Category Archives: Album Review


The West London UK based five-piece band KINDRED SPIRIT — headed up by talented song-smith and singer/guitarist Elaine Samuels — have two excellent, classically trained lead players in their Folk Rock/Prog Rock line-up. Their wizard of the perfect fifths is Martin Ash (violin and viola) while their magical floutist is Catherine Cooper (flute and saxophone.) The band was formed in the late 1990s by Elaine, and now has Mike Hislop (bass) alongside Aleem Saleh or Les Binks (the Legendary Judas Priest percussionist) on drums.

We have been fans of this band for a long while (certainly, since the days of Annie Parker, Gavin Jones and Alan Barwise) and we have been enjoying their polished & meticulously presented songs since before their happy (and well deserved) recognition on the UK “Prog crcuit”. We are especially pleased to be able to review their 2019 album: “Elemental.”

Kindred Spirit Elemental Album Cover
This “protest album” has a boiling, flaming, fuming, globe on the cover…

Rain-forests once covered 14% of the earth’s land surface; now they cover only 6% and experts calculate the last remaining rain-forests will have been exhausted in 40 years. Thus, this “protest album” has a boiling, flaming, fuming, globe on the cover (also identifying, maybe, the different elemental properties of each individual band member) … and starts with “No Smoke Without Fire” and a somber ch-chang from acoustic guitar. The smouldering flute seethes fermented smoke into the melancholic blue atmosphere until an angelic vocal harmony arrives, perhaps to lift us from the fire and into an eternal firmament.

This song metamorphoses around a motif that’s very probably Ray Thomas inspired — it might almost have been found on In Search of the Lost Chord it’s that nostalgic — and into something far more radical and Jefferson Airplanish. Are we to blame for this scorching world? Do we care, while we rest in our nylons, the electric lights ablaze, with central heating exploding in our faces, while we hear the words : “Did you start the fire? Were you the one?” Ending deforestation is the probably the best opportunity we have to stabilize our damned climate, save wildlife species and protect our planet. But are you playing your part? * *

Elaine Samuels Kindred Spirit Photo Neil Mach
Elaine’s voice is benevolent & crystalline…

The softly pattering rhythms on “Pandora’s Box” — with its serpentine coils of flute and descending stepping-stones of chorus — are merciful, but instructive. Elaine’s voice is benevolent and crystalline. The legend says that Pandora (the figure of Eve, she, the first human woman) opened a jar containing disease, death and evil. When she realized what she had done, she attempted to close the container, but it was too late… everything bad had spread into the world, except one thing: hope.

The intro of “Beyond The Ninth Wave” is reminiscent of Uriah Heep‘s “Lady In Black” but then becomes much more intricate in nature, with a voice that ranges from soubrette to half soprano. The composition is hypnotic, fluid and sinuously sweet. And then the entire thing evolves into an expressive dance.

Over-population and “industrial greed” are issues close to Elaine’s heart. So, “Don’t Have More Than Two” is a significant moment on this album: and this is where Martin’s violin is allowed a reign of free-fire to make circles, snakes and spirals, before an insistent chorus breaks out. This chorus is given extra gravitas by Molly Larder and Skye with Bethany, Keira and Grace and other friends of the band.

Martin Ash Kindred Spirit Photo Neil Mach
Martin’s violin is allowed a reign of free-fire to make circles, snakes and spirals…

Daemons” is ever-fermenting and promiscuously potent and the most properly prog-rock track in substance. Although, possibly, the highest mark of the album is the percussive: “Red Red Rose” with a melancholic, melodic edge that corresponds to the band’s former haunting composition, “Run Red” — though the new track comes with wind-milling fiddle-play and consistent voices that hint of the price of devilry and the coming purification.

Elemental” is an ingenious and advanced folk-rock album with several well-favored songs and a lot of creative and wonderfully accomplished musical ornaments. Written for a species that is about to be lost in the fires.

Is it too late to save our planet? Play your part. **

Album launch: Saturday 2nd November ALL HALLOWS CHURCH HALL, Twickenham

Words & Pictures: Neil Mach

** Small scale deforestation was practiced by society for tens of thousands of years, and before the beginnings of civilization. With the advent of agriculture, larger areas were deforested, and fire has been the main tool for clearing land for crops for at least 7,000 years. In other words, the scorching of the earth has been going on for as long as man has existed. While the politics behind deforestation and land clearance is complicated (subsistence farming is responsible for 48% of deforestation) wildfire arson, “reckless burning” and habitat fragmentation for profit is always unacceptable HOW TO HELP? Support organizations fighting deforestation, use recycled products, reduce your meat consumption, raise awareness, and please plant a tree.


