Monday, 31 October 2011
Opening up more doors.
Tyrese Gibson is one hell of an entertainer. Not only is he a top, in-demand actor who has been in two of the biggest franchise films this year ('Fast Five' and 'Transformers: Dark Of The Moon') he has also written a best-selling, self-help, story of his life book ('How To Get Out Your Own Way'). Music however will always remain this pin-up, poster boys first love. From many successful stellar albums (like his self titled debut, '2000 Watts', 'I Wanna Go There' and the rap/R&B double success of 'Alter Ego' which saw him uniquely undertake his rapping alias 'Black-Ty') to sensational singles (like the Grammy certified 'Sweet Lady, 'How You Gonna Act Like That', 'You Don't Give A Damn' and the single in a million 'One') and forging a group with fellow grown and sexy R&B stars Ginuwine and Tank (TGT). This kid has come along way from taking a bus on a Coca Cola advert. Now after a career year Mr. Gibson gives his fans an 'Open Invitation' to his first album in half a decade.
It was clear to hear earlier this year that Ty hasn't lost a step in five years as he hits the dance floor hard with '2 Fast, 2 Furious' and 'Fast Five' co-star Ludacris. The two go hard and hit the torque with one of the best songs of the year, proving that making great music to them is 'Too Easy'. As Luda sets it off with the intro to this track and album with the line "See what we have here is/An open invitation to the first day of the rest of your life", while Tyrese exclaims "Just pulled up to the club in a McLaren, got like “oh”/We hopped out and the girls followed us as we escorted to the top flo’/Got bottles in one hand, cash in the other/Stacks flying everywhere, need an umbrella/My black cards unlimited, keep on spending it, cause I got money to blow". It's clear that the swagger and the cool is set to high as Tyrese airs out and conditions the competition.
This big, blazing track goes along with the R. Kelly and Rick Ross certified 'I Gotta Chick' to bring heat to the hype for this album. Still these aren't the only sweet singles from the 'Sweet Lady' singer. 'Stay' is a signature ballad in Ty's trademark style which is another hot hit. These two tracks open up 'Invitation' perfectly, just like the Jay Rock assisted, atmospheric opener 'I'm Home' that further proves that his Hollywood star is back where he belongs like Watts California. 'Best Of Me' proves to be the best ballad from the man that over the years has brought the beauty out of a slow song (see 'I'm Sorry', 'Come Back To Me Shawty', 'Gotta Get You' and the best 'Better To Know' and 'Better Than Sex'). As Tyrese sings; "what a joy it is/to be loved by you" his inspired happiness is infectious on record.
'Nothing On You' and 'One Night' give a rich, deep middle to this complete piece right before the upbeat 'It's All On Me' turns it up a smooth notch ready for the club. Gibson keeps getting bigger on the track 'Takeover' before lamenting over lost love over horns on the classic feeling 'I Miss That Girl'. 'Make Love' is a laid back number tailor made for the bedroom, while the Candace assisted 'Angel' awakens love further. Longtime collaborator and genre leader and legend R. Kelly produces another gem for his great R&B protegee. To close the album Tyrese writes further penning a poem for his fans on 'Walk'. It's clear this author is going beyond the autobiography to turn a creative page. It only gets better and more envelope and boundary pushing on the itunes bonus track where Ty gets explosive and shines brightly with ATL rapper T.I. on the formidable 'Fireworks'. It's time to set it off.
Tyrese has always released great albums and the first R&B disc of his last effort ('Alter-Ego') was a classic. Now years and movies later this superstar shows another side with his most complete album to date. It's focused, fresh and evokes fond feeling. Right now it can't get better for this man in Hollywood and even the book world and finally Tyrese may be where he needs to be in music, at the top. In the thank you, linear notes of best-friend and group-mate Ginuwine's 2003 classic 'The Senior', Gin wrote that "the game owes" Tyrese. Now finally with this 'Invitation' hopefully Tyrese Gibson will get the returns he deserves. It's time for everyone to open up. They've been invited. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 30 October 2011
Ryan reunites with his old band going double or nothing.
He's known as a wild man but he's married to a pop star. People still confuse him with Bryan Adams but he really is his own man. Ryan Adams name doest get lumped in with some of the greats but still the man has amassed an amazing, cohesive catalogue. Simply put Adams is one of the best singer/songwriters around today. From Whiskeytown to 'Cardinology'. The work speaks for itself.
After going solo for a limited edition and time with the great, heavy metal piece 'Orion'. Ryan reunites (sort of) with The Cardinals, for a dual, double disc effort entitled 'III/IV'. This may not actually be the reunion we think. This 21 track effort is a collection of records from the 'Easy Tiger' sessions. A Cardinals album that was billed as solo and definitely wasn't an album where the collective took it easy roaring with classics like 'Two Hearts', 'Off Broadway', 'Goodnight Rose' and 'Nobody Listens To Silence'.
These outtakes and B-sides are strong also proving these where A star sessions. It all begins with 'Breakdown Into The Resolve' an epic, trademark classic from the band showing us that we've missed Ryan Adams and The Cardinals. Deep lyrics like "Like a shadow in the light, stand up and be counted/I was born to be betrayed, its cleared that I'm clearly afraid of" delve into the singers soul. 'Dear Candy' follows and this sweet number could be a single. Another track where Ryan gets his teeth into relationship stories.
The uplifting and building track 'Ultraviolet Light' is as bright and epic as this albums artwork with Adams proving yet another catchy chant. There are pop friendly tracks like 'Kisses Start Wars' and 'Stop Playing With My Heart' which are so versatile that if they weren't so rock and roll Mandy Moore could sing them.
