THE DELI-JAZZ CAT

THE DELI-JAZZ CAT

The Deli-Jazz Cat

Label: Cold Busted Record Company.

Each and every week of the year, major and independent record labels in across the world release new albums onto a fiercely competitive and crowed global marketplace. It’s a market where often, resources are scarce and the consumer can only afford one of two new releases each week. As a result, they take great care before buying a new album. Sometimes the cash strapped consumer choose something familiar rather than embrace the new and unfamiliar. In doing so, they miss out on releases of the quality of The Deli’s new album Jazz Cat which was recently released by Cold Busted Record Company.

For those unfamiliar with  hip hop beat maker The Deli, he was born David Pryor, in Austin, Texas, over the last few years has forged his own unique style. 

This came to the attention of many music  journalists in 2016, when he released his debut albumin  Vibes 3 on the Cold Busted Record Company. It showcased The Deli’s jazz-tinged,  lush, and smooth take on instrumental hip-hop and featured Flowers, which was played fourteen million times on Spotify. Soon, some critics were comparing  The Deli to boom-bap era greats like J Dilla, Pete Rock, Madlib, and MF Doom. They had all influenced The Deli, who was being described as one of hip hop’s rising stars,

Despite the success of the critically acclaimed Vibes 3, The Deli’s next album was  Encounters  a self-released cassette album released on the ‘1st’ June 2017. This low profile release was the only album The Deli released in 2017.

In 2018, Kid Abstrakt and The Deli joined forces to release Daydreaming. Then just a few months later, The Deli returned with his new album Jazz Cat.

On The Deli’s much anticipated album Jazz Cat features fifteen  jazz-tinged tracks. They’re best described as laid back and smokey slices of enticing hip hop instrumentals where the past and present collide.

To do this, The Deli recycles the music of the past to create hip hop’s future. Especially on the cinematic city sound of Jazz Cat, as The Deli combines snares that snap and crackle with melodic piano chords. Elsewhere the music is filmic and rich in imagery and brings to mind big cities that would be the neural habitat of a Jazz Cat like The Deli. He’s also responsible for the dreamy and ruminative Virgo Flip and Fractals. 

Very different is Spring a hip hop block party where The Deli provides a street smart soundtrack. He’s not done yet and has more surprises in store. This includes  the carefully crafted and jazz-tinged Going Home, which  gives way to Rainy Day In Japan that closes Jazz Can on another high.

The Deli’s new album Jazz Cat is a career defining release from the Austin-based beatmaker who has a big future in front of him. Especially if The Deli continues to release albums of the quality of Jazz Cat. This carefully craved album of jazz-tinged, smoky and cinematic sounding instrumental hip-hop showcases the considerable talents if hip hop’s rising star and Jazz Cat The Deli.

The Deli-Jazz Cat

BERT JANSCH-1965-1975: THE FIRST DECADE.

Bert Jansch-1965-1975: The First Decade.

Although folk singer Bert Jansch was born in Springburn, Glasgow on the ‘3rd’ of  November 1943, he spent his formative years living in West Pilton, in Edinburgh,  where he later, embarked upon a career as a professional musician. Before long, Bert Jansch was regarded as one of the leading lights of folk scene and looked destined for a long and successful career.

As 1965 dawned,  folk singer Bert Jansch was signed to the Transatlantic label, and had released his eponymous debut album to critical acclaim on the ‘16th’ of April 1965. Eight months later, he released the followup  It Don’t Bother Me to plaudits and praise. It looked as  if the twenty-two year singer was about to enjoy a successful solo career.

With things looking good for Bert Jansch, he returned to the studio in early summer 1966, and was once again, joined by his friend John Renbourn as he recorded Jack Orion. When this third album of traditional folk was released in September 1966, the reviews were mixed. While some critics were won over by the album, and continued to fly the flag for the folk singer, others felt it was a weaker album than its predecessors. Despite that, Bert Jansch’s star was still in the ascendancy.

As 1967, dawned little did Bert Jansch realise that this would one of the most important year of his career. He entered the studio to record his fourth album  Nicola in April 1967, which was Bert Jansch’s first folk rock album. When it was released in July 1967, many reviews were positive, but some weren’t sure about the new direction Bert Jansch’s music was heading. Bert Jansch had realised that his music had to evolve to stay relevant, and increase his fan-base. However, this wasn’t the only change made during 1967.

In 1967, Bert Jansch was one of the cofounders of Pentangle, which joined included his friend John Renbourn, Danny Thompson, Danny Cox and Jacqui McShee. They would combine disparate musical genres including blues, folk, folk rock and jazz over the next few years.

Having joined Pentangle, Bert Jansch’s solo career was put on hold as the new band began honing their sound and playing live. Then in 1968, Pentangle released their critically acclaimed debut album The Pentangle on the ’17th’ May 1968. It was followed by another album of folk rock Sweet Child, which was released on the ‘1st’ of November 1968 to plaudits and praise. After this, Bert Jansch’s thoughts turned to completing his sixth solo album.

Bert Jansch had started recording his sixth album in October 1968, and completed the album in November, just after Pentangle released Sweet Child. Two months later, Birthday Blues, which was produced by Shel Talmy,  was released in January 1969 and was hailed as one of Bert Jansch’s finest albums. However, it would two years before Bert Jansch returned with the followup to Birthday Blues.

Buoyed by the response to Birthday Blues, Bert Jansch joined the rest of Pentangle and recorded the album Basket Of Light with producer Shel Talmy. When it was released on the ‘28th’ October 1969, it was to critical acclaim as the album reached number forty-three in Britain. Nowadays, Basket Of Light which finds Pentangle fusing folk jazz and fusion is now regarded as a minor classic, and one the Pentangle’s finest hours.

Meanwhile, Bert Jansch was working on his seventh album Rosemary Lane,  between June 1970 and January 1971. Despite working on the album on and off for the best part of seventh months, Rosemary Lane, which was produced by Bill Leader received mixed reviews. This was a blow for Bert Jansch who had invested so much of his time into recording Rosemary Lane.

Two months later, and Bert Jansch was back in the studio, and spent three weeks during March 1971, recording Reflection, which was a genre-melting album. Reflection found Pentangle combining Celtic music, country, folk, folk rock, gospel and even funk on what was an ambitious and eclectic album, but one that didn’t find favour with all the critics. Some were unsure of Reflection, and their reviews were far from positive. It was a case of deja vu for Bert Jansch after the response to Rosemary Lane.

Despite the reviews of Rosemary Lane, Pentangle eventually returned to the studio and began work on their sixth album Solomon’s Seal. By then, Pentangle’s contract with Transatlantic had expired amidst arguments and wrangling over royalties. This resulted in Pentangle signing to Warner-Reprise, who had distributed their albums in America. Pentangle released Rosemary Lane on Reprise in September 1972, but the reviews were poor and so were the sales. Things weren’t looking good for Pentangle.

They got even worse when Bert Jansch announced his intention to leave Pentangle on On New Year’s Day, 1973. Melody Maker ran the story Pentangle to split in the first edition of 1973. It was the end of an era, that had ended with a disappointing swan-song that sold badly.

By then, the members of Pentangle had all spent the advances that they had received from Reprise, and owed the company significant sums of money. It would take the band until the early eighties before the advance was paid off. That was still to come, and in 1973, Bert Jansch was looking for a new record label.

He was no longer signed to Transatlantic, and had signed to Pentangle’s old label Reprise. Bert Jansch’s debut for his new label was Moonshine, which was released on Reprise in February 1973. It was produced by Danny Thompson, and saw Bert Jansch combine baroque folk and folk rock which found favour with the critics. However, after just one album,  Bert Jansch left Reprise and signed for Charisma Records.

By then, Bert Jansch had written Chambertin which was one of two songs he recorded with Danny Thompson in early 1973 The other was John Renbourn’s Lady Nothing, which later, became part of Bert Jansch’s nine album  L.A. Turnaround.

Having signed to Charisma, Bert Jansch began writing the rest of  L.A. Turnaround, which was produced by former Monkee, Michael Nesmith, and released to widespread critical acclaim in September 1974. L.A. Turnaround was an album of blues, country rock, folk and folk rock and was hailed as , Bert Jansch’s finest hour.

Buoyed by the critical acclaim and commercial success that  L.A. Turnaround, Bert Jansch returned with Santa Barbara Honeymoon in October 1975. It was a good, but not great album  and was a disappointing followup to L.A. Turnaround. For Bert Jansch it was a case of what might have been as Santa Barbara Honeymoon failed to build on L.A. Turnaround.Santa Barbara Honeymoon was Bert Jansch’s tenth album since he released his debut in 1965, and was a somewhat disappointing way to close the first decade of his career.

Despite that, the first decade of Bert Jansch’s career was the most prolific and successful of a career that spanned five decades. During the period between 1965 and 1975, Bert Jansch  divided his time between his solo carer and his former band Pentangle and by 1975 was regarded as one of the top British folk musicians.

This was just the start for Bert Jansch, who nowadays is regarded as one of the most influential folk musicians of his generation, who between 1965 and 1975 released some of his finest solo albums and was a member of the inimitable and pioneering Pentangle.

Bert Jansch-1965-1975: The First Decade.

MARCEL VOGEL’S LUMBERJACK’S IN HELL.

Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell

Label: BBE Music.

Release Date: ‘28th’ September 2018

German DJ and producer Marcel Vogel always believed he that had some unique to contribute to music from the moment he started: “cutting  up soulful tunes in the early noughties. By 2010, Marcel Vogel had relocated was one of the rising stars of European DJ scene, and was establishing a reputation for his edits and productions. 

The only problem Marcel Vogel encountered was finding the right label to release his edits and productions. That was why, eight years ago, in 2010, Marcel Vogel decided to found a new record label which he called Lumberjacks In Hell in hisAmsterdam, Holland which he now called home.

Initially, Marcel Vogel envisaged his Lumberjacks In Hell label as vehicle to release his own productions and edits. Before long, though, Lumberjacks In Hell began to operate like a traditional record label as it signed some of the stats of disco and modern dance music.

Over the next few  years, Marcel Vogel signed artists like Theo Parrish, Ron Hardy, Questlove, Moodyman, Jazzy Jeff, and Gaslamp Killer to Lumberjacks In Hell’s roster. Soon, people were starting to take notice of a label that looked like it was going places.

By then, Marcel Vogel had tarted taking  the Lumberjacks In Hell’s’ sound to various clubs and festivals around the world. This was perfect publicity for the Lumberjacks In Hell allowed and allowed them to interface with loyal and potential customers. 

Across the globe, music fans were won over by and bought into Lumberjacks In Hell’s unique and inimitable vibe and vision. When this was combined with Lumberjacks In Hell’s carefully cultivated image and their timeless musical sound.

Led by general manager Marcel Vogel, Lumberjacks In Hell released both disco and house singles over the past eight years. They’ve been released to plaudits and praise and have found a loyal following all over the world. Especially Lumberjacks In Hell’s house singles which are best described as having a timeless sound that can be traced to the Windy City, Chicago.

That was where house music was born in the early eighties and sparked a musical revolution. Just over  thirty years later, Marcel Vogel’s Amsterdam-based label Lumberjacks In Hell had established a reputation for releasing some of the best house music between 2010 and 2018.

No wonder, legends including Rahaan, Soulphiction, Karizma and Jamie 3:26 had all released quality  singes on Lumberjacks In Hell. So had some relative unknowns who were already making waves on the house scene. All this resulted in 5 Magazine describing Lumberjacks In Hell. as “the best Chicago dance music label not based in Chicago.”  This was high praise indeed for Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell label, who eight years later are breaking bread at house’s top table.

To celebrate the first eight year of Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell label, BBE Music will release a new compilation on  ‘28th’ September 2018. This is the double album Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell  Disc One is a seamless continuous mix from Marcel Vogel who weaves fourteen tracks including Govanni Damico’s Even The Stones, Beam Me Up’s Rabbit’s Foot, Seven Davis Jr’s  Get To Know Me, Boogie Nite’s Jazz-A-Nova (Oooh), Harry Wolfman’s Ava and Jonna’s Everyday. These house and disco singles are guaranteed floor-fillers that ooze quality.

It’s a similar case on Disc Two Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell which in unmixed and features thirteen full length tracks. Having once again opened with Govanni Damico’s Even The Stone the quality continues and with Ant La Rock’s 2018 single Goddess and Krewcial’s hook-ladn house Over. That isn’t forgetting Nachtbraker’s Jared Fogle, Reece Johnson’s Neyt Life, Joel Holmes’s Outer Light and Frawl’s Be Good To Me which closes Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell on a resounding high.

For anyone whose followed the rise and rise of Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell label, then 28th’ September 2018 is a date for the diary. That is when BBE Music releases  Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell which is a reminder of the disco and house the Amsterdam label has released since 2010.

The music that Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell label has released has showcased their timeless musical sound. Its roots can be traced back to Chicago, but sometimes, the music Marcel Vogel’s Amsterdam-based label gads released music has surpassed much if not all of the Winy City. Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell has come a long way in just eight years.

Proof of that is the music on Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell which is one the best compilations of disco and house released in recent months. Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell is quality all the way and shows why the label is dining at house’s top table.

Marcel Vogel’s Lumberjacks In Hell.

CRAIG ARMSTRONG-SUN ON YOU.

Craig Armstrong-Sun On You.

Label: Decca.

Over the past twenty years, Glasgow born Craig Armstrong has been one of the hardest working British composers and is the man many top film directors call when they’re looking for a score to their latest movie. This includes fellow Glaswegian Peter Mullan and Baz Luhrmann,  who Craig Armstrong collaborated with and created the score to Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby. They’re two of the highest profile projects the quietly spoken fifty-nine year old award-winning composer has worked on during a long and illustrious career.

It began in 1981. after Craig Armstrong graduated from the Royal Academy Of Music in Glasgow, and became the music and dance specialist at Strathclyde Regional Council. A year later,  Craig Armstrong joined Midge Ure’s band on his Gift World Tour. This was very different to his previous job was good experience for the twenty-six year old musician and composer.

In 1994, Craig Armstrong was commissioned by the Royal Shakespeare Company to write music for two new productions. This included The Broken Heart and The Tempest which were both directed by Michel Boyd. Craig Armstrong’s spell with the Royal Shakespeare Company ended in 2002, but by then his career was blossoming.

By then, Craig Armstrong  was award-winning ssoundtrack composer with a BAFTA, Golden Globe, and American Film Institute Award, as well as World Soundtrack Award and a Golden Satellite Award for Moulin Rouge!.  Despite being constantly in demand to score soundtracks and compose for television, Craig Armstrong had always wanted to embark upon a solo career.

This dream came true in February 1998 when Craig Armstrong released The Space Between Us to plaudits and praise. Some four years later he returned with his crucially acclaimed sophomore album As If To Nothing in February 2002. Since then, Craig Armstrong has continued to successfully juggle his solo career and  soundtrack work.

That was the case until relatively recently, when the fifty-nine year old decided  that after twenty years moving from project to project, the time  had come to spend more time with his family and more time making solo albums. This included Sun On You which is Craig Armstrong’s debut album for Decca.

Sun On You finds an older and wiser  Craig Armstrong revisit the music of his younger self.  It’s an album of what Craig Armstrong regards as his own music. 

This might sound like a strange thing to say, but it makes sense to Craig Armstrong and those who have followed his career closely. In the early days of his solo career, Craig Armstrong’s music was inimitable and showcased a talented composer and musician, However, after a few albums, Craig Armstrong started to be influenced by other musicians and bands. This was something has happened to many  composers and artists over the years, and some are frustrated by this.

They try to detox their system and rid themselves of all the outside influences that might affect their music.  This was what Craig Armstrong decided to do when he wrote and recorded Sun On You. 

Having written sixteen tracks that are described  as music for piano and strings, Craig Armstrong went back to basics. He played piano and produced  on Sun On You, which meant that he had to eschew the impressive array of electronics that surrounded him in his recording studio. In their place was strings that came courtesy of the strings of the Scottish Ensemble. They joined Craig Armstrong at Gorbals Sound Studio, Glasgow, and AIR Studio, in London and recorded what became Sun On You.

Only when Sun On You was completed to  Craig Armstrong’s satisfaction did he deliver the album to Decca. His new record won over executives at Decca, and Sun On You was released and marked the start of a new chapter for Craig Armstrong.

Sun On You is a carefully crafted and cinematic  album of instrumental music from Craig Armstrong, This comes as no surprise given Craig Armstrong has spent three decades as a soundtrack composer. 

The music on Sun On You is also emotive and expressive, and has been inspired by various abstract paintings, including those by Rothco. These paintings provided the inspiration for  Craig Armstrong  to create an album where as classical and cinematic music melt into one.

In doing so,  Craig Armstrong and the string section of the Scottish Ensemble create music that is variously beautiful, cinematic, dramatic elegiac, emotive , ethereal and expressive. The music on Sun On You is also filmic.and sometimes  haunting and uplifting on where Craig Armstrong hoes back to basics on an album of organic music.

Unlike previous albums, it’s just a piano and strings that featured on Sun On You, where the older Craig Armstrong seeks inspiration from his younger self on a carefully crafted fusion of filmic and cinematic music where one of Scotland’s leading composers and musicians roll back the years.

Craig Armstrong-Sun On You.

MOSTER!-STATES OF MIND.

Moster!-States Of Mind. 

Label: Hubro Music.

In March 2015, Norwegian supergroup Moster! released their third album third album When You Cut Into The Present to widespread critical  acclaim and hailed as a career defining release. Now three years later and Moster! return with their much-anticipated fourth album States Of Mind which has just been released on Hubro Music. States Of Mind is another groundbreaking album of genre-melting music from Moster!. 

The Moster! story began in 2010, when Bushman’s Revenge saxophonist and bandleader Kjetil Møster decided to found a new group. Møster! was never intended to be a supergroup, but that was how it turned out.

