Tag Archives: milton – farrow

117. RICHIE MILTON AND THE LOWDOWN “Pre-Katrina” (Right Track Records, 2016)

Pre-Katrina CD cover (Pic: Richie Milton)

Pre-Katrina CD cover (Pic: Richie Milton)

My regular readers will already be well aware of the name Richie Milton, in his capacity as one half of the popular Skiffle’n’Blues/Rockney duet Milton And Farrow. (See below for a list of my earlier reviews on this dynamic duo). But Richie of course, has another string to his bow; in the form of his own band The Lowdown.

At a Milton-Farrow gig recently, Richie handed me a copy of his own band’s new CD, Pre-Katrina (2016). This new collection has already received some critical acclaim; with airplay on none other than the prestigious Paul Jones Show on BBC Radio 2.

The Lowdown consist of Richie Milton himself (guitar and vocals); Linda Hall (vocals); Steve King (Piano and Sax); Ed Spevock (Drums); Eddie Masters (Bass); and Dick Hanson (Trumpet). As fine a group of musos you’ll ever listen to – each very impressive in their field.

This is a fifteen track collection of original songs; all penned by Richie bar one (Steve King’s ‘Ghosts On Rampart Street’). There was only one song among them that I previously knew – ‘Keep My Engine Clean’ (more on that later) – all others were new to me. Yet I felt as if I knew them all; for they remind me of family parties when I was a kid; because Richie seems to have accurately created a lot of grooves that are reminiscent of a late 50s / early 60s Juke Box – whilst still sounding original! (I’m guessing that Richie was a teenager around this time!) Song construction and lyric writing are superb. Many styles of period Pop / Rock’n’Roll are represented – there’s even a Ska instrumental (‘More Than You’ll Ever Know’).

I was particularly impressed with Richie’s vocals and generally with the fine Horn arrangements. I liked Linda’s vocals too – especially on ‘Things Ain’t Been The Same’ (an instrumental version appears at the end of the album too). My favourite track was the laid-back Jazz-Blues ‘How Come Baby?’ which is wonderful. And I’ve heard ‘Keep My Engine Clean’ with its bawdy euphemisms before; because it often appears in the Milton-Farrow live set – albeit this version in a kind of Zydeco-Ska form.  Other highlights for me were ‘I See Love’ with its walking bass line; ‘Ghosts…’ with its Latin vibe; and ‘Back To Rock’n’Roll’ which speaks for itself. Its all a lot of fun anyway!

The CD is available from Richie’s website (below); or from gigs. I recommend it – its a great album. PTMQ

Click here for a link to Richie’s website

Click for link to Paul Jones Show BBC Radio 2.

My earlier reviews of Milton And Farrow…

22. THE MILTON-FARROW SKIFFLE ‘n’ BLUES BAND Skiffleodeon EP (2014)

33. MILTON AND FARROW at ONAPLATE CAFE, Shenfiels, Essex. January 2015

63. MONDAY BLUES AT PEGGY SUE’S with MILTON AND FARROW. AUGUST 2015.

Advertisements

59. DEVONBIRD (+ BILL FARROW & others) at ROMFORD FOLK CLUB, in THE SUN (PH). Tuesday 7th July, 2015. + a few words about the club and the venue.

Devonbird at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

Devonbird at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

These days my friends Kath, Sophia and Rob of Folk band Devonbird are flying high, with gigs ever further afield than their Exeter home base. And this is a measure of their increasing popularity and success. They’ve been all over the West Country, and have ventured into Wales on occasions; but the nearest they’ve been to my neck of the woods is when they played Hadfest in Hertfordshire back in 2013. This was the first time that they’d been to the Romford area though. Actually, the band’s guitarist Rob was brought up not far away, and has played The Sun on numerous occasions in the past. As for me, I live local too, so there was no doubt that I’d be along for this gig.

My regular readers will know, of course, that I was down in Devon recently at the invitation of the band (see my previous two Blog entries #57 and #58), who were making a video for their song ‘Greenwood Tree’. It was nice to have them in my Manor for a change on this occasion though. Another person who came along to the gig and was delighted to see Rob was the Blues guitarist Bill Farrow who is also a local man. Rob was once in Bill’s band, simply called Farrow. Nowadays, of course, Bill plays in the Milton-Farrow Skiffle’n’Blues Band (see my Bog entries #22 and #33). He has also played The Sun many times.

