Following on from the awesome job Beggars did on the ‘Love’ anniversary it seemed about right for them to get stuck into The Cults ‘Sonic Temple’ when the band reached the top of the Hard Rock tree and played Wembley Arena which seems a lifetime ago now (it probably was).  The band enjoyed enormous success with the record and subsequent videos and singles off the album and it looks like once again BB has delivered the goods with these awesome Sets.

The Vinyl BOX SET contains three pieces of vinyl and a cassette plus tour memorabilia and ephemera (replica of original laminate, backstage pass, original press releases, label copy and more). It’s numbered and limited to 3000 pieces worldwide and contains 40 tracks, four of which are previously unreleased. LP1+2 contain the album as originally released. LP3 contains Live At Wembley recorded by the BBC, and the included cassette contains limited-release demos. Four of the live tracks are previously unreleased.

Whilst The FIVE-CD SET contains 53 tracks (including 6 previously unreleased) with the original album on disc 1, alternate edits, mixes, extended versions and acoustic versions on disc 2, limited-release demos on discs 3 & 4 and Live at Wembley recorded by the BBC on disc 5. Six of the live tracks are previously unreleased. It is beautifully packaged in book form with rare photographs and interviews with the band by esteemed journalist James Brown.

 

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to dovetail the releases the Cult return to the UK for a tour dates below

TOUR DATES
Oct 15 Nottingham, UK – Rock City
Oct 17 Birmingham, UK – Academy
Oct 18 Cardiff, Wales – Cardiff University
Oct 20 Leeds, UK – Academy
Oct 21 Aberdeen, Scotland – The Music Hall
Oct 22 Glasgow, Scotland – Academy
Oct 24 Manchester, UK – Apollo
Oct 27 London, UK – Hammersmith Apollo
Oct 28 Bristol, UK – Academy
Oct 29 Portsmouth, UK – Guildhall

Not many guitar players can get away with 3 names, it takes a special kind of player to pull it off. Like his hero Stevie Ray Vaughn before him, Kenny Wayne Shepherd proudly wears his three names across his catalogue of music.

Since bursting onto the scene in the mid-90s, Kenny Wayne has put out album after album of guitar-heavy, Texas-tinged blues rock. He wears his influences on his sleeve and that’s ok because he always puts a spin on things that is distinctly his own.

I’ve been a fan of Kenny for a long time and I’ve spent hours jamming along to his records and trying to capture that incredible Stratocaster tone he produces. His latest offering, The Traveler is no exception.

From the first listen of opening track Woman Like You, I’m hooked. Kenny always starts his albums with an up tempo rocker and this track stands strong to kick off proceedings. Sticking with the hard and driving feel, Long Time Running keeps my head bobbing. Vocalist Noah Hunt sounds on top form and Kenny’s guitar player is just excellent as always. I don’t think I’ve heard this guy play a bad note.

From listening to his back catalogue and seeing him live, I always feel his playing takes on another level in some of his more spacious and slower songs. The third track I Want You has a long guitar solo, but who cares? When someone is playing like that, it can go on for as long as they want it to. It’s full of soul, heart and fire.

Tailwind and Gravity follow up with a dip in tempo to a nice, chilled acoustic lead section of the album. It might feel like the band are taking a breather here, but these songs still kick some serious ass. The chorus of Tailwind was just written to be sung by a room full of music lovers. Gravity is just full of gorgeous melodies and a guitar solo that could make a grown man cry. How he coaxes those notes from a guitar no one will ever know.

I feel that this album offers a bit more head bobbing rockers than the last album from Kenny and co. We All Alright keeps us thundering along with it’s thumping drums and huge chorus.

Take It On Home is one for the lovers in the house. A tender ode to coming home to the place and person you love. Kenny spends a lot of the year on the road so you can certainly believe every word he sings on this track. And yes, I do keep saying it… but wow… what a guitar solo!

