The Cherry Bluestorms - Bad Penny Opera

Release Date: March 2013

Knowing The Cherry Bluestorms as a great live band, with first and foremost lots of Grade A psychedelic guitar at the foundation of the band, it comes as a surprising ear-opener to hear this sophomore album kicking off with a Kraftwerk like intro on the “Bad Penny Overture”. It’s not long before the inventive guitar licks of Glen Laughlin find their way in though.

The acoustic “By Your Leave” sounds like it could be a long lost Nick Drake song, with Deborah’s plaintive vocal sounding as if she’s actually living the song. The album does have a concept flow about it, and this is the character of Penny leaving home in the north of England to head for pastures new, and the bright lights of the big city down south.

The one cover on the album is a beautifully arranged version of Donovan’s classic “Wear Your Love Like Heaven” from “A Gift From A Flower To A Garden”. This song serves to let us know not just when we are, but where we are as well.

“Sunday Driving South” is filled with a gorgeous string arrangement and a mellotron sound stolen from “Strawberry Fields Forever”. With name-checks to Arnold Layne, Purple Haze and Mr Toad, this is definitely an album high-light.

Glen and Deborah’s vocals work perfectly well together, and this is especially high-lighted on “The Country Man”.

Nearing the end of the album, the dreams, hopes and wishes of Penny seem to have vanished by the time we get to “Start Again”. The lyrics are matched wonderfully by Glen’s brooding guitar riff. Oh, and talking of lyrics, some of Glen’s finest are on the album’s closing number “Bad”. They portray the darkest images you could imagine.

There doesn’t seem to be much in the way of redemption for Penny in this tale of lost hopes and dreams, but as in a lot of great song-writing, you can take out of it whatever you want. What you DO get is the feeling of the heart and soul of the 60’s planted firmly in the 21st century.

This album is without doubt a giant leap forward in putting this band in the major league. It deserves to be recognised as a classic already.

Elliot Easton's Tiki Gods - Easton Island

Release date : Feb 18th 2013 (download)

Easton Island

I first became aware of the Elliot Easton’s Tiki Gods on a Del Fi compilation I picked up, that had their one track standing head and shoulders above all the others on it. Now, let me tell you….. that compilation had Brian Wilson, Insect Surfers and a young Frank Zappa on it. So we’re talking QUALITY here.

Other tracks appeared on the Henry Mancini tribute album “A Shot In The Dark” and various other compilations. Everything I heard, I loved. An added bonus for me was finding out Nick Waluska (Nicky Wonder) was heavily involved alongside Elliot. I jumped with joy at finding out a WHOLE ALBUM was now available. It was downloaded within minutes of being available! I couldn’t wait to get my ears around it, and I wasn’t to be disappointed.

Opening with “Tiki God’s Theme” is like a statement of intent. They are saying, “We like surf guitars and drums!” There’s also a hint of what’s to come later, with tolling bells and chants.

Rarotonga has a shimmering modulated melody with a bright, choppy guitar backing that leaves you weak at the knees when the gorgeous strings sweep in to surprise you.

Some female backing singers that wouldn’t sound out of place in a Sci-Fi soundtrack are juxtaposed with what was hinted at earlier…the tolling bells from A Fistful Of Dollars, hot burning sun, beating down over the chanting Ennio Morricone like “Blue Lava.” Cowboys in space riding surf boards! Now THAT’S a film I want to see.

The Brian Wilson instrumentation admiration is evident on the lugubrious, laid back “Mu Empire.”

“Tabu” has an American West Coast cool, with some great jazz licks Wes Montgomery would have been proud of in 1966. This feel is continued with “Jill’s Theme”, and some of the most beautifully defined guitar runs on the whole album.

We step up a gear with “Sir Surfalot”, and the pounding drums are back with what could be a TV opening title tune to a 70’s long lost cop show.

The best piece of music Burt Bacharach DIDN’T write is here on “Sydney’s Samba.” It’s a wonderful, dreamy, acoustic guitar led work of sublime artistry.

Remember those spy movies from the 60’s, when there was always a white open topped sports car, with the hero driving the gorgeous girl with the long blond hair around the hills of Monte Carlo? Well “Sabotagia (I Say Sabotage)” would fit perfectly there.

There’s an array of guitars chasing each other around the soundscape that is “Isle Of Canopic”, before the fine mixture of twang and acoustic on “Ballad Of Cowboyardee” are joined once again by the Space Girls.

This is such a great album from start to finish. To end with what can only be described as “musical erotica,” is a master-stroke. “Nocturnia” has a vibe of something dangerous lurking in the background. The danger comes in a mysterious wind, that seems to take the most wonderful 38 minutes of music I have heard in YEARS away with it.

The album isn’t a sound-a-like tribute to various musical favourites of Elliot Easton.. It’s jam-packed with original and exciting slices of music that can fire your imagination with surf, exotica, lounge, AND erotica, all mixed together for your listening pleasure

Wherever Easton’s Island is….. I want to be there.