Aretha Franklin – Young, Gifted and Black

Whenever a musical icon passes it always leaves a hole and with Aretha Franklin this is certainly no exception.  Her voice was distinctive and magical, as befits the Queen of ygbSoul.  Some artists have vowed never to sing certain songs again after Aretha performed them.  I probably heard her voice first in the Blues Brothers film revisiting 1968’s Think but soon got to know more of her musical catalogue. This album is a pretty good place to start if you haven’t heard an Aretha album. Released in 1972 and is amazingly her 20th album, winning her a Grammy.  Her vocal talent just shines here, effortlessly delivering the soul of the ballads and dropping the amazingly funky Rock Steady.  Another true talent departs but leaves behind an amazing legacy that you really should make time to explore.

Standout Track: Rock Steady

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Wolf Alice – Visions of a Life

Their name was the  first thing that attracted my attention – I love interesting band names! I’ve been meaning to mention Wolf Alice for a while after seeing them live, which wasWolf-Alice-art- totally brilliant. Ellie Rowsell is one of those performers you can’t take your eyes away from as she lets rip her dynamic vocals with the occasional lupine snarl. Their latest album rubs punk-infused ire alongside Prog-rock expansiveness. It’s one of those albums where you can just enjoy musicianship that takes you from one place to another.  Seeing them live just sealed it for me and they are now one of my favourite bands. This year also sees them nominated for a well deserved Mercury Music Prize. I am now getting into the deluxe version of their first album My Love is Cool but Visions is a brilliant album and if you can catch them live then go!

Standout track : Beautifully Unconventional

Kylie – Golden

I haven’t got hold of a Kylie album for a long time despite being a bit of a fan (we refer to her as Kylie…Lovely Kylie… in our house!). It’s almost kylie-minogue-goldenlike when Ultimate Kylie came out in 2004 what else did I need? Getting tickets for  Kylies upcoming tour as a birthday pressie is a real treat as I have never seen her live, and I also got the extra-track Deluxe edition of Golden, a nice little hardback book containing the CD. Mainly recorded in Nashville the tracks have been given a country twang but Kylie retains her pop princess crown throughout. Tracks like Radio On really show how Kylie can carry the mellower songs, but it’s the dancier tracks where she continues to uplift and get you smiling. There are occasions when you feel the “twang” may have been overdone a bit but the songs are well written and it makes for a great album to listen to in the sunshine!

Standout track: Raining Glitter

Great Music – Live!

GKC1With the charts continuing to be awash with electronica, dance and rnb (although there’s nothing wrong with any of those) you might be wondering if there was still any good live music out there. Well if you have any doubts then get yourself along to one of Abbie McCarthy‘s Good Karma Club nights in London to catch bands that you’ve probably never heard of (yet!) and more to the point are really great. Going to see bands you have never heard (assuming you don’t Spotify them) means you never know what you are going to get, but last Thursday what we got was three brilliant live sets.

Being on first Island Club played to an undeservedly small crowd. I’m loving the 80’s influenced keyboard and drum sound that some bands have at the moment. I just instantly enjoyed their music which doesn’t often happen. Although all three bands were great I think Island Club took pole position on the night. Great songs, great music. Check out their headline tour dates here.

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Calva Louise up next provided a loud and lively set very reminiscent of a late 70’s/early 80’s Pucalva louise 2nk band. For three people they make a lot of noise and lead singer Jess’s frenetic guitar work was brilliant. It’s this sort of band that makes live sets their own. heir energy was immense and I would have loved to have seen more from them. I’ll be keeping an eye out for more chances to see them again.

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Easy Life provided yet another different style, showing how great a night Abbie puts together. A kind of soul/jazz Brit hip hop sound that sounded so great. If the talented front man switching between keys, guitar, and trumpet wasn’t enough the rest of the band slid between instruments with equal ease. I never thought I would see an electronic clarinet (?) again either!! Check out their Creature Habits tour dates here.

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I’ve been enjoying all three bands on Spotify over the weekend and check out all three bands music here, here and here., but as is quite often the case nothing is as good as seeing them live so if you can catch any of them on their own tours then you should. Also do yourself a favour and check out Abbie’s upcoming Good Karma Club nights here. Well worth a trip to the East End!

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Plan B – The Defamation of Strickland Banks

I can’t believe I have only just picked this album up. Of course I had heard the singles She 220px-The_Defamation_Of_Strickland_BanksSaid and Prayin’ but I never thought to buy the album. It’s a great mix of Northern Soul and urban hip hop. If you think of the current grime artists but with a smoother soulful backdrop then you are getting close to Plan B. Having always been a fan of soul and RnB the music is definitely my kind of sound. This is just another example of when you can miss albums or artists that you can really get into.  Definitely worth picking up if soul is your thing providing you dont mind the rap side of things. He now has a new album out too which you can check out here.

Standout track: The Recluse

David Bowie – Legacy

Bowie is a genius. His music is brilliant. Most people acknowledge that already so i’m not David_Bowie_Bowie_Legacy_Album_Coverdoing a review, but as a casual-ish Bowie fan I have been on the lookout for a greatest hits compilation for a while and finally got around to picking one up. However I suffered from a typical problem with picking a collection, particularly when the artist has such an extensive back catalogue.  There is always one or two tracks that are inexplicably  missing. The 2 Disc version of Legacy is pretty comprehensive but for me the stark omission is Suffragette City. I guess they had to cull something but it is a brilliant track and as the track listing runs chronologically it was easy to slip in from another collection. Although I don’t mind new mixes when it comes to a greatest hits I want original version’s and although Life On Mars is good alternative version I just had to replace it with the original. Now I have the ultimate Bowie collection and it sounds great! Which greatest hits have you had to “upgrade”?

Standout track : Oh, come on…..seriously, you weren’t really expecting me to pick one?

 

 

Kate Bush – Live!

Well OK not exactly, but as blimmin’ well close as you are going to get this side of 2014 when our Kate last played Hammersmith. Cloudbusting have been on my radar for a while but I finally got to see them last week at the Half Moon in Putney. You are never quite sure what you are going to get with a tribute band but I am very pleased to say that they did NOT disappoint! Mandy Watson nails the vocals without sounding forced. Her passion for Kate’s music is clear and performed songs from 1979’s The Kick Inside to 2005’s Aerial. Being at one of Kate’s early 1970’s venues with the KT Bush Band made it extra special (although I’m pretty sure the stage has moved since I was last there in the 90’s!). If you are a Kate fan then Cloudbusting are a must see, and if you are even luckier you may get to see Del Palmer perform with them!

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