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Friday, June 8 – James Warren and Friends – St. John’s Church , Farncombe, Godalming
Saturday, June 23 @ 7:00PM – James Warren and Friends – Lowdham Village Hall, Lowdham NG14 7BD
Sunday, June 24 @ 8:00PM – James Warren and Friends – The Stables, Milton Keynes MK17 8LU
7th June – The Avenue Theatre, Ipswich
The self-titled album from 1980 is a superb album, full of heartfelt ballads. ‘Anna’, for example, combines the slightly folksy singer-songwriter image with big, bold, and slightly epic arrangements that give you the ‘small man on a big stage’ feel that would, for example, be so successful for the likes of Andrew Gold. In fact, you could draw comparisons between the two here.
Strange Days (1981) offers more power pop sensibilities with a lush production – and lots of double tracked vocals combined with the more new wave music fashion of the period. A higher energy suite of songs, in fact. This album doesn’t quite have the dramatic focus of the earlier album but there is still much to like here with a suite of light and airy songs presented with lots of energy. In mastering terms, there is a touch of compression residing within the mids but the effect is quite subtle so that the effect is used more to emphasise detail than to intrude upon the whole soundstage.
Hi-Fi World (April 2018)
Twofer featuring solo albums Matthew Fisher originally recorded and released in the 1970s. Although still mainly known as one of the founding members of the iconic band Procol Harum, this release will hopefully open up people’s eyes and ears to Fisher’s entire career. After leaving Procol Harum, Matthew opened a very successful recording studio (Old Barn Recorders) where he worked with many notable artists. This disc presents all the tracks from Fisher’s first two solo albums…Fisher was obviously ahead of his time in terms of songwriting and studio know how. Although his self-titled debut was not hugely successful, it did spawn two singles (“Why’d I Have To Fall In Love With You” and “Can’t You Feel My Love”). Strange Days veered off the path of straightforward pop in favor of a more stripped down sound. Two songs were co-written by The Zombies’ Chris White (who also acted as co-producer on both albums). This reissue will no doubt open the doors for a whole slew of new fans and listeners to experience Matthew’s music. In a world of throwaway pop, these tracks stand out because they’ve stood the test of time…and because they have substance.
babysue (March 2018)
Matthew FISHER begins the eighties with an eponymous album that had great success in Greece thanks to the title track “Why’d I Have To Fall In Love With You”, considered a classic. He is joined by Dave MATTACKS on drums, a member of FAIRPORT CONVENTION and session man having participated in Gary BROOKER’s albums…Tim RENWICK on the guitar, who worked with Al STEWART, THE SUTHERLAND BROTHERS and accompanied PINK FLOYD in 1987 and 1994 as well as during the ephemeral reformation in 2005 for Live8. Mick GRABHAM on rhythm guitar, ex COCHISE and PROCOL HARUM…”Can’t You Feel My Love” is the initial piece of the 1980 album and has a superb nostalgic melody, quite far from PROCOL HARUM…
On STRANGE DAYS he surrounded himself with Tim RENWICK on guitar, Peter VAN HOOKE on drums, Ron ASPREY on saxophone, ex BACK DOOR, and Alan JONES on the bass, ex SHADOWS. It starts with “Something I Should Have Known”, it has a sound close to ULTRAVOX or Gary NUMAN, rather surprising from the ex PROCOL HARUM member. The sound of synthesizers dominate, the song is perfect, having a very emotional romanticism. The album continues in a more pop vein similar to SUPERTRAMP on “Without You”, with a very beautiful vocal performance.
