VARIOUS ARTISTS – Singer Songwriters From Home (Hemifrån MFH 1501)

Singer Songwriters From HomeHere’s a Swedish label celebrating the art of the singer-songwriter with the music of four US exponents: Greg Copeland, Keith Miles, Barry Ollman and Bob Cheevers – all experienced but not well-known outside their home country, hence the tag “Hidden Treasures”.

The compilers and artists have worked hard to avoid the clichés of the genre but even so a good many of the songs fall into the gentle and thoughtful category. The first selection: Copeland’s ‘Wait for Me’, Miles’ ‘Playing Your Guitar’, Cheevers’ ‘These Are My Words’ and Ollman’s ‘Longtime Friend’ fall more or less into this grouping and Cheever’s strays dangerously close to the “you’re my woman etc etc” category. I’ll forgive him that for coming up with the first track that really sets the album alight – ‘The Legend Of Sleepy Hollow’, a rousing re-telling of Washington Irving’s story. It’s preceded by ‘Roughhouse Boys’, Copeland’s reflective Civil War song, and followed by Miles’ country-rocker, ‘Homeland’, recorded fifteen years ago by Kenny Rogers.

Ollman’s ‘Murmuration’ takes a new look at something we’ve all seen at one time or another. It features Tim O’Brien’s mandolin and other guests sprinkled throughout the record include Patrick Sky, Spooner Oldham, Larry Knechtel, Jackson Browne, David Lindley and Garry W Tallent. Of the four, Ollman is the only performer I’m certain that I’ve heard before and while the album is enjoyable enough it lacks the bite I want from a singer-songwriter. A little early Phil Ochs or even Tom Paxton in protest mode wouldn’t go amiss.

Dai Jeffries

Label website: www.hemifran.com

45TH ANNIVERSARY OF THE VELVET UNDERGROUND and NICO

LOS ANGELES, August 8, 2012—When The Velvet Underground & Nico album was released in March 1967 on Verve Records, with its Andy Warhol-designed, peel-off banana cover, it was far from a chart-topper. In fact, as the famed quote attributed to Brian Eno famously put it, the album may not have sold many copies, “but everyone who bought it formed a band.” And its reputation as a groundbreaker has only increased over the four-and-a-half decades since its original release.

Universal Music / Polydor  will celebrate the now-iconic album’s 45th anniversary on October 30, 2012, with a multi-format, worldwide release October 29th and 30th that includes stereo and mono versions remastered from the original tapes, as well as previously unreleased recordings of the band’s rehearsals in Warhol’s Factory and the subsequent rare April 1966 Scepter Studios recordings captured on acetate featuring early, alternate versions of songs later issued on The Velvet Underground & Nico.

A limited-edition, Super Deluxe six-CD box set will also feature a previously unavailable November ’66 live concert performed by the Velvets’ original, five-person lineup—Lou Reed, John Cale, Sterling Morrison, Moe Tucker and Nico—at the Valleydale Ballroom in Columbus, Ohio, and Nico’s Chelsea Girl, an album released in October 1967 (seven months after the Velvets’ disc) which included all the members of the band as well as a teenage folksinger named Jackson Browne. It also includes an 88-page booklet featuring a new essay by band biographer Richie Unterberger. All remastering, tape transfers and digital assembly at the prestigious Sterling Sound Studios in New York were overseen by veteran A&R producer Bill Levenson, who has been involved for more than 30 years in previous Velvet Underground reissues like VU and Another VU in the ’80s, the banana-covered box set in the ’90s and UMG’s first expanded, deluxe edition of The Velvet Underground & Nico in 2002.

The six-CD set captures the Velvets in a crucial period in their development, starting with the band’s Factory rehearsals in January ’66, covering the original Scepter recording sessions that April, then a live show in November, leading up to the March ’67 release, almost a year after the album was finished. Nico’s Chelsea Girl, which came out in October seven months later, completes the set’s almost two-year arc, chronicling the band both before and directly after its historic debut.

The Super Deluxe set allows fans to compare the mono and stereo versions of the album. Longtime Velvets aficionados have touted the mono mix because of its lo-fi quality, with the music coming off even tougher as a result of its compression.

Universal will release the album worldwide simultaneously in six different physical and digital versions. Aside from the Super Deluxe edition, The Velvet Underground & Nico will be available in a brand-new two-CD Deluxe Edition which includes a stereo version of the album along with a separate disc of the Factory rehearsals and Scepter Studios sessions. There will also be a digital exclusive and a one-CD original stereo album remaster in both physical and digital form. Alongside a re-mastered vinyl edition

The deluxe edition and digital reissue of The Velvet Underground & Nico is not only for hard-core fans, but for anyone who wishes to trace the two-year development of a world-class band in the process of creating one of the greatest rock albums in history through rare and previously unreleased recordings.

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Michael MacLennan – Wolves

Michael MacLennan is a Scottish pianist, singer and songwriter. Brought up in the small village of Nethy Bridge in the Scottish highlands, he began playing the piano at seven years of age. Having won his place at the Royal College of Music, playing gigs 7 days a week, and writing two songs each day for a year, Michael MacLennan’s passion for producing awe-inspiring compositions cries out in his debut album ‘Wolves.’ Released February 20th 2012

Prior to moving back to Scotland, Michael supported himself by playing gigs across London where he caught the attention of Rod Stewart. Laying down his own interpretation of the classic Kriss Kristofersson track ‘For The Good Times’, Stewart tapped his shoulder and said ‘Bloody good job son!’ dropping him a £50 note. His songwriting skill is akin to the greats like Jackson Browne and Bruce Springsteen but harmoniously blends with the sounds of contemporaries like Damien Rice and Paolo Nutini.

While recording ‘Wolves’ from 2010 till 2011 and playing gigs all over Scotland and through out Edinburgh, Michael worked with many rising producers in the area, including Craig Ross and Garry Boyle. Together the trio found something unique, and their genuine collaboration is apparent in the finished work.Wolves’ is a timelessly brilliant album that could have been plucked from a California recording studio in the 70’s. Mesmerizingly talented beyond his years, MacLennan’s lyricism and instrumentation coalesce wonderfully. The first single on the album ‘To the Fire‘ is catchy, evocative, and relatable and is featured in the video below. Perhaps it is because the piano tracks were recorded amid heavy storms and fear of being snowed in but, ‘Wolves’ is the perfect album to drink a nice stout by the fireplace to on a cold winter night.

Tracks from his EP ‘History’ and recent single ‘To The Fire‘ have gained radio play on BBC Radio Gloucestershire BBC Radio Scotland, BBC Radio Nottingham, Blast 1386, Moray Firth Radio, Leith FM and Q Radio network. With many songs in his backlog and much more music to create yet, Michael MacLennan is a rising star and ‘Wolves’, set to release in February 2012, is a must listen for music fans of all backgrounds!

We at folking.com believe that this could be one of the most important debut release of 2012!

“Michael MacLennan’s songs are as timeless as they are heartfelt, an old school piano-fighter who allies true craft to infectious passion in his music. I often stick one or two of his tracks on my compilation CD’s so I can kid on I’m sophisticated.” – Christopher BrookmyreScottish best-selling author.

“Jaw-droppingly good on the show. I had to stop what I was doing and turn the radio up. Stunning!” –Pennie LatinSenior Producer and Presenter, BBC Radio Scotland.

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