Moonshot – Worlds of Yesterday: A Moonshot Retrospective 1971 – 1992 album review

31 12 2019

The songs on this Moonshot compilation were lovingly curated by Tim Bowness, whose album Lost In The Ghostlight tells the story of Moonshot through the thoughts and musing of lead singer Jeff Harrison.

* To avoid confusion, some of the songs on this compilation have remarkably similar titles, lyrics and music to tracks released by Tim Bowness on his Moonshot inspired Lost In The Ghostlight album, but Jeff Harrison never ripped anyone off man.

Shortly before his final tour and final death, Moonshot mainman Jeff Harrison took to twitter. His confusion in this new digital playground was plain for all to see, and long-time fans were worried, with good reason. Harrison died in suspicious circumstances in January 2019 and it was his wish that Moonshot continue with John Wilkinson as their singer. John was the singer in Moonshot tribute band Apollo 11, and its his voice that delivers the Moonshot classics on this new Bowness curated compilation.

Listening to Worlds of Yesterday, it’s clear that Big Big Train are heavily indebted to Warrington’s finest sons. And a little progshaped bird once tweeted that rock / prog-pixie Steven Wilson has a whole wing in his Surrey Mansion dedicated to his love of Moonshot, the highlight of which is a room filled with 208 of Jeff Harrison’s moth-ridden stage outfits from the ill-fated Rosewater tour of Germany. If that isn’t an endorsement to the genius of the band and their influence, I don’t know what is.

If any members of Genesis heard Worlds of Yesterday, I have no doubt that they would say that this is the best album that Genesis never made. Or they might sue the band. I’m not sure which route they would take to be honest, but I hear Moonshot have the best lawyers Warrington have ever produced and they are poised to spring into litigious action.

On to the music, dear listeners. Album opener Moonshot Manchild is the tale untold of a rockstar out of time and place, a position the many men of Moonshot were likely familiar with. Musically drawing from early Yes, mid-period Genesis and a hint of late period Martin Lee (Brotherhood of Man).

The flashing lights are blinding, you never felt so old”

Stupid Things That Mean The World draws from the shallow-well of Invisible Touch era Genesis, with spurting and spluttering synths hiding the deep pain clearly felt by our prog protagonists. A veritable ear-worm of a song, with a smorgasbord of vintage keyboards powering the track.

Long-time fans of Moonshot will be familiar with the rare band ballad Worlds of Yesterday. Its the sound of a Moonshot wrestling with the changing times, and was a highlight of their many German and Austrian tours. The song was used in a prominent episode of the 80s German TV hit Helga und die Nordlichter, in case you are wondering where you had heard the tune before. The layers of guitar and keyboards on Worlds of Yesterday highlights the links between the world of progressive music and the 80s new romantic / synth bands.

Lost in the Ghostlight is a close cousin of Peter Gabriel’s The Rhythm of the Heat, but is more satisfying as it is shorter. New vocalist John Wilkinson sneers “is it pure or is it art”, a question we have all asked ourselves at some point. Mike Garson-esque piano lines offer solace from the anger in this perky prog-piece. “Is there moooore?” – yes there is, we are only at the mid-point of this compilation. Well sequenced Mr Bowness.

Fans of Phil Collin’s early solo material will love the Roland CR-78 driven bleak as midwinter Nowhere Good to Go. Apparently the lyrics are an apology to Moonshot fans for the many off-key performances and gigs cut-short during the band’s darkest period, when the album sales slowed to a trickle and Eastern Europe became their new playground. Heartbreaking but long overdue, its one of the album highlights.

Many reviewers, on first hearing The Great Electric Teenage Dream, thought Steve Hackett was the guitarist on the song that lit up Moonshot’s later period. This was never confirmed, denied or mentioned again. Prog magazine wrote a lengthy piece on this pastoral beauty, which was sadly dropped and replaced by news of the reformation of Gandalf’s Hoof in 2016. Out-of-time and out of luck once more, the Moonshot madness continued. Fact fans – the mention of “a faceless tweet” in the lyric does not refer to twitter but to Jeff’s love of Owls.

