Contact: tdharvey@hotmail.co.uk Or Follow On Twitter @TimDavidHarvey

Saturday, 2 June 2018

REVIEW: PETE YORN & SCARLETT JOHANSSON-APART (EP)

4/5

Found In Translation.

Coming into focus, back together again, great American singer/songwriter Pete Yorn thumbs the bridge of his nose between his eyes as he restlessly leans on the open window of American muscle. He pulls the sleeve of his suit jacket back to check the time on his elegant wrist watch and looks out of his passenger side window in polite impatience. And then there she is. Hollywood starlett Scarlett Johansson. Riding shotgun looking back at him like something cinematic on this long and swerving kaleidoscopic road. As if 2009 wasn't almost ten years gone next calender. Short bob rocking, singing about her "bangs growing too long" as she pulls the directions of a mascara wrote, alcohol smudged cocktail napkin out her diamond shining pocketbook purse. Her bottle green cocktail dress gleaming the same like the smashed glass on the back seat that twinkle like the stars in the back windows rearview. Carpool singing together about relationship woories and 'Bad Dreams' like it was the happiest song in the world. Air-drumming and swaying side to side in sing-along unison (with even a crazy to camera 'Planes, Trains and Automobiles' driver seat looking reference). All whilst turning the car radio tuner to a whole new beat and street, the She and Him of actress Scarlett Johansson and singer Pete Yorn reunite like M. Ward and 'New Girl' Zooey Deschanel are about to too. "Thanks for breaking up with me again" Johansson tells Yorn in the albums linear notes. Seems fitting.

They "broke up" in 2009 with these friends collaborative album 'Break Up'. When 'Back and Forth' singer Yorn phone call recruited Academy actress Johansson and femme fatale throwback Scarlett to work on a new album with him. Following her 'Lost In Translation' breakout to the movie mainstream of legendary legacy making leading ladies in 2003 when she was still a teen, Scarlett really came of age before the Avenging Black Widow days of Thor like blockbuster war dominance to 'Infinity' thunder. And her 2008 album of Tom Waits covers 'Anywhere I Lay My Head' showed she could beautifully go at it on her own, before Yorn called her up for their dual nine track album. One that birthed the instantly infectious, foot-stomping classic single 'Relator' and the solo Scarlett standout cover 'I Am The Cosmos', like Pete's own 'Someday' closer on a classic album as songwriting straight-forward as the timeless over a pad and pen cover. Now back with another classic one, their E.P. sister follow up to their 'Break Up' album, 'Apart' explores the aftermath of a broken relationship. But it almost has the fond, found feeling of a Sofia Coppola 'Lost In Translation' sequel reuniting with Bill Murray for Santori times in the Park Hyatt hotel (like the 'A Murray Christmas' Netflix special), or Johansson's return to the Tokyo neons for last years amazing anime adaptation, 'Ghost In The Shell'. And relating to 'Relator', 'Bad Dreams' reawakens the toe-tapping catchy opening single number.

"Worried I lost my car keys or that I said something wrong/Worried about the mess that's in my house, that's in my heart/Worried that I'll go crazy every time that we're apart" they sing in the chrome filter of traffic and night lights reflecting off their shimmering car for a standout single that shines like it does. And if that feels like something straight out of the flicks of a film then wait until you here the dual favourite on this half-album. 'Movies' feels exactly like one with Yorn's lasting lyrics, offset by Scarlett's smoky, smouldering vocals. Now their own trademarks like they are their own Ryan Adams or Norah Jones'. The out the gate permenance of the hook, "Take me to the movies/Take me where you're going/I don't want to live without you" as smoky and seductive as Scarlett singing "La-la-la-la-la, love you" in harmony with the outstanding opener 'Iguana Bird'. There's even an as red as romance, or this E.P.'s artwork cover remix to Pete Yorn's 'Tomorrow'; off his last acclaimed album 'Arranging Time' album on this five-track today. But it's the relationship ashes and dust stubbed out on 'Cigarello' that is cinematically, open-road and heart compelling and illuminating as a plugged in car cigarette lighter under the dash as Yorn years, "Cigarello in your eyes/Choking on the good goodbyes/We dream of better days". The whole EP has this same atmospheric feeling and need of wanting for more from the tracks and the tears of two unique artists in their own right. Finally back in each others collaborative embrace for after what feels like forever, but in an instant is brought back like they never left. We hope another decade doesn't age before these two decide to be apart no longer for even more songs. One good encore deserves another...together. And 'Apart'-even in its extended play half measure in comparison to the almost decade ago 'Break Up' L.P.-shows us sometimes the greatest love stories belong to the ones we lost. But like something that never really leaves us, will always hold close...forever. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

REVIEW: BEN HARPER & CHARLIE MUSSELWHITE-NO MERCY IN THIS LAND

4/5

Land Of Hope & Blues.

