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Monday, 11 December 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #11 Southern Blood - Gregg Allman (2017)

The album at #11 in The Best Albums of 2017 is one that was released posthumously almost four months after the passing of Gregg Allman (27th May 2017). He had been ill with liver cancer for a number of years and had cut down his live performances playing his final concert in October 2016.

The album had been recorded earlier in March 2016 over a period of nine days at the FAME Studios, Muscle Shoals, Alabama (a place that had great history for both Gregg and his long departed brother Duane as they had both recorded there in the 1960s).

Due to Allman's health issues he only worked about four hours a day during the recording and two songs did not have a completed vocal track and hence were left off of the album (Freddie King's Pack It Up and Leon Russell's Hummingbird). He had also planned to do the harmony overdubs but was to ill to so, Buddy Miller stepped into the breach for these duties.

The album was at first going to be made up of all original compositions by Gregg Allman but his health issues and touring schedule at the time when the subject first came up put a stop to that. Instead what we have is an album of covers bar one, the opening track My Only True Friend a co-write with his band member Scott Sharrard. Sharrard also wrote the song Love Like Kersosene that The Greg Allman Band had been playing live for a couple of years. The rest were chosen because they had a special meaning to Gregg and if you look back on his musical catalogue you will see he had that great gift of making a cover of a song his very own and he did that with the remaining tracks on the album.

It's quite a wonderful album I think and whilst as producer Don Was has said that it wasn't an album about dying so much as Gregg "expalining his life and making sense of it, both for the fans who had stood with him for decades and for himself".

Once I Was (Tim Buckly) is one that Gregg used to sing with Sharrard and it was he who encouraged him to record it. He warmed towards covering the Grateful Dead's Black Muddy River and Blind Bats and Swamp Rats (originally performed by Johnny Jenkins) was one that he had played with alongside his brother Duane. Jackson Browne's Song For Adam is one that Gregg had recorded a Demo of as far back as 1974 and he often releated the lyrics to the death of his brother. Jackson Browne said that Allman was very emotional recording the song. Browne adds harmony vocals to the song he wrote way back in the early 1970s. It's a beautiful version of the song and probably the best cover I've heard of it.

The album opener and closer are probably two of my favourite songs of the year.

Southern Blood - Gregg Allman
Rounder Records
Produced by Don Was
Released September 2017
US Chart #11
UK Chart #79


Tracklist
A1 My Only True Friend    
A2 Once I Was*    
A3 Going Going Gone*    
A4 Black Muddy River*    
A5 I Love The Life I Live    
B1 Willin'    
B2 Blind Bats And Swamp Rats*    
B3 Out Of Left Field*    
B4 Love Like Kerosene    
B5 Song For Adam

*Not included in the above Playlist as they are not available on You Tube.

 Personnel
The Gregg Allman Band
    Gregg Allman – vocals, guitar, Hammond B3 organ
    Scott Sharrard – guitar, music director
    Steve Potts – drums
    Ronald Johnson – bass guitar
    Peter Levin – keyboards, piano, Wurlitzer, Fender Rhodes, vibraphone
    Marc Franklin – trumpet, flugelhorn
    Jay Collins – tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone, flute
    Art Edmaiston – tenor saxophone, baritone saxophone
    Marc Quinones – percussion


Additional musicians
    Greg Leisz – pedal steel guitar (A2, A3, B1, B3, B5)
    Buddy Miller – harmony vocals (A1-4, B1, B3)
    The McCrary Sisters – backing vocals (A3, A4, B1-3)
    Jackson Browne – harmony vocals (B5)

Live: Back To Macon, GA (2015)
 
Next Up We Start The Top Ten!

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #12 How The West Was Won - Peter Perrett

Another wonderful surprise in 2017 was the annoucement back in April that former frontman of The Only Ones, Peter Perrett, would be releasing his Debut Solo Album in June 2017! Such an annoucement would often be met with a healthy dose of skepticism because one was aware that Perrett had health and addiction issues and he had also spoke in the past that The Only Ones were possibly going to release a new album back in 2007 (that would have been their first one since Baby's Got A Gun in 1980) but after a brief UK Tour (and dates into 2009) the band went on hiatus without releasing anything new at all.

But...this was not just some rumour to get us all excited again and lead us to dig out our copies of The Only Ones albums and Singles or The One album Woke Up Sticky from 1996 (I'll have to do a post on that album one day)...it was a reality!

The album was made and featured his two sons Jamie and Peter Perrett Jnr and man alive, what an album!

