Tag Archives: staines live music

SPIKEDRIVERS + FRAN MCGILLIVRAY — Saints & Sinners, Staines

What could be better — in this season of giving — than to receive a generous two-for-one deal? That was the gift they gave us at Staines Riverside Club this week when we saw the fabulous SPIKEDRIVERS play alongside the sensational FRAN MCGILLIVRAY BAND (with Mike Burke) in a special show of “Saints and Sinners”.

Ben Tyzack
Ben Tyzack – offers a “big stew-up of sounds…”

We aim to bring you our interpretations of blues and gospel...” Ben Tyzack of the Spikedrivers told the appreciative audience right at the start. “A big stew-up of sounds, if you like.

And it’s true, the gumbo of sounds that these talented musicians brought to the good people of Staines was a “holy trinity” of spirituals, sharp blues and zesty rock ‘n’ roll.

Beginning with the traditional gospel number “Gospel Plow (Hold On)” that was made notable by Odetta in 1961, the outfit brought smooth combings of guitar, delicious choral melodies, double bass lines (double, as in two of them!) and ripples of elegant rhythm.

Fran McGillivray
Fran – nuanced vocal work

Other songs, such as a smooth Marvin Gaye-ish soul version of the traditional gospel number “Up Above My Head” (rendered with an added soupçon of funk) resonated with the feeling of sweet victory over sin…

But alongside such sacred songs were more obviously turbid numbers, like “Got My Mojo Working” with its reference to Louisiana Hoodoo.

This song danced with the devil as much as the fast and urgent interpretation of the “Cross Road Blues” (Robert Johnson, 1936) that came later in the show. Here, there were glorious backing vocals, guitar howls that ripped through the night air, and an edgy feeling of hustle & bustle that would not have been out of place at Sun Studios around 1952 .

We were told that many spirituals were written in code: for example, “Wade in the Water” probably helped fugitive slaves by warning them that the dogs had been released. Or that the Jordan River would correlate with the Potomac — “once you’d crossed the “Nation’s River” you would find yourself in the promised land.” So, the evening was instructive as well as being highly enjoyable.

Fran’s nuanced vocal work reminded us of Elkie Brooks (in her Vinegar Joe days), while Mike’s expressive finger-work was skillful and inventive, Ben’s voice was firm and vigorous and Constance’s voice was silver-toned and soothing. All the while, the imaginative percussion was a joy.

The two-bands-in-one of the “Saints and Sinners” combo produced a charming iridescence and brought a sincere commitment to authenticity. This was an equanimous concert, delivered by confident and cool-headed music professionals who brought honeyed rhythmic cadences, easy-street rock ‘n’ roll highlights and dignified call-and-response verses that simply slid off the tongue.

Another exceptional night of superlative music at the Staines Riverside Club.

For lovers of the Staples Singers

Ben Tyzack: guitar, vocals & harmonica
Maurice Mcelroy : drums, vocals & percussion
Constance Redgrave: bass guitar, vocals & percussion
Fran McGillivray: bass, vocals
Mike Burke: guitar, vocals

Links:

https://www.facebook.com/franmcgillivrayband/

https://www.facebook.com/spikedriversuk/

Words: @neilmach 2019 ©

THE NASHVILLE TEENS — Live in Staines

What to say about the NASHVILLE TEENS? They had a top ten hit in 1964 with Tobacco Road. They backed Jerry Lee Lewis when he went live in Hamburg that same year. They toured with Chuck Berry. They were picked-up by Mickie Most and produced by Andrew Loog Oldham [The Rolling Stones] and Shel Talmy [the Who].

And, probably, they’re the most famous band you’ve never heard of…

The “youngster” of the group Ken Osborn [he joined late 1980s] playing stunning lead guitar in Staines… Picture @neilmach 2019 ©
We saw their live show in Staines this week at the excellent Riverside Club. The place was filled to capacity for what was probably the most anticipated concert in a long time.

