Wednesday, 16 September 2015

CD Reviews - Joanne Shaw Taylor, Steven Wilson and Thunder

Ok - so after a brief delve into the very murky waters of politics... anyone still here who is interested in music?

A quick round up of recent CDs I've bought.

Joanne Shaw Taylor - The Dirty Truth

Just to set the record straight in case the politician posts are still causing the mud rakers to sling insults at any of my posts - I used to work with her Dad.  Not closely but we were in the same company for a few months together and discussed music, work and football in the Directors suite at Arsenal's ground on some company do once I remember.

This is a terrific album.  I've been listening to Joanne for ages on Spotify and had her CDs on my wish list but never got around to buying one.  This was just there screaming at me when I was in an old fashioned record shop in Maidstone.  If you've never listened this is as good a place to start as any - I'd say she is the best blues/rock singer guitarist in the UK at the moment... of either gender.  She has a terrific Jopin/Jess Stone type voice and her guitar playing goes from Albert Collins through Gary Moore to Bonnamassa with country rock thrown in and some funk to.  She is a really complete player.   Stand out tracks... hmmm - a lot actually.  Ok the starter Mud Honey is a great rocker track Tried, Tested and True is a great bluesy ballad and that is followed by another rocker proving great guitar riffs can still be written in Outlaw Angel which just smells of Gary Moore as it kicks off.   If you like Joe B, Gary Moore etc. you should give this a  serious listen.

Steven Wilson - Hand Cannot Erase

I bought this after a friend of mine went on and on about it being a work of genius.  It is very good.  It is prog rock at it's best - flawless execution throughout, stunning musicianship and a concept album to boot!  However the concept it dark.  Very dark.  Based around the sad story of Joyce Carol Vincent who was a young lady who died in London in late 2003 however her body was not discovered in her London flat until 2 years later.  She'd become estranged from her family and friends and was not employed and was so isolated in a city of 8 million people that noone noticed she wasn't about. 

So what do I think of it?  Hmmm... I can't help but compare to other artists/albums throughout.  This doesn't mean it is bad, it isn't and the playing is faultless but from the kick off 3 Years Older my head is screaming "oh yes like Rush around Hemispheres."  Sadly for me there is too much of that so whilst a good work, flawlessly played it doesn't inspire like others.  As I said at the start my friend would walk over coals to get this and she waxes lyrically repeatedly about how she can barely listen to anything else currently.   I've yet to tell her it's good but not quiet the full cigar yet....  I can see her look of consternation already!

Thunder - Wonder Days

Another impulse buy in a record store.  I bought their first two albums on cassette - children asked your grandparents LOL!.   Laughing of Judgement Day is still one of favourite albums in the "classic rock" genre.  Now many years later in 2009 I dragged my son into the hot and sweaty tent at Sonisphere late one night to see Thunder's very ever last live performance.  They were ok that night - not brilliant and there was clearly some taught emotion in the band notably Danny Bowes.  However the buggers reformed did some festivals... support tour and now a new album!  However this is one the best since the early ones in my humble opinion.  The kick off title track is immense.  An emotional vocal performance which has always set Danny apart in my view - when he means the song he sings is.  A great sing along chorus etc.  This sets the scene and we are rocking along as good as any classic UFO, AC/DC, Uriah Heep anyday.  Ok this'll never make someone go "That's new and different" but then it doesn't set out to this is Thunder doing what Thunder have done brilliant for years play belting rock n roll.  It is a shame they've never quite broken out of the slightly underground feel of following but I still think many who like Kiss, Aerosmith etc. in the USA would do well to stick this in their MP3 player and hit the interstate on their Harley.   A mandolin even makes a well deserved appearance on the lighter holding aloft ballad "The Rain". Only one duff track the closer I Love the Weekend should have stayed on the cutting room floor... but apart from that very worthy listening.

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