Pop Liisa Live In Studio (13/14)

This set was culled from two different radio broadcasts recorded live at Liisankatu Studios in Helsinki.  All of the four bands features are essentially unheralded.

The first set from 1976 features Matti Järvinen and also Cascade.  Järvinen and his ensemble remind a bit of Wigwam but with a touch of funk.  Some tasty playing and overall quite enjoyable.  Cascade is pretty dispensible.  They are female fronted band doing soulful covers.  While there are some nice keyboard sounds going on in the background there isn't much to get excited about here.  Translation: it sucks.

The second session is from 1977.  Mike Westhues Band isn't anything to get too excited about - American sounding country rock from a bunch of Finns.  I can live without it.  The session (and disc) close out with Fyyralyyra and they pretty much save the set.  Think instrumental folk rock - perhaps a bit like Piirpauke (but not quite as good).

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  • Originally known as Spriguns Of Tolgus, the band led by the husband and wife team of Mike and Mandy Morton got signed to Decca and became simply known as Spriguns.  The band's stock in trade is traditional British folk very similar to Steeleye Span.  Violinist Tom Ling plugs in adding a bit of a rock feel.  
  • Ryley Walker is an American guitarist/songwriter.  His previous album, Primrose Green, channeled the spirit of British folk with psychedelic tinges around the edges.  This new album carries on a similar course.  This is the 2CD "Deep Cuts" edition.  It features a second disc that has a 41 minute live version of the new track "Sullen Mind"."It’s hardly unheard of for artists to say negative things about their past output. It’s less usual for them to be mean about records that are genuinely great.As such, Ryley Walker‘s recent unflattering comments about his second album are somewhat surprising. A huge step forward from 2014’s convincing but undoubtedly derivative debut All Kinds of You, the hypnotic, circular grooves of last year’s Primrose Green catapulted the 27-year old much closer to a sound that’s genuinely his and his alone, even as tunes such as “Same Minds” and “Summer Dress” remained deep in debt to such formative influences as John Martyn and Tim Buckley.You won't have to spend that long in the company of Golden Sings That Have Been Sung to grasp why Walker's grown tired of his old stuff. Only the remarkably fluid yet showing-off averse - Walker treats guitar predominantly as a rhythm instrument - acoustic guitar-playing and the general musical milieu - a heady cross-pollination between folk, jazz, blues and psychedelia that was buried in the outer reaches of obscurity for ages but is now quite hip - remain unchanged. Everything else has acquired whole new levels of ambition, confidence and originality.Let's start with the singing. No one with functioning ears could have reasonably doubted Walker's abilities in this area, but there have been times when the over-generously administered ecstatic yelps have ventured worryingly close to mimicry, if not parody, of Tim Buckley's vocal mannerisms. Not anymore; from the hushed, dreamy delicacy of "A Choir Apart" to carefully phrased "Funny Thing She Said", the weary ache of which is accentuated by a scratchy violin solo that appears to have waltzed in from a wake, Walker sounds like no one else but himself. Worthy of comparison to the contemplative peaks of 70's Van Morrison (whose underrated slow-burner beauty "Fair Play" Walker has been covering recently), the latter cut must rank amongst the most startlingly intense and intimate performances committed to disc this year.Van Morrison is an apt point of reference in the sense that whilst it would be madly exaggerated to compare Walker's third album with the ageless wonder of Astral Weeks, it does represent a leap in creativity that brings to mind transition Morrison performed between the spirited but predictable rhythm 'n' blues rave-ups of Them and the meditative hymns of his first proper solo album. Walker's proven his merits as a singer and guitarist many times over, but it's now necessary to also rate him as a songwriter. Whereas much of Walker's past output is best described as jams that only fully ignite during unpredictably evolving high octane live explorations, Golden Sings That Have Been Sung comprises of actual songs. For example, "The