KEITH ELFORD AND THE WEEKEND KINGS has become the name of a project to create an album of guitarist & singer-songwriter Keith’s original songs.

Doug Lip
7 of 10 original songs that Keith wrote with his pal, the much missed local guitar-hero Doug Lipinski (Doug Lip)…

The album, “Land of the Living” launched on 28th June 2019 features 7 of 10 original songs that Keith wrote with his pal and the much missed local guitar-hero Doug Lipinski (Doug Lip) who passed away unexpectedly in 2016.

The band also includes all members of his band, Thunderhead (Russell Ayres, John Hiles, Stuart Sollors) plus Simon Davies and Stuart Picton, with the participation of Major Baldini and Mick Rogers.

The album is produced by Major Baldini and Simon Davies.

We had a listen:

The album begins with the thumping basser “Mojo Back” and perhaps a cynical acknowledgment of the stumbles and pitfalls of making music. Although the blues tone and riffwork on this number are quite simple, there is an acid guitar that cuts through the piece to bring a portion of world-weary skepticism.

KEITH ELFORD AND THE WEEKEND KINGS – dark energy and smoky genius…

Everybody’s Doing It” is a rock and roll jangler with a touch of darkness around the generous edges, although it also incorporates a lot of enthusiasm. This has a West Coast feel, like something from the Steve Miller band of the 70s.

Mr Charming” is perhaps one of the most successful songs on the album. Certainly, it contains dark energy and smoky genius. The ginger root ‘n’ cookie-glue voice is remonstrative and persuasive, while the convincing twists of guitar add drama and compulsion. This reminds us of the sad grandeur of Tom Petty’s compositions.

Keith Elford
Keith Elford – “Afghanistan” is based upon the real-life experiences of his stepson…

English rock guitarist Mick Rogers (Manfred Mann’s Earth Band) plays the guitar on “Afghanistan” a song that’s based upon the real-life experiences of Keith’s stepson James’ first tour.

With its hearty and cheerful choral introduction, this is like a good bar song that’s overheard as you pass a tavern, but in reality it is a study about the futility of a war that can’t be won and, ultimately, the denunciation of unfathomable junkets.

Guitars froth and boil and the percussion is punctilious. This swings like a Bagram incense burner in an exedra. But when the smoulder dies away — it leaves a bitter taste.

It may not be surprising that there are consignment songs on this album that sound reconciled. So, aptly, “Dust and Water” spirals  earthbound and is suitably melancholic. The voice is poignant and dark as walnut smoke. There is a persuasive guitar solo and finesse  achieved in the detailed composition. This song symbolizes the mortality and elevation of this fine album.

Thank you to Keith and pals for their continued stewardship of Doug’s memory — this is an album to be proud of and it deserves a place alongside your collection that probably already includes discs from: The Traveling Wilburys, The Cars and Jackson Browne.

Land of the Living by Keith Elford and the Weekend Kings is OUT NOW


New Album from ROBIN BIBI

ROBIN BIBI is one of the best blues guitarists in the United Kingdom and paid his dues working with names lik Robert Plant, Jimmy Page, Ben.E.King, The Pretty Things and Helen Shapiro. He launched the Robin Bibi Band in the late 1990s…

Bibi is an outstanding performer – much sought after at festivals and clubs — and often takes his guitar into the audience to play “Up close and personal” – even getting up on top of tables to play.

When we saw Bibi play in STAINES we described his guitar-play as “Melt in the air moments […] like miniature sonic tear-drops… with atmospheric blues vapour absorbed into each smoky chord.”

Now he is about to release his first album of original songs, titled “No More a Secret” [Friday 8th July on Ashwood Records] and is joined by Tony Marten (bass guitar/vox) and Craig Bacon (drums.) The recording has been given some extra wellie by the Blackjack Horns comprising of Gary Barnacle, Nik Carter and Jack Birchwood.

bibi 2We had a listen:

The disc begins with the coltish and bright track “Play!” This has elongated twists of grain starch guitar and some roughly-hewn vocals that are as rough ‘n’ raspy as a railroad track down Leflore County way. Add to that the shuffleboard beat and you got yourself a Biloxi moonshine party.

