Search Still Got The Fever

Friday 27 December 2013

Marlin, Sabbath, Zervas, Doillon, Mitiku, Gelb and Simon head Best 50 Albums Of The Year 2013

Mike Marlin

1. MIKE MARLIN: Grand Reveal

The former child prodigy, physics boffin and city whizzkid releases a deadpan delivery rock and roll album that’s lyrically astute, nodding to Lou Reed and David Bowie.

2. IAN McNABB: Eclectic Warrior

The Icicle Works frontman returns to the Neil Young-inspired guitar-spitting rock that was the signature of his hallmark Head Like A Rock album.

3. PURE LOVE: Anthems

Not the maudlin mess the name of the band and the album might suggest, but big hook-laden rock songs from Gallows frontman Frank Carter.

4. NEW MODEL ARMY: Between Dog And Wolf

New lease of life for the Bradford revolutionaries thanks to a left turn that sees them drag drums high up in the mix, tribal rhythm replacing rock riff.

5. AIRBOURNE: Black Dog Barking

They’ve always followed in the footsteps of Angus Young, and now Aussie rockers Airbourne come up with the best album that AC/DC never made.

6. THE WINERY DOGS: The Winery Dogs

Monster riffs, big bass, levee-breaking drums and gravel grunge vocals as prog rockers Mike Portnoy and Billy Sheehan re-invent classic rock.

7. DEEP PURPLE: Now What?

They could have called it quits after Jon Lord died. So it’s surprising that Purple’s return, with Don Airey as super-sub, is better than anyone expected.

8. DROPKICK MURPHYS: Signed And Sealed In Blood

Rabble-rousing American-Irish rock and reel that captures the energy of the Boston paddy punks’ shows. The boys are back and they’re looking for trouble.

9. SAMMY HAGAR: & Friends

Red rocker Sammy Hagar calls in a stellar cast including Joe Satriani, Neal Schon, Kid Rock and Heart’s Nancy Wilson for blues-rock fuelled studio fun.

10. TOM KEIFER: The Way Life Goes

The Cinderella frontman’s solo album eschews the band’s dated glam metal for an eclectic mix of rock and roll, stadium pop and radio ballads.


 Zervas & Pepper


1. ZERVAS & PEPPER: Lifebringer

Welsh duo Paul Zervas and Kathryn Pepper capture the sound and the spirit of the Woodstock generation on an album that shamelessly takes its cues from late 1960s California.

2. TIERRA BLANCA: Shadowlands

Moody wild western rock and stroll surprise from Brit John McKeown, a Tex-Mex tapas of self-penned songs that recalls Tito & Tarantula.

3. GOLDFRAPP: Tales Of Us

Alison Goldfrapp and Will Gregory back to what they do best: ethereal ballads delivered in whispered vocals and wrapped up in cinematic strings.

4. DEAF HAVANA: Old Souls

Flag-waving festival rock with pop hooks from the surprise package at Reading. Widescreen road trip rock that marries Springsteen to The Killers.

5. JOHN FOGERTY: Wrote A Song For Everyone

Creedence legend re-invents his rock classics special guests ranging from Foo Fighters and Tom Morello to Bob Seger and Allen Toussaint.

6. DAVID BOWIE: The Next Day

His first album in ten years, some of it masterful, some of it muddled. But Bowie albums are never to be missed and overall it’s welcome back.

7. I AM KLOOT: Let It All In

Elbow’s Guy Garvey guests on his Mancunian mates’ new album – 10 songs in 36 minutes proving that less can, indeed, be more.

8. DAVE STEWART: Lucky Numbers

Eurythmic Dave Stewart’s set is rooted in classic 1960s British rhythm and blues shot through with Americana – recorded on a yacht in the South Pacific.

9. COUNTING CROWS: Echoes Of The Outlaw Roadshow

New live set is a barnstormer, collecting fan favourites and covers. A reworked Round Here and a mash-up of Rain King and Elbow’s Lippy Kid star.

10. GIN WIGMORE: Gravel & Wine

She hollers like a veteran rock and roller, and plays the blues as if she was born in the USA. Rootsy pop-rock from the New Zealand songbird.

Lou Doillon


1. LOU DOILLON: Places

Parisian songbird Lou Doillon, daughter of Jane Birkin, half-sister of Charlotte Gainsbourg, gets moody as her warm, part-sung, part-spoken vocal caresses sublime songs. The French Aimee Mann.

2. DAVID FORD: Charge

Ford’s best album to date adds variations in pace and mood to that distinctive vocal. How the ex-Easyworld frontman remains under the radar is a mystery.

