Unplugged

Wilco - Cruel Country (2022)

Going back to his roots One of the most incredible things about Jeff Tweedy with Wilco was how he not only knew how to get out of the long shadow of his first band, Uncle Tupelo, but how to overcome it completely, reinventing himself several times along the way. And it wasn't just any old band, because Uncle Tupelo was something special; a...

Envy Of None - Envy Of None (2022)

Ethereal Electronica It is worth stating at the outset that Alex Lifeson’s new band Envy Of None (8 April 2022; Kscope) is nothing like the legendary Toronto outfit, Rush, for whom Lifeson famously used to play guitar.      The Canadian three-piece last played live in 2015, and when drummer Neil Peart...

Howlin Wolf - The Rockin Chair Album (1962)

Tracing the source of rock Tracing the source of what we know as rock is not as difficult as tracking down the original source of the great rivers of the Earth, such as the Amazon or the Nile. Like these, rock draws from various sources and other rivers, but you don't have to climb any gigantic mountain to find the records that have influenced...

Drive-By Truckers - Welcome 2 Club XIII (2022)

Comfort In Survival? The road trip is a well-worn cultural trope, but – perhaps because they have spent so many years eating up the miles on tour – you won’t want to miss Drive-By Truckers (DBT) take on it, enshrined in their 14th studio album: Welcome 2 Club XIII (3 June 2022; ATO Records).     The southern...

The Rolling Stones - Aftermath (1966)

Pop music’s coming of age   1966 had opened with echoes of the new sounds suggested by the Beatles' Rubber Soul, which had appeared in December of the previous year. Pop was coming of age and the oriental echoes of George Harrison's sitar mingled with jazzy compositions like Michelle or the baroque piano that appeared on In My Life. The...

Def Leppard - Diamond Star Halos (2022)

Let the Glam Party Begin!  Def Leppard’s twelfth album, Diamond Star Halos (27 May 2022; UMC/Mercury), was two years in the making and draws on glam rock to put the party back into this post-pandemia period. In fact it is T Rex’s bizarre lyric “Well, you're built like a car, You've got a hub cap diamond star halo”, from Get It On,...

Randy Newman - Sail Away (1972)

The sarcastic genius That Randy Newman is one of the greatest songwriters in history should be recalled more often, especially at a time when he is remembered more for his soundtracks for Pixar films than for his incredible albums of the early 70's. Sail Away is his third and manages to combine the orchestral arrangements of his debut with the...

Mark Tremonti - Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra (2022)

Ol’ Blue Eyes’ Twinkle  On the extraordinary Mark Tremonti Sings Frank Sinatra (27 May 2022; Take Chance Charity), Creed and Alter Bridge star Tremonti has swapped the protagonism of his PRS Signature guitar for his voice - and what a voice he has.     The idea that a heavy rock guitarist could dare to release...

Guido Lembo

Dear Guido,   You opened the door of your house to me on the night of December 31, 1999. And you did it without knowing me: I was a friend of Maurizio's, "another son" for you, and that was enough to consider me, too, as one of the family. So did your wife Anna and your two good children, Marianna and Gianluigi. It was an important...

Ramones - Ramones (1976)

Candy and chainsaws It was 1976 and the great stars of the 60's had begun to decline, rock music had become more and more stolid as its members had improved with their instruments, the average length of a song was more than five minutes and an album could hold seven or eight at the most. Furthermore, there were few groups left that remembered...

The Black Keys - Dropout Boogie (2022)

Bohemian Blues  The Black Keys - “America’s most trusted band,” according to The Late Show’s Stephen Colbert – are celebrating the twentieth anniversary of their first-ever album, The Big Come Up, by returning to their outsider blues-soaked roots. Dropout Boogie, (13 May 2022; Nonesuch records), their 11th studio album,...

The Rolling Stones - Exile On Main Street (1972)

50 years of 'Exile On Main Street', the rock & roll bible Exile On Main Street is the perfect definition of rock & roll, the record that best illustrates a ‘bastard and rebellious style that was born to shock’ and break all the racial and etiquette barriers in society. What better band to represent this music than this group of...

Stevie Wonder - Talking Book (1972)

The maturity of a genius  In 1972 Stevie Wonder was only 22 years old, but he had been making records with Motown for so long that he seemed like a veteran. Talking Book was the fifteenth album of his career and the second he released that same year, but, depending on how you look at it, it could be considered the first, or the second (if...

Ted Nugent - Detroit Muscle (2022)

Celebrating Chuck Berry’s Vision Ted Nugent does not waste a moment pretending to be someone he isn’t and his latest album, Detroit Muscle (29 April 2022; Pavement Music), is further testament to all the things he loves.    The album, Nugent’s first since 2018’s The Music Made Me Do It, consists of 11 tracks, and...

Little Feat - Sailin Shoes (1972)

Your favourite musicians' favourite band Lowell George formed Little Feat in late 1969, after Frank Zappa pulled him away from his Mothers Of Invention for one of these three reasons. First, George had written Willin' and taught it to Zappa, who thought it was such a good song that the guitarist should try his luck on his own. Secondly, in...

Robin Trower - No More Worlds To Conquer (2022)

To The Heavens? It is difficult to guess what Robin Trower is suggesting with the title of his new album No More Worlds To Conquer (29 April, 2022; Provogue/Mascot Label Group), but it is hoped that he is not thinking of his farewell because the music of the 76-year-old British blues guitar maestro is still much-loved and...

Mick Ronson - Heaven And Hull (1994)

The farewell of one of the greats Mick Ronson had risen to success as captain of David Bowie's Spiders from Mars, and his guitar playing on his legendary Les Paul and his wonderful arrangements were key to making the Ziggy Stardust author a star. When Bowie decided to end his Glam phase, Ronson became a star in his own right with the release...

Taj Mahal & Ry Cooder - Get On Board (2022)

Songs Of Hope  The point of departure for Taj Mahal and Ry Cooder’s latest album, Get on Board (22 April 2022; Nonesuch), came over 60 years ago when the pair were in their youth. Specifically, they were separately listening to a record of the same name by harmonica wizard Sonny Terry and his great pal, guitarist Brownie McGhee, and...

Roy Orbison

When you have a voice like Roy Orbison's, little else matters. Elvis himself said of him that he was "the greatest singer in the world" and Bruce Springsteen has always said that when he recorded Born To Run he wanted an album "with lyrics like Dylan's, that sounded like it was produced by Phil Spector but, above all, that his voice sounded like...