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Wednesday 9 February 2011


We’ve got a real mixed bag of homegrown produce on offer for your ears this month..
First into the CD player is “Love Bayou” by BRIAN McDADE. Brian hails from Lanarkshire, but went to Nashville’s legendary Fireside studio to record his fourth album, a collection of his own self penned material.
The songs are quite pleasant, Brian’s voice works them well, and the musicians, Jeff “Sticks” Davis (who co-produced the album with Brian), Barry Burton, Michael Webb, Brian Owings and Ed Simonton complete the picture well.
I really enjoyed “Promises”, “Santa Ana Winds”and the title track, which has a soft bayou feel about it. It would be hard to stick a label on the album. It has a Country Rock sound, a little Southern and fits into the Americana genre well.
53 year old McDade has been making inroads into the Americana and Singer-Songwriter scene, here, in Ireland, and in the US. Check out short clips of his album, and buy from his website
Someone else with an new album of her own works is ISLA GRANT. Borders based Isla has build a huge following in recent years, although the fans at home are still to catch up with Ireland & Australia, where Isla is a huge star.
The queen of easy listening has another 12 songs on her new Rosette album, “When The Day Is Done”. There’s no surprises, just an album of beautifully written and simply performed songs, which just melt over you.
Isla kicks off the album with the title track, a very personal song dedicated to her husband Al.
There’s the now obligetry Irish track about “Lough Ree”, and a song to remind her of her first big tour down under in “Australia”, but doesn’t forget her homeland either with a song about “My Scotland”, a simple and sentimental appreciation of our country. She get even closer to home with “The Old Country Church”, which is inspired by the church in Mertoun, on the Duke of Sutherland’s estate.
“Parcel Of Dreams” is autobiographical, a style which Isla revels in. In this song she thanks the fans and dedicates it to those who come to her concerts.
The other tracks worthy of mention are “Out Of The Blue” , and the Latin flavoured “Falling In Love With You”, which is a change from anything else on the album, yet still fits quite nicely, kinda like the way Jim Reeves took “Rosa Rio”.
Another beautiful album from Isla. I just wonder when her Ain folk will wake up to her talent.
Someone of a similar style to Isla, is CHARLIE LANDSBOROUGH. Not only are they labelmates, both write beautiful easy listening music, and both had to become huge stars in Ireland, before we paid any attention to them here.
In that respect, Charlie is perhaps a few years ahead of Isla.
The scoucer’s latest album is “My Heart Would Know”, and features 11 originals and 5 cover songs. The covers are quite interesting, from Irving Berlin’s “Always”, The Beatles “Long & Winding Road”, and the totally out of character (although it works well) Burl Ives classic, “Ugly Bug Ball”.
But Charlie excels with his own material.
Stand out track has to be “My Heart Would Know”, a song inspired by his brother, Arthur, who suffered from Alzheimers’. Charlie offers great comfort to others in this position in that when a loved one cant even remember your name, the love is still there from the heart.
Charlie has always had a thing about colours , and “I Am Red” sees the man deliver a stirring
Number, which is one of my favourites on the whole album. The instrumentation is superb on
this track.
“24 Hours Times Two” is quite bouncy and works well. Other tracks include the soft ballads like “I’ll Be Missing You”, “ Nothing Will Ever Be The Same Again” and “Moate”.
Recorded in the UK and in Spain, Charlie is supported by long time musicians and friends like Pete Ware, Pete Brazil, Phil McDonagh and Maurice Hipkiss, and good to hear a lot of harmonies from Trionagh Moore, a very effective contribution.
A lovely album, which has already been selling well.
Both Isla Grant & Charlie Landsborough album are on the Rosette label, which are widely available in the better record stores.
Some years ago, Wick based, MANSON GRANT & THE DYNAMOS, when David Shearer was in the line up with Manson & Robert, they went over to Music City, and laid down some tracks at Mark Moseley’s Sound Control Studio. The ensuing album, “Golden Memories” was issued on an Irish label, but didn’t really get the attention it deserved.