Highlands Magazine (Translated – March 2018)
Anyone expecting the gentle prog of Fisher’s ex-band will initially, most likely, be a little confused by the grown up pop presented on the earlier of these two releases, a slick smooth sound revealed that wouldn’t be out of place in a laid back Eagles setting, or even at the less cheerful end of Paul McCartney’s solo output. It’s classy stuff that reminds just how strong Fisher’s often overlooked vocals are and the overall standard remains high throughout. Opener “Can’t You Feel My Love” may be an overly unassuming introduction, but it is a still a cleverly paced and well constructed piece that happily sits on a reserved groove. Things pick up with “Give It A Try”; a more insistent and forceful slice of organ induced pop that, while of its time, possesses more than enough of a classy 70s sheen to have more depth and believability. It also sets the tone for the rest of the album, the strong mix of accessibility and intricately structured melodies carrying “Only A Game” and “Running From Your Love” deep into the memory…
The biggest shock that arrives when track eleven on this disc kicks in – track one of the Strange Days album – is the short period of time between it and its predecessor. From the smooth, yet crafted 70s pop and rock of the previous album, the leap into austere 80s inspired electro shimmers of “Something I Should Know” suggest the passing of decades, rather than mere months…”Living In A Dream” thriving on simple pop hooks and trilling saxophone, while “Desperate Measures” repeats the process in a rockier and harder hitting setting…Strange Days is more a mixed bag than a failure and there’s more than enough to keep you sticking with it. However there’s no doubt that it’s the first ten tracks on this disc from the Matthew Fisher album that will continue to draw you back for more.
Sea Of Tranquility (February 2018)
This shadowy figure is best remembered these days for his invaluable contribution on Hammond organ to Procol Harum’s ‘A Whiter Shade Of Pale,’ and the fact that it took several decades of serious litigation before he was finally granted a co-writing credit to this classic 1967 hit in 2009. Fisher’s solo career continued on a fairly intermittent basis in the interim, and Angel Air’s latest CD re-issue focuses attention on two of his unjustly overlooked offerings from the early eighties. The results veer much closer to mainstream pop than the classically inspired prog-rock of his Procol Harum days, with “Anna” and “Why’d I Have To Fall In Love” emerging as the best of a strangely affecting bunch.
Kevin Bryan, regional newspapers (January 2018)
On this reworked album he is accompanied by a wonderful singer Carol Lee SAMPSON, she’s not very well known but has a very warm voice…A friend of Gordon, Martin GREEN is the author of the lyrics, also playing guitar. It’s a lot about spirituality. This is all the more interesting as often Gordon GILTRAP’s albums are rather instrumental. Acoustic guitars are commonly in the spotlight even if on “Praise Him” we are treated to the support of discrete keyboards…
Despite the theme, we are far from church music…”The Lord Is My Strength” is more folkloric, more cheerful and accompanied by a wonderful violin and some keyboards. “Echoes Of Heaven” is led by a narrative accompanied by an acoustic guitar…The stunning “Peace Will Fall” is sung beautifully by Carol and concludes the album. A soothing album, recommended.
Highlands Magazine (Translated – March 2018)
It’s the electricity-stricken “Echoes Of Heaven” – formerly known as “Sallie’s Song” – and “Elegy” in the guise of “Walk Beside Me” that become the inspired pinnacle of Giltrap’s method applied to “Peace Will Fall” to render delicate what was simply gentle before. Introverted, if never preaching, this is a triumphal attempt to speak to heaven.
DMME.net (March 2018)
…it is unlikely that a new listener would realise that these tunes had a previous life bereft of words. Sampson’s voice is soothing and suits the mood well. She is possessed of a rich vibrato that she uses to very good effect…Giltrap’s intricate fingerpicking is, as always, impeccable and provides a perfect foil for the mellow mood…for those of a spiritual bent it provides a fascinating new addition to his discography.
RnR Magazine (March 2018)
Never quite a rock, prog, or folk guitarist, Giltrap’s pastoral style sits perfectly in this domain, his personal approach illustrated wonderfully on “First Light”, as it compliments the passionate but restrained vocals from Sampson. In many ways it’s the voice that makes the strongest impression here, Giltrap, a musician most often known an as instrumentalist, allowing the lady behind the mic more than enough room to shine, while never simply blending into the background. It’s a trait revealed time and again, the busy guitar work on “Love Wins” never intruding into the vocal space, always leaving the over all impression as bright and breezy, while side stepping any notion of quaintness.
…if you hold beautiful acoustic guitar playing close to your heart, then there’s little doubt that what Gordon Giltrap specialises in should appeal to you on every level. With wonderful vocals and heartfelt lyrics also feeling right at home in those same surrounds, this may not be an album you’ll reach for often, but it’s sure to delight when you do.