Then we find Bibi “In too Deep” with a chortling riff that chuckles and smiles.

There are sighs in there too, deeper down. So when he sings “You always keep me guessing...” We know that his feelings are fraught. This is about waiting and hesitating … The chorus rings out true and the pace is finger lickin ‘good. This is smoky ‘n’ blue.

Packing My Possessions” is another ta-ra heart-breaker. With meticulous guitar-play and those smoke-filled and hazy Blackjack horns coming in to alleviate the sense of despair. Yes, this is forlorn, but not necessarily sad. Although “icicles fall from trees like love melts to the ground.” Passionate and realistic, this is a heart-breaking treat that relinquishes its energies like a slow-burning fuse.

The album concludes with probably the strongest track “No Label on Me.” This reminds us very much of UK guitarist Larry Miller. The voice has a red berry acidity to it and the melody and lyrical content will surely remind you of the “Ain’t Got No/I Got Life” song from the “Hair” musical, made famous by Nina Simone. But this also has a burnt umber standpoint and slightly angry disposition. And that is why it bites so deep.

Want stinging sounds, poignant feelings and characterful guitar-work? This excellent blues guitarist and exciting singer / songwriter shows how us it’s done. Superior stuff!

For Fans of UK’s Larry Miller.

No More a Secret is out Friday 8th July

Words: @neilmach 2016 ©

Meantime, check out this old track BLUES by the Robin Bibi Band:





The Magnificent New Blues-Rock Album from ALBANY DOWN is Reviewed Here

Here at AD PONTES Staines we have been big fans of the contemporary blues-rock outfit ALBANY DOWN since 2010. We saw the young band play a gig in the HOBGOBLIN and later we described their live performance thus: “hot as volcanic ash and yet as cool as snow slippers…

We have watched, with interest, their evolution as a band, ever since. There is something about their truth, honesty and commitment that thrills our heart. We have been praying that they get the acknowledgement they richly deserve and move up to the next level.

We highly rated their “Not Over Yet” album which, we thought, spanned the gap between vintage era blues and the contemporary definition of blues rock. Of that album, we said — “bursting with ambition and verve…” and we have been looking forwards to hearing “The Outer Reach” the new album [to be released 10th June] once again produced by Greg Haver.

We have already discussed their new single, taken from the album, and titled “Feeding the Flame” which we decided hadcobra-kissed darkness hiding deep in each cranny…” This week we listened to the rest of the OUTER REACH album —

Albany Down - the crystalline voice of Paul Muir pulled tight with the effort of agitated nervous tension...
Albany Down – the crystalline voice of Paul Muir pulled über-tight with the effort of agitated nervous tension…

After the impressive drama of “Feeding the Flame” with the crystalline voice of Paul Muir pulled über-tight with the effort of agitated nervous tension, and with the serpentine “Ritchie Blackmore” sounding guitars from Paul Turley [the whole album has a certain familiar “Stormbringer” feel to it…] we arrive in more familiar Albany Down territory with “Do You Want Me Now.”

This tells the story of a couple trying to adjust their connection. It has fluttering riffs, sliced-through with acid-clean breaks, with the sputtering frizzle of energizing rhythms (cleverly articulated by Donna Peters on drums and Billy Dedman on bass) and with palpable tension played out in every note. This song reminds us of the kind of material produced by “Straight Shooter” era Bad Company.

Supersonic Girl” is a funky little teenage romance number. With happy clappyness found in every line. This is princely and light. It even has some greasy keyboards and, perhaps surprisingly, a fat-brass sound. The squelch from the guitar will cause a purr to ripple through your heart.

Mr Hangman” is the kind of song that we expect from Albany Down. There’s that adamant riff and the sun-baked dessication we look for in Southern-tinged blues. This is a thirsty anthem about the unlikely integrity of an outlaw. So it will go down well with bikergangs and their chicks. This evokes strip bar glide-pasts, desert highway romances, and a free spirited desperado lifestyle.

Albany Down - joyful melancholy ...
Albany Down – joyful melancholy …

Like A Bullet” lies at the very heart of this fabulous album. Albany Down always include at least one incredibly ambitious and progressivly developing hard rock masterpiece. And here’s one for the “Outer Reach.”

This song is about obsessive, bittersweet love. The song clamps a hold on your heart right from the opening bars, before expanding wonderfully before you. The songcraft incorporates strong emotion, dark moods and spontaneous anger bites.

