CD Review – Wish Hill by All Jigged Out

Wish Hill the new CD from Celtic/Folk/Jazz Fusion band All Jigged Out is an album of high-quality musicianship, and imaginative arrangements, most of which are written by the group themselves.

The four piece band play a range of styles from the lively opening instrumental title track, Wish Hill, to the lively arrangement of the traditional piece Blow the Wind Southerly, to their version of Catriona Mackay’s The Swan.

The 13 track CD, released on Hobgoblin Music’s own record label packs quite a punch, with the Flute/Alto Flute of main composer Phillippe Barnes and the acoustic and electric violin of Benjamin Lee being to the forefront of all of the tracks. They are more than ably supported by the dexterous pianist Tom Phelan, Ollie Boorman on Drums and Percussion and some other guests playing bass, and guitar.

The group has roots in Celtic music, but at times sound similar to Sky, or in their more Jazz/Celtic fusion moments to bands like Shooglenifty, Capercaillie, and with the Slap Bass moments on such numbers as Broken Mirror Part 1, sound not unlike Weather Report at a folk session. The debt that they owe to some of the mentioned bands is particularly noticeable in track 12, Noogleshifty a Whiskey Kiss, where musicians from both All Jigged Out and Shooglenifty take writing credits.

A hidden bonus track of Mitton’s Set shows that the band can cut it both in the studio, and live on stage. For fans of folk music, and also of Jazz Fusion, this is a band to look out for. For further details and updates for the band, and to order the CD visit www.alljiggedout.com. Audio samples for the CD are available at www.alljiggedout.com/audio.

 

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CD Review – Holler and Howl by Rusty Jacks

CD Review

 

 Holler and Howl is one of those albums that ticks all of the right buttons. Passionate vocals, fluent guitar and harmonica breaks, a rocking rhythm section, fine songs that stand comparison with the two covers, and an inventive spirit that covers blues, rock, funk and jazz styles. The Irish quintet describe themselves as a Southern Rock Band, and indeed all of the touchstones are there, the sounds of the Allman Brothers, Lynyrd Skynyrd, JJ Cale, share space with a much more Irish rock sensibility. The lyrical slide guitar on songs such as Bad Seeds shares as much with Rory Gallagher as it does with Duane Allman, while there is a certain Irish lilt to the ragtime acoustic of Paid My Dues, and the folk blues sound is carried over in the closing The Sun is Shining with a fine Harmonica solo. There is much to like on this album, and the covers of The Hunter and the overplayed Good Morning Little Schoolgirl by Sonny Boy Williamson show some imagination in adding something new to these workhouses. Rockers such as ‘Saturday Night Again’ (Help me/Green Onions with a faster beat and different lyrics) and long blues numbers such as Down In The Gutter show that Rusty jacks would be a good live band, and this album is a fine introduction to a band that has already delivered much. For further information,  visit http://rustyjacksbluesband.com/

 

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Book Review – The Girl Before by JP Delaney

Book Review

The Girl Before by JP Delaney

Quercus – 7 out of 10

The psychological thriller genre is a pretty crowded field, with examples of the form ranging from best sellers like Paula Hawkin’s The Girl on The Train, to esteemed classics by the likes of Daphne Du Maurier, so The Girl Before has its work cut out.

Jane has found 1 Folgate Street, or maybe it has found her. There are several rules she must stick to, stories and rumours about a tragic past to the house, but the tenancy seems to be too good to miss out on. The book is split into two different sections. The first is told by protagonist Jane and the girl before Emma. As we read on, we learn of the parallels between the lives of the two women, how crime and a police investigation that is not as thorough as it should have been having clouded the waters, as Emma’s death, ruled as misadventure, to begin with, looks more like murder, the deeper Jane digs.

Add in a housing company with ways of keeping an eye on Jane, controlling everything about her life, and the invasion of privacy that this entails shows that although her life is secure, she is also losing any semblance of privacy and autonomy that she might have had.

