the mike davies column may 2015

life


Further to my comments in March, Jenny Jones and David Litchfield have chosen the name LIFE for their reunion project and have been busy putting down tracks with Dave’s sister Janet providing backing vocals. So far there’s three numbers, Pride and Compassion, which might be best described as if Chris Isaak was female and creating moody electro pop ballads for David Lynch (though the latter could easily pass for a Bond theme), and the dancier Tell Me Why which has shades of Visage’s Fade To Grey mingling with St.Etienne. Jenny’s voice is a dark and rich as it ever was, her timbre conjuring a deep yearning, while the music swirls around in textures that suggest David’s newfound affinity for rhapsody has soaked into his pop sensibilities too. Although not as yet commercially available, the tracks, along with a videofor Tell Me Why, can be found on their website at www.lifesounds.co/uk Do yourself a favour and, as Ewan McGregor once said, choose life.

In the wake of their final reunion show at the end of April DANGEROUS GIRLS are self- releasing Step Up, a new CD produced by drummer Rob Peters, which includes live versions of the title track, their final single, Clinically Dead and Sidekick Phenomena at North Staffs Poly on Dec 4, 1981, and Dangerous Girls from their final farewell gig at Exeter University the following May and featuring Ted Chippington and Bobby Bird from Dahli’s Car. However, what will be the real enticement for long time (and new) fans is the fact that it features a remastering of the hitherto unavailable recordings from June 1981 at Foel Studios in Powys for what would have been their debut album had Human Records not gone bust, and their final recordings with bassist Rob Rampton. Variously to have been titled Foel, Nerve Ends and The Holiday Album, it opens with the jaggedly pulsing Simmer and works its way through Sometimes, Instinct, Alien Cavalry (almost a ballad). Gut Reaction, Don’t Give Me Sense, Give Me Rhythm, the quiet/loud Fingertip Control, the menacing Domestic Blisters and, suggesting the theme to some psycho-noir movie, Friend of Mine. There’s also two bonus cuts in the scratchy, nervy guitar work of You and Me Babe and Taking The World By Surprise. To get your hands on a copy contact Rob via https://www.facebook.com/waferthin

ed rogers


An ex-pat Brummie (though he did leave when he was 12, moving to New York where he drummed in various garage bands before a subway accident in October 1985 took his right arm and right leg below the knee and he became a singer-songwriter), EDWARD ROGERS returns to his hometown for a gig at the Spotted Dog in Digbeth on May 14 (and then in Coventry for a 5pm show at Urban Coffee in Fargo Urban Village) in support of his new album Kaye (Zip) It’s his fifth solo outing (he’s also released two jangling 60s folk rock offering with the Bedsit Poets alongside Amanda Thorpe with Mac Randall) and is named not for some female but Kevin Ayers, the late English psychedelic folk legend and erstwhile founder of Soft Machine.

Recorded live and featuring backing from, among others, James Mastro (Ian Hunter), Sal Maida (Roxy Music) and Pete Kennedy of The Kennedys, it features a solid cover of Ayres’ After The Show, but otherwise it’s all original material, evoking not just Ayres, but also Roy Harper (notably on New York-themed opener My Street), Roxy Music (Street Fashion), Ray Davies (What Happened To The News Today and the tropical flavours of Worry For The World) and The Zombies (the shimmering, madrigal-tinged Copper Coin) while the waltzing Kaye itself conjures the softer side of Ayers’ work with Soft Machine as well as addressing the life and demons of its subject.

Although a fair proportion of the album rocks it up, including a touch of reverb noir guitar twang on No Color For Loneliness with its chugging riff, the psychedelic freak out of Peter Pan’s Dreams, it’s on the softer, more subdued numbers where it shines brightest, like cascading 12 string guitar jangle of What Happened To The News Today, the tender, simple acoustic Borrowed & Blue (though its final reprise is a little noisier) and the organ backed Fear Of The Unknown (the latter two featuring Kennedy on guitar) with its echoes of early 70s British progressive folk. Rogers doesn’t have the strongest voice in the world, but it works perfectly for the range and style he applies and I’m sure Ayres himself would have admired the sharpness of his literate lyrics.

kato

Cheltenham-based but with Birmingham connections, YOUNG KATOare a promising proposition, Ostensibly alt-pop, their debut album, Don’t Wait ‘Til Tomorrow (Republic of Music) embraces indie dance in a manner reminiscent of Friendly Fires, but also harking back to the days of Wang Chung, especially in the use of vague Oriental colours in Revolution and Drink, Dance, Play. Lights veers in a different direction with hints of spaghetti western guitars, urgent drum patterns and moodier use of atmosphere that suddenly erupts into a striking catchy chorus while Sunshine brings horns to its summery synth-pop, both Remedy and Children of the Stars nods to 80s nostalgia (even if does talk about going back to ‘93 in a time machine) and Ultraviolet scurries along with thoughts of the Pet Shop Boys. It does get a bit samey after a while, so the presence of Yes with its Coldplay ballad touches and the closing soaringly anthemic Just Say The Word Away do provide a welcome shift of pace and tone that the album could, perhaps, have done with a little more.

roots-and-branches.com 2016