Paul Wellar – Stanley Road (1995)

July 5, 2008 at 11:36 pm | Posted in Album Review, Albums Rated 8/10 | Leave a comment
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RATING: 8/10

With Stanley Road Paul Weller has managed to prove to his fans and his critics that he is still an important musician even in his solo days. He hasn’t just written 12 good songs, instead, he’s written one great album. A factor in any great album is the overall feel that perpetuates each song, making them all feel as though they deserve their place and complimenting the songs that come before and after them.

A mostly guitar driven album, Weller fuses good solos and riffs with his usual effective lyrics, often ending a song with a long instrumental that gently ushers in the next song, which gladly and competently carries the album along. However, there is the occasional song that primarily uses the piano evoking another great feel. Though these songs are quite different from the guitar based ones, they seem to come at just the right points in the album so that, not only are they a nice change of direction, but also they effortlessly fit in.  To truly appreciate this fine album start at the beginning and just let it play on to the end. It far outweighs the sum of its parts, and as these parts are so good, you’re in for a great journey.

The Changing Man This was a hit in the UK and is a good indication into how this album will sound.  There are some great little examples of guitar work going on here, more will follow throughout the rest of the tracks. Listen to The Changing Man

Porcelain Gods- This songs brings the mellow vibe with its gentle electric guitar opening.  The highlights are the lyrics; ‘How disappointed I was to turn out after all, just a porcelain god, that shatters when it falls’.

Walk On Guilded Splinters- Another slow bluesy track that follows on nicely from the previous.  Again, the lyrics shine above all in this song.  Wellar really does have a way of writing some interesting lyrics and his delivery of them are always great.  The track ends with a slow jam that trickles to the end.  Not a great tune, more of a little jam session that made it onto the album.

You Do Something To Me-From the beautiful piano intro we immediately know that we are going to hear something different in this song than wat was heard in the previous tracks.  Simple and effective lyrics and likewise in the piano and guitars make this song so beautiful.  A major standout on the album, absolutely heaven. Listen to You Do Something To Me

Woodcutter’s Son-Back with a rocking guitar intro, a piano quickly joins in and we’re back with a more upbeat tempo.  This tune is quite catchy, and Wellars gruff voice shines throughout.  Again, another track that ends with a long jam.

Time Passes-A lovely intro, great lyrics and a lovely mellow feel to it.  I always forget about this track whenever I think about this album, but when it comes on I just fall in love with it all over again.

Stanley Road-The intro will have you tappin your feat to the piano and drum, another catchy little number.  Despite the fact that this is the title song, it isn’t anything too special.  There is nothing wrong with it but there isn’t that certain somethin that makes it stand out.

Broken Stones-Broken Stones is another simple yet beautiful track.  Wellar can write great songs with great guitar parts that rock and groove but songs like this prove he can strip it all down and write a track that has the beauty and passion that other artists can.

Out Of The Sinking-A very bluesy song and once again some good lyrics.  This song really suits Wellar’s style of singing, I find he has a really underrated voice.

Pink On White Walls-I really like this song, though it is by no means one of the best on this album.  It surely is underrated, it is borderline mediocre but i think it just manages to get on the right sode of the line.

Whirlpools’ End-Overral I dont rate this song, but there are some good parts to it.  I find it really gets good about 2 minutes in.  I do love the jam that appears at the end for at least 4 minutes.  Would be nice to play along in the studio.

Wings Of Speed-The final song is a strange one to end with, it has a gospek feel and almost sounds like nothing else on the album, save for the piano that was present in some of the songs.  I really love this song, again simplistic and beautiful, Paul’s voice holds it’s own and the background singing is just fabulous.  This song is too short, it needs to have a few more minutes of it.  I just love it. Listen to Wings Of Speed


Kula Shaker – K (1996)

July 3, 2008 at 8:15 pm | Posted in Album Review, Albums Rated 8/10 | Leave a comment
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RATING: 8/10

If a group of people were to start reeling off names of British bands that had hits in the mid-nineties, it would probably be a while before Kula Shaker got a mention, if at all.  However, the four piece band fronted by Crispian Mills (son of actress Hayley Mills) released K in 1996 and it became the fastest selling debut album in Britain since Oasis.  Despite it’s acheivement a decade later it has become a hidden gem of the ‘Brit-pop’ movement.