Roundabout" provides an amusing glimpse into Walker's exploits in his adopted hometown of Chicago, where the album was produced by former Wilco member Leroy Bach, whilst the melancholy mystery of "The Great and The Undecided" unfurls with the weather-beaten weariness of Red House Painters whilst also hinting at the diary-writing methods of latter-day Mark Kozelek. There are some cracking one-liners here too, especially for a musician who's preferred to keep his lyric sheets minimal until now, such as "I don't read the Bible, baby/I think it says don't ask much" on "I Will Ask You Twice", the folkie directness of which sounds even more sparklingly pretty when parked next to the throbbing full band performances that populate the rest of the record.Golden Sings That Have Been Sung manages to catch the restlessly churning, improvisatory lightning of Walker's live shows in the studio, whilst wisely cutting out any idling that could grate in home listening. Witness how the manic middle bit that the ominously rumbling "Sullen Mind" - echoes of the dark churn of electric Miles Davis around Bitches Brew - erupts into is brought back to earth just before it loses it freshness, or how the thudding crawl of "Age Old Tale" is decorated by clarinet and droning harp (which will sound deliciously familiar to fans of Alice Coltrane) to keep up interest during its unhurried journey. The band's performances throughout are extraordinary; "The Halfwit In Me" consists mainly of acoustic instruments, but its relentlessly shifting, interlocked riffs and rhythmic complexity resemble the likes of Sonic Youth and Tortoise (with a drop of vintage folk/jazz cult heroes Pentangle, too) much more than house-trained finger-pickin' fare.What's really great about Golden Sings That Have Been Sung is that for all its unquestionable merits, there's a suggestion that Ryley Walker is only just getting started, and the next album or the one after that might be his masterpiece." - The LIne Of Best Fit
  • Here's a weird one.  Nightwish's mastermind Tuomas Holopainen has collaborated with Disney artist/writer Don Rosa to create a symphonic work based on a graphic novel about Scrooge McDuck.  Don't expect metal.  This is a tastefully done marriage of orchestral music and Celtic folk."Having spent 2013 writing and producing The Life And Times Of Scrooge, Tuomas’ first solo album is now upon us after fourteen years in the making and to say it exceeds all expectations is an understatement.To cut straight to the point, it’s a beautiful and atmospheric work of art that’s accessible to not only people familiar with his work in Nightwish, but also to a broader spectrum of music fans because it touches on a whole host of different genres and ideas that will appeal to casual or curious listeners as well.Telling the story of Scrooge McDuck, it’s definitely an album best enjoyed as one sole entity as it takes the listener on an exciting adventure from start to finish, with stunning epic pieces such as Into The West that’s full of beautifully thick instrumentation and breathtaking imagery, and the somewhat more simplistic Dreamtime, which only really features one repeating idea throughout but is so effective (not to mention how quickly it gets stuck in your head as a result!)There are also more vocal-heavy songs, which help to keep the storyline flowing and a particular standout performance is from Sonata Arctica frontman Tony Kakko on the song Cold Heart Of The Klondike – whilst the instrumentation is the main focus of the album, his voice gives that song in particular an extra sparkle.The Life And Times Of Scrooge is an extremely rewarding listen and one you’ll keep wanting to come back to – it just gives so much and is a wholly stunning album." - Soundscape
  • "Dancer and the Moon is Blackmore s Night 8th studio album. Despite Ritchie Blackmore s past as a guitar player in Deep Purple and Rainbow, he is now in another stage of his musical life, concentrating on modern Folk, Renaissance and Progressive Rock music. Besides Ritche s incredible talent as aguitar player, the other selling point for Blackmore s Night is vocalist Candice Night, the beautiful wife of Ritchie Blackmore who could be described as a younger, and folkier, version of Stevie Nicks."Deluxe digipak CD/DVD edition.  The DVD features a documentary as well as acoustic versions of 3 tunes that are on the album and one that is not.
