Tuesday, 13 September 2016

Album Reviews - Jeff Beck - Loud Hailer, Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis, Big Big Train - Folklore, Milos - Blackbird

Time for another summer catch up.

Jeff Beck - Loud Hailer.

Jeff Beck is one of a very very rare breed of artist.  One who is pioneering not just when they come to prominence but throughout their lifetime and one who has remained relevant throughout.  Since his reinvention of how he played the guitar pioneered on the track Where were you off his guitar workshop album in the late 80s he has produced albums fused with Electronica aspects, with jazz and on his last work Emotion and Commotion with orchestra placing his playing in a concerto setting almost.

However Loud Hailer is more rock n roll, more indy rock, more street, more punk frankly.  He has teamed up with Rosie Bones (Bill Oddy's daughter btw for those who do pub quizes) on vocals and Carmen Vandenburg on guitars from the band Bones produces a vocal based album for the first time in many many years from Mr Beck and gives the whole production a more rootsy, punky rocky vibe.  Jeff's playing is as stunning as ever and more brutal to coin a phrase on some tracks like Thugs Club.

Scared for the children is the highlight for me - more restrained than many, closer to much of the lyrical beauty on Emotion and the lyrics are heartbreaking.

Another incredible album from Jeff Beck who rather than resting on his laurels shows many a fraction of his age how to really push yourself creatively and as a musician.

Biffy Clyro - Ellipsis

Biffy scaled the hights to become an established festival headlining act with the last three albums which culminated in Opposites the mammoth double disk offering that hit the number one spot in the UK for the first time for the band.  They themselves felt they'd reached the end of that massive stadium rock type recording when that was put to bed and so Simon Neil went away to work on some side projects before even contemplating writing again for Biffy.  However he was soon back writing and the new album is a blend of really raucous rock hinting at their earlier offerings, more raw and less produced sound to my ears but mixed with many stripped down more reflective mellow moments.

My daughter proclaims this their best yet.  I don't agree favouring Puzzle myself but it is a great album and a step forward not a status quo or retrospective record at all.

Big Big Train - Folklore.

I really like Big Big Train and think they are producing some of the best prog rock around currently.  It is a shame that much of the prog audience only seem to focus on the releases from the big big names of future past and bemoan where bands do not continue/reform or the key lack of "classic" line ups.  If they were to open their ears and listen to this album then they'd be welcoming Big Big Train into the hallowed status awarded to Yes, Genesis and the like.  You get the best quality of those bands with a whole bunch of other stuff too.  They swing seamlessly from Crimsonesque counterpoint to thunderous pop rock of Genesis to keyboard laden excursions of Yes and hints of Marillion and much much more.  There is often a folk-rock undertone too through out this recording.

For me this has some better tracks than the last two volumes released under the English Electric title but overall the album isn't as cohesive a work as that behemoth was able to be.  Stunning musicianship throughout, thoughtful lyrics and story weaving coupled with really excellent production.

Miloš Karadaglić - Blackbird.

Back when I was a mere strap of a lad going to classical guitar lessons I had this vision of doing what John Williams was then doing with Sky in taking classical guitar into a rock setting.  Sky worked on a level but never inspired any follow on.  Miloš Karadaglić has earnt his stripes as a concert classical guitar virtuoso.  However he was inspired by the Beatles as a youngster and learnt some Beatles classics arranged for classical guitar.  I remember having a book and trying but in those days it was all in the dots - there was no accompanying recording or video etc. so I never really nailed any of them and the book long ago disapeared from my collection.  This album is most new arrangements and really is stunning.  Coupled with some excellent jazz bass playing and some inspired guest vocals - Gregory Porter in particular this is a fantastic collection of tunes.  Probably will give Miloš some additional exposure and might get some others to listen to a more traditional repertoire for the instrument.

1 comment:

  1. I was lucky enough to see Beck tour that album this past summer. I always think it's interesting when he inserts a vocalist into the lineup. He has done this periodically throughout his career. It adds a layer but for me, it's now wholly necessary. The playing is the thing. Blow by Blow is one of the albums I'd take to a desert island with me.

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