Quick plays: GENTLEMEN’S ACADEMY, NELS ANDREWS

NELS ANDREWS Pigeon And The Crow

NELS ANDREWS Pigeon And The Crow

Probably the most interesting thing about this fourth studio endeavour by Californian singer songwriter Nels Andrews is that it was recorded at Whispering Pines Studio in LA which was originally built for Sam Cooke in the Sixties, and turned into a funk / soul place in Seventies, before being abandoned in the Eighties and being rehabilitated by indie rockers Lord Huron.

But Pigeon And The Crow pays homage to none of those genres – it’s a sparse and introspective set harking back to early acoustic troubadours like Donovan, Clifford T Ward, Paul Simon and the like.

Low key and understated throughout, this is a mournful, ethereal collection with texture provided by the Irish flute of producer Nuala Kennedy, cello and violin.  But frankly, unless you’re into minimalistic, bleak song craft, it’s a bit of dirge.  **

Review by Pete Whalley

GENTLEMEN’S ACADEMY Joy

With Cats In Space having so successfully reinvented the classic pop rock of the Seventies, it was probably only a matter of time before some bright sparks decided to take a punt on reinventing ‘soft rock’ with an album full of, err yes … love songs.

A ‘collective’ in the true sense of the word, the Gentlemen’s Academy project includes players from The Lizards – a US hard rock outfit whose connections to GRTR! date back to at least 2006 when David Randall interviewed Randy Pratt (the main lyricist here) and reviewed the band’s then current album Against All Odds (an effort that doffed a hat to the likes of Trapeze, Free, and Deep Purple, and featured vocals by none other than Glen Hughes).

The fact that ‘connection’ (and David Randall’s review of the band’s last album Reptilicus Maximus in 2015) passed me by, and I suspect many other readers, tells its own story, but hey, the fact that The Lizards – while I suspect largely unknown, certainly over here, – have routinely managed to attract ‘guest’ players like Hughes, Frank Marino and Vinnie Moore surely bodes well for a project like this?

Alongside Pratt, Lizards bandmate Patrick Klein are Mike Markowitz (who share guitar and bass duties, and with Markowitz doing most of the music writing), and Rich Zukor (drums and percussion) are the main protagonists.  There’s then a plethora of supporting players including three keyboard players, and six different lead vocalists.

Sadly, Joy is anything but joyful.  Or much by way of a celebration of the soft rock ballad era.  Instead it’s a pale, limp and somewhat flaccid pastiche.  To be fair, the playing isn’t bad, but there’s a not a single song here that would have made it (or got anywhere near close) ‘back in the day’, and with much of the lyrical content bordering on cringe worthy.  You could almost be forgiven for thinking it was a satirical piss take of the genre.  Perhaps it is?  **

Review by Pete Whalley


David Randall plays a selection of new and classic rock in his weekly show first broadcast 14 June 2020 including reference to the Feature series “2020 Vision”.


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Featured Albums w/c 22 June (Mon-Fri)

09:00-12:00 INTELLIGENT MUSIC PROJECT V – Life Motion (Intelligent Music)
12:00-13:00 HOUSE OF LORDS New World, New Eyes (Frontiers)
14:00-16:00 BEN HEMMING Broken Road (indie)

Power Plays w/c 22 June (Mon-Fri)

SKYFEVER Is This The End Of The World (indie)
JD SIMO One Of Those Days (Crows Feets Records)
JAMES WARREN Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometime (Singsong Music)
THE BLACK MOODS Sunshine (indie)
EKKO PARK All Eyes On Me (Dinner For Wolves)
LARKIN POE Holy Ghost Fire (Tricki-Woo Records)
GILBY CLARKE (Golden Robot Records)



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