Pearl Jam to headline 2012 Budweiser ‘Made In America’ festival

Pearl Jam have been confirmed as one of the headline acts at this years ‘Made In America’ festival.

This years event – sponsored by Budweiser – is curated by rapper Jay-Z, who will also make a headline appearance.

Joining the two headliners will be Calvin Harris, Janelle Monae, Skrillex, Dirty Projectors, Miike Snow, Passion Pit, Odd Future, Santigold and D’Angelo.

The festival will take place on September 1st and 2nd at Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park.

New vlog by former Judas Priest guitarist KK Downing now online

Prior to Judas Priest going around the world once again on their ‘Epitaph Tour’, long-serving guitarist KK Downing announced he would not be joining them. Having been a member of Priest since the early 1970s, KK decided it was time to bow out of the limelight. The Priest machine rolled on, with new guitarist Richie Faulkner on board.

In May 2012, Downing posted a video message on YouTube, which can now be seen below. For those wanting more, the second embedded video features a full length interview with KK, with The Valley FM.

Read a lengthy review of ‘Rocka Rolla’ here.
Read a lengthy review of ‘Sad Wings of Destiny’ here.
Read a review of ‘Painkiller’ here.

Classic 70s line-up of Status Quo reunite

It has been announced that the classic 1970s line-up of Status Quo – featuring mainstays Francis Rossi and Rick Parfitt, alongside Alan Lancaster and John Coghlan – have reunited and will be working on new material followed by a few live appearances.

Drummer John Coghlan quit the band in 1981, while bassist Alan Lancaster left the band following an appearance at Live Aid in the summer of 1985.

It is a reunion that most fans have hoped for for many years, though always looked hugely unlikely.  Rossi says the “classic Quo” line up will co-exist alongside the regular Quo (with Rhino Edwards and Andy Bown), though suspects it won’t be a long-running project.

With two versions of Quo now existing and with the classic Quo primarily a vehicle to play material they’ve not played to an audience in decades, is this the last hurrah for one of Britain’s fondest loved rock outfits?

Read the full story at Classic Rock Magazine, by clicking here.

Read a review of Quo’s debut album here.


The Blue Nile’s second album, 1989’s ‘Hats’, is a thing of rare beauty.  While it could be argued the general synthetic 80s sound dates the recordings a little, few could argue against the emotional content of its seven songs, or indeed, the magic of Paul Buchanan’s vocals.

For those who’ve ever wondered what the quietest moments of ‘Hats’ might’ve sounded like with less of an eighties sheen – ‘Saturday Night’ and ‘Let’s Go Out Tonight’ especially – Buchanan’s 2012 release ‘Mid Air’ may just provide one possible outcome.  Across fourteen brief songs – with only one clocking in beyond three minutes – the sometime Blue Nile man sounds fantastic, musically, lyrically and vocally.  Within this collection of intensely intimate tunes, Buchanan explores minimal musical textures, his voice and piano speaking volumes while at once delivering little.  In fact, ‘Mid Air’s only weak point is it’s most full-sounding: the instrumental ‘Fin De Siecle’ presents slightly obtrusive string sounds from a keyboard (a definite throwback to The Blue Nile) in place of Buchanan’s own vocal.  A definite piece of filler, this proves that Buchanan’s best compositions are wholly reliant on his voice to make them work, especially given that ‘Mid Air’ is a seemingly very personal collection of middle-aged recollections.  Luckily, the rest of ‘Mid Air’ exceeds expectation.

Having only a few musical embellishments beyond simple voice and piano, this release has a wonderful consistency. Even though his vocals and most of the arrangements are almost beyond criticism, a few numbers really catch the ear.  ‘Buy a Motor Car’, in particular, may just be one of the finest compositions in Buchanan’s (admittedly rather sparse) catalogue.  His breathy voice sounds full of longing as is rises and falls accompanied by simple piano chords and a synth emulating softly plucked strings.  With an arrangement which borders on musical sketch as opposed to anything fuller, this track best presents the style of ‘Mid Air’; edging gently forward, never rushing, always questioning.  All the while, Buchanan’s voice mumbles, cries and sighs as if he is singing to an audience of one.  ‘Summers On Its Way’ presents Buchanan striking a singular piano chord repeatedly, occasionally breaking from its hypnotic spell, while an upright bass sound provides soft accompaniment and, in the back, a soft drone fleshes out the sound.  Buchanan knows the power of such a minimalist approach, filling any spaces with his aging voice, which, even at fifty-six years old, conveys all the fragile power it once did back in the mid eighties; now, perhaps, even more so.  ‘Newsroom’ eschews the regular piano for a rather eighties sounding electric piano, and for two minutes, Buchanan sounds like the consummate storyteller, this brief vignette offering the closing sentiments of ‘last from the newsroom, turn off the light…there’s no-one left alive’.  It may sound relatively bleak, but doesn’t necessarily come across that way as part of this collection of songs.

The slow and smoky ‘After Dark’ sounds exactly as you’d expect judging by its title, and while it doesn’t break from the familiar sounds of the previously discussed numbers, Buchanan’s vocal is particularly lovely, his lower registers often sounding as if they are on the verge of cracking.  This, combined with a muted trumpet, really generates an atmosphere of sadness, more than on any other previous Blue Nile/Paul Buchanan recording.  In relative contrast, the title cut is, perhaps, one of the album’s most uplifting, with a vocal that’s a touch more forthright and a piano that combines a unpretentious and unfussy musical motif throughout, as well as a very familiar Blue Nile-esque chord sequence.  For those who’ve previously forged an attachment to Buchanan’s compositions, ‘Mid Air’ – the song – is impossible to dislike.  On first listen, you may feel as if you already know the song, and perhaps, have always known it.

A night time record in every sense, ‘Mid Air’ is soulful, intimate, thoughtful, occasionally other-worldly.  If those Blue Nile albums still hold magic for you, this album is essential.  Likewise, if you’ve often read great things about The Blue Nile but never quite got around to taking the plunge, ‘Mid Air’ ought to provide some insight into what you’ve been missing, especially from a vocal perspective.  Late night music rarely sounded any more exquisite.

May 2012

Hard-Ons guitarist hospitalised after attack

Peter Black (aka Blackie), guitarist with cult Australian punk band The Hard-Ons has been hospitalised after a brutal assault.

The attack took place while Black was driving his taxi cab.  Two teenagers (whom, according to reports are aged 14 and 16) were arrested at the scene.

The band have posted the following message on their facebook page:
“Blackie has been in hospital since Thursday night with a skull fracture and 16 stitches, swelling on the brain. We will be there for a few days still, while the docs make sure all tests are done. Thankfully he has been moved from the critical room to where they keep stable patients. He does not remember all details but he is getting better every day. Not sure when he can play music again. We will know more in the coming days. He has already been told he cannot drive for 6 weeks due to his head trauma. Please send him a get-well message through facebook , he’ll read it all when he gets out in a few days. I’m sure he’ll get better soon. He is a pretty tough cookie. I’ve known him for many years and I know he wants to get back playing music again as soon as possible, but he will go with medical advice, it’s gonna be best to give playing live for a while, so that he can fully recover and come back fitter than ever. Will keep everyone posted. By the way thanks for all those messages. I’ll pass ’em on to Blackie and I’m sure he’ll really appreciate them.”

The band, active since the mid 80s, released their 15th album in 2010.  Despite such a huge back catalogue, outside of their native Australia, they remain best known for their cover of AC/DC’s ‘Let There Be Rock’ with Henry Rollins and their 1990 LP ‘Yummy’.