Tuesday, 23 September 2014
New York, New York! You're going to love this one. 'Cheek To Cheek' is so good you'll want to play it twice if you're feeling this. In the city that gets no sleep, neither will you. Grinning ear to ear and dancing 'till dawn. This Broadway success is about to take a trip to the Las Vegas strip for an extended residency. Yes, ladies and gentlemen the Rat Pack of Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jnr may be gone, but we still have one boy kicking it his way. No not the young great Michael Buble, but the forever young legend Tony Bennett. The man that left his 'Heart In San Francisco', all 'Because Of You'. This man has been recording and recording and working and working and has been having a ball recentely dueting with everyone from Willie Nelson to Queen Latifah. The American legend even took it a little south last year for 'Viva Duets' to follow his American sequel pairing. Still keeping it fresco fresh, the recording artist who even paints in what spare time he has has got one more trick up his cuff-linked sleeve. After performing 'The Lady Is A Tramp', with Lady Gaga herself, the pairs perfect chemistry and classic reworking of a timeless gem itself has lead to a full album of American classics recorded in that standard styling. Yes, you read that right! Lady Gaga has done an album with Tony Bennett...and far from a 'Bad Romance' this is Ra, Ra great. After 'The Fame' and all the diamond, million selling success and celebrity exposure that came before it, this lady finally finds her true calling. It's almost like her previous, powerful pop career was really her 'Poker Face', because right now you have to hand it to her because she's holding all the cards. Gaga always felt like a throwback, even when she was stunning the fashion world and vegetarians alike. From her recent classic cameo appearance as a hallmark, throwback waitress to the 50's in the 'Sin City' sequel this is truly a dame to kill for..and with Tony she's about to shoot them down like Frankie's daughter.
And just you wait until you hear her rendition of 'Bang, Bang' that little Nancy turned into a classic, so much so that Tarantino picked it up for it's 'Kill Bill' resurgence. He, or his 'Sin' directing friend Robert Rodriguez need to hear this one. This baby shoots everyone down with her sensual and smouldering pistol shot that shows she has the blonde Sinatra boots made for walking all over this genres grand greatness. Bang, bang indeed! This cover of a classic is a modern day great worthy of the pasts legendary legacy like Norah Jones take on country's best Dolly Parton's 'Jolene'. A cover even better than Jack White's gender and genre crossover classic. As a matter of fact the strangest, crossover collaboration album since Miss Jones teamed up with Green Day's Billie-Joe Armstrong 'Forevery', (in an album covering the records from the brothers 'Songs Our Daddy Taught Us' album) is also the best. 'Anything Goes' on 'Cheek To Cheek' like these outstanding opening classics that make this duo a gala affair. Side to side this man and womans voices dance perfectly together cheek to cheek and even when Gaga goes it alone she proves she was either born in the wrong era, or like Buble she's going to bring it all back with her own solo streak. As she sings "Why the Gods above me, who must be in the know/Think so little of me, they allow you to go/When you're near, there's such an air of spring about it/I can hear a lark somewhere, begin to sing about it/There's no love song finer, but how strange the change from major to minor/Everytime we say goodbye" on Cole Porter's 'Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye' classic you can hear all the power and pain behind this puncuated number in the depth of her desperation. As a matter of fact it may be this album or her greatest career performance in a classic catalogue that is now as diligently diverse as it is digitally dynamic.
