Tuesday, 11 December 2018

Review - Howard Jones - Humans Lib/Dream Into Action







Howard Jones – Humans Lib / Dream Into Action (Cherry Red)


CD / LP / Deluxe CD/DVD / Super Deluxe 12” Box Set

Out Now


British singer, songwriter and musician releases expanded versions of first two albums. 

Emerging from High Wycombe in 1983, Howard Jones was an unlucky looking popstar.  The tall, thin figure, spikey hair with mohair sweater appeared with mime artist Jed Hoile as he performed the now instantly recognisable New Song.  Bringing comparisons to Peter Gabriel’s’ Solsbury Hill it rose to number 3 in the UK charts after Jones had invited record companies to see him perform at the legendary Marquee Club with Warner Music being the record company shrewd enough to see the potential shining through.

What followed over the next two or three years saw Jones catapulted into the mainstream as one of the defining faces of 80s (synth) pop.  His friendly demeanour and positive lyricism were a breath of fresh air and, seemed to be to almost everyone’s approval.  Alongside Nik Kershaw, he became one of the finest new songwriters around and the deserved success was quick to arrive.

New Song was clean and clinical, it was catchy and poppy, and it was perfect fodder for the charts.  Interestingly, it bucked the trend of a repetitive chorus and didn’t even mention the title in the song.  Instead, its success was made by a synth hook and several chants of ‘woo, woo, woo’ and to this day sees it remains a classic tune.




Debut album, Humans Lib began with the upbeat Conditioning, its haphazard bleep and blip intro and excitable percussion was attention grabbing and the “Welcome to conditioning” lyric maybe hinted at Jones’ real opinion of the record industry.  Followed by three singles What Is Love?, Pearl In The Shell and Hide And Seek gave the album three more directions and showed his versatility.

What Is Love? peaked at number 2 in the UK charts and became probably his most recognisable hit.  In its extended album format it is a powerful mid-tempo pop song with a chorus that is simply impossible to shake off.  Hide And Seek was the albums third single, a gentle almost percussion less track which had distinct ambient undertones and once more failed to capitalise on the song title in the lyric, it made the Top 20 in the UK and was soon followed by the horn driven Pearl In The Shell which featured a saxophone solo by Davey Payne of The Blockheads.

Added by Bill Bryant who co-wrote lyrics on several tracks. Humans Lib was as accomplished a debut album as anyone produced in the early 80s.  Equality pounded with an incredible synth hook and the title track Humans Lib, almost threatened to explode at several junctures and contained the intriguing line “sometimes I’d like to go to bed with a hundred women or men”.

The later part of disc one and the whole of disc to contain various remixes, b-sides and live tracks.  Perhaps predictably, there are a further four versions of New Song, some more varied than others and maybe one or two purely for the Jones fan who can spot the obscure differences.  Eight minutes of Total Conditioning sit high at the top of the pile and ‘rough’ mixes of five tracks act as demo’s creating an insight into the workings of the man. 

Following the number 1 success of Humans Lib came Dream Into Action which peaked at number 2 in 1985.  Less of a success in the UK, it did break Jones in the USA making his subsequent albums far more popular than at home.  Singles like Things Can Only Get Better, Life In One Day, Look Mama and No One Is To Blame all made the UK Top 20 with the later receiving a complete rework by Phil Collins who also provided drums and backing vocals.





Dream Into Action saw Jones step up his games and introduced Afrodiziak on backing vocals together with several additional musicians including brother Martin on bass guitar.  Songs were far more chart oriented and clearly had big money record company backing behind them.  The album cover saw Howard ditch the jumper and appear in full 80s padded shoulder blades which again acted as a move to compete with the big names in pop.

The title track, was an almost experimental affair coming as a surprise after two singles as opening tracks, it’s throbbing, plucked bass a mainstay in the song which is sparse and effective.  A well-publicised vegetarian, Jones expressed his views and concerns on Assault And Battery and Hunger For The Flesh with compassion and Automaton and Speciality upped the pace with as eclectic and wild compositions.

Disc two again contains obligatory remixes and edits but special mention should go to piano instrumental Boom Bap Respite which is simply beautiful and the contrasting The Chase which powers along like a frenzied Hogwarts Express.  No One Is To Blame takes over from New Song on Humans Lib with a total of six audio versions.

The deluxe versions (originally released in 2011 as two cd sets) are both accompanied by an additional dvd which has a plethora of tv appearances from TOTP to The Old Grey Whistle Test, from Oxford Road Show to Wogan where the BBC have obviously opened their vaults and, along with live recordings and promo videos make for an thoroughly enjoyable trip down memory lane.

Third cds also accompany the Super Deluxe 12” x 12” Box Sets making the Howard Jones experience complete!

Howard Jones continues to record and is currently planning a new album for 2019, his fan base and enthusiasm as big as ever.  Humans Lib and Dream Into Action represent pivotal moments in 80s synth pop and these box sets provide the full, unabridged story.  Perfect pop and not to be missed.








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Published on Louder Than War 05/12/18 - here






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Monday, 10 December 2018

Watch! - Pop Morrison - Christmas Song





Jamie Morrison has released a brand new Xmas single under the Pop Morrison moniker featuring Sam Semple. 

The Stereophonics drummer has collaborated with Sam Semple on a new Xmas song & video. Jamie wanted to end for what was for him a very creatively successful year by releasing 1 more song. 

