Tag Archives: alan glen

119. ALI MAAS & MICKY MOODY “Black & Chrome” (Armadillo, 2016)

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(Pic: MM website)

Well, you don’t have to be a genius to make an educated guess that an album with the names Ali Maas and Micky Moody writ large on the sleeve is going to be a winner. If you have the slightest doubt about that, then all you need to do is place Black & Chrome in the CD player, and within seconds your doubts would be allayed. For some time now, I’ve rated Ms Maas as one of several exceptionally good female vocalists currently working in the UK; and Mr.Moody has been on the Quill’s geetar maestro shortlist for decades! Furthermore I’ve met them both and they’re thoroughly nice people. (See my gig review #23).

Black & Chrome is an eleven track collection of original works penned by Moody and Maas themselves. It covers a good and varied range of Blues and Blues-based styles; and it is a tangible display of both the performing, as well as the song-writing skills of this remarkable pairing. They’ve been working together for some time now, and their collaborations are a joy to hear (and see live). They both have their own individual projects of course but have come together (as they often do) for this work, and have created something very special indeed.

Right from the wonderful opening track ‘Horse Or A Harley’, the bar is set high; but the excellent second offering ‘Why Does A Man’ (‘…who says he loves me, make me cry’?) fully rises to the challenge….and so it continues. From the acoustic beauty of ‘Hanging On A Chain’; through the Elmore-esque ‘Same Blues, Different Day’; to the soulful ‘A Change In Everything’ with its fine solo. From the shuffle ‘Taking Me Home’; through the raw Blues of ‘Do Some Time’; to the Country vibe of ‘Farewell To All The Sad Songs’. And from the heart-felt love song ‘Here I Stay’; through the Funky Blues of ‘Hell Bent’ with its Albert King-like guitar; to the final fun number ‘Now I Got My Mojo Back’; the quality is high, and the range of style/genre is impressively broad.

Ali’s vocals are wonderful throughout (as we’ve come to expect) – full of passion and drive. She conveys the tenderness or pain of love; as necessary with a controlled and impressive ease. Her backing vocals / harmonies are great too.

And Micky’s guitar-work is (not surprisingly) superb as well – thoughtful, inventive solos, and interesting rhythm parts make his input a joy to hear. But what I particularly liked was his trade-mark slide-work of which I have been an admirer of since the 70s. MM also played bass, mando, B-bender; and console steel guitars on various tracks too; as well as singing lead vocal on ‘Taking Me Home’.

M & M are assisted in their endeavors by some fine musos: Jimmy Copley (drums); Ian Jennings (bass); Ollie Parfitt (keys); Jon Buckett (keys); Alan Glen (harp); Nick Newall (flute / sax); and Micky Moody Jnr (percussion). All very impressive artists indeed.

The CD comes in a card tri-fold case with the disc fitted centrally. It contains photos and basic info / credits etc; but no lyrics unfortunately, which is a shame because the words to some of these songs are interesting and inventive. If you like a bit of variety within yer Blues, I’d say its a must buy album (and must go and see live) – you won’t be disappointed! PTMQ

Micky Moody’s website

Ali Maas’ website

22. MILTON-FARROW SKIFFLE ‘n’ BLUES BAND “Skiffleodeon” (Right Track Records, 2014) + a few words on their PHOENIX FM radio session, 9th October 2014.

MILTON - FARROW's "Skiffleodeon" (Photo: PTMQ)

MILTON – FARROW’s “Skiffleodeon” (Photo: PTMQ)

I’ve been quite familiar with the music of BILL FARROW for 20 years or more now. In fact since our mutual friend, ROB WHEATON (a one-time member of Bill’s BONNEVILLE TWINS, and currently the guitarist in folk band DEVONBIRD) lent me some of Bill’s CDs (including the quirkily named “The French Can’t Make Mangles Like We Can”); plus a recording of a Radio Essex session that he’d done in the early ’90s.

So I was pleased when Bill popped round to my place recently, along with his current collaborator RICHIE MILTON, en route to do another radio session (this time at PHOENIX FM, in Brentwood, Essex), and handed over a copy of their latest EP entitled “Skiffleodeon” (Right Track Records, 2014. RTR-S 08014).  I was honoured when Bill asked me to review it on my blog. ‘Be kind’ he asked – well, I’ll be honest, Bill!

Well, once they’d gone, I tuned into Phoenix FM and listened to the session. Their appearance was linked to another article running that day about the scandal of so many English pubs closing down lately. Farrow’s song ‘Pulling All The Boozers Down’ (from the new EP) was then, very appropriate. They’re performance was very good; demonstrating plenty of experience of playing live. Some amusing banter ensued; and later they played another track from the new EP: Milton’s ‘BBQ Chicken And Wine’. A good little session. I enjoyed it.

Later I played the EP. It is a collection of six new songs: three from Milton; and three from Farrow. Well I said I’d be honest; so here it is….. To be fair it was pretty much what I expected (but that’s not a criticism) – I think its a great little collection of original material. Anyone who knows me, knows that I like skilful guitar playing (regardless of genre), and interesting, clever, and/or amusing lyrics. I got all that with this EP, so I wasn’t disappointed.

The opening track ‘That Rock Island Line’ (penned by Farrow) is a kind of potted history of Skiffle; based on the oft-covered classic ‘Rock Island Line’. The lyric cleverly mentions many a famous British musician who cut his teeth as a Skiffle man in the ’50s and ’60s. Its a foot tapper – a good start. The same vibe continues on the second offering; ‘Chicken In The Yard’ (also by Farrow). It must be a tough ol’ life down on the farm in Dagenham, Bill! Its another good song with effective guitar work.

The next two songs are Milton’s: ‘Don’t Know Where I’m Going’  has some fine acoustic guitar; and Masters’ bass is very good. A great song.  And ‘Ms.Sippie Brown’ is a lively little rag. I haven’t heard a rag for ages, so it made a nice change for me to hear. Its a good’un too; made me smile in appreciation. Once again lovely acoustic geetar!

Feeling a little peckish? I recommend some ‘BBQ Chicken And Wine’. This is one of Milton’s too. This is another enjoyable song. I particularly liked Cotton on the  ‘Jo-anna’; the ‘cluckin’ guitar; and the retorted backing vocals.

Finally, the highlight of the disc for me is ‘Pulling All The Boozers Down’, by Farrow. It actually covers a very serious subject (as I stated above): the decline of the good ol’ English ‘watering hole’.  But its actually a lot of fun, with a simple but effective sing-a-long chorus –  the sort of song that is at its best, played live in a pub (assuming you can still find one open!); and the more real-ale you quaff, the more you’ll enjoy it!

The Milton-Farrow Skiffle’n’Blues Band consists of: Richie Milton (Guitar and vocals); Bill Farrow (Guitar and vocals); Alan Glen (Harmonica); Eddie Masters (Upright bass); Graham Hollingworth (Drums); and Roger Cotton (keyboards). Competent musicians all. Production and recordings (at Roundel Studios, Kent) are very good too. It has a simple sleeve with good basic info. I’m recommending this EP to anyone who has a broad interest in Skiffle’n’Blues. Best get down the pub now, before last orders!

Now, where did I leave me ol’ Mum’s washboard? PTMQ

Richie Milton’s website is here…… http://www.richiemilton.co.uk

Here’s a vid of the band in the studio playing ‘Pulling All The Boozers Down’…….