Lee Speaks About Music… #134

Stormwatch (40th Anniversary Force 10 Edition) – Jethro Tull



It’s that time of the year again for another re-issue from the back catalogue of Jethro Tull albums that come in the form of these rather splendid book editions and this particular edition celebrates the 40th Anniversary of the 1979 album Stormwatch to which Mr. Anderson is calling the “Force 10 Edition”. This is actually the 11th album to be given the book treatment which all started back in 2012 when the 1972 album Thick As A Brick got the treatment to which he called “The Special Collector’s Edition” which also celebrated that albums 40th Anniversary. It was only a couple of years prior to that we see for the first time 5.1 versions of the albums Stand Up and Aqualung and even though none of those releases were given the book treatment at the time.

There is no doubt that Mr. Anderson seen something more appealing about how the first book edition of Thick As A Brick was presenting itself in the form of a book that came with a CD and DVD with 5.1 version of the album, plus a book that told you everything about the albums history and it very much inspired him to even go back and re-release both Stand Up and Aqualung again in the form of a book edition and give people even more for their money by putting more discs inside them. It was however unfortunate that in 2013 that the 1970 Benefit album did not get the book treatment at all and was only ever released in a 4-panel digiPack to which he called “A Collector’s Edition”.


So far to date Benefit is the only album not to be given the book treatment out of the first 12 albums that was released from 1968 – 1979. But the one thing I have noticed is that the albums 50th Anniversary is only around the corner and only a year away now. So just like we had the 40th Anniversary of the 1978 album Heavy Horses and the 50th Anniversary of the 1968 album This Was given the book treatment last year. We could very well see the 40th Anniversary of the 1980 album A and the 50th Anniversary of the 1970 album Benefit get released in 2020.

Besides being the 3rd part of a trilogy of folk rock albums, the album Stormwatch was the last album to feature Jethro Tull’s classic band line-up and it’s last member to join them bassist John Glascock who had joined the band in 1976 died from heart complications during the making of the album in the same year of its release. The album was not made under the best conditions and times and I personally felt it suffered for it. But before we go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork of this new release of the album.

The Packaging & Artwork…


As with all these packages they are 100% quality in that everything stores away neatly into a 96-page hardback book. The 4 CD’s are held firmly in place with the plastic hub trays that are fitted in the front and back of the book and the 2 DVD’s slot away very tidily into cardboard slip pockets that are gloss coated on the inside to prevent the discs from get any marks and scratches. The 96 page book is very informative regarding the  history of the album and the time it was made, and comes with wonderful glossy pictures and all the usual linear notes, credits and the lyrics.

It’s always pays to get in early and pre-order an item like this as soon as you see it available for pre-order on Amazon. Although places like the Burning Shed are usually on the ball and will have it available for pre-order first and even there price might appear to look cheaper than Amazon’s do not pay attention to the price that is first displayed on Amazon because it will drop down as you get nearer towards the release date.

For example, I pre-ordered my copy from Amazon on the 22nd July and at the time it was priced up at £35.95. A couple of weeks before its release the price had dropped down to £29.98 and the good thing about Amazon is that the P+P is free. Had I have pre-ordered it from the Burning Shed with the price of the P+P they charge you on top. I would have ended up paying £37.49 or even more for it. So, it does pay to shop around but in general I have had some right bargains from pre-ordering the Jethro Tull Book Editions from Amazon and they cannot be beaten.

You can get a better look at the package in this short video presentation I made.

The Artwork.

The concept of the artwork for the albums cover is credited to Ian Anderson and was based around themes and the environment. The painting of the snowscape with a polar bear looming over a power station was done by David Jackson under the art direction of Peter Wragg. A photograph of Anderson with binoculars was used on the albums front cover to which the snow and the lightning flashes were painted in. Overall, it’s quite a good album cover and is very apt to the albums title.

Stormwatch (40th Anniversary Force 10 Edition) Review…

Jethro Tull’s 12th studio album Stormwatch was originally released in the UK and US on the 21st September 1979. The album contained 10 tracks spanned over an overall playing time of 45 minutes, 53 seconds. The album received many critical reviews upon its release and even though it peaked at 27 in the UK album charts and 22 in the US it was quite marginally disappointing in comparison to how well every album that came before it had done. I am pretty sure that at the time of its release Ian Anderson was hugely disappointed by how the album was received, that much that he spent many years defending the album at his live concerts.

I remember seeing Jethro Tull at the Birmingham Symphony Hall in the late 90’s when they were touring the DOT COM album the band had just released, and whilst he played “Dark Ages” he mentioned that Stormwatch was one of his personal favourite albums. But you cannot blame any songwriter for wanting to defend their own songs on that score. I have to confess that I myself was hugely disappointed with the album that much that I honestly would say that every one of the 11 albums that came before it was real GEMS in relation to the album. For an album that was supposed to be the third part in a series of a trilogy of folk-rock albums, it sounds more like a rock album gone wrong. The album is so out of context with its two predecessors Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses and only a few songs really speak the same language.

I think over the many years in many of my reviews of Jethro Tull I have on many other sites expressed the many downfalls that the album Stormwatch has. Having read the book that comes with this new 40th Anniversary edition I was quite surprised that not only all of the band members expressed the same feelings as myself about the album, but even Ian Anderson himself thought that “Dun Ringill” was the best thing on it and that has always been my favourite track too. Apart from another couple of tracks on the album the only real thing the album Stormwatch had about it would of been the fact that it contained the members of its last classic line-up. I would also say that at least Anderson still had his voice too, to which he did lose around 5 years after the album was made.

The 40th Anniversary of the album Stormwatch (Force 10 Edition) was supposed to be released on the 11th October but due to a distribution glitch in getting all the pre-orders out the release date got set back a month to the 15th November. It mostly affected those of us who live in the UK but in many other countries it was released on the 11th October and on the 10th October, I did get an email from Amazon confirming the new release date and also Ian Anderson announced the bad news on Facebook also on that day. I was not too happy having to wait another month but these things do happen and then 2 days before the new releases date on the 13th November Ian Anderson made another announcement that the distribution had still not been sorted out and it was now being set back to the 29th November.

I eagerly kept checking my email waiting for the announcement off Amazon and luckily for me I never got one and it did arrive on the 15th November. But it seems very odd that all those who did order it from the Jethro Tull website will have to wait till the 29th of November. The same goes for those who pre-ordered it from the Burning Shed as well and that is most likely tied to the Jethro Tull website. It’s most likely down to the fact that Ian Anderson has to sign them and you do pay more money for it by ordering from there which is why I prefer Amazon myself.

The album was recorded at Ian Anderson’s own Maison Rouge Studio in Fulham road London although a lot of it was also recorded in other various places with the use of the Maison Rouge Mobile which was Anderson’s first studio he had built back in 1975 and is also known as La Maison Rouge which was built in a Mercedes truck. The Maison Rouge studio in Fulham road he built in 1977. Ian Anderson sold the studio sometime in 1983. I am not 100% sure but I think he may have sold it to the record producer Robin Millar who had brought 3 studios in London back in those days.

Maison Rouge

Maison Rouge Studio

Many artists were recorded during the times Ian Anderson had the studio and long after he sold it on. Even Wham’s first hit was recorded there and some of Queen’s big hits. Marrilion recorded their 2nd album Fugazi and even Genesis had recorded there. The list goes on and on. The studio was eventually sold on too developers and it was Chelsea FC who brought it as part of a re-development for their football ground and they knocked down to make way for a car park which is what it has been since around 2005.

The Package Contents…

JT Package Contnets

Like many of these Book Editions they come with an array of bonus material and besides the 96 page book that is an excellent feature on its own with all the informative information it gives you, this release comes with 6 Discs 4 CD’s & 2 DVD’s which is the most discs that any of these box sets have ever came with so far. It’s also good to see that Steven Wilson is back at the helm for this release and he’s perhaps had his work cut out here because he’s not only done new mixes and a 5.1 mix for the studio album, but has also done the same for much of the bonus material as well. So, let’s now take a closer inspection at just what you get here.

CD 1.

The 1st CD comes with the new Steve Wilson mixes of the original 10 album tracks which are spanned over an overall playing time of 45 minutes, 53 seconds. I like the fact that it is only the main album you get and it does not include any other bonus tracks on it. There is no need for me to list the tracks here as I shall be reviewing them later on in the album tracks section of my review. But what I will say is like all of Wilson’s new mixes he has done an excellent job on them.

CD 2.

The 2nd CD contains is what they are calling the “Associated Recordings” and this disc contains all the recordings that were recorded around the time of making the album. In total you get 15 tracks over and overall playing time of 72 minutes, 7 seconds. 7 of the tracks are all previously unreleased material and the other 8 tracks have found their way on previous releases as bonus tracks on albums and various other box sets. The previously unreleased tracks are as follows:

Dark Ages (Early Version)“. “A Single Man (Instrumental)“. “Orion (Full Version)“. “Urban Apocalypse“. “Man Of God“. “Rock Instrumental (Unfinished Master)” and “Sweet Dream Fanfare“.

As you can see there is also a couple of alternative versions of “Dark Ages” & “Orion” that featured on the Stormwatch album. Both of these versions are also extended and longer than the original tracks. There is also 3 instrumental tracks 2 of which “A Single Man” & “Rock Instrumental” were written by Martin Barre and although they was not considered to be fitting enough for the album they did get played live at some shows back in 1979/80. The 3rd instrumental piece “Sweet Dream Fanfare” was penned by David Palmer and used as the introduction to the shows the band played on their US tours in the autumn of 1978 and the spring of 1979. These shows also opened up with “Sweet Dream” as the first number the band played.

Both the songs “Urban Apocalypse” & “Man Of God” are certainly the most interesting out of the bunch of unreleased material. The first of the two was written by David Palmer and Anderson does describe it as being more of his baby, but much of the band had an input in it including the deceased John Glascock and it does sound like a very sophisticated Jethro Tull song and is very good. It was also meant to be included on the album but was left off due to vinyl restrictions. The latter of the two songs was written by Anderson but he never considered it good enough and left it on the shelf. It’s not too bad and in reality, I personally do not think any of them would of tied in with the folk rock trilogy, but then again neither did a lot of the material that made it onto Stormwatch either :)))))).

The other 8 tracks were all written around the same time as Stormwatch apart from the live track which was written back in 1969. But apart from that the other tracks were never considered for the album though there are some really excellent songs that were written amongst this lot and certainly a couple of them that would of been a damn site more fitting regarding folk rock. The tracks are as follows:

Crossword“. “Kelpie“. “Dun Ringill (Early Version)“. “A Stitch In Time”. “Broadford Bazaar“. “King Henry’s Madrigal (Theme From “Mainstream)“. “The Lyricon Blues (Instrumental)” and “Sweet Dream (Live)“.

Let’s get the odd live track out of the way first and “Sweet Dream” is the version from the double live album Bursting Out and was included here because it was also the B’ side of the single “A Stitch In Time” that they wrote and released in 1978. The early version of “Dun Ringill” includes Martin Barre playing with Ian Anderson on the song. The version that features on the Stormwatch album only featured Anderson alone in the same way he had done “Jack In The Green” on the Songs From The Wood album.

The first of the two instrumental pieces “King Henry’s Madrigal & The Lyricon Blues (Instrumental)” was arranged by David Palmer and originally thought to have been composed by King Henry VIII and this has been played many a time live on stage by the band. It’s a piece that really sits in well with Tull’s repertoire and features Dave Pegg on bass. The second of the pieces was written by Anderson and is a blues piece that he done with a wind synthesizer or wind-controlled instrument called a Lyricon.



The Lyricon was the first ever wind controller to be constructed and was invented by Bill Bernardi (and co-engineered by Roger Noble with the late Lyricon performer Chuck Greenberg. It was manufactured by Computone Inc. in Massachusetts in the early 1970s and I find that quite fascinating and something unique, especially has not even MIDI had been invented by then. None of the Lyricon’s were engineered to use MIDI either and it was only after the company went out of business in 1980 that external MIDIfication modules were produced by J.L. Cooper and STEIM. “The Lyricon Blues” was a one off and the only piece Anderson played with the instrument and he soon got bored of it and never touched it again.

The remaining 4 songs I very much consider GEMS and always have had. In reality both “Kelpie” & “Broadford Bazaar” should have made it on the album Stormwatch. They are both songs that very much have the same quality of the material that was on Songs From The Wood & Heavey Horses in that this is genuine folk rock material and very well written songs. The other two songs “Crossword” & “A Stitch In Time” have more of a resemblance to the Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll – Too Young To Die! album and really are excellent too.

To be honest looking at how most of these Book Editions sell out more or less as soon as they come out. I am surprised to see how widely available Too Old To Rock ‘N’ Roll – Too Young To Die! still is. I know I paid £14 for it when it was released back in 2016. But even at the price it is on Amazon UK now at £24 it’s still a bargain and I would even say as an album it was a thousand times better than Stormwatch which is really an album that does not have much to say about itself.

CD’s 3 & 4.

Discs 3 & 4 contain a previously unreleased concert of the band playing live at Congreßgebouw, Den Haag in the Netherlands on the 16th March 1980. No doubt the concert has been put out on several bootlegs over the years and it even mentions that due to the archival nature of the source material the sound quality might not be up to modern standards. There is some evident distortion in some of the more powerful tracks like “Dark Ages” and “Orion” but overall, it’s not bad enough to spoil your listening pleasure and I certainly feel that it was a worthy edition of them including it.

Obviously as you can see by the date the band played the concert that John Glascock was not present and had sadly passed on in the previous year. Dave Pegg of Fairport Convention was called in to handle the bass duties who eventually went on to join the band in the same year. Being as the band were still very much on the tour of the Stormwatch album most of the album got played in the first half of the set to which they kicked off the show off with them and rolled them out one after another. It also features many Tull classics as ever and even a couple of Dave Pegg’s own compositions are played over the two sets too.

In total you get the whole hour and 50 minute show spread over the two discs and the 3rd CD contains 13 tracks spread over an overall playing time of 60 minutes, 26 seconds and the track list is as follows: Prelude To A Storm“. “Dark Ages“. “Home“. “Orion“. “Dun Ringill“. “Elegy“. “Old Ghosts“. “Something’s On The Move“. “Aqualung“. “Peggy’s Pub“. “Jack-In-The-Green“. “King Henry’s Madrigal/Drum Solo” and “Heavy Horses“.