Mr. Bennett's here too though let's not forget. Just as prominent and the catalyst that makes this a charismatic, chemistry filled classic. On Sunny Skylar's 'Don't Wait Too Long', he doesn't waste a second in giving classic credit to the legend and on the formidable 'Firefly' explosion the epic talent shows the eager, energetic young Gaga just how its done. This 'Nature Boy' knows how to rework all the greats, showing Sammy, Dino and Frank that he can cement his legacy right next to those 'Four For Texas' boys and the King, Nat Cole with his ability to move with these modern changing iTune times, but also keep to the true testament of the traditions that came before he became a real Soprano. 'I Can't Give You Anything but Love', 'Goody Goody' and the foot stepping 'I Won't Dance' continues this two-stepping trend as this Tony shows his 'Sophisticated Lady' the 'Lush Life'. 'They All Laughed' sings the new chairman of the board, but nobody is going to chuckle at this classic peculiar but perfect pair. They say "there may be trouble ahead" but these two "face the music and dance" like neither of them have ever cut a rug before. This sweeps everything else off the table and gets really pretty as a picture on 'But Beautiful' as Bennett swings "Love is funny, or it's sad/Or it's quiet, or it's mad/It's a good thing or it's bad/But beautiful" for all the lovers. As they close classically they say it all with, 'It Don't Mean a Thing (If It Ain't Got That Swing)', proving that real record lie in the swinging good ole times of the past that we bring back today everytime we hear that old Broadway sound that can light up New York and the rest of the world watching even brighter than Times Square in New Year. It's a new day and Bennett and his young musical marriage date are here to stay tonight. Hear all about it from the Cher 'Moonstruck' newspaper headline cover to the broadsheet and billboard success. These two will be swinging and singing together forever 'Cheek To Cheek'! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Friday, 19 September 2014
Let rock rule! That's what Lenny Kravitz has been doing since the late eighties in the name of love. Despite once proclaiming 'Rock and Roll is Dead' heres a guy that's been spinning out the stone, jukebox classics since young fathers of todays' dads where young fathers. Sorry to make you feel old, but from 'Are You Gonna Go My Way' to 'Always On The Run', to 'It Ain't Over 'Till It's Over' and 'Heaven Help' to 'American Woman' and 'Fly Away' it's just crazy. Crazy to believe that the man behind all these monster truck, mega rock hits of Guns and Roses (and that reminds me countless hip-hop collaborations) is 50 when not only does he look, but he sounds forever young to boot. It's even harder to believe that it was almost just over three years ago that we reviewed his beautiful 'Black & White America' album (born from the 'Baptism' of that brilliant albums cutting room sessions) and said it was hard to believe that it had been over three years since his last album before THAT (the spiritual and soulful sequel to his lasting 'Let Love Rule' dynamic debut, the inspired and influential 'Its Time For A Love Revolution' redemption). Its crazy that it all seems like yesterday. Today this music man is catching fire in more ways than one, acting up amazingly in a pair of 'The Hunger Games' movies and a handful of Lee Daniels classics ('Precious' and 'The Butler'). Even his daughter Zoe (remember the sweet sentiment of 'Flowers For Zoe'?) is a 'First Class', 'X-Men' actress. Still inbetween all this extra curricula and parent/teacher night work the former Romeo Blue still take us to music school as he still has time to 'Strut'. A move that goes with 'Lenny', 'Circus', 'Mama Said' and the other '5' albums as yet another tote of classic Kravitz. Album number ten in the catalogue looks to take him back to that same numerical top countdown.
It all starts with some 'Sex' though and a familiar "sexy, sexy," sample his friends Jay-Z and Pharrell changed clothes with. Now what more do you expect from a man that wrote an anthem for the NBA basketball league called 'Come On and Get It'? Still the Thicke of todays misogynistic music should not blur lines. This attractive number and second single is anything but seedy. Still from the barrell of the gun to the heart of matters its got nothing on the 'Chamber' music and its vivid, fall, winter warmer video. "You look through me like an open door/Do I exist to you anymore/'Cause when I'm talking to you there's someone else that you're hearing" croons Kravitz between cigarettes and chess references , proving in the bitterness of beauty turning to betrayal the first cut (or single for this matter) is the deepest and darkest. Checkmate! 'Strut' steps even sexier on 'Dirty White Boots' that where made for walking like a blonde Sinatra. "Come up to my room/No matter the weather/Drop the window shade/And take off your sweater/You are all I need/To make me feel better/Let your hair down/And give me that leather" is more classic Lenny in the sense that he can pull off lacing his words with lust when it is done with the justification of love over lingerie. Then the maids favourite from Manhattan does what a lot of artists, especially rock stars from this area, its five boroughs and beyond do and names a song after his hometown. Still the empire state of minds 'New York City' will one day rock M.S.G. as the type of anthem the likes of U2 could only dream of taking a bite out of the Big Apple for. And you thought you had to release free albums to keep rock alive in this iTune age. "Broadway lights and taxi cabs/Everybody's moving fast/Uptown, downtown, what's your thing/She can take what she can bring" sings Kravitz about the other woman that raised him apart from his 'Jeffersons' mother. The other woman being the city of N.Y.C. "She's a queen that stands her ground/Nobody can take her down" he adds in fitting testimony and tribute at this time of year all these years later.
