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Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Uncut Magazine Take 180 May 2012

Uncut Take 180 May 2012
The latest issue of Uncut has recently arrived home with Mrs. Roddus to regale me with heaps more new releases to tempt me as well as highlighting plenty of older albums to check out from my collection that I may have not heard for a while. Some albums in my collection that have been brought to my attention again either through direct mention or through articles about the particular artists, that I will be checking out again over the next month are: Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed, Allman Brothers - Eat a Peach, Big Star - No.1 Record and Radio City, Dr Feelgood - Down By The Jetty, Fairport Convention-Unhalfbricking, Human League - Dare, Montrose - Montrose, The Who - Who's Next, plus a bunch of new releases and some re issues from this issue. So stay tuned as I work my way through tis lot and update this post as I go.

Lets start, as we do with this months free CD.
VA - Uncut- Jack White's Blues
 With the release of the new Jack white Solo album, Which I brought and reviewed recently, this is the Jack White issue as we can see. This months CD kicks off with one of the best old time songs I have heard in quite a while, the totally magnificent "I'm Shakin" is a brilliant slab of R N'B and I love the sleazy sax that really makes this song. Jack covers this song on his new album and although he sticks closely to the original, his version is also a highlight, one of the best on hi set. After that the rest of this CD takes a bit of  readjustment to get into with its plethora of oh so familiar old time blues. Some excellent tracks by legends like Son House, Howlin' Wolf  and Josh White.
The excellent "Who's to Say" was on a much earlier Uncut CD and is a favourite of mine and the other real
surprise here is the song "Conquest", from The White Stripes "Icky Thump", which I didn't know was a cover version( I don't often check out the writing credits on albums). The Patti Page version is also excellent and another stand out in some pretty good company. Rating 3.5/5.

Fela Anikulapo Kuti and Egypt 80 - Live in Detroit
Well, not the best start to this months listening with this issue of a live Fela gig that Uncut mentioned as being on high rotation on their monthly playlist. I just love Fela's music and was excited to check this one out but although it does sound like it was a pretty good concert, I just find the sound quality not at all to my liking. A tinny sound, although better than bootleg quality, that just gets a bit annoying to my ears, as I do like a good quality recording and can listen to any of the tracks here in far serperior quality on my original CDs. Also this is not Fela at his peak.
Rating 2/5.

Alabama Shakes - Boys & Girls (USA 2012) 
Woohoo! What a magnificent start to this months new music.This is the debut album from a major new talent on the contemporary music scene. The female lead vocalist, Brittany Howard, is a soul diva of outstanding quality and on this cool album is backed by some seriously good indie pop/rock with it's foot planted securely in the American soul/funk scene.Sometimes reminds me of early Kings of Leon in places. Just keeps getting better and better with each listen. I'd be surprised and very excited if any of the other albums I will be checking out from this issue will top this. Another to add to my CD purchase list. Uncut rated this 8/10 with their new rating scale and I will Rate it 5/5.
C. Joynes - Congo (UK 2011)
Uncut highlighted this album in one of their new mini features in the review section as an example of something called Guitar Soli. I had never heard of it and Uncut gave this 9/10, so I thought I would check it out. An instrumental album with guitar, banjo, violin and other more exotic instruments create a sort of world music crossed with Americana  and frankly doesn't work for me at all. Sort of drones on a bit with some tracks seeming to have little structure or melody, sounds improvised in places and not one I will want to hear again. My rating 1.5/5.