Before That Before became the band’s biggest hit single in the Netherlands. A stripped back power-ballad, with a heavy use of tambourine and reverb-drenched piano, it should have propelled Harrison and co into a Stadium sized orbit, but alas alimony soaked up the proceeds of Moonshot’s final tilt at immortality. Tears are guaranteed to flow when you hear the mournful guitar lines that preface the chorus.

At the time of release, the backing vocals on Before That Before‘s outro were rumoured to be performed by Kate Bush, but they were not.

The album skips towards its end with the prog as your elbow village-fete romp that is The Sweetest Bitter Pill. The original video (look for it on Youtube) featured Harrison stuck on a merry-go-round, that spun for eternity and made him very, very sick. Listening to this new version of the Moonshot classic, it’s clear the song has become a template for many bands, all of whom went onto great success. It would be nice if they gave a little love back, but we know who they are, and the invoice will be in the post.

The vinyl album ends on Distant Summers, a new version of one of the band’s best-loved songs. Welcome back my friends, and get out your lighters, it’s the show that never ends. Stripped of the need to sell records (because, who buys records anymore?), this is Moonshot at its purest. Heavy organs propel the love, longing and a lifetime of regret into a 4.59 progressive rock masterpiece. Listen young pretenders and weep. I’m looking at you Mr White Willow, Jacob Holm-Lupo.

Oh, and the CD version of the album (it won’t be available on streaming platforms as Jeff Harrison did not understand streaming – “if you can’t touch it, how can you hear it”) includes two bonus tracks. The World-Music inspiring You’ll Be The Silence and the theme medley Moonshot Shadows. Can anyone else hear the theme tune to Hill Street Blues in the opening? Nope, just me then. Craftily cutting out recognisable hooks from their lengthy back-catalogue, Moonshot are able to pay themselves extra-royalties, as Jeff Harrison is not listed as co-writer of this track. Resourceful.

So for anyone new to Moonshot, this is a very satisfying introduction to the band. Fans of Genesis, Yes, Barclay James Harvest, The Buggles, The Alan Parsons Project, Argent, Baccara, BruteBeard, Big Big Train, Caravan, Cloop, Christopher Cross, Genesis, Earth and Fire (but not Wind), Egg, ELP, Marillion, Damp, Frost*, Gabriel (Peter), Steve Hackett, John Hackett, Henry Hackett, Hackett and the North, I, Genesis, Rodeo and the Trapeze Boy, Flute and many more from the heady progressive era will find much to love in this purposeful masterpiece.

Don’t be surprised if Worlds of Yesterday is crowned Prog album of the year 2020. You have got 12 months to listen, digest and vote! Look into my eyes – vote you will.

Tracklisting:

Moonshot Manchild
Stupid Things That mean The World
World of Yesterday
Lost in the Ghostlight
Nowhere Good to Go
The Great Electric Teenage Dream
Before That Before
The Sweetest Bitter Pill
Distant Summers

Bonus Tracks on CD Album
You’ll Be The Silence
Moonshot Shadows

Buy the album (CD and vinyl) from Burning Shed

* Most of the anecdotes in this review are not true. If you are a fan of classic 70s and 80s progressive rock, I urge you to investigate this album. You know you will love it!





The Associates – Perhaps (remastered) 2 CD review

4 12 2019

35 years after its original release comes this 2 CD digipak edition of the band’s third studio album Perhaps plus related bonus tracks. Released via Cherry Red on 31 January 2020, the first disc features the 10 original album tracks plus four instrumentals that were included on the original cassette release of the album. These bonus tracks are appearing on CD for the first time.

Disc Two features all the related bonus tracks for which master tapes still exist. This includes the extended versions of singles Those First Impressions, Waiting For The Loveboat and Take Me To The Girl, plus single versions of Waiting For The Loveboat, Breakfast and Take Me To The Girl. Other tracks include 7” and 12” b-sides.

This is the best that the album has sounded. Perhaps was a long time in the making and featured four different producers, Heaven 17’s Martyn Ware, Martin Rushent (The Stranglers / Human League), Dave Allen and Greg Walsh. This new remaster was carried out by Dave Turner at 360 Mastering.

If you have not heard the original album from early 1985, it is very different from the playful and mischievous Sulk, its mind-blowing predecessor released in 1982. With Alan Rankine no longer a part of the band, this is a shinier, more radio-friendly version of The Associates. The album has mostly aged well and is certainly worthy of investigation if you are new to The Associates, or are a fan of 80s music.