Credit late blues great John Lee Hooker for this perfect pairing. Hooker woke up one morning and decided that blues icon Charlie Musselwhite and multiple bandsman Ben Harper needed to cut an album together. So he made the necessary introductions and the rest my friends is beautiful blues history like John Lee's own legendary legacy. Now after the Grammy winning 'Get Up' album (and stellar standouts like the last waltz of 'We Can't End This Way' and the cowboy fedora of 'I Ride At Dawn'), it's time to get down on the dynamo duos new album 'No Mercy In This Land', for a world that needs that sort of peace right now. And what better than the spirit of the blues? That are as soothing to yearning or roadside wandering hearts like a tended whiskey slid over the bar and placed on top of a cocktail napkin at the end of a long and winding day. And in the catalogue of all the collaborations the epic, eclectic Harper has constantly created and curated (from his Fistful Of Mercy supergroup, to the gospel of the Blind Boys of Alabama or even his own mother Ellen for 'My Childhood Home'), between reuniting with the Innocent Criminals for 2016's 'Call It Like It Is' and the rumor of getting the Relentless7 band back together for the next go round, no one has quite left as indelible mark on Harper than the legendary blues muscle of Musselwhite. Charlie kisses the harmonica like the great love of his life. Whilst Ben meticulously and tenderly cradles his trademark slide guitar like a craftsman working a lathe. And together in soul they hone this music with all their heart, giving new color to the blues.

Looks like these two actually are looking twice with their second album. And after the traditional blues of 'When I Go' sets everything off like stomping feet, 'Bad Habits' shows the ever lyrical Harper writing more classic couplets that rhyme with the reasons the blues were born. "When a man gives you his hat/He's living on borrowed time/The shoe fit so I wore it/But I left one lace untied" the man who once told us "you have to live my life to get boots like these" warns as he sings and brings wisdom to what otherwise would be a life cliche. These creations continue on the blood and bone of 'Love and Trust'. That as Harper plays the slide like a harp with Musselwhite in harmonica harmony gives us gospel, writing, "Like a horse in a race/That doesn't want to run/An executioner who won't fire his gun/Like a boxer who won't take a swing/Like a prince/Who don't want to be a king/Haven't we suffered/Suffered enough/Now we're out here fighting/About some love and trust". As the man influenced by Marvin, Martin and all sorts of kings like B.B. refuses to muddy the waters of what's really going on. But the maverick man of modern music with more meaning doesn't just point fingers without turning them inward as he takes a few shots, some subliminal and some just straight on 'The Bottle Wins Again', yearning, "Broken hearts and broken dreams/Turns out they weigh the same/Passed down through generations/Like the family name/There's a gilded coat of arms/For those who heal from within/But tonight the bottle wins again". Then the beautiful ballad 'Found The One' really haunts the heart like the first dance of matrimony. Before it ends up being the last one too as the brooding returns to shoulder the pain of loss. This is the blues after all.

"Everybody says I love you/But not everybody lives I love you". "I could've held you more carefully/And I suppose you could've been there for me". "Choosing not to remember/Is no way to forget/That's just a losing bet". "These old streets of shame/Will they ever look the same/Will they remember our name"Just ask the dust". On arguably the most lyrical of all the laments on this disc for the record, Harper tells us a tale of 'When Love Is Not Enough' just mere seconds after 'Found A One' fades out. He pulls no punches after he's gut checked with a black eye from the blues. Back at the bar with a cup of blues poured to the brim the innocent criminal who once warned us "not to stand insincere at the side of my grave", brings those contrasting couplets back to the barstools bedside manner as he slams the shovel in. "Spend your whole life with one woman/Die and leave her your farm/The very next day she's on your best friend's arm/There ain't no worries/You can't drink away". Clicking with the spurs of those wild ones that still live in the old west the man who has now made the fedora his trademark is as rhinestone as the slicked back shirts of Musselwhite. And the pair play it again like Sam for the 'No Mercy In This Land' title-track as Musslewhite mourns, "Father left us down here all alone/My poor mother is under a stone/With an aching heart and trembling hands/Is there no mercy in this land". With a vivid vocal from behind the harmonica that aches and trembles with leather worn, brutual beauty of the very words he sings. All from a man who has been through it all and will tell us more than we will ever likely see. Harper gets clever for those who "learned to hustle, but never learned to dance" on 'Movin' On' as he rolls, "Won me in a poker game/Lost me in a bet/Then you got the nerve/To turn around and get upset". Before the beautiful blemishes of the slow-burn closer 'Nothing At All' really brings those bitter and sweet life lessons, that hauntingly and heartbreakingly never leave you like an inner scar only you can see. "This world's too hard to not have someone break my fall/We climb this world stone by stone/We love each other bone by bone/There are sins for which one just cannot atone/There's a price we pay/For the places we lay", Harper sings over strained strings and the man playing behind him in black that will always have his back 'till the bones. 'Get Up' got a Grammy. There will be the very name of this album if 'Land' doesn't at least lay the groundwork for another one. Whether an award or album for this trilogies conclusion. Lord have mercy. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Wednesday, 28 March 2018

REVIEW: JACK WHITE-BOARDING HOUSE REACH

4/5

Third Man's The Charm.

