THE BEAT FT. RANKING ROGER: Bounce

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The Beat are best remembered for a string of hit singles at the height of 2-Tone/ska boom started in the UK back in the late 70’s/early 80’s. These included a cover of  Smokey Robinson’s “Tears Of A Clown,” “Mirror In The Bathroom,” and “Save It for Later.” They split-up in 1983 and now there are two versions of the band, one led by Ranking Roger in the UK, and another by original vocalist/guitarist Dave Wakeling, under the name of the English Beat in North America. This version is the one founded around original vocalist/toaster Ranking Roger, who is joined by his son Ranking Junior.

“Walking On The Wrong Side,” which was the first single from Bounce has the sound and feel of their original music, just maybe not as frantic sounding as the first album, more like heading into their last one. “Busy Busy Doing Nothing” is next and it carries on with that old school vibe and makes you want to get up and dance, which is a wonderful thing. “Walking On The Wring Side” and “Fire Burn” are two songs that really show the strong lyrics and political side of the band that the Specials and the Beat never shied away from. “Talkin’ About Her” has a nice relaxed vibe that gets you swaying side to side to, then you get the upbeat “Side To Side” with a faster beat that grabs your feet and off you go skanking around the room. The album ends with “Close The Door,” a smooth track that is a more traditional ska song, a bit slower and with a sinewy groove that will surely grab you and get your head swaying from side to side. Ranking Roger’s vocals are as smooth and strong as ever on this album and you can hear the fun he is having here, you can feel it coming out of the speakers and encompassing your ears.

After all of these years, I never would have believed that I would be listening to new music from this band, but I am so happy to have the opportunity to have this release. If you would drop this into a mix of their older albums, you might have trouble picking out the new songs, and I can’t give this album better praise than that.

https://www.facebook.com/TheBeat/

http://www.thebeatofficial.com/

https://www.facebook.com/DMFMusicLtd/

http://dmfmusic.co.uk/

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THE GODFATHERS: A Big Bad Beautiful Noise

Reforming at the end of the last decade, this is the first album in four years from the Godfathers, but this is their first with a brand new line up. The Godfathers were formed by Peter and Chris Coyne after the demise of The Sid Presley Experience in 1985, and co-founder Chris Coyne has since left. The current line-up has been touring and writing solidly for two years now and we get the chance to hear what they’ve been up to.

Starting with the title track, it’s immediately clear that they are not holding back the power of enthusiasm of these new songs. You can hear the band running at you like a gang trying to attack you, but they just want your ears, and dancing feet, not to hurt you. “‘Till My Heart Stops Beating” has a driving beat and although not as heavy as the first song, still manages to keep the energy going. New single “You Don’t Love Me” has a thick sound with a groove will get you moving and the fuzzed out guitar is amazing. Things mellow out a bit for “Poor Boy’s Son,” but again the guitar playing is outstanding with a yearning sound to it that is infectious. After a few songs that were a bit more mellow, the band kicks into high gear with “Defibrillator,” a wild and furious ride that hits hard and fast. “You And Me Against The World” is a mellow song, not the brash, punch you in the gut kind of song you think it’s going to be, instead it’s an anthem that grabs you and pulls you in and doesn’t let go; in a way, it’s actually a beautiful song.

The time that they took to play together and work things out has given these songs depth and raw emotions that are a joy to hear from a band that’s been going more or less for over thirty years. The new blood has really given the band a new start, not far from the old sound, but a sound that they can be proud of and hopefully continue creating more music for many more years.

https://www.facebook.com/TheGodfathersFamily

http://www.godfathers.uk.com/

https://www.facebook.com/MetropolisRecords

https://www.metropolis-records.com/

 

THOR: Keep The Dogs Away: Deluxe

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Thor started out as a concept band in 1973. They used the names “Thor,” “Centaur” and “Mikl Body Rock.” These entities were the brainchild of Jon Mikl Thor, a vocalist, musician and body building champion who won titles such as Mr. USA and Mr. Canada. He decided to combine muscle with music and in 1977, they released their debut album Keep the Dogs Away.

This is a remastered and greatly expanded version of that debut album, one that I remember seeing not long after it came out in a record store and bought it because it looked cool, at least to a younger me, and my mom loved body builders and Dobermans. I took it home, showed my mom who loved the cover, loved the cover…she really did, and put it on. It was a bit lighter in the metal, but still had a cool hard rock sound that we both liked a lot. The title track really stuck in my head, from then until I got this CD and heard it again. My mom owned a sub store called Trudy’s Subs and she put that poster up in her store, lots of people bought food there, so I’m sure she helped sell a few copies of the album with her poster placement. So now I sit and listen to the album again after all these years and I’m surprised that it still sounds good, a bit of the times, but still has the hooks and the fun that carries it. I was really surprised at the bonus songs the most. If you just listen to the regular album, it’s full of catchy hard rock, but the bonus songs are a mix of glam rock and punky new wave. I loved the bonus disc so much because it gave me a new side of Thor that I never knew and these songs are amazing. The playing is tight, it sounds like everyone was having fun and the songs could fool people into thinking that they were underground hits back in the old days…lol. The remastering is fantastic with the sound being clear, and clean, the booklet has pictures from when the album came out, information about the album and…a reproduction of the poster that captured my mom so long ago. Not only do you get two CDs, but you get a DVD with a concert from 1980 that is fun to watch. How can you go wrong?

