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Mixed Music Reviews - White, Donati and Rich

The Family Silver – Electric Blend

Featuring the drumming of British icon Steve White this release is a solid album from The Family Silver which also includes Matt Deighton on vocals/guitar and Damon Minchella on bass guitar, both of whom have also served in Paul Weller’s solo band.

Opening with the breathy, guitar and groove laden title track Electric Blend the sound of these three musicians is huge, ambient and evocative, it’s easy to listen to and draws you straight in. 

The kit sound is as you would expect from one of the UK’s most highly respected players, clean and tight but with bass drum and toms that really have warmth to them and a snare with body and depth as well as articulation.

Steve’s feel is front and centre and really is the backbone holding the rhythm section down along with some nice bass playing from Damon, while the guitar of Matt Deighton plays some catchy riffs and nice chord progressions on top.

The album is a great combination of both up tempo numbers and slightly more mellow tracks, such as the second song Only (From Out of the Ashes).

I particularly liked Give Up Your Tears, a slightly rockier up tempo number with a nice little hook and lots of crunching guitar, along with some slightly heavier playing from Steve.

If you enjoy listening to and taking onboard vocals, there are plenty of thoughtful lyrics on this album, For Free being one great example of music being a conduit for people’s thoughts and feelings.

Running to 12 Tracks, there is also a bonus 13 Track called Privilege which is available depending on where you get the album.

Fans of Paul Weller will probably enjoy this one, as well as anyone who enjoys a nice guitar led album. It’s not in your face heavy rock, but rather melodic, encapsulating and highly enjoyable!

Rob Crisp

In This Life – Virgil Donati

From the get go this album from Virgil hits you right between the eyes, in a good way!

Written, produced and arranged by Virgil himself (for the most part), rock fans should prepare for changes in groove and time that literally come out of nowhere, hugely exciting drum fills and all around great playing.

The list of guest musicians is extensive but each one of them absolutely top tier when it comes to their playing ability.

I really enjoyed the way the feel and vibe of some of these tunes changes as the record progresses and simply trying to count some of these time signatures left my head spinning.

Each song has some rather deep thinking text alongside which you may or may not get into, but it certainly makes you think.

The initial track is a guitar heavy track with some nice changes in feel that ducks and dives and weaves an interesting musical landscape and that initial track certainly sets up the rest of the record.

Sudden guitar riffs and heavy chords pop up out of nowhere and this is definitely a record for the heavier rock players, but at the same time some of the ideas are very much expressive and would appeal to fans of more improvisational music.

The third track opens with a really intriguing guitar part and some incredible drumming from Virgil before breaking into a super catchy groove and rhythm just after thirty seconds in.

The 8th track on the album is called Trinit and begins with more of the guitar drum interplay we’ve become used to by this point, but track 11 features a Drum and Bass remix of the same track and that is extremely enjoyable to listen to!

This is an exciting and enjoyable instrumental release from Virgil and if you’re a Virgil fan you’ll certainly want to get this.

Rob Crisp

Buddy Rich – Birdland

This is a nice collection of Buddy Rich tracks, performed by his big band and featuring the playing of Alan Gauvin, who played Alto and Soprano saxophone and the flute.

Originally recorded by Alan so that he could hear himself playing with the band, he began recording on a portable tape recorder and over time bought some slightly more sophisticated equipment. This isn’t a recording that was ever meant for production, but all things considered, the quality isn’t bad.

The list of tracks may be familiar to Buddy fans, featuring classic such as Mexicali Nose and Keep the Customer Satisfied, alongside some less well known tracks, such as Moments Notice and Three Day Suckers.

The sleeve notes detail not only the soloists who played on each track but also contain some memories from Alan’s time with Buddy from 1976 to 1980, including a famous ‘rant’ in which Buddy pretended to fire his band. I did find the stories to be a little enlightening actually, as Alan shares his thoughts on those who found themselves genuinely on the receiving end of Buddy’s wrath.

The tracks aren’t perfectly balanced, as stated by Alan himself, but none the less they do include some enjoyable jazz and a chance to hear the Buddy Rich Big Band from a slightly different angle.

As far as a collection of Buddy Rich tunes goes, this is not a bad one, but big Buddy fans will likely have most of these songs already on another album, but if you’re a REALLY big Buddy Rich fan you might want to check this out of curiosity.

Rob Crisp

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