"I'm thinking of starting a corperation. Whose with me?" Jack White proclaims on the White Stripes, Raconteurs and Dead Weather trilogy bandsmans third solo album on his Third Man imprint. But don't worry, despite his self-made record business in the heart of Music City, Nashville, Mr. White isn't selling out to the masses. It's all not so subtle, tongue in cheek lashing passive aggression to not be passed over on the track 'Corperation'. Which also features starting a revolution lyrics like "Nowadays, that's how you get adulation" and "I'm gonna buy up all the empty lots and make one giant farm/Who's with me?" Highlighting an album highlight off 'Boarding House Reach', that after the solo self 'Blunderbuss' beginning and lavishing 'Lazaretto' follow (not to mention or forget his amazing acoustic recording, the gold standard, shining 'Great Gatsby' standout for Jay-Z's curated soundtrack ('Love Is Blindness') and his 'Lemonade' sip in return with Beyonce ('Don't Hurt Yourself')), is a bat#### classic. Weird and wonderful and brilliant and bold like his trademark guitar riffing. Jack's most ambitious shot out the box yet is screamingly beautiful. Complete with soul singing in the background for a rock and roll king from the town that's a little bit country, who with all his recent musical company has found a nuanced hip-hop niche. Yep, Jack White raps on this album that is all over the place but in a grand and great way that will have your headphones permanently in place. Besides when Beck does it you don't complain like his latest classic 'Colors'. Or how about when late, great Aussie INXS ruler and most formidable frontman Michael Hutchence turned the 'Kick' of the bands biggest hit 'Need You Tonight' into a remixed interlude 'Mediate' complete with placard phrase, Dylan-esque cue cards? White can do it too and this Jack of all trades jacks up both the amps and the 808s...and that's not even a self-serving plug. Whose with me?

Like what real music is supposed to be all about. It's just all connected. Connected like the lead single and very human alien invasion video says, 'Connected By Love'. Singing, "Woman, don't you know what I'm suffering from/Ease my pain, make it wash on with the rain/Relieve me and put it up on your shelf/Take it away, and give it to somebody else" on what may be the superior solo single of his collaborating career, Jack gives us one of the best blues numbers in a grand genre. But it's got nothing on the soul stirring, straight-laced, second single standout, 'Over and Over and Over' with again a Penrose perfect back and forth video, painted in 'Boarding House' and 'Lazaretto' blue and even A-Ha/Paddington background white. With 'Icky Thump' duking licks and a visual as epic as the White Stripes video classics of the groundbreaking kaleidoscope of 'Seven Nation Army' and the repeating 'The Hardest Button To Button', 'Over and Over' impresses as one of the strongest songs in his entire, epic classic catalogue. But as he sings, "The Sisyphean dreamer/My fibula and femur/Hold the weight of the world/(Over and over)/I think, therefore I die/Anxiety and I rolling down a mountain/(Over and over)/My shoulder holds the weight of the world" screaming for the sign of the times this even has nothing on some of the themes traversed on this groundbreaking and stereo shaking piece of album art. 'Why Walk A Dog" takes on all forms of animal cruelty for the vegan generation without petting or pandering as Jack preaches, "Are you their master?/Did you buy them at the store?/Did they know they were a cure/For you to stop being bored?/So somebody mated them/And took their babies away from them/Stuck a price tag on their nose/And now you’re buying it clothes" with bitter bite we should all heed more than bark about.

After the 'Abulia and Akrasia' spoken-word interlude like 'Ezmerelda Steals The Show' the hyper 'Hypermisophoniac' keeps the motor running for the 'Motor City' Detroit kid in the same rock and rolling vein. Whilst the licked strings of 'Ice Station Zebra' continue the coldest singles streak of White, matched with his animalistic lyrics aimed to claw away at both the competition and the corperation that thinks it's running things. "Everything in the world gets labeled a name/A box, a rough definition, unaffordable/Who picked the label doesn't want to be responsible/Truth, you're the one who needs the keys to the prison/You create your own box, you don't have to listen/To any of the label makers, printing your obituary" he wearily warns with industry scathe. Before rejoicing and celebrating with us that, "Everyone creating is a member of the family/Passing down genes and ideas in harmony" lyrics that couldn't sign, seal and deliver the meaning of this envelope pushing album further. After a cautionary commercial like opening of fifties sensibilities, 'Everything You've Ever Learned' rocks like its 'Respect Commander follow up as White yearns, "Every single thing about this situation/Says I can't be wrong/And every time she gets her satisfaction/I want her to control me all night long". The sonic song beautiful, but in the heart brutual blues continue with the play to the collection, church organ orchestration of 'What's Done Is Done' following the funky Parliament ode to 'Get In The Mind Shaft'. But it's the timeless, time goes by, last goodbye of 'Humoresque' that at its most beautiful brings this collection to a complete close. White or even the Beatle/Rolling Stone rock and roll genius and king of the modern days closest contemporary have never wrote lyrics as potently poetic or as pure as this, "Over the air, you gently float/Into my soul, you strike a note/Of passion with your melody". In chorus with the heartfelt hook of, "Sunbeams are playing/Flowers and trees are swaying/Captured within your magic spell/If the children are dancing/Lovers are all romancing/Is it any wonder, everyone is singing?" Showing that just like countrys own Hall of Fame's Johnny Cash's 'Forever Words' lyrics and prose, behind ever rock star from the Man in Black to this man of White is a heart and soul, not made of granite, but gratitude. In a divisive already 2018 where we need music to help and heal aswell as point fingers and direction we can't help but be thankful for that Springsteen blue collar like human touch. Something that knows how low our blues can be, but soulfully rocks with us and takes us higher, from a maverick raconteur of a man who has earned his stripes. After all aren't you just as bored with regular music as you would be just staying in the house all day watching that same television? Then this one will reach. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

