Wednesday, 29 June 2016
All Tour Long.
Motown took to the city of Northern Soul last night as one of the last Berry Gordy greats standing had us strutting on the rooftops for the entirety of the evening. From Detroit to Manchester, Commodore Lionel Richie gave a commanding performance in the name of fun and entertainment which you just have to see for yourself, like the Wonder of Stevie or the Boss Springsteen shows off E Street. Bruce was here in the rain soaked Etihad Stadium not a month back, but now moving indoors in this Great British Summer to the former M.E.N. world beating stadium, the soul superstar who last year brought the sun to Glastonbury showed he was still the M.A.N. Lionel may be pushing 70 (he's 67 for the record...those Commodore 64 jokes have gotten real old), but the icon that started his legacy in the seventies is an undeniable legend. And that one of a kind mark was still indelible all these years later in the first of a pair of back-to-back sellouts in a town that doesn't care where it's Motown comes from...so long as it has soul.
And in stellar support, British best soul singer Corinne Bailey-Rae had plenty of that. It may have been a long time since Rae became a household name as she 'Put The Records' on for her self titled debut and the pure potential of the likes of Lianne La Havas may be taking her Brit soul queen crown, but Corinne showed that her classic record could still put the crowd on and off the rude, distracting glow of their phones. The inspiration is still there to see and aswell as moving through timeless signatures like 'Like A Star' and the city to city single 'Paris Nights/New York Mornings' off her brave and beautiful sophomore album 'The Sea', Corinne hit us with a ray of colourful Coldplay light from her stunning new set 'The Heart Speaks In Whispers'. And boy did we hear it. In all it's subtle beauty. From 'The Skies Will Break' all the way to 'Been To The Moon'. All the standards she showed in her set last night proved that even a chorus of her new, instantly catchy records felt so fondly familiar it's like they've been around for years with the rest of her best. And without the bells and whistles of all the pyrotechnics, Corinne Bailey-Rae played a powerful performance of her new offbeat but outstanding classic that it was like the best that British soul/music has never left. And the crowd didn't want her to either.
But this night was always all about Lionel and all about the hits...Hello (only time I promise?!) And as soon as Richie and his big band opened with the electric 'Running With The Night' it was clear to hear soul could still rock a stadium. As Lionel rolled out the best of the best like a lino, from 'Dancing On A Ceiling' to 'My Destiny', just like a late, great Prince gig (I hope you had the chance to catch him here two years back for his 'Hit N Run') you'd be forgiven if you almost forgot how many hits this Motown King actually has. But your nostalgia would smile and give one of those "this is my jam" 'ahhs' as the first notes of each classic would come into play like your favourite song on the radio. Especially when he played the piano on some 'Easy' Commodore classics like 'Sail On' and 'Endless Love' and compared it to the good ole nostalgia of taking heartbroken solace in your Lionel C.D./cassette/A-Track. Once, twice, three times a legend, Lionel had everyone out their seat and on their feet. Say you, say me, say it together. Even someone that was 90. Someone that danced more than anybody...and the ceiling. And some toddler with a cute face that said "show me something Lionel"! And boy did he...performing 'The Wheels On The Bus' for the first time in his live career that goes round and round the world. Add THAT to the greatest hits. And of course what evening would be complete without that timless greeting and of course everything 'All Night Long'? Lionel Richie knew how to keep the crowd and the joke going so much so they never wanted to say goodbye to what they've been looking forward all year for. Last night Lionel rebuilt the Manchester Arena...and then tore that brick house down! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Sunday, 26 June 2016
Fun Lovin' Rebels.
Walking down the crossing of the 'Abbey Road' The Beatles made instantly iconic during their final victory lap of rock that saw them unbelievably roll out classics like this, 'The White Album', 'Yellow Submarine' and 'Let It Be' in their last years, Paul McCartney famously went barefeet across a zebra crossing, on what would just be another street if it wasnt for rock and roll musics four horseman trying to chicken themselves to the other side one by one. But did you know because of the fact that he forgot his shoes many people believed and feared that Macca was dead? Call it prophercy, the sixties or just a wonder of supersition but it's true...well the fact that fans thought the band on the runs leaders writing was on the wall that is.