Romford Folk Club has been held down in the basement function room of The Sun, on London Road, Romford, for almost twenty years now; and they’ll be celebrating the 25th anniversary of the club’s existence next February. The RFC meet regularly on Tuesday nights. Its usually an Open Floor; but sometimes a named band / artist is booked. This evening, of course, it was the latter. Micky Brown and Garry Walker who run the club were very welcoming and informative; as were all the regulars that I spoke to. For any level of talent, its a good place to try out a few songs – new or old – in an amiable and encouraging atmosphere.

Bill Farrow at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

Bill Farrow at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

The Sun itself I haven’t visited for some years, and the main part of the pub has been done up very smartly; so that I wouldn’t have recognised it. Unfortunately the same cannot be said of the basement function room, which is in dire need of redecorating – or even a good clean up! I think the RFC deserve better than that – especially considering that there were more thirsty people attending the Folk Club than present in the main bar that night! The barmaids were very friendly and helpful though; so thank you ladies!

I arrived at the venue quite early. The band arrived soon after, and I helped get their kit downstairs and set up for the sound check. When Garry Walker arrived he explained that the evening would be in two parts: an Open Floor followed by Devonbird’s first set; and the same again for part two. After a little informal jam from Mick Brown, Paul Ballantyne and Richie Barratt;  we were ready to begin.

Several regulars were keen to do a turn for the first Open Floor section. There was a great variety of musical style, performed with varying degrees of talent – yet all admirable in their way – and it was nice to see everyone supporting and encouraging each other.  Best among them were Paul Ballantyne with a good rendition of Richard Thompson’s ‘Vincent Black Lightning’; and there was some fine fiddling from Richie Barratt.

Devonbird were on next. Starting with ‘The Snows’, they played several songs from their first album Hangman’s daughter; including ‘Velvet’; ‘Fairleigh Well Olde England’ and, my personal favourite from the debut album, ‘The Brae’. They interspersed these with fine traditional jigs, reels and slides from their repertoire. Also, from their eagerly awaited forthcoming album Turning Of The Year, they played the excellent title track for us.

Informal jam at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

Jamming at RFC (Photo: PTMQ)

After a short break, Part Two commenced in the same manner as the first, with various regulars doing a single song. Again very diverse in content and quality; but kudos due to anyone who had a go. It was nice to hear the duet, Martin and Jackie, because they played Fairport’s ‘Meet On The Ledge’ which I like but had totally forgotten about! So thanks to them for reminding me. Finally, the inimitable Bill Farrow played two of his numbers with a borrowed guitar: ‘Ain’t It Good’ which is great fun for a sing-song, and in which fiddler Richie Barratt busked along. Next he played his ‘Rain, Lotsa Rain’, which is inspired by the music of Sister Rosetta Tharpe. Personally, I like a bit of upbeat acoustic Blues and I could quite happily sit and listen to Bill playing all evening; but tonight however was Devonbird’s night!

My friends from Devon began their second set with the oft-covered Sydney Carter anti-war song ‘The Crow On The Cradle’ which I haven’t heard them do before. And an interesting version it was too. They followed this with two more fine new songs from the forthcoming album: ‘Rose’ and ‘Mary’. I’m familiar with both of these new ones, and I think the latter is an especially good song. After another jig medley, next on the playlist was the title track from their debut album Hangman’s Daughter. Also from the first album, they gave us ‘Purty Jane’; the song sung in quaint Devonshire dialect. After another foot-tapping jig medley  they finished with the wonderful ‘Greenwood Tree’.

I’ve seen the band play on numerous occasions now, and I have followed their developing live set with interest over the last couple of years – near enough since their inception, in fact. In that time they’ve gone from strength to strength. They are very tight as a musical unit; which is a result of their constant gigging. This is especially noticable in medleys, where the trio move as one – shifting seamlessly through changing time signatures with ease. These jigs are also remarkable for the faultless unison of Sophia’s fiddle and Kath’s whistle. Rob’s vocal harmonies are also enriching the overall tapestry of sound on the songs to a great extent now too. All in all, a fantastic performance which went down well with the small but enthusiastic audience.

