Monday, July 31, 2006

 

The Who - Wire & Glass

Thewhowireglass3651581


The Who: Wire & Glass - Six Songs from a Mini-Opera Polydor 1702801

This is the closest thing the Who have produced to their absolute top masterwork 'Quadrophenia.' It's wonderful to hear Pete & Roger up-and-running once more even if Mooney & The Ox can't be here to join in the fun. The songs are vibrant and memorable. I don't need to say much more on the artistic front other than 'We Got A Hit' on our hands here.
On the financial front, however, I might question the policy of issuing what looks like a mini-album at nearly four quid when it turns out that 5 of the 6 tracks clock in at less than 2 minutes each, especially when it seems the same tracks will also appear on the album due out in October. Wouldn't it have been nicer to have been able to obtain this mini-masterpiece for a couple of pounds - then not only would it have been a great new record from our ageing heroes but we would have got ourselves a bargain into the bargain!

Thursday, July 27, 2006

 

new business cards

Ian_bizcard


Jen_bizcard


bought them at www.vistaprint.co.uk

6/99 pounds per 100
not bad eh?

Saturday, July 22, 2006

 

Want more??????

even more great reviews can be found at

http://abi-rhodes.typepad.com

so check 'em out!

 

Cerys Matthews: Never Said Goodbye

Cerysmatthews_f3001



Cerys Matthews: Never Said Goodbye
www.roughtraderecords.com
www.cerysmatthews.info

This album announces itself with a thumping bass drum intro which asserts, 'I mean business!' And I think The Business is what we get.
Cerys Mathews is one of those singers who is instantly recognisable and the lilt of her voice is both sexy and comforting - it reassures you that quality music is in store. Rather like Kate Bush, she's been around and proved her credentials - she's not one of the clutch of female singers who are constantly springing up that have a pretty voice but really don't know how to use it effectively. They hit the charts with one or two stunning songs then just don't have the nous to sustain the momentum.
Cerys grooves and has a wide repertoire of vocal stylings to call on. I note she now lives in Nashville - I envy her - but that environment has probably broadened her horizons - there's one track here, 'Oxygen', that reminded me of Dylan in John Wesley Harding mode, but heavily rocked up and highly effectively at that.
I guess my only complaint is that one or two of the songs are a bit lightweight and singalong, such as track 4 'Open Roads' which is to be the first single from the album and whose hook line provides the album title. But I appreciate that some people want just this quality - it makes for great atmosphere in the concert hall where we can all feel part of a wonderful night out because the words are so easy to remember or intuit as one goes along.
' The Endless Rain' is a perfect example of the Cerys magic. It's such a simple song with a poetic feel. The backing is spare, but the effect is powerful. You really think you've heard a great performance when it's over. In fact, the overall impression one's left with from the whole album is that Cerys is someone who knows how to harness power to its best advantage, to her advantage and the advantage of the listener.
Cerys_neversaidgoodbye1



Showing my age, I think my favourite is 'Morning Sunshine' because of its Harpers Bizarre/Honeybus/Fifth Dimension hippy groove - it's so well executed that anything goes as I'm transported right back and is flying like a bird down 59th Street with Maggie in her Nimble Balloon down 59th Street! Happily the disc rounds off with an atmspheric anthemic ballad 'Elen' which sounds like an escapee from Lord of the Rings. This is so full of pathos I'm sure it'll have many of you holding back a tear when cuddling up with a loved one at a late evening listening snuggled on the sofa.
Vc7r2881f21_1
To sum up - what a great release. It deserves to make it really big. Over to you!

 