Sam & Jamie’s first collaboration was on the mysterious Drewford Alabama project.

Jamie’s long term video maker Ollie Rillands came up with the idea of having Jamie play all the instruments. 

They shot the video in a couple of hours one Sunday afternoon at the end of November.

Jamie is widely known as the drummer from the Stereophonics and was previously a member of the band Noisettes.

Jamie is an active producer / writer releasing his first work outside of a band in 2015 with the Drewford Alabama project. In 2016 he created his “If you want to make a song Holla series”. Jamie released 6 instrumental EPs in one day he asked people to turn the tracks in to song ,sample or simply enjoy for what they are.

In 2017 His Boi Genius project with London rapper FEM FEL saw Morrison create two short films to accompany the “dark twisted fantasy” style music with Jamie staring in the first film and the second being fully animated.

Jamie kicked off 2018 with his POP MORRISON release “Loyal”. Jamie said of the release  " it’s a vibe, just like a tweet or Instagram post. I got so bored with 3 minute songs I created just a beautiful feeling that lasts 40 seconds , why not? ‘"

The song features Ella’s vocals and an orchestra. Jamie continued 2018 with releasing a cover song each month featuring a different artist including everyone from Leonard Cohen to The Pretenders.

Sam is a successful songwriter and used to be Douglas Adams assistant...

As Jamie puts it in his video - "Have a Merry Morrison Christmas!"






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Sunday, 9 December 2018

Friday, 7 December 2018

Listen! - Life As Surface Noise - The Night Watchman (Counterpart One - Christmas)







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Listen! - Pulco - Merry Christmas Everyone








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Thursday, 6 December 2018

Watch! - Xqui - Epiphany







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Paul hiapop Selects His Albums Of 2018







Another great year for music, not only for the weird and wonderful but also some great albums in the mainstream.  The steady flow of 80s bands re-merging has continued with the addition of some very exciting re-releases of big interest for people of  'a certain age' like myself.  :-)

Once again my list is eclectic but, does contain music that has moved me in many ways.

In no order whatsoever, here are my choices for Best Albums Of 2018 (click on the titles for more info).  

Enjoy.












So there you go, another year another twelve months of aural delight.  

I've already heard two of the albums of 2019 so all bodes well!







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Watch! - Refree - Dar a luz







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Watch! - Marianne Faithfull - The Gypsy Faerie Queen feat. Nick Cave







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Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Album of the month - November 2018




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Albums of the month - October 2018



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Review - Vukovar – Monument







Vukovar – Monument (Trisol)


2 x LP + CD

Out Now


English industrial churchcore band return with their sixth album. 

Releasing six albums in three years (two in 2018) may ordinarily be a case of over exposure, of issuing inconsequential and meaningless material.  In the case of Vukovar it is quite the opposite as they release possibly their finest work to date with the astonishing Monument.  In a collaboration with British artist, musician and composer Michael Cashmore (Current 93, Nature And Organisation) their sound develops once more into an inviting and thoroughly immersive collection.

At first listen, the twelve tracks may seem as though they are meandering with little meaning and with lesser direction but, allowing oneself to be caught up in the whole episode reveals that Monument is in fact a work of incredible beauty, bordering on genius.

Opening with a quote from Alice In Wonderland, Monument takes you down corridors, through doors and into wide expanses of adventure and bewilderment.  In the same way that the unlikely combination of punk and reggae seemed to gel perfectly from the 70s to the 80s, so Vukovar have found a quite unique marriage between punk/goth and ambience.  An unlikely and initially unbelievable joining it would seem but, they have succeeded, and some.

Huge chasms of spoken word and droned repetition entice the listener to almost listen to what isn’t present rather that what is.  Opening with This Brutal World and My Continuous Moment, the mood is still, dark and filled with intrigue, it instils a feeling of calm, almost meditative with looped keys and vocals echoing to almost incomprehensible reverb. 

What then follows is a slab of pure alternative pop.  Little Gods (listen here) has classic hooks without the need for a recognisable chorus and often cements unavoidable comparisons between a Joy Division/New Order hybrid – the hard bass drive and melancholic vocal brings this album to life.

With the involvement of Cashmore (who has also worked with Marc Almond, Anohni, Nick Cave and Tony Visconti) comes a slick, smooth end result which oozes masterpiece at every corner.  The theme of existence is one which is repeated throughout and Exist As I Exist (Visions In Silence 11) returns once more to a gothic ambient feel with the addition of disturbing screams of pain and terror nestled into the background.  It borders frightening make no mistake, and would serve well as part of a soundtrack to a horror movie as it takes hold of ones senses in a quite unbelievable way.

Hover effortlessly glides through eleven minutes of ambience rising up to and falling down from louder industrial sounds and whislt The Last Goodbye Happens Everyday further endorses the bands capability of knocking out delightful commercial tracks, and The Duty Of  Mothers (listen here) revisits some spectacular reverb almost dub-like in end result.

Closing with the comforting, if not slightly disquieting Nein Mein Engel Nein (roughly translated as No, my angel, no), Vukovar have once more warned at the perils of compiling Album Of The Year lists too early.  In time, Monument will render you speechless, an overwhelming album of quite stunning quality and innovativeness.  The time may be close for Vukovar.





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Published on Louder Than War 25/11/18 - here.





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