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Jeff Monk LP Reviews March 2017

The Move

Magnetic Waves of Sound: The Best Of (Esoteric/Cherry Red Recordings)

This lavish new set documents Birmingham’s favourite freakbeat quintet The Move in a way that previous compilations have only hinted at. This CD/DVD set includes an informative 20-page booklet with a complete history of the band including photos, a double-sided poster that features examples of period adverts, more rare photos and clippings as well as a DVD offering excellent German and U.K. television program performances from the time.

Originally formed as a quasi-super group as a result of members leaving other bands to form a new unit as The Move they went on to build upon their manifold talents and deliver some credible chart action, in the U.K. at least. The original group consisted of singer/multi-instrumentalist/songwriter Roy Wood, drummer Bev Bevan, vocalist Carl Wayne, and utility players Ace Kefford (bass) and Trevor Burton (guitar/bass) and later, as members left for various reasons, included Rick Price and future Electric Light Orchestra main man Jeff Lynne. The earliest tracks here (1966-1968) arguably represent the band at their very best.

The songs are delightfully delivered creations that include top-level vocal harmonies (all members sang), energetic instrumentation and arrangements and the kind of colorfulness that speaks to the somewhat off-center creative genius of Roy Wood. Indeed “Kilroy Was Here”, “Fire Brigade”, “Night Of Fear”, “Flowers In The Rain”, “Blackberry Way”, “(Here We Go Round) The Lemon Tree” and “I Can Hear The Grass Grow” rank as some of the best psychedelic, Beatles-informed pop music ever created anywhere. Of course the band had to change their sound to try and match the times and their rather stolid and uneven attempts at period heaviness only proved they were perhaps trying a bit too hard. Nonetheless, as an introduction to this band, the set works brilliantly and is a definite must for neophytes and a worthy addition to any longer serving fans’ collection. The waves of sound created by the Move were truly magnetic.
BUY HERE!

(21 tracks CD/21 tracks DVD-Region Free)

Mark “Porkchop” Holder

Let It Slide (Alive Naturalsound Records)

When it comes to fleshy rock and roll nicknames it doesn’t get much fatter than “Porkchop”. Mark Holder (to his mum) is a veteran singer/guitarist-songwriter that has sprung from the brawling punk blues mud of Tennessee’s excellent Black Diamond Heavies and his first solo album rates as a grimy and exciting contender next to former band mate James Leg’s highly rated 2016 release “Blood On The Keys”. Holder is the kind of player that careens around the edges of his busted blues sound to the point of distinction. His quavering electric slide guitar work and forceful acoustic blues reverence both hit the proverbial mark and while there are sonic familiarities to past masters he plays outside of mere imitation. “Disappearing” riffs on a “Gimme Shelter” like arrangement while his version on murder-blues classic “Stagger Lee” runs out like a Led Zeppelin 3 outtake. “38” is a classic warning song and between having a 38 year old woman outside the bar in his car and his own 38 problems it’s a wonder that Holder survives at all. “Stranger” offers a country twang that would suit Johnny Cash’s ghost and album closer “Baby Please Don’t Go” burns rubber even further. This kind of fiery swamp boogie is a perfect tonic for whatever ails you right now. Worth a listen, with gravy on top. BUY HERE!

(9 tracks)

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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March 16, 2017 By : Category : Front page Music Tags:, , , , ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews October 2016

Elvis Presley

Way Down In The Jungle Room (RCA/Legacy)

This two disc compilation is comprised of a mix of tracks – original album versions and outtakes-culled from The King Of Rock’n’Roll’s 1976 outing “From Elvis Presley Boulevard, Memphis, Tennessee” and the studio side of the final album recorded while he was alive, 1977’s “Moody Blue”. The obvious question fans will have is “Do I need to buy this?” and from this critics’ perspective the answer would be definitely be positive, with some warnings attached. These songs were recorded at the Memphis lair known as “Graceland” where The King was holing up on such a regular basis during these years (he died in 1977) that he thought it wise to bring the late night shenanigans, rampant prescription drug use and obsequious hangers’ on under one comfortable roof in his actual home.

