Monday, 29 April 2013

The Hollies at St David's Hall, Cardiff, Reviewed

Following yesterdays Retro Vinyl feature on The Hollies here's my review of a more up to date event, the bands recent appearance at St David's Hall, Cardiff on April,19 which formed the last date of their 2013 UK tour which co-incidentally is the bands 50th anniversary in show business.

From The Hollies chart heyday, guitarist Tony Hicks and drummer Bobby Elliott are still an integral part of the band while lead vocalist Peter Howarth provides a fine vocal on several hits reminiscent of  Allan Clarke.

"Whilst retaining the traditional Hollies vocal style that kept them in the charts during the 60s and 70s, the band has also developed a harder rock sound on some numbers, particularly evident on Hicks guitar work on Too Young to Be Married and Look through Any Window."

Check out my review of The Hollies at St David's Hall here.

Sunday, 28 April 2013

Retro Vinyl: The Hollies (Music For Pleasure, 1972)

EMI's budget label Music For Pleasure knocked out a phenomenal amount of albums in the early 1970s.

A particular trend was to release albums featuring popular bands from the 1960s either by compiling albums of rare material (Walkin With The Shadows) or simply just repackaging a deleted album.

The Hollies 1967 album Evolution was simply retitled The Hollies for this 1972 reissue (MFP5252). It featured tracks written by group members Allan Clarke, Graham Nash and Tony Hicks.

Despite a popular trend at the time of using modern photographs of artists to repackage the older material,  MFP did do The Hollies the courtesy of using an in-keeping photograph of the 1967 line-up of the band for the album cover, (Graham Nash having left The Hollies in 1968).

Evolution is often regarded as a bit of  a groundbreaking album for The Hollies featuring such classics as You Need Love and Have You Ever Loved Somebody (which was also a single for The Searchers).

Overseas versions of the album featured singles such as King Midas In Reverse and On a Carousel, but this was hardly the done thing at the time in the UK so they stayed off the album. 

Co-incidentally Evolution was released the same month (June,1967) and label (Parlophone) as The Beatles'  Sgt Pepper.

Visit The Hollies Official Website for latest news on the band.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

Retro Vinyl: The Best Of The Seekers (Columbia, 1968)

Here's a vinyl album I found in a Healthy Planet shop a couple of weeks ago.

I've long loved the music of the 60s Australian folk-pop group The Seekers. As a child their singles were regularly played in our home, The Carnival Is Over been a particular favourite.

There were also a couple of well loved albums too. I'm not sure what it was that drew me to The Seekers, Judith Durham's beautiful melodic voice, Athol Guy's firm but sturdy double bass that held the back bone of the songs together or Keith Potger and Bruce Woodley's intricate guitar sounds and steadfast harmonising.

The Seekers have always held a special place on my iPod particularly their 1964 Tom Springfield composed number one I'll Never Find Another You, a song which is as spiritual as it is folk ballad. On discovery of The Best Of The Seekers (Columbia, 1968), I couldn't resist giving this vinyl mono copy a good home and a spin at the earliest opportunity.

I love how The Seekers vocals and music sounds just as powerful in mono as in stereo. Many people forget these days that it was the mono versions that took artists into the charts during the 60s, so it was important to maximise a great sound onto a mono recording, especially as it would do battle with weaving airwaves on radio to get airplay on radio.

This album is a fine representation of The Seekers chart success including the Number Ones I'll Never Find Another You and The Carnival Is Over as well as the film theme to Georgy Girl, the popular theme to Junior Choice Morningtown Ride and classic hits Someday One Day (written by Paul Simon) and When Will The Good Apples Fall. There's also the mono version of Walk With Me which differs considerably to the stereo take in tempo.

The album cover itself features The Seekers in dapper style which looks like an image taken from their Morningtown Ride promo film.

Although comprehensive collections of The Seekers material has been released I think it would be great if these albums were reissued on CD in both mono and stereo formats with original album artwork.

The Seekers are currently embarking on their 50th anniversary tour, with dates planned for the UK in the autumn. For latest news on The Seekers visit their official website.

Tuesday, 16 April 2013

Chas and Dave Interviewed and Reviewed

On Saturday evening, I caught Rockney legends Chas and Dave on their current tour as they visited Newport Riverfront.

Its the 40th anniversary of the duo's formation and  was two hours of fabulous tunes making up the Chas and Dave story from their 1970s pub rock beginnings to chart stardom with There Ain't No Pleasing You and of course Rabbit.

