Monday, 26 October 2015

CD Reviews - Iron Maiden, Show of Hands, City and Colour

Without a doubt this little album review shows my eclectic music tastes.  I find it funny how even more so these days stuff is labelled this of that, Folk, Alt-Country, Metal, Speedmetal, Deathmetal... blah blah blah.  Do I like it?  That should be the only question to ask yourself really.  But the marketeers esp in this online age try to pigeon-hole us so they can then push "targetted" ads into our facebook feed, spotify suggestions list etc.  Frankly just suggest random stuff - in my humble opinion they'd sell more.  Say I'm a young person who's been brought up on modern R&B and that's what I listen to - then Spotify throws some Country my way and I like it - but I've never listened to or downloaded country - am I more likely to go off and seek out more of this new interest?    Well that's my thoughts but then ... I don't run a music company or streaming service or get paid oodles of cash to advise advertising campaigns.

Iron Maiden - Book of Souls

This is the umpteenth album from Iron Maiden in their must be close to 30 year history now.  However their first ever studio double album.  Now the old stalwarts of what us teenagers dubbed NWOBHM still have much of the trademark Maiden sound... the gallop, the bounding bass line, the twin/trio guitar harmony, the time changes and the operatic singing style the Bruce Dickinson brought to the band when his inspired hiring fired them towards global domination.  Yes all that is there but then there are really long tracks - three of the total of 11 are over 10 minutes, this smacks of old song prog rock from the likes of Yes, Genesis when they were more than 3 and Rush in their epic heyday.  Actually those aren't bad benchmarks for some of what you have here this is the most prog rock Maiden have ever been.  And that is for the good actually - this album isn't a barnstormer throughout but it's weaves and twists and turns and different textures make it one that you listen to repeatedly spotting new colour and interest.  The magnum opus that is Empire of the Clouds even has piano courtesy of Bruce Dickinson who only recent acquired one (as a raffle prize!).  This is the best on the album for me and even if you think you know Maiden go listen to this one to get a flavour of where they are today - the lyrical subject as so often for Maiden is more leftfield that many "heavy" bands charting as it does the demise of the R101 airship.  Maiden could have written 8 songs all based on previous hits of theirs but they haven't they have as middle aged rockers with cancer concerns and all that tried to do something a bit different and hugely succeeded in my view.   The plan to tour this album... of course being maiden they've leased a 747 to carry all the kit, crew and the band with Bruce Dickinson having to be trained up to be allowed to fly it - they redefine Spinal Tap at times but I love them for it.

Show of Hands - The Long Way Home

Hello English folk lovers - I did say this was eclectic didn't I.  Fresh in my mits is a signed copy of the new Show of Hands CD prior to it's full release - you need to see them on tour and chuck em £13 to get it at the moment.  The duo of Steve and Phil are as ever joined my Miranda Sykes and a few other friends including some recording of shanty style numbers in a pub.  This is more of a return to a more traditional folk feel than the last offering Wake the Union.  The first words uttered are old Saxon actually!  This is in Breme Fell At Hastings which morns the lost of Saxon England under the Norman yolk just after defeating the Vikings only a few days before... You thought Maiden singing about aircrashes in 1930 wasn't topical... ;-)
The playing and the singing, esp the singing on this are sublime.  Hallow's Eve a topical ditty about 31st Oct is one of my top picks along with 'Twas on an April Morning and Keep Hauling and The Old Lych Way.  But it isn't all totally fingers in the ear and lambswool sweaters with Sweet Bella being a straight up 12bar blues type number too.   If you love just hearing good singing in good songs go check this out once it is on general release - or better still if you can catch them live on the current tour go do that.

City and Colour - The Hurry and the Harm

Bit late on this one as it's been out ages but my daugther got it for me for my birthday.  Dallas Green (City and Colour... gettit?) started this as his little side project ages back away from his day job in Alexisonfire.  I'd listen to them a bit but in that field (genre) prefer Linkin Park, Hundred Reasons, Funeral for a Friend etc.  So to hear Dallas churning out these country gems was a surprise for me when I first heard him ages ago coming out of my daughters bedroom.  We've continued to share our interest in him - culminating with us having booked to see him in Brighton on his next UK tour - he's been on the "must see live" list for a while.  Now this is to me his most accomplished, coherent and complete sounding album.  I think him working in the studio with a nucleus that had been his touring band for a while really helped make the whole thing sound more together and relaxed and just gelled.   I ought to catch up more on his latest release and review that soon.   Watch this space.

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