With the original vocalist Ray Phillips still in the front, the lineup now includes the Manfred Mann Earth band musician, Colin Pattenden on bass, the “youngster” of the group Ken Osborn [he joined late 1980s] playing stunning lead guitar, with Adrian “Spud” Metcalfe on thumping percussion and Simon Spratley on liquid keys [both these joined the Teens in 1983].

In Staines the band played a great selection of loud rhythm & blues numbers, rock ‘n’ roll hits and garage-rock/blues-rock wonders.

Right from their launch number, “Let It Rock/Rocking On The Railroad” with furious keys and intoxicating bass-stomp plus those unmistakable shake-rattle-and-roll rhythms, we knew we were in for a mega-dance party of epic proportions.

Their version of Wille Dixon’sHoochie Coochie Man” was stuffed with hoodoo sex-appeal as Ray provided vivid vocals, his arm often extended over the microphone, thus bestowing drama and intrigue. This was when we realized what a musical powerhouse Ken could be: his guitar yielded a furious tangle of oxidized notes and harmonics in a constant state of expansion.

Each recognizable hit hotfooting it after the other… Photo @neilmach 2019 ©

Their neatest trick was to run headlong into a motley medley of well-connected numbers, with each recognizable hit hotfooting it after the other: So, in the first half we had Keep on Running / Somebody Help Me / Gimme Me Some Lovin.  And in the second half we had a similar set of overlapping rock ‘n’ roll numbers. It’s a pity that the keyboards were not stronger in the first medley, but the sound was soon sorted out.

During the sensational Staines show we had Rolling Stones favorites, Chuck Berry sing-alongs, and songs taken from a back catalogue which, to be fair, comes from 1964-1969. Yet these durable songs have been energetically played and re-played by these genuinely talented musicians for over fifty years.

Tobacco Road” starts with a tribal thumping that is said to have inspired Sweet’s “Blockbuster.” And although the song began as an unpretentious folkloric number [written by John D. Loudermilk, 1960] the Teens interpret it as an elaborate, yet unrestrained, blues-rock spectacular. The curious mythology of this song is that it was the last number to be recorded by Jimi Hendrix. He laid it down at Ronnie Scotts, on the 16th September, 1970. He died in Lansdowne Crescent, Notting Hill early on September 18th.

Although the band finished their show with the famous “Tobacco Road” their encore was Steppenwolf‘s “Born to Be Wild” — a curious choice, with lyrics about “heavy metal thunder…” and an association with biker gangs and Easy Rider.

But that’s the best thing about this fine band. They play exactly what you want, when you want it. And when they play — their renditions are thunderous and thrilling. In fact, this was the most perfect end-piece to the “Wild Angels” spirit of the early songs on the set: it was unswerving, with robust guitar riffs, aerated vocals and rough rhythms …

Yes, the place was on fire…. we’re so glad [we] made it!

Link: http://www.nashville-teens.com/
Words & Pictures: @neilmach 2019 ©

PAPA GEORGE and MICKY MOODY — Live in Staines

Award-winning bluesman PAPA GEORGE and legendary guitarist MICKY MOODY played a live concert at the fabulous STAINES RIVERSIDE CLUB on Thursday night. Rock vocalist and talented composer ALI MAAS joined them onstage as a special guest.

The duo played a selection of blues, rhythm and blues, soul and gospel songs that included some choice cover songs as well as a selection of Papa George’s own first-class numbers.

Songs like Little Feat’s “Sailin’ Shoes” had the crowd swaying along with its indolent lurching pace — the lethargic guitars and fervent passion of the lyrics penetrated every moment.

George’s fine picking on “You Can Love Yourself” ( by contemporary Delta blues artist Keb’ Mo’) was praiseworthy. As was the liquid bottleneck slide work from Micky.

Here George’s voice was wood-tar and old brandy seeing him perfectly capable of producing cream-hazelnut highs — husky-textured but sweet, sweet, sweet — from those incredible vocal folds.

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Papa George at Staines Riverside Club — here with Ali Maas

Jesus on the Mainline”  ( Ry Cooder)  was finely picked.

This gradually evolving Gospel number is a crowd favorite.

