DJ Shadow – Our Pathetic Age

Stop talking about ‘Endtroducing‘, just for a bit, Shadow’s debut may be a piece of brilliance, but he exists still and produces work even now. This latest missive is a report on the state of our existence when we’re so bought into capitalism the very raw material of our world is being eaten away to produce a temporary high of consuming, where the people we appoint to protect and guide us hurt us and think more of their personal arguments, where we are all entitled via social media, to nothing. Apposite that the cover is a phone screen.

It has to be said that the first disc is a selection of variable bedroom instruments, in which a free Jazz element works for ‘Beauty, Power, Motion, Life, Work, Chaos, Law‘, but atmospheric pieces like ‘Firestorm‘ and ‘Weightless‘ have little to grab onto, but Rosie’s banging chant is a real treat,

2nd disc? A host of helpers, Nas and Pharoahe Monch toughening up ‘Drone Warfare‘, De La Soul working well with the thrusting beats and soft brass of ‘Rocket Fuel‘, great flow from Run The Jewels on ‘Kings & Queens‘, this is mostly great, when the raps hit they realy hit well, smooth and direct, as on ‘Urgent, Important, Please Read‘, well done Rockwell Knuckles, Tef Poe and Daemon and the amost 80’s Soul stomp of the title track is a joy. And go on, finish with a drum machine flurry and Eminem touched speed raps with chart chorus; ‘Two Notes‘ just works.

An album of 2 halves, both interesting but CD2 amazing; still producing great work, lovely to have him back. Put this album next to ‘Endtroducing‘.

Out On Mass Appeal Records II

Remedy Rating: 4/5 Complete The Course

Nick Frater – Full Fathom Freight-Train

Well, this is good, isn’t it? The first Indie but XTC ‘Sunshine After Rain‘, these glorious harmonies caressing, is a good sign, follow this with ‘Ready, Steady, Go!’ 60’s sound mixed with Laurel Canyon’ ‘Oh Now, Girl!’ keeps the interest piquing and mixing bubbly AOR with New Wave makes ‘The Getaway‘ a success too.

This Croydon crooner deserves a bigger hearing, he touches Indie, softer Rock, early 80’s sounds, ‘Mermaid Street‘ has all that going on, in a singalong package, check a gentle Squeeze feel to ‘Strangers On The Bus’, then ‘A Whole Lot Later’ is a beautifully observed 70’s singer songwriter track.

There isn’t a bad song here. This isn’t a freight train, more a huge steam engine dragging a load of different coloured carriages. Got a Rock music interest? Frater can cater; try him out here.

Out On Great Sheiks

Remedy Rating: 5/5 Perfect Patient

Jack Bruce & Friends – At The Bottom Line

Yes, there are a lot of Jack Bruce live albums, more than 10 in fact, but not many with fusion factotum Billy Cobham behind the kit, Clem Clempson on guitars too and yet ‘White Room‘ is in regulation, faithful and only really cuts loose during Clem’s solo, this is surely what the crowd want. This gig is from 1980 and you might expect a bit of Jazz choppage, considering the personnel, they settle into their easy stride on ‘Jet Set Jewel‘, breezier as extensive ‘Post War‘ unfolds effortlessly into a choppy Reggae influence and jam vibe.

As they launch into dyspeptic ‘Politician‘, the crowd baying for it, Clempson drawing admiring cheers from them as he cuts loose on all six strings, there’s a mid set takedown, of course there is, but this band can deliver the gossamer intentions of ‘Theme For An Imaginary Western‘ with real emotion before a rather jaunty Cobham and co composition ‘Quadrant 4‘ takes over, Clempson flowing just as gorgeously as Tommy Bolin on the original, taken at a faster lick.
People shout requests. He responds with a frequently frenetic, almost 20 minute ‘Bird Alone‘, fast but aimless Cobham drum solo with pride of place and then Bruce sends us home with ‘Sunshine Of Your Love‘, rather stomping about until they grab hold in a jam.

This is great to hear, the Bottom Line series throwing up some great sets. This is one of them, Jack with Billy Cobham? That alone is something special.

Out On The Bottom Line Record Company

Remedy Rating : 4/5 Holistic Treatment

Bryan Ferry – Live At The Royal Albert Hall

For a man as picky with product at Mr Ferry, it’s great that he’s allowed this live document, from the other side of his work, the louche bar crooner, which he portrayed with an admirable lack of irony. This set, from the Albert Hall in 1974 shows the joy of the boy.

Beginning with a slide drenched ‘Sympathy For The Devil‘, destroying all nastiness and making the song into a postcard from a travelogue, female singers adding wealth and taste, plus a bit of Swingle Singers, similarly the attack of ‘I Don’t Care‘ is an end of the pier winking and smiling thing, but the larger sound of The Beach Boys’ ‘Don’t Worry Baby‘ works very nicely, enough air to mess it about, similarly the dramatic ‘Another Time, Another Place‘, his mellifuous voice and electric piano before the band kick in with a very Roxy Rock and ‘The Tracks Of My Tears‘ prefigures the smoothness of Roxy’s later output.
When he’s strutting, as on ‘Fingerpoppin‘, the band are delighted to cut loose, female singers screaming, brass parping, sax cutting loose, wonderful. And ‘Smoke Gets In Your Eyes‘ nailed with precision but looseness. And. Dylan’s ‘A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall‘, the drama and toughness changing the original completely from force of will.