New Classical Records

MODERN & RELEVANT
There is a muliplicity of reasons for the wide gulf between classical and popular musics and most of them are nonsensicle. Prejudice is fostered and maintained on both [or more] sides. One audience views its music as of greater intellectual or spiritual value than the other's. Because certain music might require a higher level of technical knowhow or virtuosity, it is possible to argue that this format is of greater importance. It may be enduring quality or contemporary relevance which swing it for some. it could be the sophistication of the required technology or the closeness to historic roots which impress others.
All these points of view are fundamentally polluted by the basic belief that what I choose to like is more valid than what someone else chooses and my justification is more reasonable than theirs. In other words, snottiness.
One particular way that the lovers of much classical music have shot themselves so badly in the foot is to cling on so preciously to the notion that a [fairly large] number of pre-20th century composers and musical forms were the benchmarks to judge everything else by and that this list is sacrosanct and never need reviewing. Anyone not holding this creed who hears much of the available catalogue will soon come to the conclusion that most of the 'Old Masters' did indeed write some wonderful tunes, songs and composite works, whilst also turning out a heap of dross alongside them. I have rarely heard this type of critical comment made by persons who listen almost exclusively to classical music.Have you ever heard any of them suggest that even Mozart and Beethoven might have written and published a certain number of pieces which have no place in today's musical cannon? I bet you haven't.
An extension of this addled thinking leads to the belief that the golden age is over and anything new is suspect and has to be of extraordinary quality before it's even worth considering putting in front of the common people for their appreciation. Thus the number of 20th and 21st century composers 'the man in the street' can name can possibly be counted on just one hand. Even listeners to the likes of Classic FM will probably only need their own hands and feet to count the list they can enumerate. Therefore classical music is ghettoised as being for the intellectual, the highbrow, the better-off, those who are capable of understanding it etc. This is probably the desired effect originally intended by the upper classes in less enlightened times - it kept the common citizen in the pub where they could enjoy rowdier more suitable pursuits and away from the concert hall, where nicer people could feel safe and superior. The effect is maintained by preserving the notions that you have to wear a tail suit and dickie bow to the opera, that you can't clap when you feel you want to, booing is only allowable if certain recognised guardians of morality sanction it by expressing outrage, that it is best to be able to follow the score and comment is only allowable if you can demonstrate technical knowledge and know all the italian terminology. It is necessary to approach the music with a degree of solemnity and to go out for a good time is very very secondary.
Thankfully, not everyone who matters takes this approach. Many times I have commented on the fact that Naxos produces excellent music at reasonable prices and I wonder why other classical labels insist on maintaining their ridiculously high prices. Perhaps its more of the type of thinking that equates quality and price - the classical 'cogniscenti' buy their records from Hyperion and Chandos because one's instinct marks them out as being of superior stripe! Thankfully I see some of these labels struggling to keep their heads above water and hope eventually to see them sink without trace. They are welcome to ressurect themselves in a more realistic and democratic guise when they feel sufficiently chastened.
Not only does Naxos give us all the 'Old Masters' performed by top class orchestras at prices we can afford, but it also issues quite large numbers of discs with music by modern composers and explores fields most traditional labels would be frightened to touch for fear of losing cash. Fortunately this policy probably operates in Naxos's favour as they find themselves with little or no realistic competition in these fields.
Anyway the point of all the above diatribe is that this month most of the review copies I received from Naxos happened to be twentieth century music. So if you are one of those who has been manipulated by the way the industry operates into not exploring modern 'classical' music then I hope to illustrate how rich and varied the available material can be. I firmly believe that there's something to suit the taste of almost any true music lover. And the comprehensive notes provided with each recording will arm you with enough jargon and background knowledge to beat any musical snob at his/her own game!

Toru Takemitsu: A Flock Descends into the Pentagonal Garden etc Naxos 8.557760
Bournemouth SO, Martin Alsop
5577601
You'll have guessed no doubt that this music comes from a Japanese composer. Takemitsu was the first from his country to gain an international reputation for his composition. Although, sadly, I have never found any particular 'Japanese' characteristics in his work, he does have a 'touch' akin to the feel one gets from oriental painting and lettering - one where the space is as important as the filled in bits, and there's a tremendous sense of colour in his music. The notes tell us that he was influenced by the likes of Debussy and Stravinsky - a fact that is clearly borne out by the richly tonal nature of the music. At the risk of sounding a bit of a pseud, I have to say that, to me, the sound is very visual. One can find the music creating images of moving landscapes and moody atmospheres. Then one's not surprised to discover that the contents list includes' Three Film Scores for String Orchestra'. In fact I believe the advent of film did a lot that could have helped Classical Music advance its image and dragged it screaming into the modern world. Sadly, by & large, that boat was missed. Takemitsu is just one of dozens of composers who were working hard to make the dream a reality but the musical establishment let them down by its resistance to change. This CD helps redress the balance by bringing top quality composition to a forum into which anyone who has the inclination can be [almost] freely admitted. If you haven't got the admission fee, perhaps your local library can help you bypass the turnstile!

