Although critical acclaim and commercial success were constant companions for Elton John between 1970 and 1978, one year stood out, 1973. During 1973, Elton released two of his most successful albums. The first of these two albums was Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player which was released in January 1973. It reached number one in the UK and US Billboard 200. This resulted in Don’t Shoot Me I’m Only The Piano Player being certified triple platinum in America. However, this was nothing compared to the commercial success Goodbye Yellow Brick Road which was released by UMC enjoyed. Everything it seemed had been leading to this.

The word classic is often overused word. Not in the case of Goodbye Yellow Brick Road. This was Elton John’s seventh album, but his first double album. Goodbye Yellow Brick Road was an ambitious Magnus Opus. Featuring seventeen tracks, Goodbye Yellow Brick Road oozes quality. That’s the case from the opening bars of Funeral For A Friend and Love Lies Bleeding, right through to the closing notes of Harmony, the music is variously beautiful, melancholy, hook-laden, heartbreaking, heart-wrenching and joyous. Throughout Goodbye Yellow Brick Road, Elton toys with your emotions during this fusion of musical genres. Primarily, pop and rock shines through. There’s also a nod to the Laurel Canyon sound, via diversions via Americana, country, folk and even reggae. Whether it’s Elton John the balladeer, or when he kicks loose and finds his rocky side he’s equally at home. Backed by a band that includes some of the top session musicians, and produced by Gus Dudgeon, little did anyone realise they were in the process of recording one of the greatest albums in musical history. 



Thirty-five years ago, on 12th January 1969, Led Zeppelin released their eponymous debut album, Led Zeppelin, which was recently rereleased by Atlantic Records. Critics were far from impressed. Their reviews were negative. Some of the highest profile critics rounded on Led Zeppelin. They felt Led Zeppelin offered nothing new. It had all been done before, and done better. Music lovers didn’t agree with this.

On its release, on 12th January 1969, Led Zeppelin reached number ten in the US Billboard 200 and number six in the UK. Led Zeppelin was certified platinum in the US eight times over. In the UK and Australia, Led Zeppelin was certified double platinum. Across the world, Led Zeppelin was a huge commercial success. It was certified diamond in Canada and platinum in Spain. Gold discs came Led Zeppelin’s way in Holland, Switzerland and France. Suddenly, Led Zeppelin was one of the most successful albums of the sixties. Not bad for an album that received poor reviews.

Just like many a classic album, Led Zeppelin is pretty near flawless. It’s a fusion of blues, psychedelia, rock and even folk. The power trio of guitarist Jimmy Page, basist John Paul Jones and drummer John Bonham were the perfect foil for Robert Plant’s vocal powerhouses. Especially when Led Zeppelin kick loose. Led Zeppelin in full flight is a joy to behold. A hard rocking, hard living band, Led Zeppelin were a proper rock ’n’ roll band. From their eponymous debut album, Led Zeppelin were living the dream. They lived life to its fullest. Led Zeppelin were one of the hardest living bands in the history of rock. Wine, women, song and narcotics were constant companions. Life was one long party. They owed it to their fans to live the dream. Throughout that party, Led Zeppelin recorded some of the greatest rock music of the seventies and all time. 



Having recorded their fourth album between October 1970 and March 1971, it came to giving the album a name. The four members of Led Zeppelin decided that their fourth album would officially be untitled. There was a good reason for this. Led Zeppelin decided they wanted to remain anonymous. They also didn’t want to their music to be pigeonholed or stereotyped. This added an air of mystery to the album. So did the inner sleeve’s design. It featured four symbols. Each symbol represented each band member. With no official titled, Led Zeppelin’s fourth album became known variously as , Four Symbols, The Fourth Album, Untitled, Runes, The Hermit, and ZoSo. However, since then, Led Zeppelin’s fourth album has been known as Led Zeppelin IV. Led Zeppelin IV was a career defining moment for Led Zeppelin.

Led Zeppelin IV was the perfect response from Led Zeppelin. Since their debut album, they’d been a victim to the slings and arrows of outrageous critics. These critics seemed determined to sabotage Led Zeppelin’s success. Again, the critics failed miserably. From the opening bars of Black Dog right through to When the Levee Breaks, Led Zeppelin have your attention. Led Zeppelin IV becomes like a musical fairground ride. All you can do is hold on and enjoy the ride. What follows is a mixture of blues, folk and Led Zeppelin’s unique brand of heavy rock. It’s played with power, passion and commitment, by four hugely talented musicians. They were in the peak of their career. It was as if everything had been leading up to Led Zeppelin IV, which is worth of being a called classic album.