Mr. Soul might sound like a familiar riff. It’s very much a Stones influence. I mean, it’s from the right era. Originally written in 1967 by Neil Young for Buffalo Springfield, this riff has given listeners over the years many hours of ahem… Satisfaction.

Every album has got to have one song that makes the listener say “that’s about me!”. It’s that feeling of relating that keeps us coming back to our favourite tracks. Better With Time for me, is that track. It’s an ode to growing up, loving, losing and learning. Like a fine wine, life sometimes gets better with age as we grow older and wiser. Kenny and the band have captured that exact feeling.

The album closes with the Joe Walsh penned Turn To Stone, this has all the southern stomp you need to get on down. Infectious grooves fill the song before the wah-drenched lead guitar epic that kicks in before the second verse. This is only a short lead burst though; Kenny is saving his ammo for the big shootout in the middle of the song.  From 2 minutes and 10 seconds in, the vocals are out. We’re reminded firmly why we came here, to listen to some damn fine guitar playing. For the next 2 minutes, we belong to Kenny Wayne Shepherd as he takes us on a journey through loud and quiet, up and down, fast and slow before bringing the album to a crashing close.

The Traveler has taken me on a journey. Pack your bags, it’s your turn now.

Buy The Traveler Here

Author: Leigh Fuge

Expectations sometimes provide shocks to the system when things prove to be quite different that what you expected. The Poison Boys have released some previous singles/ EPs and material, which I have loved, and I went into this debut album expecting the album to be a more straight forward up tempo punk n roll album. While it is definitely a punk n roll album at its core, these 12 diverse songs make up an album that is diverse, deep, accessible, and a whole lot of fun. I have been following the Poison Boys for a few years now, and I could not be happier with what they have done here. I can imagine everyone from Chuck Berry to Johnny Thunders wanting a chance to come back and guest on this one.

The title track gets the party started and hits my original expectations as it comes on like a cross between the Humpers and Electric Frankenstein. The mix allows the guitar riffs by Matt Dudzik to pop out of the speakers and the bass (mostly Adam Sheets) and drums (mostly Matt Chaney) hit just as hard. ‘Slow Down’ starts with some brief piano notes before everyone else gets in on the action. The riff in the song feels pretty standard, but the song really connects perfectly. I actually thought about old artists like the Big Bopper here as well as someone like the J. Geils Band as this song compels the listener to smile and enjoy the moment. I can picture the glasses in the air as the crowd sings along to the main hook. Another stone cold rock n roll style classic follows in ‘Cut Right Out.’ If anyone out there remembers the likes of Junk Records, this one would have fit like a glove on their roster with those backing ‘wooohs’ settling nicely in the mix. The beat here carries a great groove, guaranteed to get the hips shaking.

Starting on track four with ‘Empty Heart,’ we start to see the band really expanding the songs. The thundering groove of this epic five minute plus song initially may feel a little long, but this one has proven to be a grower with Dudzik’s charismatic vocals being stretched and pulled on the journey. ‘Downtown’ returns to a fairly basic trash rock standard approach with a simple hook that hits the spot. It feels a bit like the Stones jamming with Hanoi Rocks, especially the way some of the guitar pops in the mix where it gets some extra space. I also love the false ending but perhaps I should not give that away. Wrapping up the first half of the album, ‘Up to the Sky’ opens with some acoustic guitar reminding me of Johnny Thunders before the song kicks in at a midtempo pace on this fellow five minute rocker. The acoustic guitar touches really give this album a wonderful depth. Dudzik’s vocals on the chorus really inspire a singalong, even if you are like me and can’t sing a note.

