Music Review: Whitesnake: Flesh And Blood

I’ve got a bit of a soft spot for Whitesnake, for three reasons:

  1. Their 1987 version of Here I Go Again was featured on Now! That’s What I Call Music #10, the greatest compilation of all time.
  2. Their ’80s videos are completely overblown and ridiculous, with the biggest hair and shoulder pads you have ever seen, and I absolutely love them.
  3. They’re from Middlesbrough, which I find endlessly hilarious. You won’t find anyone doing somersaults on the bonnets of Jaguars around there.

As such, I thought I’d give their latest collection of rock tunes a listen!

Whitesnake - Flesh And Blood

Good To See You Again

Great upbeat bit of hairmetal to start off with, with an awesome classic sound that reminds me why rock music doesn’t need to change. Ever. Love that guitar solo!

Gonna Be Alright

This one’s slower and has a little more of a ’90s sound about it. The backing vocals give it a really nice atmosphere.

Shut Up And Kiss Me

A good classic metal riff to kick this one off, and again I really like the effect of the backing vocals!

Hey You (You Make Me Rock)

Great rock guitar opening – this one’s very ’70s, a bit glam rock in many ways.

Always And Forever

A bit more slow and melodious – this one is unashamedly a love song. A bit cheesy for me lyrically, but I do like the ongoing ’70s-esque sound!

When I Think Of You (Colour Me Blue)

Another slower, slightly march-y track – a definite rock ballad, which is very classic Whitesnake!

Trouble Is Your Middle Name

Great blues-y, brooding atmosphere on this one, with a good shout-along chorus.

Flesh And Blood

The title track is one of the slower ones on this album, with a slight country rock tinge to it.

Well I Never

Another good stadium sing-along track, and I love the atmosphere on the verses.

Heart Of Stone

The guitar riff in this is beautiful and atmospheric! I think this one is my favourite track on the album.

Get Up

Back to the upbeat hairmetal for this one. Great chorus!

After All

A surprisingly acoustic-y interlude. Not usually my kind of thing, but it’s quite a pretty tune.

Sands Of Time

A nice atmospheric Eastern-tinged backing track and almost-goth vocals. I really like this one – great way to finish the album!

Overall this is a really nice and varied collection – very enjoyable.

New Hits Friday: 14th June 2019

Eight new hits in the chart today!

Mostack and Fredo – I’m The One

Nice chilled out backing track, but the rap style is a bit harsh for my liking.

There’s no video for this one yet.

Young T, Bugsey and Aitch – Strike A Pose

I like the beat, and it is growing on me after a couple of listens.

The video is very much a ‘does what it says on the tin’ affair, with lots of underwear-clad models all posing away. It gets a point for the use of good old-fashioned film photography, plus another one for the bit at the end where the models turn the cameras on the rappers (hence providing at least a brief nod to equal-opportunity perving…I suppose?).

AJ Tracey – Ladbroke Grove

Nice upbeat backing track, and the rhythm is great.

The street sign for Ladbroke Grove does make an appearance at the start of the video, but this was definitely not filmed in London! Somewhere in north Africa, I’m guessing.

Liam Gallagher – Shockwave

This one is in the charts due to being the biggest seller on vinyl and download this week, two formats that are both in interesting states of increasing/decreasing popularity at the moment. The track is classic rock – it’s a bit generic, but I don’t care because the charts are absolutely starved for rock at the moment.

The video is very filmic and ’90s-does-’70s – in other words, it’s just like an Oasis video from the ’90s. There are flares and crappy ’70s cars everywhere, and I am all about it. Also, Liam burns down a building in a big, dramatic way, although it looks like the building is actually just a beach hut.

Avicii – Heaven

Another posthumous release from Avicii – a bit more chilled than usual. Is that Chris Martin on vocals? It’s got that Glastonbury singalong feel. (Answer: yes, as confirmed by Scott Mills after it was played. Chris Martin is uncredited for some reason.)

There’s no video for this one.