We've not even moved on to the second disc and there's genuinely good honest tracks like 'Wasteland' and 'Lovely And Blue'. You can also light a candle for the sickly sweet, but nice 'Happy Birthday', with it's corny but celebratory lyrics, "Happy Birthday, I'm Your Birthday Cake". In fact even if this album was just one disc, these b-sides would act as the perfect holiday gift, as 'III' feels like an album of it's own.
As does 'IV' the second disc. It only gets better from here. Is that true you ask? Well listen to the brilliant, upbeat, guitar twanging 'No' and try and say anything but yes. With the fast paced, kinetic 'Numbers' the singer and his band prove that with quality like this, over two discs they really can play the numerical game. Just like their previous double effort 'Cold Roses' the vast set feels so cohesive as one album spread over to two discs and twenty tracks. It's not over indulgence but underrated greatness. A true sign of greatness is how all whilst maintaining their signature sound the group are incredibly versatile as this rock and roll goes from Ryan's heavier side ('Icebreaker') to his more country roots ('Gracie').
Even when the songs get too dark like, 'Sewers At The Bottom Of The Wishing Well' or 'Death and Rats' the poignant depth is as potent as the moonlight. The band may sound like similar classic rock and roll but there not to be 'Typecast', just like the slower, deeper song of the same name. Plus the album cut 'Star Wars' feels like something that inspired this years L.P. 'Orion'. As 'III' and the two disc set comes to a close we hear 'My Favourite Song' and a 'P.S' but still the collectives collection really do save the best for last. The six minute, 'Kill The Lights' is an epic, city slicking classic. With a great four minute guitar solo to finish you can not deny the talents of The Cardinals or Ryan Adams. Truly brilliant.
As Ryan Adams and his Cardinals give us a body of great work it's hoped this release reunion isn't just one for the catalogues. 'III/IV' proves this group has strength in depth and a volume of great records that can stretch across several CD's. These sessions struck some brilliant sounds but it's now time we heard even more, new stories from those 'Jacksonville City Nights'. It would be a sin not to see some new music from this act. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
By Chris Lawhorn
This month's list brings two questions to mind:
#1. For how many consecutive months will David Guetta turn up in these top 10 lists? (His new track with Usher made the cut--and he just barely missed making it again with his recent Nicki Minaj collaboration).
#2. Will Calvin Harris, Benny Benassi or Afrojack be the one that unseats him? (All three are making their second appearances on the charts this month. And, like Guetta, each has begun being billed as the artist on his tracks--rather than being credited as the producer/remixer, which was the case a couple years ago.)
This month's top 10 is rounded out by a new track from LMFAO, a Britney remix, and a song by Young The Giant--brought most folks' attention by the band's surprise inclusion on this year's MTV Video Music Awards.
Here's the full list, according to votes placed on the web's most popular work out music blog Run Hundred.
Rihanna & Calvin Harris - We Found Love - 128 BPM
Dev - In The Dark - 125 BPM
Afrojack & Eva Simons - Take Over Control - 128 BPM
LMFAO - Sexy And I Know It - 129 BPM
Chris Brown & Benny Benassi - Beautiful People - 129 BPM
Shortee & Faust - Friday Night Special - 133 BPM
Kelly Rowland & Lil Wayne - Motivation (Rebel Rock Remix) - 130 BPM
Britney Spears - I Wanna Go (Oliver Remix) - 129 BPM
Young The Giant - My Body - 130 BPM
David Guetta & Usher - Without You - 128 BPM
To find more workout songs-and hear next month's contenders—folks can check out Run Hundred's free work out music database. Visitors can browse the song selections there by genre, tempo, and era-to find the music that best fits with their particular workout routine.
Friday, 28 October 2011
Let Lenny Rule.
It started out as one of those nights. One of those nights were you really wish you didn't miss most of the support act and one of those nights were you wish even harder that you checked that the ticket you brought off eBay didn't have 'Restricted' written on it next to where it said 'standing'. Still the night ended sitting up top of the railings at the back of the theatre, with scores of sweaty, excited others watching rock legend Lenny Kravitz literally working the top tier with everyone in the crowd wishing they where nowhere else but in the presence of this eclectic, electric, underrated rock God.
Last night in London the two best rock/soul guitarists alive today showed that they really are two of the best live performers around. If your familiar here, you'll know from previous posts that no one puts on a show like Raphael Saadiq (that was until tonight) and the revolutionary, renaissance man got his Sam Cooke on and got the crowd going in support with his 'Instant Vintage'. Working through the solo, Lucy Pearl and Tony! Toni! Toné! discography's, Raphael did more than warm the crowd up. The music got so damn hot that clothes were a bad choice. The ladies loved this as Ray, Ray was down to his vest before he even made it halfway through his set-list. From '100 Yard Dash' to the new 'Stone Rollin'' classics, Motown and Rock & Roll was alive and awoken like the audience. His group where real vocal too, banding together beautifully, especially Charles Jones' incredible voice. This sweat-stained Apollo marked another incredible, inspiring performance from a man who could have played all night for this sold out crowd. Catch him live when you can, he's just the ticket.
If the crowd wasn't amped enough and the Apollo hot enough then things really turned up a notch when the amps came out for Lenny. As he strolled out with a cool swagger between two massive triangular, electronic stage pieces he broke into the opening track off his new album ('Black & White America') and NBA Basketball promotions; 'Come On & Get It'. From the first scream to the last drum-roll, everyone was right in it, fans or not nobody was left behind now. Then Mr. Kravitz didn't let up, performing choice tracks off his new album and his classic catalogue. A collection that goes back a lot further then what people actually realise. When 'American Woman' and 'It Aint Over 'Till It's Over', all sorts of 'Oh Yeah's' were screamed. Kravitz kept it cool as Cherry-Aid however, confident but humbled. Thanking the crowd and the city of London for giving him his first real break (his record company sent him here 20 years ago, when they didn't know what to do with him).
