Jacco Gardner - Cabinet Of Curiosities LP
Due to being all ‘gigged-out’ by Easter Sunday, I missed the last night of Le Beat Bespoke 9 and Jacco Gardner. By all accounts the Dutch psych maestro finished the monumental four night extravaganza in some style. So, with that in mind, I was interested to hear his latest album ‘Cabinet Of Curiosities’. Now, unless you’ve been a ‘scene hermit’ in the last 12 months, you can’t help but notice a resurgence in psych bands and music. The late 60s output of bands from around the world is being reappraised, re-interpreted and given new momentum by young artists who were not even close to being born in 1968. Influence is a wonderful and regenerating force. So where does Jacco Gardner fit into this renewed psych scene? Well, the first thing of note and some admiration, is that he plays everything except drums on this LP. He also wrote, produced, recorded and mixed the entire set. This puts Jacco in the ‘precocious talent’ category. This is a collection of dreamy, laid-back, beautifully executed songs. The use of instruments gives it an air authenticity reflecting the period of popular music which inspired it. However, Jacco’s real coup de gras is making it all come across as contemporary as opposed to a parody or pastiche. Opening track, ‘Clear The Air’, really sets the tone for the LP. In terms of pace, it never gets above a ‘gentle jog’, but I suspect the point of this work is it demands to be listened to with some concentration to get the full effect. The tracks I went back to most often are ‘Puppets Dangling’ and ‘Where Will You Go’. If you enjoy lazing in the sunshine by a river, this is the album you should have with you. Let’s hope the UK has a long heat wave ! www.jaccogardner.com & facebook.com/jaccogardnermusic
Button Up - Modena LP
One of the perks of my job here at Nutsmag is that I get to discover great talent I was not aware of before. Button Up are one such band. Having reviewed the ‘Inhaler’ single in the April newsletter, I now have the pleasurable duty to review their LP ‘Modena’. In case you missed the single review, I’ll recap briefly. Button Up are from the Glasgow area and are led by bassist Garry John Kane, with Sara Kerr taking lead vocals. In all, they are a five piece outfit with guest musicians joining them as and when required. ‘Modena’ is a 50-50 split of vocal and instrumental tracks and the first thing that struck me was how versatile Button Up are. The four tracks that feature the aforementioned Ms Kerr are all flavoured with northern soul. They are all good tracks, but my favourite of the four is ‘Listen To Your Heart’, for no other reason than it gives Sara a bit more work to do vocally. She handles it with apparent ease and what I particularly like about her vocal style, is that she has that certain ‘north of the border’ quality in her voice which can be found in any number of her fellow Scottish predecessors. Of the instrumental tracks, the real surprise is the change of pace with ‘Eugene’s Echo’ which is a slice of reggae with a hint of UB40 (when they were really good) thrown into the mix. This is another personal fav, but I have to say, ‘Someday’, a real Two Tone style groover, is the track I’ve listened to the most. Maybe it’s because it reminds me of The Beat’s halcyon days, but whatever the reason, I love this one. If I have any criticism, it is merely that I found myself looking for ‘something’ to take the instrumental tracks up a level. ‘Upside Down’ for example is a nice Hammond-led dancer, but I felt it could have done with a brass or sax solo in there which would have given it that bit ‘extra’. Over all though, this is a very good LP. There will be a review of Button Up’s ‘Covered’ ep in the next edition of Nutsmag and the rumour is that Button Up may well be making an appearance at a NUTS event in the future. Let’s hope so ! buttonuprecords.com and available on I-tunes.
Bobby Brooks Hamilton
Bobby Brooks Hamilton – It Was You b/w Little School Girl
Fresh from their hugely successful revue show at Le Beat Bespoke 9, here is another gem from the terrific Wild Records. Both tracks are superb cuts of genuine rhythm and blues recorded in an authentic style that typifies Wild Records output. ‘It Was You’ is very much a song written with the influence of early James Brown, Sam Cooke and the Moonglows in mind and the delivery by Bobby Brooks Hamilton is astonishingly good. He has a voice that evokes the spirit of the great ‘shouters’ of R&B and if we in the UK have a contemporary, it would have to be Si Cranstoun (formerly of The Dualers) now out on his own and producing equally great recordings. ‘Little School Girl’ is a good old-fashioned R&B shuffler that sees Mr Hamilton really work those vocal cords along with a rasping mid-eight tenor sax solo. But here is the real ‘eyebrow-raising’ fact about Bobby Brooks Hamilton. His dad is Jackie Wilson. Yes, THE Jackie Wilson. No wonder the man can sing. wildrecordsusa.com (Listed under Bands – Bobby Brooks Wilson, this link takes you to the sampler for the two tracks)
Soho-lites - Good Morning London
I’m sure there are one or two of you out there who remember the band 17 Black from the 90s? They were a band who were popular on the scene, especially at scooter rallies and they showed great potential, but for some reason they never quite made it. Lead singer and songwriter Brent Yeomans has kept busy since the demise of 17 Black and he returns here with an updated version of this catchy little number under the guise of Soho-Lites. It has all the elements and influences of ’79 without being patronising. It’s easy to spot the Jam connection. The song structure is very much based around the classic ’79 period of the mod legends, but it has an honesty about it. Let’s call it ‘an affectionate tribute’. Lyrically, ‘Good Morning London’ does what you would expect, telling the tale of our capital city from the view point of a traveller on his way into the centre of town. The brass section have a very nice hook that lifts the track and, all things considered, this is a very nice single.
Hexxers – Let’s Dance b/w Straight Home
If you like a bit of rock and roll and you enjoyed the Wild Records Revue at Le Beat Bespoke 9, then you’ll love this. I can’t tell you much about the Hexxers other than they are something of a rockabilly favourite out on the West Coast circuit. Both tracks are fairly typical of their output, full-on rock and roll with manic vocal delivery and a musical style more in keeping with the Ventures. ‘Straight Home’ did make me smile though as it tells the tale of a date that ended in an ignominious fashion because the lady in question was ‘ugly’. Hence, why they went ‘Straight Home’. While this single is still available on Wild Records, the Hexxers have since moved on.
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