Flip the record over and the good times show no let up with first single/ video ‘Tear Me Apart’ getting it started at breakneck speed. The vocals really take a backseat here with the verses featuring fewer words, and the electrifying guitar riffs pushed to the surface. The hook in the chorus is sharp, but it is the guitar that has stayed with me the most on this one so far. The piano that is featured here and across other songs will hopefully be replicated in the live setting. ‘Desperado’ features some awesome saxophone and again reminds me of early Hanoi Rocks, right down to Dudzik’s vocals, the tasteful backing vocals, and the way the chorus is constructed. This has been one of my early favorites from the record.  Hopefully, the band will get an opportunity to make this a single at some point. Slowing the pace down a bit, ‘True Romance’ simmers along nicely with the groove getting under the skin. The backing ‘woooh’s’ are used again here to awesome effect. When the main chorus hits, it really opens up the whole song with the switch in the dynamics.

‘I Won’t Look Back’ turns the tempo back towards rocket speed with the guitar licks again deserving to be highlighted, but the song itself has been the slowest to connect with me. The band hit trash rock nirvana again with the rollicking ‘Say Goodbye’ reminding me again of the Humpers with the rhythm section nailing this one. Closing song ‘Been Here All Night’ truly feels like it had to be the closer on the album and ends the record on an incredible high. The song shimmies and shakes on the beat with the guitar riffs begging to be played by the listener. Something tells me the guys worked long and hard on this one but knew exactly where it needed to be on the album. It just feels like a celebration musically.

The Poison Boys showcase that there is plenty of magic left in rock n roll over the course of these 12 songs. There has clearly been a ton of heart, sweat, and love used to create this album as these songs drip with the genuine distilled spirits of everything that makes rock n roll amazing. Are the vocals always spotless? Do the instruments hit every note perfectly? Absolutely NOT! This is pure, primal rock n roll the way nature intended. A great summer for music became even better with this album.  Recommended? You should have it put it on order when you started reading my introduction.

‘Out of my Head’ is available Here

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Author: Gerald Stansbury

When I first saw this I must admit to being slightly skeptical off the back off the last studio album maybe they were heading into the quick cash in and bash out an acoustic album of classic Skids.  Well, happy to report I was wrong there.  Whilst it is indeed an acoustic Skids record it gives the impression of being well thought out and lovingly put together from the lush string synth or real strings it matters not because hearing a lush ‘Into the Valley’ is a beautiful thing.  they slow it right down to a funeral march tempo and throw in everything from the strings to the percussion and plentiful backing vocals ‘Into The Valley’ never sounded so good and Jobson’s voice sounds weathered and emotional.

Don’t stop there folks because over the next ten songs this record soars high and to be fair is a majestic thing from the hand claps and drums of ‘World On Fire’ this record is already ablaze and whilst the synths are cheating if you’re calling it an acoustic album but when you drop the needle and crack open that stone cold beer you’ll get the picture when you sink back into a comfy chair and let this wash over you.

Dipping into their last studio album ‘Burning Cities’ for ‘Kings Of the New World Order’ it’s always tough when you try to pitch new with old especially when the old are classics like ‘Into The Valley’ and the piano-driven ‘Saints Are Coming’ with a spectacular arrangement to be fair and again Jobson seems to have found his niche vocally.

‘Days In Europa’ is represented by a Crosby, Stills and Nash vibe on ‘Animation’. ‘Hurry On Boys’ from ‘The Absolute Game’ begins a little bit piraty for my liking and ‘Blood And Soil’ from ‘Joy’ is also reworked into something of an epic and sounds regal on its chorus. I think that’s it, every Skids album represented with ‘Joy’ also lending ‘Fields’ to proceedings.  We’ve also got a brand new track added to proceedings in the shape of ‘Kreuzberg 79but its the finale of ‘Desert Dust’ again from the last studio album that leaves you like a good friend leaving with a reassuring hand to the shoulder.  the Skids have turned in a fantastic record.  Sure Acoustic albums have seen their fifteen minutes when MTV was a thing but every now and again one comes along and hits you for six and this boundary is courtesy of The Skids.  Check it out that’s my advice although I’d have loved to have heard them take on ‘Yankee Dollar’ but I guess you can’t please everybody all the time and this will most certainly do. Good effort.

