‘Electric Blue’ is the debut solo album release by Erasure frontman Andy Bell, co-written and produced by Manhattan Clique (Philip Larsen and Chris Smith). Originally released in October 2005 on Sanctuary Records, the album includes the hit single ‘Crazy’ and follow up ‘I’ll Never Fall In Love’, as well as duets with Jake Shears (Scissor Sisters) and Claudia Brucken (Propaganda/Act). The new 3 CD 2017 deluxe version of the album (previously unavailable for a decade) features over 200 minutes of music, includes unreleased tracks and remixes, as well as updated 2017 remixes. It also includes a brand new continuous 45 minute dub mix of key album tracks, freshly reimagined by Manhattan Clique, as well as the remastered version of the original album…
For something less traditional but no less killing, try Melvin Taylor & The Slack Band’s Bang That Bell. A post-Hendrix exercise in funky-blue wah-wah wailing, this one has more allusions to Prince and the Isley Brothers than Muddy and the Wolf. In the course of a single tune (“Another Bad Day”) he can blend jazzy, Wes Montgomery-styled octaves with over-the-top wah-wah work and metalesque speed picking. But in spite of all the virtuosic six-string technique, Taylor can also get up into some nasty real-deal shuffles and earthy funk, as he proves so convincingly on “It’s Later than You Think,” which features some brilliant harmonica playing by Sugar Blue, and on a super-funky updating of the Earl King classic “Trick Bag.” And he digs into a slow blues, “A Quitter Never Wins,” with fangs bared. The closer, “Even Trolls Love Rock & Roll,” is a wild fretboard scorcher featuring guest guitar slinger Eric Gales. A tremendous guitarist and soulful singer, Taylor is a major versatile talent on the crossover blues-rock circuit that includes the likes of Robert Cray, Jonny Lang and Kenny Wayne Shepherd.
Violinist Joshua Bell and cellist Steven Isserlis are joined by two acclaimed musical forces - pianist Jeremy Denk and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields, of which Bell is Music Director – in a landmark joint recording, For the Love of Brahms (Sony Classical). Available September 30, 2016, the new album is a unique project that features works of Brahms and Schumann that Bell calls “music about love and friendship.” Bell, Isserlis and Denk unite here in Brahms’s first published chamber work, the Piano Trio in B Major, Op. 8 in its rarely performed original 1854 version. Isserlis also joins Bell – as violin soloist and director – and the Academy of St Martin in the Fields in Brahms’s last orchestral work, the celebrated Double Concerto (for Violin and Cello) in A Minor, Op. 102. Bell, Isserlis and members of the Academy also offer the first recording of an unusual coupling: the slow movement of Schumann’s rarely heard Violin Concerto, in a version for string orchestra made by Benjamin Britten, who also added a short coda.
It does not take very long to realize that this is a nicely put together record. The singing is intense in somewhat of a Springsteen/David Eugene Edwards (Woven Hand) manner, but unique from them. The surrounding instrumentation weaves in and out in a folk rock manner at times and works as a full throttle rock band at others. The Singer-Songwriter category does not quite do justice to the songs. I would say rock fans will like this more than people wanting straight folk, but it has a good general appeal to both the crowds seeking lighter thoughtful material and those that want a good rock beat. The music is rather universal and what is truly interesting is that the California duo behind this band has historically done so much better in Europe than in the US. While I often can understand why some great European born music may not translate as well in the US (and vice versa), I have never understood why several great US bands (Wipers, 16 Horsepower) do so much better in Europe. Add this band to that list, as US listeners need to join in. I believe this album of eleven original songs comes with a bonus CD containing a full live set. (David Hintz)
Andy Bell's debut solo album released in 2005. Features 14 tracks, including the hit single 'Crazy' plus duets with 'Jake Shears' (Scissor Sisters) and 'Claudia Brücken' (Propaganda and Act). Electric Blue was co-written and recorded throughout 2004 and 2005 with Manhattan Clique (Philip Larsen & Chris Smith) who, as well as Erasure, have also worked with Moby, The B-52's, Stereophonics and Goldfrapp.
Brett Dean is not shy about revealing what his music is ‘about’. Whether inspired by certain individuals (as in Epitaphs), or by an ecological or human disaster (as in his String Quartet No. 1, on the now all too topical plight of refugees), Dean’s works are usually – perhaps invariably – driven by extra-musical narratives. Rather than tease out any innate structural puzzles or tensions, his music typically falls into short little dramatic narratives – no movement on this disc lasts as long as eight minutes, many of them rather less than five. The most obviously successful work here is Quartet No. 2, ‘And once I played Ophelia’, effectively a dramatic scena. Its soprano soloist is no mere extra voice (as in Schoenberg’s Second Quartet) but the leading protagonist. Allison Bell’s genuinely affecting performance is backed by the Doric Quartet’s expressionist scampering and sustained harmonies, the strings occasionally coming to the fore in the manner of a Schumann-style song postlude.