that last less than ten minutes between them, before we're into the next epic and a seventeen minute track that, once again, revolves mostly around the smoking lead guitar, wickedly pounding bass and crunching drums, with the hurdy thingy used more for textural development and the occasional sense-shattering lead, on a track that spends the first five minutes setting the scene before the whole thing starts to drive like an out of control juggernaut speeding to oblivion, a blistering set of rhythms, sky-high lead guitar and jangling rhythms, all taking off as this huge-sounding gurgling violin-like icing is poured on top. Then it all decelerates leaving the hurdy wotsit sounding more like a rasping electric organ as its cycles and wheezes its way through drone heaven, as it somehow mutates into that sinuous, eerie violin-like mantra that then ensues to spectacular effect, brief guitar chords being added to the central soundscape. Gradually, the band enters once more and the piece starts to build, to drive and flow amid pure '73-era Crimson-esque style, but always staying at a sedate pace and only really breaking out for the final four minutes or so as the band show that thy can turn the power on, as required. A four minute, rampaging 'Scherzo #C' pits the cascading Fripp-like guitar against the drone of the hurdy doofer above solid bass and more crunchy drum work. The album ends with a minute and a half of peaceful guitar work and the job is done. Overall, as debut albums go, this is a gem.

GENERAL:
MICHAEL BLOOMFIELD: Live At The Old Waldorf CD
Recorded at various concerts between 1976 and 1977, this features some of the best of the 'Michael Bloomfield & Friends' live performances from that period - all mixing desk quality - and shows that this guy was one of the criminally ignored electric blues musicians where the history books are concerned. Beginning with a near eight minute slow blues medley of 'Sweet Little Angel/Jelly Jelly', it immediately showcases some great harmonica, electric guitar and keyboards work under and around a soulful but strong vocal performance that really delivers the goods. The other seven minute track on the album, 'Your Friends', is also a slower number, again with some gorgeous and strong guitar work, rippling piano and dependable rhythm section. Other tracks last around the 5-6 minute mark, and include a jaunty 'Farther On Up The Road', an impassioned six minutes of 'The Sky Is Cryin' with some searing slide guitar attached to a truly emotive lead vocal and a great arrangement. Overall, for seventies blues fans who like it more on the tasty side with some excellent guitar and vocals, this is the best album I've come across from this guy to date.

FOGHAT: Decades Live DBLCD
I am happy to report that this CD is quintessential live Foghat - even more remarkable considering that about 65% of it emanates from a live concert in 1996 when the group reunited for one of their last tours before guitarist Dave Peverett passed away a few years later. So, in excellent mixing desk quality, across one and a third CD's, we have the sound of a re-energised Foghat tearing the roof off a Bakersfield arena. Honestly, while the pace is slightly slower, the intensity of playing is, if anything, even more marked, as the twin combination of electric slide guitar, searing lead and riffing rhythm guitars take centre stage and really deliver the goods across 11 tracks where the guitars are the stars. But that's not belittling an excellent set of blues-rock/blues-boogie tracks, whose stature has in no way diminished since the glory days of the seventies. Across incendiary renditions of classic original tracks such as 'Drivin' Wheel', 'Slow Ride' (complete with a mighty, muscular rampaging electric slide guitar-led coda that will blow your head apart), 'Stone Blue' as well as classic blues-rock covers, this is one seriously strong album.
But it doesn't end there - oh no, sirreee!!!
We get a rousing four and a half minutes of 'I Ain't Got You' from a New York show in 1977, thirty minutes and four red-hot rocking tracks from Chicago in 1980 including a jaw-dropping near fifteen minute version of 'Chateau Lafitte '59 Boogie' which really rocks and just drives you along with its electric slide-guitar-led blues-boogie as you find yourself completely unable to stop your feet tapping then it's no use trying to resist as you leap up and do manic air guitar alongside all the searing solos that unfold. Then there' a sparkling electrifying slow-blues in the form of 'Angel Of Mercy' from Denver in '99, that positively shines, while the CD and the album finish with a wondrous six and a half minutes of 'It's Too Late' from Portand, Oregon in '96, a slow-blues full of passion, heartfelt brilliance and razor sharp electric guitar leads and solos. All in all, a fitting testament to one of the best ever English blues-rock bands never to make it big in the UK.