 

Buy Peaceful Times Here

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Author: Dom Daley

So another record of new(ish) music from Mike Peters and his new version of the Alarm hits the shops this week with a little help from a few of the people in his very impressive address book.  The album is connected to last years album that came out in two parts.  Confused you will be.  If you think you’ve heard some of these before then you’d be right as they’ve been around for a while and avid Alarm disciples will have heard a lot of these over the last few years.

Life isn’t as simple as a band writing enough songs for a record. They can write and record quickly and release music almost straight away through the many available platforms that now exist.  The MPO has always (since the original Alarm ceased to exist post Brixton) been ahead of the curve as far as independent cottage industries go. A personal touch that was different and exciting and it certainly helped keep in touch with the fan base, that hardcore that was always loyal to team Peters.  Today the MPO is a different beast altogether they’ve certainly grown and become a well-oiled machine and through sheer hard work have grown the Alarm name and managed to keep it relevant in an ever-changing industry.

Influenced by his well documented off-field tribulations Peters is a force of nature and his pursuit of making music is enduring and endearing – his passion for his art is second to none and has evolved as a writer, kept a few musicians close and having such talented players like Smiley and James Stevenson by his side Peters is still able to pen some really impressive Rock and Roll (although I do think the sound lack that punch that Craig Adams always brought to proceedings live and on record).

I’m glad Peters still writes new material but have to admit to not always being keen on his latter work I do own every single release he’s ever put out so I always find it difficult to write a review for an Alarm record, a band I’ve seen in many guises (well into triple numbers over the years). Call me a fanboy (I’m not bothered but can a guy in his 50s be a fanboy?) I can also admit when I find some of his lyric wordy and a bit cliched whilst at other times I find his lyrics uplifting and beautiful –  warm and sincere. At the end of the day he’s human and it would be a little odd if I liked everything he ever wrote and he got it right every time.

Well, ‘Sigma’ kicks off in fine fashion with ‘Blood Red Viral Black’ which features fellow coloursound comrade Billy Duffy (of the Cult parish) The song is a good opener and certainly benefits from Duffy’s fretwork  (I wish he’d write more song in this vein) I loved Coloursound and it worked really well.

Always dogged by the poundshop U2 tag something that really used to bug me, but, as I’ve got older there are certainly elements of Peters songwriting where their paths do cross. maybe ‘Brighter Than The Sun’ would be one such tune. ‘Time’ is classic modern Alarm and uses the familiar bass line that he got a lot of success with on songs like ‘Rain In The SummerTime’.  ‘Psalms’ begins with a simple ‘Stand By Me’ guitar strum on the acoustic and builds gently.

‘Equals’ has a guest spot from original Alarm member Dave Sharp that will please some. Then ‘Love and Understanding’ which sound familiar like ‘Strength’ for the Jet Age.  Is self-plagiarism a thing?  I do like ‘Prisoners’ and first impressions are it’s a little different.

As far as love songs go ‘Heroine’ is Peters hitting paydirt with some of his better lyrics and the way the song builds is excellent and its a song I’ve always liked. It sounds sincere and is one of the records shining lights.

Before the album signs off with ‘Two Rivers’, ‘Armageddon In The Morning’ is a bit of a throwback to Peters and his Poets days its a seven-minute journey that builds well and the acoustic and harmonica works really well with smileys rhythm. Again Peters touches on moments throughout his history (intentional or not but you can deffo sing ‘Blaze Of Glory’ over parts) and this one works really well and makes for a great song as it passes quickly.

‘Two Rivers’ is stripped back to piano-driven reprise, fans who’ve seen the band live will be familiar with this set closer but not in this form an excellent way to sign off ‘Sigma’.

I’m not sure how many new fans will buy into ‘Sigma’ and being so familiar with a lot of the songs I find it hard to call as a whole new new record (if you know what I mean) I guess ‘Sigma’ is the final part of a several year journey for The Peters family and something they found themselves working through.

