Monday, 22 January 2018

Indian Puddin' & Pipe - Indian Puddin' & Pipe, album review

Fleeting but Feeling Like Fun

This collection from Indian Puddin’ & Pipe [West Coast Natural Gas] from 1969 is a convincing showcase of what a great band they were and could have continued to be. Their sound is informed by rousing rockjazz elements but also gentle harmony-infused vocals, most notably on the eleven minutes of Spirit where horns, sax and a fine lead coalesce in sweeping layers and then catch up and dance within rowdier vocals.

Opener Morning Glory has sunshine pop echoes but this too breaks out into some rumbustious jazz, the saxophones leading the way and into more exuberant, complex vocals – Beach Boys on speed sort of thing, the demo-recording nature of it all [we hear studio chat throughout the album] adding a sense of live creativity. This very same is continued into next A Penny, hearing just a little of Mothers of Invention in the vocal playfulness. A stand-out is Shadowlarks that opens with a BS&Ts orchestration which premiers the fine playing, and the melody is conventional rock until this breaks into some quite pretty choral singing. Again complex without being overly-so/pretentious. The return to a jazzrock instrumental is excellent with some Chicago-esqure horn here too. Mr Blue has a wonderfully raw ensemble singing that just sounds like fun.

The final track on the original 2005 release is Planetary Song and this continues the rich vocal, especially that of Lydia Mareno. A further four tracks are added to this 2017 release and these reflect again the vibrant psyche-pop of early Bay Area music. The band:

Steve "Warthog" Jackson - Bass, Vocals
Barry Lewis - Drums
Dennis Lanigan - Alto Sax, Piano, Vocals
Rex Larsen - Guitar, Vocals
Rick Quintanal - Drums
David Savage - Trumpet
Jack Ellis - Trombone
Lydia Moreno - Vocals

Into the Distance Music 69

Saturday, 20 January 2018

Glen Hansard - Between Two Shores, album review


This is a sophisticated, polished album, from the horn-dressed ballad of Wreckless Heart, to the bass-caressed funk and psyche and rock orchestration of great opener Roll on Slow, to the pop funk of Wheels on Fire, and to another plaintive, organ and horns rousing ballad of Why Woman. Hansard’s vocal, as on Movin’ On, is emotively gritty, as well as gentle for the fullest range of shades like the sweet Setting Forth, strings here assisting perfectly as are all the instrumental/production judgements – listen to the horn intro for Lucky Man, organ here another constant fine feature.

I could write as closely and positively for every other track. If you like this kind of music, it is perfection. 

Into the Distance Music 68

Friday, 19 January 2018

Bob Dylan - The Music Which Inspired Girl from the North Country, review

Brilliant Range

This is a quick mention of a fine compilation of Dylan songs, made by Conor McPherson and which follow their playing and reinterpretation in the play by McPherson Girl from the North Country. I knew nothing of the play when I heard this selection, and while I am familiar with many of the tracks, I am not with all, and also not being one of the biggest followers of Dylan I have nonetheless been impressed with their mix and juxtapositions. The fact that so many of the songs sound fresh is testament to how little I really know of Dylan’s massive output, apart from the obvious ‘hits’, but also just how deep his brilliance is across the range presented here.

Friday, 12 January 2018

Chris Wood - So Much to Defend, album review


This is a stand-out folk album from 2017, and actually just a stand-out album. Chris Wood does occupy a noticeably formal and traditional place within the folk genre, but he nonetheless manages to make it completely fresh and apt in a way the paradoxes within this sentence won’t if it is over-analysed, or maybe even just read a second time. My apologies. What I mean is I hear folk tropes in obvious ways as with 1887 [though the piano is an askance instrument] and in the absolutely stunning, beautiful closer You May Stand Mute. Opener So Much to Defend is rich in its Martyn-esque pickandslap guitar work, so in a sense a more modern folk grope [‘modern’ being a relative term here], the narrative itself referencing ‘Skype’ so a genuinely updated mention, and the ‘Ebbsfleet’ FC mention a bit of grounding news. There’s Hammond organ in the This Love Won’t Let You Fail to broaden the folksiness outwards – another beautiful song – and the horn/s in Strange Cadence a jazz inflection to make the listening pleasure fulsome.

Quite a brilliant album, in fact.