Møster! was an accidental supergroup after Kjetil Møster brought onboard three of Norway’s most talented musicians. This included Motorpsycho and Grand Central drummer, Kenneth Kapstad. He was joined by two members of Elephant9, including keyboardist Ståle Storløkken and bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen, whose also a member of Big Bang. With Møster’s lineup complete, the made their debut at one Norway’s most prestigious festivals, the Kongsberg Jazz Festival in 2010.  

Not many new bands get the opportunity to start launch their career at such a prestigious event, but Møster! did. Having taken the Kongsberg Jazz Festival by storm, Møster! left the stage to a standing ovation. Critics believed that it was time before Kjetil Møster’s new band would release their debut album. Sadly, they were wrong.

 Edvard Lygre Møster

Three long years passed, before Møster! released their long-awaited debut album Edvard Lygre Møster, on Hubro Music in 2013. Looking back, this isn’t surprising. The four members of Møster! have other musical commitments, so finding time to record Møster!’s debut album wasn’t easy. However Edvard Lygre Møster was worth the wait,

Critical acclaim accompanied Møster!’s much-anticipated debut album Edvard Lygre Møster which was later hailed as one of the finest Norwegian albums of 2013. By then, Møster!’s music was finding an audience much further afield.

As 2013 drew to a close, Edvard Lygre Møster had found its way into New York City Jazz Records’ top ten jazz albums. Then when Prog Magazine published its list of the best albums of 2013, Edvard Lygre Møster was at number six. This was just the start of the Møster story.  

Eagerly, critics, cultural commentators and music lovers awaited Møster’s next move. The next hurdle they had to overcome was their sophomore album, or what’s often referred to by critics as “the difficult second album.” 

Inner Earth

When Møster began work on their sophomore album is Inner Earth, their was a new face in the studio. This was Motorpsycho guitarist Hans Magnus “Snah” Ryan. He joined saxophonist and bandleader Kjetil Møster and the rhythm section of drummer Kenneth Kapstad and bassist Nikolai Hængsle Eilertsen. This was the lineup of Møster that wrote and recorded Inner Earth. 

Just like their debut album, Inner Earth was released to widespread critical acclaim. The music was an ambitious and innovative fusion of moods, textures and musical genres. It veered between dreamy, futuristic, lysergic and otherworldly to cinematic and melodic on the musical journey that was  Inner Earth. Moster! had just released one of the best Norwegian albums of 2014;

After the release of Inner Earth, Møster! embarked upon what was a gruelling touring schedule. They toured with Norwegian-American band Young Mothers, and  On that tour, Møster! worked hard, honing and tightening their sound even further and this paid off.

When You Cut Into The Present.

During a three-day break from their tour, Moster! entered the studio and recorded their third album When You Cut Into The Present which was released in November 2015, 

When You Cut Into The Present found Møster! making huge strides on an album of hard rocking music. They kick loose from the opening bars of Nebula and Red Giant and never let go until the closing notes of Soundhouse Rumble. In between, listeners were treated a glorious assault on the sensory system which unleashes endorphins aplenty. This comes courtesy of those genre-melting innovators Møster!, and their critically acclaimed, career-defining third album When You Cut Into the Present.

States Of Mind. 

After releasing a  critically acclaimed and career defining album as When You Cut Into the Present, Moster began work on States Of Mind in the autumn of 2016, It looked like Moster wouldn’t be long before they returned with their fourth album in early 2017

The first recording session for States Of Mind took place between the ‘29th’ October and ‘2nd’ of November 2016 at Duper Studio, Bergen Kjøtt. Engineering the sessions was Jorgen Træen, who plays modular synths and lap steel guitar during the first States Of Mind sessions. 

Six months later, the States Of Mind sessions resumed on the ‘9th’ May and concluded the ‘12th’ May 2017. By then, Moster had recorded ten tracks that became States Of Mind. It showcases Moster’s new sound.

States Of Mind was no ordinary album and was  a groundbreaking release. It’s a double album which features two LPs that were conceived on what can only described as a grand scale. The ccontents include group improvisations and spontaneous compositions which sit side-by-side with themes written by one or two members of Moster or those they’ve been collaborating with. The result is new and innovative music from musical chameleons Moster.

Essentially States Of Mind combines Moster’s old sound with a new, ambitious and innovative album where freeform rock, gutbucket blues and harmolodic funk is fused by Moster and guest artist Jorgen Træe  with contemporary  jazz, experimental rock, free jazz and improv.To do this, Moster deploy a myriad of disparate instruments and effects.

While the rhythm section lock down the groove, a wailing saxophones is unleashed and are combined with everything from a clarinet,  electronics and percussion to modular synths and lap steel guitar. This is all part of the musical tapestry that Moster weaved over two sessions and became States Of Mind. 

During the two seasons, Moster and Jorgen Træen, created the ten tracks on States Of Mind which in innovative album of new and ambitious music. It’s also an album were many tracks are hardly indebted to music’s past. As a result, the music has a freshness as Moster become musical pioneers on States Of Mind.On other tracks Moster reference music’s pas on genre-melting tracks.

The music on States Of Mind finds Moster play with an intensity during what are best described full-on, and sometimes challenging jams where the band head in the direction of experimental rock, rather that what purists would define as jazz in the broadest sense orb the word.

Having said that, listen closer to States Of Mind, and the saxophone sounds similar to Duke Ellington’s “jungle music” and the  Texas hands Ornette Coleman once played in before becoming one of the legends of jazz. 

By then, Coleman Hawkins just like John Coltrane and Albert Ayler were among those whip adopted the tough tenor sound which play a part in the Moster sound. It adds more than a degree of intensity similar to John Coltrane on States Of Mind which is another genre-melting album by Moster,

They combine mesmeric electric blues and boogie on States Of Mind which features electronica,  experiential rock, funk, improv, jazz and rock. States Of Mind which is an extraordinary album. It features the musical amuse bouche Plate Sized Eyes when lasts a minute to the twenty-minute epic Brainwave Entrainment and What A Flop  Waking Up which closes States Of Mind which is Moster’s groundbreaking genre-melting opus where they continue to reach new heights. 

Moster! States Of Mind.

WILLIE HIGHTOWER-OUT OF THE BLUE.

Willie Hightower-Out Of The Blue.

Label: Ace Records.

Sadly, nowadays ageism is rife in society and many experienced and talented professionals are consigned to the scrap-heap. Many talented and experienced people are suddenly jettisoned by organisations who should know better. Many of these people are only in their fifties and sixties and have a lot to offer their chosen professions.So does seventy-seven year old soul singer Willie Hightower, a man with an impeccable musical pedigree.

Willie Hightower lives in Muscle Shoals, Alabama, which is the home of Southern Soul,and has enjoyed a long and illustrious career that began in he fifties and has spanned seven decades. Sadly, since the noughties Willie Hightower hasn’t spent much time in the studio although the veteran soul man still puts on  a remarkable show.

That was the case in 2017 when Willie Hightower appeared at Graziano Uliani’s annual Porretta Soul Festival in Italy, where he was backed by the Anthony Paule Soul Orchestra from the San Francisco Bay Area. During each performance, the veteran soul man rolled back the years as he revisited hits like If I Had A Hammer. As Willie Hightower took his final bow, many in the audience thought he was about to head home. Willie Hightower had other plans.

Seventy-six year old Willie Hightower had signed a recording contract with ninety-four year old Memphis producer Quinton Claunch. The pair who had a combined age of 160 were about to turn back time to the sixties, which was a golden age for soul, and especially Southern Soul, when they recorded a new album.

This was Willie Hightower’s new album Out Of The Blue, which was released on Ace Records and produced Quinton Claunch. Out Of The Blue features ten new songs which features the unmistakable voice of Willie Hightower and a tight, talented band who play with feel and passion.

These musicians are creme de la creme of Muscle Shoals musicians, including veteran season players, keyboardist Clayton Ivey and guitarists Travis Wammack and Will McFarlane. They’re joined by a new generation of musicians, while Billy Lawson co-produces Out Of The Blue.

When Willie Hightower completed recording of Out Of The Blue with producer Quinton Claunch. the veteran soul man said the he was:  “really pleased  with his new album. Willie Hightower was just being modest and had recorded an album to be proud of.

This they managed to during relaxed and laid-back sessions where the two men  often quipped their way through the day while laying down the tracks that later became Out Of The Blue. The two veterans were enjoying being back in the studio.  Willie Hightower remarked that: when you get a good bunch [of musicians] together and a couple of guys at the controls who know what they are doing, it’s hard to see anything really going wrong.”

Very little went wrong and Willie Hightower had soon recorded the ten songs that became Out Of The Blue which was recently released by Ace Records.

On Out Of The Blue, Willie Hightower combines country soul, gospel, R&B and Southern Soul. It’s also an album that has been influenced by everyone from  tender gospel-tinged sound of Sam Cooke to Johnnie Taylor. There’s also a freshness to the songs on Out Of The Blue which are the polar opposite to albums of third rate cover versions revisited by lesser names than Willie Hightower.

He opens Out Of The Blue with a heartfelt rendition of I Found You, before an emotional reading of Raining All The Time. This gives way to a tender cover of Rock Me Gently and the soul-baring and soulful Somewhere Dry. Equally beautiful is the Southern Soul of Tired Of Losing  You. 

Country soul meets Southern Soul  on You Can’t Love Me (Better Than You’re Lovin’ Me Now), while No Gettin’ Over Me is a classy and heartfelt Southern Soul ballad. The balladry continues on the tender Easy Lovin’ and Everybody Wants My Girl which features a rueful vocal from Willie Hightower He closes  Out Of The Blue with the melodic and memorable Who Who Who. It completes Willie Hightower’’s comeback on Out Of The Blue.

Seventy-seven year old Willie Hightower has been away from the studio for far too long, and recently  the veteran soul man released with Out Of The Blue which was released by Ace Records. Out Of The Blue was produced by legionary producer producer Quinton Claunch, who helps Willie Hightower roll back the years.

To do that, Willie Hightower combines country soul, gospel, R&B and Southern Soul on on Out Of The Blue. There’s freshness to the music on Out Of The Blue which is beautiful,  emotive, heartfelt, smooth  and soulful. Out Of The Blue is a carefully crafted album where Willie Hightower testifies his through ten tracks, and makes a welcome comeback, proving class is permanent.

Willie Hightower-Out Of The Blue.

 

RALPH THOMAS-EASTERN STANDARD TIME.

Ralph Thomas-Eastern Standard Time.

Label: BBE.

Back in 1980,  Ralph Thomas released his debut album Eastern Standard Time  on the obscure Zebra Jazz imprint. Sadly, this spiritual jazz cult classic failed to find  the audience it deserved until much later. 

By them, copies of Eastern Standard Time  were almost impossible to find, and when a copy came up for sale. the prices were prohibitively high for most jazz fans. They were unable or unwilling to spend a couple of hundred greenbacks on a copy of Ralph Thomas ’s oft-overlooked hidden gem Eastern Standard Time. 

Now though, jazz fans everywhere can enjoy Ralph Thomas’  Eastern Standard Time  which has just been released BBE. At  last, this  spiritual jazz cult classic will be beard by the audience it so richly deserves. Eastern Standard Time is a reminder of a talented and versatile reedman, Ralph Thomas

Ralph Thomas was born into musical family in the Windy City of Chicago in 1950. Growing up, Ralph Thomas’ principal instrument was the saxophone, but he was able to play a variety of different instruments. It was no surprise when Ralph Thomas decided to study music at one of Chicago’s most venerable institutions.

In 1969, nineteen year old Ralph Thomas nerved at the Chicago Conservatory of Music which was his  home for the next few years. During this period, he became a member of the Chicago A.A.C.M, and  studded alongside  master musicians Phil Cohran and Richard Muhal Abrams. By then,  Ralph Thomas was keen  to put what he had learnt into practise.

Soon, Ralph Thomas was recording with blues legend, Howlin’ Wolf and Mighty Joe Young for the Cadet imprint of Chess records. Although this was just the start of his career he was already working with some big names,

Five years layer, this continued when Ralph Thomas moved to LA and continued to work as a session player ‘20th’  Century Fox and Motown. Ralph Thomas recorded with Marvin Gaye, Jermaine Jackson, Smokey Robinson and Rick James. A talented and versatile reedman, Ralph Thomas was never short of offers of work.

As the eighties dawned, Ralph Thomas was keen to embark upon a solo career. While Ralph Thomas enjoyed session work, a solo career was how he saw his career progressing.

By them, he had written Cafe Phillipp, E.S.T. and Spellbound and penned  Muscavado and Venice with Lawrence Dixon. Ralph Thomas and Thierry Sharfe write Doloreso which was joined by Joel Ector’s Big Spliff. These seven tracks were played by Ralph Thomas and his babd and became Eastern Standard Time,

Ralph Thomas arranehd and produced Eastern Standard Time, alto, tenor, soprano and baritone saxophone and flute. His rhythm section featured  drummer and percussionist Joel Vierset, bassist Joel Ector and guitarist Thierry Sharfe, They were joined by flautist Joann Leauanthal, percussionist Warren Thomas and keyboardist  Lawrence Dixon who also played,

One the ‘9th’ of January 1980, Eastern Standard Time was released on Zebra Jazz, but sadly failed to find the audience it deserved. With tracks of the quality of  Cafe Phillipp, EST, Spellbound, Muscavado and Venice, Eastern Standard Time where Ralph Thomas and his talented band  combined hard bop, modal, posy bop and spiritual jazz. The result was astern Standard Time ambitious and innovative debut album from Ralph Thomas.

It wasn’t until much later that this Ralph Thomas  spiritual jazz cult classic started to receive the recognition it deserved, By them, copies of Eastern Standard Time  were almost impossible to find, and when a copy came up for sale, the prices were prohibitively high for most jazz fans. They were unable to spend $150 or $200 on a copy of Ralph Thomas ’s oft-overlooked hidden gem Eastern Standard Time. 

Forty-eight years later, jazz fans everywhere can enjoy Ralph Thomas’  Eastern Standard Time  which has just been released by BBE. Now Eastern Standard Time which is a s spiritual jazz cult classic can l be beard by the audience it so richly deserves and isa reminder of a talented and versatile reedman, Ralph Thomas.

Ralph Thomas-Eastern Standard Time.

ROBERT ‘ROBI’ SVÄRD-ALQUIMIA.

Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd-Alquimia,

Label: Asphalt Tango Records.

In 2016, Swedish flamenco guitarist Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd release his debut album Pa’ki Pa’ka to widespread critical acclaim. Soon, Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd’s debut album Pa’ki Pa’ka was finding the wider audience that it so richly deserved. However, things got even better for Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd when he received the recognition of his peers.

This is the recognition that deep down, every singer or musician secretly craves. In Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd’s case, hearing the praise of his peers meant that all his years of practise and studying had been worthwhile and he was gradually being accepted into flamenco’s inner circle.

Traditionalists believe that unless the only true flamencos are those born in the Andalusia region of Southern Spain.  In the eyes of the traditionalists, anyone born outside of Andalusia will never be regarded as a true flamenco. It doesn’t matter how technically brilliant a singer, dancer or guitarist the outsiders are. This would disqualify Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd from being regarded as a true flamenco as he was born in Sweden.

Future flamenco Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd was born in Gothenburg, Sweden, in 1975, and developed an interested in the guitar at an early age. Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd was just four when he first picked up a guitar and strummed his first few chords. Straight away, he was captivated by the guitar, and began a journey that continues nearly forty years later.

By 1992, Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd left Sweden behind to continue his musical education in Sydney, Australia. The young guitarist enrolled at the  Sydney Conservatorium of Music where he was taught by Gregory Pikler. His guidance over the next few years, and  Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd’s dedication and practise paid off.

Soon, Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd was maturing and developing into a talented musician and artist who won many prizes and awards. Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd was nominated for the 1997 Young Achievers Award and won the Sydney Eistedfodd Classical Guitar Competition 1998. This led to  an invitations to perform at the Sydney Opera House and on television and radio. However, this was Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd’s Australian swan-song.

In 1998, Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd Robi decided to make the move to Seville, in Spain, to study flamenco. He was soon recognised for both his rhythmical and technical ability on the guitar. This was enough to earn Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd the respect of Seville’s flamencos.

So much so, that between 1998 and 2002, Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd played alongside some of Spain’s popular musicians and accompanied many top Spanish dancers. This included Rafael Amador of Pata Negra, El Pechuga and La Cabra Mecánica. However, the biggest albums Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd played on was La Cabra Mecánica ’Vestidos de Domingo which was nominated for a Grammy Award. This was a huge boost to Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd’s career.

After this, Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd embarked upon extensive tours of Spain and Europe. By then, the flamenco guitarist had returned home to Sweden, where he began to work on various projects. This included working with the popular singer Alfredo Tejada Heredia and the percussionist Miguel “Cheyenne.” However, the most important release was Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd’s debut 

Having recorded his debut album Pa’ki Pa’ka”, it was released to widespread critical acclaim on Asphalt Tango Records in April 2016.

After the release of Pa’ki Pa’ka back in 2016 caused the album found an audiences within the leading figures within the flamenco scene. They were captivated the Swedish flamenco guitarist  who they regarded as of their own. It didn’t matter that he was born in Sweden, not the Andalusia region. For Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd the recognition and respect of his peers made all the hard work and dedication worthwhile as he was regarded as a flamenco.

Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd’s peer even agreed to appear on his sophomore album Alquimia,which has just been erased on Asphalt Tango Records.This carefully crafted fusion of flamenco, Spanish and world music features an all-star cast. 

Some of the living legends and giants of flamenco join forces with Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd on Alquimia. This includes El Potito, Niño Josele, Luis Moneo and Pepe Torres who appear on Alquimia. So does Alfredo Tejada, whose sonorous and charismatic  vocal played  a leading role om Pa’ki Pa’ka. He makes a welcome return on Alquimia and is one of twenty guest artists that feature on what’s one of the best flamenco albums of 2018. 

Alquimia is an album that oozes quality from the opening bars of the title track right through to the closing notes of Reencuentro, Along with tracks of the quality if Alquimia, La Luna Quiere Bailarm, Nor Jugha and Callej¢n Del Agua Alquimia marks the musical coming of age of Swedish flamenco Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd on could future genre classic.

