Tuesday, 26 October 2010

In Appreciation Of.... The Duke And The King

Just caught up with this band following the release of the new album "Long Live the Duke And The King" - so many good things were being said about them I wanted to do it properly and follow their story - so I bought the first album "Nothing Gold Can Stay"

"Nothing Gold..." is a quiet contemplative album with songs about leaving the real life behind when fame comes "If I Ever Get Famous"; teenage, formative years and home places "Union Street" and the current war years experience of those that fight and of those who stay behind in "One More American Song".  Simone Felice's plaintive sweet voice serves these songs well with harmonies and accompaniment balanced just right for the delivery of such rich lyrics.  You can hear many influences - vocal harmonies/hippy feel CSNand Y, gospel - Sam Cooke; soul - Marvin. Reminiscent recently of Ray Lamontagne.

"Long Live..." is a bit more uptown (but not much) with stronger vocal trade offs between the three voices of Felice, Bobbie Bird and Simi Stone.  There is a move to progress and build on the first and it really works. "Gloria"  and "Right Now" are the early stand-outs for me but it's early days - I know I'm going to love this album growing on me and delivering it's secrets and beauty (love it when that happens).

I recommend both but would do it in the right order as you can see a bunch of talent growing and delivering so well with no fancy tricks just solid songs and perfectly suited performances.

Monday, 25 October 2010

I Love Fopp!

Here's a great idea.  Let's keep record shops.  Have them stocked with good cross section of catalogues.  Include the obscure at appropriate higher prices but overall be cheap.  Plenty of bargain basement stuff.  Offers for £3, £5, £8.  New (but not mainstream) releases for £10.  Special offers for local events - London Jazz Week - sell some old but classic Columbia jazz sets for £3 in cool vinyl cover copies.  Include books about music, film and anything ... well anything really.  Most of all have staff who want to help, know their stuff and like customers.  Fopp went bust a couple of years ago and was bought out (they say saved) by HMV.  Interesting as Fopp is what i'd like to have seen HMV become.  Ask most HMV staff a not too difficult music question and not only will they not know but will show you they don't really care (my experience granted but there you go).  Compare it to my Covent Garden Favourite and there is no contest.  I will support this store for as long as they support my record buying habit in this way.  Power to the Fopp!

Tuesday, 12 October 2010

Supertramp at the O2 - 6th October 2010

I went to this expecting to be disappointed. How would they deliver in such a cavern in the O2? The hits were all sung by Roger Hodgson who is no longer with them.  They haven't toured for some time and the original membership is reduced to Rick Davies (grant you the main songwriter besides Hodgson) and John Halliwell.

I saw Hodgson a couple of years ago at the Royal Albert Hall and whilst he was excellent, playing only with one sideman, I did come out and say to my friend "those songs need a band!".  And so they did.  And boy what a difference.  Call me old school but I like a band who can come out and deliver the songs without the need of tricks, video and hullabaloo.  Supertramp did this, letting the music and songs speak for themselves.  They were excellent. I found myself hoping they could stun me as they did with the first time I saw then in 1974.  I attended the Crime tour London gig at Hammersmith of the back of hearing one single "Dreamer".  What a great night that was.

And here we were again.  Rick Davies' voice had few frailties and delivered faithful versions of "Crime", Bloody Well Right" "Rudy" (the highlight for me), "If Everyone Was Listening", "Downstream" and many other album tracks that I thought I would never hear live again.  The unique sound of Hodgson was replaced by drummer Bob Seidenberg's son, Jesse and Gabe Dixon - not so much impersonations but close enough to deliver suitably true versions.  Do they need RH? - No, Would it be good to see a reunion? undoubtedly yes.  I have heard that since Rodger Hodgson announced his own dates just before this show he sent them a list of songs that they shouldn't sing.  They ignored him and a fantastic show was had by all. Shame on you Rodger - they gave you something too and it's the S'tramp brand on those songs just as much.

For the Hits brigade there was "Breakfast", "The Logical Song", "Give A Little Bit" and "Take the Long Way Home" - all received gratefully by an enthusiastic crowd.  I noted a very mixed bunch with the twenty something in front of me knowing every word and note - great to see.

So pleasantly surprised? YES.  Go and see Hodgson solo again? Maybe not but would recommend it to my friends to do once - closely followed to the (as close as you can get) 1974 experience of last Wednesday.

Highly recommended.  David Sinclair's 3 stars in the Times should be 4.5 in my book.