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Music reviews

We spin the disks and type at the same time. Just how versatile are we?

John Fogerty, Revival.

the CD cover


Not so much a Revival, more a "business as usual" from the man behind Creedence Clearwater Revival. That was 40 years ago and Fogerty has been turning out edgy Country-Rock ever since.
What's the point? Has he any more to say, or do?

Well, to get to the nub of it, if you liked Creedence - you'll like this. The man hasn't changed his style very much but, more importantly, he hasn't gone off the boil. So many old stagers continue to release albums into their dotage and produce pale imitations of their glory days, but Fogerty can still do it. Listen to "Long Dark Night" if you want proof, one of those "turn up the wick" stompers which shows that the old larynx is still able to take the abuse, and the guitar gets a solid thrashing too.

The songs range from Tony Joe White style down-home country-rock via rockabilly to boogie and don't disappoint. There are plenty of stylistic cues back to old material but that just stamps a Fogerty trademark on the material rather than making you wish you were listening to the original track. If you're still in need of convincing, one of the tracks on this album; "Gunslinger" featured just outside the top ten in Rolling Stone's "100 Best Songs of 2007".
Not bad for an old rocker 40 years on.

Check it out on EMusic.

Sarabeth Tucek.

Echo ECHCD78

the cd (and a snowman)

At the risk of appearing a little cheesy, this eponymous album could well have been called "Something For You", the track that leads it off. This simple, haunting song in a gentle country acoustic style may give a false impression of tweeness, but it stands alone and Sarabeth's voice shows more range in the next song "Stillborn", still country but a little harder.

"Holy Smoke" features heavily-distorted "Neil Young" guitar sound and is certainly my standout track, building to a crescendo and then ending on a three-note phrase which leaves you wanting more. There are straight pop songs too like "Nobody Cares" which could well be from a lost late-period Fleetwood Mac album (sorry Sarabeth!) - a Radio 2 hit if ever I heard one.

Sarabeth is from New York but you'd think she was from further south. She's been around for a while, working with the likes of Brian Jonestown Massacre but this is her first solo effort and it looks as if a bright future lies ahead. Her songs are well constructed and stay with you, probably best to file under "alt-country" if you're that way inclined.

Top quality, several crackers, no duds, a couple of forgettables.

Sarabeth on Myspace

1990s, Cookies.

Rough Trade. Released May 14th 2007.

the album art

A couple of years back I was idly trawling round Myspace looking for new bands. Worth doing once in a while just to get a flavour of the trends.
Under "Indy" I arrived at the 1990s page, (just 1990s, "no The and no apostrophe" they insist) the track "You're supposed to be my friend" started to play and I was hooked. It had an infectious chorus, funny self-depracting lyrics and a solid sound. That, and the stomper, "Cult Status" were the 1990s sig tunes.

All this time later and the three lads from Glasgow have finally released an album, "Cookies" containing all their previous songs and a bunch of new ones. "You're supposed to be my friend" is there of course, a new Bernard Butler production giving it more balls, but I still think that demo version had an innocent appeal. The new tracks are pretty good too, especially "Pollokshields", I reckon it could be the next single..

This is simple guitar rock, indy in the mould of fellow Scots Fratellis and The View but I think there is a little more poetic vision in the lyrics and the tunes.
See you at the lights, for which there is a splendid video on Youtube, has a gentle "baah ba-dap da-da" backing vocal line which is unexpectedly charming amongst the ever more strident guitar riffs.

You'll not get any over-the-top productions here; guitar, bass and drums plus the odd overdub that's all. It's back-to-basics rock and all the better for it. There is dynamic range in these songs though, 1990s don't go 100 miles-an-hour in a punk rock style, most of the songs are slow to mid tempo with Jackie McKeown's characteristic declamatory vocals to the fore.

Evidently "they play rock and roll like a blonde gets out of a car". Quite what that means I don't know but they certainly "..made me like it"!


Otis Redding, Remember Me.

Otis album cover

Here we have a collection of unreleased songs and slightly different versions of well known tunes, sounds like one to avoid doesn't it? The thing is that the quality of the material is so good you wonder how come it didn't get put out at the time, such was the popularity of Otis Redding when he died in 1967.

Again and again I sat back in wonder as one perfect soul song followed another. I say "perfect" not in production terms, a lot of it is pretty raw, but in its ability to elicit an emotional response. If you can listen to Open The Door without tears starting to well in your eyes you are made of stone (or you don't like 60s soul music!). And if you can sit still during Loving By The Pound or Pounds and Hundreds you have no rock 'n' roll in your soul.