I still believe and still wish all the best for The Alarm and would love them to grab some headlines for their music and work their way into a larger audiences heart, they still have the talent and that unwavering belief in what they do and I fully support that they’re not some nostalgia trip – they’re not one of those has been bands who can’t let go.  They make new music and by and large deliver time after time after time.  Doing things their way against the odds in the face of adversity that would have sunk most mortals.

Buy ‘Sigma’ and start a voyage of discovery and don’t be put off by the size of the back catalogue because there is so much on offer that is right up there with the best of em.  Go the Alarm

Buy Sigma Here

Author: Dom Daley

I’ll put my cards on the table here and admit that when I heard there was a new Subs album coming out I got excited then when I heard it was more covers I wasn’t too bothered. Subversions was a pretty decent effort and there were some great takes on there but, when I saw the tracklist for this I think I was half way through reading and I found I was reading through my fingers and gasping at some of the suggestions.  However, I have a varied taste and it would be boring if they happened to take on songs you would, or could, associate with the band. So I waited for my copy to arrive and would make my mind up yay or Nay after I’d heard the interpretations.

OK here goes, nothing ventured nothing gained I guess. First up is ‘Diversion’ and a jolly uptempo ditty it is too they give it a right good seeing to so I guess I can sit back and relax – for the time being.  Once again Pat Collier has done a sterling job on capturing the band and pulling out a fantastic live feel where everything is crystal clear and super vibrant.   I guess ‘White Light White Heat’ isn’t too much of a stretch and then that riff chimes in as they take on Led Zepplin and ‘Immigrants Song’ and if for hearing Alvin’s bass playing alone this is a resounding success.  Now I obviously know who Led Zepplin are and I have heard them many times before but I can’t say I’ve heard them covered by a punk rock band and sounding so good.  I often joke that Zepplin had a great drummer and a few tidy riffs I might be joking I might not but quite why they get so many column inches is baffling to me but this is one of their better tunes and this version is very well delivered and has exceptional qualities.

Joe Jacksons snappy ‘One More Time’ is afforded similar respect as the Subs do justice with a decent interpretation but it’s not as much of a stretch from the original. Vanilla Fudge ‘Season Of The Witch’ is up next and again kudos to Charlie’s vocals as the band really turn up a few stones to find songs to cover and take ownership of.  Put this one down as one I didn’t see coming but quite enjoyed, in fact, its the ones I was having the sweats over are turning out to be the ones I’m most impressed with.

OK so Alvin toured with Iggy and not the stooges so one of the more predictable covers and an absolute stone-cold classic and one you just knew they would slay and could never fuck up – obviously they don’t disappoint and knock it right out of the park.

Side two kicks off in style with a thunderous take on ‘This Is Rock And Roll’ originally from The Kids closely followed by a suitably sloppy ‘My Generation’ that gives the rhythm section of the Subs a chance to stretch their legs with some awesome solo breaks.  Take a bow Alvin and Jamie – sensational work. I bet nobody saw the Subs tip the hat to Tom Petty and the other Heartbreakers on ‘You Wreck Me’ and what a ball this one is.  As a band the Subs show just how versatile they can be and taking on a song like this and take ownership of the track is a real testament to just how good these boys are.

As we head into the home straight there are three big uns starting with the Neil Young anthem that is ‘Rockin In The Free World’ and rolling it round in the dirt and giving it some right yob treatment on the chorus is a joy to hear.  We know what the Subs are good at and this is them purring like an illite sports car – sure its easy to cover a song like this but you still have to do the right job on it and Straughan owns the solo by leaving it understated rather than running riot over it.  and the Riff is meaty which is nice. Great song great cover.  Now the song I feared most but to be fair the rest of the album is so bloody good I’m not bothered how ‘We Will Rock You Sounds’ but once the band stretch their legs and rock the shit out of it I’m chuffed to report that Charlie might not be Freddie he gives it a right seeing to. what was I worried about  The subs fuckin’ smash it so by the time ‘The Last Time’ chimes in I knew they’d do the Stones justice so finishing on a real high.  I can safely say that when anyone askes what does the Subs sound like doing Queen I can say without any irony or piss taking they do it very well and treat a cover with respect and a challenge check it out.  All thats left to say is I hope it’s not the Last time and there are more more more to come.  Long live the UK Subs. Buy it!