REVIEW: TANK-SAVAGE

4/5

Savage Garden.

Another one for the soul soldier artillery, 'Savage' is exactly that for the strong-armed R&B battalion singer Tank, who has been rolling like a 'One Man', 'Force Of Nature' since his 'Sex, Love & Pain' classic took him from background singer for Ginuwine, all the way to the Grammy family. He successfully sequeled his definitive, groundbreaking classic to begin last year, amid rumors of a breakdown in his three-way supergroup marriage TGT with modern R&B innovator Elgin 'Ginuwine' Lumpkin and singer/actor Tyrese Gibson. The Hollywood star who right now is engaging in a war of beefed up words with 'Fast and Furious' co-star The Rock over some hard place feelings over a Dwyane Johnson 'Hobbs' spin-off with Jason Statham (and possibly according to some Instagram back and forth, Durrell Babbs himself, Tank). Despite being fans of all parties that came together for the classic 'Three Kings' album we would be remiss to not point to reports that the man making the most money from movies didn't want an equal share of a sought after sequel with his big-three band of brothers. Despite producer Tank doing the lions share of these kingsmens work writing and manning the boards on some of this trios biggest hits. Even away from the collaborative classic which we hope one day follows up with another album (we invite you to listen to 'Open Invitation's' standout track, 'Prior To You'). But that's another song, for another album and another story on another day. As inbetween all the work for other artists that Tank's been putting on, not to mention the mixtapes and Valentine and Christmas E.P.'s Tank has being keeping busy on his own solo outings that play not to over inflated ego, but only to his love of soul and dedication to his songwriting craft. For almost a straight decade Tank has been rolling out an amazing album between everything else just less than every other year. There was 'Now Or Never' and then all the work that followed after like it really was. The fresh 'This Is How I Feel'. The Motown 'You're My Star' feeling fuelled 'Stronger'. And then of course 'SLP2' last year in twenty fifthteen. But now this time only a calender and change later Babbs is back as Tank gets really 'Savage' aiming for the head of the R&B throne via the heart.

And of course all that sweet soul for the streets that may be found Isley inspired somewhere between the sheets. "Everybody wanna taste it/You can tell that you my favorite/I give you the gas and/Now you burning up the pavement/If you ever leave/I'ma probably have to chase it/It took too long to make it/And now I can't replace it", Tank cooly croons on the opening self-titled track of the same name. Getting deep, down and dirty and ever so Parental Advisory: Explicit Content sticker stamping slick and leather cool since he got 'Lonely' with frequent 'Shots Fired' collaborater Chris Brown on the opening to 'This Is How I Feel' in 2012. The hard hip-hop R&B R. Kelly like duality to his Babyface ballad atmospheric inspired pure persona continues on 'Everything' where his line rhymes body even those of his guest features of him ten years ago Trey Songz and too 'Fast and Furious' punchline king Ludacris. As Tank raps and waxes lyrical confidence with his "You just want it real and if you/Lookin' I ain't that far/Oooooh Oh, you just want the/Cash and the fast life/Know you see the Lambo' you can/See that I'm the fast type/I can make you famous got the/Cameras and the flashlights" competition crippling couplets. Staying in this same vain fast lane, Tank keeps driving some smooth rides with the burners 'Do For Me' and 'Only One' who on a nightdrive will find themselves tuned into the dials of the radio as the roof on the convertible rolls back as cool as a crisp summer setting night. All before the beautiful 'You Belong To Me' keeps the ballads slow burning on the blacktop as Tank takes it slow between lines like, "We done made some big moves/G-wagon and a Wraith/Bel-Air mansion coming soon/I been down to put the paper down/For anything a lady wanna do/I could let you walk on air". As the Fresh Prince wills his way in a world of music Mr. Smith's to become the one, true, sole heir and king or R&B.