  • Quite fine new album from Ritchie Blackmore and Candice Knight. If you haven't heard Blackmore's Night before, essentially it's Blackmore's English folk/Renaissance meets rock band with his wife's gorgeous vocals on top. There are a few cover tunes sprinkled through out including a cover of Deep Purple's "Child In Time", Ralph McTell's "Streets Of London" but my fav is their reworking of Rainbow's "Street Of Dreams". This is the US edition which basically takes the bonus tracks from the more expensive Euro deluxe edition and includes them as well. One of the 3 bonus cuts is yet another version of "Street Of Dreams" but with Joe Lynn Turner. I'm a Blackmore fan and really enjoyed the disc - highly recommended to the similarly inclined.
  • Woodpecker is the debut release from singularly named Swedish vocalist AnnaMy (her spelling not mine).  Its a gorgeous album.  This is beautifully recorded gentle, melodic psychedelic folk.  Plenty of electricity here - most notably on electric guitar courtesy of Reine Fiske.  Undercurrents of flute and organ spice up the mix but the focus is on AnnaMy's stunning voice.  The overall sound pays homage to the greats of the 70s.  Think in terms of Trees, Mellow Candle, Caedmon, and Vashti Bunyan.  This one is a real grower.  Highly recommended.
  • Texas based band that has gone through an evolution of styles over the years.  This 2010 effort is a gem of an album for anyone that is into British folk psych.  It has a real gentle melancholy vibe that really captures the sounds of the 70s.  Highly recommended."Midlake can be found somewhere in the curiosity shop of rock. That line might suggest an idea for a film script but we won’t rush to check Jack Black’s schedule right now. Rather we should consider the conundrum that is Midlake. The band started out as a bunch of jazz students at the University of North Texas and four of the present line-up initially functioned under the unlikely name of The Cornbread All-Stars, playing Herbie Hancock style jazz-funk, augmented by a female vocalist, keys and horn section. Ask now where you think the band it became has its origins and Texas would be one of least likely answers.How then they got to Midlake and a fine seven song debut EP in 2001, Milkmaid Grand Army, with its keen Radiohead influence is probably down to main man, Tim Smith, listening to OK Computer a lot and deciding he needed to trade the sax in for a guitar. A full album, Bamnan & Silvercork, followed in 2004, hallmarked by a style of song construction and delivery much on the lines of Modesto’s finest, Grandaddy. The band then went on to really make its mark with the 2006 release of the sublime The Trials Of Van Occupanther, a landmark recording in anyone’s book.Four years on and we have The Courage Of Others, a record that feels much more connected to the previous album than do the earlier two. The symmetrical imaged album cover even has a cunning echo of the surreal panther’s head from Van Occupanther in its design. Oddly the cover only features three of the band’s five-piece line up, mirrored almost menacingly in their sackcloth robes, amid a sylvan setting framed to reflect the animal head. The self-produced opus beyond the sleeve showcases some amazing, tight and precise musicianship, playing that is as emotive as it is solid. The band’s musical muse may have shifted from 70’s West Coast soft-rock back a wee bit towards end of the 60’s British folk-rock but the end result presents no great sea change, though a shift from keyboards to guitars at its heart.The delicate acoustic chord progression which opens the first song, “Acts of Man” recalls Sandy Denny, more so in her solo guise. Tim Smith’s plaintive baritone aided by soft harmonies laments the acts of men who “cause the ground to break open” and the song is delivered with a quiet passion. The tone is set for a contemplative collection, evoking a wish for solitude and flight from human interference with nature. Throughout, though, this is balanced by the sense of surety inherent in the cycle of nature.“Winter Dies” picks up this theme, continuing in a more intense vein with sparse verses punctuated with a fuller band sound, enriched with distorted guitar and crashing percussion through the choruses and instrumental breaks. Year by year, spring brings new life and renewed hope but the singer yearns for what he has lost.“Small Mountain” begins with a waft of flute, an instrument that features quite prominently on the entire recording, heralding a slightly softer treatment, interrupted by a crashing signature chord here and there. The lyrical poetry is harder to penetrate and words and music almost become one on this song. The lovely “Core of Nature” musically has shades of Van Occupanther about it. The song is built around a couplet taken from a poem by German writer, Goethe: “Into the core of nature/No earthly mind can enter” which seems to encapsulate the impossibility the writer Smith aspires to throughout the record.