Without doubt, the most shamelessly hyped album of 2014, was Lewis’ L’Amour. That’s a great shame, as it’s turned many people against what was a captivating album, L’Amour.

Released as a private pressing in 1983, L’Amour sunk without trace. Thirty-one years later, Light In The Attic reissued the album. That’s when the hype began. Lewis, apparently was missing. Luckily, Lewis turned up just in time for the release of his sophomore album Romantic Times. The whole thing stunk like a sewage plant in a heatwave. However, don’t let that put you off L’Amour.

L’Amour features ten songs lasting thirty-seven minutes. These songs are variously beautiful, ethereal, minimalist, poignant and powerful. Lewis sings about heartbreak, hope and hurt. He delivers lyrics like he’s lived, loved and survived them. His vocal ranges from emotive, hopeful, needy and seductive. Other times his vocal is rueful, as he sings about love lost and the woman who broke or stole his heart. Accompanying him are arrangements that are mostly minimalist. Despite the minimalist nature of the arrangements, they’re hugely effective. They’re the perfect backdrop for Lewis vocal, framing them perfectly. They never overpower Lewis’ vocal. Mostly, it’s just synths, guitar and piano that accompany Lewis on L’Amour. That’s all that required. Anything else and Lewis’ vocal would be overpowered. Thankfully, that doesn’t happen during a beautiful understated album, L’Amour.



When Tears and Whispers was released in 1984, it was described as an experimental and innovative album. Tears and Whispers find Dan Mastroianni constantly pushed musical boundaries. To do that Dan, a talented keyboardist embraced musical technology. However, he didn’t turn his back on traditional musical methods. No. Tears and Whispers is a marriage of musicians and technology. To augment the synths, sequencers, keyboards and drum machines Dan had amassed, he brought onboard some of his musical friends. The result was Tears and Whispers, a compelling melting pot of soul, funk, boogie and even psychedelia that was recorded in 1984.  Tears and Whispers, which was rereleased by BBE Music in 2014,should’ve transformed Dan Mastroianni’s career.

Sadly, that wasn’t the case. This wasn’t helped by the fact that Dan decided that Tears and Whispers should be a private pressing. With private pressings, the labels haven’t the same resources as a major label. This means that it’s unlikely that the album will reach a much wider audience. That was the case with Dan Mastroianni’s Tears and Whispers. As a result, Dan Mastroianni’s groundbreaking and experimental fusion of man and machine Tears and Whispers, failed commercially. However, thirty years later, and somewhat belatedly, Tears and Whispers, Dan Mastroianni’s debut album is receiving the critical acclaim it so richly deserves. Even better, Tears and Whispers is being heard by the wider audience it deserves. No longer is Dan Mastroianni’s Tears and Whispers a hidden gem awaiting discovery.



Nana Love’s Disco Documentary–Full Of Funk was the third instalment of BBE’s Masters We Love series. For the latest stop in BBE Music’s crate-digging adventure, they found themselves at the home of producer Reindorf Oppong. He produced Disco Documentary–Full Of Funk. It’s remembered fondly by crate-diggers, record collectors and connoisseurs of all things disco as one of the most mysterious Afro-disco records of the late seventies. Disco Documentary–Full Of Funk isn’t just a disco album. 

There’s elements of Afro-beat, boogie, funk, highlife, jazz and plenty of soul. So, not only will Disco Documentary–Full Of Funk appeal to anyone who remembers the heady, decadent days of disco, but fans of Afro-beat, boogie, funk, highlife, jazz and soul. Quite simply, Disco Documentary–Full Of Funk is a delicious fusion of musical genres and influences.



One of the most eagerly anticipated reissues was Chemikal Underground’s  Deluxe Version of Mgwai’s Come On Die Young. It’s  a welcome reminder of Mogwai, as they embarked upon the musical adventure that’s their career. Come On Die Young is one of the finest albums Mogwai have released, so far. The sound quality on the two discs is outstanding, and the music seems to come alive. That’s not surprising. Come On Die Young is a timeless albums. I’d go as far as say that it’s one of the best Scottish albums of the last forty years. 