You couldn’t do this now, the industry wouldn’t allow it or if they did, it would be anodyne loungier than thou Sinatra and Tony Bennett coverings like the warmed over Robbie Williams ‘Swing When You’re Winning‘ stuff, there’s no way the shiny burnish of ‘The ‘In’ Crowd‘ would work.

This is sumptuous, sleek and ever s slightly saccahrine. Bored of the beguine? Bryan isn’t.

Out On BMG

Remedy Rating: 4/5 Keep The Joints Moving

Mr Elevator – Goodbye, Blue Sky

‘Ground floor perfumeries, stationary and leather goods…’ the title from ‘Are You Being Served‘ fits well, particularly that first item, the whiff of beauty and a sense memory, traces of wonder.

They keep us ‘Waiting‘ to start, a mechanic entrance, synths pulsing, building like an Alan Parsons Project instrumental, wooziness in never settling ‘Love Again‘, ‘Kompressor‘ sounds like a soundtrack from an 80’s Micheal Mann movie, all busy synths, but a French vibe of longing is at the heart of ‘Anywhere‘ and they take a half salsa sound to ‘Together Alone‘.

Its not that this isn’t enjoyable, it often is and gorgeous too. Its just that it sems trapped in the sound at times, stifled by it when there’s so much more to be enjoyed; like only ever sniffing pink roses because you’ve seen other people you trust do it. Wispy airs are in danger of becoming soundscapes, Tangerine Dream are edging closer, so the casio cacophony of ‘Sylvia‘ is as welcome as a goodbye from a Tory.

This is supposed to be cool. It may be. If you’re not cool, it won’t matter. It’s supposed to sit with Indie, NuProg, Pop; it doesn’t really touch any of them. Why? It doesn’t have the conviction to approach anything, its often formless and maybe that’s the point, soft as a dandelion clock, delightful as a rosewood smoke, sweet as a Summer wind. But sometimes you just want something to happen, something to compare with, otherwise it runs through your fingers and the memory is all that remains.

Goodbye, Blue Sky? This music wouldn’t dare.

Out On Castle Face Records

Remedy Rating : 3/5 Rest Cure

Wolfmother – Rock ‘n’ Roll Baby

Surely Wolfmother do what we want; provide iconic, sung over and over Rock tunes experiment with fan-splitting albums, lose their touch and roar back with a fabulous collection. It’s been 3 years since that album, ‘Victorious‘, so even an ep should be a thing to celebrate. But…mainman Andrew Stockdale mentions palling up with Jet for some of this music.

Jet are good in parts. I don’t really want them messing with Wolfmother. What strikes first? The almost unlistenable sharp fuzz to ‘Higher‘, monstrous sound, very Classic Rock riff, nice open melody, wonderfully named ‘Rock ‘n’ Roll Survivor‘ has an Ozzy vocal, big meaty guitar and a Montrose vibe which creates a warmth, ‘Hot Night‘ spikes in the guitar but rolls in the backline.
7 tracks, one just seemingly thrown in as filler, ‘Freedom Is Mine‘ wants to cruise down the open road, but needs the engine cleaned first, but ‘Special Lady‘ struts like ZZ Top with new shoes, this 70’s burner is the best thing here.

And that song they lead with for the Jet connection? The rather cool, riff only ‘Chase The Feeling’. And the impetus behind the album? Well, he’s mentioned his year long sobriety and having other things to pass the time and excite.

Maybe more straight ahead than expected and rather good, the Jet boy done good. But that doesn’t mean they can be rehabilitated yet. Stockdale already is.

Out On Several Labels

Remedy Rating: 4/5 Encouraging Results

Graham Parker & The Rumour – Live

Graham Parker almost made it. He was pretty there or thereabouts with 1979’s ‘Squeezing Out Sparks‘, but he never really fit in; what was he, New Wave, Rockabilly revival, blue eyed Soul boy? A bit of each really and with a band (assorted Pub Rock royalty including a couple of Brinsley Fordes) who could handle it all, delivered by a pugnacious frontman who looked old before his time. And discovering him later, I rue the lack of connection at that time.

Which is what makes this collection, at the Trent Poly Sports Hall (it was always that or the Marquee) so wonderful.

From the off of ‘Lady Doctor‘, the swagger is there in piano and fruity horns, ‘Heat Treatment‘ touches the Rockabilly revival of the late 70’s, swing to make you giddy, all in with the horns. But they can touch the heart too with ‘Howlin’ Wind‘, slowly wandering ‘Gypsy Blood’, a sound the Quireboys would love, a sound the Faces perfected. Announced as ‘nasty Rock N’ Roll’, ‘Back To Schooldays‘ is heavy on attitude and light on quality.

A word about the mix. It’s brilliant, big, open, warm hearted and you can actually hear everything, even though he apologises for it at the end. And what can be heard is a resemblance to early J Geils Band and all the better for it; the band are tight, Parker is a raucous ringmaster, this band sound like they can change things and go places, listen to the Meatloafy revue band attack of ‘Soul Shoes‘ and souped up lounge take on ‘Hold Back The Night‘.

This is just brilliant, a Vaudeville bloke fronting a Soul band with all the sweat still dripping. Do yourself a favour. Buy all his early albums. Then buy the later ones.

Out On The Store For Music

Remedy Rating : 5/5 Perfect Patient