Allan Clarke – Resurgence

About 20 years after retiring from the music business, Hollies founding member and  lead singer Allan Clarke has returned with a new solo album called Resurgence. The 10-track collection, which features mostly new original songs, is available now as a digital download and via streaming services. Among the tunes is one called “Long Cool Woman’s Back in Town,” which the 77-year-old Rock & Roll Hall of Famer wrote as a sequel to the 1972 Hollies smash “Long Cool Woman in a Black Dress.” Resurgence began coming together in 2017. Clarke had started writing some poems that year, one of which was turned into a song by Los Angeles-based roots rocker Carla Olson that inspired Allan to record his own version of the tune. Motivated to write songs again, Clarke sought the help of his son Toby, who suggested he learn how to use the GarageBand program. Before long, Allan was amassing enough tunes to put a new album together. He enlisted a one-time collaborator, composer and engineer Frances Haines, as a produce and arranger on the project. Clarke admits that one reason he retired from music was that he felt he wasn’t able to sing Hollies songs anymore, but he explains that “what I should have said [when fan asked ‘Why don’t you go back to singing?’] was that there may be a time when I’ll be able to sing, because I’ll be doing songs that maybe I’ll write myself.” Allan has posted a series of videos in which he discusses making Resurgence on his official YouTube channel. Clarke says of the album, “It’s given me a new lease of life in doing something I thought I’d never do again.” Copyright © 2019, ABC Radio. All rights...

Lana Del Rey – Norman F**king Rockwell

With the creation of her Lana Del Rey persona, singer/songwriter Lizzy Grant stitched together the iconography of a fading American dream with soaring but melancholic pop songwriting, becoming an icon unto herself in the process. Her distinctive approach blurred sadness and longing just as it did past and present, drawing on the influence of classic American pop while integrating modernized touches like trap beats and millennial cultural references. With sixth album Norman Fucking Rockwell!, Lana Del Rey expands her vision with the most daring and vulnerable work of her catalog. One of the first noticeable shifts is how subtle the album’s sound is. Where 2017’s Lust for Life had its share of huge drums and booming dynamics, many songs here are free of drums completely and tend towards far more solitary atmospheres. A strong classic rock influence comes through on many songs, with the softly building pianos and acoustic guitars on tracks like “Mariners Apartment Complex” or the apocalyptic “The Greatest” sounding like the best of ’70s FM radio reworked around Grant‘s smoldering, exhausted vocals. Even though Stevie Nicks‘ witchy mystique has long been a reference point for LDR, this particular brand of classic rock — silky guitar solos, compressed drum fills, and lingering, mournful outros — is unlike anything she’s attempted before. The most exciting aspects of Norman Fucking Rockwell! come in these unexpected moments. A faithful reading of Sublime‘s “Doin’ Time” contorts to fit Grant‘s moody approach, becoming an extension of her own expression rather than a goofy, ironic cover. Where huge pop hooks met eerie melodrama on previous albums, here both extremities of that formula have grown more understated and direct. “Venice Bitch” is the best example of this. The nine-minute song begins with gentle strings and soft, hopeful melodies but winds into a long, meditative stretch where synth textures and hypnotic repeating vocals bleed into walls of noisy guitars. While much of her older material reveled in its own inconsolable...

The Long Ryders – Psychedelic Country Soul

Good music is often the product of unexpected alliances and strange bedfellows, so it makes a certain perverse sense that in 2019 Paisley Underground heroes and alt-country progenitors the Long Rydersreleased their first studio album in 32 years, and in a roundabout way we have gangsta rap icon Dr. Dreto thank for it. In the ’80s, Larry Chatman was part of the Long Ryders‘ road crew, and he’s since gone on to become Dr. Dre‘s personal assistant, helping to oversee Dre‘s Los Angeles recording studio, Record One. Chatman was able to stake his old friends in the Long Ryders to some studio time at Record One, and the result is the band’s comeback album, 2019’s Psychedelic Country Soul. While the Long Ryders had staged periodic reunion tours since they called it quits in 1987 (most recently in 2016, following the release of the box set Final Wild Songs), heading out to play material from the back catalog and recording a fresh batch of songs are two very different things, and given the circumstances that prompted its creation, one would be forgiven for expecting this project to sound a little stiff or tossed off. Thankfully, those expectations would be dead wrong. Psychedelic Country Soul is every bit as satisfying as 1984’s Native Sons and 1987’s Two-Fisted Tales, and it’s within throwing distance of their best album, 1985’s State of Our Union. This is a somewhat more subdued album than what the Ryders delivered in their salad days, with fewer fist-pumping anthems in the manner of “Looking for Lewis and Clark” and more contemplative, midtempo numbers (though their tribute to the love of music and the music of love, “The Sound,” comes close). But “What the Eagle Sees” and “Greenville” show that this band can still turn up the heat when they want, and even at its quietest, Psychedelic Country Soul sounds deeply committed and from the heart. They connect especially well on the country-flavored jangle pop of “Greenville,” the moody and lovelorn folk-rock of “Molly...