Rhythm and blues. Sex, love and mother####### pain all menage together in the second half of this 'Savage' piece that see his smouldering sensual single 'When We' take center stage like his model wife Zena Foster in the velvet rope smooth and pulling video. As between powerfully provocative lyrics licking "I like it when you lose it/I like it when you go there/I like the way you use it/I like that you don’t play fair/Recipe for a disaster" between X-rated harmonies and melodies your ex wouldn't want to hear that haven't been this racy and raw since Ginuwine hummed ad-libs of 'When We Make Love'. Tank brings many a coupling collaboration to the better half of his jacket diamond grafitti stamped album. 'Good Thing' with Candice Boyd is oh so much more than that. Whilst the complete closer with one of the last young guns with bullets left in his R&B revolver J. Valentine 'Stay Where You Are' keeps us right here in this albums hold. An album that gets 'Sexy' and nasty and horribly hardcore as we 'F It Up'. This is the sexual liberated power of Prince, LeBron muscled up to a baller that wants the crown in a modern day where everyone is going for your dome for their piece. "No use for you to rush perfection" Tank laments as he rhymes with raw reason "We need a camera crew/Cuz I’m ‘bout to get you loose/I’m ‘bout to make ya yell/Like somethin’ was wrong wit’chu/Undo your ponytail/Let all that fall down/Told you I’m gon’ be there/To beat it all down" on another heater on an album so hot summers about to come back before the dark fall. This cohesive set is in a class all in its own aside from Tank's classier numbers, but still it will move millions in behind closed doors unison for that midnite hour love-in as Tank's latest may be darker, but man how it cuts deeper too, going for the jugular. The hardest working man in urban radio, if not mainstream music as a whole may have his head on his hands on his back to us album cover. But this is not out of desperation...not for album sales anyway. Sex sells, but real love wins and Tank's fans continue to stand by him in solidarity despite the lines drawn be enemies whether critical or commercial. Write him out of the pop charts all you like, but he'll stay writing songs on and popping as those not giving him his fair share will finally see real success isn't how much you sell...but how much you don't sell out. Savage? You be the judge, but when it comes to Tank and his guilty, lustful pleasures fleshed out here, in his industry no one has more conviction. And that always makes more than the zeroes after your name. Real music isn't just in the hit-making, but the pen and paper, voice and microphone songwriting beginning. And you best believe the man who started it all has more in the you know what. You can't stop this Tank in an arms war when he keeps reloading like this. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Saturday, 7 October 2017

REVIEW: SHANIA TWAIN-NOW

4/5

From This Moment Now

1.2. 'Now'. She's still the one after all these years. Forever young like Keanu Reeves post-50, Canadian country singer Shania Twain has been through it all and taken a long and winding road just west of Route 66 to get to this point in 2017. From Nashville to taking Dollywood as the best selling female country star of all time in the world, Shania was tailor making pop/country crossover hits that were a little bit rock and roll and moving C.D. copies swiftly years before todays biggest music star that wrote her name in the blank space left when the Twain train stopped at station. But now it's back on it's wheels for the first new album Shania has put down since 2002's three-way, blue, green, red, pop, country and international big 'Up' release that came off the heels and leopard skin catsuit success of her and country music as a whole's most groundbreaking album. One of the biggest diamond albums of the golden era 90's and of all-time, 'Come On Over'. And after the 'From This Moment On' era came to a close, 'Now' finally comes after a decade and a half as Shania has survived bitter betrayal and divorce. Lyme disease. Almost losing her signature sound, let alone tragically her voice as a whole. And not to mention 15 long years that has seen the music industry change and download into a new age of Spotify streaming that even Taylor Swift ended up having to give in to for fear of real 'Bad Blood' with fans and industry heads alike. But despite all this and that in a time where Nashville is a soap opera T.V. show and country music in the modern day is more Lady Antebellum than Johnny Cash, the Canuck that took Tennessee has scored yet another number one album. Shania is still a girl on fire. Man I feel like a comeback. In the words of Lionel Richie on his 'Tuskegee' country album, 'My Precious Love' collabo with Twain, "Welcome Back Shania"! Let's go girl!

'Life's About To Get Good' indeed as is evident on Shania's soaring new life affirming single that is right there with her catchy hallmark 'Man I Feel Like A Woman', 'That Don't Impress Me Much' and 'I'm Gonna Getcha Good' singles that she will roll out in her next Las Vegas residency in tribute to that great, unstoppable town (stay strong, stay praying) and all the country stars and fans who have rocked there. "Oh! Life's about joy/Life's about pain/It's all about forgiving and the will to walk away/I'm ready to be loved/And love the way I should/Life's about/Life's about to get good" Shania sings in chorus for the new post-break-up survivor anthem that's the 'We Will Never Ever Get Back Together' for the millennial parental generation. And if that wasn't enough than the follow up second single and opening first track of the album 'Swingin' With My Eyes Closed' keeps the party going with a reggae flavour that sparks the nostalgia of the international version of 'Up'. "It's in the air we're breathing/Oh can you taste the freedom, oh oh/I'm swinging with my eyes closed/Got my hair down a wide open road/I'm swinging with my eyes closed/Only god knows how far it goes/Fist up in the air/Oh like we don't care/Swinging" Twain traces lyrically in a song and video party fusion laced with sex appeal. As the woman who in stunning portrait black and white still fits and wears the same iconic as Madonna's closet outfit she wore in the 'That Don't Impress Me Much' video shows she's not only still the one, but she's still got it too. 'It' being the appeal of one of the greatest legacy making legends in two diamond dominating genres of music. Brad Pitt!? Captain Kirk?! John Wayne maybe?! Elvis or something?! Not even the King can touch the queen.

