A Life Unlimited – LP
This was another one that arrived a few days after the deadline for the last edition of NutsMag Reviews, so it feels a bit like ‘closing the gate after the horse has bolted’, but what a ‘horse’! Pure thoroughbred from start to finish.
‘A Life Unlimited’ sees a progression from the previous outing ‘To Find The Spirit’. Indeed, the opening track on the new album is really the only reference point to the former.
‘Beverley’ is also the title song to a Cass Pennant short film and it conveys that lilting relaxed blue-eyed soul feel that Stone Foundation produce with consummate ease.
The main departure from their previous work is the influence of soul and jazz funk on this LP. I’m thinking of artists like Donald Byrd for example.
However, ‘Pushing Your Love’ is a sumptuous ballad, ‘These Life Stories’ exemplifies the jazz funk groove while ‘Leaning The Hard Way’ is a more upbeat soul.
Add the guest appearances by Graham Parker, Nolan Porter and Dr Robert (Blow Monkeys) to name a few and once again Stone Foundation have produced another great album. Since it’s release, ‘A Life Unlimited’ has reached the official national album chart with no major label backing. Now that is something worth celebrating because it proves there is hope after all and one wonders just how much longer the mainstream media (including radio) will ignore this band. Not much longer I’ll wager.
The Polperro Horse Bus Company – Album
If you can count Mark Radcliffe of BBC Radio 6 Music among your supporters, then you can’t be all bad. This four-piece from Nottingham have a knack of blending their various influences into a coherent and very appealing collection of songs on this album.
Radcliffe’s assertion that Lois sound both ‘retro and absolutely contemporary’ is spot on. The melting pot of Lois seems to range from the Kinks and the Zombies to Manic Street Preachers and Suede (at least, that’s what I’m getting).
Whether it’s the gently rocking along of ‘Jeanie (Ooh La La)’ or the up tempo ‘Monkey Girl’, the songs tend to grab you after just one listen.
For my money, ‘My Precious Love’ and ‘Star Is Falling’ are the outstanding tracks from this LP, and that is saying something when you have 16 gems to choose from. There is depth, a well-thought-out running order and texture to this collection and I am sure we will be seeing a lot more of Lois in the near future.
The Past Tense
Heads Held High – Album
This album has been available for a few months, but it was kindly handed to me by the band shortly after the last edition of NUTsMAG, hence the delay in reviewing it.
For those unaware, Past Tense has been around for a few years, although the members of the band have worked together under various names since school days. Andy, Ken, Warren and Buzz believe this is their best work to date, and it is hard to disagree. Their influences are un-ashamedly Mod Revival, Punk, Garage and 60s Beat bands and this album encompasses all of them to a greater or lesser extent.
For me, the stand-out tracks are the ones that show Past Tense are not a one-trick-pony and have so much more in the locker.
‘Vision (From Another World)’ is a prime example with the inclusion of a Hammond organ growling away in the mix to give the song a different dimension.
‘Crying’ has a huge dose of Ray Davis about it with guest Paul R Osborn taking vocal duties on a song that is really catchy and thoroughly enjoyable.
‘No Apologies’ sees Past Tense dabble with a Northern Soul vibe that fairly rattles along. ‘Another Putney Sunrise’ is a pleasant surprise because it is unexpected and shows a real touch of finesse when it could so easily have been overcooked.
The closing track; ‘What’s Coming Next?’ has a touch of The Strokes about it and has another infectious chorus.
So, yes, I would agree, this is the best album by Past Tense to date. I’ve a funny feeling the next one might be even better.
Jennie And The Slingers
Tales Of The Unexpected – Album
Hands up all those who remember the Bellestars in the Eighties? How about the Polecats or Madness? Well, Jennie And The Slingers is made up of former members of those bands (although Lee Thompson makes a guest appearance). Apparently, this album was two years in the making, but it was well worth the wait.
It’s a combination of Rockabilly, Ska and R&B influences and with such seasoned professionals in the mix, it is a superb album. There are cleverly constructed lyrics (some done with humour sadly lacking in the last lot of decades) and some astute observations on society. It’s the kind of album we used to get on a regular basis 30 plus years ago and it made for an interesting mainstream music industry (which it certainly is not these days.)
The album gets off to a flyer with ‘Last Gang In Camden Town’, a solid rockabilly infused, catchy number. ‘Better Guy’ and ‘Gamblin Man’ provide the aforementioned humour and social commentary. In short, there is not a duff track to be found. The closer, ‘King Kong’ reminds me of that strange hybrid of rockabilly meets ska that Madness could deliver now and again.
I have to say though, Jennie Matthias (Bellestars) has never sounded better. There’s a quality to her voice and delivery that is an ideal match for the music. Take a listen to the ballad ‘Lady Sings The Blues’ (not the Billie Holliday tune I might add) and you will see what I mean. Jennie oozes class in a manner similar to the great ‘torch’ singers like Julie London.
If you like something a bit different, (and I do with bands like Rhythm Shakers, Dustaphonics, Gizzelle etc) this is definitely and album for you.
Powered by Max Banner Ads