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This is nowhere near as good or nihilistic as the first film. This Italian production, filmed on location in Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona is a pretty good comedy action film and Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson look like they are having a ball, even if some of the dialogue is clunky. The only problem is, it is now and Hilton has to head back to Southeast Asia to interview people who witnessed the events when they happened in the early 70's. He then escapes by jumping off a bridge on to a moving train, the Inspector, Jo and Tom giving chase in Jeeps. That was back in October Michele sneaks into Nitro's hotel room and tries to do something to his phone, but Nitro enters unexpectedly, forcing Michele to hide. He should have waited because he still has to deal with Tom.
Don't ask too many questions because you will get no answers. Tiger tells Connie that he has had enough and they are leaving town but, before they can, Wally and his band of inbred friends kill Pete and Tiger's ex-partner who came for a visit and try to rape Connie, chasing her through the forest.
Tiger has no choice but to stay and rescue his daughter. The hillbillies ambush Jake in his new car after he rescues Connie, causing it to explode Tiger can't seem to catch a break with cars! He and an always-complaining Connie He screams to her, "Where are your balls, Connie?!
Tiger and Connie make it home, but instead of grabbing the Blastfighter, Tiger makes some Molotov cocktails, thinning out the posse by setting them on fire. This is the point when it turns from a revenge action flick into a blood-soaked gore film.
Connie is shot in the leg by Wally, forcing Tiger to remove the bullet with his knife he succeeds. He then has to pull her leg bone apart which is jutting out of the wound so he can apply a splint all of this is shown in close-up. Tom is overhead in a helicopter trying to spot them. When he does, he tells Wally to remain where he is and then tries to talk some sense to Tiger, telling him if he forgets everything that has happened, he will let them go free.
Wally doesn't like this deal, so when Tiger and Connie come out of hiding to talk to Tom, Wally shoots Connie dead and Tiger goes all Rambo on their asses. He uses the weapon to destroy the hillbilly's vehicles, takes the arm off one hillbilly and then blows one hick apart until he is nothing but a bloody spray a nice gory body explosion. He should have waited because he still has to deal with Tom.
They agree to face each other with only one bullet in each of their weapons of choice a shotgun for Tom and a pistol for Tiger. Of course, Tom being the bad guy, he cheats, but instead of killing him, Tiger shoots him in the knee. The film ends with Tiger driving Tom back to town with a load of dead hillbillies piled up in the pickup truck's bed to meets their fates with the police.
While the graphic violence doesn't come until the final 20 minutes of the film, it is a hoot to hear the dubbing artists use exaggerated Southern drawls for the characters they are dubbing just like the dubbing in most Italian films, they have no idea how any American talks!
The on-location photography also adds a sense of realism to the proceedings. I was also surprised to read, during the closing credits, that no animals were harmed in the making of this film. All the shots of real-life animal deaths including the buck and a pig were taken from stock documentary footage. This has to be a first because the Italians were not ashamed to show real animals getting killed for "entertainment value", especially their cannibal films.
Except for the embarsassing opening, where Code Red founder Bill Olsen introduces the film with Michael Sipkow he still looks in great shape while wearing his banana suit he doesn't want anyone to know what he looks like! Stuffed with extras including a new interview with Lamberto Bava, who reveals that Producer Luciano Martino sold the film to various countries on the title alone, before any footage was shot. He also said that he based the film's story on a true article he read where two Yellowstone Park rangers were caught selling animal parts to Asia.
While that tidbit does get a mention in the film, it is quickly dropped. Bava also says that he spoke English when he made this film, but in the past years, forgot how! Listening to Eastman talk, he comes across as an ungrateful SOB, as he hates most of the films he appeared in and dislikes most of the people he worked with. Also on the disc are new interviews with Michael Sipkow Who nows sells a protective type of glass called "miron". You can go to his website, www.
Sopkiw relates a funny story about meeting Quentin Tarantino at the video store he worked at before he became famous. Tarantino recognized Sopkiw right away and told him that this film was one of his favorites. The store manager asks them to leave and a martial arts fight breaks out, which ends with the manager smacking his head against a counter and dying. The four drunk bastards take off in their car, only to have it overheat, so they begin knocking on doors looking for water for the car's radiator.
They end up at the home of Diane Doris Cooper and her husband Edward the late Nick Nicholson and, wouldn't you know it, James and Diane use to be lovers way back when.
Another martial arts fight breaks out and the four drunks prove to be too much for Edward although he puts up a pretty good fight and Diane. James snaps Diane's neck While screaming, "You could have had it all!
Tracy begs Steve to turn over the medallion to the police, but he refuses and vows to kill all those responsible for his parents' deaths. Things get complicated when Steve beats the snot out of George's son, Bruce, and when George goes to challenge Steve at his gym where still yet another martial arts fight breaks out , he notices that Steve is wearing his medallion around his neck.
Steve finally relents to Tracy's constant requests and gives the medallion to Tracy's father who also happens to be Steve's trainer to turn over to the police, but before he can do so he is attacked by James and the gang who get the medallion back and Tracy's father ends up in the hospital in critical condition, where he eventually dies. That turns out to be the straw that broke the camel's back, as Steve goes on a bloody revenge spree he impersonates a sports writer to get James' address , first killing Frank by blowtorch and then nearly getting killed himself when the other three gang-up on him in a MetroRail train car.
After the usual 80's style training montage, Steve is ready to send James, Walter and George's souls to Hell when they kidnap Tracy. Lim's Silver Star Film Corporation production outfit, suffers from a case of "bad acting-itis", as well as having the music and sound effects cranked so loud, sometimes you can't hear the dialogue.
That's just as well, though, because whatever words you can make out are idiotic and unbelievable I have never heard anyone, even the drunkest of people, say some of the stuff you will hear in this film! This is not one of Page's best films it's apparent his budget was much lower than most of his 80's films , as it is a cheap collection of martial arts and action sequences with the thinnest of revenge plots to hold it together.
While it is nice to see Ned spelled "Nead" in the credits Hourani, James Gaines, Jim Moss and Jerry Beyer get prominent roles for a change they were basically secondary or background characters in most other films , it's a shame it has to be in a film that is this poor.
While there are plentiful well-staged martial arts fights and stunts One ends with Steve tying Walter to the railroad tracks and the MetroRail runs him over [offscreen] , they are ruined by the over-amped sound effects and music tracks, not to mention the laughable acting talents of Sean Donahue and Christine Landson, who both seem to be reading their dialogue off of cue cards.
Only you can make that decision. CAGE - Must-see viewing for all fans of action cinema, but not for the reasons you might expect. Twenty years pass and Scott is still looking out for Billy, acting as his older brother, father, mother and, most of all, best friend, but times are tough and Scott has to figure out a way they can both make some money to survive.
With the bank note coming due on Scott's bar which caters to disabled veterans and no way to pay it, Scott has to figure out something and do it quick. Since Tony also owes crime kingpin Mr. Diablo's second-in-command, Mono Daniel Martine , botches the torch job and kills Meme Maggie Mae Miller , the bar's beloved waitress, in the blaze When Scott and Billy hear the news of Meme's death, they both go on a crying jag that must be seen to be believed! When a steadfast Scott still refuses to let Billy fight he really is about the best friend anyone could ever hope to have , Tony and Mario kidnap Billy and begin training him to fight, under the ruse that he is helping Scott raise money to rebuild the bar.
When the police refuse to help Scott find Billy, he sets out on his own, first by killing Diablo and Mono who suffers a fitting death by fire while begging Scott to kill him, which he refuses to do!
Scott must take Billy's place in the ring and fight Tin Lum Yin's East Coast champion, which leads to a shoot-out, many deaths and an unexpected windfall for Scott and Billy. First off, how Lou Ferrigno didn't win an Academy Award for his performance here is beyond my comprehension Oscar rule of thumb: Play a retard, dress in drag or die of a terminal disease and you are guaranteed to get a nomination.
Yes, I am half-kidding, but the other half of me enjoyed Ferrigno's performance immensely, as he is affecting and totally believable as the retarded musclehead. It's probably the best role of his career, acting-wise.
Reb Brown also registers as Scott. His protective friendship with Billy is quite touching. Secondly, there's a lot more going on here than a simple action film. Both Billy and Mario lack the intelligence or will to survive on their own, but the way they are treated by their prospective guardians is like apples and oranges. The scene where Mario sympathizes with Billy while he is being beaten to a pulp by one fighter played by Matthias Hues is heartfelt and tugs at your emotions, as is their scene in the locker room where Mario pleads with Billy to fight one more time to save both of their lives.
Call me an old softy, but CAGE is that rare action film that pulls at your heartstrings while beating your body to a bloody pulp. Look closely and you'll spot Danny Trejo as Mr.
Costello's bodyguard, Jimmy F. Skaggs as the "Ugly Guy" and roller derby and wrestling veteran Queen Kong nee Dee Booher as a member of Diablo's gang who gets punched in the face by Scott. CAGE II - Awful sequel to the surprisingly affecting CAGE that, while it reunites the main cast, director and screenwriter, misses the mark completely on what made the original film so successful: Lou Ferrigno returns as hulking simpleton Billy, who was rendered retarded during the Vietnam War by getting shot in the head while saving Scott Reb Brown from an enemy ambush.
Since that day, Scott has become Billy's caregiver and best friend. As Part II opens, Scott and Billy are attacked in a grocery store by Chin James Lew and his gang, who leave Scott for dead and kidnap Billy after shooting a tranquilizer dart into his stomach. Billy becomes the star attraction of the Cage Cable Network, a brutal fighting corporation which now, unlike the first film, seems perfectly legal owned by Tin Lum Yin James Shigata , the chief bad guy in Part 1, who was supposedly crushed to death by Billy in the finale, but survived and now must wear a full body brace and walk with a cane.
Tin Lum Yin keeps Billy in line by giving him daily "vitamin injections", which are actually genetically enhanced steroids that turn Billy into a violent, no-mercy cage fighter, a degree turn from his normal, docile retarded self. Billy, who believes Scott is dead, begins to refuse the injections with the help of pretty servant Mi Lo Shannon Lee, in a degrading role , which upsets Yin when Billy begins to get less aggressive and starts showing mercy on his opponents in the cage matches by "mercy", I mean he doesn't kill them.
