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Wednesday, 31 October 2012

Madness - Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da - 2012

The reviews for the 10th studio by Madness have not been very good, but then again, when was the last time you purchased an album based on a review in the Financial Times of all places (Ludvic Hunter-Tilney only gave it two stars!)? Fiona Shepherd of The Scotsman says "overall, Oui, Oui… is a respectable addition to their catalogue" whilst trying to find some positives. Ben Hewitt from the NME on the other hand gives it two stars and basically says that they should give it up for good! Then again I would expect no less from the NME as their idea of what is musical is only what is geared to skinny boys in skinny jeans, with mid-80's Morrissey quiffs, and staring at their shoes whilst listening to the latest 12" remix of the remix of the remix of the latest Artic Monkeys song! Simon Price of The Independent is kind saying, "Should you be struck by a nostalgic mood yourself, Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da is a Madness album like they used to make 'em." Andy Gill in Sunday's Independent gave it three stars and very positive review.

In one sense though it matters not what they say. What matters is what I have to say about it and seeing that I have purchased a copy that arrived in the post this morning I think my opnion is worthwhile but unlike the critics what I have to say about the album is really just my thoughts shared among the friends who read this blog and not intended to be a guide as to buying it or not.

With that in mind let's get a few things out of the way to begin with. 'Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da' is not anything like 'The Liberty of Norton Folgate' and it is very unfair to try and compare the two. If there are any similarities to what was their best album of their career then it is in the songwriting. There is always a down-to-earthness about Madness songs, dealing with the often mundane things of life and adding their quirky brand of humour to them. On this album all of the band have contributed to the songs, some of course are better than others but then again you get that with any album.

The Ska sound that determined the early releases of the band is back on a number of songs and of course it's a more mature sound than the often juvenille sound that was on 'One Step Beyond' and 'Absolutely'. Again that should be expected as they have grown up and lived in their own skins awhile, I mean it would be a real step back if they went totally back to their roots and avoided all that has happenend in their lives in the intervening years.

I have to say that I quite like it, it's 11.25am on Wednesday 31st October and I'm already on my third play! Click on the links to listen and to watch tracks from the whole album.

Track Listing
06. Misery
07. Leon

Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Soundtrac4Life Best of 2012 Part Two Single of the Year and other winners

Unlike the Album of the Year which hasn't been decided the following have been declared winners.

A bit like last year when we had joint winners of the Single of the Year it's pretty much the same again. Not really into buying singles so it's always nice when a couple of things creep up and surprise!

Single of the Year Joint Winners

Honest John Plain - Never Listen to Rumours
He could have won it all on his own for this fabulous slice of rock and roll (and surely one of the best backing bands of the year!)

But Wendy James came along with an exceptional Double A-Side of cover versions originally released by The Sonic Rendezvous Band and Bob Dylan. Also supporting a great cast in James Williamson (The Stooges) and James Sclavunos (The Bad Seeds) 

Reissue of the Year

Sugar - Copper Blue
There has actually been a vast array of reissues this year and so the decision to give it to Sugar was not an easy one. Twenty years after it's first release it still sounds great. It remains one of the standout albums in Indie Music History.

Honourable mentions go to the Aztec Camera and Kirsty MacColl albums that were reissued as well.


Blur - 21
The career spanning boxset that basically has everything a Blur fan might ever want and more! A fantastic audio and visual experience.

The Please Don't Ever Make An Album Like That Again Award!

Meat Loaf - Hell In A Handbasket

This album came out in December 2011 and so missed out on being included in last years awards and so it has the mispleasure of being the first ever recipient of The Please Don't Ever Make An Album Like That Award!  

After absolutely wrecking one of the best songs to come out of the 1960's (California Dreaming) Mr Loaf just goes from bad to worse. It's that bad that even One Direction's album couldn't win this award!

Soundtrack4Life Best of 2012 Part One Album of the Year Nominations

Well, it's that time of year again when we dig through all the things that have made us smile, sing out loud, excite us with new possibilities in the world of music. This is not the final result but merely those that are Nominated for the particular areas noted. The final decision will be made at the start of December 2012.

Nominations For Album Of The Year

Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball

It should come as no real surprise that Springsteen's album heads the nominations as we have been giving great kudos to the album throughout the year as we have sought to follow The Wrecking Ball Tour from the warm-up shows at The Apollo and at SXSW to the full tour from Atlanta on 21st March all the way through to the latest show in Pittsburgh three days ago. 

Unlike 'Working on a Dream', which faded from our minds not long after it's release (not many memorable songs at all we think), 'Wrecking Ball' is loaded with great songs that shine a spotlight upon what is going on in the world today through all the economic chaos and the uncertainty that it has brought to many. By far it's his best record for ages and 7 months on it's still being played here.

 Ian McNabb - Little Episodes
 An album that is brilliant just for it's sheer simplicity. It's not an overly glossy production or bombastic tunes, but a great set of songs that show off the voice and the writing talent of McNabb. Another album that came out in the first quarter of the year and one that is still a delight to listen to.