JOHN MARTYN: Live At Leeds And More DBLCD
The main CD here is his classic live album from '75, embellished with 5 bonus tracks. The fact that it opens with a mighty eighteen minute version of 'Outside In' should be more than enough reason to buy this. From sedate beginnings with rippling acoustic bass and shimmering guitar chords, the trademark Martyn echoplex kicks in just over the four minute mark as the bass throbs and drums surge ahead and the main body of the track begins its journey. This section takes you to eight minutes whereupon the rhythms drop away and you are left with acres of shimmering guitar chords, gorgeous bass work and slowly splashing cymbals as Martyn's sensitive and passionate vocal slides in on top. Around twelve minutes this intensifies with a searing lead guitar that soars overhead as the passage rumbles around the mix and then the echoplex and drums kick in once more, the song starts where it nearly began but only a couple of minutes later, that fades to leave the slowly chiming guitars, rumbling drums and solid languid bass to take the piece out in a blaze of beauty and lead directly into the magical song that is 'Solid Air' as much a contrast as you could imagine, but just astounding as Martyn's vocal croons and glides over the acoustic guitar and bass backing. With more delights to follow than you can poke a pig with, this is now not only one of THE best albums from a musician who is truly a legend but one of THE classic live albums from any seventies singer-songwriter.
But it doesn't stop there. CD2 is a "best of" his live albums that have been released on his own One World label, something that's not been done before, and so you can sample and experience some stunning performances of tracks such as 'Big Muff', 'Dealer', 'Root Love', The River'.

MOUNTAIN: Twin Peaks Remaster+Digipak CD
You can take all the classic seventies studio/studio-live albums, all the post-seventies and largely fairly disposable albums and all the recent batch of varying quality archive live concert albums - take all of these into consideration - but what you are left with, is the fact that this near seventy minute live album remains THE definitive album from this band - the one you have to have above all others. Several reasons for this - first off, the band here is a quartet featuring the extra guitar and occasional organ work of musician and full-time member Bob Mann. Secondly, all but one of the shorter tracks are rockers - even the normally sedate Pappalardi anthem 'Theme For An Imaginary Western', track which is fairly boring at the best of times, here has got guts and strength, the fuzz bass work right to the fore and some of Pappalardi's best vocals to grace a Mountain album, while the drums crunch on and guitarist Leslie West unleashes a gloriously fluid, incisive solo to make the track come even more alive.
Of the other shorter tracks, the album kicks off with a powerfully riffing 'Never In My Life, as smoking an opener as they come, then later on, positively launches into a rousing 'Blood Of The Sun' that so far eclipses the weak and insipid version on the first Leslie West album, as to be out of sight . Here, West's vocal hollers over that thunderous bass guitar and storming drums as the electric guitar sings out, the whole thing a rocking cauldron of supercharged electricity. There follow a five and a half minute electric guitar solo from West that's just riveting as it flies, dives, soars and ignites to keep you hooked, play after play. That this then leads into a red-hot rendition of the seminal 'Crossroader', good enough on the first live album, but here absolutely astounding in its sheer power-riffing and passion, thunderous and then some, with bass, drums and guitar riffing and rolling thoughout its gradually intensifying near six minute running time. The remarkable thing about the playing is just how wickedly thick and chunky it all sounds, so solid that you realise this is how the band SHOULD sound and puts all the watery studio versions to shame. On the studio album, 'Silver Paper' was a good enough song with a good enough lead break and relatively insipid vocal, but here, it's on fire and glowing, as the combination of organ, guitar, thunder bass and bone-crunching drums, all ensure that vocalist Pappalardi HAS to be at his best or he's gonna drown in the process.
Oh yes - let's take their very own anthem, thanks to a weekend news events programme in the seventies, 'Nantucket Sleighride'. On the original album, it was about five minutes long. On the first full length live album it was around eighteen minutes long. Here, it stretches out to a monstrous thirty two minutes - and every bit of it is electrifying. Every bit as good as many similar jams from the likes of Skynyrd, Fairies, Outlaw & Allmans, this turns from song portion into one of the band's most awesome improvisations that you'll find on any of their CD's as the two guitarists and bass just launch into action above the crisp, crunchy and rock solid drums, the lead guitar work ranging from tasty dynamics to all-out firepower. On the original album you had to turn the vinyl over to go from part one to part two and I think there was even a fade on the original CD issue, Now, for this remaster, they've stitched the two parts together so that it plays as one unbroken thirty two minute track. Throughout this track, the electric guitar work I jaw-dropping, worthy of all the great dual-guitar jamming line-ups of the seventies, but rarely heralded as such for this was a recorded one-off from the 1973 Japan tour, rather than a permanent fixture. Either way, as I said, this is the DEFINITIVE Mountain album and anyone into red hot and rocking seventies guitar work, and electrifying improvisation, who doesn't own this already, just HAS to rectify that situation immediately.

