the mike davies column july 2017


Originally the singer with Birmingham New Wave outfit Dansette Damage, erstwhile David Essex-lookalike COLIN HALL subsequently went on to front a series of bands, most notably the eight-piece soul outfit Private Party and Rebel Soul, sadly never getting the wider recognition he deserved as both singer and songwriter. He still gigs regularly as Gypsy Blood and has recently been back into the studio to record a fund-raiser to help save the Dudley Hippodrome. Also serving as a tribute to his late mother and father, Under Black Country Stars is a superb and movingly heartfelt Dexys-Celtic soul slow waltz anthemic ballad featuring female backing vocals, brass and an arms-swaying chorus that is truly one of the best things I’ve heard this year.


Fronted by Hayley Jordan, HARRY & THE HOWLERS are a fabulous Birmingham rockabilly quartet who play with hugely adrenalised energy, Jordan providing the powerful vocals and the sexual electricity. Following on from last year’s debut EP, Blowin’ Up Your Jukebox, their self-titled mini album contains six thundering cuts, kicking off with Hell In High Heels and scorching through Bad Woman, Devil In A Push Up Bra, One Night Love Affair, Magic 8 Ball and the more honky tonk inclined Wild Wild West. Comparisons with such rockabilly legends as Wanda Jackson and Janis Martin do not go amiss and if anyone can spark a new revival, Ms Jordan can.

rosie tee

Having released a single and EP with Bryony Rose, ROSIE TEE now has her own Heavy Prayers solo EP available, the instrumentation featuring harp, horns, violins, viola and cello with Tunley, currently studying composition at Birmingham Conservatoire,on piano and glockenspiel. Underpinned by Sebastiano Dessanay’s double bass, the title track opens proceedings, a jazzy five minute number that calls to find fellow Birmingham artists Jo Hamilton and Laura Mvula, while, with its opening string arrangement, Poetry nods to her classical influences as well as electro beats in its percussion and staccatto vocals. The drone and tinkling glockenspiel 49-second Breathing Space is just that, the EP concluding with the harp arranged hazed folksiness of A Garden and, led by cello, the five minute plus Cinnamon Milk, another jazz-toned number, featuring tuba, that suggests Bjork may well be among her record collection. A little more cerebral rather than emotional at times, nevertheless this is a hugely auspicious debut. 2020