The 4th CD contains 12 tracks and comes with an overall playing time of 48 minutes, 49 seconds. The track listing is as follows: Flute Solo“. “Keyboard Duet“. “Songs From The Wood“. “Hunting Girl“. “Jams O’Donnel’s Jigs“. “Thick As A Brick“. “Too Old To Rock’n’roll: Too Young To Die!“. “Cross-Eyed Mary“. “Guitar Solo“. “Minstrel In The Gallery“. “Locomotive Breath” and “The Dam Busters March“.

DVD 1.

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The first of the DVD’s contains the new Steven Wilson mixes in 5.1 & Stereo plus the original 1979 Stereo mix of the album. The main menu looks very pretty with the album cover and animated snow falling making it more realistic than the album cover and this is where for me with this type of packages you are not missing out by not having the vinyl album for its larger picture of the album cover. The main menu itself presents you with 2 simple choices of what mix to play and by clicking on one of them will present you with the following screen.

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Once you’ve made your choice of which mix to play the sub menu presents you with the following 3 choices “Play Album”. “Track Select” and “Audio Select” as you can see in the picture above. From here you can simply play the album or you might want to head into the “Track Select” to select a track to play or the “Audio Select” to set up your desired audio settings. The “Track Select” will take you to the following screen.

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As you can see from the “Track Select” menu it only features the tracks from the album Stormwatch and there are no other bonus tracks on the 1st DVD. The same is for both the new Steve Wilson mixes and the original 1979 mix of the album. The following screen shows the “Audio Select” menu.

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From the “Audio Select” menu shown above you can select your choice of audio. The new Steve Wilson mixes gives you 3 choices of audio to select from and by default it’s set to 96/24 Stereo LPCM. The other 2 are 5.1 Surround Soundtracks giving you the choice of DTS 96/24 and standard Dolby Digital 48/16. The 1979 original flat transfer of the album comes with 1 Soundtrack of 96/24 LPCM Stereo.

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Whilst playing the album it presents you with the albums front cover and a slideshow of pictures of the band and individual members of the band are displayed in the lenses as shown in the picture above. It also displays the name of the track you’re playing and the animated snow falling to make it a bit more pretty. It’s a nice enough touch and overall, they have done a very good job on putting the DVD together. So now let’s take a look at the 2nd DVD.

DVD 2.

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The layout of DVD 2 is the same as the previous DVD and this disc contains the same 15 tracks that are the “Associated Recordings” on CD 2. Only here they also come with a 5.1 mix and also the original stereo mixes have been included. The Audio formats also offer you the same choice you got with the first DVD too. I very much like the fact that these tracks got the 5.1 treatment and it is unusual for them to include the bonus tracks with 5.1 mixes and Steve Wilson did have his work cut out on this album. It’s also worth noting though that only 13 of the tracks have been given the 5.1 treatment and the last couple of tracks “Sweet Dream Fanfare” & “Sweet Dream Live” are in stereo only.

The 5.1 Mixes.

Well there is no doubt that Steven Wilson is up there with the best of the 5.1 mix engineers these days and no doubt he has done another truly GREAT! job with them for both the new mixes of the original album and associated recordings. I do feel the 5.1 treatment does work well in how he’s gone about the placement of everything over the 6 channels and because Stormwatch is not a particular favourite album of mine by any means I was rather hoping that the 5.1 treatment would make the album work a bit better for me. But unfortunately, it does nothing for it basically because most of the material was just too bad to say enough in the first place. But I suppose at the least I might get to play the album a bit more now it’s had the 5.1 treatment and it does have a few good tracks.

More than anything I am so glad he did give at least 13 of the 15 tracks of the associated recordings the 5.1 treatment and in all honesty, it is these tracks and the bonus disc that are the more enjoyable thing about the package along with the book. He has done a very effective job with “Urban Apocalypse” too and I prefer the material that was written for the biggest majority of these tracks over the album Stormwatch. Overall, the 5.1 mixes of both albums are TOP NOTCH! and once again I give nothing but praise to the guy.

The Bonus Material In Review.

For me the bonus material that was written around the same time as the album Stormwatch is very good and a lot of it I would say does say more about Ian Anderson’s writing than the material that winded up on Stormwatch. But even if you were to swap and change some of the material to try and make up something that would have been more suitable to work in the way of the 3rd part of a series of folk-rock albums, you would be flogging a dead horse I am afraid. Simply because there is nothing here to really measure up to the written material that made up the albums Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses. But that is not to say that some of the bonus material is not more familiar with the band Jethro Tull.

Over the many years since Jethro Tull started back in the late 60’s Ian Anderson has written many truly GREAT! songs that never made it onto any of the bands main albums they put out. Sure, they made it onto compilation albums and songs like “Witches Promise” and “Living In The Past” are very much what I would call Jethro Tull classics and that is just to name a couple of them. I think out of all the tracks that make up the associated recordings the only one that lets it down is that he decided to include the full version of “Orion“. The song is boring enough without making it longer and it’s never going to make grade like he did with the extended version of “Wondering Aloud” to which he entitled “Wondering Aloud Again“.

Overall both the associated recordings and live concert are worthy additions and John Glascock also appears on more of the tracks on the associated recordings than the album and features on 8 of the tracks. My personal highlights from the associated recordings are as follows: “Crossword“. “Kelpie“. “Dun Ringill (Early Version)“. “A Stitch In Time“. “A Single Man (Instrumental)“. “Broadford Bazaar“. “King Henry’s Madrigal“. “Urban Apocalypse“. “The Lyricon Blues (Instrumental)” and “Man Of God“.

Musicians & Credits…

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All songs composed by Ian Anderson except “Elegy” by David Palmer. Recorded between August 1978 – July 1979 on the Maison Rouge Mobile and at the Maison Rouge Studios Fulham. London. Produced by Ian Anderson & Robin Black. Engineered by Robin Black. Cover Concept by Ian Anderson. Art Direction by Peter Wagg. Cover Painting by David Jackson. Surround & Stereo New Mixes by Steven Wilson. Den Haag Audio Restoration & Mastering by Nick Watson at Fluid. CD Master & DVD Authoring by Ray Shulman at Isonic.


Ian Anderson: Vocals/Flute/Acoustic Guitar/Bass Guitar.
Martin Barre: Electric Guitar/Classical Guitar/Mandolin.
John Evan: Piano & Organ.
David Palmer: Portative Pipe Organ/Synthesizers & Orchestral Arrangements.
John Glascock: Bass Guitar (Tracks 2, 9, 10 & Disc 2 Tracks 1, 2, 3, 9, 10, 11, 13, 15)
Barriemore Barlow: Drums & Percussion.

Additional Musicians.

Dave Pegg: Bass (Disc 2 Track 14 & Discs 3 & 4)
Francis Wilson: Spoken Word (Tracks 1, 8)

The Original Album Tracks Review…

I have to confess that when Stormwatch was released back in 1979 it was the the first time I seen a dent regarding the written material that made up the album. To even say it was the third part of a folk-rock trilogy was a bit of an insult basically because the material was all over the place and never heading in the right direction. One minute you are on an oil rig in the North Sea and the next you’re in the stars and then thrust back to the dark ages. Everything about the album is so out of context there is just no way for it to work like a collection of songs that have been assembled to make up an album never mind a folk-rock album.

Unlike the previous two albums in the folk-rock trilogy where the other band members had joined in on the writing Stormwatch was mostly written by Ian Anderson solely, apart from the last instrumental track on the album penned by David Palmer. Gone are the tiny woodland elves that wondered along so pleasantly in velvet green and the one brown mouse sitting in its cage in acres wild, to make way for the news concerning oil tankers in the North Sea and to gaze at the stars. Effectively it’s a bit like making way for a bypass that’s going to be built through heritage land and piss many of its residents off who live there :)))))).

Something more FISHY! was going on and I am sure that the fact that Ian Anderson had gone into Salmon farming up in Scotland and focused his attention around that region had a bearing on how the album turned out and his mind may of been focused on other things rather than the folk rock trilogy he originally had planned. But of course, with things not going so well with John Glascock’s health would of also had a bearing and his decision to fire him (or rather let him go) did not help with the other members of the band in particular with his closest friend Barriemore Barlow who himself decided to leave after the tour.

According to the book Anderson did let him go for his own good to get himself sorted out properly and it was Glascock himself who took it on himself that he had been fired. I tend to believe that as well simply because having come out of hospital after a serious operation he simply went back to his old lifestyle instead of taking things easier. It’s an easy thing to do and I have seen so many who have done the same thing in my lifetime and they are no longer here either. But what is left here are the 3 tracks that Glascock got to play on and the remnants of what’s known as the last classic Jethro Tull line-up. So, let’s now take a closer look at how the album turned out.

Track 1. North Sea Oil.

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The albums opening track “North Sea Oil” musically does have all the familiarities that you would associate with the bands musical style, as a matter of fact it might be too close to what you have already heard on the last couple of albums in the trilogy on the musical side of things and it does have some GREAT! progression and changes over the 3 minutes and 11 seconds you get here. In many ways I would even say it ROCKED! But for me personally the lyrics certainly do not and are without doubt the very thing that let it down and make it sound so BORING!

Maybe Ian Anderson thought it would be a SLICK! idea to write a song about the longevity of how long the oil would last in the North Sea. The one thing that is certain is that it will certainly last a hell of a lot longer than this song will before it completely pisses you off :))))))))).

North Sea Oil” was the first of two singles to be released from the album to promote it and was released in the UK only on the same day as the albums release. Though like many of the bands singles they never really made the charts and were put out for radio play more than anything else. It also features the voice of the Francis Wilson who was the weather forecaster for Thames TV at the time. I personally think had a different subject matter been put to the music it might say more to me than the little it does.

Track 2. Orion.

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Orion is one of the most conspicuous and recognizable constellations in the night sky. It was named after Orion, a hunter in Greek mythology and is one of the brightest constellations due to its supergiant stars. There is no doubt the stars might be supergiant’s and the fact that they are is why Anderson most likely decided the song needed to be beefed up. The only problem is that I think it’s well over the top and is a bit like portraying Orion as some super hero or something. It just sounds ridiculous with how he’s gone about it all. It’s also the first of the 3 tracks that John Glascock contributed the bass to on the album.

I quite like the come down acoustic section of the song, but once again that is very familiar to what’s already been done and is a bit reminiscent to some of the material on the 1975 album Minstrel In The Gallery especially with how David Palmer has arranged the strings. The full-length version which is twice as long that is on the associated recordings and is how the song was originally done and was edited down for the album. It perhaps makes it a bit more tolerable by editing it down though I just find the whole thing over the top and once again on the boring side.

Track 3. Home.

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One of the better songs on the album and “Home” is one of those rare romantic ballads like “Fires At Midnight” that Anderson wrote and was inspired from the long times he was away from home on tour as he explains himself in the book. He does also state that the orchestration that David Palmer done for the song makes it sound a bit syrupier, but I personally think it works better here than the previous track and is really GORGEOUS! and sits well with the acoustic guitar and the rest of the instrumentation.  I love how well Anderson has also put the words into context.

Home” was the second single release from the album and was released a couple of months after the albums release once again the UK only. It was most likely put out to remind people that the band had a new album out and it has to be one of the contenders for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! especially as there is very little along the album that really stands out and it is a GREAT! well written song.

Track 4. Dark Ages.

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No doubt the heaviest and longest track on the album and is perhaps more along the lines of what they would call today prog metal and a long way off folk rock. Although not all the songs on Songs From The Wood and Heavy Horses were all folk rock either and some were more along the lines of progressive rock. Ian Anderson describes it has something more along the lines of Iron Maiden’sRun To The Hills” and would of suited Bruce Dickinson’s voice and it perhaps would of as well I feel.

I think the musical structure and progression of the song is very good. However, its Anderson’s idea of pertaining the lyrics along the lines of the dark ages to come that baffles the life out of me. The dark ages are a thing of the past and even some of the organ and flute melody lines are more associated with medieval times from those days of the past. Listening to the words it’s a bit like being in an Agatha Christie WHO DONE IT! the butler or the vicar story set in the days of King Arthur and is quite comical to even think of it in those terms.

I am pretty sure how the lyrics come across to myself are not what Anderson intended at all and he is far more intelligent than myself that’s for sure, but that is literally how they do come across to me but then again I might be as THICK AS A BRICK! :)))))). Oddly enough Anderson’s bass playing sounds like Dave Pegg especially along the lead break section and Pegg is quite a distinctive bass player with how he makes it sound and how his bass lines stand out and these bass lines are very close to his. “Dark Ages” is probably the most powerful song in the Jethro Tull catalogue and it’s got some GREAT! transitional changes along its path too and for those reasons I suppose it does have to be another contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 5. Warm Sporran.

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The first of two instrumental tracks on the album and like many of the tracks on the album they do tend to have more of a Scottish feel about them and the bagpipes that you hear in the piece are very much not credited to any musician playing them. Over the years most reviews speculate them to being played on a keyboard but from what I can make of Anderson’s notes in the book, it does suggest that they were real bagpipes but he does not mention who played them. He does however mention how they are hard to record and get them to stay in tune and how he had to vari-speed the tape to match the pitch of the pipes.

Overall, I think “Warm Sporran” is very good piece of work that was constructed around Anderson’s bass line and like many other Jethro Tull instrumental pieces its very well arranged and uses excellent instrumentation. It was also used for the B-Side of the single and EP UK release of “Home“.

Track 6. Something’s On The Move.

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Something more of a standard rock song this one and perhaps much like the material they later went on to do with the odd tracks on albums like Rock Island and Roots To Branches only here Anderson still had his voice. The lyrical side of things is pertaining to the changes in the weather and it’s a far cry from all the shuffling madness that came before it and more of a typical run of the mill sort of thing. Overall, it’s OK but nothing more I am afraid.

Track 7. Old Ghosts.

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A song that was inspired from a graveyard that was at the bottom of the garden of where Anderson was living on the Isle of Skye at the time to which he also threw in a few childhood memories. I think it’s a haunting enough story and like he says in the book it was done more in a cheery way rather than to scare your pants off sort of thing and the ghosts here have only come out to play. It’s really the vocal line and how the voice is expressed that play the haunting factor in this song and not the music.

