GARY HUGHES – Waterside

Although he’d already released a solo album in 1989, it wasn’t until a follow up disc appeared three years later that Gary Hughes first gained major attention from the melodic rock world. 1992’s ‘Gary Hughes’ helped kick start the short lived (and much loved) Now & Then label and marked Hughes as a man with a great voice. Whether tackling rockers or ballads, he displayed a very natural talent, but it was when he later became frontman for bombastic rockers Ten – a band whom always aimed for a big sound and then made it bigger – his true range as a vocalist could really be heard. Whether a musical partner for Vinny Burns (on the band’s classic ‘Name of The Rose’) or Chris Francis (on 2004’s underrated ‘Return To Evermore’), Hughes has always put in a great performance.

‘Waterside’ comes some fourteen years after his previous solo recording and marks a return to the more sedate side of his work that fans have come to expect outside of Ten. Its collection of melodic tracks come loaded with big choruses and a few smart lead guitar breaks (all courtesy of Dann Rosingana) and that alone will be enough to win fans over. Unfortunately – as has been the case with several Frontiers Records releases throughout the years – it sounds…unbelievably cheap. Hughes offers some great vocal performances throughout and the guitars are crisp, but some great material is often let down by a general lack of warmth, some absolutely abysmal keyboard playing and a non-existent drum sound. With Darrel Treece-Birch credited as playing both keys and drums, a lot of things point towards the use of a drum program. Even if some of the drums are live, a really thin sound really comes at the expense of what, for Hughes – something of a British AOR legend – should have been a triumphant return. With that in mind, huge chunks of ‘Waterside’ sound almost like polished demos; songs awaiting their final bells and whistles. Hughes’s work deserves better than such an obvious “that’ll do” approach.

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SUNSTORM – Afterlife

The first three Sunstorm albums are classic melodic rock discs. Between a set of great songs and the strong vocal presence of the legendary Joe Lynn Turner, ‘Sunstorm’, ‘House of Dreams’ and ‘Emotional Fire’ (issued between 2006 and 2012) gave AOR fans a trilogy of unmissable releases, each one providing a great showcase for Turner, a man whose voice sounded pretty much as good as it did back in 1981. While the next two releases took on a slightly heavier direction – moving away somewhat from Sunstorm’s original remit – some well written songs and strong vocal performances ensured they were still enjoyable listens.

At the end of 2020, it was announced that Turner had parted ways with the band. This would be a massive blow for his many fans who’d primarily stuck with Sunstorm due to his involvement. More importantly, his absence means that 2021’s ‘Afterlife’ showcases a Sunstorm with absolutely no original members. The core of the band have only been in place since 2018’s ‘Road To Hell’, and the only link with anything further back comes via keyboard player Alessandro Del Vecchio – and he doesn’t really count, as he’s the record label’s hired hand who’ll basically play on absolutely anything for a few quid. With ‘Afterlife’ being Sunstotm in name only, maybe it was time to throw in the towel?

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New Joe Strummer retrospective ‘Assembly’ due on 26th March; includes unreleased material

The Clash’s short career has been well serviced by compilations and retrospectives over the past decade. By comparison, frontman Joe Strummer’s solo career – including some excellent work with The Mescaleros – has been somewhat overlooked.

On 26th March 2021, Dark Horse Records will release ‘Assembly’, a broad overview of Strummer’s work outside of The Clash. It promises casual listeners a fairly broad career overview, bringing together tracks from ‘Global A-Go Go’, ‘Rock Art & The X-Ray Style’ and ‘Streetcore’ along with ‘Sleepwalk’ from the long out of print and hard to find ‘Earthquake Weather’. More importantly, three previously unheard live performances lend the collection an important carrot for long-time fans.

More info on ‘Assembly’ and a stream of a previously unheard acoustic version of ‘Junko Partner’ can be found in the press release below.

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‘ASSEMBLY’ IS A CAREER-SPANNING COMPILATION FEATURING CAREFULLY CURATED REMASTERED SINGLES, FAN FAVOURITES, ARCHIVAL RARITIES AND MORE. HIGHLIGHTS INCLUDE PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED LIVE VERSIONS 
OF THE CLASH CLASSICS, ‘RUDIE CAN’T FAIL’ AND ‘I FOUGHT THE LAW’
‘ASSEMBLY’ ARRIVES VIA DARK HORSE RECORDS ON FRIDAY 26TH MARCH

Dark Horse Records is celebrating the upcoming release of its newly remastered collection of solo cuts from Joe Strummer with today’s world premiere of ‘Junco Partner (Acoustic)’. The track is available for streaming now and comes with an accompanying animated, mixed-media video created by Spencer Ramsey [WATCH HERE]. Discovered deep in the legendary artist’s vaults on a hand-labelled cassette tape, ‘Junco Partner’ was a constant throughout Joe’s career. He first discovered the song on a scratchy R&B compilation in the 1970s and it became a staple on the setlist of Joe’s first band, the 101ers, before recording it with The Clash for the seminal ‘Sandinista!’ album in 1980 and it being a mainstay of live shows until the very end of Joe’s career with The Mescaleros. This previously unreleased home recording of ‘Junco Partner’ sees Strummer wailing through the song with just a guitar, offering an intimate insight into his unique vocal delivery and distinctive driving rhythmic guitar playing.

