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DES HORSEFALL’S KUSCHTY RYE The Good Gentleman’s Tonic Valve VARCD 001 Genre – Country Rock Star rating 7.5/10

DES HORSEFALL’S KUSCHTY RYE The Good Gentleman’s Tonic Valve VARCD 001 Genre – Country Rock Star rating 7.5/10

 

 

DES HORSEFALL’S KUSCHTY RYE

The Good Gentleman’s Tonic
Valve VARCD 001

Genre – Country Rock
Star rating 7.5/10

This is a sumptuous package put together by country-roots rocker Des Horsfall to honour the late great Ronnie Lane. Des set out to make an album that would create a similar sound and feel to Ronnie’s post faces band Slim Chance. He called in some of Ronnie’s contemporaries to evoke the feeling of a travelling show that Slim Chance was known for, thus there are guest appearances by original Slim Chance members Benny Gallagher, Charlie Hart and Steve Simpson. There are also contributions from Katriona Gilmore, plus noted folk accordionist Hannah Jones and well-known pedal steel player P.J. Wright. So the question is does the album succeed in its aims? The answer is yes and, to lesser extent, no. They certainly capture the laid back 1970s feel that Slim Chance were known for although it hasn’t quite so much of that ‘tight but loose’ feel that Slim Chance and Ronnie’s previous act The Faces had. The album opens and closes by paying homage to the first Slim Chance album ‘Anymore for Anymore’. They open with a cover of Ronnie’s version of Leadbelly’s Careless Love’ and close with a re-arranged version of the hit song The Poacher’. Best track is ‘Hard Woman’ a nice country blues groove. Other standouts are the very catchy ‘Long Long Time’ and the ¾, 6/8 ‘No One Talks, all three are Horsfall originals. It’s all very nice and relaxing to listen to but it does tend towards a certain sameness of sound and harmonic structure around about track 7, so maybe best listened a couple of tracks at a time. There is an additional special feature to the album and we’ll quote the publicist’s handout here –‘A very special feature of the release is the Unwinese Mix,’ the story of the album’s inception narrated by John Unwin, son of the late great Professor Stanley Unwin who invented the Unwinese language used to great effect in the Small Faces’ recording OGDENS NUT GONE FLAKE album. The ‘Unwinese Mix’ tells the story of how Des was inspired by Ronnie Lane and, as if by magic, hit up on the idea to create his own traveling show.’ It’s an original and entertaining end to the album. After that the only thing to do is use the teabag that is secreted within the artwork. A contribution of £1 from the sale of each album sold at live shows will be donated to The Multiple Sclerosis Trust in memory of Ronnie Lane. If you like Ronnie Lane or any of his musical ventures then give this a go; it’ll bring back good memories. We look forward to the following albums in the planned trilogy.

Review Team

 

LONNIGAN’S SKIFFLE GROUP A Tribute to Leadbelly Lonnigan Records SQP06MA Genre – Folk / Skiffle/ Folk Blues Star rating 8/10

LONNIGAN’S SKIFFLE GROUP A Tribute to Leadbelly Lonnigan Records SQP06MA Genre – Folk / Skiffle/ Folk Blues Star rating 8/10

LONNIGAN’S SKIFFLE GROUP

A Tribute to Leadbelly

Lonnigan Records SQP06MA

Genre – Folk / Skiffle/ Folk Blues

Star rating 8/10

This is a very special recording and includes appearances by some genuinely legendary figures of American music – Pete Seeger and Odette, Josh White Jr, Oscar Brand and Tom Paley; plus British notable Ralph McTell. The Lonnigans are a South London & Kent based skiffle group set up to play the American Roots and Blues music that inspired skiffle. Of the original Skiffle movement Lonnie Donegan is the best known and the songs of Leadbelly were one of the primary sources of material. The musicians who make up the group are well known on the acoustic and roots blues circuit; most notably Eddie Armer (harmonica), Steve Simpson (vocals/guitars) and Derek Mason (washboard and percussion). The project has taken ten years and several trans-Atlantic trips to complete and the wait has been well worthwhile. Along the way there have been some fascinating encounters and Eddie Armer’s account of meeting Pete Seeger (now 92) and others will be on Blues Matters’ web-site very soon. The music is very good indeed and includes a spell-binding performance of ‘Take this Hammer’ by Odette (1930-2008) – it was completed in one take near the end of her life and it is remarkable. ‘Bourgeois Blues’ is sung beautifully by Steve Simpson with Pete Seeger narrating how the song came about. Donny Lonnigan’s version of ‘Rock Island Line’ is excellent and the riveting standout track ‘The Last Concert’ in which Oscar Brand tells the moving story of Leadbelly’s last ever concert. In the notes to the CD Donny Lonnigan (Eddie Armer) writes – “we feel privileged to have worked with some of our musical heroes in the making of this tribute to Leadbelly. At long last we have touched the source of our inspiration”. Well they’ve done a great job; the joy and inspiration they speak of transmits itself very clearly to the listener. This is a top quality piece of work and a worthy tribute to the great man – Leadbelly. It’s available from the website www.atributetoleadbelly.com or direct from Eddie Armer at eddiearmer@talktalk.net £12 to UK customers add £1.50pp if ordering from overseas