Billy begins to go through withdrawal symptoms from the lack of injections, which Mi Lo helps him get through with the use of acupuncture. Wo Gerald Okamura want Billy to go back to taking the injections and when Billy refuses after finding out that Yin "purchased" Mi Lo in Hong Kong when she was twelve years-old and used her as a whore , Yin stages one final tournament before he leaves the city with millions of dollars in gambling bets. Meanwhile, Scott who has been honing his fighting skills with Tanaka and Ogami's help enters the tournament under the alias "Robert Parker" in one of the most ridiculous disguises I have ever seen and works his way up the ranks.
Yin, who is not fooled by Scott's disguise believe me, a blind man could spot it , comes up with a surefire way to kill two birds with one stone: Of course, this all blows-up in Yin's face, as Billy and Scott join forces with Tanaka and Ogami to stop the madness. When Yin shoots Mi Lo in the back, Billy goes after him, but the severely disappointing finale finds Billy shot three times and Yin escaping. While the original CAGE had a decent budget and a star turn by Lou Ferrigno, this sequel is much too cheap looking check out the sparse audience members during the cage matches and is more concerned with fighting than characterization, which was the original's strength.
Ferrigno seems to forget that he's supposed to be retarded in this film and acts more like Ferrigno than a simpleton, which is a damned shame. The acting, by a series of genre pros, is strictly generic Leo Fong is absolutely terrible here, but any Fong fan already knows that his thespian ability has always been lacking and returning director Lang Elliott THE PRIVATE EYES - and screenwriter Hugh Kelley seem more interested in showing people beating the stuffing out of each other rather unconvincingly and less about Scott and Billy's relationship.
It's no better or worse than the multitude of faceless DTV actioners that crammed the video shelves in the 90's. CHALLENGE - You have to love a film that puts a disclaimer at the beginning of the film saying that they purposely made a film with no nudity, sexuality or bad language so that it is family-friendly. Don't you believe it! While that statement is basically true, there's enough violence which they thankfully left out of the disclaimer on view here to make action fans happy.
Senate candidate John Frank Challenge producer Earl Owensby is about to hand over incriminating documents to the State Crime Commission, which doesn't sit too well with local crime boss and businessman Mr. Guthrie screenwriter William T. He hires three assassins including one who's a martial arts instructor to kill Challenge, get the documents and also get a second set which he has hidden at home.
The assassins beat the snot out of Challenge, steal the first set of documents and leave Challenge bleeding but not dead and unconscious in a motel parking lot. They then go to Challenge's house and accidentally knock out Challenge's wife Katheryn Thompson. Unable to find the second set of documents, they burn down the house, killing Challenge's wife and young daughter. Challenge is rushed to the hospital and, after learning of his family's death, vows revenge on those responsible.
One-by-one, Challenge kills those responsible one involves a sharpened belt buckle! Guthrie for a final showdown. I think what makes this different from most revenge flicks is that Challenge gets revenge without actually killing anyone.
They basically kill themselves, but not without a little push from Challenge. One crashes his car and it explodes trying to get away from Challenge. Another flies his plane into a forest after running out of fuel.
Still another crashes through a window and falls to his death after missing a flying kick aimed at Challenge. Guthrie drops dead of a heart attack running away from Challenge who fires his shotgun into the air, basically scaring Guthrie to death. Earl Owensby this is his first film, both as actor and producer , who was never accused of being a good actor, made a career of churning out these little regional actioners from his Shelby, North Carolina production facility and they were very popular in the South.
After the films opening disclaimer, it was unnerving to view Owensby's plentiful back hair apparently, that's family-friendly. Truth be told, I would rather see nudity. Director Martin Beck handles the action rather proficiently, offering us a long car chase through the back streets of Shelby, a prop plane chase and some other nice set pieces.
Ignore the info on IMDB that says that they are both the same film they even mix and match the credits as it is just plain wrong.
Other Owensby films include: The diamond thieves want their booty back, as does the mob boss they stole them from. Zach and Chance join forces when one of the thieves tries to kill Zach and they try to discover who actually has possession of the diamonds. That's the whole plot, folks. Toss in numerous gun fights, car chases and dialogue like. The fact that it took two people to direct this, Charles T.
Kanganis who also acts in this using the name "Charlie Ganis" and Addison Randall who also co-wrote the script and has a role as a jerkoff cop who gets a bullet in his brainpan , is an early indicator that this film is in trouble. The action scenes are lame, the fight scenes badly staged and the acting is pretty poor. He previously played the same character in L. HEAT , L. What can I say about Dan Haggerty who also was an Associate Producer on this that I haven't already complained about in other reviews?
If you've seen him in one film, you've seen him in all his films. He wears the same expression on his face in all his roles. It looks as if he's squeezing a twelve foot turd out his ass and he has the emotional range of a hard boiled egg and I get the distinct impression that the booze he drinks in all his roles is real.
How he keeps getting work is beyond me. CHANCE has a lot of bullet squibs a PM trademark , some fine female nudity and a couple of good stunts but, surprisingly, no scene of a car flipping through the air in slow-motion, another PM trademark , but unless you need a really bad action fix and you can't find anything better to watch, this film can be skipped. For PM Entertainment completists only. My friend William Wilson keeps sending me these Dan Haggerty disasters because he knows that I have no choice but to review them.
He knows that I am still looking for a good Dan Haggerty film when we all know that there's no such thing. William Wilson is a bastard who should have other people start his car from now on. Payback is a bitch. A PM Entertainment Release.
Roger doesn't trust the government very much because, years before, he and some other soldiers went to Vietnam on their own to rescue some American POWs and when they returned to the States, the government killed nearly everyone involved in the mission This is the only connection to the first film.
With the help of his old Commanding Officer, Roger was able to avoid being killed by changing his identity and living in anonymity. Nothing lasts forever, though, as Roger now finds himself paying back his old C. When they sneak into Garcia's compound and find he is not th ere, it's obvious that there's a traitor within their ranks. Gabriel thinks it's Marisol and shoots her point-blank in the stomach after ripping open blouse and discovering that her breasts aren't disfigured She previously had stated that Garcia's men scarred her breasts in a torture session years before, which is a reverse take-off on a truly disturbing scene in the first film.
When Rafael Cesar Olmo , the leader of the freedom fighters, is captured and tortured by Garcia and his minions, Roger, Gabriel and a select few freedom fighters attempt to rescue him, even though the American government has called off the assassination and wants Roger to return to the States.
Even though they manage to rescue Rafael, the rescue attempt turns out to be a trap and only Roger, Gabriel and Rafael escape with their lives. When the real traitor tips his hand, Roger kills him, but soon finds out that his entire mission was a setup conducted by Garcia to flush out the freedom fighters and kill them. Roger still has a trick or two up his sleeve and Garcia pays for his treachery with his life.
This is nowhere near as good or nihilistic as the first film. Gone is the majority of the anti-American bias that made the first film so memorable and in it's place is a lukewarm "guess who the traitor is" plot that is so easy to solve, it's ridiculous. The action scenes are statically filmed and are infrequent When they do come, it's just the standard firing of guns and a few bloody bullet squibs and explosions.
There's nothing here remotely extraordinary or awe-inspiring. Equally annoying are the dubbed voices used for both Brett Clark and Jeff Moldovan, who both have real voices that are distinct and identifiable.
The finale is especially frustrating, as we expect Roger to get even with his Commanding Officer when he returns to the States. Instead, he returns to Miami where the entire film was lensed , gets into a limousine with his C.
What a crock of shit. Don't waste you time with this one, folks. Fabrizio DeAngelis, the director of the first film, was the Producer here. This film never had a legitimate U. When Carmine Longo Mike Lane, returning from the first film is released from prison after a lengthy stay, he goes after the people who put him there. Barnes, Larson and Cougar are ambushed by Longo at their friend's funeral and Larson is killed.
Longo becomes a loose cannon, much to the dismay of local crime lord Voce Joe Donte , who is losing too many of his men who are assisting Longo in fulfilling his revenge. Barnes and Cougar then go on a systematic tour of destruction, killing two goons by oversweating them in a sauna and hiring some merceneries which includes Robert Z'Dar to help them. They then rob Voce's personal armoury to get the weapons they need to get their revenge. Longo puts pressure on mob lawyer Kozlo Frank Sinatra Jr.
It's not long before all hell breaks loose as bullets fly, people die and Barnes faces a personal problem which involves his girlfriend Julie Deana Jurgens. This film contains a cast that is full of B-movie staples. Director Tornatore fills the film with plenty of explosions, car chases, stunts and other bloodshed, some of it filmed with Tornatore's patented Peckinpah-like slow-motion photography.
He spends most of his time running around firing weapons, so acting takes a back seat here. Those wily bastards have the cast credits and plot correct on the DVD sleeve, they just put the wrong film on the DVD. The only way you are going to see this film in any form in the U. The prologue shows a French army convoy being ambushed by the Vietcong in They kill all the French soldiers and steal millions of dollars in art, important documents and diamonds that the convoy was transporting.
Flash-forward fifteen years and a group of American commandos are raiding a secret underground tunnel that is the headquarters for VC General Diap Ken Watanabe.
After killing all the VC in the tunnel and capturing General Diap, the leader of the commandos, Captain Brady Michael James , calls for a pick-up but, for reasons unknown until much later, some of the squad members point their weapons at Captain Brady.
When back-up finally arrives, they find all of Brady's men shot dead and Brady lying unconscious with a fistful of diamonds in his hands. Brady is brought to court martial, but is given five days to bring General Diap back to prove his innocence. She manages to walk through the compound unnoticed and leads Brady right to Diap, where he takes him prisoner for a second time. As they are leaving the compound, a welcoming committee is waiting and they must fight their way out. Brady and his men are ambushed as they turn every corner, as if someone doesn't want him to make it back.
Could it be the mysterious General McMoreland Gordon Mitchell , who may know more than he is letting on? A squad of French soldiers also want Diap because they think he knows the location of the treasure stolen fifteen years earlier. After saving each other's hides a couple of times, the French forge an uneasy alliance with Brady and agree to take possession of Diap only after he testifies at Brady's court martial.