Malcolm Williamson: Choral Music Naxos 8.557783
Joyful Company of Singers, Peter Broadbent
5577831


This fabulous vocal music from Australian composer Malcolm Williamson, who was appointed Master of the Queen's Music in 1975, spans choral styles from across the centuries but feels very modern yet at the same time, eternal. One gets mental images ranging from Gregorian Chant right through to the Khatachurian and Ligeti atmospherics in Kubrick's '2001- A Space Odyssey'. The opening work is aptly entitled 'Symphony for Voices' and illustrates perfectly what a fine instrument the human voice can be, and when combined with others how powerful an orchestra can be created. It also helps to dispel the idea that choral music needs necessarily to be religious in content - it being a setting of poems by fellow Australian James McAuley. English Eccentrics Choral Suite is similarly based on poetry - this time by Edith Sitwell - the title speaks for itself - the music is as quirky as the title! The gorgeous 'Requiem for a Tribe Brother' is religious in nature and was written in reaction to the death of a young Aboriginal friend, specifically for a 1992 performance by the Joyful Company of Singers who actually sang it at the composer's funeral in 2003.

Woljciech [Wojciech] Kilar: Piano Concerto etc Naxos 8.557813
Waldemar Malicki, Piano. Wieslaw Ochman, Baritone. Warsaw National Philharmonic Choir & Orchestra, Anton Wit
5578131



This CD grabs you right from the word go. The first work, Bogurodzica, opens with a machine gun like gattle of the side drum. The choral & orchestral bursts which follow leave you in no doubt that there is struggle and strife on all sides. It builds up and dies back in relentless threatening waves. A final triumphant shout suggests there is resolution, but one is left wondering.
Piano Concerto starts with Andante con moto sounding rather like it might be a classical version of Mike Oldfield's Tubular Bells, or of Eno's Music for Airports. Very restful inducing a mental alpha state. Minimalistic - like one of Steve Reich's phased pieces - you don't want it to ever end. Sadly, it does. The second movement Corale is quite different and much more solemn, perhaps reminiscent of the more sombre parts of Tchaikovsky's 1812 Overture and in a couple of places the 'Here come the planes' section of Laurie Anderson's O Superman. Those planes take off in the 3rd Movement Toccata and we find ourselves embroiled in a heavy dramatic conflict of epic dimensions - the piano persistantly pounding and soaring strings underlining the urgency of the situation. The denouement comes swiftly and decisively. But, strangely, it all seems unresolved. One is left somewhat unsatisfied but maybe this is an accurate reflection of real life in that one can never be sure of a happy ending. This is a truly magnificent piece of writing and deserves to be widely known. Maybe Naxos should consider releasing it as an 'EP' as it should be heard complete but on its own . The rest of the music which surrounds it on this CD album is excellent but Piano Concerto is absolutely superb and would stand well on its own feet if allowed to.
Siwa Mgla is again quite different, starting with an uneasy equilibrium which threatens to collapse at any moment. This situation is reinforced when a somewhat uncomfortable vocal is added, then swiftly joined by some ominous percussion and worried strings. Suddenly.... horns blare, kettle drums thunder, then another mournful refrain from the baritone - instability builds like an approaching earthquake might unsettle the local dogs and cattle. Then a shaft of sunshine, but is it just the lull before the storm. I fear so. I leave you to decide.
The final offering Koscielec 1909 is a symphonic poem which once more seems full of foreboding - perhaps this is Kilar's trademark - if so, he's a master of it and he should perhaps write scores for horror or sci-fi movies. Both restful in tempo and worrying in content, this is like a disturbing dream. you'll remember the feeling but possibly not the detail. So next time it comes round it will be just as terrifying.The musical equivalent of Quatermass and the Pit.
I feel I cannot recommend this record strongly enough. It represents everything I admire in modern music but fear that the majority of people will never be aware of it. Naxos is doing its best to bring us this material, but they need as much encouragement as we can muster for them!
Please help by hearing the music, then spreading the word.

Tuesday, July 11, 2006

 