The dark notes hint at sadness and loss. This is cleverly stylistic, perhaps even bombastic, but never feels pompous or extravagant. One gets the feeling that, in the Albany Down world, anguish and fever are a constant state of mind. So they are allowed their dramatic releases.

The album ends with the jewel-like slow tempo, rhythm and blues-inspired ballad “Sing Me to Sleep.” Like the album opener, this song has cinematic quality and presents some of the best vocals we have ever heard from Paul. And, of course, when the blue-paper is touched, you better stand back … because the guitarwork is magnificently uplifting and screams with emotion. Still want something more? How about an “I Am the Walrus” fade-out coda ? Perfect.

Yes, there is joyful melancholy here — songs about unrequited love and suffering losses — but also expect electricity, magic and turbocharged theatrics.

For fans of Bad Company, Led Zeppelin or Free.

Words & Images: © Neil Mach
Pre-order this album at Albany Down’s own site here:
LIVE DATES below video

Kindred Spirit Phoenix Rising

When hundreds of police and judicial officers were mobilized to evict the Gypsies at Dale Farm in Essex (the largest concentration of travellers in the UK) the TV cameras identified a young Irish traveller girl who stood, staring imploringly, directly into the camera lens.

She said “What will we do when all the hippies are gone?”

“The last one is leaving soon… Who will protect us then?” The girl was referring to the New Age travellers camped in the adjacent fields. These Peacenicks from ‘Dale Farm Solidarity’ had started leaving in their “peace convoys” before the anticipated trouble began. But the girl with the wide eyes and warning words haunted me for a long time after the event. “What will we do when all the hippies are gone?”

Elaine Samuels and her incredibly talented band may not be pleased to be compared with new age hippies. But, as it turns out, just like those disappearing Hippies — they too believe in beauty, love and honesty.

And they seek to explore the transitory nature of life on their new album ‘Phoenix Rising. ’ The album is a collection of their most recent songs (some written as long ago as 2000 – and some as recently as 2013) — and these songs have been thoroughly ‘road-tested’ to audiences around Surrey and West London.

Elaine Samuels - Her voice is magnificently high —stepping daintily — and dancing with flute and tortured violin...
Elaine Samuels – Her voice is magnificently high —stepping daintily — and dancing with flute and tortured violin…

The first song sets out the stall. ‘Kindred Spirit has soft shimmering beginnings and the main vocal (from songwriter and dynamic front-woman Elaine) is almost spoken at times (reminding us of Jefferson Airplane… Perhaps with Grace at her smokiest.)

Yet Elaine’s voice is sophisticated and clear — never San Francisco foggy — in its exposition. At times her voice is magnificently high — stepping daintily — and dancing with flute and tortured violin. This first track also has an exotic oriental flavour — with sounds fluttering freely from tall minarets of rhythm.

On “Life is a circus …” Elaine sings with accustomed ease. This is almost beat-pop in style and substance, but with some folk tradition still remaining intact.

Then follows the most Dylanesque song on the album. And also one of our favourites — the ominous ‘Wolves at the Door.’ In our new world the howling dogs are not contained outside the walls of the city. They do not bay at the city gates begging to come in. No, the beasts now live inside the walls with us. They sneak through our defenses to gnaw at us while we sleep.

These wolves will ooze through the optical fibres, sneak through radio waves, and romp through our networks. These days, a person’s soul can be eaten while he or she remain unconscious to the threat. The nervy guitars accentuate that threat, while fretful sax and lamenting violin create feelings of increasing anxiety.

Kindred Spirit Phoenix Rising rect Photo Deaf Steve
Photo Deaf Steve

We experience more Grace Slick on “It’s Not Too Late” — this time with sympathetic congas and illuminating violin.

This song seems to offer up some salvation from the wolves. But is the offering of help too late for us?

After a passionate, panting and haunting cover of “A Horse with No Name” and then the ‘Drunken Landlady’ we arrive at the brackish jig called “Feed the Fire”.

This has a charcoal riff and centres on the premise that we build our beds, our homes, our cities and our civilization… Higher, ever higher. Bolder, ever bolder.

This Kindred Spirit album seems all about facing up to the hidden dangers and the stored-up menaces presented to us in the modern world. But salvation is offered by the band. Through music. The sounds and words invite us to think freely.

Children of the Stars’ explores our journey. With some superb synth-work by Jez Larder, and yearning sax by Catherine Dimmock, plus some very impressive percussion from David Rowe, this is a mystical track.

