Archive 1 - Music review BLOG

Go back to
latest Album reviews

BLOG started: March 6th 2005.

Band : Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)
Album : Out of the Blue

I’ve started off with this one because it’s my all time favourite band and album, originally released as a double record in blue (new at that time) vinyl. A couple of stats on this one, it spent 108 weeks on the UK album chart and peaked at #4. Not their biggest hit in chart placement terms, but their biggest long time seller in the UK. In the USA, where very few British bands were enjoying success at that time (circa 1977-8), it also peaked at #4 becoming one of 6 multi platinum and five gold selling albums there.

It’s hard to pick best tracks from this one because it’s a real album with a generic feel running from start to finish. Singles like “Mr Blue Sky”, “Sweet talkin’ woman” and “Turn to stone” are obvious, but I love “sweet is the night”, “steppin’ out” and “Across the border”. At the time (and still now for me) the sound represented a strange combination of serious rock presented with classical strings (the 50 piece Munich orchestra) and, on occasion, a 30 strong male voice choir. ELO also had (actually have, they are alive again) a “call and answer” style of backing vocals which, like most things about them, you either loved or hated. If you like strong tunes and densely arranged instrumentation, this album is for you. Incidentally, ELO have had more hit singles (28) in the UK than any other band without the luxury of a solo #1. (They did make it to#1 with ONJ on Xanadu). Is there likely to be an ELO revival? Yes we’re in the middle of it. Last year in the USA “Mr Blue Sky” fronted a VW ad and in the UK, over the last 4 months no less than two samples and a cover of ELO songs have charted. (Samples: “last train to London” and “Shine a little love” and the “Beautiful South’s” version of “Livin thing”.) In CD form this album is also dirt cheap, so you can’t really go wrong if you decide to buy it. My rating: 10/10.
Posted 09.03.2005

Band : Earth Wind and Fire
Album : I am

Yep, another of my fave bands and albums. EW&F, fronted by Maurice white and Phillip Bailey, had huge success in the USA throughout the seventies and early eighties, but this was their first big UK album success. In the USA it peaked at #3, not that great considering two previous #1’s and a #2, but in the UK, it’s #5 position and 41 week chart stay made it their biggest ever success. This album is as overblown as they get, it has strings, EW&F’s famous horn section, and amazing vocals into the bargain. Huge singles like “Boogie Wonderland” and “After the love has gone” were world wide hits and the EW&F image was as big as their sound. If you have heard (and like) either of the singles mentioned here, then you will like the album – it’s more of the same and I don’t think there is a bad track in sight. EW&F released a new studio album at the end of 2004, but I have yet to get it! My rating: 10/10.
Posted 12.03.2005

Band : The Moody Blues
Album : Long Distance Voyager

This album was #1 in the USA with 2 big hit singles, but sadly pathetic British radio (BBC radio 1) would not play them for that very reason – they were successful in the USA and that meant they were “old hat”. Unfortunately that was British music’s loss because this “British” band were enjoying a second run of success with a new (synthesizer playing) keyboardist who transformed their sound. The old “Moody Blues” (I barely remember) with “Nights in white satin” were replaced with a blend of guitars, synths and big vocals with a rock sound – dare I say it not un-similar to ELO, and I really liked it. This album has a great title (in my opinion) and tracks like “the voice”, “Gemini dream” and the ELO sound-alike “Nervous” are brilliant. While the UK had punk and the even worse, the “two tone” label music, the USA had this blend of rock and pop which was also to resulted in great music by bands like Heart, Journey, Foreigner and Pat Benetar, to name a few. All these bands would later break the UK, but by re-releasing albums 2 or 3 years out of date in the USA. It looks like “fabulous Radio One” got it wrong after all! My rating: 7/10.
Posted 14.03.2005

Band : Hall and Oates
Album : private Eyes

Amazingly this band and album did get air play and hits in the UK, but to a far lesser level than at home in the USA. H&O have the one thing that I like more than anything else, an immediately identifiable sound, and a brilliant one at that. I have great personal memories related to 2 of their songs, but I like almost everything of theirs that I have heard. This album though is my favourite, and features the “pumping” electric piano sound which appears in many of their biggest hits. High points are “I can’t go for that (no can do)” and the title track (both US #1’s), but I really like “did it in a minute”. They also put out a new album in 2002 called “do it for love” which is a major return to old form with some great tracks. If you don’t have any albums by this duo, then get one of their compilations, if my memory serves me correctly it will contain 7 or 8 US #1’s. Incidentally, there are 2 top ten chart samples of their US #1 hit “out of touch” currently in the UK charts. My rating: 8/10.
Posted 15.03.2005