'The Pleasure and Pain' delves deeper into both sides of the love/hate coin of the ying and yang of relationships. Its another outstanding ode 'Again' from the multiple million selling Grammy winner who will always 'Stand By My Woman'. The 'Strut' title-track keeps stepping in an album that moves and shakes across the genres like the classic career of the soulful rock God. Then things get real beauty and the beast on the formidable 'Frankenstein' with the tongue lashing lyrics "Sister, I need love/You say that I'm your baby/But I feel like Frankenstein/I need love", before 'She's A Beast' continues this monster mash up. The brilliant 'Believe' singer keeps the faith on the "hey",old classic rock puncuation of 'I'm A Believer' (much like his last album 'Stand'), before more wonder comes with a new 'Happy Birthday' dedication for every Lenny lover over the next 365 days for the rest of their lives. If that wasn't enough to tide you over then love continues to rule on the beautiful ballad of devoted dedication on album standout and new catalogue stand-alone, 'I Never Want To Let You Down'. Anyone that's truly been in love knows you can playlist file this one next to soul soldier Tank's 'Hope This Makes You Love Me' in real men baring genuine soul. With this and some Miracles classic cover closing on 'Ooh Baby, Baby' (which was recentely given the 'Soul' Seal of approval) even have the added bonus of 'It Wont Feel The Same' and 'Lift Me Out My Head' as the perfect pair, post album puncuation. A playlist that's all repeat and no skip. This new record is 'Elutheria' heaven sent. Love still rules for Lenny on his new album on his new Roxie Records label in honour of his mother. Catching fire off Academy actress co-star, Jennifer Lawrence for this records inspiration, Cinna fashions a new grand design for women. Right now even with a rock age to this season with Ryan Adams, Maroon 5, Counting Crows and the Gaslight Anthem, nothing looks or sounds as good as Kravitz. Now shake what the Jefferson's gave you and 'Strut'! TIM DAVID HARVEY
Thursday, 11 September 2014
Punk, Drunk, Luck.
One year before this writer was born came the year that inspired Ryan Adams' latest record in 2014, as this writer on the precipice of 30 looks up to a musical inspiration right at the door of 40. Still we're not talking about 'Ryan Adams' the new self titled classic from the acclaimed American singer/songwriter who 14 years into his career has released his 14th album. As incredible as that is and its inspired 'Gimme Something Good' single and 'Feels Like Fire' song, we're actually talking about '1984'. '1984' being the name of his limited edition vinyl release, a week teasing prior that felt like record store day. Following in the legendary legacy steps of Springsteen whose January 'High Hopes' release was followed by an 'American Beauty' vinyl extended play, Ryan even sounds like the boss owning a myriad of vocal styles and impressions. This is because '1984' is an ode to that years time of punk music and the Whiskeytown country star that's even released a heavy metal album ('Orion') shows he has as many punk stylings as crossover alt-pop ones. Like a Sex Pistol bullet to the brain this half hour record splits your head in two. But never mind that bollocks, this album is just nuts! As much acclaim as his new full length L.P. is getting, some fan purists see this one as just as great...if not better. It's certainly a different animal, razor sharp and quick with tracks puncuated by screaming and broken glass. 'When The Summer Ends' this Pax Am 7 inch series will still be playing to the fall acoustic, 'Ashes and Fire' of Winter. It's just that hardcore. When the needle drops to the groove this record scratches the soul of the stereo. A 'Bones and Ash' concise classic 'Over and Over', '1984' just may be the moment of this young legends conception. Do you feel it? This punk is truly lucky. TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Tuesday, 2 September 2014
After The Fire
$100,000! That's how much it costs to record a Ryan Adams album that no one gets to hear these days. Still there is life after debt...and even 'Life After Deaf' (see the brilliant box-set). After coming from the 'Ashes and Fire' of 2011 (where does the time go?) and recovering from Ménière's disease, Ryan is back with his self-titled album that follows a cutting room floor scrapped one. One that looks like a debut, but deeper and darker feels more like his most personal project to date. On the wax heels of his 7 inch, E.P. record '1984' paying punk homage to 45's of that year in this 2014, Adams gives us another apple of his creative eye on the eve of the big, fall music release schedule that gets set to replace the Summer movie blockbuster season for billboard success. The needle on your vinyl player is ready to drop onto the scratches of a new black wheel classic as Ryan replaces the amazing acoustics (and Norah Jones, she's busy working with an ex-Cardinal for the foolish fun of Puss N Boots) for some epic, eclectic electric, as the man-who along with Ben Harper shows he's the closest thing to Springsteen and Dylan in modern, mainstream music today -makes something that in more ways than one is distinctively him. From the stunning L.P. perfect lead single 'Gimme Something Good', Ryan has done just that with a song that is not only one of his best in years but one of the greatest hits of his career. The 'Heartbreaker' who has struck 'Gold' with everyone from Whiskeytown to the Cardinals gives us his 14th album, 14 years into his career in 2014. Judging from this 2016 is going to sound sweet.