Come On Die Young saw Mogwai discover their “sound” and direction. It’s a much more reserved and understated album than their debut album, Mogwai Young Team. The music is also melodic, melancholy, dramatic, dreamy, wistful, lysergic and haunting. It’s the type of album where you need to let the music wash over you and discover its beauty, nuances, subtleties and secrets. With every listen, you hear something new and fresh. That’s the case even after fifteen years. On Come On Die Young, Mogwai combined musical genres and influences. Listen carefully and you’ll hear Mogwai combine everything from ambient, avant garde, electronica, experimental, grunge, indie rock, Krautrock, post rock and psychedelia. Mogwai have been influenced by a number of bands and artists. There’s a nod to Brian Eno, John Hopkins, Neil Young, Nirvana and Pink Floyd. Closer to home, I’d suggest the Cocteau Twins ethereal, fuzzy soundscapes influenced Mogwai when they were making Come On Die Young back in 1998 and 1999.

For a newcomer to Mogwai’s music, then Come On Die Young is the perfect introduction to their music. Two other albums would be a fitting companion to Come On Die Young. They’re Les Revenants, Mogwai’s 2013 soundtrack album and their most recent album, Rave Tapes. These three albums,  Les Revenants, Rave Tapes and Come On Die Young are the perfect introduction to Mogwai and show very different sides to their music.



Buoyed by the commercial success of their 1982 debut album You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, Orange Juice were well on their way to becoming one of the most influential groups of the early eighties. Their timeless brand of perfect pop had won over critics and music lovers. Released to critical acclaim in March 1982, You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever reached number twenty-one in the UK. For Orange Juice it was a case of striking when the iron was hot. 

Just eight months later, Orange Juice returned with their sophomore album Rip It Up, which was rereleased by Domino Records. Rip It Up featured a song that’s since become synonymous with Orange Juice, the title track Rip It Up. Not only that, but Rip It Up was the most successful single of Orange Juice’s career. It reached number eight in the UK Charts in 1983. Thirty-one years later and Rip It Up, Orange Juice’s sophomore albums, is best described as a slice of pop perfection.



Back in March 1982, Orange Juice released their debut album You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever. It featured Orange Juice’s timeless brand of perfect pop. What became known as the Sound of Young Scotland,  

won over critics and music lovers. Released to critical acclaim in March 1982, You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever reached number twenty-one in the UK. Suddenly, Orange Juice were one of the hottest acts in Britain. You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever, which was reissued by Domino Records in 2014,  was the album that launched Orange Juice. They were no overnight success though. 

Orange Juice had spent six years honing their sound. They’d come a long way since their early years as the post-punk Nu-Sonics. By 1982, they were a slick, polished and tight band. They were fortunate enough to have two talented songwriters. Edwyn Collins and James Kirk. They penned twelve of the thirteen tracks on You Can’t Hide Your Love Forever. They were variously beautiful, cerebral, joyous, literate, melancholy, poignant and wistful. Edwyn’s vocal brings the lyrics to life, breathing life, meaning and emotion into them. Behind him, Orange Juice’s trademark sound provided the perfect accompaniment. Together they were well on their way to becoming one of the most important bands in Scotland’s musical history.



There aren’t many albums that twenty-five years after their release, they’re certified gold. That was the case with Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis. Recorded on March 20th 1974, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis was released in July 1974. The album stalled at just number thirty-three on the US Billboard 200 and number one on the Country Albums charts. For Elvis, this was a far cry from his early years, when everything Elvis released was a commercial success. However, belatedly, Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis matched the success Elvis enjoyed earlier in his career. No wonder.

For Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis, Elvis make his way through twenty-five tracks. This included four medleys. Accompanied by TCB and some of the best backing vocalists around, Elvis had the audience in the palm of his hands. He flits between old favourites, rock ’n’ roll classics, new songs and hidden gems. Elvis homecoming concert was a roaring success. His adoring Memphis public welcome back one of their own. He’d been away too long. Thirteen years had passed since Elvis performed live in Memphis. His comeback was a huge success and after his five shows in Memphis, Elvis went on a coast to coast tour of America. In total, Elvis played over 150 concerts. It was a gruelling schedule, but one the showed the King hadn’t lost his crown. Far from it. He was welcomed with open arms throughout America. No wonder. When you listen to Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis you get a tantalising taste of what Elvis’ 1974 tour was really like. Elvis Recorded Live On Stage On Memphis finds Elvis at the peak of his powers, and is a poignant reminder of why Elvis Presley was called him the King.


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