The plot is both twisted and linear, with Emma’s story running alongside Jane, and although it is not the most complex of plots, there were a few times when too many co-incidences made the story seem implausible.

It is a solid read, with believable characterisation, but some of them are merely cyphers, such as Emma’s too trusting boyfriend Simon, or Edward who forms a less than gallant attachment too both of his tenants. Although elements of the modern world, from technology and modern culture, creep into the book, this is at its most elemental level a story about love, about possession, and about fatal flaws leading to tragedy. Although the ending, at least for Jane seems relatively upbeat, the fact that it ends with a third tenant taking ownership of the perfection of 1 Folgate Street it shows that sometimes when something is too good to be true, it should not really be trusted.

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Storm

It comes, like love,

unexpectedly, if it comes at all,

we ignore the warnings,

build on the highest land,

and wait whilst life

unravels at the moorings.

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Badger

Black and white and underground.

It emerges at night,

and sleeps in the day,

it’s only real friends,

Bodger and Brian May.

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CD Review – Spike Drivers – Front Porch Swing

CD Review – Spike Drivers – Front Porch Swing

Scratch Records – CD 300110

8 out of 10

The Spike Drivers have long been a popular live draw, and this release shows why.

The three-piece of guitarist Ben Tyzack, bassist Constance Redgrave and drummer Maurice McElroy all sing and cover some genres over the two CDs of this collection. The release features songs by Fred McDowell, JJ Cale, Jimmy Reed, Taj Mahal, and Jagger and Richards, as well as their own distinctive songs. The close harmony singing on songs such as “You got to Move” and “One Way Gal” show a lot of care has gone into what they do, and the musicianship is of a more advanced level. The guitar playing of Ben Tyzack, in particular, is technically adept without being flashy, able to accompany himself on his own compositions “Beyond a Silver Moon” and leading from the front of the other instrumentals “Diddly Goat Pot” and “Urban Love Boogie”.

Strong support comes from Constance Redgrave and Maurice McElroy, although each is also given their own time in the spotlight, with their own songs, which are a good mix with the rest of the evening’s music. The audience is shown to be attentive to the music, respectfully listening until they are allowed to show their appreciation. The recording is of usually high quality for a live recording and is the next best thing to hearing them live. For fans of quality blues, jazz and acoustic music in general, this is worth much further investigation.

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CD/DVD Review – Eric Johnson – Live from Austin Texas, 84

CD/DVD Review – Eric Johnson – Live from Austin Texas, 84

New West Records – 8 out of 10

This newly released archive recording finds the influential and acclaimed singer song-writer and ground-breaking electric guitarist Eric Johnson plying his trade in front of a lively audience. The music was recorded in 1984, a year before his first album, Tones was launched, and it would be many years before a lot of the material recorded here found its way onto official releases. ‘Soulful Terrain’ and ‘Friends’ were from that first album, while the acoustic piece ‘Tribute to Jerry Reed’ would have to wait twenty years, and an electric re-invention before finding its way onto 2005’s ‘Bloom’. With support from drummer Steve Meader and bass player Rob Alexander, they plough many musical furrows, from the straight pop of ‘All I Need’ to the searing psychedelia of Hendrix’s ‘Spanish Castle Magic’, via the superior rock of ‘Bristol Shores’ and an early version of Johnson’s signature piece ‘Cliffs of Dover’, to the Wes Montgomery style jazz of ‘Down here on the Ground’. Three acoustic pieces form an attractive centrepiece to the release, with a solo acoustic reading of Simon and Garfunkel’s’ ‘April Come she will’is a particularly strong feature. The DVD that accompanies the album is a straightforward concert recording, but recent technology has pushed the quality to a much higher one. This is a fine addition to Johnson’s output, with much of the music surviving the 26-year gap between first recording and release, but Johnson’s releases are like buses. You wait years for one, and then two come along at the same time, with his new album Up-Close seeing release at the end of December.

 

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