Steve Jenner – High Fives 2013

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Well, we’ve had a couple of guest contributions from blues players so far; this one’s from someone who’s a big blues fan.  Steve Jenner is a director and drive-time presenter with  two radio stations in the North Midlands, High Peak Radio and Ashbourne Radio.  He also does media work for the Plain English campaign (defending the apostrophe, now that’s rock’n’roll) and loves messing about in boats.  He’s also someone with a great ear for a tune.  Steve was persuaded to contribute this piece by regular application of single malt whisky.  Over to Steve…

Now I’m quite happy to do this High Fives Album review for Music Riot but be warned, ye music industry at large; this has not been a classic year. There have been some great singles; some amazing live gigs; some very good songs, even, but it has not been a classic year for The Album. In a good year, some of these wouldn’t have made it. But you can only play the opposition who turn up.

So…..

Goin' to the Delta HFNumber 5 --  “Going to The Delta” SAVOY BROWN (Ruf Records)

Up until this morning this was “Magic Honey” by Cyril Neville (Ruf Records) but it has been pushed aside at the very last moment by another Ruf offering, Savoy Brown’s “Going To The Delta”. It probably isn’t as good an album as the Cyril Neville offering which does have some very sticky, sweaty moments like the title track and “Blues is the Truth” but the Savoy Brown offering just has The Swag about it; it’s a bit more nimble, a bit more bite where you want a bit of bite. It is almost entirely predictable, but if you’re a sucker for this kind of Brit R’n’B goes Stateside, it will probably cast a longer shadow over your CD player than it deserves. He’s been doing this sort of thing since 1965 but this album does sound quite fresh, in a rather dated and predictable sort of way. I love it.

Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da DaNumber 4 – “Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da” MADNESS (Cooking Vinyl)

It’s sort of like an old – stylee Madness album, this, with larger -- than -- life -- characters, London Beat type Skasville with a daft smile and too much to drink.  “My Girl 2” is an interesting one with what for all the world is a straight lift from The Fine Young Cannibals “Good Thing”, “Powder Blue” is an intriguing song and “Misery” is a stand out; Ooops -- have -- a – banana style good time music with fruity, nay, saucy brass and a greasy sense of fun. Releasing a new album when you’ve just attained “National Treasure” status must be a bit of a risk but, hey, the nutty boys pull it off. Repeatedly.

The Shocking Miss EmeraldNumber 3 – “The Shocking Miss Emerald” CARO EMERALD (Dramatico)

I’m with Mr Lister re Ms Emerald (Aynsley Lister chose a Caro Emerald album as one of his High Fives -- Ed). It’s a bit of a guilty pleasure this one; you just know if there was still Woolworth’s, it would be the pick to click for about 6 months on the instore moozak. As retro as a Lockheed Constellation and almost painfully contrived, it is also massive fun, just what you want to hear early doors on a decent night out, packing wonderfully naughty songs like “Liquid Lunch” and “I Belong To You” with the sardonic “Coming Back As A Man” and the absolutely splendid “Completely”, you’d have to be seriously serious not to crack a smile while this was on your radio. A very clever album, it steadfastly refuses to beat your head in with its own cleverness. Which is cool.

In TimeNumber 2 – “In Time” THE MAVERICKS (The Valory Music Co.)

Look! He’s picked the album by that line dancing mob, etc etc…well.yes. And no. This bunch suffer from Procol Harum Disease; unable to escape ‘The Big Hit’, they are doomed to live in its shadow. Look, you either get Roy Orbison or you don’t and if you don’t, don’t see why I should waste my time talking to you. This is great, sentimental, on occasion almost operatic, country rock’n’roll. Go on, listen to “Born to be Blue’. And you’ll either get it or you won’t.

And finally…the undisputed champion…

Same Trailer, Different ParkNumber 1 – “Same Trailer, Different Park” KACEY MUSGRAVES (Mercury Nashville).

“Same Trailer, Different Park”……..this woman is too young to sing of these things. “Merry Go Round” has to be song of the year -- it is so knowing, so battered by life, so damn tired by it all. And yet it manages to be witty, funny, beautifully observed and played with sumptuously understated perfection by a cast of angels. And that ain’t all; try “Silver Lining”, the album’s opening track for a whole truckload of emptiness, or “Follow Your Arrow” which wins the Rick Nelson “Garden Party” award for ‘do what you like ‘cos you’re damned if you do, damned if you don’t.’ Delicious. Would have made top five even in a classic year. Which to be fair, this ain’t.