Mostack, Dave and J Hus – Stinking Rich

I like the piano on the backing track.

Again, this one doesn’t have a video at the moment.

Mabel – Mad Love

Great atmosphere on this one – I expect it’ll become a frequent earworm.

The video is a fairly standard pop video with lots of dance routines and pretty costumes. Good stuff.

Chris Brown and Drake – No Guidance

The tune’s a bit generic, but at least there is a tune.

Another one that doesn’t have a video yet.

More new hits next Friday! (Or possibly a day or so later, as Geth is back from his work trip next Friday and so we will be doing belated birthday celebrations.)

Music Video Monday: recent chart catchup

It’s been a few weeks since we caught up with recently released videos for current chart hits.

Lewis Capaldi – Hold Me While You Wait

I’m not sure if we’re going to get a more official video at some point, but this Vevo one, with Lewis singing in a library, does the trick for now. It’s a live performance, apparently, but it sounds exactly the same as the record. Keep watching and eventually they zoom out far enough for a glimpse of the piano player.

James Arthur – Falling Like The Stars

The video for this one is a fairly solemn affair about a military wife who works in a diner. There’s a happy ending though!

Skepta and Nafe Smallz – Greaze Mode

This video is really nicely filmically done, like a ’60s/’70s gangster or bank heist movie. I love retro stuff so this one has my approval.

Lewis Capaldi – Bruises

Another live performance video from Lewis Capaldi that sounds exactly like the record, although this one was actually released two years ago. The cellar setting is a bit ominous, but there’s some nice piano porn towards the end.

More music video action next week.

New Hits Friday: 24th May – 7th June 2019

I’ve got three weeks’ worth of Friday chart hits to catch up with today, as I’ve been a bit late with the chart recently due to travelling.

There were six new hits on the 24th of May.

Dominic Fike – 3 Nights

Love that reggae beat – it’s something a bit different!

The video is about a guy driving around a lot and cheating on his girlfriend (I think?). There’s also a shoebox. And a tortoise.

DJ Khaled, Chris Brown, Lil’ Wayne and Big Sean – Jealous

It sounds pretty much like every other DJ Khaled song, though I can forgive it a lot for the ‘listening to Sade’ lyric.

The video begins with an overblown cinematic bit featuring Jennifer Lopez for some reason, then when the music starts, it’s all about standing around in front of those Lamborghinis. At least it’s colourful.

Martin Garrix, Macklemore and Patrick Stump – Summer Days

Really appreciate the funk guitar on this one.

The video is a wonderfully daft story about an attractive elderly lady who dresses like she’s still twenty and hence causes everyone she meets to sweat profusely and flood cars and stuff.

Tyler The Creator – I Think

I love the atmospheric synth on the backing track – very retro-sounding.

There’s no video for this one yet.

Halsey – Nightmare

Interesting and slightly creepy recital of ‘Now I Lay Me Down To Sleep’ at the start. Following this, there’s a promising rock-sounding chorus, which is great – I just wish the verse matched it. It’s been so long since we had anything vaguely rock-sounding in the charts.

Is that ‘save me a prayer’ lyric a Duran Duran reference? I’m going to jump the gun and say YES, because everything should be a Duran Duran reference.

There’s a lot going on in the video, which is very filmic and retro and veers between rock stylings that match the song, ’90s-influenced bondage costumes, and Lady Gaga-esque ‘shocker’ imagery. Watch out for cameos from the likes of Cara Delevigne and Debbie Harry.

Tyler The Creator – Earfquake

I find the lyrics to this one a bit irritating, but the backing track is nice and retro.

The video is utterly surreal, with Tyler setting himself on fire while performing, and then he turns out to be a fireman as well, and then… However, it’s set in the world of a 1970s chat show, so I’m all about it.

There were also six new hits on the 31st of May.

Sigala and Becky Hill – Wish You Well

It’s very ’90s influenced, like most dance music is at the moment. Nice tune.

Again, there’s no video yet.

