Album review: BERNIE TORME – Shadowland

BERNIE TORME - Shadowland

Pledge Music [Release date 16.11.18]

Bernie Torme released the enjoyable triple album ‘Dublin Cowboy’ last year and he’s back with another Pledge Music funded album, ’Shadowland’ – this time a mere double! Joining him are the rhythm section of Sy Morton (bass) and Mik Gaffney (drums). Also his former Gillan band mate Colin Towns guests on piano and keyboards on a few songs.

The down ‘n’ dirty blues rockers on here are great fun, be it ‘Honey To The Bee’ (this is one that benefits from the ivory tinkling of Colin Towns), or the ZZ Top flavoured ‘Motor Daddy’. The latter would sit well in a live set I am sure.

’6 Foot’ recalls those glory days of Gillan in the sound and so good to hear Bernie trading riffs with Colin Towns’ piano. He’s not one to shy away from current affairs and the state of the world in his lyrics, as the single ‘Come The Revolution’ highlights. A song that successfully melds the punk attitude and sound with a solid blues/rock riff. The rhythm section of Morton and Gaffney really come into their own on these songs.

One of the many Pledge offers was a chance for fans to add their guitar playing to the extended jam ‘Innovate Jam/Chaos Theory’. Bernie himself was slightly worried what sort of quality of guitar playing he’d get back, but it worked well and is one of the album’s stand outs.

Indeed, the longer songs on here show another side to Bernie Torme’s music with a psychedelic air to ‘Forever’, whilst ‘Sun In Splendour’ has a more laid back, almost stoner sound and features plenty of guitar.

There is certainly no dropping in the quality of music, despite releasing five albums worth of music in the space of a couple of years. Bernie Torme and his cohorts have a blast on this album, one that has it all from blues rockers through to more experimental areas of rock and blues. ****

Review by Jason Ritchie

Nov 22 Thu Facebar, Reading
Nov 23 Fri Queen Vic,South Shields
Nov 25 Sun Bannermans, Edinburgh
Nov 27 Tue Robin 2, Bilston
Nov 28 Wed Crauford Arms, Milton Keynes
Nov 29 Thu The Lantern, Folkestone
Nov 30 Fri Blackheart, London
Dec 1 Sat The Bear, Weston-super-mare

Bernie Torme kindly answered some questions about the UK tour, his new album and what it was really like appearing on ‘Top Of The Pops’ all those years ago…

These upcoming dates are billed as a UK farewell tour. Is this the last touring you’ll do or is it a long farewell like some bands keep on doing?

I am not going to do any more UK club tours. I have been playing in UK clubs since 1975. It was easier back then, I was younger back and there were a whole lot more places to play. At that point it was exciting, and everyone who wanted to see me at these places has done.

It is great I have the fan base but I think I don’t find it as exciting now as I did at say when I was 26.

We as fans see it all as very glamorous appearing on stage, but its the in between travelling and hanging around that takes the shine of it?

Absolutely. I adore playing, the bit on the stage is great, its just everything else, travelling, the cold and all of that. I am just an old git really (laughs).

The new album ‘Shadowland’ is just released and you had a triple album ‘Dublin Cowboy’ out last year. Where do you keep getting all these musical ideas from?

To be honest I don’t know. A couple of tracks on ‘Shadowland’ I’ve had for some time and they haven’t been on ay other album. One of them was a B-side in the 80′s. I’ve always enjoyed writing. I had the great experience of the Gillan days where it would be ‘oh we have to record a new album, anyone got any songs?’

Colin Towns would have two and no one else would have any, so you had to able to write speedily. I have always been lucky that I can write songs. Someone said it was like having antenna on and picking up ideas for songs.

You have a novel idea for the Pledge Music campaign whereby fans could send in their own guitar playing to appear on the ‘Innovate Jam/Chaos Theory’ track. Tell us a bit more about that…

I sent out a two and a half minute backing track and said to them to play on it. I had to edit it down but it was great as after I had the idea initially Pledge Music loved the idea and were talking to everybody about it. I was getting really scared as how it could have turned out! The mix took about a day to pull the bits together and then another three days to edit it. I was tearing my hair out at times, it was not a an easy time but I am awfully proud of it.