Musically the bass, flute and orchestration play a domineering role and once again David Palmer’s orchestral arrangement does tend to hark back to the Minstrel In The Gallery album. The song was most likely written and constructed around the bass line. It’s quite an odd piece and somewhat different to most of the material on the album. I do not think it sits that well on the album either and sometimes it’s perhaps best to let sleeping dogs lie.

Track 8. Dun Ringall.

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My personal favourite track of the album and “Dun Ringall” is much more suited to the bands previous couple of albums more than any other song on the album. Just like “Jack In The Green” from the Songs From The Wood album this is played solely by Ian Anderson but this is perhaps more stripped back to the bare bones in that it’s just him and an acoustic guitar more or less. But in saying that it does also contain the voice of the Thames TV weatherman Francis Wilson once again.

In many respects the song could be seen as the albums self-titled track in that it contains the title within the lyrics. Dun Ringill is an Iron Age hill fort on the Strathaird peninsula on the island of Skye, Scotland. Ian Anderson lived a stone’s throw away from it at the time he made the album. Many moons ago it was more fortified most likely in case of an attack by the Vikings. These days all that is left is a pile of rocks that would most likely go unnoticed. “Dun Ringall” merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 9. Flying Dutchman.

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A song about the legendary ghost ship that can never make port and is doomed to sail the oceans forever to which Anderson uses the story as a metaphor for a human character suggesting it could be you or me lost on an empty vessel according to the book. This is my personal 2nd favourite track on the album and it should perhaps win the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! Simply because this is by far the best structured song on the album and it contains all the right instrumentation that one would associate with folk rock. I love the arrangement too.

There are many familiarities along the path of this song too and it’s a bit like a cross between “Thick As A Brick“. “Baker Street Muse” and the “Chequered Flag“. There is also some really excellent flute and whistle work from Anderson in this song that also puts me in mind of some of the material off the album Songs From The Wood. The “Flying Dutchman” is a real solid piece of work and a very strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT! and is the 2nd of three of the tracks to feature John Glascock on bass.

Track 10. Elegy.

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The final track on the album also features John Glascock on bass and is a nice soothing instrumental piece written by David Palmer. In English literature, an elegy is a poem of serious reflection, usually a lament for the dead. This is a bit like a baroque waltz and I don’t think it will be shaking the dead but it might make you have the last waltz with them :))))). It rounds the album off very well indeed.


To sum up the 40th Anniversary Force 10 Edition of Stormwatch by Jethro Tull. Like all these packages they are really excellent value for the money, and on this particular release I do feel that it is the extra bonus material along with the book you get here that carries most of the weight in making the package more enjoyable and worthwhile. I myself had all of the Jethro Tull albums back in the 70’s before the release of Stormwatch back in 1979 and have always found the album a bit of a let-down in relation to everything that preceded it. It is an album that does have a few good tracks but not enough for the album to stand out and make a real statement to quite make the mark of all its predecessors. I would even say it was a better album than the one that followed it “A” to which may have come from another planet entirely :))))).

There are only a very few albums in the Jethro Tull catalogue that came after the album Heavy Horses that can live up to the standards the band produced in the first decade of its career, and I certainly think it is the material that was written over the first decade of the bands career that by far left the biggest impact. Stormwatch was an album that did have one of the many classic line-ups the band had seen over its first decade but it was the times that were changing more than anything and not so much as the musicians. Because no matter how you look at the band its always had pretty good musicians who were well capable of handling the job and Ian Anderson is no fool to pick somebody who was not capable of doing so.

Looking back at over the that first decade of the bands career its quite a remarkable achievement to produce 11 albums that were so consistent and, in all honesty, not one of them are a bad album. There are not many bands that have managed to achieve that and Ian Anderson wrote a ton of other GREAT! material that never even made the albums which could of easily have made a least a couple of more GREAT! albums. To be honest I am not one for buying singles and compilation albums but I did buy the double album Living In The Past which was a compilation album made up of existing material that had already of been written over those early years. Yet to me it sounded like a double albums worth of new material and was a really GREAT! album.

For me personally Stormwatch may have had a GREAT! line-up of musicians but it was an album that failed to keep the consistency flowing and was the very first dent I had ever seen in Ian Anderson’s writing. There is no doubt that the fact that music was changing and having just gone through an explosive invasion of punk rock and with the 80’s looming towards newer modern techniques and different musical styles had an effect on him enough to try out something new. Both the albums “A” and Under Wraps are very much a testament to it.

Although I certainly do not think any of that had a bearing on why Stormwatch never quite made the mark. That was most likely down to what was going on around Anderson and the band at the time and it would not be the first time they have made an album under stressful and other circumstances. But it was the first time it never really turned out as well. My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Dun Ringill“. “Flying Dutchman“. “Home” and “Dark Ages“.


Overall, I think Stormwatch is pretty much an album that is pretty much out of context regarding the folk-rock trilogy. However it is an half decent album but unfortunately when you weigh up how well all the other albums that preceded it came out, half decent does not really cut the mustard and is not enough to make the mark and that is where it perhaps falls too short to be any sort of a classic album. No doubt you can only be consistent for so long before something has to give way and in all fairness to Ian Anderson his songwriting had been way more consistent than most up until this point.

But just as disappointed as I was with the album it never stopped me from buying the rest of the bands albums. Sure, there have been many more disappointments along the way over the next 3 decades of the bands musical career which did really come to an end in 2003 regarding their catalogue of studio albums. But there has always been something you can get out of it and I would not like to see the re-issues of these book editions end here and I am hoping the rest of the albums will get the same treatment.

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As you can see from the picture above the 1970 album Benefit still has not been given the book treatment and that is one hell of a classic album in my eyes. So, no way do I want these editions to end right now and hopefully as it is the 50th Anniversary of the album next year it will get done then.

I know that just recently a book entitled The Ballad of Jethro Tull has just been released which does go into the bands entire history most likely. But for me the amount of detail that is contained about every album in these Book Editions I do feel go into a lot more depth and along with all the bonus material plus the 5.1 recordings these packages simply cannot be beaten and they do give you the best quality and value for the buck. So, I do hope that new book is not going to be the all and end of the new edition series and that “A” and Benefit get the book treatment next year.

Lines Join In Faint Discord, And The Stormwatch Brews

The CD track listing is as follows:

Disc 1.

01. North Sea Oil. 3:11.
02. Orion. 4:00.
03. Home. 2:45.
04. Dark Ages. 9:11.
05. Warm Sporran. 3:37.
06. Something’s On The Move. 4:29.
07. Old Ghosts. 4:23.
08. Dun Ringill. 2:41.
09. Flying Dutchman. 7:43.
10. Elegy. 3:33.

Disc 2. (Associated Recordings)

01. Crossword. 3:36.
02. Dark Ages (Early Version). 11:54.
03. Kelpie. 3:34.
04. Dun Ringill (Early Version). 2:43.
05. A Stitch In Time. 4:28.
06. A Single Man (Instrumental). 2:39.
07. Broadford Bazaar. 3:45.
08. King Henry’s Madrigal (Theme From Mainstream). 3:30.
09. Orion (Full Version). 9:14.
10. Urban Apocalypse. 4:45.
11. The Lyricon Blues (Instrumental). 5:13.
12. Man Of God. 6:33.
13. Rock Instrumental (Unfinished Master). 3:33.
14. Sweet Dream Fanfare. 2:29.
15. Sweet Dream (Live). 4:39.

Disc 3. (Live at the Nederlands Congresgebouw DenHaag March 16th 1980)

01. Prelude To A Storm. 1:53.
02. Dark Ages. 8:30.
03. Home. 2:52.
04. Orion. 5:02.
05. Dun Ringill. 2:40.
06. Elegy. 3:54.
07. Old Ghosts. 3:07.
08. Something’s On The Move. 4:24.
09. Aqualung. 9:54.
10. Peggy’s Pub. 2:57.
11. Jack-In-The-Green. 3:15.
12. King Henry’s Madrigal. 5:49.
13. Heavy Horses. 6:09.

Disc 4. (Live at the Nederlands Congresgebouw DenHaag March 16th 1980)

01. Flute Solo. 7:55.
02. Keyboard Duet. 1:24.
03. Songs From The Wood. 4:12.
04. Hunting Girl. 5:38.
05. Jams O’Donnel’s Jigs. 3:31.
06. Thick As A Brick. 7:29.
07. Too Old To Rock’n’roll: Too Young To Die. 3:09.
08. Cross Eyed Mary. 3:22.
09. Guitar Solo. 2:28.
10. Minstrel In The Gallery. 2:56.
11. Locomotive Breath. 4:00.
12. The Dam Busters March. 2:45.

Lee’s overall Complete Package Value Rating…

The Packaging Rating Score. 10/10

The Price Point Rating Score. 10/10

The Bonus Material Rating Score. 10/10

The New Stereo Mix Rating Score. 8/10

The 5.1 Mix Rating Score. 8/10

The Original Album Rating Score. 5/10

Lee Speaks About Music… #133

A Long Time Coming – Gary Hetherington



Well this is somewhat different to the norm of the music I generally review and to be perfectly honest perhaps not the style of music I would buy these days either but would of brought the odd album and one or two singles many moons ago. Long Time Coming is the title of Gary Hetherington’s debut album and being that Hetherington has been playing for donkeys years you could very much literally say that the album took a very long time coming :))))). I would also say that style of music we have here does throw itself back to the 70’s in that it’s very much an album of romantic love songs. It’s perhaps an album more for the ladies, but then again it all depends on your particular taste in pop music and if you are into bands like The Commodores, Chicago and solo artists like Billy Joel and Lionel Ritchie. Then this album might be right up your street so to speak.

I first stumbled upon Gary’s music a few years ago on Soundcloud although I perhaps first knew of him a few years before through another musician on there who is more of a folkie and goes by the name of Karl Robbins. Traditional folk music is perhaps more to my personal taste and why I gave a lot more attention to Karl’s music than his own. I mostly knew of Gary as a producer and it was he who made all of Karl’s music sound so GREAT! I was making music myself back then I was always fascinated about production work and trying to improve my own production skills. For me the time I spent on Soundcloud was very much a learning curve and as much as I like to listen to GREAT! music, I could quite often be blown away by how well some of the many people on there could produce it, and I was impressed by Gary’s production work.

To be honest at the time I did stumble upon Karl’s music I was not even aware Gary was writing his own songs, and it was not until a few years later they formed together a band called Dancing With Ghosts that I noticed that he had also played a role in writing some of the songs which made me investigate him a bit further.


Gary Hetherington’s own music is quite different to what he does with Karl Robbins and is more along the lines of those pop artists I mentioned and those artists made some GREAT! hits back in their day and were easy enough for me to listen to. Being a producer Hetherington is also a multi-instrumentalist who has the skills to craft out his own music. But before I go any further and get back on track with the album in question. Let’s first take a look at the packaging and artwork as ever.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The CD comes in a single cardboard sleeve which replicates a mini version of a non-gatefold vinyl album. The song titles and some credits are printed on the back of the sleeve and it does not include a booklet to include the lyrics and more informative information regarding the linear notes and credits. These are the same sort of sleeves they pack CD’s in Clamshell Box Sets and other Box Sets these days and I think overall, they are OK but not as good as a gatefold DigiPak for presenting your album as more of a showcase.

The other problem this particular package will present you with, is that they are not the best for storing on the shelf with your other CD’s in that they are too thin making them harder to locate them to get out to play. But of course when you are selling your CD at a budget price of £3.49 plus free p+p it does not make sense to have your album in a DigiPak and cost wise you would most likely end up out pocket by paying more for the product than you are actually selling it for so this is the ideal budget way to go about things.

The Artwork.

The artwork used for the album is a picture of an antique spiral clock that was fished out of a river and was snapped up by David Pearson. The image is oddly enough credited to F. P. Surgeon and that is the name that Pearson gives to some of his photographs due to the fact that his profession is that of a Facial Plastic Surgeon and he does photography in his spare time. I think the image is well apt for the albums title and I can see why Hetherington chose it.

A Long Time Coming Album In Review…

A Long Time Coming by Gary Hetherington was released on the 4th November 2019. The album contains 9 tracks all of which are vocal tracks and has an overall playing time of 40 minutes which is a very comfortable time slot for an album of songs and my preferred time slot for an album. Most of the material is written by Hetherington himself apart from a couple of songs that were co-written and a song that was written by myself to which he asked me for permission (to which I granted) and decided to cover. Like many unknown artists and even some mainstream artists these days, the album was recorded at home but is very well produced.

Hetherington got into music at an early age and received his first organ at the age of 11 and by the time he was 14 he got his first real guitar. Since leaving school, he has been in a number of bands Oakwood, Pheonix, Gypsy to name a few most of which were with Karl Robins and Peter Dunk who all come from Leeds in Yorkshire, England. He is currently a member of Osmosis along with Karin Grandal-Park, Sheree Hemingway and Peter Dunk.


The album A Long Time Coming is a collection of songs that Gary has written over the last year and put together for the new album. Most of his own solo work consists of more instrumental pieces than anything else and being a keyboard player myself I can see how easy it is to get stuck into that world of making instrumental pieces especially with the vast array of sounds you can get for a keyboard these days. The keyboard can open up a much wider world of music to you in that you can get orchestral sounds for classical music, sounds for Celtic and Folk music and just about any genre of music. It’s also the ideal instrument to work with arrangements.

I would not say all of the songs Gary wrote for the new album were written from the keyboard though and some were also written from the guitar, both instruments are very useful implements to write music with and being able to play both opens up many other roads you can go down regarding musical styles.

Musicians & Credits…


All songs written by Gary Hetherington (except Track 5 written by Hetherington/Hemmingway, Track 7 written by Hetherington/Walton & Track 9 written by L.C. Lucas). Recorded & Produced by Gary Hetherington at The House. Album cover photo by David Pearson.


Gary Hetherington: Vocals/Keyboards/Guitars/Drum Programming.
Karl Robins: Acoustic Guitar (on Track 1).