From kaleidoscopic visuals to family photos telling the back story of his life to the title track of his new album, the hi-def, most def video screen kept everyone involved as Lenny got real personal and giving with the crowd even when his trademark shades were kept on. When he took him off the crowd went wild, like they did for sentimental classics like the sensational and sublime 'Stand By My Woman' and the inspiring and influential 'Believe' with all it's lavishing licks and real riffs. More immeasurable, inspiring classics where dropped from the introspective, racist-bashing 'Mr. Cab Driver's', to the 'Mama Said's' of 'Always On The Run' and 'Where Are We Running' (a song off the album 'Baptism', a CD that's sessions spurned Lenny's latest). Speaking of his new album, fresh and formidable tracks like 'Rock Star City Life', 'Stand' and 'Looking Back On Love' were treated like old classics, as they gave a fond familiar feel.
Lenny closed the first part of the show off brilliantly with the iconic 'Fly Away' and 'Are You Gonna Go My Way' hits. Now there's no better way to hear these Rock classics unlike how they were intended...live and loud. You wouldn't think much would top such an incredible moment until he came back for his encore. After an awe-inspiring, in-audience acoustic performance of the heart filled 'I Belong To You', Kravitz then introduced his brilliant band before performing what all the die-hard's had been waiting for. As Kravitz 'Let Love Rule', he kept the chant of this iconic, inspiring classic and incredible statement going for 20 straight, solid, beautiful minutes as he greeted and hugged nearly everyone in the crowd making his way to the top tiers and showing us it was all love for all comers. What could be better? Those who caught a glimpse in the tip-toed, standing and swaying crowd got what they wanted, nobody took their seats for this stand-up guy. This man bore all his heart and soul last night that you couldn't ask for more. As last night in London came to an end, love and Lenny ruled and reigned supreme. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Review: LENNY KRAVITZ-BLACK & WHITE AMERICA
Review: RAPHAEL SAADIQ-STONE ROLLIN'
TAPE DECK SHUFFLE-LENNY KRAVITZ/RAPHAEL SAADIQ SPECIAL
Tuesday, 25 October 2011
One of the coolest, coldest plays yet.
'Parachutes', 'A Rush Of Blood To The Head', 'X & Y' and 'Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends', need we say anymore? How about; Coldplay? The best British band right now-if not the best group in the world-with four classic albums and more songs in the same vain that could already make up two 'Greatest Hits' L.P's or at least a double disc. That's not on the cards right now however as the band take inspiration from everything from old-school American graffiti to HBO hit show 'The Wire' for their latest album 'Mylo Xyloto'. Are Jay-Z's friends getting all hip and hop on us?
The answer to that is a simple no. They are just being themselves, as straight-forward and as boundary breaking as that is. Anyone doubting this band will have hell to pay now. 'Hurts Like Heaven' is an epic track sent from that place that is primed for their atmospheric live shows, it's already been well received at concerts. While the single 'Paradise' sees Coldplay taking a upbeat lick out of the pages of MGMT, Empire Of The Sun and Mr. Hudson but this style-creating band still stick to their own script. 'Charlie Brown' is also classic Coldplay, as lovable and as well-received as Snoopy. These dogs may have learnt a few new tricks, but it's their signature sound that is making them old favourites by each classic album. 'Us Against The World' is a beautiful, slow burner which is further proof that Gwyneth Paltrow is a loved woman, it's clear to hear that it is not just her current fever-based movie 'Contagion' that is catching on.
The single 'Every Teardrop Is A Waterfall' is essential, sensational and pouring with the promise that the band have built on from years of potential. This is the single that shows the world that they've still got it after doing it all with 'Yellow', 'The Scientist', 'Fix You' 'Vida La Vida' and whatever will come next. 'Major Minus' and 'U.F.O.' are also out of this world. Still it's 'Princess of China' with the princess of R&B Rihanna that pushes the envelope and puts the band out of their bounds even further. It's a great crossover collaboration born from Chris Martin and his bands relationship and classic 'Lost+' remix with Jay-Z. What a find.
This album continues to burn brightly with 'Up In Flames', while 'A Hopeful Transformation' is another inspired, instrumental, interlude break like 'M.M.I.X' and the album titled opener. Then a tandem of terrific tracks top off another triumphant album. With building, goose-pump inflicting guitar and vocals and lyrics to match and raise the hairs you may have just heard your new favourite Coldplay with 'Don't Let It Break Your Heart'. Especially with lines like "When you're tired of aiming your arrows/still you'll never hit the mark/and even if your aims are shadows/still we're never gonna part/come on baby, don't let it break your heart." The track then seamlessly, segues into the sublime 'Up With The Birds' that truly takes off, the only thing that wont be flying is this CD out your changer.
The neon graffiti theme on this album is brilliant but the music is much brighter than this that it should be engraved. Whether your a die-hard fan or a first-time listener to the band. This album will, make you fall in love with this band, even if it is all over again. Chris Martin was right, this concept love story really does have a happy ending. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 22 October 2011
It's not the idea that she looks like a cross between Corrine Bailey Rae and a girl I used to know that intrigues me about young, 22 year old, South Londoner Lianne La Havas. It's the fact that she genuinely is the next realest thing in music. Last night she stood out on the BBC's legendary 'Later...With Jools Holland' live show. The same show that featured cult, indie favourites Bon Iver, Canadian classic singer-songwriter Feist, new attraction Ben L'Oncle Soul, a former Rat Pack member Buddy Greco and the loud as hell Mastadon. Even with all this diversity and greatness it was the unique, one-of-a-kind gentle voice and spirit of Lianne that lifted all eyes towards her. Decked in all-white Vintage, with a beautiful black guitar La Havas passed this 'old grey whistle test' with beautiful songs with the lyrical feel of old classics that also had ready-made appeal for this generation.