No matter that this album contains some right-on New Age messages...
No matter that this album contains some right-on New Age messages…

No matter that this album contains some right-on New Age messages. Or that some of the songs (especially the last one — ‘The Phoenix’) might seem more at home on the soundtrack to “Hair” the Musical than on a modern disc. The subtexts and messages still remain vital and ought to be a fundamental source of inspiration.

The last song, with serpentine violin and extraordinarily subtle backing vocals, invites us to consider the burning of everything we once loved (and we think we need.) And then to address the rebirth of our existence. There is hope. But it is in flame. And in the rising stars of ash. Only the embers of our material substance will help us to be re-born. We must embrace our spirituality. Hold on to our nature. And retain our curiosity and fascination with the magic of our existence.

Maybe it’s true. Perhaps, now, all the hippies are gone.

But at least Kindred Spirit show us, here, how to live in dignity. And how to be prepared for re-birth.

This is a creative, progressive folk-rock album with some extraordinarily beautiful songs and a host of imaginative and wonderfully crafted ideas. Written for our generation.

Words: @neilmach 2015 ©


The Album launch show will be on Saturday, April 18th. St Augustine’s Church, Whitton, TW2 6DE

Find out how to get your ticket here:-


Magic Eight Ball – New Album

Magic Eight Ball is an energetic power pop trio from Egham, Surrey – they have been relentlessly gigging and recording since around 2004.

The band have made some notable live appearances across the UK and on the radio airwaves, and played on several national tours.

Front man Baz Francis is every inch a rock star. Astonishing, outrageous, and mercurial – a proper primping , preening maelstrom of grandiosity and fabulously oblivious narcissism.

The band has now released their 10-hit album ‘Sorry We’re Late But We’re Worth The Wait’ … and we did not waste any time getting our hands on a copy.

Magic Eight Ball neil machHere’s what we thought:

This splendid album begins with the burning beauty of ‘Something Better Has Come Along.’ This song pushes you back like a roaring, huge wave- then you get drowned by the extremely viscous ripples of melody that will make you suck and choke. A persistent and joyful solo guitar gushes out like a spring-head of emotion from the centre of the song – this is a delight – an intoxicating blend of power-pop hooks and lush soundscapes.

Sunday Mornings’ has a characteristic rock ‘n’ roll beat and a dark, low riff which seems to evoke a step by step, moody march downwards. Yet it is fizzy and light – and completed by some heavenly backing vocals. ‘Baby, Is It So’ has almost the same melody of the song before – but this time the sounds are more sentimental and low-key. An acoustic guitar gently grazes the architecture of the song – as it stands back to let moon-high pickings stand centre-stage. But the piece soon develops into a more complete soup – a beer-frothing brew of steamy vocals and blustering rock sounds.

Big Star’ sounds more Britpop than the previous tracks. The first buzzing guitars and harmonies will put a shine on your face. This is a wonderful song. Next is the healthy and romantic ‘Never Need New Genes’ which is about as near to Cliff (circa 1959) as I have heard for some time – with lush Frankie Avalon sound voices and a Harrison style solo guitar.

Monkey Bars’ is one of two songs that have been pushed forwards as singles. It is passionate, sweet and nostalgic. The lead vocals by Baz are absorbing and intimate. The clever lyrics may remind you of Lennon. When the song begins to bloom, your toes will move and your heart will skip. The warmth and generosity of this simple song took me back to my better days in 1970 and the lost innocences of my past.

Russian Ballet’ is very reminiscent of Mott The HoopleAll the Young Dudes‘ (Bowie 1972) with those humming power-chords, steep glam-rock ledges and open-mouthed vocals. But even if your sentimental mind is unable to travel back to the foreign country of 1970 – this song will still take you back … probably to the beginnings of Britpop and the glorious ‘Definitely Maybe‘ days.

magic 8 ball shortAfter the Bolan style boogie track ‘Love Makes You Do Some Funny Things’ we get to the melodrama of ‘Before It Was Murder (You Got Me Talking)’ that features Enuff Z’Nuff singer Donnie Vie. The riff ominously thunders out against the tight vocal harmonies and the intricate multi-layered textures. It brought to mind the ‘Smith Westerns’ but with more ornamentation, pomp and decadence than you might find from the Chicago-based band. This, for me, is a stand-out track on the album.

