Saturday, 25 April 2015

4 2 WATCH - Sneak peek at 4 up and coming artists! - Kezia Soul/Phe Phe/Phil Middleton/Mohawk Radio


Kezia Johnson aka Kezia Soul is a singer/songwriter from Birmingham, England.  Influenced at an early age by Reggae, Folk, Rock and R n' B she has an updated Jazz Funk/Soul style.

As her name suggests, she has a beautiful soulful voice and certainly demands your hearing attention, as with great female Jazz pioneers of the past.  Kezia is from a talented family and along with her sister Phe Phe she is rapidly taking the music world by storm.  

Kezia has already appeared as backing vocalist  to up and coming Hip Hop stars around the UK and has tour experience with Birmingham based Jazz/Funk band Genius Collective.  Her first single was released on iTunes and Google Play and was entitled "I Love You" produced by My Boyz Beatz on GT's Records. 
Kezia Soul's performance at The Jazz Café in London in October 2014 was a major highlight which got everybody talking about this hot new star. 

Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Kezia Soul! -



Pheleba Akima Johnson aka Phe Phe is an accomplished dancer and singer/songwriter from Birmingham, England.  Sister of Kezia Soul , talent definitely runs in the family!

Not only is Phe Phe a great singer, she competed and won gold at British Championship level in Rhythmic Gymnastics!   She has already collaborated with several producers, DJ's and Hip Hop/Dubstep artists and has a great career ahead.

After her debut E.P. "LIMA (Lost In My Aura)" was released on iTunes was received very favourably among fans and industry professionals her light is sure to shine even more sooner than later.

The atmospheric Club style music backdrop colliding with Phe Phe's sweet vocals makes an interesting blend.  To me it's a Kelli Ali (Sneaker Pimps) sound but with a deeper mystery.  Such as her prominence on the album "Daydreaming" with French Dubstep producer Von D she has gone from strength to strength.  She recently featured as one to watch in 2015 on Sian Anderson's show on 1Xtra.

Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Phe Phe! -
Phil Middleton got his first guitar at 11 and has toured the UK and Europe for many years.  He has fronted bands, played in bands and also as a solo artist.

Phil is an accomplished singer/songwriter and guitarist and plays a unique brand of Soul/R n' B/Pop. With over 40 years experience playing solo and working with other artists he has enjoyed success and has jokingly said he might have actually got the hang of it now!

Phil will hopefully be releasing another album in August on all the usual online resources.  All being well, it will be entitled "Rainbows Without Rain". 
He plays electric guitar and bass as well as being a vocalist.  He comes from Manchester and has played with many different artists including 70s band Sad Café and punk poet John Cooper Clarke! He plays a mixture of cover songs and original compositions. 

Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Phil Middleton -
Mohawk Radio are a 4 piece Rock band from Manchester.  The line-up comprises of Mia Page, James Gregory, Sean Frankland and David Quinn and they play in an Alternative/Rock/Pop style.  The powerful vocals of Mia are backed by dynamic guitars and drums.

More Pat Benatar/Heart than Paramore, it is melodic, authentic anthemic Rock.  The band won "Rock The House", beating thousands of bands across the UK.  They also won PureFM's 2014 Stockport's Finest. 
The band are managed by Chatfield Entertainment  Their unique sound brings back the real rock n' roll live band and have earned rave reviews and a blossoming fan base, as well as international radio and TV airplay!

The band have released two E.P.'s entitled "Halfway To Heaven" and "#1" and I, for one, can't wait for the album releases.  With the gorgeous Mia's killer voice and the guys' exciting power play this band are sure for global stardom.

Check out these links to find more performances and songs from Mohawk Radio -
Check my blog soon for more 4 2 WATCH!


Monday, 13 April 2015


This is a new series, I will listen to all the 80s albums released by the decade's artists and judge the songs that were not singles (in the UK) from an album.  I will give my opinion whether the remaining songs were just fillers or could have been singles.  How many singles I can find will determine the final rating of how good the album is as a whole.  Below 49% = Poor/50-64% = Average/65-79% = Very Good/80-100% = Excellent.  There will be a different artist each blog.  I am a big fan of all the artists I review in this series, so I have to think hard if the song would wow the chart public, even if they are my favourite songs!


