Gorillaz: The Fall
This new Gorillaz album is not a live album but it isn’t really a studio album either. It is a true road album where Gorillaz recorded on the bus, in hotels, backstage and even in train stations picking up ambient sounds.
The first two tunes on The Fall (recorded during an autumn tour) are terrific with the electro, boinky buzz of Phoner To Arizona that is equally propulsive yet restive, and the sweet ear candy of Revolving Doors.
I had these two tracks on repeat listen for several turns and still want more.
The rest of The Fall is digital travelogue where most of the songs closely segue into one another and take a little more time to absorb.
There is a tone poem of a rattler, I think, on The Snake In Dallas, while Gorillaz become sort of airy fairy on the mellow and whimsical Little Pink Plastic Bags (as they float down the highway).
There are also ‘found sounds’ here with the ambient train station announcements on California And The Slipping Of The Sun while the sub-one minute ululation session that closes this album out, Seattle Yodel, is best perhaps for big fans only.
The Fall is hit and miss and meandering and breezy for Gorillaz but the first two tracks are worth the price of admission.
Ben Harper: Give Till It’s Gone (Virgin/EMI)
Ben Harper is a restless man when it comes to his music.
He has changed and recorded in several styles over his career that switches from folk rock to blues to world beat to soul and now to rock n’ roll on Give Till It’s Gone, his latest studio effort.
Two things have lead in part to his newfound love of rock. First, Harper opened for a Neil Young tour which resulted in the inspiration for the ragged lead off single Rock N’ Roll Is Free (after hearing Young play Rockin’ In The Free World several times in concert).
And Harper also became friends with Ringo Starr, resulting in their two collaborations with the Revolver-styled rocker Spilling Faith and its instrumental jam continuation, titled Get There From Here.
Harper especially sounds like he is channeling Tom Petty on the mid-tempo opener Don’t Give Up On Me Now, while there is a hint of Helter Skelter in the opening to Clearly Severely.
Harper returns to some folk rock on the lilting, alt-reggae of Pray That Our Love Sees The Dawn that features Jackson Browne, while I thought I heard a dash of Steve Winwood’s old band Traffic in songs like Waiting On A Sign and Do It For You, Do It For Us.
For the most part this is a fairly solid effort but there is a small, nagging sense that this ought to have been a better album with a few more nuggets to gush over.
Otherwise Ben Harper’s old fans will enjoy.
Part II (Sony).
Like many soundtrack albums, The Hangover Part II offers a few new songs with some old gems.
The new material here is weak but I suppose it fits the movie and hence Mike Tyson and his very limp sung/spoken cover of One Night In Bangkok (where much of the movie is set) and actor Ed Helm’s acoustic sub-minute and a half impromptu version of Billy Joel’s Allentown.
The best of the tunes here is a sobering and stark cover of Nick Lowe’s The Beast In Me by Mark Lanegan that Lowe wrote for his father-in-law Johnny Cash back in the day when Lowe was still married to Carlene Carter.
Danzig offers a bleak new song, Black Hell, loaded with gravitas, while Ska Rangers offer fairly straight up covers of I Ran and Billy Joel’s piano saloon song Just The Way You Are.
Definitely a soundtrack for hard core fans only, with additional vintage material from Curtis Mayfield, deadmau5, Wolfmother and the aforementioned Joel with his lesser known song The Downeaster “Alexa” (about a woebegone and lonely fisherman?).
Rory Gallagher: Iris Tour (Eagle Records)
This is a re-issue and remaster of Gallagher’s legendary concert tour that was originally released as Irish Tour 1974.
The recording label has dropped the date probably not wanting to ‘date’ this excellent blues rock album and to maybe trick huge Gallagher fans into thinking this was a new find, since Gallagher died several years ago.
Gallagher is still regarded as one of if not the best blues rocker to come out of Ireland and this new mastering gives a way better sound to the proceedings.
Note that this comes more or less co-released with the two-DVD set Ghost Blues The Story Of Rory Gallagher and The Beat Club Sessions 1971-72.
Galvanizing stuff for old blues buffs.