Those First Impressions contains trademark Mackenzie vocals and a Club Country like bassline, but at a slower pace than a lot of the Sulk material. Waiting For The Loveboat feels like the theme to a long-lost saucy 80s sitcom, and contains wry lyrics and some awe-inspiring vocals from the boy Billy.

“Knowing what you want and taking full advantage”

The title track dials up the tempo and feels more like an early Associates track, with some fine guitar lines from Steve Reid. Unusually for the time, a lot of the tracks come in around the 6 minute plus mark.

“Perhaps, she’ll be my truest love.
Perhaps, I’m just not good enough.”

Schampout passed me by on initial release, and I feel the same today. Helicopter Helicopter is slightly better, but pales in significance compared to what comes next.

Breakfast is simply one of the best Associates tracks. The range of Mackenzie’s vocals, from the deep vibrato to the soaring, lung-busting high notes that give you goosebumps, still stops me in my tracks when I hear this song. It’s my favourite of all Billy’s vocal performances.

“Talk to me, I’ll stay these vagabond nights
Walk with me, someone is waiting in light”

And the end section – just a metronomic drum machine, the addictive piano motif and heart-wrenching strings, serves up one of my favourite endings to a song. So simple, yet so emotional.

Thirteen Feelings, with its fairground waltz keyboards, lifts you after the melodrama of the previous song.

“Deeper days of quintessential innocence
I’ve never felt so far away”

The Stranger In Your Voice always felt like something David Bowie would have recorded to me, and is another song that has grown on me over the years since first hearing the album on cassette back in the mid-80s.

The Best Of You is a duet with Eddi Reader (replacing two earlier ‘lost’ versions with Annie Lennox and Gina X). The album proper ends with the uptempo Don’t Give Me That I Told You So Look, and is completed with four instrumental cuts.

Highlights of Disc Two include extended versions of Those First Impressions and Waiting For The Loveboat with its manic end section.

Breakfast (Edit) features a very different mix and vocal to the original, and doesn’t have the same emotional effect as the album version. Though truth be told, there could never be a bad version of this song.

The Breakfast 12″ (and rare Associates cover version) Kites is a welcome addition to this reissue, harking back to the feel of early Associates releases.

Take Me To The Girl is a post Perhaps single release (I think I have a 10″ vinyl version somewhere) and a very commercial song, presented here in all its released versions (Single Version, the 12” Mix, instrumental and the delicious acoustic torch-song version The Girl That Took Me).

“So take me to the girl that I once knew
Does she know what I’ve been going through?
I’ve been searching for her everywhere
I think my darling’s gone; I didn’t care”

This 2020 reissue also includes a 20 page booklet, that includes a UK discography and extensive sleeve-notes written by Andy Davis.

So is it worth investing in this version of Perhaps? I would say yes (not perhaps!) – its a much more rewarding version than the only other CD release, a shared re-issue with The Glamour Chase in 2002, that included none of the associated tracks that appear on this definitive Cherry Red edition.


Buy the 2 CD Perhaps album on Amazon

Disc One: Perhaps + Bonus Tracks

Those First Impressions
Waiting For The Loveboat
Perhaps (Dave Allen Remix)
Schampout
Helicopter Helicopter
Breakfast
Thirteen Feelings
The Stranger In Your Voice
The Best Of You
(Billy Mackenzie & Dave Allan Remix)
Don’t Give Me That I Told You So Look
Perhaps (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
Breakfast Alone (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
Thirteen Feelings (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *
The Stranger In Your Voice (Instrumental) (Bonus Track) *

Disc Two: Bonus Tracks

Those First Impressions (Extended Version) *
Waiting For The Loveboat (Single Version)
Waiting For The Loveboat (Extended Version) *
Waiting For The Loveboat (Slight Return)
Perhaps Perhaps *
Schampout (Edit) *
Breakfast (Single Version)
Breakfast (Edit)
Kites
Take Me To The Girl (Single Version)
Take Me To The Girl (12” Mix) *
Take Me To The Girl (Instrumental) *
The Girl That Took Me *


* appearing on CD for the first time

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Buy Sulk by Associates on CD





News: Hope & Anchor Front Row Festival CD (The Stranglers / XTC / Dire Straits)

9 11 2019

The live Hope & Anchor Front Row Festival album from 1978 is getting it’s first release on CD in December 2019.