JENNIFER PARSIGNAULT: From The Dark CD£12.99
It's a few years back now when I came across her first album and found a truly talented new singer-songwriter out of the USA. Sadly, she never came to any degree of prominence over here in the UK, and I thought she'd disappeared, but now she's back with a brand new studio album consisting of 9 tracks. At the risk of offending her and over-simplifying things - but it's meant as a complement - if you imagine a mix of Enya, Kate Bush & Celine Dion with the result recorded in Nashville - you wouldn't be far wrong. There's an atmosphere about many of these songs which sounds like a parallel universe Celine Dion who's been overdosing on Peter Gabriel ballads. For she does like her ballads, does our Jennifer - and that's because she's darned good at them. She sings the ballads with passion, heart and soul, emotion pouring out of every second, the result not a dry eye in the house and, in concert, ten thousand people holding up lighters. A track such as the wondrously languid final track on the album, 'Back Home' possessing all the qualities of a great ballad well sung - with excellent lyrics of the heartfelt variety, plenty of liquid piano work, extra textures courtesy of organ, deep bass and multi-tracked choruses, while Jennifer's vocal just soars like a bird in flight on a song that is a positive anthem, never mind just a ballad, and the best end to a remarkable album that you could imagine.
Elsewhere, she starts with 'Orbit Again' here setting the scene with a strong sounding song full of high register lead vocal and gorgeous multi-tracked choruses, while the lead work is from piano, distant organ and the whole thing is propelled by tight and slowly flowing bass and drums, on a song that is really uplifting at the same time as being heartfelt and even a bit of Bruce Hornsby in term of its structure. After this, 'On The Outside' is my favourite track on the album, just oozing warmth and passion, the lead and multi-tracked vocals just superbly delivered above the strongly flowing, full-sounding backing from piano, organ, bass and drums, the whole thing having the feel in parts of that Enya-Kate Bush cauldron to which I alluded earlier on, and one stunning track.
'Last Dance' starts with just acoustic guitar and that so sweet, smooth and heart-warming lead vocal from Parsignault that can't fail to have you hooked as a violin and strings float in to add to the whole gorgeous and almost heartbreaking effect that the lyrics have on you - just to die for and unutterably beautiful. Three excellent slower songs later, we find the strongest sounding track on the album with a lead vocal that almost pass as Madonna-meets-Kate Bush with a track that's a mix of passionate strings and solid rhythms, with an expansive backing set against the lurching beats as the multi-tracked and lead vocals just soar into the heavens above on a song with a rather stunning feel-good factor while at the same time exuding pathos and tenderness from every pore.
Two further wonderful songs - one ballad and one expansive sounding, slowly flowing almost ethnic sounding anthem - complete what is a perfect song album delivered, sung, written and arranged superbly. This is an album for romantics but it's strong, stirring, inspirational and straight from the heart - and for that, you simply can't argue - stunning and then some!!

TUNA HELPERS: I'll Have What She's Having CD
An American female trio with an album where the longest song is around four minutes and there are 16 of the things in just over forty minutes. I'd love to sum the album up in a single comparison, but, to be honest, there are so many influences at work here, you'd be hard pushed to do that. But one fact remains - this is unique, accessible, original, quality and close to brilliance. In many ways, it's like a cross between Kate Bush and The Roches with a bit of Tori Amos in there too. With Adrienne the Anemone on vocals and guitar, Khattie the Katfish on drums and Bethany the Barracuda on vocals, bells and keyboards, this is a trio that can create such full sounding tracks that you'd think they'd been trying to deliver a prog-rock album. But when they top this mass of guitars, keyboards, synths and drums with Kate Bush lead vocals and seemingly acres of vocal harmonies ('Circus Song'), the effect is beyond breathtaking. But then they follow this up with the amazingly Roches-esque "serious humour" of 'Blueberry Head' complete with beautifully high register lead vocals, jaunty rhythms, graceful acoustic guitar and heart-warming harmonies, you get an idea of the range and consistency of song-writing and arranging that this trio are capable of delivering.
'Oh No' is just a minute of lead vocal and bells with a distinctly oriental flavour and totally gorgeous while 'Wait And See' returns to the full-sounding prog-meets-Kate Bush strength that this band are so good at producing with lashings of harmony and multi-tracked lead vocals throughout. 'Turtle' with its cello-like lead and rippling piano, plus circus-like rhythm, features an impassioned Bush-esque vocal on a song that has beauty, strength and grace in its excellent lyrics and delivery, the drums providing the extra icing on the cake as the song goes from jaunty to forceful and back again - totally original and just wonderful. With more delights beyond and before, there's not a single thing on here that's less than riveting listening - it's an album that has quality written all over it - and it's so original, so wonderful that it has to be a favourite in your player for a long time to come. A rare gem!!!

