1.) 19: Adele
2.) 50 Words For Snow: Kate Bush
3.) The Michael Schenker Story Live: MSG
4.) Ei8ght: Nik Kershaw
Adept, Admirable, Adagio, Adele.
Adele’s voice is a pure instrument of power, tone and harmony. She’s an artist that spins her own style across these (mainly) stripped down songs. Her style leans into R&B/Jazz/Soul/Motown but in an ever so contemporary way. Tracks such as Chasing Pavements and Melt My Heart To Stone are simply wonderful whilst album closer Hometown Glory sounds like a taste of the piano driven ballads that were to come on 21. Not as mainstream as 21 but really rather good. Another group winner for Adele!
It’s not only the Eskimos
50 Words for Snow is an album that largely features a stripped down sound with Kate and her piano performing almost solo for the vast majority of album. It is poetically musical and unorthodox, and during the first three tracks it feels as if you are getting a private performance, just you, Kate & her piano. The clear highlight of this album is the wonderfully ethereal and mysterious duet with Elton John entitled ‘Snowed in at Wheeler Street‘. A hard album to get into but interesting….
Stuck in the Ei8hties
Nik Kershaw is and always will be a pop icon of 80s.
His latest effort Ei8ght is similar to the Adele and Kate Bush efforts here in the way that in many places it feels stripped down and of a slower tempo than his earlier work. The last album I bought of his was the brilliant Radio Musicola. Unfortunately Eight is nowhere near as sharp and certainly doesn’t have the depth of quality. The percussion feels simplified compared to his 80’s output which I always felt was one of the things that raised him above his contemporaries.
His lyrical content has also mellowed with age it seems. On The Riddle’s You’re Not, Nik was belittling someone for being a dreamer, yet on Ei8ght’s The Sky Is The Limit he is actively encouraging it. Last track The Bell is a beautiful little number and elsewhere Rock Of Ages has some interesting guitar lines, it’s an album that starts well enough and ends well enough but it’s the bland bit in the middle that lets it down. It feels like a slower, less interesting retreading of old ground.
Somebody turned the Lights Out in Japan
MSG live 97 sounds a bit cheap production wise and certainly doesn’t sound the biggest crowd, especially compared to the roar on UFO’s live stuff from 70’s.
Schenkers’ greatness is in no doubt of course and his guitar playing here is simply excellent. Lights Out in particular is fukin tasty considering he must have played it a thousand times. Overall though the UFO tracks in particular don’t sound ‘meaty’ enough. I cant work out whether that’s a reflection on Schenkers’ backing band, the sound production or both. Fairly average I’m afraid.