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NEW RELEASES The composer duets with Penny on the


poignant Song For Adam, whilst his younger brother, Severin performs the same duty and adds background vocals on From Silver Lake. In addition to the foregoing titles, A Child In These Hills and Something Fine are also drawn from SATURATE BEFORE USING. These Days from FOR EVERYMAN (1973) opens this tribute collection and Colors Of The Sun closes it, whilst LATE FROM THE SKY (1974) supplies For A Dancer and Fountain Of Sorrow—the latter pair, being inspired renditions. Jackson Browne’s demos for Elektra Records’ in-house song publisher, Nina Music (1966/67) and Michael Goldsen’s Criterion Music (1970) furnish the lesser- known quartet—The Birds Of St. Marks, Shadow Dream Song—Steve Noonan included it on his self-titled 1968 album for the Elektra label, the Latin American influenced The Top and Gone To Sorrow— the latter being another inspired version. Reproduced on the inner, right hand


panel of the gatefold card liner are historic 1960’s pictures of Penny, the late Roberta ‘Berbie Browne’—Jackson’s older sister—the 1966 incarnation of the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band featuring Browne (centre rear), Pamela Polland’s band the Gentle Soul, and the well-known photograph of Jimmy Spheeris, plus co-best men Jackson Browne and Steve Noonan, taken during Greg Copeland and Pamela Polland’s 1968 wedding. Arthur Wood www.pennynichols.com


Malcolm Holcombe DOWN THE RIVER Self-Release HHHHH A genre defining record For the uninitiated, Malcolm’s voice is


soft, raw and emotive and he’s certainly an acquired taste, but nothing prepared me for the righteous fury of opening track, Butcher In Town, which is a wolf of song wrapped in sheep’s clothing. Twisted Arms is Malcolm’s take on society today and the injustice and greed that surrounds us all. He doesn’t hold back either. This is a dangerous song if you are a politician or media personality. The prettiest song here is probably The Door, which has Malcolm looking back on his life, as Russ Pahl’s pedal steel playing sets the hair on the back of your neck on end.


Ray Kennedy’s production throughout


DOWN THE RIVER keeps Holcombe’s grizzly voice to the forefront at all times, as the backing musicians manage to make this sound like a band recording rather than a singer and a bunch of hired hands in an anonymous studio. Speaking of hired hands, I sat up like a meercat when I first heard In Your Mercy. It’s an intricate and clever love song, but just under halfway through an angelic voice joins our man on harmonies. Flipping heck! It’s only Emmylou Harris dueting with Malcolm Holcombe—who’d have thought that day would come? A couple of years ago, Neil Young huffed


and puffed that there weren’t any protest singers any more—Neil, listen to the anger, bile and eloquence that inhabits Whitewash Job and you’ll know that these guys are still out there; you just have to look for them. The one track that is guaranteed to


finally bring Malcolm to the notice of national radio, magazines and newspapers is Trail O’ Money, which combines the best of everything else on the album, and allows Steve Earle to share vocals and a shimmering harmonica solo on a song that I bet he wishes he’d written, himself. DOWN THE RIVER is angry, simple, complex and beautiful all rolled into one and by far Malcolm Holcombe’s finest album to date. I promise you that it will feature in many, many end of year Top 10 releases of 2012. Alan Harrison


www.malcolmholcombe.com


Rant ‘n’ Rave LOVE CAN BE MURDER Brindle Cat Records HHHHI Eight eye-popping, ear-opening tunes from the musical virtuoso, Essex-set quad Now, I’m not a bit squeamish usually,


but the front cover of musical four-piece Rant ‘n’ Rave—comprising of Doug Brown (lead vocals, acoustic guitar, mandolin); Sandra Brown (pianos, organs, synthesisers, backing vocals); Ron Bennett (drums, percussion) and Kieran Carrigan (lead and rhythm guitars, six string banjo)’s new record, LOVE CAN BE MURDER doesn’t half make me feel a little queasy. A blood- drenched knife distastefully adorning the front; a bunch of dead roses on the back, the record could easily be mistaken for being of heavy metal taste—if you


didn’t know who the band were, that is—but this is in fact a collection of eight rockabilly, yesteryear-fused tunes, revealing imaginative stories revelling in the highs and lows of life and love, to put it mildly. The more rockabilly-ish tunes include the


toe-tapper We Gotta Move and There It Was, Gone, the latter beginning the roller-coastal journey in true guitar-led and memorable fashion. The album also features a sinister murder ballad (Cheatin’ Valentine—a psychopath’s confession of killing his lover and getting away with it), a musically infectious tale of a man’s life dedicated to work and the sacrifices he’s made, only for him to be laid off during the financial crisis, with vocals that remind me of REM’s Michael Stripe (Dedicated Officer) and an animated, zydeco-tinged story of Tex From Texas—all very different sounding songs in their own right. Highlights, for me include the


heartbreak-roped Since You Left Me Here—an infectiously composed number with a memorable set of lyrics and well- gelled vocals from Doug Brown, made for hit potential—the gentle, piano-led Empty Eyes, which seems to be another heartbreaker, with Sandra Brown’s vocals twinkling in the chorus against Doug’s, and the perfectly titled Do It All Over Again—a rocking and rolling number with impressive piano (Sandra Brown) and lead guitar (Kieran Carrigan) solos that infectiously get the foot-stomping—providing a fantastic ending to a surprising collection of songs. With songs like this, the rockabillying


four-piece are made for the stage, and their second release has utterly surprised me. Sceptical at first, I’m now a fan, and if their debut is anything like this, then I’m logging on to iTunes right now to download it. Emily Saxton www.reverbnation.com/rantnraveband


Ry Cooder ELECTION SPECIAL Nonesuch STCD 400180 HHHI Cometh the American election, cometh the protest songs Ry Cooder is the latest, or possibly the


first, to get his two-penneth in ahead of the American Presidential election and he’s not a happy man. Frankly, who could blame him? The titles tell their own tale: Mutt


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