“Fortune” provides a breathtakingly beautiful interlude with a Simon &Garfunkel echo in the descending melody of the last line of each verse. At 2 minutes it is over far too soon but you sense that all that needs to be said is here. “Rulers, Ruling All Things” has hints of early Fairport Convention in its intro and the melody echoes the Van Occupanther vibe. The song has more of a celebratory tone, as the material world is rejected in favour of the natural order: “Thinking the world was mine to be lost in/I ran with freedom and sang in between/For I had the path of wonder, there before me.”Pentangle fingerpicking opens “Children of the Grounds” but the song develops into more of a mid tempo rocker as the subject matter shifts ground to memories of childhood and a plea for tolerance. This is one of the strongest and most accessible songs here. On “Bring Down”, guest vocalist Stephanie Dosen adds some tender harmonies alongside Tim Smith. She adds an interesting resonance that would work on more than this single song. The descending instrumental melody line reminds me of The Eagles’ “Hotel California”. No bad thing. Better to fly like an eagle than be brought down.“The Horn” kicks in with electric guitar straight out of late sixties folk-rock heralding a more full-on treatment of a song of everyman. Smith at times incants the lyrics as much as sings them and the result is a powerful reminder of our shared humanity. By contrast, the title track begins as a more stripped back and low-key affair, with the singer’s anxieties laid bare, before the song resolves in an extended, though not over-indulgent, coda. We conclude with “In The Ground” in which the imagery of death gives way to something more hopeful, mirrored by nature’s recovery. Musically this is as intense at is it fitful.The Courage Of Others is a beguiling record, which demands careful attention. Otherwise you might mistake subtlety for similarity. It suggests a band with the maturity and confidence to wear its musical influences on its sleeve yet with the ability to distill them into something wholly fresh and different. Rather than the wheel being reinvented, it’s like the wheel has yet to be fully worked out. There is beauty in something quite as timeless, organic, and composed as this triumphant recording. Not everyone will get this, but believe me it’s worth the effort." - Consequence Of Sound
  • A handful of these emerged from a warehouse grab and what a gorgeous album it is.  This is an XRCD24, featuring a proprietary mastering process from JVC.  These XRCD24s are targeted towards audiophiles and they certainly couldn't have picked a better release than this one.Kate Purcell is an Irish folk singer who bears a strong similarity to Alison Krauss.  Nice spacious and simple recording that will show off your sound system.  "This Ennis-based singer completely enthralls with her first album, Shadows Of You. What a voice! And, she is a gifted writer. The whole package was on offer and what a deal! She is a major, major new talent who will only get more famous as more people hear her magic. It is on Dream Records. Find it. Wow!Kate is a native of Feakle in east Clare; she now resides in Tulla with her husband and son. Anyone who has lived in these areas would inevitably be influenced by traditional music and on this album Kate is very much going back to her roots.She also has a deep love of contemporary music, which blends blues, and American artists such as Jackson Browne, Gordon Lightfoot, James Taylor and more recently, Alison Krauss and Patty Loveless.Kate started her musical career straight from school, playing around Clare for a while; she was offered a residency at the prestigious Dreamland Castle hotel, where she still performs.Her albums have followed her decision to broaden her horizons and reach an international audience.Her first album, A Dream Unfolds met with great critical acclaim. It won her 2 awards from Irish Music Mag. 2 singles from the album were play listed by 2FM. Hot Press nominated Savannah as best single. You Never Said Goodbye spent 5 weeks in the Irish charts.Following the success of the album she appeared on TV’s Kenny Live, PM Live, Open House, Limelight, Sib and Bernie Bo.She performed all over Ireland alongside Jimmy McCarthy; Donal Lunny’s Coolfin and this April with Tommy Fleming on his national tour.She has also performed with Lunasa in Hong Kong and has appeared at festivals as far afield as Clifden Arts Fest, Cork Folk Fest, The Rose of Tralee, Omagh Bluegrass, and Milwaukee Irish Fest.Kate has been planning this album for three years and is joined by Tommy Fleming on Dan Seals beautiful, Lullaby. Also Clare fiddle sensation, Martin Hays on Goodbye Johnny Dear. The outstanding rendition of Mary Greene’s, Dress of Green.Ted Ponsonby, long time sideman of Delores and Sean Keane, has produced the album.Copperplate is very proud to have this title on our roster and hope to help it achieve its full potential will be supporting this release with a full-scale promotional mail out to media and retail.