Extremely Totally Biased Fan Review – Burgundy Street – Sally-Anne Whitten

In life you meet your heroes and your friends. Sally-Anne Whitten is both to me. Not just because of her awesome musical talent and her unbelievably wonderful delivery on stage when she entertains you, but the way that she makes you feel as a fan and a friend and what she does for others. Sal and I have a fair bit in common – obviously not the musical talent and the unbelievably wonderful delivery on stage…..but our lives have similar people in them, historically and currently and we are both Tamworth girls.

Sally-Anne Whitten loves music and loves life. This comes through in her songs. There is passion and compassion there in every line and every note. We love a lot of the same music – Mr Crowell, The Eagles, Gram Parsons, Bonnie Raitt, John Hiatt, etc. I dream of Memphis, I reckon that she is from Memphis in another life. We both have a lot of the same thoughts and values and opinions. I guess that is why I relate to her music, her messages and her big heart.

We talk often of the country music family. There are things that Sal has done for me that make her part of my family. She will never know just how much I am grateful to her for her support and her friendship. Her music speaks volumes but there are other things that make her just an amazing human being. In the end, I am just a fan who happens to love writing about musicians and music.

This album is long awaited, not just by me but by lots of fans. I believe that her launch in Tamworth was pretty much a full house and I haven’t heard a bad word about the album or the gig.  Everyone has been bubbling over with enthusiasm.

Sal often describes her music as funktry or funky country. It is bluesy, soulful and just bloody good music.

It would be remiss of me not to mention Alwyn Aurisch. As you look at the credits (and please do), you will notice that he has a wee bit to do with this album. He is a bloody legend and a good bloke. He is also one of the most underrated musos in this country in any genre.

It took a while to get into my hands, but now it is here, I am only letting this cd go to be played on my stereo. It is not leaving my vicinity.

The Tracks:

Watch it Burn: (S. Whitten/A. Aurisch)

Bonnie Raitt is channelled in this funky/bluesy number with a backbeat that you can’t lose!

Misfit (S.Whitten)

Great harp from Matt O’Leary! Guitars are on fire and the drums are crashing – headed up by Ms Sally at her bluesy best.

Split Decision (A.Anderson/G Nicholson) with Mick Pealing – Lordy, Sal! Mick Legend Pealing!  Love the raunchy keys and the verbal gymnastics by Sal. Hells’ Bells!

Tennessee Lullaby (S Whitten/R.Moody) with Allison Forbes and Rae Moody. It really doesn’t get much better than this – three Tamworth Sisters singing beautifully together and alone – sensational song, gals!

Southern Nights (A Toussaint) – A Salute to two of the greats (intentional or unintentional) to Messrs Toussaint and Campbell and to two great places (intentional or unintentional) in the deep South of the U.S. of A and our own Great Southern Land of Australia.

Take My Love (Little Willie John) – A raunchy, trad. bluesy, funky number with rollicking guitars.

The Life You Left Behind (S. Whitten) – one of the most beautiful and heart wrenching songs released in the last few years. A very personal song for Sal and all whom it touches.

Save Yourself (S Whitten) – Bonnie is back in the back pocket. Groovy keys and Sal at full throttle – a chunk of burning funk (to sort of quote James Taylor!)

You can’t hide from a broken heart (S. Whitten/A Forbes) with Allison Forbes The magic touch that always goes hand in hand when these two write together – lighting up my stereo and a stage when these two extraordinary women decide to put pen to paper and words to music. My favourite track on the album by a nose.

Good Day in Hell (D. Henley/G Frey) with Jimmy Craz.  Two of Sal’s heroes, two awesome Eagles, Mr Henley and Mr Frey penned this apt finish to the album.

Musos: Guitars: Alwyn Aurisch and Jimmy Craz on the last track

Bass: Trevor Stacey, Peter Moloney and Alwyn Aurisch

Drums: Dave “Stix” Adams, Doug Bligh

Keys: Paul Gibbs

Ganjo and Mando and Dobro: Alwyn Aurisch

Recorded and produced by Alwyn Aurisch

Mastered by Michael Macken

Extra Special Totally Biased Fan Review: The Collective – 25 Years – Col Finley

I haven’t known Col Finley and his music for 25 years. I would say that it is more like 12 years. However, in this short time as a fan of the man, I think that I know him pretty well. Col has touched my life, not only through his music but through his kindness, generosity and his words of encouragement and his support in what I try to do. I have become pretty good mates with his mum, Dee, as well and I have met his Dad and as a friend and a fan, I felt for Col, through the sadness of losing his sister, my fellow Kaz and facebook buddy. His lovely wife, Nellie,  (who is a very underrated singer) and his beautiful family have been the subject of many of Col’s songs, as have Dee and Austie. Col comes across as a larrikin but he is really the biggest softy and he is very sensitive and passionate about his music, his family and his friends. Col is always one of the first with his hand up to help out in my crazy charity schemes which I have done in Tamworth, where I dare musos to do some crazy stuff, like the hugathon and hanging with Rowlf for a donation to a specific charity.

