So a couple of new CDs have arrived... this is a good year for music isn't it? Well is in my book any way...
Linkin Park - The Hunting Party.
I've liked these boys since the début album but Metorea really shone out for me followed too by Minutes to Midnight - both those are flipping brilliant. One thing for me is that I love how they have more successfully than a lot of others been able to fuse rapping, scratching, loops etc from hip/hop and rap with great modern rock. I saw them live at Sonisphere in 2009 and that only confirmed my love of them. Also I can relate so much to their lyrics... Numb in particular is a lyric I could have written ... if I had the talent!!
I have to say whilst good the latest albums haven't engrossed me as much as the early stuff. So to their latest The Hunting Party. Now I've seen some (brief) comments on-line from people who've dissed this album but I really don't see that I think it is close to their best and may grow on me to get right up there. It fires off with one of the highlights Keys of the Kingdom which is just definitive Linkin Park. Guilty is a great driving rock song with great production and a running synth riff underneath I can see this being a live masterpiece. War is a very garage rock band type song... you can hear the Ramones and Green Day in it's simple driving guitar power chords. So if you like Linkin Park esp the early albums this is for you - if you like rock but not been convinced give it a try probably their straightest rock record yet.
David Gray - Mutineers
Another stunning return to form. It's been four years since Foundling came out (his last studio album) and that was largely taking a lot of material left over from Draw The Line that he wanted to put out - it was an odd release in many ways seemingly after the record company abandoned a relauch of Draw the Line - even Gray admitted it could disappear without a trace and called it a "private" record. So he's been quiet too long...
This album is for me right up there with White Ladder and A New Day at Midnight. From the first thrummed acoustic guitar of Back in the World his vocals hit you in the brain like I say if you remember, like, love classic Mr Gray this is it in bucket fulls. As the Crow Flies follows a more stripped out and heartfelt number - the Mutineers is a great building track. David's vocals are top notch on here as the whole album, it is undoubtedly his best vocal performance across a whole album. Anthemic numbers flow into slower one like Beautiful Agony (just stunning) and then to build again... just a great album. This will stay on rotation of my play list a long time... !
John Miles - Zaragon...
Sorry? Yes ok little late on this one, it was released in early 1978. However one of my great lost albums. I bought it on release and loved it thinking it better than his patchy début Rebel and much more rocky than the disco/funk influences Stranger In the City. Sadly though punk, New Wave, a lack of promotion and singles meant it didn't hit the heights of commercial success it should have. Somewhere along the line I stupidly lost, sold, gave away my old vinyl copy. I looked in a few second hand shops one who said "Not seen that in 30 years pal. Have you tried Cherry Red Records?" I looked and there was a 2008 remastered CD available. Bought! It really is a stonking record and I can see why I loved it so much back then. I was getting into rock and progressive rock more and the orchestration that Miles used which was deliberately not to use an orchestra like he had on his most famous hit Music but to allow keyboards to cover the orchestration live gives this a more Genesis feel. The master piece on the album is Nice Man Jack a three part song about Jack the Ripper. If you can find a copy or look some up on YouTube give it a listen. A great lost album rediscovered.
Also more John Miles stuff... watch this - jump to about 1m 15s in then watch. Yes Black Les Paul Custom (thinking back John influenced that choice with others but... look at the controls... yes 6 knobs!!! Like an ES5 Swtichmaster. I'd started thinking I only dreamed of this guitar but there it is - it did exist. Again about 3:52 you see it in a solo... not John's best song or solo or tone sadly but this is more about the guitar than anything else.