3. PHILDEL: The Disappearance Of The Girl

The Brit songbird has soundtracked TV ads ranging from M&S to Apple, but her own album reveals she has an ethereal indie-pop voice to die for.

4. BILLY BRAGG: Tooth & Nail

Bragg has rarely sung better, and the gently reflective songs are country confessional rather than rock and roll rebellion. That’s getting older for you.

5. LINDI ORTEGA: Cigarettes & Truckstops

Although she’s just moved to Nashville, Ortega is equally at home on the Coachella and T In The Park stages. Country, rock and murder ballads.

6. DIDO: Girl Who Got Away

She’s been there, done it, got the T-shirt but Dido’s long-awaited return is every bit as winning as her debut. She’s the girl who came back.

7. GABRIELLE APLIN: English Rain

She topped the charts with Frankie’s The Power Of Love thanks to John Lewis. Now she bares her soul in a folk-pop set with world music cues.

8. JENN BOSTIC: Jealous

Lazily catalogued as country, Bostic gives the late Amy Winehouse a run for her her soul-pop money. Jealous Of The Angels was huge on youtube.

9. STEVE EARLE: The Low Highway

Roots rocker Steve Earle’s most upfront and rock radio-friendly set since 2004’s The Revolution Starts Now. He was great at Symphony Hall.

10. JOSHUA RADIN: Wax Wings

Bubbly folk, polished pop, memorable melody – and is that icon Ryan Adams I hear on guitar on Lovely Tonight? A high-flier.

Howe Gelb


1. HOWE GELB: The Coincidentalist

Dusty desert Americana from the prolific troubadour, recorded with M. Ward and Sonic Youth’s Steve Shelley. Bonnie Prince Billy and KT Tunstall guest in a strong set without a weak link.

2. TOM RUSSELL: Aztec Jazz

The godfather of Americana has never been shy of re-invention and now revisits sublime signature songs live with the Norwegian Wind Ensemble.

3. CHRISTY MOORE: Where I Come From

Asked to select songs for a three-disc retrospective, Moore has chosen instead to rerecord 45 of them, updating the lyrics to reflect the changing times.

4. THE FALLOWS: Liars & Kings

The Coventry band’s clever tuneful folk-rock is a delight, with Cast The First Stone unlikely to be bettered anytime soon in its genre.


The Aussie songbird who calls Britain home has her folk roots peeping through polished pop production. Better than KT Tunstall and Amy MacDonald.

Black Sabbath's Tony Iommi



An event album. Sabbath’s reunion has seen them come full circle to the metal with which they first made their name, and exceeded even the band’s own expectations.

2. STONE SOUR: House of Gold & Bones Part 2

Corey Taylor’s metallers close the circle on the concept album begun last year with radio-friendly riffs nodding both to idols Sabbath and Metallica.

3. MOTORHEAD: Aftershock

Lemmy may have a pacemaker but driving rock guitar riffs, gruff vocals, speaker-busting bass and bombshell drums spell business as usual.

4. ALTER BRIDGE: Fortress

Myles Kennedy returns to the day job after his foray with Slash, and Alter Bridge’s fourth studio set accordingly proves their most radio-friendly yet.


A7X have waded out into the mainstream until they’ve emerged dripping hard rock riffs, with nods to Metallica, Maiden, Sabbath and G’n’R.

Paul Simon


1. PAUL SIMON: The Complete Albums Collection

Fourteen albums from his debut to the most recent outing in one hefty box set, adding up to an amazing 199 tracks in all. Arguably the greatest singer-songwriter of them all.

2. THE EAGLES: The Studio Albums 1972-1979

Six-album boxset from one of the world’s best and most enduring of bands. Looking forward to seeing them at the LG Arena in May next year!

3. DEL SHANNON: Essential Collection 1961-1991

Everything you ever wanted to hear from the late, great Del Shannon, including Runaway. I was proud to do some recording with him in the Seventies.

4. THE WHO: Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival

One of Britain’s greatest-ever rock bands, caught at their peak, whilst topping the bill at the Isle of Wight Festival in 1970. Sensational.

5. CHICAGO: The Studio Albums 1969-1978

Ten-album boxset from debut Chicago Transit Authority in 1969 to Hot Streets in 1978. Over 150 tracks by one of my all-time favourite bands.

Emilia Mitiku


1. EMILIA MITIKU: I Belong To You

She ended the nineties with worldwide hit Big Big World but now she’s subtly smouldering through a bluesy set informed by the greats – Etta, Ella, Eartha and Billie.


The musical marriage of Stateside blues belter Beth Hart and guitar giant Joe Bonamassa is surely made in rock and roll heaven.

