I’ve had this for a good few weeks now and it was released to the public on the 7th October…and, despite the bumph that came with the CD declaring it a “none concept album”, I’ve been frantically analysing and trying to work out what the concept is or what the hell Mr Haines is on.  There does seem to be a thread running through the album; Is it about ritual magick, is it about radical Marxist groups or is it just a collection of random tunes that could only be the product of an absolute genius? More »

Every now and again I go out at night and see a band that reminds me exactly why I go out at night to see bands.  The Stray Birds are one of those.  More »

This month John Scott turns his attention to the UK singer songwriter Elvis Costello who rose to stardom in the first wave of punk rock and here looks at his album This Year’s Model recorded with his band The Attractions.   More »

2016 marks the fiftieth year since Taste, the blues-rock trio, was formed by legendary guitarist Rory Gallagher. Taste’s story almost reads like a Ziggy-ish rock n’ roll film script: a youthful band that promised much, only to split after a short period in a rather dramatic and personalised fashion, when they were right on the verge of 1970s rockstardom, due to a troublesome relationship with management. Thankfully, there is a lot more to Taste than such rock n’ roll cliché might suggest. Taste had a goodly share of creative achievement, both in its MKII and lesser-known MKI line-ups, which mark the band as deserving of more than a mere foot-note in the in the annals of 60s rock. More »

I thought it was a joke when this landed on my desk earlier but as with all the albums that arrive here at Hifi Pig Towers I gave it a fair trial and popped it on in the car whilst we drove to our destination for lunch. More »

It is rare for me to go to a gig specifically to see the support act but I made an exception for Fraser Anderson.  I had reviewed Fraser’s excellent album Under Cover Of Lightness earlier this year and has remained a regular listen. When I found out at the last minute that Fraser was gigging, I was determined to attend.   More »

Female electro poppers Marsheaux took their name from a portmanteau of the first syllables of their first names: Marianthi and Sophie.  Hailing from Thessaloniki, the girls moved to Athens to form the band.   Steeped in electronic pop music from the likes of Depeche Mode, The Human League, OMD, Soft Cell, New Order and Sparks, the girls have worked  to bring their own personality to their influences over the course of four previous studio albums and during this time  Marianthi and Sophie have also carved out a parallel career as remixers, reworking tracks by Katy Perry, Gwen Stefani, Kylie Minogue, Depeche Mode and Moby.  More »

Okay, I’m going to put this right out here.  I’m guilty.  I suspect I might be guilty of something that we may all be guilty of but I’m not going to use that as an excuse.  I’m guilty and I’m going to make a full confession.  So, here goes.  More »

Roy Harper may well be rock’s least well-known legend. The only non-band member to have sung a lead vocal on a Pink Floyd song (Have A Cigar from Wish You Were Here), he is also the subject of a Led Zeppelin song (Hats Off To (Roy) Harper).  David Gilmour, Paul And Linda McCartney and Kate Bush have guested on his albums and Bush, Peter Gabriel and This Mortal Coil have covered his songs.  More »

This is bass player and composer Antoine Fafard’s fourth album and features Gary Husband on drums, lead synth and piano and Jerry De Villiers Jr on lead guitar. More »

This is actually from 1985 but is now available for the first time on CD along with eight bonus tracks included. When it first came out Kerrang said it was a “distinctive and attractive alternative to the mainstream flow of things” and that’s as true in 2016 as it was then. More »

You may not have heard of the Crescendo festival that takes place each August in the beautiful French tourist resort of Saint Palais sur Mer in the Poitou Charente area of France, but it’s possibly the best organised festival I’ve ever attended and is in an absolutely magnificent setting on the cliff tops looking out to sea. There are very good campsites within 600m of the festival site, great restaurants and bars and the festival itself is safe, clean and attracts brilliant bands under the broad umbrella that is progressive rock. We visited first a few years ago when Hawkwind were headlining the Saturday night and this was sadly the last gig that their keyboard player Jason Stuart would ever play before he died. More »

In March this year, Billy Bragg and Joe Henry carried their guitars on to the Texas Eagle train in Chicago bound for Los Angeles.  During the journey, the pair recorded songs while the train stopped to pick up passengers.  With one eye on the train, to make sure that it didn’t pull off without them, songs were recorded in station waiting rooms and trackside platforms.  Four days and 2,728 miles later they disembarked at Union Station at 4.30am and recorded their final song accompanied by the first chirpings of the dawn chorus.  More »

This month John Scott breaks out Richard and Linda Thompson’s timeless classic from 1974. More »

In a former existence, Edinburgh’s Summerhall art space was a veterinary college.  Tonight’s gig is located in The Dissection Room and its tiled walls, linoleum floor and viewing gallery create a certain unsettling atmosphere that turns out to be quite appropriate.  Normally a standing venue, we’ve been provided with extraordinarily uncomfortable plastic chairs to sit on.  This is also apt as feeling uncomfortable is something of a theme for tonight’s entertainment.  More »

Amtrak’s Texas Eagle train runs from Chicago to Los Angeles, covering 2,728 miles and taking  just under 67 hours to complete its journey.  Tonight Billy Bragg and Joe Henry are showcasing a set of songs that they recorded when they took that trip together in March this year. More »

I’m really not sure what to make of this album.  That’s not to say that I’ve initially approached it only to then back away with a kind of “what the hell is this?!!” type of response, but moreover I’ve played this album some 20+ times and still really don’t have a clue what to make of it all.  I’m not totally sure if it’s either a conscious body of work or possibly a case of throwing ideas into a blender only to see what happens.