Buy subversions 2 Here

Author: Dom Daley

Pat Todd And The Rank Outsiders don’t make bad records.  Might as well get that out there from the start. So, ‘Past Came Calling’ is no exception then and I spose before I’d dropped the needle I knew this but that’s not going to make much sense to anyone as far as a review goes – I knew it was going to be choc-o-bloc with top tunes that followed the time honoured tradition of Rock and Rollers.  Dan Baird, Jason and the Scorchers, Dr. Feelgood and Rockpile to namedrop a few fellow participants in the fine art of Rock and Roll. Pat and his Rank outsiders do like to kick up a shitstorm that’s a given but there is more to them than just Rockin’ out.

From the opening drum roll of ‘If Only I Could  Fly Backwards In Time’ right through its rollicking verses and chorus to the cool as guitar lick that takes us back to the verse this is a quality opener that shows real intent.  Recorded loud to be played loud as all good time Rock and Roll should be at its unkempt best.  ‘The Ballad Of Crystal Valladares’ ain’t no Ballad though folks its a bad assed Rocker, built around a rolling guitar lick and some country-tinged melody played, it’s like the soundtrack to a getaway drive by.  There’s no flash sound tricks or auto-tune going on here it’s just the sound of a kick-ass band cutting it up in a sweaty studio knowing that with every song they capture a little bit more magic than the last take.

The recording sounds like Mellencamp when he turned up the Les Paul Jr on ‘Whenever We Wanted’.  With songs like ‘Run’ which sounds like they’ve been here before such is the comfortable nature of Todd’s songwriting, it’s classic in its arrangement and one of the best songs on the record.

Todd’s cowpunk roots come to the fore on ‘Down In Old Boerne’ with its acoustic guitar and honkin’ mouth organ. ‘The Ring The Bottle And The Gun’ is pure cowpunk as we position the hay bails as we pour the moonshine ready for the yea – haws!

With fourteen songs on offer and never a let up in the quality on offer its a no brainer if you’re considering picking up a copy of this record its impossible to be disappointed you go from the gob iron of ‘Had A Bad Night’ to the smooth laid back rhythm and blues of ‘any Other Way’ straight into the acoustic jam of ‘Idle Time’ whatever style Todd chooses to write in it’s of the highest order Now if The Supersuckers wrote an album this strong – people would be salivating over it.

‘Just Between You and Me’ is the sign off in the style of Ronnie Wood doing Dylan and it just dawned on me I’ve not mentioned How good Todd’s vocals are throughout -Oh I just have.  Pick it up –  do yourself a favour and whack up the volume you can thank me later.  ‘The Past Came Calling’ is very much in the moment but I wouldn’t sit on it just go pick it up.

Buy ‘The Past Came Calling’ Here

The Membranes release the heaviest album of the year so far.  Not heavy in the way of an Iron Maiden (obviously) but heavy as in dense physical mass as it lurches from the shade into the light and back again like a beast that’s bee in the wilderness for decades and then suddenly it wanders into the metropolis as the opener will testify covering everything about this record in one track.

The title track is Robbs punchy throbbing bass line right front and center in the mix is a heaving throwback to the days when Joy Division was kicking up dust over the Northwest. These aren’t rounded soft and pleasant noises the band is throwing out there. ‘A Murder Of Crows’ is like the bastard child of Bow Wow Wow as the song jerks and leers towards the listener in an uncomfortable noise yet its compelling enough to keep you listening.  Like some sort of musical cooperative if you want in just turn up and shake a tambourine or blow a horn I’m sure there’s someone hitting a kitchen sink in there somewhere along with throwing a piano down a flight of stairs.

