Natalie Tena of Molotov Jukebox

…….. and helps keep me sane.

This has even more been the case since my gallbladder recently tried to kill me and I spent several days in a hospital ward with absolutely nothing to do.

I loved recorded music for many years and while studying my HND I started to go to live events. This was how I discovered live and recorded music affected me in a way nothing else does. I felt like Jack-Jack in Pixar’s “The Incredibles” when Kari, his babysitter, puts him in his highchair. She puts on a Mozart CD and says ‘It’s time for a little neurological stimulation’. When she presses play, Jack-Jack stops being distracted, sits up, suddenly becomes focused and it releases his inner powers. This is how music makes me feel. On a normal day, I usually listen to at least one album on my own in the car, this helps me dispel the stresses of the day and calms the deeper turmoil of being the head of my family. Before her life changing accident and subsequent cancer treatment my wife and I jointly shouldered the chores and usual trials and tribulations of life. The disability she has been left with restricts her ability to do a number of things. I’ve taken on those things too.

During college, and the years after, I went to many music performances and enjoyed getting wrapped up in the atmosphere of the performance and of being in a crowd of like-minded people. My wife gets the same feelings from music but also going to see her football team play. As with live music, watching on TV is enjoyable, but being there is infinitely more.

My somewhat eclectic tastes in music – influenced by my brothers’ liking for electronica and the indie band music of the nineties – were powered in my 20s by being able to go to nearly 100 events and having access to multiple independent music stores, as well as the wonderful HMV (our local branch still survives and I bought some more CDs only the other day). Since the demise of many independent music shops I’ve found new music via a number of sources. Steve Lamacq and Lauren Lavern’s Radio Six Music shows (DAB only);music festivals; working with Caffè Nero Live, Talentbanq, Success Express Music and Laurel Canyon Music. Even through social media with the many artists I’ve connected with and through my photography.

As an early adopter of CDs, because I found I could listen to them at home, in the car and on the move, I’ve been collecting CD since I left college and now have access to over 15,000 songs via my iPhone, thanks to iTunes Match. Even today I get CDs, having discovered, through the death of a friend, that a digital only library dies with you rather than being passed on to your heirs.

Out of all of those albums there are a few that are so well produced and written, that paired with my Jaybird wireless ear buds, I am transported into a deep rich soundscape, enveloping my senses and soothing my mind whilst stimulating my inner self. I can’t express why the following give me this feeling – they simply do.

 

Love Over Gold                                                        Famous Blue Raincoat

The Hunter                                                                      Sunday 91

Deleted Scenes…                                                          Revolute

Soft Control                                                                    Tragic Kingdom

Travelling Heart                                                             Elastica

On                                                                                       Carnival Flower

Southside                                                                          Gorillaz

Vienna                                                                                  So

How Men Are                                                                       Addict

 

 

 

 

 

Version 2.0

Not the complete list. However, I think it demonstrates a diverse mix of artists, genres and decades. What I like about the above is not their similarities but how diverse the styles are. However, the common elements are the commitment by the artists, engineers, technicians and producers to produce a dynamic and engaging performance.

An interesting thing to note for Jennifer Warner’s beautiful album: The Hunter, is I find the cover of the Waterboys classic song ‘The Whole of the Moon’, although an acceptable cover, sticks out like a sore thumb compared to the amazing production and feel of the rest album. My understanding is this was done to be the launch single.

Supermarkets selling CDs led to the death of independents by offering very popular CDs at lower prices stealing sales from independents. But they aren’t interested in low volume established acts or new unproven acts. However, if you get involved in the resurgence of the live music scene, you can experience emerging acts with all their passion and drive, in an intimate atmosphere. I’ve been to many smaller venues in recent years, and these are the melting pots for future major acts, I’ve seen new bands at several of the venues the global phenomena such as Ed Sheeran and KT Tunstall started playing at to only a handful of people.

Michael Butterworth

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.

Here’s the first of our guest contribution for this year from someone whose album “Home” was a Riot Squad favourite this year.  We were also lucky enough to see Aynsley support Joe Louis Walker at The Garage in Islington this year.  You’ll probably notice that, in time-honoured “Spinal Tap” fashion, Aynsley takes the High Fives concept and goes one higher.

Deleted Scenes...Caro Emerald – “Deleted Scenes from the Cutting Room Floor” (CD album)

This is a great ‘feel good’ album; it’s got a kind of jazzy feel to it with Caro’s voice and certain instrumental nods but it’s got some very clever elements and twists that bring it bang up to date. The grooves are hypnotic and the songs have some great hooks and melodies, very well written and put together. I regularly have it on when I’m cooking!!

 

Live in CorkRory Gallagher – “Live in Cork” (concert DVD)

I first saw this concert when I was about fourteen and learnt all the songs and guitar parts note for note. Of course I moved onto other things and got into other guitarists and it wasn’t until recently that I watched it again for the first time in years. It made me feel the same as it did back then; it’s still probably the best live concert I’ve seen. Rory’s playing is just so melodic and tasteful and he never plays the same thing twice: plus his guitar tone is the best ever. It’s mainly a three piece band on this and they’re as tight as it gets….. but when Mark Feltham joins on harmonica for a few songs there are moments that are just killer: “Aint No Saint” and “Off the Handle”. Brilliant

Freddie King – live footage compilation (Rare DVD’s given to me by a friend)

I always listened to Freddie on my dad’s stereo but I’d never actually seen any live footage of him until recently. I was at a friend’s house and he put it on… It completely stopped me in my tracks! Watching the guy perform is a whole other thing to just hearing it on a stereo.  He just had this amazing conviction and tremendous stage presence. He could hit one note and that’s all he needed, not to mention his singing which had an emotive intenseness that was easily up there with his guitar playing. Truly inspirational to watch; blues how it was meant to be performed!!

 

Life on Mars“Life on Mars” soundtrack music (DVD boxset)

I got into this series a couple of years back but sometimes I’ll just put it on for the music they used during the episodes. It’s all the music I remember growing up hearing on my dad’s stereo; stuff like The Sweet, T-Rex, Free, Cream, Thin Lizzy, Audience etc. I just love that late 60’s / 70’s vibe… before people spent months in studios making albums perfect with all the technology that’s around these days. This stuff just sounds earthy and real.

 

RayRay Charles – “RAY” (The Film)

This is such a moving film and Jamie Fox really was the only guy who could have pulled this off. Very cleverly put together, it tells his story very well indeed. I’d always liked many of his songs and love his voice but it wasn’t until I saw this that I learnt so much about the man behind the music. I always find it interesting to learn about the actual people and what I got from this was that unlike so many artists out there, Ray Charles was a man who knew his worth and could stand on his own two feet.

 

Still Crazy“Still Crazy” (film)

I love any band-themed film and have seen most including the obligatory Spinal Tap but for me, this goes one better. It’s so much more believable on every level – the idea of a band that were once ‘almost famous’ getting back together after two decades apart. There’s the inevitable friction between certain members, the various ailments that old age has brought about etc. The really cool thing about this film is that it focuses on the personal lives of all the band members and there really are some classic moments: the bass player who is constantly on the run from a woman believed to be from the Inland Revenue, the lead singer’s ridiculous but believable pre-stage ritual – brilliant! I’ve probably seen it five or six times now!