MICHAEL THOMPSON BAND – High Times: Live In Italy

The third album from Michael Thompson Band, 2019’s ‘Love & Beyond’ was a bit of a disappointment. The material showed that Thompson was still a fine guitarist and in AOR terms it featured a few strong songs, but it just didn’t flow too well. An over-reliance on short instrumental links proved distracting and each one of those sounded like a half finished musical idea thrown onto the record in order to bulk it out. It wasn’t a patch on 1989’s ‘How Long’, but then, it was never going to be as good as that. In AOR terms, that record is a very hard act to follow.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – A Slight Disturbance In My Mind: The British Proto-Psychedelic Sounds Of 1966

1966 was very much a turning point for pop music. Many acts that were considered beat groups had started to branch out and to think beyond live performance. With orchestral tracks like ‘Eleanor Rigby’ and ‘For No One’ Paul McCartney pushed forth the idea of baroque pop. John Lennon, meanwhile, was experimenting with tape loops and early forms of electronica. His ‘Tomorrow Never Knows’, closing The Beatles’ 1966 masterpiece ‘Revolver’, is often considered to be at least partially responsible for the birth of true psychedelia. While it’s obvious Lennon’s sound collage took a massive leap towards the mind expanding sounds of ’67, many other bands were sowing the seeds for change a little earlier. As early as 1965, The Kinks pushed boundaries with their single ‘See My Friends’ – a mix of jangling sixties pop and raga music – while even the Dave Clarke Five had occasionally sounded a bit…out there for the era with an increased use of reverb. While the roots of psychedelia could be argued over almost indefinitely, The Yardbirds’ ‘Shapes of Things’ – a fuzzy mish-mash of beat-pop and soft druggy haze – pre-dates the release of ‘Revolver’ by several months and is very much in the mould that would come to be known as freakbeat. An important branch of the psychedelia family tree, freakbeat took the bones of the sixties sound, loaded it with fuzz and wasn’t shy in exploiting the left/right split for stereo head trips. In 1966, this was very much at the forefront of emerging alternative sounds.

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GLENN HUGHES – Feel

Following an excursion into blues based material on his self explanatory ‘L.A. Blues Authority Volume II: Blues’, Glenn Hughes returned to the more familiar waters of melodic rock for 1994’s ‘From Now On…’ That album, produced by the legendary Bruce Gowdy, was Hughes’s best work since the Hughes/Thrall release back in 1982. Very much a case of “all killer, no filler”, its melodic stance found “The Voice of Rock” in great shape.

Fans were to get a surprise when Glenn returned just a year later with ‘Feel’. He could easily have kept up momentum with a disc’s worth of similar melodic rockers but, ever the restless spirit, he decided instead to indulge his more soulful side. That’s not so say that it is a complete return to the Stevie Wonder tinged soul and funk of 1977’s ‘Play Me Out’, but the bulk of the material is certainly much slicker than most of Glenn’s previous outings.

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FOUND MISSING? – Pretend EP

Essex band Found Missing? released their debut EP in the summer of 2019. While the band were a relatively new arrival on the UK rock scene at that point, their members had been working the live circuit for some time as members of Cosmic Joker, Twelvepointhead and La Muerte.

La Muerte were fantastic. They left the world too prematurely with one EP that fused elements of punk, hardcore and a debt to early Killing Joke. If you’re approaching this band expecting more of the same you’re surely going to be disappointed, but what Found Missing? do, they often do very well. Opting for something very retro, the band takes a huge hard rock swagger, injects it with a love of funk and then dirties it up a little, ending up sounding like an early 90s funk metal band covering tracks from Bush’s US million seller ‘Sixteen Stone’. Obviously, at the time of release, it sounds rather…out of time, but for fans of that sort of thing, it very much fills a musical hole.

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