Category Archives: music

The Rolling Stones

Review: Blue & Lonesome

Once upon a time thought The Rolling Stones were one of the great rock’n’roll bands – who also occasionally sang the blues. In between those early years and now there was not a lot of great music from the Stones – loads of concerts and a mix of music – some good and some ok. Would they ever make great music again?

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Howe Gelb

Music Review: Howe Gelb, Future Standards

Feel like some laid back almost soporific songs as if you had wandered into a quite bar or club.   And some music that does not quite follow current americana, rock, blues or jazz trends.

Here’s an album of all of that and a little more.  Admittedly  I am a fan of Howe Gelb and Giant Sands music  – but this is not his usual fare. Yes it still has that Arizona feel but it is very laid back – and enjoyable.

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Billy Bragg & Joe Henry

Shine A Light – Field Recordings From The Great American Railroad. 2016 Billy Bragg & Joe Henry

billy-bragg-joe-henryHere’s a fun story about two musicians and how they made this album. They hopped on the train and then jumped off at stops along the way to record a song – while making sure they were back on board as the train left. And yes – the music is good stuff. Definitely worth a listen if you are a follower of Billy Bragg and Joe Henry. Click here for more on the album.

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George Monbiot & Ewan McLennan

George Monbiot & Ewan McLennan – Breaking the Spell of Loneliness


A collaboration between the writer George Monbiot and musician Ewan McLennan seeking to use music and word to open up the issue of loneliness and bring people together.

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William Elliott Whitmore

Music Review

William Elliott Whitmore, Radium Health 2015

wewlpThis album takes a slightly different direction to the two albums I had previously reviewed – click here. And while I am enjoying listening to this album, I still prefer the other two.

On this 2015 album William Elliott Whitmore has moved slightly away from hos more folk/ americana sitting on the porch style – to having some fun with a small band with various moods and styles, some being a little more rock & roll than previous.

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James McCurtry

Music Review

James McCurtry, Complicated Game 2015

1035x1035-a1322ccec932fe908c2d8483_280x280I enjoyed James McCurtry’s 2008 album Just Us Kids with its touches of politics and comments on life, the universe and anything else.

This music may not be joyful enough for everyone, but if you like a touch of Americana with blues, rock and folk along the lines of a great singer/songwriter, then this could be for you.

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Steve Earle

Music Review

Steve Earle & The Dukes, Terraplane, 2015

TerraplaneIf you already like the music of Steve Earle, then this is easy for you. This is a good album. It is not quite his usual. Steve is having some fun and is accompanied by close colleagues – The Dukes. The music is Texas blues, Steve Earle style. This form of blues takes several directions, wandering across Americana, a little Delta, a southern stomp here and there and a little southern grizzle along the way.

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John Mayall

Music Review

John Mayall: A Special Life, 2014

AspecialLifeWhen I first listened to the Bluesbreakers in the 1970s, I was listening to music that was almost ten years old. Good heavens, how uncool was that!

John Mayall was making his form of blues in the sixties, in the seventies – and now in the 21st Century he is still pumping it out. How cool is that! Back in the seventies no-one could have imagined that we would be listening to the same guy in 2014 as he turned eighty.

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Bryan Ferry

Music Review

Avonmore, Bryan Ferry, 2014

AvonmoreBryan Ferry’s album, Avonmore, concentrates on the failure of love. Obviously something to do with his most recent marriage and divorce. The music links directly back to former albums such as Boys and Girls (1985) and Bête Noir (1987) as well as Roxy Music’s Avalon (1982).

The production is pure Bryan Ferry. His music continues. What’s age got to do with it? He’s 70 years young and still making music. Good stuff.

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Joan Osborne

Music Review

Albums by Joan Osborne, including Bring It On Home, 2012

joan-osborne---bring-it-on-home-coverThis was my first album by Joan Osborne despite her longish career. This album is for those who love to hear blues and rhythm & blues music being revisited by a talented singer. This is not about simply duplicating the former versions. Rather Joan Osborne and her musicians have delivered some great music through their own soul interpretations.

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Neil Young – Caitlin Canty

Music to be enjoyed

Caitlin Canty sings Neil Young’s Unknown Legend

a2116425332_2I noticed a rave review online for a singer I had not noticed before, Caitlin Canty. After some further research and listening to the online samples, I  dutifully downloaded her music to hear the whole album.