Review team

BE COOL – the very best of the Barcodes The Barcodes Note Records NCD 2023 2 Genre – Jazz Blues / R&B Star rating 8/10
BE COOL – the very best of the Barcodes The Barcodes Note Records NCD 2023 2 Genre – Jazz Blues / R&B Star rating 8/10

BE COOL – the very best of the Barcodes
The Barcodes
Note Records NCD 2023 2
Genre – Jazz Blues / R&B
Star rating 8/10

Here we have a corker of an album featuring some of the most talented UK blues and jazz blues players around. The Barcodes are Alan Glen on guitar and harmonica, Bob Haddrell on Hammond, piano, Wurlitzer and bass pedals, and Dino Coccia on drums – then we have a guest list; some of the very best in jazz – Alan Barnes, Jim Mullen and Nick Newell; then there is one of the British R&B greats Zoot Money plus the wonderful Paul Cox, Papa George, Val Cowell and he who seems to pop up everywhere – Roger Cotton. Sounds promising and it lives up to the promise – get past the rather enigmatic artwork (guys that those penguins say ‘blues’, or ‘R&B’) and you have a superb selection of swinging jazz tinged blues and R&B. Messrs Glen, Haddrell and Coccia are, for our money, three of the best around; it says on the label ‘made in Britain’ but these guys compete with the best of US R&B, the feel, the swing the economy – its all there. We can’t pick out a best track, they’re all good – it’s late night mellow swinging stuff and everyone shines; of the guests –well Paul Cox (another greatly underrated performer), Val Cowell, Papa George (a real true bluesman) and Roger Cotton pull out a stinging version of Taj Mahal’s ‘Paint My Mailbox Blue’ on track 7; of the tracks featuring just the three Bar-codes I particularly liked the opener ‘Keep Your Distance’ – it took us back to London in the 60’s – the Flamingo / the Allnighter, that sort of vibe; but really its just one of many highlights. This is very good and great value, lay back light up a joint, get nice bourbon on the rocks and chill. Keep up the good work guys, and let’s have a new album soon please.

Review team

HIGH ATMOSPHERE Diana Jones Proper Records PRPCD070V Genre – Roots / Country Star Rating 10/10
HIGH ATMOSPHERE Diana Jones Proper Records PRPCD070V Genre – Roots / Country Star Rating 10/10

HIGH ATMOSPHERE
Diana Jones
Proper Records PRPCD070V
Genre – Roots / Country
Star Rating 10/10

This is a magical record; we came afresh to Diana Jones and listened to her first two albums both of which were excellent; we thought that they would be difficult to follow yet this actually tops both of those albums and reaches a new peak; it is a collection of great depth. Diana Jones is an artist who is obviously gifted with great insight into the human condition – she writes and performs songs that touch the darkest and deepest aspects of life without ever being too heavy or emotional – rarely can anyone have sung about such deep things in such a gentle and affecting way. There is one particular song on here that we thought t absolutely stunning; ‘Drug for This’, it’s about grief and loss and the person in the song is yearning for a drug to take away the pain of loss. One of our team as a former bereavement counselor found it hard to believe that a writer could have such insight, yet the lyric conveys all of the classic aspects of grief and loss; and in so doing Diana Jones achieves a beautiful tender piece of art in music – gentle, compassionate and quite amazing. The opening song ‘High Atmosphere’ is more enigmatic than most of Diana’s songs; it’s about escape being away from trouble and it conjures a vision of high altitude on a warm summer’s day; clear air and calm – it’s a lovely opener and that clarity pervades the whole album – this is open-air music-fresh and gently vital. Every song on the album is good but other standouts apart from ‘Drug for This’, ‘I Don’t Know’ a song of spiritual longing for answers to questions that we just don’t know – it captures the feeling of spiritual tiredness, yet paradoxically the music refreshes the listener. ‘Sister’ is a dark tale of a sister marrying into trouble with a great hook, ‘Little Lamb’ about a lost child, ‘My Love is Gone’, a personal song of lost love, ‘Don’t Forget Me’, about a man apparently seeking parole and longing to return to the bosom of family; are all gems written with exceptional discernment. The album closes with a gentle hoe-down on the traditional song ‘Motherless Children’ – a truly excellent album and superbly recorded. Not only is this great to listen, but it is so uplifting, in these times, to realize again that there is still new music that can produce a real sense of wonder.
Review Team

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