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Friday, September 30, 2005

Talking my way out of Corrners

There will be reviews a plenty in the coming weeks about The Corrs' new album, so I'll leave the track by track analysis aspect to the experts. I will single out just one track a bit later on just because I've simply fallen in love with it.

One thing I want to point out is the album's potential effect that it just might have on the powers that be at these UKTop40FM radio stations.

The Corrs, love them or loathe them, are one of the superpowers of the music world. It's their name that can sell their music nowadays.

For me, there has been 3 recent album releases which have had me waiting outside the shop on the day of release, namely U2, Coldplay and The Corrs. I knew well beforehand roughly what to expect from U2 & Coldplay. But all I knew about The Corrs album that it was going to be a bit "trad arr". I loaded the CD into the player as I got into the car and I was almost in tears after Heart Like A Wheel, the next track was one of two Gaelic songs. At this point I was thinking - go on, let's see half a dozen singles come off this album.

And what's more, let's see it open the floodgates for the release of some really brilliant music which is coming out of (or should I say being kept in) Ireland at the moment.

I've only scratched the surface in my Shed - and my message to the Top40FM stations, the distributors, music stores, agents etc is - just go out an have a look that little bit further than Robbie, Britney, Eminem and the Sugababes.

Now for the song that I just fell in love with :- It's track 11, Brid Og Ni Mhaille. I can count on one hand the Gaelic words that I know other than Caed Mille Failte (bet I spelt that one wrong) And I really want to know a few more, just so that I can sing along to this one in the confines of my car.
The vocals are beautiful and the BBC Concert Orchestra melts into the song and gives it warmth and depth. But the real tingler is when Sharon plays the violin, the instrument of the heart. It only lasts for a couple of bars but it's enough to take me from pure enjoyment to that state which dictionaries can't find words for.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

There's A Chicken Shack In My Shed

The Studio
Southport Arts Centre
24th Sep 2005

I picked up a copy of the Autumn Brochure off the ticket counter and therein I found a little black & white photo of Stan with these few words alongside - "Stan Webb's 40 years in the business are testament to a great talent and an unrivalled commitment to his dedicated fans." with the words "Classic British Blues-Rock at it's very best" written beneath.

If the first quote needed backing up, there weren't any empty seats and a quick check on the audience revealed a considerable amount of wrinkles, silver and baldness where long hair and acne would have been 40 years ago. The intent of that statement was meant to say that Stan's commitment is reciprocated by his followers.

The 2nd programme quote can be simply backed up with the band's line-up.
There's a genius on the Drums - all the way from Shropshire International Airport - Mick Jones. On 5(five!)-string Bass, Jim Rudge. On Fender Strat, Gary Davies and on vocals and playing Gibson Les Paul, Stan. The instrument line up is one thing , add experience, quality and time spent together then you've got the best.

The show opened with Mick, Jim and Gary playing a very extended rolling intro to 'So Tell Me'. Eventually, Stan arrived, guitar over the shoulder and he took up position behind his mike stand. He then stooped to pick up the power lead, threading it through a couple of belt loops on his jeans before plugging it in his guitar. "Tell Me",he wails and then strikes guitar, "What in the world have I done ?" .
The needles on the volume dials passed through that arc from "10 through to 2 o'clock" and must have carried on full circle a couple of times before coming to rest at about 5-ish. The speaker diaphragms were in shreds, and our rib cages were rattling, but we didn't care !

Stan's guitar playing alone deserves to be mentioned alongside the Claptons, Knopflers and Hendrixs of this world. He also has a dry sense of humour and his voice is tremendous. Loud singing and the occasional ciggy should have wrecked his vocal chords years ago. But he can hold a note longer than most people half his age can hold their breath.

We didn't wait long to sample his wit. Stan was about to introduce the next song we suddenly became aware how close we were to the roof of this building as the wooshes and bangs from the Southport Fireworks Festival could be clearly heard above. In a perfect Tony Hancock voice Stan muttered, "Stone me, what a life !" Another bang was heard. "Oh, it's only a pigeon" exclaimed a member of the audience.