‘Junco Partner (Acoustic)’ is available now at all DSPs and streaming services; ‘ASSEMBLY’ arrives 26th March on Limited Edition 2xLP Red vinyl, gatefold 2xLP 180g black vinyl, CD and digitally for streaming and download; pre-orders are available now HERE.

LISTEN TO ‘JUNCO PARTNER (ACOUSTIC)’
PRE-ORDER ‘ASSEMBLY’
‘ASSEMBLY’ showcases carefully curated remastered singles, fan favourites and archival rarities from the Joe Strummer solo catalogue, including ‘Coma Girl,’ ‘Johnny Appleseed’, ‘Yalla Yalla’ (with The Mescaleros), his rendition of Bob Marley’s Redemption Song’ and soundtrack contributions like ‘Love Kills’ (from the 1986 film ‘Sid and Nancy’). Remastered by three-time GRAMMY® Award-winning engineer Paul Hicks (The Beatles / John Lennon / The Rolling Stones / David Bowie), the 16-track compilation features three previously unreleased versions of classic The Clash tracks, including the never-before-heard recording of ‘Junco Partner’ and electrifying live performances of ‘Rudie Can’t Fail’ and ‘I Fought The Law’ recorded by Joe Strummer and The Mescaleros at London’s Brixton Academy on 24th November 2001. In addition, ‘ASSEMBLY’ includes exclusive liner notes written especially for this collection by musician, Jakob Dylan.
ABOUT JOE STRUMMER
Punk poet, musician, composer, actor, and style icon, Joe Strummer spent his life smashing musical and cultural boundaries both as the singer of The Clash and as a solo artist. His songs sound as urgent and vital today as when they were written. Calling out social injustices and giving a voice to the struggles of the working class, Strummer’s politically-charged lyrics struck a chord with legions of fans and the press alike, with Rolling Stone calling The Clash “the greatest rock & roll band in the world.” “People can change anything they want to,” he famously once said, “and that means everything in the world.” Through his art, Joe Strummer played his part in shaping the musical landscape of the world and with it left an unrivalled and timeless legacy.
George Harrison’s passion for introducing the world to new music expressed itself in May of 1974 when he created his own new label – Dark Horse Records. The label contained a variety of talented artists on its roster, including George himself. ‘ASSEMBLY’ marks the first new Joe Strummer title released via the newly relaunched Dark Horse, led by Dhani Harrison and David Zonshine. For more, please visit www.darkhorserecords.com.
JOE STRUMMER
ASSEMBLY
(Dark Horse/BMG)
Release Date: 26th March
TRACKLISTING
Coma Girl
Johnny Appleseed
I Fought The Law (Live at Brixton Academy, London, 24 November 2001) *
Tony Adams
Sleepwalk
Love Kills
Get Down Moses
X-Ray Style
Mondo Bongo
Rudie Can’t Fail (Live at Brixton Academy, London, 24 November 2001) *
At The Border, Guy
Long Shadow
Forbidden City
Yalla Yalla
Redemption Song
Junco Partner (Acoustic) *
* PREVIOUSLY UNRELEASED
FOLLOW JOE STRUMMER

Grab a mega punk bargain from TNS Records on Bandcamp Friday

It’s another Bandcamp Friday! That means fans of independent music can pick up physical and digital music from various bands and labels without Bandcamp taking a commission. A bigger cut of the profits going to the music makers means you can feel good about spending a little extra money.

For today’s Bandcamp Friday, Manchester based punk label TNS Records have an unmissable deal for you. Valid for today only, here’s your chance to check out some of the labels wares for a giveaway price. The label are offering boxes of “mystery items” on CD and vinyl from their back catalogue for the equivalent of mere pennies!

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THE CHEAP CASSETTES – See Her In Action! EP

Everything about The Cheap Cassettes’ first full length album ‘All Anxious, All The Time’ did, indeed, scream “cheap”. It’s ten songs sounded like old demos and the choice of artwork – complete with basic Microsoft Word style font – really didn’t give the strongest first impression. However, if you were able to make it past those cosmetic flaws, some of the songs suggested a retro band with a big heart and an even bigger gift for delivering a hook.

Their ‘Kiss The Ass of My Heart’ EP – delivered some four years later, via the Rum Bar Records label – presented a marked improvement. The core of the material came with a much better audio quality and in the case of the title track, it almost felt as if you were eavesdropping on a long lost demo from The Knack. From such rough beginnings, it was more than clear that The Cheap Cassettes were a band with great promise…and indeed, the EP gained some really positive – and well deserved – press from various power pop blogs around the globe.

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