Was there really a time when guitar maestro Richard Thompson was still struggling to establish himself as a solo artist? Yes. Was there a time when he wasn’t a preternaturally commanding solo artist? Seemingly not.

As one of the greatest guitarists of his generation, Richard Thompson has played with some of the world’s most accomplished rock and folk musicians, starting, of course, with his first band, Fairport Convention. But of all the outfits Thompson has led during his sterling, post-Fairport, solo career, perhaps the finest was the unit he took out on the road with him for his 1985 tour supporting his then-current studio release (and first for the Polydor label), “Across A Crowded Room”. While the album’s recording sessions had featured Fairport Convention stalwarts Simon Nicol and Dave Mattacks on rhythm guitar and drums, respectively. For the tour Thompson enlisted the considerable talents of Any Trouble leader Clive Gregson and his creative partner Christine Collister, whose haunting harmonies (and occasional songwriting contributions) beautifully fleshed out the band’s live sound.

The double live album “Across a Crowded Room – Live at Barrymore’s 1985” documents an electrifying Ottawa performance from a period when the world’s greatest living guitar stylist , not to mention one of the finest songwriters the 20th century ever spat out.  Thompson was still a relatively unknown quantity without his erstwhile musical and matrimonial partner Linda, at least outside his native England. There was an abortive first stab at a solo career represented by 1972’s commercial disaster Henry the Human Fly, but 1985’s Across a Crowded Room was only Thompson’s second post-duo album. And Thompson himself has stated that it wasn’t until he partnered with Capitol Records a few years later that his tours stopped hemorrhaging currency.

But even the most cursory of listens quickly reveals that Thompson’s touring band for these shows supporting Across a Crowded Room was a crack outfit capable of deftly supporting the boss man’s superlative material and mind-melting guitar work. Some of his old Fairport convention buddies pitched in on the album but were apparently unavailable for touring. Instead, another U.K. folk-rock stalwart, Gerry Conway of Pentangle and Fotheringay (and later Fairport) took the drum stool. Rory McFarlane stepped in on bass. But possibly the most important additions to the band were singer/guitarists Clive Gregson and Christine Collister.

Clive Gregson had recently disbanded his British power-pop band, Any Trouble; he and Collister were then just about to launch themselves as a duo more than a little influence by Richard and Linda. When they lent their well honed harmonies to Thompson’s tour, they gave him arguably the finest vocal blend he’s ever achieved onstage, giving the songs an extra push over the top.

Not that any band where Richard Thompson has a guitar in hand needs any extra assistance. Though his reputation as a guitar hero would grow even greater in the years to come, Thompson was already worshiped as a six-string superhero by his hardy cult following by this point. And he approaches his instrument with the requisite amount of magic here. “Shoot out the Lights,” which would become probably his most famous guitar showcase, was still a relative new song in his repertoire at the time, but Thompson brings as much danger, mystery, and mastery to it here as ever. With his instrument alternately rattling, roaring, murmuring, and howling, he leaps far outside the convention language of the guitar (or any other instrument, for that matter) to bring the gloriously creepy, foreboding tune to its climax.

Thompson brought the bulk of his new album onstage, which is an almost entirely positive development, since songs like the bittersweet “When the Spell is Broken,” the feverish “Fire in the Engine Room,” and the explosive “She Twists the Knife Again” are all in the top tier of his work. And while audiences in ’85 were forced to sit through the turgid, endless (and thankfully anomalous) “Love in a Faithless Country,” contemporary listeners can simply skip to the next track.

Besides all of the aforementioned plus sharpshooting versions of Richard & Linda staple classic’s like “Wall of Death,” “I Want to See the Bright Lights Tonight,” and “Withered and Died,” the Barrymore’s set includes a trio of tunes never heard on any other official Richard Thompson release that will catch the fancy of Thompson trainspotters (and you’d best believe he’s got his fair share of those in his audience).

