(LP and CD from )

Following on from Rob’s recent project where he recorded the whole of Van De Graaf Generator’s Pawn Hearts in its entirety, he now turns his attention to his favourite Genesis album Nursery Cryme. Well now this is a bit special, I have listened to it quite a few times already since it arrived a week ago.

Nursery Cryme was the album which introduced fans to two new members, Phil Collins and Steve Hackett, both of whom would be an integral part of the band for the foreseeable future.

Rob along with musical friends Luiz Garcia, Pete Carlyle, Fernando Alge, Gabriel Costa, Trevor Pollitt and Phil Craigie along with fellow label mates Icarus Peel and Jay Tausig. He is quite the prolific artist and plays with a few bands and has released 15 solo albums since 2003.

The record kicks off with one of the first of three songs which make up a bulk of the album, ‘The Musical Box’, the others being ‘The Return of the Giant Hogweed’ and ‘The Fountain Of Salmacis’. Rob does a great job on this complex song, a song which Peter Gabriel said of at the time “deals with a controlled English landscape, under which festered violence and sex”. The story is of two children Cynthia Jane de Blaise William who beheads fellow playmate Henry Hamilton Smythe minor, Cynthia finds a musical box which the recently killed Henry has inhabited and has begun to age rapidly, she then throws the box at Henry, good luck with analysing that, anyway it makes for a great start to the album, with Rob fully doing the song justice, it’s then into the brief ‘For Absent Friends’, which is sung by Kimberly Bass. The song features acoustic guitars and keyboards, one of which is a mellotron, an instrument which Tony Banks had recently begun to play on the suggestion of incoming guitarist Steve Hackett.

Another of the trilogy which make up the bulk of the album appears next with the tale of ‘The Return of the Giant Hogweed’, it tells the tale of the import of an invasive plant by a Victorian plant collector from Russia, the song probably takes as its inspiration a 1962 book by John Wyndham called “Day Of The Triffids”. It is a bit of an epic and Rob truly does it justice, with a fine version of what is a very complex song. ‘Seven Stones’, is up next and it’s a song which I feel is often overlooked, a real Tony Banks tour de force, willowy and pensive, a song where an old man realises that life is all about chance and circumstance. ‘Harold The Barrel’, shows off the bands public school humour and appears to have its roots in a very British music hall style, a narrated tale of a potential suicide victim Harold, it’s slightly Pythonesque and sits well on the record, offering a bit of relief from the preceeding progressive rock onslaught. I really like ‘Harlequin’, and Rob again does a great job setting us up nicely for my favourite track on the album the very English progressive rock moves of ‘The Fountain Of Salmacis’, mellotron is well to the fore on the original and so it is here, it also features some fine fluid lead guitar and some of Peter’s best lyrics.

The album also comes with a CD which includes a couple of bonus tracks, the very rare singles Happy The Man and Twilight Alehouse. These two feature Rob and Pete with some added guitar from Luiz.

This is a fabulous record and like a lot of Fruit de Mer releases I expect it to sell out quite quickly, so I’m giving you the heads up for pre ordering the album which is due to be released toward the end of July.

(Andrew Young)

= June  2023 =  
 Jeffrey Silverstein
The Electric Nature
Ger Eaton
Panic Pocket
David Van Aucken
Rob Gould & Friends
Elemental Child




(LP, Digital on Arrowhawk Records)


This is one of those records that when you listen to and start getting into it, you just say “Ahhhh, yes that’s it, that’s the spot.”  Portland, Oregon’s Jeffrey Silverstein has made a cosmic country album that’s the sonic equivalent of getting a good scratch in that hard-to-reach spot behind your back.  Western Sky Music flows like honey, a golden hour piece of relaxation and rejuvenation.


Together with Alex Chapman on bass, Dana Buoy (Akron/Family) on drums, and the “he’s everywhere” Barry Walker Jr. on pedal steel, Silverstein takes us from his fertile native Portland on a trip South by Southeast to the arid southern desert.  On some of the tracks like “Cowboy Grass” and “Sunny Jean,” Silverstein speak-sings – OK, just speaks - the words in the tone of a very laid-back cowpoke.  But it’s the more plentiful instrumentals where this album really shines like the blistering sun over the cracked ground.