Recorded in the winter of 1977, but released a year later – the album is a double disc featuring live tracks recorded at the festival from The Stranglers, The Wilko Johnson Band, XTC, Dire Straits, X-ray Spex, The Only Ones, Steel Pulse and more.

Picture https://www.punk77.co.uk/punkhistory/hope_and_anchor_live.htm

The album is a time-capsule capturing some of the punk, new wave and pub-rock acts of this era, in their prime.

Previously only available on vinyl and cassette, this a first CD release for the Hope & Anchor Front Row Festival album.


Buy the CD at Amazon

Disc: 1

  1. Dr. Feelgood – The Wilko Johnson Band
  2. Straighten Out – The Stranglers
  3. Styrofoam – Tyla Gang
  4. Don’t Munchen It – The Pirates
  5. Speed Kills – The Steve Gibbons Band
  6. I’m Bugged – XTC
  7. I Hate School – Suburban Studs
  8. Billy – The Pleasers
  9. Science Friction – XTC
  10. Eastbound Train – Dire Straits
  11. Bizz Fizz – Burlesque
  12. Let’s Submerge – X-ray Spex
  13. Crazy – 999

Disc: 2

  1. Demolition Girl – The Saints
  2. Quite Disappointing – 999
  3. Creatures Of Doom – The Only Ones
  4. Gibson Martin Fender – The Pirates
  5. Sound Check – Steel Pulse
  6. Zero Hero – Roogalator
  7. Underground Romance – Philip Rambow
  8. Rock & Roll Radio – The Pleasers
  9. On The Street – Tyla Gang
  10. Johnny Cool – The Steve Gibbons Band
  11. Twenty Yards Behind – The Wilko Johnson Band
  12. Hanging Around – The Stranglers




Be-Bop Deluxe Modern Music deluxe box-set review

7 11 2019

Esoteric Recordings are releasing a re-mastered five-disc deluxe box-set limited edition (comprising 4 CDs and a DVD) of Modern Music, the 1976 album by Be-Bop Deluxe.

This expanded reissue has been newly re-mastered from the original master tapes and features an additional 55 bonus tracks including new 5.1 surround sound & stereo mixes from the original multi-track tapes by award winning engineer Stephen W. Tayler, out-takes from the album sessions, a BBC Radio “In Concert” performance from October 1976, along with a bonus CD of a previously unreleased “official bootleg” of a performance at The Riviera Theater in Chicago in 1976 recorded for FM Radio on Be Bop Deluxe’s first US tour.

The set also includes visual material taken from a session for BBC TV’s “Old Grey Whistle Test” show broadcast in November 1976.

The DVD material (including the 5.1 mixes) is not reviewed here, as review copies were not provided.

Modern Music was the first album to be produced by John Leckie (XTC, Simple Minds, The Stone Roses) who continued to work with Bill Nelson on Red Noise, The Love That Whirls and Getting The Holy Ghost Across.

Modern Music was released just prior to the arrival of punk and new wave, a sound and attitude that would inform Nelson’s releases for the next few albums. The music on this album is a mixture of classic and progressive rock, with wonderful harmonies, nods to early David Bowie (particularly the Ziggy Stardust era) and a covers a variety of genres.

Twilight Capers is a delight – revelling in the genre-switching that was prevalent in this period – moving from ballad, via jazz-rock to reggae – all in the one track! The Doors like end section, with its powerful production touches hits the sweet spot every time.

The light and breezy Kiss Of Light reminds me of the City Boy debut album (a wonderful classic rock band that seems to have been written out of history) that was also released in 1976. Modern Music was written on the road, and seems to be Bill Nelson’s reflections on America at the time.

Nelson writes in the box-set booklet:

“…many of the songs on Modern Music were written in hotel rooms whilst touring America and some of them directly relate to the growing disillusion I was feeling with life on the road.”

The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow is a charming song, written by Nelson at a sound-check, lamenting his faraway love.

The Modern Music suite is the highlight for many fans of this or any Be-Bop Deluxe album. You can hear a snippet of the late John Peel in the suite’s intro to the title track, which radiates West-Coast sunshine.

