Wednesday, 27 June 2012

Alpha Steppa Meets Alpha & Omega Pt III - Highest Grade EP

Alpha Steppa Meets Alpha & Omega Pt III - Highest Grade EP (Feat. Flex Zagazzow)(Steppa Records)
This time I am record reviewing a double 7 inch record by Alpha Steppa and Alpha and Omega with somebody called Flex Zagazzow doing the singing. The copy we are listening to at The Gate is very interesting because one of them is black and one of them is white and I have never seen a white record before. What is also interesting about these two records is that Alpha and Omega are Alpha Steppa's Dad and Auntie so it is very nice that they are all helping each other out in music and releasing records together and it reminds me a bit of the Carter Family or the Osmonds who were both families that made music. I think it's very nice for families to make music together because then they can look out for each other and share any money you get out together. 
            The first record I will review is the Alpha Steppa one which is the white record. Alpha Steppa is a dubstep/reggae artist from South West England who  has been around music all his life because his family have always made music so this must be why he is very good at it.
          The first song on the record is called Highest Grade. When the singer sings about Highest Grade he is talking about really good hash which is a drug that drug addicts smoke to get high - I've never got high myself but I think it's okay that other people do because it makes them feel better about things. The music behind the singing is electric reggae which means it is reggae music but not made with guitars or normal drums but is instead made on electronic instruments like synthesiser keyboards. This is a very funky way of making music and I have been listening to a lot of electronic music at the Gate and like it very much, I think this is a very good example of what you can do with electronic instruments. The next song on the other side of the record is called Highest Dub and it is nearly the same as the other song except it is a dub version. I didn't know what this meant so I asked my friend Leon who also comes to The Gate and who likes reggae a lot and he told me that dub is when you get just a normal reggae tune and make the drums and bass louder and add echoes and mix other sound effects in like sirens and clicks and noises from films and anything else you like and then you can play with the speed and make it crazy and that way you can make lots of different versions of the same song. I thought this was very interesting what he said and it made me understand this record a bit better. I liked this song too.     
            The second record is the Alpha and Omega one which is the black one. Alpha and Omega are a reggae duo (this means there are two of them) from London and Plymouth who have been making music since the mid-eighties and are still going well and making excellent music which is also reggae music made on synthesisers. The first song on this record is called Steppas Grade and is another version of Flex Zagazzow singing Highest Grade but this time with different music made by Alpha & Omega rather than Alpha Steppa and I though this was a really good version which made me tap my foot so it must be good. 
           On the B-side of the record the song is called Dub Grade and is another version of the same song again. The music on this one is interesting because it has really nice bass that goes wub wub wub and reminds me of someone blowing bubbles and also has lots of strange noises in it like little bells and birds singing - I think it's nice that there are sounds like birds on the song because birds make very nice music that is relaxing to listen to. I liked this one a lot too.
          Overall I would say that this is a very good pair of records that I enjoyed listening to very much. I think it is very interesting that all the songs are the same but a bit different because I am more used to hearing records where the songs are all different but I think it is good to have a lot of different versions of the same song because if it is a good song you may as well do it this way. I would give these records 10 out of 10.
Pete with Ben Alpha on his post-review visit to the Gate - Cheers Ben.