The main floor den was labeled “The Jungle Room” due to its awkward use of faux fur cushions and rugs, period-cool wood paneling and endangered animal knick-knacks littering the room. The band at this time was basically The Kings’ stage band and included capable players like Ronnie Tutt, James Burton, Jerry Scheff, Tony Brown, David Briggs, Chip Young and John Wilkinson. Presley was, at this stage of his career, using his big tenor and warbled vibrato to utmost effect. This was his comfort zone and the songs he chose to sing were the kind of numbers that benefitted from this brand of heroic delivery. Tracks like “He’ll Have To Go”, “Hurt” and “She Thinks I Still Care” will have you reaching for that special moments Bic lighter to raise high and wave toward the disc player. Eventually the bold crescendo of these songs grows tiring, and it seems like Presley is a bit too comfortable in this exaggerated wheelhouse. Tracks like the disco-challenged “Moody Blue”, the country soul gem “Way Down” and the smooth “Solitaire” reconciles the vibe in a way that made Presley and his band unique.

The outtakes disc offers different versions of the songs on the first disc with scattered inclusions of Elvis’ TCB crew overheard off microphone laughing at their leaders’ inane jokes and weird commentaries about shooting both dogs and telephones that ruin recording takes.

The 24 page booklet puts some historical context into the mix and details session dates, songwriters and track participants well enough to add some meat to the bone as it were. Shortly after these recordings Presley’s health took it’s final nosedive and he fell from the throne to the floor. Too bad, as the best tracks here reveal an artist that had some kind of grasp of what he could sing well and not be completely embarrassed by the results.

(16 tracks CD1/17 tracks CD2)

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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October 20, 2016 By : Category : Cult Front page Heroes Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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ASSS Series (Vol 2) – Jeff Monk Reviews

20 Years: Astonishing Sound Show Stories Volume 2

(Dig The Fuzz Records)

Let’s do the big reveal right at the top. Boutique groove makers Dig The Fuzz Records have done themselves proud with their second instalment of their ASSS series, and you should get online pronto and get yourself a copy or download. It would be nice to have enough space here to detail the minutiae of each song and band here, but since we are limited we will pick some of the higher highs contained on this superb 26 tracks CD (30 tracks in the digital download). From the post-punk, psychedelic mood-pop side comes Nottingham’s The Six Ten with thee swaying “The Night” while U.K. mates The Barons Boys mythologize the Syd Barrett sound wonderfully on their cool “Beautiful Day”. Toss in the nocturnal, buzzing tones of Green Fuzz’s “I’m Not Here On My Own” and you are set for a trip outside reality if you wish. We can’t forget the influence of Salford lad Mark E. Smith on top examples Clambake (“Eye Ball Song”) and the brilliant Deano’s Hose (“Fat White Belly”). A kind of F-sharp punk rock vibe threads into fine tracks by Fight Fuck or Dance’s screamadelic “Pakistan” and bluesier grinders Clambake and “Fuck My Luck”. Jangle pop (Bad Buildings “1 to 12”), chick-a-billy (Kathy Freeman’s superb “Let’s Rock Tonight”) and soundtrack-y essences (“Mo Tucker” by Dukebox Accelerator) and surf (The Terrorsaurs “Avalanche”)… it’s all here. Popping his Canadian guitar neck and ruddy vocals over the digital ocean expanse comes Winnipeg’s own Colin Bryce as Mohair Sweets and the rocker “The Green Light” which is in all honesty unlike anything else you have on this extensive sampler. In limited edition of course and track-for-track this set will lead you down new sonic paths that should keep even the hungriest searcher happy for months. Nice one! (26 tracks CD/30 on download)

BUY HERE!

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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July 26, 2016 By : Category : Front page Music Reviews Tags:, ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews March 2016

Roo Panes

roo_panes

Paperweights (CRC Records)

With his sophomore album, the wonderful “Paperweights”, Dorset born Andrew Panes proves himself and his work worthy of notice and places him firmly in the “One To Watch” category. While the “classical folk” category typically gets the short shrift with connoisseurs, that could be down to the overarching diary entry style most artists deliver. Panes may not be the happiest bloke on the pebbles, yet he communicates his longing with the kind of powerful imagery that speaks volumes. The elegiac “Water Over Fire” threatens to evaporate into thin air, only a distant, tinkling piano figure providing a tiny beacon in the mix. The psychedelic sway of “Summer Thunder” with its muted trumpet and diaphanous curtain of sound is mesmerizing. Panes’ voice is a honeyed treat, rising at just the right times into a subtle falsetto to distil the mood perfectly. There is a quietness here that doesn’t drag you into some kind of miasmatic undertow; more considered that than the banalities of some of his peers. Every intricate note bears fruit and with “Paperweights” the 27-year-old Roo Panes should be considered top of his class. (CD: 10 tracks, plus hidden live track) BUY HERE!