Encouraged to sing, the crowd at Staines joined-in enthusiasticall with the good-natured call and response.

Who likes John Lee Hooker?” cried Papa George. There was a yell of support so the musicians launched into “Crawling King Snake.

This a delta-blues song from the 1920’s that is almost always identified with Hooker. George’s voice on the piece was curmudgeonly and appropriately raw — but the guitarists had a whole lotta fun with the arrangement when they stumbled upon Muddy Waters’ “You Need Love” [the precursor to “Whole Lotta Love”]

The dynamic interaction and interdependence between these two consummate guitarists — plus their whiskey ‘n’ dry voices, with velvet textures — along with a canny song choice and the highlight ALI MAAS appearance — meant that this was a night to remember.

Words & Pictures: Neil Mach 2017 ©

Link: https://www.facebook.com/StainesRiversideClub/
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CASE HARDIN — Live in Staines

You didn’t see it. You weren’t there. You can only imagine — You shoulda been there, man…

For those people who still support live music in Staines, last night’s show at the RIVERSIDE CLUB was a treat.

The terrific CASE HARDIN were in town — they are signed to Clubhouse Records, named after a character in Boston Teran’s thriller “God Is A Bullet” and onto their fourth album “Colours Simple.”

This was the standout gig of the year.

We had already seen this band [whose main songwriter Pete Gow has been described by Q magazine as “a songwriter like no other”] at the “Down By The Riverside” blue-grass night. Then we were totally immersed in the Vermilion River muddiness, and the sweetly drooled guitar. We thought their songs “convinced and anointed us...”

We have been looking forwards to the return of these Americana & country rock paragons.

Case Hardin - lyrics were filled with potential heartache. Every note shook us with emotion upset... Photo Credit: @neilmach 2016 ©
Case Hardin – lyrics were filled with potential heartache. Every note shook us with emotion upset… Photo Credit: @neilmach 2016 ©

After a rousing start, the band brought us into a private world of feverish imagination — “Fiction Writer” — one of a selection of numbers from the new songbook.

This brushed across the room, soft yet edgy. The lyrics were filled with potential heartache. Every note shook us with emotional upset.

We also enjoyed “First to Know”  — the ever-building song from the “Every Dirty Mirror” album that includes the scrabble word “stanchions.”     The choppy texture of guitar on this number reminded us of Denny Laine.

After discussing the merits of Scottish gin [Isle of Harris is apparently taken with a slice of pineapple on the Outer Hebrides ] we savoured the hoppy upbeat number “The Streets are Where the Cars Are (The Bars are Where the Girls Will Be.)

This has super-efficient keyboard work from Roland and schmaltzy lines of guitar from the talented Jim Maving. This band’s sounds are distinctively dry with a peppery aftertaste and gooseberry hints. Maybe HARDIN CASE are the musical equivalent of a sip of gin on the bitter Western Isles

“Warren Zevon is a great inspiration and influence for us.”
“Warren Zevon is a great inspiration and influence for us.”
After the break the band returned to treat us to a selection of acoustic covers. They ventured “into the crowd” — up-close and personal. It was a moving experience. The first song they played was “Carmelita”.

Warren Zevon is a great inspiration and influence for us.” Said vocalist and frontman Pete Gow. “And if you don’t know who he is — then maybe the last hour has been a complete mystery to you…

This number was brilliantly performed and properly ardent.In fact, it was the most exciting song of the night. Tim Emery played upright bass [“Cor that’s a big one...” shouted one wisecracker) while Roland Kemp, the band keyboardist played timbrel and provided sweet backing vocals.

If you can imagine something like the poetry of Bob Dylan peformed with the heart of Tom Petty and, perhaps, the merest hint of super-dry Johnny Cash with the fruitful finish of Leonard Cohen, then you might get somewhere near to the angled beauty and detailed instrumentation of CASE HARDIN.

But, in reality, these guys are like nothing else …

It’s a shame — you were not there!

