Monthly Archives: April 2023

Robyn Hitchcock • Life After Infinity [CD, CS, LP]

For a guy who’s just turned 70, ROBYN HITCHCOCK hasn’t seemed to have slowed down. In fact, he has just released Life After Infinity, an all-instrumentals album available on all formats (including cassette tape) that is his second full-length release in six months. While Shufflemania! was more like a standard “band” album*, this one’s pretty much just Robyn on instruments and UK pal/co-producer Charlie Francis on bass and percussion. (He also did the mix and mastering, trainspotters.)

If you’ve been a longtime fan you’ll know that Hitchcock has included instrumentals on his releases before, most notably on 1984’s I Often Dream of Trains, which had some really lovely tunes and textures amongst the 14 songs that made up the original release. I can’t say there’s anything spectacularly different here – and that’s a good thing. There are some beauties here, for sure, and they’re all as fleshed out as you’d hope. Indeed, what I do detect as different is that there are a handful of tunes with the kind of sound beds you’d expect to hear on one of Eno’s ambient records. On top of that you’ll hear acoustic tunes such as “Nasturtiums for Anita” and “Mr. Ringerson’s Picnic,” “Tubby Among the Nightingales” (which sounds like something from George Harrison’s Wonderwall Music), and the double-header “Daphne, Skipping” and “Pleisosaurs in the Desert,” in which the first tune makes its way into your psyche and is followed by the second, which starts out sounding like the first one in reverse but goes somewhere else.

Life After Infinity is a gorgeous little album and in some ways it’s unlike anything in Robyn Hitchcock’s discography. You really get a chance to hear all that beautiful instrumentation, unhindered by concerns of where the vocals will sit in the mix. A nice addition to this man’s oeuvre, which numbers nearly 40 albums! – Marsh Gooch

3.5/5 (Tiny Ghost [no number], 2023)

* (A band album in which the instruments were tracked separately at different studios around the globe; it was recorded during lockdown.)

[There are no examples of the songs from this album on the Internet at the time of this writing, so please enjoy these instrumental samples from the above-mentioned I Often Dream of Trains.]


Paul McCartney & Wings • Red Rose Speedway (50th Anniversary Half-Speed Master) [LP]

The reissue train keeps chugging along, and so here we are to tell you about PAUL McCARTNEY & WINGS, who have just released their latest reissue, a half-speed mastered edition of Red Rose Speedway. This 1973 album is best known for the big hit “My Love,” and also included a super rockin’ tune called “Big Barn Bed” (forever etched in my mind as “Big Red Barn” because of a bootleg live recording I had with that erroneous title on it). It was the second proper Wings album (after 1972’s Wild Life) and it was – if I may be frank – just about as spotty.

Like most of McCartney’s solo material, Red Rose Speedway has been reissued numerous times so it’s not exactly a tough one to find – especially since it did contain the band’s first number one single which certainly helped the album’s sales. Though this version is notable for its audiophile sound qualities, the songs themselves are a mixed bag. The two I mentioned above are the best, and since they’re the first two cuts, it goes a bit downhill from there. That being said, there are some really good songs here, such as “Get On the Right Thing” and bits of the medley that closes side two. McCartney and Wings were clearly trying to find their way at this point, for it was less than a year later that the core trio of Paul, wife/keyboard player Linda and old friend/guitarist Denny Laine broke out of their sophomore slump with the worldwide smash Band on the Run.

Since I’m not only an unabashed Macca fan but an audiophile fanatic, too, this version of RRS was a must-have… if only for the punchy sound of “Big Barn Bed” and the tone of Henry McCullough’s Les Paul in the sublime solo of “My Love.” You’d also likely notice how much better McCartney’s bass sounds and some mix elements that aren’t as clear in previous versions of the album. But if you’re not as big a fan as many of us are you might not be as anxious to add this to your collection. Still, those working their way through the McCartney solo catalog might want to grab this version while they can; one day you might appreciate the subtle beauty of “Little Lamb Dragonfly” and wish you had it sounding as great as it does here.