I wish that I could have been in Tamworth for his special launch. I will make it up to him somewhere along the way. For now, it is with great pleasure that I review this very special collection of songs from a very special guy.

Darren Colston (another muso who is pretty special) produced something similar to this a couple of years ago. Actually, the two singer/songwriters have a fair bit in common. It is a double album set, featuring ‘most wanted’ and the hits.

The album is to mark Col’s 25th Anniversary. He has had a full and colourful life and his songs reflect this. I must admit that there are a lot of songs on here that I haven’t heard of before, some of which are my new favourites! Jacaranda Tree has always been my favourite, not only because it is the name of my favourite tree but also because of the story that the song tells.  Songs always been more when you know what they are about or more importantly, who they are about.

She’s Your Mother, Idol and Working on The Land are great examples of that.

I have always loved Col’s appearances at Songwriters in the Round at the Tamworth Services Club during the Country Music Festival. I have always liked Col in his stripped back form best. He has a wonderful raw, bluesy quality that is suited best to those sessions. I actually caught my first glance of Col there, as he followed Lukie (Luke O’Shea) years ago as all of the three hour sets were on at the club. Kerry Kennedy and Michael Bryers had ones as well. They are all institutions at the Servies.

Fans of Col will be thrilled to have lots of their faves in one collection. All the best ones are there, including My Place, Paradise and of course, Rich with Friends.

The beautiful Gift Wrapped is there and the slightly cheeky Mexican Lady is there too. I know only too well the Mexico and Tequila combination…..it is a bit like what they say about the ’60’s – if you remember it, you weren’t really there.

In her eyes is a new favourite for me. I am sure that I would have remembered this song if I had heard it before. Life Gets In The Way and Legends of the Highlands, Stranger is a Friend are awesome songs too.

It is appropriate that the album ends with Above The Blue. Anyone who has gone through tough times and who has made their way back will understand this song.

All up there are 25 songs for the 25 years, autobiographical ones or at least commentaries on Col’s observations. You will make new discoveries and relive old memories through favourites and you can sing along pretty badly to some of them (as I did) if you get the package with the songbook!

I wish that I was on the radio at the moment, I would be flogging this album and its wonderful songs to the hilt.

For new fans of Col, this is a great place to start. It is a wonderful retrospective and a fabulous cross-section of Col’s songs. It is a very big bite of Australia and Australians and the everyday things which effect us. Col has always been a wonderful storyteller. I am going to be playing these albums many times. It pretty much covers at least half of the 79 different types of country music.

Col is a proud Indie Artist and I am a proud Col Finley fan. Go strong, brother!

The Songs:

The Collective: Disc One

25 years gone – C. Finley

Everything to me – C Finley/ G Staines

She’s your mother – C Finley

Coffee goes cold – C Finley/R.O’Sullivan

Lemongrove Sunset – C Finley

Heart Turn To Stone – C Finley

Those Telephone Calls – C.Finley/Donovan/Flanders – with Nellie Finley

Life Gets in the way – C Finley/V Jones

Working on the Land – C Finley

Legends of the Highlands – C Finley

Only the Truth – C Finley

Stranger is a friend – C Finley

Don’t Change Australia – C Finley

The Collective – Most Wanted – Disc Two

Devil’s Ride – C Finley

Idol – C Finley

Gift Wrapped – C Finley

Hey Girl – C Finley

My Place – C Finley

Mexican Lady – C Finley

In her eyes – C Finley

Love is Blind – C Finley/A Cochran

Paradise – C Finley

Jacaranda Tree – C Finley

Rich With Friends – C Finley

Above the Blue – C Finley

Produced by Grahame Staines, Kenny Govus and Col Finley

Pickers and Groovers: (Col’s words!)

Max Sportelli (Drums and Percussion), Paul Bain (Drums and Percussion), Michael Baxter (Bass/Piano) Chris Staff (Electric Guitar), Peter Cooper (Electric Guitar/Acoustic Guitar/Banjo) Brannon Crickmore (Fiddle/Mandolin) Brian Martin (Piano) Col Finley (Acoustic Guitar), Paul Preston (Sausage Man) (Didge)

Hummers and Whistlers:

Col Finley, Nellie Finley, Will Day, Brian Martin

Choir: Mouth Orchestra:

George Watt, Jane Wilkinson, Anne Buff, Carmel Givens, Christine Clegg, James Moyle, Robyn Harper, Paula Williams.

Totally Biased Fan Review – The Wilson Pickers – LIVE!

My dear mates, The Weeping Willows, have often remarked on this band as being one of their favourites. Considering that I think that The Weeping Willows walk on water, I had to give them a listen. I have also heard them on Saturday Night Country with Felicity and have met them on the red carpet at the Golden Guitars at Tamworth. These guys have actually been together for a while. They have released albums, Land of The Powerful Owl, Shake It Down and You Can’t Catch Fish from a Train. The titles of two of these albums was almost Van Morrison like….(I always admired the names of his albums as much as I loved his music)….Shake it Down wasn’t so imaginative, but the fabulous album cover was. So why just call it LIVE? The only “I wonder why” moment from this album. If you like country folk/trad country/almost bluegrass/almost bush music/ Americana/ Alt. Country, then you will like these 5 guys.