JIMMY WEBB – FINALLY IN FRONT OF HIS OWN HIT PARADE BY STEPHEN HOLDEN (NEW YORK TIMES)

IS it possible for a musician to emerge unscathed from the kind of early success enjoyed by the singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb? In the late 1960s, when he was barely 21, Mr. Webb was showered with Grammys for writing the Glen Campbell hits “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston” and the Fifth Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away.” Then there was “MacArthur Park,” the grandiose quasi-symphonic “cake out in the rain” popularized by the Irish actor Richard Harris and in 1978 remade into a disco fantasia by Donna Summer. These songs established Mr. Webb — the son of a strict Baptist minister from Elk City, Okla., who moved his family to Southern California in the mid-’60s — as a pop music wunderkind with a Midas touch. But because his intensely romantic ballads straddled two worlds — traditional pop and country-flavored Southern California rock — Mr. Webb found himself on the far side of a generation gap. At the same time, he admits sheepishly today, he avidly subscribed to his generation’s slogan of not trusting anyone over 30. To his profound frustration, audiences over 30 didn’t buy him as a singer-songwriter when he began releasing albums in the early ’70s. Not that that kept him from the customary excesses of the time. “I lost it pretty badly,” he said of those days, “but unlike some others, I never wanted to die — not really.” Sitting in his publicist’s Lower Manhattan office on a steamy afternoon recently, Mr. Webb, tall and rangy, now 63, still has a wild man’s gleam in his eye. He is a marvelous storyteller with the expansive style of a rural yarn spinner, who becomes more excited the more wound up he becomes. If he is an endless storehouse of real-life rock ’n’ roll adventure stories, set mostly in Hollywood and London in the late ’60s and...

Jimmy Webb – Finally in Front of His Own Hit Parade by Stephen Holden (New York Times)

IS it possible for a musician to emerge unscathed from the kind of early success enjoyed by the singer-songwriter Jimmy Webb? In the late 1960s, when he was barely 21, Mr. Webb was showered with Grammys for writing the Glen Campbell hits “By the Time I Get to Phoenix,” “Wichita Lineman,” “Galveston” and the Fifth Dimension’s “Up, Up and Away.” Then there was “MacArthur Park,” the grandiose quasi-symphonic “cake out in the rain” popularized by the Irish actor Richard Harris and in 1978 remade into a disco fantasia by Donna Summer. These songs established Mr. Webb — the son of a strict Baptist minister from Elk City, Okla., who moved his family to Southern California in the mid-’60s — as a pop music wunderkind with a Midas touch. But because his intensely romantic ballads straddled two worlds — traditional pop and country-flavored Southern California rock — Mr. Webb found himself on the far side of a generation gap. At the same time, he admits sheepishly today, he avidly subscribed to his generation’s slogan of not trusting anyone over 30. To his profound frustration, audiences over 30 didn’t buy him as a singer-songwriter when he began releasing albums in the early ’70s. Not that that kept him from the customary excesses of the time. “I lost it pretty badly,” he said of those days, “but unlike some others, I never wanted to die — not really.” Sitting in his publicist’s Lower Manhattan office on a steamy afternoon recently, Mr. Webb, tall and rangy, now 63, still has a wild man’s gleam in his eye. He is a marvelous storyteller with the expansive style of a rural yarn spinner, who becomes more excited the more wound up he becomes. If he is an endless storehouse of real-life rock ’n’ roll adventure stories, set mostly in Hollywood and London in the late ’60s and...

Gotan Project, Tango 3.0

As we step into 2010, music blares from the radio that quite comfortably merges rhythms from Serbia and Colombia, the voice of Oumou Sangaré and the melodic thump of Maori reggae. But when it comes the new “world music” ie. the merging of DJ culture with music from the worldwide underground – Gotan Project were the first to successfully bring the traditional and the folkloric into the electronic space. The million selling ‘La revancha del tango’ was followed by their second album the more jazz influenced ‘Lunático’ and Gotan Project toured the world with their new “world music”. I’d always been a fan of Astor Piazzolla who I’d seen performing at Montreux Jazz Festival aged 14. Ever since then I’d been seduced by the bandoneón as an instrument and was curious about hearing it outside of its traditional bubble. Gotan Project not only established a unique and highly influential sound but they’ve also preserved the class and elegance of this instrument. Here we are then, 10 years on with their remarkable third album ‘Tango 3.0’ which, without breaking such radical new ground as their debut, has refined all the founding elements of what makes the Gotan Project the wondrous thing that it is. Understated beats, reflective moods and atmospheres rooted in the dusty backstreets of Buenos Aires and Paris, laced with marvellous voices such as Cristina Vilallonga on ‘Peligro’ or Melingo blessing ‘Tu Misterio’. Although in Tango 3.0 Gotan Project remain faithful to their founding principles, they have also managed to push the musical barriers further by inviting an exciting host of guests and collaborators. Dr. John lends the smooth sound of the Hammond B3 to ‘Tango Square’. The work of Argentinian author Julio Cortázar is honoured through a reading from his groundbreaking novel Rayuela (Hopscotch) on the track of the same name. Even Víctor Hugo Morales, the legendary...

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