Gregson and Collister each take a turn up front, the former singing “Summer Rain” from his contemporaneous solo debut album, Strange Persuasions and the latter delivering “Warm Love Gone Cold,” a song she recorded for a BBC TV adaption of Fay Weldon’s novel The Life and Loves of a She-Devil. But if hearing Thompson accompany somebody else doesn’t spark your plugs, the closing track undoubtedly will. Things end with a balls-out rockabilly rave-up on another tune unique to the Thompson catalog, a riotous cover of “Skull and Cross Bones” by little known ’50s rockabilly singer Sparkle Moore, serving as a reminder that in his impressionable years, the king of British folk rock spent his fair share of time soaking up American rock ‘n’ roll.

Across a Crowded Room—Live at Barrymore’s 1985 is an essential addition to the Richard Thompson discography and offers enduring testimony as to the kind of magic the man can conjure on stage.

words, thanks to rockandrollglobe.com

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A frenetic London trio made up of Oli Burslem & Andy Jones (who were born in the black country in the West Midlands& raised in the suburbs) joined by kiwi drummer Elliot Rawson who bangs the drums.

They then moved to London and started selling curiosities in markets, which led to them meeting other musicians (a family table to Spiritualized’s John Coxon, an antique german map to Bill Drummond, a chair to a caribou member, a model ship to a scottish band – not that one – and an antique dildo to a peace associate). they also put on an artwork exhibition with Thurston Moore. in the meantime, songs were written in a basement of a furniture store in east London. it was dark and Yak were born.

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Ryley Walker is the reincarnation of the true American guitar player. That’s as much a testament to his roving, rambling ways, or the fact that his Guild D-35 guitar has endured a few stints in the pawnshop. Swap out rural juke joints for rotted DIY spaces and the archetype is solidly intact.

Charles Rumback and Ryley Walker are both known for their creativity and curious spirits. Rumback is a drummer in high demand in Chicago’s free-jazz circles, and a pillar of the second wave of improvisers in a scene first shaped by the legendary players like Sun Ra and other members of the AACM. Walker draws deeply on other distinctly American styles, bringing a strong sense of folk tradition to his playing that is as arresting as his freewheeling performance style. Together, Rumback and Walker find common ground in their kinetic, intuitive playing and yearning creative outlook.

Little Common Twist, their sophomore release as a duo, finds both players at their most adventurous. It compiles instrumental pieces that convey a striking range of emotions, at once introspective and expansive, with a delicate interplay that delights as they move with ease across a spectrum of styles. The recording has a pastoral quality that recalls Van Morrison ’s classic album Veedon Fleece , and captures a remarkably dexterous performance by both Charles and Ryley that make this album so expansive and fresh. Little Common Twist was recorded over several sessions throughout 2017 and 2018 with producer John Hughes , capturing the duo playing in the moment with minimal overdubs. The guitar and drums duo eschewed each instrument’s traditional roles of rhythm and melody, experimenting with texture and rhythm. This album is the culmination of a creative partnership that has seen Rumback and Walker constantly challenging each other. In stretching the bounds of their interplay even further than before, the duo created their most evocative and expansive work to date, conjuring the afterglow of sun-scorched landscapes and ethereal after-hours ambience.

REWS – ” Pyro “

Posted: November 17, 2019 in ALBUMS, MUSIC
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Need some raucous indie rock in your life? Then get on board with Rews. The high energy band proved themselves on their incredible first album ‘Pyro’ and now look set for even bigger things in 2020 with the release of follow up as yet untitled record!

Rews was formed in 2014 by Northern Irish musician and songwriter Shauna Tohill who quickly impressed and spread the name of two-piece Rews with fierce live performances, Shauna taking on lead vocals, guitar and piano and teaming up with a just a drummer. Small in number yet zero compromise in their music, the pair are able to concentrate on their essential driving sound which sure packs a punch!

In 2017, Rews signed to the label Marshall Records for the release of their fiery debut album ‘Pyro’. It would feature their dark and beguiling lead single ‘Miss You In The Dark’ which was the first sign of Tohill’s true potential with the band. This would be followed by ‘Shine’ which had the hard edge and massive riff that made it a fan favourite plus ‘Your Tears’ and ‘Shake Shake’ which both have huge commercial appeal and revealed the Rews huge range.