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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March 9, 2016 By : Category : Folk Front page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews December 2015

Floating Points

fp_elaenia

Elaenia (Luaka Bop)

Manchester lad Sam Shepherd, with this marvelous set of compositions, has created an almost unclassifiable new sound in modern music. Exaggeration aside, “Elaenia” with its impressive sonic palette and mood intensifying flights, is the kind of music that tickles synapse and hip alike. Shepherd uses mostly vintage synthesizers like the Buchia series, Oberheim and ARP Odyssey, but before you can say “hipster on a tear” the music has infected you. Opening track “Nespole” sets the mood and releasing other distractions from your environment and by focusing on its entry-level heartbeat it will transport you quickly into Shepherd’s dominion. Comparisons to Brian Eno’s early forays into ambient music structures may be partly accurate but as you enter the ten-plus minute realm of “Silhouettes (I, II & III)” you begin to get additional jazz inflections introduced. Additional players (violins, viola, bass, drums and indistinct voices) effervesce up under just enough to nudge the momentum sideways. The freedom and joyfulness the players exhibit is tangible yet doesn’t resort to any kind of cliché. The elegiac title track is a flawless wonderment while “Argente” is closer to classic electronic music than anything else here. Undoubtedly “Elaenia” will winnow its way to Top Ten lists this year and for those that need a subtly mesmerizing aside to their hectic daily grind this is the rest stop of choice. (7 tracks) BUY HERE!

The Lords Of The New Church

Lordslos

Los Diablos (Easy Action)

This rather hefty collection (CD+DVD) brings to life the glam-punkers The Lords of The New Church in all their feather-haired, pseudo-dark glory ranting and roiling to a rapt audience of Spaniards circa 1983/84 for the short-lived alternative culture television programme La Edad De Oro. The colorful liner notes and booklet explain the connection this band made with Spanish audiences in general and their performances on the CD here, while sonically flat and only a short step up from standard bootleg quality, deliver a convincing argument for their popularity at the time. The LOTNC were always a betwixt/between operation. Too glamorous in their back-combed hair and man make-up for the punks that followed them from their Dead Boys (Stiv Bators)/Damned (Brian James)/Dave Tregunna (Sham 69) roots and too raw and punky for the upscale moving, Glam-rock contingent. The band was just slightly ahead of their time. The DVD captures them in full riot in July 1983 and January 1984. The camera angles are less distracting than was the norm and linger on fret boards and faces long enough at a stretch to make you feel like you are at least close to the action. Brian James in particular stands out here as a man possessed, moving from chords to quick solos without batting a black eyelash. Bators, as was his style, never stops crawling, bouncing, jumping or mewling for effect. As an historical document this is a necessary complement to any fan but if you haven’t slipped into the Lords Of The New Church dungeon this is the perfect skeleton key to entry. (CD: 11 tracks, DVD (region free): 23 tracks) BUY HERE!

 

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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December 11, 2015 By : Category : Front page Music Reviews Tags:, , , ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews October 2015

Colin Blunstone

colin_blunstone

Planes & I Never Even Thought

Two Classic Albums on One CD (Cherry Red)

