Book Review: Clinton Heylin “No One Else Could Play That Tune” (Route, 2018)

If, like many of us, you’re hoping a copy of Dylan’s “More Blood, More Tracks” might be among the presents awaiting your attention under the Christmas Tree, I suggest you drop the fat man in the red suit a little note, requesting this stocking filler as a late addition to the Christmas list. ‘No One Else Could Play That Tune’ is an outstanding piece of rock history. Writer Clinton Heylin has left no stone unturned in his attempt to bring us the definitive breakdown of the Blood on the Tracks recording sessions that resulted in Dylan’s 1974 masterpiece – and which, in turn, created the latest release in the highly acclaimed Bootleg Series. Continue reading “Book Review: Clinton Heylin “No One Else Could Play That Tune” (Route, 2018)”

Book Review: Rachel Lee Rubin “Okie From Muskogee” (33 1/3 Bloomesbury Academic, 2018)

First things first. If you haven’t discovered the excellent 33 1/3 series of books from Bloomsbury Publishing you’re seriously missing out. This is a series of short books about popular music and it focuses on individual albums by a very wide range of artists. Obviously not all of these will be of interest to Americana fans but there is enough to make this a series well worth investigating. Continue reading “Book Review: Rachel Lee Rubin “Okie From Muskogee” (33 1/3 Bloomesbury Academic, 2018)”

Exhibition: Mondo Scripto – The Lyrics and Drawings of Bob Dylan (Halcyon Gallery, 2018)

We all know that Dylan is one of the World’s great songwriters but how many of us knew that he’s also a very accomplished painter, illustrator and sculptor? A new exhibition, currently running at London’s Halcyon Gallery, brings Dylan’s wider artistic output to a wider audience. This isn’t the first time that Dylan’s art has been put on show but what makes this exhibition different is that it is aimed squarely at the fan of Dylan the musician. Continue reading “Exhibition: Mondo Scripto – The Lyrics and Drawings of Bob Dylan (Halcyon Gallery, 2018)”

The Frank Burkitt Band “Raconteur” (Independent, 2018)

A Scot, making Americana music out of New Zealand – and making a fine job of it too! It says much for this genre of music that it can take a lot of diverse influences and still retain its core sound and appeal. In 2014 Burkitt and his partner, Kara Filbey, relocated from Edinburgh, Scotland to Wellington, New Zealand, where the Frank Burkitt band was formed, adding double bass player James Geluk and mandolin and banjo player Cameron Burnell to Frank’s vocals and guitar and Kara’s flute. Continue reading “The Frank Burkitt Band “Raconteur” (Independent, 2018)”

Book Review: Clinton Heylin “What We Did Instead of Holidays (Route Publishing, 2018)

Given the number of books that have been written about the various members of Fairport Convention and the band itself, you might be forgiven for thinking that there’s very little left to say about them; but you’d be wrong, as Clinton Heylin’s excellent new book “What We Did Instead of Holidays” shows. Heylin is a rock historian of some note, having written biographies of artists such as Dylan, Springsteen, Van Morrison and others, as well as books on the history of bootleg recordings and the development and pre-history of Punk. He’s also, it would appear, quite the Fairport Convention fan. The book is factual and insightful but is clearly written by someone with a deep understanding of, and interest in, the band. Continue reading “Book Review: Clinton Heylin “What We Did Instead of Holidays (Route Publishing, 2018)”

Kazyak “Reflection” (Independent, 2018)

Kazyak songwriter/guitarist Peter Frey describes their newest release, “Reflection” as “an attempt to create surreal, vivid, Dali-esque images with our sound — it’s a collection of outtakes, demos, and b-sides consistent with our history of not-trying-to-be-mainstream alternative rock”. It’s the second part of that sentence that’s at the core of the problem with this recording – “a collection of outtakes, demos and b-sides” and, unfortunately, it sounds like it! Continue reading “Kazyak “Reflection” (Independent, 2018)”

Stills & Collins “Everybody Knows” (Cleopatra Records, 2018)

Sometimes you can be genuinely surprised by an album for any number of reasons. In this case, it’s the surprise of seeing these two artists recording together in 2018. There’s no obvious reason why they shouldn’t but it’s odd that they never recorded together when they were a couple yet are doing so now, relatively late in life. Judy Collins is, of course, the subject of famous Stephen Stills songs like “Suite: Judy Blue Eyes” and “Helplessly Hoping”. Continue reading “Stills & Collins “Everybody Knows” (Cleopatra Records, 2018)”

Book review: Iain Matthews “Thro’ My Eyes” (Route Publishing, 2018)

If there was an award for the role of Godfather of Americana in the UK, serious consideration would have to go to Iain Matthews as a deserving nominee. An early member of Fairport Convention, recruited for his fine voice and ability to front a band, he was an early advocate of American singer songwriters like Richard Farina and Steve Gillette. Iain sang alongside original Fairport singer Judy Dyble but when Judy was replaced by Sandy Denny and Fairport started to move towards re-arranging traditional British folk songs, his position in the band became increasingly uncomfortable. He was dropped from the band in 1969, quite unceremoniously, but opted not to take it too personally; instead he made a musical point by forming Mathews Southern Comfort, a band built on the sound of American roots music rather than Fairport’s take on British folk, and went on to have a number one hit with his cover version of Joni Mitchell’s ‘Woodstock’. Continue reading “Book review: Iain Matthews “Thro’ My Eyes” (Route Publishing, 2018)”

Neilson Hubbard “Cumberland Island” (Proper Records, 2018)

Chances are, if you look up the term “world weary,” the name Neilson Hubbard would feature somewhere in the definition. There are times, on his latest album ‘Cumberland Island,’ that he makes someone like Leonard Cohen sound positively exuberant! On ‘Don’t Make Me Walk Through This World Alone’ he simply exudes lugubriousness – “Make me a picture to have and to hold, make me believe even when you don’t. Make me a liar inside of my home, just don’t make me walk through this world on my own” -wonderfully miserable stuff for those of us who like our songs drenched in sadness and self pity! In all fairness, the next track is ‘If The Sun Comes Up Tomorrow’ – upbeat and full of positivity, almost an antidote to the previous track. Continue reading “Neilson Hubbard “Cumberland Island” (Proper Records, 2018)”

Ned Collette “Old Chestnut” (It Records, 2018)

On first listening to this album it sounded like a collection of songs where you wait a long time for something to happen and not a lot does. But this is an album that rewards repeated listening because it really sneaks up on you and suddenly you find it’s very interesting indeed, with some good songs well delivered. Essentially it’s a singer/songwriter album drawing heavily on the folk tradition of the 1960s – often reminiscent of the excellent Incredible String Band but there are also elements of Roy Harper and early Donovan and even some material that sounds like some of Syd Barrett’s solo work. Continue reading “Ned Collette “Old Chestnut” (It Records, 2018)”