The Album Considered

Subscribe to my newsletter for weekly updates.

JUDY MOWATT: BLACK WOMAN, CONSIDERED (1979): A woman's strength in the concrete jungle

6 Apr 2020  |  3 min read

When the great reggae singer Judy Mowatt toured New Zealand's North Island under her own name in 1990, she was surprised to be greeted by local members of the Twelve Tribes of Israel at the airport. But after the death of Bob Marley, reggae had become embedded in Aotearoa New Zealand and the Twelves Tribes (named for the descendants of Jacob in the Old Testament) were a significant and... > Read more

THE BEE GEES: ODESSA, CONSIDERED (1969): All at sea in separate lifeboats

30 Mar 2020  |  4 min read  |  1

In 16 months from early 1967 when they returned to Britain after a trip back home to Australia, the Bee Gees cracked out a remarkable six hit singles and three albums. Their writing, recording and touring schedule was extraordinary, perhaps only matched by the Beatles' work ethic who were for a time their real chart rivals. But for a group which crafted tight radio pop there was a... > Read more

THE MOTORS: APPROVED BY THE MOTORS, CONSIDERED (1978): They had the look, unfortunately

27 Mar 2020  |  3 min read

You gorra feel sorry for the Motors. Although owing a debt the genre, this British band weren't really “pub-rock” in the manner of, say, Dr Feelgood or Ian Dury's Kilburn and the High Roads. They were more pop-rock – strong on melody, hooks and choruses – but they formed in '77 when the spirits of pub-rock and then punk were abroad. Their origins had been in... > Read more

BOB DYLAN: DESIRE, CONSIDERED (1976): To the valley below . . . and beyond

21 Mar 2020  |  5 min read

In the collective memory, Bob Dylan's Desire album of '76 comes between the exceptional Blood on the Tracks and is sandwiched between the two legs of his Rolling Thunder Review of late '75 and early '76. Desire came out before that second (and less happy) part of the Thunder tour but he'd already taken the songs – notably Hurricane about the boxer Rubin Carter, One More Cup of Coffee... > Read more

RINGO STARR: BEAUCOUPS OF BLUES, CONSIDERED (1970): From Abbey Road to Music Row

18 Mar 2020  |  4 min read  |  1

An amusing irony after the Beatles broke up in 1970 was that the one who didn't write any songs (two in more than seven years hardly counts) and was the fourth best singer in the band should, for a time, have the most commercial – and sometimes critical – success. Ringo Starr's string of singles in the early Seventies – It Don't Come Easy, Back Off Boogaloo, Photograph and... > Read more

THE ROLLING STONES: BETWEEN THE BUTTONS, CONSIDERED (1967): A laugh turned to farce?

16 Mar 2020  |  4 min read

The shorthand for the Rolling Stones' recording career before Exile on Main Street is usually reduced – even by Stones' fans – to something like this: some blues and r'n'b covers albums with a few originals thrown in, Aftermath in '66 where they wrote everything themselves and so is a classic (it's not, it's flawed like most Stones' albums), the substandard foray into Pepper-style... > Read more

My Obsession

GEORGE MARTIN: OFF THE BEATLE TRACK, CONSIDERED (1964): From him to you

8 Mar 2020  |  4 min read

It can't be denied that George Martin was indispensable to the Beatles in the studio for his arranging, orchestration and playing skills. It's hard to imagine if we'd ever have heard Yesterday, In My Life, Eleanor Rigby, Strawberry Fields Forever, I am the Walrus and many other classics in the same manner if it hadn't been for his input. His pre-Beatle work with sound and tape effects for... > Read more

NILS LOFGREN: THE EARLY CAREER, CONSIDERED (1975/1976): Head over heels for Nils

24 Feb 2020  |  6 min read

It's likely that most people who know Nils Lofgren for his brief periods with Neil Young (After the Goldrush, Tonight's the Night, Trans) and his long tenure in Springsteen's E Street Band would also be aware of his parallel solo career. But many might not be familiar with this talented singer, songwriter, guitarist and trampolinist and some excellent albums under his own name in the... > Read more

PETER GREEN: IN THE SKIES and LITTLE DREAMER, CONSIDERED (1979/1980): The slight return in the late Seventies

17 Feb 2020  |  4 min read

The sad story of Sixties singer-guitarist and songwriter Peter Green (born Peter Greenbaum in 1946, of Bethnal Green) probably needs little repeating but the bare facts look like this. After playing in a few local groups as a bassist (one featuring drummer Mick Fleetwood and briefly singer Rod Stewart), he emerged as one of the great blues guitarists in the mid... > Read more

PAUL McCARTNEY: PIPES OF PEACE, CONSIDERED (1983): Must try harder, lacks effort in class

