White Knight Records [Release date 01.08.20]
Not even lockdown can subdue Peter Jones. It seems only 5 minutes since he released A Visit To Zoetermeer, making Still Alive his second CD/DVD release in 3 months, but he also popped up on Magenta’s excellent current album Masters Of Illusion, and makes a guest appearance that impressed fellow reviewer Jason Ritchie on the forthcoming Lee Abraham Harmony/Synchronicity release.
In short, the man is irrepressible, and in terms of talent, a ‘super spreader’ whether it be vocals, keys, wind instrument or guitars (and anything else he can get a tune out of, which in his case is, just about anything).
So what we have here is a 32 minute ‘mini’ album or EP (take note Shannon LaBrie) created during lockdown (the title track written for his village in these concerning times), reflecting his own alternating feelings of doom, madness, endurance and survival.
And to make it a rather nice package (and jolly good value for money) the release includes a bonus DVD featuring the Tiger Moth Tales band, filmed at Rockfield Studios in 2018 in front of an intimate audience as part of ‘The Quiet Room Sessions’ (a streaming subscription service offering high quality ‘unplugged’ sessions, and currently free during the covid crisis) and as a bonus, the Still Alive Promo video.
On the CD Jones deploys his full repertoire of styles, bookended by ‘Still Alive’ and a closing Reprise. The Radio 2 friendly song is poignant, but at the same time uplifting – a song for these strange times if ever there was one, while ‘The Mighty Fallen’ opens in Genesis ‘when there were 3 style’ keys and drums before morphing into Camel/Andy Latimer in full flow. Is there no end to this man’s talents?
The set is completed by ‘Golden’ – a typically wistful piano ballad, ‘Lean Into The Madness’ a short Floydian interstellar piece befitting of The River, and ‘Whistle Along’ is one of Jones’ madcap, jolly jaunts that lift the spirits.
As regards the DVD Quiet Room Sessions, while a large chunk of the set list overlaps with A Visit To Zoetermeer (the sets were recorded 2018/19), you get a good 1 hour 20 minutes content (including the Still Alive video), with two of the more extended pieces from Cocoon (‘The Mighty Fallen’) and The Depths Of Winter (‘The Tears Of Frigga’). Add in the very different ‘venues’ and, here, the studio quality delivery and there’s sufficient contrast to make both an engaging watch.
And to cap it all, it there’s a nice gatefold sleeve with iconic artwork. What more could you want? ****
Review by Pete Whalley
Album review (A Visit To Zoetermeer, 2020)
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