Hello welcome to the first post of 2016.
Sorry it has been so quiet on here but I was ill throughout December and frankly did very little!
Quick update on some Music Reviews on the CDs, DVDs etc. I got for Christmas.
Newton Faulkner - Human Love.
Terrific album. Newton has moved on and developed as an artist. His first video release of a track from this album before it was released in November was Get Free. On this Newton sits in a chair singing whilst hacking off his famous dreadlocks with a pair of scissors. He now has a new short dreads piled on top of his head look. However this is a definitive metaphor about his moving forward as an artist. This new album has more electric guitar tones on it and a different more band orientated vibe. However the second half is a selection of the tracks re-recorded as pure one man solo songs, no doubt so that he can show you that if you see him live he can still play these tracks in his one-man-show format. For those that pigeon-holed Newton as a one trick percussive acoustic pony should revisit him and give this a listen. Probably his most sophisticated effort yet if not his best album and I applaud him for moving forward in the way he has. Likely to swell his ranks of admirers too I suspect.
City and Colour - If I Should Leave Before You.
Up beat title :-/ Dallas Green's move from solo acoustic guitar to full band continues on this latest effort. His characteristic lyrical style is still there with some moody and atmospheric accompaniment. Good effort but unlikely to increase his fanbase beyond those he already has as this doesn't stand out as moving anywhere different from the last album. If you have liked his stuff before though definitely worth checking out.
Rush - R40 live
Sadly the Rush R40 tour never reached these shores and with the recent announcements about Neil Peart rejecting further big tours there no doubt is a likelihood that seeing them ever on a stage in the UK again is unlikely. As ever the quality of playing and sound is top notch. I love also structure of the set list. The band kick off with material from their last release Clockwork Angels and then work backwards chronologically through their back catalogue. One thing with a band that started in 1970 and have 19 studio albums to draw from there is some back catalogue to trawl through. Again they pull out some obvious group pleasers, Spirit of the Radio, Tom Sawyer, YYZ etc. but then some un-usual additons like Jacobs Ladder from Permanent Waves. For me the highlight is Losing It - possibly my favourite of all Rush tracks off the Signals album and one that they never had before performed live as it featured heavily the violin of Ben Mink when recorded in 1982. Well they persuaded Ben to join them on this tour and performed it to stunning effect.
Whilst we wander back through the back catalogue the stage set changes starting out with the backline from the Clockwork Angels tour - for those unfamiliar with Rush live gigs some time ago Geddy Lee stopped having his amps right behind him in a classic back line fashion and thus started a backline of different articles including pop corn machines, vending machines, washing machines etc. As we go back Geddy's backline takes on some of these old formats in a clever stageset whilst Alex has a bank of Hughes & Kettner amps and speakers built/dismantled behind him. In the second set Alex has a ridiculous wall of Marshalls and Geddy a line of old Ampeg amps and speakers. Clever. Geddy also digs out some old basses not relying on his Fender Jazz's totally unlike recent tours- the famous Rickenbacker appears in the second half along with a tasty Zametis and some Fender Precisions - no sign of the Steinberger though. Alex doesn't do this sticking pretty much to his roster of various Les Pauls.
If you're a Rush fan just buy it if you haven't already! A fitting note for them to leave on if it is indeed their final live departure.
Eric Clapton - At 70
Another artist drawing towards the end of his career. This was recorded at his last residency at the Royal Albert Hall. I really enjoyed this more than I expected to feeling it was back to the Eric of the 80s and 90s with a solid band and playing a broad range of material including some of his ones that he has to play. Again if you are a fan go buy it.
Finally I'll sneak this in here. An unexpected present from my son was a little Chromecast dongle you plug into an HDMI port on your telly. Power it up via the USB cable and set it up on your wifi using an app you download on your phone. Now once powered up it is on the wifi and any app which is Chromecast enabled can "cast" onto the TV. YouTube is obviously one such app - if finds the Chromecast on the network and offers another button - hit that and you can play or queue to play the video you are looking at. Brilliant - best bit is anyone on the network can join, so you can all queue videos to the tv. I'm going to try out some other things on it too in time so I may come back here but just the YouTube facility it good if you watch a lot of things like concert or instructional videos like I do sometimes.