Set finished; it was time to pack away the kit and load up. After a little chat and some fond farewells, Bill and I left the band, and I gave him a lift home.

Devonbird’s second album will be released in September; and I’ll be reviewing it on this Blog as soon as its available; so watch this space. I’ve heard the finished product already, and I can reveal that its a corker – even better than their debut. PTMQ

For more on Devonbird, see my Blog entries #4; #28; #57; and #58.

Here is a link to Devonbird’s website…. http://www.devonbird.co.uk/

Here is a link to Romford Folk Club’s site…  http://www.romfordfolkclub.com/

53. MARTIN McNEILL “Lately I’ve Let Things Slide” (Bottleneck Blues, 2015)

'Lately I've Let Things Slide' (Photo: PTMQ)

‘Lately I’ve Let Things Slide’ (Photo: PTMQ)

Martin McNeill is a name that my regular readers will know by now. His new album Lately I’ve Let Things Slide, is the second of two excellent new acoustic Blues albums that I’ve been sent for review recently – the other being King Rollo’s Easy Street  (see my previous review #52). In fact, I was pleasantly surprised when Martin said that he had an album on CD to send me, because I didn’t even know he’d been in the studio! Back in January when I spoke to him at a  Milton And Farrow gig (see my review #33), he said that he’d never really been too involved with recording – although he had released an earlier album about fifteen years ago (which I haven’t heard). Well I’m glad to say that his remarkable talents are on record once more with the release of this fine collection.

There are twelve tracks on the album – mostly covers; but every one reworked in Martin’s inimitable style. One song however, is penned by Martin himself. He sings all vocals; and plays all guitars and harmonica. The title is well-chosen, as bottleneck slide is what this opus is all about – Martin being a master of the art.

The title track starts us off. Its a sad, yet somehow amusing, Nick Lowe song that Martin has given a Blues-style make-over, with the bottleneck slide technique for which he is well known. It works well; and prefigures what’s to come.

The second track, the old Blues classic ‘You Gotta Move’, (an old classic made famous by Mississippi Fred McDowell), has coincidentally been included in both Martin’s and Rollo’s new albums. And as I wrote in the previous Blog entry, although many have covered the song, each has done so in their own distinctive way. Certainly, Martin’s version here, can also be added to the long list of fine covers of this old Blues number – but no; I won’t be drawn into which I prefer!

(Photo: PTMQ)

Bottleneck slide maestro Martin McNeill at Peggy Sue’s Music Bar, Essex in April 2015.(Photo: PTMQ)

‘On The Road Again’ is of course the old Floyd Jones song made famous by Canned Heat back in ’67. Martin has reworked it; and its good. And I must say I prefer it to many other versions (including even the Canned Heat one – because I never really liked the vocals!).

Keb Mo (real name: Kevin Moore) is the writer behind the next song ‘Keep It Simple’. I must admit I’m not too familiar with his work; but thanks to Martin I’m now a little wiser!  Lovely  sound on the lead on this one. And another old classic, the RL Burnside song ‘Going Down South’ gets the MM treatment next!

‘Pickin’ The Blues’ is a chirpy little instrumental; again covered by many – including the greatest of all slide guitarists – the legendary Elmore James. But Martin does the old master proud on this one. This is followed by two more oft-covered old staples: ‘Rain Down Tears’; and   ‘Waiting For My Baby’ (another McDowell number).

‘Mad With me’ is the one song in this collection that is penned by McNeill himself; and its the only chance we have of seeing how deeply all this Blues has entered his psyche! And to be honest, if i didn’t know it was a McNeill song, I’d assume it was an oldie that I didn’t know! So he has certainly showed himself to be a good song-writer on the strength of this one. He also demonstrates that he’s a decent Harp player too. It compliments the oldies nicely!

The Gary Nicholson / Guy Clark  penned ‘Leap Of Faith’; and another Keb Mo song ‘I’m On Your Side’ are up next. Both covers are well arranged and satisfying to hear – nice Harmonica again on the latter. Then finally two old songs are cleverly fused together: the haunting instrumental ‘Paris Texas’ by Ry Cooder; and Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ (without the lyric).

Martin’s vocals are unusual. He manages to pull off the most unlikely thing of singing Blues songs with an English accent – but still making it sound right! I don’t know of anyone else who can do this. He has a relaxing voice and easy, clear vocal style too. Quite pleasant to listen to.