The reaction to their first album was huge, seeing the band attract huge critical acclaim with Huw Stephens enthusing about their incredible onstage performances and Planet Rock Magazine nominated them in the running for their Best New Band poll. Rews would rock the John Peel Stage at Glastonbury Festival having been specially picked because of the reaction to ‘Pyro’, plus would earn a place supporting Halestorm at their massive show at Brixton Academy and play to packed out venues on their own headline tours.

Next year, Rews have just announced that they are back with a massive tour plus expect to drop their highly anticipated second album! See them tear around the UK in March 2020 where they are sure to thrill the crowd with their hot new material plus all the songs you love from ‘Pyro’.

Wolf Parade will release “Thin Mind”, the group’s fifth full-length, on January 24th worldwide through Sub Pop Records, with the exception of Canada through Royal Mountain Records. The ten-track album, which features the singles “Forest Green,” the previously released  “Against the Day,”  and “Julia Take Your Man Home,” was produced by John Goodmanson at Risque Disque on Vancouver Island, BC.

Every moment spent gazing at our screens is oversaturated with content, an ever-accelerated news cycle conditioning our ever-decreasing attention spans. The struggle to stay present, and to foresee a clear, sustainable future, feels very real. Wolf Parade address this phenomenon head-on with Thin Mind, the band’s 5th full-length and second to be produced by John Goodmanson (Bikini Kill, Sleater-Kinney, Unwound).

“Thin Mind” refers to the way that being around too much tech has made our focus thin,” says keyboardist Spencer Krug. “It’s opening one more page, scrolling one more thing,” adds guitarist Dan Boeckner, “and the weird, sort-of hollow automaton feeling that you get from it.”

“This record is very personal, but at the same time, we’re all coming from the same place of a general sense of anxiety,” says drummer Arlen Thompson. “How do you deal with the constant barrage of having your opinions swayed by all these different actors when you don’t know who they are or what their purpose is? There is no normal anymore.”

Thin Mind marks a return to the original power trio of Dan, Spencer, and Arlen, following multi-instrumentalist Dante DeCaro’s amicable departure from the group in 2018, after the conclusion of their world tour supporting Cry Cry Cry.

One month later, the trio got together at Risqué Disque, an old stone barn-turned-studio in the woods of Vancouver Island, to begin writing Thin Mind—emerging with an album about making sense of the present while reckoning with visions of the future

From the album Thin Mind (Release Date: January 24th, 2020

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Joan Shelley makes music that lulls my soul. Her new album, Like the River Loves the Sea, is a serene experience. It’s music with a deep connection to British folk music from the ’60s and ’70s but with influences from this side of the world and her home of Louisville, Kentucky.

On this session Joan Shelley is joined by her musical partner and Louisville companion, guitarist Nathan Salsburg to play DJ. You can hear the roots of the music they make in the songs they chose to share, from American banjo legend Roscoe Holcomb to English folk singer June Tabor and the contemporary music of Bonnie “Prince” Billy.

Guitarist Nathan Salsburg is Joan Shelley’s longtime musical partner Joan Shelley tells the story of recording Like the River Loves the Sea in Iceland and how they had to forgo adding banjo to the album because they couldn’t locate one in Iceland. We also hear Joan Shelley’s early trio called Maiden Radio, Joan and Nathan’s new collaboration with Bonnie “Prince” Billy and how she met him at an ugly sweater party in Kentucky.

One awesome thing about Andy Shauf: He didn’t leave his friends behind. After breaking through in a huge way with 2016’s Polaris-nominated The Party, the Canadian singer-songwriter went back for a whole album and touring cycle with Foxwarren, his band with childhood friends from Saskatchewan, rather than push forward with his solo career.

Now, though, it’s time to get that solo career rolling again. Shauf is back today with “Things I Do,” the lead single from a new album called The Neon Skyline. It’s a concept album about a narrator visiting his neighborhood dive, discovering his ex is back in town, and eventually coming face-to-face with her. This song in particular is about the relationship falling apart. It’s the sort of lush, jazzy retro pop-rocker Shauf made his name on, continually returning to the refrain: “Why do I do the things I do when I know I am losing you?”