With a mesmerizing and magnificent performance, all she needed was one guitar, one mic and her soft, sweet voice and the spotlight and the audience were hers. The seasoned 'Age' is such a great, classic feeling song about love with an older man that it feels like it's been around longer than the songs muse, while the Willy Mason assisted single 'No Room For A Doubt' leaves exactly that as a testament to just how good this girl is. Her excellent EP 'Lost & Found' really is a find on itunes that can't be amiss from your collection while her website offers a lavishing live version of the EP from L.A. for fans to lap up. It's clear to hear this young lady is heading for the stars in her own walk of fame. Now we can't wait for the LP. We're about to hear more from this beautiful, talented girl in full. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Thursday, 20 October 2011
The stone cold Saadiq keeps rollin' out the classics.
Even before Raphael Saadiq released the literally classic, every track perfect, just like old times, Motown revival, 'itunes Album Of The Year'; 'The Way I See It' in 2008 he was already a legend. Between writing and producing timeless Rhythm and Blues for his contemporaries and taking it back with some real super groups (Toni! Tony! Tone! and Lucy Pearl) Saadiq also released some great modern day Neo-Soul, solo albums ('Instant Vintage' and 'Ray Ray') which spawned gems including 'Still Ray', 'Be Here', 'Blind Man', 'Different Times' (with T-Boz's tender loving care on the verses) 'Rifle Love', (a little super-group reunion, super-song) 'Detroit Girl' and many more. Still 'The Way I See It' really was an instant vintage album that redefined music and the homage of the good ol' days (check out the vinyl worthy, cracking 'Vintage Trouble' for further inspiration). With that album Ray, Ray went from neo-soul star to soul legend and now with this more blues and rock and roll album Raphael Saadiq is moving into legendary territory for music as a whole.
On his last album Raphael showed he could channel soul legends like Sam Cooke on 'Stone Rollin'' he shows he can switch stations to rock legends like Chuck Berry with relative ease, all whilst maintaining his own integrity being still Ray, Ray. The albums title track is the perfect example of this. A vintage blues, rock and roll number dripping with soul from the harmonicas to the funky drum-beat and bass line. As for the other singles, the song 'Radio' is the kind of song that should be played more on this type of medium today. It's typical, traditional guitar music of the 60's as Saadiq dons his thick black glasses to show Buddy Holly is just as an inspiration to him as Marvin Gaye is. While the epic, story-telling 'Good Man' and it's video take a leaf out of the directors book of Pharaoh Monch's latest 'Clap' clip. Real recognises real too as Saadiq's imagination is as vivid as Monch, a true hip-hop spokesman.
Speaking of epic songs, the big closer, 'The Answer' (and the hidden track in this nine minute bonus buster) is unquestionably one of the best recordings this man has put on wax. As vintage as vinyl it's a few scratches away from being the deepest cut Raphael has ever dropped the needle on. Then again if you haven't noticed the concept of 'Day Dreams' beforehand you must be sleeping. "Am living on day dreams/I'm gonna buy me something afford" Saadiq sings over a toe tapping line of base that Willie Nelson and Johnny Cash would be proud of. As this album carries on it keeps producing classic after classic like it's predecessor. 'Movin' Down The Line' is another track lost amongst the greats but still a true find. It's soul satisfying and instantly gratifying, a firm favourite.
The atmospheric, introspection 'Go To Hell' is heavenly, standing next to Saadiq's 'Sometimes' as thought-provoking songs with serious, sincere depth. While the upbeat, 'Heart Attack' is a killer track that will pump pure energy through any dance chamber. While the love red passion of 'Just Don't' beats on, doing it in more ways then one. The guitar opening sounds like we're about to hear Sixpence None The Richer's 'Kiss Me' but instead we are treated to the goodbye kiss laments of a poor characters broken up loss of love. It's an honest, heartfelt, humbling homage which shows that Raphael can write sad songs as well as he writes love songs and still maintain his trademark, upbeat tone. Then as Saadiq moves on he takes it higher with 'Over You'. Ray, Ray will have you from the hello of the first beat, in a complete upbeat classic that is some of the best two minutes of music you'll hear all year...or for more to come.
The singer with the best live show in music, brings timeless jams to today live in living colour, redefining music with another perfect set. Pulling a Common or Alicia Keys, the soul man follows a stellar classic with another. 'The Way I See It' may be Raphael Saadiq's most positive, career-defining album but 'Stone Rollin'' is his most dynamic and diverse. Even with darker and more thought-proking themes Saadiq still keeps the good times rolling with songs from the good ol'days. Moving through soul to rock, Ray, Ray rolls through the classics creating classic song across the board. Taking more musical gambles it all pays off. Saadiq brings old-school music to the modern-day educating the mainstream. With a confident roll of the dice Raphael hits the musical jackpot with songs tailored for the jukebox. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
AMPs & 808s will be in London next week to see Lenny Kravitz in concert supported by Raphael Saadiq, so this weeks 'Tape Deck Shuffle' is in honour of these two great, soul axe-men. 'Side A' is Lenny, while 'Side B' belongs to Ray Ray.
SIDE A-LENNY KRAVITZ
LET LOVE RULE: 'Are You Gonna Go My Way' and 'Fly Away' may have been huge and defining to the first and second parts of his career but this song, album and the album that followed ('It's Time For A Love Revolution') are his deepest dedications. He's right, "since when does love have a sell-by date"?
HEAVEN HELP: One of the most soulful, beautiful ballads from one of rocks greatest.
BLACK VELVETEEN: Strange...but seriously sound. Sometimes you get your best returns when pushing the envelope.