“This is wonderful. Music of the heart, intuition, ability, understanding and beauty”.  LiveIreland.com August 02 
  • Limited deluxe edition comes with a bonus DVD with interview and video clips."“Once not very long ago”, begins the opening title track on ‘All Our Yesterdays’. It might not be very long ago in the grand scheme of things, but can it really be eighteen years since Blackmore’s Night first arrived upon rock’s shire? Incredibly, the answer is “yes”, and ten albums into a career that many struggled to comprehend when it was first revealed, Ritchie Blackmore and wife Candice Night are back with ‘All Our Yesterdays’, their latest release of renaissance-inspired fayre.Blackmore’s decision to abandon his hard rock credentials in 1997 for a life of medieval folk acoustica was back then, greeted with shock and dismay by certain factions who just couldn’t accept that the man in black wanted to try something different. Blackmore’s Night was certainly that, and the legendary guitarist left his past behind, forging ahead and gaining a whole new audience who lapped up his act’s dressing-up and performing in castles shtick.Whichever side you’re on, you’ve got to admire the tenacity of the man who has stuck resolutely to the most unique formula, and unsurprisingly, ‘All Our Yesterdays’ continues exactly along those same paths that previous Blackmore’s Night releases have traversed. The first taste of the album that most will have gotten will have been of the jaunty title track, which has been released as its first video. It’s a fair indication of what lies in store, however the release as a whole can generally be divided into three categories; original vocal songs, instrumentals and cover versions.First up, the originals, and whereas the likes of the mournsome ‘Earth Wind And Sky’ and the opposing gaiety of ‘Coming Home’ are typical of the type of folky material that the band is built on, it’s the semi-electric ‘Where Are We Going From Here’ that really shines. Featuring politely restrained bass, drums and that unmistakable electric guitar tone, it offers a fleeting glimpse of the Blackmore of old, and is the album’s undoubted standout.The instrumentals meanwhile follow a similar pattern, with acoustic pieces countered by a lone plugged-in number. While with cheerful ‘Allan Yn N Fan’ and succinct ‘Queen’s Lament’ stick to the traditional formula, the haunting ‘Darker Shade Of Black’ benefits from the addition of a rhythm section and electric guitar. A knowingly titled ballad with obvious nods to Procol Harum’s seminal ‘Whiter Shade Of Pale’, it also utilises cellos, Hammond organ and choral voice to eerily evocative effect.Finally, there are the covers. Of the two, the slightly re-worded version of Sonny & Cher’s ‘I Got You Babe’ is the most surprising. What may at first seem like a bizarre choice, it fits in perfectly with Blackmore’s Night’s aesthetic. The band also tackles Mike Oldfield’s ‘Moonlight Shadow’ in a faithful retelling. The only surprising thing about the latter is that is that they haven’t done it before.Overall, ‘All Our Yesterdays’ is exactly what anyone who has followed Richie Blackmore’s career for the past two decades would come to expect. Those that hanker after the yesterdays when the tempestuous icon peeled off hard rock licks from a Stratocaster may retreat to their Deep Purple and Rainbow collections. Either way, mead; optional." - Uber Rock
  • "Penny and Roger have been active since 1983 when they started their recording career with this excellent album. It's folk- rock at its best, with great acoustic and electric 6 & 12 strings guitar from Roger and the female vocals of Penny (Roger is there as well sometimes) adding some occasional percussion, tambourine, mandolin....no drums, no bass, only naked & direct wonderful melodies.16 tracks in total, 5 of them are unreleased bonus tracks from the same sessions!!! New picture cover (requested by Penny & Roger!), booklet with notes written by the duo and, as usual, comes in slimcase. Recommended!!!" 