Members - Michael Hutchence (Lead Vocals/Guitar) /Tim Farriss (Lead Guitar/Backing Vocals) /Kirk Pengilly (Rhythm Guitar/Saxophone/Backing Vocals) /Garry Gary Beers (Bass) /Andrew Farriss (Keyboards/Guitar/Harmonica/Backing Vocals) /Jon Farriss (Drums/Keybaords/Backing Vocals).

Other Members - Later - Jon Stevens (Lead Vocals) /JD Fortune (Lead Vocals) /Ciaran Gribbin (Lead Vocals)/

INXS (#0) (1980) -

Tracks -
On A Bus/Doctor/Just Keep Walking/Learn To Smile/Jumping/In Vain/Roller Skating/Body Language/Newsreel Babies/Wishy Washy.

Singles -

Potential Singles -
On A Bus - A kind of early Police/Men At Work Electronic Rock with a catchy chorus and bridge.

Doctor - An almost Ska beat with a hint of Talking Heads, quirky and catchy.

Just Keep Walking - A heavier rockier sound but with an 80s Numan-esque electronic backbeat.

Learn To Smile - A Rock/synth crossover track complete with Punk vocals.

Jumping -  An eclectic mix of Ska/Mod/unk!

Roller Skating - Almost early Madness style, definitely nutty influence here!

Fillers -
In Vain (A overlong dramatic Electronica song)/Body Language (Two Tone sound but it just doesn't work, lyrically not challenging)/Newsreel Babies (Definite filler, enough said!)/Wishy Washy (Like very early Adam and the Ants, raw but not hitting the mark).

Average album! 6 singles from 10 tracks. 60/100.



Tracks -
Stay Young/Horizons/Big Go Go/Underneath The Colours/Fair Weather Ahead/Night Of Rebellion/Follow/Barbarian/What Would You Do/Just To Learn Again.

Singles -

Potential Singles -
Stay Young - Great song, one of my favourites, only a hint of Ska and maybe a touch of Reggae, simple lyrics but catchy enough.

Underneath The Colours - Real early 80s song, reminds me of early Spandau, Electronica and strong repeated vocal.

Night Of Rebellion - Up tempo early New Wave akin to Talking Heads.

Barbarian - Unusual, sounds like an early attempt at Goth Punk Rock.

Fillers -
Horizons (Atmospheric up and down synth driven track, a little too drawn out)/Big Go Go (Sparse track musically, with sparse interest!)/Fair Weather Ahead (Trying too hard to be an epic song and failing)/Follow (Doesn't grab the ears, a slight melody but not enough)/What Would You Do (Electronic mishmash)/Just To Learn Again (Michael trying hard to give it some emotion, but the whole song is overlong and boring).

Poor album! 4 singles from 10 tracks.  40/100.

SHABOOH SHOOBAH (#0) (1982) -

Tracks -
The One Thing/To Look At You/Spy Of Love/Soul Mistake/Here Comes/Black And White/Golden Playpen/Jan's Song/Old World New World/Don't Change.

Singles -

Potential Singles -
The One Thing - Almost the sound we know of later INXS, rocky, melodic, similar to Simple Minds, great tune.

To Look At You - Stadium Goth Rock, Gary Numan-esque vocals again, top song!.

Black And White - Pure Classic Pop.

Don't Change - Great Indie Rock. 

Fillers -
Spy Of Love (A little too much going on to establish the sound the band are going for)/Soul Mistake (Early Billy Idol, but not having the desired effect)/Here Comes (Fast paced track, nothing more to say)/Golden Playpen (Far too much going on with not much sign of tune or melody)/Jan's Song (Nice reggae sound but nothing to grab the attention)/Old World New World (Synth Pop, poor attempt).

Poor album!  4 singles form 10 tracks.  40/100.

