Alan’s Old and New Music Summer 2022


Alan Dearling shares some of sounds he’s been listening to during and after the UK’s hottest-ever weather.

Elton John – Regimental Sgt. Zippo

Just out now out on CD and in stereo for the first time, this is the mildly interesting ‘lost’ first album from Elton John when he was 19 and still answered to the name, Reg Dwight. It’s very sub-Beatles, overly reliant on lots of la-la-las and rather turgid orchestrations. Sounds to my ears like Hollies-Light or even the Bee Gees.  There’s even a track on it entitled, ‘Sitting Doing Nothing’. Hmmmm. It’s mostly very poppy, bouncy music, especially on tracks like, ‘Angel Tree’ and opener, ‘When I was Tealby Abbey’. ‘Tartan Coloured Lady’ is probably my favourite track. It’s more mellow and less formulaic ‘pop’.

‘Regimental Sgt. Zippo’ is the most obvious hit, and sounds most like early, Elton John, and a mocked-up, psych-period, Beatles-ish track. Personally, I’d suggest that you go back and put on your ‘Sgt. Pepper’ album instead. Nice cover art!

Miraculous Mule – Old Bones, New Fire

Swampy, pulsating a cappella, swirling blues-styled rock ‘n’ roll music. Think voodoo. Invocations of deities with good and bad intentions. Probably a fair bit of sympathy for the devil! Hear them as the self-styled, “group of Anglo-Irish honkies who dig African-American Gospel, prison/work songs and Hillbilly music”, who have returned to the roots of their original ‘Deep Fried’ album. It’s an immediate, in yerr face, very rough and ready, raw sound. I’ve seen Miraculous Mule play in London in the past and they are a great band to see live. The new album reminds me a bit of a stripped-down version of Alabama 3 performing with the Staples’ family. Here’s a seven-year old video of the band for Rockpalast:

Jack White – Entering Heaven Alive

Jack has been pumping out new music of his own and for mates at a prodigious rate in recent Covid and post-Covid times (this is his second solo album of the year). There’s always been a darkness in his music. There’s a child-like simplicity too, although this album includes some more piano and quasi-orchestral arrangements on some tracks like, ‘Help me Along’ and ‘A Tree on Fire from Within’. The album kicks off with ‘A Tip from me’ which could almost be a vehicle for a sneering, Mick Jagger. Jack is still experimenting, which is good, and there’s a lot of relatively quiet acoustic guitar playing on ‘If I die tomorrow’ and ‘Love is Selfish’ which is soft and melodic. On a first couple of spins, this album seemed a little laid-back compared with the riotous venom of his days in the White Stripes, but the ‘bite’ and the staccato ‘edginess’ is still apparent, even on the funky jazz and Mellotron of ‘I’ve got you surrounded’. The album feels a bit unexpected, a bit naked. It’s all comparatively mellow for Jack White, kind-of a lilting, Dylanesque sound, even Gypsy-jazz, but I think it will grow on me, if I give it enough listens. Here’s a video of his noisy album release party, but it doesn’t sound much like the sounds on the actual album (at all). It starts off as a loud, electric affair. Maybe he’s changed his mind about the best way to play the new songs. In fact you don’t get a track from the new album until 8 minutes 22 seconds, ‘If I die tomorrow’:

Rim Banna (with Bugge Wesseltoft) – Revelation of Ecstasy and Rebellion (2013)

This is hauntingly beautiful. Absolutely ‘new-to-me’. Crammed full of an Arabian panoply of sounds and gorgeous instrumentation. I had just seen an Al-Jazeera documentary about Rim Banna, her life, her Palestinian roots, and her death at just 51 in2018 after a long fight with breast cancer. And thus, armed with a little information, I went in search of her music. How very pleased I am that I made this slight effort – but it’s hard to locate here in the UK. Sadly, I had to resort to downloading this album from Spotify into my virtual library. I don’t understand the words, but Rim’s voice is universal – these are emotional ‘stories’ of love, sorrow, suffering and exaltation. Listening to the album a second time, it reminded me very much of Gaelic singing with the many high-flying swoops and emotion-laden cadences. This album was produced by Norwegian, Bugge Wesseltoft, a major jazz pianist and arranger. Overall, the content and styles are wide-ranging from simple traditional folk music to dance and even hints of rap. Go search her out – it’s worth it! It’s a new personal favourite. Actually, much of it is jaw-droppingly, exquisite.

