Monthly Archives: March 2015

Karnataka – Secrets of Angels

Up until about a week ago I’d never heard of Karnataka, then their new album, Secrets of Angels, started getting mentioned a lot in the Big Big Train Facebook group I belong too. A lot of my purchases over the past year have been on the recommendation of fellow members of the group, or Passengers as they prefer to be called. To date each purchase has turned out to be a good buy, and Secrets of Angels by Karnataka is no exception.

Karnataka - Secrets of Angels

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Since receiving the download on Wednesday, I’ve been listening to this album constantly. It supposedly comes under the label of prog, but in my world, there are only two labels, “Music I like” and “Music I don’t like”. Secrets of Angels most definitely comes under the first category!

As mentioned, I knew nothing about this group whatsoever. Their website, Karnataka.org.uk, has a comprehensive history of the band, including a section on their new vocalist Hayley Griffiths, who is probably the main reason I like this album so much. She’s a classically trained soprano with years of experience gained from extensive touring with Michael Flatley’s Riverdance and Lord of the Dance productions. And it’s the classical vocals that make this such an outstanding album. That’s not to decry the rest of the band, who sound excellent and will certainly lead me to explore their back catalogue.

Another plus point for the album is that it was recorded in Peter Gabriel’s Real World studios, never a bad thing in my view!

The album has an orchestral and operatic feel to it as well, which adds to it’s appeal in my opinion.

Anyway enough of me waffling, there’s a superb review of Secrets of Angels by Karnakata on the Progradar website here, which describes this excellent album far better than I ever could!

And just to wet your appetite, check this out….

How good does that sound?

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Judie Tzuke – Welcome to the Cruise

The latest of my vinyl collection I’ve been listening to is Welcome to the Cruise by Judie Tzuke.

Judie Tzuke - Welcome to the Cruise

 

I tweeted about listening to this album last night and it’s apparent she still has many fans! The album was released in 1979 on Elton John‘s label. the Rocket Record Company. If memory serves me right I bought this pretty soon after it was released. I seem to remember seeing her perform Stay With me Till Dawn on Top of the Pops during the summer of 1979 and buying it the following weekend!

And like every other hot blooded teenager (I was 17 at the time) I fancied her like crazy!

Stay With me Till Dawn is still one of my all time favorite tracks and listening to the album again, the rest of the songs still sound great. The first three tracks of side one still rank, in my opinion, as one of the best starts to a debut album. Welcome to the Cruise and Sukarita still sound great, followed by the wonderful For You, another great on of my favorites. Every track on the album is pure class with her voice sounding so haunting, yet mellow. It’s great album to chill out to, but it lifts you up at the same time.

As for the final track on the album, Stay With me Till Dawn, it’s certainly stood the test of time, it still sounds beautiful.

Here’s the aforementioned performance from Top of the Pops, check it out, you’ll see what I mean!

Needless to say, Stay With me Till Dawn by Judie Tzuke is going to be the next track in My Imaginary Jukebox!

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Filed under Near Vinyl Heaven

500 Miles to Memphis, Noah Smith, The Black Pearls – March 21st – Southgate House Revival

I paid another visit to the Southgate House Revival last Saturday and had yet another great night. I only went because I’d heard a track by the headliners, 500 Miles to Memphis, on the Cincy Music Spotlight a couple of weeks ago.

500 Miles to Memphis, Noah Smith

 

After spending twenty minutes trying to find somewhere to park, during which I decided for some reason to revert back to my British driving habits and turned into a street on the wrong side of the road!, I wandered to the Southgate House Revival to find a party going on outside the venue, which was pretty cool!

The first group on were the Black Pearls from Columbus, Ohio, who simply rocked! They did an awesome cover of Queen’s Fat Bottomed Girls, which went down a storm.

Following the Black Pearls was Noah Smith. I’ve been going to gigs for over thirty years now and I haven’t seen such a powerful opening to a set in such a small venue as I did on Saturday night. One of the band members was using a chain and a box as an instrument, the percussionist was banging a chain on his, well I don’t know what he was banging it on, but it sounded great! There were obviously a few fans in the building and it seemed appropriate we were in the Southgate House Revival, as at times Noah Smith‘s set had the air of a preacher whipping his congregation into a storm!

I’m not of a religious persuasion, but he converted me, not to God, I can’t see that happening any day now, but to his music. Every song in the set was brilliant, the band were superb, particularly the multi-talented banjo player. It was a set I won’t forget in a long time and I look forward to seeing Noah Smith and his band in the near future.

