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Tuesday 27 December 2011

Ring Out The Old, Ring In The Old

It is time for the monthly round-up of goodies folks have kindly sent to me via ReviewShine, and this month we will mostly be featuring reissues.

There is a new label, Real Gone Music, which - according to the PR blurb - "aims to establish itself as the most eclectic and prolific catalog and reissue label in the country". Whether they can achieve that remains to be seen, but if they can keep up the standard of their first two releases they will be welcome round my place any time.

Coming out on 24 January is "Seductive Reasoning", the 1975 debut album by Maggie & Terre Roche. First released four years before their self-titled debut as The Roches, after having been joined by sister Suzzy, it lacks the quirky production of that album (and one-third of the harmonies) but is very good in its own right. The songs of identifiably Rochean - to invent a word - and the singing is, of course, sublime. Any fans of their later work should consider this to be a must have.

On the same day, Real Gone will also be issuing a compilation called "Complete Epic Hits" by Jody Miller which, as the title subtly suggests, features her 1970s recording on Epic Records. That inevitably means lots of Billy Sherrill productions, so if you don't like his brand of country pop this isn't for you. Fortunately I do. Judging by the selection on this album, Mr Sherrill was trying the same approach as he pursued with Barbara Mandrell during the same period, with plenty of pop and soul cover versions in amongst the originals. Some of it is a bit twee, but when Jody gets the chance to show her chops she demonstrates a real talent.

"Down The Dream" - Maggie & Terre Roche

"Kiss Away" - Jody Miller

I don't know whether there is some special significance about 24 January - is it perhaps National Reissue Day? - but our third selection is coming out then as well. This is a remastered version of Dolly Varden's 1995 debut album, "Mouthful Of Lies". As cognoscenti like you lot will already know, Dolly Varden are a "they" not a "she" - husband and wife Steve Dawson and Diane Christiansen plus pals - and must be one of the few bands named after a species of trout. 

While I have heard and liked a few of their tracks before I have never heard this album, and I have been missing out. I am not sure quite how to describe their sound - something like "fuzzy Americana", perhaps - and one track won't give you a taste of the whole album as the songs have quite a different feel depending on whether Diane or Steve take the lead, or whether they duet. A very loose comparison for the three styles would be Mazzy Star (Diane), Glossary (Steve), Buddy & Julie Miller (the duets).  

"Gone So Far" - Dolly Varden

We finish today, and this year, with the sole new album on the list - "Homefront" by The Great Unknowns. Inspired by the break-up of singer and main songwriter Becky Warren's marriage to an Iraq War veteran who returned home with post-traumatic stress disorder (dealt with most explicitly in "Long Way Home"), this is roots-rock of the highest order. There is nothing particularly original in what they do, but they do it very well indeed. There are some excellent songs, and Becky's voice has similar qualities to Lucinda Williams, which can't be a bad thing. The album comes out on 10 January and, like all the others featured this month, is well worth checking out.

"Birmingham" - The Great Unknowns

I am off to Italy tomorrow for a week's break, so I'll take this opportunity to wish everyone all the best for 2012. I'll leave you with some Italian music: this thoughtful insight into the complex subject of male/female relations from the woman they used to call "the female Umberto Eco".

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