Written, performed, arranged and produced by Andy Shauf

“Try Again” by Andy Shauf from the album ‘The Neon Skyline,’ available January 24th, 2020

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From shambolic cult pop to FM-friendly accessibility, these tracks display Grant McLennan’s melodic genius and Robert Forster’s lyrical brilliance

Lee Remick

The earliest Go-Betweens recordings reveal the band’s simpler, shambolic pop aesthetic rather than the sophisticated sound for which they became renowned. The 1978 single Lee Remick was a bouncy, light-hearted love letter to the actor that’s as poppy as it is punk, but offered an early showcase for the Go-Betweens’ knack for melody. Lee Remick, alongside the primitive brilliance of other early recordings Karen and Eight Pictures, was written in the space of a month, not long after the Go-Betweens formed. The band consisted of two 19-year-olds, Robert Forster and co-founder Grant McLennan, who were joined by a drummer they knew. Nervous, depressed and distrustful, this was when the Go-Betweens focused their attention on what Forster described as “feelings in the bedroom, Brisbane, driving my car and anything from overheard conversations” rather than attempting to address universal themes. The group were still unformed in many ways, but Lee Remick’s addictive pop sensibility makes it an enduring cult classic that sounds as joyously youthful today as it ever did.

Your Turn My Turn

The band’s first album, 1981’s Send Me a Lullaby, confirms the notion that debuts usually present the least refined version of a group, but even here the Go-Betweens still sound more cultivated than most of their indie contemporaries. But there remained a raw post-punk sensibility in tracks such as Your Turn, My Turn, with its sharp edges. The combination of clunky, sporadic piano parts with the melody and sharp, resonant guitar creates an affecting contrast.

By Chance

WhileSend Me a Lullaby primarily dabbled in post-punk urgency, its successor, Before Hollywood, established the Go-Betweens’ propensity for melding calm, intricate melodies with something more frantic. The sudden shifts in tempo results in a record filled with variety and colour, exhibited in the contrast between Cattle and Cane – which focuses on the band’s more introspective tendencies – and the hurried frenzy of By Chance. The lyrics are cryptic here, but it’s the impulsive, stop-start arrangements that make it an often omitted Go-Betweens classic, alongside the desperate brilliance of Send Me a Lullaby’s Midnight to Neon.

Cattle and Cane

Their most celebrated song, Cattle and Cane, was composed in the summer of 1982 on a borrowed guitar in London, though it sounded meticulously thought-out and crafted, rather than impulsively put together in someone’s spare bedroom. That’s the effortless genius of Grant McLennan: an incredibly talented songwriter and guitarist who had a way with words that was haunting and evocative. “The rhythm struck me as strange, the mood as beautiful and sad. The song came easily, was recorded quickly and still haunts me,” he said in an interview shortly before his death, at the age of 48, in 2006. Cattle and Cane reflects a phase in the Go-Betweens’ trajectory when many of their songs dwelt on the subject of Australia, catalysed by the homesickness they felt after relocating to England.

As Long As That

The Go-Betweens progressed to a style that was more focused, if not unknowingly complicated and clever, on Before HollywoodBy this point, Lindy Morrison had become more proficient on drums – her effortless, no-frills approach was essential to the Go-Betweens’ sound. Filled with a series of intricate melodies, the slow, languid pace of As Long As That is a comparative slow-burner among the chaos of tracks such as By Chance and That Way. That variation and nuance made Before Hollywood one of the best records they ever made, and perhaps the absolute best.