Time for some more music. "This song is especially for my 4's called The Thrill Has Gone". A little banter ensued before Stan's guitar cried it's way through a wonderful melancholy laden intro. Mick Jones feathering the cymbals in accompaniment for a couple of minutes until the "1.....2" , the crash of drums and Stan's opening vocals.

I could laud the instrument work and vocal exploits ad inifinitum for each song on the setlist and fall well short of bringing you the full flavour. So before I give you the list I shall pick out a couple of highlights.

My favourite Chicken Shack track, CS Opera, lasted for around 20 minutes. And whilst remaining in my state of rapture over Stan and Gary's guitar repertoire, (They were so amped up that the plucked strings sounded like they were made from girders.), my attention was drawn to Mick Jones on drums. His stamina was amazing. I was worn out just watching him belt out such an intense rhythmn for so long.
Almost forgot - half-way through this melody Stan unplugged his guitar and cleared off for a couple minutes. He returned with a pint (didn't get me one) and then casually plugged himself back in and carried on from where he left off.

Textually, the setlist looks small. But from an 8:30 start, it was around 10:00 when we heard the intro to I'd Rather Go Blind. On this particular occasion Stan decided to have a little meander through the collection of cabaret tables which were placed in 4 rows between us and the stage.
So after the first verse, off came the guitar, and Stan was on the move. He unravelled the mike lead and off he went. He shook the hands of the boys and ran his fingers through the hair of the girls until, suddenly he had come to the end of his mike lead.

He put the mike down and he homed in, unexpectedly, on the oldest couple in the house. Two strides later he was right next to the poor chap's dear lady and put his arm around her chair....only to find that she had nodded off.

Upon return to the stage Stan was so taken aback that he had to take a quick breather before continuing. Surely no-one could have slept through this.

Needless to say the encore, Daughter of the Hillside, was played so loud that it could have awoken the dead.

For more news, views and reviews, go to Stan's Webbsite

Stan's Setlist

1)So Tell Me
2)The Thrill Has Gone
3)Reconsider Baby
4)(You are) The Sweetest Little Thing (featuring a tribute to Johnny Cash)
5)I Know, You Know
6) CS Opera ..... (guess what CS stands for)
7) (Oh Please) Doctor Brown
8) I'd Rather Go Blind

Encore (first time I've witnessed hem do one of these)
9) Daughter of the Hillside

Tuesday, September 20, 2005

Two Cs and a Dee - That's a first !

Go to Chester's Dee106.3 homepage Celine Carroll (Two Cs) got played for the first time on UK radio on Sunday 18th September, just after 8:30pm, on Chester's Dee 106.3
The song was 'Apologise', which was written ,sung and produced by Celine. She also played piano. This song also features the excellent Maire Breatnach (Moya Brannock) on violin - and to use a quote by the guy who played it (Gavin Matthews) - It is "Complete and utter quality".
There are a couple of ways to get 'Apologise' heard again. 1) Buy the album from whence it came - 'Itch' , or 2) Ask Gavin to play it again.
Both methods require emails
1) Email and ask about buying 'Itch'
2) Email and Listen Live on Dee106.3 , Sunday Evenings from 7pm

Monday, September 12, 2005

Accompanied by the sound of cork upon willow

And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England’s mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England’s pleasant pastures seen?
And did the countenance divine
Shine forth upon our clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here
Among these dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold!
Bring me my arrows of desire!
Bring me my spear!
O clouds, unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand,
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England’s green and pleasant land.
September 12th 2005.
England regain The Ashes

Sunday, September 11, 2005

Chester's Request Fest ?......Impressed !

Listen Live With effect from 11th September at 7pm Sunday Night Sanity returned to the airwaves of North West England & North East Wales. Not only was a Request show returned but also the presenter who made such a show an institution in these parts, namely, Gavin Matthews. But thanks to Dee106.3's Listen Live facility you don't need to be local to take part. So if you're fed up to the back teeth with Top40FM or LimitedChoiceGoldAM, then put the world to rights on this show. Unlike some request shows, musical output is totally controlled by listener. The opening week's show featured Manfred Mann, Limahl & Daniel Powter,so that blows "80s, 90s & Now" out of the water. And when Gavin has mastered how to activate the CD player, then be prepared for an even greater choice of brilliant music.

Tune in to Dee 106.3 for radio as it should be !

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