  • "“The genesis of it was rooted was in the frustration of it all. Frustrated by the loud…”For Devin Townsend, ‘‘Casualties of Cool’’ is more than just the latest release of a prolific career to-date. You probably know him as the founder of Strapping Young Lad, you might have Steve Vai’s Sex & Religion, which features the Canadian metal star on vocals, or the countless other releases he’s put his name to. But you can forget all that for now. For Townsend, ‘Casualties of Cool’ is an escape – from over 20 years of relentless productivity, of the pre-conceptions of him that come with being one of the biggest names in his sphere.“When you’re younger you do these things and of course you become the product of them” he admits. “But as your life changes, your true nature comes through and becomes overlooked in lieu of what people view you as.” With metal a genre that’s resisted the cultural fragmentation of our age to remain intrinsically tribal, so the family you become part of remain the overbearing baggage you can’t throw off – how far do you have to go before you’re not, as Devin says, “the guy in the Motley Crue t-shirt?”It turns out he hasn’t had to go far at all.A project over four years in the making, largely at night when home from turning the dial up for the day job in the studio, ‘Casualties of Cool’ has seen Townsend look at himself in order to go forward. Digging out a battered old Fender amp and telecaster, he revisited the rootsy country and North American folk music of his youth. It provides the backbone of the album that’s eventually come to fruition, opening with ‘Daddy’s’ shuffling percussion and bluesy finger-picked motif, resurfacing during ‘The Code’s’ sultry twilight atmospherics and ‘Forgive Me’s’ hushed ambience. It’s a subtly applied but vital part of this record, providing the bones for the flesh to hang from. “My childhood was full of that type of music,” says Townsend. “At Christmas my grandfather would insist on the whole family sitting around singing uncomfortably along to Johnny Cash songs and Irish stuff like the Clancy Brothers. It was a big part of my childhood, it’s not like I’m putting on a new hat here.”However ‘Casualties of Cool’ isn’t a vehicle for nostalgia either; instead it uses these familiar troupes as leaping off points. Tracks like ‘Moon’ wind off and away towards astral planes, soft-edged textures coalescing and separating around murmured vocals; ‘Bones’ relatively straight-up balladry sits side-by-side ‘Deathscope’s’ cavernous production, making for a sweet juxtaposition between that and the intentionally simplistic rockabilly that characterises its structure. Sometimes the quiet is burst open by a bright blast of saxophone or choral chanting, but always, always a sense of night-time and nature pervades.“There’s such a specific environment around my current home in Vancouver,” Townsend ponders. “There are coniferous trees, it’s really rugged. I find myself more and more just wanting to move north away from people. I like the rain, and the dichotomy of dark and quiet. I like being near the water or the mountains. Spending time in hot, dusty Los Angeles – for instance – in a recording studio isn’t stimulating. Making Casualties I found more excuses to get in some kind of environment.”‘Casualties of Cool’ is a chance to switch off from our hyper-accelerated world, its relentless rush of 24/7 communication, and the competing voices that jostle for attention as they threaten to submerge our own. For Townsend, the themes of the record surround what he believes to be a bridge in his career; an acceptance of the artist he is today and embracing the fear of leaving behind what people know of him.“The song ‘The Bridge’ in particular is about transcending this period as opposed to succumbing to the fear and just reverting what I’ve done before,” he explains. “This whole album’s about fear; if you’re afraid of yourself or success it can be comforting to revel in that and let go - this record is like ‘go for it’”.Driven simply by the desire to see how things unfolded, free of the usual recording contract constraints and subsequent limits on time, it’s apt that Townsend stumbled on a supporting cast of similarly wandering souls, all revelling in their own sense of outsiderdom. The luxuriant vocals of Che Aimee have draped themselves over a previous Townsend release – 2009’s Ki – and so it was perhaps no surprise that the two would find their way back to each other. Keen to keep