That's easier said than done, as making it to the trial will be no easy task. Diap keeps bribing the soldiers with diamonds to let him escape and Brady must then decide whether to kill Diap or bring him back for the trial. If you ask me, the only good gook is a dead gook. There's enough double and triple crosses here for ten films and the violence, while not particularly bloody, comes fast and frequently. The dialogue consists of macho lines, like this exchange between Brady and Terryl: Yo u stupid asshole!
When three soldiers in gas masks to hide their identities brutally gun down an American officer and his lady friend i. When they question Col. Kasler, he tells the duo that Major Shooman wants him and another officer dead, but ref uses to tell them the reason why or the other officer's name, citing reasons of "national security". When an assassin unsuccessfully tries to kill Col. Kasler, Morgan and Hawk chase the assassin through the streets of Saigon, where they capture and then "interrogate" him Morgan says of Hawk while he's breaking the assassin's fingers one-by-one, "Don't piss him off.
He makes Bruce Lee look like a pussy! When Hawk is called away to visit one of his sick children What? Morgan is forced to kill the assassin before he can interrogate him, so he and Hawk who suddenly reappears confront Col.
Kasler, who finally spills the beans. It seems Kasler, the dead officer from the beginning of the film and another officer witnessed Major Shooman and the Cobra Force slaughter an entire village of innocent Vietnamese men, women and children, but the U.
As Morgan and Hawk race to protect the third officer, they will soon discover that the difference between the good guys and the bad guys is just the width of a hair.
Someone is lying to them in a big way and it could cost them their lives. Brent Huff who sports a distracting dangly earring in his left ear is simply awful here. His idea of "acting" is to scream out all his lines it becomes unintentionally funny after a while and Max Laurel, who was so memorable as ZUMA , is dubbed by someone with a very high-pitched voice, making his character seem more like a parody than a real person. Laurel also disappears mysteriously several times throughout the film.
It's as if he wasn't available to film some of his scenes and is so noticeable, it becomes distracting. And, call me crazy, but did I spot mid's style bathing suits on view during the opening scene? There are also plenty of other examples of objects cars and weapons that shouldn't be seen in a film set in the mid's.
That's just lazy filmmaking. Frank is killed He is shot in the leg and then point-blank in the head. When one of the goons is unable to free the briefcase from Frank's wrist, he blows off Frank's hand with a few well-placed shots from his pistol! His wife Julie Joan Becherich is kidnapped and murdered before his eyes after he turns over a briefcase he picked up in San Francisco.
The murderers behind Julie's death are the same people who hired the goons to steal the briefcase from Frank, so J. The Colonel tells J. He kills three guys in a strip bar when they refuse to answer his questions "Wrong answer, dude! He then shotguns five guys who try to attack him and his wife's best friend Katie Barbara Garrison and then forces another guy to commit suicide after he gives J.
The fascists send a female assassin named Angel Amy Sachel to dispose of J. To say anymore would spoil the final surprise. I can't begin to describe how impossibly infectious this film is. It should fail on all levels and, really, it does , but it is so logic-defying and non-stop violent, you can't help but keep your eyes on the screen.
It's like watching a huge pile-up on the freeway where no one survives, only all the dead bodies are the most ugly people this side of a trailer park crackhouse Just what is in Portland's water anyway? Why is everyone in this film so butt-ugly? Perm-headed Joey Johnson is simply indescribable as J. He's like Dirty Harry without the badge or talent , as he blows away people left and right, usually for just looking at him funny. People appear and disappear for no rhyme or reason other than to be victims of J.
It really is one of the looniest and out-of-left-field conclusions that I have witnessed in quite a while. When director Shaw doesn't know how to end a scene, he simply puts J. I haven't even touched the surface of what this film has to offer, including terrible acting watch Angel's scene , lousy sound editing when J. Oh, what fun you are going to have if you are lucky enough to get your hands on a copy of this! The city of Portland should use this film as a tourist attraction "Come to Portland.
Chances are you are better-looking than us! Then come visit one of our many fine parks! Not available on DVD. After viewing this action abomination, I'm happy to report that, yes, it is.
In the opening, police detective Zeus director George Pan-Andreas and his partner get into a shootout with a drug gang the guns sound like cap pistols and you can see the wadding come out of the barrels and, when some of the gang come popping out of garbage cans!
Zeus is then forced to kill two crooked uniformed cops who were going to kill him and take the gang's drug money. Zeus is kicked off the force and is set to go on trial for killing the two cops He complains to his Police Chief, defending his reputation as a crime fighter: Morrell begs Zeus to come back Zeus says, "How can I come back now? You broke my heart! Zeus finally relents and rescues a young girl and she is able to pick out one of the killers by his mug shot.
When the little girl is killed by the crime organization, Zeus gathers his Vietnam buddies together both of them to exact some vengeance, but first they need some strict military training to get into shape this sequence is a real howler, as Zeus and his comrades go through their training with a no-nonsense drill sargeant while having flashbacks of their time as P.
Once their training is done, Zeus and his two buddies go on an all-out assault on the crime organization's compound, armed with silencers, AKs and their own deadly hands. Zeus begins to kill all the bad guys one-by-one including one memorable death with a switchblade hidden in his sleeve until he meets the female head of the organization, who tries to seduce Zeus, but ends up dead by one of her own devices. Director George Pan-Andreas, who speaks with such a thick Greek accent that he's hard to understand on several occasions, has surely made a lousy film, but it is so damned watchable and full of hilarious set pieces and quotable dialogue, you'll be glad you watched it.
I could go on-and-on about all the visual and auditory nuggets this film has to offer, like when Zeus' wife says to him, "Is that all you care about, justice and uzo? Though basically a vanity project for Pan-Andreas he's the only actor listed in the crazy opening credits , there's plenty of other stuff to laugh at, from the badly-staged martial arts fights Zeus screams like a little girl every time he gets hit , to the unbelievable action sequences check out the motorcycle stunt which results in one of the main bad guys getting a nasty tire burn on his face!
The film is very bloody in spots, including a nasty throat slashing the effects are surprisingly well done and wait until you get to the surreal ending involving Zeus and the President. I was laughing so hard I nearly pissed myself! This is cheese of the highest order and essential to every badfilm fan. The General is not too cooperative with the international press, though and with good reason , so when nosy reporter Helen Brigitte Porsh notices that American William Corbett Richard Randall has arrived in-country secretly at the General's request, she cozies-up to him and becomes his lover, looking for the "big" story.
William agrees to take her to visit the General at his country home after she and William are attacked leaving a casino, where Helen proves quite adept in the martial arts and we learn that the General has strange Macumba supernatural powers, like the ability to shoot electricity from his fingertips. William and the General are business partners in an illegal drug cartel the General burned down all the drug farms not only to get the U.
The General agrees to grant Helen an interview as a fav or to William, where he shows the extant of his powers by making a dwarf called Astaroth the late Nelson de la Rosa; THE RAT MAN - appear and disappear at will and applies some of his fingertip electrical skills on Helen's cranium I told you it gets stranger!
When William and Helen leave the General's home, their Jeep breaks down and they hop on a passing bus, only to have the bus attacked by some of the General's men. When a child on the bus is shot dead, Helen goes bonkers, grabs a machine gun and begins shooting back, killing several of the General's men.
William and Helen are then taken prisoner along with some Contra rebels and the General makes them all work in the mines as slaves at the dreaded "Gates of Paradise", a secret underground location where something unknown and evil is going on. This involves Contra women, including Myra, infiltrating the camp as prostitutes and, while the guards are getting their rocks off, David, William and the Contra fighters sneak in. It doesn't go as planned. When Helen is taken prisoner and tortured by the General and Astaroth, William reveals that he is actually a U.
Marine working undercover to bring down the General and leads the Contras on a raid of the General's compound to rescue Helen he fails miserably and stop the General's tyranny at least he's successful there.
This Italian-made mixture of war action and supernatural shenanigans may be strange, but that doesn't necessarily mean that it is good. Most of the war action footage here is cribbed from other Italian war films especially Umberto Lenzi's BRIDGE TO HELL  and the supernatural elements are woefully underplayed, like they were an afterthought in Donald Russo's screenplay when the production ran short and they needed to put in something to increase the running time.
The appearance of diminutive Nelson de la Rosa as the general's magical sidekick is a treat but, he, too, is underutilized and and only appears in a couple of scenes. It's definitely not one of the Big Boot's shining moments. Never legitimately released on home video in the U. Not Rated , but there's not much in the way of blood or gore. The film opens with the freedom fighters attacking a Dutch military base lots of explosion and people on both sides getting riddled with bullets , only to have the Dutch capture the leader of the freedom fighters, who bites his own tongue off when he is questioned and gets shot for not cooperating.
The Captain of the Dutch military base wants to question the villagers as to where the freedom fighters, known as the Daredevil Commandos, are hiding and kill all those who won't assist them, but the Captain's second-in-command temporarily talks the Captain out of it, because the eyes of the world are on Indonesia and a mass slaughter of innocent people would not be in the best interest for the Dutch.
Morale is also at an all-time low Sgt. Hassim kicks the shit out of one of his comrades when the man threatens to report another soldier getting cozy with a female nurse , so when Sgt. Hassim is offered a mission to investigate a burned-out village, he grabs the rest of his team to investigate. It turns out to be a trap set-up by the Dutch and that crazy Dutch Captain. Low on ammunition, the Daredevil Commandos nevertheless win the battle using sheer brute strength One of the Daredevils is killed, though , which severely pisses-off the Dutch Captain, who steps-up the brutality World view be damned!
Hassim's Daredevils, witnessed his sister and mother being raped by the Dutch when he was younger and these newer instances are waking-up long-suppressed memories.
The Dutch are aware that the freedom fighters are running low on weapons, ammunition and food, so they plan on one final big-scale attack to wipe them off the face of the Earth.
What the Dutch didn't count on is the resiliency of the Indonesian people, as the Daredevil Commandos plan to strike the Dutch where it will hurt them the worst: At their huge compound where the Dutch store a large cache of weapons, ammunition and food.
It seems the only way to truly surprise the Dutch at the compound is to climb down a huge vertical cliff, so Sgt. Hassim and his men train hard for the mission.