Perrett still has that ability to get provide brilliant social commentary (just listen to the title track and his comments regarding Kim Kardashian!).  He still sounds as good as he did back at the tail end of the 1970's and into the 1980's with The Only Ones with that almost make no great effort voice.

Whilst we never got another album from The Only Ones I am totally delighted that we got How The West Was Won. From start to finish it is just a wonderful listen and I'm hard pressed to say what are my favourites because every track has special moments.

Listen and enjoy if you haven't heard it before, and if you have, and loved it when it was released, play it again...very loud so your neighbours can listen also! 😀

Peter Perrett is touring in the USA next year, check out his website for dates.

How The West Was Won - Peter Perrett
Domino
Produced By Chris Kimsey (Peter and Jamie Perrett produced the Title Track)
Released June 2017

 Watch Videos and Listen To Audio: How The West Was Won

  Tracklist

A1 How The West Was Won 4:33
A2 An Epic Story 3:20
A3 Hard To Say No 3:28
A4 Troika 3:44
A5 Living In My Head 6:31


B1 Man Of Extremes 2:42
B2 Sweet Endeavour 3:25
B3 C Voyeurger 5:47
B4 Something In My Brain 4:53
B5 Take Me Home 4:21


BONUS LINKS
The Only Ones - Albums, Live and John Peel Sessions

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #13 QSP - Quatro, Scott & Powell

Bring three of the big Pop stars of the 1970's and you are never really sure what you are going to get! I guess I was a wee bit skeptical about this on first hearing about it but it only took one listen to put to rest any reservations I had about it beforehand.

It's probably not so cool in 2017 to say you like Suzi Quatro, Sweet and even Slade but back when I was a kid that was what I was listening to among many other things.

This album was one of the big surprises for me in 2017. It probably didn't get nearly enough (or even any) publicity here in the UK and the fact that it was released in Australia first when the band were touring was proof enough that people here didn't seem too interested.  Suzi and the respective bands of Andy (Sweet) and Don (Slade) all enjoyed considerable success down under back in the mid-seventies and from various reports that I have read and TV appearances seem to generated a lot of good press for them.

The European release in September/October was not even on a British label but Warner Music Russia! It did manage to get a couple of positive reviews at online music sites and a couple of music monthlies.

Whilst most of the album is taken up with cover versions, Quatro and Scott did pen a few tracks together (Long Way From Home, Pain, and Late Nights Early Flights). Also included is If Only which is a Co-write between Quatro and Dick Wagner who is best known for his work with Lou Reed (Berlin album and Rock 'n' Roll Animal live album); Alice Cooper (he played guitar on School's Out and Co-wrote the Welcome To My Nightmare concept album as well as a few other albums by the 70s shock rocker); and Wagner also played on the Destroyer album by Kiss and Peter Gabriel's Debut Album. Mend A Broken Heart was written by Scott and Broken Pieces Suite by Quatro.

They actually do sound great together and you wonder why on earth they hadn't thought of doing this before! Andy Scott had played along with Suzi before and produced an album for her back in 2006 called Back To The Drive





QSP - Quatro, Scott & Powell
Sony Music (Australia)/Warner Music Russia
Produced by Andy Scott
Released February 2017/Reissued September/October 2017 Deluxe Edition
Australian CHart #23

 Tracklist
 1 Slow Down 3:45
2 Long Way From Home 6:14
3 Tobacco Road 3:42
4 If Only 4:42
5 Bright Lights Big City 5:45
6 Pain (Band Version) 4:08*
7 Just Like A Woman 5:12
8 Mend A Broken Heart 3:24*
9 The Price Of Love 5:05
10 Broken Pieces Suite 5:54*
11 I Walk On Gilded Splinters 5:57*
12 Late Nights Early Flights 3:52
13 Little Sister 3:09
14 Fever (New Track) 5:38*
15 Tossin' and Turnin' (New Track) 3:17*
16 Pain (Orchestral) 4:03


* Not included on the playlist due to not being available on You Tube.

Other Notes
For Don Powell I am extremely happy to see him doing this project because the current incarnation of Slade is absolutely wretched and they just haven't been good since Noddy Holder and Jim Lea left! I would be too ashamed to post any links for them on the blog!

Andy Scott is still working with his version of Sweet (Steve Priest has a version of the band based in America called Steve Priest's Sweet) and they haven't put out anything new since the excellent New York Connection album.

A new Compilation of Suzi's songs got released as well this year called Legend: The Best of Suzi Quatro (because we all need yet another Suzi Best of to add to the other 16 or so that already exist!)

Saturday, 9 December 2017

S4L Radio Show Playlist #16

This week I have decided to include a number of songs that were my particular favourites throughout this year. There are of course many more than what has been included but I am sure you will see that it's a rather eclectic bunch as ever.



