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Saturday 27 August 2011

ReviewShine Round-Up

It's time for our monthly round-up of some of the goodies I've received courtesy of ReviewShine. The standard has been particularly high over the last weeks, and I should apologise to all those who I haven't got space to feature today. As well as the four acts below, I would recommend checking out the likes of Bare Bones, Grainne and Jessi Robertson.

The four we are featuring could be described as a bunch of blokes doing proper rootsy songs - you know, the old-fashioned virtues like good words and good tunes, not all that bang bang bang and knob-twiddling stuff. Two of them are familar names, two of them new (or at least they were new to me). We'll start with the new boys.

First up is Stephen Simmons, whose album "The Big Show" is out now on Lower 40 in the US and Blue Rose here in the UK and in Europe. There are twenty songs on the album with a much higher hit rate than you would think spread over so many tracks - there is a consistently high quality throughout. This is probably just about my favourite.

"Parchcorn Falls" - Stephen Simmons

I know we have some readers in Knoxville. According to his website Stephen is playing over your way in a couple of weeks, so you might want to pop down and see him. I was in Knoxville once about twelve years ago and had the great pleasure of seeing Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown play. What a show that was.

Enough of that rambling, back to business. Next we have Donal Hinely with his new album "The Famous Rocket Cage", out now on ATOM Records. As I said, what you get is proper songs of a very high order, with a level of insight that might be explained by the life he has led. I would like to dedicate this one to my friend Jeni, who occasionally calls herself Pauline for some perverse reason that only she knows. 

"Saint Pauline" - Donal Hinely

On to the artists I was familiar with with now. Slaid Cleaves had his big breakthrough in 2000 with "Broke Down". That album featured a tribute to Auston's Horseshoe Lounge, and he has gone back to the Horseshoe Lounge to record his first live album (or double album to be precise). Called "Sorrow and Smoke", it comes out on 6 September on Music Road. To be honest, for some reason I have never really got into his studio albums, but this is excellent from start to finish. It is mostly original material, but there are a few choice covers as well, including this Karen Poston tune.

"Lydia" - Slaid Cleaves

We finish off with Australian legend Paul Kelly. I have in my collection "Songs From The South", a greatest hits compilation released in 1997. Volume 2 came out in 2008. The two have now been brought together as a 40 track double album and are being released on 25 October. I believe this is the first time the two albums have been available in the US, and apparently the list price for you lot over there is going to be $13.98, and only $9.99 for the digital version. That has to be one of the bargains of the year, and you would be mad not to snap it up. And for readers in London, you might want to try to get to one of the gigs he is playing at Bush Hall next week.

Today's selection was originally released on "Ways And Means" in 2004.

"The Oldest Story In The Book" - Paul Kelly

 As for the clip, there was a clue in my earlier rambling (or, as I prefer to call it, my seamless linking). Here is the mighty Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown, accompanied by a hot band featuring a fat saxophonist with a most unfortunate mullet.

And if you think he is good on the guitar, wait until you hear him on the fiddle. If there had ben a roof when I saw him in Knoxville, he would have taken it off when he did this little number. And his rendition of "Never on a Sunday", on which he gradually increased the tempo each time round until we were collapsing with exhaustion, had to be heard to be believed.

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