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Popular Music CDs - Part 21 - June, 1999

Graham Vine




"Under the Influence"

Status Quo

Eagle; EAG 153-2

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You know what to expect with a Status Quo album. Thirty-odd years of rocking from their roots in the Rhythm 'n' Blues clubs, through their psychedelia phase and then, for the past couple of decades, a driving rock to please fans young and old alike. But does it sound fresh? Is there enough in their new album to interest that enormous fan-base? In my estimation, the answer to both of those questions has to be a resounding 'yes!'. There are some cruel critics who say that Quo have nothing more than a 'dum da-dum da-dum' beat and no more than two chords in any of their songs. Well, I have picked out the chords and played along with this album, and there are at least four chords in all of the songs! And most of the songs have a far more interesting beat than 'dum da-dum etc'. I liked the way there are acoustic sections in many of the songs and even a change of pace in a couple of them. For me, one of the strengths of Status Quo has always been their harmonies. Rick and Francis have voices that blend perfectly but with enough of an edge to always be clear against the guitars, drums and Hammond organ that form the musical backdrop to most of these tracks.

So there is plenty here to attract existing fans. Not too much, I would have thought, to bring many new ones into the fold. But they are obviously still enjoying producing their brand of straightforward, driving rock, and sell-out venues for all their tours prove they are doing something right. Actually, quite a lot right.

For reference, full track-listing:

1. Twenty Wild Horses
2. Under The Influence
3. Round And Round
4. Shine On
5. Little White Lies
6. Keep 'Em Coming
7. Little Me And You
8. Making Waves
9. Blessed Are The Meek
10. Roll The Dice
11. Not Fade Away
12. The Way It Goes

- GV -




Unsigned Label

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From time to time I am exposed to the music of an unsigned act and relish the prospect of uncovering new talent and perhaps getting them a larger audience than they would otherwise have. So when I was offered 'Unthankyou' by Lodgey, I was delighted to accept the offer to audition these tracks. Even more delighted when I found that there is quality music on this limited-edition album.

Track 1, "Singleman", opens with a finger-style acoustic guitar introduction followed by what I would describe as a distinctive voice, hitting some quite high notes which seem to call out to the listener to sit up and take notice. Be prepared for the fuzz-guitar chords which take us to the end of the track. And this is how we discover the value in that voice, for its presence is just as clear when set against the guitars. Track 2 is called "The Lust Of Mary Jayne", and it actually suits my palate rather more. There is more harmony-vocal to savor, and the addition of echo to the lead vocal in the chorus gives more of a 'spread' to fill out the soundstage. The sections where the voice is taken into the distance, as it were, has a subtlety that the in-your-face production of some of the rest lacks.

The remaining tracks show more variety, and there's a very clever a cappella title track, though I should warn the sensitive about Danny's language. I found myself tapping my feet to track 6, but the mix-down of track 4 left me wishing for a rather more polished version. I felt the drums were smeared by, I guess, the echo, though you can tell the song is a good one. I have to disapprove of what could be considered a bonus track after "I Can Do Better Than You" has seemingly finished, there is a gap of perhaps a minute before we hear the sound of somebody lighting-up (hence the disapproval!), though the arty montage of sounds which follows is quite appealing.

So there is a lot to admire about new act 'Lodgey', and 'Unthankyou' is a good taster for what I see as a talent which is promising and well worth looking out for. As a recommendation I would suggest getting some of this material out on the 'net as MP3. Could this be step one towards getting a record deal?

For reference, full track-listing:

1. Singleman
2. The Lust Of Mary Jayne
3. Nutshell
4. The Eye Of Your Mind (demo version)
5. Unthankyou
6. I Can Do Better Than You

- GV -


"Music from the Motion Picture Forces of Nature"

Various Artists

DreamWorks; DRD-50111

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The motion picture "Forces Of Nature" begets a soundtrack album which, as is often the case, is a fairly mixed bag of artists and styles. That being the case, I have quite a spread of responses to the fourteen tracks on offer. For the rap and dance tracks, I had better leave an 'open verdict', though that leaves plenty of scope for further comment on the rest. For instance, the old pop song by The Love Affair, "Everlasting Love", performed here by U2 is done 'straight', where a lesser version might have strayed into pomposity on the one hand or as a mickey-take on the other. U2 avoids both of these and give us something of a Buddy Holly type of treatment to the song. Sticking with covers, Chris Tart does a soulful rendition of Stephen Stills' "Love The One You're With" which actually suits the sentiment behind the song rather better than Stephen's soft-rock version. And "Magic Bus", originally by The Who, gets a fresh lease of life from Swervedriver, capturing loads of excitement and even grabbing a portion of "My Generation" towards the end.

A couple of the tracks go for a Latin rhythm, Cubanismo!, as you would expect, and Touch And Go featuring some faltering spoken messages as a woman propositions a man. Maybe this is the origins of a couple of the later tracks which leave little to the imagination as a couple, ahem, snuggle-up together!

Gomez (winners of the Mercury Music Prize) produce a very welcome track displaying restraint in their song which seems to me to combine elements of "Stand By Me" and "Proud Mary" in the melody, and that's no bad thing. The major surprise is from R. L. Burnside: "Rollin' & Tumblin'" has the blues slide guitar you would expect and yet, mixed in, there are some very '90s sound effects which really work. With an eclectic mix such as this I would recommend a personal audition before purchase, but do not fear being let down by the performances - the only reservation would be that there may be too many tracks which do not match one's personal taste.

For reference, full track-listing:

1. U2 - Everlasting Love
2. Chris Tart - Love The One You're With
3. Touch And Go - Would You . . ?
4. Blue boy - Remember Me
5. Propellerheads - Take California
6. Holly Palmer - A Rose By Any Other Name
7. Pigeonhed - Battle Flag
8. Faithless - If Lovin' You Is Wrong
9. Tricky - Slowly
10. Swervedriver - Magic Bus
11. Gomez - Whippin' Piccadilly
12. Faithless - Bring My Family Back
13. R. L. Burnside - Rollin' & Tumblin'
14. Cubanismo! - Descarga De Hoy

- GV -

© Copyright 1999 Secrets of Home Theater & High Fidelity
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