There's a couple of songs of course that are not from this year but there inclusion I put down to hearing them for the first time at some point in the past months.


Listen To The Playlist Here:

On The Playlist This Week
You're The Radio - Thea Gilmore
Taken from the 2010 Murphy's Heart album a cracking wee tune to kick off this week's Playlist.

 Dream On - Amy MacDonald
Opening track of the excellent Under Stars album from the Glasgow born Singer/Songwriter.

I Am Disappeared (Live) - Frank Turner
This is taken from the live DVD of show #2000 in Nottingham that is part of the Deluxe Version of the Frank Turner Songbook album due out next week.

Tomorrow - Mike Peters and The Alarm
Mike Peters and The Alarm released two albums this year - Blood Red and Viral Black. This track is the opener from Blood Red.

Some Reaction - The Godfathers
B-Side to the You Don't Love Me 7" released in February 2017. Their album A Big Bad Beautiful Noise, also released this year is worth checking out.

 Smartphone Junkie - The Members
A new song from JC Carroll and the Lads that's included on the brand new Greatest Hits album that has just been released.

Just Because You're Paranoid (Live in Glasgow 2017) - Duncan Reid and The Big Heads
The song features on their 3rd Studio album Bombs Away. You can have a wee listen to the album HERE.

I Wanna Be Maladjusted - Heavy Drapes
Taken from their 2016 EP Should I Suck or Should I Blow. The Edinburgh band have been the subject of a lot of positive chatter this past year or so.

Over and Over Again - The Spitfires
New Single due for release on 15th December from the Watford Mods.

Shake Some Action (Live) - Penetration
Recently released as a Limited Edition 7" with a cover of Buzzcocks' I Don't Mind on the B-Side as part of a Pledgemusic campaign.

Where's The Revolution - Depeche Mode
Taken from the Spirit album that was released this year. 

My Name Is Ruin - Gary Numan
Taken from the highly impressive Savage: Songs From A Broken World album.

Paper Chains - Cast
From the most excellent 2017 album Kicking Up The Dust. These chaps have never sounded better in my opinion.

When It's My Time - Imelda May
The song features on the latest album and the version on the Playlist is from a TV performance on The Late Late Show alongside the Discovery Gospel Choir.

Call On God - Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
A fitting end to a beautiful album Soul of a Woman that was released after the death of Sharon Jones.

 Chain Breaker - Zach Williams
I first heard this back in 2016 but it didn't make much of an impression upon me but then I heard it again earlier this year and it gripped me. Some folks give Gospel music a hard ride but this is a song that speaks into the lives of many I think.

Love On The Wrong Side of Town - Little Steven
Taken from one of my favourite albums of the year - Soulfire (I'm not telling you what number it's at on The Best Albums of 2017 as I don't want to offer any spoilers!)

Growing Up (Live) - Bruce Springsteen and The E Street Band
Taken from the second night in Brisbane, Australia back in February 2017. Bruce invites a young chap up onto the stage to sing and play guitar with him. The lad does a pretty good job.

Streets of Philadelphia - Ryan Adams
Played for BBC Radio 6 a great cover of Springsteen's Oscar winning song.

If We Were Vampires - Jason Isbell  and the 400 Unit
Taken from the wonderful album The Nashville Sound (and another to be featured at some point...I'm not telling you at what spot...on The Best Albums of 2017 series).

The Parting Shot
Adiós - Glen Campbell
Last track and the title track to the final Glen Campbell album Adiós.

That's all for this week.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #14 Witness - Benjamin Booker

A man who cites The Gun Club, Blind Willie Johnson and T. Rex as his influences is always going to grab my attention!

Benjamin Booker announced in March this year that he was going to be releasing his second album and on his website he included a little essay outlining the reason for the song and album title Witness (You can read it HERE).

What you get is a soul infused, blues rock kind of garage rock, gospel "with a raw and unforgiving candor that's reminiscent of downtown New York punk" sounding album that is political in places as you might expect after reading his essay!

Pitchfork said Benjamin, "makes retro music feel modern, reflecting on racism in America while drawing on blues, soul, and gospel."

It's an absolute cracker in my book.

Witness - Benjamin Booker
ATO/Rough Trade
Produced by Sam Cohen
Released 2nd June 2017

Here are links for all but one of the songs from the album. Not all of these are the actual version that appear on the album - some are live Radio Performances or Concert Performances.

