Russell Reviews

Mar 2020 Russell Reviews

REVIEWS BY Russell Newmark

More tracks on The Beatles

Book: On Track… The Solo Beatles 1969-1980
By Andrew Wild
Sonic Bond Publishing,
£14.99 160 pages

It was inevitable that, after the Fab Four split up, the individual components would forever have their subsequent activities reported with the words ‘ex-Beatle’ in attendance.
This comprehensive paperback guide documents all the studio endeavours by Messrs Lennon, McCartney, Harrison and Starr in the 10 years up to 1980 – a decade they spent trying to emerge from the vast shadow of their collective past.
It logs their respective albums, singles and ‘other contemporary songs’, with succinct descriptions of all the tracks in their various catalogues. It also carries information such as recording and release dates, chart placings, and the names of the accompanying participants – involving a number of long-term associations, and others a lot more fleeting.
Author Andrew Wild is definitely not averse to venture an artistic opinion, favourable or otherwise. The reader will certainly find he’s not a big fan of Yoko Ono.


Brilliant icon Brel

CD: Scott Walker –
Meets Jacques Brel
Ace Records

No matter how well they were getting on at any given time, the Walker Brothers were only a fictitious fraternity. They weren’t related, and none of them was called Walker.
The ‘Walker brother’ known as Scott proved to be the most enigmatic one – strikingly singular in his attitude, and with a predilection for endeavours that lay outside the pop mainstream.
After the bogus siblings parted company, Scott’s first three solo albums – the imaginatively titled ‘Scott’, ‘Scott 2’, and ‘Scott 3’ – each carried a trio of compositions by the Belgian troubadour-raconteur Jacques Brel, which were radical features on the music landscape.
Brel had become an icon in France but exuded sophisticated Gallic cool far beyond the country’s borders – with his legendary status assured when Walker and his associates seized upon his ambitious artistry and turned it into something else.
The singer was a committed admirer determined to spread the word, despite Brel’s highly unusual and apparently non-commercial approach to subject matter.
And the dashing tour de force ‘Jackie’ – a very minor hit in 1967 – exemplified Walker’s direction in a melodramatically intense, impassioned and dynamic performance.
A potent combination recurred on the Brel tracks across the Scott Walker LPs; translations largely by the great American songwriter Mort Shuman, sensational arrangements mainly by Wally Stott and Reg Guest, the contributions of a raft of hugely talented instrumentalists – and on top of it all, the baritone gravitas and portentous ‘doom’ voice of Scott himself.
This is a fascinating CD that resounds with the exciting drama of Walker’s Jacques Brel adaptations – then presents Brel’s own orchestrated and vibrant ‘originals’ in exactly the same order. It runs for more than an hour and classily celebrates Walker, Brel and the songs themselves – as does the 26-page illustrated booklet that’s part of the package.


Innovative but chaotic life

Wienerworld/Cleopatra Records: CLO 1408 (Blu-Ray/DVD + CD Set)

I only saw Steve Marriott once, in a church crypt on a ‘Crazy Sunday Afternoon’ in the week ahead of The Small Faces having their debut hit ‘Whatcha Gonna Do About It’, but it was clear back then that, behind the cheeky persona was a musician who dominated the stage from the moment they started.
‘HUMBLE PIE: THE LIFE & TIMES OF STEVE MARRIOTT’ follows the life and career of Marriott from his West End role in ‘Oliver’, through the Mod years with The Small Faces, into Humble Pie, the innovative but chaotic life as an Immediate label artist, followed by a number of other bands and solo projects, with recollections from Peter Frampton, Jerry Shirley, Greg Ridley and more.
Marriott always wanted to be an integral part of a band but even going back to the pre-hit gig where I saw him, it wasn’t only his guitar that was plugged in. As soon as the volume hit the amps, his adrenaline kicked in, and whether he could control it or not, his energy and drive left all others in his shadow, causing the breakdown of relationships, not only with fellow band members but also in his personal life, which became to rely on addiction.
The documentary contains amazing footage from various stages of his career where my point above is clearly illustrated. As his story progressed I began to realise I had seen this production a number of years back, but not with this quality sound and audio, or possibly not with the number of bonus features, which in addition to the Blu-ray and DVD discs also includes an audio only recording of ‘HOT n’NASTY 1973: COMPLETE WINTERLAND SHOW’ which captures Humble Pie doing what they did best, hittin’ hard‘n’ rockin’ live.
No Marriott fan will want to be without this set even if they do own previous issues as this release supersedes the lot.
Jim Stewart 2020