Sweet Crisis are a band that maybe have skipped under your radar, I must admit, I knew next to nothing about them until I went to see Gun playing in Edinburgh and caught their opening set supporting them. Having seen them live, I’m convinced you should find out about them yourself. Continue reading
Tag Archive: Rock
There’s not much to say that hasn’t been said by many, many people before. The Temperance Movement are insanely good on record, and even better on stage.
Think Rock. Mix it with some roll. Add a drop of sleaze, and a whole heap of tongue in cheek humour. Shove in a pot, and leave to simmer on a medium heat for about, oh, 35 minutes and what you’ll get, dear reader – is this. Continue reading
Following on from what many thought was a disappointing fifth record in “Giving The Game Away” Thunder shocked the fans by announcing their intention to split up. And they did. Luke recorded a solo record (El Gringo Retro) and eventually teamed up with Danny for the “Moving Swiftly Along” Bowes & Morley record in 2002. By late 2002, the rumours were swirling that something might be happening in Thunder Towers. Continue reading
Well, hello. It’s that time again, where I pontificate – good word, huh? – on my favourite records of the year. Hardly anyone reads it, but it makes me feel better. And if one person listens to something and likes it? All good.
I don’t think it’s been a stellar year for music this year, I found myself listening to more and more podcasts and classic, older records than anything else. I wouldn’t say the music scene is stagnant, though. The album does seem to have less importance than it did. Maybe I’m just getting old…
Gun – Popkiller
Having just saw them live in Glasgow – review HERE – just had to weigh in with my opinions on the “comeback” mini album Popkiller.
Let Your Hair Down was first aired earlier this year on the mini tour, and I was fortunate enough to hear it during the Edinburgh gig. Loved it at the time, and it’s not overstayed it’s welcome. An ideal pick for a first single release – poppy, quirky, hooky with a chorus more infectious than swine flu, this is a great introduction to the ‘New’ Gun.
Second track Seraphina was also aired at the Glasgow gig, and was a wise choice for me. Huge riffs set this out as perhaps closest to the older Gun material, but that’s by no means a bad thing. The keyboards add an extra layer of depth to the track, and it swirls and climbs into your brain and won’t get out. This was my favourite live track, but on record, it’s a totally different beast – again, by no means a bad thing. Reminiscent slightly of modern rock bands like The Killers?
Popkiller is not only the title track of the EP, but for me is the out and out highlight. I will stick my neck out and say that I don’t think I have heard a song as good as this from anyone all year. The intro is very Roxy Music, but the riff that kicks in after dismisses any such comparisons, and is solid gold. The chorus on this is a thing a beauty, the backing vocals complimenting Toby’s voice. Call me a geek, but I already have the “pop… pop… popkiller” refrain as my text alert on my phone.
Ripping Up The Letters has the uneviable task of following that monster, and does it manfully. The vocal delivery on this is perhaps the closest to Toby’s Little Angels days, but that matters not a jot – this is a finely crafted tale of love gone wrong with a memorable chorus that rattles round your conscience like an old friend turning up on your doorstep out of the blue.
The Only concludes this five track demonstration of what road Gun are travelling on; Gun could be forgiven for easing up and taking a short cut, but this is anything but. A driving guitar hook and strong drumming power this track forward. The vocals and music again dovetail beautifully, and this is another quality piece of songwriting that bodes well for the future of the band. Snappier, poppier, punkier and dare I say it, younger sounding than anything else on the EP, it’s a fitting way to close out the record.
If this five track offering is anything to go by, then the future looks bright for Gun. As a live band, they already cut the mustard – but with these tracks, Gun have shown they have more to offer and more yet to come in an already glittering career.
The Wildhearts – Chutzpah!
Ginger, it has to be said, is one of the coolest men alive. I remember what he did to Kerrang! so I’m just making sure I’m on his good side. Bribery and self preservation aside, that fact is still very much true. Any record Ginger has his fingers in is generally going to be of a high standard.
The Wildhearts are one of “those” bands… you know, the fans rave about them, get obsessed and moan and whine about how it’s a travesty they’re not more succesful. You know someone like that, hell you might even BE someone like that. You know what though? With the Wildhearts, it’s the truth. They should be massive. If you want to know why, then Chutzpah! is just the record for you.
Is this the record that will crack the mainstream for this rag tag band of musical messiahs? In a fair and just world, yes. Definitely. Play this record to anyone and they will find something to latch on to. From the gentle, fragile piano intro of Low Energy Vortex, to the almost-but-not-quite stadium rock “woah-oh” chorus of Mazel Tov Cocktail, this record covers all bases; in the case of the title track, sometimes within the same song. The last 2 minutes of this record are heart wrenchingly beautiful, not a phrase that you would associate usually with this band, but trust me – it’s true.
The Jackson Whites is the best album opener you will hear all year. Fact. Chutzpah! is the finest album closer you will hear this decade. Also fact. In between those incredible bookends is some of the finest music you will ever have the pleasure to enjoy. It’s heavy, yet delicate; it’s epic while being precise and to the point; it’s eclectic without being pretentious.
In short, this record is quite simply, amazing. Don’t take my word for it – this record deserves to be heard. The production is huge, the riffs are massive, the vocals are tight and the choruses are epic. Friends, I’ve listened to many an album during my time on this planet… and this is already up there with my favourites after less than a week of it entering my life.