The instrumental part of their music is probably the strongest part of their songs. That is not to say that the words and the messages aren’t just as important. It is just a dominant feature of what they deliver.

If you like Mustered Courage and The Davidson Brothers, then these guys are in that league. Pete Denahy is probably a focus there too. You are in a quandary of what is more influential, the words or the music. I guess that you could say the same for 8 Ball Aitken, whom I also reviewed today.

This album was recorded at Byron Bay Blues And Roots Festival in 2017. These five guys are a mix of Queenslanders and Victorians.  They have been playing together for a while now.

If you love gentle picking, sweet harmonies and a mixture of all of the styles that I have already mentioned, you will love this album. It is easy on the ear. I am getting very mellow listening to the beautiful picking, combination of strings and gentle vocals.

There is a bit of Yee Haa there, even a hint of Dylan on Can’t Steal My Love.  The Dolly Parton classic, Jolene, even gets a work out here. This album is comfort food.

I am about to heat up a pizza, but it has a similar effect. Well done boys…..hope to get to see you LIVE soon.

If you want a first glimpse of The Wilson Pickers, this is probably the way to do it.

The Tracks:

Man of Misery

Cold River

Graves or Gold

Ben’s Woe

Mountainside

Come Back to My Love

Can’t Steal My Love,

Jolene

Half a Man

Shake It Down

Pulled Apart By Horses

Totally Biased Fan Review: Swamp Blues – 8 Ball Aitken

If you don’t like guitars played every which way – including loose – then don’t even think for a second about playing this album. However, on the other hand, if you do like your guitars played every which way, then plug in your air guitar and get ready to groove.

I own every 8 Ball cd, and a dvd too, unless he is hiding one that I haven’t heard yet!  8 covers a lot of musical ground. He can pretty much find a song to suit everyone and some of us who like a bit of everything can handle the whole bloomin’ lot.

Swamp Blues is a very apt title for this album, it is easy to displace yourself from your everyday environment, whether it is working in a skyscraper in a major city to digging holes on the road, to being a chef in a restaurant or driving the tractor in a paddock to even being a librarian. 8 loads you on the blues train, meanders you down a tree lined river in a row boat, puts you behind the wheel of a truck heading south and takes you flying above the clouds.

8’s music always takes you on a journey, usually to a world outside your own. There will be no prizes for those who guess my favourites on the album, with Drop on By being my absolute favourite.  What can I say, I am a mellow old chick. Safe to say, it is Kazzie Award nominated bound at the end of the year…..for sure.

I think that a fan said today on Facebook that Apple Tree gets inside your head. That’s about the size of it. I think that it is important that the first song on an album is a hook. It is like the first paragraph of a novel. It can get you in or it can leave you cold. I think that this might be one of my shower songs…It is one of my favourites on the album and a great way to kick it off.

Lindy Loo is another groovy track. It reminds me a bit of that twangy 60’s sound. I can imagine those surfer chicks shifting sand on the beach to this one. Adam West’s Batman may have even been tempted to do the Battusi to this one.

Six Stringer makes me think of Eric Clapton and J J Cale though other artists are mentioned amongst the mean picking and bluesy stylings. Of course Stevie Ray gets a mention.

Iron Horse will get you rockin’. High Water is a song for anyone who has ever been in a flood area. It is not restricted to a particular place, though it does have that Deep South sound.

I don’t have sugar in my coffee (sweet enough!) but this is a hip little tune. It may be a shower song too. It almost has a reggae sound to it…..definitely a funky little number.

Mama’s Cookin’ will make you hungry for more…..toes will be tapping, heck, I smell that fried chicken.

Say You Love Me is one to get you on the dance floor. I’ll just sit here with my air guitar and watch you guys dance, but Hell, eat it up.

Sweet as you is a bit Claptonish too, and there is nothing wrong with that. I like the drums in this one too.

Drunk and Stoned – probably the most up tempo song on the album. It is a rowdy old bluesy number with lots of percussion.  There’s even a kazoo in it if I am not mistaken.

Love Makes The World Go Round – A nice and easy bluesy verandah/porch sitting song. Thankfully not the song by the same name that I grew up with….nice way to wrap things up.

When 8 said that it was available in cd or cassette, and soon on digital, I had to laugh…what no 78s for my Ma’s old wind up?  Get down to the swamp and play that music loud cowboys and cowgirls, 8 has ridden into town again.

The Tracks:

Apple Tree

Lindy Loo

Six Stringer

Iron Horse

High Water

Sugar in My Coffee

Drop On By

Mama’s Cookin’

Say You Love Me

Sweet As You

Drunk and Stoned

Love Makes the World Go Round