You can read my review of Chas and Dave at Newport Riverfront here.

I also recently interviewed Chas Hodges, you can read my interview with him here: Chas and Dave Look Forward To New Tour - Chas Hodges Interview

And if thats not enough Chas and Dave - visit their official website!

Monday, 15 April 2013

Retro Vinyl: Tracey Ullman - You Broke My Heart In 17 Places (1983)

Although by no means the first album I owned, Tracey Ullman's You Broke My Heart in 17 Places  was the first chart album I remember going to Woolworth's to buy back in 1983 (for £4.49).

Tracey of course was a big deal on British TV at the time, a regular fixture particularly as a comedienne on BBC TV's Three of A Kind alongside Lenny Henry and David Copperfield (no, not the magician).

Her music career kicked off in 1983 when she was signed to Madness' record label Stiff Records and for a while she had a succession of popular hits with such luminaries as Paul McCartney, Hank Marvin and then Labour leader Neil Kinnock making guest appearances in her videos.

Among Tracey's hits on this album (which featured several written and performing contributions from Kirsty MacColl) were Breakaway, They Don't Know and Move Over Darling (or as some of my schoolmates referred to it at the time Move Over Wotsit).

The album carried a real 60s vibe to it and featured several notable tracks including Life Is A Rock (But The radio Rolled Me), Shattered, a cover of Dusty's I Close My Eyes and Count To Ten and Susan Maughan's Bobby's Girl.

Tracey's pop career was pretty much over by 1985, having fled to America to pursue the next phase of her TV and film career.

My passion for Tracey was quickly forgotten too, having discovered both Bananarama and Madonna, the once well-played LP was forgotten about only to be swapped in 1988 for a copy of The Darling Buds' Pop Said.

However, I sort of regretted swapping the LP about 6 months after I'd done it and it was a trip to a Car Boot sale in York in the early 90s I found another copy of the album for 50p so I bought it again!

This copy has remained with me, I particularly love the retro cover of Tracey in many different character modes.

Sunday, 7 April 2013

Max Boyce recalls recording Live At Treorchy

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Welsh entertainer Max Boyce who is now commencing his 2013 tour.

Max rose to prominence in the 1970s with his albums Live At Treorchy and We All Had Doctors' Papers before landing several successful TV series with the BBC.

I recently interviewed Max who was happy to recall those days as well as talk about his new tour. Of particular interest was his recollection of recording Live at Treorchy:

“Of course no-one had heard of me,” recalled Max.“No-one would buy the tickets and they were only 50p. They gave them to the choir and the rugby club, saying, ‘There’s this lad from across the Valleys coming to record an album, will you come?’ They came and that was the audience.”

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Retro Vinyl: Hit Kaleidoscope by Various Artists (Note Records, 1975)

Heres an LP I found in a charity shop in Yate around 10 years ago.

Released on EMI's Note Records label, Hit Kaleidoscope has to be one of the most bizarre finds I've ever come across because I find it hard to categorise it.

As well as featuring tunes by notable crooners Matt Monro, Roger Whittaker, Ken Dodd, Malcolm Roberts and Vince Hill it also features several novelty tracks from the likes of Benny Hill, The Wurzels, Clive Dunn and Windsor Davies with Don Estelle.

I imagine when this was unleashed to the record buying public in 1975, Hit Kaleidoscope probably had more appeal to the older generation than the young ones.

Although how Bimbo Jet's 74 ' disco smash El Bimbo sits alongside music by Manuel and His Music Of The Mountains, The Simon Park Orchestra, Shirley Bassey, the Fivepenny Piece  and The Seekers is a mystery to me.

However, looking at the charts of 1976 and particularly any edition of Top Of The Pops from that era its probably not too hard to work out, eclecticism was the order of the day.

Anyone dismissing this album as rubbish should tread carefully, it could have been a lot worse at least we were spared JJ Barrie's No Charge and anything by the Bay City Rollers!

Besides I think there's a nice family entertainment value to it, probably the vinyl equivalent to 1970s light entertainment.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Around Newport In Pictures

Missspelt sign by indoor market
Empty Shop, Formerly Iceland, Detail
Empty Shop, formerly Iceland, detail
Car park staircase at night
A selection of random things that caught my eye around Newport from missspelt signs via empty shops and car-park staircases...

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