Down On Terminal Street is overflowing with wonderful lyrical imagery, and I love the way the church-bells chime amongst the heavy guitars and synths in the songs intro and end section.

“The street cafe was closed to all but ghosts
Who glide the alleys searching for their lair”

Make The Music Magic returns to the more commercial sound of the early songs, but in a stripped back acoustic setting.

Disc two of this box-set is a new stereo mix of the album. The mix feels much wider, and individual instruments are noticeably clearer. As are the vocals – you can hear the reverb on Nelson’s vocals on Down On Terminal Street with such clarity, its like hearing the album for the first time. I defy you to not crank up the volume on this new mix.

This disc also includes the stunning 8 minutes long Shine (New Stereo Mix), which reminds me a little of Bowie’s Stay from Station To Station.

Disc three is a BBC Radio One “In Concert” taken from the band’s headlining show from 2 October 1976 London’s Hammersmith Odeon. The highlights of this disc for me are the live takes of Ships In The Night and the 12 minute plus Modern Music. It’s a good quality recording, given its age.

Disc four is a recording from the Riviera Theater in Chicago on 21 March 1976, where Be-Bop Deluxe opened for Thin Lizzy. The band’s set was mixed and broadcast live by the local radio station WXRT-FM. The concert included in the band’s set Bill’s Blues, which was never developed further on record. Sadly this “official” bootleg is for completists only, as at times its not as good quality as the sound of disc 3, and you can see why Bill’s Blues was left unreleased – it’s just a standard blues jam. There is audible distortion / clipping and hiss, so not a disc I will be returning to.

Nevertheless, this is a lovingly curated box-set, topped off with an entertaining 68 page book, that gives context to the band and the individual tracks, along with many previously unpublished images. If you are a fan of Bill Nelson’s work in Be-Bop Deluxe, or are a fan of 70s rock, there is much to enjoy in this box-set.

Pre-order Be-Bop Deluxe Modern Music 4 cd / 1 DVD box-set on Amazon

Disc One: Cd
Modern Music
The Original Stereo Mix:

  1. Orphans Of Babylon
  2. Twilight Capers
  3. Kiss Of Light
  4. The Bird Charmers Destiny
  5. The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow
  6. Bring Back The Spark
  7. Modern Music
  8. Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone)
  9. Honeymoon On Mars
  10. Lost In The Neon World
  11. Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids
  12. Modern Music (Reprise)
  13. Forbidden Lovers
  14. Down On Terminal Street
  15. Make The Music Magic
    Bonus Track
  16. Shine (B-Side Of Single)

Disc Two: Cd
Modern Music
The New Stereo Mix:

  1. Orphans Of Babylon (New Stereo Mix)
  2. Twilight Capers (New Stereo Mix)
  3. Kiss Of Light (New Stereo Mix)
  4. The Bird Charmers Destiny (New Stereo Mix)
  5. The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow (New Stereo Mix)
  6. Bring Back The Spark (New Stereo Mix)
  7. Modern Music (New Stereo Mix)
  8. Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone) (New Stereo Mix)
  9. Honeymoon On Mars (New Stereo Mix)
  10. Lost In The Neon World (New Stereo Mix)
  11. Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids (New Stereo Mix)
  12. Modern Music (Reprise) (New Stereo Mix)
  13. Forbidden Lovers (New Stereo Mix)
  14. Down On Terminal Street (New Stereo Mix)
  15. Make The Music Magic (New Stereo Mix)
    Bonus Tracks
  16. Shine (New Stereo Mix)
  17. Forbidden Lovers (First Version)
  18. The Bird Charmer’s Destiny (First Version)

Disc Three: Cd
BBC Radio One “In Concert”
Recorded 2nd October 1976 At Hammersmith Odeon, London

  1. Maid In Heaven
  2. Bring Back The Spark
  3. Kiss Of Light
  4. Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape
  5. Fair Exchange
  6. Ships In The Night
  7. Twilight Capers
  8. Modern Music
    I. Modern Music
    Ii. Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone)
    Iii. Honeymoon On Mars
    Iv. Lost In The Neon World
    V. Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids
    Vi. Modern Music (Reprise)
  9. Blazing Apostles