All was going OK, but I was not that enthusiastic on the first listen. No worry, this often happens. I was about to put aside for the night – when I came upon the second last track.

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J J Cale

Music Review

Eric Clapton & Friends – The Breeze: An Appreciation of J J Cale (2014)

058299I am going to keep this short. I have for a long time liked the music of J J Cale. I also happen to like much of , but not all, the music of Eric Clapton. I am aware of many collaborations between J J Cale and Eric Clapton. They are, were, a natural mix and between them we have some great music to enjoy.

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True Lies

A Dedication

for all those lying bastards out there!

Give_My_Love_to_London_-_Marianne_FaithfullMarianne Faithfull has delivered yet another album, Give my Love To London (2014), with loads of emotions underpinning some powerful lyrics. (a full review to follow)

One song, True Lies,  is obviously based on some of her own relationship experiences. However her lyrics  point the finger at people any of us have been unlucky to have known.

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Mary Gauthier

Music Review

Mary Gauthier, Trouble & Love, 2014

Mary-Gauthier-TroubleLoveIf you have read my former post on Mary Gauthier  (click here,) you know that I very much like her two former albums. This album is hard blues country by a very talented singer songwriter about love gone wrong. Through the eight songs, Mary lets us in on the thoughts and reactions she worked through as she dealt with the end of a relationship. It hurts.

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J J Cale and political leaders

Comment on musicians making political messages

J_J_Cale-To_Tulsa_And_Back-FrontalI have commented before about musicians who have used their music to make political comments. Sometime the relevance of a former song can still ring true to today’s political situations.

The song I ma referring to is a tune by J.J Cale, The Problem. It is from his wonderful 2004 Album To Tulsa and Back.

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John Prine

Some Humans aren’t Human

Cover-September-2014We would all love to think that everyone we meet had a kind heart and that they were humane and that they would always treat others well. Sadly this is not so.

In fact one wonders whether such people are in the minority! Our current Federal Government is made up of people who would have trouble being classed as human and everything they are doing clearly shows that they lack humanity.

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Jesse Winchester

Review: Music

Jesse Winchester – his last two albums:

Love Filling Station (2009) & A Reasonable Amount of Trouble (2014)

Winchester-Reasonable-AmountOver many decades I have tuned in and out of the music of Jesse Winchester. I have always liked it but cannot say that I ever fully embraced much of his music.

This was a shame as he was indeed a very gentle and quiet personality with an eye on the world.

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Lucinda Williams

First Listen:  Lucinda Williams

Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

20140927_lucinda-williams-down-where-spirit-meets-bone_91I have downloaded and listen to this album just the once. I have read quite a bit about this latest gem from Lucinda but was prevented from listening to it earlier due to some international travel and an online problem I was experiencing. But all this was solved at last this afternoon and I have been sitting here, with headphones on, making my way through this wonderful album. If you have not already gathered, this is a great album.

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Beth Orton

Review: Music

Beth Orton and Sugaring Season (Deluxe Edition) 2013

Beth-Orton-Sugaring-Season-e1341933656637Sometimes you buy an album then life gets in the way and you do not get to the chance to really get into the music. This has happened several times to me with the music of Beth Orton. It was a case of bad timing.

I have had albums by Beth for a decade or more but it was only very recently, last week in fact, that I was able to dedicate serious time to sit and listen to her albums. I am recommending her music and would love to see a stage performance. Just dreaming!

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Lucinda Williams

Announcement: New Album by Lucinda Williams

Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone

Lucinda_Williams_singerBy the time you read this the new album by Lucinda Williams may have been released. All the reviews have been very positive and given the previous albums have been amazing, this definitely bodes well for another great listening experience. As you may have gathered, I rate Lucinda Williams very high on my list of musicians.

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Linton Kwensi Johnson

Music Review online

Linton Kwensi Johnson, more time, from Paris Live, 2004

photo_We have been bombarded recently with a lot of neo-conservative rubbish about how everyone needs to work longer hours and stay in work for more years. There’s so much indoctrination being put about how people need to do more and expect less. I disagree.

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Colour Music at the ANU Drill Hall

Review: Visual Arts

Colour Music at the ANU Drill Hall

P1070401I wandered into this exhibition with some doubts given the title. I have long been sceptical of the direct link that some artists and authors make between music and the visual arts. This is not to say that some visual artists may be influenced by some music or rhythms.

