It's become a cliché in Britain to call somebody in the entertainment field a national institution – but that's exactly what Dawn French is. As both comedienne and actress (the latter in both comedy and straight parts), she has become one of the best loved entertainers in the country. Her range is not wide (unlike her dimensions – and that's the sort of joke she’d crack), but she is utterly winning in everything he does. And that quality continues in Dear Fatty, a truly entertaining memoir of an event-packed life.
Add equal parts Sun Ra, Fela Kuti, ’60s psychedelia, and Talking Heads’ Remain in Light-era poly-rhythmic Afrobeat, sprinkle a dash of ’70s disco with a chaser of Flaming Lips on-stage spectacle fun, then mix it one tall glass and you have the original sound of the Golden Dawn Arkestra. This is an intoxicating brew that’s best taken in doses long and slow, with a steady infectious beat.
The title of Pink Floyd's debut album is taken from a chapter in Syd Barrett's favorite children's book, The Wind in the Willows, and the lyrical imagery of The Piper at the Gates of Dawn is indeed full of colorful, childlike, distinctly British whimsy, albeit filtered through the perceptive lens of LSD…
This is the second recording by BIS of Sally Beamish’s music, and the four pieces it contains confirm utterly her high standing. Her work is thoughtfully lyrical, intense, individual, instinctively dramatic, in ways that remind me somewhat of Nicholas Mawmusic. Like him she has a particular gift for expressive harmony and timbre. The earliest piece here is No, I’m not afraid (1989), six poignant poems written from prison by Irina Ratushinskaya spoken – by Beamish herself – against sparse but hugely effective instrumental backgrounds and interspersed with five purely instrumental interludes. The disc opens with The Caledonian Road of 1997. The name of this piece refers not just to the north London thoroughfare remembered by Beamish from childhood but to her own pilgrimage northward to Scotland, where she now lives. The music resonates with a sense of ritual, of something inevitable. By contrast, the work that follows, the unabashedly poetic The Day Dawn (written for a summer school organised by Contemporary Music-making for Amateurs in 1997, and revised in 2000) derives from a Shetland fiddle tune, and is all about new beginnings. And finally there’s the saxophone concerto The Imagined Sound of Sun on Stone (1999), whose starting point is a Swedish herding call – used as a kind of ritornello – but which is drenched in a plethora of references primeval, religious, mystical and contemporary, music at once hard and soft edged. Fine playing from the soloist, John Harle, in this work and throughout the disc by the Swedish Chamber Orchestra under Ola Rudner.
This set was also issued as two separate LPs under John Surman’s name, Vogue VJD 505/1 and VJD 505/2. Rare bit of free jazz by this trio of British players from the early 70′s. The music is very intense, without any of the noodling that sometimes ruins Brit sessions from the time. Surman plays baritone, soprano, and bass clarinet, and he really blows like mad in some passages. The sound quality of this album is stunning! In the autumn of 1969, John Surman decided to make a break and joined forces with Barre Phillips and Stu Martin, to form a group they called The Trio. Phillips had a varied background, having worked as a sideman with Archie Shepp, Jimmy Giuffre and George Russell, as well as performing solo in Leonard Bernstein and the New York Philharmonic.