There has to be a Bauhaus influence in there as ‘Black Is The Colour’ about the dark epicenter of winter bloody well sounds it.  Not what you might call TOTP material for a single unless its the post-apocalypse TOTP with a chaotic reverb emanating of Robbs jagged bass line it’s uncomfortable yet listenable and they’ve got the levels spot on.

this double album is an ambitious project and it’s often dark yet alluring uninviting and cold yet warm at the same time one thing it is for sure and that’s epic.  If you’re trying to take it in in one sitting then strap yourself in it might be a bumpy ride just listening to the Janes Addiction sounding chaos of ‘The 21 St Century Is Killing Me’ from its choir on the chorus to the juddering riff its a whole load of epic in one track. the final track ‘Pandoras Box’ is like a headfuck with Choirs, strings, thumping bass, Dead Kennedy’s riff, at times it sounds like a lost Stranglers track and others it sounds like a gift from above its exhausting listening but in a good way.

Another feature of this record is the guest list Kirk Brandon (Theatre of Hate, Spear of Destiny) and 84-year-old folk singer Shirley Collins.  TV presenter Chris Packham also contributes to ‘Winter’, also Jordan turns up, yes she of the Kings Road and a woman who practically invented the punk Rock shock look in 1975. Half the tracks also feature the 20-piece Choir.  So you can’t fault the band for trying to include the Jewson lot into this record besides it doesn’t always work but what the hell they’re trying and that’s a strength.  when it works its a beautiful thing I can’t tell you where it works that’s for you to decide but I would suggest you at least give this a try you never know it might reel you in.

 

The band must have driven themselves half round the bend recording this but I bet once they had the record in their hands and dropped the needle in that first groove they’ll feel it was all most definitely worth it.

 

Buy What Nature Give Here

Author: Dom Daley

As of today, ‘What Nature Gives … Nature Takes Away’ will be available on vinyl and CD, and digitally from stores such as iTunes and streaming platforms. There is also a deluxe double vinyl ultra limited edition of 150 copies.

This summer, cosmetics company Lush will also release a Membranes perfume called ‘A Strange Perfume’ after the album’s opening track. I bet you weren’t expecting that were you?

Remaking albums can often go spectacularly wrong as the artist often runs into a barrier that cannot be overcome- the nostalgia factor of fans. Following up the brilliant ‘In Vino Veritas,’ Tyla and his Dogs have unleashed a celebratory new version of ‘A Graveyard of Empty Bottles’ that will be my new go-to version of the album. I know there will be some that will think I have to be wrong as the original version was perfect back at the end of the 80’s. For you, I ask that you approach the album with an open mind and give it a listen. While Tyla also redid the album back in 2012, this version soars above it by essentially finishing what that one started. The 2012 version now sounds like a painting that wasn’t complete with Tyla saying as much in his notes about this penultimate version.

This album originally came with a note that these were ‘soft songs for hard people’ as they were all largely acoustic and the best unplugged album that ever existed. This version contains the same 13 songs that made up the 2012 version and did make me start wondering what people would think if the band had changed the running order. The vinyl version will contain the original 8 songs though which would have likely made it impractical to change the running order on the other platforms. Lead song ‘I Think It’s Love Again’ should have been a hit single back in the day and sounds as magical today as it did 30 years ago. An excellent production and mix allow every instrument to be heard with a nice bit of guitar by Gary added into the chorus here. Tyla sounds excellent and like he is having the time of his life. ‘So Once Was I’ slows the pace (as most of you already know) with the piano (by Scotty) being a nice addition to the darkness and serving as a great complement to the slow bluesy guitar licks. Some haunting backing vocals give the song some additional depth.

