Monday, March 30, 2009

Henry's Funeral Shoe - Everything's For Sale

Henry’s Funeral Shoe
Everything’s For Sale

Is Henry’s Funeral Shoe the Welsh answer to the White Stripes? Or to the Black Keys? How about both at once? The duo certainly plows the same guitar/drum blues duo earth as those acts, but is less pop-oriented than the former and less obsessed with Led Zeppelin than the latter. Aled Clifford is a manly but versatile vocalist whose hero seems to be Steve Marriott, rather than Robert Plant, and he’s a fine slide/boogie guitarist. His brother Brenning keeps the cans a-rockin’ and a-groovin’. With a pronounced bent towards the John Lee Hooker side of the blues fence, the Shoes have an entirely different feel than their more famous brethren, lighter of foot and heavier of tone, as heard in Second Hand Prayer and It’s a Long Way. Mary’s Tune ends the record on a folky and rather sweet note, just to show that the guys can pitch woo as well as make whoopy.

- Michael Toland
The Drones
People are a waste of food
Don't bother learning Chinese
Thou shalt find oneself perturbed
By less verbose calamities
Just get some Heinz baked beans,
A 12 gauge, bandolier and tinned dog food
We'll eat your dog, bury our dead
Or eat them instead
That's entirely up to you
’ – Oh My

Where some dread music is castigated as being for those who don’t like music and may snap up an album or, whisper it, two while in the gasping rush of the Sunday shop, The Drones could almost be savagely plaudited for making Neil Young and Crazy Horses’s campfire one all the more worth cantering round inquisitively rather than marauding through. Glib, maybe but it may well be so. It’s an oft featured remark (the likeness, not the verbiage, that’s all me, baby) but their arid, desolate sense of beauty (as with the preceding Gala Mill, this was written and recorded in solitary) as they proffer you pewter tankards to drain these dolorous dirges, wondrous, lumbering funk and jallopian blues set to enticing narratives certainly does, as the cover indicates, incur images of reclining amidst the stars with nary a log cabin for company and some long, drawn out nights for comfort, and vice versa. The viscously liquid guitars, scowling, straining at their lead before spiralling out into dizzying descents and squalling arpeggios of white heat leaving cordite traces and mirroring Gareth Liddiard’s lacerated lungs like they’re scorched with the burning oilfields of the ravaged earths they walk make them more than just the most intriguing lyricist of many a year (probably since Spencer Moody of the Murder City Devils, cos of course you wanna know). Pirouetting incandescently around Liddiards’ simmering, apoplectic, smoked creosote and crystal-dissolving snarl they match, express accentuate and elucidate the confusion and non-plussed ire along with the more usual senses of foreboding and dislocation, with catastrophic perfection on the grimy glam scuffed-suede of Oh My. That they’ve retained the supernova turkey shoot sounds with a new guitarist in tow (Dan Liscombe, come on down) is relegated to a footnote under the wonderfully oppressive weight of the whole, where with most bands it’d be one of the few things to mention – and even then it’s only mentioned to strive for some semblance of normalcy in these suburban charades.
Deep, if not trenchant, elegant, eloquent, extravagant, esoteric, earthy, engaging and disquietingly exciting, again maybe it’s a glib and easy hitch but they along with Nick Cave and Leonard Cohen, Big Star’s Third and pirate Idahoans Hillfolk Noir are one of few acts to fully harness the realms of fervently euphoric melancholia. Another statuesque piece of art. A rare occurrence and one to behold. Stop reading and go listen and embrace it with open qualms. Run, be it's congregation, for here be litanies for your desparation.
Stu Gibson
Thin Lizzy
Still Dangerous
Thin Lizzy Productions

More Lizzy live you cry? Yes, indeed, cry little sister. As if to answer the thirty years of sniping, however right it remains, over Live and Dangerous’ stifling studio add-ons (or total re-recording depending what you read and whose ears you believe) this ’77 set is live as it aired, right in the moment and re-mixed outta necessity, having fallen out of a lock-up somewhere on the lonesome plains of Lizzy memorabilia. Proffering slugs from the already classic Jailbreak and just released Bad Reputation albums it shows as if it were needed that such post-production snipping n’ pasting is inexcusable, especially for a band of their calibre. Anyways, amongst the always glorious Cowboy Song and at least one third of the basis of Iron Maiden’s entire career that is Massacre (one other being a much missed Emerald – the other??) alongside (of course) Boys Are Back In Town and the exquisite saunters of Dancing In The Moonlight and Don’t Believe A Word maybe it’d be churlish to bemoan the lack of That Woman’s Gonna Break Your Heart or even Dear Lord that’d sit nicely with Opium Train and Soldier Of Fortune as the new cuts on the racks. Well, I'm nuthin if not a cantankerous old cuckooing cove. It’s debateable, and easily deniable to these well-defined ears, that it really is the ‘real’ Live and Dangerous, as is being widely proclaimed, for, you see, that won’t happen till they go back and deconstruct those original tapes, or unearth a whole set rather than this rather paltry ten-tracker. Somewhere between the twain lies the real uncut merchandise. As it is almost any Lizzy is a pleasure, and besides those gripes this is an exhilarating addition. Not many bands of whatever stature can keep retrieving things from the lost and found and them being ever better. This being the first release on the newly established Thin Lizzy Productions perhaps that won’t be such a lamented proposition by the time the year’s out. Still Dangerous? Did he and his legacies ever lie?
Stu Gibson
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