Back in the summer of 1969, the world’s eyes were on just one thing – the moon – awaiting the first man to set foot there.  Around the same time, a haunting song began receiving airplay telling the story of a stranded astronaut, Major Tom, sitting in a tin can far above the moon and musing that planet earth is blue, and there’s nothing I can do.

This was my introduction to David Bowie and, along with thousands of others, I bought the original mono single – although not enough of us did so to get it too far into the top twenty.  It eventually made the grade six years later and topped the charts as it really should have done at the time of its genesis.

By the time that belated first number one arrived in 1975, both alter-egos of Ziggy Stardust and Aladdin Sane had been and gone, and Bowie had moved on to what he termed his plastic soul phase.  So while a somewhat different promo video of Space Oddity, showing Ziggy singing it, was rounding-off that week’s Top of the Pops, Bowie was on tour with a brass section squeezing-out sax-riffs for Young Americans and Fame.   But that was Bowie, always years ahead of his time. Continue Reading

aoty15

I couldn’t believe it when I realised that this will be my first blog in a year! Such has been the saga of the past fifteen months, which started with a broken arm, then continued via various other distractions, some good, others not so. However, throughout the year the musical backdrop has been consistently good, so here is my review of the year, finishing with my choice of Album of the Year 2015

The first two purchases for the year were carry-overs from 2014 which, had I been aware of them at the time, would have definitely both made it to the shortlist. Someday World by Brian Eno and Karl Hyde is a wander through an electronic landscape that is much more accessible than some of the former Roxy Music keyboard man’s ambient efforts over the last ten to fifteen years. Maybe it was the collaboration with Underworld’s frontman that created this infectious album which almost demands to be played regularly. Continue Reading

A belated Happy New Year everyone, and my apologies for not blogging for more than six months – a long and convoluted story for another time. So to more important business, the slightly-belated selection of album of the year 2014 – and what a difficult choice this has been.

There are good years and better years, but 2014 was exceptional, witnessed by the CD racks groaning under the weight of more annual purchases than I have made in many a long year and all, bar a few minor exceptions, valid contenders for the shortlist. Added to that were some omissions from 2013 that would have been considered had they come on the radar earlier. Continue Reading

I first came across Sam Eason a couple of months ago when he supported Scott Matthews at the Colston Hall in Bristol, and was really impressed with his short set.   So when I saw a poster for Sam Eason & Friends at this super venue, I decided to pop along last night to see how he would be as a headliner.

Sam EasonAt the Colston Hall, he performed his own songs with a friendly and relaxed air.  He quickly built a good rapport with his audience, raising  a smile with his occasionally self-deprecating little links between the songs.  Armed with acoustic guitar and looper, his music is very much in tune with the current crop of singer/songwriters, with observations on life and love, told from the viewpoint of an observer who appreciates the lighter side to life.  He was joined there for the last two songs by his wife, Beth, whose harmonies fit his vocals perfectly, and it is easy to see where the inspiration for his uncomplicated love songs comes from.

He has produced three EPs since 2011, plus a digital album of demos and covers, and I bought the latest EP called Leave the Dark Low that night, the title track being the opener for his set at the Old Theatre Royal, and one well-deserving a wider audience. Continue Reading

The problem with Arts Festivals is they are a bit like grapeshot, lots of up-and-coming performers taking their opportunity to put themselves in the limelight at small venues around a town, but ultimately competing against larger heavily-sponsored events.   Which is why, as a festival-goer, it sometimes pays to ignore the big-banger ‘do’ that is advertised weeks ahead on every billboard, and look instead for that potential hidden gem.  Which is how I found Matt Cook at the Bath Fringe last night.

The Old Theatre Royal in Bath is another hidden gem.  It is tucked down a quiet cobbled side street behind Marks & Spencers’ loading bay, so you would be lucky to stumble across it.   It is also quite an anonymous building that has been the local Masonic Hall for nearly 150 years, but originally came into being as the City’s first purpose-built Theatre in 1750, becoming the inaugural home of the Theatre Royal company in 1768.  The original auditorium space, along with its superb acoustics,  still exists and is the part used for their annual series of Festival gigs.

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