Big Star - #1 Record/Radio City (USA 1972/1974)
Uncut did an article on Alex Chilton in this issue and although I don't have any of his solo music I knew I had some Big Star hidden away somewhere. Big Star is another band I had read so much about over the years, who were very well regarded although only had a cult following and never much mainstream success. Some nice melodic 70s rock is the order of the day here on these first two albums they released and after several listens I now see what all the fuss is about. These guys deserved to be far more successful than they were. Plenty of great songs that wouldn't have been out of place on 70s FM radio. As I become more familiar with these songs many are starting to sound like great rock classics. Consistently good across both albums with this blend of Eagles pop and Lynyrd Skynyrd southern rock, which is interesting as I don't go much for either of those bands. Excellent stuff, Rating 4/5.
Ty Segall and White Fence - Hair (USA 2012)
This obscure artists was highlighted in the "I'm New here" article and the album was given an 8/10 rating in the review section. This lofi 70s inspired psych garage rock starts off with a track reminiscent of the the above Big Star and carries on with some catchy rock tunes and good guitaring. Not all of it sticks and some of the vocals don't really get me enthralled with the middle of the album loosing focus and not following on that much. A strong start but the rest I loose interest in. Rating 2/5

The Rolling Stones - Let It Bleed (UK 1969)
I picked this album out because Uncut did an interesting piece on the Rolling Stones infamous Altamont concert on the 6th December 1969 and this album had just been released earlier that year.
Another Stones classic with this Blues and country drenched rock album chocked full of all time classics like "Midnight Rambler" "You Can't Always Get What What You Want" and "Gimmie Shelter" to name the best known ones. Not a lot here to indicate they are English as they go back to their blues roots in the best possible way. Don't need to say much about this LP, it's one of the classics, although not my most favourite Stones LP.Rating 4.5/5.

Human League - Dare (UK 1981)
This was an album of major importance for me back in the early 80s when I was in high school. I was blown away late one night as I was listening to an alternative music radio show that use to play after 10pm on a local radio station. This particular night their came out of my tiny transistor radio this out of this world electronic extended high pitch pulse before it segued into a synth pop song that also sounded like it was coming from another dimension. Thus was my introduction to "Love Action" and the Human League. Fortunately, due to the mega success of this album, it was released here and I soon had a copy in my possession. 30 years later, although I have never got round to replacing my long sold vinyl copy, I tracked this down to revisit it after Uncut gave the re issue 10/10 in this issue. Still sounding strong after all these years whereas most of this 80's synth pop sounds dated, I can still get into this album in a big way, although the smash hit "Don't You Want Me" sounds a bit tired after it was totally thrashed on the radio back then. The highlight is the disco sounding up-tempo "Do Or Die" as well as the haunting "Seconds" and of course "Love Action...." My Rating 5/5.
Dr Feelgood - Down By The Jetty (UK 1975)
In this issue of Uncut they reviewed the new Dr Feelgood box set and gave it a rating of 9/10. I had heard the odd Feelgood song over the years with "Milk and Alcohol" being my favourite but never really thought about buying any of their albums. After seeing their review I thought I should give them a listen as I knew this album was hiding on my hard drive. The Feelgood have been highly regarded over the years and I interested to see how they shaped up. Listening to this highly regarded debut album today on the ipod was quite a disappointing experience. I found that although I enjoy this style of music and there is some great rockin guitar work on several of these songs, overall I found the songs mostly weak and never really inspired me much at all ."Roxette" is the best song here and is a great groover with a nice harp solo. I suspect these guys would have been great live in the pubs they played but perhaps didn't transfer to record quite as good. Still a worthy effort and there is some good stuff here to rock out to, but also some others that sound a bit amateur. For me not essential. Rating 2.5/5
DR John - Locked Down (USA 2012)
Album of the month for this new one from this stalwart of the New Orleans music scene and given  a 9/10 rating. The good Dr is defiantly in fine form on this groovy,  funky bootie shakin' monster of a record and it is defiantly growing on me as I thinks the man has been listening to some of that afro-funk I dig so much. The Dr's voice ain't lost any of its coolness either for a man of his vintage and this album just oozes COOL man. The musicians sound like they are having a ball and there is some great guitar pyrotechnics on one song in particular that impresses me muchly. Just might have to add this to my purchase list real soon. Rating 4/5.