Artist : Sophie B Hawkins
Album : Whaler

This is a 1994 album which had a couple of UK hits in "Right beside you" and "As I lay me down" (the latter also a US hit). SBH is definitely a bit odd, but this album is out and out pop, although with the occasional strange and even unpleasant lyric. She has a unique voice which you either love or hate and combines it with several chorus driven songs on this album. For me, the high points are the first 4 tracks (which include the two singles), but I really like the closing song, “Mr Tugboat hello”, which has a real fifties feel to it. I’ve never quite understood why SBH’s never achieved super stardom, especially with this album, but maybe I just hear something in it that others don’t. My rating: 7/10.
Posted 16.03.2005

Band : Styx
Album : Paradise theatre

This album never saw the light of day in the UK. At that time (1980-1) bands like Styx represented dinosaur music in Britain and got no airplay at all. I used to listen to the brilliant Paul Gambacini US chart countdown on a Saturday afternoon (2.00pm to 4.00pm, Radio one) and got into all kinds of music from the USA including Styx. This album is a concept album about the life of a theatre in Chicago and covers its grand opening and rapid demise, only a few years later. Lead single, “the best of times” (US #3), remains one of my all time favourite songs, but failed by one spot to make the top 40 in Britain. (Styx only UK hit was “babe” #10). The album was a #1 in the USA, deposing the equally superb REO Speedwagon with their hi-infidelity” album (I will review that later). Other track highs are “too much time on my hands” and “rockin’ the Paradise”, which amazingly got a great review in “Record Mirror” (a music mag) despite failing to make the UK top 75 singles chart. If you like over the top rock with great vocals (especially Denis de Young), then give this a try. Today it sounds slightly dated, but still hits all the right buttons. My rating: 7/10.
Posted 17.03.2005

Artist : Kate Bush
Album : The kick inside

When this album and the massive #1 single, “Wuthering heights”, were released, I hated them both - why, I don’t know. Anyway, over the years KB has grown on me and this album really is an all time classic. It also features “The man with the child in his eyes” and other great tracks like “Them heavy people”. All the songs are strong and KB is another artist whose sound is instantly recognisable. Unfortunately less talented singers like Tori Amos ripped off her sound to great effect in the USA (years later), but none compare with the original and this is her best album - just (her “hounds of Love excursion, finally giving her some US success, is a reasonably close second.) Get it if you like complex songs, masses of instrumentation and her unique vocals. “Wuthering heights” itself really is amazing and, if you never have, listen to the guitar at the end of the track as it fades. My rating: 7/10

Artist : Gerry Rafferty
Album : City to city

This is the album that contains “Baker Street”, which incredibly never made it to #1 in the UK or USA (although it spent 6 weeks at #2 on the Billboard chart behind Donna Summer). GR was no spring chicken at the time, but produced an all time classic album and single. If you like the superb “Corrs”, you will like this album, it has the same Celtic feel plus GR’s amazing voice. It’s not just a one track album either, two follow ups singles were hits in the USA and the entire album is great. I particularly like “Home and dry”, but the combination of Celtic rock and strong melodies runs from start to finish on this LP. In my opinion a classic, but despite that, I actually prefer the follow up (Night Owl) which I will review later. My rating: 8/10

Artist : Journey
Album : Escape?

I just can’t pick a single album by this amazing band. If you read this and you are from the USA, prepare yourself for a shock – Journey never had one UK hit single! Hard to believe, it defies logic. I first heard them when they released “Escape”, which competed for almost a year in the US chart with “Foreigner’s” self titled “4” album. Two of the best rock albums ever released. Today, greatest hit compilations of “Journey’s” many US hit singles mean that their songs are familiar in the UK, although their name is not. For me they had a three album peak with the already mentioned “Escape” (USA #1), “Frontiers” (USA #2) and “Raised on Radio” (I love the titles). They also had some of the best cover art ever created, with their trade mark scarab beetle being a regular feature on albums and singles. They were also the leading exponent of big rock ballads like “who’s crying now” and “Open arms”, which lent themselves perfectly to Steve Perry’s great vocals – they even had a guitar hero! If you don’t have a journey album and you like rock music, you really should get one, and I suggest one (or all) of those mentioned above. My rating: 7/10.

