Album & Single Reviews

Published on July 5th, 2014 | by Mike Ainscoe

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BELLOWHEAD: REVIVAL REVIEW

Anyone who listens to the Sonic Bandwagon show on Pure 107.8FM every Friday at 11pm or on the Mixcloud uploads (how’s that for a bit of product placement?) will know that we like to include a bit of the unmistakeable sound of Bellowhead amidst the blues, rock, acoustic, folk, indie, post rock and metal selections. Often placed back to back with a doom metal track, it all goes to back up the claim by Roots & Fusion’s Rick Stuart that we are “possibly the most diverse show ever on Pure.”

Their new album Revival has just been released (despite some teething troubles with the album launch particularly with the pre-orders of the deluxe package and art print) to almost universally positive reviews. Having whetted the appetite by airing a couple of new songs in their 10th Anniversary gigs in Manchester and London, for their fifth full length album they’ve adopted their  usual modus operandi of embracing the traditional English culture as a basis for arranging and expressing the material in their own inimitable way.

The Sonic Bandwagon verdict? Well, preaching to the converted really but the overall impression is that they’ve continued to do what they do best and managed to hit the consistency in choice of songs and tunes which was noticeable on the last album Broadside.

Having gone major league by signing with the legendary Island Record label, they look a bit more dapper rather than the charity shop shabby chic image of yore. They’re not quite in the designer label bracket as befits the next big thing, but there certainly seems a more refined air about their present image. As far as the music is  concerned, standout tracks are the most immediately recognisable Bellowhead arrangements of the single, ‘Gosport Nancy’, ‘Roll Alabama’ and ‘Let Union Be’ which moves from classical string quartet to calypso and complete with an opening verse which embodies the whole Bellowhead philosophy there’s a ready made slogan for the tour shirt:

Come my lads, let us be jolly,

Drive away all melancholy,

For to grieve it is a folly,

When we’re met together

Talking of big league, should they ever get the nod to do the theme tune for the next Bond movie, then ‘Moon Kittens’ wouldn’t be far from the mark, although the title may not quite be 007 enough, it has all the moody swagger and sway which befits the soundtrack to a Bond blockbuster.

Displaying a Sonic Bandwagon-like diversity, they like to embrace breadth in their source material and in the variety of the arrangements. With the brass boys making significant contributions throughout, the mood is consistently buoyant on all 11 tracks from the opening punky ‘Let Her Run’, through a Sam Sweeney arranged instrumental  ‘Jack Lintel’, a late 18th century hornpipe from the North East and all the way to ‘Greenwood Side’ which is perhaps the most sombre track on the album. Of course, for those fans who can’t get enough, there is the de rigeur deluxe version with another disc of finished near misses which didn’t make the final cut and demo tracks and with the festival season upon us, there’s a chance to catch their award winning, exuberant live extravaganza if not in some field or tent somewhere in the Summer, then in theatres round the country in October and November.

Tour dates can be found at http://www.bellowhead.co.uk/live.html

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About the Author

Mike's mellowed in his old age, discovering the delights of traditional folk and acoustic music and the constant stream of new music coming through his passion as a gig-goer, music photographer and writer. With favourite artists and favourite songs which change daily, even hourly, he adds another spoke to the Sonic Bandwagon wheel of fortune.



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