The well-known songs on this album are Cupid, Dock of the Bay, Respect and Try a Little Tenderness. Although Cupid and the first run-through of Dock of the Bay are nothing to write home about they're perfectly acceptable. The second take gets pretty close to the final version and the simple acoustic guitar backing has a certain charm. Try a Little Tenderness starts even more "smoky jazz club" than the single release and winds up to its crescendo in very satisfying style.

Respect is taken at 100-miles-per-hour, I reckon they must have been keen to get home that day! So fast is it, that when it speeds up at the end Otis can't keep up and goes quiet. Terrific!

Otis' voice is unfailing throughout (although his whistling isn't up to much) and the band are just wonderful, guitar, bass, brass and keyboards are all spot on. You know that they could just do this day-in day-out. That distinctive Stax sound was on-tap whenever it was required; yet how hard it is to recapture that authentic sound these days.

If you've ever liked Otis, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett et. al. then grab yourself a glimpse into the daily life of those hard-working soul musicians of the 60s and marvel at the fact that this was the stuff they didn't see fit to release!

Remember Me is available on CD from Amazon (and others) and as a download from

One Time For All Time / 65daysofstatic

the cd in a vernier caliper

Monotreme. 2005

Did you like King Crimson when you were young?
Radiohead's Kid A not too out-there for you?
Like a bit of Muse perhaps?

This could be your new favourite band.

65 Days of Static (or 65daysofstatic if you prefer) have been hawking their brand of 3rd millennium prog rock around the live circuit for a few years now, honing their skills, finding their place.
An almost unique place it is too.
Their sound is big, ambitious. It ebbs and flows. It dies away to a gentle tinkle then crashes back in with fuzz-heavy guitar riffs and vamping pianos to lift you out of your seat and out of yourself.

We hear; orchestral passages, double-speed percussion, electronic twiddling, a whale song which metamorphoses into a guitar riff and more.. much more. This music is alive with energetic ambition. It may be a little rough around the edges but the edges are so far out they only affect distant galaxies. [Calm down.. Ed.]

The four guys (Simon, Paul, Rob and Joe) deserve more recognition than they have so-far got.
This album came out in October 2005 and is finally getting heard. A single from it, Radio Protector, will be released soon. Whether it'll get any radio play remains to be seen, but the album deserves to succeed.

Whatever happens, 65daysofstatic vow to keep the faith and continue to trek around the UK playing to a loyal following. One that I hope will grow ever larger.

As they say on the liner "See you on the road until the fuel runs dry".



The Delivery Man / Elvis Costello and the Imposters

Lost Highway. 2004

Elvis has not yet left the building, he's back with a self-penned album of new songs ranging from rock to country.

the cover

Pop it into the player and hold tight. You're in for a roller-coaster ride!

Track 1, the pounding bass riff and clanging racket that is Button My Lip ends suddenly and drops us straight into the tuneful Country Darkness which is complete with pedal-steel guitars. A hark back to Elvis' country period.
In fact there's a fair bit of "harking-back" here, I played the superb Monkey to Man back to back with Pump It Up from 1978 and it wasn't disgraced by the comparison. Steve Nieve's Vox Continental organ being an enduring trademark on both songs.

Then its back to country flavour in a thundering alt-country duet with Lucinda Williams (There's a story in your voice) and backing vocals from Emmylou Harris on Nothing clings like Ivy, Heart Shaped Bruise and the charming The Scarlet Tide, it must be hard to know where to file this one.
There are other slow songs too The Delivery Man is a haunting ballad and She's Pulling Out The Pin is quirky, a wee bit PJ Proby, with lots of key and tempo changes.

The "Rock" side of the coin is amply represented by Monkey to Man, Bedlam and Needle Time but the thing that struck me is the vocal power and dexterity that Elvis demonstates. I'd never taken much notice before, not being a dyed in the wool Elvis fan, but his delivery has become so assured, you feel he could sing anything, hit any note and hold it. Just listen to Either Side of the Same Town for proof. The timbre has something of the corncrake about it but it's a fine specimen of one!

I must confess I didn't follow Costello through all his excursions into Bacharach and syrupy C&W but I'm back on board now and enjoying the ride.
OK Elvis, you take the Gibson; Steve, the Vox and let's rock.... or play country... or chill out. You decide.

The Winamop verdict:


Slightly too much country for me but when it's good it's good!

