CHRIS STILLS – Don’t Be Afraid

At the beginning of 2008, singer-songwriter Chris Stills released his debut album ‘100 Year Thing’. A semi-acoustic collection of songs it not only drew influence from his father Stephen – most notably in the vocal tones of the title track – but also seemed to be inspired by then more contemporary sounds, with some songs carrying traces of influence from Days of The New and Alice In Chains’ acoustic material. A follow up didn’t appear until 2005, by which time, his material had seemingly absorbed bits and pieces from Jeff Buckley’s small legacy as well as further showcasing his own talents.

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SIMON HINKLER – Moving On EP

Simon Hinkler (aka The Wing Commander) was the guitarist with a formative line up of Pulp, playing guitar on their 1983 album ‘It’ long before Britpop was even a twinkle in the NME’s eye. He’s guested with Eden House and The March Violets and had an on/off solo career. For many, though, he will be best known as guitarist with The Mission, playing an invaluable role in the creation of their first four – and best – albums between 1986 and 1990.

Hinkler’s 2018 solo EP ‘Moving On’ might be short, but it draws heavily from years of experience and dabbles with different styles and moods, all with equal charm. The sharp changes in mood are probably due to the songs being written across a decade or more, but as an overview of a sometimes underrated talent, it all works brilliantly.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Try A Little Sunshine: The British Psychedelic Sounds Of 1969

The sounds of psychedelia’s peak from 1967 and going into 1968 have been well documented. Whether delving into the classics of the era or digging for obscurities, there are a wealth of great tunes to be found within an eighteen month period. By 1969, the musical tide was very much turning; British whimsy and three minute pop gems about myriad cups of tea and talking gnomes had largely been pushed aside for harder rock sounds. Various bands clung on for dear life, of course, and even well into 1969 there were bands across Britain knocking out various 7” pieces of plastic for the psychedelic cause. In another volume of musical history, Grapefruit Records have dug deep to bring three discs of interesting cuts from the year. The results are quite often less gaudily coloured, but you’ll still find a few bands sticking to familiar formulae. While at least half of the material gathered here is more of the well-honed pop/rock variety than flat out psych, the journey is one that’s still more than worth taking. Covering over seventy tracks in all, such a box set could seem daunting, but the curators have included at least ten familiar names, which actually adds to the commercial appeal without detracting from the potential obscurities and rarities.

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