Robert ‘Robi’ Svärd-Alquimia,

THE POPOL VUH STORY

The Popol Vuh Story

In West Germany in the early seventies, a number of groundbreaking bands were formed including one of the most important, innovative and influential bands in the history of German music, Popol Vuh. Over the next three decades Popol Vuh. established a reputation for releasing ambitious and innovative  music that influenced the next generation of musicians. This was the case from the release of Popol Vuh’s 1970 debut album Affenstunde, right through to their twentieth album Messa Di Orfeo, which was released in 1999 and was their swan-song. 

By 1999, Popol Vuh was regarded  as one of the legendary German bands. and were held in the same regard as Can, Cluster, Harmonia, Kraftwerk, Neu and Tangerine Dream, who Florian Fricke later joined. Just like each of these bands, Popol Vuh’s music has played an integral and important part in German musical history. Part of Popol Vuh’s success, was keyboardist Florian Fricke.

Florian Fricke was born in Lindau Am Bodensee, West Germany on the ‘23rd’ of February 1944. Growing up, Florian Fricke learnt to play the piano, and quickly, had mastered the instrument. When he left high school, Florian Fricke    studied piano, composition and directing at the Conservatories in Freiburg and Munich. By then, Florian had two new passions.

The first was music, which was one of Florian Fricke’s passions in life. Especially new music, and this included free jazz, which Florian Fricke embraced. He through himself into this new musical genre, and quickly, realised its potential and possibilities. However, there was more to Florian’s life than making music.

In his spare time, Florian Fricke had started to make short films. Although it was just a hobby, he would later become a film critic for the Swiss newspaper Neue Zürcher Zeitung. By then, he had already some experience as a critic. 

When he was a student, Florian Fricke was the music critic for Der Spiegel, a German magazine. Music and art seemed to dominate Florian Fricke’s life.

That was the case when Florian graduated. In 1967, Florian Fricke met film director Werner Herzog, and the two became friends, Just a year later in 1968, Florian Fricke landed a part in Werner Herzog’s film, Lebenszeichen. This was just the start of their relationship. They would reunite in 1972, but before that, Florian Fricke formed Popul Vuh in 1970. 

Joining Florian Fricke in Popol Vuh, were percussionist Holger Truelzsch and fellow synth player Frank Fiedler. All the nascent group took its name from an ancient, sacred, Mayan manuscript. With a name in place, Popol Vuh began work on Affenstunde, the first of twenty albums they released.

From the earliest days of Popol Vuh, Florian Fricke established himself as the group’s leader. He had been one of the first musicians to own a Moog II synth which wasn’t an easy instrument to “tame.” Florian Fricke, a talented keyboardist soon got to grips with what was cutting edge technology. However, it was the Moog II would be used extensively on Popol Vuh’s debut album Affenstunde. 

Recording of Affenstunde took place at Bavaria Music Studio, in Munich, where  Popol Vuh were joined by Bettina Fricke. She produced Affenstunde with Gerhard Augustin and the producers guided the nascent group through their debut album. It featured just four tracks that were innovative and influential tracks. Especially Affenstunde, a near nineteen minute epic, which took up all of side two. 

When Affenstunde was released later in 1970, the album was described variously as space rock and cosmic music. It was very different to much of the music being released. While there were other like-minded groups releasing similarly innovative and influential music  very few would enjoy the longevity of Popol Vuh.

Just a year later, in 1971, Popol Vuh returned with In den Gärten Pharaos, which was a precursor of ambient music. Popul Vuh deployed Florian’s Moog II and add a myriad of experimental electronic sounds on In den Gärten Pharaos which was perceived variously as groundbreaking, experimental and thanks to the African percussion, exotic. Vuh, which took up side two of In den Gärten Pharaos was perceived as kosmische musik at its most spiritual. In den Gärten Pharaos was the first classic album of Popol Vuh’s long and illustrious career. 

Popol Vuh’s third album, Hosianna Mantra was released in 1972, but passed many critics and record buyers by. By them, Popol Vuh’s lineup changed for the first time, and . Florian Fricke was the only remaining original member of the band left. Over the next three decades there were many more changes in the lineup, which is is best described as fluid.

That didn’t seem to matter as Hosianna Mantra featured music that was timeless, spiritual and innovative. Sadly, it went almost unheard of outside Germany. It was only later, that Hosianna Mantra found the audience it so richly deserved. However, Hosianna Mantra wasn’t the only album Popol Vuh released during 1972 after Florian Fricke renewed his friendship with Werner Herzog.

By 1972, Werner Herzog was producing the conquistador movie Aguirre, The Wrath Of God and  needed someone to provide the soundtrack. That’s where Popol Vuh came in. Not only did Popol Vuh provide the soundtrack to He needed someone to provide the soundtrack to A Aguirre, The Wrath Of God, but Heart Of Glass in 1976 and 1979s Nosferatu The Vampyre. The combination of Popol Vuh and Werner Herzog proved a successful one. Popol Vuh were already experienced and accomplished when it came to composing soundtracks. This would stand Popol Vun in good stead later in their career. 

Before that, the German music scene was thriving during the seventies, and Popol Vuh released an album every year of the seventies. Very rarely, did they disappoint. The nearest they came was with 1973s Seligpreisung which  received mixed reviews from critics. 

Popol Vuh more than made up for this with 1974s Einsjäger und Siebenjäger which is now recognised as one of their best albums of the seventies. The followup Das Hohelied Salomos was released in 1975, and featured Popol Vuh showcasing New Age music. Constantly, it seemed Popol Vuh reinvented their music. However, later in 1975, Popul Vuh returned to the world of soundtracks and penned the soundtrack to Werner Herzog’s latest film, Aguirre, The Wrath Of God. The soundtrack, Aguirre became Popol Vuh’s seventh album since 1970.

 In 1976, Popol Vuh returned with their eighth album, Letzte Tage–Letzte Nächte was released to critical acclaim, and ensured that Popol Vuh were seen as purveyors of ambitious, exciting and groundbreaking music. Partly, that was down to Popol Vuh’s determination to push musical boundaries to their limits. 

Popol Vuh’s reputation was further enhanced when they recorded the soundtrack to Werner Herzog’s movie Herz aus Glas in 1978. 

Later in 1978, Popol Vuh released Brüder des Schatten–Söhne des Lichts which they had recorded in August of 1978. When it was released on Brian Records, critics embraced the Gerhard Augustin produced album. Despite the critical acclaim lavished on their albums, still many people were unaware of Popol Vuh. 

Fortunately, Popol Vuh were about to write and record the soundtrack to another film directed by Werner Herzog,  Nosferatu. This exposed Popol Vuh’s music to a wider audience, and Nosferatu was hailed as one of their finest soundtrack albums, and Popol Vuh’s penultimate album of the seventies. 

Die Nacht der Seele, which was subtitled tantric songs, was released to critical acclaim in 1979, and was a fitting way for Popol Vuh to close the seventies. Incredibly, Die Nacht der Seele was Popol Vuh’s twelfth album since they formed in 1970. 

During the eighties, Popol Vuh were no longer as prolific as they were during the seventies, and only released four albums. The first was Sei Still, Wisse Ich Bin, which was released in 1981, two years after Die Nacht der Seele. It was well worth the wait as Die Nacht der Seele saw Popol Vuh reinvent themselves once again on another ambitious and innovative album which was released to widespread critical acclaim. However, after  Die Nacht der Seel, it  was another two years before Popol Vuh returned.

When they did, it was with Agape-Agape. The album was released on the Norwegian label Uniton. Agape-Agape found Popol Vuh creating music that was variously, beautiful, captivating, dramatic and as one would expect from Popol Vuh, groundbreaking. It won the approval of critics, but didn’t find a wide audience. Sadly, neither did Florian’s debut solo album.

After thirteen years as a professional musician, Florian Fricke somewhat belatedly, released his much-anticipated debut album Die Erde Und Ich Sind Eins in 1983. Despite his status as one of the most innovative German musicians of his generation, Florian Fricke found himself releasing Erde Und Ich Sind Eins as a private pressing. Just like Popol Vuh, he wasn’t getting the credit he deserved. Meanwhile, Can, Kraftwerk and Neu! were receiving all the plaudits. Despite that, Popol Vuh and Florian Fricke continued to make music.

1985 saw Popol Vuh release the fifteenth album of their career, Spirit Of Peace which was released on the French label, Spalax. Despite its quality, and how highly regarded their music was by some critics, Popol Vuh albums weren’t selling in vast quantities. So when Warner Herzog used We Know About The Need The as part of the soundtrack to Dark Glow Of The Mountains, this was welcomed by Popol Vuh. 

Two years later, and Popol Vuh Walter Herzog were reunited.Walter Herzog was directing Cobra Verde. He needed someone to compose and record the soundtrack to Cobra Verde. By then, Popol Vuh were had plenty of experienced writing and recording soundtracks. They had also worked extensively with Walter Herzog so it made sense that they provide the soundtrack. However, the Cobra Verde soundtrack was released to mixed reviews. This was disappointing for Popol Vuh who  didn’t release another album during the eighties.

It wasn’t until 1991 that Popol Vuh released another album. Again, it was a soundtrack album. This time, the soundtrack was for the film For You and Me and was described as: “a celebration of world music.” For You and Me showcased Popol Vuh’s versatility and ability to switch between genres. However, some critics didn’t seem to “get” the music, and again, reviews were mixed., and it was another four years before Popol Vuh returned.

Before that, Florian Fricke released another solo album. This time, it was an album of classical music. Florian Fricke Plays Mozart was released in 1992, and showcased another side to the Popol Vuh leader. Unknown to some people, Florian was a keen student of classical music and had studied music at the Conservatories in Freiburg and Munich, and just as comfortable playing classical music than working with Popol Vuh. So in his down time from Popol Vuh, Florian often composed piano pieces, However, in 1995 Popol Vuh returned with their eighteenth album.

City Raga had been recorded at the New African Studios, in Munich by Florian Fricke, Guido Hieronymus, and Maya Rose who had  composed the seven tracks. This latest lineup of Popol Vuh were joined by Daniel Fichelscher and the Kathmandu Children’s Choir. The result was a captivating album from Popol Vuh.

Another two years passed before Popol Vuh returned with their nineteenth  Shepherd’s Symphony-Hirtensymphonie. Again, Popol Vuh’s lineup had changed. They were still a trio featuring Florian, Guido Hieronymus and Frank Fielder, who would later collaborate with Florian Fricke. Before that, the latest lineup of Popol Vuh headed off into the studio.

The three members of Popol Vuh made their way to Afro Sounds Studio, in Munich and between September 1995 and March 1996 recorded Shepherd’s Symphony-Hirtensymphonie. It was released in 1997 and wowed critics. o

Popol Vuh’s swan-sonn was Messa Di Orfeo which was recorded at an audio-video light installation in the Labyrinth of Molfetta, Bari, Apulia  on the ‘20th’ of September 1998. The  album  was written, directed and produced  by keyboardist Florian Fricke with Maya Rose taking charge of vocals and featured a recitation  from Guillermina De Gennaro. It plays its part in an album that is a mixture of cinematic music and  drama where Popol Vuh combine elements of ambient, avant-garde , Berlin School, and electronic music. There’s even elements of New Age and world music that provided the soundtrack to audio-video-light installation that was a one-off.

Sadly Messa Di Orfeo was Popol Vuh’s swan-song and German music was in mourning when Florian Fricke passed away ahed just fifty-seven  in 2001. German music mourned the passing of one of its pioneers Florian Fricke,

Throughout a career that spanned three decades Florian Fricke led Popol Vuh as they released music that was innovative and influential. Constantly, Popol Vuh pushed musical boundaries, and constantly reinvented their own music and their back catalogue is best described as eclectic. Maybe, that’s because Popol Vuh’s lineupwas  constantly evolving? 

With a lineup that can only be described as fluid, Popol Vuh release some of the most groundbreaking music of the seventies and eighties. That period, was what many regard as the golden era of German music.

Sadly, Popol Vuh often didn’t get the credit they deserve, and instead, Ash Ra, Can, Cluster, Kraftwerk and Harmonia received the plaudits. To some extent, Popol Vuh, who were much more prolific than most of their contemporaries, are the forgotten group of the golden era of German music. However, that is starting to change and Popol Vuh are starting to receive the credit for a glittering career where they released innovative and influential music. 

The Popol Vuh Story

FOR THE ARCHIVES VOLUME 2 COMPILED BY VOLCOV.

From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov.

Label: BBE.

Compilation Of The Week.

When BBE released From The Archive Volume 1 Compiled By Volcov  to critical acclaim in March 2016, critics and record buyers wondered aloud whether there would be a follow-up? Just over two years later and the much-anticipated followup From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov was released by BBE. It’s a compilation that is well worth the wait.

Since the release of the first instalment in the series, Enrico Crivellaro a.k.a. Volcov has been busy with his own Neroli label. It’s been going strong for two decades and since the release of From The Archive Volume 1 Compiled By Volcov, has released album s Dego  Lars Bartkuhn, Trinidadian Deep and Alton Miller. However, it’s not running a label and curating compilations that keep Volcov busy.

Volcov is also a globetrotting DJ, whose known for his eclectic sets. However, Volcov’s musical roots are once apparent o this jazz-tinged compilation that features multiple musical genres from several continents. 

Volcov explains why he’s chosen the tracks on From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov: “the spirit and the sound of this album follows the first volume: choosing more songs that i thought were overlooked and deserved more attention. This time, with such a crowded marketplace for reissues and compilation of 70s-80s music, I decided only to focus on songs from the last 10-15 years.”

From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov includes a couple of tracks that have never before released on vinyl. This includes Harry Whitaker’s Afterlife Volume 2 and Ron Trent’s, Ori Space. These two tracks are part of a truly eclectic compilation .

There’s everything from futuristic jazz, intimate downtempo soul and dancefloor friendly sounds on From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov.

From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcovt opens with All That Glitters which  was written and produced by Carleen Anderson and featured on her album Cage Street Memorial The Pilgrimage. It was  released in 2016 by Freestyle Records. All That Glitters with its beautiful intimate downtempo soul is the perfect way to open the compilation and sets the tone for what follows.

Collective Peace’s piano led Let The Music Play was originally a CD only Detroit release in 2016. It has another understated arrangement that meanders  along as the ethereal vocal which is augmented by harmonies takes centre-stage. The only way to describe Let The Music Play is a spellbinding hidden gem.

Eric Lau remixed  Ruth Koleva’s Turn It Around which wrote, arranged and produced and released in 2015, It was after this that Eric Lau remixed  Turn It Around which is jazz-tinged and soulful as  crisp hip hop beats and Nu Soul combine seamlessly. 

The Rebirth recorded Caterpillar for their album Being Thru The Eyes Of A Child which was released in 2015. Futuristic, lysergic, dreamy and melodic descries Caterpillar.

Ten years ago, in 2008, Ron Trent released  a CD only album Cinematic Travels-Ancient/Future. One of the highlights is Ori Space which sounds like a tribute to the legendary and innovative French violinist Jean-Luc Ponty.

Herbie Hancock Spiraling Prism which was covered by Ian O’Brien on his 2013 CD album Understanding Is Everything which was only released in Japan. All the tracks were arranged and produced by Ian O’Brien including Spiraling Prism which is a smooth jazz-tinged and sometimes funky track.

One of music’s best kept secrets in Andy Bey, who  released the cult classic Experience and Judgment in 1974. This one of many albums that Andy Bey has recorded, and they’ve influenced many  musicians including Intuit who joins forces with  Andy Bey on the Planet Birth. The version included is the Volcov Edit of Xantone Blacq Remix. It’s another genre-melting which elements of electronica, hip hop, jazz and soul of a song that veers between smooth and soulful to experimental.

 

Quentin Kane and Simon Sheldon wrote, arranged, produced and performed The Blue Room which features TK Blue. The version on the compilation isKaidi Tatham’s Shokazulu Remix which was released in 2016 and guaranteed to fill a dancefloor,

The IG SOS Mix of Numbers’ Moonblood was released in 2001. It’s regarded as a West London Co-Op classic and seventeen years later, is a real rarity,

Josh Milan wrote I Put A Spell On You which he produced with Louie Vega. It was recorded by Honey Sweet and features Cindy Missile and released in 2015. Its jazz-tinged electronica with a powerhouse of a vocal and snares that play an important part in the mix.

Skymark released Finding The Peace on Volcov’s Neroli label in 2012. It’s a futuristic, space-age jam from the Spanish producer Skymark.

Harry Whitaker wrote and produced The After Life Part 2 which is  a truly memorable jazz dance track from 2008.

Volcov Edit’s of Tony Williams Lawra closes From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov. Lawra was released in 1980 and is taken from the soulful slice of fusion from the album Play Or Die.

Just over two years after the release of the critically acclaimed compilation  From The Archive Volume 1 Compiled By Volcov, comes the much-anticipated followup From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov. It was recently released on BBE and From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov and this lovingly curated and eclectic compilation  surpasses the quality of music on the first instalment in the series. 

Eclectic describes the music on From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov includes everything jazz, fusion, funk and soul with diversions via Nu Soul, electronica , experimental and various types  of dance music. However, one thing shines through on From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov is the consistency and quality of music on  what’s without doubt one of the best jazz tinged compilations of 2018.

From The Archive Volume 2 Compiled By Volcov.

THE SPINNERS-WHILE THE CITY SLEEPS.

The Spinners-While The City Sleeps.

Label: Kent Soul,

In 1964, The Spinners signed a seven-year recording contract with Berry Gordy’s Motown label, which the Detroit-based group would transform their fortunes. They had already enjoyed  two hit singles That’s What Girls Are Made For and Love (I’m So Glad) I Found You in 1961. Since then, commercial success had eluded The Spinners, but with the might of the Motown machine behind them they hoped that they would return to their hit making days.

Having signed to Motown, it wasn’t long before The Spinners entered the recording and studio and made their first recording for their new label. This was the first of 130 songs The Spinners recorded for Motown. However despite their recording such a vast amount of material, The Spinners only released six single and two albums. 

