Wednesday, August 27, 2014

The Dawn...

Last night Kate Bush made a triumphant return to the concert stage - for the first time in 35 years! The 3 hour long show was met with great reviews from both critics and fans.

Kate Bush: Before the Dawn review – a lithe grace and note-perfect vocals
Hammersmith Apollo, London
(from The Guardian)

For someone who's spent the vast majority of her career shunning the stage, she's a hugely engaging live performer
5 out of 5

Over the course of nearly three hours, Kate Bush's first gig for 35 years variously features dancers in lifejackets attacking the stage with axes and chainsaws; a giant machine that hovers above the auditorium, belching out dry ice and shining spotlights on the audience; giant paper aeroplanes; a surprisingly lengthy rumination on sausages, vast billowing sheets manipulated to represent waves, Bush's 16-year-old son Bertie - clad as a 19th-century artist – telling a wooden mannequin to "piss off" and the singer herself being borne through the audience by dancers clad in costumes based on fish skeletons.

The concert-goer who desires a stripped down rock and roll experience, devoid of theatrical folderol, is thus advised that Before the Dawn is probably not the show for them, but it is perhaps worth noting that even before Bush takes the stage with her dancers and props, a curious sense of unreality hangs over the crowd. It's an atmosphere noticeably different than at any other concert, but then again, this is a gig unlike any other, and not merely because the very idea of Bush returning to live performance was pretty unimaginable 12 months ago.

There have been a lot of improbable returns to the stage by mythic artists over the last few years, from Led Zeppelin to Leonard Cohen, but at least the crowd who bought tickets to see them knew roughly what songs to expect. Tonight, almost uniquely in rock history, the vast majority of the audience has virtually no idea what's going to happen before it does.

The solitary information that has leaked out from rehearsals is that Bush will perform The Ninth Wave, her 1985 song cycle about a woman drowning at sea – which indeed she does, replete with staging of a complexity that hasn't been seen during a rock gig since Pink Floyd's heyday – and that she isn't terribly keen on people filming the show on their phones.

The rest is pure speculation, of varying degrees of madness. A rumour suggests that puppets will be involved, hence the aforementioned mannequin, manipulated by a man in black and regularly hugged by Bush during her performance of another song cycle, A Sky of Honey, from 2005's Aerial.

The satirical website the Daily Mash claimed that, at the gig's conclusion, Bush would "lead the audience out of the venue, along the fairy-tale Hammersmith Flyover and finally to a mountain where they would be sealed inside, listening to Hounds of Love for all eternity".

In fairness, this was no more demented than the thoughts of the august broadsheet rock hack, apparently filing his report direct from the 1870s, who predicted that Bush would not take part in any choreographed routines because dancing in public is "unbecoming for a woman of a certain age".

As it turns out, the august broadsheet rock hack could not have been more wrong: for huge sections of the performance, Bush's movements look heavily choreographed: she moves with a lithe grace, clearly still drawing on the mime training she underwent as a teenager forty years on. Her voice too is in remarkable condition: she's note-perfect throughout.

Backed by a band of musicians capable of navigating the endless twists and turns of her songwriting – from funk to folk to pastoral prog rock - the performances of Running Up That Hill and King of the Mountain sound almost identical to their recorded versions - but letting rip during a version of Top of the City, she sounds flatly incredible.

You suspect that even if she hadn't, the audience would have lapped it up. Audibly delighted to be in the same room as her, they spend the first part of the show clapping everything she does: no gesture is too insignificant to warrant a round of applause. It would be cloying, but for the fact that Bush genuinely gives them something to cheer about.

For someone who's spent the vast majority of her career shunning the stage, she's a hugely engaging live performer, confident enough to shun the hits that made her famous in the first place: she plays nothing from her first four albums.

The staging might look excessive on paper, but onstage it works to astonishing effect, bolstering rather than overwhelming the emotional impact of the songs. The Ninth Wave is disturbing, funny and so immersive that the crowd temporarily forget to applaud everything Bush does. As each scene bleeds into another, they seem genuinely rapt: at the show's interval, people look a little stunned. A Sky of Honey is less obviously dramatic – nothing much happens over the course of its nine tracks – but the live performance underlines how beautiful the actual music is.

