Johnny Black

Johnny Black  |  Dec 01, 2018  |  0 comments
When the singer agreed to make a live album he was obligated to tour, only to find the project dominated by American songwriter/producer Leon Russell as it was decided to film the events. Could a rock 'n' roll circus of excess be turned into commercial success?

Joe Cocker's legendary 1970 Mad Dogs & Englishmen double live album is not, let me make it absolutely clear, your regular run-of-the-mill, superbly recorded and immaculately produced Vinyl Icon. This is an artefact which has achieved Vinyl Icon status despite the ramshackle method by which it was recorded, and despite the chaos and drug-addled confusion of the 1970 tour for which it is named.

Johnny Black  |  Nov 01, 2018  |  0 comments
This month we review: Josh Taerk, The Molochs, Epic45, and Texti-tv 666.
Johnny Black  |  Nov 01, 2018  |  0 comments
After his split from Walter Becker in 1981, the New Jersey-born vocalist and composer struck out on his own with The Nightfly, one of the first albums to be recorded digitally. The result was a treat for audiophile ears and platinum sales both here and in the US

Having established himself in the 1970s as half of the acclaimed thinking person's rock duo Steely Dan, Donald Fagen became a solo performer in 1981 when his partnership with Walter Becker fell apart.

Johnny Black  |  Oct 01, 2018  |  0 comments
This month we review: Protoje, Tom Bailey, Jack Carty And Gus Gardiner, and C Diab.
Johnny Black  |  Sep 01, 2018  |  0 comments
This month we review: Toure Kunda, Maddy Prior, Hannah James And Giles Lewin, Dan Stuart, and Judith Owen.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
I haven’t heard an album quite this beguiling since Whalebone Polly’s Recording With The Window Open back in 2005, so it’s a particular delight to discover that there are still females around who can do this sort of thing. Mountain Man are three women, two of them still in school in Vermont, the other a nanny, who use nothing but their close-harmonising voices and acoustic guitars to create the most haunting, spine-shivering songs imaginable. Recorded live in an abandoned factory, there’s a purity and immediacy to the sound of this album that puts most others into the shade: you feel you’re right there and they’re singing just for you. Bliss.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
Despite my instinct to reject Valerie Anne Poxleitner, aka Lights, because of the overtly religious content of so many of her songs, this Canuck electro-singer-songwriter has won me over on purely musical grounds. Her synth structures are gorgeous, if derivative, and her voice has hints of Kate Bush that make even her frequent use of auto-tuned vocals acceptable. (Actually, if I’m honest, I have no problem at all with auto-tune, so long as it’s used as a musical tool rather than as a repair kit). What I like most about The Listening is its fresh, innocent and disarming simplicity, like the very earliest electro-pop albums back in the late ’70s and early ’80s.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
The Coal Porters are but one facet of the abundant creativity of renaissance man Sid Griffin, who also helms a band called Western Electric, runs his own record label and writes excellent books on musical themes. The Porters, however, are the incarnation of Sid that you’re most likely to encounter in your favourite live music establishment, and their fourth album, Durango, is as splendid an alt-bluegrass excursion as you’ll hear all this year. A sprightly bunch of fiddle, mandolin and banjo-driven songs are fleshed out with choice covers, including a yearning version of Neil Young’s ‘Like A Hurricane’. Plus a video documentary on the band.
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
You don’t need me to tell you that the Jimmy Webb songbook includes a bunch of timelessly great classics, like ‘Wichita Lineman’, ‘By The Time I Get To Phoenix’ and ‘Galveston’. What Webb has done here is not just to re-interpret those songs with the assistance of superstar chums Billy Joel, Glen Campbell and Lucinda Williams, but also to take the opportunity to accord the same treatment to some of his lesser-known compositions, most notably ‘PF Sloan’ as a duet with Jackson Browne, and ‘If You See Me Getting Smaller’ with Willie Nelson. It’s not consistently wonderful, largely because Webb has never had much of a voice, but at its best it’s pretty darned wonderful. Sound Quality: 90% .
Johnny Black  |  Dec 10, 2010  |  0 comments
This is a charmingly odd collection of tracks recorded (and rejected) by eccentric New York folk-rock experimentalists Department Of Eagles prior to making their second album, In Ear Park. They were laid down in January 2006 in far from ideal conditions but, nevertheless, the collection boasts several appealing melodies with imaginative lyrics and free-wheeling musical arrangements, interspersed with several wilfully odd snippets described as Practice Room Sketches. It’s all very cerebral and sometimes sonically challenging but well worth wading through to get to sublimely bizarre moments like ‘While We’re Young’, ‘Brightest Minds’ and ‘Golden Apple’. Sound Quality: 80% .