By the way, since McCartney has been releasing these half-speed masters on each album’s 50th anniversary, THAT means Band on the Run is next. Take my money now! – Marsh Gooch

3/5 (Capitol 00602448583246, 2023)

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David Bowie • Aladdin Sane [LP]

WHAT? Another DAVID BOWIE reissue? Get out! No, it’s true! As many artists have been doing in the last decade or so, when one of their classic albums celebrates a round-number anniversary (as in, one ending in a “0″ or a “5”), they put out some kinda re-release to capitalize on the moment. And as has been lamented about throughout the world wide web – and even here! – sometimes a new super deluxe box set or reissue is completely welcome… and sometimes it ain’t. Luckily for you and me, this 50th anniversary vinyl reish of Aladdin Sane is absolutely worth it. And here’s why.

First of all, let’s put it out there: This is my favorite Bowie album. I own the clear vinyl Rykodisc Analogue edition, the double CD 30th anniversary reissue, a silver vinyl reissue from a few years ago, and now this: a half-speed master that’s just come out. It’s no secret that I am also a big fan of these audiophile releases, be it Mobile Fidelity’s decades old Original Master Recording series, Classic Records’ killer and collectible reissues (The Who, Big Star) or other labels’ own such releases. I can hear the difference! And having already picked up last year’s Ziggy Stardust half-speed master and being overwhelmed by how much better it sounds than any of the handful of other Ziggys I have had ’n’ heard, I knew I’d be all over this one. Could “Cracked Actor” sound any better? Not unless you were in the studio when Ken Scott and Bowie were doing the final mix! Could “Drive-In Saturday” sound any better? No, my friends, for this is, indeed, a crash course for the ravers. I could go on. But then I’d have to use my brainpower to keep coming up with clever quips instead of to just TAKE IT ALL IN. At the end of a listening session with this baby, all I can say is that I am definitely a sucker for quality vinyl. And let’s face it: All I have to give is guilt for dreaming! – Marsh Gooch

5.5/5 (Parlophone DBAS 50, 2023)



NRBQ • Tiddlywinks [CD, DD, LP] / Terry Adams & Steve Ferguson • Louisville Sluggers [CD, DD]

We’ve got another new Omnivore reissue of a classic NRBQ album to talk about and it’s Tiddlywinks. Not a boring kids game, this one. Well… it does have a slight naiveté to it, but this one – originally issued on the band’s Red Rooster label in 1980 – is pure NRBQ. You get all the ingredients of a Q classic: humor, poignancy, rockin’, rollin’ and a slightly skewed yet completely healthy take on what makes rock ’n’ roll so fun all these years along.

Probably the NRBQ tune most people know (if they know any of them) is “Me and the Boys,” a cracker of a song that’s been covered by both Dave Edmunds and Bonnie Raitt (both big Q fans), and it’s here sounding better than ever. Other stellar band originals “Want You to Feel Good Too,” “Beverly” and “Feel You Around Me” are here, too. Basically, all three NRBQ songwriters are well represented: Terry Adams (keyboards, clavinet), Al Anderson (guitar) and Joey Spampinato (bass). (Drummer Tom Ardolino didn’t write any of these but his drumming is excellent.) Also present on Tiddlywinks is the band’s sprightly take on “Music Goes ’Round and Around” (from 1935 and a perennial jazz/R&B favorite). This Omnivore reissue includes a few bonus tracks, though one or two have appeared on previous Q CD reissues. All told, Tiddlywinks is an essential release from the New Rhythm and Blues Quartet.

Also reissued by Omnivore is a 2006 release by founding NRBQ members TERRY ADAMS & STEVE FERGUSON, Louisville Sluggers. Though Ferguson left the band after only a few albums, he was the main dude when they were still a quintet and is responsible for some of their all-time greats, including my fave, “Flat Foot Flewzy.” These two guys have stayed friends over the years and they collaborated on this album to prove it. Louisville Sluggers is a Q album in all but name, since the aforementioned Tom Ardolino provides drums for the proceedings and a few other band buds contribute, but the overall feel of this release is not as “Q-y” as I’d hoped for. You do get the essence of an NRBQ outing, true, but if you weren’t already a fan you might not detect it. Still, with guys this talented, how can you not find something to dig?  – Marsh Gooch

4/5 (NRBQ, Omnivore OVCD-500), 2.5/5 (Adams & Ferguson, OVCD-514) (2023)

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The Donnas • Early Singles 1995-1999 [CD, LP]

THE DONNAS styled themselves like a female Ramones, but with a scruffier, some would say snottier attitude. Their music, as you might guess if you don’t already know, is on the punk/hard rock side, and this compilation is a good way to see if they’re your kind of thing.