Sea Of Tranquility (February 2018)
Last year’s ‘The Last of England’ was a triumph and reinstated Giltrap’s ascendancy in the world of acoustic guitar. ‘Peace Will Fall’ – originally released in 2012 as ‘Echoes Of Heaven’ – is sufficiently different with Giltrap’s fretwork flourishes enhanced by Carol Lee Sampson’s vocals. Her warm style is not dissimilar to Magenta’s Tina Booth.
This is an interesting departure for Giltrap as mostly his albums are instrumental but punters should be aware that, as is often the case, older songs are re-worked and given a new twist.
So, for example, ‘Praise Him’ is actually ‘Roots’ whilst ‘Under A Blue Sky’ and ‘The Lord’s Seat’ will also be familiar tunes found elsewhere. ‘Sallie’s Song’ reappears as ‘Echoes Of Heaven’ with a narrated lyric, ‘Elegy’ becomes’ Walk Beside Me’.
The overall spiritual nature of this album is reinforced by the presence of co-writer Rev Martin Green (yes, a real clergyman!) and the ambience…It seems that Giltrap is making up for a little lost time (and ill-health) reviving projects that germinated some years ago. With ‘The Last Of England’ he took up with a guy he’d first encountered at a car boot sale in the 1980s whilst this latest collaboration originated in a pub in Kenilworth in 2009.
For fans of Giltrap’s work ‘Peace Will Fall’ is a handsome addition. And, no, we are spared a vocal version of ‘Heartsong’. 4/5 stars
Get Ready to ROCK! (January 2018)
Although not overtly religious himself, Giltrap states that he believes that “all music that touches us is of a spiritual nature”, and there are strong religious overtones on display here. While not as cloying as some of Neal Morse’s messages, this may be enough to deter some. That said, this writer is someone who doesn’t enjoy being preached to in music, but largely found much pleasant listening on offer here. This is largely due to Giltrap’s ever wonderful guitar tone, a lush sound that weaves its magic from folk to prog across the material. Interestingly the religious aspect of the original cover has been dispensed with in favour of the more obvious Giltrap logo, but the spoken Biblical passages on the like of The Lord’s Seat still grate. But not enough to distract from the overall enjoyment.
Team Rock (January 2018)
Over the past 45 years Gordon Giltrap has graced the music scene with his sublime guitar skills…this is the first time it has been with a singer and a songwriter (Carol Lee Sampson and Martin Green). “Peace Will Fall” blends beautifully Gordon’s guitar playing and Carol’s voice. Top tracks include “Christmas Carol”, “Mary”, “First Light”, “The Lord Is My Strength”, “Walk Beside Me”, and the title track “Peace Will Fall”.
Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (December 2017)
Of course, there’s blustery bluegrass in “Baby On My Mind” yet there’s also rockabilly in it, and Spears’ allegiance to country is limited to the choice of covers here, because “Can’t Change My Heart” and “Ain’t No Money” which bookend the album are transformed into contemporary pop, these catchy pieces disco groove stressing the strength and the gloss of Billie Jo’s vocals. She easily makes “Blowing Away” her own without ever casting a glance at Linda Ronstadt or Bonnie Raitt’s versions of the perennial, while the tender title track has seen a slew of performers following in BJ’s wake, So pedal steel may wail in “Love Dies Hard” where the chanteuse’s inspired delivery is full of hope, but the same instruments in Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can’t Tell” help Spears display her smile and style in the most charming manner.
If BJ’s punchy take on “Settin’ Me Up” validates Mark Knopfler’s prairie approach to writing, “Too Far Gone” finds her tap into Southern sort of strings-drenched sadness, and “Sweet Dreams” is perfect alloy of Spears’ traditional leanings and the period production. Short and to the point, this record is ripe for rediscovery because, 30-odd years since its release, the album is still fresh and fragrant. 4½ / 5 Stars
DMME.net (April 2018)
This release will be of genuine interest to Billie Jo Spears fans because…this marks the first time these tracks have ever been released on CD. Recorded in 1982 in London and Nashville, We Just Came Apart at the Dreams was originally released on vinyl in 1983. By this time, Spears was experiencing a good deal of success in England. The tracks on this album present a more middle-of-the-road sound and style. It features covers of songs written by a number of well-known artists including Rodney Crowell, Don Gibson, Chuck Berry, Mark Knopfler, and Jim Weatherly & Bucky Jones. Sadly, after a long and lengthy career, Billie passed away in 2011. This reissue will help to keep Spears’ songs and spirit alive for decades to come. Spirited upbeat cuts include “Can’t Change My Heart,” “Baby On My Mind,” “We Just Came Apart at the Dreams,” and “Ain’t No Money.”