The album has now been remastered, repackaged and re-released on their own Pan label, and sounds really fresh.
With top notch Nashville pickers like Hargus Pig Robbins, Glenn Worf, Buddy Spicher and the recently departed Hal Rugg playing alongside The Dynamos, the arrangements are first class.
Of course, we all know that unique Manson Grant sound is steeped in an easy listening style, which has kept them busy for many years, and they wont change that, even with the additional musicians.
Whilst Dynamos fans will recognise these songs from the album’s first outing, they weren’t the tried & tested fayre you may have expected. It’s mainly happy party numbers, although “When We First Fell In Love”, from the pen of Aussie Brian Leyton stands out for it’s superb harmonies.
Also catching the ear is the title, and opening track, “Golden Memories”, which sums up Country music’s history in just under three minutes!.
Manson Grant has never had the recognition from their “ain folk”, especially in the Central Belt. If you only ever listen to one Manson Grant album in your life, make it this one!
An act who are no strangers to audiences in the Central belt are ROLL THE DICE, and it’s great to see Ian & Trish release their first full CD. “Restless Legs” features a broad mix of Country old & new, tried & tested numbers, and originals.
The production is first class, their voices work well on the chosen tracks, and Trish’s accordian just adds that little something to the finished product.
There are 15 tracks on the CD, including covers of Kathy Mattea’s “18 Wheels” and Pam Tillis’ “Don’t Tell Me What To Do”, to classics like “Heartaches By The Number” and “Walking After Midnight”.
There’s also four originals, from the duo’s own pen. “Does My Ass Look Big In This” has a good solid dance beat, and should go down well, as should “Mexican Dreams”, adding the accordian for really good effect. “Bad Boy” moves along quite nicely, whilst “Part Time Lovers” slows the tempo down. It a really nice song, which probably fits the CD better than in a live set.
Recorded in Penicuik, I was really impressed with this nice’n’easy listening offering from Roll The Dice. They’re never too far away from your club, so make sure you pick up a copy of the CD the next time you see them.
It’s been some time since Gerry Ford last had a new album out, and even longer since he recorded an album here in the UK. (Usually Gerry went to Nashville or Ireland to record). His last couple of albums have been repackages of earlier recorded material, and you could be mistaken for thinking that this was another. For Gerry has chosen to record a number of the songs he’s been singing for many years, yet had never put down on record.
Recorded in Mervyn J Futter’s Oasis Studios in Kings Lynn, and Phillip Anderson (of Shogun)’s studio in Orkney, Gerry gives us 14 tracks, from the pens of the likes of Max D Barnes, Mel McDaniel and Jamie O’Hara.
He covers the classic “No One Will Ever Know”, “Freddie Fender’s “Before The Next Teardrop Falls”, Ricky Skaggs’ “Cajun Moon” and Tom Russell’s “Blue Wing”, all in Gerry’s pleasing laid back style.
The title cut is his version of Isla Grant’s “One More Time”, and he has another cut from Australian Johnny Chester (who wrote Lord I’d Forgotten).
There’s two of Gerry’s own compositions. “Another Chance To Dance” is aimed at the linedancers, presented in a Maverick’s style. His other cut is “I Wrote My Own Song”, which gives Gerry the chance to namedrop by citing Willie Nelson as helping him to become a songwriter!. It’s a familiar beat, with a simple heartfelt story of a wannabee songwriter.
Gerry has been part of the Country scene for as long as any of us can remember and knows more than most about the market. Once again, he meets that audience with a well produced, well thought out collection, which has been a long time in the making.
“One More Time” is on the TrimTop label . Tel (01592 641209).
If Gerry knows the traditional end of the Scottish Country scene, there’s no doubt that Steve James aims at the more modern Country fan. Steve’s new album, “ The Upside Of Down” is a collection of bang up to date covers, including “Five O’Clock Somewhere”, “Beer For My Horses”, “We Danced” and “Some Beach”. There’s more from the likes of Toby Keith, Darryl Worley and Tracy Byrd.
