Saturday, 23 November 2013

Final review of the big three new releases and The Mission roll back into to town with three quarters of the original line up and the Album The Brightest Light

This starts off full of dumb rawk n' roll of the like that Electric era Cult produced. Everything but the Squeal thunders along on an almost glam rock drums  and Black Cat Bone swaggers with real bravado.

Unfortunately Wayne Hussey has always suffered from quality control issues and nearly all Mission albums suffer from being patchy in places. The Girl in the Fur Skin Rug and When the Trap Clicks Shut are totally unmemorable.
Elsewhere inspiration is sometimes too obvious - Born Under a Good Sign comes straight from the Rocky Horror Picture Show and Just Another Pawn is a blatant rip off of Maggie May.

There are high points though. The single Sometimes the Brightest Light Comes from the Darkest Place is a real classic Mission tune finding Hussey inspired with both his vocals and lyrics.
The album also end on a fantastic song. Litany for the Faithful builds slowly with Hussey recounting songs he has sung before admitting he can't say goodbye to the Mission fans. The acoustic guitar from Hinkler add some real feel to it as well.

This is nowhere near as good an album as the Aura album (easily the best since the original split) but while it doesn't enhance The Mission reputation it also doesn't disgrace it

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Second album of the month comes from the New Model Army.

Before Between Dog And Wolf was written the long serving bass player, Nelson, left the band and this signals a slight change to the NMA sound - whereas previous albums were bass led this is a sound of the drums coming to the fore. Layers of  percussive and tribal rhythms underpin the album

The opener Horsemen is a very understated start with the drums almost having that Adam Ant Burundi feel.

March in September could be a lost track from the Thunder & Consolation sessions with violin an backing woo-woo's , while Seven Times is more muscular with a memorable hook.

Justin Sullivan's lyrics are less political this time round with a world weariness to the likes of I Need More Time where he laments still having so much to say.

Qasr El Nil Bridge examines the Egyptian revolution and mixes the traditional NMA sound, sample of the rebellion and middle eastern influence to mesmerising effect.

The title track boast a chorus you can see a heaving mass of bodies shouting out loud in the live arena.

Yet for all the percussion, one of the stand out tracks contains no drums at all. Knievel is a heartfelt poem to the daredevil where Justin asks "did they come to see a man fall or to see him fly?"
A truly beautiful track

This is seriously the strongest NMA album since the Love of Hopeless Causes twenty years ago and for consistency even beats that.

A band of 30 years standing shouldn't be making albums this good but that they have should be fully celebrated

Friday, 15 November 2013

New albums from three of my all time favourite artists in one month is a lot to take in....

First up was Fish and the all new Feast of Consequences - the first new material in six years after a lot of touring the acoustic Fish heads trio.

This really is a fantastic package in places with the highlight being the High Wood suite about the first world war. A full blown 25 minute prog epic unfurls over five parts. From the thundering charge of Crucifix Corner to the reflective The Leaving this is Fish at his best. Whether spitting lyrics about the horror of the trenches or lamenting the futility of it all this has to be the high point of his solo career.

All of which begs the questions why have a couple of more tracks follow the plaintive call to "march into a brave new world...."

There are other highlights such as the slow building opener Perfume River which meanders through both old and new images of Vietnam and All Loved Up which deals the celebrity /social media lifestyle a caustic put down to music reminiscent of Incommunicado.

The Great Unravelling plays out like a duet with a fantastic vocal from the returning Elizabeth Antwi and her backing throughout out the album is a real bonus to the music.

Apart from the ordering of the tracks there are a few missteps - The lyric on Blind to the Beautiful is too Sting for my liking, "the planet is dying, save the trees etc." and there is a feeling the title track was rushed to meet a deadline. These though are minor points when lined up against the strengths of the album

The deluxe CD contains some amazing artwork from Mark Wilkinson who has excelled himself. The picture of the Tommy staring through his fingers is a direct descendant of that first cover of the jester on Market Square Heroes.

Whilst I still just prefer 13th Star, this album shows Fish still has plenty to offer and long may he continue....