One year off 40 the man who has wrote books ('Hello Sunshine') and heavy metal albums ('Orion') is truly, finally feeling like himself. Happily married to post, pop princess Mandy Moore and releasing some of the best records he's ever cut. You can hear just why "as the Autumn leaves begin to fall" on 'Kim' an ode to his muse as strong as Eminem's bitter love for his lady of the same name. 'Cutting her name into a wall with a key' and seeing who is only described as "him", 'Kim' is a longing lament of a relationships Summer brightness turning into Winter blues. There's more 'Trouble' and awesome slow licked and guitar soaked odes as Ryan sings "another Summer where the palms are the colour of doom/put my hand through the mirror let the water run". A gloomy mood has never sounded so California cool. "All these things keep running through my mind/everything and everyone I've left behind" considers Adams on his insightfuly introspective 'Am I Safe' where our stellar singer/songwriter looks back and forward at his own decency and mortality. This isn't pop music. It's purist music. Sorry Miley. Miss Moore's man gets to work on 'My Wrecking Ball' leaving a pile of destruction in his wake and the best song with those swinging, destructive concrete metaphors since Springsteen turned one written in honour of the collapsing of the New York Giants stadium into an amazing album. With "nothing much left in the tank" and love lessons learned, Ryan gives us one singing "all the walls we build must come down". Time to get swinging!
They say "one mans coffee is another mans whiskey" and while the majority of Ryan's contemporaries frequent coffee houses, Adams latest music is tailored for two more stronger shots. It's the barstool blues, or the love on the rocks with a twist that keeps this sobering singer honest. 'Stay With Me' is a plea in that after hours direction, from the fire of an argument to the ice in a glass. The haunting, instrumental begins of 'Shadows' hammers this home further with heavy guitar chords that knock like a moody morning, hangover headache. The singer that rose from his last album 'Ashes', describes something that 'Feels Like Fire' in epic effervescence engaging through your earphones. Burning like vodka brightly before 'I Just Might' wakes up and smells some coffee. Still Adams didn't write all this depth and distinction for people to just ignore in the faded background over gossip and latte's. 'Tired Of Giving Up' heres a guy sick to his stomach of just taking the easy route to our excuses. Giving up on giving up? It's as inspired as it is ironic and as we join him on the classic closer 'Lets Go' we would all be the wise to singing along to his word like a gospel choir. As he sings "All my life/been shaking/wanting something/holding everything I have like it was broken" on his lead strong, lead single he's going to smash records with this one as he gives us something good. Even Jack White's eclectic 'Lazaretto' from Third Man in Nashville cant come as close to this Pax Am country star who now has American music in the heartland palm of his pick. With Maroon 5 and Counting Crows introducing the autumn of bands this man goes it alone and joins Harper in Springsteen with another classic for a catalogue of that credit chasing Dylan's songbook. Going it all alone, we don't know how much 'Ryan Adams' cost or was afforded to by this one mans pocket, but we can tell you it's worth every penny. It's worth 'Gold'! It's worth a million! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Monday, 1 September 2014
Adam In Wonderland.
