Whap Music WW0012
Firstly, yes I know Stew but probably not as well as most people who review MoM CD’s. Secondly I have promised Stew I will be totally honest. So here goes.
MMS is an eclectic album. It feels like a show case or a live album without an audience.
*Spoiler Alert* I was surprised that it started with a spoken word track. Stew, being part actor as well everything else, has a beautiful, rhythmic voice for recitation with his lovely Geordie lilt.
On the whole I think I prefer the unaccompanied tracks. This might be because as a ‘raw’ semi- live album the guitar feels a bit too far forward. When I went into the next room, the vocal travelled futher and I thought that improved the balance.
Fangle Dooble Doozer, another spoken word track, made me laugh out loud.
This is an album I will continue to listen to and will discover more of the lyrics with that repeated listening. I haven’t mentioned them here as I think there is more to them than I can do justice to on so few listens.
So far Ee Aw Ah Cud Hew, one of the few tracks not written by Stew, is my favourite. It’s a strong, passionate vocal and a beautiful tone.
And yes, I’m very much looking forward to seeing Stew at MoM, solo and with Hadrian’s Union. He’s a great performer with a beautiful voice – and rather natty outfits. What more do you want!
Tony Hendry - Living Tradition
This is a debut solo album from Stew Simpson, the exuberant front man of Hadrian’s Union. Nicely produced by Saul Rose, it is stripped back and intimate, with Stew singing unaccompanied or backing himself on acoustic guitar.
Stew is a proud Geordie. The unaccompanied songs come mostly from the North East’s mining heritage: Benny Graham’s Have A Game For The Crack, Dave Mountford’s Big Hewer, Tommy Armstrong’s Trimdon Grange and Ed Pickford’s Ee Aw Ah Cud Hew. The last, in particular, demands a powerful voice and Stew handles it confidently. You hear that raw power again on Where Did You Sleep Last Night, based on Nirvana’s version of the enigmatic traditional song popularised by Leadbelly.
The six self-written songs show a very different side of Stew’s talents. They are tender and personal, sometimes elusive, with strong melodies which stick like chuddy on pavements. 1994, about growing up in Newcastle, stands out for me. Voice Of The People is his tribute to Roy Bailey, though it’s not too obvious. Stew lets the songs speak for themselves, but I’d have loved some liner notes to give some background on his choices.
With two of his surrealist poems thrown in for good measure, this 43-minute album is an unusual mixture. Too much variety? Maybe, but Stew wins me over not just with his skills, but with the warmth of his delivery. He’s an engaging live performer, too, and definitely worth catching somewhere down the road.
Stew has made his name as an accomplished artist, actor and solo artist as well as the front man for folk rockers Hadrian's Union.
His solo album, 'Milk Man Son' is an eclectic mix of singing, guitar and poetry with a unique Geordie twist bringing richness to this creative triumph.
Starting with the poetically abstract 'An Eyeball In My Dragon Soup ' Stew takes your imagination on a bit of an unusual adventure, leading you on to the first of his musical tracks, the nostalgic '1994' which is a treat for the ears.
My personal highlights were 'Be In The Now' which I have been humming daily since hearing it, with 'Nu Clear Action' following as a close second.
After a real rollercoaster of emotions Stew brings the journey to an end with a superb rendition of 'Where Did You Sleep Last Night'.
Overall 'Milk Man Son' shows off Stew's creativite prowess in song writing, poetry and of course the individual artwork available with the limited edition version of the album.
Toe tapping goodness, thought provoking songs, abstract poetry with a splash of humour thrown in to the mix, this album has it all.
I first came across the Baghdaddies when they appeared at the first Music on the Marr in 2009 (those halcyon pre Coalition, pre referendum days !). I can still see their performance- a group of suit clad (apart from the lead singer who wore what appeared to be a fez and Balkan folk costume) Geordies pogo-ing round the stage to a cacophony of musical sunshine. I remember smiling throughout. So, I was really delighted that Newcastle’s wackiest (surely they must be) band was returning to Music on the Marr this year. I jumped at the chance to provide a review of their BykeRumba CD in exchange for my very own copy of said CD.
The CD case was unsurprisingly zany with pictures of the band in baths, very inebriated (apologies to the band if I have misunderstood this) and a picture of one of the band’s granny outside her Newcastle Quayside terrace, before it became a smart place to drinkand eat.
The music didn’t disappoint. It was fun, high energy, diverse in genre and just really great. There appeared to me to be jazz, rap, folk, klezmer and many more influences. Given the title of the album I assume there was some Rumba in there somewhere. The lyrics were surprising dark- ‘we must bear arms for the fear of death’, ‘so many lives gone’ etc, etc, - seemingly at odds with the feel good music. Perhaps there was an intended irony.
My favourite track was ‘Care for your People’ which had a great driving rhythm which even had me (the bloke that never dances) moving to the music (when on my own).
The finals lines on the album give the Baghdaddies’ answer to the ills of the world- ‘Drink swamp-root and river tonic/ A tincture of Be-ezlebub for you’
With apologies to John Crace (Guardian political sketch writer)
• Digested review- happy eclectic musical madness
• Digested review digested- FUN
Oh my goodness … what a wonderfully refreshing treat to be introduced to the music from Tide Lines! I confess that after hearing the band on Momcast#1 immediately downloaded an album – that’s how strongly and quickly their sound resonated for me. The last time I had such a response was with Merry Hell, and I’ve had so much pleasure from their offerings that it leads be to believe Tidelines will be a similarly life enhancing addition.
I found all the tracks had their own character yet drew from some shared themes that could vividly connect with memories and feelings of teenage summers, lost love and yearning. The masculinity of the vocals brings immense sensuality to the declarations that will, I am sure, enflame some beating hearts on the Marr dance floor. Talking of dancing, you will not want to miss The Far Side of The World which is a great live recording on the CD. I think this track particularly appeals to me with that Highland dance sound that some girls just can’t pass up. It’s also a little slower than Streets of Dreamers that has a very sad storyline but delivered to a fast pounding energy. I loved the lyrics to ‘The Rising Moon’ along with a dance manageable marching beat. I’m sure it would be a great track for a work out.
There is so much energy and passion in all of the tracks. It feels that every sentiment and each lyric has been skilfully woven together – there is a poetic form to the words that does not in any way sound forced, but is exactly the way it just needs to be. The quality of the musicianship didn’t cross my mind – they just ARE. And fabulous. I’m neither musician nor poet, and feeling a tad out of my depth. I can report that my favourite (for now) is Watch The Stars and looking forward to the community sway. This song has an almost spiritual feel for me, in the tradition of ‘the’ song at a concert that everyone knows, or an anthem at a crowd event which creates that wonderful coming together of human spirits.
Tidelines music makes me want to tap my foot and tap my hand, to party, to sing out loud and to be danced in the arms of a man from over the Border. This is definitely not a gig for musical passengers and I dare you not to dance!
Ahhh – may need to give a health warning about ear worms. They are very catchy.
One summer afternoon in the early years of the Con / Dem Governance of these islands, I met keyboardist David "Shrub" Atherton at Victoria station in Manchester. David told me how he played keyboards for the Tansads before they split up, he also mentioned that a new band of ex Tansads were being formed and that I should look out for Merry Hell.
With such a wonderful name I had to look out for Merry Hell, since then I have enjoyed their four studio albums and numerous live shows, including their 2015 appearance at Music on the Marr.
Anthems to the Wind is a live recording of the mainly acoustic six-piece Merry Hell band, it was recorded at Bunbury Village Hall and the Lion Saltworks in Nantwich Cheshire. The twelve songs on the recording span the four studio album career of the band and make an excellent introduction to their music for newcomers to the down to earth humanitarian beauty of Merry Hell. Having said that, this live recording also has much to offer the long-standing dweller in the upbeat, glass half full plus a dram world of Merry Hell.
Anyone attending the band's show at Music on the Marr 2019 will walk out of the Marquee with a big smile on their face and a desire to keep that experience alive within themselves as they head home and go about their day to day lives.
From the first notes on fiddle, guitar and banjo of the Banshee Reel that take us into Drunken Serenade, Anthems to the Wind is a feast of good, honest songwriting, singing and musicianship. Andrew Kettle and Virginia Kettle sing lead vocals with sincere voices of quality and originality. There is no mediocrity here, Drunken Serenade, My Finest Hour, No Place Like Tomorrow, Over the Border, Loving the Skin You’re In, This Time, Lean on Me Love, The Butcher and the Vegan, The War Between Ourselves, Fear of Falling, Leave a Light on and finally finishing off with the old Tansads song Satisfied, every song is top class and will grow on you with each spin of the disk.
This is my first ever review, I have found it difficult as music is magic and to be heard and felt, it goes in through the ears and works its wonders in the head and the heart. Thank you for reading so far but please get yourself into the marquee, experience Merry Hell's songs and music live. If you want to take a little bit of Merry Hell home with you I would heartily recommend Anthems to the Wind.
Dominique and Rory Ogilvy
A wide spectrum of traditional and contemporary music in the Scottish idiom compose by musicians from across Scotland and as far as Cape Breton played by the massively talented group Blazin’ Fiddles from mainland Scotland, Orkney and Shetland.
For those who inherited or have acquired roots in the North East it will be particularly pleasing to find James Hill’s ‘The Beeswing’ and the legendary Shetland fiddler Tom Anderson is represented with ‘Violet Tulloch’s Hornpipe’.
For the uninitiated it is always a mystery how fiddle tunes acquire names so it come s as no particular surprise that ‘Double Rise’ was inspired by Phil Cunningham’s penchant for clay pigeon shooting!
For an energetic set of reels we could ask for no better than ’Break the Light’ as an opening set. For more reflective mood Ivan Drever’s ‘The Rose of St Magnus’ has been delightfully arranged and presented by Orcadian Kristan Harvey and Angus Lyon.
Those interested in the more technical aspects of playing fiddle music will find plenty of examples of ’burling’, that unbelievably fast repletion of triplets that so characterises much of Scotland’s fiddle tradition.
‘The Key’ is definitely a CD to add to the collection for those already familiar with Scottish fiddle music or for those discovering the Scottish style of playing for the first time.