The Album Tracks In Review…

A Long Time Coming is an album for the lovers and romantics and the words to the songs upon the album are a about falling in and out of love in that it deals with the subject matter based around not just its grip and strong hold it can have on us, but how deceit and cheating can also play a part when everything falls apart so to speak. When I mentioned in the introduction that this was not the style of music I would buy these days, in reality it was also not the thing I would buy for myself back in those days either and the records I did buy of this sort would of been for my wife who does have an entirely different taste in music to myself. That would also be the reason behind me stating that this is an album more for the ladies as well.

To be perfectly honest I have nothing against pop music when it comes down to the musical side of it and there are some very well constructed songs in pop music as well. John Lennon’s song “Woman” would be a perfect example of how well switching from a major to a minor chord can shift a gear and lift a song up and make it work very well. I think there is also a lot you can learn from very well written pop songs too. My only real gripe with pop music in general is the lyrical side of things, and many of them are what I call “Lovey Dovey” and can be on the monotonous side in that respect. Things like “I Love You Love” and “Like To Get To Know You Well” are never gonna cut the mustard with me, simply because it’s all the same thing, and this is generally what you will find in the biggest majority of pop songs.

To be honest I have never really classed the likes of the The Commodores, Chicago, Foreigner, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow and Lionel Ritchie as songwriters and to me your Bob Dylan’s, Neil Young’s, Don McLean’s and those types are what I associate with songwriters. Those are the guys who on their travels have picked up a hell of a lot more to write about than your typical run of the mill pop or love song. Sure, they can also incorporate some of that love and romance in their own songs, but they don’t write about it all the time and make their songs much more interesting for not doing so.

But in reality, even though I see those artists more in the way of songwriters it would be wrong for me to not include all those pop artists who write nothing but love songs. Simply because what also makes a good song is how the words have been put into context and that is part of the clever side of song writing and you still need a good head on your shoulders to be able to do that.

A Long Time Coming is an album that does contain a fine set of lyrics that pertain not only to the romantic side of things, but also the pain and hurt one can go through with its barriers and the words have been very cleverly put into context and are a far cry from “I Love You Love“. So, let’s now delve a bit deeper as I take you through the individual album tracks.

Track 1. Keep On Moving.

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The album opens up with a song that offers some very good advice. Lyrically the words are pertaining to those who have been kicked in the teeth and left on their own when a relationship breaks down. The good advice is that its best to look forward and keep on moving rather than look back at it all to see where things went wrong. I suppose another way of looking at it is to pick your feet up and get on with things. The words have very well been put into context and with how Hetherington expresses them along with the music does captivate you enough to pay attention to them. He’s also backed up the vocals very well and threw in a lovely harmony section during the short break that comes in towards the end of the song.

The song itself has a light and airy feel about it and musically it’s a bit more stripped back but allows the song to flow freely. The song was written on the acoustic guitar and that is the instrument that drives the song along with the drums. Gary roped in his old friend and fellow musician Karl Robins to play the acoustic guitar and Karl is a fine player of the instrument, although on this occasion he is strumming his way along and not doing so much of the fine picking he can do on his own songs. But overall, he is still doing a GRAND! job here and doing all that a song like this requires and not going over the top. Hetherington himself backs the song up with the piano and throws in some subtle effective little touches on the electric guitar in parts. The other notable thing he throws in is the synth, and it does have a familiarity of the type of synth you would hear in most pop songs in the 70’s. Stevie Wonder often threw the odd little melody line on the synth and it many ways it takes me back to those days.

Overall I think “Keep On Moving” is a GREAT! song and puts me in mind of the type of pop songs you would hear back in the 70’s. The acoustic side of the song has me thinking of Crosby & Nash, The Eagles and those types whilst the synth certainly gives it more of a pop vibe and has me thinking of Stevie Wonder and the likes of many others. It’s perhaps one of those songs that can make you feel good inside whilst listening to it, and in many ways that is also what the lyrics are pertaining too as well.

Track 2. Thief In The Night.

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This next song has got more soul to it and does put me in mind of bands like the The Commodores, The Temptations and many others and was written on the piano, or rather the electric piano that gives it those smooth and calm vibes. The song runs along at a very subtle slow tempo to set the right mood here and besides the piano the strings from the keyboard also play a good role in lifting the song up effectively in the right parts. There is also some nice bass work here too that is most likely done with the keyboards. The drums have the right weight for a subtle song like this and Gary has done an excellent job on the electric guitar by getting the right tone and the lead break is played very well and fits the song like a glove. His fine voice also delivers the words very well and it’s a very well-produced song.

I am pretty sure this is Gary’s favourite song on the album and he did approach me and asked if I could make a video for it. It’s something I would have done if it was not for the subject matter of the songs lyrics which pertain to a guy who is in a relationship with another woman but has to break it off because he cannot stand the thought of the leaving his wife and kids behind. It would be hard for me to find the appropriate free stock video clips to make a video and is something I would more or less need real people to act out the part. Which is why I never done a video for it.

A Thief In The Night” is not my personal favourite track on the album, however I do feel it is a strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! It’s a simple enough song and sometimes it is the simple things that do have the power to grab you more, and this is one of those songs I feel does very much that.

Track 3. I Think I Love You.

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The title reminds me of a hit by David Cassidy back in the days when he was in The Partridge Family in the late 60’s, and some of the titles that Hetherington chose for his songs on the album are the same as some other well-known hits. This is another of the guitar written songs and I am pretty sure Gary is playing a 12 string on this fine ballad of a song and he has nicely accompanied it with an accordion like sound from the keyboards and a bit of electric piano. The instrumentation gives it more of a folk style and the way the 12 string is nicely fingerpicked puts me in mind of Ralph McTell and its a lovely little love song that says most things about being in love.

Track 4. So Leave Me By Myself For Now.

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Another song that deals with the situation of love breaking down and, in this case, wanting to be left alone to sort things out and get them back together again. This is a song he co-wrote with Sheree Hemmingway and she contributed to the lyrics and from what Gary told me it was also the first time she had written words to a song. I have to say she done quite a remarkable job. This is also another song written on the piano and it does have a bit of Supertramp feel to it in parts. I quite like the chord progression in this song too and it’s got a GREAT! bridge that changes it up that comes into play between the 3:22 to the 3:52 mark and this is what gives me that Supertramp feel about the song more than anything.

Besides the piano and his voice, Gary also backed the song up very well with orchestral strings, guitar and bass and has done a GREAT! job all round here. Both this song and “A Thief In The Night” I do feel are the stand out tracks on the album and although it would of been too difficult to gather up the appropriate free video stock footage clips to do a video for “A Thief In The Night“. I did have a go at putting one together for this song and I used 12 video clips to make it.

So Leave Me By Myself For Now” is a GREAT! well written song. It’s most likely the chord progression and the Supertramp feel that make it my personal favourite song of the album and why it merits my TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 5. It Must Be Love.

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We have another familiar title for this next song and even though it might suggest that this is a song done by Labi Siffre back in 1972 and was also covered by Madness in the 80’s to which both had commercial success with the song, this is not that song and Gary rocks things up a bit here. The song does have perhaps something like a Dave Edmunds style about it in particular with how it drives along with the rock rhythm chords on the guitar. It would of also have been constructed from the guitar and it does have more of a 70’s feel about it. Although the synths can also push it a bit further on and into the 80’s but only very slightly.

There are no broken hearts in this one regarding the lyrics and they are more about the joyful and powerful feeling that love can have hold on us with its attraction and of how to pluck up enough courage to confront it. The lyrics also have a comical side to them too in that how sometimes it’s hard to get our brains in gear and come out with the right words when it confronts us. “It Must Be Love” is quite a jolly song that spices the mood of the album up and the one thing I will say is that you cannot say that Hetherington does not offer a bit of variety and diversity with the songs on the album and this song sits very well in the middle of the album.

Track 6. Love Drifts Away.

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Time to tone things down a bit and this is a BEAUTIFUL! ballad that Gary has composed on the piano and is perhaps something along the lines of Billy Joel and many others in some respects but no doubt Gary has a wonderful way of putting all these sad love songs into context regarding the lyrics and delivers the songs with the GREAT! conviction. Besides his fine voice and the GORGEOUS! melody lines on the piano that make the song, the bass stands out and supports it all very well. The guitar sound is very much played on the keyboards and it may have been better to replace it with a real guitar rather than a synthetic one. But nevertheless, it’s effective and I do feel that “Love Drifts Away” is another strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 7. Enough Is Enough.

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Gary gets the 12 string out again for this one and this is the shortest track on the album at around three and a half minutes. Part of the melody line on the guitar reminds me of “Only Woman Bleed” by Alice Cooper and yes even he can write fine ballads as well. The keyboards, bass and electric guitar also lend a hand to the arrangement and in supporting the song. Lyrically the words are pertaining to the things that happen when love has gone stale in a loving relationship and how it can be enough to put an end to it all. This is the other of the 2 songs on the album that were co-written and Emma Walton penned the lyrics for this one and another fine set of lyrics they are too.

Track 8. Such A Fool.

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Another contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! and this is another truly GREAT! song written on the keys by Gary and he has done a TOP JOB! with all the instrumentation around the piano in the arrangement. The songs lyrics pertain to how sometimes we do not get things that right when it comes to choosing a partner and things do not quite work out the way we expected them too. It’s very much a quality well written song and it’s one of those that seems to be over in no time at all. The song is some 4 minutes and 40 seconds long but only seems like it runs for half of the time. I often find when a song can do that it’s more of an enjoyable one and one you will want to stick back on immediately. This is very much one of those songs.

Track 9. A Picture of You.

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Well I never thought I would ever be writing a review of one of my own songs, but what I can say is that the way Gary has done it, I very much think he has made it his own. It’s a song I wrote on the guitar and it was one of four guitar tracks I had in mind for a concept album I was working on back in 2010. Like many of the tracks I had intended for it they never got finished and this was one I never even wrote any lyrics for back then and I would often pick up my guitar and just sing anything to it for many years. I very much gave up on the album and down to the fact that I still do the odd live video of myself playing in my living room, last year I decided to write some lyrics for it and stick it on YouTube.

Like many of my songs they are only really demos and it’s very rare I will do a full production to them and I have only done that to very few. Throwing in all the elements takes a lot more time to do and half the time I cannot be arsed to do that with them and am too lazy to do that to them as well. It was around the time I put the video out on the Tube last year that Gary approached me and asked if he would not mind if he done a cover of the song. Well I was quite choked that anybody would even want to cover one of my own songs and of course said GO Ahead!

It must have been a good 11 months before I heard anything off Gary and I thought he may have given up on doing a cover of it, then all of a sudden, he sent me his version of it to which he done on the piano. Well I was that STOKED! when I heard it, I ended up making a video for it, and this is the song now with a full production and I can tell you he’s done the BEES KNEES! with it.

To be honest I was even more surprised that he had included the song on his new album and I am not entirely sure the sad fictional story I wrote for the song ties in that well with the rest of the lyrical content on the album, and it may sound a bit out of place but would work more as a bonus track in some respects. I am well chuffed that he did include it though and I do think it’s one of my better songs. It’s also the first time I have ever had one of my songs on CD too :)))))).

Overall I think “A Picture Of You” works very well with the piano arrangement and I love the subtle way Gary has approached it on the beginning and how he has built it up and even threw in a sax solo. Though I think the sax may of been played on the keys unless he does also play sax. I have not asked and I perhaps should have done for this review. I cannot recall Gary playing the sax though and I am most likely right that it was played on the keyboard. But it works very well either way for my ears.

With all that Gary has done with the song I do feel that this also has to be another contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! It’s also the best compliment you could ever have when somebody else covers one of your own songs and I feel it winds up the album very well. But all credit goes to Gary here and not myself.


To sum up the album A Long Time Coming by Gary Hetherington. I personally think that it contains a very strong collection of very well written love songs and will work for all the romantics in this world. Surprisingly I am quite flabbergasted how an album like this can grab hold of you when listening to it, and it is the lyrical content that does grab your attention that much that the songs actually make you stop whatever you are doing to listen to them. This is not an album I can put on and sit down here and write an album review. I have tried too but it does stop me in my tracks and derives all my attention towards the album. Considering these are not the type of albums I do buy these days I am quite dumbstruck the hold it does have on me.

I think it also will have that effect on the folks who are more of my own generation and not so much the younger generation where the lyrical content is more on the permissive and sexual side of things and has been since we hit the 80’s and onwards since the birth of bands like Frankie Goes To Hollywood and all the those sorts in the pop world. The fact the album is titled A Long Time Coming could also mean that it’s come a good few decades too late to have an impact. But in all honesty the songs on this album are in every inch just as well written as all those bands and artists like The Commodores, Chicago, Foreigner, Billy Joel, Barry Manilow, Lionel Ritchie and many others done back in the 70’s. And if that floats your boat then I see no reason why this album would not either.

My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Thief In The Night“. “So Leave Me By Myself For Now“. “Love Drifts Away“. “Such A Fool“. and “A Picture Of You“.


In conclusion I would say that A Long Time Coming by Gary Hetherington is an album that captures and captivates the hearts, the heartaches and all the emotions of love all wrapped up and rolled into quite a solid body of work that Gary Hetherington has put in over the last year. The album is very well produced and Gary is one talented musician with a fine head on his shoulders to be able to put the words into context in the way that he has. Not forgetting the lyrical contributions to a couple of songs that both Sheree Hemmingway and Emma Walton contributed to.

To be honest just thinking of the lyrical content that was written for both “Relax” and “Two Tribes” by Frankie Goes To Hollywood I would pretty much say that Gary was a genius when I look at how poor the words to those songs really are, and in all honesty there is totally nothing to them. But then again that was the difference between 80’s music and the 70’s and why the 80’s detested me so much with the garbage that came out of it. Most of them could not write for TOFFEE! I am afraid. But of course, that is my own personal opinion.