Will this be the mission that will finally make the Dutch exit Indonesia for good? The direction, by E. Bakker who has no other film credits that I can find and may be a pseudonym , is rather flat and uninvolving, and he seems more interested in patriotic speeches rather than action through the first two-thirds of the film at one point, just before a battle, the Daredevil Commandos break out into a patriotic song that begins with "Indonesia, you are my country When the final battle does come at the Dutch compound but not before more singing and prayers , it turns into a pretty bloody and stunt-filled extravaganza, with plenty of explosions, gunfights and bullet squibs, but it still pales in comparison to most Indonesian actioners because it doesn't contain a single "What The Fuck?!?
Even the climatic rock avalanche is filmed for minimal impact. A rare loser from Producer Gope T. Samtani and Rapi Films. Alexander and Gino Makasutji. Never legitimately available on home video in the U. The film opens with a man in a big black hat, black gloves a staple of giallo films and carrying a cane with a spring-loaded blade killing a man in Genoa, Italy, one of his thugs finding a key taped to his torso.
Cobra jumps at the chance since Kadinsky was the person who got him fired. Cobra hasn't seen his son in quite a while, ever since his wife was murdered. Brenda and Cobra start a love affair, but can she be trusted?
We soon find out that Kadinsky is the man in the black hat and gloves and he knows Cobra's every move, killing anyone who could give information to Cobra and attempting several times to take Cobra's life, all unsuccessful. The biggest problem Cobra runs up against is that everyone he talks to is deathly afraid to talk about Kadinsky. When Papasian tells Cobra that Kadinsky is dead, we must figure out if he really is. Let me talk about this film's bad points: The action is lazily staged, the violence too restrained for its own good in the film's defense, the print I viewed may have been edited and the dialogue laughable, but not in a funny way.
The usually dependable Franco Nero looks to be sleepwalking through his role as Cobra. His "trademark" in this film is spitting out his gum or sticking it in unusual places, like a thug's forehead. It is supposed to be funny, but it comes off as forced Nero's mouth is always moving, even when he doesn't talk! It's also obvious that Nero used a stuntman for some of his more strenuous scenes, including jumping and climbing from building-to-building another "trademark" and a long fight scene in an alleyway.
Even when Cobra's son Tim is killed, run over on orders by Goldsmith, the film rings hollow. We see Cobra crying, as he has memories of the good times he and Tim had including an uncomfortable game of two-man baseball where it is apparent Nero didn't know how to swing a bat at a ball.
In the very next scene, it looks as if he has gotten over it. Castellari has certainly done much better, including the post-apocalypse films For crying out loud, even the stunningly gorgeous Sybil Danning doesn't bother to offer up any naked flesh! Here are some of the few positive points: When Lola gets into a fight with Cobra in an empty disco she uses martial arts moves to kick the crap out of him! Their fight is made to look like they are dancing on the disco floor, making it the film's most inventive scene.
Still, it's a cheat on the audience since Licinia Lentini is actually a woman and an obvious double was used when unmasking her false femininity. There are also a couple of deaths that are memorable. Cobra shoots a drum of gasoline, sending the assassin high into the air.
Unfortunately, both deaths are bloodless. It looks to be edited in some scenes, the most notable edits come during Tim's death Italian crime films have no problem showing children getting killed and the finale, when Cobra enters Goldsmith's office and point his gun at him, accusing Jack of ordering his son's death we even get a peek at the boy's killing in Cobra's mind, images that were missing from the film at the time of the Tim's death.
We hear the gun go off and then there is a jump edit where Cobra enters an elevator. Also look for Castellari's daughter, Stefania Girolami Goodwin, as Papasian's secretary and Castellari himself as one of the thugs in the warehouse shootout.
All in all, this is a very minor film in a genre of Italian movies that are usually violent and exciting. Also starring Massimo Vanni a. The lyrics to the film's title tune which sounds like it was sung by a drunk Italian! Nobody tells me what to do! There are far more entertaining Italian crime films out there. Not Rated , but no nudity and very little blood. The only problem is, sadistic crooks Al John Morghen and Kurt Vincent Conte have caught on to their scam and they kill Harry by drowning him in a bathtub before he is able to tell them where he has hidden the money.
Phoenix cop George Ryan Bo Svenson is called to the scene of the crime and catches Al and Kurt ransacking the place, which leads to a pretty good car chase lots of crashes and stunts and a shootout on the rooftop of a building, where George gets shot several times in the chest.
Luckily, he was weraring a bulletproof vest. George and Lou's investigation leads them to Las Vegas, where they learn of Kathy's involvement in the casino scam. When George gets too close to the truth, Al and Kurt ambush him on a lonely desert road, causing him to crash his car, but Lou rescues him with his helicopter and chase the bad guys again. Al and Kurt manage to give them the slip again and kill George's girlfriend Nancy Karen De Witt after they make her give George false information she sends him to a gay bar!
The bad guys then kidnap Kathy and take her away in a helicopter, where she takes them to an abandoned ranch where the money is hidden. George and Lou are in hot pursuit and the finale finds the bad guys getting killed, then George and Lou head to Vegas and get rich on the slot machines using the deceased Harry's computer gizmos.
Sometimes crime does pay. This Italian production, filmed on location in Las Vegas, Nevada and Phoenix, Arizona is a pretty good comedy action film and Bo Svenson and Fred Williamson look like they are having a ball, even if some of the dialogue is clunky.
The gay bar scene doesn't make an ounce of sense, but it sure is funny. He kills people showing no emotion, killing George's girlfriend by putting two bullets point-blank into her head and shooting Kathy in the back in the film's finale, never breaking his blank stare. The only aspect of this film that seems dated is the early 80's computer imagery and a serious faux paus that happens over the opening credits when Harry sticks an RJ11 plug into an RJ45 jack , not to mention some ridiculous, totally made-up computer jargon that Svenson has to try to say convincingly with a straight face he doesn't succeed.
They first appeared together in director Enzo. Set during the Vietnam era, the story revolves around a young black man an excellent Larenz Tate and his struggles to find a way to support his pregnant girlfriend after graduating high school.
He joins the Marines because he wants to fight for his country, but he soon learns that the war is not the place to escape reality. After completing his tour of duty, he returns home to the Bronx.
Unable to find a good job, he and his buddies plan an armored car robbery, hoping to collect a few hundred thousand dollars of old untraceable money that the government plans to burn. But things go terribly wrong. This may sound like a generic plot, but the Hughes Brothers pull it off with a sense of flair and urgency. In this film it is downright brutal. During the war scenes, heads are chopped off, a soldier has his stomach slit open and his dismembered penis shoved in his mouth and, in one unbelievable scene, a soldier steps on a land mine and is blown to bits.
The violence at home is no less gruesome. People are shot in the head, crushed by moving cars and riddled with bullets. Even though it is gory, the violence is not the driving force behind this film. The story is filled with interesting characters and, for once, white people are not portrayed as raving bigots. This took guts from a black filmmaking team. DEATH BLOW - Here's your chance to see champion heavyweight boxer Duane Bobick in his only starring role and after watching his performance, you will know why his acting career was much shorter than his boxing career as a professional boxer from to , Bobick had a record of 48 wins and 4 losses; 42 of those wins by knockout.
This South Africa-lensed boxing actioner stars Bobick as Billyboy Lamont, a burly dock worker and university student who wants to be a professional boxer like his father, Don screenwriter Willie Von Rensburg , but dear old Pop discourages him from doing so, telling him, "This, my boy, is what fifteen years of fighting and being champ has got me: Ten acres of lousy, bloody ground, an old house, a few animals, that's all.
There's a new champ, Billy, and he belongs to another family. Terry has a diminutive brother named Mike Dawie Malan , who is estranged from mother Josephine, probably due to her hands-on approach to managing Terry's career even though Mike is officially Terry's manager and her indifferent treatment of him.
Billyboy secretly practices boxing in a gym away from his father's prying eyes Pop would rather Billyboy "hit the books" and make something out of his life and has become quite good at it Bobick looks at least 15 years too old to be portraying a guy supposedly college age.
When Pop catches Billyboy at the gym instead of studying at the university, he decides to teach him a lesson and challenges Billyboy to a boxing match in the ring. Billyboy doesn't want to do it, but when his father hits him in the face and body with a few good shots, he retaliates with one hard punch, sending Pop flying across the ring and paralyzing him for life.
When Josephine reads the story in the paper she holds some as-yet unknown grudge against Billyboy's father , she tells Terry that maybe someday he will do the same thing to Billyboy in the ring. Meanwhile, the short-statured Mike catches the eye of barmaid Janet Barbara Salberg at a disco and accidentally gets her fired from her job. He feels so bad about it that he promises to get her a better job, but she doesn't believe him. Mike gets Janet a job as a maid at the Bendell household, but Josephine tells him to keep his hands off of her now that she is the hired help.
We also learn that Terry is actually the son of Billyboy's father, but he left Josephine alone and pregnant to marry Martha Trix Pienaar , who gave birth to Billyboy nine month later. Josephine has been holding that grudge for many, many years and after marrying a millionaire and giving birth to the dwarf-like Mike did I mention she despises him and treats him like shit? Terry has grown up to be a first class lout and ends up screwing Janet even though he knows that Mike has feelings for her When Josephine tells Terry that Janet is "beneath him", he replies coldly, "I know.
Billyboy decides to become a professional boxer, even though his father may have permanently damaged Billyboy's kidneys during their fight Billyboy can't take a leak without pissing blood.
He fights a series of boxers and works his way up the ranks until, yes, you guessed it, he becomes the number one contender against Terry. Which one of these "brothers from different mothers" will turn out to be champ? Boxing may be an art form, but so is acting.
Duane Bobick couldn't be more wooden if you stuffed him full of cedar chips and his stabs at emoting is pitiful and not in a "so bad, it's hilarious" way. When his girlfriend, Velma Kim Braden , is raped by Terry she is sexually assaulted fully clothed by Terry in a gym ring while intercut with one of Billyboy's bouts , his reaction is worse than no reaction at all. It is like he just picked up a carton of eggs at the store and found one of them broken!
The fault is not all Bobick's, as the acting is generally poor across the board Tullio Moneta as Terry is really, really bad and the only person here who generates any sympathy is Dawie Malan as Mike, but that's mainly because he is small and abused by everyone When Janet commits suicide, Terry laughs in Mike's face, not exactly the reaction Mike was expecting!