This includes their 1970 sophomore album 2nd Time Around which features on While The City Sleeps which was recently released by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records. 2nd Time Around was the last album The Spinners released  and the last before Thom Bell transformed their career. That was all in the future. 

Motown’s new signing entered the studio to record their debut single Sweet Thing, When The Spinners released Sweet Thing , Motown had high hopes for the singe, but alas, it failed to trouble the charts. For The Spinners this was a huge disappointment as their search for a hit continued.

The search ended when The Spinners released I’ll Always Love You in 1965 and reached thirty-five in the US Billboard 100 and eight in the US R&B charts. The Spinners had their first American hit single in four years. Thing got even better when  I’ll Always Love You reached number seven in Canada. This was The Spinners first hit single in Canada, and it looked as  they were on the verge of a breakthrough. 

In 1967, The Spinners released their debut album The Original Spinners. It featured The Spinners’ 1961 debut That’s What Girls Are Made For and their hits I’ll Always Love You and Truly Yours.  These three songs were among the twelve soulful offerings that featured on The Original Spinners, which was released to plaudits and praise. Despite that, The Original Spinners failed to chart and to make matters worse For All We Know failed to trouble  the charts.

When The Spinners  released Bad, Bad Weather (Till You Come Home) in 1968, history repeated itself as the single failed to chart. By then, the members of The Spinners were struggling to make ends meet.

In desperate need of money, members of The Spinners sung backing vocals, swept studio and even performed as The Black Beatles. The Motown years weren’t the dream that The Spinners had hoped.

Things went from bad to worse in 1969 when In My Diary failed to chart. That meant that four years has passed since The Spinners last hit. As the sixties gave way to the seventies, The Spinners needed a hit single.

Three years after the release of The Original Spinners, 2nd Time Around  was scheduled to be released in October 1970 on Motown’s VIP imprint. 2nd Time Around featured singles like Bad, Bad Weather (Till You Come Home) Bad, Bad Weather (Till You Come Home) and In My Diary which were joined by songs from some of Motown’s top songwriters. Stevie Wonder who was friendly with The Spinners joined forces with Syreeta Wright and Lee Garrett to write It’s A Shame.  It was one of twelve songs on 2nd Time Around.

When The Spinners recorded 2nd Time Around it was with a new lead vocalist, CC Cameron. He and the rest of The Spinners were joined by Stevie Wonder who plays drums on, and produces It’s A Shame. He was one  of several producers who played their part in 2nd Time Around where The Funk Brothers accompanied The Spinners who had soon completed their sophomore album,

The Spinners released 2nd Time Around in October 1970, and watched the album scrape into 199 in the  US Billboard 200 and reach forty-six in the US R&B charts. Meanwhile, It’s a Shame reached fourteen in the  US Billboard 00 and reached four US R&B charts.  It’s a Shame also reached thirty-eight in Canada and twenty in Britain. This was no surprise given the quality of music on 2nd Time Around.

It opens with the hook-laden single It’s a Shame where CC Cameron is accompanied by harmonies, horns and strings as The Spinners set the bar high for the rest of 2nd Time Around. The quality continues on I’ve Got To Find Myself A Brand New Baby where lush dancing stings and tight harmonies  accompany CC Cameron’s emotive vocal. The bedroom ballad Together We Can Make Such Sweet Music features an impressive orchestrated arrangement as The Spinners’ sound evolves and matures.

Bad, Bad Weather (Till You Come Home ) with its claps of thunder, slapping drums and tight harmonies provide a backdrop for a needy vocal. Pay Them No Mind is good advice from The Spinners to lovers of all ages. It’s another beautiful  ballad with a heartfelt and emotive vocal. The balladry continues on the string drenched My Lady Love.

Souly Ghost finds The Spinners fusing funk, gospel and soul on what’s an irresistibly catchy uptempo track. O-o-h Child is another ballad with a soul-baring vocal form CC Cameron. In My Diary sounds like a reminder of another musical age as lush strings sweep as The Spinners combine elements of soul and doo wop, My Whole World Ended (The Moment You Left Me) is a tale of love lost with a vocal full of despair and heartache. (She’s Gonna Love Me) At Sundown is an uptempo, vampish dancer. A medley of Can Sing A Rainbow /Love Is Blue and these two ballads close 2nd Time Around.

The Spinners’ 1970 sophomore album 2nd Time Around which features on While The City Sleeps which was recently released by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records. 2nd Time Around is joined by ten bonus tracks on While The City Sleeps. They’re a welcome addition are among the 104  tracks that were never released during The Spinners Motown Years.

By 1970, The Spinners had matured and were a much better group than the one that had signed to Motown in 1964. The Spinners by 1970, were a tight and talented band who could seamlessly switch between ballads and uptempo tracks. However, The Spinners were at their best on ballads, especially with new lead singer CC Cameron breathing life, meaning and emotion into the lyrics on 2nd Time Around. It was The Spinners finest hour at Motown, and features  the best music they released for the Detroit-based label.

The Spinners-While The City Sleeps.

 

 

MOGWAI-KIN ORIGINAL MOTION PICTURE SOUNDTRACK

Mogwai-Kin Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

Label: Rock Action Records.

Although Scottish post rock pioneers Mogwai have released nine studio albums, two live albums, two remix albums and written and recorded the  score to three documentaries, until very recently, there was still something missing from the Glasgow band’s impressive musical CV. Mogwai had still to write and record the entire soundtrack to a film. They had contributed tracks to 2006s The Fountain and Before The Flood in 2016. The next step Mogwai knew was to write and record a soundtrack. However, they had to wait for the opportunity to arise.

The opportunity arose when Mogwai were asked by film directors Jonathan and Josh Baker to write the soundtrack to the American sci-fi film Kin, which was written Daniel Casey. This was the opportunity of a lifetime for Mogwai who have just released the original soundtrack album to Kin on their label Rock Action Records. Kin is the latest chapter in the Mogwai story which began in 1991.

That was when Stuart Braithwaite and Dominic Aitchison met in Scotland’s musical capital, Glasgow. Four years later, they met drummer Martin Bulloch and formed Mogwai, which film buffs will remember, is a character from the movie Gremlins. Mogwai was always meant as a temporary name, until they came up with something better.  

Later in 1995,  three become four when guitarist John Cummings joined Mogwai. Since then, John Cummings’ role in Mogwai has changed, and he’s now described as  playing “guitar and laptop,” and is regarded as the maestro when it comes to all things technical. However, not long after John Cummings joined Mogwai in 1995, the nascent band started honing their sound and making plans for the future.

In 1996, Mogwai founded their own record label Rock Action Records. It would play an important part in the rise and rise of Mogwai over the next twenty-one years.  So would Mogwai’s Castle Of Doom Studios, which was cofounded by Mogwai and Tony Doogan in 2005. It’s situated in  the West End of Glasgow, and is a home from home for Mogwai, when they record a new album. That was still to come.

Before that, Mogwai released their debut single Tuner on their newly founded label Rock Action Records. Tuner was released to critical acclaim and the NME awarded it their single of the week award. Later in 1996, Mogwai released two further singles.  Angels v. Aliens and Summer. By then, Mogwai were well on their way to becoming  one of the hottest bands of the late nineties.

Mogwai’s career continued apace in 1997, when they released two more singles.The first of these, was New Paths To Helicon Pt. 1, which  showed Mogwai growing and maturing as a band. NME agreed, and just like their  debut single Tuner, New Paths To Helicon Pt. 1 won NME’s single of the week award. The followup Club Beatroot  was also well received by critics. This was the perfect time for Mogwai to record their debut album, Mogwai Young Team.

Mogwai Young Team.

For Mogwai Young Team, Mogwai brought onboard Brendan O’Hare the Teenage Fanclub’s drummer. Another guest artist was Aidan Moffat of Falkirk based band Arab Strap. He added the vocal to R U Still In 2 It, while the rest of Mogwai Young Team consisted of instrumentals. Mogwai Young Team was recorded at Chem 19 studios and produced by two of  Scotland’s top producers, ex-Delgado Paul Savage and Andy Miller. Once Mogwai Young Team was completed, it was then released on Scotland’s  biggest record label, Chemikal Underground Records.

Before its release, Mogwai Young Team was a hailed as a groundbreaking album of post-rock by critics. They were won over by Mogwai Young Team, and Mogwai were hailed as a band with a big future. 

That proved to be a perceptive forecast. When Mogwai Young Team was released on 21st October 1997, sold over 30,000 copies and reached number seventy-five in the UK. The Mogwai Young Team were on their way. However, a few changes were about to take place.

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Come On Die Young.

A year later, Mogwai were back in the studio recording their sophomore album Come On Die Young. Much had changed. A new member had joined the band, Barry Buns a flautist and sometimes pianist, who had already played a few gigs with the band. He was invited to become the fifth member of Mogwai.  Not long after this, violinist Luke Sutherland joined Mogwai, but not on a full-time basis. This wasn’t the only change.

Recording of what became Come On Die Young was split between New York and Glasgow. This time, they’d forsaken Chem 19 in Blantyre and recorded parts of the album in Rarbox Road Studios, New York. Some sessions took place in Glasgow’s Cava Studios. Producing Come On Die Young was Dave Fridman. For some critics, his addition changed Mogwai’s sound.

Some critics felt his production style resulted in a much more orthodox sounding album. However, others felt that Come On Die You was part of Mogwai discovering their “sound” and direction. Come On Die Young is a much more understated, but also ambient, experimental, multi-textured and melodic. There’s a fusion of ambient, grunge and post rock on Come On Die Young, which was released in 29th March 1999. 

On its release, Come On Die Young  reached number twenty-nine in the UK. Mogwai it seemed  were now on their way to finding their sound and fulfilling the potential that was evident on their debut album. This was apparent with tracks of the quality of  CODY and Hugh Dallas s. However, like all innovative bands, Mogwai continued to reinvent their music.

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This proved to the case on their eponymous E.P, which  includes Stanley Kubrick, which was recorded in the exotic surroundings of Cowdenbeath in  Fife. Burn Girl Prom Queen was recorded at Cava Studios, in Mogwai’s hometown of Glasgow. These two tracks were part of E.P., which further enhanced Mogwai’s reputation as post rock pioneers. So did their third album Rock Action.

Rock Action.

Mogwai’s music continued to evolve on their third album 2001s Rock Action. More use was made of electronics on Rock Action. This was part of a process that would continue over the next few albums. There were even more layers and textures on Rock Action, as Mogwai continued to expand their sonic palette. Seven of the songs were instrumentals, while Dial Revenge featured Gruff Rhys of Super Furry Animals. Again, Rock Action was produced by Dave Fridman, while recording took place in New York and at Glasgow’s Cava Studios. Once Rock Action was completed, it became Mogwai’s first album to be released on Play It Again Sam.

Rock Action was released in April 2001, and proved to be Mogwai’s most successful album. It reached number twenty-three in the UK. Critics remarked upon how Rock Action wasn’t as dark an album as its predecessors. That didn’t mean that Mogwai’s view of the world had changed. They were still worldweary which   would become a Mogwai trademark.

Six months after the release of Rock Action, Mogwai returned with another single, The My Father My King. It was released in October 2001, and was described “as the companion piece to Rock Action.” A sticker on the cover bore Mogwai’s description of the single as: “two parts serenity and one part death metal.” That was about to change. Soon, they’d be happy people writing happy songs and making a breakthrough into the American market.

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Happy Songs For Happy People.

Happy Songs For Happy People was released in 2003, and Mogwai’s evolution continued. Their music continued further down the electronic road. While Mogwai still deployed electric guitars and a drummer, synths were playing a more important role in Mogwai’s music. So were the addition of strings and a piano. They played their part in what was a much more understated album. Part of this change in style was a change of producer.

Tony Doogan was brought onboard as producer, and replaced Dave Fridman. Gone were transatlantic recording sessions. Happy Songs For Happy People was recorded at Cava Sound Studios, Glasgow. On its release in June 2003, Happy Songs For Happy People was well received by critics. Critics drew attention to I Know You Are But What Am I? and Hunted By A Freak,  two of the album’s highlights. The critics also welcomed Mogwai’s latest change in style. So did record buyers. 

While Happy Songs For Happy People only reached number forty-seven in the UK, it spent a week in the American charts, reaching number 182 in the US Billboard 200. After four albums, Mogwai had broken into the American market. Happy Songs For Happy People it seemed, was a landmark album.

Having made inroads into the lucrative American market, Mogwai didn’t rush their fifth album. It was released three years after Happy Songs For Happy People. There’s a reason for this. They were working on tree separate projects. 

The first was their fifth album Mr. Beast. Then there was the first soundtrack they’d written and recorded. This was for the 2006 movie Zidane: A 21st Century Soundtrack. Mogwai also collaborated with Clint Mansell on the soundtrack to The Fountain. Although soundtracks were a nice sideline for Mogwai, their fifth album Mr. Beast was of huge importance. Especially, if it was a commercial success in America.

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Mr. Beast.

Recording of Mr. Beast took place at Mogwai’s new studio, Castle Of Doom Studios in Glasgow. Co-producing Mr.Beast with Mogwai, was Tony Doogan. Between April and October 2005, Mogwai honed their fifth album, and after six months, Mr. Beast was complete. It was Mogwai’s most important album.

Everyone realised the importance of Mr. Beast. Mogwai were on a verge of breaking into the American market. Happy Songs for Happy People had got Mogwai’s foot in the door of the American market. Now was the time for the Mogwai Young Team to kick the door of its hinged, and make their presence felt.  That was what Mogwai intended to do with tracks like Travel Is Dangerous, Friend Of The Night and We’re No Here. They featured Mogwai at their innovative and creative best. This trio of tracks were part of an album that would please critics, Mr. Beast.

On its release, it was mostly, to critical acclaim. Critics were fascinated at how Mogwai’s music continued to evolve. For Mogwai, standing still was going backwards. Record buyers agreed and expected Mogwai to continually release groundbreaking and innovative. That was what Mogwai delivered.

When Mr. Beast was released on 5th March 2006, record buyers found an album of groundbreaking and innovative music. It climbed thirty-one in the UK. Across the Atlantic, Mr. Beast reached number 128 in the US Billboard 200. Mogwai were now one of Scotland’s most successful musical exports. They were certainly well on their way to becoming Scotland’s most innovative band. This was a title they weren’t going to give up without a fight. 

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Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait.

Following the release of Mr. Beast, the other two projects that Mogwai had been working on, were released. The first was Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. This was project that came about in late 2005, when artist Douglas Gordon asked Mogwai to write and record a soundtrack to a film he was making about footballer Zinedine Zidane. This was Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Having heard the details of the project, it didn’t take Mogwai long agree to provide the soundtrack  to Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait, which gave them their entry into the world of soundtracks.  

Mogwai grasped this opportunity, and recorded Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait at their Castle Of Doom Studios. During the sessions, Mogwai recorded ten tracks, which were produced by Tony Doogan. However, when the soundtrack was released, it came baring a secret.

This was the hidden track Untitled, which was a twenty-three minute epic, that  featured Mogwai at their most inventive. That was the case throughout Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Most critics realised this. However, a few didn’t seem to ‘get’ Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait. Despite the slings and arrows of the critics that didn’t get Mogwai’s introduction into the world of soundtracks, the critics that mattered gave Mogwai the recognition they deserved when Zidane: A 21st Century Portrait was released on 30th October 2006. Then less than a month later, the soundtrack to The Fountain was released on 27th November 2006.

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The Fountain.

The Fountain was a collaboration between contemporary classic composer Clint Mansell, string quartet the Kronos Quartet and Mogwai. To some onlookers, it looked like an unlikely collaboration. That wasn’t the case though.

Mogwai had spent December 2005 locked away in their Castle Of Doom Studios with producer Tony Doogan. Other parts of The Fountain project were recorded in New York and Los Angeles. Then once the project was complete, The Fountain was released on 27th November 2006.

When The Fountain soundtrack was released, the reviews were positive. Mogwai’s contribution to the soundtrack had proved vital, while the Kronos Quartet proved a perfect foil the Mogwai Young Team. Mogwai’s lasted soundtrack had enhanced their reputation as the go-to guys for a soundtrack. That would their sideline in the future. However, before they released another soundtrack, Mogwai would release another two albums.

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The Hawk Is Howling.

The first of these was The Hawk Is Howling. To ensure they kept their title of Scotland’s most innovative bands, Mogwai returned to the studio where it all began, Chem 19 in Blantyre. 

Andy Miller who had co-produced Mogwai Young Team, Mogwai’s debut album was chosen to produce what became The Hawk Is Howling. This was Mogwai’s sixth album and marked a first. It was Mogwai’s first album to consist of just instrumentals. Among them were I’m Jim Morrison, I’m Dead, The Sun Smells Too Loud, Batcat and Scotland’s Shame. They feature the post rock pioneers pushing musical boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, beyond. Once The Hawk Is Howling was recorded, Garth Jones mixed the album at Castle Of Doom Studios in Glasgow. After that, The Hawk Is Howling was ready for release.

The Hawk Is Howling was released on 22nd September 2008. Critics were won over by The Hawk Is Howling. There were no dissenting voices. This was one of Mogwai’s best albums, and it was no surprise it sold well in the UK and America.

On its release, The Hawk Is Howling reached number thirty-five in the UK and number ninety-seven in the US Billboard 200. It seemed with each album, Mogwai’s music evolved and matured. This resulted in even more success coming their way. Would this continue with Hardcore Will Never Die?

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Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.

For their seventh album, Mogwai returned to Chem 19 Studios in Blantyre, where they hooked up with ex-Delgado Paul Savage. Since  he had produced Mogwai’s debut album, Mogwai Young Team Paul had established a reputation as one of Scotland’s best producers. 

By then, Paul Savage had worked with everyone from Franz Ferdinand to R.M. Hubbert. However, it was a very different Mogwai Paul encountered. They were very different to the band who recorded Mogwai Young Team Paul. Their music had evolved and was continuing to do so. They’d matured as musicians and embraced the new technology. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will was proof of this.