The album finishes with the neat and sighing ‘Local Girls’ with its decorative images and relaxed air. It is sentimental and well cared for. A nice song with a sadness in its heart.

‘Sorry We’re Late But We’re Worth The Wait’ is an accomplished album. Perhaps a little anachronistic and aesthetically parochial – it is, nevertheless, genuinely thought-provoking and extremely entertaining.

With its authentic rock ‘n’ roll foundations and constant reminders of better times and better places – this is potent, affable and worthy of many-many repeated listens.

Go get it now!

– © Neil_Mach January 20134 –






Tree House Fire Rocket Album Review

Those loveable Guildford based reggae/ska /pop fellas  Tree House Fire have proudly produced an amazing debut album – available right now on Trench Foot Records.

The recording entitled Rocket! can be grabbed at their bandcamp site or using the links below.

After the band’s sensational show at The Hobgoblin, Staines at the weekend (Ant’s Birthday bash) – we got hold of a copy of Rocket!  And here’s what we thought:

With a whirlwind of a start to it,  this song pumps you up from the inside and it makes you grind. The first tiny taster-track grooves smoothly into the superb composition ‘Straza Grip’. With its boom-boom political references and a bass line that walks impulsively along-the-line. This accomplished song has more fire in its belly than a dragon that’s been force-fed a vindaloo.  ‘No more prophets to spread the world …’  Sings Sam (vocals / guitar) as those sinewy organ sounds swelter out.  This track simmers and bubbles beneath the Levantine sun.  ‘The Drop’ pulls no political punches either.  But that won’t stop you dancing.  The vibrations will shake your chitterlings  –  causing some sonic damage deep down in your Mondongos

And then ‘Rabble’  flames up a joint of soothing sounds, so you can start to relax and unwind into some early shimmying, ready  for ‘Peoples Problems’.  This enjoyable ditty has lumpy low notes  – and these get pulled and prodded around by the band’s miracle bass player – Ant.  The cool voice runs along, growing in stature as it matures within the song.  And then, before you know it, it’s all over. It’s a bit like a night out with your mates really!

Title track ‘Rocket!’ has a traditional Reggae/Ska edge to it. Effective vocals create several notable moments, and the song-structure will certainly make you raise your arms and sway.  A memorable chorus will linger for ever, too.

Scratchy ‘Great Ocean Road’ (Featuring DJ Killer Tomato)  is a fast paced squawking scatter-gun of surprises. An addictive beat is gilded by those intrepid vocals that chatter out an alarming rate.

The track ‘Stack It Up High’ is the creation “par excellence” of Tree House Fire.  A firm favourite at live shows, the bass play in this extraordinary piece is so utterly depraved that it  almost consumes you.

And ‘KMB ’ is the band’s party song.  It’s happy reggae. It has a whooping sing along chorus and oodles of plucky guitar sounds that keep moving behind an enormously bouncy bass and cheerfully inflatable vocals. It’s the kind of the song that you need to take your heels off for.  Sod it, take off your shirt too. ‘Cos you will be dancin’ along to this one. For ages.  I promise you. In fact, you will be “bouncing off the ceiling ..”  after listening to it.

– © Neil_Mach September 2012 –


Ghost of the Highway Work with Paul Frost on New Album

Ghost of the Highway are a heavy rock trio from the Guildford / Dorking area.  Already renowned locally for their hard hitting songs and energetic live performances, together with their hard working punk rock ethic – they are spreading their wings outside the County – and now slowly becoming sought after across the land.

This particular ghost story begins in late 2010 when guitarist Jon Lett wandered into a bar, despondent from the breakup of his former bands. There he met drummer Jack “Gump” Summerfield. After waxing lyrical about the status of the local scene and the bands in it, helped by copious quantities of alcohol, Jon and Gumpo decided to join forces to see if they could create their own destiny and deny the forces of evil their victory.

After a fair amount of hard work, trials and tribulations, 2 bassists and surviving the generally perilous state along the way, Ghost of the Highway released a demo EP titled “Hope and Other Four Letter Words” in 2011 (on bedroom label Specky Records) to rave reviews. In the September of that year they met bassist Jack “Willy” Williams and the noble triumvirate was formed. At this point the local scene was buzzing for the band, so it was time to hit the studio for a (really) mini album. With producer Paul Frost [Zico Chain], behind the desk and offering guidance, Ghost of the Highway finished working on their amazing debut album earlier this year. The first single “So Sick” is now available through iTunes and is already creating quite a stir…

We had a listen to this exciting ‘mini album’ and this is what we thought:

“So Sick” –  The spirted fizz of this track sweeps you off your feet right from the very start. This high energy tune strives to be something even bigger than you can possibly imagine. Classic low-down riffs combine with creative harmonies that are not only very pleasant in their own right, but also recall the irrepressible magnificence of such classic rock masters – such as Alice Cooper. ‘Nuff said?