Did you know that R&B and urban soul princess Aaliyah-who was a million times the likes of Beyonce and Rihanna and still would be if still around today-was set to star in 'The Matrix' trilogy before she took that tragic, fateful flight after filming her 'Rock The Boat' video? The ahead of her time singer to the sonic Timbaland and Missy Elliott superfriend sound really was the future. Just think of how big the 'Try Again' singer would have been if we chose the red pill and she got to rock in leather for this science fiction Keanu classic. The star songtress had already made movies like 'Romeo Must Die' and 'Queen Of The Damned' much more famous than they would have been if this iconic leading lady wasn't in them. But this 'Matrix' revolution-despite the great job done by Jada Pinkett-Smith in her place-reminds us of just how much magic in movies and music Queen Liy-Liy still had left to give us.
Turning the electric neon of Times Square purple with his reign, Prince played a set in New York so stunning everyone turned their heads from the bright Coca Cola lights to looking up to a four foot in heels singer that when it came to live shows stood above them all...even the three hour, still dancing at Sixty Springsteen. Everybody wanted to see the late, great play so much so that some where left outside of this club just wishing their name was on the list. Even rock great Lenny Kravitz, guitar in hand who would one day record a duet album that when they wrapped would never see the light of day (we still hope won't after legal vultures cruelly drilled their way into Mr. Rodgers vault to mine money out of the dearly departeds personal, unreleased (intention or not) collection after his death, just days after he was laid to rest. Which die-hard fan or collector wanting for more or not is just wrong) after Prince told Lenny, "this is just for us" as their session ended. Kravitz couldn't even get in until a young New York waiter hitting the alley for a cigarette (smoke em' if you got em') showed him the way and announced him backstage for an audience with the Prince. Who knows if that was the meeting that opened the door on their collaboration of legend?!
What we do know is that this young New Yorker bussing tables was none other than Huey Morgan. The legendary singer of the N.Y.C. to the Soprano don core Fun Lovin' Criminals and quite possibly the coolest mother###### alive! No...not quite possibly...definitly. A man who now takes residence on these British Isles and on a B.B.C. radio show! And these stories he shares with us read like one of his extended radio interludes of inspiration and influence. We'd love to reveal more, but we'll let this man tell it as you read his book in his trademark voice as iconic as a Morgan Freeman or Matthew McConaughey drawl. Besides we don't want to spoil all you're about to learn from this genius. Keep this book up on the shelf as Huey gives you more than Scooby Snacks here as he gets into his life from the marines to the criminals, but would selflessly rather give it up to the greats that paved the way.
The true 'Rebel Heroes'. From Billie Holliday to Buddy Holly. Kurt Cobain to Amy Winehouse. Nina Simone to Tupac and of course the man that saved his life...Barry White...or was it got him back with his ex-wife?! This book is more than alright however, like his band it's an underrated classic that you think true music fans would lap up like real New Yorkers would his Criminals. In celebration of all the geniune 'Rebel Heroes' that made music and all its grand genres what they are, no One Direction, this is a real read from a man that doesn't just know music...he is music. N.S.F.K. Not suitable for Kardashian's, this beautiful books compelling chapters act like small biographies to every rebel heart and piece of musics soul that is paid tribute to across these profound pages. Excerpts perhaps less than 10 pages each that can even overturn the 600 strong prose from the pros and so called "experts" that have made their money off musicians that have yet to, or even never got the chance to write their memoirs. This is not what Morgan is out to do. This is one of rock and rolls best telling us about the rest and just how they came about being the artists and people they were. No shock and awe, inside papped gossip to sell copies. Just the real and raw truth of what made music music, before so called 'Idols' took all the talent. But Huey Morgan's 'Rebels' isn't just a nod to nostalgias friend. It's a call to arms for the next Dylan or Marvin to change the game again before we all get played...and that's the underlining message before more greats like Bowie join the Lennon Gods. We could be heroes...if we want it! TIM DAVID HARVEY.
Saturday, 25 June 2016
By the way, the Red Hot Chili Peppers will never make another 'Californication'. But back then in the classic Los Angeles Times of 1999 the band would never make another album like 'Mothers Milk'. So it's about time to 'Getaway'. Time to get to somewhere fresh and new. Over the decades worth of 11 albums the Chili Peppers have been keeping it Red Hot, but rarely has their funky flavour been the same. From their late eighties pysho punk days it was Showtime as these snot nosed kids named tracks after their favourite Los Angeles Lakers basketball players ('Magic Johnson') and perfomed salutes to Kareem. But after all the blood, tube sock sweat and tears, the musical marriage of R.H.C.P. and legendary guitarist John Frusciante produced some real 'Blood, Sugar, Sex and Magic'. Dear John abruptly left mid-golden era only to be replaced by Janes Addicton guitarist Dave Navarro leaving on an Aeroplane and joining for 'One Hot Minute'. By the time Frusciante rejoined the fold before the new millenia, drug addiction had wreaked hell on his arms forcing him to play slower in the beautiful guitar work vain of 'Scar Tissue', 'Otherside' and 'Californication' that brought us that California classic and the formidable follow-up 'By The Way'. Before the Chili's began to play an arcadium of stadiums, capacity confirming themselves as the greatest band in the world, bar the Biggie to their Tupac, Foo Fighters. What more could they do? It seemed like nothing as Frusciante left for a frustratingly final(?) time to mine more of his stirring solo work (you want an album recommendation for your Spotify playlist? Every damn one of them). Only to be replaced by his former sessions guitarist Josh Klinghoffer who after his debut album with the Red Peppers is still here...just like the band after all these years. Reminding and telling their fans, 'I'm With You'.
