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Spring 2007

 

     
 

 
LEWIS TAYLOR


SAUL ZONANA


MARIA MCKEE

 
THE YARDBIRDS
 
HERMAN'S HERMITS
 
KONGOS
 
     
 

LEWIS TAYLOR
The Lost Album
(Hacktone)

Echoing an era of expanded creativity in the pop world, Lewis Taylor is a gifted singer-songwriter / multi-instrumentalist / guitarist who over the years has recorded a variety of tracks, combining pop and R&B with unabashed emotion. One of the most interesting sounding singers to emerge since the heyday of Stevie Winwood forty years ago, the London based Taylor writes songs that stick in your mind and makes you want to hear them again. L.A. based Hacktone released Taylor’s 2005 album Stoned, and in early ‘07 they follow with The Lost Album—an album originally written by Taylor back in the late ‘90s, then shelved and re-recorded for this release. Pop fans looking for an artist that can write a pop classic and do it all by himself should check out Lewis Taylor. The CD’s centerpiece, “Hide Your Heart Away” echoes Thunderclap Newman singer Speedy Keene and is so far the coolest pop treat of 2007. The unusual CD packaging of The Lost Album is yet another aspect that sets this exemplary album apart. Taylor’s website claims that he’s is no longer active in the music industry and retired in June 2006. Let’s hope Taylor picks up again from where The Lost Album leaves off. www.lewistaylormusic.com / www.hacktone.com

 


 
 

SAUL ZONANA
Love Over Money
(20/20 Music)

New York rocker Saul Zonana has made a bunch of acclaimed alt-rock albums with recent several sides produced by guitar legend Adrian Belew. Actually, Belew’s approach to pop song writing and production is a good reference point when describing the music of Zonana, a sound that is definitely coming from a kindred musical galaxy. Saul’s 2006 release Love Over Money is a multi-pronged device with disc one featuring the ten track CD with a second disc, a DVD telling the Zonana story, adding in some other creative video work. Ably handling much of the guitar, guitar synth, bass, keyboard as well as all the vocals, Zonana is working with a top band and the CD also features guitar work of Bowie cohort Gerry Leonard. Comparing his latest venture to his last CD—the 2005 Adrian Belew production of 42 Days—Zonana adds, ‘I was mindblown working with Adrian ‘cause he’s a hero of mine, an icon. And the funny thing is, since I worked with him on 42 Days we’ve become pretty good friends, comrades. I don’t really have a favorite between the two, they’re just different. Love Over Money was interesting as well because I took a different approach to it. There’s another CD called Waves, before the two of these, that was, again, a completely different approach. It seems that people are taking to this new one more so. Suddenly life changed dramatically during the making of Love Over Money and it just sort of felt like that was the title of my life at that point.’ Zonana’s story is truly amazing and the DVD half brings his intriguing history up to date. Backed with catchy songs and excellent production, Love Over Money is one of the finest pop-rock albums of the millennium. www.saulzonana.com


 
  MARIA MCKEE
Late December
(Cooking Vinyl)

Fate intervened for singer songwriter Maria McKee when her brother, Bryan MacLean passed away in the mid ‘90s. Now with Arthur Lee also gone from the planet it’s up to McKee to keep the spirit of Love’s adventurous orchestral pop sound alive and well. Regarding her sixth album, released in April 2007, McKee adds, ‘Late December is current for me. It is an album I love to listen to. It is music that I like.’ Like her brother and Arthur Lee in the fabled Love group back in the ‘60s, McKee masterfully combines drama with pop melody. Long time fans who yearn for her more country, unplugged style should get out of the way of musical progress. Thank god artists like Bowie was able to make albums like Hunky Dory, and then grow into their own, much like McKee has done on Late December. McKee’s husband and partner Jim Akin—as well as guitarist Jerry Andrews—is totally in sync with McKee’s orchestral pop vision and her songs work right from the get go. www.cookingvinylusa.com

 


 
  THE YARDBIRDS
Live At B.B. King Blues Club
(
Favored Nations)

The Yardbirds are caught live on a 2007 CD entitled Live At B.B. King Blues Club. It would have been great to have a studio album of all new material from drumming legend Jim McCarty and his Yardbirds revival band but this recent live from NYC disc will please long time fans and newcomers alike. McCarty and co-founder / original Yardbirds bassist Chris Dreja rev up the Yardbirds legacy with a 2007 Yardbirds set featuring new guitarist Ben King, who stands in the place of Beck, Clapton and Page while adding his own vital fretboard touches. Singer John Idan could never fill the shoes of the late great Keith Relf but he steps up to the plate with these new treatments of classic songs The Yardbirds amazed the music world with back in the ‘60s while some new tracks brings the band’s legacy up to date. 2007 notes by Sid Barryd brings the story up to date. www.favorednations.com

 


 
  HERMAN'S HERMITS
Greatest Hits Live
(NoOne)

Prog-rockers and jazzers may scoff at the name Herman’s Hermits, yet the classic ‘60s pop sound the Hermits brought to the music world is revived on the 2007 CD release of Herman’s Hermits Starring Peter Noone Greatest Hits Live. While Noone never achieved the prominence of singers such as David Bowie, he was the front man for a band that achieved huge success on the charts at the same time as The Beatles, Stones, Dave Clark Five and more. On this recent live 20 track CD of timeless pop, Noone revives the Hermits name in style with a keen rock band and sets the stage for London 1965. Even the most staunchest blues or prog rockers have many of these British invasion classics etched into their brains. I vividly remember my father taking me to Freedomland to see The Four Seasons back in ‘63 and I feel a similar sense of nostalgia for Noone’s rocking Hermit’s tracks. www.peternoone.com



 
  KONGOS
Kongos
(Kongos)

Speaking of glaring omissions from the Elektra box, 36 years ago, London-based John Kongos released one of that label’s most illustrious progressive pop imports. Entitled Kongos, that ‘71 John Kongos album on Elektra featured amazing production of Gus Dudgeon and excellent guitars by Caleb Quaye. Also simply titled Kongos, this 2007 CD is the debut group recording of John’s four sons—Dylan Kongos (vocals, guitar), Jesse Kongos (drums), John J. Kongos (keyboards) and Daniel Kongos (guitars). With their famous father as executive producer and on backing vocals, the 2007 Kongos is a cool and entertaining spin that evokes their dad’s adventurous ‘71 Kongos album yet stakes out some new musical terrain one generation down the line. With the Kongos clan all based in Arizona these days, it’s even more enlightening to witness the inherent wealth and musical aptitude in the new Kongos generation. The songs stick, the vocals are compelling and that Kongos beat can still mesmerize. www.kongos.com






 
 
 
   
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