It was a big gamble, you worry in case they were out of tune, but they were all really good.

You’ve used Pledge for sometime now and you’ve done very well with it. Do you enjoy using it?

I love it. In the past if you were on a record label you always had two things. If they were paying you anything you’d have an A&R guy and they’d be saying ‘don’t do that, do this’ or ‘I don’t like that’. Those guys were there just to be safe, don’t take any chances.

The great opportunity with Pledge is that you are kind of able to communicate with the people who are pledging and you don’t have anyone saying no you can’t do that. You can actually have enough money to spend time on the recording and pay everybody.

It was always possible to record an album prior to the Pledge days, although it always took ten times as long. At least with Pledge you know how much you have and how long you can spend on it.

With GMT were there any unreleased recordings?

Yes there is. As far as I can remember there are four or five tracks that have not been released. The plan was to complete it and at the point of recording John (McCoy) got ill and he wanted a break. It became a longer break and people get tied up with other things and more recently Robin (Guy) has been ill. I think it will be awfully hard to retrace and re-approach it as that time there were a lot of arguments and it would be hard to re-address it. It maybe worth digging out those tracks and jamming them out I think.

I remember seeing Gillan performing ‘New Orleans’ on ‘Top Of The Pops’. What was it like as you seemed to be having fun? Back then (in 1981) artists weren’t allowed to perform live?

My experience was we appeared playing ‘Trouble’ a couple of times, ‘Mutually Assured Destruction’ and ‘New Orleans’ and they treated you awfully. You were basically ordered around and shouted at. In our case we were on tour and you’d get a call ‘You’re on Top of the Pops tomorrow’, so they would hire a plane to get us down to London. It was horrible, on this little plane and you go to the Beeb, be shouted at, then fly back for your show in the evening.

At the canteen I remember going in there and some old biddy started having a go at me as I had my stage clothes on, including the eye patch and she said ‘What do you look like?!’

The stage set had speakers on it and all the bands were on a circle on these stages. When it came to us they had our song blasting away on speakers but on another stage at the other side of the room and you could hardly hear it. I hated it, I really hated it and I am glad you thought we were enjoying it.

What sort of set list can we expect on the tour?

It will be a mix, the classics, you know ‘Wild West’, ‘New Orleans’, ‘Trouble’, ‘Star’ and ‘No Easy Way’, plus a couple of new tracks too. Problem is it would be great to do a two hour set, even though it would probably kill me! I am hoping to play an Ozzy track or two in the encores. I don’t generally do that.

That would be great and Ozzy recently gave a nice quote about you.

Yeah, yeah he has been really kind. He said I saved his career, but I think Sharon did. They had to have a guy who’d jump in at short notice and not be too egotistical about it. I was happy to do that.

There was an awful lot of people they asked in the US and some of them wanted to be have their name as big as Ozzy’s, which is just stupid really. Ozzy is a legend and the people he asked they were known but not like him you know?

Message for you fans..

Thank you all. Thank you from  the bottom of my heart. I have the best fans in the world and they have stuck by me all of the way, great people.

David Randall presents a weekly show on Get Ready to ROCK! Radio, Sundays at 22:00 BST (GMT+1, repeated on Mondays and Fridays), when he invites listeners to ‘Assume The Position’. This show was first broadcast on 1 August 2021 and includes the Top 10 albums at for that week and an interview with “metal queen” Lee Aaron.

UK Blues Broadcaster of the Year (2020 and 2021 Finalist) Pete Feenstra presents his weekly Rock & Blues Show on Tuesday at 19:00 ( BST, GMT+1) as part of a five hour blues rock marathon “Tuesday is Bluesday at GRTR!”. The show is repeated on Wednesdays at 22:00, Fridays at 20:00). This show was first broadcast 7 September 2021.

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One Response to Album review: BERNIE TORME – Shadowland

  1. Pingback: RIP – BERNIE TORME (OZZY/GILLAN/GMT) | The Rockin' Chair

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