US music legend Perry Farrell releases his first album of new material for many years and his first solo record since 2001. The new album is called ‘Kind Heaven’ and it is out now on BMG. The whole collection is upbeat and if you are someone who thought music might be getting a little stale for you, then this is definitely the collection for you. It kicks off with “(red, white and blue) Cheerfulness” a full-blooded feel-good rocker oozing with great riffs and hooks. I assume that “Pirate Punk Politician” is a brilliantly incisive put down of President Agent Orange. With biting lyrics like “Split your country down the middle. Break her open, kill the kiddos” it is most definitely on the money. Farrell has his finger on the pop-rock pulse among many other genres with this release. He is not bound by genres and for me, this album is his most eclectic collection of music to date. The group of musicians here is collectively known as the Kind Heaven Orchestra and the record was co-produced by legendary producer Tony Visconti. There are featured contributions from Dhani Harrison, Elliot Easton (The Cars), and Taylor Hawkins (Foo Fighters) among others. Farrell’s wife Etty provides some superb counterpoint and lead vocals.
It is not the same song as U2’s but on “One” the vocal sounds very Bono like. “More Than I Could Bear” has a sweeping majesty to it and a psychedelic middle feel which Jimmy Page and Robert Plant would be very envious of. Perry Farrell is 60, but on the evidence of this album, he is giving far younger contemporaries a run for their money. It is great to see that he is still so fired up by his music. Just when you think you know where this set of songs is going you get hit by an unexpected broadside of electro-dance-pop like “Snakes Have Many Hips” and “Spend The Body”. The latter is the sort of song that Madonna used to be so good at until she somewhat disappeared up her own backside in the last seven or eight years. Many of these tunes are built for festivals, whether that is intentional from the man who created Lollapalooza, I don’t know. But there is an epic vibe to many of the tracks here that had me moving and singing along. I used the record as the soundtrack to my run this afternoon and it works so well in that context. There is an inherent spirituality present which is most strongly felt in album closer “Let’s Pray For This World”. If ‘Kind Heaven’ does not feature on everyone’s album of the year list later in 2019 then something is wrong. It is a great album that I have listened to on repeat for six or seven times already. My only negative point is that it clocks in at just over 30 minutes. But buy it, stream it, borrow it, hell just find any way that you can to listen to it! I hope to catch him live sometime soon, see you there!
I had wanted to see Holy Holy for a long while but I have never been in the same place at the same time. But this time I made it! For those of you who are unaware Holy Holy is a band with the backbone of two David Bowie stalwarts; Mick ‘Woody’ Woodmansey a former Spider From Mars and Tony Visconti who produced many of the Dame’s albums and contributed bass on ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ The vocalist is Glenn Gregory off of Heaven 17. Are they a Bowie tribute act? Not in the wonderfully theatrical sense that Absolute Bowie are I see Holy Holy more as a band that is keeping the legacy alive through people who were there and were a part of the whole Bowie phenomenon. But more of Holy Holy in a bit, there is the support act to consider first and this was a solo acoustic set by none other than John Bramwell off of I Am Kloot. This was apparently his first support gig in sixteen years since I Am Kloot supported Turin Brakes. His between song chat was hilarious, John is a true raconteur who speaks eloquently and intelligently. That eloquence and intelligence is a strong part of his lyrics too. This was the first night of the tour and John regaled us with the fact that he had forgotten his guitar stands and that he had left his merch in the car. He also explained why he always talks to the audience while tuning his guitar, at a gig some years ago while tuning he overheard a comment from the audience where someone said “I don’t like this new one!” Bramwell is a very talented singer songwriter who knows his audience and wins people over with wit and very classy songs. I reckon he had quite a few new fans after tonight.
In the past I was never a great fan of bands playing a whole album from start to finish at a gig, but I have grown to love it over the years. Tonight was a fabulous night with not just one Bowie album played in its entirety but two. First came ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ followed by ‘The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars’. It takes a good band to do these two LPs justice and this is a great band. Along with Woodmansey on drums, Visconti on bass and Gregory on vocals there are two guitarists; James Stevenson and Paul Cuddeford. Berenice Scott on keyboards and the multi instrumental Jessica Lee Morgan on acoustic guitar, saxophone, percussion and vocals. Glenn Gregory as the singer in this band is an inspired choice, he doesn’t try to be Bowie but he handles all the songs powerfully and tastefully. He certainly knows his rock god shapes and poses too. Hearing these two albums again in this environment made me think how fresh, new and different they must have sounded to fans back in 1970 and 1972 respectively. The explosive power and sheer bombast of set opener “Width Of A Circle” should have given Sabbath and Led Zep a run for their money but ‘The Man Who Sold The World’ album never really took off until after Ziggy Stardust exploded into being. The band really showed their full on hard rock credentials during this epic track and it set the scene for a great night. As a part of this blogs recent 10th birthday celebrations I posted my top ten Bowie songs, I did say that it changes regularly and after this Holy Holy gig I really need to find a space for the magnificent “All The Madmen”. When I first bought the album on cassette back in 1972 that was always my favourite song. Tonight all those teenage memories were brought to the fore again with an immaculate run through of this classic treatise on insanity where the only sane people are those in the asylums. Glenn Gregory and the band were firing on all cylinders for the first album of the evening and the crowd were singing along with most songs. Especially the title track and the “oh by jingo” refrain from “After All”. Obviously the first part of the show ended with “The Superman” on which Gregory’s vocals reached a new peak.