Early Singles 1995-1999 brings together 14 sides they did in their pre-major label life. Strangely, this collection doesn’t include a few of the A-sides (perhaps because those are available on albums), but you do get a lot of rockin’ cuts that you would have missed if you’re not a 7″ collector. I tend to gravitate toward the B-sides anyway because that’s usually where the cool cover versions are. Outstanding in that field are “Wig Wam Bam” (The Sweet), “School’s Out” (Alice Cooper) and “Keep On Loving You” (REO Speedwagon). Sometimes it’s a piss-take on something like the latter that makes that song tolerable; The Donnas’ sarcasm stands out nicely on that one! “Strutter” is their killer version of the great Kiss tune, the B-side of a split single they actually did with those guys – it was part of the soundtrack of the hilarious movie, Detroit Rock City, in which four youths try to make it to Detroit to see their heroes in concert. The Donnas do a nice job with that one, as they do on lots of these cuts. “Da Doo Ron Ron” was an A-side of a single that also featured two Ramones-ily titled tunes, “I Don’t Wanna Go to School” and my favorite, “I Don’t Wanna Rock ’N’ Roll Tonight.”

It’s a short album (30:05) – at times quite lo-fi – but Early Singles 1995-1999 is a snappy lil’ disc that you’ll put on when you feel like rockin’ out with your sock out. Did I just say that? I did, I did. Incidentally, this one’s available on CD and limited edition metallic gold vinyl (for Record Store Day 2023). – Marsh Gooch

3/5 (Real Gone Music RGM-1570, 2023)


Daddy Long Legs • Street Sermons [CD, LP]

Every once in awhile I stumble upon a band that you’d think I would’ve been aware of. I’m not talking about old bands that have been out of service for years (like Gun, for instance), but going concerns like DADDY LONG LEGS. Street Sermons is their latest release – it’s their SIXTH album – and I’m pretty sure I never heard of them until now. Very strange, when you consider this is their second release on Yep Roc, which I am pretty tuned into, and a few of the others came out on Norton (a garage/’60s-style label out of Brooklyn who’s put out all kinds of stuff, including Sonics and Link Wray reissues). Well, as Marty diBerghi would say: “Enough of my yakkin’”… the Daddy Long Legs bandwagon just stopped by and I have jumped on!

Based in Brooklyn, the band is fronted by their namesake and harmonica-wieldin’ lead singer, Daddy Long Legs (real name Brian Hurd). Murak Aktürk plays guitar, Josh Styles plays the drums, and there’s now a fourth member that the press release declines to name. What Daddy Long Legs plays is definitely blues-based – they’ve charted on Billboard’s Blues chart – but it’s a lot more than that. I’d say they landed somewhere between the early Stones and maybe Jimmy Reed (at least on Street Sermons), with some Beatles, skiffle and other influences finding their way into the grooves. My favorite track is one of the least bluesy, “Nightmare,” which was likely written during the pandemic and has a solid, early Fab Four vibe to it, and others like “Been a Fool Once” hold the rock mantel in place. Indeed, the album’s gritty, almost lo-fi sound lends itself to the band’s not being pigeonholed. Whether you hear them as a “blues band,” an “Americana” group or a “rock ’n’ roll” outfit will depend on where you’re coming from. Me, I hear Daddy Long Legs as rock ’n’ roll with a heaping helping of harmonica to keep things hoppin’.

With Street Sermons, Daddy Long Legs has developed some wide-ranging fans. In fact, pop folkie John Sebastian joins them on one song and new wave misfit Wreckless Eric on a couple more. Give them a shot and you may join their ranks, too. I mean, they may not let you play on the next album, but you’ll probably like this one enough to stay tuned for the followup. Bandwagons worth jumping on don’t run every half an hour, you know. – Marsh Gooch

3.5/5 (YepRoc YEP-2785, 2023)

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