William Matthews is a well known singer-songwriter and bonafide TV addict since the age of 3. He is a avid reader and consumer of all things music, pop culture, political and spiritual related.
The first section of Robert Greenfield’s short, engaging book about the Rolling Stones, “Ain’t It Time We Said Goodbye,” feels like a mistake. The author, who during the early 1970s worked in the London bureau of Rolling Stone magazine, provides readers with a day-by-day account of the Stones’ March 1971 tour of their native England.
I would strongly recommend that you watch VH1’s 2010 documentary on “Soul Train,” called “The Hippest Trip in America,” before reading the new book by Nelson George of the same title. George, a longtime pop music critic who has written histories of Motown and rhythm ‘n’ blues, does his best to convey through words the dance moves made famous by the program—waacking, popping, the boogaloo—but visualizing is not nearly as compelling as is actually seeing.
Like heaven and like hell, pop music is well-stocked with angels and devils. From “Devil or Angel,” the magnificent mid-1950s ballad by the Clovers, through Bobby Helms (“My Special Angel”), Elvis Presley (“The Devil in Disguise”), the Beatles (“Devil in Her Heart”), the Rolling Stones (“Sympathy for the Devil”), and many more, lyricists have found these mythical figures apt symbols for good and bad.
By titling its new release “Fragile,” the Alan Parsons Project has developed a partial solution to the problem that confronts still-active classic rock performers: how to remain relevant. That single word is quite fitting for the modern age, which has added to the history of the world cyber-terrorism, climate change, widespread government surveillance of personal phone calls and e-mails, and predator drones.
Midway through his new book “Beatles vs. Stones,” (Simon and Schuster) author John McMillian takes a short break from pages and pages of interview excerpts and second-hand anecdotes, some of which learned rock and roll fans will have read before, to refresh his analysis:
Concord Music Group, based in Beverly Hills, recently issued a 6-CD box set of the music of Creedence Clearwater Revival, which is a remastered version of the same package that came out in 2001. Not having heard the first collection, I’m in no position to make a definitive judgment on whether the new one is superior. But I have sufficient faith in recording engineers and modern technology to believe that this is, in fact, the case.
For the Richard Nixon administration and for rock music, 1973 was a grim year. The president spent most of it in a desperate campaign to move past Watergate, including firing Special Prosecutor Archibald Cox and Attorney General Elliot Richardson in October during the infamous “Saturday Night Massacre.”
The recent World Series triumph of the Boston Red Sox reminded me of one of the unlikeliest pairings ever in rock and roll. Nine years ago, when the curse of Babe Ruth still haunted Red Sox fans, the team invited the Standells, a Southern California-based group from the 1960s, to perform their 1966 hit “Dirty Water” in Fenway Park before game two of that World Series.
The Civil Wars self titled LP is the third studio release from the band, and it isn’t the happiest album of the year.
Brighton based musician, Mike Rosenberg, better known by his stage name, Passenger, seems to have come out of nowhere with his album ‘All The Little Lights’ and its lead single ‘Let Her Go’. In fact, this album was released all the way back in February and Rosenberg has actually released three albums prior to this one and was originally in five-piece band under the same name.
Sam Bradley releases his latest EP ‘Not Your Kind’ and contrary to what it’s titled this EP will no doubt appeal to the masses given the chance. The London based singer/songwriter claims his influences from a mixture of Americana, folk, blues and rock. He isn’t lying either, you can hear these genres spread across his music and mixed together in a seamless way.
One notable thing he has managed to pull off rather fine is the overall style of his EP. Just like the likes of other British musicians such as Bobby Long, he has entered a genre of music that is not native to his country and made it sound like he is living in the era. Only further bridging the gap between British and American cultural differences and displaying the talent that England has to offer in terms of country and folk singers.
Even though there are only four songs on this release, he manages to fill his time perfectly. There is a good range within the tracks and at no point does it feel forced or boring. There is no single strongest point of it. A mixture of his flawless voice and touching and at times thought provoking lyrics; which include subjects of family, religion and relationship blend together nicely to produce true music.
It is hard to pick out the strongest track between the five, lyrically ‘Science Prevents Me’ with cleverly written religious themes that turn into an ordinary relationship. For the tone however, the strongest track would have to be the opening one ‘Not Your Kind’ it contains a real authentic sound, one that would be hard to rival with most of todays current music.
Ultimately this EP is a game changer. It’s smart and touching. Bradley is known for having a loyal fan base and this EP will only further that theory. Sam Bradley is fast becoming one of Britain’s hidden folk gems.
London based band Bastille are the UK’s next big thing. Their debut album charted in the UK at number 1. Their CD ‘Bad Blood; is a bit of a confusing one. It has a great sound, great vocals and great lyrics, but I get the feeling that they are trying too hard and at times do not come across as authentic.
Good vocals go with just about any genre and can also save many ill composed songs. Luckily James Blake has not only good vocals, but also good instrumentals to go with it. The London born singer-songwriter and producer has recently released his sophomore album ‘Overgrown’ and just like his debut self-titled release ‘James Blake’ he has taken his talents and shared them with the world.
Daughter, originally just the solo work of Elena Tonra, have spent the past few years making a name for themselves, so their debut album was highly anticipated and it is safe to say that they truly lived up to their expectations. ‘If You Leave’ is a wonderful collection of songs from the three piece band.