Saturday, 19 December 2015

Smiley's Friends On Sunshine Corner Reviewed

For those of you lucky enough to be going to The Gathering next month you will not only get the chance to pick up the fantastic new album by Smiley early but he will also be on hand at the merch desk on the Saturday afternoon to sign it for you! Those that can't make it to Llandudno can pre-order it now by clicking HERE!

For those waiting to know more then here is my review!

As Smiley comes to the third album in his “Friends” series my anticipation and expectations were extremely high after his previous release “Friends In Far Out Places” proved to be one of my favourite albums of the year and rarely strayed from my playlist. The first thing to tell you is that this album delivers, in fact it delivers in a big way.

For me it no longer really matters who is playing what part on what track as the whole project feels natural and fluid, a band more than a solo outing with guests, and they know they sound fantastic!

Stylistically “On Sunshine Corner” has continued the development that was so obvious on the last album which doesn’t mean that Smiley and co are afraid to experiment and go from a groove-tastic horn laden James Brown tribute in the shape of “What Would James Do?” to the politicised musings of “Oh Lord” which is delivered in a track that Bono would be proud to sing!

The song writing seems more confident here, maybe as Smileys writing partnership with Graham Turner continues to grow, while the use of the different vocalists helps to showcase the diversity of styles.

This is an album that does very little wrong, I’m not a massive fan of “Overfamiliarity” if truth be told and after seeing the track listing I did initially question the need to include a remix of the epic “End Of The World” from the previous album but once you hear the richness of the new mix you won’t mind one bit that you have another version of it. “Rock N Roll Comedown” could quite easily be a very close relative of “Far Out Places” track “Million Smiles” but both tracks work so I’m ok with that, there are plenty of other highly original tracks on offer here.

This is an album waiting to be discovered and demanding your attention, it’s amazing this is coming from an authentically indie background and you wonder how much attention great songs like these could get given different circumstances. Will you hear these songs on the radio? You could, you certainly should but the truth of the matter is that you probably won’t. This is music driven by you, get it, love it, tell your friends, shout it from the rooftops…Smiley has loads of friends in all sort of places and now it’s time to count yourself among them!

Friday, 4 December 2015

James Stevenson And The West London All Stars

After whetting everyone's appetite at The Gathering with how well material from his d├ębut solo album translated live James Stevenson is just about to take to the stage for his first full solo live show when his West London All Stars play The Water Rats in London on December 17th. It seemed a good time to try and get a sneak peek into what we can expect on the night as well as a brief insight into 2016!

You’re just about to do your first full solo gig….what’s taken you so long?!

Well to be honest I always just wanted to be a good side-man – but then I made my solo album and am very proud of it – so I want as many people as possible to hear it. Doing gigs was the next logical step.

So why now?

Well it’s just timing – it took me twenty years to get my solo album together too!

James Stevensons West London All Stars…can you reveal the line up of the band yet?

Still firming up a few things. But Mark Taylor obviously – I couldn’t do it without him. Chris Bell from GLJ on drums. The Rebelles are covering BVs and Terry Edwards is helping out on sax and stuff.

What can we expect from the set, will it focus mainly on material from your album or will it include tracks from across your career?

I will be my whole album

Will there be any covers in the set?

No covers – I didn’t feel that was appropriate right now – it might lead the set in the wrong direction.

Will this be the start of more solo live dates?

I hope so.

You will be supported by the Rebelles and Spizzology, the Rebelles feature both Tracie Hunter and of course your good lady wife and supported the International Swingers so were a pretty obvious ( but welcome) choice, what about Spizz?

Spizz is an old mate. He was the promoter’s idea.

Will you be premiering any new material?

Not at this gig – it is my first after all!

Are the All Stars for the night on stage for the full gig or might you have the odd friend pop on for a song or two?

I might…..

Holy Holy head overseas in January to America, what are the rest of the plans for the band in 2016?

Well Tony (Visconti) is very enthusiastic about taking the band on the road so there will definitely be a lot more action in 2016 than there was in 2015 – now the band is properly up and running.

You come back just before The Gathering, Smiley has said he has the set list and doesn’t know half of it! Is there any more you can reveal?

Well the set is a long way off being finalised. There will be a few surprises as well as the obvious hits.

Are you looking forward to going out as The Alarm again for the Stranglers dates?

Always love being on the road.

It looks like a busy year for Chelsea too with not one, not two but three Anthologies announced (so far!) what can we expect on them and do you know yet what of the live dates you’ll be appearing at?

Not sure. Plastic Head have really got behind Chelsea which is great. The summer looks like it might be a bit of a juggling act. The Cult replaced me with a keyboard player! So although it was great touring with them it does end up being one less thing to juggle.

The International Swingers debut is now in peoples houses and is a great album, is there talk of further live dates or even a follow up already?

The album isn't officially released so a follow up is probably a way off – but live dates hopefully in the spring some time.

It’s the end of the year so what albums have made your playlists this year?

Nothing much has floated my boat at all – sorry to be unenthusiastic – especially not by Sandi Thom! LOL

James Stevenson, as always, thank you so much....see you on the 17th!

Order your tickets HERE!