Atter last week’s smorgasbord of genres in the column, I thought it unlikely that this week would be as diverse. I suspect I was doomed to be wrong, and I you will agree after reading.
John Mayall: Tough
Mayall is a veteran bluesman who is releasing his 57th with this release. He recently disbanded the Bluesbreakers and decided to head off on his own. This struck some as odd considering the Bluesbreakers were entirely his band, rather like Whitesnake or Dio. Still after so many years doing the same thing with the same band, it's no wonder he wanted to have a new start.
You need not have worried about what he is up to next, as this release sees him treading the reliable blues ground he is so known for. The music is brilliant, that great blues that reminds one of the ole' Rolling Stones and the Yardbirds. Lyrically the songs are hit and miss, some coming across as a bit twee to this ear. However, his rant against modern music will amuse many who read this column. It's an enjoyable enough CD, but there are times I just wanted him to keep schtum and just play the tune.
Lyrically some of it feels rather forced and unnecessary. Fans of his old band will no doubt buy this and enjoy every minute. If you are new to John Mayall, a greatest hits of the Bluesbreakers might be a better idea.
Harvestman: In a Dark Tongue
The name evokes visions of the green-man in the dark glades in the middle of primordial woods surrounded by various forest nymphs and beasts. The music is folky yet impenetrably deep and intense. It means to take you into a place where there is beauty that threatens. Very much in keeping with Druidic and ancient pagan views of nature and all that it encompassed.
This would be space rock in the mode of Hawkwind, except it's about forests and glades. It's not very similar to other pagan groups like Skyclad either. It's odd and mesmerizing, definitely needing the right frame of mind to get into it. Not sure, but I suspect that the experience would work better if various substances were consumed before listening to this epic, aural nature-fest. Certainly an acquired taste, there is no doubting the talent and thought that went into producing such a dense release. Rather like the movie the Labyrinth, beautiful and intriguing while at the same time a wee bit disturbing.