PROCOL HARUM – Something Magic

Procol Harum’s ninth album, the prosaically titled ‘Procol’s Ninth’, is hugely disliked by some fans. A far cry from the pomp, adventure and bombast of their early work, it took them in more of a pop-rock direction under the influence of producers Jerry Leiber & Mike Stoller. Against the band’s wishes, the record included covers of Leiber/Stoller’s ‘I Keep Forgetting’ and The Beatles’ classic ‘Eight Days A Week’. Although, in many ways, it remains a true oddity within the Procol canon, its an album to which time has actually been very kind, sounding better decades on. …And regardless of what you may have thought of the original LP, the two discs’ worth of live material appended to the Esoteric Records deluxe reissue in 2018 created a fine package.

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MICHAEL DES BARRES AND THE MISTAKES – Live! EP

Switching between being an actor, a musician and a radio host, Michael Des Barres has had a long and interesting career. You might remember him as the vocalist with 70s rock bands Silverhead and Detective. If hard rock wasn’t your thing back then, you might know Michael as the cool, scene stealing kid in To Sir With Love. Maybe you saw him get murdered in an alley in the Amicus horror film I, Monster. You almost certainly saw him fronting The Power Station during the TV coverage of the Live Aid footage. The point is that Des Barres has always been there, doing his thing.

By 2019, he returned to the rock scene fronting The Mistakes, whose ‘Crackle & Hiss’ single captured a great retro sound, injecting a little garage punk spirit into some huge swaggering riffs. The kind of number best played loudly, it placed Michael in a similar musical sphere to Duff McKagan’s extra curricular projects Neurotic Outsiders and Loaded.

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PAVID VERMIN – Cutting Corners

Glenn Robinson is one of the great purveyors of Ramones influenced punk sounds. The Rhode Island musician was previously the drummer with The Prozacs but subsequently used his multi-instrumentalist’s skills to carve out a solo career. Each of his releases offers something to enjoy, but this third album by his “band project” Pavid Vermin (where Robinson plays everything) has the potential to be one of his best. What’s more, ‘Cutting Corners’ isn’t quite everything it appears to be on the surface. A quick look at the track listing suggests a punky romp through the songs from The Beatles’ classic ‘Abbey Road’, but behind the familiar titles lie seventeen of the purest, self-penned pop punk bangers, guaranteed to thrill fans of the style. Titles aside, no further credit goes to Lennon/McCartney.

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J. GRAVES – Deathbed EP

Illumin Records was set up by Annie Graves in the 90s to promote and distribute her own music. After a few years, the label ceased to be, but sometimes things make an unexpected return. Over a quarter of a century later, it was revived by her daughter Jessa – known professionally as J. Graves – as an outlet for new music. The resurrected Illumin would not only be a vehicle for J.’s future releases, but also give an independent platform for other “womxn in music”.

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