Here was an album of groundbreaking, genre-melting post-rock with attitude. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will was also an album not short on humour. Poppy soulster Lionel Ritchie provided the inspiration for You’re Lionel Ritchine. There was also a celebratory sound to Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will.

The death of Scotland’s nemesis, Margaret Thatcher sparked celebration in Glasgow’s George Square. Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, celebrated provided the soundtrack to the celebrations.  It was just one track on an album of pioneering, post rock music crammed full of hooks, humour and attitude.  Others highlights Mexican Grand Prix, Rano Pano and How To Be A Werewolf .  With music of this quality, surely Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will couldn’t fail? 

Before the release of Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will, Rano Pano was released as a single. On the flip side was Hasenheide, which didn’t feature on Hardcore Will Never Die. . Things it seemed were looking good for Mogwai.

Yet again, Mogwai won over the majority of critics with Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will. A couple of contrarian critics proved to be mere dissenting voices in the wilderness. Most critics realised that Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will was one of Mogwai’s finest hours. Record buyers would agree.

Hardcore Will Never Die, But You Will reached number thirty-five in the UK and number ninety-seven in the US Billboard 200. For Mogwai, they were now into their third decade as band and had just enjoyed their biggest album to date. The question was, what would Mogwai do next?

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Les Revenants.

The answer to that was Les Revenants, a soundtrack to a French television series.  Les Revenants or The Returned, is essentially a television program about zombies, albeit with a twist. Just like similar films, Les Revenants, finds  the “undead” returning to the town they lived in. However, the zombies in Les Revenants  weren’t how most films portray zombies.  Another difference was the way Mogwai were commissioned.

Usually, someone writing a soundtrack can watch the film they’re writing music to. Not Mogwai. They were just shown a few scripts, which gave them an overview of what the series was about. From there, Mogwai wrote thirteen of the fourteen tracks including Wizard Motor and Hungry Face. They’re two of the album’s highlights.  The other track on Les Revenants was What Are They Doing In Heaven Today, which was written by Charles Elbert Tilney. These fourteen tracks were recorded by Mogwai, who produced Les Revenants with Neil MacMenamin. Once Les Revenants was finished, it was released in February 2013.

Before Les Revenants was released an E.P. was released. It featured four tracks. That was a tantalising taster of what was to come. After all, Mogwai would approach a soundtrack like Les Revenants in a different manner. They wouldn’t do anything predictable. Les Revenants was a case of expect the unexpected. Critics loved Les Revenants and hailed the album as one of the best albums Mogwai had released. However, Mogwai had other ideas.

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Rave Tapes.

Rave Tapes features ten tracks which were written by Mogwai. These tracks were recorded at Mogwai’s Castle Of Doom Studios, in Glasgow. Producing Rave Tapes was ex-Delgado Paul Savage, who had produced previous Mogwai albums and knew how the band worked. This was important, given Mogwai were at last, enjoying the critical acclaim and commercial success their music deserved. Work began on Rave Tapes on the 28th August 2013. 

This was like the first day back at school for Mogwai, as they began recording what was their eighth studio album. The lineup of Mogwai has been settled for a few years. This included a rhythm section of bassist and guitarist Dominic Aitchison, drummer Martin Bulloch and guitarists Stuart Braithwaite and John Cummings who also played piano. Barry Burns plays organ, piano and guitar. at Castle Of Doom Studios, Glasgow, Mogwai recorded the ten tracks that became Rave Tapes, which was released on 20th January 2014.

Rave Tapes was one of the most anticipated albums of 2014. The big question was, what direction Mogwai’s music would head? After all, Mogwai’s music never stands still. It’s in a constant state of evolution. That’s no bad thing. Standing still is akin to going backwards in Mogwai’s book. On Rave Tapes, Mogwai’s music continues to evolve. Musical  genres and influences melt into one on tracks like Remurdered, The Lord Is Out Of Control and Tell Everyone I Love Them. However, one of the most prominent influences on Rave was Krautrock. Add to this ambient, avant-garde, electronica, experimental, indie rock and rock. We hear different sides to Mogwai on Rave Tapes. Whether it’s fuzzy soundscapes or kicking out the jams, Mogwai didn’t disappoint with Rave Tapes.

Critics agreed. Rave Tapes was released to widespread critical acclaim. Superlatives were exhausted in search of a fitting description of what many felt was Mogwai’s finest hour. Some critics wondered aloud whether Mogwai’s music was mellowing. Others felt that Mogwai were improving with age. Record buyers agreed.

When Rave Tapes was released on 14th January 2014, the album reached number ten in Britain and fifty-five in the US Billboard 200 charts. Rave Tapes became Mogwai’s most successful album in Britain and America. Elsewhere, Rave Tapes sold well across Europe. Mogwai were enjoying the most album of their three decade career. However, it would be two years before Mogwai released a new album. Before that, Mogwai decided to celebrate their twentieth anniversary in style.

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Central Belters.

In 2015,  Mogwai were celebrating their twentieth anniversary. By then Mogwai were Scottish music’s elder statesmen, A lot had happened to them during the first twenty years of their career. Mogwai have released eight studio albums and three soundtracks.  That’s not forgetting there’s countless singles, E.P.s and two remix albums. It was official, Mogwai had been one of the hardest working bands in music between 1995 and 2015. They were also one of the most innovative.

It was no surprise that critical acclaim and commercial success accompanied the release of each Mogwai album. Suddenly, the Glasgow-based were enjoying success not just in Britain, but in Europe and in America. Now was the perfect time for Mogwai to release Central Belters,  a  three disc career retrospective box set. Central Belters tells the story of the first twenty years of Mogwai.

With Mogwai not planning to release a studio album or soundtrack during 2015, Central Belters was a perfect stopgap. It was released on 23rd October 2015, and reached number forty in Britain, Central Belters sold reasonably well across the Europe, and was a perfect primer to the first twenty years of Mogwai’s career. The  next chapter of Mogwai’s career began with a soundtrack album, Atomic.

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Atomic.

Having enjoyed celebrating their twentieth anniversary during 2015, Mogwai got back down to business on 1st April 2016. That was when they released Atomic, their first new album in over two years. Atomic was Mogwai’s fourth soundtrack album,

During the  summer of 2015, Mogwai had provided the soundtrack Mark Cousins documentary Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise. It was aired on BBC Four, and was a very personal memoir of growing up in the nuclear age. Using archive film, Mark Cousins constructed an impressionistic cinematic memoir of what was a harrowing time.

Post rock pioneers Mogwai were commissioned to write the soundtrack to Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise.  It was hailed as the perfect backdrop to Atomic: Living In Dread and Promise, which was a personal and poignant cinematic memoir. However, after the documentary was aired in the summer of 2015, Mogwai decided to re-record Atomic.

At their Castle Of Doom Studios in Glasgow, Mogwai were joined be an old friend, occasional band member Luke Sutherland. Mogwai were also joined by Sophie, Robin Proper-Sheppard formerly of The God Machine and Glasgow composer Robert Newth. Together, they got to work on Atomic, which was Mogwai’s twelfth album since they formed back in 1995.

Once Atomic was completed, it was scheduled for release on 1st April 2016. Before that, Atomic was hailed as Mogwai’s finest soundtrack album, and a welcome addition to their discography.

On Atomic, Mogwai combine disparate and eclectic musical genres. Elements of avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica and experimental music are combined with indie-rock, Krautrock, post-rock and psychedelia. This results in a genre-melting, cinematic album. Atomic captivates and compels, and takes the listener  on a musical journey. It veers between dramatic and dreamy, to surreal and lysergic, to beautiful, pensive and understated to melancholy and melodic. Other times the music is dramatic, moody and broody. One thing the music never is, is boring. That is one thing that can never be levelled against Mogwai. Instead, it was another case of always expect the unexpected.

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That’s been the case since Mogwai were formed in 1995, and released their debut album Mogwai Young Team. Since then, it’s always been a case of expect the unexpected from the  Mogwai, who continue to release albums of ambitious and innovative music. There was no way that Mogwai would contemplate recording the same album twice. Instead, they leave that to lesser bands who specialise in albums of twee or pseudo-intellectual music. That isn’t Mogwai’s bag. They’re constantly moving forward musically and making music that pushes boundaries to their limits, and sometimes, way beyond. Proof of that is Every Country’s Sun, which is their ninth studio album and thirteenth overall.  

Every Country’s Sun.

Every Country’s Sun is Mogwai’s first studio album since they released Rave Tapes in January 2014. However, Mogwai haven’t been resting on their laurels and enjoying the fruits of the rock star lifestyle. That isn’t Mogwai’s style. Since the release of the Rave Tapes, Mogwai have released  the three CD best compilation Central Belters in October 2015, and the soundtrack album Atomic in April 2016. There’s also the small matter of running their own record label Rock Action Records and their Castle Of Doom studio in Glasgow’s West End. Still, the four members of Mogwai found the time to return to the studio and record their ninth studio album Every Country’s Sun, which showcases their new sound.

When the time came for Mogwai to record  Every Country’s Sun, they didn’t renew their successful  partnership with Tony Doogan, who had produced their most recent album Atomic. Tony Doogan had also produced Mr. Beast and Zidane-A 21st Century Portrait, and is part of Mogwai’s inner circle. He knows Mogwai better than most, and knows that they often work with different producers. That was the case on Every Country’s Sun, where Mogwai renewed their partnership with experienced American producer Dave Fridmann.

The last time Mogwai had worked with Dave Fridmann was on Come On Die Young, which was released in 1999. Since then, much had happened for Mogwai and Dave Fridmann. Mogwai have released twelve albums and Dave Fridmann now has over 200 production credits to his name. He’s worked with some of the biggest names in indie music, including Flaming Lips, Mercury Rev, Jane’s Addiction, The Delgados, MGMT and The Vaccines. Dave Fridmann had beefed up his CV since the last time he worked with Mogwai.

Having made the decision to work with Dave Fridmann, Mogwai decided to record Every Country’s Sun at their own  Castle Of Doom Studios in Glasgow. The alternative  was for Mogwai to travel to New York to work with Dave Fridmann at Tarbox Road Studios in New York. That was unnecessary expense, considering that Mogwai had their own studio. They could always send the tracks over to Dave Fridmann in New York. This was very different to when Mogwai recorded their debut album Mogwai Young Team in 1996,

Each day, drummer Martin Bulloch, bassist Dominic Aitchison, guitarist and vocalist Stuart Braithwaite plus multi-instrumentalist Barry Burns entered Castle Of Doom Studios and began laying down the eleven tracks. These tracks were sent to Dave Fridmann in New York, who took charge of production. Gradually, Every Country’s Sun started to take shape and Mogwai were well on their way to completing what would be their first studio album in over three years. Eventually, Mogwai completed recording Every Country and Dave Fridmann mixed the album at Tarbox Road Studios. All that remained was for the album to be mastered by Frank Arkwright at Abbey Road Studios, in London. Now Mogwai were ready to embark upon a new chapter in a career that began twenty-two years ago in 1995.

Since then, post rock pioneers Mogwai have enjoyed an unrivalled longevity, and are now one of the most successful Scottish bands of their generation. Remarkably, the three original members of the band, Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchison and  Martin Bulloch still remain are still part of Mogwai’s and played their part in latest album ambitious and innovative album, Every Country’s Sun. 

There was an air of excitement when Mogwai announced the arrival of Every Country’s Sun earlier in 2017. The big question among critics and cultural commentators was what direction would Mogwai’s music head in? Most agreed that Every Country’s Sun would mark another stylistic departure for Mogwai.

The music on Every Country’s Su is sometimes, elegiac and ethereal,  other times, the music is dark,  dramatic, eerie, moody, ominous and otherworldly. Often, there’s a cinematic sound to Mogwai’s music, as they switched seamlessly between and combine musical genres and influences.

Mogwai combine elements of numerous disparate musical genres, ranging from classic rock, grunge, pop, post rock, psychedelia and space rock, to ambient, avant-garde, the Berlin School, electronica, experimental music and Krautrock. These are all part of the rich and vibrant musical tapestry that is Mogwai’s ninth studio album Every Country’s Sun, which was recently released by their own Rock Action Records. Every Country’s Sun and is Mogwai’s finest hour. The big question was what was next from Mogwai.

Kin.

Following the success of Every Country’s Sun, Mogwai were asked by film directors Jonathan and Josh Baker to write the soundtrack to the American sci-fi film Kin, which was written Daniel Casey. This was something that Mogwai had wanted to do since they began working on soundtracks for documentaries and films.

While Mogwai had written the score to three documentaries and contributed to tracks to 2006s The Fountain and Before The Flood in 2016 writing the soundtrack to a film was a challenge that they welcomed.

Not long after this, Stuart Braithwaite, Dominic Aitchison and Barry Burns began writing soundtrack to Kin. Eventually, they had written the nine tracks, including Eli’s Theme, Scrap, Flee, Funeral Pyre, Donuts, Miscreants, Guns Down, Kin and We’re Not Done (End Title). These tracks became Kin, which was recorded  in familiar surroundings.

This was Mogwai’s own Castle Of Doom Studios, which is situated in Glasgow, Scotland. While Kin was recorded and produced by Mogwai, Paul Savage took charge of engineering duties. He watched on has Mogwai deployed an array of synths, traditional  instruments and effects as Kin started to take shape. Eventually, Mogwai’s first post rock soundtrack was ready for Tony Doogan to mix.

Once Kin was mixed, the album was mastered at Abbey Road Studios, in London, by Frank Arkwright. Now Kin was ready to released on Mogwai’s  Rock Action Records.

The release of Kin was scheduled for the ‘31st’ of August 2018. Before that, critics had their say on  Kin which was the first soundtrack Mogwai written and recorded.

Straight away, Kin brings back memoirs of another of Mogwai’s soundtrack albums Les Revenants. Both albums feature the minor key piano where reverb is deployed to give Mogwai’s trademark sound. This has become  a feature of many Mogwai albums, and Kin is no different.  

Kin opens with Eli’s Theme, which epitomises Mogwai’s modern sound, and shows how far the Glasgow-based musical chameleons have come since 1995. The understated introduction soon becomes dark and menacing within the space of a few bars. That is despite Kin featuring a  more pared back sound, than Every Country’s  Sun and previous albums, this music could only come courtesy of Mogwai.

Their inimitable sound can be heard throughout Kin, and especially on Guns Down where the glacial, spacey sounding track crunches and pulsates. Mogwai return to their rockier sound  on Donuts  and combine this with their post Rave Tapes electronica style. Donuts finds Mogwai fusing their past and present on what’s an epic track that is dramatic, elegant and radiates a serenity. It’s also one of Kin’s highlights.

Flee showcases Mogwai’s cinematic sound as they introduce a degree of tension. By contrast Funeral Pyre is a slow burner, which gradually and a degree of dignity reveals its secrets on this scene setter. Elsewhere the music on Kin is atmospheric and cinematic with the piano plays a leading role as Mogwai combine their soundtrack work with heir post Rave Tapes sound. Quite different is the shoegaze pop ofWe’re Not Done (End Title) which closes Kin in style.

The grand old men of Scottish music put their twenty-three years of experience to good use on their latest carefully crafted album Kin. It’s the first film soundtrack that Mogwai have released. Kin showcases a cinematic sound which features drama, tension, sci-fi sound and poppy hooks on a melodic and memorable soundtrack album. It also finds Mogwai fusing disparate musical genres  on Kin.

Mogwai were inspired by ambient, avant-garde, Berlin School, electronica, experimental music, indie rock, Krautrock, pop, post rock, psychedelia and space rock on Kin. Sometimes, these genres can be heard only briefly on Kin. It’s Mogwai’s first ever film soundtrack and marks a new chapter in a story that is into its third decade. 

Twenty-three years after Mogwai were founded in 1995, the post rock pioneers return with their cinematic epic Kin, which is which is their first ever film soundtrack and a reminder why they’re still one of Scotland’s too bands,

Mogwai-Kin Original Motion Picture Soundtrack

 

ROCKIN’ IN THE USA-HOT 100 HITS OF THE 80S.

Rockin’ In The USA-Hot 100 Hits Of The 80s.

Label: Ace Records.

As 1979 gave way to 1980, critics and cultural commentators wondered whether the golden era that began  when The Beatles released Love Me Do in 1962 was about to continue? 

Record buyers had been spoiled by some of the biggest bands from Britain and America releasing groundbreaking and classic albums for the past eighteen years. However, already things were starting to change in the land of the free.

AM radio which had provided the soundtrack to the sixties and seventies, was replaced by crystal clear sound of FM. Suddenly, AM was home to sports radio and loudmouthed shock jocks. However, one thing stayed the same, the popularity of vinyl.

No other format came had close to rivalling vinyl which was popular DJs and record buyers preferred. Executives at the major record labels thought that vinyl’s popularity would continue to grow, and never thought that the bubble would burst, 

That was apart from those involved in developing the compact disc which was still in the experimental stage. That would change by the mid-eighties when the compact disc began to revolutionise music.

With the of offer perfect sound quality, the compact disc was seen as preferable to vinyl, which was an imperfect medium. Over the next few years, many recorded buyers sold massive vinyl collections and made the switch to compact disc. 

Supply of vinyl albums outstripped demand, and the prices dropped. Some record collectors took what they could get, while  a few gave their once prized collections of vinyl to charity shops or sold them for giveaway prices at car boot sales. After all, with the  introduction of the compact disc nobody  would want vinyl anymore.

Meanwhile, many critics, cultural commentators and record buyers regarded as the third consecutive golden era for music. This golden era is celebrated on Ace Records new compilation Rockin’ In The USA-Hot 100 Hits Of The 80s. If features  twenty-three tracks from The Romantics, Cyndi Lauper, Huey Lewis and The News, Marshall Crenshaw, Paul Carrack, Amy Holland, Rick Springfield, Hall and Oates, Mr Mister, The  Cars, and Ronnie Milsap  They;re just a  few o the names on Rockin’ In The USA-Hot 100 Hits Of The 80s, which is a studded collection.

