When Dexys Midnight Runners topped the UK charts in 1981 with their “Geno” tribute, a new generation of fans discovered American soul singer Geno Washington, who had fronted British R&B/soul outfit The Ram Jam Band from 1965-1969 and enjoyed moderate chart success.
Geno Washington & The Ram Jam Band, Spring 1965, left to right: Geoff Pullum, John Roberts, Herb Prestidge, Pete Gage, Geno Washington, Lionel Kingham, Buddy Beadle (photo used with kind permission of Buddy Beadle)
The brainchild of lead guitarist Pete Gage, Nick Warburton traces the formative years of this explosive soul/R&B aggregation:
Through misfortune and the stars not aligning it’s an occasional occurrence that music deserved of a mass audience just doesn’t quite break through. Many would argue that whimsical Welsh psychedelists Soft Hearted Scientists fall into this category. Hopefully their new album, The Slow Cyclone, which continues their run of marvelous records, will right that wrong.
The Slow Cyclone is a song suite of 24 tracks grouped together in four parts of six. It includes a series of short instrumental interludes to bring a true album feel that you don’t often get with the pick’n’mix iTunes generation. Sonically it pays repeated listening too as if you listen carefully you’ll hear coughs, birds and and cardboard percussion adding to the feel of an afternoon nap.
But ultimately a record lives and dies by it’s melodies and they are there in spades. Just take the mid-tempo ‘The Ups and the Downs’ for instance. Its jaunty acoustics and choral backing syncs with its peerless refrain and stream of historical references (including Basil Rathbone and Alexander the Great) to reinforces its lyrical theme.
However the Soft Hearted Scientists are equally adapt at matters of life and death. Just one listen of ‘Cobra Clouds’ and ‘Before I Was Born’ show they work on a range of levels.
Soft Hearted Scientists ' Before I was Born '
The Slow Cyclone is a truly excellent record and will be fondly remembered for much more than a while. Available from 22 September:
One of my favourite rock groups, Chicago’s The Luck of Eden Hall, follow up last year’s excellent Victoria Moon long player with a new single, the superb psych glam stomper ‘Happine$$ Vending Machine’.
The Happiness Vending Machine
The band are gearing up for their 25 anniversary with a retrospective article in Shindig! plus Victoria Moon sees a deserved vinyl release on Headspin Records. With solo projects, and huge amount of activity from this talented band do check them out.
The ‘Happine$$ Vending Machine’ is out on 1st September:
If you like your rock literate, with a knowing glance to the past mixed with a modern lyrical perspective, Edward Rogers’ new album ‘Kaye’ is for you. Hailing from Birmingham over here in the UK and moving to New York by his teens shows. It reminds me of Ray Davies recent solo work (which is excellent by the way) plus the greatly missed NYC Man, Lou Reed.
Dedicated to departed singer-songwriter Kevin Ayers, Kaye has 11 songs by Edward Rogers as well as a charming version of Ayers’ ‘After The Show.’ Ayers would surely approve of the perspective and memorable melody that the song ‘Kaye’ provides the listener.
EDWARD ROGERS "Kaye" at The Cutting Room
‘Street Fashion’ is like a lost Roxy Music outtake. ‘Whatever Happened To The World Today’ is a zeitgeist of the times and a companion piece to Jarvis Cocker’s ‘Running The World’.
EDWARD ROGERS What Happened to the News Today
The album is also immaculately played with a stellar cast of musicians demonstrated by the intricate acoustic guitar interplay of ‘Copper Coin’. ‘Borrowed & Blue’ is an accessible intelligent ballad that is also reprised neatly as Kaye’s vocal harmony closer.
A refreshing change. I’ll definitely be trawling through Edward’s back catalogue: