Thursday 17th September: What’s this? A mid-week posting? Yes, I have realised that I’ve been a bit lax in blogging this year. Unless I’ve been to a gig, I’ve not had much to say and little time to say it in. So, I thought I would share my thoughts on some recent CD purchases. For the most part, these won’t be reviews (partly because I haven’t actually listened to some of them yet) but a bit of a ramble around my reasons for buying. So, in no particular order…
First up is Architect Of This Church, first release by Hope & Social (although they have released albums under their previous name of Four Day Hombre). If you want it to be, this could be bargain of the year – the album is available for download for just 1p or as a physical CD for just £2.95 from here. You can pay more if you feel so inclined and, as these guys are one of my favourite and one of the most entertaining live acts around, I decided to pay £5 for the CD. Most of the songs are familiar from recent live shows and, therefore, the album was almost instantly accessible to me. The opening track, Living A Lie, does sound a bit like a cross between Coldplay and the Kaiser Chiefs and I think I have referred to the overall Coldplay similarities when reviewing H&S gigs but that isn’t to say that they don’t have their own identity. This is a cracking album, recorded in the crypt of a church and highlights include King Of Spain, San Francisco, Looking For Answers and the sing-along song from live performances, this time performed with a full choir (the title escapes me…) These guys are brilliant performers and really deserve supporting. Go on, click the link above and buy the album – for those prices, you really can’t lose.
Next up is Porcupine Tree‘s latest offering, The Incident. This was a bit of a shot in the dark for me but, potentially, another bargain. I generally say that prog rock is my favourite genre of music but I have recently come to realise that I’m basing that statement on a very narrow knowledge of both the music and what bands actually perform it. The Prog specials put out by Classic Rock magazine are opening my eyes to a whole slew of new (and old) bands and this is one of them.
As the opening (and title) track of this album ended up at fifty-five minutes in length, the album itself ended up as a double CD and, with a handy little pre-order code, I managed to get it for just £6.95. It arrived just yesterday and I have had a chance to half-listen to the first CD. It’s probably my preconceptions but I have to say that it’s not what immediately springs to mind when I think of prog, although that may be that my ideas are still mired in the past Golden Age of the genre. On first pass, this album sounds like a cross between the prog metal musical offerings of the likes of Dream Theater (although I’ve only heard one track by them) and the vocals of lighter prog. It’s almost as thought Steve Wilson’s vocals are too light for the music, but it seems to work. This one needs listening to properly and when I get the chance I suspect it will be a grower.
Bruce Springsteen is another of my favourite live acts, but from a different era – when I still bothered to see big bands in stadium concerts. Working On A Dream is his latest studio album, released with very little fanfare, early this year and, in past times, would have been an instant purchase for me. However, I haven’t been that impressed with his recent albums as they seem, to me, to lack the punch of his mid-80’s to early-90’s albums. Consequently, I waited until I could pick this one up cheaply. Today it was in one of HMV’s 2 for £10 offers. I’ve not heard any of this one yet and, being honest, I’m not sure I’m that excited about it. Hopefully I’ll be pleasantly surprised.
Mike Oldfield‘s Tubular Bells is, almost certainly, his most famous album and now over thirty-five years old. This is the 2000 remastered release. I’ve been aware of this album since I was at school and, while I know I have heard bits of it, I don’t think I’ve ever heard it all the way through. Again, though, it has been covered in the Classic Rock Prog specials and is probably one of those albums that should be in most (if not all) collections. Being in the 2 for £10 offer gave me the perfect excuse to add it to mine and I am looking forward to hearing this one.
Somehow, Thunder have completely bypassed me – despite being British, playing heavy metal/rock and being around for about twenty years (although just disbanded). I have, however, seen their drummer, Gary “Harry” James perform live with Breathing Space at the Night For Heroes gig and fellow blogger and gigger (bligger?) Roj raves about them having brought his daughters up on a semi-strict diet of their music. (Apparently there were tears after the disbanding announcement. His daughters were a bit upset as well…) Anyway, still in HMV’s offers section, I could pass on an opportunity to purchase The Very Best Of Thunder, a 3CD set of hits, B-sides, classic album tracks and live favourites. I’m guessing I’m going to like this one.
Queen were always one of my favourite groups. There’s no denying that Freddie Mercury had a fantastic voice and that Queen as a whole produced some of the best and most varied music out there. I was lucky enough to be offered tickets for what turned out to be their final tour and the Wembley gig was my first experience with stadium gigs.
I’ve not heard any of the material that “Queen” (Brian May and Roger Taylor) released with Paul Rodgers but I heard good things about the live shows. The Cosmos Rocks will probably end up being the last album to feature new music by “Queen” and I can’t help think that I’m going to be at least a bit disappointed when I listen to it. But, being a bit of a completist (although most of my Queen material stuff is on vinyl and I don’t have a record player…) and at just £3 I’m willing to take that risk.
Finally, and the soundtrack to this posting, comes The Last Waltz by The Band, and another confession that I’m a bit musically ignorant.
We used to see a band called Hazzard County a lot. They were a blues/rock/country covers band and experts Roj and Andy used to play “spot the original artists” whenever we saw them play. They used to perform a few songs by The Band, all of which I liked and I kept thinking that I should add some of their stuff to my collection. However, every time I saw a CD I put it back as I couldn’t see Bob Dylan in the line-up and assumed it was another band called, errm, The Band. Today, I picked up this CD saw that one of the tracks was Up On Crickle Creek – one of my favourites from Hazzard gigs – so I bought it. On closer inspection, and with guidance from another fan at work, I finally realised that Dylan wasn’t actually a full member…
The Last Waltz was a live performance by The Band in 1976 and was billed as the end of their touring career. Filmed by Martin Scorcese (oh great, something else I’ve go to track down…) it is seen as one of the best concert films and features guest appearances from just about everybody who was anybody at that time – Eric Clapton, Emmylou Harris, Muddy Waters, Joni Mitchell, Van Morrison and many more (including Dylan).
The second CD is just about halfway through as I type this and, it turns out, Up At Crickle Creek is the only song I have recognised from the Hazzard gigs. There are other songs I recognise, including a version of Who Do You Love and the whole thing is superb.
So there you go, a run-down of my some recent purchases. A fairly eclectic mix, I think you’ll agree.