Tuesday, 17 February 2009

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant - Walking Into Clarksdale (1998) [Japan 2008 Remaster SHM-CD UICY-93587]

Jimmy Page & Robert Plant

Walking Into Clarksdale (1998) [Japan 2008 Remaster SHM-CD UICY-93587]

Genre: Rock
Format: Wv + cue + log
Released: 1998 
Label: Universal Japan
Number of Discs: 1

Line Up :

Robert Plant - vocals
Jimmy Page - guitar
Michael Lee - drums
Charlie Jones - bass

Track Listings:

01. Shinning In The Light [4:01]

02. When The World Was Young [6:13]

03. Upon A Golden Horse [3:52]

04. Blue Train [6:45]

05. Please Read The Letter [4:21]

06. Most High [5:36]

07. Heart In Your Hand [3:50]

08. Walking Into Clarksdale [5:18]

09. Burning Up [5:21]

10. When I Was A Child [5:45]

11. House Of Love [5:35]

12. Sons of Freedom [4:07]

13. Whiskey From The Glass [3:01]

For all of the acclaim it received, there's no denying that No Quarter was a tentative reunion for Page & Plant, containing only a handful of new songs that were scattered among many reworked old favorites. Since its supporting tour went well, the duo decided to make their reunion permanent, setting to work on an album of entirely new material. Taking the world music dabblings of No Quarter as a cue, Page & Plant tempered their eclecticism with a healthy dose of their monolithic guitar army, hiring Steve Albini, the indie rock producer notorious for his harsh, brutal recordings, to helm the boards. In other words, it sounds perfect on paper -- groundbreaking veteran artists still taking chances and working with younger collaborators who would challenge them. If only Walking Into Clarksdale actually played that way. It's certainly possible to hear where the duo was intending to go, since the circular melodies, Mideastern drones, sawing strings, drum loops, and sledgehammer riffs all add up to an effective update and progression of the classic Zeppelin sound. The problem is, the new sound doesn't go anywhere. There's potential in this metallic worldbeat rock, but only a few cuts, such as the stately "Most High" and the shimmering "Shining in the Light," realize it. Much of the album disappears under its own mass, since their are no well-written songs, catchy riffs, or memorable melodies to support the sound. And that's what makes Walking Into Clarksdale so frustrating -- you can hear the potential, and even enjoy the album on the musical surface, but there's nothing to make you return to the album once it's finished. And that ultimately means that the album simply reiterates the promise of the reunited Page & Plant instead of fulfilling it.


Monday, 2 February 2009

Jeff Beck - Wired 1976 (MFSL UDCD 531 Gold Japan)

Perpetual Flame (2008)

Genre: Rock, Jaz-Rock, Fusion
Format: Ape+ cue + log
Released: 1976
Label: Mobile Fidelity Sound Lab
Number of Discs: 1
Line Up :

Jeff Beck - Guitar, Guitar (Acoustic), Bass
Wilbur Bascomb, Jr. - Bass
Max Middleton - Clavinet, Rhodes piano, Keyboards
Jan Hammer -Drums, Engineer, Synthesizer, Remixing, Producer
Richard Bailey - Drums
Ed Greene - Drums Narada Michael Walden - Drums, Piano

Track Listings:

