Archive for November, 2010


MARC JORDAN-CRUCIFIX IN DREAMLAND-“Songs of The Falling Man”cd review by JOHN EMMS

When songcraft and emotion perfectly collide the result is Marc Jordan’s new album Cruxifix In Dreamland. An exquisetely engineered and compassionate pop album Jordan rediscovers his radio friendly songcraft in a big way. Songs like Geronimo’s Fire, Hueco Tanks with background vocal help from The Eagles Timothy B Schmit and Falling Man are simply can’t miss mid tempo “adult” songs that would not be out of place beside newcomers like Julian Velard or Amos Lee.

However, radio being what is is (radio for advertisers) Jordan might be better served having  this great set of songs recorded by others. In fact, a bid for that airplay is thrown in at the end of the cd when Jordan does another redo of his mega hit song Rhythm of My Heart with the very popular Johnny Reid (remember the other Scottish singer Rod Stewart).

Not as politcal as Don Henley or genuine Americana as let’s say Bruce Hornsby Jordan digs deep on Was It All In My Head, the gorgeous Your Love Was All with Alison Krauss and the pop blush of Raspberry Rain with Dala.

Elsewhere co-songwriter/producer Chris Bilton is a a major force with superb piano chops (check out Blue as A Gun called Love) virtually shaping the arrangements on every track.

For the most part this is a laid back soulful album. But, make no mistake Crucifix in Dreamland is the sound of a songwriter/artist at the top of his game 35 or so years into a career.  Look for this cd to make my top ten list this year.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist who writes product reviews for all major labels. John is also a roots/rock radio host the show is a podcast feature on  In his spare time John has fun with this blues rocking friends THE SHAFTMEN


KEITH URBAN-GET CLOSER-” working the core” cd review by john emms

Keith Urban’s new cd Get Closer proves that when an artist is one with himself his music is one with the world . There are about 3 or 4 killer singles here. And as most people know that by itself will carry an album into the stratosphere.

By nature, country artists don’t make “albums’ as front to back musical statements. (Hotel California, Born to Run, Pet Sounds)

But the more you listen to this record, the more it gets inside you. One thing is clear.

Keith Urban is a man working from the core. This man is putting his soul out there.

What’s going on in Urban’s world you ask?.

For that check out the vintage vibe of Waylon Jennings guitar as Urban pulls it out for Georgia Woods. Hang in there for his monster lead guitar lines on the outro. Check out Keith when he gets swallowed up by enormous weight and substance of Lori  McKenna’s song The Luxury Of Not Knowing. It’s a stunning vocal.

Maybe you want to get inside the push and pull of Right on Back to You. Heck the man can hardly get his breath. This kind of material will move any listener.

Maybe you want to check out the killer dynamics of Urban and the band on Put You In a Song, or the scrappy mid gut punch of You Gonna Fly all done up with some great melody charging out of the groove. There is a “Police/Sting like dynamic to Long Hot Summer and it works big time.

This is a relationship album and for that fact it tries to cover a lot of bases in all relationship scenarios.  Tracks like  Big Promises and All For You at least for me are not as strong as some of  the aforemetioned material.

Urban believes in his instincts. Personally, I believe he should write more of his material.

The album ends with a solid reading of Winning a number that Santana put on the charts back in 1981.

Keith Urban has the ability to put out a classic album in the true sense of the word. Maybe some day he will.

In the meantime this is an album that pulls from his core. Make no mistake it will get inside of yours.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist and musician. Check out John’s own band THE SHAFTMEN

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BEE GEES-IN OUR OWN TIME-BLU-RAY DOCUMENTARY-“revealing stuff” by john emms

No question about it. This is a very revealing documentary. In fact,  the exclusive in depth interviews with Barry, Robin and Maurice Gibb are extraordinary.

It’s noteworthy that all of  the  Maurice Gibb interviews were done before his death from a twisted intestine in 2003. What may surprise some fans was  just how much of the musical side of the band revolved around  Maurice Gibb often looked at as the quiet Bee Gee.

The documentary reveals that Maurice was the main instrumental force in the band playing keyboards, guitar, working out arrangements with the studio musicians, and of course laying down the groove  with famous Rickenbacker Bass.

Barry and Robin Gibb the band’s lead vocalists focus their interviews on the band’s early success in England and talk extensively on the huge global success of the film soundtrack to Saturday Night Fever (over 15 million copies)

The film boasts rare performance video, the true story behind the death of their younger brother Andy Gibb and insight into  the brothers incredible songwriting.

Often scorned for making “disco’ music popular this film easily shows that the brothers Gibb were indeed an organic and solid music making force. A must have for their worldwide fan base

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, radio show host and musician and




This cd serves as a reminder of just how rich The Band’s catalogue of music still is. In addition it  lets you understand the Garth Hudson and “Canuck” connection to the group’s unique place in rock history. 

Garth Hudson’s inventive and organic keyboard work was central to the dynamics of the group and still remains unique to it’s groove no matter what artist is in the driver’s seat. Upon further listen this cd with 18 Canadian artists comes off warmly with it’s reinvention of The Band’s diverse output.

The Hudson narrative is simple. Think about when you watch the film or listen to the soundtrack of  let’s say  The Last Waltz (as I have done too many times to count)  Amid the chaos of all the performers and musicians Garth Hudson’s keyboard work acted as a type of  universal weld that held the music intact.  