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I’ve been a fan of Hopkins’ work for a number of years.  The eagle-eyed amongst you will already be aware that Hopkins has previously worked with Coldplay and his track “Light Through The Veins” was reworked into what became the introduction to opening track “Life In Technicolor” from Coldplay’s album ‘Viva la Vida Or Death And All His Friends’. More »

When Rickie Lee Jones toured her Pirates album in 1981, she comfortably filled Edinburgh’s 3,000 seat Playhouse Theatre.  Tonight, The Queen’s Hall, at less than one third of the size, is somewhat less than half full.  The lack of seat sales is undeniably disappointing but is perhaps unsurprising. Jones is an uncompromising musician who has followed her muse through a variety of musical journeys but has never gone out of her way to court the mainstream – her sole chart single hit, 1979’s Chuck E’s In Love, struck a chord with the record buying public without bending its LA boho jazz style to the fashions of the day.
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The sleeve notes for Eye’s Of Blue’s Crossroads Of Time opens with a bit of an odd one “Sometimes a band can anticipate history to their own detriment. There is such a thing of being too far ahead of the game and finding everyone else is still playing by the old school rules…The story of Welsh band Eyes of Blue is such a case in point”. More »

When I was a youth I had the door to my bedroom painted with all psychedelic patterns, dragons, mushrooms and the like. Somewhere on the door I also had a poem that started “I am Bufo bufo, not yet rested from the great work” and on the frame over the door I had “It’s an ill wind that blows no minds”. I’m sure my parents must have been very proud, if not a little concerned about my mental wellbeing.  The year the tunes on this collection came out I was born, but I’ve always been drawn to the whole hippy vibe…man, and love the music of this era; mostly it has to be said the music that came out of the US scene. More »

The Tomcats were a British R&B/Mod band formed in Ealing in 1965 but it is in Spain they were most well known. The story goes that just before they were about to make it big on the R&B scene in London the band jumped in a van (bought by one of the band’s mum) and headed for Madrid. More »

This month, John Scott revisits the 1968 classic from Pink Floyd, Saucerful Of Secrets. More »

This months offering from él records was recorded in 1956 and is Michel Legrand’s homage to the French capital where he was born in 1932. You may not necessarily know the name but you are sure to know some of his tunes as he’s got around 200 film scores to his credit and if you’re still struggling you will certainly know Dusty Springfield’s version of Windmills Of Your Mind which is another of his tunes. More »

Lyn Stanley is the darling of the audiophile community and she certainly knows how to press our collective buttons to get us all in a lather over her recordings. Not content with just releasing her music on CD, she also releases her output on Reel2Reel and very high quality vinyl too – you may have even caught one of her live performances at High-End Munich (Lyn featured on the front cover of Hifi Pig’s coverage of High End 2015) and other audio shows.  More »

Howard Massey knows a thing or two about the music industry and is a long-time music journo and consultant to the pro-audio side of things. He’s been a touring/session musician, songwriter, recording engineer and producer, not to mention having written a dozen or so books used in recording school curricula including Behind The Glass and Behind The Glass Volume II. So his credentials for putting together The Great British Recording Studios would seem to be well and truly in order. More »

Choose a word from the following: Warped, debased, putrid, twisted. And one from these: Brilliance, originality, ingenuity, inventiveness. And there you have this album pretty much reviewed and condensed into two words. For the record I’d have gone for “Twisted Brilliance” for this is what you have here. Let Me Hang You is not for the faint of heart or those easily offended, but then William Burroughs reading some of his most outrageously degenerate but simultaneously entertaining and unsettling passages from his Naked Lunch novel of 1959 was never going to be. If you don’t know Naked Lunch then look it out and devour it before it consumes you! More »

Hifi Pig’s Janine Elliot is invited along to world famous AIR Studios where BBC Radio 2s Clare Teal joins the Syd Lawrence Orchestra for a direct to disc recording session. Read on, it’s fascinating!  More »

Forty years have passed since the summer of 1976, that long, hot summer when punk’s adrenaline rush threatened to sweep away anything and everything that threatened to get in its way.  The Sex Pistols were punk rock’s leading lights and singer Johnny Rotten was punk’s poster boy, although whether the band were a credible threat to the establishment or simply puppets – the punky Monkees –  of manager Malcolm McLaren’s situationist art project has become a moot point.  “Ever had the feeling you’ve been cheated?” sneered Rotten to an audience  the Pistols reached the point of self destruction.  I’ve never been too sure whether he was addressing the audience or himself. More »

Marc E. Smith’s The Fall divide opinion perhaps like no other band I can think of. On the one hand you have a devoted to the point of obsession fanboys, whilst on the other you have folk that just don’t get them. I fall (no pun intended) somewhere in the middle which is a bit of a cop out some may say. I do sort of understand the attraction of the band that formed in Manchester in 1976 and whose sole constant member is Smith, but then I buy their records and then think…why?