1. Led Boots

2. Come Dancing

3. Goodbye Pork Pie Hat

4. Head For Backstage Pass

5. Blue Wind

6. Sophie

7. Play With Me

8. Love Is Green

Jazz-rock fusion music has no greater exponent than Jeff Beck, whose latest album, Wired, demonstrates how vital this genre can be. Even more important, Wired presents Beck in a context that finally satisfies both his uncompromising musical standards and commercial necessity.Beck's first group, the Yardbirds, was the most inventive of the early Sixties British blues bands and is now credited with producing three of the most important electric guitarists of the past ten years -- Eric Clapton, Beck and Jimmy Page. Both Clapton (with Cream) and Page (with Led Zeppelin) became famous after leaving the Yardbirds. But Beck remained a relatively obscure figure. This despite the fact that the hits following "I'm a Man" -- "For Your Love," "Shapes of Things," "Over Under Sideways Down," "Happenings Ten Years Time Ago" -- were all powered by his brilliantly manic lead guitar. In comparison, Clapton was an extremely conservative stylist and Page, merely a technician. But Beck's guitar work was visionary: "Shapes of Things" shows his mastery over raga-style guitar solos and multitracking, ideas which were in their infancy at the time. Beck experimented with blues progressions, using feedback and other distortion techniques to push the electric guitar's expressive capabilities into new areas, as well as developing rock and R&B styles along the same lines. After leaving the Yardbirds, Beck made a classic solo album, Truth, with a band which included Rod Stewart and Ron Wood. Page, meanwhile, formed his own band, Led Zeppelin, whose music was a variation on Beck's concept (compare the versions of "You Shook Me" on Truth and the first Led Zeppelin album). He returned two years later with a jazz-accented R&B outfit based around keyboardist Max Middleton and singer Bob Tench. Their two albums featured a lighter, more progressive guitar style. But Beck was still not satisfied and tried a brief, disastrous fling into heavy metal with the ex-Vanilla Fudge/Cactus rhythm section of bassist Tim Bogert and drummer Carmine Appice. Last year, producer George Martin reunited Beck and Middleton for their greatest collaboration, Blow by Blow, which became Beck's best-selling solo album and established him firmly in the jazz-rock hierarchy. But Beck was only developing ideas he'd been playing with for years. On Wired, Beck invites a direct and favorable comparison with John McLaughlin (with whom he toured last year) by collaborating with ex-Mahavishnu keyboardist Jan Hammer and his band. Martin didn't score any of the horn arrangements because Hammer's synthesizer fills all those spaces, but the album is better recorded and has a much fuller sound than Blow by Blow. Middleton's contribution is still essential -- his one song, "Led Boots," opens the album at its hottest pace and it's definitely enhanced by the interplay with Hammer's keyboards and Beck's guitar. Hammer's synthesizers work from Middleton's clavinette base, and Beck stitches runs in between. Beck wrote no songs for this record in order to concentrate on his playing, but he dominates the album conceptually. You can tell "Head for Backstage Pass" is bassist Wilbur Bascomb's song from the bass solo that kicks it off, but from there it's all that Beck/Middleton Metal Motown Machine. Drummer Narada Michael Walden contributed four songs, three of which sound like they could have easily come from the Blow by Blow sessions. "Sophie" shows the distance between McLaughlin's cerebral meandering and Beck's incisive, witty compositional ability as the song moves from an introspective theme to an incredibly hard-edged composition. Hammer swings here in a sweating, un-self-conscious ride of pure joy that needs no guru for inspiration. Hammer's "duet" with Beck, "Blue Wind," builds phased rhythm guitars against the tension of those slogging, perfectly imprecise drums into an anthem pitch with furious overhead. Beck's cover of the Charles Mingus ode to Lester Young, "Goodbye Pork Pie Hat," is an unlikely if not unappreciated inclusion that seems to understated to clock in as more than a tentative exploration of an already well-covered tune, but Beck's soloing, as usual, carries it off with some bizarre phrasing and adventurous distortion. Many of Beck's older fans claim he's toned down to play this music, but listening closely, you can hear all the fire and imagination that has characterized every phase of his career. Wired is the realization of a style Beck has been working toward for years, and should finally attract the recognition he deserves. - John Swenson, Rolling Stone, 7/29/76.