spontaneity through every process of Casualties… creation, he refused to explain the meanings of the lyrics sent to the singer, while also encouraging her to pen her own for other tracks. “I liked the idea of the concept of the record being rooted in a duality where two people are meeting at a crossroads,” he explains. Recorded by Aimee herself on her laptop, her voice is as important as the shuffling folk that permeates the record, in acting as a glue for the whole thing - her wistful tones hold together constructs so freeform at times they might disintegrate.Like Townsend, drummer Morgan Ågren is a country boy who’s found his career pinning him to the city. Having drummed for everyone from Frank Zappa to Meshuggah’s Fredrik Thordendal - in a 25 year career beginning in his teenhood - the Swede found himself similarly keen for a respite from the relentless productivity that sessioning and professional collaboration required. In keeping with the spirit of the project, Townsend stumbled upon him thanks to a mutual acquaintance. With a remit to simply drum quietly (“I wanted this record to sound like an AM Radio playing in the background”), Ågren’s work over the record anticipates the gradual shifts in mood that shape proceedings, playing with the space of the record and slipping any rhythmical nuances underneath the surface rather than dominating the tone. The pair got together to record the drum parts at his rural home in Sweden – a happy parallel to Townsend’s own secluded Oregon surroundings.Other guests feature too; Townsend cast back into his past in asking flutist Kat Epple to feature on the record – as a child he was blown away by her playing – while ‘The Bridge’ features a 50-strong Swedish choir, who come together to provide the surging climax of the album. As Townsend would readily admit himself, it’s Aimee and Ågren who complete the ‘Casualties of Cool’, ameliorating the moniker to a positive definition. It’s as a group that they renege on the trends of the music industry and the baggage they’ve amassed within it. This is a project set on a different plain, with space to breathe and explore unhindered, with an artistic freedom they thought they’d long since lost. “That’s the whole idea of the ‘Casualties of Cool’” comes the simple explanation of a project that – 20 years after his career began – introduces us to the real Devin Townsend."
  • "Second album from this Gloucestershire now-quintet group as they added Cadbury a fulltime bassist (although he would also diddle the fiddle) and they now moved onto Mooncrest Record to have their "classic years" although this should stay relative and all things considered. Musically becoming a quintet did not modify greatly the sound of the band, but it's clear it gave them more opportunities, although you wonder why they did not take advantage of it more. So we still have this prog folk rock that sounds somewhere between Strawbs (especially when they do flirt with country rock), String-Driven Thing and BJH.11 tracks, the longest of which is just below 6 mins plus two more hovering the 5 mins mark, and all of them (bar a useless Stills' RnR Woman cover) written by either Ball or Coppins or both is somewhat deceiving considering all five members (still no fulltime drummer) are multi-instrumentalists, including sax and cello. Interestingly enough, the violin gives them a SDT edge as you'd swear that Graham Smith joined Decameron. Vocally speaking, we never far away from Cousins' vocals, but there is tinge of BJH as well. Drum-wise, this is the guests appearance galore, including to Indian-sounding names on percussion instruments.Sure, there are some catchy songs, including the piano-lead Late On Lady Day (a short interesting crescendo) and Cheetah (killer bass line over dramatic vocals, while the other instruments, flute included, are whizzing by) or the awesome slow-developing Stone House (Cadbury's bass again plays a definite role). Clearly in this respect, the better tracks are on the flipside. Some tracks are downright cheesy, such as the String-sunk ballad like the Just Enough Like Home, the closing string fondue Empty Space (a cousin of Cousins) and the title track, while others are hovering on country-rock like Glimpses of Me and Breakdown of The Song (mind you if everybody in the country rock realm was as pleasant, I'd probably like country better), Other tracks like Jan are simply nothing worth more than mentioning.What really lacks Decameron is one or two good lengthy rockers to not only let loose, but really work it up, get down and boogie it away and add a good touch of prog nirvana. I'm sure they could've done it well enough to. But since they didn't dare, their albums are lacking the "je sais exactement quoi" feel and therefore are only good but nowhere close to essential." - ProgArchives
