Why on earth didn’t anyone think of this sooner? While a collaboration between Robbie Fulks and Linda Gail Lewis may now make perfect sense, it took a hell of a long time for someone to figure it out. And the timing couldn’t be more perfect – the world has been waiting for a new dynamic duo and they’ve finally arrived. Like a musical time capsule that reaches all the way back to the mid-‘50s, Robbie and Linda’s 2018 album WILD! WILD! WILD! is everything the title of the album suggests… and a whole lot more. From Country & Western to Rockabilly, this is an album created by and artist who was influenced by it (Fulks) and an artist that lived through it (Lewis).
In the U.S., Mungo Jerry only scored one hit song – “In The Summertime” – and most Americans are under the impression that there wasn’t much else by the Mungos beyond that one single. My review of the Cherry Red Records five CD boxset MUNGO JERRY: THE DAWN ALBUMS COLLECTION may have surprised people unaware of those releases. But guess what? I’ve got an even bigger surprise – Cherry Red has released a second Mungo Jerry boxset containing five more full length albums from the British act! Entitled THE ALBUMS 1976-81, this set veers into Blues/Rock/Glam genres and generally avoids the jug band Folk of their earlier releases.
Australia has always been a country that takes influences from the U.S. and UK, blending them together and creating something new and interesting. This phenomenon has been happening for decades – most successfully in the ‘80s – and definitely sets bands Down Under apart from their American and British counterparts. Newcastle’s Trophy Eyes is no exception. Signed to Hopeless Records, the Punk-fueled Aussies fuse Punk-Pop, Emo, and Hard Rock together, sprinkling their musical confections with just the right amount of catchy hooks. The melodies soar, the powerhouse rhythm section pounds and the guitars slash and burn. While this might not be your grandad’s Punk Rock, it certainly checks all the boxes that inspired your older brother.
Scottish singer/songwriter Chris Rainbow (1946-2015) is one of those artists that appeals to different groups of music fans depending on which projects they are more familiar with. His vocal work with The Alan Parsons Project has earned respect from legions of APP fans, his UK hit singles attracted attention in the ‘70s and his production work is highly respected. However, Beach Boys and vocal harmony fans have long held him in high esteem for his often-overlooked album output. 1979’s WHITE TRAILS was his final studio vocal release and shows that he was poised to bridge the gap between the wonders of his previous albums (1975’s HOME OF THE BRAVE and ‘78’s LOOKING OVER MY SHOULDER) and the promise of the ‘80s (i.e.: Electronic Music). Unfortunately, he turned his attention away from solo material and WHITE TRAILS remains his final foray as a front man.
It has been four years since Americana outfit Sons Of Bill released LOVE & LOGIC but the band have not been idle. This quintet – led by brothers Sam, Abe, and James Wilson – remained on the road, promoting their own brand of heartfelt heartland rock. However, touring wasn’t the only thing that slowed them down. The boys in the band took off a little time for themselves, too. Oh, and then there’s that little accident that James Wilson had – a fall on a champagne glass severed five tendons and the median nerve in his right hand. While this is definitely not a good thing for a guitarist to experience, it also hindered his ability to drive, dress himself, and other simple tasks we all take for granted. Thankfully, you can’t keep a good man down…
When talking about the original late ‘70s UK Punk scene, 999 seem to be one of the most overlooked bands of the era. Sex Pistols, The Clash, The Damned, Buzzcocks, The Jam, and The Stranglers are usually the bands that many folks think of first when praising the virtues of Punk and how it levelled and changed the musical landscape. While those bands grabbed the headlines, there were plenty of equally-worthy bands that deserved fame and fortune. As you would probably guess, 999 was one of those bands. 999 made music fueled by Punk yet firmly rooted in classic Rock ‘n’ Roll. The music they recorded may have been born during the Punk era but 40 years later, it remains timeless and essential. If you need proof of that statement, Captain Oi/Cherry Red’s four CD box set THE ALBUMS 1977-80 is exactly what you need to make you believe. Again.
During the ‘80s, it seemed like you had to have a gimmick or make a unique fashion statement in order to attract the attention of Pop Music fans. Videos and TV performances were just as important as radio play and no matter how great your song was, if you didn’t stand out in a sea of Pop wannabes, you were very rarely noticed. However, once you grabbed everyone’s attention, you had to have the songs and talent to keep their attention. Pop quartet King may have had a short shelf life but they actually had more than enough talent to keep it going had they been given the chance to. With Paul King’s soulful voice, colorful outfits and fancy Doc Martens footwear, King (the band) released a pair of albums in a chart career that lasted merely two years, but their talents ensured that they are still remembered today. Not quite Synthpop, Rock or Soul, King combined a few different genres and ended up sounding like… King!
Somebody once told me that I should stop writing about Punk Rock. He said that I don’t ‘understand’ Punk and I should stick to writing about New Wave and other genres of music.
I beg to differ.
While I may not know enough about the politics that inspired the lyrics of various bands I listen to, I certainly understand my connection to the energy, the songwriting and the performances. In the late ‘70s and early ‘80s, I devoured as much British and American Punk as I could. While The Clash, The Jam, 999, Buzzcocks, The Stranglers, The Undertones, Sex Pistols and others had songs that were instantly melodic and catchy, there were certain bands that took a few extra spins to connect with. Angelic Upstarts were one of those bands.
The year 1987 was a transitional year for music. New Wave was no longer ‘new’, Prince had changed the Soul, R&B and Funk landscape and Rock ‘n’ Roll was in the clutches of the big hair brigade (Glam Metal). For some, it was depressing, but if you were the adventurous sort, you could find so many bright lights between all the nooks and crannies. Mark Rogers (AKA Hollywood Beyond) was one of those artists whose musical output shone brighter than most. His blend of Pop and R&B walked the thin line between both genres yet didn’t fall victim to either. Released in 1987, Hollywood Beyond’s only full-length album, IF, was an album that should have appealed to those that adored Terence Trent D’Arby and other like-minded artists that forged their own paths while paying homage to their influences.
While many musicians can wring emotion out of their instrumental weapon of choice, there’s no denying that the most emotional instrument of all is the human voice. The song’s melody and lyrics mean nothing if the voice does not connect with the listener. A notable example would be Gospel Music – the soaring voices of a church choir can melt the heart of the most hardened atheist. However, the best example belongs to The Mystery Of The Bulgarian Voices, a female choir that has mastered the art of the voice… and I don’t use the word ‘art’ lightly here. The sounds these voices make are soul-stirring and heartbreaking in equal measures.