There is some bloody violence on view, but most of it is outside the ring nearly all the boxing matches are economically filmed and lack the "oomph" we've come to expect after the commercial success of ROCKY , which this film so clearly tries to emulate. There's a gunshot to the head, Velma's rape, a dockside fight and a couple of other incidents, but nothing to make you stand up and take notice.
It's poorly acted, written and suffers from some bad continuity problems. It has plenty of flesh but very little nudity. The few action scenes are haphazardly staged and shot. Yet, for some reason I still haven't put my finger on it , it is highly compelling. Anna belongs to the evil Mr. Caine Anthony Caruso , a white slave trader.
Frank cleans her up and promises to marry her after his next and last six month stint at sea. He plans on buying an avacado farm! While Frank is out at sea, Mr. Caine kidnaps Anna, rehooks her on drugs and makes her re-establish herself as a whore.
When Frank returns to land and cannot locate Anna, he enlists the aide of his seaman buddy Chris Mitchum and a prostitute Lisa Loring to help him track her down. When they finally locate Anna, she is walking the streets, strung-out and looking for Johns she offers to take Frank and Chris on for fifty bucks! She finally recognizes Frank and runs away, only to be purposely be hit by a truck by one of Caine's goons. I suppose it's rather like the tip of an enormous iceberg floating in the ocean between Orkney and mainland Scotland, the catch being that the majority of the rest of that ice-floe may well be destined to remain beneath the surface.
OK maybe I'm being needlessly pessimistic here - let's hope I'm proved wrong, and there now ensues a veritable flood of Aly Bain reissues! Baird quit to go solo in but after the first two albums, Love Songs For The Hearing Impaired and Buffalo Nickel, his career's been somewhat patchy.
Hodges now onboard, this marks something of a return to form. There's no envelope pushing going on, but what you do get is solid, beer-swilling, swaggering Southern country rock n roll with cranked up ringing guitars, rolling riff-packed melodies, throaty twang vocals and air punching choruses.
It won't change your life, but pour a cold one and crank the likes of Lazy Monday and Runnin' Outta Time up loud, and it could well make your evening. This is an unusual record by any standards. It can be considered doubly unusual, in fact, since Eddie's normally been responsible for the more spaciously arranged Blondel pieces - although it's not widely known that Eddie's been pursuing a parallel solo recording career for the past ten years he's released four solo CDs including a compilation, but none have been nationally distributed.
The first four songs on this disc are simply-conceived outings, initially displaying a quite jazzy demeanour, recorded close-up and live in front of an appreciative small club crowd by the sound of it. Best of this quartet are the gently reflective Memory Lane and the distinctly Tilstonesque Tramp. Listeners coming new to Eddie's work will wonder, on the strength of these songs, why wider commercial success continues to elude Eddie.
Songs like Compromised and Funny Old Life carry a laconic laid-back feel comparable to classic John Martyn, and Almost Gone has a canny grasp of delicate melody-line that recalls Clive Gregson. Eddie's individual voice is exposed well on this brief set, ditto his deft guitar work, a talent which should be more widely appreciated too.
Dear Companion is a lovely, intimate album sung and arranged by nu-folk outfit Espers' vocalist and songwriter Meg Baird: The genesis of the actual project came in an invitation to create a solo release for Philadelphia's Tequila Sunrise label, out of which nothing but a 7" single appeared and the entire LP - recorded in spare moments during the sessions for Espers II - was never made available at the time It's typically minimalist in terms of backing just Meg's own guitar or Appalachian dulcimer in the main , and Meg's clear-toned singing has never sounded more truthful and beautiful - of that I'm convinced - for she gives her all in terms of passion and conviction in "doing a really good job" of communicating these songs which evidently mean so much to her personally.
Forced to pick some highlights: Add to that an enchanting version of Sweet William And Fair Ellen, an attractive, rippling waltz-time rendition of Willie O' Winsbury and yes, it works! The final track is a gorgeous acappella rendition of the text of the opening title song as learnt from the singing of Sheila Kay Adams , bringing the experience deliciously full-circle.
This record is seriously sublime, and should if there were any justice be embraced wholeheartedly by the folk community as well as by Meg's Espers fanbase. It may be Meg's debut solo album, but I do so hope it's not her last. Baka Beyond is the seminal world-music fusion outfit founded by Martin Cradick and Su Hart, which started out on its global music exchange some 10 years ago; Rhythm Tree can be seen as the culmination of their work to date, even though after all this time we're in danger of losing the power to surprise from the juxtaposition of seemingly unlikely musico-cultural bedfellows.
The recurring constant context in which the various musics are brought together is the music of the Baka Pygmies of south-east Cameroon - hence the group name. The Baka tribe, who are masters of dance, bring an amazingly energetic spectacle to the BB live act, yet much of the uplifting quality and sheer exuberance of that collaboration also comes through on a purely audio level through the performances of the core eight-piece band you hear on this CD, notwithstanding its inevitable lack of visual distraction which as a bonus allows for greater concentration on the subtleties of the musical mix.
Here, the heady brew of Celtic, Gaelic and West African musics is so persuasive that you often have to listen really carefully to separate the strands, and in this respect I'm convinced this is the Baka's most successful marriage to date. Musically, Rhythm Tree is a landmark in cohesive exploration of different musical cultures. I love the way in which the musical framework shifts continually withjn individual tracks, while at the same time I can appreciate the impact of specific textural or thematic elements which inform and characterise these tracks eg Su Hart's rendition of the Gaelic waulking song which forms the basis for Sad Among Strangers, the and Paddy Le Mercier's weaving violin arabesques on several of the tracks.
The Baka tribe's contributions to the album were recorded "in-house" either "in the field" or at the Music House, the purpose-built recording studio in the tribe's village funds for which were raised by the band. One minor point, though, is that I'm not altogether convinced of the need to constantly reinforce the listener's sense of place quite so many times by interpolating natural sounds from the Baka rainforest, supremely evocative though the ululating quasi-yodel of the singer's Call Of The Forest which frames the rest of the album undeniably is.
Richard "Duck" Baker is on the face of it a musician of contradictions: His expertise extends right across the fretboard of musical genres, and over the course of his year recording career so far he's made a frightening number of solo albums, encompassing not only jazz and swing, but old-time and free improv, Irish and Scottish folk tunes, and O'Carolan to Christmas carols. Not to mention guitar instruction videos, and heaps of music criticism, and duo albums with all manner of respected musos from experimentalists John Zorn and Henry Kaiser through to fiddler Kieran Fahy and traditional singer Molly Andrews.
So you'll gather that Duck's latest recording is eagerly welcomed in this house. It's a project which has "been in the works for years", sort of evolving from a response to something people have been demanding for a while: And that's just the impeccably played, yet far from soulless, solo items on the disc, the remaining half of which is given over to some sparkling duet performances.
It's probably a very old joke by now, but if you don't respond to Duck's brilliant playing then hey, you must be "quackers"! Its title is a clever wordplay on the well-known Dominic Behan song The Patriot Game suggested principally by the equally well-known tendency of musicians to carry their tunes to foreign shores. Its equally underselling subtitle T raditional Irish And American Music simultaneously reflects the performers and the repertoire.
Should you need a quick pen-picture: American-born, London-based Duck is nothing less than a definitive premier-league fingerstyle guitarist, whereas both Ben and Maggie were born to families who emigrated to England Ben's father's that celebrated old-timer Tom Paley, and Maggie was reared in the musically vibrant London-Irish community of the 60s and 70s.
Ben's a fabulous young fiddle player who readily immerses himself in activities as diverse as Scandinavian music, revivalist oldtime with his father in the New Deal String Band and the vibrant acoustic thrash of McDermotts 2 Hours and the Levellers. And last but definitely not least, Maggie's a damnably fine flute player as well as quite simply one of the loveliest singers in the entire world.
Further connectivity is assured when you realise that Duck, shortly after moving to London in the late 70s, had been responsible for introducing Maggie to Steve Tilston, sparking off one of the most wonderful collaborative partnerships of the British folk scene from the late 80s through to the mids. So trust me, the aforementioned three musicians working together give us something truly special on this CD.
Their empathy is remarkable; rarely do you hear such miraculous attunement between performers of ostensibly disparate musical disciplines or experience though anyone with a deeper knowledge of the musics concerned would argue that qualification in any case. It's a heavenly partnership, which first trod the boards of a select few local West Yorkshire venues a mere 15 months or so back if my memory serves me rightly , and just had to spawn a studio recording!
They clearly have a real good time making their music too, as you'll see from the joyously nonchalant cover photo, and in their music-making much play is made with the tension between the Irish and American senses of rhythm.
A specially noteworthy feature of the performances, though, is the way in which the extraordinary talents of each of the three musicians as individuals, normally utilised in a solo situation, are adapted so very naturally to the group situation. Duck's essentially soloistic approach, his tremendous facility for playing both melody and either countermelody or bass line, is given full rein in this unusual context of his arrangements of the tunes on this CD.
And Maggie's use of the Irish flute on indigenous American old-time tunes is somewhat of a? Ben's Swedish-style harmony playing on the well-travelled The Blackbird is an unusual but effective touch, while his intense accompaniment of Maggie's excellent rendition of A Youth Inclined To Ramble is a CD highlight. This is one of just five vocal items on this CD happily, no fewer than four of these are Maggie's, yet the fifth, Rye Whisky , brings Duck out front on an all-too-rare excursion to the vocal mike.
The faster tunes trip by abnormally lightly and fleet-footed - pieces like Poll Ha'penny which many of us first encountered as the final leg-slapping tune of the original Fairport Dirty Linen set and the closing banjo tune Robinson County are both vital and sprightly - while on the other hand the slower well, more measured!
Finally a word of praise for the booklet, which manages to convey a lot of information on the tunes and songs and the performers' sources in a succinct and readable manner together with supplying the full song texts used. The recording, a homespun production by Mike Hockenhull, faithfully reflects both a deep feel for the music and a deep knowledge of, and trust in, the musicians and their capabilities.