And so are we on this new album 'The Getaway' that really is a trip. Even if it is more of a sidewalk step than a place where the oceans run red and the sky is Hollywood swimming pool blue. But just look at whose joining you on this walk via the album artwork. Foxes, racoons and bears oh my! Yet the real animal here is a Danger Mouse as the Gnarls Barkley collaborator who turned Jay-Z's 'Black Album' and 'The White Album' by The Beatles grey replaces Red Hot royalty Rick Rubin, who has rocked and mastered all the Peppers masterpieces on production detail . You can't really replace a legend like Rubin. Just ask the Beastie Boys. From Jay-Z's '99 Problems' to the late, great Johnny Cash's countless American Recordings it's black and white...this guys the best. But still when it comes to the modern day, there is nobody as innovative as this new danger. And with the mouse in the house the Chili Peppers come up with a fresh and cool sound that's easy like summer afternoons. This is your album for the season. Whether the top is down on your convertible or your staring up at the sky somewhere in a park, riding shotgun to your nearest and dearest. Sure it's not a record of epic proportions but it just feels right. From the outstanding opening title track where Kiedis raps, "Complete repeat/Sitting in your car and on your street/Lost in California/Let’s steal this wheel/Take a spin to find out how we feel/Just around the corner/Slow down for sound/Turn it up and no we can’t be found". To their catchiest best single in years 'Dark Necessites' with its instant vintage video directed by 'Tron: Legacy' and 'Cowboys and Aliens' movie star Olivia Wilde, who gives this treatment testament to late nights in L.A neon shades of both the timeless art of 'Can't Stop' and her own independent pictures riding the downtown streets to the storm drains.
Open the doors on the rest of the album and you'll see how much the best frontman and band out of Los Angeles since Jim Morrison's men have grown. 'We Turn Red' is old school, hallmark Hot Chili Peppers with a modern mouse snapping twist on this anthem. Whilst our generations greats and rock God's reach beautiful new depths in their California soul on tracks like 'The Longest Wave' and 'Goodbye Angels'. The latters Sayanora to the city of fallen angels praises the palm tress in harmony with the skyscrapers singing, "Babe I know love is a funny thing/Born to die in the eternal spring" amongst a track full of lavishing and lashing lyrics. What more would you expect from a 'Dani California', Hollywood tragedy that starts with the gut check, "Suicide a month before I met you/Deep regrets I never could forget you". There are even more standouts. From 'Sick Love' featuring Great British National Treasure Elton John behind the notes. To the android age 'Go Robot' that's creativity is nowhere near clunky. This is the future of the Red Hot Chilis and 'Feasting On The Flowers' continues this beautiful bloom before 'Detroit' rocks for the motor city that made Motown. 'This Tinconderoga' and the arrow on point 'The Hunter' close out this album nicely, but this albums final curtain bows to two of the best tracks on the whole E.P. One being the epic, evocative 'Encore' (play it again Flea!). The other being the haunting 'Dreams Of A Samurai'. A story that stays with you long after this song bids you goodnight, fading out! As Kiedis sings, "Paint your face cause I'm a black foot/I thought I counted up the fireflies/Close enough to get a good look/Time to mobilize" it's clear his couplets that have as much cortex space as a Jeff Goldblum movie monolouge are becoming even more focussed and direct, all whilst still rewriting the script. "You and I both know/Everything must go away" the Red Hot Chili Peppers sing on their lead single...but it doesn't have to be a necessity right now. Sadly Aerosmith may be another almost half century legendary rock act calling it a day, but if Springsteen can still play gigs off E Street then so can these California kings. Dear John or John Doe. They've still got it. It's not time for them to get away...by the way! TIM DAVID HARVEY.