THE SWING (#0) (1984) -

Tracks -
Original Sin/Melting In The Sun/I Send A Message/Dancing On The Jetty/The Swing/Johnson's Aeroplane/Love Is (What I Say)/Face The Change/Burn For You/All The Voices.

Singles -

Potential Singles -
Original Sin - The real INXS sound emerges, funky guitars, great chorus, finding their own unique sound.

The Swing - More Goth Rock and a little later U2 here.

Love Is (What I Say) - A little of everything here, Rock, Pop, and a tiny hint of OMD, great 80s pop record.

Face The Change - An attempt to create their own Blondie's Rapture, an almost Rap vocal and funky Hip Hop/New Wave backbeat.

Burn For You - An 80s Disco beat with melodious female backing chorus, uplifting sound.

Fillers -
Melting In The Sun (Industrial effects and very stop-start)/I Send A Message (Sounds like The Art Of Noise took over Michael, awful)/Dancing On The Jetty (Repetitive guitars and similar vocals)/Johnson's Aeroplane (Quirky but uninspiring)/All The Voices (Not a bad song, but more of a background song to a film trailer, too long at over 6 minutes).

Average album!  5 singles from 10 tracks.  50/100.

LISTEN LIKE THIEVES (#48) (1985) -

Tracks -
What You Need/Listen Like Thieves/Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain)/Shine Like It Does/Good And Bad Times/Biting Bullets/This Time/Three Sisters/Same Direction/One X One/Red Red Sun.

Singles -
What You Need (#51)/This Time (#79)/Kiss The Dirt (Falling Down The Mountain) (#54)/Listen Like Thieves (#46).

Potential Singles -
Shine Like It Does - Classic 80s Pop Rock, INXS find their niche with this album.

Good And Bad Times - A heavier sound, searing guitars, powerful vocals, brilliant Rock song.

Biting Bullets - A venture back into the old INXS Punk Pop sound, catchy chorus..

Same Direction - Mick Jagger re-modelled?, Classic Rock.

One X One - Parts remind me of The Smiths and other remind me strangely like Go West, but it works!

Red Red Sun - Punk says hello to The Specials!

Fillers -
Three Sisters (Uneventful Howard Jones instrumental sound-alike).

Excellent album! 10 singles from 11 tracks.  90/100.

KICK (#9) (1987) -

Tracks -
Guns In The Sky/New Sensation/Devil Inside/Need You Tonight/Mediate/The Loved One/Wildlife/Never Tear Us Apart/Mystify/Kick/Calling All Nations/Tiny Daggers.

Singles -
Need You Tonight (#2)/Devil Inside (#47)/New Sensation (#25)/Never Tear Us Apart (#24)/Mystify(#14)/Kick (#0)

Potential Singles -
Guns In The Sky - Great album opener, simple but hard hitting Rock.

The Loved One - The Rolling Stones re-emerge as an influence here.  Anthemic Rock.

Wildlife - Another Rock hit

Fillers -
Mediate (Rhyming talk over an atmospheric backing, good break in the album but nothing more)/Calling All Nations (Second to worst track on the album after Mediate, repetitive and not one of their best)/Tiny Daggers (Jagger-esque vocals on a poor Stones' imitation).

Very Good album!  9 singles from 12 tracks.  75/100.

My favourite 80s INXS tracks?

Top 20 in not particular order -

1   Listen Like Thieves
2   What You Need
3   On A Bus
4   Doctor
5   Just Keep Walking
6   Stay Young
7   Night Of Rebellion
8   The One Thing
9   Black And White
10 Don't Change
11 To Look At You
12 Original Sin
13 New Sensation
14 Need You Tonight
15 Devil Inside
16 Mystify
17 Shine Like It Does
18 The Swing
19 Good And Bad Times
20 Never Tear Us Apart



Thursday, 2 April 2015

JAMES BAY - English singer

James Bay is a 24 year old singer-songwriter from Hitchin, Hertfordshire, England.  He also plays guitar.  This might sound like the introduction to a heart warming story of a young guy who dreamt of a being a star but never made it.  Well, this guy is a little different.  From what I have discovered about this unique talent James' love of music started very young and had an obsession with guitars at an early age.