Picking up the pace with ‘Comfort of the Devil,’ the band hits an awesome groove with an excellent bass line by Matty given plenty of space to burrow into the brain. This was one of my favorites 30 years ago and has become even better over the years. Back on the 2012 version, I felt that ‘Saviour’ truly lost something in its incarnation there. The additional instrumentation here, especially the prevalence of the piano has created something very special as the pace is increased too. It has a very different feel from the original with it feeling more like a midtempo rock song than the ballad on the original. Simon’s drum work is outstanding, and it provides an outstanding close to the first third of the album.

Old school side 2 opener ’Errol Flynn’ has been a constant in the setlist and for good reason. This version burns nicely with the band in exquisite form. Another one that has been a fixture is ‘Bullet Proof Poet.’ This is another one where the added instrumentation is used to great effect. There is a haunting feeling to the music with the added piano and drums. This paean for Charles Bukowski contains some of my favorite lyrics by Tyla. He paints a portrait of this character with his words that makes him extremely real and relatable.

One of the biggest changes back in 2012 was on ‘When the Dream Has Gone’ which went from a short acoustic song, essentially a coda to ‘How Come It Never Rains’ into a full band song that almost doubled the length of the song. The 2012 version serves as the jumping off point here. Tyla sounds excellent, and the bass line by Matty remains as catchy and sharp as barbed wire. The spacing in the song helps it grow with the refrain from ‘How Come It Never Rains’ being an excellent reward for the listener. Original closer ‘Angel’ has been a constant on my Dogs and Tyla mix tapes and CDs over the years. While I really enjoyed the 2012 version, there is a charm with the original for me that it did not quite capture. The changes they have incorporated here bring back that charm though with aplomb. I cannot even imagine how many times I have listened to this song over the years. These first eight songs by themselves formed a classic album which has lost nothing in this awesome remake.

We received the added bonus of 5 additional songs back in 2012, and those same songs are also included as a bonus here. The piano based version of ‘Just an English Outlaw’ has been even further developed to create the penultimate studio version of the song. It branches out from the 2012 version at the first chorus when the drums and electric guitar make themselves heard. There is a depth to the mix here too that has found me hearing new things with each listen. The guitar work by Gary and Tyla compliments the song perfectly, and it maintains the momentum of ‘Angel.’ When the 2012 version was released, ‘Gone Are All the Angels’ was an immediate hit with me in this format. After hearing only an acoustic version for years, the full band version was a revelation. They have improved it even more here for my tastes. Tyla’s vocal performance sounds like it was lifted from the early ’90s or late ’80s. There is a positive energy in this band that just exudes out of the speaker. It was apparent on ‘In Vino Veritas’ and just as evident here. ‘Died Fore She Got Young’ could have easily got missed in the big shadow of the previous songs as the band slows the pace back down at the start of the song. The pace picks up nicely though as the song progresses. The electric guitar licks are well placed in the mix, and the hook in the song locks onto you like gum on your favorite shoes.

‘Stealing from the Devil’ provides an acoustic bluesy showcase and really serves as the curveball epic to the album. The band plays with a delicate touch that conjures images of dark deserted buildings with only hints of flickering candlelight. The backing vocal really helps take the song to a whole other level with how it is placed in the mix. The story in the lyrics reminds me of local Texas legend Ray Wylie Hubbard. In some ways, I am surprised they did not make this the closer of the album as it casts a very different feeling, but ‘Won’t You Let Go’ then feels like a sunrise coming over the ridge after a dark cold night. There is a tangible warmth in the music that soothes the soul and lets the listener know that things will be alright.

I am quite aware there will be a handful of people that will not take the time to listen to the album and cling to the original. The original is a classic album, but this version by the current Dogs is also a classic that does not copy the original. In some ways, this feels like the electric version of the album as it carries a bit more of an edge. The additional songs add essentially a side 3 to the record and can stand toe to toe with the original 8 songs. It is a special time in Dogs D’amour camp as these 4 gentlemen have amazing musical chemistry. I may need to find a way to change the rules I impose on myself around Album of the Year nominees….

‘A Graveyard of Empty Bottles MMXIX 30th Anniversary Edition’ is available Here   

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Author: Gerald Stansbury