But despite a double act of dominating sole standing singles, 'Now' is all about the album as a whole right here and it really is her most cohesive and classic set in terms of ballads in the same 'The Woman In Me' vein. The country strong 'Home Now' confirms her arrival back in her second residence outside of Ontario and in those United States. Whilst the atmospheric 'Light Of My Life' could find itself perfectly between 'I Won't Leave You Lonely' and 'You've Got A Way' as she sings "My little piece of the pie/American beauty/Apple of my eye". But it's the modern maverick 'Poor Me' that would have the Parton and Emmylou Harris raising a glass too in it's clever songwriting skill of lyrical dexterity. As it mixes sorrow on the rocks with a twist as she sings "poor me this/poor me that" and then "pour me...another". 'Whose Gonna Be Your Girl' is a classic 'no need to roam you're love is at home' call and response yearn as she asks her man about the town "whose gonna be your girl/when all your boys are gone". Whilst the catchy chorus vocally and instrumentally of 'More Fun' kisses those Monday blues away to a Friday night live and love for the weekend embrace. And as this deluxe album delves deeper than the studio set tracks like 'I'm Alright' are more than that as the woman who wrote 'Black Eyes, Blue Tears' and 'When' shows she has great love songs growing on trees no matter her songwriter or partner. 'Lets Kiss And Make Up' and 'Where Do You Think You're Going' continues that reconcilliation of love trend and theme. Whilst 'Roll Me On The River' gets the mood back on an upbeat track as she pleads "play my favourites on the ride downtown/'Love Me Tender' on the radio/Turn it louder, kiss me slow". The hand clapping keeps rounding up in applause for the positive reaffirming 'We Got Something They Don't'. Before she finally sits down with her acoustic with the personal beauty we've been waiting for in 'Because Of You' for an inspired interlude as she gets back on her feet and the floor for the take your partner 'You Can't Buy Love'. 'All In All' this is a vast and versatile velvet smooth set that's worth all the years of paid off wait. But it's the heartfelt, soulful 'Soldier' that really is the nation to nation proud standout. "Has anybody seen my soldier/Standing all alone/Has anybody seen my soldier/Just trying to get home" she sings in military tribute testament. As this adopted American from Canada looks to keep those States united in a house of falling cards. Even a trumped up president needs to recognize a queen from another country. They said "I'll bet she'll never make it", but here she is forever and always, more than holding on. Looks like she made it. And that does impress us much. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Monday, 25 September 2017

REVIEW: THE KILLERS-WONDERFUL, WONDERFUL

4/5

Leaving Las Vegas.

Neon lights read "Welcome To Fabulous Las Vegas, Nevada" in the rearview of a Mustang riding towards the desert. That's right The Killers are leaving Sin City and all their troubles behind. Splits, personal problems at home and band counselling. And as they roll away like the last dice off the strip they see all their bright lights inbetween the big cities attractions, from the Monte Carlo and fountains of the Bellagio, to the Eiffel Tower and Statue of Liberty like they had Paris, Egypt, Italy and New York in the same city. From the skyline shine of their 'Hot Fuss' debut which had more hit single classics in the first few tracks then most bands have in their entire careers, to the sophomore star 'Sams Town' and the neon future of 'Day & Age' that asked if we were human or dancer. But after lead singer Brandon Flowers went out on his own with the native 'Flamingo' that really welcomed us to the red or black heart of this luck be a lady casino town (following his solo debut with the 80's revival of 'The Desired Effect' two years back), The Killers looked primed for a change. And the Springsteen inspiration fuelled 'Battle Born' (perhaps their deepest and desert at night darkest best yet) saw them hit the road for a new heartland sound, leaving their 'Direct Hits' in a compilation next exit as they thunder road gunned for their own 'Shot At The Night'. Now unbelievably a half decade later the band that gift us with a new Christmas song every end of year are back before the fall with something 'Wonderful, Wonderful'. And even a million miles away from the pink flamingo's, Brandon Flowers is still 'The Man'.

And with lyrics like "I got gas in the tank/I got money in the bank/I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man/I got skin in the game/I got a household name/I got news for you baby, you're looking at the man" in a video where Flowers plays a vest, grill and shotgun trailer park boy, a woman on each arm suited and booted socialite, a rhinestone cowboy riding a Cadillac, an Elvis glitter glam in the talent contest of a dive bar wannabe star and an Evil Knievel like motorbike stuntman what more could you expect. The Killers can still make a killing. Even if for the first time their name and iconic spotlight logo isn't front and center on their album cover. But hold the desert shell to your ear and you'll hear one of this leather and white tee bands best and biggest hits for the jukebox yet. And it all sounds so dynamite, dynamically different, between hallmark couplets and Bowie homages that call back to their 'Spaceman' age. And if you thought it ended their with big, bold and bright new singles that really are that then you better 'Run For Cover' from the rip-roaring guitars of their stadium rocking follow up with rolling Flowers in vocal bloom. "I saw Sonny Liston on the street last night/Black-fisted and strong singing Redemption Song/He motioned me to the sky/I heard heaven and thunder cry/Run for cover/Run while you can, baby, don't look back/You gotta run for cover/Don't be afraid of the fear, that's a played out trap, man/You know you're not the only one/And don't look back, just run for cover" Brandon sings. But it's not the only knockout pugilist reference the singer/songwriter boxes clever with.

