I stopped doing "reviews" on here a while back when I realised some of my top read posts were title "Album review of..." and realised that maybe people were reading these confused I was a real critic. Problem is, I'm not, I'm a fan therefore my reviews are somewhat biased from the word go as I've already probably spent my own money on the album - also ashamedly a few promoters, indy labels actually emailed me asking me to review their artists - I thought then - Hang on I'm not a professional should I really be risking an artists reputation with my blathering on.
Anyway now we're going to have occasional - "What I've been listening to" posts. This is one...
Big Big Train - English Electric. I'll mention this as it came out as two separate CDs and I latched onto after both were out. It was I think a Spotify recommendation and normally I click one track and move on but this captivated me. Now I'm an old school prog rocker at heart, as well as liking many other genres but prog is where the heart is, where the heart is there is prog - and this is spot on for me. If you like old Genesis, early Marillion, Yes, Barclay James Harvest etc. you'll probably like this. I mention it as the band have announced releasing both as a double CD package with an additional EP of tracks recorded in the sessions.
Jon Gomm - Secrets Nobody Keeps - hang on you say, this isn't released yet? True but I was a "pledger" who stumped up his money early to help pay for the production and got an MP3 download into the bargain before his promotional tour starts. Some stuff is already known if you have followed Jon's EP releases over the last couple of years but many new tracks to. Super super playing and heart rending vocals - if you like Passionflower just pre-order it now!! Gig review will follow soon as we're off to see him on one of his tours early dates at the weekend.
The Civil Wars - the eponymous titled sophomore effort from this stunning Americana/Country duo. What a record! This is darker, harder edged than The Barton Hollow début. The singing is no less impressive, indeed even more so in many places. But... but... they have already broken up, well at least they are not even speaking to each other currently - no wonder there was so much pain on the album. I do hope they bury the hatchet and can work together in the future as this is just too good to be let go.
Black Star Riders - All Hell Breaks Loose. It's 1976 and Jailbreak hits the turntable of our old stereogram at home, my brother had bought the album by that band who'd done "Boys Are Back In Town" and we were both hooked. This album propels me back there! Thin Lizzy have toured without Phil Lynott for some years, I saw a version with John Sykes in some years back, but they never recorded again. Scott Gorham revamped the band after John Sykes left and this new band started writing material. After some thought they didn't want to taint the Lynott legacy and so here are Black Star Riders - but frankly this sounds so much like a 1970s Lizzy album why did they? Even Mrs F spotted in the first three songs saying "Is this an old Thin Lizzy album you've bought"... No but it is the nearest thing you'll ever get.
Black Sabbath 13 - a good album by the reunited trio (minus Bill Ward, there is mountains to read about that feud if you want to) and it is a good album. Not brilliant, a long way from as good as Heaven and Hell's efforts with the late great Dio and at times you cringe as Ozzy doesn't quiet make it and some of Iommi's rifts sound slightly too familiar. To be honest I'm not sure why this made number one in the charts and probably more down on it following that than I would be if it hadn't. That also says too much about what is missing in new bands sadly - or more about people not comparing new bands on face value maybe?
Deep Purple - So What!? Now here is an album by one of rocks legends that does deserve to climb the charts, whilst Sabbath claim all the headlines with the feud, Ozzy back drinking and first album together since Never Say Die the Purple have been knocking out albums since they reformed in the 80s. Blackmore had to depart and now is playing medieval ditties with his new wife and sadly Jon Lord who left a few years ago has passed away. This album is dedicated to him and I know he'd be proud of that. It has a couple of slightly cheesy up tempo tracks but when Purple are on song on the longer more progressive tracks they are simply superb. Don Aiery fills Lord's boots with fantastic Hammond Organ sounds and Steve Morse is a brilliant guitarist but it is the rhythm section of Glover and Paice that provide the Purple backdrop for Ian Gillan to rise above. There is a man who has not lost his voice. Check out Uncommon Man as one of the highlights - terrific album, possibly my favourite of the year so far.