A Real “Rochelle, Rochelle” Musical!

“Imagine what you’d get when you marinate a down-to-earth, fine cut of talent with a sprinkle of Dolly Parton, a smidgen of Maureen McGovern, a dash of Stevie Nix, and a teaspoon of Cher…”

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Richmond, Virginia, April 21, 2019 – One of the great things about traveling the Airbnb way is that you meet some very interesting people, on an almost neighborly and intimate level, in a short period of time! I have gotten to cook in some very well-stocked kitchens and love to taste and cook gourmet dishes to chow on with a smorgasbord of sound in the background.  Check out my latest, recipe:

Imagine now, what you’d get when you marinate a down-to-earth, fine cut of talent with a sprinkle of Dolly Parton, a smidgen of Maureen McGovern, a dash of Stevie Nix, and a teaspoon of Cher?  Mix all into a bowl with her lead-guitar husband “Boz”, funky horns (including a baritone sax), Hammon organ and solid percussion.  Don’t let it simmer too long before firing it up, and you get medium-well done and tasty to your ears, the rangy Rochelle Harper (and her Mississippi band) jammin’!

She told me her music is “Americana” and while defined as contemporary music that incorporates elements of various American roots music styles, including country, roots-rock, folk, bluegrass, R&B and blues and also often uses a full electric band, to debate categorization is a whole other post.  I’ll highlight the tunes that swooned me on recent road trips, transcending mere categorization.  If you must narrow, I’d play several of the songs on my Contemporary Hits, Top 40 and jammin’ music radio stations!

Her 2014 solo effort, “Lilt” is in a class by itself, while her band showcases and performs under a more funky, free-form umbrella.  The first song from “Lilt” is a mid-tempo rocker called “Bittersweet”. Its soulfully fulfilling because the lyrics are realistic and hook repeated often,  “You’re the thing I shouldn’t do, but I know I wanna do anyway…”  Next is “Stars Out” which brings Fleetwood Mac to my DJ mind. They could have changed the ending to a vamp-to-fade and gone on longer, IMO.  I kept hitting ‘repeat’, trying to keep the feeling!!!

 

At this point,  I am needing to reach for a lyric sheet because, like most great crooners, we mortals cannot always understand the heartfelt words!  One of those occasions where, sometime in the future, you hear a cut and suddenly understand what they were singing all along!  Rochelle rear

The disc settles-down after that, into “Cajun Wind” and “Say”, two tracks that let her explore forks in her vocal road that may be more in-tune with that “Americana” thing; she sounds like Cher here, for the first time on my drive (she will again on “Angelina”), and I am just crossing the South-to-North Carolina border on I-95!

Suddenly, there I sat, while the road was closed for a still inexplicable reason – I-95 used to never come to a standstill as I remember it – I shut the music off, in frustration while we sat still for at least sixty minutes. There went my ETA of the day.

When we began to move fast again, Rochelle helped me find my favorite and a-pro-po jam, “Highway One”!  Becoming a tune-wedgie, I’ve played it again and again.  The guitar solo sounds a bit like that of Redbone on the classic 1971 song, “Maggie” and its brass from the outset gave my trip momentum like the legendary Memphis Horns section. Rochelle also covers Bobby Gentry’s “Ode To Billy Joe” on this album.  I’d had enuff of that one growing up, but it might be insightful for a younger audience to listen to.  On “Comin’ Home Again” we are happily greeted by Randall Bramblett’s Hammond B3, and throughout this poppin’ buster, his presence is prevalent like pew prayer in church.

Finally, Rochelle’s signature message song, I suspect, after having talked to her a few times at our AIRbnb Inn, is the reggae-rocker, “Universal Love” whose lyrics – and she wrote eight of the eleven songs – identify her as a strong “Rasta” goddess voice in a body of a natural Gulf Coast girl. Major props to Blair Shotts, whose solid drumming caught my ears, as a once-upon-a-time drummer.  He does Motown accents really well!

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When she first introduced herself to me I thought of Seinfeld’s “Rochelle Rochelle!”  With wishes to hear newer success and happier for having met this couple, my rating is  four-out-of-five, “Peace Within Music” signs, (like Rochelle’s Hippie pants) peace-sign-1066713_960_720!

** Next post,  I will revu the separate Band album, Mississippi Hippie Blues.

This video is a sneak-preview:

 

**Sureshot: Please remember to check out my other Rochelle-related review and other topics at the Mothership blog, achilliad.wordpress.com

Paul Manchin Pools a “Swim”

“Paul has a penchant for adding a few instrumentals late in the game/ I wonder if he will revisit those tracks on his next album – but this time with lyrics added seeing how he sounds when the majority of songs are new originals…” 

When you listen to a Paul Manchin album, you are guaranteed variety of sound, increasing, Michael Franks-style vocal creativity and his own, slightly quirky arrangements which transcends genres – even if not intentionally. He seems a slightly  sad and solitary soul who expresses his sullen longings via these vacillating tracks.

“Swim”, complete with sound effects, is the first song and if you’ve seen the “Lift” video, you know that he is stroking in his pajamas, dreamlike. It needs not be weird – yet is surely and slightly thus.  Pull your swimsuit drawstrings tight for the ride!

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The next pool dip is “Lift” (you make my day) and then the jazzy “What Makes People Happy”, followed by a remake of a song from his previous, “Salutations” album, “Take A Ride”; another cut is the same, but with a funky beat.  Are we in Remix City, Paul?