Part Company

Part Company on first listen, it sounds like the perfect love song to soundtrack broken hearts and lovers going their separate ways: “What will I miss? Her cruelty; her unfaithfulness,” Forster laments, sounding both tragic and heartfelt, but never too sentimental. According to Forster, however, all is not what it seems. He wrote the song when the group were on the cusp of moving to England, and it is an ode to Australia. That all makes perfect sense once you delve a little deeper into the inner workings of Forster’s poetic discourse: “From the first letter I got to this, her bill of rights,” he sings. Part Company – from the band’s third album, Spring Hill Fair – displays the more mature style that Forster and McLennan were aiming for. It exhibits so many prevailing Go-Betweens qualities in one song: strong, literate lyrics that are never self-indulgent, arrangements that are filled with occasional subtle tweaks – such as the nervous hum of the keyboard low in the mix – and Morrison’s drums: simple, but effective. The best thing about Part Company is the interplay of Forster’s and McLennan’s guitars, a perfect example of their musical relationship being one of cohesion and understanding. What’s more, there will never be a moment in music as melancholy as when Forster sings: “That’s her handwriting, that’s the way she writes.”

River of Money

River of Money is the Go-Betweens trying their hand at sleazy post-punk in the spirit of their friend Nick Cave. Put next to an album such as 16 Lovers Lane, you’d think it was an entirely different band. The lyrics are some of the Go-Betweens’ best, and on paper they read like strangely affecting free verse: “It is neither fair nor reasonable to expect sadness to confine itself to its causes.” River of Money plods along at such a leisurely pace that it sounds like it’s stuck on the wrong RPM, but it sits comfortably among the other more buoyant, upbeat songs on Spring Hill Fair, and the contrast displays the band’s breadth of vision perfectly.

Draining the Pool for You

A lesson in how to write the perfect indie rock song, Draining the Pool for You sounds like the inspiration behind everything Pavement have ever done, though Forster confessed to writing the melody in 10 minutes in a London hotel while writing for Morrison to put on her lipstick. The lyrics are set in a mansion in Los Angeles where the narrator is working for an “idiot movie star”. He sees himself as the only intelligent, talented person there, yet he is hired to clean the pool for the luxury parties that take place. Lyrically, it’s perhaps one of the more simplistic Go-Betweens songs, but the arrangements – leisurely guitar lines, aptly placid, repetitive drums, and an unforgettable, soaring chorus – should make this a hit in an ideal world. The song portrays resentment brilliantly: “I remembered your name – evidently you’ve forgotten mine,” Forster sings, apathetically, feeling overworked and underappreciated.

Head Full of Steam

Released in March 1986, the Go-Betweens’ fourth LP, Liberty Belle and the Black Diamond Express, was the band’s most accessible album up to that point: Morrison said she believed that if drum machines and synthesisers had replaced the organic arrangements it would have been a hit. This new FM-friendly approach was a surprise to those who had been following the Go-Betweens from the start, but in retrospect it was a natural progression for a band who always had a pop sensibility. Liberty Belle is often regarded as rather hit and miss, but Head Full of Steam is a highlight. Its softer, janglepop sound showed that shifting towards simplification could work in their favour. As Forster said: “I’m writing a lot less complicated music, and it’s giving me space to put myself in it.”

Clouds

In a 1988 NME interview, McLennan said: “I maintain that the Go-Betweens write about love better than anybody else in the world.” He wasn’t wrong: their sixth LP, 16 Lovers Lane, is shamelessly lovelorn. It should have been the album that took them beyond being a cult band – one for whom the phrase “critics’ favourite” might have been invented. Gone were the ragged edges; lyrics became less obtuse, the production more polished, the guitars acoustic and the strings warm and contemplative. The Go-Betweens were at their most accessible, and with that came praise from many critics, but fans seemed sceptical of the change in direction and the breakthrough didn’t happen. Still, 16 Lovers Lane had a cohesion their other albums perhaps lacked. Forster’s lyrics sat perfectly alongside McLennan’s heartfelt, melodic impulses. Clouds showcased that juxtaposition: its uplifting tone is undercut by a deep sadness.

reDiscover Captain Beefheart’s ‘Doc At The Radar Station’

As the 80s rolled around, many iconic artists from the 60s would struggle to find their place in the decade. Captain Beefheart, however, though boasting a 60s discography that re-wrote what was possible for a mere three-minute song, came back revitalised. The punk and new wave scenes of the late 70s and early 80s had embraced his creative freedoms, while Beefheart himself, after seemingly turning his back on boundary-pushing music, unleashed a late-period Magic Band that asserted his credentials as one of rock’s true visionaries. They super-charged themselves for 1980’s “Doc At The Radar Station”, his penultimate album. Portentously, it boasted an artwork painted by Beefheart himself – the final album to feature his own work on the sleeve, as if signposting Beefheart’s eventual decision to retire from music and pursue painting in the middle of the decade.

