New and Old Music early 2023

Alan Dearling
New and Old Music early 2023

Plank: ‘Future of the Sea’

It was with baited breath and eager anticipation that fans of PLANK assembled for the live performance of the new third album from this Manchester band. They crammed themselves into the downstairs bar-venue of the Golden Lion at Todmorden. Plank have now joined artists like Jarvis Cocker, Lounge Society and Working Men’s Club on the Golden Lion Sounds label/roster.

From the kick-off it was an enveloping, very immersive wall of sound. A sound-seascape. Rippling guitar, electronica, beats – repetitive music therapy – mixing in sounds similar to the Fripp-style guitar of ‘80s King Crimson with some nuances of Tangerine Dream.

Plank was created by Dave Rowe (guitar, synths), Ed Troup (bass) and Johnny Winbolt-Lewis (drums) in 2009. After the release of their debut album, ‘Animalism’ in 2012, Johnny was replaced by Liam Stewart, and they recorded a second album, ‘Hivemind’ in 2014.

For this album and live show, they have been joined by Dan Bridgewater-Hall on keys/violin.

Tuneful, melodic – lots of earworms…  I bought a copy of the new album and it’s a real ‘grower’!

Three seascapes video:



Ash Gray and the Burners: ‘Live 55’

A Stetson nod (or three) towards Gram Parsons, Johnny Cash, New Riders of the Purple Sage and ‘60s/70s Americana. Recorded recently in Sheffield’s Dorothy Pax pub, this is a lovingly created live set. Full of catchy tunes, which they call ‘cosmic country’, with Ash Gray as the Cosmic Cowboy at the helm. It’s exactly the sort of album punters buy after a great gig to celebrate the ‘rockin’ the night away’. There’s a nice dramatic build-up throughout the set, ending with an all-out freak out with ‘When the Devil comes home’.

‘When the Devil comes home’:

Ash Gray is a Texan from Austin, with Yorkshire parents! Get your head around that one!

At best, this is a master-class in Americana groove, in the best possible way. Country-rock. Plenty of lyrical light and shade, fiery playing, much use of pedal-steel guitar from Jim Widdop. I particularly enjoyed ‘Sundown’, but the whole album celebrates the immediacy of a live band having lots of fun and sharing it with their fans and mates.

A sample from ‘Sundown’:

I look forward to seeing them live!




Bob Dylan: ‘Fragments’

Yet another Dylan compilation from the cutting floor!

It includes a very different interpretation of ‘Not Dark yet’:

It is the official Video for ‘Not Dark Yet (Version 1)’ by Bob Dylan.

Here’s the official press release:

“The latest chapter in Columbia/Legacy’s highly acclaimed Bob Dylan Bootleg Series takes a fresh look at ‘Time Out of Mind’, Dylan’s mid-career masterpiece, celebrating the album and its enduring impact 25 years after its original release on September 30, 1997. ‘Fragments – Time Out of Mind Sessions (1996-1997): The Bootleg Series Vol. 17 follows the evolution of songs written for the album, from intimate early incarnations in the previously unreleased 1996 Teatro sessions featuring Dylan (vocals, guitar, and piano), Daniel Lanois (guitar and organ), Tony Garnier (bass) and Tony Mangurian (drums and percussion) through incandescent live renditions (also previously unreleased) showcasing Dylan and his touring ensemble channeling the songs on-stage from 1998-2001.”

Five CDs in a box. It looks like an expensive financial investment at well over £100. There’s also a truncated 8 vinyl set of records available.


Dean James: ‘A collection of 4 Spiritual songs’

Dean posted this collection on-line recently. From the North-East of England, Dean is one of my favourite blues singers. A very fine voice indeed!

Here’s what he said about the recordings:

“Recorded as part of my Masters Degree, looking at how architecture effects sound. Recorded Live using four condenser mics. Note how the natural sound of the road outside and the seagulls add to the recording in a positive way. An absolutely organic moment in time, that I will never capture again. It’s not perfect, but it’s not meant to be. A massive thank you to Hexham and Newcastle Diocese for letting me record in their amazing space that is St Bede’s Church in South Shields.”