An exemplary release this, everywhere exuding a loving attention to detail alongside the equally exemplary musicianship. Do track it down, you'll not regret it. This is a long-overdue reissue of an important Tradition LP which presented field recordings, made in , of the playing of Etta Baker and other talented musicians of the Southern Appalachians who had never previously been recorded. Obscure they may have seemed, but uncommonly fiery is the playing, with a raw edge and unbridled vitality for whom the word "enthusiasm" might have been coined.
Since those heady days, when even specialist folkies hadn't heard anything like these musicians, other recordings have surfaced featuring fiddler Hobart Smith notably those made for the Library Of Congress where he backed his sister, singer Texas Gladden , but the rest of the musicians on this collection have remained little more than names on a discography, although the influence of their playing has pervaded that of countless aspiring traditional-style guitarists, banjo players and Appalachian dulcimer exponents ever since.
Even at a temporal remove of over 50 years, you can't fail to be moved by the tremendous power of many of the performances collected here, especially the fiddle tracks. And as well as fiddling vigorously, Hobart Smith also contributed one track on which he removed all the frets from a borrowed banjo before playing! The rest of the musicians were all recorded in their native North Carolina, and are drawn from the family and friends of guitarist Etta Baker; they play timeless popular tunes from the tradition such as Cripple Creek, Soldier's Joy and Shady Grove as well as a few less well-known pieces.
Etta's rendition of John Henry played with a jackknife blade! I also enjoyed Richard Chase's harmonica tunes for their cheery quality and his insistence on carrying the melody along rather than forcing you to listen instead to his technique.
The sound quality of the disc is raw and forward, primitive by today's standards naturally, and some of the guitar pieces are rather clangy, but it's all still perfectly listenable. In fact, a very enjoyable disc that's also of considerable historical and heritage interest. Full liner notes are reproduced, as always with the Tradition reissues.
Pretty much essential I'd say. Etta Baker is the grand old lady of the blues and I'm sure she won't mind me saying that she is 91 years of age. She has influenced many a guitarist and Taj Mahal has said that she is the greatest single influence on his guitar style. This album of songs recorded between and shows that she is a force to be reckoned with. There are two parts to the recording, the 'now' section which covers the first 11 songs and the 'then' section covering the final 7.
Opening with 5 songs accompanied by Taj Mahal, Etta introduces us to her gentle style on the oft covered John Henry, the beautifully played Crow Jane, the wonder that is Going Down The Road Feeling Bad, the first self-penned track Madison Street Blues on which she airs her electric guitar and outshines guitarists half her age and the country blues of Railroad Bill.
She picks up the banjo for Cripple Creek, and this is a foot-tapper, and then continues the country theme on Johnson Boys. Going To The Race Track, a gentle acoustic blues, starts off a run of three songs and a poem featuring Etta on her own. Her dexterity is so astounding on Lost John that you will swear that you are listening to the playing of someone far younger. Dew Drop is slower than most of the others but you can just imagine the drops of water falling from the spring flowers.
Poem is exactly what the title says. It is a four line poem that perfectly sums up growing old. The final track of the 'now' category is Comb Blues and features the comb and paper as an instrument. Taj Mahal is back for this and is joined by Algia Mae Hinton. This is a slow blues that harks back to the very beginning of the genre.
In the 'then' category we are treated to seven songs that were recorded in July One Dime Blues, one of the three songs on the album written by Baker, sounds so contemporary that it is hard to believe that it was recorded nearly 50 years ago and it shows that she was an extremely good guitarist in her time. Etta's father Boone Reid plays the banjo for Sourwood Mountain and there is just something about banjo music when it is well played. This is a wonderful example of finger picking and, although age may have slowed her down a tad, there's not too much difference in the two versions.
There's a second offering from her father, a different version of Johnson Boys. The banjo playing is excellent again but having heard the later version with added fiddle I have to say that I preferred that one. To finish off, Etta comes in with a strong version of the classic John Henry with excellent slide guitar and Bully Of The Town which is played in a gentle, acoustic Piedmont blues style. Etta Baker is a remarkable woman and Music Maker deserves our thanks for allowing her to record again.
Music Maker page for Etta Baker. The first album, Mercy, sought to address the blast and the random manner in which some died and others lived.
In , Pretty World offered meditations on gratitude, obligation and beauty. Now comes the final part, an exploration of the price of forgiveness and the cost of clinging to anger, told through songs that pivot around the homeless and helpless, and of love found, lost and held together with tape. On the bluesy title track we meet a field hand hoeing cotton "for the rest of my life" like the father that walked out on his family in despair, Mennonite tells of a religious kid from Mexico who, wearing his new 'pearl snap shirt', found love dressed in a "short short skirt' in a bar room and left the Lord behind, while, Palestine II and its prequel Palestine I unfolds the tale of a marriage that began with teenage passion in a travelling preacher's tent and has had to hold together through a tragic accident, hard times and history repeating itself with their daughter running away "with the boy selling bibles.
Speaking more than singing his narratives, Baker's dust and gravel voice variously recalls John Prine, Dylan, Steve Earle, Tom Waits and John Trudell, his sparsely arranged American songbook music hewing to southern backwoods folk disarmingly beautiful on the two step fiddle call and response swayer Who's Gonna Be Your Man and Texan country in the vein of Van Zandt and Kristofferson.
Opening with a brief snatch of Dixie, sung in the round by a female voice its 'look away' refrain returning to bring bitter resonance to the dark night guilty secrets of Moon and closing on the poignant Snow with its metaphor about being lost and emotionally frozen in a drift of your own making, it is both melancholic and life-affirming.
It's hard not to be touched by the snapshots of the disenfranchised and losers who populate Signs, by the Waits-like Angel Hair where, on Christmas Eve, the singer recalls a fatal traffic accident on black ice a decade earlier, or by the unwanted pregnancy of Not Another Mary and the girl who "could not say I love you too. But, at the end of the day, between the tears, Baker reminds you that, even if you're only getting by, life is worth persevering with and far better than the alternative.
When musicians appear at one of our Mr Kite Benefits, I often ask about what they are listening to and who they would recommend. So, you might imagine that his ears are well tuned to fine music. So, it was that I was recommended to Sam Baker.
I believe Bob Harris also had his ear bent about Sam too. Indeed, if your ears don't get wrapped around his music soon, I'll be mightily surprised. Guests like Kevin Welch and Joy Lynn White lend their support on this first record suggesting that he's already attracting the attention of the great and good.
But, it's the music that is the star attraction. From the opening track, 'Waves', with its vivid imagery of walking down to the sea and writing a loved one's name in the sand just to see it washed away, I'm hooked. Sam's lyrics are painting pictures like this all the way. From 'another bunch of boys, another blue sky' as he contrasts a baseball game and a war zone to the car 'full of baby junk' that sit on the backseat of a homeless mum's car.
There are 'barbers with no nose', 'drunk cops', men 'in their underwear drinking beer', 'skinny boys with their rifles fighting door to door' and characters galore in his stories In fact, there is so much colour in his lyrics that the one word song titles are enough.
Hear one song and you'll be drawn in to hear the rest. Sam's voice adds to that colour with its gravely lived-in drawl reminding you of John Prine or Todd Snider. As my wife says, you'll be immediately won over if you're a sucker for the gravely voice.
Put that next to those lyrics that present social commentary whilst painting all sorts of pictures in your mind and I'll be very surprised if a major label doesn't pick up this record.
Steve Henderson, March www. Long John Baldry - Remembering Leadbelly Stony Plain Records "Most of the songs in this collection have been part of my life since I first started singing in the mid's.
Because they are so familiar to me I was able to record my vocals and guitar work in one 'take' for most of the tracks. K - something he tends to be very self-effacing about, as those who have seen him live at any point will recognise.
I know of no other headliner who gives his sidesmen such accolades whilst backing off from centre stage himself. This character trait is reflected in the bonus interview track on the very end of this CD, and the liner notes acknowledge Chris Barber and Lonnie Donegan and a host of other influences As to the content of the CD itself, well, I was amazed at the number of the tracks I knew so well whilst not having any Leadbelly in my record collection, nor, indeed, in compilation blues CDs - something I need to rectify but meanwhile LJB manages to cover this void magnificently.
This album is worthy of repeated playing, which may well have something to do with the sparseness rather than the 'over production' tendency found on so many of today's CDs. This is a tribute CD, acknowledging the input of Leadbelly, but with the unique Baldry interpretation. His vocals going from the deep huskiness, for which he is so well known, to the lighter, smoother shades of his marvellously rich voice.
There were, for me, moments of goose bumps when he sounded like Alexis Korner - but then they both inspired each other way back when. LJB's voice is a musical instrument in it's own right. His guitar playing needs no accolades. What amazes me is how perilously close he came to the possibility of not being able to perform anymore. That was back in October Having not seen him for about 20 years I was taken to a gig by a friend on a whim to The Mill at Banbury. John was not well. He managed the first half without anyone realising the levels of pain he was experiencing.
He then nearly collapsed during the second part. We took him to the hospital where they had great difficulty believing that he had played a concert that night. His finger joints were severely swollen despite being soaked in a bowl of water with all the ice from the bar during the interval. The promoter at the venue was prepared to pay back any punters the cost of their tickets. Not a single one did.
A case of 'actions being stronger than words'. John has every intention of returning to UK and Europe again next year. At the moment he is about to go on the road in Australia and New Zealand. Catch him if you can. This CD has been played with great frequency since I got it when LJB toured the UK with the Manfreds back in June, , but I still find it virtually impossible to point the listener to any particular track.
The only solution is to just play the whole CD again and again. Just go order the CD for yourself and you can decide! Deep Purple, Fairport Convention, you get the idea - that's where my allegiances lie. So, let's improve my position a little. I'd been privileged to meet John twice, on the occasion of his sadly aborted UK Tour.
A close friend of mine knew John during the sixties, hadn't seen him since he'd moved to Canada, persuaded me to take her to the opening night in Banbury and I ended up putting this particular blues legend in hospital. If you're really interested, mail me and I'll tell what is, at best, a very dull tale. That evening, musically the gig bored me intensely.
Sure, the guys were all very proficient, technically adept at what they were doing, but I just didn't get it; Long John's style of blues just ain't for me. So, I find a copy of Johns Hypertension release ' Evening Conversation ' before me, requiring a review. I'm not exactly the best person for the job because, as I've said, I just don't buy this particular style of music. The man, however, I like a great deal; he is hysterical and great fun to be with. We only spent a couple of hours in each others company and I was gratified to learn that, when he was in the UK towards the end of , he inquired of said friend as to my whereabouts.
