Avonmore

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Bryan Ferry has a new album out this month. I’ve given it a few listens and one thing I’ve noticed is that Ferry’s voice has not changed a bit in the 41 years since he released his first solo record These Foolish Things back in 1973. His unique baritone vibrato sounds exactly the same as it did back then. Since he has never tried to reached for those really high notes, I guess that is not to unusual, but even when you listen to Frank Sinatra at the beginning of his career in the late 30’s and compare him to the Frank of the 70’s there is quite a shift. Maybe its the booze and cigarettes effect.

Oh, shouldn’t I compare Bryan Ferry to Frank Sinatra? Is that sacrilegious? Well, just like old Blue Eyes, Tony Bennett, Bing or even Perry Como; Ferry has been interpreting many musical genres including pop, rock, and jazz for his entire career. Not excluding his original work with Roxy Music, Ferry’s smokey smooth lounge style vocals, I would argue, has been the new standard for the next generation of classic crooners.

On this his 16th solo album Avonmore, Ferry continues the popular sound he created during the late Roxy years on albums like Flesh & Blood, Avalon, and Boys & Girls. It’s a style I absolutely love. I can almost see him sauntering out onto a smokey stage with a big band behind him and a row of beautiful dames on either side providing backing vocals, and “Giving the joint Atmosphere!” Ferry in his three piece suit with a forties style microphone in hand is the embodiment of cool, just like the chairman of the board was 60 years ago.

Avonmore is a great addition to the Ferry catalog! Give it a listen here and then pick it up, and add to your collection. It goes down smooth.

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Bikini Red

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Here’s one to whip out if anyone ever tells you there was no good rock music created in the 80’s. Bikini Red is the second helping from The Screaming Blue Messiahs, one of those bands that everyone should have heard of, but didn’t. They came crashing out of the sky like a squadron of fighter jets unloading their payload of rockabilly drums, guitar and bass with keen precision before disappearing back up into the clouds never to be seen or heard of again. I would imagine that is in part because of the reckless charge of their bald headed leader, Bill Carter, who’s bombastic guitar playing and interpretative lyrics suggested definite signs of post war distress. Every song is a dive bomb, spiraling out of control towards the ground only to just pull out by the final verse. We get a peek into the mind of a real top gun (on the guitar) at full tilt, and it’s not all cute and cozy like Maverick and Goose singing You’ve Lost that Lovin’ Feeling to Meg Ryan in a bar. Shite!

Bikini Red is a Douglas A-1 Skyraider dropping shells like Sweet Water Pools, “Hey, those are my guys!” and Big Brother Muscle. Side two follows up with the funk and irony of I Wanna Be a Flintstone and Jesus Chrysler Drives a Dodge. Great stuff! Then after being All Shook Down, the album ends on a sweet poignant note with a London Waltz, as we “Dance to Love and Life…”

Bikini Red is a 35 minute roller coaster ride! Enjoy.

1 Sweet Water Pools
2 Bikini Red
3 Too Much Love
4 I Can Speak American
5 Big Brother Muscle
6 I Wanna Be a Flintstone
7 Jesus Chrysler Drives a Dodge
8 Lie Detector
9 55-The Law
10 All Shook Down
11 Waltz

After this, Cozy up to Gun Shy, the Messiah’s 1984 debut.

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Harvest Moon

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Over the years Neil Young has survived multiple wars, depressions and recessions, the crapola and shinola of a smarmy music industry, and all the traps and pitfalls of a drug fueled occupation and generation. This year, he has made quit a bit of fodder for the tabloids with the divorce of his wife of 36 years, and a new feud with long time friend and collaborator David Crosby. He has also been very prolific. He has a new album out this month, Storytone, which is his second this year. He released A Letter Home on a Voice-O-Graph at Jack White’s Third Man Records in Nashville this past spring.

I’ve given both a listen. The first A Letter Home is a set of covers recorded in a phone booth (not bigger on the inside than on the outside), which is really hard to listen to. Young attempts to transport himself back in time, and has some awkward conversations with his dead mother about the weather which we get to listen in on. The second, Storytone, also a solo effort, is new material a step closer to par with the Neil we have come to know and love. If you pick up the deluxe edition of Storytone, the ten originals songs are redone on a second disc with the accompaniment of some orchestral maneuvers. Personally, I prefer Neil in his stripped down form. Guitar, harmonica, piano and voice. I think that’s when he is at his best. For me, the presentation of these new songs is better with less distractions. Of the two new albums, Storytone is by far the NY record to buy in 2014.

But, now that we are in full autumn, and winter is just around the corner, I thought I would rewind a bit further and pull out a classic NY record from 1992 –  Harvest Moon. This, the follow up to Harvest, which David featured here last year at about this time, is one of my favorite albums. It’s a beautifully textured acoustic reflection. Homage to nature, the land, love and life. The cover photography is cool, with a 50 year old Young out in the fields at twilight, a scarecrow.

The title cut of this album makes me think of my parents. This weekend they are celebrating their 66th wedding anniversary. 66 years and still as much in love as the day they said “I do”. I’d say that’s a pretty damn good run! Harvest Moon is the best of the best from Neil, even if he did kick his dog Old King once when he was bad.

“Because I’m still in love with you, I want to see you dance again. Because I’m still in love with you, on this Harvest Moon”.

Harvest Moon – 1992
1. Unknown Legend – 4:32
2. From Hank to Hendrix – 5:12
3. You and Me – 3:45
4. Harvest Moon – 5:03
5. War of Man – 5:41
6. One of These Days – 4:55
7. Such a Woman – 4:36
8. Old King – 2:57
9. Dreamin’ Man – 4:36
10. Natural Beauty – 10:22

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