Here is something to ring in the New Year, it’s best served loud! For anyone thinking this is a band that has passed its expiration date then No Going Back is evidence that there is still a ton life left in Stiff Little Fingers. It’s been 30+ years since these punk pioneers SLF released their seminal debut album Inflammable Material(a favorite on mine). With a new record that’s been 10 years in the making, the working class warriors are still representing why the over-50s are doing it right – with just as much brazenness as ever.
Lyrically SLF are as politically charged as ever and it’s a crying shame that nothing has changed since the 70s and 80s; indeed with queues for food banks growing and public sector wages frozen whilst politicians agree a massive wage rise for themselves, the inequality in the country is worse than it ever was. We need bands like SLF to put our anger into coherent words, whatever your opinions about preaching to the choir, it’s important that we know we aren’t alone in our horror at the world around us. They attack individual selfishness I Just Care About Me, corporate greed a brilliant song Full Steam Backwards, politicians Liars Club, the Catholic Church Guilty As Sin, “a beautiful, angry song about the child abuse scandal: “suffer little children and by Christ they did””, bigotry One Man Island and a personal song from Jake Burns about his struggles with depression My Dark Places. Musically it has the sound of the album Nobody’s Hero and is easily their best work in a long time.
The album ends with When We Were Young. Jake Burns (vocals and lead guitar) tells a story of how he was sitting in a bar with Phil Lynott (bassist) and they were both bemoaning how everybody was telling them they shouldn’t bother making records anymore, that nobody would be interested, and they realized it was exactly what they were told when they were first starting out. Keep it coming SLF, you have a lifelong fan.
Best Served Loud – David
Track List – No Going Back
My Dark Places
Full Steam Backwards
I Just Care About Me
Don’t Mind Me
Guilty As Sin
One Man Island
Throwing It All Away
Good Luck with That
Trail of Tears
Since Yesterday Was Here
When We Were Young
In the mid to late 50’s (post Bird era) several great saxophone players emerged from the shadows stepping up to adapt the then popularized style of Bebop into what is now referred to as Hardbop. None has had as much influence or longevity as Tenor Colossus Sonny Rollings. He put out many albums in this period for labels like Prestige, Blue Note and Verve. This un-attachment to any one company, unheard of at that time as most artists were looking for an exclusive contract and the consistent income, allowed Rollings to explore several different genre including the one he pioneered and is best known for the “Smooth Bop” style.
On The Sound of Sonny, released in 1957, the Down Beat “New Star” of the tenor saxophone experiments with alternating personnel, delivering a platter of wonderful, popular tunes including The Last Time I Saw Paris, a beautiful solo version of It Could Happen To You, and the Cole Porter standard Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye. Rollins is supported this time around by Sonny Clark on piano, Roy Haynes on drums and bassists Percy Heath and Paul Chambers.
I’d say grab as many Sonny Rollins albums you can find from this time period. He is at the top of his game producing great session after session. The Sound of Sonny is proof of that. Enjoy!
With all the resent buzz around Tony Bennett teaming with Lady Gaga, I thought I would post one of several Bennett collaborations. This one, although short (only 31 minutes long) I happen to think is exceptional! In 1959 Tony Bennett joined up with Count Basie’s band to record several now considered jazz standards like Cole Porter’s Anything Goes, Chicago and George and Ira’s Strike up the Band just to name a few. Though not considered a jazz singer per se, Bennett’s voice “soars like a trumpet” powerful, loose and sanguine. The Basie band was in full swing here, and so was the young and upcoming singer. Basie Swings, Bennett Sings! Enjoy.
Listening to Hagar’s Song is kind of like spying on two lovers while they are embraced. In this case the lovers would be 75 year old tenor saxophonist Charles Lloyd and 39 year Harlem pianist Jason Moran. Hagar’s song is a set of jazz standards delicately situated around Lloyd’s original composition, a five-part suite dedicated to the memory of his great-great grandmother, who spent most of her life as a slave. There is no generation gap here as the two long time collaborators (Lloyd and Moran) speak the same rich musical language. The dialog between them is beautiful and emotional. Lloyd’s sound is vibrant on classics by Ellington and Strayhorn, and Moran at times almost seems possessed by the spirit of Bill Evans ala Kind of Blue and a Waltz for Debbie. Hagar Suite is both powerful and vulnerable all at the same time, moving from sweeping rhythmic intonations by Moran to solitary melancholy wauls by Lloyd. In the end, the album reconciles all these emotions with a beautiful rendition of Brian Wilson’s God Only Knows.
Please listen to Hagar’s Song. I’m sure you will enjoy it, and fall in love with it too.
1. Pretty Girl – Billy Strayhorn
2. Mood Indigo – Duke Ellington
3. Bess, You Is My Woman Now – George Gershwin
4. All About Ronnie – Joe Greene
5. Pictogram – Charles Lloyd
6. You’ve Changed – Carl Fischer
7. Hagar Suite: Journey Up River – Charles Lloyd
8. Hagar Suite: Dreams of White Bluff – Charles Lloyd
9. Hagar Suite: Alone – Charles Lloyd
10. Hagar Suite: Bolivar Blues – Charles Lloyd
11. Hagar Suite: Hagar’s Lullaby – Charles Lloyd
12. Rosetta – Earl Hines
13. I Shall Be Released – Bob Dylan
14. God Only Knows -Brian Wilson