Wednesday, 25 January 2012

Forgotten Guitar Solos No. 47 - Andrew Gold "Lonely Boy"

2 minutes into the song and guitarist Waddy Wachtel gives us a delicious solo that honestly sounds like it could go on forever. Unfortunately it only lasts about a half minute, but those 30 seconds raise the hairs on the back of your neck.

Gold sadly died in his sleep in June 2011 just months shy of his 60th birthday.

Forgotten Guitar Solos No. 104 - Underground Zero - "Canes Venatici"

Bit of a cheat this one because it isn't a single, and because you've probably never even heard of them. Underground Zero are an "alternative" rock band from Norwich, very much in the mould of Hawkwind. This is their most famous track, a nice cheerful ditty about the Earth's ozone layer disappearing.

However, if you skip forward to about 3:30 you're ten seconds away from one of the best Space Rock guitar solos I've heard in years. Guitarist Karl Dawson is the man, and 30 years later he's still with the band.

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Dave's 500 Bus Albums No 28 - Chicken Shack - "Unlucky Boy" (1973)

I don't know why this album is called "Unlucky Boy", any more than the previous one was called "Imagination Lady". They do sound a bit like names of race-horses though, so maybe that's the reason.

OK, so I've moved from Chicken Shack's 5th to their 6th album now, and is it any better or any worse? WEll, it's slightly different, and this may be down to a change in personnel. Although Stan Webb still handles guitar and vocals, bass-player John Glascock has gone, and since the previous band was a three-piece, that leaves only Paul Hancox on drums. Chicken Shack is now a five-piece with the afforementioned Bob Daisley on bass, Tony Ashton on piano, and Chris Mercer on saxophone.

This has expanded Chicken Shack's sound somewhat, at the risk of losing some of the tightness of the previous power trio of Webb, Glascock and Hancox. But the band is still very much Webb's vehicle, and the music still dominated by his alternately soloing and riffing guitar. This was their last studio album for some years, as Chicken Shack finally disbanded after a live album in 1974, when Stan Webb left to join up with his old mates in Savoy Brown.

Is it any good? Yeah, I think so. In one sense it's very much of it's time, being almost indistinguishable from the British Heavy Rock bands that were themselves laying the foundations for the Heavy Metal of the late 70s. But in another sense it's also timeless, because it's the Blues, and the Blues always dates very well. A good solid album.

Monday, 23 January 2012

Dave's 500 Bus Albums No 27 - Chicken Shack - "Imagination Lady" (1972)

Some blues on the bus this morning. We're not talking Blind Lemon Jefferson or B.B. King here. This is British Blues (think Yardbirds, Led Zeppelin, Cream, Peter Green's Fleetwood Mac) which means it's heavily riff-laden, and nobody is talking about how they've been down since their lady left them. In many ways British Blues was the forerunner of what later became "Heavy Rock" (Deep Purple et al) and you can certainly hear it in this album. Dominated by Stan Webb's solid guitar-work, every track is absolutely dripping with solos. If you like your blues powerful and rockin', or if you like your rock loud and bluesy, you'll like this album. I suspect I will be playing it on the way home as well today.

This is actually Chicken Shack's 5th album (they formed in 1968), and is probably not representative of the rest of their discography, so I'll be wary of listening to any of their other albums. In a Spinal Tap-esque way they've been through several lineup changes over the years and a list of past & future members reads like a roll-call of the British blues and rock elite. Both Bob Daisley (bass player with Ozzy Osbourne) and Tony Ashton (keyboardist with Paice, Ashton, Lord) have played with Chicken Shack, as did drummers Keef Hartley and Alan Powell (later of Hawkwind) In fact prior to this very album the bass player, keyboardist and drummer all left to join another Blues outfit, Savoy Brown (the keyboardist in question being Paul Raymond, later of UFO).

Friday, 20 January 2012

Dave's 500 Bus Albums No 26 - Commander Cody & His Lost Planet Airmen "Lost in the Ozone" (1971)

Well after the pleasant surprise of their live album, I thought I'd give Commander Cody & his crew another chance. This is their debut album from 1971 and...yes it's just as good as the '76 live one. Which goes to show what a consistent band they were. I now feel confident that if I pick up any Commander Cody album from the 70s I'm probably going to like it.

This isn't whiny and slow Country & Western, this is fast and furious good-time Texas boogie-woogie Rock 'n Roll, done perfectly. If you dropped into a Texas Truck Stop bar you'd probably hear this music coming from the juke box or (if you were real lucky) being played live on stage.

While the Psychedelic party of the '60s was metamorphosing into the pompous Heavy Rock of the '70s, Commander Cody and his band were carving out their own little niche in the genre. In fact I'd go so far as to say they probably invented the genre.

A far better album than you expect it to be, and if you've never heard this style of music before, a refreshing change from what you're used to.

Wednesday, 11 January 2012

Dave's 500 Bus Albums No 25 - Iommi & Hughes "Fused" (2005)

In my opinion this has far more right to be called a Black Sabbath album than "Seventh Star". 19 years has made a helluva lot of difference. Rock and metal has moved on, and Tony Iommi and Glenn Hughes have just got better. I thought "The DEP Sessions" was good, but this is simply awesome.

Don't be fooled by the opening track "Dopamine". It's a perfectly serviceable Metal song, tight and radio-friendly, but it doesn't prepare you for the onslaught to follow. Every subsequent track on this album shows just what a band can do when everything goes right - the production is crystal clear, Hughes' vocals are 100%, complementing Iommi's razor-sharp guitar, and the energy emanating from this album is astounding.

Best Song? Last track - "I Go Insane". This 9 minute magnum opus encapsulates everything you need to know about British Heavy Metal for the last 40 years.

And when you've finished the album, go back and play it again!

Thursday, 5 January 2012

Forgotten Guitar Solos No. 114 - Al Stewart "Year of the Cat" (album version)

The title track from Al Stewart's 1976 album of the same name. The song is simply dripping with instrumental breaks, including piano, strings, and sax. The solo starts at 3:21...acoustic, then kicks into electric at 3:54.

You can play this track again and again and it never gets boring.​watch?v=cqZc7ZQURMs

Incidentally did you know according to the Chinese horoscope 2011 was the Year of the Rabbit? Also known as the Year of the Cat...