Words & Images: Neil Mach 2016 ©
Link:
https://www.facebook.com/casehardinband

 

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Cliff Longhurst and the Jazzknights Orchestra Live in Staines

During this week of Magna Carta  the perfect sound-track has been Fanfare for the Common Man.

We heard the number played on Monday at the 800th anniversary dedication, brought to us across those verdant Runnymede Fields by her majesty’s own jazz ensemble — the Band of HM Royal Marines. The second time we heard Aaron Copland’s stirring anthem played live was at the Staines Riverside Club, this time brought to us by Cliff Longhurst and his JazzKnights Orchestra.  We think Cliff and the Knights pipped it!

Cliff Longhurst was a professional drummer for over 40 years, working with Matt Monro, Frankie Laine and Helen Shapiro (among many others) and he has toured with Herb Miller (Glen’s brother), in addition to working as musical director for several well-known television shows.

Now he leads his own big band – the JAZZKNIGHTS ORCHESTRA – paying special homage to the music of Woody Herman.  It’s an 18-piece combo, and at Staines the band also sported female vocals from the extraordinary talent of Pam Pecko-Smith. In this way, the band could unite the music of Herman with the songs of Ella Fitzgerald. The arrangements were genuine Woody Herman (pehaps with just a bit of “Basie swing”) and had been thoroughly researched, rehearsed and re-created for the pleasure of the crowd in Staines.

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JazzKnights Orchestra at Staines Riverside Club with the extraordinary talent of Pam Pecko-Smith [right of picture]
We adored Alan Broadbent’s ‘Love in Silent Amber’ with those dark, saddened tones and empty memories.

The way the languid keys idled through a patch of golden horn before reaching the sax solo. Then the over-burdened love… It seems to have been held back for so long…  just toppled out. Wonderful.

Another favourite was the arrangement of “Poor Butterfly” (Hubbell) — inspired by Puccini’s Madama Butterfly and first found in the Big Show (1916). This was very danceable, with rat-a-tat battered rhythms converging onto sinuous trumpet, mellow sax and swelling trombone – creating waves of emotion.

We also loved the bopping jazz standard “Watermelon Man” which was the first-ever commercial piece written by Hancock (1962). Slightly gospelly in attitude, this number rattlles like a Windy City taxi during the morning race to work. The cries of the watermelon man barely audible above the traffic and through the smoky air, imbued with the aroma of fresh coffee.

Cliff Longhurst pushes all this along from his drums...
Cliff Longhurst pushes all this along from his drums…

Of course, Cliff pushes all this along from his drums, while the band members (clearly enjoying themselves thoroughly) move from careful concentration to over-joyed and carefree abandon in a just a few bars.

A high-point of the show was the familiar ‘Can’t By Me Love’ which had great pulling-power for the crowd at Staines, who were soon clapping along merrily and shuffling their feet.

This was a wonderful combination of beloved memories, creative innovation and attention to detail. Music of the highest quality.

Thanks to Cliff Longhurst and his Jazzknights for keeping this music alive and reminding us that gloriously played big-band jazz is still a powerful force and is thriving. Thanks also to the brilliant Staines Riverside Club for hosting such a memorable evening.

Words & Images: @neilmach 2015 ©
Link: http://jazzknightsorchestra.com/

Loose Lips Live in Staines

Brighton based trio Loose Lips have only been doing their punky pop-rock thing on the circuit since June 2011 – yet they already sound like the tightest band you’ve ever heard.   Take the guitar based dexterity and the song-writing skills of a band like ‘Biffy Clyro’ and combine that with the freshness and style of a band like  ‘Kids In Glass Houses.’ But take a pinch of summer sea breeze and surf up style …  and you start to approach the spirited perfection of this band’s output.

We were lucky enough to see them play at the best music venue around – The Hob Staines – on Saturday.

Live, their songs flow well together, each with a distinctive style and a vigorous attitude.  And there is ample evidence  of their technical ability, found in their exuberant performances.  Engagement is at the social level – their songs are for parties and celebrations.