babysue (March 2018)
…up tempo selections include a charming countrified revival of ‘You Never Can Tell’ – Chuck Berry at his most wordy, which like that of The Cate Brothers’ soul-inflected ‘Can’t Change My Heart’, nestles comfortably enough among unhurried heartbreak ballads like ‘Love Dies Hard’, the title song and, perhaps Elvis Costello’s contemporaneous overhaul as a useful demo, Billy Sherrill’s ‘Too Far Gone’.
RnR Magazine (March 2018)
Recorded in London (but completed in Nashville) in 1982, ‘We Just Came Apart At The Dreams’ saw but a fleeting vinyl lifetime some thirty-five years ago. This, then, is its first appearance since then, and it’s difficult to see why it has remained obscure for so long. Particularly as Billie Joe was still scoring hits as recently as two years before, and would do so again a couple of years later.
Ah, we’ll get to that in a moment.
It’s a terrific album. The Spears voice is as alluring, powerful and expressive as it ever was, and her choice of material is faultless, too. It’s great hearing BJS tear through Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell” and a brilliantly revved up version of Don Gibson’s “Sweet Dreams” – in and out in under two minutes. Rodney Crowell and Mark Knopfler show up in the writing credits too, with the latter’s “Settin’ Me Up” an opportunity for Spears and band to really kick some cans around.
But circumstance was less conducive than it might have been. Spears both recorded the album in London and in part relied on local talent for accompaniment. Nothing wrong with that, of course, and in many ways the disconnect from the US country scene is one reason why We Just Came Apart…sounds so fresh today.
Unfortunately, it also ensured that America wasn’t interested, while a more-minor-than-most UK record label (Premier) just doesn’t appear to have been equipped to give the album the attention it deserved. It vanished, Spears returned to her American career, and three and a half decades later, even fans will probably be hearing this for the first time. Tell them it was worth the wait.
Goldmine Magazine (January 2018)
May 4th – The Swindon Arts Centre – with Martin Solomon, supported by Ethemia
May 5th – The Palladium Bideford – with Martin Solomon, supported by Gozer Goodspeed
May 6th – Haywood Cider Farm, St Mabyn – with Martin Solomon
May 14th – Cwmafon Folk Club – with Martin Solomon
May 27th – Kindred Spirits Festival, Lanceston – with Martin Solomon
June 2nd/3rd – Exmouth Festival
June 15th – The Frog and Fiddle, Cheltenham – with Martin Solomon
July 11th – The Fleece, Bristol – with Martin Solomon and friends from Red Jasper
September 13th – The Chapel Arts Centre, Bath
November 28th – Peaky Blinders, Paignton
December 1st – Danfest (at The Musician in Leicester) with Martin Solomon and friends from Red Jasper
…now, once again, the music has been made available for all to hear…thanks to the folks at Great Britain’s Angel Air label. With the continued interest in early electronic pop music, Data just might be a band that’s ripe for a resurgence.
babysue (January 2018)
If the band’s debut was a trade-off of catchiness against electronica, so 2-Time again tried to marry the two not always ready bedfellows. Even with both Kajanus and Frankie combining on vocals, the reduced role of Phil proves a key difference as Data’s sound evolved, the brightness of before cashed in for a more stark, serious attack that verges into austere. In many ways it makes this second outing feel much more grown up, especially when combined with less dazzling and bright synth sounds.
Sea Of Tranquility (October 2017)
…repetitive patterns rarely produce a groove but they perfectly convey the period’s stifling atmosphere, its madness captured in the well-concealed rock ‘n’ roll of “Cuckooland” whose deadpan vocal theatrics and electronica-stricken beats point to the ultimate blackness…In this context, “I Want To Know” sounds more like demand rather than inquiry, and the belligerent, if flat, “Fallout” would be the only possible answer to such a statement – lightened by a lucid, lysergic even, middle section that leads into “Fever Of Love” where a swirl is truly infectious. It can serve as an entrance to the DATA world – unwelcoming and arresting at the same time.