I really am happy that this has been released again, and with so much added to it, giving everyone a chance to see where Thor came from. This brought back great memories for me, hopefully if you are a fan, it will for you as well, and if you are trying just curious, grab this one today! This is a thunder-god that will slay you with melody, not lightning…thank Odin for that!

https://www.facebook.com/THOR.Official.Page

https://thormusic.bandcamp.com/album/keep-the-dogs-away

https://thorcentral.net/index.html

https://www.facebook.com/CleopatraRecords/

http://cleorecs.com/home/

FALLEN ASUNDER: Self-titled

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Fallen Asunder is a music project between two friends since childhood, Ryan Batturs on vocals and guitar and Josh Weaver on lead guitar, who grew up playing music together. They are based out of Lancaster Pa, and have influences in the rock and metal such as Bullet for My Valentine, Killswitch, Dream Theater, HIM, and Goo Goo Dolls.

Opening track “The World and Fate” has a killer guitar intro and shows a lot of energy to start off the album. “Our Ghosts” starts off with great guitar playing that turns from gentle playing to hard rocking in a few seconds and the band just blazes on this track. “Meant For So Much More” is a blistering song that charges ahead at full power and grabs you along for the ride. “Silent Lies” is another hard rocking song that keeps the pace going strong, especially with the screamed vocals that put force so much emotion. “Lost In The Rain” is a song that is more in the hard rock / AOR vein that really stands out. Last song “Blinded Eyes” ends the album with a killer track, showing that the band will rock out till the very end.

The tight and blistering guitar playing is a definite standout, and made the greatest impression on me, so much that I grabbed my air guitar and played along with them the best that I could. This shows a lot of potential and talent and will be a band that I will be keeping my eyes and ears on in the future.

https://www.facebook.com/FallenAsunder/

http://www.fallenasunder.com/

https://fallenasunder.bandcamp.com/releases

THE BRAINIAC 5: Journey To X

Emerging in the mid-70s out of the UK’s isolated yet thriving South-Western scene, the Brainiac 5 relocated to London, where their Mushy Doubt EP had already caused a stir. Sharing stages with the likes of The Soft Boys and The Barracudas and finding fans in John Peel and Alex Chilton, they split before their debut album World Inside was released through celebrated psych label Reckless.

If you are thinking that this is going to be a punk album, you’re wrong,  if you think that it’s a prog album, you’d still be wrong, it’s got rock, prog, punk, psych and a touch of freak out all mixed together…yeah I know…what the hell, but it works. It has songs as short as “Endless River pt.1,” at only  01:05, songs as long as “The Human Scapegoat,” which clocks in at a staggering 12:10! Starting with “Endless River pt.1,” the band gives us an opener that is very much a ’60s sound that you would think that you picked up the wrong album, but it actually makes sense since the light psych of the song leads into “The Human Scapegoat,” which goes from psych to punk/noise, into a gentle almost lullaby, then back to the psych/prog sound and it’s an epic track to say the least since it flows so well. “Laura Riding” is my favourite song on here with its nod to the glam sound of Bowie and Roxy Music. “At Noon” is a straight forward pop song that has a great chilled out feel to it. “The World Inside” has a smooth jazz sound with the amazing vocals by Jessie Pie, and some terrific guitar playing. “Some Things” has cool harmonica playing and a tougher rock sound like Bowie’s “Scary Monsters (And Super Creeps).” Last song “Kill It” keeps that sound and feel going with a tight groove and more of that great guitar playing.

For a band that has been doing music on and off for around forty years, this is as fresh sounding as a new band, and it’s great to hear them taking chances and doing things that other bands could never emulate. I need to go hunt down their older music now, while I’m doing that, you go out and get this one…and play it a lot.

https://www.facebook.com/TheBrainiac5/

http://www.brainiac5.co.uk/

https://brainiac5.bandcamp.com/

https://www.facebook.com/RecklessRecords/

https://reckless.com/

YAZZ: WANTED: 3CD DELUXE DIGIPAK EDITION

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Yazz (born Yasmin Evans, 19 May 1960) is a British pop singer, who remains best known for her successful 1988 dance track, “The Only Way Is Up.” Some of her records were credited to Yazz & The Plastic Population. Her first commercial success came in early 1988, when she supplied the vocals on Coldcut’s “Doctorin’ the House.” She soon launched a solo career on Big Life records, a label set up by her husband Jazz Summers, releasing her debut single, “The Only Way Is Up,” in the summer of 1988. It went on to spend five weeks at the top of the UK Singles Chart, eventually becoming the second biggest selling UK single of the year. Suddenly one of Britain’s biggest pop acts, her follow-up was another big hit (“Stand Up for Your Love Rights,” UK number 2), whilst her debut album, Wanted (UK number 3) was certified double platinum in the UK in September 1989, for sales exceeding 600,000.