Detroit-based garage band The Romantics open Rockin’ In The USA-Hot 100 Hits Of The 80s with the melodic rocker What I Like About You. It was released on Nemperor in 1980 and reached forty-nine in the US Billboard 100.

Cyndi Lauper released the ballad  Time After Tine on Portrait in 1984, Soon, the New Yorjer was the first number one single of her career in America. 

The anthemic single Your Love was released by the London-based power trio The Outfield  on Columbia in 1986. They became the latest British band to enjoy  more success in American than Britain when Your Love reached number six in the US Billboard 100. This was the first of six singles The Outfield enjoyed in Britain.

Someday, Someway was written by Marshall Crenshaw and released as the lead single from his eponymous debut album. It was released on Warner Bros in 1982. The highlight of the album was the perfect pop Someday, Someway which reached thirty-six in the US Billboard 100.

In late 1980, Pat Benatar released Hit Me With Your Best Shot on Chrysalis. This sassy rocker reached number nine on the US Billboard 100 and was a tantalising taste of what was to cone from Pat Benatar,

British singer-songwriter Paul Carrack was signed to Epic when he released I Need You un 1982. This soulful  ballad was taken from the album Suburban Voodoo and released twenty-seven on the US Billboard 100.

American rocker Rick Springfield was signed RCA Victor when he released I’ve Done Everything For You in 1981. This melodic and memorable cover of this Sammy Hagar song reached number eight on the US Billboard 100.

Hooks haven’t been spared on Breaking Away  Balance’s 1981 single which was released on Portrait. It’s another slice of perfect pop that reached twenty-two on the US Billboard 100.

By 1983, Hall and Oates were signed to RCA Victor and were at the peak of their popularity when they released the hurt-filled single Say It Isn’t So.  It reached two on the US Billboard 100 and was one of their biggest singles.

Several of singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff songs were covered by Linda Ronstadt. However, in 1982 Karla Bonoff released the beautiful ballad Personality. It reached nineteen on the US Billboard 100 and is a reminder of a truly talented singer-songwriter Karla Bonoff.

The Cars released You Might Think I’m Crazy on Electra in 1984 while their album Heartbeat City was being mixed. You Might Think I’m Crazy with its mixture of new wave and rock proved popular reaching number seven on the US Billboard 100.

Country singer Ronnie Milsap released  (There’s) No Gettin’ Over Me  on RCA Victor in 1981. This beautiful country ballad crossed over and reached number five on the US Billboard 100.

Deborah Allen of The Bangles released her solo single Baby I Lied on RCA Victor in 1983. It was billed as a country single but was more like power pop meets pop rock. At the heart of Baby I Lied’s sound and success was Deborah Allen accusing, angry and frustrated vocal. Despite the quality of Baby I Lied, it staked at twenty-six on the US Billboard 100.

ROCK In The USA (A Salute To 60s Rock) by John Cougar Mellencamp closes Rockin’ In The USA-Hot 100 Hits Of The 80s. This tribute to the sixties garage sound reached number two on the US Billboard 100 in 1986.

The twenty-three tracks on Rockin’ In The USA-Hot 100 Hits Of The 80s, which has just been released by Ace Records is  a reminder of the quality if music that was released during the eighties.

Rockin’ In The USA-Hot 100 Hits Of The 80s.

JACK ASHFORD-JUST PRODUCTIONS VOLUME 2

Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2.

Label: Kent Soul.

In March 2016, Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records released their new compilation Jack Ashford-Just Productions to widespread critical acclaim. Critics and music fans wondered if there would be a followup? Just over two years later and Kent Soul have released Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2. It’s the latest instalment in 

By 1966, Jack Ashford was a familiar face in Detroit’s music jazz scene. The Philly born musician had been a member of Marvin Gaye’s touring band before he became a Funk Brother. 

Through meeting the Motown musicians, Jack Ashford decided to base himself in Detroit. Soon, he became part of Motown’s legendary studio band The Funk Brothers. 

Before long, Jack Ashford’s trademark tambourine sound became a staple of Motown recordings. However, Jack Ashford was more than a tambourine player and  studied arrangers, engineers and producer and soon, was able to learn from them. Jack Ashford was also a talented songwriter. Essentially, Jack Ashford was a musical all-rounder, which made him perfect for Pied Piper Productions. His partner would be Mike Terry.

Mike Terry played baritone saxophone first in Popcorn Wylie’s Mohawks, then with Joe Hunter’s band. Like many musicians, he gravitated to Motown, which is the sixties, was one of the most successful labels. He was part of the touring and studio bands, and his trademark sound features on numerous Motown recordings.

 Despite being on Motown’s payroll, Mike Terry, like other musicians, including Jack Ashford, felt the fees they were paid weren’t enough. So the pair left Motown.

Having left Motown, Jack Ashford and Mike Terry briefly worked for Ed Wingate’s Golden World label. Mike Terry with George Clinton and Sidney Barnes, formed the Geo-Si-Mik songwriting and production partnership. At the same time, Jack Ashford and Mike Terry formed a songwriting and production partnership. One of their songs, Lonely One, for The San Reno Strings album on Ric-Tic came to the attention of Sheldon “Shelley” Haines. He realised this was a partnership to watch.

He was right. Jack Ashford and Mike Terry head to Jack’s hometown Philly, to produce I Can’t Change for The Sensations with Yvonne Baker. This was their first production, which was released on the Junior label. Later in 1965, the pair produced Joe Douglas for the Playhouse label. With Bobby Martin penning the B-Side, this was a single that was has made in Philly written all over it. Ironically, it wasn’t in Philly that Jack Ashford made his name as a producer. 

Instead, it was in Detroit, where with Mike Terry they formed Pied Piper Productions. The pair founded their production vehicle in 1966. For their recordings, Pied Piper Productions borrowed members of The Funk Brothers. Similarly, some of Motown’s top arrangers would work on recordings by Willie Kendrick, Lorraine Chandler, Mikki Farrow, Tony Hester, Nancy Wilcox, Rose Batiste and September Jones. Despite this all-star backing band, the Pied Pier Productions didn’t enjoy the commercial success they deserved. This would have important ramifications for Pied Piper Productions.

By 1967, Pied Piper Productions had closed its doors for the final time. After the company ceased trading, Mike Terry continued to work for many other labels. His sound was constantly in demand. There was it seemed, no shortage of work for Mike Terry. It was the same for Jack Ashford and Shelley Haims.

Both Jack Ashford and Shelley Haims worked at a number of Detroit’s smaller labels. This he did, using his latest production vehicle Just Productions. It was kept busy, with Jack Ashford produced singles at Awake, Buddha, Jay-Walking, Premium Stuff, Sepia 1, Sepia 2, Soul Disc, Soul Dimension and Triple B. This included for artists like Eddie Parker, Al Gardner, Billy Sha-Rae, Softouch, The Four Sonics, Lorraine Chandler and Sandra Richardson. They all feature on Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2 which was recently released by Kent Soul, an imprint of Ace Records.

LA born Sandra Richardson started off singing gospel up unit 1971, when she crossed=over after meeting Jack Ashford. He became her manager, producer and cowrote songs Sandra Richardson. This included After You Give Your All which she wrote with  George Rountree and Jack Ashford. He took charge of production on After You Give Your All  which was recorded in 1974 but belatedly made its debut on a Kent Records Anniversary Special single in 2016. Its reminder af a truly talented souk singer Sandra Richardson who opens Just Productions Volume 2 on a high with After You Give Your All.

Softouch was founded in 1966, but never released a single until their new manager Larry Maxwell introduced them to Jack Ashford. He produced After You Give Your All (What Else Is There To Give) which was penned by Sandra Richardson, George Rountree and Jack Ashford and released  on Prodigal in 1976. It’s memorable and melodic orchestrated track from Softouch and their finest hour.

Singer, songwriter, musician and producer Jack Ashford contributes two unreleased songs to the compilation. This include the beautiful heartfelt ballad  Let Me Take Care Of Your Heart and the dance track This Ain’t Just Another Dance Song.

Cecil Norman Jr wrote the beautify needy ballad How Long Has It Been Since You Had A Love Affair which he recorded with producer Jack Ashford in 1975. Sadly, this hidden gem was never released and makes its debut on Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2.

There’s three songs from Eddie Parker on Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2, including the unreleased version of Crying Clown. It was originally the B-Side I’m Gone which was released on Aware in 1968. Crying Clown is  a beautiful soul-baring  ballad where Eddie Parker sounds like Sam Dees. The dancer I Need A True Lover was released as singe on Triple B on November 1969 and features a needy vocal. I Love You Baby was released on the producer’s Ashford label in 1970 and later became a favourite in the UK Northern Soul Scene. 

Don’t Leave Me Baby was recorded by Lorraine Chandler for Just Productions of fifty years and made its debut on Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2. It features a vocal that is needy, emotive and full of hurt. 

Sandra Richardson released Stay Here With Me as a single on the Inter/Soul label in 1974. Tucked away on the B-Side was Don’t Let Me Down web was written by Lorraine Chandler, Jack Ashford, Juanita Weatherby. Don’t Let Me Down finds Sandra Richardson combining soul and gospel  as she delivers a heartfelt and hopeful plea. 

The Four Sonics were one of the first groups that Jack Ashford worked with when arrived in Detroit. By May 1968 The Four Sonics were signed to The Greatest Love, On the B-Side was Easier Said Than Done a string-drenched ballad that is a true hidden gem.

When Watch Yourself was recorded by Al Gardner, the baking track used was from Willie Hendrix’s Pied Piper sessions. This Jack Ashford and Mike Terry composition was originally recorded by Tony Hester, while  Al Gardner draws inspiration from James Brown as funk and soup melt into one.

Alone Again was written by Brenda Cook, George Rountree and Jack Ashford who took charge of production in 1976. Forty-two years later Alone Again features on Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2. It features a joyous, hopeful and soulful vocal from Brenda Cook.

Closing Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2 is Bobby Womack’s I Found The One which was covered by Billy Sha-Rae in 1970. It was released as a single on Spectrum and finds  Billy Sha-Rae giving thanks for the love he’s found.

Somewhat belatedly Jack Ashford is getting the recognition that he so richly deserves. This includes his work with Pied Piper Productions and Just Productions. In both cases, Jack Ashford worked with some of Detroit’s most talented musicians, arrangers, producers and songwriters, and was responsible for music that’s variously beautiful, dramatic, melodic and memorable. It’s also soulful, funky and dance-floor friendly. 

That’s why many of the songs on Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2 have found an audience within the UK’s Northern Soul scene. They’re favourites of DJs and are also appreciated by discerning connoisseurs of soul. They’ll welcome the release of Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2 which looks back at the career of the multitalented  Jack Ashford.

Jack Ashford-Just Productions Volume 2.

JOHN COLTRANE-BOTH DIRECTIONS AT ONCE: THE LOST ALBUM-VINYL. 

John Coltrane-Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album-Vinyl.

Label: Impulse!

As John Coltrane and his classic quartet arrived at the Van Gelder studios in Englewood Cliffs, on the ‘6th’ of March 1963, the band were in good spirits having played a barnstorming set at Birdland the night before. It was one of the best sets that the quartet that had been together since 1962 had played, and this set them up nicely to record a new album with Rudy Van Gelder, which would be released by Impulse later in 1963.

When John Coltrane arrived at the studio, he unpacked his tenor and soprano saxophone, and watched drummer as Elvin Jones, double bassist Jimmy Garrison and pianist McCoy Tyner prepared for the session. The rest of the quartet featured experienced musicians and it was just another day at the office for the John Coltrane quartet. Soon, they were ready to roll and make some music.

Bandleader John Coltrane planned to record an entire album during the session, which was something he had done many times before, and so had the other members of the quartet.This time, John Coltrane planned to record an album that featured mostly his own compositions. He had written Slow Blues, One Up, One Down and Villa which was based on Franz Lehár’s Vilja Song from The Merry Widow. John Coltrane planned to revisit another of his compositions Impressions, and had decided to cover Nature Boy. However, John Coltrane knew from experience that anything could happen when he was recording an album.

Buoyed by their performance at Birdland the night before, John Coltrane and his quartet recorded a total of fourteen tracks at the Van Gelder studios. At the end of the session, Rudy Van Gelder made a separate copy of the quarter-inch reference tapes for John Coltrane to listen at home.

After John Coltrane had listened to the sessions, he gave the tape to his first wife Juanita Naima to look after. This was just as well in light of what happened.

Despite having recorded enough material for a new album, Impulse never released the album. For some reason, neither Bob Thiele who ran Impulse, nor Rudy Van Gelder lobbied for the release of the new John Coltrane album. This meant that the master tapes languished in the Impulse vaults. What happened to the tapes after this is unknown, and there’s several possibilities. 

It may be that it was a case of human error, and the master-tape were misplaced, or that someone recorded over John Coltrane’s album. There’s even the possibility that when executives at Impulse decided to save on storage space, the tapes of the sessions on the ‘6th’ of March 1963 were thrown out or destroyed. A more likely explanation is that when Impulse’s parent label ABC-Paramount moved to Los Angeles that was when the tapes were lost somewhere between New York and LA.  The other possibility is that when ABC-Paramount was purchased by MCA in 1979, that that is when the master-tapes were lost. 

Sadly, by 1979 John Coltrane it was nearly twelve years since the legendary saxophonist had passed away on July the ’17th’ 1967. Sadly, nobody seemed to be lobbying for the release of the lost Impulse album. Not even Bob Thiele who left ABC-Paramount and founded his own label Flying Dutchman Records. It seemed that everyone had forgotten the album that the classic lineup of the John Coltrane quartet had recorded on the ‘6th’ of March 1963.

Meanwhile, the quarter-inch reference tapes that Rudy Van Gelder had made for John Coltrane was still in the possession of his first wife Juanita Naima. She looked after the tapes for forty-three years, until her death in 1996. After that, the tapes disappeared for another nine years.

Nothing more was heard of the tapes until 2005, when Guernsey’s auction house in New York announced that they planned to sell a selection of John Coltrane artefacts. This included the copy of the quarter-inch reference tapes that Rudy Van Gelder made of the session on  ‘6th’ of March 1963, for John Coltrane to listen to at home. Although this wasn’t the original master tape, at last it would be possible to hear John Coltrane’s lost album.

It was no surprise to music industry insiders when the record company contacted Guernsey’s auction house to prevent the sale of the tapes, and then acquired them. This would allow them to release the tapes containing John Coltrane’s lost album.

Many within the music thought that it wouldn’t be long before the tapes were released in their entirety. Just like the rest of the story of John Coltrane’s lost album, there was a twist in the tale and it was thirteen long years before Impulse released Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album. 

John Coltrane’s son Ravi Coltrane compiled Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album with studio executive Ken Druker. The sleeve notes were written by saxophonist Sonny Rollins who was a friend of John Coltrane. However, given the importance of Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album, two different versions of the album were released on LP and CD. There was the standard edition and the deluxe edition of Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album.

The deluxe edition of Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album was a double album, and the first featured the album that had been missing for fifty-five years. Seven bonus tracks featured on the second disc, including three takes of Impressions, two takes of Untitled Original 11386 and versions of Villa and One Up, One Down. Listening to Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album was like stepping back in time.

Indeed, when John Coltrane recorded Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album, the saxophonist was at a crossroads in his career. He felt constrained by traditional song structure, and was already contemplating moving in the direction of free jazz. This made sense as John Coltrane was a talented improviser who was keen to move beyond song shapes and chords and embrace a freer style of music. It was against this backdrop that John Coltrane recorded what eventually became Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album.

It opened with Untitled Original 11383 (Take 1) where John Coltrane plays soprano saxophone on the Latin-tinged minor key example of swinging modal jazz.  John Coltrane then switches to tenor saxophone on the minor-key Nature Boy, which sometimes seems to hint at Summertime and It Was A Very Good Year as ‘Trane plays with power and passion. Meanwhile, the arrangement veers between dark and sombre before becoming melodic and joyous as it dances along.  After this, the quartet lightens the mood on the Untitled Original 11386 (Take 1) which is like a Bossa Nova on steroids. Playing a starring role is ‘Trane’s saxophone which wails and squeals as he plays with speed and power as the quartet reach new heights. It gives way to the ballad Villa which is full of longing as pianist McCoy Tyner plays a melodic and memorable solo. So too is John Coltrane’s playing on Impressions (Take 3) as he plays with speed, fluidity, freedom and invention. In doing so, his band raise their game and match ‘Trane every step of the way.

It’s all change on Slow Blues which has a much more understated arrangement which allows John Coltrane’s to take centre-stage. he plays with control looking back at his past, rather than to the future when he embraced free jazz. Closing Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album is One Up, One Down (Take 1) which bursts into life and features triadic chords aplenty during this fearless, fluid and emotionally charged performance from the classic quartet who close this lost album on a high 

For fifty-five years after the classic lineup of John Coltrane’s quartet recorded Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album, the album was belatedly released by Impulse. At long last, this revered lost album was available for all to hear. The big question was would Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album be as good as many critics and jazz fans had hoped?

It was and much more. Listening to Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album was like taking a step back in time to Van Gelder studios in Englewood Cliffs, on the ‘6th’ of March 1963. Suddenly, the listener is in the studio as the classic quartet plays as Rudy Van Gelder runs the session. Meanwhile, John Coltrane who is at a crossroads in his career combines elements of his past with his future as he and jazz music evolved. 

John Coltrane continued with his classic quartet up until 1965, with the classic album A Love Supreme proving to be one of the their finest albums. Indeed, many critics regard A Love Supreme as John Coltrane masterpiece and a jazz classic. However, after releasing A Love Supreme, John Coltrane changed direction for the last two years of his life.

He moved towards a much looser, free jazz style from 1966s Ascension onwards. This included his avant-garde album Meditation which features Pharaoh Saunders, and is seen as John Coltrane’s spiritual followup to his Magnus Opus A Love Supreme. John Coltrane and his band continued to move in the direction of free jazz on the followup Live at the Village Vanguard Again! which was released in December 1966. The final album released during John Coltrane’s lifetime was Kulu Sé Mama  which was released in January 1967 and was an album of free jazz recorded in 1965. 