Recorded with brother Nick and band fellow Norrie Boreland, Steve does a fair version of Randy Travis’ “Three Wooden Crosses”, which works fine, within an album of less traditional fare.
Steve also offers an original. The title track (good to see Scottish acts having faith in their own material to title albums with!). “The Upside Of Down” is an uptempo number which fits well on the album.
The album finishes with Steve’s legendary “Glenn Miller Medley”. OK, it’s not Country, and hardly hits the format for the rest of the album, but it has been part of Steve’s act for many years, and it’s good to hear it down on CD.
The production is quite impressive, and no doubt this will be a big seller at Steve’s gigs across the Country!.
BEST OF BRITISH COUNTRY 2004 is the 6th Annual compilation of tracks which radio DJ’s have been playing throughout the past year thanks to a service called “Hotdisc”, a service put together by Radio Caroline’s Stuart Cameron. All 6 Best Of British CD’s are available from Hotdisc.
This year’s 21 track compliation includes a few Scots, including evergreen favourite Gerry Ford (Family Bible), Stirlingshire singer songwriter Bill Stewart (You’ll Still Be Here Tomorrow) and Janey Kirk (Sweetheart Darling Of Mine). Racael Warwick , the English Rose, reputed to be taking Nashville by storm these days has two cuts, as does Dave Sherriff (including Best Of Friends). Hank Smith and John McCane, both set to appear at the Buffalo Mountain Festival this Easter are included, as is Caithness Festival compere Bernie Underwood. Vanessa Barnett, who pleased so many with her Tammy Wynette role in the George Jones Show which toured Scotland last year is featured with a Nanci Griffith number.
Irish born but Nashville based Bernadette has two cuts, and there’s bluegrass from The Rosinators. Brett Buckland, Graham Clark, Dane Stevens, Blue Orchid, Tim Buppert, Clive John and Dan Wesley complete the line up.
It’s a superb collection of British talent, and worthy of inclusion in any collection.
RED CANYON has been one of the most popular acts on the Scottish club scene for a number of years now, and it’s good to see an album out on the market. “As Promised” is especially enjoyable as it features 17 tracks, primarily aimed at the Country fan. It’s traditional fayre at its best, with covers of Willie Nelson, John Conlee, Merle Haggard, Hoyt Axton and Gene Watson amongst others. Add a little touch of steel, courtesy of Davie Holland, and this is an ideal showcase for Nick & the band, proving that you still get guys playing 100% Country on the Scottish scene.
I particularly enjoyed “I Wonder Where I’ll Find You At Tonight” Freddie Hart’s “The Search” and “Fox On The Run”.
Nick has captured the original feel of many of the songs, and recreated them to great effect.
If, like me, you’re idea of Country includes “Wayfaring Stranger”, “City Of New Orleans” and “Della & The Dealer” , then this is one album that should be in your collection. You’ll be able to pick it up and both Red Canyon, and Steve James gigs.
Some months ago, we reviewed a gospel album from Falkirk based duo, Vangel. One half of the duo is JIMMY SCOTT, who has now released a solo album, “Bread Upon The Water”.
Whilst the Vangel album was an album of old time gospel tunes, this new collection is all new songs, written by Perthshire based Alex Birnie, who wrote the songs on Country Road’s original album a year or two back.
Whilst each of the songs have a message, they all fit nicely into our Country market. Mixing Country & Gospel is nothing new, as people as diverse as Connie Smith, Charlie Landsborough, Josh Turner and of George Hamilton IV can testify.
Here, listen out for “Blessed Times”, “The Good Shepard’s Hand” and “You’ve Got A Friend”. They’ll all appeal to Country listeners.
Indeed , the whole album is never far removed from Country. It’s a good album, the songs are well crafted, and well produced. This wont be the last we hear from Jimmy Scott as a singer, or Alex Birnie as a writer.
The album is available from Country Road Music on 01764 662902.

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