This 3 CD Edition includes the eleven album tracks from original CD release in 1988 plus thirty-one related bonus tracks and remixes to make this the most complete collection available of Yazz’s best known releases. The sixteen page full colour booklet features an expanded design of the original artwork, extensive sleeve notes written by Michael Silvester and a full UK discography featuring Yazz’s front cover images.

I first heard Yazz on Coldcut’s “Doctorin’ the House,” and loved the vocals as well as the music and was happy to hear of a full album from her coming out. The album did not disappoint me at all with the range of styles on the album, from house to acid house, to r&b to rap and soul, it had everything to mix together for a fun night of dancing. I tried to get the twelve-inch singles, but back then, it wasn’t too easy to find them,plus with all the different mixes out there, it was impossible to get them all. This not only helps me have a mostly complete collection of the mixes, but the sound and the booklet add so much to my enjoyment of the album. I couldn’t wait to open up this CD and hit play, and enjoy the original album, but all of the remixes that I had never heard before. Yes, there are a lot of remixes on here, but you know what? I love them and am so happy that I have finally got the chance to hear them. So many great sounds on the remixes, and it takes me back to when I used to be a DJ and played these songs in my set. I know that I made many mix tapes with these songs and I wish that I still had a gig somewhere so that I could play these mixes now. The album brings me back to my early twenties and just having the world in front of me, going out and clubbing and just having fun.

This is an album that has fun written all over it and needs to be played a ton of times. Three CDs might be a lot for some, but as a fan and collector, this is a treasure trove that is going to be enjoyed for some time, and at a price that is cheaper than hunting down all the singles, what more prompting do you need?

https://www.facebook.com/YazzOfficial/

http://www.yazzmusic.co.uk/index.php

https://www.facebook.com/CherryRedRecords/

https://www.cherryred.co.uk/

THE CHIMES: THE CHIMES: DELUXE EDITION

The Chimes were a successful dance music trio. Pauline Henry (born in Jamaica) with Mike Peden and James Locke from Edinburgh, in Scotland. They are best known for their hits “Heaven” and a remake of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” which became a UK Top Ten hit.

Digitally remastered and expanded two CD edition. Includes a bonus disc of alternative versions and mixes that were originally released on the various single issues which show the breadth of club sounds that were prevalent in that era. The Chimes, released in the summer of 1990, spent over four months on the UK album chart peaking at #17, as well as gaining strong airplay on US college radio which drew critical acclaim that helped the album reach the top 100 and 200 in the Billboard R&B and Pop charts respectively.

Working in a record store when this album first came out, gave me the opportunity to hear their songs before a lot of other people and I fell in love with the vocals, as much as the music. Henry’s vocals were smooth, sure and fit the music perfectly. From slow song to faster dance songs, her vocals were amazing and still raise the hair on my arms after all these years. I remember having a mixed CD from the record company that had  “1-2-3” on it and I played it during busy times so I could get people to hear an amazing song and it helped move some albums out the door. After all these years, there are few albums that command the attention of your ears as much as this one, with so much emotion and talent, this album still stands out and sounds amazing. As much as I love the song “1-2-3,” their cover of U2’s “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For,” is one of the most beautiful songs that I have ever heard and is a crowing achievement for the band. I mean, with Bono from U2 commented that the Chimes’ cover of their hit “I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For” was the “only cover version he had heard that he enjoyed and did the original justice”, adding “at last someone’s come along to sing it properly,” how can you go wrong? The added remixes add to the enjoyment since a lot of them were not easily available to me at the time and they take me back to when remixes were still using the original song, not just adding a snippet of the song and creating something that doesn’t have much of the band on it. The included booklet gives a great overview of the album and was fun to read. The remastered sound helps bring out more of the subtle parts of the music that may have been lost, especially the great vocals that really stand out now.

An album that still sounds modern and well worth your hard-earned money to purchase and play again and again. This will fill your soul with delight and make you smile, something that is a great feeling to have from music.

https://www.facebook.com/paulinehenrythechimes/

http://paulinehenry.com/

https://www.facebook.com/CherryRedRecords/

https://www.cherryred.co.uk/