Sadly, John Coltrane passed away on July the ’17th’ 1967 aged just forty. That day, jazz music lost one of its greatest saxophonists who left behind a rich musical legacy including Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album, which was belatedly released after being missing for fifty-five years and is a reminder of one of jazz’s legends at his innovative best.

John Coltrane-Both Directions At Once: The Lost Album-Vinyl.

 

NORTHERN SOUL’S CLASSIEST RARITIES-VINYL

Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities

Label: Kent Dance.

Nowadays, Northern Soul compilations are two-a-penny and  hardly a week goes by and yet another compilation is released. That has been the case for the best part of twenty years and nothing has changed during 2018. It seems that Northern Soul is more popular than, ever and record buying pubic has an insatiable appetite for floaters and dancers. 

The only problem is that many of the compilations are third-rate, and are just attempts to cash-in on Northern Soul’s popularity. That is the case whether it’s the cheap budget label releases or the budget breaking box sets.

Part of the problem is that many compilers rehash the same songs for a new compilation. Anyone who picks up a pile of Northern Soul compilations will soon realise that’s the case. That is why it’s a case of caveat emptor when buying a Northern Soul compilation. If you don’t, you risk disappointment.

My advice is: “don’t believe the hype.” Especially when they come baring the words “featuring songs played at the Wigan Casino or Blackpool Mecca.” These words seem to suggest that the compilations ooze quality. Alas, all too often, that is not the case. 

Having been played at the Wigan Casino or Blackpool Mecca isn’t a guarantee of quality. Far from it. There’s several ways to separate the wheat from when the chaff, when it comes to Northern Soul compilations. Who compiled the compilation is hugely important. So, is the label that released the compilation. Some labels have established a reputation for releasing quality Northern Soul compilations. Others are just jumping on the bandwagon, looking to make a quick buck. They neither care about the music, nor the people that made it. However, labels like Ace Records do. 

Through their Kent imprint, Ace Records have been releasing Northern Soul compilations for over twenty years. Their most recent Northern Soul compilation, was Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities was recently released by their Kent Dance subsidiary. It has everything you could want in a Northern Soul compilation. 

That’s not surprising as Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities was compiled by veteran compiler Ady Croasdell. He’s a man steeped in Northern Soul with an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of all things soulful, Ady Croasdell combines classics and collectors items with future classics, hidden gems, obscurities and rarities. The result is Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities, a welcome addition to this long-running series.

Side One.

In 1967, The Antellects released Love Slave  as a single on the Flodavieur label. It’s a soulful dancer that was discovered in the nineties and has become a favourite of dancers and DJs,

A welcome addition to Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities is Karmello Brooks’  1966 single Tell Me, Baby. This jazz-tinged  single was a released on the New York based Milestone Records and changes hands for several thousand pounds.

Sherrie Matthews wrote It’s Written All Over My Face, which Marva Holiday released on as single on GNP Crescendo in September 1968. Sadly, the single failed to find the audience it deserved, but nowadays is a cult classic.

Even today, Jeanette Jones is still one of soul music’s best kept secrets. She was signed to the Golden State label, where she recorded Cut Loose. It was eventually released in 2000 on the Golden State Soul compilation and features an emotive vocal powerhouse from Jeanette Jones who had the potential to enjoy a long and successful career.

Another unreleased track is I Only Cry Once A Day Now which The Fidels recorded in 1968 for Dore. It features a big production where strings and horns accompany a soul-baring vocal. Sadly, this hidden gem lay unreleased until Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities Volume 6 was released in 2017.

Try My Love was released on the B-Side of Troy Dodds’ 1966 single The Real Thing which was released on the El Camino label. It’s a beautiful, hopeful song that surely deserved to fare better than a single?

Closing side one is Eddie Whitehead’s 1967 single  Just Your Fool which was released on the Ohio-based Black Jack label. Although the single wasn’t a commercial success, this soulful floater later became a favourite on the Northern Soul scene.

Side Two.

Salt and Pepper were a multiracial group GI’s based in Bangkok who spent most of their time playing gigs for tourists, fellow GI’s and locals. Eventually, Salt and Pepper pooled their resources and recorded and released a A Man Of My Word as a single. It was pressed in Thailand, and the Heatwave label released between 250 and 500 copies of this rare soul  hidden gem.

The Houston Outlaws released Ain’t No Telling on Westbound in May 1971. It’s an irresistibly catch dancefloor filler from The Houston Outlaws and maybe their finest hour?

Mississippi born TY Karim’s career began in the sixties and spanned three decades. In  1965, she released You Just Don’t Know on the Romark label. Sadly, this  hook-laden single failed to find an audience but is now a favourite on the Northern Soul scene.

In 1966, Pat Powdrill released the Goffin-King composition I Can’t Hear You as a single on  the Dowey label. Tucked away on the B-Side was the uptempo dancer Do It, which was designed to test the stamina of dancers.

When Mary Saxton released Is It Better To Live Or To Die on he Canadian label Pace, Gary S Paxton arranged and produced both sides of the single. This included Losing Control which Gary S Paxton wrote with Jan Saxton. It’s an underrated song, with Mary Saxton sounding like a young Tina Turner.

What Good Am I Without You was released by Darrow Fletcher as a single on the Jacklyn label in 1967. When the single was released, it sunk without trace. Two decades later and What Good Am I Without You was  favourite of DJs and guaranteed to fill  a dancefloor.

Closing Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities Strange Neighbourhood which was released on the Fraternity label by The Imaginations in 1967. It’s another uptempo dancefloor filler that closes the 

Just like previous instalments in the series, Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities was compiled by veteran compiler Ady Croasdell. He’s a man steeped in Northern Soul, and has an almost encyclopaedic knowledge of all things soulful. Ady Croasdell’s knowledge of soul and specially Northern Soul has been put to good use when compiling Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities.

While other compilers are happy to rehash the same tracks for the umpteenth time, Ady Croasdell knows that there’s still mountains of soulful delights awaiting discovery and that it’s just a case of discovering them. Like a musical man from Del Monte, Ady Croasdell goes in search of hidden gems for the Northern Soul’s Most Classiest Rarities series. Some of these make a welcome appearance on the lovingly curated Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities, which  latest instalment in Kent Dance’s long-running and successful series. 

Northern Soul’s Classiest Rarities.

BALEARIC 4.

Balearic 4.

Label: Balearic.

During the nineties several small independent labels started to release lovingly curated compilations of downtempo or chill out music, which was  popular in the Balearic Islands, and especially on the White Island, Ibiza. That was where many British and European DJs first saw chill out sets being played at places like Cafe Del Mar. These sets gave new meaning to the word eclectic,

The sets featured the unlikeliest of tracks which seamlessly became part of a musical tapestry that featured  everything from ambient and electronica to folk, hip hop jazz and soul. They were joined by Balearic music, Eastern sounds  and Middle Eastern beats that were part of a breathtaking and mind-blowing musical journey.This was enough to inspire the British DJs who watched on.

Soon, the British DJs were playing similar sets in chill out room as dancers came down and enjoyed the laid back mellow music. Before long, chill out music as many had started call the new music began to grow in popularity. Suddenly, the chill out room was the place to be as a musical revolution began.

At first it was smaller independent labels of released albums of chill out music, while similar compilations were billed as downtempo or Balearic music, These compilations started to grow in popularity, especially when new series like Cafe Del Mar were launched.

Before long the nascent chill out scene was a like a pan-European cottage industry as labels were formed and producers made new tracks with new compilations in mind. Some labels managed to licence tracks by folk and jazz artists that fitted the chill out bill. These compilations were proved popular and lucrative for the labels.

That was the case as chill out which was still  in growing in popularity as the new millennia donned. By then, other labels raising there was money to made were ready to  enter the market. Some were smaller independent labels who took a similar approach to the genre’s pioneers  Other labels, including independents and majors saw pound signs and hastily compiled cash-ins were released. Soon, there was a deluge of chill out albums  whose quality varied greatly and were best described as the good, the bad  and the ugly.

Many record buyers who embraced the chill out scene in its early days started to turn their back on the music after the standard of music started to fall. Some record labels were churning out third-rate compilations with chill out in the title. Even sales of the blue chip chill out albums started to fall. Before long, sales of compilations of chill out downtempo and Balearic music were falling sharply, and  the musical revolution was over.

It was far cry from when compilations of chill out downtempo and Balearic music were among the most popular in the overcrowded and competitive compilation market. Sadly, that was in the past. The times they were a changing.  

Since them, sales of chill out downtempo and Balearic compilations have never reached the heady heghts of the noughties. That is despite many European labels releasing lovingly curated compilations of chill out, downtempo and Balearic music. This includes the Balearic label who have just Balearic 4 which features a dozen  quality cuts.

Balearic 4 opens with Max Ease’s beautiful, dreamy and ruminative Gold Hush (Part Two), which gives to  Emerson Kitamura’s lullaby styled cover of George McCrae’s soul classic Rock Your Baby. This is a remarkable and welcome transformation of a familiar song.

Simon Peter’s cinematic Ottimismo which paints pictures of a  long hot summer in the Balearics. Fuga Ronto’s Rework of Kay Zee’s  Barny has the potential to become a down modern day downtempo classic. It’s beautiful, joyous and sometimes dubby and the perfect accompaniment as the sets in the Balearics. So too is  On-U Sound’s cosmic flamenco dub of Los Twangueros, which is the first of two exclusive tracks on Balearic 4.

Faze Action’s genre-melting remix of Private Agenda’s Dawn is another laid-back track that was part of the soundtrack to summer 2018 in the Balearics. So was Quinn Lamont Luke’s soulful, funky and jazz-tinged  floor filler Different Aspirations. The quality continues on J-Walk’s carefully crafted hands in the air floor filler.

The tempo drops on Max Manetti’s Changuinola which hints that the Happy Mondays circa 1989 was an inspiration for the track.  Breese’s remix of Robot 84’s San Vorera  features Manuel Amoscotegui and finds Spanish guitars play a leading role in this joyous chill out track. Joe Morris’ Skies Reprise is best described as filmic chill out, while Fabrizio Mammarella Ambient Remix of Gallo’s Faron is a beautiful dreamy Balearic track and the perfect album closer.

Balearic 4, which was recently released by the Balearic label, is  akin to musical treasure trove that features familiar tracks and hidden gems. The twelve tracks on Balearic 4 are reminder of another musical era which  spanned early nineties and into the noughties. Back then, Balearic, chill out and downtempo music was hugely popular until bandwagon jumpers and hastily compiled cash-ins brought to an end  what was the most laid-back and mellow musical revolution ever.

Just over a decade later, and Balearic, chill out and downtempo complains are still being released, although not in the same numbers. One of the best Balearic compilations of 2018 is Balearic 4 which is the perfect accompaniment to chasing rainbows,  watching the sun set or making sleepy-eyed love as the dawn breaks.   

Balearic 4. 

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           

DAVID AXELROD-SONGS OF EXPERIENCE-VINYL

David Axelrod-Songs Of Experience Vinyl.

Label: Now Again Records.

By 1968, composer, musicians and producer David Axelrod was just about to embark upon a solo career after nine years working in the music industry. Buoyed by the experimental climate of popular music, David Axelrod wrote and recorded what was akin to a suite-like tone poem that was based on Songs Of Innocence an illustrated collection of poems written in 1789 by William Blake. The poet had inspired many composers and musicians during the twentieth century. 

Many composers had set his poems to music, and William Blake’s music had been used in theatre and inspired everyone from folk musicians to David Axelrod who was a self-confessed “Blake freak.” 

In 1968, David Axelrod released his William Blake inspired debut album Songs Of Innocence, which sold just 75,000 copies. This was disappointing given that Songs Of Innocence was groundbreaking album. 

Despite the disappointing sales of Songs Of Innocence, David Axelrod began to write the material for his sophomore album Songs of Experience which has just been reissued by Now Again Records.  Songs of Experience was also inspired by William Blake’s poetry, but explored the darker side of humanity drew inspiration from composer Gunther Schuller’s Third Stream concept. David Axelrod’s sophomore album Songs of Experience was an ambitious and innovative album. He had come a long way from his days as a boxer.

Before embarking upon a career in music, David Axelrod had enjoyed what can only be described as a chequered career. He had started off as a boxer, before changing direction and finding work in film and television. However, in 1959 David Axelrod embarked upon a musical career when he produced Harold Land’s album The Fox. This launched David Axelrod’s nascent musical career.

Four years later, David Axelrod was hired by Capitol Records as a producer and A&R man. Initially, he worked with R&B artists, including Lou Rawls who was signed to Capitol Records. David Axelrod produced a string of hit singles for Lou Rawls, his Live album and several albums that were certified gold. David Axelrod was the man with the Midas Touch.

Soon, David Axelrod was working with jazz saxophonist Julian “Cannonball” Adderley, and produced his 1966 Grammy Award winning album Mercy, Mercy, Mercy! Live at “The Club.” The album also featured the hot single Mercy, Mercy, Mercy which reached number eleven in the US Billboard 100. By then, David Axelrod’s star was in the ascendancy at Capitol Records.

It was around this time, David Axelrod began working with some top session musicians including drummer Earl Palmer, bassist Carol Kaye and guitarist Howard Roberts. This band would play an important part in David Axelrod’s future.

David Axelrod wrote and arranged Mass in F Minor and Release of an Oath for the psychedelic rock band The Electric Prunes. The only problem was that both songs were complex pieces of music. Mass in F Minor consists of a mass sung in Latin and Greek and performed in a psychedelic style. However, there was a problem, it was too complex a piece for The Electric Prunes to record and it was recorded by David Axelrod’s band. This lead to The Electric Prunes disbanding and David Axelrod’s band completed the albums. Executives at Capitol Records were grateful that David Axelrod had rescued what was a particularly tricky situation, and wanted to reward him for his recent success. This resulted in David Axelrod being allowed to record his debut solo album Songs Of Innocence.

By them David Axelrod was watching trends in popular music and realised that there was a new breed of record buyer with much more sophisticated taste than the three chord pop of the early Beatles’ record. They were willing to embrace and buy much more experimental sounding albums, including two of the best known, The Beach Boys’ Pet Sounds and The Beatles’ Sgt Peppers Lonely Hearts Club Band. Both of these experimental had been hugely successful, and was proof to David Axelrod that there was a demand for this type of music. 

Buoyed by the experimental climate of popular music David Axelrod decided to write and record his what was akin to a suite-like tone poem, which was based on Songs Of Innocence which was an illustrated collection of poems written in 1789 by William Blake. The poet had inspired many composers and musicians during the twentieth century. Many composers had set his poems to music, and William Blake’s music had been used in theatre and inspired everyone from folk musicians to David Axelrod who was a self-confessed “Blake freak.” 

Over the space of a week, David Axelrod wrote seven compositions and borrowed titles from William Blake’s poems. The compositions death with a variety of themes, ranging from visions, religious iniquity, rite of passage and life experience after a person’s birth and innocence. After just a week, David Axelrod had completed Songs Of Innocence, which was his homage to William Blake. David Axelrod had been captivated by William Blake’s poetry since he was a teenager and seemed to relate to the poet. Neither William Blake nor David Axelrod were regarded as sociable men, and this could’ve hindered the producer’s career. However, he had a successful track record as he began recording Songs Of Innocence in 1968.

Songs Of Innocence.

Having written Songs Of Innocence in just one week, David Axelrod arranged the seven tracks which he intended to produce and add the vocals to. Now he  was ready to record his debut album, and work was scheduled to start in mid-1968 at Capitol Studios, in Los Angeles.

David Axelrod decided to use many of the musicians that he worked with on a regular basis. This included drummer Earl Palmer, bassist Carol Kaye and guitarist Al Casey. They were joined by percussionist Gene Estes  and organist and pianist Don Randi who would conduct the string and horn section that David Axelrod planned to use on Songs Of Innocence. They would allow  David Axelrod to create his musical vision.

Songs Of Innocence was essentially an instrumental album of jazz-fusion, but incorporated elements of baroque pop, blues, classical music, funk, jazz, liturgical music, pop, psychedelia, R&B, rock and theatre music. During Songs Of Innocence, David Axelrod used contrast extensively during the orchestral compositions which was peppered with euphoric psychedelic soul and dramatic, sometimes, distressing arrangements to reflect the supernatural themes that are found within William Blake’s poems. So does the music’s almost reverential psychedelic undercurrent which brings to mind the themes of innocence and spirituality that is a feature William Blake’s poems which inspired David Axelrod to write such an ambitious album as Songs Of Innocence.

His arrangements on Songs Of Innocence accentuated the pounding drums played in 4/4 time, complex baselines, searing and gritty guitars, sweeping melodramatic and progressive strings, organ parts designed to disorientate and blazing, dramatic horns. David Axelrod who had written Songs Of Innocence in the rock idiom, but used a mixture of jazz, rock and classical musicians to record his debut album.

They were all comfortable when David Axelrod asked them to improvise during this psycheliturgical opus. David Axelrod had been influenced by György Ligeti’s 1961 piece Atmosphères, and Lukas Foss’ concept of starting a piece with a sustained chord and improvising for over 100 bars, and ending on a different chord. However, it wasn’t joust improvisation that David Axelrod embraced.

David Axelrod encouraged musicians to use various sound effects, including reverb and echo during the recording sessions. This included adding echo to breakbeats to reflect the spiritual nature of  William Blake’s poetry. For much of the album, David Axelrod’s rock orchestra painted pictures with music which veered between spartan, dramatic and harrowing to liturgical, ruminative and celebratory. As the music changed, so did the rock orchestra.

Seamlessly David Axelrod’s rock orchestra changed direction and were transformed into a vampish big band. Other times, they played bluesy bop or locked into a jazzy groove and on occasions started to swing. 

Meanwhile, producer David Axelrod was constantly encouraging his band to experiment, and not be afraid to improvise. Towards the end of recording sessions, David Axelrod’s rock orchestra had fully 

embraced psychedelia deploying organ licks that seemed to be designed to disorientate and gritty guitars. Then as The Mental Traveler was recorded, David Axelrod was keen to embrace and experiment with atonality. However, he felt that music that lacks a tonal centre of key was a step too far even on such an ambitions and innovative album as Songs Of Innocence.  