The album was recorded by Jon Webber at JWS Studios. The cover is of the card and plastic gate-fold type which I prefer; with photos by Tim Hubbard and The Dim Locator; plus a basic track listing with writer credits.

If you like a bit of acoustic Blues, then you’ll love both this album and King Rollo’s too; and I can highly recommend them both. I’m looking forward to seeing both of these quite remarkable Bluesmen again at gigs ASAP. Martin regularly hosts Monday Blues At Peggy Sue’s Music Bar in Leigh-On-Sea in Essex with a different special guest every week. For all his other gigs (including with his band Bottleneck Blues), see his website…….

 http://www.martinmcneill.co.uk/

 PTMQ

38. MONDAY BLUES at PEGGY SUE’S. 2nd March, 2015. Hosted by MARTIN McNEILL; with special guests STEVE WEST WESTON, and ROB GLAZEBROOK + a few words about the venue.

WESTON and McNEILL: Low down and dirty Blues! (Photo by PTMQ)

WESTON and McNEILL: Low down and dirty Blues! (Photo by PTMQ)

I bumped into MARTIN McNEILL earlier this year when he came along to the excellent MILTON and FARROW gig at the ONAPLATE café, Shenfield, in January just gone. (See my review on this blog #33). He told me that he’s regularly been hosting ‘Monday Blues at Peggy Sue’s’ in Leigh-On-Sea; and did I want to come along some time? Well I couldn’t say no to that! This particular Monday seemed like a good time to go there, as I wasn’t working or doing anything else; and I wanted to see his  special guests of the night who are both very  notable local Bluesmen. My journalist son James accompanied me too, as he’s something of a music fan as well.

PEGGY SUE’S PIANO BAR is in London Road (A13), Leigh-On-Sea, Essex. Its a small but very smart-looking café whose owners, Dave and Lorraine Austin, decided about six months ago, to host themed musical evenings on their premises. Johnny Thorpe was brought in to organise the music; and they now offer Jazz on Sundays; Blues on Mondays; a poetry evening called ‘The Spoken Word’ on Tuesdays (that’s very cultural!); sod-all on Wednesdays (because everyone’s entitled to a night off!); Open Mic on Thursdays; and booked acts on Fridays and Saturdays. Previous artists at the venue include the local country-pop duo, HOLLOWAY ROAD, who are currently flying high.  As I’ve said before on this blog, I very much admire anyone who goes out of their way to promote and support local talent and live music; so, much kudos is due to everyone at Peggy Sue’s. They have a licence; and a menu for the evening, but I can’t comment on that because I didn’t try anything (apart from a pint of Bombardier which went down very nicely!)  I heard that the food is very good though.

ROB GLAZEBROOK: Blues and Rockabilly purist (Photo by PTMQ)

ROB GLAZEBROOK: Blues and Rockabilly purist (Photo by PTMQ)

Martin McNeill is the regular Monday Blues host. He’d brought two semi-acoustics with him; and was setting up as we arrived. He welcomed us warmly and introduced us to the venue’s guv’nor, Dave; and to one of his guests for the evening, ROB GLAZEBROOK. Martin is a great aficionado of slide guitar, and has even named his band BOTTLENECK BLUES. He often plays with them at THE RAILWAY HOTEL, Southend-On-Sea; but he’s equally comfortable playing a small venue like Peggy Sue’s; just with one or two friends.

Rob Glazebrook is an accomplished guitarist too (and also a guitar tutor). He is a left-handed guitarist; and a member of two groups: THE BROADKASTERS, which is a Blues band; and THE HOUSEROCKERS, a 50s Rock’n’Roll / Rockabilly outfit. Rob is something of a purist; and told us that he loves to use vintage kit – guitars, amps and mics – to get the authentic sounds of the original artists that he and his groups admire and emulate – and this is true even when writing his own material too. He brought a Tanglewood acoustic and a ’68 Les Paul Gold Top to the gig – lefties, of course.

Martin’s other guest for the night was the renown  STEVE WEST WESTON – an acknowledged master of the Blues harp. He is an occasional member of Martin’s band, Bottleneck Blues; and often plays as a guest at Peggy Sue’s, and at The Railway Hotel. He’s also recently been head-hunted for a tour with MIKE VERNON & THE MIGHTY COMBO. Looking every inch the coolest of Bluesmen in his dark shades, and clutching his precious case of harps, West was invited by Martin to join him for the first of three sets scheduled for the evening.