30 Jan 2020  |  4 min read

By the mid Eighties, albums by Paul McCartney were becoming surplus to requirements. It wasn't just that people by that time had about all the McCartney in their life that they needed, but that there was a very discernible drop off in quality and effort, albeit on albums which were highly polished. Yes, he still cracked out popular singles. But... > Read more

YOKO ONO PLASTIC ONO BAND: BETWEEN MY HEAD AND THE SKY, CONSIDERED (2009): And Yoko got the band to play

7 Oct 2019  |  3 min read

When Yoko Ono released her artistically packaged Onobox in 1992 -- a six CD retrospective of a solo career which had ceased in the mid Eighties -- that would seemed to have been it from the most famous widow in the world. She was almost 60; had stopped recording because as she wryly noted "there seemed no great call" from the public for any more albums by her; and her attention... > Read more

Higa Noboru

YOKO ONO: TAKE ME TO THE LAND OF HELL, CONSIDERED (2013): As ever, Yoko is as Yoko does

9 Sep 2019  |  3 min read

As endearing as it is idiosyncratic, as brilliant as it is bonkers, Yoko Ono's 2013 album Take Me to The Land of Hell (with the Plastic Ono Band) mostly served to remind what a unique artist she has always been . . . whether you like what she does or simply never listened. After the forgettable aural postcards with her husband John Lennon in the late Sixties when they were clowns for... > Read more

PAUL McCARTNEY: AMOEBA GIG, CONSIDERED (2007/2019): That was him standing there

5 Aug 2019  |  5 min read

In the decade after he disbanded Wings at the end of the Seventies, Paul McCartney's recording career on albums offered diminishing returns outside of a string of mostly vacuous chart hits. It wasn't until Flowers in the Dirt in '89 – and even that pulled its punches too much – you felt he still had something serious to offer. The Eighties were tough times for Sixties stars... > Read more

YOKO ONO: FEELING THE SPACE, CONSIDERED (1973): Singing on the feminist frontline

12 Jul 2019  |  5 min read

Put aside Yoko Ono's contributions to the silly audio-verite and self-centred avant-garde albums (“French for bullshit,” John Lennon had said just a few years previous) with Lennon in the late Sixties: the two Unfinished Music volumes Two Virgins (more famous for its cover than its contents) and Life with the Lions, and the vanity project Wedding Album. Take all of them them out... > Read more

Woman Power

THE STAIRS: MEXICAN R'N'B, CONSIDERED (1992): Through the past, smartly

11 Mar 2019  |  3 min read

And suddenly, they they were, all The Definite Article bands. After years of single-name grunge outfits (Nirvana, Soundgarden, Mudhoney, Tad etc) the post-Britpop groups appeared with “the” in front of their names. This wasn't new, of course, but in that Brit-pride world which had musically looked back to the Sixties for reference points (the Beatles, the Kinks, the Who, the... > Read more

Flying Machine

WINGS: AT THE SPEED OF SOUND, CONSIDERED (1976): And now, some not so silly love songs?

20 Feb 2019  |  4 min read

Paul McCartney must have been livid with his record company in 1976. Consider: He'd been in the biggest and most culture-changing, money-making band of the century and along the way had written dozens of classic songs; a field-length list which included Yesterday, Penny Lane, Eleanor Rigby, She's Leaving Home and . . . Then when that band broke up he reinvented himself over a couple... > Read more

WINGS: RED ROSE SPEEDWAY, CONSIDERED (2018): The malaise or just lazy?

17 Dec 2018  |  3 min read  |  2

For every person who loves Paul McCartney's Mull of Kintyre there is another who couldn't hate it more. For everyone who loves With a Little Luck there is me. McCartney's most popular songs seem to divide people: he could write beautiful love songs . . . and Silly Love Songs. A curious case in point is My Love which appeared on his Red Rose Speedway album. Some people find it... > Read more

Loup (First Indian on the Moon)

WINGS: WILD LIFE, CONSIDERED (1971): “And in the end . . .” there's a begin-again?

14 Dec 2018  |  5 min read

In the Beatles' Anthology DVD, their producer George Martin observed that no one – other than the four young men themselves – knew what it was like in the hurricane that was Beatlemania. They only had themselves to rely on for support, solace, humour and an understanding of the fear about what could possibly go wrong when the screaming turned to anger and disgruntled US fans... > Read more

Mumbo

THE ROLLING STONES: BEGGAR'S BANQUET, CONSIDERED (1968): A walking clothesline of styles

3 Oct 2018  |  8 min read  |  2

Half a century ago the Rolling Stones released their Beggar's Banquet album, widely considered a return-to-form after the debacle of their shapeless attempt at psychedelia on the largely unlistenable Their Satanic Majesties Request of December 1967, released some six months after the Beatles' Sgt Peppers. In a cover which referred to Pepper's glowing hippie-era colours, