Waterboys – Good Luck Seeker

Fisherman’s Blues this certainly isn’t – but it’s exhilarating, just the same.

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Revisiting This Planet

This is what happens when one of the biggest-selling artists in Christian music reworks the genre’s first landmark album. Kevin Max treats us to a re-imagined version of Only Visiting This Planet.

Image via jubileecast.com
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Hackett, Steve – Under a Mediterranean Sky


We may not be able to travel the Mediterranean at the moment, but Hackett gives us an impressionistic tour with this acoustic-and-strings project as he continues to broaden his scope.

I often find it fascinating to hear an artist’s work and catch the bits that are intrinsically ‘them’ and this release has Hackett’s DNA running through it.

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Molly Tuttle – …but i’d rather be with you

This is very decent for a lockdown stopgap.

Label: Compass Records
Time: 10 tracks / 39 mins

Last year I was completely bowled over by Tuttle’s début album When You’re Ready. I noted that, “There are no fireworks here, just beautifully, beautifully judged songs that you want to put on repeat.”

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Iona – 30 Years of Groundbreaking Music, oh, and Saving the Odd Life

Nominating the best UK Christian band of the last 40 years is clearly a subjective matter. U2 almost qualify, but are mainly Irish, so don’t quite count. Delirious? also had chart success, but largely on the back of keen churchgoing fans. So did After the Fire – just. I would nominate Iona for that honour.

Iona had so much going for them: musically, they could perform remarkably complex pieces that are beyond the ability of many others; their music could reach spiritually stirring heights; they combined genres in a tremendously creative manner; and they took brazenly Christian music into secular venues, like musical missionaries.

Although the band has now finished, this summer the co-founder, multi-instrumentalist and producer Dave Bainbridge masterminded a celebratory box set of all their studio material to mark their 30th anniversary.

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It’s Another Big Story from Neal Morse – This Time It’s St. Paul

Looking at Morse’s history, it’s a surprise it took him so long to make an album telling Paul’s story. And boy, was it worth it!

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Covering some Classics: Morse, Portnoy and George excel.

There seem to be a few covers albums out recently – a few included on here. Is this the best of the lot?

Image via InsideOut Music
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Steve Hackett – Selling England by the Pound and Spectral Mornings Live at Hammersmith


Achievement can dull ambition, and most successful musicians slow down after a while. Not Hackett. He is as keen to make great music now as ever, as his 2019 album At the Edge of Light shows. But he also knows that his fanbase still want the classics that soundtrack their lives – which makes this release special.

While this tour promoted his latest work, it also celebrated 40 years of the Spectral Mornings solo album, playing all but two of those tracks. But its hugest appeal lay in a complete performance of the zenith of Genesis’ catalogue. Selling England by the Pound is an album that still thrills after more than 45 years.

Photo Lee Millward (via The Publicity Connection)
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Kate Rusby: Handed Down Songs

There are two big questions here: how old does a song have to be to be classed as a folk song? And how should you approach a cover – be faithful to the original or make it your own?

Hand Me Down
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A Genesis in my Bed

There might be less Genesis than I expected in guitarist Steve Hackett’s pacy autobiography, but the ‘other stuff’ is just as interesting. Any prog fan will enjoy this – and it is so easy to keep re-reading.

Steve Hackett with Mike Rutherford. Image: ©Armando Gallo/ARGA Images Inc. (via The Publicity Connection)

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A Proper Double Album – Dreamland

Is Dan Whitehouse the David Bowie of folk? His voice often has the same timbre. He also has a similar sensitivity to moods, strong songwriting talent and flippant approach to genre, letting songs find their own sound, rather than force them into a style for the sake of it.

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Gigspanner – a Cert for Best-of-2020 Folk Album Lists.

There are times when ‘big’ is highly relative, and that applies to Gigspanner, the trio formed by ex-Steeleye Span veteran Peter Knight. Its Big Band version still only has six members.

via http://www.somersetcountygazette.co.uk
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Dion – “I Should be Dead.” But he’s Fully Alive Here.

“If I got what’s coming, man, I should be dead,” sings Dion on the star-studded Blues with Friends. He’s right, after 15 years of heroin addiction and a last-minute decision to save $36 – and inadvertently his life – by not taking the plane flight that killed Buddy Holly, he has cheated death at least once. He’s made the most of his life since, though. Forget his age – this is an absolutely top-class feast of blues.

Noble PR

Who else can you think of, who was in the vanguard of rock and roll in the ‘50s and is still making relevant music today and winning plaudits?

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Avishai Cohen – Big Vicious

This is a remarkable instrumental album. Sometimes jazz releases can be clever-but-unpleasant; this one, though, is an absolute delight, because the band has put melody centre stage, expanded the style to include electronica, and re-invented a classic Massive attack track brilliantly. More music should be like this.

Avishai Cohen (Image by kind permision of Ziv Ravitz)
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Tangerine Dream – Recurring Dreams

Electronica pioneers reinvent some of their classic work.

Tangerine Dream were true innovators, pioneering the use of synthesizers as a sole instrument and creating a mainstream genre in the process.

It took a while. Their initial work was what a school friend called ‘brick music’ – as if you would put a brick on a keyboard and come back five minutes later to move it along the keys a bit. He wasn’t far wrong.

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Rhidian Brook, pt 1: Living in the Heart of a Pandemic

As we are currently facing a global pandemic and writer Rhidian Brook is celebrating 20 years of contributions to Thought for the Day, this is a good time to revisit the epic adventure that featured in some of his early contributions to the slot: 9 months immersed in the world’s AIDS hotspots with a young family.
People sometimes speak of adventures starting with a dream. When Brook’s journey began, he knew nothing about it – but it started with a real night-time ‘waking dream’ that came true.

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Rhidian Brook, part 2: Thoughts for the Nation

Thought for the Day is a tough ask: you have under three minutes in the middle of Today, Britain’s main current events breakfast radio show, to add some insight that might inspire several million listeners. And not just any listeners: these are generally more informed and opinionated; they do not suffer fools gladly.

Rhidian Brook is one of Thought for the Day’s 23 regular presenters, and has been offering those Thoughts for twenty years, a hefty chunk of which have been collected in a book, Godbothering.

Brook has an advantage, as he sits among a panel of bishops, professors and a Chief Rabbi: he is not one of them, but ‘one of us’. I suspect he has to earn respect a little bit harder as an ordinary person – albeit an award-winning one who has had his books translated into 25 languages and Keira Knightley star in one of the film adaptations.

Photo by kind permission of http://www.ktbruce.co.uk

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7-63 Up – One of the Greatest Documentary Series Ever Made?

Angered by Britain’s class system and inspired by the Jesuit saying: “Give me the child until he is seven and I will show you the man,” in 1964 Tim Hewat, founder-editor of TV documentary series World in Action, selected 14 seven-year-olds from a range of backgrounds: poor urban, including two from an orphanage; suburban; and some privileged children who already expected to go to Cambridge University.

The original aim was a one-off, to show that class privileges set in early. Denis Forman, the head of Granada TV, later suggested that a follow up would be a good idea. This not only helped to prove the original point, but began a fascinating series that has turned viewers into impassioned followers.

Tony, Neil and Sue – then and now

Early programmes interview these children, asking for their hopes and expectations, and every seven years we see their progress, as later episodes track those dreams right up to retirement and (in one case) death.

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Rory Gallagher – Check Shirt Wizard (Live in ’77)

“We’ve got a jack-knife beat, killer of a backbeat, sounds like an iceberg rolling down a back street.” Not quite, but Rory playing live at the peak of his career is still a majestic sound.

Paul Slattery via NoblePR

Ask me what gig I most regret missing, and you’ll get an instant answer: U2 supporting Rory Gallagher at my local rock club (it was a Wednesday night and I was still at school). Ask what Rory’s best studio album is and I’d say 1976’s Calling Card (just ahead of Against the Grain).

So a live release (which is where the Irish guitarist was always at his best) that includes all but one tracks of Calling Card is likely to be superb, and this collection is a new favourite, even beating some remarkable posthumous compilations, including acoustic collection Wheels Within Wheels and last year’s excellent-value triple CD Blues.

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Kaprekar’s Constant – Depth of Field

Like Big Big Train, this poetic album blends folk, soft-prog and a personal take on historic events. It deserves a wide audience.

image via kaprekars.bandcamp.com
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