On “Chet,” it’s a treat to hear the interplay between the guitars of Silverstein, guest William Tyler and Walker’s pedal steel.  Someone on the album’s Bandcamp page stole my thunder that the album reaches its pinnacle on the back-to-back instrumentals “No Water” and “(Theme From) Western Sky Music.”  “No Water” moseys along on a ‘Twin Peaks’-ish vibe with a baritone (or just low string) guitar setting the scene, until Walker Jr.’s shimmering pedal steel comes in like rays of golden dappled sunlight extending forever.  Walker Jr., who’s been the special sauce of Rose City Band, North Americans and Mouth Painter to name a few, keeps a good thing going on “(Theme From) Western Sky Music,” a track that conveys that there’s no hurry here under these western skies, so just set the cruise control and go.  Silverstein said of the track, “I held in mind the moment after an intense storm passes, clouds peeling back to allow for a glimpse of blue sky or sun.  We arranged this song on the spot in the studio.  Once Barry landed on the ascending pedal steel line that opens the tune, I knew we were onto something.  I view this song as an anchor point for the entire album.”  “Clear Cut” and “Guesthouse” come close to equalling “No Water” and “Western Sky Music”'s master chill vibe.


Jeffrey Silverstein continues to grow and build on every release.  Conjuring images of sand, canyons, cacti, and blazing sunlight, Western Sky Music is the perfect detour from humdrum daily life.  Hang a left on this highway and just keep driving.


(Mark Feingold)



It seems we can hardly go a week these days without one of the stars in our musical firmament dimming out and departing.  While most of the musical world this week rightly mourned the passing of the amazing and inspirational Tina Turner, another loss may have slipped in under the radar.


Ed Ames was an anchor of Easy Listening, a style not made for these pages.  But his loss still gave me pause because of my memories of listening to his golden baritone.  Ames was originally part of The Ames Brothers, an enormously successful singing group in the 1950s, even having their own TV show for a time.  But he wanted to expand his horizons and in the 1960s embraced acting and a solo music career.  He starred as the part-English, part-Native American ‘Mingo’ in the 1960s TV series Daniel Boone.  Ames sung the series’ theme song, co-penned by none other than Monkees and Michael Nesmith contributor and pal, 1960s Zelig figure and all-around nice guy Bill Chadwick.


They say you should check out your parents’ music collection.  In this case, I have vivid memories of riding in the back seat of my parents’ car, with Ed Ames playing on the 8-track.  With 8-tracks, the tapes were always on continuous play.  So if you were on a long trip, you might hear the same album many times if Mom and Dad didn’t replace it with another tape.  So I heard a lot of Ed Ames.  I don’t know whether it was Stockholm Syndrome or just the realization that there was plenty of room for liking many styles of music in my head, but I liked Ames.  He had a gorgeous voice, and many of the Easy Listening songs grew on me.  Songs like “My Cup Runneth Over,” “Try to Remember” and “Bon Soir Dame” gently left their mark.


But it was the (perhaps surprisingly) powerful 1967 anti-war ballad “Who Will Answer/Aleluya No. 1” that made the most lasting impression on my wide open ears.  Repurposed from a Spanish song by singer-songwriter, poet and painter Luis Eduardo Aute, it was given meaningful new English lyrics by Sheila Davis.  The production is of its time, what can I say, but the subject matter was ambitious stuff, not your average easy listening crooner’s fluff.


Ames had a successful and productive career and never ventured anywhere near rock music, but the memories from the backseat of that car will continue to stay with me.  Rest peacefully, Ed.


(Mark Feingold)



( LP/DL/CASS  The Electric Nature (

Featuring two side-long tracks this album is a rollercoaster ride of noise, psych, experiments and creativity, the music emerging as swirls of abstract sound that are wonderfully pieced together forming a dense yet energetic soundscape that fills the space around it.

    Featuring the talents of Michael Pierce, Michel Potter and Thom Strickland using, drums, synths, samples and field recordings, it is quite difficult to decide which is side A from the information available on the cover, however the addition of  Jeff Tobias on Saxophone proves conclusive as he only appears on that side and it is his performance that elevates “Enter Chapel Perilous”, especially during the atmospheric opening, as he skronks crawls and distorts his way across a grumbling, scratchy landscape of noise. Slowly you re drawn in to the soundtrack to a foggy marshland that is brooding and tense with anticipation, cymbals and cut-up distorted vocals, glitch and menace all adding to the sound. As the track continues it deviates into free-jazz territory, at least for a while, I hope my neighbours are enjoying it as well as it is a sunny day and the door and windows are open.