LITTLE GIRLS EYES: More 'Flowers For Zoë' in a beautiful dedication to his daughter who is now a first class star in her own right.
THE FAITH OF A CHILD: Epic! Off his latest ('Black & White America') and possibly his greatest.
SIDE B-RAPHAEL SAADIQ
OVER YOU: Classic off Raphael's current album 'Stone Rollin'' harking back to the good ole days of Rock N' Roll.
NEVER GONNA GIVE YOU UP Feat CJ & STEVIE WONDER: Taking it back to the Motown days...literally with Stevie and harmonica in tow. This is classic. People don't make music like this anymore, let alone get Stevie Wonder on a song...except Ray.
STILL RAY: "I'm coming home to you/wear something see-through". Over Dre piano-with the help of some tuba-it doesn't get much better than this.
TONI! TONY! TONE!-ANNIVERSARY: The original act, with their first date with commercial success. Always remembered.
LUCY PEARL-DANCE TONIGHT: Saadiq's second super-group with a little help from A Tribe Called Quest and En Vogue, a serious crossover smash hit. This is just how good Raphael Saadiq is. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 15 October 2011
"Got some Remy Martin, some good-ass cigars/Check it out/Ayo, late night, candlelight, fiend wit’ diesel in his needle/Queensbridge leader, no equal, I come from the Wheel of Ezekiel/To pop thousand-dollar bottles of scotch, smoke purp, and heal the people"...and with that the king is back. The best rapper alive Nas returns this week with an incredible video to his top, new, lyrical, machine-gun blazing banger 'Nasty' that that has been bubbling on the underground for most of this year. As Nasir Jones takes it back to his 'Nasty Nas' roots we see him in the visual taking a Rolls to his native neighbourhood Queensbridge and giving literally everything to his people there. In a video that straddles the fine line between flash style and substance, Nas boasts about having money everywhere in his house and trying to find "the actress that played Faith Evans". From the looks of this video he has and does. A great song needs a great video and this song has that as well as elements and breaks of old-school hip-hop including his gunshot classic 'Made You Look' (hey borrowing worked for 'Thief's Theme' and 'Hip-Hop Is Dead'). In hip-hop ranks this makes Nas number one with a bullet again and he even says it himself, ("tell these clowns make room for the king"). Hip-Hop is alive again with the return of it's most exciting player for the record. All hail the king! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Three of rocks biggest talents are called down to the studio for a fistful of magic.
Ben Harper is a busy man. The elite talent who over the years has had many different bands backing him is now getting behind a supergroup of his own. Between relentlessly recording material with his new '7' band, touring Europe with Pearl Jam, reinventing timeless Michael Hutchence classics with INXS and performing with Ringo Starr on 'The Daily Show' Ben has still found time to come down to the studio with another Beatle family member and another great singer/songwriter to form a group for the ages. There seems to be no musical mercy for Harper who teams with Dhani Harrison and Joseph Arthur to form Fistful Of Mercy, a group that gives us a handful of gems with their 9 track debut, 'As I Call You Down'.
The vocals on this record are handed out equally to the three members of Fistful Of Mercy. This hand to hand, give and take is heard at it's best on the albums title track 'As I Call You Down'. Harrison, Harper and Arthur harmonise in a perfectly beautiful melody the lines 'When I fall inside a hole, that I can't crawl out/ better give up my control, as I call you down". The in time, old soul, socially relevant chorus is sung in such an emotive way that it would make Crosby Stills & Nash proud.
As well as this debut album having a title track in the set list there's also a record named after this new bands moniker. 'Fistful Of Mercy' is an introspective gem which awakes even the most lost of listeners. It's beautifully haunting and bravely hopeful at the same time. The influence of Dhani's father George seems to have waxed of on this record with a eloquent engaging chorus, "Maybe it's soft inside her heart, fistful of mercy/maybe it comes from where we are, land of the thirsty".
The records these three have produced are short, sweet but are far from shallow. Mercy don't tread water, they reach new depths. This act makes you glad Arthur recruited Harper and Harper met Harrison in a skate park in Santa Monica. 'As I Call You Down' leaves you shouting up for more. The trio throughout the album keep the wheels of this project going, recording at the Carriage House studio in LA's Silverlake neighborhood where they produced gold songs that in a better world would go platinum.
Harrison likened the big three's joint recording to George Harrison's own supergroup The Traveling Wilburys. Although this group doesn't feature as legendary names as Dylan, Orbison or Petty the music itself makes more than a name for itself. Take the country song 'Father's Son' which is dripping with American culture and could easily have made it's way into Harper's earlier work.
Speaking of Ben, despite this being a group effort the calm atmospheric slide guitar of Harper on the instrumental '30 Bones' evokes rising memories of the serene 'Paris, Sunrise' off Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals album 'Lifeline'. It's timeless, classic numbers like this that pulls the album and band towards the 'greats' status.
Still however this is a group effort. Sure each super talent brings there unique gifts and styles to the mix but there is no show boating or stealing. Fistful capture their own, unique sound. A style that shows the cohesiveness and tightness that's come in a short space of time. This supergroup feels like a regular new act. From a sum of their parts they've got a whole lot of originality in their hands. This is evident in the spiritually sound tracks 'Restore Me' and 'In Vain or True', two of the best tracks called out on this LP offering more meaning and reasoning to this bands method and rhyme.
