MUSIC: Another loveable release from Brum's swampiest band; CD REVIEWS.
The Nightingales - What's Not To Love (Caroline True Records)
Hot on the heels of their excellent recent Out Of True album, the Nightingales return with a new six track CD.
Whether that is classed as a mini album or an EP is probably beside the point in these download times, but this release (recorded over a mere two days In January) does feel more like some interim release to maintain momentum rather than a major release in itself - a tasty side salad to keep you going until the next delicious main course.
As always with The Nightingales records these days, there's loads of variety though.
Plenty Of Spare opens proceedings and continues where the likes of Born Again In Birmingham from Out Of True left off, with singer Robert Lloyd adopting a low drawl over a Beefheartian riff, whilst Eleven Fingers has thrashy guitars and frenetic drumming that brings to mind Pigs On Purpose-era Nightingales of old.
Bang Out Of Order has a more straightforward beat that leads nicely into some guitar wig outs from Britain's youngest-looking lead guitarist, Matt Wood, before an unlikely cover of Nancy Sinatra's Drummer Man gives Darren Garrett ample opportunity to show off his tub thumping skills by circumnavigating his kit in a manner not heard since The Muppets' demented drummer Animal hung up his sticks.
Overreactor follows and has an energy about it that may well strike a chord with fans of Lloyd and guitarist Alan Apperley's earlier, punkier incarnation, The Prefects, demonstrating once again that there's life in these old dogs yet.
What's Not To Love ends with Wot No Blog which, from its Egyptian style intro to Lloyd's "there's nowt so queer as folk who get the bus" observation that will surely strike a chord with those of us who ever use public transport, is undoubtedly the best track of the lot for me and worth the price of admission alone.
So, whilst What's Not To Love might not be the band's finest release, anyone who has ever loved The Nightingales will surely want to hear this.
It's more than time a few more of you did so, too. Twenty five years on and they're still one of Britain's best kept secrets.
The Police - The Police (Universal)
When the reggae sound of The Police failed to impress the punk fans of the 70s, the band sailed over to the US in a bid to make a name for themselves.
Their journey and self-funded early tours of America paid off and Sting and the gang were a major hit worldwide during their heyday in the 70s and early 80s.
Thirty years on, the band are back on the road after announcing last year they were reforming for a special comeback tour, following the likes of The Who and Pink Floyd who have both briefly reformed to generate a bit of extra cash for their pension funds.
The Police are due to come to Birmingham's NIA for one night in September but I doubt very much they will be attracting new fans.
This double CD collection (something similar would have probably been found at the bottom of the bargain bin of HMV a few years ago) has all the classics on it from Roxanne to Walking on the Moon.
Thirty nostalgic songs, making it an ideal present for parent's birthdays, but I doubt it will inspire a new audience to become huge Sting followers.
While we all love a bit of So Lonely (or was it Sue Lawley) and Don't
Stand So Close to Me, music has moved on considerably since the soft reggae beats of The Police and one can only conclude it has moved on for the better.
The Levellers - Levelling the Land (Rhino)
One of five Levellers albums to be re-released this month and if you were to buy any, this is certainly the best.
The lyrics may be a bit tired these days "Your daddy died in the Falklands and your brother went to war, fighting for another man's cause," but the stomping rhythm of fiddle and guitar still gets you dancing around the room, remembering the days of college parties and road protests.
Highlights include One Way, Riverflow, Devil Went Down To Georgia and World Freak Show.
The double CD has plenty of bonus tracks, with the second disk featuring the band live at Glastonbury at the height of their career.
Re-releasing their albums rather than producing any new material seems rather lazy, but then with the amount of bands reforming these days, everyone is up for earning a bit of extra cash in the easiest way possible.
See the band at the Wolverhampton Civic next March.
Chemical Brothers - We Are The Night, (Virgin)
Tom Rowlands and Ed Simons are back, returning with some fabulous psychedelic tunes in their sixth album.
Recorded at night in a bomb-proof bunker in South London, We are The Night, is a dramatic change from the 2005 Push the Button, which brought us Galvanize, one of the most popular dance tracks of that year.
It might be more difficult to find such a track on the latest effort as the boys who brought us Hey Boy Hey Girl and Block Rockin Beats have gone rather mellow.
Forget the glow sticks and whistles, this is definitely more joss sticks and cushions, with a more chill-out feel.
That is not to say there aren't some excellent ambient and psychedelic tracks on here.
Highlights include the current single Do It Again and the fantastic instrumental Burst Generator.