Disc Four: Cd
Live At The Riviera Theatre, Chicago 21st March 1976 –
The Official Bootleg

  1. Fair Exchange
  2. Stage Whispers
  3. Life In The Air Age
  4. Sister Seagull
  5. Adventures In A Yorkshire Landscape
  6. Maid In Heaven
  7. Ships In The Night
  8. Bill’s Blues
  9. Blazing Apostles

Disc Five: Dvd
Modern Music
The 5.1 Surround Sound Mix / New Stereo Mix (96 Khz / 24-Bit) / Original Stereo Mix (96 Khz / 24-Bit)

  1. Orphans Of Babylon (5.1 Mix)
  2. Twilight Capers (5.1 Mix)
  3. Kiss Of Light (5.1 Mix)
  4. The Bird Charmers Destiny (5.1 Mix)
  5. The Gold At The End Of My Rainbow (5.1 Mix)
  6. Bring Back The Spark (5.1 Mix)
  7. Modern Music (5.1 Mix)
  8. Dancing In The Moonlight (All Alone) (5.1 Mix)
  9. Honeymoon On Mars (5.1 Mix)
  10. Lost In The Neon World (5.1 Mix)
  11. Dance Of The Uncle Sam Humanoids (5.1 Mix)
  12. Modern Music (Reprise) (5.1 Mix)
  13. Forbidden Lovers (5.1 Mix)
  14. Down On Terminal Street (5.1 Mix)
  15. Make The Music Magic (5.1 Mix)
    Bonus Tracks
  16. Shine (5.1 Mix)
  17. Forbidden Lovers (First Version) (5.1 Mix)
  18. The Bird Charmer’s Destiny (First Version) (5.1 Mix)
    Visual Content
  19. Forbidden Lovers (BBC Old Grey Whistle Test 1976)
  20. Down On Terminal Street (BBC Old Grey Whistle Test 1976)

Pre-order Be-Bop Deluxe Modern Music 4 cd / 1 DVD box-set on Amazon





Prince – The Beautiful Ones

1 11 2019

Prince – The Beautiful Ones is a fascinating read – filled with previously unseen photos, handwritten lyric sheets but it could have been so much more (it was planned to be a very different type of book).

It was heart-breaking losing a musician of Prince’s once in a generation talent in April 2016, who had so much more to give, but Prince passing in the early stages of this books conception changed its course dramatically.

For me the most interesting parts of the book are the opening chapters written by Dan Piepenbring – talking of his meetings with Prince and the book project that really excited the musician. It gives a brief window into what could have been – a merging of Prince’s thoughts and memories, with Piepenbring’s well-written critical and fan-based observations.

I really enjoyed reading the all too brief hand-written first drafts from Prince himself. Reading Prince’s own words talking about his very early years is immensely moving but abruptly ends before his professional career really started.

So we sadly miss out on Prince talking about the stories behind his songs and albums, what it was like being an icon from his perspective and his struggles with the industry that tried to slow him down.

We will never get to hear about his relationships with the countless band-members who worked and collaborated with him through the 80s, 90s, and up to the iconic Super Bowl appearance of 2007 (the planned end point of this book). Sadly these memories and many more died with the man.

Dan Piepenbring and the Estate have done a fine job taking the book through to its conclusion, and for any Prince fan, this is still a must read book, so no criticism should be laid at their door. But the opening chapters just drive home how if Prince was still with us, The Beautiful Ones could have been one of the best rock books of all time.

Buy Prince – The Beautiful Ones hardback book from Amazon.





Bruce Soord – All This Will Be Yours track-by-track album review

11 10 2019

Bruce Soord, the songwriter and frontman for The Pineapple Thief, has released his second solo album, All This Will Be Yours via Kscope.

An interesting mix of the personal (family life and birth) and the bigger picture (austerity and Brexit) makes for a slightly different take on recent releases from The Pineapple Thief.

Electronic textures and acoustic guitars drive the majority of the songs. The Secrets I Know works well as an opening track, with its sparse arrangement, mainly piano, guitar and layered vocals.

“Move forward at all costs
Protection at all costs
I’m already mourning your loss”

Our Gravest Threat Apart dials up the electronics, and has a naggingly addictive mantra-like outro.