Jason Barker (lead vocals and guitar) Matt Don (bass guitar and vocals) and Sam Perkins (drums and vocals) have an almost flawless amiability. They cheer up a room –  just by being in it. They don’t even need to pick up their instruments to create some fun!

And their numbers are always so generous – invariably full of brazen joy and cheeky cheerfulness. Take their song ‘Blue Rubber Blanket’. This has a highly nourishing melody together with a distinctive sound. Creative guitar-work is light enough to illuminate a room.  And the song speaks to the listeners on an emotional – yet impertinent – level.

Drive Away’ has a throbbing rhythm and vast swathes of chords that will brush across your brow, knocking you off your feet.  Lyrics speak boldly to the audience.  The words are incisive and stimulating. “You better drive away…  before I change your mind…”  And all-the-while, this plucky band are the exemplars of efficiency in music.  There is never a roll of drums, plucked bass note or a chord strummed that is ever wasted.  Every note, every word, is perfectly placed.

Blindfold’ has that same acidic sweetness that we expect from Loose Lips. That step-down riff is extraordinary. And the melody will remain deeply rooted within your skull for weeks. With drumming as fierce as a famished floozie after a night out on the bubble.  And a voice so wild, and so insanely high-spirited,  that you are likely to get wet … just by watching.   Well, it’s no surprise that everyone dances and prances like crazy coyotes at a Loose Lips gig.

What a band!  Go grab a slice for yourself.

– © Neil_Mach September 2012 –

Link:

http://www.facebook.com/looselipsuk

‘One for The Road’ live at The Staines Riverside Club – JAN19 2012

Five piece ‘Southern Fried Country Rock Band’ ONE FOR THE ROAD played a jam-packed jambalaya of a gig at the fine RIVERSIDE CLUB venue in Laleham Road Staines on Thursday January 19 2012.

This popular venue has attracted some amazing musical talent on their regular Thursday music nights, and this bluesey rocky band were no exception. Full of gusto, energy and promise from the outset, the band stormed through a lively first set with sparkling examples of some classic hits from the likes of Tom Petty, Primal Scream, The Rolling Stones, Creedence Clearwater Revival and a dash of Johnny Cash. Also scattered in there were some more unlikely namechecks like, for example, Kentucky Headhunters.

Our guide for this journey around Americana and all things Southern, from Navajo Territory to swamp country, was the amiable gravel-throated ‘Kid Rock’  lookalike Keith Beasley (lead vocals and guitar) wearing his ‘Baptized in Muddy Waters’ T shirt and sporting a tortoise-brown rather dapper hat. But the band also boasted the rawest, smokiest blues-harp player this side of the cotton belt, and one mean rattlesnake on drums, plus a fierce lead guitar player and a bruising, bouncing bass. This is a quality act.

The second set brought the delighted Staines crowd some solid golden nuggets of sound, covering numbers by the likes of The Traveling Wilburys, Kid Rock and even finishing with some antic-filled punk – The Undertones “Teenage Kicks”.

And all the way through the show, you could almost smell the shrimp on the barbecue and taste the smoky bourbon on the air.  At one point both Adrian and Kenny played joyful King Biscuit blues harmonica together- this was a terrific moment-  ( “Stone Fox Chase”). A rootin’ tootin’  howlin’ success.

My personal favourite was the band’s self penned ‘You Can Steal’ song which had a gruff attitude (comparisons with Dylan were formed) and rusty, dusty percussion. Tobacco stained, rubenesque (fat and delicious) guitars meander and burst out of their corsets. Huge surly riffs mingle and mix, with a great chorus which has raise-your-knees-and-jig danceability written all over it. A true Southern delight.

If you get a chance to see this act live, grab it. Don’t forget your ‘gator skin shoes and your flask of moonshine though…. ‘cos you’ll make a night of it!

© Neil_Mach January 2012

Link:

http://www.myspace.com/430081663

Brightlight City – Live at Hobgoblin, Staines

Epsom band ‘Brightlight City’, formed together holistically in 2010, following long time friendships and brotherhood (the Giarraputo brothers- Jamie on vocals and Justin on guitar). We were pleased that we managed to catch up with this band and their photogenic jamboree of musical fun at the best live music venue in Middlesex, the Hob, Staines.