The album comes in one little neat package and a giveaway price at its a low price point of £3.49 for a physical product and with Christmas around the corner I rather think you could bring some pleasure to someone’s heart which is why I highly recommend it. You can buy it from here: https://www.ebay.co.uk/itm/323969385968?fbclid=IwAR3I-JG-bQVUxPCXq0NAJcZBljCB5mO8Q8PERhE46x5iTHI2m-Q901hPJjk

Singing Good Times Or Bad, Happy Or Sad

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. Keep On Moving. 3:55.
02. Thief In The Night. 5:00.
03. I Think I Love You. 3:52.
04. So Leave Me By Myself For Now. 5:01.
05. It Must Be Love. 4:18.
06. Love Drifts Away. 4:17.
07. Enough Is Enough. 3:28.
08. Such A Fool. 4:40.
09. A Picture of You. 5:29.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 7/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 10/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee Speaks About Music… #132

Beer,Picks & Old Records – Gary Sunshine



The latest album by Gary Sunshine was released back in September and I guess in many ways seeing how this is more of an official release it could be seen has his debut album. The albums title of Beer, Picks & Old Records perhaps comes as no surprise to myself since I stumbled across him and his many songs over the past 7 years on Soundcloud. He has always struck me has a songwriter who has travelled about a lot and his songs do reflect what he sees throughout his travels and how life can be in general. His songs can be about losers, lovers, thrillseekers, troublemakers, guitars, bars, hitchhikers crime & love, hope & disappointment, America & Rock n Roll and a few other things besides.

No doubt Sunshine has travelled about a good bit and seen many places and things during his musical career which stretches back to the early 80’s, where he first started out with a punk, new wave, power pop 4-piece outfit known as the Screaming Sneakers. In the mid 80’s to the early 90’s he was part of the 4-piece hard rock band Circus of Power to which were a more successful band where he got to visit many other countries and see more of the world. He also had a short stint with another punk outfit known as NY Loose and another short stint with the country rock band The Silos before turning his back on bands and pursing a solo career. All of which I will go into more detail in the history section of my review.

Sunshine has moved on since those days and going alone, but has plenty of experience under his belt and has taken much of that with him to be able to craft out his own songs and give himself more of his own distinctive style with how he can so skilfully carve and shape things out and deliver them. He can still very much incorporate things from those days into his writing with songs like “Sex Pistols & The Ramones (A Love Story)” and “Black Sabbath In Love“.

imGary With Tony_Fotor

Those are just a couple of his older songs he wrote that recall and reflect those old times he spent on the road with some of the bands he played with and where he got to meet many other GREAT! bands and artists who have crossed his path of his musical career.

He could even tell you about the last time he saw Dylan back then too, and on his latest record he will even tell you how sometimes he just wants to be like Jimmy Page. Those artists and many others were all part of the things that influenced him when he was young, growing up and are the very thing that made him want to go out and be a ROCK-A-ROLLER! He has even worked with such diverse artists as Guns N’ Roses, Gravity Kills and New Zealand’s Steph Casey and right now he’s back with a vengeance and 13 brand new tunes. But before we go any deeper into his career and his new songs, let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork.

The Packaging & Artwork…


The CD comes in a 2-panel gatefold DigiPak and has a slip pocket that houses the CD on the right-hand side on the inside of the gatefold sleeve. It does not come with a booklet but does have all the linear and production notes written on the inside and the song titles on the back of the Digipak. It’s slim sleek and looks neat and presents his new album very well. The CD can be purchased from Gary’s official website for 14 US dollars plus shipping and many other outlets such as iTunes, Amazon, CD Baby and so on.


The album has also been available on vinyl for all you vinyl lovers. I do believe the vinyl release is more of a limited run and only so many have been pressed but copies are still very much available from Gary’s website and other outlets and is priced at $29 plus shipping. There is also a Deluxe CD & Vinyl Editions available that come with a separate 35-page signed booklet that contains bonus words and notes. They are priced at $49 & $69 plus shipping respectively and can be obtained from the store on Gary’s official website only.


The album can also be purchased for less in the form of a Digital Download from most retail stores internationally. You can find out more details from the link here: https://garysunshinemusic.com/index.html


The albums artwork and design is made up of photographs provided by Sunshine and done by Rockmall Creative who also handled the marketing, branding art & video. Overall I think it presents Gary as a solo artist very well and is a good overall, presentation.

Gary Sunshine In Brief History…

Gary Sunshine was born in New York in the US and has spent much of his life in and out of his own city and I believe he now currently resides in Ohio. Although it was down in the south of Florida where he first burst onto the music scene and made a bit of an impact back in the early 80’s with the Screaming Sneakers. This 4-piece outfit consisted of Lisa Nash (vocals). Gary Sunshine (guitar), Bud Gangemi (bass) and Mark Evans (drums). They were very much part of the underground punk rock scene with their style to which many bands were still trying to keep that genre of music alive since it died of death by the end of the 70’s particularly in the UK.

Screaming Sneakers_Fotor

Screaming Sneakers

From my research I do believe they also relocated back to New York towards the latter half of the bands existence which would have run from between the years 1981 – 1985. I do know that the band got to cut a 4 track EP on vinyl back in 1982 they titled Marching Orders. The EP contained the songs “Violent Days“. “Grin And Bear“. “I Can’t Help It” and “Abnormal Reflections” and it was originally pressed onto 12-inch vinyl and is extremely hard and rare to get hold of these days. Though it has been reissued onto 7-inch vinyl EP and copies are much easier to obtain and you can get them at a more reasonable price of around 8 – 12 bucks shown in the picture below.


I found the 4 track EP on YouTube and gave it a couple of spins and they were not a bad band at all and remind me a bit of Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and were more hard rock n roll in relation to punk bands such as The Sex Pistols we had over here in the UK to which I personally could not stand. I think The Ramones had more of an hard edge rock n roll thing about them too and the Americans done things a bit differently in comparison to the English punk rock explosion we had over here in the 70’s. I don’t think they stuck safety pins in their noses and died their hair some ridiculous colour either :)))).

The EP you can find easily enough on the Tube yourself to give a blast and you could see how good Sunshine was on the electric guitar back in those days too and even back then he must have contributed to the writing even if it was just musically. It was also good to hear some old flanger effects in particular on “Abnormal Reflections” though both the songs “Violent Days” and “I Can’t Help It” very much had more the hit making potential about them. This live video I also came across on the Tube captures the band shot on a video camcorder back in 1984 and I guess this was from a venue in New York after the band had relocated themselves to there from Florida.

Like many bands they all come to an end at some point or another and my guess it was not that much longer that the Screaming Sneakers and its members disbanded and went onto to do other things. Though the band only made a very minute dent in that part of the world I am sure for those that got to see them they can still look back at those good times and no doubt Gary Sunshine will have some fond memories from those times, though he himself was to move onto bigger things and they was only around the corner.

According to my research It was sometime in 1986 (most likely the latter part of it) that Sunshine met up with the vocalist Alex Mitchell, guitarist Ricky Beck Mahler and drummer Ryan Maher and was asked to join them has they needed a bass player. Though Sunshine was no bass player and only played it like many guitarists they seemed like a good bunch of lads and has he was not doing anything at the time it seemed like a good bit of fun to do and he was glad enough of having the opportunity to do something else. I am sure he was not aware of what was around the corner at this stage and it would not have been quite like Jimmy Page joining The Yardbirds as a bass player back in the 60’s who were already a successful band and had already made a name for themselves.

It was this 4-piece outfit who were briefly called The Strangers at first quickly changing the bands name to the Circus of Power by the time they started to play at some of the more popular venues in New York during the following year in 1987. It was also around this time that the rock scene had once again raised its head and was becoming popular once again with bands like Guns N’ Roses bursting onto the scene with their latest debut album Appetite for Destruction. The rock scene was once again populating the charts at the time and more and more record companies were looking to sign up the next big thing and Circus Of Power were soon spotted and signed up to RCA Records in July 1987.


Circus Of Power

The band released their self-titled debut album Circus Of Power in 1988. It was the bands most successful album breaking into the top 200 of the US Billboard albums charts and climbed as high as the 185 spot before disappearing. Sunshine was only ever credited as the bass player on the album although it was not long after the album was made that a 5th member Zowie had joined as the bass guitarist allowing Sunshine to switch to rhythm guitar. A couple of the tracks from the album “Motor” and “Call Of The Wild” were also released as singles though they never charted. But interestingly enough both the videos that were made for the single releases did feature Sunshine on guitar and not bass, and here is the video that was made for the first of those records.

Circus Of Power may not of hit the heights of commercial success like many of the other rock bands like Guns N’ Roses, Nirvana, Ugly Kid Joe and many others were grabbing the limelight around the same time, but nevertheless over the near enough 10 years they were together they certainly got around and got to play many gigs and even support some of the more well-known bands such as Black Sabbath, Alice In Chains, The Ramones and many more. Their song “Machine” also from their debut album featured in the comedy film The Burbs starring Tom Hanks and they also performed both “Call Of The Wild” and “Letters Home” at the end of The Morton Downey Jr. Show featuring the Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley playing lead guitar with them. The video they made for the song “Heaven & Hell” from their final album also appeared in one of the episodes of Beavis & Butt-Head. In total the band got to make 3 albums and their second album Vices was released in 1990 followed by Magic & Madness in 1993.

A Collage_Fotor

I have no idea how much Sunshine contributed to the writing of the bands material on their first couple of albums though he was credited along with all the members of the band on those particular albums. Though I do know that both he and Alex Mitchell wrote together 6 of the 12 tracks that was on their last album Magic & Madness. The band folded in 1995 and it was time once again for Gary Sunshine to move on. The Circus of Power was without doubt the nearest he ever got to the BIG TIME! and even though they were not as popular as many of the other major bands that were in the limelight, they certainly made a bit of an impact and a mark.

Having left the Circus Of Power in 1995 in the same year Sunshine went on to have a short stint with yet another punk rock band known as NY Loose that featured Brijitte West vocals/guitar, Gary Sunshine guitar, Danny Nordahl bass and John Melville drums. Sunshine preferred playing with these types of bands and from what I have heard of this outfit I would say they was more punk rock than rock n’ roll and more like the type of punk rock bands we had over here in the UK certainly musical style wise. From what I can gather it was only a short time he spent with the band though he did get to make a couple of EP’s with the band.

Ny L C_Fotor

Both EP’s Loosen Up and Trash Given The Chance were released in 1995 and I am not sure that Sunshine even made it to 1996 with the band before he quit, but in that same year he did get to travel over to the UK and he even played at the Flapper and Firkin Pub in my own town of Birmingham. This video caught them in the act at the venue and features them playing a song entitled “James” to which Sunshine co-wrote with West.

To be honest I am not sure which of the Flapper and Firkin Pubs they played at in Birmingham as they did have a few of them around the town. I am pretty sure they all had live music going on in them too and these days there is only one of them left. But around 1997/98 I got to play at two of them with my band which would of been called Intent To Supply back then, and we played at the one in Kings Heath which was The Hare & Hounds and also the one in Selly Oak which may have been called Scruffy Murphys if my memory serves me right.

My guess is that NY Loose decided to come over to the UK because the music they made was more like British Punk Rock and they thought they might have made it more over here than where they were in New York. The band barely made it to the following year in 1996 before it dissolved and it was time for another change for Gary Sunshine.

Sunshine’s next couple of stints was with the band The Silos who were more prominently a 3-piece band that originally formed in New York back in 1985. Their style of music is far cry from punk rock and was more of a southern rock come country folk rock style and quite something different to any other band he had played with. To be honest I am not entirely sure if he actually joined the band or did some session work for them but it was their 1998 album Heater that he did contribute to with his guitar but he may have only played on one or two tracks on the album.

Silo 1_Fotor

He did also play guitar on the song “Never Lost The Sunshine” from their 2011 album Florizona and it may have been the title of the song they wrote that made them call him back to play on it. I managed to locate the song on the Tube and you can hear for yourself how much different their style was and both The Silos and Circus Of Power certainly appealed more to my taste than the other couple of punk outfits Sunshine played with.

The Silos were originally formed by Walter Salas-Humara and Bob Rupe though Rupe only stuck around for about 5 years and departed from the band after their 3rd album to which they named as their self-titled album when they got signed to RCA records in 1990. That may have been the time that Humara and Sunshine had bumped into each other though I could be completely wrong simply because I cannot make any connection with the mixing engineers and the studios both The Silos and Circus Of Power recorded there albums at.

Though it was  Humara that wrote practically all the material for the band and he often called in many other musicians to play on the bands albums and play live. This old cutting from a newspaper I found on Sunshine’s website under the heading of The Silos on the road does suggest he also went out and played live with the band.


However, the album Florizona that The Silos put out in 2011 was to be their last album and that was more or less the same year that Gary Sunshine decided to go solo and do his own thing. His own thing I will go into further in my review of his latest album, but to conclude this section at looking back at his past I would like to leave you this very fascinating piece of history where you can hear Gary Sunshine for yourself speaking about his past in this interview that was released on podcast last year. He not only discuses all the bands he has been involved in I have gone over here, but also some of the session work he did and how he even got to play on the Gun’s N’ Roses song  “Oh My God” and his musical relationship with Axl Rose even to the point of teaching Rose how to play guitar. You can listen to it on the link I have posted here.


Beer, Picks & Old Records The Album In Review…

Beer, Picks & Old Records by Gary Sunshine was released on the 7th September 2019. The album contains 13 songs that are spanned over an overall playing time of 46 minutes, 25 seconds which is a very comfortable and respectable time slot for an album of songs. The album is also very well produced and that is really down to Sunshine’s decision to try and raise funds to have the album made in a proper studio with a good producer and a few session players rather than do everything himself like he had with a couple of self-releases back in 2012. So, a Kickstarter Project was set up to help raise the funds to make the record and I have to say the new album certainly sounds GREAT! for it and I am sure Gary is extremely grateful to all those who contributed and they were well happy enough with the end result.

To record the album Gary had to travel from Ohio to Los Angeles which is the most populous city in California. Although I am pretty sure he did not walk the 2, 280 miles like one his many classics “Might Just Walk To California” from his previous album might suggest :))))). The new album was recorded at Unison Studios which is one of the smaller and more affordable studios in LA. They also have an independent music label the Unison Music Group which was set up for artists with original talent.