   As side one swirls onwards it seems to become angrier yet more distant, waves of noise, crashing in and out of range carrying us off to some inner landscape as we attempt to surf our way back to a semblance of reality only to finally allow ourselves to be swept away completely. Towards the end the drums begin to pound out, guiding us to the pathway a glimpse towards the light as it all comes crashing down in a tidal wave of primitive, noisy happiness and ecstasy (and some trudging footsteps). Music to be played loud and alone.

     Flipping the record over, “Old World Must Die” sees John Kiran Fernandes add clarinet and violin to the music, the piece opening gently, reminding me of early Tangerine Dream as it slips into your consciousness, distorted noise cutting through the gentler elements of the music until it reaches an equilibrium creating a vast writhing drone that gathers momentum in its quest to cloak the universe in beautiful noise. At Times I am reminded of Hawkwind's finest sonic assaults on the senses, or the atmospheres of early German Rock, each musician submitting to the whole and I also wonder why I seem to hear guitars when none are mentioned on the sleeve. I guess, there is so much technology and equipment now that you can sound like anything you want without actually using it. However it was created, I absolutely love this record, the music taking your worries away, a walk through a primal, physical landscape that will cleanse your soul.

(Simon Lewis)


(Cassette, Digital on Dimple Discs)


This five-track collection of perfectly crafted chamber pop comes courtesy of uber-talented Dubliner multi-instrumentalist, hair stylist and snappy dresser Ger Eaton.  He’s been around many a year playing with his own bands (The Pale, Les Marionettes) and with other artists (Fionn Reagan, Duke Special).  But beginning in 2020, at the urging of his then 18-year-old daughter Jude, to whom we all owe a great debt, he started putting out his own songs.  He’s been trickling them out in his own good time, and this set sweeps up all of his released tracks to date.


The music sails you back to Pet and Tony Hatch, Jimmy Webb and Glen Campbell, and Burt Bachrach.  What’s remarkable to me is all the aforementioned artists had access to world-class London and LA studios, orchestras and musicians, but Ger manages to pull all this sound together with a little help from his friends.  His main collaborators are Sean Coleman and Duncan Maitland.  They usually record in Coleman’s studio/workshop on vintage analogue equipment.  Maitland plays guitars, bass and Mellotron.  Eaton plays guitars, keyboards, drums, tabla, sitar, saz, xylophone, timpani, hand percussion, Mellotron and probably an Indonesian Angklung for all I know.  He also doesn’t get enough credit for his fine, nice ‘n easy singing voice or his perfect arrangements.  The team gets further help from Ronan Dooney (trumpets, flugelhorn), Kieran Eaton (flute and recorders), Graham Hopkins (additional drums), Keith Farrell (additional bass), with additional backing vocals by Ger’s sister Maura Eaton and French spoken word on “Home Again” by Marie Thérèse.  While that might sound like a lot of contributors, when you hear the lush orchestral pop sound on the songs, this crew does a remarkable job sounding like many more players than that; their musicianship and production are superb.


All five songs are cracking, but I think Ger really scores a bullseye on 2021’s “The Time It Takes to Fall” and “Hollow.”  The only new song on the EP is the title track (actually written before “Hollow,” but allowed to marinate a bit), and like the others, it’s a corker.  Ironically, considering the bright sunshiny arrangements, his lyrics are often wistful takes on abandonment, regret, loneliness and other melancholia.


The cassette gathers the five songs on Side One, and proudly proclaims Side Two give you “A FULL SIDE OF BLANK CHROME TAPE.”  So you get a lot for yer hard-earned money.  Though I’d never ask Ger to rush anything, I can’t wait until he has enough songs for a long player.


(Mark Feingold)



(Available on Skep Wax)

You, too, will be mad for this “Mad Half Hour” of perky pop from childhood friends Panic Pocket, Sophie Peacock (keyboards) and Natalie Healey (guitars) ably abetted by a solid rhythm section of bassist Healey Becks and drummer Laura Ankles. Lead single ‘Get Me’ is fizzy, fuzzy, big and bouncy - a shout-along chorus bursting out of some stomping riffs and carefully placed solos while ‘Still The Bad Guy’ is harmony heaven, with Peacock’s keyboard tinkles flickering around Ankles’s skipping drumbeats.