Jess Glynne and Jax Jones – One Touch

I like the bleepy backing track – again the ’90s dance influence is strong here – but the vocal melody is a bit dull.

No video for this one either.

5 Seconds Of Summer – Easier

5SOS seem to be completely divorced from their rock roots now. This is squeaky, annoying, and generic.

They’re still apparently playing their instruments in the video though. Why can I not hear those instruments in the song? Anyway, it’s set in a cave system, apart from when there’s a ‘walking through hallways while pictures on the wall catch fire’ sequence.

Young Thug, J Cole and Travis Scott – The London

I like some of the instrumentals on the backing track, but otherwise it’s a little repetitive for me.

There’s no video yet.

NSG – OT Bop

Great beat, but I’d prefer a bit more melody.

There is a lot of car-standing in this video, but I’m quite fond of the daft dance routines that are going on.

Ed Sheeran and Chance The Rapper – Cross Me

Love that synth line in the background.

Another one that doesn’t have a video as of yet.

Yet another six hits on the 7th of June. There’s a bit of a pattern to the chart at the moment!

Skepta – Bullet From A Gun

Not enough going on in this track melody-wise for me, but the lyrics are great.

I really like the video, which is just Skepta sitting on a bench in Camden Town tube station while the world goes by. Don’t think I’ve ever seen Camden Town so un-busy, mind!

Miley Cyrus – Mother’s Daughter

Good atmosphere, but the tune’s a bit forgettable. I have the feeling it’ll grow on me though.

The video’s not out yet.

Lewis Capaldi – Bruises

Another pretty piano ballad from Lewis Capaldi. Lovely atmosphere.

No official video for this one right now.

Mostack and Stormzy – Shine Girl

Nice summery rhythm to this one.

The video is a nice straightforward ‘does what it says on the tin’ affair, with Mostack and Stormzy just chilling with their girlfriends round the house.

Skepta and J Hus – What Do You Mean

I like the eerie instrumentals in the background.

We’re still waiting for the video.

Katy Perry – Never Really Over

I find the tune to this fairly dull.

The video is colourful, cartoony, and a bit daft – a textbook Katy Perry video, in other words.

More new hits next week (I will definitely be on time with them because I’ve got a nice quiet week ahead of me!).

Gig Review: Martin Kemp DJ Set at Wylam Brewery, 26th May 2019

Spandau Ballet are having a bit of a quiet period at the moment. Following Tony Hadley’s departure, they did do some gigs with Ross William Wild as frontman, but it’s just been announced that he’s leaving the band, so…not sure when we’ll next get a Spandau tour, or who’ll be singing (Shapers of the ’80s have a rather bleak take on things here). However, it does mean that the individual members currently have free time to pursue their own projects – and in Martin Kemp’s case, that means touring up and down the UK with a hits-laden ‘Back to the ’80s’ DJ set! I am all about this kind of thing, so I bought tickets to the Newcastle event as soon as they went on sale.

The set was bookended by warmup and afterparty sets from the resident Wylam Brewery DJ, Tommy, so there were already some good ’80s tunes going when Geth and I walked into the venue. The main set didn’t start until ninety minutes after doors, so I had plenty of time to settle in and drink lots of Fentimans Rose Lemonade.

Martin Kemp DJ set
Martin Kemp, getting the party started.

Once the set did get going, it was pretty much a non-stop singalong and a great night out! The music tended towards ‘cheesy ’80s’ rather than ‘synthy ’80s’, but I knew every word (unlike some of the people there who were clearly a bit older than me and should have been able to remember the music properly – sort it out and learn the second half of the When Will I Be Famous chorus!) and I had a hoarse voice and sore feet by the end of the night.