UNISON Independent Label Logo

The Unison Group and Studio was set up in 2007 by Producers Bruce Witkin and Ryan Dorn and the studio offers custom, state-of-the-art recording equipment to get the job done. Sunshine’s new album Beer, Picks & Old Records was produced by Bruce Witkin & Gary Sunshine and Witkin also contributed bass & keyboards to the album. Witkin has a lifetime of experience as an artist and producer. He has recorded and toured with Adam Ant and Vanessa Paradis and has recorded countless artists including The Romantics, Joe Perry, The Blasters, LA Guns and many more. He also wrote and produced music for Martin Short’sJiminy Glick” and served as Johnny Depp’s vocal producer in Tim Burton’sSweeney Todd” for which he received a Grammy nomination in 2008.

Unison Stdios

Unison Studio

There is no doubt that the album sounds GREAT! and having a producer like Bruce Witkin onboard has done a STELLAR! job for the album that much so, that I would not advise playing Gary’s earlier self-produced album The Nerve Of Some People immediately afterwards and would let the dust settle a bit before doing so. Otherwise it will sound quite lame in comparison. But besides the production work and Witkin’s contribution of bass and keyboards, the other thing that helps the album out are the couple of other session players. Rob Klonel takes care of the drums side of things and Gary roped in his old friend Ricky Beck Mahler from his former band Circus Of Power to help him out on the lead guitar side of things on a couple of the tracks. So’ let’s now take a look at the musicians and credits.

Musicians & Credits…

Artist section pic_Fotor

All songs written and performed by Gary Sunshine. Recorded at Unison Studios Los Angeles, California. Produced by Bruce Witkin & Gary Sunshine. Recorded & Mixed by Bruce Witkin. Mastered by Dave Schultz at D2 Mastering. Album Cover Design by Rockwell Creative.

Gary Sunshine: Vocals/Guitar.
Ricky Beck Mahler: Guitar.
Bruce Witkin: Bass/Keyboards.
Rob Klonel: Drums.

The Album Tracks In Review…

I think what makes any good songwriter is the lyrics and that is where folk, rock and pop songs will always win over my particular fave of genres prog rock. Prog rock is really all about the music and most lyrics in that genre are in general either mythical fantasies based around Greek and Medieval Mythology and various other historical legendary stories and poets that do not have any real baring on reality. It’s the songwriters in this world that bring me back down to earth and its reality and Gary Sunshine is very much a guy who is down to earth regarding his song writing and his songs do have a GREAT! impact on myself as you will see in this following example.

When Gary Sunshine released his first album The Nerve Of Some People back in 2012 it was only ever in the form of a digital download. That album had quite an impact on me and when I purchased it, I could not stop playing it for weeks on end. I still very much play it frequently enough today. I myself stopped buying vinyl back in the late 90’s and I can honestly say it’s a good job I did. Simply because the amount of times I have played this album I would have had to have brought it 5 or 6 times over because that’s how many times it would have worn out at least by now.


The Nerve Of Some People is an album that will have you instantly hooked, but unlike most albums were the material hits you in the face straight away and wears off after a month or so, Sunshine very much writes songs that will stay with you forever. He very much writes songs you can not only sing along to with the record, but will also have you singing them when you are out and about or you’ve just woken up and got out of bed. I have even used phrases of words from this album myself in general discussion with people and that’s how powerful this album is. It’s very hard for any songs these days to have that effect on me and for me personally I have found that over the last couple of decades that very few songs will do that and the biggest majority of songs that do have that effect on me are those that were written many moons ago.

A perfect example of how good this album is and as to why Sunshine’s music grabs me so much is really down to his hook and he does write songs like The Rolling Stones and I am a fan of them too. I even thought that when they made their 20th album Voodoo Lounge back in 1994, I honestly felt that was the best album the Stones had made in YONKS! But not even that album could I get out and play as much as this album of Sunshine’s. I would have to go back to albums like Beggars Banquet and Let It Bleed that were made in the late 60’s to come near to how good The Nerve Of Some People really is.

I think the thing that makes Sunshine’s album stand out so well are the many classics it contains. It’s a 15-track album and I would not say it was entirely a solid album but the classic songs do hold it up easy enough for you to sit through the whole album comfortably enough. There are a few songs I could throw out but that is really down to production standards more than anything and some of the songs do suffer a bit for those reasons and it’s not been produced like the latest album and was made by Sunshine himself in his home studio at home.

Beer, Picks & Old Records is an album that benefits and shines a lot more with its production standards and in terms of quality there is no doubt it outweighs his self-produced predecessor The Nerve Of Some People from 2012. But does it contain as many classic songs to make the album shine enough and match up to that GREAT! album from 2012? To answer that question let’s take a closer look at the new albums individual tracks.

Track 1. Beer, Picks & Old Records.

T 1

The album gets off to a GREAT! start with albums self-titled track and already we have a story that relates to a situation many have found ourselves in regarding being left in the lurch, especially regarding broken down relationships. Musically there is not a lot to it and I am pretty sure the song only contains 3 chords, but it’s what you do with them and how you deliver the song that make it what it is and work so well. Sunshine’s voice and acoustic guitar drive this along very well with the drums and his bends on the acoustic I can instantly distinguish too and they feature on most of his songs.

Beer, Picks & Old Records” is perhaps a song that is a bit more minimalistic regarding the use of the session players in relation to some of the other songs on the album where they do get to feature and stand out more. But there is enough in here to make it one of the albums contenders for the TOP SPOT! on the album and I like it a lot and also think that it makes a GREAT! title for the album. I would even say this song is very much a Sunshine classic.

Track 2. Banging On My Head.

This next song sits right in with the groove and hook of The Rolling Stones and the drum pounds it’s way effectively through the song to fit in with the title, I like the distortion that has been applied to the drum as well and it’s like it’s got quite a bounce to it and sounds almost like an African Djembe. Just like the opening track this one features mostly Sunshine on acoustic guitar and it does sound like he’s the only person on this track. Although this does also feature Bruce Witkin’s on bass and Rob Klonel on drums and you can tell the song has been re-recorded again in relation to the original demo he put out on Soundcloud.

Lyrically the song is pertaining to the pressures that can be put upon the life of a rock n roll star with his busy schedule and with all the materialistic things that’s opened up to them. That is how it comes across to me, but they also could relate to things going wrong and learning to tread through life more carefully and all sorts of trouble. Whatever they relate to they are banging it out very well and it’s quite a GREAT! little song.

Track 3. But I Got All My Feelings Hurt.

Sometimes there are things in life that hurt us that much that we can never really get over them and this what this song is pertaining to. It’s the shortest track on the album and is just under the 3-minute mark. Sunshine gets out the electric guitars for this one and along with Witkin and Klonel they get into the full swing of things on this one and do a GRAND! job here.

Like some of the songs on the album they was written quite awhile back and this one Gary wrote about 5 years ago and the original demo does have more of a bluesy feel about it especially has he was using acoustic guitars only. This version gives it more of a rock n roll feel that sits in well with the style and groove of the Stones and hearing it done this way like many of the songs on the album it does make them sound brand new.

Track 4. Love Turns.

T 2

It often surprises me of how Sunshine’s voice can work so well with ballads and it works effectively on this really GREAT! ballad of a song to which I very much think is a classic and is also my personal favourite track on the album. “Love Turns” is not one of Sunshine’s new songs and this one goes back to 2012. It may very well of been written earlier than that but it was previously released back in 2012 on a 6 track EP he put out back then entitled Lead Me Away From This Bar.


The original song was only 2 minutes, 23 seconds long and was more of a demo. The EP does have some GREAT! songs on it and this particular song did not stand out as well as it did on the EP like it does on this album. This new version is almost twice as long and you get 3 minutes, 58 seconds and it’s purely GOLDEN! Once again both Witkin and Klonel along with Sunshine do the BIZZO! on this song. But what also makes this song sound so GREAT! is the country feel that Ricky Beck Mahler gives to it on the lead guitar and this is the first of two tracks he appears on the album. He also uses an ebow and the sound he’s got on the guitar reminds me of the early 70’s you would get on early Rod Stewart albums like Every Picture Tells A Story and even Sandy Denny’s 2nd album she released back in 1972 entitled Sandy. I love how he makes the lead notes BITE! too. It really is a FANTASTIC! song to which Mahler has done a TOP JOB! on.

The song was written whilst Sunshine was going through the divorce of his wife at the time and the lyrics reflect that. I think many of Sunshine’s songs are almost like an autobiography of his own life and everything he has seen and experienced in life on his many travels. Gary delivers this song with perfection and every time I play this song for some reason it brings a tear of joy dwelling from my eye when he says the words “Boo Hoo” around the 1:48 mark just before the first lead break. Strange how such a sad song can even reflect happiness and this one merits the TOP SPOT AWARD! of the album.

Track 5. We Had Gold.

It’s time to ROCK! things up a bit more and Sunshine and the guys belt this one out in GREAT! style that once again has the hook that’s so familiar with the Stones. Once again he is on the electric guitar and does quite a tasty job of it and this is also quite a new song that could of possibly been written whilst Gary was putting the new album together over the past year. I am also pretty sure no demo was ever put out of it and it could of been the last song he wrote for the album.

Lyrically the song could pertain to the rise and fall of many bands and artists in that sometimes you can only be popular for so long before the next wave of bands and artists sweep you away sort of thing. Whatever the lyrics are pertaining to this song really ROCKS! and is another really GREAT! well driven song and a bit funky with it too.

Track 6. Hell.

Hell is perhaps not the way you would imagine or thought that things would be like growing up with everything that life throws at us, and that is what the words are pertaining to in this fine song that is perhaps not as hot as hell but simmers the album down a bit more. Witkin’s bass works very well on this song and it’s also one of the few tracks on the album he also contributes keyboards on as well. Sunshine has a GREAT! way with words and knows how to write GREAT! song and this is another CRACKING little number.

Track 7. Some Days (I Wanna Be Jimmy Page).

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It’s time to ROCK! things up a bit again and I am sure many guitarists would wanna be Jimmy Page and he had such an influence on many guitarists too. There are times I pick up my guitar and wanna be him myself but there is only one Jimmy Page and Led Zeppelin were a GREAT! band. This song like many on the album does have more of a Stones feel about it apart from the ending, especially the way it swings with the rhythm. This is also the other track on the album that Ricky Beck Mahler contributes some lead guitar on and everyone is doing a GRAND! job on the song.

I love the subject matter Sunshine has chosen to write about here and how the story he wrote relates to a band starting out. It’s one of those songs that latches on to easy enough and will have you singing along to it, which is why I do feel that this is another song in contention for the albums TOP SPOT!.

Track 8. Your Beautiful Life.

This is perhaps more of a contender for the albums TOP SPOT! than the previous song and Gary is rolling them out one after the other here. Musically the song reminds me a bit like one of his classics “Mexico” off his 2012 album The Nerve Of Some People. I guess it’s the way the song drives along that puts me in mind of that song. It could also be that it has a beautiful thing though it might not have silver lockets and the thing of beauty here is life and how it can be easily taken away from us, yet there are still worse things in the world. The song portrays the story of Rose the Hitchhiker and it is without doubt another GREAT! song that features some GREAT! guitar work by Sunshine too..

Track 9. When The Cops Came By.

Looking at the title you would never guess that this was a song about romance and Sunshine really does have a GREAT! way of going about the subject matter with his words. Although this song is nothing like “One Tilted Rose In A Candy Jar” from his 2012 album The Nerve Of Some People I did also see this quite a romantic song and it puts me in mind of that song for those reasons. Although I personally think this is a bit better and is more along the lines of a Sunshine classic. Gary is on the acoustic for this one and it also features some fine keyboard work from Witkin and is very much a strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 10. She Hates The Blues.

A GREAT! rocking’ blues number and this one is the longest track on the album weighing in at 4 minutes, 20 seconds. The song pertains to a story about those moaning assholes who wind up in a bar where the music the band is playing is not to their particular taste and do nothing but complain about it rather than going off somewhere else. The solution to the problem is to simply whack up the volume and give it to them and Sunshine and the guys certainly do in fine style.

Track 11. All Hearts Break.

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Another GREAT! song that has to be another contender for the albums TOP SPOT! “All Hearts Break” is a song about the hurt that is hard to shake off when one’s heart is broken and I am sure many of us have been there and bumped into those who have. Sunshine captures and sets the scene with the down to earth story he wrote for it and delivers the song with GREAT! conviction.

It’s really GREAT! to see how this song has progressed from the original rough demo and what’s been done with it here really does the song a lot more justice and it now ROCKS! well and truly for it. All 3 of the guys have done a GRAND! job here.

Track 12. Three Good Tires.

Another CRACKING! song that contains some really GREAT! acoustic playing from Sunshine and he also works in some GREAT! work with some fine touches on the electric guitar along the way and towards the end of it too. Lyrically the song pertains to being dragged down and being down on your luck, especially when you’re missing that one little thing that might make things run a bit smoother. Due to vinyl restrictions “Three Good Tires” is omitted from the vinyl release.

Track 13. Young (Ain’t You a Rock And Roller).

The album ends off in style and this another GREAT! little acoustic number to which features some fine keyboard work from Bruce Witkin that works extremely well with everything here. It’s quite a subtle song and once again this is another really good story Sunshine has written which pertains to being young and in love and looking back at those times and some of those musical GREATS! that influenced us and those who just play for the love of it. This is also one of Sunshine’s older songs he wrote around 6 years ago and he also wrote it in two parts, but this is the first part which is more of a ballad in relation to the second part he wrote and it wraps up another really GREAT! album.


To sum up the album Beer, Picks & Old Records by Gary Sunshine. I very much think that what you are getting here is an album that contains 13 very well written songs that have been very skilfully placed with the right placement on the album to very much make it work and make quite a solid album. Personally, I cannot fault one track on the album and the way the songs come at you one after the other makes the album flow like a really good wine. But I would also say more of a vintage wine in that the material is very much old-school that draws from the same style of rock & blues you would of got from many other artists and bands many moons ago.

So, this is very much an album that would appeal more to people like myself and not so much to the younger generation or those looking for something more up to date and new that one would get out of today’s more modern pop music for example.

But regardless of the music being old-school and more along the lines of The Rolling Stones and many other ROCK N’ ROLLERS! There is no doubt that Gary Sunshine does also have quite his own distinctive way of delivering his songs to you which is what makes him stand out. Plus, with all he has experienced on the road as a ROCK-A-ROLLER himself, there is no doubt in my mind that he is a very good songwriter who writes songs that are down to earth and very interesting to keep you attentive enough to pay attention and listen.