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Continuing what has been a particularly cosmopolitan set of review CDs this month we have this album from the él stable. Nope, I’ve not come across the singer before and this is part of the reason I love él; never afraid to dig out the obscure and interesting and release it on the unsuspecting music loving public. More »

This has been an absolutely huge record in France achieving the highest week one sales in fourteen years and going Double Platinum in its first week of sales. I wasn’t expecting this to land on my desk and when youngest son saw it he declared it rubbish…though I strongly suspect he’s only heard snippets, or none at all. More »

Between 1980 and 1985 Britain was experiencing a bit of a psychedelic revival and Another Splash Of Colour expands on the original album A Splash Of Colour issued in’82 and highlights many of the bands of the Nu Psych scene from that era. All the tracks from the original album are present and correct and appear here on CD for the first time ever. If you weren’t privy to the scene then many of the names herein will be new to you…as some are to me. Mood Six, High Tide, Miles Over Matter, The Barracudas and The Times are all included.

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Fearing that the world is heading to hell in a handcart, John Scott takes refuge in T Rex’s Electric Warrior. More »

DISCO is big at Hifi Pig Towers and many a Saturday night is spent strutting our stuff around the listening room…there’s even talk of us getting a mirror-ball. So what better than this album by all girl three piece that had a huge hits in ’79 with Strut Your Funky Stuff (you’ll know it of course!) and their follow up “Getting Serious”. More »

Out on the 29th July I’m A Freak Baby is really going to appeal to a certain kind of person…and I count myself in with this lot. As a teen I had hair down my back, wore an Afghan coat, stank of patchouli oil and listened to psych rock and heavy rock from the late 60s and early 70s, so when this landed on my desk I was a bit giddy with nostalgia and keen to give it a play. More »

You may have recently read about two girls from Norfolk who look uncannily similar but are, in fact, unrelated.  Rosa and Jenny are both 17, met when they were 4 years’ old and have been inseparable ever since.  Together, they make music under the moniker Let’s Eat Grandma.  Whether or not you enjoy their debut album really comes down to whether you like their mixture of darkness and light.  Oh, and their voices. More »

Summer is here, in the upper half of the hemisphere, at least. Time to bare some flesh – that’s enough, thank you – slap on the factor 30, pour a long drink, lie back and relax as John Scott provides the perfect summer playlist.   More »

Scott Wainwright hails from Barnsley, as do I, and so I was really keen to give this album a listen. He describes himself on his Facebook profile as “Maverick Blues, Gospel and Hip Hop Musician. Husband and Father. Thinker, Optimist, Man of Faith” and if anything I’d have added “a bit quirky” to that list too. I follow Scott on Facebook and he never seems not to be playing a gig somewhere or other and he’s going to be playing at the North West Audio Show at the end of June too and I’m really looking forward to seeing him live. More »

John Scott makes the most of the sunshine (well, it was shining when he started to write this) and listens to Linton Kwesi Johnson’s 1980 reggae classic.    More »

Fraser Anderson has been a father, a son, a brother and a husband. All of these relationships inform his songs as he sings about love, loss and loyalty.  The ties that stretch and fray as they bind us to others.  Anderson was born in Edinburgh and cut his musical teeth as a drummer in hip hop bands.  A meeting with Scottish musical institution Dougie McLean drew him into the folk world.  Moving to France with his young family, Anderson crafted his songs while working in kitchens and on building sites, building a fan base through local gigs.  Returning to the Uk in 2013, Anderson immersed himself in Bristol’s musical melting pot.  Now with three albums behind him Anderson has released his best album yet, the crowd funded Under The Cover Of Lightness.  More »

According to Howard Massey in his excellent book “The Great British Studios”, half speed mastering originally came about when John Lennon arrived in the Apple cutting room to master his new 45 “Power To The People” and wanted it “loud”. As a result the engineers came up with the ingenious idea of cutting the disc at half speed. This meant playing back the master tape at half speed and having the cutting lathe cut at half speed too, resulting in the engineers being able to get more level on the acetate but “with much better bass too”. More »

I’ve had this album on MP3 promo for a good while now and it’s a great piece of historical documentation of the underground, DIY electronic movement that took place between 75 and 84. It’s a sprawling four CD set with 61tracks and around 9000 words of sleevenotes by Dave Henderson of MOJO. You’ll know some of the names herein (Human League, OMD and Blancmange) but it’s the other, less well known bands that really make this album the gem that it is. More »

Nikki Lane’s 2014 album All Or Nothin’ fused country songwriting with Spectoresque Be My Baby drums, glam rock handclaps and Muscle Shoals electric piano.  Tonight, there are no drums, no piano; just Nikki and her Fender acoustic with back up from special guest Jonathan Tyler on guitar and harmonica but Lane’s rock and roll attitude shines through. More »

Following the recent tragic demise of Prince, John Scott takes a look at what he considers The Artist Formerly Known As’ masterpiece, Sign O The Times. More »