The good thing about these kind of late-in-the-game, double-on-one sets is that they provide an excellent way to link various periods of a particular artists’ career in one easy listen, and in the case of current Zombies vocalist Colin Blunstone’s two late-seventies efforts “easy listening” is the functioning term. On the plus side there is Blunstone’s velvety tone. Few were blessed with such an exquisite set of pipes and on these songs that is what you need to pay attention to. As far as the music goes both albums sound exactly as they should considering when they were recorded. “Planes” was recorded for Elton John’s Rocket Records and anyone with ears can hear the similarity to John’s radio-friendly, mid-Atlantic pop tones from the era. “Ain’t It Funny” for example could almost be considered a Reg Dwight tribute track while “Good Guys Don’t Always Win” delivers a spot on Leon Russell-esque vibe. To put a finer point on things a couple of tracks were co-written with Blunstone by Barry Manilow compatriot Richard Kerr. We’re sure you get the picture. Other songwriters here include John/Taupin, Neil Sedaka and even a couple of Beach Boys. It may take you back. It may not be in a good way depending on your taste. “Never Even Thought” from ’78 ups the MOR ante using Steely Dan producer Bill Schnee to slick things up further and it is to Blunstone’s credit that he sings these utterly risk-free tracks with his usual gold-plated style. A must for Colin completists. (21 tracks) BUY HERE!

The Runaways

runaways

Japanese Singles Collection (Cherry Red)

Think what you may about the shock versus camp value of a 1970s’-vintage, all female rock band managed by a character like the darkly charismatic Kim Fowley, the basic truth is that The Runaways rocked. This concise and colorful single disc set delivers exactly the best of the best of The Runaways brand of deliciously dangerous hard rock songs from across their short career. The set couldn’t open with anything but their most recognizable “hit”, the boisterous “Cherry Bomb”. After that it’s a mixed bag of sleazy, beholden-to-no-one guitar rock that practically put paid to gender inequality in the music business back in the day. The ear worm qualities of tracks like “Queens of Noise”, “Blackmail” and “School Days” in undeniable and as the band progressed and became the sole dominion of guitarist/songwriter Joan Jett it becomes obvious that her solo career was practically guaranteed success based on her increasing ability to riff and roar with style. Lyrics to all the songs are included so one can practice their karaoke skills and beat the competition as you scream the opening note to “Blackmail” next Saturday night. (14 tracks) BUY HERE!

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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November 5, 2015 By : Category : Features Front page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews July 2015

Stiv Bator

Do You Believe in Magyck? (Easy Action)

This two-disc live/studio set completes the career arc of one Steven John Bator (1949-1990). Collect-o-philes may have some version of the eight tracks offered on the studio set, but by combining that music with a wildly entertaining Limelight, New York City set from 1988 “DYBIM” puts paid to any other versions extant. There is no doubt had Bator lived he would have been involved in some kind of regressive Lords of the New Dead Boys Church reformation so it’s best we use this set as the premier lasting memory of the rail-thin, bad boy singer. The studio set busts out of any preconceived notion that Bator was a one-trick glam-punker. With some quite excellent white-hot rock action guitar riffage courtesy of Kris Dollimore (The Godfathers) and Neal Whitmore (Montecristos, Sigue Sigue Sputnick, Adam Ant, Marc Almond) this May 1990 set is a mover from front to back. Bator, in his usual fashion, can’t help but bring the vocal drama to the one moodier track (“Don’t Go Away”) he’s on full throttle sky-high yelp when it counts. The live set, features a completely different band and knocks around some well-chosen covers (“Have Love, Will Travel”, “It’s Cold Outside”) mixed in with a careerist overview that was likely Bator’s only cash cow at the time. The audience sounds miniscule but the music production on both discs is pretty much faultless considering this music was fated for some sonic graveyard. For fans, a must buy. BUY HERE!

(Disc One: 8 tracks Disc Two: 13 tracks)

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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July 26, 2015 By : Category : Front page Music Reviews Tags:, , ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews June 2015 (Part 2)

Biscuit

biscuit

20 Years: A Million Beers & A Lotta Nerve (Off The Hip)

Picture this reviewer unwrapping a new disc by a band with the tasty moniker “Biscuit” not fully realizing that a band with such a, let’s just say it, lackluster name could pack as much of a physical wallop as a full bakery of tasty treats. The Barcelona-based band has cobbled together singles tracks from as far back as 2003 and the lord loves them for it. Opening with the jet-fuelled “The Sound” the band stakes a claim for a psychedelic (aka 60s’ built) punky attitude sized punch reminiscent of early Hellacopters mixed with a spicy rave up-infused din that will make fans of this kind of wild-yet-controlled rock and roll stand up and take notice. “The Man U Want” follows and it’s the guitar-organ-drums fury that seems to drive singer Xavi to complete abandon and a hacking cough. “Dance & Sing” is a hook-filled nugget that sounds like a drunken Tom Petty jamming with The Flamin’ Groovies. “R’n’r Exile” has the kind of amphetamine horn-driven charm that fans of early Graham Parker & The Rumour pulling out what is left of their hair listening to. The CD plays at 480 rpm. It sounds like it. Buy this. (16 tracks.)
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The Stoneage Hearts