  • "Hosts of the annual Cropredy Festival and a mere year shy of their 50th anniversary, Fairport Convention is THE British folk-rock group, and many of the most talented and celebrated musicians in the scene have passed through their ranks. Of their many line-ups, generally it’s the Richard Thompson-Ashley Hutchings-Sandy Denny era that gets the most attention, followed by the return of Denny in the mid-‘70s with husband Trevor Lucas. But if there is one line-up that really doesn’t get its due, it would be the quartet of guitarist Simon Nicol, bassist Dave Pegg, fiddler Dave Swarbrick, and drummer Dave Mattacks that remained after Richard Thompson departed following Full House. Together, the four made two fine, underrated studio albums, Angel Delight and “Babbacombe” Lee, but live—as this unreleased August 1971 concert demonstrates—they were a revelation. Never during any of its eras did Fairport rock harder, and, though the band lacked any lead vocalist of the stature of Denny or Iain Matthews, all four members of the group sang and sang well, which lent their on-stage act extra energy. The show begins with the viola/violin duet between Nicol and Swarbrick on “Bridge over the River Ash” that appeared on Angel Delight along with the second track, “The Journeyman’s Grace,” but then the set list gets delightfully obscure for Fairport fans with a piledriving version of “Mason’s Apron,” a tune that never showed up on any of their studio albums. Old faves “Sir Patrick Spens” (from Full House) and “Matty Groves” (from Liege and Lief) follow, but then the band launches into the rollicking three-song medley “Sir B. McKenzie’s Daughter’s Lament” which only appeared on a 1970 single and whose extended original title vied for entry in the Guinness Book of World Records as the longest of its kind. The show winds up with the more elegiac “Sir William Gower” from Angel Delight, but, make no mistake, this is one blazing set of music, and the ample low-end of this concert recording—mastered by Mike Milchner at SonicVision—will have you dancing a jig across your living room. With notes by Richie Unterberger featuring quotes from the band, and photos from the Fairport archives, this is a major addition to the band’s vast discography."Track listing:1. Bridge over the River Ash2. The Journeyman's Grace3. Mason's Apron4. Sir Patrick Spens5. Matty Groves6. Sir B. McKenzie's Daughter's Lament7. Sir William Gower
  • Beautiful Japanese SHM-CD in a gatefold mini-LP sleeve."Thirty-two years after the fact, this live album presents a full-length version of the shows performed by Richard & Linda Thompson to promote their 1975 album Pour Down Like Silver, their third LP, following Hokey Pokey released earlier in 1975, and 1974's I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight. They are accompanied by John Kirkpatrick on accordion and concertina, Dave Pegg on bass, and Dave Mattacks on drums. The recordings have not been released previously, except for "Calvary Cross" and "It'll Be Me," which were included on Richard Thompson's 1976 compilation Guitar, Vocal, but which have been remixed for this album. The selections come mostly from the Thompsons' three albums, of course, with special emphasis on Pour Down Like Silver, and the performances are often stretched out with lengthy guitar solos. A nod to Richard Thompson's tenure in Fairport Convention is made with a version of "Now Be Thankful," and since the instrumental lineup mirrors that found on the album of traditional music Morris On, the players give Linda Thompson a break and perform a set of instrumental reels. The cover songs are all American country and country-rock numbers, Hank Williams' "Why Don't You Love Me" (with Linda Thompson on lead vocals), "Things You Gave Me" (learned from a Rick Nelson album), the Jerry Lee Lewis hit "It'll Be Me," and Buck Owens' "Together Again." This was a recording worth excavating from the vault, and it confirms Richard & Linda Thompson's reputation as a major folk-rock act of the ‘70s, making it all the more regrettable that they broke up, professionally and romantically, in the early ‘80s." - Allmusic