mike davies september 2014

dangerous g

DANGEROUS GIRLS reunite again for another one-off show, this time on Sept 13 to celebrate the 34th anniversary of their October 1980 gig at the late lamented Golden Eagle, formerly located on Hill. Now as then they’re supported by the Everreadys, featuring the band’s original line-up of Conrad Schwarz, Janice Connolly (aka Mrs Barbara Nice), Alan Brown, John Nester and, doing double duties, Rob Peters.

To coincide with the gig, they’re also releasing Men in The Glass, a new CD to commemorate the band's third single, Man in The Glass, first issued in November 1980. It includes a variety of session tracks and radio broadcasts, as well as interviews by Robin Valk and, yes, my good self.


Continuing their rise up the Birmingham guitar band ladder, DUMB are back in action with debut EP Chew Me Up, Spit Me Out (Tip op/One Beat). Openly parading their Pavement and Built To Spill influences (not to mention a touch of Charlatans, the EP being dedicated to late drummer Jon Brookes) and fronted by the vocal rasp of Dylan Williams, it swaggers through their combined four singles, the self-assured tumble of Dive, the mid-tempo, cascading melodies, reverb swathed Retina, a chugging, louche Super Sonic Love Toy and the circling guitar lines of Two Bottles. Sandwiched between is the all new Still I’m Stuck, featuring throaty guitar and a clattery drum propulsion that throws up inevitable and not a little deserved thoughts of The Pixies.


LAURA MVULA revisits her hugely successful debut album, reworking it in the company of the Metropole Orkest. Recorded at Abbey Road and arranged by conductor Jules Buckley, from the widescreen strings coated opening to Make Me Lovely it’s a manifestation of the sound she’d heard in her head when the material was written and which the layering of instruments on Sing To The Moon sought to capture. The sequencing of the new recording is different to that of Sing To The Moon, Green Garden now loaded towards the end, with piano ballad, now enriched with strings and brass, Diamonds moved back to the penultimate slot and the itchy shuffle of That’s Alright taking its place as a more upbeat closer.

Interestingly, Flying Without You doesn’t highlight the parping brass elements as strongly here as on the original recording whereas Father, Father is a much lusher affair with warm brass and strings taking over from the keyboards, and almost two minutes longer. It’s a dreamy affair throughout and fully underscores the orchestral intent of the original, bringing Mvula’s Broadway influences to the fore and suggesting that her future is likely to be more in the jazz and show arena than the pop soul I suspect her label would prefer.


SCOTT MATTHEWS also seems to have his eye on the New York skylines to judge by Virginia, the opening track of next month’s new album, Home Part 1 (Thirty Tigers/San Remo), a lovely, cello accompanied ballad evocative of peaceful early mornings breaking over deserted city streets. It sets the dominant reflective tone, picked up with the piano backed The Outsider, a song which, with its harmonica strains, is based on the same character featured in Passing Stranger. Indeed, there’s a continuity of stories here with rippling acoustic guitar ballad Mona a prequel to Up On The Hill off Elsewhere.

Elsewhere, Sunlight is a soaring bittersweet ballad with Matthews in falsetto mode, while the hushed, minimal mood is sustained across the emotional ebb and flow of The City and the Lie, 86 Floors From Heaven, the tidal melody of Dear Angel with its contemplative acoustic guitar and the sepia-toned Running Wild where his voice takes on the quality of a heavenly choir.

There’s nothing you’d call uptempo here, but the pace does pick up slightly for The Night is Young, the restrained hand percussion offering an undulating rhythm to support the rhythmic sway. There’s also Matthews’ first full-length instrumental, the piano based, flute-flecked The Clearing.

If the album opens at dawn, it makes its way through the city day to draw to a close as evening falls with Let’s Get You Home, a simple acoustic love song with Matthews in intimate, breathy voice, bringing the album home to his own roots of ‘our Black Country sky’, the theme of identity that’s permeated many of the songs finding closure in a line that harks to the album title as he sings “we can be who we really are in our home.” One of the year’s classiest albums, roll on Part 2.

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