Intimations on Immorality

Finzi_immortality_85578631




Gerald Finzi: Intimations of Immortality/For St Cecelia
John Gilchrist, Tenor Bournemouth Symphony Chorus and Orchestra cond. David Hill
Naxos 8.557863 www.naxos.com
If you have not encountered Finzi's Intimations before, then you're in for a rare treat when you hear this.
Based on Wordsworth's Ode 'Intimations of Immortality from Recollections of Early Childhood' it is a genuinely heart-rending example of the unsurpassable pathos which exists in many pieces of 20th Century English Music. I have been a fan of Finzi, Howells, Vaughan Williams etc for some 20 years now since being herded into this delightful flowering summer meadow by my good friend 'Harold' and I still fail to be unmoved on hearing such delights as 'Intimations', VW's 'The Lark Ascending' and Elgar's 'Nimrod'. Of course, televisual images created by the likes of Ken Russel have helped permanently cement the landscapes of interwar England into one's visual cortex and conjure idyllic images of a, no doubt, largely fictional Golden Age we would all love to inhabit. Oops - I'm rambling..
'For St Cecilia' is quite a different sort of offering than 'Intimations', starting in a somewhat anthemic style and dramatic in a very different way. It settles back into a more poetic mode but never attains the gut-wrenching emotional levels of the former work. I question whether pairing the 2 pieces on the same disc is a such good idea. Although I'm normally all for maximising the available space and thus helping the pocket of the record buyer, on this occasion, I think 'Intimations' (given its approximate 40 minute length) is sublime enough to warrant issue on its own - just this once. It's the type of music that one needs a little time to recover from when it's finished.
Apart from this, as usual with Naxos, this disc, in my view, is faultless and will provide you with as good a version of the masterpiece as you're likely to find.If you only buy one clasical record this year, I beg of you, let it be this one!

 

Nomvula

Freshly Ground:Nomvula Tinto Tinta
Nomvula



If I'm honest [and, when it comes to reviewing records, I think I generally am!], I'd say this CD isn't exactly my cup of tea, but I am able to see its attractions to a wide variety of record buyers. It's not a straightforward world music record from southern Africa. The tunes aren't all in the same style, which is interesting in itself. I'd say this will appeal to lovers of jolly samba/carnival type music and other positive vibrations, fans of Joan Armatrading, Michael Jackson and the Bhundu Boys, R'n'B aficionados, Afro-Celts and many more. But not me.... and I can't exactly put my finger on why. The production is very good indeed. The vocal styling is impeccable and the technical musicianship is faultless. Maybe it's just a bit too well put together - too clean, too sweet, too nice. Perhaps it lacks soul, spirit, conviction.... I can't really say. But hey, just because I don't like it much doesn't mean you won't. So go and check it out for yourself.

 

Record review: The HeatShkok Project

Record Review

Freddy Jay presents:The HeatShkok Project
Planet Reef (2004) www.heatshkok69.com
Pochette1



This is a very interesting, very entertaning fusion experiment - lots of sampling & scratching of all kinds music, newsclips, speeches, ads etc interspersed with regular songs and tunes. I'm always a sucker for someone who can work Prokofiev's 'Montagues & Capulets' into their creations. It's pretty much a successful attempt at working these diverse elements into a effective and meaningful whole. My only complaint is that there's rather too much of that ear-popping jerkiness often encountered when samples and loops are extensively employed. It becomes a bit unsettling, even nauseating. One wonders if this is intentional or an accidental by-product of the technology - perhaps it only affects some listeners this way - maybe it's the audio equivalent of strobe lighting. Your views on this will be welcomed.

Fondfreddy1



I'll just round off by quoting a bit of the sleeve note....
"The Heatshkok Project is the sincere introspection of a real music aficionado and acts as a testament to this multi-faceted DJ. Freddy Jay confides a very personal, original and conclusive crossover project, overstepping the boundaries of genres all the while remaining totally homogeneous."
Pseuds Corner or what?

See you at the next episode.

Monday, July 03, 2006

 

Michel Berger -'Pour me Comprendre'



Record Review: Michel Berger -'Pour me Comprendre' [wea 5051011539923]





On a recent visit to Languedoc, I noticed that a French TV magazine was giving away this CD from 2002 with that week's issue. Needless to say, although the name meant nothing to me, I was unable to resist buying.

Now, my French is very basic and although I was able to decipher rough meanings for most of the 18 titles - the actual gist of the songs were pretty much incomprehensible to me. Therefore I was in my element - I was able to listen from a purely musical angle disregarding lyrical content beyond the mood set by intonation and simply taking the voice as just one of the instruments in the arrangement.

Michel's voice is in fact very musical. Although he does not have a particularly large vocal range Michel is light in touch, melodic and quite pure in style. In many way he is what I consider to be a typical French chanson singer. The backings featuring Michel on piano, accompanied by bass, synth, guitar, sax etc are gently thoughtful and far from overdone. The arrangements vary quite widely from straight dramatic ballads,through anthemic stadium pop, to very groovy modern jazz numbers, although I think it would be true to assert that they manage to maintain a French ambience throughout.

In fact, I'd say this is a most enjoyable CD and I'd not hesitate to recommend it to even the most cynical of singer-songwriterphobes among whom I count myself. In fact, I go as far as to say I'd be very interested to hear Michel's latest album and that I'd be very disappointed if it wasn't just as good as this one, if not better.