I bought his self titled CD after the set and I was lucky enough to meet Noah Smith, who kindly signed the CD. I’ve played the CD a few times since and it’s a corker!

Noah Smith

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for 500 Miles to Memphis, I enjoyed their set, but they didn’t sound as clear as the earlier bands, which spoilt it somewhat for me. Not being familiar with their music and struggling to hear the lyrics clearly I didn’t get into their set as much. They did do a storming version of Bethen, Oh, which was the track I first heard on Cincy Music Spotlight and their Lap Steel Guitarist gave a great vocal performance on what I think was a Johnny Cash cover.

Again I bought their latest CD, Stand There and Bleed, and it’s a brilliant album. So I need to see 500 Miles to Memphis again and also check out their earlier stuff.

500 Miles to Memphis - Stand There and Bleed

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

CincyBeat has a review of Stand There and Bleed which tells you just how good this album is. There’s also an article on Noah Smith in CincyBeat that’s well worth a read.

Well I have to say I’m loving the music scene in Cincinnati, wherever I’ve been I’ve tried to support local music. Nights like this make it all worthwhile, a great night’s entertainment, two bands I want to see again and two great CDs to add to my collection! And I love the Southgate House Revival, what a great venue!

And to finish off, here’s Bethen, Oh, from 500 Miles to Memphis

 

 

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Filed under Gigs

TW3 – Week 8

And we’re into March already,time for another TW3 and we’re now onto TW3 – Week 8.  So what have I been up to on the music front.  Well the highlight of the week was seeing JJ Grey & Mofro at the Taft Theater in Cincinnati on Friday (27th February).

JJ Grey & Mofro flyer

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Up until a couple of weeks ago, when my wife Tara bought the tickets, I’d never heard of JJ Grey & Mofro. Apparently they’re quite big on this side of the Atlantic, but back in the UK they hadn’t registered on my radar.

It was also our first time at the Taft Theater, and I have to say it’s a great venue, with great acoustics and a great bar, selling local craft beers!

The support for the night were London Souls and although the Cincinnati crowd seemed to enjoy them, I’m afraid I couldn’t get into them at all.

As for JJ Grey & Mofro, I definitely got into them. For a band I’ve never seen or heard before, they kept me entertained from start to finish. The band were simply amazing, all of them being supremely gifted musicians. They’ve obviously got quite a loyal following, as the crowd were singing along to a lot of the numbers.Being my first time, I didn’t recognize the old songs,and as most of them weren’t introduced I can’t name them. JJ Grey did introduce the songs they played from his new album  Ol’ Glory,all of which were very good, my favorite being The Island, which they performed at the start of their encore.

I purchased ,Ol’ Glory on vinyl, from the merchandise song and was well impressed that it came with a download code for the album as well. As this is the first new vinyl album I’ve bought for quite a while, I don’t know if this is the norm, but fair play to the Mascot Label Group for doing this.

JJ Grey & Mofro - Ol' Glory

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As for the album Ol’ Glory, I love it! but not as much as Tara!

Ol’ Glory is currently in the top ten of the Americana charts and Americana features heavily on my other purchase last week. And I got it from Cracker Barrel of all places! We were there a few days ago and on the way out we noticed the featured artist CD they were promoting was Man of Constant Sorrow by Ralph Stanley & Friends. And what friends they are! I won’t name them all, just those I’ve seen live, Robert Plant, Buddy Miller & Jim Lauderdale and Old Crow Medicine Show. Seeing that guest list I had to buy it! And it’s superb, every track is brilliant.

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Talking of Old Crow Medicine Show, check out their latest video, Brushy Mountain Conjugal Trailer, featuring Dom Flemons

I came across that via a link on Dom Flemons‘ Facebook feed, which is a mine of great music and information. He recently had a link to an interview he did for the Oxford American magazine with a guy called Chris Strachwitz, founder of Arhoolie Records. It’s a fascinating piece, entitled It’s got a Hold of me, and it led me to taking out a subscription for the Oxford American and then buying a DVD,  This Ain’t No Mouse Music! The Story of Chris Strachwitz and Arhoolie Records.

Finally I picked up a couple of new followers on Twitter, firstly Arc and Stones, who sound pretty damned good, check this out:

And then there’s RadioRomance, again another cracking band, have a listen to this:

So that’s TW3 Week 8 done with!

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Filed under New Music, TW3