Tres hombre - Weston, McNeill and Glazebrook (Photo: PTMQ)

Three Bluesmen – Weston, McNeill and Glazebrook (Photo: PTMQ)

Set 1 had Martin on guitar and vocals; and Steve on harmonica and vocals: Right from the start it was clear that these two fine musicians were very used to playing together. They played an impressive set of up-beat acoustic Delta / Down Home Blues covers; nine songs in all, including the SAM COOKE Blues ballad ‘Bring It On Home To Me’; and old classics like ‘Rolled And Tumbled’; ‘I’m Just Lucky That Way’; and ‘In The Mood’. Martin’s slide-work was superb; and Steve on the harp was faultless throughout.

Set 2 was Rob’s solo guitar slot.  Seated with his Tanglewood; he shouted out ‘All aboard!’ and immediately launched into ‘Mystery Train’ – a JUNIOR PARKER song from ’53. Unfortunately, the nut on his Tanglewood broke during the number, causing the 4th-string to slip up to the 5th-string slot. Very professionally, Rob carried on regardless; tapping his feet and singing while he finger-wrestled the D-string back into place. This  achieved, he continued, but the same problem dogged him throughout his set. He ploughed on though; masterfully playing some good ol’ Blues numbers, including LIGHNING HOPKINS’ ‘Someday Baby’; and ROBERT JOHNSON’s ‘Stop Breakin’ Down’. Excellent.

Set 3 featured all three of our Bluesmen. This time, Rob armed himself with his Les Paul, and the three of them launched into a fine set of eight more Blues classics including PERCY MAYFIELD’s ‘Walkin’ On A Tight-Rope’; and JOHNNY GUITAR WATSON’s ‘3 O’clock In The Morning’. This third set was more lively too; being more towards the Rock’n’Roll end of the spectrum. The evening ended to great applause from the small but enthusiastic crowd.

I very much liked both the gig and the venue; and I’d recommend a visit if you’re into listening to the Blues classics played live in a warm and friendly little venue. Future gigs for ‘Monday Blues at Peggy Sue’s’ include: RAMON GOOSE on 9th March; Milton and Farrow on 23rd; and pianist CHRIS KIBBLE on 30th.

For Martin’s other gigs, here is a link to his website….

http://www.martinmcneill.moonfruit.com/

For info on Peggy Sue’s Piano Bar, here is a link to their Face Book page…..

https://www.facebook.com/peggysuespianobar

My thanks to all who made the evening possible. PTMQ

31. A REVIEW OF THE YEAR 2014

A couple of my friends have recently asked if I planned to do a review of 2014. I’d like to; but time as always is against me! So I just thought I’d say a few words about the year with respect to my blog. Its been quite a remarkable 11 months since I kicked off with a review of the STRAWBS gig at TOUCHLINE LIVE MUSIC here in Essex. At first, I thought no one would be interested, but I was glad to see that’s not the case. Right from the off, I had quite a few followers. That first Strawbs review has remained one of the most popular too.

I’ve met a lot of helpful and interesting people during the course of the year – not just musicians; but promoters; writers; photographers; or just knowledgeable music lovers.  Some of those musos I have been a fan of since my teens  – MICKY MOODY and MARTIN TURNER to name but two especially. Its also very flattering when some of these musicians have personally invited me to gigs and sent CDs for me to review as well.

Anyway, here are just a few thoughts and facts on my blog’s year….

MOST POPULAR BLOG was #25, MTWA at Touchline Live Music. Second was The Move at the Boom Boom Club (#15). In third place was MTWA again (blog #5); and fourth. The Micky Moody Band at Coolham (#23). I’m glad to say that these entries are still attracting new readers through search engines too.

BEST ROCK ALBUM must go to VIRGIL AND THE ACCELERATORS for their superb second studio album Army Of Three. It was very flattering to be put on the Guest List by Virgil, and to meet and interview the band before their gig at the Touchline. (Blog #26). Looking forward to seeing what VATA will be up to in the new year.