V/A: Where Blues Meets Rock Vol VI CD
Up to now, this has been a great way of getting into some of the best new and old bands and artists in the field of electric blues-rock, but there's never been an album that, in its own right that you could hail as a 100% bona-fide gem of a listening experience from start to finish, an album that, once you put it on, across all its glories, you wouldn't want to take off or hit the "skip" button at any point along the way - until now!
This latest volume of an excellent low-priced series goes way beyond excellent with sixty six minutes and fourteen tracks of solid electric blues-rock in many and varied forms, but all of them possessing two common threads - great songs well sung, and some astounding electric guitar playing, all full of feeling and passion. The album starts in the most rousing fashion with a track from Walter Trout that makes you wonder why he isn't acclaimed as one of the world's great guitarists as six minute of searing soloing and stunning song delivery that is 'Put It Right Back' gets things off. Then, in total contrast, but no less fantastic, rising star Joe Bonamassa provides THE most immaculate seven minute rendition of the slow blues classic 'Reconsider Baby', as the searing slow blues unfold, complete with soaring vocal, organ undercurrent, solid rhythm section and such expressive electric guitar leads and solos that you're caught up in its emotion from start to finish. Then Mountain's Leslie West roars through 'Baby Please Don't Go' with all guitars blazing and a vocal to go with it. Following this are tracks from Greg Koch, Joe Louis Walker, Paul Gilbert & Jimi Kidd, Stoney Curtis Band, Jay Kooks, Michael Katon, Jan James, The Barrelhouse Brothers, Dave Hole, Carl Verheyen and a second Joe Bonamassa track, every one a gem of song-writing, covers, band delivery, stunning vocals and genuinely exciting, red-hot, expressive guitar work throughout. Honestly, there's not one duffer on here and this is a blues-rock album that you'll play and play, one of the few samplers that you can say that about, and at this price, utterly essential listening.

VAN WILKS: Running From Ghosts CD
Now, even for the crowded field of blues-rock, this is stunning - and I mean stunning. Just take the back-to-back tracks of the legendary song in the form of Tim Rose's 'Morning Dew' of which you'd be hard pushed to find a better cover anywhere. Wilks gets the balance between sensitivity of approach and some red hot and simmering electric guitar work, absolutely spot on and turns what I always thought of as a "good song never done that well" into a total gem of slow blues-rock with great vocals and even greater guitar work. Then this goes right into the good-time blues-rock stomp that is 'No More Wishes In Your Wishing Well' complete with infectious riffing, solid and crunching rhythm section, lead vocal that reminds me of someone famous I just can't recall, great harmony vocals and a mid-song solo that's just out of sight - a steaming stunner of a track.
The even better news is that there are 10 more on here - and every one a gem. The wonderfully named 'Happy Hour At The Asylum' is an instrumental that features an almost Roy Buchanan-esque muscular but melodic guitar lead over the slowly driving rhythm section and interspersed with some neatly layered rhythm guitar work along the way, on a track that romps along in fine fashion and proves that this guy can really deliver the goods, but by now, even though it's only track 5, you know that already. The five minute 'The Eleventh Hour' is a solid song with his glorious mid-register vocal and some soaring vocal harmonies endearing themselves to you right from the start, and it's great to have a blues-rock CD by someone who can really sing with sensitivity and passion as well as some blinding guitar work, including a stunning guitar solo that has echoes of Hendrix in its sliding, blistering, shimmering delivery. After this, the other cover on the album is a beautifully sensitive reading of Traffic's 'Low Spark Of High Heeled Boys' with a restrained yet strong vocal, some wonderfully chiming, sustained guitar chords complete with a feel and pace that would be quite at home on a mid-seventies Pink Floyd album, not to mention a gloriously fluid guitar solo that's not a million miles away from that either - the seventies come to life in this track - at nearly seven minutes, just superb!!
Down To Heaven' is an acoustic number where the rhythm section still maintains a solid foundation over some suitably strummed guitar work that's quite pacy as the passionate song and vocal soars overhead in a fashion that seems both urgent and yet relaxed at the same time. Other highlights include the hot rocking splendours of '1959' and the gloriously sensitive album closer, the instrumental 'New Day Dawning", as expressive and heartfelt a guitar lead you'd be hard placed to find as good elsewhere. Overall, not a bad track on the album and just under an hour of class blues-rock and solid songs with a capital "C".

Continued……

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