‘Stranger in the gulf’:

Here’s a short video of Rim with Bugge in Tunisia 2012:

Horace Andy – Midnight Rocker/Midnight Scorchers

I’m always up for some classy reggae, and Horace Andy is one of the best toasters/singers from this genre. From dancehall to deep dub, and even some pulsating psychedelic sounds on the title track, ‘Safe from Harm’, which features the midnight rockers’ line. Great track revitalised.  This album rocks – there are plenty of tracks to please. “There’s no such thing as easy money”, Horace sings, “Money, money, where did you go?” Horace doesn’t hang around and Adrian Sherwood has also revamped and produced a Sound System version of the ‘Midnight Scorchers’ sessions, including ‘Feverish’ from Studio One days, and a contribution from dub producer, multi-instrumentalist, Gaudi. Gaudi told me: “I’m feeling honoured to be featured also on this amazing album with my piano, mini-moog, stylophone and backing vocals.”

Strangely creepy video from ‘Midnight Rocker’.  See what you think: ‘Safe from Harm’:

Religious Overdose – Strung out on Heaven’s High 1980-82

Not really for me, this outfit, but good at what they did. Music in Monotone. Experimental and elemental drum-bass heavy pounding. Sounds to accompany lobotomies, they originally played alongside The Fall, Bauhaus and Theatre of Hate. Germanic, kraut-rock electronica, synth and guitar and grungy vocals, moaning and groaning, often disappearing into the ether.

Their final track, recorded on a cassette, is kind of interesting and bizarre: ‘The Girl with the Disappearing Head’:

Neil Young with Crazy Horse – Toast

The backstory of this ‘missing’ album is interesting. Here is ‘Toast’ just being released in 2022, but recorded back during 2000 in San Francisco’s Toast Studio. We are told that it was just too personal for Neil. Too sad. It’s all about love and break-ups. “I miss you loving me, like we used to. Disappointment.” But it ain’t really maudlin. There’s much fuzz, distorted guitar from the Horse. There’s more than a hint of ‘Smoke on the water’ in ‘Standing in the light of love’.  It’s rough around the edges, but feels like a proper album, not some kind of bootleg, or left-over from the studio cutting-floor.  Some powerful rockin’ songs and sounds. Much of it is very good Neil, not quite the pinnacle, but too not far off. ‘Goin’ Home’ is a particularly powerful song. ‘The openers, ‘Quit’ and ‘Standing in the Light of love’ are very good indeed.  In fact, we have heard ‘Quit’ and ‘Goin’ Home’ before. ‘How ya doin’?’ was titled ‘Mr Disappointment’. They appeared on the Neil and Booker T and the MGs’ album, ‘Are you passionate?’, as did ‘Boom, boom, boom’. The last two tracks on the album are relatively downbeat, and meandering, but for a lost and now found album, it’s pretty coherent. ‘Goin’ Home’:


The Gymslips – Rocking with The Renees

Tub-thumping, incendiary punkish ladies. “One, two, three and up your bum”. Full of impish humour and lady-fun. Naughty, irreverent. If you’ve never heard these three ladies, Paula Richards, Suzanne Scott and Karen Yarnell, they liked fast, furious vocals, speed-guitar and riffs. They were also pretty tuneful. They only released one album. Full of catchy punk songs. I kept on hearing echoes of ‘Cherry Bomb’ mashed-up with vocals from the American girl bands from the late fifties/early sixties. This is their original album, reissued for 2022. Drummer, Karen told the NME, “…a Renee was a girl who got as much shagging done as a bloke while matching him for pint-drinking, fag-smoking, nose-picking, farting and wearing of skinhead style double denim.”

Sing-along songs, ‘yeah-yeah-yeah’!

Here are the ladies in 1983 with ‘Dear Marje’.

And to end, ‘Waiting for the Man’ from two lost, RIP greats: David Bowie and Lou Reed:

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