Bob and Hilary James – They are “Flesh and Blood”

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Seasonal music – another good reason for the season

If you’d have said to me when I was a young adult that I’d be enjoying Christmas music later in my life, I would probably have laughed at you.

But here I am, it’s 2019 and I have many Christmas albums and it feels untrue how we develop and change. Now, it has to be said that any fascination for Christmas I had when I was younger had been turned right around by the time I hit my teens and in the intervening years some remarkable transitions have taken place in my life. These have caused me to re-evaluate why Christmas should be celebrated – and celebrated in a totally different way. But, back then I had exactly one Christmas-flavoured record. It revolved at 45rpm and had one song on each side. Now, I have more than thirty albums of seasonal music – mostly songs of faith and about the birth of Jesus but some that are just about the festival and carry their own joy.

This list may come too late for you to listen to them but at least it gives you some time to add to your own collection before next year. It is the nearer the day when the true love brought five gold rings than the day when we celebrate the birth of the Messiah – so perhaps you’ll find some jewels here for 2020:-

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Music: The principal of pleasure (1978-1980)

A guy that I’ve met wrote a list on Facebook which has been running ’round my head for the last few hours. Quite a simple idea really – the albums he was listening to in his teenage years. It sparked something within me and took me back to another time and so I’m up in the night writing a list of my own but also exploring things that in some ways I’d rather not think about it – a very different time – and some things I guess I’d rather forget.

But in the midst of it there was always music.

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Christmas in the Heart – Third Time Around

My friends just don’t get it – not even my Dylan-fan friends – but I remain fascinated by the 2009 release “Christmas in the Heart“.

It seems to me to be one of the consummate Christmas albums for several reasons which I will list below. I’ve written about this album on two occasions before –  most recently here:

https://twilightdawning.com/2012/12/03/dylan-in-advent-a-second-look-at-christmas-in-the-heart

But here’s my reasons that this is a classic of the seasonal kind:

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What’s coming up in 2014?

Thank you to everyone who visits and supports this site. We now get more visitors per day than ever before. We get twice as many visitors per day just reading old stuff as we used to get on the old site on a day when a new article went up.

So a couple of weeks into the New Year, what seems to be likely to appear here in 2014 and what else will I be involved in?

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New Albums on the Horizon (and an old title just to spice the pot)

Two of the artists I respect most have new albums coming in the next few weeks.

First up is Bob Dylan whose new album is due on cd and vinyl on the 28th of April. I think the artwork is dreadful but I’m sure the musical content will be better. It’s called "Together Through Life"

Next is John Foxx who, as I’ve mentioned before, has been working with Robin Guthrie. Their album will also be on cd and vinyl and will appear the first week in May. It’s called "Mirrorball".

On a more personal note, I’ve been working on remastering the sound on three albums for a band from the 70s and 80s called Sad Cafe. I now have a provisional release date for the first of these. The album also called Sad Cafe will be on Renaissance Records in the States on the 21st of April.

I mentioned John Foxx. Another album he has been busy on dropped through my letterbox this morning. This time he’s worked with Steve D’Agostino and Steve Jansen (ex-Japan). I’ve not shown the artwork for this one before so here goes:

Mr Foxx is frighteningly prolific.

What other discs would I recommend at the moment?

Walter Becker – Circus Money (not just because I was involved in the release of this one)
Alice Cooper – Along Came A Spider (oh, another one I was involved in)
Mostly Autumn – Glass Shadows
Bob Dylan – Tell Tale Signs
Revue Noir (Debut EP – featuring Sam Rosenthal from black tape for a blue girl)
Sam Yahel Trio – In the Blink of An Eye
Rubicks – In Miniature
Frankie Valli – Romancing the Sixties (one for the nostalgists – but very good!)
Marie-Juliette Beer – The Garden
Barclay James Harvest – Revolution Days (just happens to feature Ian Wilson and Mike Byron-Hehir from Sad Cafe, did I mention I’ve been remastering for them)
Bob James – Urban Flamingo
Saviour Machine – Legend 1
Son Volt – On Chant and Strum
Danilo Perez – Panama Suite
Richie Furay Band – Alive (Catch my interview with him on Cross Rhythms on the web and in Natural Progressions Magazine in the world of print)

Enough for now………….

 

Jazz snobs

Jazz snobs irritate me. You know the kind of guy who claims it’s not jazz unless it is some kind of standard or follows some kind of bebop form. For a music that is all about improvisation, it sure seems to attract a lot of people who like pigeonhole things. For me, improvisation is the heart of jazz. On one extreme, I like Thelonious Monk, Dave Brubeck. In the middle ground, I’ll listen to a little Danilo Perez or Eliane Elias. Out on the other edge I love the music of Bob James. It should be obvious by now that piano is my favourite instrument when it comes to all kinds of jazz. But one thing all these piano players have in common is that they surrounded themselves with some great bands.

A guy who used to play with Bob James in the early eighties is Mark Colby, the tenor saxophonist. He’s been making some great straight-ahead jazz on Hallway Records. His latest is a tribute to the sax great Stan Getz. It’s one of the finest albums I’ve heard in the last two years. Here’s a guy who has made some great modern jazz but has also done the contemporary stuff too. Where there’s real talent there’s no room for jazz snobs and their pigeon holes. Just room for great music.