Sunday, 1 February 2009

Yngwie Malmsteen's Rising Force - Perpetual Flame (2008)

Perpetual Flame (2008)

Genre: Metal
Format: Flac+ cue + log
Released: 2008
Label: Rising Force Records
Number of Discs: 1

Line Up :

Yngwie Malmsteen- lead/rhythm/acoustic/synthesizer guitars, bass, keyboards, sitar and vocals
Tim "Ripper" Owens - vocals
Patrick Johansson - drums
Derek Sherinian - keyboards

Bjorn Englen - bass

Track Listings:

01 - Death Dealer

02 - Damnation Game

03 - Live To Fight (Another Day)

04 - Red Devil

05 - Four Horsemen (Of The Apocalypse)

06 - Priest Of The Unholy

07 - Be Careful What You Wish For

08 - Caprici Di Diablo

09 - Lament

10 - Magic City

11 - Eleventh Hour

12 - Heavy Heart

A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure to speak directly with guitar legend Yngwie Malmsteen (see link below). We agreed that 2008 was quickly developing into a very special year for him. First, he had just finished the highly successful European leg of his tour and was just about to begin dates in North America. Also, he was about to be inducted into the Hollywood Rock Walk an achievement that he described as ‘humbling’. Not only that, but he has also teamed up with the Fender Custom Shop to release an updated limited edition Yngwie signature model.
Now to cap it all off we have the release of his latest album Perpetual Flame (Rising Force Records, October 2008). During the interview I asked Yngwie about the album’s title. "I guess the clue is in the title of the album, Perpetual Flame. That fire is still burning in you…", to which he replied, "That’s very perceptive of you. That is exactly what I wanted to say with the album. Thanks for picking up on it."

If anyone needs confirmation that the fire does indeed still burn then the first thirty seconds of the album’s opener “Death Dealer” will confirm it in huge great neon letters. Teaming up with ex-Judas Priest singer Tim ‘Ripper’ Owens for the first time has proved to be something of a match made in Yngwie heaven. If ever a vocalist could deliver the sheer passion and power alongside his guitar then Tim has to be that man.

“Death Dealer” comes with all the classical undercurrent that has become his trademark. The first scream from Owens marks his arrival in real style. “Damnation Game” with its opening riff to match its title continues the pace without pausing for breath. The dark, sinister, “Live To Fight” starts off with a Black Sabbath style bell tolling in the distance.

“Red Devil”, a more straight-on heavy rock number, has the Ripper ion great form. The rest of the band is made up of Michael Troy on keys, Bjorn Englen on bass, and Patrick Johnsson Continuing as drummer . The rave reviews from the European tour confirm their credentials.
“Four Horsemen” has Yngwie riding his Fender at characteristically breakneck speed. “Priest Of The Unholy” and “Be Careful What You Wish For” keep the pace and momentum going.

During that same interview I asked him if there was anything technically more difficult on the album. The answer was the instrumental pieces. Sure enough, “Caprici Di Diablo”, loaded with classical overtones, sounds physically impossible to play. It goes without saying that Yngwie somehow pulls it off with all his usual lightning speed. “Lament” has that richness of sound and remarkable precision that is so familiar to fans of him. It too is an instrumental in the classical tradition and with the same complexity as its predecessor. It follows on superbly with the pair marking an album highlight.

“Eleventh Hour” has The Ripper, back on vocals with a lusciously eastern vibe. It has you dreaming of minarets, sand, heat, and mystery. “Heavy Heart” takes us back into the instrumental as only, and I mean only, Yngwie can play them. The atmospheric “Magic City” ends the album magnificently.

The second half of Perpetual Flame is particularly strong and contains many classic, please excuse the pun, examples of Yngwie’s undeniable mastery. The instrumental tracks will underline just how on fire the man is.

He seemed pleased when I mentioned the significance of Perpetual Flame’s title. Having heard it, I can see why. It confirms in no uncertain terms that Yngwie Malmsteen still has the passion, energy, drive, and incredible technical ability to produce some utterly sublime treasures.

Despite his endearing modesty, when he is inducted onto that Rock Walk it is no more than he deserves. He is without doubt one of the all time guitar legends and this album adds further weight to his already huge reputation. Thanks Yngwie.