Tuesday, 21 October 2014

Music reviews - Bellowhead, Yes, Joe Bonamassa

Some overdue reviews of latest CD additions to my collection.

Bellowhead - Revival.

Bellowhead on top form.  Frankly their best yet I think.  Sea shanties a plenty kicking off with Let Her Run and straight into Roll Alabama my favourite off the whole album.  There isn't anything new here if you know Bellowhead, excellent arrangements using the huge variety of instruments their large and versatile line up gives them.  The vocals are spot on and much of this album is up tempo foot tapping sing-a-long chorus type stuff that simply they do so well.  Off to see them live in the flesh in November and on this basis can't wait.

One highlight is I Want To See The Bright Lights Tonight a stonking reworking of the old Richard Thompson song.  I heard an interview with them on BBC Radio 2 where they said they included this song as they wanted something "contemporary" in the track list.  I roared with laughter at this, for most groups who trouble the top 40 with any album I doubt U2's release before last (2009's NO Line on the Horizon) would count as contemporary let alone a song that saw the light of day something like 40 years ago but given nearly all the others are probably 200 years old on here then theirs is a unique perspective in the modern music world and we're all the better for them saying things like that in my opinion.  Oh yes and the good councillors of Gosport moaning about them besmirching the name of ladies from that fair port need to remember when that song was originally written...

Joe Bonamassa - Different Shades of Blue.  

There was a time when you seemed to see a new album from JB every month!  But with him out of Black Country Communion now seemingly forever (sadly) and some crazy touring it's been a while since he turned out an album.  So this is I think only the second CD he's done with all original stuff - only the first short track is a Hendrix cover, I think that is JB being ironic in case you didn't get it.  Good album overall and I think one that will grow on me.  It isn't as immediate a hit to me as Driving towards the Daylight was but the quality of playing and variety of tone is superb far outstripping his sound on Ballard of John Henry - you can certainly still see his progression and growth as a player and that is to be highly commended given he could so easily just turn out an album by numbers and it would sell well - at least he is still working at his art.  My highlight is Heartbreak Follows Whereever I Go.

Yes - Heaven and Earth

Two Yes records in three years!  Given there'd been a decade between the two previous releases that makes you raise your eyebrows.  This one has another new line up - Jon Davison is now the singer Yes seemingly able to wear out old ones, both Jon Anderson and Benoit David having been pushed out with recurring throat issues.  Jon D sounds very very like Jon A more so than Benoit did on the last outing Fly From Here where he sounded more like Trevor Horn from Drama era - which given the major track on that was indeed one of the Buggles penned songs that got them into the crumbling early 80s Yes lineup then.

This is an odd balance, not a big conceptual album like the old ones or indeed Fly From Here but a collection of songs more akin to 90125 line up albums.  It is sadly a bit "Yes by numbers" the vocals are ok, the playing good but not great and there isn't anything that makes you go "wow".  I personally think that they should have retained Trevor Horn as producer not Roy Thomas Baker as I think that would have given the overall sound a bit more oompf.  If you're a Yes fan it is ok but I can't see this winning new ones and some old ones may go "Not as good as

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