“Preacherman” – Slightly softer in focus than the ‘So Sick’ track, this still resounds with the spirit and imagination of truly inspirational classic rock. A bunch of beautiful arrangements allows you to get into the very heart of this song … Then the chiming and hummable chorus really gets those hooks into you.

Ghost of the Highway © Neil_Mach 2011

This spoons out enormous splodges of fudgy guitar and a walking bass that will not let go of your neck muscles. The dirty riffs coat you in grease- and the vocals are the kinda 1950’s sleazy sounds that you might hear in some downtown car mechanics crumbling place.  The percussion on this track is outstanding… with piles of shimmering cymbals and blasts of crackpot yet symmetrical drums.  Fuzzy but enormously enjoyable.

“Second Rate”- This has streamers of guitar that fly in the wind as this song rushes down a rickety track hurtling towards the entrance to the tunnel of love. Sneering vocals and a blustering fast beat adds to the illusion of freerunning – and being totally dizzy-silly out-of-control.

“March of the Pigs”
A lightly tapped out hook starts this whole thing off, but then the glorious verse starts to overwhelm the listener- emblazoned with licks and splashes of guitar. Generous riffs create a wholesome texture that may remind you of big hair bands like Bon Jovi. But this song also has a style and a substance of its own.  And, most importantly, this will be a real anthemic chant-along  when played live.

“Another Pretty Boy”
This has some jarring notes,  strident chords and faltering rhythms before the shimmering fullness of the song charges into view. A  fizzy pop confection with a punky beat and sardonic lyrics- the sounds are perfectly suited to  the title and the theme.

This is album is essential for anyone who calls themselves a classic rock enthusiast…

© Neil_Mach June 2012

Buy So Sick here:

Check out the band here:

Stirring Stories of Highway’s Hobos and Heroes Win Tribal Chieftain’s Praise

Keith Beasley – Highways Hobos and Heroes

The 14 songs on this country-blues album have been written, recorded and compiled by Keith Beasley over a period of 15 years (1995 – 2010) and have been chosen by him from an extensive song-book … as the songs that mean the most personally. He admits to being heavily influenced by the nostalgia of a highly stylized American culture. Keith is an accomplished blues, folk and rock ‘n’ roll musician.  He has played many gigs in and around Staines with his ONE FOR THE ROAD band.  This is an eagerly anticipated album of his collected inspirations and influences.

Songs such as ‘Wounded Knee’  have almost Dylanesque chord structures growing within them, and in this tune the chords seem to echo out across the Mesa. The words in the song tumble down gracefully – like the tears on Red Cloud morning . Harmonicas flare occasionally, as those old heart aching embers are rekindled. This gently stirring  country song ambles along in the midday sun with a suitable lope and a knowing glint in a saddened eye.

Since this album is a journey through the hobo States, it is no surprise that there are a lot of train references. ‘Mystery Train’ is one such reference- a chugging steamer of a song, pounding its way up the tracks with an agreeable thud.

‘Ghost Train’ is a bit more ashen faced. Lazy-necked and slippery bottled strings are peeled from Keith’s guitar like the skins from a tacked up side-winder. The out-and-out  blues rhythms clutter along. A harmonica frolics with whiskey soaked guitars, as manful rhythms stride purposefully down a dusty line.

‘Looking for The Country’ is a traditional rock and blues merrymaking roister-doister of a piece. You’ll need to polish the tips on your bolo-tie and watch your boot-straps don’t snag on her hems – because I guarantee that you’ll not stop dancing to this one!

‘57 Chevrolet’ has a buzzing riff and feels like a real man-sized road-song- it’s chock full of smoke and dust. ‘Heat of The Night’ opens with organ sounds, and it really feels like a night under stars south of the “Big River”. The song retains it’s big hot city swagger, amidst the grime and stench of a dirty Maquiladora. And a burst of juicy sax retells the magnificence that could even be possible here in this squalid heat.

