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Eric Clapton - Happy Xmas (2018)

Eric Clapton has released his first Christmas album this month, (October 12) titled Happy Xmas. It’s his 24th studio effort and his first since I Still Do, in 2016. It is a bluesy blend of well-known Xmas classics, some forgotten pieces brought back to life, and an original called For Love On Christmas Day. In his own words, “I had it in my...

Grateful Dead - American Beauty (1970)

American Beauty is the great album of the Grateful Dead, a perfect record on which can be found some of the best songs of their career such as Box Of Rain by Phil Lesh, Sugar Magnolia by Bob Weir, and three absolute classics by the main two composers in the band (Jerry Garcia putting the music and Robert Hunter the lyrics) such as Friend Of The...

Buddy Guy - The Blues Is Alive And Well (2018)

George “Buddy” Guy, born in Louisiana in 1936, started playing guitar on a 2-string diddley bow that he made when he was 5 or 6 he says, he was later given a Harmony acoustic that now resides in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, and he has just released his 18th studio album The Blues Is Alive and Well, (RCA Records) and well...it is, and so is...

Dire Straits - Dire Straits (1978)

The back story is like a fantasy.   In 1977 Mark Knopfler was so broke following his recent divorce he had to go and sleep in his brother David’s flat, where John Illsley happened to be staying. As Mark was a lead guitarist, David played rhythm and John bass, it seemed straightforward, once they had found drummer Pick Withers,...

The Magpie Salute - High Water 1 (2018)

Two years after The Magpie Salute released their debut live record, the band make a powerful return with their first studio album High Water (released 10 August; Mascot/Eagle Rock).   In many ways the album represents a cathartic moment for Black Crowes’ fans, as it was difficult to foresee what might happen when it all became...

Fleetwood Mac - Rumours (1977)

When Fleetwood Mac, the first album with Lindsey Buckingham and Stevie Nicks, reached top spot on record sales charts, the group was already recording the sequel. What should have been a party became something else, by this time both couples in the band had split up, and to top it off, Mick Fleetwood’s wife was cheating on him with his best...

Paul Weller - True Meanings (2018)

Paul Weller’s True Meanings was released on September 14th and is his fourteenth solo album; but impressively it is the twenty sixth studio album of his career if his time with The Jam and The Style Council are included.   He has travelled a long way musically since first helping shake-up the charts as an 18 year old in...

Bruce Springsteen - Born To Run (1975)

After two notable albums with great reviews but few sales, Bruce Springsteen found himself at a crossroads. His record company was thinking of rescinding his contract but then an article appeared in which someone wrote prophetically: "I've seen the future of rock and roll and his name is Bruce Springsteen." It was the critic Jon Landau, whom...

Lenny Kravitz - Raise Vibration (2018)

Some 30 years after his debut album Let Love Rule, New Yorker Lenny Kravitz has cut his 11th record, Raise Vibration, released this month, with the same purpose and intent, “The message remains the same, it was and always will be about love...With these songs I offer you vibrations of peace love and unity.” The album opens with We Can Get...

Pink Floyd - The Wall (1979)

While many punk fans happily went to gigs to gob at their heroes on stage in the late 1970s, one star – from a completely different genre – decided to spit back.     Roger Waters had grown sick at the perceived lack of contact between the audience and a band who, during the In the Flesh tour, were sometimes playing in...

Paul McCartney - Egypt Station (2018)

Sir Paul McCartney at 76 years of age, a superstar since he was 20, shows no signs of slowing down on his ‘long and winding road’. He has just released his 18th solo album titled Egypt Station and we’re going to take a look and a listen. When you’ve achieved as much as “Macca” (McCartney) in music over the decades, and have...

The Verve - Urban Hymns (1997)

A Northern Soul, the The Verve’s second album was an artistic success but not so much commercial. Launched in the heat of Britpop it did not manage to enter the British Top Ten and barely had repercussion outside Britian. The recording had been chaos and the band decided to separate. But a few days later Richard Ashcroft, their...

Thin Lizzy - Vagabonds of the Western World (1973)

When in 1973 Thin Lizzy went into the studio to record 'Vagabonds of the Western World' they already had two albums behind them that had not gone anywhere, and they were just one of the many bands that flirted with hard rock. Their only glimpse of massive success had been an excellent version of the traditional Irish song Whiskey In The Jar,...

Ray Davies - Our Country: Americana Act II (2018)

Ex-Kink Ray Davies is clearly fascinated by America’s contradictions of excitement and glamour on the one hand, and wild - often brutally violent - behaviour on the other.    Our Country: Americana Act II (released 29 June on Sony Legacy) explores these themes, but it is also part of a much bigger project. In 2013...

Lou Reed - Rock 'n' Roll Animal (1974)

In 1973 Lou Reed had recorded the most ambitious and depressing album of his career, Berlin. An album in which he depended on a number of elite players such as Jack Bruce, Steve Winwood, Aynsley Dunbar, and the Brecker brothers, and also a pair of ace session guitarists Steve Hunter and Dick Wagner. When Reed wanted to introduce the record live,...

Florence + The Machine - High As Hope (2018)

High as Hope (released 29 June 2018 on Republic/Virgin EMI Records) is the fourth studio album by Florence and the Machine, following 2015’s How Big How Blue How Beautiful. Both albums are intimate and theatrical in style, but to write her latest album lead singer/songwriter Florence Welch reportedly quit alcohol, read books and...

Johnny Winter - Second Winter (1969)

Johnny “the Texas Albino” Winter cut his second record for Columbia Records in 1969 titled Second Winter, an 11-song, 3-sided album (2 LPs, the fourth side was left blank) that some consider to be his finest work. It shows the famed bluesman in something of a transitional move towards rock and roll, honky-tonk, and swing, with raging energy and...

Wilko Johnson - Blow Your Mind (2018)

So the man is back with Blow Your Mind, (15 June 2018; Chess/UMC) containing 12 new songs, on an album he never thought he’d live to see.       Ex-Dr Feelgood guitar legend Wilko Johnson returned in 2012 following his ‘terminal’ pancreatic cancer diagnosis by recording Going Back Home with Roger Daltrey, which...

The White Stripes - White Blood Cells (2001)

Anyone who has ever dreamed of making a hit album might look at White Blood Cells (released 3 July, 2001) and wonder how the American duo, known as the White Stripes, did it.       Jack and Meg White spent just one week in a studio in Memphis to produce these 16 songs, which Rolling Stone magazine later placed in...