On track five, he explores Madonna’s 1980s smash, “Like A Virgin”, a totally different way.  I teased him that Madonna is going to come after him and, to my surprise, he replied that he secured permission from her!  Apparently this isn’t the first time Paul has covered it either. He did so back during his Fly-Life days on the 2011 album, “Prolific”.  Hmm.. This time it blends into “Blackjack”, another cut from his last collection.  “Power of Love” is a beautiful piano solo ballad. “Fly”, my favorite and representative of how I first met Paul Manchin, is a nice dance club number with breakbeat-into-the-mix possibilities for DJs.

I really love his respectful, guitar-only cover of Elton’s “Your Song” (track nine).

Tracks ten and eleven, “Chance” and “Decline” respectively, are both big beat instrumentals and “Trinity” is basically sfx and a pure question mark for this listener. Number fourteen, is really jazzy, while “Promise” takes us back to Paul’s penchant for adding a few curious instrumentals late in the game.  Any chance he will revisit those tracks on his next album – this time with lyrics added?  “Want” sounds like a piano soundtrack from a horror movie!

Track sixteen, “Wonder” is my second-place favorite here.   It also apparently has two remix versions, inside an overall retro theme, taking us back to the 1960s “British Invasion” sound of the likes of The Dave Clark Five on one; the next remix is ten years hence from the former. What is very troubling is that in the video for this song, he burns and acoustic guitar! What did this have to do with the lyrics?  Why not put out the album version and then the remix version as a single and video?!

Just snorkel-spy “Try”, and listen to an introspective guitar monologue.  “One” is also from the previous ‘Salutations’ album; this time with a different beat.  How bout more original new fare and fewer remixes, Paul?  Some of the blends and revisits seem random and are confusing to those listeners who desire a more consistent thematic approach to their listening.

That being said, this bath is the most listenable Manchin album throughout that I have enjoyed by him.  Four out of five stars for listenability ( the burning guitar almost makes me deduct a point).  I want to see how he sounds when the majority of songs are new originals – even if fewer overall – in the deep end.  Please do not drown us in remixes next time!  four of five stars

 

Please remember to stop by the ‘mothership’ blog, www.achilliad.wordpress.com to read what is currently goin’ on.  Thanks and please keep the dialogue going with a comment.

Jeffrey Halford and the healers: Delivering Down-home “Lo-Fi Dreams”

“At the end of the musical day, if I was still a DJ on the radio, this music would be deemed “MOR” (middle of the road) back in the 1970s. Now, I hear it is described as “Americana”? Well…”

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CHARLESTON July 29, 2017 – I have been having a party recently in my car, listening to “Lo-Fi Dreams” performed by Jeffrey Halford and The Healers [Floating Records] on its CD player.

What is this “Lo-Fi” Dream?

Hi-Fi (High Fidelity) was the 1960 predecessor to Stereo and after that came Quadraphonic audio, so does it follow that “Lo-Fi” might be back to the future after Digital?  If so,then what a groovy journey!

What I like first is that every one of the ten tunes are different.

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Track one is “Two Jacksons” and I challenge you to guess what it is about before you listen or I tell you below (don’t peek!). It is a great, very descriptive lead-off song which helps you imagine letting your mind wander while watching this healing live.  No mention of the background singers much to my lament.

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Track two leaves no doubt as to the subject matter. “Elvis Shot the Television” starts with a Jimi Hendrix playing the Star-Spangled Banner-like guitar riff and then goes on to remind of us a legendary Presley incident.   “Good Trouble” is just that and who of us hasn’t had some of it at one time or another?!   I like “10,000 Miles”, as a good behind-the-wheel tune.  Speaking of relationships one way or another throughout, “Bird of Youth” is a song of irreconcilable differences, again, like we all have experienced at one time or another. This is the music of our lifetime.

Track eight has a smooth country pace and could have been named “Refuse” or the “Diner”. Instead they went with the tale told of “Sweet Annette” which features a succulent solo guitar in the middle of this offering whose lyrics make me want to have breakfast any time of the day!  “Great Divide” is geographically separating love music!

At the end of the musical day, this music would be played on “MOR” (middle of the road) format radio back in the 1970s. Now it is described as “Americana” I guess.  I do not care much about labels, except that my research took me to the definition described by ‘The Atlantic’ as, “slang for the comforting, middle-class ephemera at your average antique store — things like needle-pointed pillows, Civil War daguerreotypes, and engraved silverware sets. In the 1990s, radio programmers coined a new, related usage: “Americana” became a nickname for the weather-beaten, rural-sounding music that bands like Whiskeytown and Uncle Tupelo were making. It was warm, twangy stuff, full of finger-plucked guitars and gnarled voices like tires on a dirt road.”  Many lyrics feature uniquely different musical takes on love and unhappiness while others celebrate connections and odd circumstances we All have experienced.

Well, not wanting to undo the diversity of this music review but, my elderly mum has similar “engraved silverware” sets to this very day, so what does this say about her “Lo-Fi Dreams”?

Whether Jeffery knows it or not, he has evolved into an entertaining diversity of sound – much like High Fidelity audio was back before “the day”.

Oh, by the way, “Two Jacksons” is about an article of men’s clothing that cost forty dollars and a flirtation situation. “You wear that jacket and I’m yours tonight! Torn and frayed, in need of repair/she was standing right there…” It should become a single hit.  I love the classic hit musik bar X formula bridge solo.

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Four of five steel guitars is my rating.

 Comments please?  Many Thanks.