     The title track celebrates that wonderful half hour every month when we can let ourselves go wild and not suffer the consequences - Sophie and Natalie use it to “scream girl power”, or as Eddie & The Hot Rods suggested, they “don’t take no shit from no one / just keep on having fun.” Throughout the ballads and pop weepers, the pair are not afraid to air their feelings (and opinions) about relationship etiquette - something too many chumps seem to think is a suggestion, not a requirement. And don’t get them started on certain people who brag about their wonderful life on Instagram and flaunt it in front of all their friends. The resulting ‘’I’ve Earned My Right To Be Petty” (and they don’t mean Tom!) could be dedicated to you!

     I love the 80’s-style synth earworm that runs through ‘Out Of The Woodwork’ and their vicious wit cuts like a knife through ‘Boyfriend’ which may be the funniest ménage a trois tale you’re likely to encounter: “They say three’s a crowd/Do I have to say it out loud?/Yeah, you got a boyfriend/But does he have to join?” Marriage and motherhood get a rethink on the friendly advice proffered on ‘Cheryl (Red Is The Bluest Colour)’: “Everyone else has a plan — get yourself a kid and a man. And maybe that’s enough for you…”. And remember this most of all - “comfort is not romance.”

     A punky Ramonesy riff pummels along through ‘Mr. Big’ and who can argue with such life lessons as “a vibrator doesn’t call you up and wish you happy birthday.” Insightful, angry, girl power lyrics, coupled with catchy tunes and a Be Loud, Be Proud sentiment run through Panic Pocket’s full length debut, and more lessons are on tap when the group perform (with label mates Special Friend and Swansea Sound) as part of the Skep Wax Summer Fête at The Lexington in London on 30 June.

Jeff Penczak


(CD, Digital on Debacle Records)


This is a sublime album of pastoral acoustic guitar from newcomer David Van Auken.  His finger-style playing is a gentle reminder and tribute to the many legends of the instrument who came before him.  Each of the 14 tracks is also adorned with some sort of atmospheric soundscape.  These are mostly the work of engineer Benjamin Cleek, who added cellos he played himself, sitar by J.J. Gregg on one track, and piano, synths, melodica and squeezebox by Van Auken.  Cleek and Van Auken rarely repeat the same background formula from track to track, keeping things quite fresh.


The combination of acoustic guitar with ambient soundscapes works well, as long proven by the likes of Prana Crafter, Deniz Cuylan, Hayden Pedigo, and others.  There’s an old-world countryside feeling to Van Auken’s work, and the cover photo of a tractor plowing a wooded furrow is no accident.  Still, this is no soundtrack to a public television documentary on 19th century candle-making.  Van Auken’s melodic compositions and playing are immensely appealing and are guaranteed to uplift your mood.


Interestingly, recording the guitar was the easy part.  That only took four swift sessions.  But it was creating and overdubbing all the ambient accompaniments that took about a year.  My favorite track is “Chanters,” with its positivity and life-affirming virtue.  “Chanters” segues nicely from the previous track, “Branches,” which sees Van Auken on cruise control, his style and vision fully realized.


This is a confident, salubrious debut from David Van Auken.  His guitar music is gentle and soothing, his technical performances are on the mark, and the overall result is a fine, melodic and well-produced album.


(Mark Feingold)


SHEM – 111

(500 vinyl copies 200 x marbled green and yellow and 200 x black on Clostridium Records

Consisting of four members, Alexander Gallagher- vocals and guitars, Tobias Brendel - bass, Alexander Meese - synthesizers and Benjamin Maier- drums. The music is a mix of space rock, psychedelia and stoner rock. 

This is the band’s third album, following on from 2021’s 11. It consists of four pieces of mainly instrumental music, beginning with the lengthiest track on the album ‘Paragate’. The song sets out like it means business, recognising that they are in for the long haul. It slowly builds, setting out in a slow, steady uphill trudge, in pursuit of some distant summit. Eventually the pace increases and the band recognises that the end is in sight and so join together in a concerted effort to reach the peak. ‘Lamentum’, follows and is a short chanted piece which offers a little respite from the previous tracks onslaught.  