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Already widely acclaimed as the most influential and respected British female artist of the past 40 years, shrouded in the kind of endlessly intriguing mystique that is almost impossible to conjure in an internet age, Bush theoretically had a lot to lose by returning to the stage. Clearly, given how tightly she has controlled her own career since the early 80s, she would only have bothered because she felt she had something spectacular to offer. She was right: Before The Dawn is another remarkable achievement.

I really hope we will see a DVD/Blu-Ray recording of this! In the meantime, enjoy this new BBC documentary on Miss Bush.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Kings & Queens Of The Underground...

Billy Idol has announced details of his brand new studio album. Kings & Queens of the Underground will be Idol's first new album in nearly a decade, and will be released on October 20 via his own BFI Records.

Produced by Trevor Horn, the album will contain lead single "Can't Break Me Down".

Producer Greg Kurstin has also contributed to two songs on the album. The album will be supported by his European tour in November, including three dates in the UK.


1. Bitter Pill
2. Can't Break Me Down
3. Save Me Now
4. One Breath Away
5. Postcards From The Past
6. Kings & Queens Of The Underground
7. Eyes Wide Shut
8. Ghosts In My Guitar
9. Nothing To Fear
10. Love And Glory
11. Whiskey And Pills

You can listen to the new single here


As regular readers may have noticed, the blog hasn't been updated much lately. The main reason for that is because I have been extremely busy over the last few weeks. New management took over the place where I work and that has meant quite a few meetings, changes in the workplace etc. I had intended to keep on working there but something else unexpectedly came up.

I have been in talks this month with another company and as a result I will be starting a brand new job next week, running a business I don't really know anything about (!). However, I have decided it is time to move on to other things and hopefully this will be a fun new challenge.

But on to the business at hand - yes, it's time again for some tracks/videos that have caught my attention lately. This lot includes the return of Infernal (as Paw & Lina) as well as a comeback from Miss Marianne Faithfull. There are also two songs that feature Ariana Grande, although I'm not even a big fan! However, "Problem" has been sneaking up on my all summer and "Break Free" not only features dance prince Zedd but also a video inspired by the world of a certain Barbarella!

The highlight here though has to be the excellent "Monument" by Royksopp and Robyn! Hope you'll find something to enjoy here :)

Tuesday, August 19, 2014


I have been very busy over the past few weeks, and it looks like I will continue to be so for a while. The blog has not been updated nearly as much as usual because of this, but it is still here and will be updated every now and then in the coming weeks.

However, do check out the Galaxy Tumblr page by clicking here (it takes a lot less time to maintain a Tumblr page, so it is updated on daily basis).

Friday, August 15, 2014

Step Back In Time!...

Now available to pre-order, for the very first time – Kylie’s first four albums have been remastered and expanded as Deluxe Edition 2CD/DVD sets and lavish, top-of-the-range Collector’s Edition box sets including 2CD/DVD and picture disc vinyl!

Click here and here for all the info!

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Where Else...

Cherry Red Records is delighted to announce it will be releasing the new solo album from Claudia Brücken on Monday 6th October: Where Else. The new record is available to pre-order now on CD and limited edition 12” Vinyl.

Claudia Brücken’s third solo album Where Else (follow up to 2012’s acclaimed collection of cover versions, The Lost Are Found) is, with the exception of Nick Drake’s ‘Day Is Done,’ a self-penned collection of songs that explores different genres and styles – it moves through and around folk, blues, rock, film score, country and electronic music. Every album of her career, solo or in groups, has been a way of demonstrating her passion for evocative musical atmosphere, but this is the first one that does so without relying on computers and synthesisers. As Claudia says: ‘I always collaborate with different producers and programmers who are obviously bringing a lot of themselves into the project, and a lot of studio gadgetry. Normally my musical settings have been electronic music, whereas with this album, although there are elements of electronica in there, it soon became clear that the sound was going to be as much rooted in folk, blues and even country rock, and for me this was novel and exciting. It was actually exotic. The guitar could create special effects instead of the usual machines, which have become much more ordinary than they were when I first started.’