The line-up that made “Doc at the Radar Station”, the penultimate studio album from Captain Beefheart and the Magic Band, recorded in June 1980. In this photo, left to right: Robert Arthur Williams, Don Van Vliet, John French, Eric Drew Feldman, Jeff Moris Tepper and Bruce Lambourne Fowler. Photo by Michael Kent Rothman.

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In this photo, left to right: Robert Arthur Williams, Don Van Vliet, John French, Eric Drew Feldman, Jeff Moris Tepper and Bruce Lambourne Fowler. Photo by Michael Kent Rothman.

Doc At The Radar Station marked the first Magic Band credit for New York art-rock icon Gary Lucas – continued evidence of Beefheart’s influence on NYC’s downtown art scene (it’s an influence that never left: the album’s opening track, ‘Hot Head’, is a clear ancestor to Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ early outings). Further youthful bite came courtesy of Eric Drew Feldman, a multi-instrumentalist who had joined the fold for 1976’s Shiny Beast (Bat Chain Puller), and who would go on to perform with Pixies and PJ Harvey – two artists who wore their Beefheart influences openly.

A nod to Beefheart’s hallowed Trout Mask Replica-era band came with John French’s return since his defection in 1972. French picked up marimba, slide guitar, bass and drums across ‘Ashtray Heart’ and ‘Sheriff Of Hong Kong’, and it’s perhaps unsurprising that both boast the deceptively unhinged mania that marks much of Beefheart’s 60s output, but with an extra heft thanks to the new blood involved.

This melding of old and new is arguably what makes Doc At The Radar Station such a success: some of the material dates back to the Trout Mask era, while other outings (‘A Carrot Is As Close As A Rabbit Gets To A Diamond’,’ Flavor Bud Living’, ‘Brickbats’) received initial try-outs during the shelved Bat Chain Puller sessions of 1976. With such a forceful Magic Band attacking top-tier material with gusto, there was no way Doc At The Radar Station could fail.

Indeed, in their review Rolling Stone lauded “music of such heat, strength and passion that many listeners will get trampled”, though also noted that the songs “rarely shatter into headlong chaos without first showing the comely, formal compositions they might have been”. It was an astute observation. Beefheart might have divided his fanbase with his outwardly commercial 70s outings Unconditionally Guaranteed and Bluejeans & Moonbeams, but it’s true that Doc At The Radar Station also makes clear the genuine songcraft that goes into even his most outlandish material.

It had taken almost two decades, but perhaps the world had finally caught up with him. Rolling Stone reasonably pointed out that, really, the man Don Van Vliet was “bugged by the same things that plague us all: bad relationships, bad technology, bad government”, while The New York Times was sufficiently moved to hail album closer ‘Making Love To A Vampire With A Monkey On My Knee’ as “probably the most extravagantly original and perfectly realised creation of Beefheart’s career”.

Almost three decades on, as a penultimate salvo, Doc At The Radar Station still warrants such positive diagnoses.

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Stevie Jean’s debut EP is filled with tumultuous tales from her high school years, but rather than reading like the tortured journal entries of youth, “December Song” is mature and nuanced, emoting with the clarity of distance without sacrificing any of the unchecked teenage volatility. The young Northern Territory songwriter deals in darkness well, sounding like early Mazzy Star, or Tori Amos without the histrionics. Even as it creeps along, December Song is ultimately uplifting. Perhaps it’s because Stevie Jean has spun gold from misery: as myopic as being in love can be, it ultimately makes us stronger – especially when it doesn’t work out.

Her debut EP “Blame Game” is out now. Dorro Records Released on: 2019-11-01