'Things Go Round' is a more upbeat number and as time's go round, on and change it's hard to tell how long this 'side project' will last with all the members other work aside. It would take a fool however to say this genius outfits number will soon be up. Sure just like The Travelling Willburys this band is wonderfully unassuming but that's a good thing. They may just fit in rather than break the mould but just like Dhani's farther their music acts as the perfect road companion for travellers that know the musical landscape. Not only is Fistful Of Mercy's debut 'As I Call You Down' a tremendous record it also furthers the reach of Arthur, the classic discography of Harper and the legendary legacy of the Harrison family. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
A tribute to one of our favourite artists this week, who's latest album 'Give 'Till It's Gone' is one of the best this year. This week 'TAPE DECK SHUFFLE' is a Ben Harper special. 'Side A' features his solo work. 'Side B' his collaborations with his brilliant bands.
MORNING YEARNING: One of the most beautiful songs ever in music, period. Over velvety violins Ben reaches greatness and lyrical beauty. The legendary, late, great Heath Ledger (Rest In Peace) also directed the artistically stunning and elegant video. Harper returned the favour penning a lovely lullaby for Heath's daughter ('Happy Everafter In Your Eyes'). (From The Album: 'BOTH SIDES OF THE GUN')
WAITING FOR YOU: Following the intro of 'Morning Yearning' on 'Both Sides Of The Gun' this song flows perfectly on Harper's finest record. A love song at it's most simplistic and beautiful. (From The Album: 'BOTH SIDES OF THE GUN')
ANOTHER LONELY DAY: You really should hear the live version of this with 'Relentless7' from the 'Montreal Interational Jazz Festival'. Still this acoustic classic is string, note and lyric perfect. (From The Album: 'FIGHT FOR YOUR MIND')
BEAUTIFUL BOY: Starting a beautiful marriage with Beatles music that ends up with some new album Ringo Starr collabos, Ben beautifully terrificaly takes on a legendary Lennon lament in tribute. (From The Album: 'INSTANT KARMA')
DON'T GIVE UP ON ME NOW: One of Ben's newest and greatest, no wonder this was a hit in Italy. 'Grande' rock fashioned with love. (From The Album: 'GIVE TILL IT'S GONE')
PLEASE BLEED: Flowing with energy, passion and power. This pleasure was a guilty classic (From The Album: 'BURN TO SHINE' With 'The Innocent Criminals')
SEXUAL HEALING (LIVE): All of Harper's live songs bring more life to his classics but it's this re-working and re-invention of the legendary Marvin Gaye classic that brought this song and artist to new audiences. (From The Album: 'LIVE AT THE HOLLYWOOD BOWL' With 'The Innocent Criminals')
WHERE COULD I GO?:With the spirit and light of 'The Blind Boys Of Alabama' Ben testified to greatness with heavenly inspiration. (From The Album: 'THERE WILL BE A LIGHT' With 'The Blind Boys Of Alabama')
FLY ONE TIME: This upbeat jam with Ben's latest bunch of rock boys builds with inspiration as it grows musically. Heart and soul personified in rock and roll.(From The Album: 'WHITE LIES FOR DARK TIMES' With 'Relentless7')
FISTFUL OF MERCY: Now what sort of group would release a track named after themselves apart from AC/DC? Well how about a super-group with a super-song like this? From Harper's sensational slide guitar riff to his harmonies with Joel Arthur and Dhani Harrison (son of George, told you about The Beatles matrimony) this latest Harper incarnation is incredible. The Travelling Wilbury's of this generation take us on a musical journey. (From The Album: 'AS I CALL YOU DOWN' By 'Fistful Of Mercy'). TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Wednesday, 12 October 2011
Steve was so sick last night.
Now what your about to read would only happen to a rags to riches guy like Seasick Steve. The legendary blues man's London gig was cancelled so near to the last minute that patrons tickets were almost being ripped before they became null and void. In what sounds like a story from former hobo Steve's roots or songbook (he made it all sound real interesting with his trademark tone too) a water main burst meaning there was no facilities for the gig, rendering it a safety hazard (yeah I know-'ZZZ'-I'm not as good a storyteller as he is). Still that didn't stop Steve from bursting out the hits in Manchester, as the 70 year old gave us a set full of young-man energy that almost broke the mains of the sound system.
The amps were on blast as Steve made sure the songs weren't the only things 'Burning Up'. The hot and sweaty crowd didn't mind however as the tempo was raised along with the temperature. As Steve played everything from his 'Dog House Blues' to his infamous one string Diddley Bo (with evrything from a corn can to Chevy parts on it). All whilst playing all sorts of guitars as saucepans. Even some washboards were also on creative, excellent hand as Steve played with everyone from his incredible drummer (that looked like Animal off 'The Muppets' on the skins) to his three sons and even an utter guitar hero and legend.
It all looked great from Seasick's easy chair, to a simple, beautiful light display that was so nice even Christian Bale wouldn't want to mess with it or tear it down. Everything sounded great too as he even serenaded a young lady. Steve had the crowd in the palm of his hands as he worked them to the end of the night with his immeasurable energy and stories. His guitar too was worked to the last note that could have possibly been violently shook out of it, as drum symbols where thrown and struck with a rock star strut. This couldn't sound any better right? Well that's until you hear that Steve sent the crowd 'Seasick' crazy as that 'legend' we were telling you about was no other then Led Zeppelin great John Paul Jones. The bassist joined him for the set showing his variety of guitars and iconic skills. Now how legendary is that? On this night like no other we were in the presence of two and they both flowed perfectly in tandem together, just like water. Old men rock. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 9 October 2011
Rising and returning like a phoenix.
Earlier this year in London this writer witnessed Ryan Adams perform an epic, awe-inspiring acoustic set that was as awesome as it was long. The man unfairly known for being a wild man and walking out of gigs sat us down for hours of classics from his vast catalogue and a songbook that could one day rival the length of Dylan's collection. Even though he wasn't promoting an album this man had the sold-out strong crowd convinced he was back. Thank God the hiatus is over. Today's best American singer/songwriter not named Bob, Springsteen or Harper returns with his first full studio album since 2008 (not to count last years post-Cardinals break-up double disc delight of 'III/IV' or the strong, metal concept album 'Orion').