The album is a collaboration with co-writer and producer John Williams (Housemartins, Proclaimers, Paul Heaton & Jacqui Abbott, Blancmange, Petula Clark) and was written and recorded in the winter and spring of 2014 at John’s studio in North Kensington. Used to constructing songs in a more abstract electronic setting, Claudia felt it important that in this new environment, each new song they wrote could be sung accompanied only by piano or guitar. It was only then that the songs were ready to be recorded.

Influences on Where Else were varied. For Claudia, the Velvet Underground and Lou Reed, Depeche Mode and Roy Orbison. For John, Jimmy Webb, JJ Cale and The Zombies set the standard. On Where Else, these reference points deftly interact. Claudia elaborates: ‘Some of the albums I’ve recorded were albums of other people’s songs, and that has definitely made me think harder as a song writer about how to get across complicated feelings as economically as possible. The story aspect of a song has always been a very important part for me – for example the first song of the album (‘I Want You’) was inspired by Lou Reed’s method of storytelling. John’s background is a lot different to mine; he’s really into artists like Nick Drake and singer song writers. That brought a lot of elements into the writing that were fresh to me. The songs basic architecture was developed in a very different way than when you mostly use machines. The guitar being at the centre of the writing and recording took me towards more of a blues and folk sound – I think people will be surprised how different this album sounds because of that but in the end it’s still about songs, and storytelling, and singing.’

As she recorded the album, Claudia learned to play guitar – an instrument she had toyed with as a teenager before the electronically ethereal sounds of Kraftwerk and synths took over and took her somewhere else. As she learned to play the guitar, she learnt to play her favourite songs by artists as diverse as Marlene Dietrich, Patti Smith and The Temptations – and out of this, these new songs with new textures, spaces and intentions began to emerge.

Where Else follows the lyrical thread of Claudia’s debut solo album Love: and a Million Other Things. The album is not only a collection of moods and styles but a further examination of the vagaries of love; exploring emotion, beginnings, endings, past life and future hopes. ‘That’s my nature,’ says Claudia. ‘I want to explore different styles, a big reason why the title Where Else suits me – where else will I go? What will I do next?’

1. ‘I Want You’
2. ‘Nothing Good is Ever Easy’
3. ‘I Lay All Night’
4. ‘Day is Done’
5. ‘Walk Right In’
6. ‘Nevermind’
7. ‘How Do I Know’
8. ‘Moon Song’
9. ‘Letting Go’
10. ‘Time to Make Changes’
11. ‘Sweet Sound Vision’

Pre-order here

The first single will be "Nevermind":

Yes Please!...

More than six years after her last record (Discipline), Janet Jackson is reportedly back in the studio at work on new music.

The news comes from vocal producer and engineer Ian Cross. Cross helped engineer Jackson's last three studio albums, and in a new interview, he opened up about the collaboration, saying, "The new album is going to be great. It's a process. There's a lot in store, yet to come."

Not long after Cross' interview went viral, Janet Jackson herself responded to the rumor with a boss tweet (that technically neither confirmed nor denied anything): "If there is a new project, you'll hear it from my lips," she tweeted.

Cross talked at length about his work with Jackson in his Barefoot Sound interview. "Janet [Jackson] and I had a little bit more of a special relationship because we became friends naturally,” Cross said. “You meet a lot of people and you become friends with a couple of them, but sometimes there is one person you become really good friends with. She asked me to work on an album with her called Discipline in 2007 and, again, just do the same thing, produce the vocals. That led to her hiring me full-time to work with her. That’s where I’m at now.”

"The Janet Jacksons of the world can’t just spend their time in one studio in one city anymore…we’ve been working in Qatar. We’ve been working in Paris, the Middle East, and now we feel like we can work anywhere," he said. (BTW, Janet's husband, Wissam Al Mana, is a Qatari businessman, which helps explain her city-hopping recording schedule.)

 Jackson was last on tour in 2011, with Number Ones, Up Close and Personal.
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