Aiming to be the greatest like Ali in a town all too familiar with the belt or ropes, make or break nature of life that can either leave you with a clenched fist to the sky or a black and blue eye for your purple heart, Flowers looks back at his own adolescent mortality and validity of his youthful dreams that he never knew would come this true on 'Tyson vs Douglas'. Thinking Iron Mike couldn't be beat he laments, "You can change the channel, take the phone off the hook/Avoid the headlines, but you'll never grow up, baby, if you don't look/I had to hold my breath 'til the coast was clear/When I saw him go down/Felt like somebody lied/I had to close my eyes just to stop the tears" as the man who went from heavyweight to 'Hangover' movies hit the canvas. The Killers frontman alive with back against the wall aspiration even tries to impress his wife on the classic love song 'Out Of My Mind' with rock God hero references, talking about The King like The Boss did. "I stormed the gates of Graceland/To make you realize/Went back to back with Springsteen/You turned and rolled your eyes/So I told you about McCartney/And that's a heavy name to drop/You say you don't need confirmation/But I don't know if I can stop". But even caught between a rock and a deserted place, Flowers still has the will and the way his heartland music promises in close your eyes and hope to fly faith as he sings, "I'll climb, I'll climb" again and again in religious like call and response. Just like this L.P.'s standout title track back and forth cries of resolution to the "motherless child' which offers faith from this Mormon preacher in the same vein as 'Battle Born's' 'Deadlines and Commitments'. Holy Ghost evoking forgiveness and redemption echo through this album as par for this bands course. From the "call my name" relationship reliability of 'Life To Come' to the welcome Hollywood star Woody Harrelson opening scripture introduction of 'The Calling'. These top ten tracks from The Killers with no filler really belong with the best of the rest even if calling critics believe this isn't the groups most powerful project. But from the singles to the deep album cuts like the atmospheric 'Some Kind Of Love' it's hard to pick the best from this beautiful bunch from Flowers...that is until you get to the end. Where Brandon and his band of brothers search for more in their backpocket with 'Have All The Songs Been Written'? And judging from lines like, "Have all the songs been written/Have all the truths been told/Has all the gas been siphoned/Do the banks still carry gold/Has every ship gone sailing/Has every heart gone blue/Have all the songs been written/Oh, I just need one to get through to you/I just need one more", it looks like they really do have one too. And plenty more wonderful ones left in the tank as they tune their car radio in. For this band on the run there's still plenty of roads left to take. TIM DAVID HARVEY.

Monday, 28 August 2017

FOR THE RECORD: WILL SMITH & DJ JAZZY JEFF Live @ Blackpool Livewire Festival

5/5

Getting Jazzy Wit It.

Blackpool? BLACKPOOL?! Yep, underneath the Blackpool Tower (L'Eiffel has got nothing on this!) on a summertime's night in the "Las Vegas" of the United Kingdom of all places, movie megastar Will Smith and his Fresh Prince rapping partner DJ Jazzy Jeff reunited on stage after seven years and one night in Croatia (in the shortest...and strangest world tour), to thousands of promenade shutting down fans whose eyes were peeled with as much awe as disbelief. Can the worlds most recognisable face of entertainment that has the ears to play President Barack Obama really forgo London, Manchester and even the Beatles home of Liverpool (let alone the rest of the whole world) for a town more known for it's sticks of rock and rollercoasters than fans screaming after rock stars? Well...yes he can! Just days after Michael' men, The Jacksons took to the same stage of ultimate musical and cultural icons just across the road from pound arcades and shops, this rhyming and scratching brotherhood finished one hell of a Bank Holiday weekend with a special show that was everything and anything but a cash grab for the multi-million 'Men In Black', 'Independence Day' and 'Suicide Squad' Deadshot actor and one of the greatest deejay's of all-time in hip-hop and music history. "You have no idea how amped I am" Big Willie, Will Smith said taking the stage after the outstanding opening of his bombastic classic 'Boom! Shake The Room'. Pyrotechnically puncuated by fireballs and fireworks that neon illuminated the night like the Blackpool lights and tower front at Christmas or the name of Smith's next movie coming this December. With the smell of firecrackers in the air and the man himself live in the "Fresh" the amazing atmosphere was set. But even without that the excitement would have still been as palpable from the met awe-inspiring anticipation of the powerhouse energy enthuser whose catchphrases include "WOO" and an even louder "HA HAAA"! Were he or we about to let this once in a lifetime night in a small town by the seaside go to waste? "Oh HELL nah"!