3. HUGH LAURIE: Didn’t It Rain

Gentler, soulful and more spine-tingling than debut Let Us Talk, Laurie brings the virtuoso voices of Gaby Moreno and Jean McClain along for the ride.

4. POPA CHUBBY: Universal Breakdown Blues

Unlikely figure for a guitar hero, his publicity shots suggesting R&B bling, but Popa Chubby plays down and dirty blues-rock with attitude.

5. DANNY BRYANT: Hurricane

Blues-rock guitar albums can be self-indulgent snoozes, but Bryant lets his tormented soul seep out on a set of surprisingly strong songs.

Saturday 21 December 2013

Black Sabbath : LG Arena Birmingham 2013 review & setlist

There he stood, dressed in black, a grim grin spreading across his face. Flanked by giant photographs of Pope Benedict XVI, Ozzy Osbourne blessed the faithful, and perhaps thanked his own lucky stars.

Because Black Sabbath, Brummie inventors of heavy metal, were finally back home where they belong, shrugging off their collective 227 years and the serious health problems that have dogged their later lives.

More than 15,000 turned out to worship at the altar of the rock guitar riff as founders Osbourne, Tony Iommi and Geezer Butler – with babe-in-arms Tommy Clufetos standing in for Bill Ward – rolled back time.

They’d been at ease with each other at the soundcheck, laughing and joking, but there’d been an underlying tension. “Playing our hometown with all our family and friends out there will be nerve-racking,” admitted Iommi.

“We’ve not felt this nervous at any other gig on the tour.”

They needn’t have worried. Sharon Osbourne, watching from the wings, told them so before they went on. And you don’t mess with Sharon. The X Factor judge, as she will tell you, is rarely wrong.

From the moment the men in black hit stage and launched into War Pigs – recorded all of 43 years ago – the LG Arena erupted. Fans, some of whom had queued since 7.30am to get the best places at the front, embraced their own.

“Let’s go fucking wild!” yelled Ozzy as they followed with Into The Void, telling the Birmingham crowd: “I’ve missed you.”

His voice may be not what it once was but, hell, it didn’t matter. Not here. Not back home.

Under The Sun, with video footage of money-grabbing evangelists, anti-Sabbath protesters in America’s Bible Belt, lesbian nuns and those pictures of the Pope, continued the history lesson. Snowblind, with an Ozzy health warning, was next.

Not that this was a nostalgia exercise. Sabbath sound as powerful and as vital as they have ever done. New song Age Of Reason boasted Iommi’s best guitar yet as Clufetos pounded the drums as hard as the late John Bonham.

“We want to take you back to the very beginning,” Ozzy told the fans. “Can you believe we’ve been going 45 fucking years?”

Cue Black Sabbath, the track that opened their debut album. As the band hit an irresistible groove midway through the song, their frontman poured a bucket of water over a hapless security steward.

“I’m back in fucking Birmingham!” yelled Ozzy, by way of explanation.

Behind The Wall Of Sleep, N.I.B – ushered in by a busy Butler bass solo – End Of The Beginning... they just kept coming. Fairies Wear Boots, with its seductively sinister video, turned full tilt boogie.

Drum solos usually mark the moment you head to the bar or take a comfort break but Clufetos’ Rat Salad showpiece was jaw-dropping. Technically tight but brutally brilliant, the US drummer brought the house down.

Iron Man and God Is Dead? got the moshpit moving. Dirty Women, with its B-movie video backing, isn’t one of the band’s best but surprisingly served up Iommi’s best solo of the night. Children Of The Grave was a climactic closer.

“One more song,” chanted the crowd. “It’s Christmas,” responded Ozzy. “Shall we come back and do it again?” raising hopes that this weekend’s double header may not, after all, be their last hometown gigs.

Encore Paranoid, its razor riff cutting through confetti cannons, and the release of giant balloons, ended a memorable two-hour homecoming.

After the gig Sabbath celebrated with friends including ELO’s Bev Bevan, funnyman Jasper Carrott, Blues legend Trevor Francis, sixties star Dave Berry, family and a pet pooch flown in from LA.

“It’s been a great night,” said Iommi. “We were all pretty nervy about being back in Brum. We wanted it to be special for the fans. D’you think they liked it?”

Silly question. They do it all again at Birmingham’s NIA tomorrow night.


War Pigs
Into The Void
Under The Sun
Age Of Reason
Black Sabbath
Behind The Wall Of Sleep
End Of The Beginning
Fairies Wear Boots
Rat Salad
Iron Man
God Is Dead?
Dirty Women
Children Of The Grave