Their debut single ‘Pressure’ was self released at the end of 2010 and can be heard on the cult British film ‘Jack Falls’. And their new single ‘The Others’ is a bombastic frothily beating heart bop song. Very ‘Duran Duran’ in places with but with their customary slice of acetic growl and snarl adding garnish later. And it’s even reminiscent of ‘The Jam.’

The band played an appetizing show at the Hobgoblin, featuring some excellent song structures and fine vocal imagery, expertly veneered to perfection. Songs like ‘You Shone’ which has diamond sharp lyrics and chirpily relentless vocals (with a dove-like coo-coo-coo). Shot through with cleanly etched guitars that rise and fall like demented moths around the candle-wax. Sumptuous harmonies add a luxurious quality and an impressive extra dimension.

Other catchy tunes include ‘Shortcuts’ – this travels with ease along a jagged path, yet at a light-footed pace. With short, sharp shots of guitar from Jono and Justin, and unhesitating percussion and eloquent bass from Joe and Dan. A cleverly planned chorus means this number sticks around in your brainbox long after the show.

‘Set Sail’ has an irregular rhythm guitar pattern and a sparkling pace. This song brings to mind ‘The Cure’ even with  those bruised and smeared ‘Robert Smith’ sounding vocals and an insistent chorus that drills into your skull and finds a neat place to curl up and slumber- bursting out later to surprise you!

Brightlight City are full of shine. This band, by rights, should have a profitable future.

© Neil_Mach October 2011

Link:

http://www.facebook.com/thebrightlightcity

Lucky Toppers – The Black Hats – Live Review – Staines Hobgoblin

Take three Elvis Costello types. Give them some twanging bass. Crank up the volume so loud it sends a thermic lance up your tender-loins.  Tighten up  the sounds with a heavy gauge torque-wrench. And you have yourselves ‘The Black Hats’. As dangerous as a night out in Hackney. Swift as a switchblade in steady hands. And as formidable as a home-made zip-gun. This band takes no prisoners in a bloody relentless surge for power.  

Oxford’s most articulate pop punksters played a successful show at the Staines Hobgoblin during the summer. They may look like yobs in “Proclaimers” specs or the remnants of a twisted “Freddy and the Dreamers” lookalikey party, but they play garrulously energetic punk at high pitch, high dose levels. And they sprinkle their sounds with seasonings of ska, dub and reggae. In this sense, they are our ‘most post’ protopunk pop-star popinjays. Increasingly recognized and well received throughout their home territory, they now seem to be branching out along the Thames Valley- and they are already creating quite a stir on radio. And they are just out of the studio, having recorded with Mercury-nominated producer Sam Williams (Supergrass, Plan B, The Go Team!)

A rattling & rolling gig at The Hob got all the good people in the audience moshing and prancing and, generally, yelling to the aggregate sounds. This band look like a bunch of rock-hard ‘leave-well-alone’ nut-case bruisers with psychopathic intent. But their songs and intelligent musicianship elevates them to a higher level. Yes, they may be a bunch of amoral, discontented antisocial misfits – wearing ‘Two Ronnies’ glasses -but they are also talented, effervescent with energy and almost academic in their production.

Their big number ‘Tunnels’ rushes & crashes-  it barely hangs onto the tracks- like some kind of out-of-control cattle car upon a flimsy trackway . Driven by a Liam Gallagher-style vocal from Nick Breakspear, the jaggedly highly-wrought guitar-work adds radiating spirals of sound to the bumpy rhythms laid down by Ian Budd on bass, and the generally rickety percussion from Mark Franklin on drums.

Other Black Hats numbers like ‘Magnets’ are creatures that can trace their lineage back to ‘The Jam’ and ‘The Cure’ via ‘Simple Minds’. Bippperty beats, slide around rhythms and cutie-pie slip ups, underpin the smiling yet ultra-cynical vocals and those acid laden vitriolic lyrics. Silvery guitars slice up the atmosphere and a catchy chorus adds to the joy of the frivolous, yet desirable, songs. Yes, indeed ‘We’re all magnets … don’t you know?”