A1 Right On You    
A2 Motivation    
A3 Witness (featuring Mavis Staples)    
A4 The Slow Drag Under    
A5 Truth Is Heavy    
B1 Believe    
B2 Overtime    
B3 Off The Ground    
B4 Carry    
B5 All Was Well


Benjamin Booker
Live on KEXP



Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #15 Unpeeled - Cage The Elephant

I knew nothing about Cage The Elephant in Mid-Summer except that they had recorded a cover version of one of my favourite songs in Musical History - Whole Wide World (originally done by Wreckless Eric of course).

It's December now and I still know very little about them except:

A: They come from Bowling Green, Kentucky. I know one thing about their hometown (totally useless information but you might thank me if it ever comes up in a Pub Quiz!): It is famous for being the scene of a "Massacre" that never actually happened but was spoken of in a number of interviews with Kellyanne Conway of the Trump Administration. She spoke of it "taking innocent soldiers' lives away" and "the Bowling Green attack on our brave soldiers" and "an attack of terrorism carried out within the United States by refugees".

B: Back to Cage The Elephant - since 2007 they have released four studio albums, another live album, one EP and fifteen singles - none of which I have heard yet but will be spending some time on You Tube discovering them!

C: In October 2011 whilst on tour with the Foo Fighters, drummer Jared Champion's appendix suddenly burst, requiring immediate medical attention. Dave Grohl, the Foo Fighters' frontman and former drummer of Nirvana, temporarily filled in for Champion while he was recuperating. 

D: The album was recorded whilst the band were out on tour and features acoustic versions of the band's best-known songs backed by strings and a choir!

E: I liked it enough for it be part of The Best Albums of 2017.
Unpeeled - Cage The Elephant
RCA
Produced by Cage The Elephant
Released July/August 2017
US Chart #61
US Alternative Chart #9

Listen To Unpeeled in Full Here:



Or Better Still Watch The Live Performance:

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #16 The Punishment of Luxury - OMD

One of my good friends Alyson is an absolutely huge fan of OMD so I have a feeling she will be quite delighted to see that this has made my Top 20 albums of the year. 

There are a few links below where you can listen to more music from OMD.

It's amazing to think that Andy McClusky and Paul Humpreys have been on the go since 1978 and this year saw them under the banner of OMD unleash their 13th Studio Album and they still sound as fresh and vibrant as they did when their Debut Single Electricity first came to our attention way back in 1979.

The Punishment of Luxury became the first OMD album since 1991's Sugar Tax to enter the Top Ten of the UK Album Charts selling almost 10,000 copies in its first week alone.

The Punishment of Luxury - OMD
100% Records
Produced by OMD
Released September 2017
UK Chart #4

Listen to the album here:


I was not always keen on a lot of the Electro-Pop stuff that was coming out at the tail end of the 70s and into the 80s but OMD was always a band I kept my ears open to because they did manage to release a substantial amount of really good quality records and their albums were always quite interesting loaded with ideas that you wouldn't normally associate with Pop Music

The band folded in 1996 but rose from the ashes again a decade later after a request from a German TV Show for them to perform. Now, it was quite customary at the time with a number of bands from the 80s to be getting back together and go back out on the road and basically be a nostalgia act and for awhile they did that going out and playing the Architecture & Morality album as well as other songs from their vast songbook but the aim of the band was always to record brand new music. That came to fruition with the release of History of Modern (2010), followed by English Electric (2013) and now this brand spanking new album The Punishment of Luxury.

I have to say that I was very, very impressed with the album from the first listen and with each hearing my estimation for it continues.

 OMD 
Live In Leicester
5th November 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #17 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory - Dropkick Murphys

#17 on the list of The Best Albums of 2017 for Soundtrack4Life is the ninth Studio Album from Boston's Dropkick Murphys.

The album, 11 Short Stories of Pain & Glory, was recorded in Texas in 2016, the first time they had left home to make an album! It was released in the opening week of January on their own Born & Bred label.

The album was influenced by the band's work with The Claddagh Fund, a charity the band established in 2009 to help support addiction recovery as well as children's and veterans' organizations. "Rebels with a Cause" was written about kids who are given up on, and left behind by a system that has written them off as hopeless. "Paying My Way" is about the way up and out of addiction and the dream of bigger and better things in life. "4-15-13" pays homage to the victims of the Boston Marathon Bombing, most of whom the band grew to know personally after visits to their hospital rooms in the aftermath. "Since that day, we felt like not taking the challenge to write a song about what we all went through would be taking the coward’s way out. We put more importance on writing that piece of music than anything we’ve ever done, because if you're going to touch that day, it has to be done right. We went through so many emotions with that whole experience, as did everyone in Boston. It changed the city forever," Casey said. Tim Brennan said of the album, "we've stayed true to what the band is and has always been. And we're still expanding on our sound and lyrical content."


