Sarah Jane Morris and Tony Remy, Big Big Train, Nazareth REVIEWED | Music | Entertainment

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Big, Big Train
Grand Tour
(English Electric)
★★★★★

Grand doesn’t even begin to describe the epic proportions of this magnificent opus. On a rollicking roll of releases with 2017’s Grimspound and The Second Brightest Star, BBT continues full steam ahead to the max on Grand Tour.

In fact, progressive music is experiencing quite a renaissance itself with perennial Prog Mag Award winners Big Big Train being at the very heart of this revitalised genre. Moving their thematic musings away from the English landscape and folklore, Grand Tour draws its inspiration from 17/18th-century customs of well to do aristos travelling the globe to experience the wondrous worlds of science and art to return home renaissance wise.

Alive sets the scene with a racy, pulsating current of keyboards, guitar motifs and deep bass pedals. This leads into The Florentine with its textured weave of instrumentation and David Longdon’s raspish vocals revealing a paean to the master: Leonardo Da Vinci.

Brass and exquisite strings also play an integral role on this expansive recording as on Roman Stone and the head-expanding Pantheon, reminiscent of a John Tams era Home Service/Genesis hybrid.

With its blend of harmony vocals reminding of Queen on the majestic Ariel and the beautiful musical melodies of Voyager and Homesong, it’s the absorbing lyrical concept which enables BBT to let the music do all of the talking.

Sarah Jane Morris & Tony Remy
Sweet Little Mystery
(Fallen Angel)
★★★★★

One of the finest of improvisational jazz voices and most fluid of intricate guitarists has joined their supple skills together to create a supreme homage to one of folk/jazz’s more colourful personalities. In fact, they breathe new life with their astute interpretations of songs created by maverick influencer John Martyn on this lovingly curated album.

Composed about Martyn’s fellow tragic folk minstrel Nick Drake, Morris’ extraordinary contralto voice plumbs the fathomless depths on Martyn’s signature song Solid Air. Sassily re-inventing some of Martyn’s more mawkish tunes such as Call Me with jazzy notes and re-shaping Carmine with her feral vocal attack is a masterstroke by Morris and Co.

The heart-wrenching beauty of Couldn’t Love You More, May You Never and One World are magnificently re-touched and sonically sculpted into songs beyond their original forms.

Like spooning musical medicine into the ear, the beating heart of this exquisitely crafted album lies in the subtle performances by Morris and her ensemble which elevate these bitter-sweet songs into epic, ethereal mysteries.

Nazareth
Razamanaz, Loud ‘n’ Proud, Rampant, Hair of the Dog, Expect No Mercy & No Mean City
(BMG)
★★★★

Heavyweight individually coloured vinyl releases don’t come better than these six classic 1970s albums by Scottish hard men of rock Nazareth.

Yellow, Orange, Blue, White, Pink and Green coloured vinyl with picture discs, and all replicating the original packaging, render these treasured releases highly collectable from the off.

The music contained on each album is some of the finest hard rock anthemic releases from the 1970s, including Top 40 hits Broken Down Angel and Love Hurts, and mostly helmed by Deep Purple’s Roger Glover’s gritty production.

From the band who inspired Guns ‘N’ Roses, solid, classic rock never fades as these multi-coloured vinyl releases scream back down the years.

Ronnie Lane
Just For A Moment
(UMC)
★★★★

Co-writer of classic British songs: Itchycoo Park, All Or Nothing and Ooh La La to name only a few, Ronnie Lane’s post Faces solo output is collected and wonderfully presented with an introduction to the forensic sleevenotes by Pete Townsend; who recorded Rough Mix, a joint album with Lane, in 1977.

All rough and smooth lost and found recordings collected here cover Lane’s four solo releases and later band Slim Chance, including rare and unreleased songs from this period in time by this talented musical troubadour whose life was cruelly ended by Multiple Sclerosis at the age of 51.

Finely packaged, this lovingly collected set comprehensively lifts the lid on the highways and byways of Lane’s raggle-taggle musical life. Oooh La La, indeed.

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