September and everything after. In this moment its been a long time since Adam Duritz introduced himself by singing "Step out the front door like a ghost/into the fog where no one notices/the contrast of white on white" over the beautifully fading in acoustic guitars to the beginning of the 'August' debut classic. The count and his crows have been 'Round Here' for a long time but it seems like they've been M.I.A. for even longer. Did someone stone the crows? Did Adam Duritz shave off his legendary beard and dreads and become Adam Richman of 'Man Versus Food' fame? There's more at stake here for a band who released a beautiful barrage of jams from 'Recovering The Satellites' to 'This Desert Life' before disappearing for a minute and coming back with the American classic 'Hard Candy' and its Vanessa Carlton assisted Joni Mitchell covered classic single 'Big Yellow Taxi'. Another long layover happened and then the 'Saturday Nights & Sunday Mornings' double brought them back only to lead to their longest hiatus of original music (save the covers album 'Underwater Sunshine' and some long live takes) until now. Now the Crows fly again as the longtime fans count the tracks and lucky stars. Nine in total. Or eleven if you count the deluxe demos. With 'Somewhere Under Wonderland' Adam tumbles down the rabbit hole again with his Mad Hatter, stream of consciousness, storytelling lyrics and his Cheshire cat charm.
They're not in Kansas anymore. Or should we say California. As these Berkeley boys are back in the world. By way of 'Palisades Park' the epic, 8 minute long lead song and single. Now who says you cant make radio records that clock in it around 10 minutes anymore in this day and age. The man who once told 'Mr. Jones' he wanted "to be Bob Dylan' channels his inner storytelling 'Like A Rolling Stone'. Quoteables like "the future sounds so crazy/we've all heard that song before", "I used to dream in the dark, in Palisades Park/Up over the cliffs and down among the spark/It's a long life full of long nights", "you walked into the bar/like a Saturday star" and "Have you been aching with trust or just/Have you been waking yourself with lust" this is a novel of melody making ideas. Duritz shows his Van Morrison, R.E.M. inspirations once again that he is his own legend with a legacy to make. This is set in stone further with the 'Earthquake Driver' that further breaks down any almost decade long barriers. Singing "I just don't wanna go home" into a hallmark harmony its clear to hear Duritz wants to hit the road again via a musical tour. 'Dislocation' continues this delightful disconnect as this independent since 2009 band show after all this time formed since 1991 they are still the same guys with the same sound. Give or take a few band members. The sweet sway of 'God Of Ocean Rides' continues the spirit of a band that has moved with the times as "Jesus spins the world around". As Adam tells his eve "and I know I said I didn't love you/ I may just try again tonight" we see that like everything in a loved life even lamenting loss, there's always another chance to make it right.
That's a trite but too true theme for a band that have returned after so long to find as much dust as welcome mats. Still once they get going that old Counting sound is as timeless as it is nostalgic. The "da, duh, da, da, duh's " of 'Scarecrow' will keep anyone but these Crows themselves at bay. These harmonies heard here are so classic they even sound older than this bands original stuff as they recover some satellites and airwaves. The Wu Tang Clan of rock are as dynamic as they are disjointed and as focussed musically as they are all over the place on your stereo. A jam band at it's truest, these songs are your raspberry conserve. Even the great D.M.B. has to C.C. the Crows, a real band of the 90's that still tells and takes tales that are anything but too tall in this electronic age. 'Elvis Went To Hollywood' is a stereotypical bur stereo worthy name and sound of this bands hallmark type, but this group has more Grace for this land before they leave this building thank you very much. There's the illuminating 'Cover Up The Sun' that reveals more behind and under the weather. While 'John Appleseed's Lament' is a lyrical lavishing of storytelling lore. Duritz sings "you've decided that you can't hide inside your mind/provide the slide to get you out", the consciousness from the apple of Adam's mind streams so folk soulfully across the soundscape. "The worst part of a good day is slipping away" laments this bands lead on the saved best and darkest for last 'Possibility Days' as he sings " I got to get out of L.A." whilst calling out an Incubus warning of not letting life pass you by in all its 24/7 opportunity. It's an interesting notion for a band that doesn't reach ten new tracks after almost that many years out of the scene. Despite the delightful demos the possibilities for a band whose last album was a double is endless. We just hope this band lasts for more days somewhere in this world of wonder. We've always counted on the crows to come back again. Anything else would be one for sorrow. TIM DAVID HARVEY.