When David Axelrod completed recording his suite-like tone poem, everyone who had worked on the concept album realised that it was an impressive, innovative and immersive album, that was ambitious, cerebral. However, the big question was what would the critics who make of Songs Of Innocence?

Not only was Songs Of Innocence David Axelrod’s debut album, but it was ambitious concept album inspired by William Blake’s poetry. This was too much for many critics, and the album regarded as something of a curio when it was released in October 1968 by Capitol Records. Many critics failed to understand what was essentially a mixture of genre-melting music, mysticism and philosophy that was cerebral, creative and showed just how much music had changed over the last few years. David Axelrod’s suite-like tone poem Songs Of Innocence, was a long way from Love Me Do in 1962. Music was changing, and record buyers were embracing much more experimental and sophisticated music. This augured well for the release of Songs Of Innocence.

Sadly, when Songs Of Innocence was released in October 1968, the album wasn’t the commercial success that David Axelrod or executives at Capitol Records had hoped. By October 1969, Songs Of Innocence had only sold 75,000 copies in America.

Despite the disappointing sales of Songs Of Innocence, David Axelrod began working on his sophomore album Songs of Experience.

Songs Of Experience.

For his sophomore album David Axelrod returned to the work of poet William Blake for inspiration, and especially his collection Songs Of Experience which was published in 1794. David Axelrod the self-confessed “Blake freak” chose eight poems from Songs of Experience which lent it name to his sophomore album.

William Blake was David Axelrod’s major influence, as  explored the darker side of humanity on Songs Of Experience. The composer had been captivated by William Blake’s concept of birth and innocence, as he explored the theme of life experience, rite of passage and the changes of perspective in life during the writing and recording Songs Of Innocence. However, when David Axelrod wrote Songs Of Experience, he focused on William Blake’s concept: “of awareness after birth.” This wasn’t David Axelrod’s only source of inspiration for Songs Of Experience.

Another source of inspiration for David Axelrod during the writing ad recording of Songs Of Experience was composer Gunther Schuller’s Third Stream concept. This was part of what was another ambitious album that David Axelrod planned to record.

To record Songs Of Experience, David Axelrod brought onboard many of the musicians that recorded Songs Of Innocence. However, it took over thirty musicians to record what David Axelrod knew was a groundbreaking, genre-melting album.

David Axelrod’s sophomore album Songs Of Experience, was essentially a fusion album, but incorporated elements of European classical music, British and Irish folk music, percussive sounds and  baroque arrangements. Meanwhile, the melodies and rhythms on Songs Of Experience ranged from pop, R&B and rock. However, this time, this time, the suite on Songs Of Experience which relied less on rock influences, and was much more symphonic. While this was a stylistic departure, for David Axelrod, Songs Of Experience was another major work that had the potential to enhance his reputation.

That was no surprise given Songs Of Experience’s the compositions to the eight genre-melting track were so different, and featured lush arrangements that were dramatic and rich in imagery. David Axelrod was bringing William Blake’s music to life by using his entire musical palette to paint pictures and allow him to explore much darker and ruminative sounds on Songs Of Experience. It was an album that should’ve captured the imagination of critics.

Sadly, when Songs Of Experience was released by Capitol in 1969, very few critics realised the importance of what was a truly groundbreaking and innovative album. To rub salt into the wound, Songs Of Experience sold less that the 75,000 copies that Songs Of Innocence sold. David Axelrod decision to create ambitious and innovative music wasn’t rewarded.

It wasn’t until much later that critics realised the significance of Songs Of Experience, which was hailed as an important, innovative and inspirational album. By then, Songs Of Experience was a favourite source of samples for hip hop producers. However, it was  just a coterie of appreciative record buyers who had embraced and flew the flag for what was David Axelrod’s William Blake inspired  cult classic Songs Of Experience which broke new ground and somewhat belatedly, became part of musical history.

David Axelrod-Songs Of Experience Vinyl.

 

ARVE HENRIKSEN-THE HEIGHT OF THE REEDS.

Arve Henriksen-The Height Of The Reeds.

Label: Rune Grammofon.

Originally, The Height Of The Reeds’ project was commissioned by the city of Hull, to celebrate the city being chosen as Britain´s cultural capital in 2017. This was only port of the story behind The Height Of The Reeds.

It’s  a culturally important commission that celebrates the longstanding seafaring relationship between Hull and Scandinavia. This has been the case for centuries, with ships transporting cargo and passengers across the North Sea. It’s a familiar journey for many who week-in week-out travel that route and will relate to The Height Of The Reeds.

Arve Henriksen, Eivind Aarset, Jan Bang and Jez Riley French wrote The Height Of The Reeds which was an important celebration of the link between Hull and Scandinavia. The Height Of The Reeds  was also a companion to a sound walk that was scheduled to take place in April, 2017 in what Britain´s cultural capital in 2017.

The sound walk took the people of Hull and visitors to the city across the Humber Bridge, where they saw the spectacular sights of Humberside and beyond. Those who took part in the sound walk were able to listen to The Height Of The Reeds on headphones as they crossed the Humber Bridge. This sound walk was soon proving so popular that the organisers were forced to rethink their plans. 

Originally, the sound walk was meant to only take place during the month of April, but given the demand for tickets it was extended into May 2017. Still, people wanted to cross the Humber Bridge listen to The Height Of The Reeds on headphones and another series of walks were scheduled.   

They took place during August 2017 and by the end of the month, the event was sellout with 15,000 tickets being sold. The sound walk had been a major success and it was no surprise when it was decided to release The Height Of The Reeds.

At the end of August 2018, Rune Grammofon released Arve Henriksen’s recording of The Height Of The Reeds on CD and LP. It’s essentially the same recording that the walkers heard on their sound walk. There’s  only a few minor adjustments which allow the album to make a seamless transition from sound walk to album.

For the recording of The Height Of The Reeds,Arve Henriksen was joined by the Chorus and Orchestra Of Opera North, joins with guitarist Eivind Aarset. electronics artist Jan Bang, and Hull sound artist Jez Riley French who provided field recordings from the bridge itself. 

This ranged firm the sound of ye Humber River, engine noise, the creaking steel wires, wheels as they drive along the asphalt and the song of the reeds in the wind. They play their part in what’s a powerful and evocative album.

That is the case from the opening bars of the ethereal and spiritual Come April right through to he filmic, dramatic and  broody Reefs And Roots where the sound of the wind buffeting the Humber Bridge can be heard. 

Otherworldly, ethereal, cinematic, beautiful  and broody describes The Swans Bend Their Necks Backward To See God. It’s a slow, carefully crafted soundscape which features Arve Henrikse’s rasping trumpet, field recordings and Opera North.

Height Of The Reeds In The Wetlands is  a beautiful  evocative track where  Arve Henriksen and company  paints pictures  rich in imagery on one of the album’s highlights. So is the wistful, elegiac and liturgical  Is There A Limit For The Internal? It’s a beautiful ruminative track that encourages reflection. 

Ethereal, cinematic and rich in imagery with a liturgical sound describes the beautiful Nymphs And Eurasian Horses. Waders then combines  pizzicato strings and Arve Henriksen’s braying trumpet create an evocative but rueful sound. The Wind In The Willows in hypnotic, haunting and bewitching, before the moody, eerie  and thought-provoking Pink Cherry Trees closes The Height Of The Reeds.

It started life as the accompaniment to a space walk across the Humber Bridge when Hull Britain´s cultural capital in 2017. The 15,000 walkers heard Arve Henriksen’s genre-melting album The Height Of The Reeds which features elements of avant-garde, classical, electronic, experimental, improv, jazz and Nordic Wave. They’re combined by Arve Henriksen’s multitalented cast, who are  responsible for a  cinematic widescreen opus, 

Arve Henriksen-The Height Of The Reeds. The Height Of The Reeds.

MOSKUS-MIRAKLER.

Moskus-Mirakler.

Label|: Hubro Music.

The Moskus story began at the prestigious Trondheim Conservatory of Music, in Norway, in 2011. That was when bassist Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson first met drummer Hans Hulbækmo and pianist Anja Lauvdal and decided to form a new  group which they called Moskus.  Little did they realise at that first meeting, that Moskus would become the most innovative groups of their generation.

Seven years later, and Moskus have just released their fourth album Mirakler on Hubro Music. Mirakler is the latest ambitious and groundbreaking  genre-melting album from Moskus. They’ve come a long  way since that first meeting  at the Trondheim Conservatory of Music,

Salmesykkel.

As 2012 dawned the three members of Atlantis Grammofon Studio, Stockholm, to record their debut album Salmesykkel. Between the ‘3rd’ and ‘5th’ of January 2012

Moskus recorded ten tracks with producer Andreas Meland. When the recording was complete,  Salmesykkel was mixed at  Redroom Studio, Trondheim April between the ‘19th’ and  ’21st’ April 2012, Salmesykkel was mastered at Audio Virus Lab, during May 2012. Now Moskus was ready to release their debut album.

Later in 2012, pioneering jazz trio, Moskus, released their debut album, Salmesykkel on Hubro Music. It was released to widespread critical acclaim, and hailed as a groundbreaking debut. And so it proved to be.

When the shortlist for the Norwegian music Spellemannspris were announced in 2013, Moskus had been nominated twice for the Norwegian equivalent of a Grammy Award.  Moskus were nominated in two categories, the highly prized best jazz album and best new act. For the three members of Moskus, this was the perfect start to their recording career. Since then, Moskus have been winning friends and influencing people throughout Europe and North America.  

Just like several generations of bands, Moskus embarked on a gruelling touring schedule and at first, played ed clubs and some of the Norway’s biggest festivals. After that, Moskus headed much further afield.

By 2014,  much of Europe had been introduced to Moskus’ unique and groundbreaking brand of Nordic jazz. Everywhere from Britain, Germany, Poland and Portugal, have been won over by Moskus’ music. By then, audiences had realised that Moskus were the future of jazz. 

Having conquered Europe with their music, Moskus headed to North America. Canada was just the latest country to embrace Moskus’ music. Their gruelling touring scheduled had paid off. 

Mestertyven.

By the summer of 2013, Moskus’ reputation had spread far beyond Norway and they were  perceived as one of the most exciting and pioneering jazz groups in  Europe. This was the perfect time for to Moskus complete their sophomore album Mestertyven. 

For their debut album Salmesykke, Moskus had recorded the album at Stockholm’s famous Atlantis Grammofon Studio. When the time came to record their sophomore album, Moskus decided to try a new approach to recording. 

Gone was the venerable surroundings of Atlantis Grammofon Studio. Its replacements was the Risør Church which became a de facto recording studio in March 2013, and five months later when the album was completed in August 2013. The only problem with the Risør Church was that it have  same standard of equipment.

One of Atlantis Grammofon Studio’s most important pieces of equipment is the grand piano. Moskus used on their debut album Salmesykkel. Its unmistakable sound played an important part in the sound and success of Salmesykkel. However, their makeshift studio didn’t come complete with a grand piano. Moskus found themselves swapping a grand piano for an upright piano which became part of the new sound they showcased on Mestertyven.

Whereas the music on Moskus’ debut album Salmesykkel was well rehearsed, the music on Mestertyven was new and untried. Moskus hadn’t spent ages honing and tightening the tracks. This was deliberate. 

As the sessions began, Moskus pressed record. Every single idea was recorded. This made sense. There was no chance that a moment of genius would be missed. Songs were recorded from their genesis to fruition. Songs evolved on the tapes. Eventually, Moskus were left with a pile of tapes. What they had to do was then sift through the tapes. Gradually, eleven songs took shape. Some ideas and experiments were kept, others discarded. The result was Mestertyven, Moskus’ much-anticipated sophomore album.

When Mestertyven was released in May 2014, it was to the same critical acclaim as their debut album. Critics used words like unique, melodic, playful and intimate. However, Mestertyven was also dramatic, ethereal, wistful and innovative. Mestertyven featured a group who were determined to continually reinvent their music, and push musical boundaries. They continue to do so, on their third album Ulv Ulv.

Ulv Ulv.

Following the release of Mestertyven, Moskus have continued their hectic touring schedule and toured North America and Europe. Then in late 2014, Moskus got the opportunity to tour Japan. The only problem was, on their return, Moskus would begin work on their third album Ulv Ulv.

Despite this, Moskus headed to Japan in late 2014, and  during the tour, Moskus enjoyed the opportunity to and improvise and play with an inventiveness and freedom. Japanese audiences were able to experience Moskus at their innovative best. Once the tour was over, Moskus returned home and began work on Ulv Ulv.

For their third album Ulv Ulv, Moskus had written eight new tracks. They would also write Den Store Skjønnheten and Borre Borre Gulleple, Slå Vekk with fiddler Nils Økland. He joined Moskus at the Haugesund Billedgalleri. 

This to outsiders seemed a strange place to record an album. However, Moskus had played a concert at Haugesund Billedgalleri,  and liked the acoustics.An aded bonus for Moskus pianist Anja Lauvdal was that the Haugesund Billedgalleri boasted a vintage Steinway.

Between the ‘2nd’ and ‘4th’ of January 2015, the Haugesund Billedgalleri, in Haugesund was converted into a makeshift studio as Moskus and Andreas Risanger Meland co-produced the album. After three days, Ulv Ulv was completed on 4th January 2015. This left Ulv Ulv to be mixed and mastered by Audun Strype, at his Strype Audio, in the autumn 2015. Once this was complete, Moskus’ thoughts turned to the release of their third album, Ulv Ulv.

Just over six months later, and Moskus’ much anticipated third album Ulv Ulv was released and features the jazz pioneers at their innovative best, as they play with a freedom, inventiveness and intuitiveness that most groups can only dream of. 

Moskus continue to push musical boundaries to their limits, and beyond on Ulv Ulv as they combine elements of avant-garde, experimental, free jazz, improv and industrial music. There’s also the influence of Ornette Coleman, Charles Mingus, Albert Ayler and Sun Ra on an album that’s variously atmospheric,  beautiful, cinematic, dark, dramatic, elegiac, ethereal, haunting, hypnotic, melodic, mesmeric, otherworldly and ruminative. Ulv Ulv the finest of Moskus’ career, and it wasn’t going to be an easy album to follow.

 

Mirakler.    

Buoyed by the success and critical response to their third album Ulv Ulv, Moskus were keen to return to the studio to record the followup. This time, they headed to Studio Paradiso where they planned to spend four days recording between the  ‘13th’ and ‘16th’ of October 2016.                                                                                               

By then, Moskus had written nine new tracks and drummer Hans Hulbækmo had written Irsk Setter, Voyager, Min Venns Skaperverk and (“,). When they arrived at the studio, Moskus brought with then ne an eclectic selection of instruments. Drummer and percussionist Hans Hulbækmo played vibes, recorder, electric organ, Casio MT-65 keyboards and saw, while Fredrik Luhr Dietrichson played double bass. Anja Lauvdal switched between a grand and upright piano, MS10 and Yamaha DX100 synths and Hammond Organ during the four day session,.

Recording of the thirteen tracks continued  on the ‘20th’ and ‘21st’ February 2017, and Moskus fourth album was almost complete. It was after a day spent at Øveriet on December the ‘14th’ 2017,

Kyrre Laastad who had recorded Mirakler mixed the album and Helge Sten mastered it at Audio Virus Lab, Oslo. Now Mirakler was ready for release.

In late summer of 2018, Moskus released their much-anticipated fourth album Mirakler. Unlike many jazz trios who spend too much time fretting over compositional or musical technique and the purity of the sound they produced Moskus concentrated on creating innovative music.    

To do that, the three members of Moskus continued to improvise like they had on Ulv Ulv. This time, they focused  on concepts and ideas rather than themes or tunes, and this allowed Moskus to change direction quickly and seamlessly. That was the case on the ruminative and liturgical album opener Anslag, where Anja Lauvdal’s organ takes centre-stage before the rest of Moskus enter and improvise.

It’s all change on the jazz folk Irsk Setter as Anja Lauvdal’s plays a leading role as Moskus seamlessly switch from improvising to a much more formal approach. It’s  a similar case on Sang Til C where the piano is augmented by the  occasional gasp of an asthmatic harmonium, as the jazz-tinged rhythm section accompany the piano an a captivating soundscape. 

Meanwhile, Eventyrdagene has an understated and minimalist, while Moskus deploy an interesting mix of instruments on Voyager. Vibes and pop synths to create what sounds like a fusion of sci-fi sounds and European library music. Ludvig XIV is otherworldly, as jazz and folk combine and Moskus improvise, and later draw inspiration from soundtracks that bring to mind the swinging sixtes. 

Moskus march to the beat of Hans Hulbækmo on the mournful Bolero Blues. It gives way to a brief bust of the minimalist Haiku and then the sprightly Spurte Hva Det Var. One of the highlights of Mirakler is the short sketch Min Venns Skaperverk where Moskus are in the groove and flowing as their past and present collide. It’s a similar case on Jailhouse Art Music, while a Yamaha piano and eerie saw prove to be a potent and cinematic combination. However, Moskus save the best until last on the laid-back, jazz-tinged and spiritual sounding En Natt.       

It was never going to be easy for Moskus to followup Ulv Ulv, but Mirakler is the perfect way to do so. It finds Moskus at their inventive and innovative best as they improvise, but also focus on themes and tunes. In doing so, the two sides of Moskus emerge on Mirakler which was recently released by Hubro Music.

Many of the tracks on Mirakler are short sketches, and offer the opportunity for invention, and it’s unlikely that Moskus would ever play them the same way twice. In a way,the soundscapes are in a state of flux and Mirakler is a snapshot in time of Moskus.

Moskus’ fourth album Mirakler is a captivating fusion of avant-garde, electronica, experimental, free jazz and improv that references to Krafwerk, Sun Ra and Vangelis. Mirakler is also another ambitious and innovative album from pioneering jazz trio Moskus have fun as they continue their mission to push musical boundaries to their limits in search of sonic nirvana.

Moskus-Mirakler.