In answer to my question further back of whether the album Beer, Picks & Old Records contains more classic songs than his previous album The Nerve Of Some People. Personally, I do not think it does and to give you an example these are the songs I would consider as Sunshine classics on the new album. “Beer, Picks & Old Records“. “Love Turns“. “Your Beautiful Life” and “When The Cops Came By“. And these are the ones I consider to be classics off his old album “If You See The Devil“. “A Gentleman With A Gun Strapped To His Ankle“. “Mexico“. “One Tilted Rose In A Candy Jar“. “The Nerve Of Some People“. “Cracked Guitar” and “Might Just Walk to California“.

But where the album Beer, Picks & Old Records wins and works better is certainly down to the production standards and that is what makes many of the songs stand out and why I even chose quite a good few of its tracks to be potential contenders for the albums TOP SPOT!. My personal highlights from the album are as follows: “Beer, Picks & Old Records“. “Love Turns“. “Some Days (I Wanna Be Jimmy Page)“. “Your Beautiful Life“. “When The Cops Came By” and “All the Hearts Break“. But I could easily add every track on the album to that list.


To wind up my review of Gary Sunshine’s latest album Beer, Picks & Old Records. I personally think this is an album that makes Gary Sunshine really SHINE! and that is very much down to the quality production behind it and right now it is without a doubt the best album you could ever possibly get of his for those reasons. I do however feel that if his self-produced debut album The Nerve Of Some People had the same production behind it, it would be the better album out of the two. But even though his latest album does consist of songs that were mostly written over the last year or two, there is no doubt Sunshine still has what it takes to write GREAT! songs and this is another of his albums that will give me tremendous pleasure for many years to come.

Beer, Picks & Old Records is an album that should appeal to many peoples tastes especially for those who are into The Rolling Stones, Bob Dylan, Neil Young, The Band, Tom Petty and The Heartbreakers, Johnny Winter and many other ROCK-A-ROLLERS! It sure as hell ROCKS! my boat and I am sure it will do the same for many others. Gary Sunshine delivers the goods in style and with his own unique style too, and this is an artist and an album that is well worthy of checking out and I highly recommend you do.

You can find out more about Gary Sunshine and his album here on his website. The album is also available at many other retail stores internationally in both physical and digital formats. https://garysunshinemusic.com/index.html

There’s No Sympathy For The Devil, No More Public Enemy

The CD track listing is as follows:

01. Beer, Picks & Old Records. 3:33.
02. Banging On My Head. 3:19.
03. But I Got All My Feelings Hurt. 2:53.
04. Love Turns. 3:58.
05. We Had Gold. 3:20.
06. Hell. 3:16.
07. Some Days (I Wanna Be Jimmy Page). 3:20.
08. Your Beautiful Life. 3:43.
09. When The Cops Came By. 3:04.
10. She Hates The Blues. 4:20.
11. All the Hearts Break. 4:15.
12. Three Good Tires. 4:16.
13. Young (Ain’t You a Rock And Roller). 3:08.

Lee’s Packaging Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 9/10.


Lee Speaks About Music… #131

Black Riders Part 2 – HeartScore



The latest album and follow up to last year’s release of HeartScore’s Black Riders Part 1 is upon us, and Black Riders Part 2 hits the shelves so to speak exactly a year to the very day. A lot of things have changed over the past year including the fact that the man behind the project Dirk Radloff decided to bring in a new singer to take on all the vocal duties. It’s perhaps a bit of a strange thing to do especially has this is a particular series of work that follows on and is based around the words of a 19th century American poet known as Stephen Crane. But it also could be more of a step in the right direction regarding attracting more attention to his music.

I’ve known Dirk for a good few years now, you could even say that I am his number one fan since I stumbled across his music on Soundcloud about 5 or 6 years ago. He’s always looking at other avenues to try and get a bit more attention paid to his music. He’s also willing to make a few changes here and there and it was only last year that he decided to change from his normal style of prog rock to something with a bit more of a metal approach. Metal is also more to his own particular taste in music even though it was only his 6th album Black Riders Part 1 he put out last year when he decided to make the change over to that particular style.

He will even make changes regarding the formats he chooses to release his music on and keeps his eye on market research to look for the best possible angles and ways of trying to make it appeal to more people. For example, last year Black Riders Part 1 was released in 4 formats if you count the digital download and Limited Edition that came with a 48-page hardback book.


The fact that Cassettes were also making a bit of a comeback enticed him to even include the format with that release as well along with the other physical format on CD. The one thing you cannot say he’s not doing is trying and in many ways I admire what he’s doing  and let’s face it, if you made something you were proud of you would want it to look the part and put it out in all formats. But on the other hand, for the unknown musician this can also be costly especially in today’s world were music does not sell as well as it used to many moons ago. But thankfully least Dirk had the sense not to have so many copies made up and I would not like to see any musician be left with a pile of albums cluttering up their own basement or garage so to speak.

Personally I think his decision to go with a new singer is more of a positive step in the right direction especially when you want to make your music ROCK! harder you very much need the right voice to go with the power and I have to say he has chosen one hell of a singer who certainly has all the right qualities to fit to his music. But before I go any further let’s take a look at the packaging and artwork as usual.

The Packaging & Artwork…

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Things certainly have changed for this new release and gone are the physical formats of the CD and Cassette we seen last year and the new album comes in the form of a Digital Download only. Like I mentioned earlier it probably makes a lot of sense for any unknown artist to go with this format with how music sells in this day and age, especially when you are not gonna exactly sell your album by the bucket load. However, it’s not strictly true that he did not put the album onto a physical format although it is extremely limited and it is the most expensive format of them all these days.

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Extremely Limited Vinyl Edition

There comes a time when I am sure all of us would want our albums put onto a vinyl record but it is a very expensive game these days in relation to what it was years ago. It’s something many mainstream artists still do today since vinyl has been making a come back since around 2017 and the fact that mainstream artists can shift them by the bucket load means that they can order them in much larger quantities to keep the cost of the record down. Basically you need to be ordering at least 1,000 – 2,000 units and even then you are still looking at charging around £25 – £30 per album to make any sort of profit at all. That’s around the price you would pay for most lesser known mainstream prog rock artists vinyl albums.

More well known mainstream artists who sell their albums by several bucket loads due to their bigger popularity can easily afford to have 20,000 – 40,000 and much more pressed at a time. Which is why they can afford sell their vinyl albums from around £14 – £18 each. Simply because the larger quantity you order the cheaper you can get them for. Bands like Led Zeppelin, Pink Floyd and many others would have no problem shifting that many copies which is why they can afford to sell them at a much lower price. For an unknown artist like Dirk Radloff who is lucky to sell 10 albums it would be suicidal to go down this road and the only alternative would be to have 1 copy pressed onto vinyl as a personal collectors item for himself and that was his original intention.

Many companies who press vinyl will charge you £100 and more to have just one of your albums pressed onto a single 12 inch LP. I dare say for those who are proud of their music they would be willing to shell out that price even if it was just to have a personal copy they could hang on a wall or put on display in a cabinet in their homes. It’s something both myself and he have discussed and looked into over the past couple of years, and it was only more recently that Dirk happened to stumble across a company here in the UK who was doing 1 single unit at a much cheaper price.

He even managed to cut a bit of a better deal with the company by having 5 units pressed instead of 1 cutting the cost down a bit more and has decided to keep 2 of them so he has a back up, and the other 3 have been made available to purchase. So the vinyl release is extremely Limited and even though the price tag of 45 Euro might look extravagant and extortionate. I can assure you that he is hardly making a bean from the sales of them if they do manage to sell. But so far lucky for him one has already sold and only 2 are available to purchase.

The Artwork.

The artwork and albums sleeve design were designed by Dirk Radloff himself using photos he purchased and pieced together to which are licensed by Shutterstock DOT COM. The Norse FONT he used was created by Joel Carrouche who is a graphic and type designer from France. Overall, I think it looks very good and I think it suits the album and is perhaps the right kind of artwork that you would find associated with Metal’s genre.

Black Riders Part 2 Album In Review…

Black Riders Part 2 by HeartScore was released on the 1st November 2019. It’s the 7th album of Dirk Radloff’s to be released under his project name and comes with 10 tracks spanned over an overall playing time of 36 minutes, 27 seconds. Whereas its predecessor Black Riders Part 1 was the longest HeartScore album and near enough twice the length and contained twice as many tracks, his latest album is officially the shortest album to be released in the HeartScore discography. Although the shorter time slot would have been taken into consideration for him wanting the album to be put onto vinyl and complying with vinyl restrictions. Personally, I myself prefer the old 70’s vinyl time slot of 30 – 40 minutes for an album. It not only means I can squeeze more albums into my daily listening pleasure, but also makes them a damn site easier to review.

There is no doubt that Radloff’s previous album Black Riders Part 1 was a step into a newer direction and in some respects was also more of a experimentation in that he was fusing electronica with metal to some degree and it was something he put out to test the water to see if it would attract more people to his music. I thought overall that album was quite a good effort but I was not entirely sure that fusing metal with electronic elements really worked that well. Having recently listened to the album again I do feel that my original rating in my review a year ago was a bit generous and to be honest my overall ratings of many albums I quite often find may have been on the generous side, especially having returned to the album at a much later date.

The album Black Riders Part 2 is very much a different ball game in that many of the elements that was on it’s predecessor have been stripped down and back to the bare bones. For example, gone are the electronics, the violin and other guest musicians playing saxophone for example and all that is left are guitars, bass and drums and these basic instruments give the album much more raw power. They are certainly the main ingredients in metal and rock music and in many cases that is all you really need apart from a decent singer who has balls to belt out the words.

In many ways a voice is a very powerful instrument, it can in some cases be a more powerful thing than the rest of the band. I am sure I am not the only one who has followed a singer who has left a band and left the band he was in behind to follow him instead. I done that with both Black Sabbath and Marillion and for me personally both Ozzy Osbourne and Fish went on to make better music than what the both bands did without them. Whenever a band changes a musician it’s not necessarily going to be that big or enough of a change for their fans to leave the band behind. But when a band changes a singer it becomes a lot more problematic and is not always easy for many to accept.

HeartScore is very much the brain child of a one man project regarding the musical side of things, the very fact that the man behind it also took on the vocals himself in the beginning and produced 4 albums with him as the main singer, is what I personally liked from the start and I truly felt that Dirk’s own voice suited the music he was making back then. That much so that even though more recently he has remade a few of those older songs with the latest singer he now has onboard with him on this new album. I still prefer the originals. Although in reality there is no doubt the new singer does have one hell of a voice in comparison to Dirk’s own voice and is perhaps on a much higher level.

Having a good singer is very important to any band and it can make all the difference especially when it comes down to the genres of heavy rock and metal, and its this new direction of where HeartScore’s music is now heading is where the new singer does have exactly what is required of a singer to make it work a lot more so than the previous singer Dirk hired or for even himself to sing on that score. There is no doubt that Chris who came by Courtesy of Studiopros is a professional singer and does have a GREAT! voice. But it’s perhaps not the kind of voice you want for this genre of music for it to work properly.

The new singer Giacomo Rossi is like your Ian Gillian’s and Rob Halford’s of this world who has vocal chords that can stretch much further and reach GREAT! heights. He is very much like those GREAT! rock singers who are in complete control of their voice. To put it in a nutshell he can reach parts most vocalists would struggle to reach and has GREAT! vibrato and is able to sustain, hold, bend and shape his vocal chords around the music. Singers like this don’t come ten a penny and are very hard to come across. It’s not the first time that Radloff has collaborated with Rossi either and he did stumble across him on Soundcloud about 5 years ago and done a few Led Zeppelin covers together.

Giacomo Rossi is Italian and currently resides in Reggio Emilia (RE), Italy. He is still very young and approaching the latter end of his 20’s and had singing lessons himself and holds a Masters Degree from the Modern Music Institute which guarantees him professional competence in modern singing. He now runs his own classes and teaches other people to sing.


Giacomo Rossi

Italy is a renowned country for its many GREAT! opera singers and many of the GREATEST! operatic singers in the world came out of that country. Although opera is not really my cup of tea, I do have a lot of admiration for the skilful trained voice and can be amazed at what the voice alone can do with its range and the powerful dynamics it can reach and produce. Even though opera singers do have lessons you do very much have to be gifted and born with that voice in the first place, it’s not something you could achieve by simply having singing lessons.

I am not saying that Rossi is an opera singer but he does possess some of those qualities and range in his voice which allows him to sing many alternative styles of music. He himself is involved in many other project bands a couple of which do covers of more well-known pop songs and he is also in a Deep Purple tribute band called PurpleMore. Probably one of the more interesting bands he is in do more of their own material, and is an alternative metal band that go by the name of P.O.E. which stands for Philosophy Of Evil and is based around the haunting horror of the author Edgar Allan Poe.


It was only last month that the band released their debut album entitled Of Evil Humanity And Other Odd Things and 4 years prior to that back in 2015 they put out a 5 track EP entitled The Tell-Tale Heart. I’ve taken the liberty to listen to a couple of tracks from them both and I have to say they sound very good and I might have to give them some further attention and investigate both releases a bit more.

Musicians & Credits…


All music composed, arranged and produced by Dirk Radloff. All lyrics written by Stephen Crane. Mixed & Mastered by Dirk Radloff at his home studio. Artwork and sleeve design by Dirk Radloff. Photos licensed by Shutterstock DOT COM. Norse FONT by Joel Carrouche.


Dirk Radloff: Electric & Acoustic Guitars/Bass/Piano, Synth & Drum Programming.
Giacomo Rossi: Vocals.

The Album Tracks In Review…

The album consists mostly of short vocal tracks and a couple of instrumental tracks plus a piano ballad of a song has been thrown in to break it up a bit. But even though the tracks are short they still pack in some GREAT! progression and it has the power to deliver the goods. With the music being put to short poems by Stephen Crane that came from his first book of poems entitled The Black Riders and Other Lines. The poems do not really have enough words to make songs without having to repeat the words. It’s perhaps a difficult task for any singer to be able to work with and stretch them out further to make them fit in, and the only real work around is to express them a bit differently so it does not sound like you are repeating yourself all the time. This is something I feel Rossi has coped with extremely well so, let’s now take a look at the albums tracks and see how it all pans out so to speak.