Needless to day, I was chuffed that he remembered me, and more than a little peeved that when he was in my home town, I'd opted to be in Hong Kong following folk rockers Little Johnny England. And having a damn fine holiday with my daughters. Oh well, some things are just not meant to be. I've had this release on the go for a while now, and I'm almost embarrassed to say that it has not grated the nerves once. Either I'm getting old or this music isn't quite as bad as I'd first feared.
On first listen I recognised only one tune - Morning Dew. It took a while, but I finally twigged that this was the number opening the sixth Blackfoot LP some 20 odd years previously; a quick dive into the archives confirmed the authors as Tim Rose and Bonnie Dobson. Yep, it's the same piece, wake up ears. It just sounds a little different, like the difference between the late John Lee Hooker and Black Sabbath although, to be fair, Blackfoot were closer to Lynyrd Skynyrd and the lead guitarist of the former is now a member of the latter.
Many of the songs are Baldry arrangements of numbers written by that most classical of composers, Trad Arr. I think that, if you're a fan, you'll enjoy this release.
You may well have a lot of the numbers already in the studio, but this is a live album, and there is always something that little bit different - special? I'm sure that you won't be disappointed by your purchase. Well, I just don't know, but I'll be playing CD this some more. If he comes close enough to home that is. One of a pair of new releases from Scottish songwriter and storyteller Jackie Leven, this is a disc of monologues rather than songs, and is conveniently split into two sections.
These vary from gently observed vignettes to some more overtly amusing tales of provincial life and newspaperdom, and are delivered in an initially quite low-key and diffident manner but also with evident affection; within them we meet the various characters that people the new town of Glenrodent and its newspaper offices and gain a whimsical insight into their lives and preoccupations.
The episodes are punctuated with brief but attractive piano interludes composed by Michael Cosgrave and inspired largely by Scottish dance forms. The second section of the disc brings three choice stories of Jackie Leven's own concoction: The final tale, Sex Tourist, was recorded at a club in Sydney in It matters not that all three of these tales have been released previously albeit the first and third only on not-easily-available Haunted Valley label discs , for they well complement the storytelling of the Jackie Balfour episodes.
Even so, I'm not sure there's a particularly wide audience in terms of potential record sales, I mean for this aspect of Jackie Leven's art, beyond the "occasional entertaining listen" status that inevitably accompanies spoken-word recordings, however good. A Scottish folkster with a jazz family background, Bancroft's explored both fields in her previous albums, not to mention experimenting with electronica. There's jazz blues flavours here on the musically flirty Occasional China where she slips into scat backed by Amy Geddes providing gypsy fiddle, the breathy No Smokin with a percussion rhythm that sounds like the bellows of an electronic lung, and the skittish Dented with Tom Lyne's double bass groove.
Mostly though she channels her jazz raising into folk intimacy, delivering the rippling, bluegrass flecked Supersize Me with its laments about the lack of community and childhood in the modern age, the waltzing I Carried Your Heart's age-enduring love song and, also touching on a theme of passing years, the sparse wood-smoked When The Geese Fly South. Written four years back, Boo Hewardine guests on co-penned closing track Caroline, a 3am jazz cellar piano blues account of an unconsummated drunken one night stand and subsequent self-questioning while, underscoring the classiness of the project, the album's co-produced and mixed by Mark Freegard whose extensive credits include Maria McKee, Manic Street Preachers and, more pertinently for that sultry jazz vibe, Swans Way.
Probably more one for the Ronnie Scott's crowd than your local folk club, but certainly worth the exploring. Produced by Ray Wylie Hubbard and mastered by Gulf Morlix both of whom also guest along with Stephen Bruton , it's fairly blueprint southern barroom rock country with pumped up guitars, mouth harp, swaggery rhythms and bluesy acoustic honky tonk ballads.
They're not doing anything new, but they're as reliable and easy to slip into as an old pair of shoes. Band of Two is exactly what it says on the tin - a band comprising two musicians. The pair in question are Croydon man Pete Fyfe and Garry Blakeley, from Hastings - two musical souls who met by chance ten years ago, discovered an affinity in their tastes and have built a great rapport and a catalogue of songs, jigs and reels that guarantees a great evening's entertainment when they play live. Decade , the duo's second album, is packed full of high-quality songs and tunes, all played with an obvious love of the material and an infectious enthusiasm that will put a smile on your face and have you singing along.
With a distinct leaning toward the Celtic end of the British musical spectrum, it's not surprising they elect to kick off with "Farewell to Ireland", a no-holds-barred instrumental workout that immediately displays the fine fiddle-playing of Blakeley and some furious strumming on the guitar by Fyfe - a tremendous opener.
Fyfe relishes the lyric, giving his vocal a menacing edge as Blakeley's fiddle ducks and weaves around it and the guitar. One of Van Morrison's best-known songs gives Blakeley his first chance at the mic, his voice a pleasing contrast to Fyfe's deeper tones. Fyfe's playing on "Have I told you lately" comes to the fore as he overlays deft mandolin fingerwork on Blakeley's guitar. A sparser arrangement than Morrison's original but all the better for it - lovely.
One of the several stand-out tracks is the pair's reading of "Fairytale of New York", the original of which featured another child of Croydon, the late Kirsty MacColl. Two people could never, of course, hope to make a bigger noise than The Pogues at their best, but, like the Morrison song, this version loses nothing for its simplicity - well, it's such a good song, how could it fail?
Ireland gets a look in again when the pair tackle the old standard, "Danny Boy" and the delightful "Blarney roses". You might remain tight-lipped through "Irene goodnight" but your resolve will begin to slip during "Comin' round the mountain" and, by "Worried man blues" you'll be singing along as it segues into a "Pick a bale o'cotton", "Swing low, sweet chariot", "It's a long way to Tipperary" and "Pack up your troubles" before the set's wound up with "Knees up Mother Brown".
It may sound a little naff but, believe me, it works. Two nicer blokes you couldn't hope to meet and "Decade" is an album they are quite rightly proud of. Following six independent releases, the hirsute ashram-friendly psych folk Venezuela raised, California based singer-songwriter finally makes his major label debut with a collection that, produced by Paul Butler from A Band of Bees, is eclectic while remaining firmly rooted in the hippie folkster landscape.
Can't Help eases you into proceedings with marimba ripples and a tropical island sway that might make Jack Johnson sound like explosive punk before his Incredible String Band affections rear their head with Angelika where his phrasings echo the young Robin Williamson before the song suddenly mutates into a jazzy piano led bossa nova and Banhart apparently turns Puerto Rican.
There's a Latin blood in the veins of Brindo too, another bossa nova croon only this time sung - or rather seductively whispered - in Spanish. Skipping around the influences, Baby varnishes a Smokey Motown soul groove with a light reggae hiccupping and a suitably playful lyric that talks of choo choo trains in a manner that recalls Jonathan Richman.
Then it's a trip down to Graceland with the easy lilting kwela tinged folk Goin' Back To The Place while the more intimate moods of Paul Simon - and the lost soul purity of Jeff Buckley - would also seem to cast their shadow over the melancholic building piano pulses of First Song For B and its immediate acoustic guitar accompanied sequel Last Song For B which sounds like a musical close companion of Bookends.
He does like to keep your ears on their toes. Will it see him embraced by a wider, mainstream audience? Probably not, but his devoted following is certainly going to be passing round the pipe in celebration. With a sleeve photo that suggests you're in for an expanded version of the Polyphonic Spree, the bearded Banhart's fourth outing sees him building on his past foundations of 60s harmony pop, trippy dippy Indian drones, bossa nova and blues.
Fleshed out into full band arrangements but retaining his eccentric whimsy I assume he's being whimsical when he sings of being a lonely sailor ogling young lads on the frankly barking Little Boys , he recorded this in Woodstock, clearly on a creative roll since it features no less than 22 tracks.
As such, it can prove a tad wearying if you're not totally submissive to his merry skewed charms as evidenced on something like the bizarre The Beatles which starts out namechecking Paul and Ringo and then inexplicably finds him crowing in Spanish while folk whoop it up behind him.
But if you're prepared to pick around for favourites then the tripped out sitar drenched latter-day Donovan meets Bolan blues of Lazy Butterfly, the soft whispery Queen Bee, lollopping jugband Some People Ride The Wave, guitar instrumental Sawkill River, the lazy warbling driftalong Koreak Dogwood and, in his Spanish mode, the sun kissed Santa Maria Da Feira and a melancholic cover of Venezuelan Simon Diaz's moody Luna De Margarita repay the effort of juggling with the skip and play buttons.
A bunch of four track recordings came to the attention of former Swans frontman Michael Gira who released them as is through his Young God Records, thereby setting into motion a growing cult following.
Recorded in the same sessions as the previous Rejoicing In The Hands, this 16 track collection pretty much sums up everything you need to know. He plays acoustic guitar, has a high pitched, quivering vibrato that makes him sound several decades older than his 23 years and which prompts regular comparisons to Tyrannosaurus Rex period Marc Bolan and the early days of the Incredible String Band.
Oh and of course, Syd Barrett. Deliberately naive in his sound, which straggles warbling folk, ragtime, bluegrass and blues but here embracing arrangements that involve brass, piano and strings in addition to trusty guitar, his narratives frolic cheerfully in the fields of playful whimsy with lyrics that include tales of psychedelic squids and the cloven hoofed offspring of a man and a pig. Dotting around at random, you'll find a bluesy reading of Ella Jenkins' folk song Little Sparrow, fingerpicked spooked lullaby Ay Mama with its mournful trumpet, the arpeggio folk blues tumbling Little Yellow Spider about, well take a guess, a vaguely pop inclined At The Hop no, not Danny and The Juniors , an ominous Horseheadedfleshwizard where he sings about hosing down the dead before they die, backporch good timing The Good Red Road and the closing drunken swayer round the summer evening Hawaiian bonfire strummer Electric Heart.