Others such as Harpoons has an essence of Future Sound of London about it and of course, a Chemical Brothers album wouldn't be right without backup from some decent vocals, provided on this album by The Klaxons, Willy Mason and Fatlip, (who sings on a bizzare track about a dancing salmon)
A decent album but don't expect to fill the dance floor with it, just pass around the after dinner mints instead.
Bob Mintzer Quartet - In The Moment (Art of Life Records)
Producer and man with great connections built a state-of-the-art studio and to try it out, he called in Yellowjackets saxophonist Bob Mintzer and the rhythm team from Bob's big band.
In a world of planning and preparation, where the average house husband can't go shopping without detailing the operation on a spreadsheet first, how good is it to hear a band go into a studio with no preparation whatsoever.
This is the classic spontaneous session - instruments, a bunch of head sheets for a bunch of tunes, and a thumbs up for the red recording light to go on.
Being Mintzer, and being his regular cohorts, things are pretty meticulous. The Mintz has one of the most compelling tenor sounds around - keeping the Michael Brecker blend of post-Coltrane chops and R&B sensibility going, albeit in a slightly more relaxed fashion.
Great work, too, from Phil Markowitz on piano, Jay Anderson on bass and John Riley on drums. And the verdict on the studio? Just wonderful
Hiromi's Sonicbloom - Time Control (Telarc)
Scary is the first word that comes to mind whenever I hear the Japanese pianist. This band pulls rock fusion guitarist David Fiuczynski into her trio.
Sometimes it's like Return to Forever never went away, at other times one can feel The Bad Plus almost quaking in their boots.
Hiromi has added other keyboards to her arsenal, and has some pretty entertaining exchanges with Fuze, as he is more conveniently called.
The ornate, show-off prog-rock arrangements and heavy metal-style posturing will not appeal to the more retiring and cool-headed jazz fan, but the air guitarists (and air pianists too, if they exist) will be loving this.
In its defence, it's not quite as scary as Hiromi's first couple of discs. Dare I assume she is calming down a little?
Andrew Hill - Compulsion (Blue Note)
Back in 1965, the great pianist who died recently was pushing at the boundaries with this challenging disc of three and a half long tunes.
He comes on like Cecil Taylor at the start, exploring the percussive end of the piano spectrum with large slabs of sound.
The iconoclastic saxophonist John Gilmore is certainly on the same wavelength as Hill, and trumpeter Freddie Hubbard proves he can get over to the free side too.
The rhythm team is buoyed by added African percussion, and altogether it's a dark and complex musical world we enter. Once one's ears grow accustomed to the gloom, however, there is a greater range of hues and emotions than early expectations suggested.
Not an easy ride but a very worthwhile one, and a reminder of what an original voice Andrew Hill has been in jazz.
Dexter Gordon - Clubhouse (Blue Note)
Freddie Hubbard is here again, this time in the frontline alongside the breathy tenor giant for a straight-ahead date, also in 1965.
Gordon is his wonderful gruff self on I'm A Fool To Want You, while the title track is one of those Blue Note staples, a bit of a Sidewinder bid for popularity.
All told, any album with this line-up - Barry Harris is on piano, Bob Cranshaw on bass and Billy Higgins on drums - is going to be worth the asking price, but Dexter was just so prolific that sometimes the line has to be drawn.
Tango Siempre - Tangents (Galileo)
Thanks to the great Astor Piazzolla, tango nuevo is now as familiar to us as the bossa nova. That means that the trio Tango Siempre can assume quite a lot of their audience.
Violinist Ros Stephen, accordionist Pete Rosser and pianist Jonathan Taylor make very sophisticated, multi-layered music. It brings the sexiness of tango, the spontaneity of jazz and the exactitude of contemporary classical music into one cohesive whole.
I suspect that exactitude, that cool, clear formality might become a little too dominant were it not for the guest musicians. Saxophonist Gilad Atzmon has the exacting technique needed but he also has a spicy danger that adds the necessary pungency; drummer Steve Arguelles is also a marginally untidier experimentalist.
So the trio create these beautiful pieces and the guests muss their hair a little.
It all works excellently. Tango Siempre appear at the Lichfield Festival on Saturday in a wider ranging exploration of tango both old and new, complete with dancers.
It's called Subitango and you can find out more on lichfieldfestival.org
The Nightingales' Rob Lloyd gives it the big one in Chicago
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|Publication:||The Birmingham Post (England)|
|Date:||Jul 2, 2007|
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