Four tracks, two originals. ‘Amazing Grace’ is superb.

Amazing Grace – Acapella (John Newton)

John the Revelator – Acapella (Blind Willie Johnston)

Take my Hand – Acoustic (Dean James)

Cole – Acoustic (Dean James) 



Judge Smith: The Trick of the Lock’

The Judge is a mate of Jonathan Downes, esteemed (eccentric) editor of ‘Gonzo’ magazine.

Jon told me that Judge Smith has asked me to send you this video link to ‘Trick of the Lock:

This title track from Judge’s forthcoming album ‘The Trick of the Lock’. Words and music by Judge Smith, arranged by pianist Robert Pettigrew. Filmed in St. Benedict’s Church, Glastonbury on 7th November 2022.

This is an acquired taste – very much in the style of a somewhat ‘over-the-top’, very wordy song from a stage musical/comic opera. It’s very theatrical. Thespian.

Judge Smith was briefly a singer with Van Der Graaf Generator in the late 1960s. He actually founded the band alongside Peter Hammill. Judge has also written and performed ‘The Fall of the House of Usher’ with Peter.  More recently he has worked with Arthur Brown and Pete Brown on a musical about the fate of airships between 1924 and 1930 in ‘Curly’s Airships’.

The Judge is a familiar face from TV, including ‘Not the 9 o’clock News’, and a ‘character’ around Crouch End in North London



Nini Music – ‘LEGENDS’

With 2.5 million views on Youtube (when I took a first peek), I really rather like this strange shamanic amalgam of Taiwanese Folk Music coupled with elements of Heavy Metal. Nini studied Chinese traditional music and is a highly accomplished performer on many instruments including the Zhong Ruan, Liuqin, San Xian, and Pipa.

‘Longma’ is from Nini Music ‘s New album ‘LEGENDS!’

Hard to describe or categorise her, but definitely quite unique and a bit mind-bending. Think: theme from an Imaginary Taiwanese Western.

Nini says: “I am now on a journey to create my own unique sounds with the use of my traditional instruments and share them with the world. My music blends the traditional with the contemporary sounds of rock, metal, and EDM.”


Doctor Explosion: ‘Superiordad Moral’

I’ve been contacted about this band and album by internet probably for nearly a year. Matthew Hutchison from ‘Shattered Platter’, has described them as “Spanish Garage legends” and “a garage rock/punk group from Gijon, Spain…it’s their first album in eleven years”. To my ears, this new album is a mix of prog rock, garage-punk with added ‘rave’. It’s fun, irreverent and at best, quite infectious.


It seems to have had every rock-style (and cliché) thrown into the mix. It’s sort of timeless, but also reminiscent of almost all the pop hits of the 1960s remodelled in Spanish Euro-trash. Propulsive guitar riffs, sneering vocals and a kind of charming naivety. I kept on imagining if this was played in a bar, punters would be shouting out: “Sounds like!” And then perhaps, anything ranging from, “The Troggs, Stranglers, Ramones, early Beatles and Kinks”. It’s all over the place. Lyrical, and sometimes a long way from subtle, wild and woolly at times, and also violent and rocky. Anthemic too. The final track is something of a novelty country sound, remodelled around a Lee Hazelwood number ‘Paleto’. “Twang, Twang” is the chorus line and the whole thing sounds a bit like ‘Just one Cornetto’!  It made me smile!


Here’s the live set from a Spanish Radio 3 film:

(‘Paleto’ is at about 22.45 mins)


The Penny Drops (feat. Nicola Summers)

From my time in the Scottish Borders, I spent many hours chatting with Jim Montana. Much of that time was out on the braes, on or near the Berwickshire coastpath, chatting about photography and wildlife.  I didn’t know that he was writing songs. This is an impressive effort: All proceeds will be donated to the charity, Headway.

Pictured: Jim and Ronnie.

Ronnie Hek posted: “Ronnie Hek and Nicola Summers: The Penny Drops 4837123 Records DKhere is the song I wrote about my brain injury Here is the link to The Penny Drops. Lyrics by my great friend Jim Montana and put to music by myself and Nicola Summers. Also available on Spotify.”










This entry was posted on in homepage and tagged , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.