Truthfully speaking however Ryan's always been here for years. Don't call it an LL Cool J comeback. A true artist and writer never runs out of things to create. Now in 2011, at 36 years and 20 years in the industry-from his wonderful Whiskeytown beginnings-Ryan Adams truly becomes a solo-artist again with 'Ashes & Fire'. A hot, slow burner of an album that is one of the deep-thinking singers most personal releases to date. Recorded in the 'Sunset Sound Factory' in Hollywood, Los Angeles this top-scoring album could play on movie soundtracks all day with it's epic beauty and inspired feeling. Produced by Glyn Johns (who gave The Beatles, Bob Dylan and The Rolling Stones some classics) Ryan hits the heights he did with the producers son Ethan who helped craft the classics 'Heartbreaker', 'Gold' and '29'.
This gifted artist presents us with 11 tracks of his genius in another classic, concise effort and there's more. Iconic 'Dear John' collaborator Norah Jones returns Ryan's favour (he penned one of her best tracks; 'Light As A Feather' off her last album 'The Fall') by lending her smouldering, sweet, velvet vocals to three tracks-along with some tinkles of the old ivory. This strong collaborating tandem sounds so good Ryan told 'Rolling Stone' magazine in another life he'd "convince her to be in a band with me". From the familiar depths of 'Come Home', the sweet beauty of 'Kindness' and the "rescue blues" of 'Save Me' it's clear to hear that these two should collaborate even more than they already have. This is evident right from their charismatic connection to Jones' subtle but sublime contributions (she's very much a part of this album just like she's a part of Danger Mouse and Daniele Luppi's 'Rome' project). This is one 'supergroup' idea that sounds like it could save music.
As soon as this album opener 'Dirty Rain' shows the vast expanse of Adams' talents its evident that this man who forayed into Heavy Metal and nice novel-writing never really left the studio or the acoustic guitar. It's a welcome return and one with open arms. Just like the upbeat title track which rises from the slow burning opening and shows us that this artist can seamlessly paint acoustic patterns of great range and depth in style. 'Rocks' is another strong song that shows Ryan's style and sound won't be broken like sticks and stones. while 'Do I Wait' and 'Chains Of Love' make for a gorgeous mid-section to this album.
The depths of 'Invisible Riverside' are clear to see in all their tranquil beauty, while the single 'Lucky Now' harks back to Adams twenties and his time in New York. The feeling of a cold NYC Winter is truly evoked and captured from the "bags of trash in the blackening snow" to the "city of neon and toes that freeze". Ryan saves the most atmospheric and epic for last with the deep, devotion of 'I Love You But I Don't Know What To Say'. From this and the rest of the album that precursors this it's clear that fans who love Ryan know what to say in response to his grand return; 'thank you'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
See More: Ryan Adams-Live In London 2011.
An atmospheric, epic set.
If you know Sigur Rós, you know what to expect from this Icelandic outfit. These European innovators over the years have produced some of the coldest, coolest classics as they have plunged into musical depth with their mix of rock and classical sensibilities. Now this post-rock act give us all of this live with the post fall release of 'Inni'.
The seamless production of this shows set list gives this atmospheric act a concert of epic proportions. The ambiance from this 2008 gig is still captured three years later from the opening beauty of 'Svefn-g-englar' to the closing fall of 'Lúppulagið'. Recorded in Alexandra Palace in London, England the sounds are so hauntingly beautiful and inspired the band may have well performed in a cathedral.
The favourite 'Glósóli' off the top album 'Takk' truly shines, while 'Ný batterí' keeps this awe-inspiring performance charged and ever-ready. Hits like 'Hoppípolla' and 'Inní mér syngur vitleysingur' sound even better when performed in their right medium of the live show. Still it's tracks like 'E-Bow' and 'Popplagið' (otherwise known as 'Untitled 8') that really can be heard at their post beautiful. Sounding ready-made and cinematic with spine-tingling sounds and lyrics that don't need any translation. It all feels so meaningful.
The bands best work really is on display here, from Jónsi Birgisson's formidable falsetto vocals to the beautiful bowed guitar and all it's musical reach. This Ethereal Wave act truly evoke a spiritual feeling in the heights of their sound. This is something the studio captures but is really heard best in the acoustics of an intimate, inspired performance. The soundscape of a band that needs to come back together for a new album and one pushes the envelope and can't be pigeon holed is captured at least for a night and now a record that needs to be in the collection of fans and non-fans alike labelled 'essential'. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 8 October 2011
With his time now Tank brings an army of strong slow jams.
As he has fought his way through some career highs and lows Durrell Babbs, a.k.a. Tank has forged himself a high status amongst the greats in R&B music today. From successful co-writing and producing (Missy Elliott's 'One Minute Man', Jamie Foxx, Monica, Donell Jones, etc) to label grounded supergoups with R&B best men Ginuwine and Tyrese (TGT), Tank has contributed a lot to the industry. Now the industry is paying him back after his Grammy nominated, classic 'Sex, Love, Pain' Tank is now a major player in the mainstream. Tank was expected to add 'Sex Love & Pain II: The All Night Experience' to sequel his real original last record but then that changed to 'All Night'(...jeez he really is a machine!) and finally 'Now Or Never' an apt record title in more ways than one.
As an album itself 'Now Or Never' may not be as diverse as the singers last piece but it's more direct. It may not bring the 'Love & Pain' but it brings plenty of 'Sex Music' as the energetic show stopper is the perfect album entry after the big intro 'Showtime'. This emphatic start may not match the tone of the rest of the album but it shows that Tank has arrived, barreling through to start the show.