A mixture of rock and Indian influences bring about a very interesting album and one that should be more well known and appreciated than it sadly is today.  Clear influences are felt throughout, especially from The Beatles’ later work and The Greatful Dead.  Mills’ vocals are nothing amazing but they are good throughout and have their really good moments.  The band are also well adept, especially using some great guitar riffs and melodies, at times sounding almost like a Jimmi Hendrix tribute act but in a good way.  This is a very enjoyable album, and whilst not the first time to mix popular music with an Eastern flavour, it certainly does it in a way that really works.

Hey Dude– A fine intro, the drums and guitar kick off and show how the ‘rockin’ side of this album will feel.  A very catchy song with interesting lyrics, great guitar work and one of the rare songs where I like the verses more than the chorus. Listen to Hey Dude
Knight On The Town- Guitars once again lead this song, the main riff opens the tune and slight Indian tones are felt for the first time in this album as well as a prog-rock feel as the track goes on.
Temple Of Everlasting Light-A more trippy and Indian song next.  I don’t like the first half of this but once it builds up and the extra voices kick in then I am fully there even when it mellows back and resumes its semi-trippy vibe.
Govinda-This is where we get into full traditional Indian music mode.  A surprise hit back in the day, it is the only top ten hit in Britain to be sung entirely in Sanskrit.  however, it is very catchy and it certainly rocks out in the second half.  This song shows how two styles of music can mix and still be brilliant, the guitars go so well with the beat and the tamboura etc and the public embraced it, even if they didnt know what they were singing. Listen to Govinda
Smart Dogs-We’re back with rock, though the vocal melody retains the Indian vibe.  Yet another great guitar riff as it whails its way through the track, lyrically it is weak but this song is more about fun than meaningful messages.
Magic Theatre-A more mellow track follows.  Some people will like this, but i don’t really care for it much.  I feel it is not only in the wrong place, but it spoils the mood that has been set up by the previous tracks.
Into The Deep-Probably my favourite track on the album.  I love the piano intro, love the middle eight, love everything about the track. Listen to Into The Deep

Sleeping Jiva-This is a purely instrumental tune, purely made up of traditional Indian instruments.  It’s kind of ok but not really my thing, its more of a lead up to the next song but feels slightly too long for it’s purpose.
Tattva-Another hit here in the UK, this time with English lyrics in the verses.  Slightly less catchy than Govinda, but still a really good song.
Grateful When You’re Dead/Jerry Was There-A clear reference to one of this album’s greatest influences.  Another great guitar riff leads the song in, good lyrics, a strong vocal perfomance and a catchy ‘Ba ba baaaaa, ba ba baaaa’ in the chorus.  This is another fun song.  Unfortunately, the second half, a tribute to Jerry Garcia fro the Greatful Dead, is the opposite.  It is another slow, trippy track that just plods it way to the end.  Nothing exciting here, which is a shame as the first part of this combo is great.
303-Here we have some very cheesy and cliche lyrics and yet the song is catchy, fun and full of energy and life.  This song is nothing amazing, but when it comes on it’s hardly one to skip.  Enjoy it for what it is, don’t spend time thinking about the words, especially if you do not like them.  Great guitar work throughout though and a very good peformance on the vocals.
Start All Over-I really like this track, it must be a bit understated as I always forget about it until it plays.  Good lyrics, good performance by the band.  There’s something missing that prevents it being a great song, but not all dongs need to be great.  The song is perfectly placed in the running lost, fits fantastically with the feel and mood that the album bathes itself in.

Hollow Man-We close with a slow intro, piano based.  This is a lovely gentle two and a half minutes which leads into the songs acoustic guitar and vocals.  After a simple song the electric guitars make their final appearance on the album, bringing it to a rocking end, not as catchy as the better songs but still pretty good.  There is a thirteen minute silence followed by a brief recording of a holy man speaking about his guru…..not worth the wait.