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Geraint Watkins, Moustique

Review: Music
Geraint Watkins, Moustique, 2014

moustiqueGeraint Watkin’s albums have been few and they have not commanded a lot of attention. I suspect this is because of the idiosyncratic mix of music styles.

This 2014 album by Geraint Watkins has dominated the car stereo for quite a while now.  It is fun to hear the music close up.  This album is recommended if you like this sort of mix.

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Music as Corporate Symbol

Review: Music
Hunters & Collectors: Throw Your Arms Around Me (1986)

HuntersCollectors2The Australian Broadcasting Corporation (ABC) definitely needs to ensure that its profile as a broadcaster identifies with the many communities within Australian society. It has recently moved on this by using a slightly revised version of a very popular song by the band, Hunters & Collectors. I have a problem with this choice.

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John Hiatt, Terms of My Surrender

Review: Music
Terms of My Surrender, John Hiatt 2014

john-hiatt-terms-of-my-surrender-insetApparently John Hiatt described himself on this album as being  “John, the Troubadour Folk Singer Blues Guy”.  It is true and this is a very good album.

If you already know John Hiatt’s work, this is the 22nd Album, then I can recommend you add this album to your collection. It is that good. If you are unfamiliar with any or most of his albums, than start right here. It is that good.

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Eliot Fisk & Paco Peña

Music online
a real gem on NPR Music Tiny Desk Concert

There’s not much more to say about Eliot Fisk & Paco Peña than as stated online: Eliot Fisk looks like the happiest man on the planet. Watch that face as he plays guitar. Between performing music by J.S. Bach and partnering with the world’s best flamenco guitarist, Paco Peña, Fisk can barely control his joy.

Paul Costigan, 7 July 2014

Joe Cocker

Review: Music
Joe Cocker: Mad Dog 1970 to Fire It Up 2013


It was in a Newcastle (NSW) cinema that I first experienced the power of Joe Cocker’s voice and his music. It was 1971 and they were showing Mad Dogs and Englishmen. Somehow the advertising may have confused some, as not long after the movie started several older people departed. Those that stayed were rocked out of our heads!

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Leon Russell

Review: Music
Leon Russell, Life Journey, 2014

LeonRussel-LifeJourneySeeing a CD put out by Leon Russell throws up a host of memories. I remember the first time I saw him perform and heard that voice. That was back with the release of the film, Joe Cocker and Mad Dogs and Englishmen. (there’s a review of Joe Cocker to follow soon)

In between there have been countless albums, several of which have found their way to my collections.

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Aaron Neville

Review: Music
Aaron Neville, My True Story 2013

Cover_Final_My_True_Story_lo-205x205Aaron Neville’s voice is the real thing. He is now over 70 years old and he sounds fantastic. Having several of his CDs in my collection, it was with heightened interest that I approached this one given the publicity that he was revisiting songs from his own childhood.

If you are interested in some fantastic new versions of doo-wop music, then this album will bring you hours of pleasure.

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Ray Charles and Country & Western

Reviews: Music
Ray Charles: Modern Sounds in Country & Western Music, Volumes 1 & 2

Sid_Feller_with_Ray_Charles_-_ca_1962These two albums were released in the early 1960s and they still hold up; they sound great.

The release of these albums was a landmark at the time as it saw this successful singer-songwriter cross over from his usual rhythm and blues and gospel singing to interpret classic country & western music.

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Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis, and Norah Jones

Review Music
Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis, and Norah Jones
Here We Go Again: Celebrating the Genius of Ray Charles (2011)

Here_We_Go_Again_Celebrating_the_genius_of_Ray_CharlesThis labour of love is a live tribute album to Ray Charles. The album is of a 2009 performance by Willie Nelson, Wynton Marsalis, and Norah Jones.

I have reviewed a similar collaboration by Willie Nelson and Wynton Marsalis that was previously released – Two Men With The Blues (Live) 2008  – for my comments on that album  –  click here.

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Mary Gauthier

Review: Music
Mary Gauthier’s Mercy Now ( 2004 ); and Between Daylight and Dark (2007)

colour-picI am not sure when I became interested in Americana music. Some people think Americana is another part of American country music. Not for me. It sits somewhere between country, rock and at times a there’s a little of the blues and ever now and then throw in a folk ingredient.

This is roughly where I put these two albums by Mary Gauthier. She has since put out three others and is due any week now to release another.

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