Artist : Andrew Gold
Album : All this and heaven too

AG is best known for his theme to the “Golden Girls” sit com’ “Thank you for being a friend”, but he put out two great albums. The first had the world wide hit, “Lonely boy”, and the second is this one. In the UK, the first single “Never let her slip away” was a big hit and remains a favourite on “gold” and “classic” radio stations, but I prefer the follow up “How can this be love”, which despite its pop sound, has a stunning guitar solo worthy of any heavy rock track. The album is heavily orchestrated (Gold’s father was/is a conductor/score writer) and the album consists of catchy tunes and melodies. Would you like it? Probably only if you want to turn the clock back to the pop era of the seventies. Incidentally, AW had some success with 10cc’s G.Gouldman in the late eighties with a band called “Wax”. My rating: 6/10

Artist : Queen
Album : A night at the Opera

The only reason it has taken me this long to get to Queen is because I can’t really pick a single LP, but I will start with this one. One of several Queen albums taking its title from a Marx’s bros’ film, this is the album that turned Queen into a super group. It also gave them the single which, in the UK spent a total of 17 weeks at #1 and even today makes the top spot in virtually every music poll carried out – Bohemian Rhapsody. This is however far from a one track album and the second single, “You’re my best friend”, is also a classic. Humour is also a big part of this album with tracks like “lazing on a Sunday afternoon” and Queen’s best ballad by far, “Love of my life” also features. “69”, with Brian May on lead vocals is also brilliant, as is the Roger Taylor written and sung, “I’m in love with my car”. There are certain albums you MUST have if you claim to be a real music fan, they have nothing to do with a fashion or a trend, but are defining moments in music and this album is one. If you don’t have it, then get it – you won’t be disappointed. My rating: 9/10. 18.04.2005

Artist : Wilson Phillips
Album : self titled

I really don’t know how genuine this band were – I hope they weren’t totally manufactured, but I am a big fan of this album anyway. At any rate the artist who kept them off #1 in the USA for so long, “MC Hammer” was devoid of any talent what-so-ever. This album features amazing harmonies, especially on one of the 3 US #1 singles, “Release me”, but the entire disk is laden with catchy tunes, lush melodies and the combination of the three band members vocals. High points are pretty much every track on this album, but aside from the big hit singles, I like, “Eyes like twins” and “The dream is still alive” There are also serious rock undertones on tracks like “Hold on” and “Impulsive” (appallingly renamed, remixed and softened up for UK single release). Chynna Wilson also looked particularly good in the swimsuit for the video of “Hold on”. After this album I looked forward to their sophomore effort, but it quite literally died without trace, a shame. My rating: 9/10. 02.05.2005

Artist : The Corrs
Album: Forgiven Not Forgotten

This band were huge in Australia and their home of Ireland with this, their first release. In the UK it did nothing originally, but nearly 4 years later (after their second album had made #1) started to climb the chart, ultimately spending months in the top ten. Unlike their next two albums (which became out and out pop) this is a rock album interlaced with the Celtic sounds of the fiddle and penny whistle. It’s an album which places as much focus on instrumentation as it does on vocals and there are both instrumentals and short intercessions mixed in with the more contemporary tracks (5 in total). “Runaway” is the obvious high on this CD, but rockers like “leave me alone” are just as good and the Corrs have that fantastic quality of a uniquely identifiable sound, be it the first bar, or a flash of sound from the middle of any song. How they never made it in the USA, I will never understand, perhaps the ultra clean image. My rating: 7/10. 11.05.2005

Artist : Savage garden
Album: Affirmation

This Australian duo only made two albums before the quiet one (who played the guitar) decided that he didn’t want a high profile lifestyle, and the band split. Their first album was good with massive hits like “truly, madly, deeply”, but this one, in my opinion, is even better. It balances good songs with a mixture of guitar and synth’s, and when it really works results in tracks like, “The animal song” and the stunning “I knew I loved you”. For me this is one of those albums that I listen to and think, how did anyone decide which tracks to release as singles? – they are all so good. In the UK this CD didn’t fair all that well, but in the USA produced some big hits including a #1. Top song on this one is definitely “I knew I loved you” which, if you like the more pathetic style of lyric, is probably the best one you will ever hear. My rating: 8/10. 25.05.2005