All This Will Be Yours works as a complete album, with songs flowing in to one another, as two distinct pieces (replicating the vinyl experience), so you find yourself adhering to the vision of the album as a thoughtfully curated art-form, not a source of playlists to dip in and out of.

The Solitary Path Of A Convicted Man has some interesting production touches, and a memorable rhythm track, and contains the album’s first Soord guitar solo. The vocals and harmonies are especially strong on this slowly building key album track.

The title track is one of two longer songs on the album. The piano line reminds me a little of Erik Satie’s Gymnopédies when in isolation, but is soon sent to the back of the mix, as powerful psychedelic guitars and a shuffling drum pattern accompany the sirens and mood of an austerity ravaged urban landscape.

The more optimistic Time Does Not Exist reflects on the beauty of new life and new hope triumphing over the world outside, and is Soord at his most personal. The track contains a warm and evocative vocal performance that will be an album highlight for many listeners. I love the evolution in the arrangement and slightly out-of-character drum pattern that takes the song to it’s conclusion.

One Misstep is the nearest to a more traditional Pineapple Thief sound, with the ever-present sirens of modern life seeping through the mix. I love how found-sounds are almost used as instruments at times in All This Will Be Yours.

“This new darkened future, Is this who we are?”

You Hear The Voices is the longest track on the album, coming in at just under 7 minutes. Whether a lament to climate-change, or a breakdown of a relationship (physical or economic) makes no difference. Loss is painful and reverberates forever.

My favourite track on the album, You Hear The Voices builds layer by layer, with a gentle nod towards the soundscapes of the earlier collaboration with Katatonia’s Jonas Renkse on the Wisdom of Crowds.

“You can’t re-write your dreams
Or re-negotiate your terms
This is our ocean now”

Images by Steve Brown

A bleak, neglected cemetery is the location for Cut The Flowers, with its brutal tale of time moving on, leaving love and memories to decay and eventually disappear. A heavily distorted bass-line duels with synths and drum machines, reminding me of Mariusz Duda’s Lunatic Soul albums.

The theme of loss continues with final track One Day I Will Leave You.

“So don’t mourn my passing
I was always passing through
And I’ll always be with you”

All This Will Be Yours is book-ended by songs referencing our short time on Earth, whilst touching on the effect we have whilst we are here – either through introducing new life, or damaging what we are leaving behind for others (through our political choices or through our trashing of the planet’s resources).

The mix of the personal and the political is a brave decision, and whilst Soord makes clear his anger at the state of our world, there is optimism to be found within the songs. And like many of us, I feel maybe he sees the younger generation as the ones who can drive us away from the cliff-edge.

“This new darkened future, Isn’t who you are”

Buy Bruce Soord – All This Will Be Yours Deluxe Edition BoxSet from Amazon
Buy Bruce Soord – All This Will Be Yours on CD from Amazon
Bruce Soord – All This Will Be Yours on 180gm vinyl from Amazon

The Secrets I Know [02:24]
Our Gravest Threat Apart [04:14]
The Solitary Path Of A Convicted Man [03:44]
All This Will Be Yours [06:04]
Time Does Not Exist [03:33]
One Misstep [04:00]
You Hear The Voices [06:54]
Cut The Flowers [04:35]
One Day I Will Leave You [05:17]





no-man – love you to bits album review

4 10 2019

no-man have released love you to bits, the duo’s first studio album for eleven years. The album is made up of two connected five-part pieces (love you to bits and love you to pieces).

The album marks a return to the more beat-driven electronica of Loveblows & Lovecries – A Confession and parts of Flowermouth, but with a tempo consistency missing from previous albums.

On first hearing the finished album, I was surprised by the sense of urgency, and how some of the performances are quite visceral. I heard echoes of Trent Reznor / nine inch nails and at times, Outside era David Bowie, before the songs took on a real identity of their own.

The album should not be surprising to long-time fans of no-man – my CD single of Only Baby sits close to Donna Summers Once Upon A Time double-album in my CD rack, occasionally throwing coquettish glances in its direction. So whilst love you to bits feels influenced by the urgent sequenced riffs of the “father of Disco” Giorgio Moroder, Bowness and Wilson have developed so much as writers and musicians since the early days, and this is clearly evident as there is so much more to this album than high-energy electronics.