Fairport Convention - Unhalfbricking.(UK 1969)
In this issue there was a short career overview, in photos,of Richard Thompson and Fairport Convention. Many years ago I discovered a splendid album by an English folk rock group called Pentangle. Fairport... have always been considered the best of the 60s folk groups and this album is considered to be their best. In light of my digging Pentangle's "Basket of Light" I thought I should check out Fairport and this issue has prompted me to dig this out from the deep dark depths of my hard drive. First point is that although Sandy Denny was a fabulous singer, I really don't connect with her voice and the style she uses. Second point that apart from "Autopsy" which is a beautiful track and some nice playing from Richard in places, that captures my attention, I don't really connect with the rest of this album at all. It does have some interesting moments and some nice 60s creativity but not an album that I want to spend much more time with. Rating 2.5/5
Gemma Ray - Island Fire (UK 2012)
Fourth Album by this talented young British Singer/Songwriter looked interesting and was reviewed in this issue with an 8/10 Rating. After a couple of days on the Ipod I have grown to appreciate most of these very well crafted chamber pop songs. All sorts of influences here and a good example of just how advanced this part of the music scene is these days. I really like the string arrangements on some of these songs and Gemma had a lovely voice although not outstanding or particularly distinctive. An enjoyable record but not  something I'd  rush out to add to my CD collection. Rating 3.5/5
John Doe and the Sadies - Country Club (USA 2009)
The prospect of this album is quite mouth watering, a veteran punk singer who always had his roots in country teamed up with a very capable band doing a bunch of country covers. This got 8/10 for it's belated UK release and frankly it disappoints. The selection of songs seems to veer towards the sloppy end of the country spectrum and are played pretty straight. Which means that this is actually the kind of country music that made me originally hate country music in the first place. A few of the more uptempo numbers with John accompanied by a female singer are more interesting and enjoyable but overall I have to rate this 1.5/5

The Who - Who's Next (UK 1971)
An album by album career over view of Pete Townsend prompted me to check out this piece of classic Rock. In the past I have found, for me, The Who to be more of a singles band and I haven't really connected with their albums much. I have vastly enjoyed and partied to the best of CD I have had for many many years but haven't felt the need to explore deeper and when I have I wasn't overly impressed. Who's Next is considered the bands best album and I must concur. Opening and closing with two of their greatest rockers which I know so well in "Baba O'Riley" and "Won't Be Fooled Again" with both songs book-ending The Who's most classic and magnificent hard rocking album to date. Rodger Daltry is in awesome form and proves himself the be one of the premier belters of the time and Pete's songs and guitar playing is excellent. There are some weaker moments but they don't really spoil the overall momentum of the album. A Roddus Rating of 4.5/5.
Justin Townes Earle - Nothing Going to Change The Way You Feel About Me Now (USA 2012)
This looked promising with another strong review and considering his pedigree I was hopeful of something better that what I am hearing. Somewhat reminds me of Ryan Adams and with the slower numbers like some of Ryan's last album but although, for me, that should be a good thing, I just find this slow album just boring and uninspiring and quite droll and I glad I didn't actually buy it the other day."Baby's got a Bad Idea" is a bit more upbeat and he sounds more like his old man on it but things slow down again and I just have to turn it off. 1/5 is harsh and for others it may be a good album, but Ryan Adams does this sort of thing 1000 times better.

M.Ward - A Wasteland Companion (USA 2012)
Another highly rated artist by Uncut, with an 8/10  full page review of this singer/songwriter. After a couple of quick listens, I am not really getting too excited about this set. Some nice catchy pop tunes and a sprinkling of Americana with the occasional interesting sounds, but I feel I can and will live without this album. Rating 2/5.

The Allman Brothers Band - Eat A Peach (USA 1972)
And finally for this issue we have what is considered to be the best record from The Allman Brothers Band. In this issue there was an interview with Greg Allman due to his autobiography coming out recently. This was originally a double LP with some live tracks and some new studio tracks. Part southern blues boogie rock in the style of Lynyrd Skynyrd  and on the extended jams and instrumentals sounding more like a jazz prog outfit, reminding me a bit of Passport in places. Of course the guitar playing is outstanding but overall this set fails to really excite me and is there for not essential for my collection.
Rating 3/5.

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