The 'Celebration' continues with Drake as the pair get cool over a smoothed out, fresh beat. Tank still puts in work all whilst toasting the holidays singing, "you dont wanna miss this it feels like it’s Christmas/like ohh, ohhhhhhhhh/yeah its a holiday but I’m open for business". Toronto's finest Drake also gets down this winter rhyming, "And my free days are just for you, but I don’t get many/Its like every time we spend time, it feels like the first time/Cause we never spend enough time, you catch me at the worst time/It ain’t like your not worth time, just I don’t control it/But tonight I made it happen just to celebrate the moment/Give it up one time."
On the next track and single 'Emergency' Tank keeps the soul sirens blaring. With a slow and meaningful into and song the singer drops lyrics of deep desperation over heart beat monitor production. Tank feels for the ladies as he flows through concepts "Got a lady on the line, screaming/I’m what she need, oh/I done got this call a thousand times/I’m leaving, rushing to see, oh/I got the sirens on, (I’m running every light)/She said she’s home alone, (and need it in her life)/Until I get there just, stay on the line". These desperate measures are recorded even higher on the next track 'Scream' where Tank goes from state to state, matching the tight piano production with some fitting vocals.
Over some sick guitar licks that Donell Jones would be proud of Tank is where he want's to be 'Keeping it 100'. He then indulges in some 'Foreplay' with Chris Brown (...erm) which results in more songs that strengthen this album. Tank keeps the filler fresh on 'Can I' and 'Amazing' but he saves the epic, best for last. Over some trademark Tank piano, Babbs goes to a new level of deep, devotion on 'You Mean That Much'. The singer drops soulful, sentiment with lyrics like "I’ll stand of the front line, take a bullet that’s not mine/I’ll leave it lay down by … cause you mean that much to me".
On the albums closer 'I Can't Make You Love Me' Tank gives us his vintage piano driven, well written ballads which has helped make singer like Dave Hollister and Marques Houston famous (because of Tank's production too) and continues to break this artist further into chart consciousness. With signature lyrics like "Turn down the lights/Turn down the bed/Turn down this voices/Inside my head/Lie down with me/Tell me no lies/Just to be close/Don’t patronize" Tank signs off perfectly. If this record probably sounds familiar it's probably because this artists magic, Midas touch has been on other peoples records for decades.
Still even though Tank's ivory and vocal touch has helped other artists paint with his brush it's more than about time that this singer's canvas was appreciated by the industry. Even with his success and notoriety this star is sinfully underrated. Just as talented as his fellow R&B renaissance leading, TGT men Durrell Babbs is one hell of an artist. With another great album to add to the set and more credits coming for the workaholic singer/songwriter/producer, triple threat it's never too late to appreciate one of the best...NOW! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
A tribute to the greatest songbook. 'Side A' is old (current) Dylan and 'Side B' is from a younger (or older) Bobby.
THINGS HAVE CHANGED-They sure have but one thing hasn't; the 'The Times They Are A-Changin'' singer still knows how to write a classic.
THE MAN IN ME- From the soundtrack and opening credits of 'The Big Lebowski' , Dylan rolled out another lyrical strike.
FORGETFUL HEART-Off the beautiful 'Together Through Life' , Dylan laments love like no other.
JOLENE-Off the same album and with another ode to the love of a good woman, this man touches greatness.
THUNDER ON THE MOUNTIAN-“I was thinking ’bout Alicia Keys, I couldn’t keep from crying/While she was born in Hell’s Kitchen, I was living down the line.” With a nod to soul superstar Alica Keys the greatest songwriter shouts out one of the modern-days best.
I WANT YOU-Springsteen was right, there's not many lyrics in music with more meaning then Bob's repetition of the phrase "I want you".
HURRICANE-Dylan's songbooks most meaningful and heartfelt track. His protest of the wrongful impisonment of legendary boxer Rubin 'Hurricane' Carter strikes a blow at racism and injustice. Truly inspirational and influential.
SHELTER FROM THE STORM-Decades later this song sounded as fresh on hit movie 'Jerry Maguire' as Bruce Springsteen's 'Secret Garden' (written for the movie. Just like the bosses take this song owned the methaphorical simplicity of a perfect love song.
BALLAD OF A THIN MAN-Bobby at his most scathing and critival. Making points as sharp as the pencil he wrote these lyrics with. Even rappers don't go this hard. Take that Mr. Jones.
THE TIMES THEY ARE A-CHANGIN'-Truly the best. Stands next to Sam Cooke's 'A Change Gon' Come' and Marvin Gaye's 'What's Goin' On' as one of the best takes of the changes and goings on in the world. Still relevant today. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 1 October 2011
No need to be waiting for the sun with this early October, Summer feeling heatwave but why not enjoy this third Doors album? This classic is still today as fresh as it sounded back when it was released in 1968. From the definitive classic 'Five To One' this album is top ten and evokes the feeling of the Californian gold coast. This album is so good it's hardly surprising the title made a stay as a song in the incredible 'Morrison Hotel' LP. Just over a half hour of psychedelic, acid rock is all you need to fall in love with Jim Morrison and his L.A. merry men. The Doors open up a barrage of classics from their second U.S. number one 'Hello, I Love You' to the seasons change of 'Wintertime Love'. 'Spanish Caravan' is full of homely flair, while 'We Could Be So Good Together', 'Love Street' and 'Not to Touch the Earth' are as close and heartfelt as it gets. Still 'The Unknown Soldier', 'Yes, the River Knows' and 'Wild Love' is where this excellent piece becomes epic. It's time to put this groups back catalogue in your collection before just wearing their t-shirt won't wash anymore. 'Summer's Almost Gone' but today the sun still shines. Why wait? TIM DAVID HARVEY.