There are two remarkable performances that leap out of the speakers from guest players. On love you to bits guitarist David Kollar delivers a white-hot manic solo that is one of the highlights of the album, and on love you to pieces Steven Wilson band member Adam Holzman serves up a fusion electric piano solo that is dripping with passion (and a fair amount of reverb).

Other guests include Ash Soan (The Producers / Trevor Horn / Downes Braide Association), who adds powerful live drums on top of the drum machines, giving a real push to sections of the album, plus some damn funky synth basslines from Norwich’s finest low notes rumbler (and half of Burning Shed) Pete Morgan, plus a surprising but emotive appearance from The Dave Desmond Brass Quintet (Big Big Train).

The first track (or suite), love you to bits, is driven by deep synth lines and Bowness’s sardonic lyrics surveying the shattered wreck of a relationship. As the live drums kick in, Wilson’s guitar processing harks back to the sound of early no-man, and at times the music draws from the mood of Only Baby and Bleed.

love you to bits contains one of no-man’s finest choruses, and even with the aforementioned I Feel Love / Moroder / Belotte influences, the album feels very current, and will surely appeal to fans of most forms of electronic / electronic dance music.

“I love you, like I don’t love you at all”

Just before the 6 minute mark, one of my favourite moments kicks in. Featuring a short guitar and bass interplay that is pure Platinum era Mike Oldfield, the section breaks down to an Underworld / Born Slippy motif that leads to a vocal and instrumental refrain that sums up the beauty of no-man, with a subtle nod to lighthouse (my favourite no-man song). The music then picks up, with wild Bowness vocals and beautiful lead guitar lines from the boy Wilson. I will let you discover the unexpected ending to love you to bits yourself, which sees out the first five part piece.

love you to pieces is a darker, more twisted cousin of the first half of the album.

“our sticky love just left me weak”

Opening with a dub-like, slow it all down continuation of the theme, the song takes a detour and again draws on the DNA of no-man’s past.

“There’s no need to look for answers
To the questions never asked
There’s no need to make a shelter
from your versions of our past”

A heavily vocodered, processed vocal breakdown leads to the aforementioned Adam Holzman solo section and I’m reminded a little of some of the instrumentation of Bird Shadows, Wolf & Moon, an earlier mostly vocal-less piece credited to no-man on the Drop 6 compilation.

As the synths sparkle like diamonds on the mid-section, and as the pace drops, I love the production touches on Tim’s vocals – reminding me of the tape decay of The Disintegration Loops and The Caretaker. It’s the most moving part of the whole album, and is like having pure, unadulterated no-man shot through your veins. I have no doubt that long-time no-man fans will be deeply moved by the mid to end section of love you to pieces.

The decay and melancholy of the end section reminds me a little of the darker parts of 10cc and Godley & Creme, feeling like a Mogadon infused I’m Not In Love, as the melody is scraped away to reveal the bare bones of the piece.

love you to bits is a world away from the most recent no-man albums, but even if you are not usually a fan of the more electronic side of the band, I think there is plenty here to savour. The album touches on the band’s earlier sound palette, but is so unlike anything else in no-man’s catalogue.

Although often jokingly teased as the band’s “disco epic” when mentioned in interviews, love you to bits is in fact one of the most progressive albums released under the no-man name. Not as a genre, but progressive as evidence of no-man changing, evolving and progressing onto something new.

I hope the album is heard outside of the Bowness / Wilson audience, as it will surely appeal to anyone with a love of electronic music. Prepare to be surprised and you will not be disappointed.

Buy the album

Buy love you to bits (CD / Vinyl / packages) from Burning Shed

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Buy love you to bits on CD from Amazon

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Buy love you to bits on vinyl from Amazon

Stream the album (and then buy it!)

love you to bits details

love you to bits (Bits 1-5) (17.03)
love you to pieces (Pieces 1-5) (18.54)

Tim Bowness – Vocals
Steven Wilson – Instruments

Ash Soan – Drums
The Dave Desmond Brass Quintet – Brass on love you to bits
Adam Holzman – Electric Piano solo on love you to pieces
David Kollar – Electric Guitar solo on love you to bits
Pete Morgan – Synth bass on love you to bits

produced and written by no-man
mixed by Bruno Ellingham
mastered by Matt Colton








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