stoneagehearts

Hung Up (On You) (Off The Hip)

Time, they say, changes everything. Melbourne’s Stoneage Hearts haven’t been exactly prolific and unlike many bands that offer this kind of knocked out, loaded brand of Dad rock they also know no bounds when changing members. When the only connecting thread in a group is the drummer – in this case the incomparable Mick Baty – you know there will be format changes. The quartet now boasts two guitarists and while they still have plenty of feeling, the age of stone has been replaced with the age of pebbles. The pop sensibility here is palpable. “I Thought That Time”, replete with earnest yearn for a lost love, typifies a sound that jangles and burns more like an ‘80s retro-wave band than the kick arse ‘Hearts burn circa 2004s’ “Guilty As Sin”. There is a lot of noise here, but nothing that really does any aural damage or sounds as risky as the band once did. And while that dynamic thud of yore is missed there’s no doubt this version of the band can win, er, hearts wherever they draw breath. (11 tracks.)
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Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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June 29, 2015 By : Category : Features Music Reviews Tags:, , , , , ,
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Jeff Monk LP Reviews June 2015 (Part 1)

Lost Dawn: Lost Dawn (Easy Action)

lost-dawn
Falmouth’s Lost Dawn has the kind of fearless attitude that makes some bands great and others not so much. Their self-titled premier full-lengther is the kind of album that will grow on even the most jaded fan of this kind of music – a cross between overt pop inclinations with a slight psychedelic twist, and loose nut, rave-up experimentalism. The first two-thirds of “LD” lo-fi’s its’ way into your brain cells wonderfully. There is a distinct Marc Bolan vibrato to the effects-driven vocals that meshes well with the reverb boogie of “Breaking Bad” and “Count On Me”. Drums splash and attention spans expand and it all makes perfect contrary logic until “Manchild” when, for over six minutes the band builds from a fairly typical rhythmic pattern and heads for the very outside edges of their sound. Call it a rave-up or simply a progression to the limits in the confines of the song-it works to create a new sense of what this band is capable of when they stretch. Closing with hippie dream ballad “Kennedy”, Lost Dawn turns the tables again and all told this pleasing set builds a strong case for watching what this band does to follow this.
(11 tracks) GRAB A COPY HERE

Honey: Weekend Millionaire (Easy Action)

HONEY
Blame grunge. Blame Courtney Love. Blame anything else but poor Cornwall, U.K. trio Honey for their immediately identifiable retrograde sound. Sure, every band has roots and most bands can’t shake a sound-a-like framework at the outset of their careers. We’ll give the three in Honey their first fault. Originality is a difficult and delicate thing to grab and shape into something a band can stand behind proudly. It needs to come from within the group rather from their record collections… eventually. Singer/guitarist Sarah Marie Tyrrell has guts to spare yet mewls and roars like you’ve heard it before. Points given for a guitar-centric roar that chop chops at chords defiantly while drummer Sammy and bass guitarist Ele complement heroically. That part works. Sometimes the deck requires a quick re-shuffle before the players can get down to a serious game. Honey is at the table and ready to deal except the cards are marked and the dealer already knows exactly what will be played next. Next?
(10 tracks) GRAB A COPY HERE

Jeff Monk

Long serving music writer and hermit from the frozen center of Canada JM spends his days creating a pleasant environment for world class ballet dancers while a looping soundtrack of loud rock and roll music boils continuously in his head. This is something that can't be fixed. At your service. Now buy him a cigar and exit.

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June 22, 2015 By : Category : Dark Eyeplugs Features Front page Indie Music Post-punk Psychedelic Reviews Rock Tags:, , ,
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