BEST ROCK GIG for me was a difficult choice. I saw fabulous performances from THE MOVE; VATA;  and the THE STRAWBS. But I’d say MTWA at The Touchline just wins by a whisker (Blog #25). Nice of Martin Turner to agree to an interview beforehand too. This coming year, so far, I plan to see FOCUS and the PINK FAIRIES.

BEST BLUES-ROCK ALBUM. Difficult! Could be LARRY MILLER’s Soldier Of The Line;  BERNIE MARSDEN’s Shine; or  LAURENCE JONES’ Temptation; but I’d choose DEBORAH BONHAM’s Spirit I think. I was hoping for an interview with her too, but she unfortunately had to cancel her gig at the Touchline due to a chest infection.

BEST BLUES ALBUM: I enjoyed JAMES ANTHONY’s Some People Get It, which he sent from Canada for me to review. (Blog #24); and MILTON ‘n’ FARROW’s Skiffleodeon – also given to me by the band to review (Blog #22). RUBY TIGER’s Vistas was excellent as was MATT ANDERSEN’s Coal Mining Blues; but I took a shine to DANA GILLESPIE’s Cat’s Meow the most.

BEST BLUES GIG is another tough choice. Great shows by COCO MONTOYA (Blog #14); MICKY MOODY BAND (Blog #23); and RUBY AND THE REVELATORS (Blog #16); but the best for me, was the very special show put on for the BOOM BOOM CLUB’s 1,000th gig; which included superb performances from OTIS GRAND; ALAN DARBY; LAURENCE JONES and THE VOODOO SHEIKHS among others (Blog #30). In 2015 I’d like to see RED BUTLER and LARRY MILLER if I can.

BEST FOLK GIG  I attended during the year was OXJAM MUSIC FESTIVAL in Exeter. A great selection of West Country folk acts in one afternoon. I was invited by my good friends in DEVONBIRD who played a wonderful little set – as did every artist present. (Blog entry #28).

BEST FOLK ALBUM in my opinion was ANGE HARDY’s The Lament Of The Black Sheep. I’m hoping to review soon (see Blog #32).  Also in 2014, I heard ADRIAN NATION’s second album Fall Or Fly, which is excellent. As for 2015, I’m looking forward to the second DEVONBIRD album which should be released in the spring – they are recording as I write. For info on Devonbird, see Blog #4.

DOWNSIDES. I had a couple of negative comments made to me during the course of the year – one due to a misreading of my blog; and one due to a certain curmudgeonly singer-songwriter who wrote unpleasant and untrue things about me – even after I gave him a good review!  I never intend to cause offence – in fact, I’ve been criticised for liking everything! Well, I do seem to! (I suppose if I didn’t like something, I wouldn’t write about it). Anyway, the vast majority of those I’ve written about; and my readers too, have been very complimentary and supportive indeed; so I didn’t loose any kip over it!

REGRETS: ‘…..I have few, but then again, too few to mention’! These surround missed gigs. I was particularly peeved at missing LARRY MILLER; and TERRY REID because I couldn’t get time off work; and DEBORAH BONHAM’s gig at the Touchline was cancelled (as I said above) due to the fact that the poor lady had a chest infection.  I hope she’s well now and will play there soon.

FUTURE PROJECTS include a review of Ange Hardy’s Black Sheep album; an article on my friend, the song-writer TONY PARTIS; and continuing to go and see as many and as varied gigs as possible. I also plan to get into the studio myself to try to record some of my own songs (for what they’re worth!). And I shall continue to support and promote my friends’ projects too.

A SAD FAREWELL to those musicians who sadly passed away in 2014:  JOHNNY WINTER (See my blog #17); JACK BRUCE; JOE COCKER; PHIL EVERLY; ACKER BILK; PETE SEEGER; BOBBY WOMACK; TOMMY RAMONE; ALVIN STARDUST; and LYNSEY DE PAUL. These luminaries will be sadly missed; but leave us a fine legacy in their work which their fans will cherish for all time. R.I.P. (My apologies if I’ve forgotten anyone).

THANKS to all those who have supported; encouraged; offered constructive criticism; advice; photos; and other pics; and generally taken the time to read my blog. Those people are too numerous to mention but they know who they are; so thank you one and all! Here’s looking forward to more of the same in 2015.

HAPPY NEW YEAR! PTMQ

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’…….