Let's hope the idea of giving away slightly ageing CDs with TV magazines catches on universally!

 

The Puppini Sisters: Betcha Bottom Dollar



Record review

The Puppini Sisters: Betcha Bottom Dollar www.thepuppinisisters.co.uk
[Review based on 5-track promo album sampler]


You can get a general idea of how The Puppini Sisters might sound like if I list a few of the tunes they cover. Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy, Mr Sandman and Jeepers Creepers all get the straight-forward kind of treatment you might expect for favourites from the forties. There is some quite interesting Django-type guitar but otherwise no particular surprises. Not that I'm complaining - the ladies' voices are sweet, sexy and superb. But it's when you hear the arrangements of Gloria Gaynor's Disco Classic 'I Will Survive' or Kate Bush's 'Wuthering Heights' that you realise there's plenty potetial here for fun back-dating modern music. Let's face, you'll either love this or hate. I love it.

 

JUMP STURDY!



JUMP STURDY!
Record Review: Dr John - 'Mercernary' - Songs of Johnny Mercer
EMI 0946 3 55567 2 8 DRJOHN 06




I was not hitherto aware that Johnny Mercer was responsible for quite so many well known enduring songs - standards if you will - as are represented here, let alone a myriad more that are not, no doubt. Blues in the Night, I'm an Old Cowhand, That Old Black Magic, Moon River, Lazy Bones, Come Rain or Come Shine, You Must have been a Beautiful Baby are among 13 numbers getting that unmistakeable funky Mack Rebennack treatment we are so familiar with. It's been almost 40 years since we first stumbled across the Gris-Gris Man Walking on Gilded Splinters and pointing us in the direction of Professor Longhair and other musical gumbo from down old New Orleans way. There have been ups and downs and other nefarious changes of direction but in general, the maestro has remained true to his roots , while updating his skills all the time and simultaneously paying tribute to great innovators of the past - previously Duke Ellington and now, Johnny Mercer. Dr John is quite a rarity - a sixties survivor still worth paying close attention to. This self-produced album is well up to par and provides us with a variety of moods, mainly suitable for late night chillin' and creating an intimate atmosphere. The piano playing is as honky as ever and the familiar creaky old voicebox sexily snakes itself around Mercer's lyrics with consummate ease, with the exception of I'm an Old Cowhand which sadly is presented here as an instrumental - odd I should find myself writing this but I feel it would have sounded ten times better sung. That small criticism aside, I am really surprised I find this CD just quite as enjoyably groovy as I do, when it might have been far more middle-of-the-road. Laid back for sure, but lazy? - No Way!

 

What do you get if you cross.....

......Glen Campbell, Jim Morrisson, Scott Walker and Neil Diamond??????




Well apart from a physical impossibility or an excess of testosterone, one result might be the music of Adam Green. His CD 'Jacket Full of Danger' released on Rough Trade (cat no RTRADCDP293) is a fabulous amalgam of all these great voices plus, I daresay, you'll want to add a few more of your favourites.

The songwriting is equally impressive with tantalising titles such as Hairy Women, Vultures, Nat King Cole and Animal Dreams. Believe me, the songs do not disappoint any expectation these titles might evoke.

The production, orchestrations and just about every other aspect of this recording are exemplary. If we don't hear an awful lot more of Adam in the years ahead, then I'm a Dutchman - which I'm not!

 

Corinne Bailey Rae:Corinne Bailey Rae


Corinne Bailey Rae:Corinne Bailey Rae
[review based on 5-track sampler CD]
When I first heard 'Put Your Records On' on the radio I thought, 'This is very good.' I thought this lady's voice was cool and original. But I have to say it wasn't too long before I was quite bored with the whole thing. I remember I had the same experience a few years back when Macy Gray appeared with her single 'I Cry." I've never liked a Macy Gray record since. Sadly I have to say that I feel much the same about the songs on this sampler and so I fear for the whole LP. You've heard one - you've heard the lot. Sorry but this is one album I won't be rushing out to buy and can't foresee myself looking forward to the next or any subsequent offering from Corinne Bailey Rae.