Taken en bloc it can get a touch wearying, but sampled at intervals you'll be convinced his people really were fair and had sky in their hair. Primarily built around their twin guitars, it's a simple acoustic affair, with no ambitious productions, but it leaks honesty and a passion for the music they make.
As in Bushbury days, American bluegrass back porch mountain music remains an influence, most evidently so on the naggingly catchy Mousetrap, a jug band of a number with Bannister on mandola that could have slotted easily into the Oh Brother soundtrack without anyone suspecting anything out of place.
But there's more than hillbilly going on. Opening track Long Slow Day is a gorgeous tropical lilt designed for laying back and watching the sky while the spellbindingly lovely I Will Go With You brings to mind the better, less bombastic moments of Chris De Burgh and mixes it with Art Garfunkel. Not sure about the closing number, a bluesy Superman's Lasergun that doesn't really come off, but otherwise this can only serve to further boost Bannister's reputation among the faithful as one of the most distinctive voices and writers on the UK roots scene.
If you've not yet encountered the wonderfully original music of this perennially dynamic and talented young Whitby-based trio, then now's the time to start, and this new album, taken together with Galata Bridge , should provide the perfect starter pack. The band have taken their recent cautious experiments in layering of sound textures from Galata Bridge and the Bluebells EP on to new levels of accomplishment, and this is strongly in evidence on the trippy opener Go To Dreams , but to their credit this aspect is never overdone, and the defiantly individual characters of the three individual musicians is always foremost, with the quality of the recording attaining a new level of engineering expertise here.
Quiet Fire is a truly beautiful creation, with Dave Moss's sinuous, enticing vocal line poignantly inhabiting the idyllic landscape of Bluebells. Other songs show Dave's increasing penchant for the more pensive turn of thought, ranging widely from the eerie, economically-expressed pacifism of The Fight and the compelling title track to the quasi-catechism of Bless with its curiously effective neo-calypso setting.
The instrumental tracks that punctuate the songs on this album are sensibly sequenced to follow them, in that like the Eastern European dance-forms on which they're modelled they often begin slowly then build in tempo or intensity.
They can therefore appear slow-burners by comparison with some of the band's earlier, wilder efforts, though it still takes a fair bit of digital dexterity to get your feet round the almost wilfully complex time-signatures! As ever, Tim Downie's guitar work which, admirably, is clearly audible throughout is a model of subtlety and embellishment that might come as quite a surprise if you've ever witnessed his string-breaking exploits in live performance! My only minor complaint about this release is the near-unreadability of the text on the neat digipak sleeve, due to insufficient contrast - that latter tag certainly doesn't apply to the varied music on display on this exhilarating album.
This disc has been long in coming, but hey, it's been worth the wait. It's a natural confluence of two of our finest singer-interpreters who have discovered an equally natural kinship; they have much in common, not least some important formative influences. Each of them has a background to die for - both were "kid folkies in the proverbial sweet shop", growing up being involved in, and understanding and appreciating, folk music.
For them, standards were set at an early stage, and both were introduced to major figures on the folk scene at a tender age almost as a matter of course. They met and became friends quite early on, but then for several years they followed independent courses: Mike mostly singing with his siblings in The Wilson Family group and Damien launching his own professional solo career after attaining the finals of BBC's Young Tradition Award in , then going on to mastermind the groundbreaking Demon Barber Roadshow.
They'd talked about trying some songs together, but it was not until around four years ago to my recollection that this idea bore fruit on a tentative foray into the clubs armed with an embryonic joint repertoire developed under the influence of the generous folk artists whose own repertoires form the thread that now binds this disc together.
The folk artist whose figure looms largest over the whole set, inevitably but entirely justifiably , is the mighty Peter Bellamy whose own performances provided the inspirational source recordings for several of the songs chosen for the disc , closely followed by Ewan MacColl and Dick Gaughan. The vital combination of attitude and respect is an essential one for any song carrier worth his salt, and it's one which Damien and Mike closely share and keenly display throughout their work together.
Each of them is passionate and distinctive as a solo singer, with a rich-toned and sturdy delivery. Mike here employs quite a bit of decoration in his solo passages, while not getting in the way of Damien's trademark throbbing vibrato, and the two voices sit well together generally not always the case with two voices which share a roughly similar range.
It's important, therefore, to retain plenty of textural variety during the course of a joint CD, and this is managed by virtue of Damien varying the accompanying instrument between English concertina seven tracks and guitar three , the remaining brace of tracks being performed acappella. In the latter category we find one of the disc's highlights, a particularly enterprising choice and the only item not associated with any of the previously notified "influences": The second acappella item is a runthrough of Shiny O, a shanty obtained from Stan Hugill.
Damien's deft, rhythmically inventive guitar playing provides an ideal foil for Mike on three contrasted songs including The Green Linnet and MacColl's My Old Man, while his concertina provides sterling accompaniment for both solo and joint vocal outings as well as a notably poignant counterpoint to MacColl's Joy Of Living.
The actual form the "duo act" takes can vary in approach: The "odd track out" is Jim Jones, which is a solo performance by Damien with concertina. Yes, both in terms of repertoire and performance style, Damien and Mike have chosen well for representing their duo activities on this CD. Finally, an honourable mention for the disc's presentation: Influences and inspirations are freely acknowledged, generously granted and openly encouraged in my turn, I've been well "under the influence" of both Damo and Mike, and "The Family" ever since I myself started singing.
Sure thing, Mike and Damo have done themselves proud here, and it'll be interesting to see how this musical partnership develops in due course - let's hope we don't have to wait five years to find out!
This Canadian songstress singer-songwriter to you! She played over here in the UK last autumn as part of the Twisted Folk package tour along with Tunng , and is set to return for a handful of dates next month including the Green Man Festival.
Jill's been tagged "alt-cabaret", and listening to For All Time, her second record, it's hard for me to get that tag out of my mind. I think it's her singing style and the tonal quality of her voice more than anything else that justifies that tag: In its gentle energy, this album has a direct, up-close feel which reflects the method of its actual recording live-off-the-floor , with individual instruments perfectly selected and balanced within the overall spare-but-rich sound-picture.
The canvas is quite broad as far as instrumental colours are concerned, with almost every one of the eleven songs being differently scored: You might find the album easier to get into after the first three tracks, which aren't really typical; the opener Just For Now is a chunky old-style ballad with a torchy country-gospel feel, then Don't Go Easy is easygoing steel-driven country, and When I'm Makin' Love To You is a cheeky swing-jazz piece set to a perky clarinet and piano backing.
Ashes To Ashes is both delicate and stately, a measured and considered reflection, Hard Line has a subdued funkiness in its driving Motown vibe.
Variety and contrast notwithstanding, the standouts for me are the title track and Goodnight Sweetheart, both good examples of the kind of beautiful, simple little time-honoured love songs that you feel you've always known, and Legacy, whose generous, measured pace allows full rein to Jill's expressive vocal qualities.
Jill's probably at her tremulously confidential best on the closing Starting To Show, while on some of the other songs, like the tender Two Brown Eyes, Jill reveals herself to have a sexy vocal presence akin to Cowboy Junkies' Margo Timmins. On the evidence of this CD, I can understand why Jill has made such an impression thus far, and can imagine her special brand of intimacy working much to her advantage live.
Brighton-based duo Kevin Barber and Mark Taylor are one of those totally-together acts that sound for all the world like they've been playing and singing together almost from birth.
Typically they play an attractively melancholy brand of acoustic-based, guitarsome bluegrassy Americana, with around two-thirds of their material self-penned and the remainder made up of respectable if not consistently outstanding covers of on this, their third CD songs by Albert E. Brumley, Woody Guthrie and Paul Simon gripe: But I liked this record a lot, and even though it's primarily the vocal harmonies and tight arrangements that make the impact on first hearing the songs stand up to scrutiny and grow on repeated listening.
Generally there's a very satisfying ambience about the duo's music, and it's couched in an accomplishment that's easy-going yet not without a quality of thoughtful depth and immediacy of inspiration. With top-flight recording quality reflecting the duo's close, intimate yet dynamic live presence, this is a treasurable release that deserves wider recognition. A little over two years ago, I reviewed a very fine CD, Islet, which paired Rebecca's passionate and individual singing of a selection of traditional songs with the intricate and inventive traceries of Durham guitarist John Steele.
For her latest recording project, Rebecca has recruited a host of accomplished traditional musicians from different cultures to assist her in bringing alive her brilliantly creative vision of these age-old ballads and songs. For instance, on the disc's closer, an idiosyncratic take on The Snows They Melt The Soonest, Rebecca is at her most vocally uncompromising and adventurous: Compared to which, the faint-eared will find much of the preceding album significantly easier going.
For instance, on Rebecca's percussively upbeat take on The Blacksmith, you can readily believe you're listening to Kate Bush backed by 3 Mustaphas 3 and a Turkish fiddler, while her retelling of The Cutty Wren is propelled by a spicy flamenco-style rhythm. Just as on Islet, Rebecca demonstrates a keen response to English and Scottish traditional material and Quebequois call-and-response song alike, although you may feel especially on initial acquaintance that one or two of her determinedly imaginative settings seem too eccentric and "busy".
On the other hand, there are moments when the outcome of Rebecca's creativity is simply so extraordinary that you've never heard the like before the soundscape of Queen Jane is not at all easily describable, and will stop you in your tracks for sure, while the extended, subtly percussive drone-layered setting of Lagan Love is almost as astonishing in terms of atmospherics.
And a special mention for recording engineer-wizard Ron Angus, who plays guitar is there no limit to this guy's talents?!
But all the members of Rebecca's support crew are vitally important, as she acknowledges by devoting four pages of the excellent booklet to their biographical background. I suspect that this CD will divide listeners it even divided me at the start! Durham guitarist John Steele and Canadian singer Rebecca Barclay have been collaborating as a duo for around five years now, yet this would appear to be their first CD together. On it they illustrate their common interest in performing predominantly traditional songs from both sides of the Atlantic - this diverse selection presenting songs from standard English sources including The Cruel Mother, Lovely On The Water, Factory Girl and MacCrimmon's Lament alongside three of French Canadian or Newfoundland origin all sung in French , topped up with a brace of contemporary songs by Dick Gaughan and Stan Rogers.
So far, so straightforward; but initial aural encounter proves not quite so. John's guitar work is very skilled indeed: