Sally Beamish has matured into one of our most talented and original composers within a remarkably short period of time. It is amazing to think that until around 1990 she devoted most of her time to a career as a freelance violist, although she had in fact been composing since the age of four. The turning point was the birth of her first child, the theft of her viola and her husband, the cellist Robert Irvine, returning from a spell of work in Scotland with the news that there were opportunities north of the border and that they should consider making a move. The move was subsequently made and it turned out ………Christopher Thomas @ musicweb-international.com
All six of the albums Hanoi Rocks made in their original incarnation – Bangkok Shocks, Saigon Shakes, Hanoi Rocks, Oriental Beat, Self Destruction Blues, Back to the Mystery City, Two Steps from the Move, and All Those Wasted Years – are packaged together, one album to one CD, in this straightforward six-CD set. There are no extras, just the albums as they were originally released, though there's a 12-page booklet with a solid history of the band and numerous (if small) reproductions of sleeves from their original releases. It's too much at once even for many fans, but for the more dedicated of that lot, it's a handy encapsulation of their primary recorded work. Hearing all of it does make it clear that, although they're often classified as a heavy metal band, they might be more accurately pegged as a hard rock band with substantial traces of glam and pop (and even some bar band blues-rock) along with the metal.
Hymn Binding has a musty scent that rises up from its ink-stained pages (or inky bars of music) once opened, but it has an inner strength, and an inner resolve, in spite of its age-old music. Solemn strings openly roam through its shadowy tracks, searching for something lost – they have known heartache and the desperate tug of despair – but the ill-light only deepens their disappointment as the unfulfilled strings return home with empty hands. Aged piano melodies perform a melodic ballet beside the strings, and occasionally a clearer electric guitar will cut through the low, overcast clouds. From The Mouth of the Sun’s third album – and their first for the excellent American label, Lost Tribe Sound – has a gloomy, mournful air to it, but its music weakly stands up to the slow freefall of gradual decline. Systems are failing. Everything looks to be crumbling, fencing the music in, but its rust still darkly gleams. The piano is dusty and creaking, but wise, and the strings seek them out.
Although vintage British psychedelia is viewed by many these days as an Alice In Wonderland-style enchanted garden full of beatific flower children innocently gathering flowers or chasing butterflies, there was always a more visceral element to the scene. Pointedly free of such fripperies as scarlet tunic-wearing gnomes, phenomenal cats and talismanic bicycles, the power trio format that was popularised by the likes of Cream and the Jimi Hendrix Experience spawned a host of imitators. As the Sixties drew to a close and pop evolved slowly but inexorably into rock, psychedelia gave way to a sound that was harder, leaner, heavier, louder.
It goes without saying that 1968 doesn't have the same kind of cachet as 1967 - a year that, in musical terms, will always be indelibly associated with the Summer of Love, Sgt Pepper and the emergence of psychedelia. But although the major players turned away from the excesses of the previous year in favour of a back-to-basics musical approach, there were arguably a greater number of psychedelic records made in 1968 than during the preceding twelve months. Vital, lysergically-inclined 45s emerged from a whole host of younger groups, with The Factory, Mike Stuart Span, Fleur de Lys, The Fire, The Barrier, Boeing Duveen, Rupert's People and numerous others all releasing singles that have long been widely regarded by psychedelic collectors as genre classics.