Friday, 22 September 2017

Benjamin Clementine Album Review


Benjamin Clementine - I Tell A Fly - LP / CD / DL - Behind / Virgin EMI - released September 29th.

The barefoot Mercury prize winner is back again with his anticipated follow up. From a strict catholic upbringing to living on the streets of Paris this self taught classical, sometimes quoted as genius has been cooking up some beautiful stuff delving into electronica, breakbeat and even a bit of opera! He has a distinct vocal which is stunning and unique and the clever wordplay tells you that this guy is serious. He is in his own realm and one those artists who cannot be pigeonholed into one genre. 


I Tell A Fly is the reverse of his last work At Least For Now as rather than looking inwards and backwards it looks forwards and outwards. His tales are all about the concepts of aliens, migrants, strangers and refugees. Starting off with Farewell Sonata on a classical note he enters the world of life in a Calais refugee camp and the reality that faces the occupants. He has this unique way of using samples and twisting them with his own take on electronica which can't be compared to much really. Jupiter his first single from this is really good stuff and he knows how to use a breakbeat or two at his advantage. Paris Cor Blimey is his take on a twisted nursery rhyme which you can tell is something to do with his own personal struggles as a street vagabond. There are some stand out tracks like Better Sorry Than A Safe and the brilliant Awkward Fish which is almost Drum n Bass. The closing track Ave Dreamer could have been written for a clever piece of theatre and the lyrics "Barbarians are coming!/Dreamers stay strong" is telling you that everyone is welcome as all his characters come together as one. An interesting album which takes a couple of listens to finally click (always the best for me). The fact that he recorded this album in Damon Albarn's studio and he wrote, played, sang and produced everything himself shows you that this guy has an amazing talent and will be around for years to come. You can check out more about him on www.benjaminclementine.com. He embarks on a large UK tour soon.

Frank Turner - Live at The Ritz, Manchester.

Yes, I'm alive!! Been busy lately doing other stuff so I'd better post some new / old stuff!!

The last time I saw Frank Turner live was at The Apollo in 2011 with his band The Sleeping Souls, so tonight was going to be special being a smaller venue and for all the right reasons. Manchester has seen a massive rise in homeless people over the years and something needs to be done. Andy Burnham our Mayor is on board as is the wonderful Frank Turner who is a staunch supporter of The Big Issue and has come here tonight to raise some money for their cause. The venue is bursting at the seams for this sold out gig and the mood is great. I turn up to catch the support band Felix Hagan & The Family who get the audience going with their punk twist of Rocky Horror Show theatrics melded with The B52's, Boots Electric, a bit of Riot Grrll and lots of hints of LCD Soundsystem. They are funky, catchy and infectious. Certainly a band to keep an eye on!! Frank comes on armed with just his guitar and no backing band and he proves he can pull it off alone. He does a sprawling set of 21 songs and the audience know every one of them. He only does four numbers from his last album including the brilliant Get Better and The Next Storm. He eggs on the crowd with his between song banter and gets everyone singing along to some of his punk folk classics including Peggy Sang The Blues and the brilliant I Still Believe. His energy is amazing for a guy who has been constantly touring forever and you know he enjoys every minute of it. There is no treading the board feel going on here and you can see he genuinely loves what he is doing. He goes off to a mass roar of approval then comes back on with FH & The Family to a great cover of Queen - Don't Stop Me Now and Basket Case by Green Day which tops the night. He ends the set with the top Four Simple Words and stagedives into the crowd and is pulled along from front to back with a big grin on his face! An excellent night and all for a good cause. More musicians need to get on board as the punters will gladly turn up for nights like this knowing their readies are going somewhere useful. Cheers Frank!