As was predicted and welcome, Martin finished with Spandau Ballet’s Gold. Well, not quite, as we then got a bonus track: the Proclaimers’ I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles). I love the Proclaimers and consider I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles) to be the unofficial Scottish national anthem (it’s a far better choice than the problematic Flower Of Scotland and the dirge-like Scotland The Brave). However, I can’t stand it being sung by a roomful of drunk people because EVERYBODY gets it wrong – there is no ‘da da la da’ chant after the first chorus, it just goes straight into the second verse, but everybody starts singing the ‘da da la da’ bit anyway and it DRIVES ME UP THE WALL. When it was played on Sunday night, even Martin got it wrong! You’d think that if he finishes with that song every time he does a DJ set, he’d get it right!

Anyway, apart from people not having done their ’80s singalong homework, it was the best night out I’d had all year. I’d been worried that my singing-along-and-dancing days were over after I quit drinking (I actually covered this subject in one of the poems I performed last Wednesday, as it’s really been playing on my mind), as I was always so self-conscious about it without a drink in me. However, I really felt able to let go on Sunday, so I’m feeling a bit more positive about future nights out now. The power of ’80s pop!

Martin Kemp is playing Wylam Brewery again on the 31st of October, so I think that might be my Hallowe’en night out sorted for this year!

Updated Band Aid baby bucket list progress: song artists 5/37 (13.5%); message artists 2/7 (28.6%); total artists 7/44 (15.9%).

Music Video Monday: Spandau Ballet: Gold

As I mentioned yesterday, I went to see Martin Kemp’s DJ set at Wylam Brewery last night (show reviewed here). I then listened to his bank holiday show about the New Romantic scene on Radio 2 this afternoon. On both occasions, he finished with Gold, which was (a) absolutely expected and (b) a consequent earworm for the rest of the day.

The song was one of my early loves when I first got into ’80s nostalgia in the ’90s, but the video makes it even better, despite the fact that its attempt at a narrative is typically daft.

It’s about trying to solve a jigsaw puzzle made out of gold. I think? Anyway, at the start of the video, a woman’s hand is shown stealing one of the pieces, making the jigsaw frustratingly unfinishable for everyone else.

Spandau Ballet - Gold

The video then follows Tony Hadley, who has heroically taken it upon himself to track down the stolen puzzle piece, roaming around somewhere in north Africa in search of his objective. There are a lot of sharp suits and sunglasses in this video.

Spandau Ballet - Gold

He occasionally catches glimpses of a gold-painted woman, presumably the gold lover who stole the puzzle piece. The gold lady was played by Sadie Frost, who was later married to Spandau bandleader Gary Kemp.

Spandau Ballet - Gold

There is a really annoying jump cut around the 1:20 mark – it’s meant to be a seamless blending of shots of a guitar, giving the effect of the background changing behind the instrument, but it really doesn’t work – largely because the two guitars are lit so differently! Maybe this one should be classed as ‘the best they could do in 1983’.

Spandau Ballet - Gold
Guitar one…
Spandau Ballet - Gold
…and guitar two, which appears to be a much warmer colour!

The video ends in a way that is possibly meant to be an homage to Goldfinger (it’s not very clear), with Tony finding the gold-painted lady apparently dead from the paint (a murder method that has been debunked, incidentally). He morbidly places her gold pendant on her body and takes back the puzzle piece she stole.

Spandau Ballet - Gold

The video finishes with Tony completing the jigsaw puzzle. A happy ending!

Watch the full video:

Music Video Monday: The Midnight: Days Of Thunder

I was going to do a ‘recent chart catchup’ for Music Video Monday today, but there haven’t been any catchup videos released for current chart hits in the last few weeks, so I’m going to go with another synthwave video instead. Geth and I have been getting into synthwave in a big way and so we’re watching a lot of playlists on YouTube. There have been some really brilliant videos made specially for the songs (such as the Gunship video I featured a couple of weeks ago), but I’ve also got a soft spot for the early makeshift attempts that are more like fanvids, such as this offering for the Midnight’s 2014 track Days Of Thunder.

The video is a lovely dreamy collage of clips from American ’80s car ads. As I was dream car shopping for about a month until I bought my Skoda last week, I’ve been really enjoying this one lately! The adverts used are brilliant and are encouraging me to track down more of the same type online. It’s probably for the best that I don’t have that much free time at the moment.