Songs such as You Took The Sunshine From New York and Low Energy Vortex would be standout tracks for most bands. Not for the Wildhearts. These tracks are great, but you know what? Plastic Jebus is better. The Only One is better still. Chutzpah may just be musical perfection, I’ve not decided yet. But I will. I will grow old with this record, and still discover things on it with every listen.
The Wildhearts used to be the band guaranteed to hit the self destruct button if things got good – PHUQ should have made them the superstars that Earth vs. The Wildhearts hinted they could be – but now? They’ve grown up. They’ve (whisper it) matured. They’re not going away this time, and they want to blow you away. And you know what? They’re gonna do it whether you’re ready or not.
Buy this record. Your life may just depend on it…
Given that Thunder, my most favouritest band… EVER are to split up in the summer after one last final tour, I figured I would pay tribute to them in my own little way. I’m going to take a look back over their 20 odd years together and review their studio albums for your (and my own) pleasure.
Where better to start than at the very beginning?
BACKSTREET SYMPHONY (1990)
From the ashes of Terraplane came Thunder, and EMI released their debut record in 1990. Now, even given that I’m slightly (ha!) biased towards the band, this to me remains one of the finest ever debut records by a rock band, right up there with Van Halen and Led Zeppelin. Seriously, folks!
The record opens with She’s So Fine, and it sets the tone, not just for the record, but for the band’s entire career. An almighty opening riff courtesy of Luke Morely – the writing force behind the band – kicks things off and sets up the introduction of the best kept secret in rock music – the incredible voice of Danny Bowes. Now, by no means are the rest of the band any slouches either, but Danny’s voice is just a thing of beauty, especially on this record.
Second track in, and we’re into classic territory already. For my money, there are 3 genuine classic rock songs on this record – Dirty Love is the first. A tale of love gone wrong, and not in the usual way, it’s very much a song to be played if your relationship went badly wrong… but most of all it’s nigh on perfect and probably sums up the Thunder live experience like no other song in their repertoire. Still the finalé to their gigs to this very day, it makes you want to move your feet and sing along to the “na na naaa, na na na naa” parts. And yes, that’s a technical term.
Slowing things down slightly comes Don’t Wait For Me, a ballad given extra depth with the addition of Ben Matthews and his organ. Hammond organ, that is, you filthy minded buggers! Again, not a mind blowing choice of subject, but most great rock songs are about love in some form. Danny’s vocals again just blow the speakers out, and Luke’s solo is amazing.
Higher Ground would be regarded as a high point on any other record, but the strength of this album is such that it’s not even regarded as one of the classic tracks on here by many people, me included! Don’t get me wrong, it is truly an awesome song, and to be honest, means a lot to me for various reasons I’m not going into here! On their first ccompilation record, this would be slightly rejigged as Higher Ground ’95, but this remains the definitive version for me.
Showcasing Luke’s songwriting skills next comes Until My Dying Day. Using the now familiar acoustic-into-electric formula that Thunder have perfected, this is another example of the power ballad style that Thunder have done as well as anyone over the past 19 years. Another supreme song and just shows how hot they were during the making of this record.
Things kick up another notch with the second genuine classic on this album – the title track Backstreet Symphony. Words can’t express how awesome this song is live, despite Danny’s tendencies to attempt to row with his mic stand. This to me remains the single greatest riff Luke ever committed to record, and one of Danny’s finest vocal performances. A song made to perfect your air guitar moves!
How do you follow that? With Love Walked In, that’s how. If any band today released this as their own song, they’d be hailed as geniuses. You’ll find this song popping up on rock compilation albums right up to this very day. This, my friends, is one of the finest, most carefully crafted, beautifully executed songs you will ever hear. Seriously, this is just a stone cold classic. Hasn’t aged and sounds as good today as it did all those years ago.
By contrast, An Englishman On Holiday can best be described as a decent middle of the road song. It’s decent enough and still delivers some fine riffing, but suffers from the high quality of the rest of this record. The ‘Here We Go’ singalong at the end still raises a smile though!
As we approach the end of the album, Girl’s Going Out Of Her Head comes and goes. Again, on any other album, by any other band, this would be a stand out track… it does kind of get lost in the mix here though. Probably the weakest song on the record for me.
Ah, and the intensity is kicked back up a notch with a great choice of cover – the old Spencer Davis Group rocker Gimme Some Lovin’ and it still remains a favourite of fans to this day. Hey, it’s not ground breaking or innovative, but rock music doesn’t have to be. It’s sometimes just about having a good time… and this song delivers that in spades.
Last song on the record is Distant Thunder and I have to say, this song does tend to be dismissed, but it’s one of my favourites. I think it’s got a great contemporary blues feel to it, and as per usual, Danny delivers the goods with the vocals. By no means a filler to close out the album, or a cheap gimmick to work the band name into a song.
All in all, this album still sounds great and relevant today. Only one track for me strays into filler territory and even that is very listenable. This is just such a great rock record, and for my money hasn’t aged one little bit. A stupendous debut record, and one that Thunder would struggle to top. Some would say they never really did, but we’ll get to that over the next few weeks…
To sum up, if you don’t own this record, why not? It’s right up there with the classics and remains one of the best records ever to come out of Britain. An absolute must have.