Monday, 18 June 2012

Kim Jannsen - Ancient Crime

Kim Jannsen - Ancient Crime (Snowstar Records)
This time I am reviewing Ancient Crime by Kim Jannsen who comes from the Netherlands. Ancient Crime is on the Snowstar Record Label (also from the Netherlands) who asked me to review it because I reviewed another of their records and they liked my review so they asked me to review another record on their label. I think it's very nice for them to ask me, I am very pleased to be asked and I hope that they like this review too because I will enjoy writing it.
             Ancient Crime is a concept record which means it is a record that sort of tells a story like David Bowie's Ziggy Stardust or Pink Floyd's The Wall. The story that this concept record tells is about things that happen one winter in an old school in a small village in North West England. I've never been to the North West of England but I imagine it's quite nice there because everybody I meet from the North West are always nice and friendly. I think it is very interesting that all of the songs on this record are about a school because I haven't heard many songs about school. I guess that this album is also about a crime that was committed in a school because it is called Ancient Crime - when I was very young and at school me and my friend Edward Harkiss went to the school when it was empty and we went through the other kids pockets in the cloakroom to see what they had but all the pockets were empty so we didn't get anything, I wouldn't do something like that now but I think it's ok that I did it then because I didn't know any better back then.
            The first song on the record is called Severn which I think must mean that this song is about the River Severn which is the longest river in Great Britain (it's even longer than the River Thames so it must be very long indeed because the Thames is very long), maybe the school that these songs are about is a school near the Severn I guess. Severn is a short instrumental played on violins and is very nice and a good way to start the record because It puts you in a good mood to listen to music in.
            The next song Tors is a lovely folk song and it starts off with just voice and guitar, Kim has a nice, light voice that I like the sound of but it is a bit mumbly so it's hard to make out some of the words especially when more instruments join in around the middle of the song. There are lots of other instruments like drums that sound like military drumming and what I think might be keyboards or maybe a flute or a recorder.  When there are more Instruments in this song near the end it reminds me of Irish or Scottish folk songs which is a good thing because Irish and Scottish folk songs are very good - my grandmother came from Limerik in Ireland but I never really knew her because I was two years old when she died but I've always been interested in Ireland and would like to visit Limerik one day. I liked this song a lot because there is a lot to listen to in it.
             The song after this is called Casket and is mostly Kim singing and some guitar with a little bit of drumming every now and then. I'm not really sure what this song is about but I thought I heard Kim sing about martians but i'm not sure what martians would be doing in a song about an old English school so i've probably misheard. I think this is a very pretty song and it reminded me of country and western music so after we listened to it at the gate we listened to a few old country songs that I like - here is one favourites by Hank Locklin that I used to listen to when I was about eighteen because my brother had the record and we used to listen to it sat round the radiogram:

A Dodo.
             The next tune is Le Dodo Ou L'amour Au Berceau which is French - I don't know French but we typed it into the internet and found out it means The Dodo or Love in the Cradle; a dodo is a big bird from mauritius that doesn't exist anymore because they were all eaten by sailors years ago so that's quite a strange thing to call a song. This song is a short instrumental played on a piano that I liked a lot.
           Next song is Pierpont: For The Beauty and it is a beautiful song I guess about beautiful things. This is a nice, simple sounding song sung with a guitar and no other instruments and then after that there is another short instrumental but this time it's done with a string quartet rather than a piano - this reminded me of a concert I saw at the ICA gallery over the road from St. James park where there was a man playing hungarian (I think) classical tunes on a violin. I liked this concert a lot because I could go to it because it was in the day time and I don't get out much at night except for my monday night at the pub. That said, I might but I might be going to see Yellowman soon with Arlo who helps me write these reviews and Leon who likes reggae but we're not sure if we can get tickets. 
            Next song is The Commons which is another lovely song which also has strings but Kim sings and plays guitar on this one as well. In this one I heard the words "when England sleeps" so I guess it's about the night time and maybe that's when the crime in the school happened because night time would be the best time to do a crime in a school.
             Holmes' Bonfire, 1666 is after this and I thought it might be about Sherlock Holmes because of the crime in the school but then we looked up 1666 on the internet and found this out:
          "Rear Admiral Robert Holmes led a raid on the Dutch island of Terschelling, destroying 150 merchant ships in the Vlie estuary, an act later referred to as Holmes's Bonfire." 
            So this isn't a song about Sherlock Holmes at all which is a shame but the story about Admiral Robert Holmes is interesting too.
            Next song is called Drift and it is a very slow, sad sounding song that I thought was very good but my favourite song on the record is the last song which is called Blyth Farjeon Choir and starts off with Kim Jansson singing just on his own but then a big church choir starts joining in until all you can hear at the end is a lovely big choir. I remember when I went to secondary school and we would all sing songs in the morning and I suppose we would have sounded a bit like a choir. The songs we used to sing were songs like All Things Bright and Beautiful which is about all the things God made and how they are all beautiful - some people don't believe in everything being beautiful and in God but I do and I like being religious because it makes me happy, I like all the stories in the Bible and I like all the songs you can sing at church especially All Things Bright and Beautiful because it is a very positive song. 

           Overall I would say that this is a good album that I think would be good to play after you've packed up from work and gone home and can put your feet up and relax. I would give this record 10 out of 10.