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Mott the Dog
 

September 22, 2018 - September 28, 2018

The Room: ‘Beyond the Gates of Bedlam’

 

Martin Wilson.

Steve Anderson.

It is a joy to see there are still proper rock bands coming through in these days of music business industry change. The Room are one such band - shining a light and showing the way.

The group was formed in 2010 by Martin Wilson, without doubt one of the best progressive rock vocalists around. Martin is a veteran of the rock business, having been a founding member of the excellent neo-progressive rock band Grey Lady Down and singing on all four of their splendid studio albums and two live albums. But after ten years (1992-2002) of excellent music and hard slog, Grey Lady Down was finally put to rest, mainly due to a lot of the band members being under different personnel pressures, not their love of the music.

To have a vocalist of Martin Wilson’s quality not working in a band was a tragedy. Fortunately in 2010 a meeting took place between Wilson and Andy Rowe and plans were made and strategies worked out. Steve Anderson the lead guitarist from Grey Lady Down was quickly taken into the fold along with young keyboard player Steve Checkley, fitting in perfectly with his symphonic keyboard leanings. Andrew Rae, a childhood friend of Martin Wilson, was brought in to lend a classy hand to the drum stool.

Magical sparks immediately started firing and songs were written. Obviously with two ex-members of Grey Lady Down in the band there are comparisons, but then it would be very disappointing if there weren’t.

2012 saw the release of their debut album “Open Fire”, chock full of energetic progressive rock songs and excellent musicianship. Sadly in 2013 Andrew Rae had to put down the drum sticks due to tinnitus. A replacement had to be found and Chris York secured the position. York is an excellent drummer and not to be messed with as he is also a Tae Kwon Do instructor.

The next album, “Beyond the Gates of Bedlam”, was released in 2015 and this is where The Room really hit their stride.

Doing the job of frontman, Martin Wilson’s vocals dominate proceedings and bring dramatic phrasing to the stories with wonderful vibrato in his singing. This is beautifully illustrated in the opening song “Carrie” and also “My Friend Jack”.

But this is no solo band and the keyboards are classic and full of frantic chords, played with intensity and atmosphere that guides all the songs along their many different paths, best emphasized on “Full Circle”.

“As Crazy As It Seems” is as near to a power ballad as The Room get, but it also allows Steve Anderson to show off his axe chops. The rhythm section as usual does not perhaps get the credit it deserves, but it’s behind every great band.

The Room are now signed to Bad Elephant Music and there is a third album on the way as well as multiple festival appearances coming up, so hopefully 2018-2019 will be the time The Room take over. They certainly deserve it.

Anybody who likes classic Genesis or Marillion will enjoy The Room and the new lick of paint they give to melodic progressive rock with fine body.

Mott the Dog Rating: 5 Stars

The Room:

Martin Wilson - vocals

Steve Anderson - guitar

Chris York - drums

Steve Chickley - keyboards

Andy Rowe - bass guitar

Track List:

Carrie

Full Circle

My Friend Jack

As Crazy As It Seems

She Smiles

The Book

Masquerade

Splinter

The Hunter

Bedlam

Note: Written By Mott The Dog from the gates of Jameson’s The Irish Pub, Soi AR, North Pattaya.


September 15, 2018 - September 21, 2018

Gong: ‘Flying Teapot’

Daevid Allen in 1974.

Possibly the most extraordinary band you will ever come across, Gong were originally formed in 1967 in Paris by Australian multi-instrumentalist Daevid Allen and the wonderful but mad English vocalist Gilli Smyth. Of course this is all irrelevant as they both really descended upon the planet Earth with a band of pixies from the planet Gong.

The first two albums were released and made little impact but then they ventured forth with the first part of the Radio Gnome trilogy, “Flying Teapot”. The lineup of the band was not stable for the recording of this album, but then it never was. In all, 53 musicians have been fully fledged members of Gong and in Wikipedia the members even have their own page (sadly most of them have now passed on and returned to the planet Gong.)

Many talented musicians have lent their talents to the making of Gong music and listening to it is always a worthwhile experience, just certain precautions have to be taken first. Firstly, all children and those of sensitive natures should be sent away and those without a sense of humor should also be banished, and of course, the wearing of silver foil hats is a must.

The story of the Radio Gnome trilogy starts off on “Flying Teapot”, telling us the story of our heroes, Zero The Hero and the good witch Yoni (beware, she is not good in the Walt Disney sense of good witches but she is very adept at certain things though) and joining them are their helpful pixies.

Now, if you’re not already confused, there have been two versions of this album released with different track listings and various edits (sacrilege to the avid fan). For the sake of confusion we will stick with the original which was released on the same day as Mike Oldfield’s “Tubular Bells” on the new Richard Branson label Virgin, although it perhaps did not have the same impact, well at least on this planet anyway.

The first track “Radio Gnome Invisible” starts off with a bit of Gong speak before the song comes bouncing in supported by keyboards, guitar, drums and babble (babble consists, of hippie talk, Gong, Spanish, French and other dialects.) But even if you get it, you are lost as it whisks you from one part of the story to the next. Where the story is leading is never really made clear. I suppose that is half the fun - you can make it up yourself.

The album bounces along from track to sonic track. If you thought Hawkwind was space/rock think again. By the time it gets to the last two tracks it is clear why Yoni is a good witch (this bit does not leave much to your imagination).

The trilogy continued with “Angels Egg” in 1973 and “You” in 1974, after which both Allen and Smyth departed and left the others to carry on (Allen and Smyth would occasionally form other bands like Mother Gong).

Gong as a band are still going strong after over 50 years and released a rather good album called “Rejoice! I’m Dead” in 2016. They also appeared at The New Day Festival last month in Faversham, Kent, England.

Mott the Dog rating: 5 Stars.

Gong on this album:

Daevid Allen - lots of instruments & throat music

Gilli Smyth - purrs, growls and howls

Tim Blake - keyboards

Steve Hillage - guitar

Didier Malherbe - sax and flute

Francis Moze - bass guitar

Laurie Allan - drums

Track List:

Radio Gnome Invisible

Flying Teapot

The Pot Head Pixies

The Octave Doctors & the Crystal Machine

Zero The Hero & The Witch’s Spell

Witch’s Song

Note: Written by Mott The Dog and The Pixies at Jameson’s, The Irish Pub, Soi AR , North Pattaya.


September 8, 2018 - September 14, 2018

Kindred Spirit: ‘Phoenix Rising’

Kindred Spirit.

Kindred Spirit have been going in one form or another for more than ten years, so they are not exactly an overnight sensation, but they have paid their collective dues and now seem to be on the verge of breaking into the ‘big time’. They made various appearances at large festivals all over Europe in 2017 and this latest album, “Phoenix Rising”, their sixth, is a culmination of hard work and a burning desire to make an impact.

The band are led by the incredibly talented Elaine Samuels who has a hand in writing all the songs as well as singing lead vocals and driving the band along on acoustic guitar. Her voice soars above the instruments in the band, sometimes with joy and at others with a haunting quiver.

Now that the line-up of the band has become more solidified, the individual members can all show their musical armory. The violin parts on “Phoenix Rising” were recorded by Gavin Jones, but since then his place has been taken by the latest member of the band, Martin Ash, whose fiddle playing either leads itself to the rhythm of the song or roars away, soloing to the very devil himself.

Catherine Dimmock’s talent on flute and saxophone is not to be underestimated and acts as a perfect foil to the violin, leading to many exciting and well constructed battles between them. Dimmock’s backing vocals also give the sound an extra dimension and when she is not available, Emily Nash seamlessly steps into the musical space.

The driving rhythm section combines the bustling bass guitar runs of Mike Hislop and the drumming of legendary skins man Les Binks (ex-Judas Priest). Now this is a line-up to be reckoned with and surely there will be no stopping this band.

The music on the album, although each track follows a similar vein, is eclectic enough to give plenty of variety. From the poppy styling of “Life is a Circus” to the renaissance feeling of final track on the album, “The Phoenix”, where the violin flies off in all directions at once, the harmonies are quite beautiful. There is a wonderful cover of America’s “Horse with No Name” plus a downright hard rocker with “Feed The Fire” while the reelin’ and a rockin’ get given full reign in the aptly titled “Drunken Landlady”.

The album is excellently produced by Jez Larder and the songs are played with a driving force that is required to bring the band success, with the musical expertise shining through on all the instruments.

Of course there are comparisons to other bands, most notably to these ears to Curved Air and Jethro Tull, but that does not mean that Kindred Spirit do not have their own unique sound, as indeed they do. I am sure that with their upwards journey to fame and fortune set as it is, 2018 will be the big breakthrough year these talented musicians.

Mott the Dog rating: 5 Stars.

Kindred Spirit:

Elaine Samuels - vocals and acoustic guitar

Gavin Jones/Martin Ash - violin

Catherine Dimmock (or Emily Nash) – flute and saxophone, vocals

Mike Hislop - bass guitar and vocals

Les Binks – drums

Track List:

Kindred Spirit

Life is a Circus

Wolves at the Gate

Let’s Be Happy

It’s Not Too Late

Horse With No Name

Drunken Landlady

Feed The Fire

Beautiful Day

Let the Music Set You Free

Children Of The Stars

The Phoenix

Note: Written by Mott The Dog who can often be found chewing a bone at Jameson’s The Irish Pub on Soi AR, Northern Pattaya.


HEADLINES [click on headline to view story]:

The Room: ‘Beyond the Gates of Bedlam’

Gong: ‘Flying Teapot’

Kindred Spirit: ‘Phoenix Rising’