Whilst dealing with some difficult themes the band maintain that classic Celtic Folk Punk sound with lots of gang vocals that give it a real sing-a-long vibe.

It was a great follow up to the 2013 release Signed and Sealed In Blood.

Listen to Ken and Matt talking about You'll Never Walk Alone that is included on the album and you'll see just a glimpse of care and concern that they have for their city and those caught up in addiction.

 11 Short Stories Of Pain & Glory  - Dropkick Murphys
Born & Bred Records
Produced by Tedd Hutt
Released 6th January 2017
US Chart #8
UK Chart #68
German Chart #3

Listen to the Album Here:

Dropkick Murphys
Live
8th July 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #18 Freedom Highway - Rhiannon Giddens

Following her excellent Solo Debut Album, Tomorrow Is My Turn, in 2015 Rhiannon Giddens had quite the successful 2016 winning Album of the Year at the International Folk Music Awards and Folk Singer of the Year at the BBC Radio 2 Folk Awards. Add to that she also won the Steve Martin Prize for Excellence in Banjo and Bluegrass and also was inducted into the North Carolina Music Hall of Fame along with the band she founded The Carolina Chocolate Drops.

At the end of 2016 and into 2017 she  appeared in the TV show Nashville as Hallie Jordan, a hardworking social worker who also worked in her church and educated children with regard to music. She had a number of songs included as part of the soundtrack (God Shall Wipe All Tears Away, His Eye Is On The Sparrow, Sourwood Mountain, Can't Nobody Do Me Like Jesus, Wrong Kind of Right, Going Down The Road Feeling Bad, Who I Love and Count On Me).

I absolutely love Rhiannon Giddens vocal style. She's a total one off, nobody sings like her. She may not be to everyone's liking but go on and give her a chance to wow you.


 Freedom Highway - Rhiannon Giddens
Nonesuch
Produced by Rhiannon Giddens
Released 24th February 2017
US Chart #124
US Folk Albums #8
UK Chart #39

 



It's a tough job trying to pigeon hole Rhiannon Giddens into any one particular musical genre because as this album attests you could say Bluegrass and then she pulls off a Blues song, or you might say Gospel and she pulls off a beautiful slice of Traditional Americana, add to that Soul, and even a Rap in one song and you've got a real mixed bag that for some odd reason seems to work really well as a complete body of work.

The title song Freedom Highway is one written by Roebuck "Pops" Staples (and recorded by The Staples Singers) back in the 60s and is one of the great songs of the Civil Rights Movement. is also performed from time to time by his daughter Mavis Staples.

You might wonder why I have started off this Top 20 with four female vocalists/songwriters (Hayley Williams of Paramore, Shelby Lynne/Allison Moorer and now Rhiannon Giddens), well there is no agenda just an appreciation of the great talent that is out there and there will probably be a few other female vocalists as we continue to explore The Best Albums of 2017.

Rhiannon Giddens at the Targhee Bluegrass Festival August 13, 2017

Monday, 4 December 2017

Soundtrack4Life: The Best Albums of 2017 - #19 Not Dark Yet - Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer

I could find links for all but one of the songs from the album that sits at #19 on my Best Albums of 2017 List. So click on them to enjoy the sweet sound of Shelby Lynne and Allison Moorer.


#19
 Not Dark Yet - Shelby Lynne & Allison Moorer
Thirty Tigers (CD)/Silver Cross Records (Vinyl)
Produced by TeddyThompson
Released 18th August 2017
US Folk/Americana Albums #8
US Country Albums #39
UK Americana Albums #3
UK Country Albums #2

*************

Sisters Shelby Lynne (the older sister) and Allison Moorer (the younger sister) had never recorded an album together prior to Not Dark Yet. Both had been on their own musical journey releasing a combined twenty three albums between them. Fourteen for Shelby since 1989 and nine for Allison since 1998.

It's an album of covers apart from the final track, Is It Too Much, which is a song written by the sisters dealing with the difficult issue of a very personal situation to them both (you can read about it in the New York Times link below).

Although I am not always bowled over by Cover Albums this one took me by surprise because they have managed to do that thing that makes a Cover Version bearable to listen to...they made the songs their own. It's beautiful from start to finish and the choice of Covers are just startling from The Louvin Brothers to The Killers, Bob Dylan to Jason Isbell and Merle Haggard to Nick Cave and Nirvana!

The good news is that there is the possibility that next year we are going to see another album from them both that will be all original material.


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