Artist : Air Supply
Album: Lost in Love

For me the best Australian band by a mile, and there are a few good ones. This, their first hit in the USA, contains their trade mark orchestrated ballads, including the tile track (“Lost in love”), “All out of love” (their sole UK hit) and “Every woman in the world” – all three top five hits in the USA. On my first visit to the States in October 1982, I can vividly remember listening to a long radio interview with the bands two main members whist travelling from Miami to Orlando – quite late at night. I realised then why I liked their sound so much when Graham Russell (the primary song writer) described his influences. He cited the Beatles and my favourite band’s leader, Jeff Lyne (ELO). Air supply never broke the UK during their US chart years, but their “Greatest hits” package seems to be owned by a heck of a lot of people, and this is probably the best way to experience them. None the less this album is excellent and, in addition to the singles, contains some other hot tracks including “American heartbeat”, more of a rocker. If you are not familiar with “Air Supply” and want a romantic night in (whatever your age), forget Barry White, and put on an album by this band – If you don’t get results, then you have picked the wrong girl/boy. My rating: 7/10. (10/10 for any of their “Greatest hits” packages - an absolute must.) 01.06.2005

Artist : Olivia Newton John
Album: Physical

I said at the beginning I would deliver variety and here’s more proof. ONJ has had hits since I was a small child, but reached superstar status with “Grease”. After “Grease” she needed another big project and “Xanadu” was scheduled. This proved to be a huge flop, with one exception – the soundtrack. It sold 7 million copies and featured songs shared by ONJ and, you guessed it, my favourite ELO. This is what brought ONJ to my attention and I bought this album as a result. The lead single and title track spent 10 weeks atop the Billboard hot 100 and the album went platinum both sides of the Atlantic. Further hits followed and ONJ’s status was recovered. The album has a variety of tracks, all pure pop, with other highs including the US #3 “Make a move on me” and “Landslide”, a further British hit. The album was also made as a “video album”, one of the first ever, and features songs by several writers, but most notably her long time musical partner “John Farrar” and members of the “Shadows”. ONJ never had much street cred, but if you forget about that and listen to the music she has a great voice (she does not need the ridiculous fake vocal gymnastics of more recent “Divas!”) and all the songs are strong. My rating: 7/10 (and that's being mean). 08.06.2005

Artist: Foreigner
Album: 4

This album redefined adult oriented rock music in America, as Foreigner proved that you could make heavy rock accessible to the masses. Bands like Def Lepard and Bon Jovi owe the mere opportunity of getting main stream air play (in the US at least) to this band. 4 is an amazing album where every track sounds like a massive hit and rock classic rolled into one. It has ballads (“waiting for a girl like you – 10 weeks at #2 behind ONJ and Hall & Oates) and big rockers like “Urgent” (lead single) and the stunning “Juke box hero”. It represents just what is possible when Britian and the USA combine forces in what is a tour de force record. If you like rock music and don’t have this album, then you have a massive chasm in your CD collection, all the song still sound good today and Foreigners “sound” is unique. My rating: 10/10 – as good as it gets. 26.06.2005

Artist: Jeff Waynes (musical version of)
Album: The war of the worlds

This is a 1978 concept album based around Orwell’s book which turned out to be the 6th biggest selling album of the 1970’s decade in the UK. It features an ongoing narration by Richard Burton slotted around musical performances by Justin Hayward (Moody Blues) and Phil Lynott (Thin Lizzy) amongst others. Hit singles “Forever Autumn (Hayward) and the instrumental “the coming of the Martians”, sound good in their edited 7inch versions, but fade by comparison with their full album track equivalents. I didn’t get this album until the late 1980’s, but it still sounded (and sounds now) different to anything else I have ever heard. The story is good, but the way the music compliments it and provides mood, explains its runaway success. It still sells today. My rating: 8/10. 03.07.2005