We then flip over to side two which begins with ‘Restlicht’, a slow build, more atmospheric, notes hang and the pace is deliberately slow, one almost has the feeling of moving through heavy air, the guitar, bass, synth and drums all scything and cutting their way through the static air.

The final track on the album ‘Refugium’, really takes no prisoners, being quite a space rock epic, the drums skitter about, the fat bass creating an arcing tension and release and the coruscating guitar slashes its way through a fug of dense keyboards. This kind of music is quite hard to write about but a hell of a lot easier to listen to. As I previously mentioned it is (apart from some brief chanted vocals) purely instrumental and a pretty decent album, heartily recommended.

(Andrew Young)


Easy Action Records LP/CD

Here’s a lovely thing, a double album of cover versions of 23 of Marc Bolan’s songs by quite a diverse bunch of musicians with all proceeds going to the Marc Bolan school of music & film in Sierra Leone, a project established by his partner Gloria Jones in his honour.

The idea came to label owner Carlton following on from an American album celebrating Marc’s induction to the Rock n Roll Hall Of Fame put together by Hal Wilner titled Angel Headed Hipster which mainly featured American artists and Carlton thought that a British/ European version would be a great idea, featuring some of Marc’s less obvious songs.

The record starts with French chanteuse Sylvie Vartan’s ‘Beyond The Rising Sun’, sung in French with light orchestration by Eddy Vartan. Then it’s straight into the sixties tropes of Andy Ellison & Boz Boorer’s ‘Third Degree’, like a cross between Ray Charles’s ‘What I’d Say’ and Sir Douglas Quintet’s ‘She’s About A Mover’. Automatic Shoes cover ‘Pictures Of Purple People’ a song I was unfamiliar with, it’s an acoustic song with light warble and harmonica. Marsha Hunt gets to grips with ‘Stacey Grove’, before Swervedriver crash the party with a very 90’s ‘Chateau In Virginia Waters’. ‘Child Star’ by Witchwood rounds off the first side in fine style with my favourite track on the album, it’s an acid-folk delight with burbling organ, flute and oodles of lead guitar, my god this lot are great, I must check out their discography.

Side two kicks off with an exclusive song by Mair, she gets to grips with ’Cosmic Dancer’, a song she’s loved for a long time, she decides to keep things very spare and stripped back, this is her first ever recording! Catherine Lambert chose ‘Wind Cheetah’, Catherine is a classical singer from Canada and delivers a very classy take, accompanied by acoustic guitar and cello. The Charm’s tackle one of Marc’s more famous songs ‘Elemental Child’, which they reinvent with a massive drum sound and signature guitar. German experimentalist’s Tarwater cover ‘Visit’ delivering a fairly sparse narrated version, taken at a very slow pace. Another exclusive ends side two, Chris Connelly & The Liquid Gang with Cat Black (The Wizard’s Hat).

Side three opens with ‘Children Of The Revolution’, by Burn it to the Ground, another new band to me, they cover it in a slightly metal style. Automatic Shoes offer up an ethereal ‘Lofty Skies’, before Kelly Reilly does a great job on ‘Ballroom of Mars’, which was lauded by the song’s original producer Tony Visconti upon hearing, high praise indeed! Speedtwinn get all countryfried on ‘Spaceball Richochet’. The Polecats cut an excellent ‘Jeepster’, and the side is rounded off with another exclusive, Chris Braide who impresses on ‘Soul Of My Suit’.

The final side on the album opens with Rachel Stamp’s glammy, grungy cover of ‘Calling All Detroyers’, before Andy Ellison & Boz Boorer return for Menthol Dan (Dan The Sniff). Birmingham’s Black Bombers deliver a fine, stomping cover of ‘Raw Ramp’. Mexican Dogs cover ‘Life’s A Gas sounding a lot like a glammy Black Keys. Illa Falażynski from Belarus translates ‘Life Is Strange’ into his native language, playing a sparse version played on 12 string acoustic guitar perhaps. This excellent album ends with Schwefel’s version of ‘Visions of Domino’, it sees Norbet Schwefel playing guitar, singing with programmed keyboards, accompanied by Martin Buchholz playing saxophone.

As I said earlier this is a fabulous and varied album, with all proceeds going to a great cause and comes highly recommended.

(Andrew Young)