Another train song is ‘The Southbound Train’ a hardy blues outing with those familiar globular, throaty vocals from Keith, powdered with silica-dust rhythms.

The album finishes with ‘The Saddest Song’  a tune that perfectly suits Keith’s guttural, gurgled voice. A lamenting story, decorated by bowls of mournful bass-notes. This is bleak and blameless yet perks up when the whines and cries of swirling guitars rise against the smoky fogs of despair. Things brighten up as the song unfolds into perfect harmony and heaven sent clemency.

This album has already been given the great seal of approval from Radio Kili, (the Lakota Sioux Radio Station in South Dakota, out on the Pine Ridge Reservation.) Keith has received messages of support and “Woplia” (Great Thanks) from Morris Bull Bear who is the living descendant of Chief Bull Bear – killed by Red Cloud in a tribal dispute. Apparently Morris Bull Bear’s family love the ‘Wounded Knee’ song.

© Neil_Mach May 2012
Grab The Album Here on Amazon

See Keith LIVE at:
The Red Lion, 92-94 Linkfield Road, Isleworth, next Saturday – 2nd June

Bloodloss – ‘The Struggle’ – Album Review

This magnificent album from the locally based heavy metal outfit Bloodloss, is a very personal affair, consisting of 6 tracks that stand as disturbing ideas on the struggle to come to terms with loss, grief, loneliness and desolation. But the tracks also demonstrate enthusiasm and freshness, somehow offering glimpses of slow redemption. Capable of great love and warmth, but full of emptiness, yearning emotion and pain, this album will satisfy all but the flintiest bosom.

Inter-mingled amongst the fiery framework in this cauldron of sounds on the opening track  – ‘The Struggle’ – are sparkling jewels of the finest obsidian-sharp quartzite guitar-work (Rob Ironmonger and Mark Browell).These are more valuable than you can possibly imagine because, without these shining beacons, the work would become incredibly bleak. The slower moments allow you to take a breath, and look around you, before contemplating startling horizons. Cruel and lascivious at times, this track is also tender and passionate at others. Constantly, you feel enmeshed within a chain-mail strait-jacket , as if some incalculably strong and furious demon has enslaved you. Matt Hobbs (vocals) adds grimy earth shattering cries and undying growls. But his voice also gently soothes and embraces you when you need it. This is precious stuff.  The tantalizing guitar solo in the last portion of the song whips up a magical swarmfest of volcanic majesty and power.

‘This Still Remains’ has a buzz-saw bass (David Smith) that gives this track a memorable gravitas of burgeoning power. Drum beats (Daniel Kelly) are released like spark and fly shrapnel – flung from a furnace, like whipping chains of golden fire. The guitars stand like giants. Only to be cut down by lacerating vocals that cut through everything like spitting acid. A regular beat is gradually formed, and this slow march submits to a procession of sounds which then forecast the catastrophic famine within the final breaths of this extraordinary creation. And only time will heal these wounds.

‘Stand Alone’ is like a war cry from a solitary demon trapped in an uncertain dimension. A very fast moving, and eerie spectacle.  And ‘Reborn’ has more of those sparkling guitars that will fry your members and corrode the nethers. Your precious heart will be mortally wounded in the process. A luxurious riff encapsulates the immense power of those strategically placed vocals- and these take you from germination to termination in just a few terrifying steps. Heartbreaking and mesmerizing at the same time.

‘Lost’ is another song of irreconcilable ruin. The line “I’m just so lost without you” is like a spear through the heart. You will break down and sob in anger and in sadness. But though this may be bleak and desolate in essence, the song does not lack vitality nor  even stark beauty. It is a creation of subtle and dark lines of power, each note carefully enmeshing and entombing you within the depths of a truly glorious despair. Utterly potent.

The obvious fact that the work on this album comes from an immensely sad and final place is clear from the outset.  And yet the last track on the album-  ‘Paradise’  contains sufficient life-force to make you feel you may be able to arise gently from that cursed place towards new beginnings. There is never retribution or vengeance found among the strewn symbols of loss, regret and hollowness- just a sense of justified and longed for deliverance and an ultimate salvation. And as such, ‘Paradise’ is a fitting end-piece to this stunning work, and a monumentally constructed heavyweight monolith of power and beauty in its own right. Eventually, when your feelings of desolation and inconsolable grief are washed away by the powerful guitar lines and the rapid percussion, all that remains is the pain.

© Neil_Mach Apr 2012