Quick plays: MIKE GROGAN, PELE, THE MOST UGLY CHILD

MIKE GROGAN Too Many Ghosts

MIKE GROGAN Too Many Ghosts Poacher Records [Release date 10.02.17]

Having paid his dues in the punk explosion of the 70′s, and a six piece Springsteen-esque band in the 80′s, South of England based multi-instrumentalist Mike Grogan has settled into a rootsy folk and singer / songwriter groove.

Artists like Clifford T Ward and early Chris De Burgh spring to mind when listening to his third solo album Too Many Ghosts.  Violins, mandolins, accordions and a choir add Celtic and World Music flavours (think Poldark) to a set where the songs come first.

With suitably road worn vocals that fit his story telling material perfectly, Too Many Ghosts is an engaging set that finds Grogan supported by some hugely talented players including John ‘Rabbit’ Bundrick (The Who, Free), Phil Beer and Miranda Sykes (Show Of Hands) and James Eller (The The).

And while his live performances will be solo, with just his guitars, a good tune will stand up to that sort of scrutiny and Too Many Ghosts doesn’t disappoint in that respect.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

PELE Fireworks

It’s always interesting to re-evaluate an album that’s passed through your collection while, in this case, it’s successor The Sport Of Kings (1993) has stayed the distance.

Fireworks was the debut album by Ian Prowse’s band Pele – a short lived, cult Merseyside group born some 25 years ago.  To mark the occasion their debut album gets a remastered re-issue that comes with a signed souvenir booklet and ‘extras’ in the form of B-sides and unreleased demos.  It will also be played, in full, on a Spring tour that culminates with a sold out ‘home’ date – where it all began at, what was then, the Flying Picket club in Liverpool.

Running out at 12 tracks over 38 minutes, the Gary Langan produced album has stood the test of time pretty well.  Ahead of its time in marrying pop and folk, and written with observational, caustic scouse humour, Fireworks remains a thoroughly engaging set – energetic, hook laden, and, above all, fun.

Best served live, the anniversary tour looks set to be a blast.  Fireworks are guaranteed.  ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

THE MOST UGLY CHILD Copper And Lace [Release date 24.02.17]

Centred around the vocal/songwriting pairing of Daniel Wright and Stevie-Leigh Goodison, the debut release from this Nottingham based alt-country outfit is an eclectic affair.

Kicking off with ragtime duet, and immersing the listener in ‘authentic’ country duos – replete with pedal steels, banjos and fiddles – the album pays little heed to crossover trends and works on a similar level to Imelda May before she decided to ditch rockabilly.  That is, a genuine ‘throwback’ to simpler times.

In some ways, that’s echoed by the ‘diner’ album artwork, with the pine clad walls adorned by some of the more popular ‘mass market’ artwork of the Sixties, including several by J.H. Lynch that would be considered sexist these days.  But for us baby boomers, they’re indelibly etched in our grey matter.

Yes, it’s hard to credit this rather admirable revivalist band, with their bluegrass and Celtic infused tunes, hail from the Midlands, or indeed from the present.  And while they may be a little purist for most, like J.H Lynch’s ‘Tina’, they have a seemingly timeless quality.   ***1/2

Review by Pete Whalley

TORGEIR WALDEMAR No Offending Borders [Release date 17.03.17]

Torgeir Waldemar gained rave reviews with his 2014 debut album in his native Norway. On this album he has songs about love and failed relationships, sitting next to ones regarding the current state of the world.

Like his debut album he has a real knack for recalling the classic sounds of Neil Young/CSNY on ‘Summer In Toulouse’, a song that features a grinding guitar riff topped off with gentle vocal harmonies. More guitar distortion on ‘Among The Low’ which is added to a folksy backing, sounds as though it shouldn’t work but it does.

Not an instant album by any means, although a song like the wistful ‘Island Bliss’ connects immediately with the listener. One to keep coming back to that’s for sure. ***1/2

Review by Jason Ritchie


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