Track 1. A Man Went Before A Strange God.

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The album gets off to quite a flying start after the short little intro and GALLOPS! its way along as if its GALLOPING! its way into a raging battle of war. Although the war in question in this battle is over which god you put your trust in. I think that Stephen Crane would quite often turn the tables around in his poetry and portray the real god as the devil and that is precisely what he has done in this poem of his. Cranes poems were very short and this particular one is perhaps longer than most in that it contains a couple of short paragraphs, and I like how the first three lines of the opening paragraph have been used to make up the chorus leaving the rest of the lines or sentences to make up a couple of verses. Quite often in many songs the chorus will repeat the same words and the fact that the song does open up with the chorus does really help the song by not sounding too repetitive.

Musically it’s driving along on all cylinders and the guitars, bass and drums are hammering there way along and it is a very powerful song. It’s the longest vocal track on the album but only by 3 seconds and weighs in at 4 minutes, 5 seconds so, you can certainly see how short the songs are on the album. But the length of any song has never been of importance to me not even in my own preferred genre of music prog rock. I personally think that it’s a damn site technically harder to throw in bags of transitional changes and progression into a song over 2 – 5 minutes and make it work than it ever is in relation to some 20 – 30 minute epic. I also praise the very few who successfully have managed to do so as well. Fundamental changes are what I like to see and not stitching songs together like many prog rock bands do today like The Beatles did back in 1969 on their Abbey Road album with a track they called the “Medley” or the “Long Piece“.

I am not saying I dislike those type of songs and that this particular song has bags of progression and transitional changes because it does not. But that is where metal has always differed to prog rock but there are also many different styles of metal these days too, such as progressive metal, heavy metal and death metal to name a few. But I quite like how this song takes it’s foot off the pedal around the 1:04 mark to come down for a bit with a nice little short change which allows Rossi to express a short one off sentence and for Radloff to throw in a nice little guitar solo and pick up back to its blistering pace. “A Man Went Before A Strange God” is GREAT! song that DJENTS! like metal with its guitars and has the voice of a powerful ROCK! singer and both deliver the goods here. It’s very much a contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

Track 2. It Was Wrong To Do This.

This one chugs and marches its way along and once again the song starts with the chorus to try and prevent what little words of Crane’s sound too repetitive. It’s perhaps too hard to conceal the repetitiveness on this one but nevertheless the harmonies and the way the words have been expressed do help it as far as the words are concerned. The harmonies have always been a trademark with HeartScore’s music and they are generally done by Radloff himself and can be quite familiar with the harmonies the band Queen do. This is the first album he has left his voice off completely and left all the vocals and harmonies to Rossi and they still sound GREAT! and work extremely well.

Lyrically the words are pertaining to the differences between the spiritual world and the real world were things do work differently. For example, the effects of war would not really have a bearing in the spiritual world of an angel where war does not exist and one has to fight to survive sort of thing. I think Crane liked to try and prove that the bible was blacker than white and he may have been right. Overall the song packs in the power over its 3 minutes and contains GREAT! vocals, harmonies and the short guitar solo works effectively enough to break it up, the bass works really well on this song too.

Track 3. A Man Toiled On A Burning Road.

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The heat is turned up and this one is quite HOT! and is a SCORCHER! Musically its very well constructed with some GREAT! progression and travels along at a BLISTERING! pace. Once again there is very little words for Rossi to sing but you do get more musical interludes in between over the 3 minute and 55 seconds here to help out. The vocal sections Rossi does a really super job of and he even does Ian Gillan like screams in parts, watch out for Radloff’s BLISTERING! guitar solo between the 0:45 – 1:07 mark and this is really running along at high speed.

There is a GREAT! change around the 2:09 mark that GRINDS! it all down and it CHUGS! it’s way along slowly and Radloff has even thrown in some synth strings on this song which work quite well in this come down section. At the 2:40 mark we get another little burst of a solo on the guitar and the song picks back up its BLISTERING! pace to finish it all off. “A Man Toiled On A Burning Road” is a very strong contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! and Stephen Crane’s words here are pertaining to those lazy bums who do nothing and have nothing better to do than ridicule and snigger at those who are working their butt off to make a living.

Track 4. There Was Set Before Me A Mighty Hill.

It’s time to simmer things right down with this next song which is a BEAUTIFUL! ballad composed for the piano and beautifully sung by Rossi. I like how the double track vocals come into play at all the right parts too which work very well. Although the music was written for the piano it is actually programmed by Radloff and his main instruments he plays are violin and guitar. He can play a bit on the piano and most likely played the synth strings on the previous track rather than programmed them. To be honest a ballad like this might be out of place on a metal album like this, but when I look at the words in Cranes poem, I can see why Radloff chose to do a ballad and use the piano for it.

There was set before me a mighty hill,
And long days I climbed
Through regions of snow.
When I had before me the summit-view,
It seemed that my labour
Had been to see gardens
Lying at impossible distances

Glancing at Cranes words they reflect something he may have seen and experienced out in the country on a walk. But they also pertain to the uphill struggles that life can present us at times. They also could pertain to the struggle it takes to save for something materialistic and the time it takes us to get what we want. However, you look at them they are certainly different in relation to many poems he wrote about god, the devil and war for example.

Most of Cranes poems are very short like this so you can see how hard it would be to use them for songs. But I like the way how Radloff has cleverly took certain parts out to use and make them work, and the words he re-uses to make up the chorus on this particular song do work very well as do all the others.

Long days I climbed
Through regions of snow.
When I had before me the summit-view

To be honest this is something I never really picked up on his previous album Black Riders Part 1 and it may be down to how Rossi handles and expresses the words in relation to his previous singer Chris why I have paid closer attention to everything. The other thing I have noticed though is that Rossi can at times struggle a bit with the English language in pronouncing certain words properly. For example, on this song the word “Distances” does sound like he’s singing “Listances”. But these are only minor things and nothing to really write home about especially when you have a voice like he has and I rather think that outweighs everything and I certainly would not shoot him in the foot for it so to speak.

There Was Set Before Me A Mighty Hill” is a GREAT! song and I also love how well it ends off on the piano too and I wish some of my own endings on the piano were more constructed like that too.

Track 5. Many Workmen.

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Shoddy workmanship and cowboy builders’ springs to mind with this poem of Cranes and sometimes things might not be as GRAND! as they appear to be :))))) especially when being crushed to death whilst you step back and gaze at how good you think your work looks. Sometimes it pays to get on with things and the poor chaps met their fate for not doing so in this case. I rather think Cranes short story here is something like you would find in British comedy sketches in comedy shows such as Monty Python, The Odd Job Man and Some Mothers Do Have Them. I like the way that Giacomo Rossi SQUEALS! into action on this song too.

The song involves rocks and does ROCK! and you get the familiar HeartScore harmonies and with Rossi’s voice used for them they do sound a bit like a cross between Yes & 10 CC and work very well. It also has a nice little lead guitar break from Radloff and CHUGS! its way along quite well too. It’s perhaps my least favourite track on the album but is not a bad song and it must be extremely difficult for Rossi to work with Cranes words but he’s done extremely well here and once again they have been very cleverly divided up to make the song work.

Track 6. There Was A Man And A Woman.

Now we go from my least favourite track into my personal favourite track on the album and this has to be the HIT! single of the album and is a SUPERB! very well written song. I think it’s one that Dirk Radloff must be extremely proud of too and why he chose to make an official video for the song. This song purely ROCKS! and I think the video he made is very well done too and you can see Giacomo Rossi do his Ian Gillan like screams. I think the only thing that would have made the video better is if Dirk Radloff put himself playing the guitar in the video. But apart from that he’s done quite a professional job of it all as you can see by the video below.

There Was A Man And A Woman” is a song that packs in a lot over 2 minutes and 50 seconds and very much merits the albums TOP SPOT AWARD! It contains all the right elements to make it the stand out track on the album and its quite a classic rock song like many others done by more well-known artists and just as good.

Track 7. Once There Was A Man.

T 6

Once there was man and now there is nothing, and nothing is what I can make out of Crane’s words for this poem either. Crane often wrote things in a very bizarre way and I think that is why for many he is so interesting and become a subject for the people to study his works and try and decipher and make sense of it all. But despite the meaning of the words they work very well here and I even like how the song ends off with Rossi repeating the words “There is nothing” and the abrupt ending works a treat. The song also has a nice little intro before it settles into more of a Djent on the guitar and it also has more of a longer guitar solo during the break. Overall another TOP JOB is done by them both and it’s a GREAT! song.

Track 8. To My Tiny Throes And Struggles.

It’s time for the first of the two instrumental tracks on the album and this is the shortest track on the album and only 1 minute and 23 seconds long but it is a most BEAUTIFUL! acoustic solo WONDERFULLY! played by Radloff. The title he gave to the piece comes from Crane’s poem “If There Is A Witness To My Little Life” that is also a very short poem and perhaps why he never chose to make it into a song with words and do an instrumental ditty instead. It works really well in having a piece like this to break the album up and is perhaps like how Steve Howe of Yes would also do so on The Yes Album with “Clap” and it shows you his ability on the acoustic guitar which is really GREAT! You can see how short Crane’s original poem was.

If there is a witness to my little life,
To my tiny throes and struggles,
He sees a fool;
And it is not fine for gods to menace fools.

It really is a GORGEOUS! piece and has a folky baroque feel to it and is wonderfully executed. I like it that much that this also has to be one of the contenders for the albums TOP SPOT! I only wished Dirk would have videoed himself playing the piece so I could include it here. I have seen him play a few classical pieces on his YouTube channel that he played a good few years ago and would like to see him do more acoustic stuff.

Track 9. I Looked Here.

Track 9

This next song might be a bit out of place on the album in relation to the more heavier metal songs and verges more along the lines of a pop song but I have to say a really excellent pop rock song that has a bit of Steely Dan feel to it. Radloff’s guitar work and even the bass work on this song is SUPERB! I have to confess that when I first heard it back in June, I honestly thought it would not be fitting for the album but I am so glad it got included and this is my second favourite song on the album and another contender for the albums TOP SPOT AWARD!

The words to Crane’s poem are entirely different to his normal dark and ruthless side that are contained in the Black Riders and they pertain to love. They were most likely written for his wife who he married whilst he was over in England. Besides all the EXCELLENT! work Radloff has done on the music this has some GREAT! harmonies and it also gives Rossi a chance to express himself a bit differently and bring out a few more qualities with his vocal range. It really is a GREAT! song.

Track 10. Mankind.

The albums closes with the longest track on the album weighing in at 5 minutes, 31 seconds and is another instrumental piece. This one is not named after one of Stephen Crane’s poems and keeps the album in line with Black Riders Part 1 to which he also included one of his own instrumental pieces entitled “Gods“. Radloff has always had the knack of writing GREAT! instrumental pieces and playing fine lead lines on the electric guitar. I suppose it stretches way back to the days when he used to be in a band called The Golden Tornadoes to which he was the lead guitarist and played surf songs mostly written by himself very much in the same sort of style you would get with Hank Marvin of The Shadows. Radloff will often tell you that the violin is his number one instrument and the one he’s most comfortable with, but in all honesty, he is a very good guitarist too.

Mankind” contains some GREAT! lead and melody lines and is a piece that builds itself up and runs along like a juggler in a carnival sort of thing and contains some fine chord progression and changes along the way in some parts the guitar even sounds like it’s singing the words to the nursery rhyme “Daisy, Daisy” and I often find myself singing those words along with it even though it’s not exactly like it at all. It’s a really GREAT! well-structured piece of work and I love how the lead guitar takes off and flies along at greater speed at the 4:28 mark for the final stretch and it ends off the album very well and this has to be another contender for the albums TOP SPOT!


To sum up the latest HeartScore album Black Riders Part 2. I personally feel that this album represents more of the right change Dirk Radloff should have gone along with in the first place regarding his decision to go down the road towards metal. To be perfectly honest I cannot really fault the written material on Black Riders Part 1 but where his latest album wins over it is really down to stripping out all the ambient electronics and having a vocalist who is more suited to the genre of music. Giacomo Rossi very much has the power you need to deliver these songs and he has got what it takes to make them stand out and ROCK! and I personally think this is a more of a winning formula.  

But as to if the album does attract more attention and win over more listeners and buyers that is still remained to be seen. But I certainly think it should because it’s quite a good album that has good material and a really good stand out track. Although having one stand out track might not be enough these days and you perhaps need a good three or four at least to attract more attention. This is something that Dirk Radloff might need to re-address and take more time in making an album that has the type of material it needs to stand out that much more. 

But for me personally I do see this new album as a step in the right direction and my personal highlights from the album are as follows: “There Was A Man And A Woman“. “I Looked Here“. “A Man Toiled On A Burning Road“. “A Man Went Before A Strange God“. “To My Tiny Throes And Struggles” and “Mankind“. 


To conclude my review of Black Riders Part 2 by HeartScore. I personally think this is a lot stronger album than the previous album down to the changes that have been made. I feel the track placement works well and the combination between Dirk Radloff and Giacomo Rossi is something I would like to see continue. I personally get more satisfaction from this album and it is an album I can play more often in relation to its predecessor. But as to if it’s an album that will appeal to the Metal Heads out there is another thing, and there is a bit more diversity here which suits my particular taste but not necessarily for those who are into Hardcore Metal.  

However, it is an album I certainly feel that more people should investigate and give it some attention. You never know it might just ROCK! your boat as it does mine. You can listen or even purchase Black Riders Part 2 by clicking on the following link:  https://heartscore.bandcamp.com/album/black-riders-part-ii

He Was A Brave Heart

The track listing is as follows:

01. A Man Went Before A Strange God. 4:05.
02. It Was Wrong To Do This. 3:03.
03. A Man Toiled On A Burning Road. 3:55.
04. There Was Set Before Me A Mighty Hill. 4:02.
05. Many Workmen. 3:56.
06. There Was A Man And A Woman. 2:50.
07. Once There Was A Man. 3:46.
08. To My Tiny Throes And Struggles. 1:23.
09. I Looked Here. 3:56.
10. Mankind. 5:31.

Lee’s Price Point Rating Score. 8/10.

Lee’s Album Rating Score. 8/10.