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Most of this blog is related in some way to the music, books and films produced by Gonzo Multimedia, but the editor has a grasshopper mind and so also writes about all sorts of cultural issues which interest him, and which he hopes will interest you as well.

Sunday, 1 April 2012

WALLY/JACKSON WEBBER: Eulogistic reviews from Israel


WALLY -
Montpellier
Gonzo 2012
More than three decades on, the Harrogate moon rises again. It's like a heady moonshine has never been away.
When WALLY fizzled out in the late '70s, nobody paid much attention and lamented the demise of a band who brewed the impossible alchemic concoction of English prog and West Coast country rock. Remembered mostly for being produced by "Whispering" Bob Harris and Rick Wakeman, their two albums became cult items nevertheless, so the group's 2009 return was met with much acclaim, even though nobody hoped for another studio work. Yet here it is - some completely new compositions, some based on the halcyon days' demos, no line drawn between them - and nostalgia trip "Montpellier" ain't, even though "Sister Moon", which connects with the ensemble's cover sign, ripples with silvery celestial sadness.
Still, featuring five original WALLY members, WALLY sound surprisingly fresh, while deeply rooted in their own tradition. Thus, "Thrill Is Gone" rocks in a modern Americana way, homespun and calling to chug along, but once the birds' chirp gives way to majestic piano chords in "Sailor", a panoramic view unfurls before one's mind eye to float solemnly on Paul Middleton's and Frank Mizen's steel guitars and Nick Glennie-Smith's smooth organ before the blissful vocal harmonies strike in full force and riffs make the picture bright and clear. The same instrumental combination lights the heart-gripping velvet of "In The Night", a power ballad with the strongest pop hooks on offer - female backing, Roy Webber's warm voice and Will Jackson's transparent guitars reach for heaven on this one - and "She Said" might challenge Neil Young for troubled textural sensuality. Significantly, both songs are new, previously recorded for a Jackson Webber album so, after a long, slow, violin-oiled yet optimistic coda of "Giving" shimmering with magic, there's a longing for more music from the veterans.
****2/3

JACKSON WEBBER -
What It Is
Gonzo 2012
A logical and tuneful union of two stalwarts of British progressive folk scene - a perfect trip for a snug and bubbly journey down memory lane.
Here, the sparse, ghostly "In The Night" with its exquisite six-string lace and the piano-driven "She Said" sound different, their acoustic texture more palpably delicate as Will's silky guitars wrap around Roy's mellifluous voice that grabs your attention right from the arresting chorus of mandolin-adorned opener "Falling Down" and lets go only when the bitter-sweet ring of "On Your Own Way" fades away. Yet for all the gentle flow there are rolling and rollicking pieces in a country vein that'll quicken the listeners pulse: although the reckless rumble of "Shame On You" comes too close to His Bobness' pastiche to set an irony barrier straight, "Another Time" rides the organ lick in the most rocking way THE BAND would have liked, and steel sliders of "Heartbreaker" might make Tom Petty green with envy. A shimmering celebration of simple joys of life peaks in "All These Times", so it's impossible not to relate to such a happy dozen - that's what it is in the end of the day.
***4/5

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