On this album Garth Hudson a Canadian Celebration of The Band you hear well known Canadian artists pay homage to the Band’s material (a lot of it written by Robbie Robertson) and of course to Hudson’s own musical roots.

Danny Brooks and The Rockin Revelators blast off the album with Forbidden Fruit in sublime voice (think of David Clayton Thomas) while Papa John King supplies some killer guitar fills. From there Mary Margaret O’Hara simply owns Out of the Blue which features Hudson’s shimmering piano aided by the Sadies who show up on a number of cuts (check out their version of  The Shape I’m In)  including a “sixties” rave up with Canuck Icon Neil Young on Bob Dylan and Rick Danko’s This Wheel’s On Fire.  Yep you know it. Ol’ Neil is still the “real thing”

Hudson rocks some heavy duty organ on A’int Got No Home with Suzie McNeil blazing through an excellent vocal aided by some “rippin’ chops by axeman Tavis Stanley.

In a variety of places there are some nice suprises. Raine Maida digs deep into The Cahoots number The Moon Struck One and Chantal Kreviazuk does Richard Manuel justice on her gorgeous rendering of Tears of Rage, while Blue Rodeo featuring Greg Keelor, Bob Packwood and Hudson nail down a rootsy take on the classic King Harvest (has surely come)

It should be noted a lot of tracks (probably because of time constraints) were not represented. Among them Life is a Carnival,  It Makes No Difference,  Look Out Cleveland, Rag Mama Rag, and  Ophelia to name a few. In addiiton it would have cool to hear let’s say Tom Cochrane or the  Tragically Hip.

Elsewhere Ian Thornley (Chest Fever) The Trews (Move to Japan) The Road Hammers (Yazoo Street Scandal) and Hawksley Workman who smokes big time on I Loved You Too Much work the rock n roll angle.

From Bruce Cockburn to Great Big Sea, The Cowboy Junkies, Kevin Hearn and Thin Buckle and Peter Kratz, it’s a an honest record in every way.

Big kudos to Peter J Moore on the engineering and  “the mix’.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, radio show host and musician and


BRYAN FERRY-OLYMPIA-Love Is Still The Drug-cd review by john emms


If an album can be direct and still contain tons of  gorgeous layers  that are waiting to be discovered then  Bryan Ferry’s latest new work Olympia is that recording.

For fans of Roxy Music and fans of Ferry’s solo years this is an album that delivers on the promise that Ferry along with David Bowie has always been a very cinematic composer.

Olympia goes to a lot of sonic places. The bottom heavy groove that jumps out on You Can Dance is as intoxicating as the atmospheric Me Oh My that mixes Ferry’s  killer vocal with David Gilmour’s guitar work which in turn is surrounded by violins and cellos.

Of course what makes the album as direct as the sun  is Ferry’s voice.  In all of rock n’ roll his is one of the most unique and fullest on the planet. In fact,  just check out the timbre on the closing number Tender is the Night. Wow 

On the audio side Bob Clermountain’s mix has to be heard to be believed, and that goes for the entire album.

Ferry also unites with the Scissor Sisters on the Roxy-esque dynamic Heartache by  Numbers.  That along with the funky track BF Bass (ode to Olympia) shows Ferry grooving away with fellow Roxy Music bandmates Brian Eno and Phil Manzanera. This song proves that in Ferry’s world Love Is Still the Drug  even now in the Facebook/YouTube era

Ferry’s vocal lines act like another instrument and easily become part of the ambience as they slide around the bass of Marcus Miller and Phil Manzanera’s other wordly guitar tone on the track Reason or Rhyme.

Easily one of the best tracks and soon to be a certifiable classic is Ferry’s cover of  Traffic’s No Face, No Shame, No Number which features the eloquent guitar of Chris Spedding.  Also  under cover if you happen to get the iTunes or deluxe version of the disc is  Ferry’s startling falsetto as it sits atop a very hip arrangement of John Lennon’s Whatever Gets You Through The Night.

At 65 years of age Bryan Ferry is as cool as he was when he fronted Roxy Music in 1973. How many artists can say that? The list is short my friends

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, musician and radio show host.  Later this month hear Bryan Ferry’s new cd as well as other great music on John’s hit radio show here


Black Dub-self titled debut-“Standing on the outside of evolution”-by John Emms


Black Dub’s debut album captures a musical space and time that may bring new hope and spark to the whole idea of creating music. In a strange way it’s what jazz artists used to do. Create new soundscapes and explore genres

The  current music industry that is now formula and predictable, can be changed. This recording is the proof.

Daniel Lanois has written and produced 11 tracks with three superb musicians. Vocalist Trixie Whitley, bassist Daryl Johnson and drummer Brian Blade.

From the opening strains of  Love Lives on through to the gorgeous I Believe in You, the exquisite Cannan and what could be the album’s most radio friendly song Nomad,  the music simply shines.  In fact, Nomad and the reggae-esque vibe of Silverado could elevate this album into the people’s consciousness in a big way.

The whole vibe of the song Nomad and the lyric  which says in part “Open up your transmissions, I’m standing on the outside of evolution”  explains the whole concept of what making music means to Black Dub. 

I should say the production values and organic mix of this cd should sound amazing on the vinyl release

This music transcends genres, as it moves through time and space. It’s the real thing.

JOHN EMMS is a veteran music journalist, radio show host, and musician

November 2010