U2-The Joshua Tree (1987)

June 25, 2008 at 4:23 pm | Posted in Album Review, Albums Rated 8/10 | Leave a comment
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What can you say about U2? Quite alot apparently. There are those that love them and those that loathe them. Whatever you say about them, there is no denying that The Joshua Tree is something special. No doubt this is the album that put them firmly on the map despite being around for about ten years and releasing considerable efforts such as War and The Unforgettable Fire. Most people knew them but when Joshua Tree was released tens of thousands actually owned a piece of their work.

Over twenty years old the album still holds its own and actually starts off sounding like a greatest hits album. Such classic singles such as With or Without You, Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For and Where The Streets Have No Name are just so good and well known that its easy to forget that they all come from one album. I believe that this is the point that Bono found his true voice. In earlier releases he sounded like every other new band to come out during the early 80’s, but here his vocals are spot on and the start of the Bono that we have all come to recognise and, most of us, love. This in itself breathes freshness into the bands sound but add that to superior song writing and The Edge’s new guitar sound and we have a giant leap forward from the Irish lads.

There is a nice mix of songs here but they all help with the overall feel of the album. It’s easy to emagine being in the desert that is pictured on the cover as the sound perpetuating every track give off that feel of the desert. Every song seems to fit perfectly after the previous one taking us alone through this journey of the desert. All great albums should have this sense of wholeness within it, rather than being just a collection of songs, even if they are great ones. To me this is what Joshua Tree does. Put any other U2 song in and it wouldnt fit, take one of these ones out and the album would collapse. Each track relies on the others to balance out this mood.

However good your music collection may be, if this is not included then you having a glaring chasm in it. This is U2’s best. Even if you do not like U2 then you should at least try this album. It may change your mind and, if not, then at least you are being open minded.

Where The Streets Have No Name: A great opener for an album.  This track slowly builds up to the hit that it is well known for being.
I Still Haven’t Found What I’m Looking For: Another classic single, this track can be read on many levels.  Perhaps this is one reason why it was so popular.  People identified with it in different ways, people’s questioning life and answers, looking for that special someone or that drive in life.  All or none of these can be applied to this song.  Bono surely has his own interpretation of it but he purposely leaves it ambiguous for the listener.
With Or Without You: Maybe the best known, and over played, track of the album, and perhaps their entire career.  Listen to With Or Without You

Bullet The Blue Sky: My least favourite of the ‘big songs’ on here, this track is still quite powerful and deserves its place.  The guitar and drums in the intro again evoke the desert feel.
Running To Stand Still: It’s a tragedy that this track isn’t more well known.  This is such an understated song, Bono tempers his voice well here, not overdoing it but putting the exact amount of feeling into it.  A beautiful and simple pleasure, easily one of the best U2 songs ever. Listen to Running To Stand Still
Red Hill Mining Town: Some of Bono’s finest vocals are present on this track.  Bono screams ‘I’m hanging on, You’re all that’s left to hold on to’ and you can feel it in his voice.
In God’s Country: A catchy song that doesn’t quite impress but is a good listen nontheless and should never be skipped when listening through the album. Listen to Red Hill Mining Town
Trip Through Your Wires: The harmonica that opens the song seems a bit out of place, especially this late on in the album.  There is nothing really special about the song, it’s pleasant enough but too mediocre to follow the previous great tracks.
One Tree Hill: Again, another understated song.  Whilst this isn’t as good as other tracks, it is still a good solid piece.  Just about everything is underplayed, the guitar, the vocals but the lyrics are really quite good.
Exit: For me, this is the weakest of the album.  It doesn’t fit as much as the other songs and it sounds more dated, harking back to a sound of the early 80’s. The slow build up really doesn’t end with anything worthwhile.
Mothers Of The Disappeared: A simple tribute to the women who lose their children to kidnappers and slavery.  A beautiful guitar riff plays gently behind Bono’s soft singing.  A slow track but definitely one to listen to several times before being judged.

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