Over The Counter Culture / The Ordinary Boys

B-Unique. 2004

the CD

The fact that the CD's overprinting looks like an old Penguin Paperback gives a hint that the Ordinary Boys have literary aspirations, they want you to take notice of their lyrics. Said lyrics are printed in the booklet so you can take as much notice as you like.
You can also, of course, listen to them in the songs (yes, you can hear them OK).

The lyrics of pop songs very rarely bear very close scrutiny and in this case the message is mostly "Stop spending money on things that don't make you happy and go out and get a life". Good advice indeed but I'm more interested in the music...
Fortunately the music is great!

Comparisons with early Jam have been made and I agree to an extent, they are obviously drawing on the guitar thrashing styles of the late seventies, however it's not a Jam number that they choose to cover here but the excellent Little Bitch from the Specials.
The playing is more interesting than some of their contemporaries, the guitar patterns interwoven in Weekend Revolution are a joy to hear and there is nice use of brass on Seaside, a bit "Shed 7" that one.

So to sum up; it's a rock album.
Most of the songs drive along at a fair old whack and have a high "Kerrang" factor. The lyrics are more intelligent than some although with the current crop of "art school" bands out there, there's no shortage of good lyrics. Choose The Ordinary Boys for their sound, loud and proud.
They do a damn good live show too.

The Winamop verdict


A fine debut.

Roll / Anne McCue

Messenger. 2004

album cover

If you've heard Australian Anne McCue's first album, Amazing Ordinary Things, then Roll starts pretty well as expected. Crisp alt Country songs, nicely sung and played but with a bit more bite. Nothing that wouldn't sound out of place on a Faith Hill album.

Then comes track 5, Hangman, where she takes up the slide guitar, fuzz box and vocal distort unit, all to a heavy bass and percussion line. More Tony Joe White than Lucinda Williams.
Back to the quality songs for 50 Dollar Whore and Tiny Little Song, surely a hit single if she were a well known artist?

Next Milkman's Daughter revisits Amazing Ordinary Things territory, acoustic guitar, banjo and accordion accompany the haunting vocal. The song Roll is all-electric and drives powerfully along.
You know, there really isn't a duff song on this album. They're all hummable and memorable, real growers.

We plumb the depths of sadness near the end with the beautiful Ballad of An Outlaw Woman which builds to slide-guitar crescendo, and are then blasted out of melancholy by the finale, a studio jam of Hendrix's Machine Gun which generates some serious noise for almost ten minutes.
Talk about light and shade!

Anne McCue is a versatile guitarist, having come up through punk bands in Australia and a year performing in Vietnam(!) she can blast it like Hendrix or George Thorogood, then reign it back for a delicate and infinitely sad song. She writes great songs too.
The backing musicians: Dusty Wakeman on bass and Hammond and (mainly) Dave Raven on percussion, keep things rollin' nicely. Roll is highly recommended.

The Winamop Verdict.


A coming of age.

More info at

Peace Love Death Metal / Eagles Of Death Metal

Ant Acid Audio. 2004

cover shot

The Eagles of Death Metal are a duo, guitar and drums, but apart from a stripped-down sound the similarity with the White Stripes is not pronounced.

Guitarist and lead vocalist "J Devil Huge" has quite a light and tuneful voice which contrasts nicely with the fierce guitar riffs. He wrote most of the songs on Peace Love Death Metal (under his "real" name J Everrett Hughes *) and is ably accompanied by Carlo Von Sexron on drums, a powerhouse of percussion.

The general style of the album is boogie music, both slow and fast, Eddy and the Hotrods spring to mind, but there are a couple of bluesy numbers to vary the pace. Their only cover is the old Gallagher and Lyle song Stuck In The Middle With You which is excellent and reminiscent of early 'Stones.

My favourites are the opener I Only Want You, an Undertones style punk-rock number which drives along at a terrific pace with J Devil singing in falsetto, it even has 2 false endings to keep you amused! San Berdoo Sunburn has a more "down home" style and swings nicely, ideal for cruising on a sunny day with the windows down.

The only bum note is the schoolboy "snuff" movie which accompanies the sinister Midnight Creeper but from the band's name I expected more dark songs, in the main it's all about life and love treated in a humorous style. Miss Sanders for instance, sees J Devil getting tongue-tied and seriously putting his foot in it whist failing to get off with the lady in question.

* OK, so it's Josh Homme from Queens of the Stone Age on his day off!

The Winamop verdict.


Don't watch the video, just get up and boogie! Roll on summer.

The Last Martini / Wolfson and Grenadier

a CD

Winamop contributor Wayne H.W Wolfson and music producer Grenadier got together to make the album The Last Martini..