And ‘Just Fall’ helps you feel your way along it’s twisting path with a reassuringly jammy sound. But the angular motifs and progressive bass notes create hazards and unseen footfalls in the dangerous architectural sub-terrain.  Two-for-one chug-a-chug chords get toes tapping. And echoing sweetly, lofty vocals from Nick remind me of Sting at his best (Reggatta de Blanc) and now, come to think of it, his reggae guitar tones also sound a lot like Andy Summers.

Crikey, there is a lot here to be thankful for here. The Black Hats are set to top-off and rise. This is spruced up defiant and infallible punk.

© Neil_Mach
September 2011

Link:

Cow live at Bed Bar, Woking – July 2011

“Cow” are an acoustic 4-piece soul and pop band with a California sound and a kinda sixties-style kookiness concealing a modish edge, flavoring both their sound and their image. This band would not seem out of place supporting The Mamas & the Papas  on the Ready Steady Go! show circa 1966…

The band has already ably supported the Woking ‘Modfather’ Paul Weller and has created quite a lot of buzz and excitement on the music scene. I went to see the band as they launched their superbly packaged “Sunrise” E.P at the sumptuous Bed Bar in Woking.

The band is seated in a half-circle and play acoustically, without drums. Female vocalist and guitarist – Maxine  – is located in the centre of the group, looking relaxed and regal. She provides the warmth and depth to vocals, but Mark and Ben (on guitars) provide some interesting harmonies and generally descanted sounds. Michael is twanging the bass guitar. They reminded me of the kind of band that would be warmly appreciated on the Val Doonican show! But their insightful lyrics and creative compositions, and the constant intertwining, reminded me more of songs by  Loves  Lee Arthur in Los Angeles in the 60’s … together with the delicate air of mystery that lies beyond every song, and the vaguely uncomfortable feeling you get when you realize that you are being  taken up the-garden-path by the lyrical sub-texts and the arrangements.

“Sunrise” the ‘Side A’ on Cow’s new E.P. is like a sixties fruit-cup of love. Not unlike anything by the Mamas & the Papas in aspirations or moodiness. At first glance, this could be put down as a light pop song, but by rubbing its delicate surface, it reveals darker secrets. There is a flourishing yet controlled burst of chukka-chukka rhythms set amongst a profusion of squelchy guitars, but the flamenco style beats and the pervasive chords get heads nodding and feet tapping.

“New Day” ( this song went town well at Wembley Arena when Cow supported Paul Weller) is a foam-wrapped eerily haunting song, shrouded in mysterious folksy froth. And ‘One in B’ sounded like a less funky ‘Long Train Runnin’ (‘Dooble Brothers’).  This song evoked (for me) memories of joss sticks, turtle-necks and snuggling up in your Afghan, on quilted cushions, listening to Jefferson Airplane.

“Get To Luv You” sounds every bit as dippy and preppy as anything by the Partridge Family – a saccharine sweet and high-pitched jaunt. If the haunting emotions bring a tear to your eye and a slight ache to your heart, never mind, because the songs are joyful and  tender enough to lighten your mood and put a shake in your hipsters. Perhaps I could have done with some keyboards to ‘flesh the sound out’ – it felt a little like a watercolor wash at times. But, nonetheless, enjoyable.

“Fragile Foundations” has lustrous autumn gold vocals from Maxine against mellow chords and feel good bass lines.  ‘leaving ain’t no good when you’re misunderstood‘ she sings, while lofty harmonies provided by Ben tend to lift you to a higher place.
Gentle ‘Donovan’ style sweet sixties vibrations linger long after in your mind, even once the sweet chorus finishes…

Passionate, inspiring, folksy, Amercican style sixties soul – from this intimate and creative group. For your gentler side!

© Neil_Mach
July 2011

Links:

http://www.cowmusic.co.uk
http://www.twitter.com/cowuk
http://www.reverbnation.com/cowuk