 

Smoking & Drinking on a Tuesday Night

The Soulsavers Sound System: Smoking & Drinking on a Tuesday Night (2003) www.thesoulsavers.com
I discovered this disc on one of my trawls through the cheap baskets in a Brighton junk shop - I just pick up stuff which looks somewhat offbeat or substantially different from the common lot - paying as little as I can for the priviledge in the process. What we have here is a Mix CD of the highest order - it cost me a mere 50 pence - probably the best buy I've had in ages. It contains a real funky assortment of tunes some well known, others less so, but nearly all of such a high calibre one cannot easily single out any particular favourites. The general mood here is of the jazzier side of the Woodstock Generation. Imagine Sly and the Family Stone meets Charles Lloyd, or the Temptations do a cultural exchange with Traffic - these people do not as far as I can tell appear on the mix but would be representative of the genres covered herein. Psychedelic Soul is what I'd call it. If you're an arts student making a movie of the Seventies Blaxploitation type, this would make a great soundtrack. My only beef is that being a mix cd you can't easily select a particular track, as they all flow into each other without separation so you have to listen to the lot. But if you like the sound of the album, then get onto the website and see if you can get your grubby mitts on a copy. If you succeed, you'll be eternally grateful!

 

LISTEN UP!

Record Reviews:
The Hat - '4 Tales' www.the-hat.co.uk
The Rohan Theatre Band - 'Cemetary Songs [or The Delectable Fruits of an Morbid Fascination]' www.rohan-k.co.uk

Way back in the late 60s and early 1970s there was a trend for multimedia presentations including the sublime marriage of pop, poetry and humour. I'm thinking of such performers as The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band, Liverpool Scene, Bob Kerr, Scaffold, Barrow Poets, Doggerel Bank and of course the recently demised demagogue Ivor Cutler. In the intervening years, there have been a few new names added to the list - Jilted John/John Shuttleworth/Graham Fellows is one that springs immmediately to mind, but in general the genre has largely fallen into disrepair - certainly in terms of any wde public awareness. If you have not yet explored this fruitful area of leftfield culture, I would advise you to set out on the path of discovery forthwith!
My.... re-awakening, if you like, happened a couple of months ago when I was invited by my friends in Turning Green to attend a benefit gig in aid of The Cambodia Trust at Brighton's 'Ocean Rooms'. The line-up for the evening was rich and varied including The Greens and a powerful boombox outfit called Mr Finn and Juxtachrome. But the act that stole the show was The Hat - a really odd looking bunch who wowed the audience with their highly original amalgam of power-pop, jazz, rap and poetry. When they announced they had a CD for sale, of course I just had to have it!



I'm glad to say that the record does not disappoint in any way other than it contains only 4 songs. It is filled with drama and pathos, telling stories loaded with emotions of the highest order set in arrangements which build tension and excitement enough for any sensitive soul. Clever use of language and intonation set against humorous exotic rhythmic backgrounds paint atmospheric moving pictures which transport the listener into wild and whacky worlds of wonderful whimsy (hem-hem!). Yes - it's brilliant! Give it a go and I'll guarantee it'll leave you wanting to hear more - much more - of The Hat.
Waxing lyrical about The Hat to my friend, Ewan, a record dealing street-trader in North Laine, some while after the gig I've mentioned above, he turned to me and, dipping into the treasures laid out on his stall handed me a copy of Cemetary Songs and said, "I think you'll like this.' The delivery van I was driving at the time had no CD player on board so I had to sweat through the rest of the day's work before I could get the CD home to hear what gems it had to offer. The wait was well worth it!
To quote the sleeve note, 'The Rohan Theatre Band includes piano, Hammond organ, accordian, guitar, banjo, bass, trumpet, alto saxophone, violin, percussion and voice.' All these are curtesy of one Rohan Kriwaczek, as is the songwriting, composition and production. A true polymath that Rohan!
The 11-track album kicks off with a suitably gothic introduction and as it progresses we are treated to a series of sad tales inspired it seems by regular visits to Brighton's Woodvale Cemetary, variously delivered in a style somewhere between Vivian Stanshall and Tom Waites to name but two of Rohan's possible muses. The musicianship is beyond question and the songwriting/storytelling is immaculate in both conception and execution. Let me give you a taste of the oeuvre in the form of a few of the song (or rather dirge) titles - 'The Undertaker's Ball', 'Everybody's Happy to be Dead', 'Things I should Have Said', 'Reunited at Last' - hopefully these will illustrate the ground covered - or excavated - by Rohan on the record. The whole is an awesome (gruesome) project which deserves a wide audience of discerning music lovers - make sure you're among the chosen few.




So I'm extremely happy with this mini-revival of this particular crossover genre. I hope it heralds a positive flood of similar projects. If you are aware of similar work which needs broader appreciation please don't hesitate to let me know so that I can climb aboard that bandwagon too.

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