DMME.net (February 2018)
Many of these tracks sound like they could easily be twenty-first century hits. The persistent beats and instantly catchy vocal melodies should appeal to a wide range of listeners. The music has been compared to Abba and Giorgio Moroder, both of whom should give you a good idea of what this music sounds like…Strange how current and relevant these songs sound in 2018 (!).
babysue (January 2018)
The sound of DATA exudes joy and liveliness (sometimes even hyperkinetic) more than the then current sterile new wave. Daring, headstrong and perhaps even too accessible because of a hidden urge to score that one big hit. Although, the theatrical ‘Life On Video’ and the nice ‘Armageddon’ enforces respect. The film industry also liked it and used the title track for the movie ‘Towers Of Babel’.
Keys and Chords (Translated – November 2017)
…with “Armageddon” a prime example of how to deal with tough issues in a cleverly flippant style and the opera based title track illustrating just how daring Data were attempting to be, there’s still a lot to admire. The latter blending styles in a way that maybe isn’t so readily illustrated elsewhere…For fans of Kajanus’s wide and hugely varied catalogue, this reissue will be most welcome, while for followers of burgeoning electronica, there will also be rewards aplenty.
Sea Of Tranquility (October 2017)
The lyrics are all out of the ’60s – “That’s What You Do To Me “and “You’ve Got The Love That Matters” are typical titles. Warren plays all the backing tracks, leaving the decoration to his guests and he proves to be a very efficient drummer along with everything else he does…an enjoyable album of pop nostalgia.
RnR Magazine (March 2018)
The orchestrations are of top quality…James does not forget his roots with ‘That’s What You Do To Me’, very influenced by SPENCER DAVIS GROUP. We are back in the sixties, the organ hums with happiness as well as the brass. He reaches the summits of pop with the wonderful ‘You’ve Got The Love That Matters’…This album was co-produced by David Lord having worked with Peter Gabriel, XTC, ICEHOUSE, TEARS FOR FEARS – which explains the excellence of the record.
Highlands Magazine (Translated – January 2018)
Subtle twists and turns aplenty, Warren plays mind, and heart, games with the listener. He renders “Set Me Free” transparent and romantic…until it’s turned inside out with the “one for the money, two for the show” line to trade a maudlin violin for a well-orchestrated carousel of elegant rock moves and the caress of slide guitar. Elsewhere, “That’s How I’m Loving You” is cut from the same delicately fascinating fiber as “All The Love In The World” demonstrated, and this is, perhaps, the only thing which could be expected from James. He may claim he’s an innocent bystander, but he’s complicit in the crime of love. 4/5 stars
DMME.net (January 2018)
One track from “Jim’s Easy Listening Album”, the Beach-Boys tinged “You’ve Got The Love That Matters”, reappears here and stands out amongst the Motown pastiches. Other highlights are the Beatlesque “Have You Seen The Colours”, one of two songs co-written with Andy Davis in more harmonious times, and simply performed closer “I Just Want You To Tell Me”. Hopefully Simon Cowell has been mailed a copy, since the songs themselves are individually worthy and could well chart in the right hands.
Record Collector (December 2017)
This album offers nine slick hummable songs, some of which remind us in many ways of music by The Pearlfishers. Our favourite cuts include “The First Time,” “You’ve Got the Love That Matters,” and “I Just Want You to Tell Me.” The cover bears a curious resemblance to Sparks’ Kimono My House album (!).
babysue (November 2017)
Warren’s enduring passion for the infectious delights of pure melodic pop informed several excellent albums for The Korgis during the late seventies and early eighties ,along with a major singles success in the shape of the softly beguiling “Everybody’s Got To Learn Sometimes.” The former Stackridge stalwart’s subsequent solo career has been a much more low-key affair but Warren’s tuneful musical exploits always repay closer investigation nonetheless , and “Innocent Bystander” is thankfully no exception to the rule. “That’s What You Do To Me” and “Have You Seen The Colours?” are the best of a catchy bunch.
Kevin Bryan, Regional Newspapers (October 2017)
As well as founding The Korgis he also co-founded Stackridge…now 65 years old, he has written and produced this album of unashamedly catchy tunes and sing-a-long choruses, decidedly retro in flavour…
Bev Bevan, Sunday Mercury (October 2017)