Jimmy Cliff - Rebirth
 One of the surprises of the year for me was the return of Jimmy Cliff. Last year he had released a great little EP called 'Sacred Fire' that was quite outstanding and Tim Armstrong of Rancid once again was at the controls in the recording of this. A couple of brilliant covers in 'Guns of Brixton' (The Clash) and 'Ruby Soho' (Rancid) and a sound that reminds us so much of the great reggae that Cliff was releasing for Island Records back in the 1970's.

Dion - Tank Full of Blues
 The King of the New York Streets returned to recording after an absence of four years to bring yet another fine collection of the blues and show that the old man still has got a great voice. There wasn't a single track on the album that was a disappointment and it was a superb addition to his discography.

SinΓ©ad O'Connor - How About I Be Me (and You Be You?)
 Another surprise for me earlier in the year was the release of this one. O'Connor has not always been one who is an easy listen and far too often she does things that leave you wondering what on earth she is all about. But the album far exceed my expectation and contains some of her finest writing in a while.

Joey Ramone - Ya Know?
 This was always going to be a tough one to listen to because Joey had meant so much and had been a part of our Soundtrack4Life since The Ramones first released their debut album back in 1976.

'Rock 'n' Roll is the Answer' was released as a single on Record Store Day and gave us the first taste of what was to come. It might not be everyone's cuppa tea but it made us laugh, cry, whoop with delight and sit and wonder what might have been had Joey not died! 

Yellowcard - Southern Air
Yellowcard are not a band that we normally listen to and so on hearing the opening track 'Awakenings' and totally loving it there were clear grounds to investigate further and the conslusion is that this album warrented a place on the list of best albums of the year. It's only fault as was said when we first wrote about it back in August is the inclusion of a cover of Coldplay's 'Fix You' (not a fan of Coldplay and probably never will be!).

Monday, 29 October 2012

Duncan Reid - From The Boys to The Little Big Head

It give me great pleasure to be able to bring you this interview with none other than Duncan "Kid" Reid...though I'm sure he's grown up enough now to no longer warrent the "Kid" part

For many years Duncan was bassist and sometime vocalist for one of the most underrated Pop/Punk bands on the planet called The Boys and last year stepped out on his lonesome to begin a new journey in his life. His first album 'Little Big Head' has just recently been released.

S4L: So, you have a new album out called 'Little Big Head', is this your first as a solo artist?

DR: Yes. I never imagined that I would make a solo record. I was always committed to The Boys and never had the confidence to say "I'm going to make a record of my own". It was only because other people said to me "you should make a solo record" that I did it, people like ex Boys drummer Vom Ritchie and Honest John Plain.

S4L: It appears that various members of The Boys have been putting music out under their own names for many years now, how come it's taken you so long to do finally get an album out of your own material?

DR: I didn't have any songs for a start! I was never a major songwriter for The Boys. I tried to write songs when I was younger but found it really hard. It never entered my head to try until John Plain, who was making a solo record which eventually became The Mattless Boys album, asked me to write a few songs.
I loved the writing so much and found it so easy that, after that album, I just kept on going. 

S4L: After so many years in the business do you still find joy when it comes to having to sit down and write a bunch of new songs and then go into the studio to record them? What songs in particular from the new album are you particularly proud of?

DR: I love it. When a new song comes together and I get it recorded for the first time I can't stop listening to it. It's like having a new baby that you can't stop staring at. Drives my wife and daughter mad!

I'm so proud of the whole album that its hard to pick one song out. The song which closes the album, Rolling On, is special because its about my whole life in 3 minutes. It's also one of the songs I play piano on which I'm still amazed I can do.

S4L: Listening to the album there is still a bit of a Boys feel to it, was that a concious thing or is that just the sound you enjoy the most, that kind of poppy punk type sound?

DR: I'm pretty sure that one of the reasons I suddenly found it easy to write songs is that I stopped worrying about what is fashionable or what other people might think. In other words I started writing just for myself and writing the kind of music I like, about subjects I wanted to write about. And the music I like most are songs with a good tune, rocking guitars and plenty of backing vocals and harmonies. I've tried to go for a different sound to The Boys on the album but there's bound to be a big Boys influence because I think The Boys are great and I love the records.

S4L: Did you get a band together for the album and is that the same crowd who are going out to a few live dates with you next month?

DR: I wanted to make the album very personal and so took the decision to play most of it myself. I play just about everything: guitar, bass, keyboards, lead vocal, backing vocals. Vom Ritchie plays drums and there are the odd guest appearances from James Stevenson (Chelsea, Generation X, Gene Loves Jezebel etc) who plays some great guitar on a couple of tracks, Big Nigel Banks who adds some slide guitar and the producer Tony Barber who put a little bit of guitar on a couple of tracks when I wasn't looking ;).

I've put a band, The Big Heads, together since and that's who are playing live with me now.

S4L: Do you feel anxious at all about how your solo material will be received and about how those live dates will go? Also, do you still get a kick out of playing live? You've been doing it for many years now, does it every get stale for you or is every show an adventure you look forward to?