Code Red! This was it! After the 'Simon Says' call and response of epic, ultimate hypeman Fatman Scoop got the crowd going like it's "how the hell is THIS happening HERE" feeling didn't even need to. Or his 'Be Faithful' Crooklyn Clan remix with Notorious B.I.G. wife and R&B queen Faith Evans did in every club since the early 2000's. The man who supported Scoop on the 'Put Your Hands Up' remix like Faith went from The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air to literally the most famous person you'll ever see live now the late, great Jacksons M.J. (not to mention the freshest Prince of them all) is no longer with us for the biggest selling yet most underrated discography you've ever heard or known word for word. Remember "first rap Grammy! Let's talk about the only reason your a## went to Miami". Sure when it comes to Will, you know his way. He is legend and you know the movies from 'Hitch' and 'The Pursuit Of Happyness', to 'Collateral Beauty' and 'Wild Wild West'. Just like you know Jeff, whether you're a hip-hop purist or a famous face fan who knows Jazzy as the dude that always get thrown out of the late, great James Avery Uncle Phil's Bel-Air mansion everytime he made a "you're uncle's so fat" joke or wore that gold and black and white polka dot shirt. But these two are more than one of the 80's 'Cosby Show' and 'Cheers' rivalling most successful sitcoms of all-time 'The Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' that their Magic and Kareem, bars and decks, one-two punch dynamic duo actually chicken before egg birthed. When it comes to true jewel, genuine hip-hop history and DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince, Will Smith and Jeff Townes are first and foremost like Charlie Mack out of the limo. As iconic and legendary in rap circles and ciphers as fellow 80's pionners Run-DMC, A Tribe Called Quest, De La Soul and N.W.A. Don't let the nice, clean raps confuse you. Or the family movies like LL Cool J or Ice Cube guy. Will Smith, you know he's fresh. But the kid who thought he could beat Mike Tyson has skills to. Capital Z.

Get Jiggy with it all you like, but the legendary legacy of Fresh and Jeff is not just about "Here come the Men In Black" as you nod your head. Because for every trademark Will, heartfelt and hilariously introduced stool-sitting  'Just The Two Of Us' (with his first born sitting in V.I.P. with what looked like either Blackpool's mayor or an old white dude who loves Slick Rick jewellery) and welcome to 'Miami' (as the man who played the late, great 'Ali' said and show proved he was the greatest) there was a 'I Wanna Rock' and 'Brand New Funk'. As we were tour taken with our guide through the 30 odd years and back catalogues from 'Big Willie Style' to 'He's The D.J. I'm The Rapper' and 'Rock The House' to 'Willeniuum' in Blackpool's homebase. Just how actually legendary are these big names? Well if you didn't know that these 'Girls Aint Nothing Trouble' and 'Parent's Just Don't Understand' hitmakers won the first rap Grammy when musics Oscars wouldn't even televise the category. And that the cultural bringing together ground and barrier breakers were even sued by the claws of Freddy Kruger in a real waking horror for their Halloween hit 'Nightmare On My Street' then now you do, as one of the greatest and most fun storytellers told you. As he rocked and rolled, just cruising through the hits at a relentless pace, not looking as middle aged as this 50 plus all Hollywood action hero actually is. With his wheels of steel partner Jazzy Jeff on the ones and twos, perfecting the most impossible crowd fuse igniting scratches and transforms on vivid vinyl like the return of the magnificent he really is. And before you wonder like sampling 'I Wish' by Stevie, of course they did the ultimate greatest hit of the season for this festival in 'Summertime', just like a spark of nostalgia. As there it was a groove slightly transformed like their encore mash-up of the still relevant post-Willeniuum hit 'Switch' and the alternating, cult recited legendary 'Fresh Prince Of Bel-Air' theme. But as school was out like a sort of a buzz the nights called for "drums please", as the world premiere of a new empowering song came out to a 808 roll. And the new single material, bright shining 'Get Lit' was exactly that for the new, next gen, Netflix smartphone littered crowd this 80's hit making baby still related to like Banks residents this Bank Holiday. Even with the likes of 'Ring My Bell', 'Lovely Daze', 'Will 2K', or Alfonso Ribeiro doing "The Carlton" to 'It's Not Unusual' by Tom Jones on a fridge carton, this glee grinning great still milked the gig in concert with D.J. J.J spilling the crates for all it was worth before the night gave way to glass bottles on the sidewalk. And after the Times Square, gunpowder Fawkes explosive fireworks finale fans were left rubbing their eyes like lamps in the same shock and disbelief awe, as the man whose about to play the genie in Disney's live-action 'Aladdin' remake, live and in living colour strolled off stage as casually as he came. Leaving everyone in attendance with their one wish his command in something we'll never take for granted. And whether on your way back you caught a cab that was rare or yelled "I'm home, smell you later", that was story of how Blackpool became the home of the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. TIM DAVID HARVEY.