The story goes that a young James found this old beaten up guitar that was a rusty mess stored in the back of a cupboard.  Young Mr Bay started to play around strumming along to tunes and went with his father to a local music shop to try and "spruce" the battered instrument up!

James then taught himself guitar, preferring to playing by ear along to Van Morrison, Derek and the Dominos, some Motown and Folk.  After attempts to star in bands he was never the lead.  At 16 he starred in his first gig and "shut up a few drunks!". 
At 18 years of age James he moved from Hitchin to Brighton and initially wanted to study fine art as he was also a talented painter and artist.  Instead he studied music and it is where he was building a fan base performing around the seaside town's pubs and busking spots.  His management company picked him up coming down from London to catch his show.  Music stardom was coming but first a move to London.
Someone was so impressed, one night in a Kentish Town pub, they uploaded a video of James performing on YouTube.  Republic Records saw him, whisked him to New York and signed him straight away.
James has released a handful of E.P.'s and a debut album, as well as picking up a the Brit Awards Critics Choice in 2015, he's toured with Hozier and recorded his album in Nashville.  This guy is going places.  I first heard him on a music show a couple of weeks ago, the song "Hold Back The River".  It starts like a lovely Acoustic number, with an Irish feel, then it kicks in and the guitars go up a notch with a brilliant sing-a-long chorus.  Add a few chants of "oh oh" and it is an instant hit for me.  Reminds me a lot of Kane, a Dutch rock band who I have also blogged about here.  This guy is a real talent in his own right and will surely be massive in the years to come.
James' first E.P. was entitled "The Dark Of The Morning" was released in 2013.  It includes the brilliant and gorgeous ballad "Need The Sun To Break".  It really shows his strong vocals and excellent guitar playing and also a fine lyrical talent.  The little more rockier "When We Were On Fire" reminds me of Scottish band Del Amitri, powerful guitar and vocals and clearly sung melodious lyrics. 

The second E.P. "Let It Go" released in 2014 includes the title track which is a sweet soul filled ballad and has a very emotional feel which emanates from the guitar playing.  "Hear Your Heart" has a Motown gospel feel while there is a Sam Cooke influence on "Running" which is a minimal music backed vocal track but has such power and emotion.  This E.P. shows the wonderful soulful voice James has and also his ear for a great song.
In 2014 the "Hold Back The River" E.P. came and featured the previously mentioned title track and also the Progressive Rock/Soul Pop mix of "Sparks".  It also features the almost aggressive Rock acoustics of "Wait In Line, which is a little Razorlight and a little Then Jerico (the 80s band in case you don't remember them!).  

After releasing a previous 6 song compilation E.P. "Other Sides", the album "Chaos And The Calm" has just been released.  Containing 12 songs (a handful previously on the E.P.'s), it is pretty much a masterpiece.  Other songs on this set that I didn't mention before include the fabulous "Craving", similar to "Hold Back The River", it's a powerful rocker with a great chorus.  The foot tapping "Best Fake Smile" has a searing guitar that beats on the senses but also a 60s/70s chorus, really great song.  "Collide" is another favourite of mine, a stop/start chopping guitar is a perfect backbeat for this rocking and rolling, almost Dance-Rock number.  The energetic 80s stomping "Get Out While You Can" is also quite awesome.  A fine album by a fine new artist.  There are a number of "next big thing" candidates that in my mind are far overated, this guy is not, he is a really talented guy.  This is what British music needs, a guitar playing, soul rocking Indie superstar!

Check out some of this great talent's music from below-
"Move Together", "Need The Sun To Break", "When We Were On Fire", "Stealing Cars", "Clocks Go Forward".
(From "The Dark Of The Morning" E.P.).
"Let It Go", "Hear Your Heart", "Running", "Heavy Handed", "If You Ever Want To Be In Love".
(From "Let It Go" E.P.).
"Hold Back The River", "Sparks", "Wait In Line".
(From "Hold Back The River" E.P.).
"Craving", "Best Fake Smile", "Collide", "Get Out While You Can", "Move Together".
(From "Chaos And The Calm" E.P.).