So what is it then?

Rhythmically driven soundscapes which serve as a backdrop to Wayne's voice. The words are spoken, sometimes almost hidden behind the music, sometimes shockingly clear.

So what then, is it?

Six tracks built on this model. Differing in mood but not entirely different. There is always a darkness, an unsettling edge to each piece.

So then what is it?

Track One is called Nikola...
A strong rhythm propels the track which has a repeated musical phrase echoed by an occasional guitar riff. But what of Nikola? Why did he choose her?

Track Two, Paris Text.
Ethereal mood; ambient sounds; with brooding, heavy bass and Wayne's distorted voice give a sinister air. The voice is almost submerged at times, only to stand out starkly when the music pauses and a flash of troubled imagery escapes.

Track Three, Rain Suite.
Rhythm led, minimalist music, little scenes, all set in the rain.

Track Four, Agent Provocateur.
A dark tale. Who was this woman and what was her fate? It leaves you with an uneasy feeling ..

Track Five, Baissez Moi.
Introduced by heavy bass booms that sound almost like thunder. Another day in the weird life of our hero. Cinematic imagery, Art-House meets Chicago-Gangster movie.

Track Six, All My Best.
Bass guitar lays down a solid groove behind this tale of lassitude and debauchery to a Mahler symphony. A broken relationship fuels the narrative. My standout track.

That then, is it.

The Winamop verdict..


It's not for everyone; but if you're in the mood for some contemplation or you want to be carried away to another, probably darker, place for a while.....

The Last martini is available from and it costs $9.

Streetcore / Joe Strummer & The Mescaleros

The Mescaleros

The album Joe Strummer was working on when he died.

From the familiar-sounding Coma Girl via the anthemic Arms Aloft (In Aberdeen!) to the folksy-style treatment of Fats Domino's Silver and Gold, this is a cracker of an album.
"There's not a bad track on it" is an over-used description but I'll endorse it for this one.
You may have heard Joe's cover of Bob Marley's Redemption Song on the wireless and wondered at it. Sung in the Marley patois, it shouldn't work but it does, Joe was tuned in to the struggle faced by oppressed people the world over and his guitar and harmonium(?) treatment is very affecting.

Pointless to itemise all the tracks, there's power, there's pathos, and they all stand up thanks to the sympathetic production completed by Martin Slattery and Scott Shields after Joe's death.
Suffice to say that it's a fitting memorial to a great man of rock... just a pity we won't be hearing any more Strummer Albums.

The Winamop verdict..


Great, but I'm sure there was more to come...

Life For Rent / Dido

Life for Rent

The biggest selling album in the UK for weeks on end... a Number One hit, and to me at least, a disappointment.
If you like the single White Flag you've got the measure of the album. Dido's voice, soft and wistful, is appealing at first but after about six tracks the attention starts to flag. You begin to wish she'd change the mood a little, let rip perhaps, do something for variety's sake.

Do you remember Tanita Tikaram? The teenager who made the charts with her first album of songs packed with teenage angst. This album has the same feel, but the comparison with Tikaram shows Dido in a bad light.
Her voice isn't as interesting, her songs far less so.

I freely admit that this is a girl's album and I may be missing something, thousands of purchasers can't be wrong can they? I just get the feeling it'll be one of those 'played a couple of times and forgotten' albums. Look out for it a your local car boot sale in a few months.

The Winamop verdict..


Drop the Dido and take out the old Tikaram, save a tenner.

thickfreakness / The Black Keys

Fuzzy guitar, very fuzzy guitar in fact. That's what we have here.
The Black Keys are a 2 piece band like The White Stripes, in that they survive on a diet of guitar and drums alone. Dan Auerbach's guitar therefore has the task of filling the sound-stage and boy does he do it, albeit with the help of overdubs on some tracks and much 'sustain' all the way.
Although the sparse instrumentation does give rise to some similarities the style is more back-woods than The White Stripes, think Canned Heat when they were hot 'n' heavy and you're there.
The vocals are harsh and bluesey, especially on the slide-guitar track Hold me in Your Arms, this guy gargles with gravel.

Andrew Collins on BBC 6Music described the album as "Old man's music played by young men" which is accurate if not flattering.
It's blues, it's John Fogerty style gumbo rock and I love it (although I could be described as an old man!) but the songs are new and credited to the band....
Which is odd as Have Love Will Travel is the same song The Sonics recorded in the 60s and credited to "R Berry"!

The Winamop verdict..


You like the blues played fuzzy? Go get it!

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