DR: Before the record came out I was really anxious but now I'm not at all because the reaction has just been so overwhelmingly good. It's so great getting everyone's feedback from all over the world and really exciting to see the cds going out and the number of video hits going up on You Tube. (Check out the video for 'Montevideo' by clicking this link")

I love playing live as well. It's something I've always found easy to do. I become a different person on stage. This big headed show off comes out from goodness knows where and I have no idea what I'm doing or any control over it. At its best, when they know the songs, it's almost as if I can play the audience like a musical instrument. It's all I want really, just the ability and wherewithal to play.

S4L: The poster for your up and coming tour says "former frontman of UK punk legends The Boys" - am I reading too much into that or have you set yourself apart from The Boys and now focusing on your solo career?

DR: I left The Boys a year ago just before I started recording the album. The last concert was in Osaka, Japan so, yes, it's all about spreading the word for Little Big Head now.

S4L: You recently played in Germany? How did that go? You seem to be well liked over there? Does it excite you that people still come out to see you?

DR: We've played two tours of Germany, a couple of London shows including the 100 Club and Leafest. The reaction has been great. The new songs have gone down so well, I've played a couple of Mattless Boys songs and, of course, it's always great playing some old Boys classics.

I'm really lucky that The Boys' name gives me the ability to play live but I sense that it's really going to build with a new following in the future. I'm really, really grateful to everyone who comes along.

S4L: The Boys released some brilliant singles and albums back in the late 70's, why on earth do you think that the band were not bigger and more known? You always seemed to hit some bad luck with your record companies, did that dishearten you or did that just spur you on to do the best that you could do when you had the opporunity to play live?

DR: I think there were a number of reasons why The Boys were not as big as they should have been. There was certainly bad luck involved like Elvis Presley dying when we had the same distributor and our album had just been released. Part of it was down to ourselves though. Drinking and the search for a good time was always high on the list of priorities for The Boys.

S4L: Are you amazed at how the music of The Boys has stood the test of time and is being discovered by younger audiences and spoken of as being an influence of some of the bands who are currently in the limelight? Did you ever imagine when you first put out 'I Don't Care/Sick on You' that people would still be listening 35 years later?

DR: When we recorded our first album I imagined that we would be bigger than The Rolling Stones so I'm not at all surprised that those early records are still being listened to. 

When The Boys got back together in 1999 after an 18 year break, though, I was amazed that there was this following all around the world, From Japan to South America, Germany, Italy, Spain, the USA etc.

I really like hearing the bands, big and small, all over the world covering the songs. It's flattering to hear groups like Green Day using riffs and chord changes taken directly from Boys songs. There's nothing wrong with borrowing musically. Anyone who's any good has done it from year dot.

S4L:Do you have a favourite moment/record/gig from those early days of The Boys?

DR: It's quite hazy to be honest. Touring with The Ramones was great because they meant so much to me. I remember a festival at Mont de Marsan in France where The Clash, Damned, Jam, Police, Dr Feelgood and we were playing. Heady days. Captain Sensible fell off the stage and was carried off on a stretcher. He sat up halfway to the ambulance, jumped off and ran away from the chasing ambulance men.

S4L: Do you have a favourite artist and album/song that has been part of your soundtrack4life down through the years?

DR: If there was just one record to take to a desert island it would be The Ramones second album 'Leave Home'. Hard choice between that and The Beatles 'White Album' though.

S4L: After years in the music business if you were given the opportunity to share three things with up and coming bands that will help them in their journey what would those three things be?

DR: Don't crap on people. Good manners and consideration are free. It's easy to get bigheaded when everyone's saying you're great.
Try to be as good as you can be.
Try to enjoy it.

S4L: Lastly, if Duncan Reid of 2012 managed to find a time machine and went back to 1977, what would he say to Duncan Reid as he is just starting out his recording career as a piece of sound advice?

DR: Don't sign to NEMS record label because Polydor are going to come along in a few weeks wanting to sign you and when they can't they will sign The Jam instead! Other than that there's nothing I could change so I wouldn't bother.

photos courtesy of Duncan Reid

Sunday, 28 October 2012

Bruce Springsteen - Wrecking Ball Tour - Pittsburgh 27th October 2012

Don't Look Back
Candy's Room
The Ties That Bind
Streets of Fire
Hungry Heart
We Take Care of Our Own
Wrecking Ball
Death to My Hometown
My City of Ruins
Spirit in the Night
Talk to Me
Adam Raised a Cain
Because the Night
She's the One
Working on the Highway
Shackled and Drawn
Waitin' on a Sunny Day
The Rising
Land of Hope and Dreams
* * *
Racing in the Street
Born to Run
Glory Days (with Joe and Johnny Grushecky)
Light of Day (with Joe and Johnny Grushecky)
Dancing in the Dark
Tenth Avenue Freeze-out 


Hopefully there will be more links from the show added later.

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Jo Fuzzbox RIP

Just heard the news of the passing of Jo Dunne - guitarist of the legendary We've Got a Fuzzbox and We're Gonna Use It. Only 43 years old!

Click on the links to enjoy some Fuzzy Music.

The Fuzzies on The Old Grey Whistle Test!

Rules and Regulations  

What's the Point

Check out the BBC News Page Here 

Happy Birthday Garry W. Tallent

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