I am presuming the title of the song is a reference to the 1990 film. However, Geth keeps singing it as ‘Days Of Wonder’ (Days Of Wonder is a boardgame company).

Despite all the awesome cars, though, the highlight of the video is this guy’s 1980 moustache:

The Midnight - Days Of Thunder

Once upon a time, this was the height of style.

More music video discussion next week!

Music Review: Howard Jones: Transform

This new offering from Howard Jones came out last week. I’m a little gutted that I won’t be able to catch him on tour this month (his Newcastle gig clashes with the UK Games Expo), but at least I’ve got the new album to explore.

Howard Jones - Transform

The One To Love You

We open with some chilled-out synth lines, and with that vocal I’m taken straight back to the classic hits of the ’80s! This is highly playlist-worthy and a great opener for the album. Lovely bit of piano at the end too.

Take Us Higher

A slightly more modern electro sound to this one, with the instrumentals a bit reminiscent of ’90s videogames. Very danceable.

Beating Mr Neg

This one is slightly more chilled out on the verses before launching into a nice big ’80s pop chorus, then goes all melancholy and pretty towards the end.

Transform

Lovely dreamy synthscapes on this one, and the beat is fantastic – I can’t stop chair-dancing!

Hero In Your Eyes

We’re back to the slightly videogame/8-bit feel, with a nice classic pop vocal over the top.

Tin Man Song

Some great jangly, slightly jazzy synth lines on this track, which has a lovely soulful feel to it.

At The Speed Of Love

We slow right down for a pretty synth ballad. Gorgeous tune!

Eagle Will Fly Again

Great atmosphere on this one – there’s a slightly ominous tension to the synth lines, and then another big pop chorus.

Mother

Another pretty ballad, this time with lots of piano and an epic, sweeping feel.

Stay With Me

The album closer is a funky, upbeat dance track with a bit of a ’90s feel. It feels a little jarring after the preceding super-slow ballad, but it’s a great tune.

Well, after listening to the album, I’m even more disappointed that I can’t go and see Howard Jones live this time around. I’ll just have to hope that he tours again soon!

Music Review: Bananarama: In Stereo

I’m about three weeks late with this review as I’ve just not had a chance to listen until now, but Bananarama’s new album has been worth the wait!

Bananarama - In Stereo

Love In Stereo

We open with a gorgeous synth line that just dropped out of the ’80s, coupled with an upbeat vocal. Very danceable!

Dance Music

The electro line in this one sounds very ‘videogame’, and the atmosphere is jazzy and cool. It reminds me a bit of the Moloko/Goldfrapp type stuff from the early ’00s.

I’m On Fire

Great epic atmosphere on this one, especially on the chorus, and it’s another one with a good beat for dancing.

Intoxicated

Nice funk sound on this track, and the vocals are super ’80s! One for my regular playlist.

Tonight

A slightly slower track, with the vocals being noticeably more chilled out, but it’s still got a great beat.

Looking For Someone

This one is interesting – it has slightly more of a ’90s indie sound, but the tune is still very classic pop.

Stuff Like That

I listened to this one a couple of months ago when I featured the video for Music Video Monday. Still loving the shameless ’80s vibes on the track!

It’s Gonna Be Alright

I really love the atmosphere on this one – the synth line is gorgeous.

Got To Get Away

This one is more guitar-driven – in a slightly acoustic-y way sometimes, so it’s not quite as much my thing, but it’s still a good tune.

On Your Own

Lovely epic atmosphere on this slower, chilled out track (and I love the hint of Spanish guitar!). Great tune to close with.

Overall this is a really solid, cracking album. There’s a bit more harmony in Sara and Keren’s vocals than there used to be, but it still sounds very classic Bananarama – most of the tracks sound straight out of their ’80s heyday, which is no bad thing as far as I’m concerned. Hoping to see a few more videos for these songs soon!