Now it was time for what many see as their favourite Bowie album, “The Rise And Fall Of Ziggy Stardust And The Spiders From Mars” to give it its full title. Incidentally my favourite Bowie album is ‘Diamond Dogs’. Woody Woodmansey’s understated drum sound on “Five Years” still sends shivers down my spine coupled with lyrics of hopelessness in a world that is dying. I don’t believe that Glenn Gregory quite captured the sheer emotion in Bowie’s delivery on the record but he still did a great job. “Moonage Daydream” was probably the point where many of the crowd left their seats to dance, that song blew the house down and I reckon Mick Ronson would have been more than satisfied with the guitar skills on display. As expected no one stayed quiet for “Starman” especially the “la la la” part. Interestingly, and perhaps to give Glenn Gregory a well deserved break, Jessica Lee Morgan (who is Tony Visconti’s daughter) sang “Lady Stardust”, this woman is incredibly talented. Has there ever been an album with a better closing four tracks than this? “Hang On To Yourself”, “Ziggy Stardust”, “Suffragette City” and “Rock ‘N’ Roll Suicide” tore the house down and put the roof into orbit. The only thing that could possibly have made that better would have been David Bowie actually being there. A spectacular band had just played two of Bowie’s finest albums, did they have anything left? Well yes they did, after a short break they were back for an encore. They kicked off their four song closing part with a wonderful surprise, not another hit from 1969 to 1973, but the beautiful and emotionally charged come back single from 2014, “Where Are We Now”. The band did not put a foot wrong and Glenn Gregory gave his finest vocal performance of the night, possibly not a dry eye in the house! This was followed by two classics from ‘Hunky Dory’, “Changes” and “Life On Mars”. The showed closed with the sing along sonic assault of “Rebel Rebel”. At the end Woody said a few words about being a part of this experience and being back in Yorkshire and then it was all over. It took me a while to come down from this high after getting home. I will definitely be seeing Holy Holy again!
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Well all I can say is about bloody time Mr Jones! You have probably already heard the news that the Dame himself a.k.a. Mr Bowie has released a new single today, his 66th birthday. It is called “Where Are We Now” and is taken from a new album, ‘The Next Day’ which will be released in March. The single and album are produced by Bowie’s long time friend and producer Tony Visconti. It is his first new album for ten years and was recorded in New York.
Like many others I had assumed that Bowie had retired after his heart problems in 2004. I am very pleased and excited that he hasn’t. I heard the new song on Chris Evan’s Radio Two breakfast show this morning. It’s a slow, atmospheric ballad which evokes feelings of sadness to me. It also includes what appears to be many references to his time in Berlin in the late 70s. I will be playing it a lot over the coming weeks. It feels a lot like the more mellow songs from both ‘Heathen‘ and ‘Reality‘ from 2002 and 2003 respectively. It also sounds like it would fit well on the album that his record label bizarrely rejected in 2001. That consisted of a number of rerecordings of some his 60s songs and some other material. It would have been called ‘Toy’ and obviously I have the bootleg and it is damned good.
Only Bowie could have informed the world that he is not retired and announce the release of new material in such an understated way. the single was simply made available on iTunes before the press kicked in. Contrast that with the hoopla around the Rolling Stones 50th anniversary activities; press conferences and yet another compilation with just a couple of new tracks. I can hardly wait for the album now. I haven’t been as excited about the release of a new album from anyone for many years! Click here to read the report on the NME.
On line the single appears to be receiving mixed, but mainly positive reviews. I would love to know what you think of it. Will this lead to any live gigs or maybe a full on tour? I’d like to think so, but given his time away from live performance maybe not. but at least we know that the fabulous David Bowie is back in a big way. Oh and before I forget, Happy Birthday Dave!
Seven swans a swimming, I’ve been looking forward to this part of my 12 days of Christmas posts as it features two of my favourite songs. Incidentally did you know that the mute swan which is native to the UK has doubled it’s population since 1983? Maybe it’s the royal protection they are afforded which saw to that.
Ride A White Skateboard anyone?
Anyway on to the first of todays songs and this one was an obvious choice. It is “Ride A White Swan” from T. Rex and it is only the second signal released under the shortened name after the band used to be known as Tyrannosaurus Rex. It is also the song that helped kick off what became known as Glam Rock and the screaming adulation given to Bolan in what became known as Trextasy. The song was released in late 1970 and didn’t reach its highest UK chart position of number two until January 1971. It was produced by Tony Visconti as were many of the bands biggest hits. It was released as a maxi single. So named as it featured three and not the customary two tracks. The other tracks were “Is It Love” and a rather interesting cover of Eddie Cochran‘s “Summertime Blues”. “Ride A White Swan” kicked off a run of 10 consecutive UK top 5 hits for the band which lasted from 1971 to 1973 and included four number ones. The song could only manage a very lowly number 76 in the US chart.
The second choice for today was an obvious one for me, but do you know why it’s here? It is the stupendous “Badge” from Cream. The band was effectively an early supergroup featuring Eric Clapton, Ginger Baker and Jack Bruce. Interestingly it wasn’t Clapton that played guitar on this track, it was George Harrison. This was a favour in return for Clapton providing guitar on the Beatles track “While My Guitar Gently Weeps”. It was written by Clapton and Harrison and featured on Cream’s final album ‘Goodbye’. It made number 18 in the UK charts in 1969 and only reached number 60 in the US. Apparently it was a drunk Ringo Starr that gave the pair the line in the song which secured its inclusion in today’s post. Do you know what that line is yet? For contractual reasons George Harrison was listed under a pseudonym in terms of the playing personnel. That name was L’Angelo Misterioso.