Elvis Costello, Royal Concert Hall, Glasgow – Tuesday, 7 June

Costello

I was gifted this, due to Costello’s fascinating, recent guest star role on the BBC’s Saturday Kitchen a few months ago. Watch it! I didn’t know that a post-punker, etc, could have such a comprehensive knowledge of food and veggies; though it’s probably due to his upbringing, as his father was a green grocer.

He was unbelievably down-to-earth, with not a hint of pretentiousness.

The boy named if

So why not go to his new tour, and after his recent, very rocky new album, The Boy Named If, which happened to hit Number 1 here in Scotland; I thought it was required!

Elvis Rocking

He was outstanding, with just under two hours of playing all the hits, some album cuts, and as he stated, three Nick Lowe songs. The best being Heart of the City, one of my all time faves from the post-punk era.

Yes, there was the usual left-wing banter, in front of the SNP / Anti-Royal crowd, thought how this is ever relevant to my musical taste is unknown to me. Though he did get the best (quite easily) with one complainer, who simply shut up, after Costello asked him if he was then going to run for office, if he thought things were that bad!

There were the usual hidden surprises for me, one highlight was Green Shirt, the first Costello song (along with Accidents will Happen – cool video for so long ago), that I ever heard. After this gig, actually found out that there was a demo version – that is quicker and probably more my taste.

The place was almost, and I say almost, full – perhaps 80%, with the 50+ crowd coming to its feet towards the end, with a powerhouse version of (What’s So Funny ‘Bout) Peace, Love And Understanding,

Naturally, in this out of kilter, woke world, he did not play Oliver’s Army, which of course I vehemently disagree with, though hey, it’s his show.

The one thing or two things, that were off-putting, are both the sound system and the lack of available bogs at the end of the show – the queues were huge! The sound once again suffered from a ridiculous sound level, with multi-tracks, that bordered on the deafening.

With his songs, he should really have played completely live – Elvis, just show up, plug into some Marshalls, and give it a go.

4/5

CB

Christmas Albums – Various Artists – Spotify Easy Christmas – 2021

Spotify’s “Easy Christmas”

Another one from Spotify, which a very mixed bag, with anything from Bing Crosby, to some simply terrible remakes of both Do They Know it’s Christmas? and Together in Electric Dreams (how this one made it to a Christmas album, I’ll never know?

OTOH, it IS an eclectic mix, that manages to stay calm and low, with even some new ones? from the likes of Coldplay to Little Mix; so why not?

CB

Christmas Albums – Various- “Christmas Peaceful Piano” – 2021

And my Lord, have they got that title right!

Spotify

It is just SO peaceful, with my favourite, as usual, being Do you hear what I Hear, lovely. Please follow the link, as I had no idea that the song was written with the Cuban Missile Crisis in mind!

It includes another fave, the delightful Sussex Carol, that sounds just so old and warm, like a log fire in a cabin.

CB

The Week Ahead / Christmas Albums – Jamie Cullum- “The Pianoman at Christmas” – 2020

This, released late last year, when he also made a delightful visit to Saturday Kitchen on the BBC to plug it; is the best Christmas album to show for some very long time.

The Pianoman at Christmas – 2020

Many are self-penned and are of a trad-jazz meets pop – The Jolly Fatman, meets swing – Hang your Lights (being a standout track), and all contain a huge feelgood factor.

There are too many to pick from, but I still don’t know why the first single, Turn on the Lights, was not a smash hit?

Turn on the Lights – Jamie Cullum

For the week that comes, will finish my report to Ardrossan, and also report on the latest in Glasgow’s Christmas illuminations in George Square.

CB

Christmas Albums – Johnny Mathis – “Merry Christmas” – 1958

A standard album, that may be one of the biggest selling Christmas albums of all time.

There are all of the usual ones here, and of course he covers “The Christmas Song” by Mel Torme, as so many did and continue to do.

Interesting, that some of his most played songs on Spotify, are from his various Christmas albums (I believe that it is five in total?); in this case, Sleigh Ride is included here, with almost 30,000,000 streams!

CB

Christmas Albums – Frank Sinatra – “The Classic Christmas Album” – 1948, 1957, 1963, etc

This seems to me, to be one of the go to albums, though will have to listen to again as it was with Spotify, and was a combination of several of FS’s CDs.

A Jolly Christmas from Frank Sinatra – 1957

Some were from the 50s / 60s (he did make an album with Bing Crosby in 1963 with a Christmas theme), which is in my opinion when he did his best stuff ever; swing, collaborations with Nelson Riddle and Quincy Jones, but others seemed to me, to be from his early period, where the arrangements were a wee bit schlocky and had a post-war naivete to them. I believe it is his Christmas Album, from 1948, “Christmas Songs by Sinatra”.

Though it must be said, that something as good as his interpretation of Mel Torme’s, The Christmas Song, is irresistible.

CB

Christmas Albums – Willie Nelson – “The Classic Christmas Album” – 2012

Did a search for this on Spotify, and this showed up; pure class, and his phrasing is spot on as well.

Willie!

Some are “sophisticated” and some are just plain, old Willie with a guitar.

Personal faves were Santa Claus is Coming to Town, and just like REO Speedwagon yesterday, he for some reason includes Blue Christmas – and nails it!

Willie being Willie

The final entry, What a Wonderful World, is here for some reason? Though I’ve never understood why. It was released in September 1967 originally (by Louis Armstrong), but somehow actually fits here.

4/5

CB

Christmas Albums – REO Speedwagon – “Not So Silent Night . . . Christmas with REO Speedwagon” – 2009

Why not do this, listen to a different Christmas album each day of this Yuletide season?

REO’s Christmas album – 2009

And why not start with some of the more obscure ones, as the above certainly is. In addition, it is actually the last album (to date?) from the boys from Champagne, Illinois.

The album, including bonus tracks, has 18 tracks on it, and should really be listened to, to be believed! At times, I literally didn’t know that Kevin Cronin was still in the band and singing; his once bright voice is simply gone, but then again, they all must be pushing 180 years of age, so give then an A+ for effort.

The problem, and hopefully will not rear its ugly head in the coming weeks, is that there is nothing really “REO” about the album, and is distinctly regular at times. Though an original, the downbeat, adult contemporary, “I Believe in Santa Claus”, by Cronin and Hall, is a very passable new song.

C’mon lads, you are a very talented group of musicians, and some of the arrangements should have been more diverse and unique. Though at the end, God Rest ye Merry Gentlemen and Blue Christmas make the album very enjoyable at times.

3/5

CB

Music of the Month – Wooden Shjips –

Wooden Shjips

Have you ever wondered about composers of old, who paid little attention to events around them but merely, continued to compose / produce music that THEY enjoyed? 

This is what we discover with San Francisco’s Wooden Shjips, who have a big, neo-pysche sound, complete with guitars, keyboards and a certain ambience, that sounds like it should, but is still distinct.

Theirs is a music that can be listened to, or put in the background to enjoy.

Enjoy!

CB