Artist: Asia
Album: Asia

Asia’s first and best album falls into the same category as Foreigner’s “4”, an all time classic. It was #1 in the USA forever and sold consistently in the UK for a year. The original Asia were a genuine Supergroup with members coming from several successful bands. This album combines heavy guitar riffs with some of the loudest drumming and best synthesizer sounds you are ever likely to hear. Each track is long, with a gradual build up to a catchy chorus, but never losing the rock edge. “Heat of the moment” was the big US hit (they didn’t have one in the UK), but “Hear comes the feeling” stands out for me as just about the best rock song I have ever heard. I periodically get this album out, and then seem to listen to it again and again, wondering how I ever put it away in the first place. An absolute must album for any rock music fan. My rating: 10/10. 17.07.2005

Artist: Electric Light Orchestra (ELO)
Album: All over the world (Gretaest hits)

Sorry, this is nothing but self indulgence on my part since new ELO albums are few and far between. This is of course a compilation, but all the tracks are re-mastered and some of the them are new to an ELO greatest hits collection. Unfortunately is does lack a couple of their early songs, most notably, "Can’t get it out of my head", but those that are included are pure magic. Suddenly every hot band claims to be inspired by ELO, from "Cold play" to "Super Furry Animals" and why not! If you don’t have an ELO CD in your collection, then this is probably the one to get, it includes 20 (of their 28 top 40) British hit singles and all but two of the US ones too. It is symphonic rock at its absolute best and classics like "Livin’ thing" and "Sweet Talkin’ Woman" are simply unbeatable – My fav’ band of all time, they are even better than Queen!. Incidently there are rumours of a live production of the ill fated Xanadu in a New York theatre – I’m not sure that’s such a great idea!. My rating: 9/10 (does not include all the UK and USA hits). 02.08.2005

Artist: ABC
Album: The Lexicon of Love

ABC were one of the first British acts to successfully conquer America in the so called British pop invasion of the early 1980's. This was their first recording and the first debut album ever to enter the British album chart at No. 1. Produced by Trevor Horn (formerly of Yes, Buggles etc), this album combines great and catchy songs with Martin Fry’s distinctive and melodramatic vocals, plus a lush and larger than life orchestral backing track. The big hits in the UK were. "The look of love ", "Poison arrow " and "All of my heart ", but album track "4 ever 2 gether " is really great. Unfortunately, ABC’s subsequent releases never quite equalled this one although world wide hits like " Be near me" and "When Smokie sings" are also classics. There is a greatest hits package floating around somewhere. . My rating: 7/10 . 02.08.2005

Artist: Buggles
Album: The Age of Plastic

That last review got me thinking …Buggles.
The age of plastic was considered for many years (in the UK at least) to be the best produced album of all time. Even today, I think the different sounds and the way that they are mixed and matched still support that argument. The big hit was "Video killed the radio star" and for those, what turned out to be terrifyingly predictive words, this album should never be forgotten. That track by the way was a number 1 in the UK and hits also followed with "clean clean", the brilliant, and again foreseeing, "Living in the plastic age" and "Elstree" a song about the British film studio. In short it is a great album and still sounds different to anything else I have ever heard. My rating: 7/10 . 02.08.2005

Artist: Genesis
Album: And then there were three

I think the title relates to the departure of Peter Gabriel from the band, certainly it was when he left, and in the short period before Phil Collins commenced his solo projects, that I started listening to Genesis. This is a real album and although "follow you follow me" was a big hit in the UK and USA it is a collection of great songs to be listened to as one. "Many too many" is another outstanding song, but they all have a quirky "prog rock" style that disappeared when they hit the big time in the mid eighties. I think "Tony Banks’s" influence with strange chord progressions was checked by Collins and Rutherford as their respective independent careers overshadowed that of his. In any event I always thought that later songs like "invisible touch" sounded like they could have been recorded by anyone and that distinctive Genesis sound was lost for ever. The follow up to this one (Ithink) called "Duke" is also great and there last quality outing – at least for real fans. My rating: 8/10 . 04.08.2005

Contact me at: galiciaguide@hotmail.co.uk, with any opinions or views you have.

Top of page

Current BLOG page

Link to main galiciaguide.com page

galiciaguide.com A constantly updated guide to everything about the region of Galicia in Spain.
galiciaguide.com/noia-index.html A guide to the town of Noia in Galicia Spain.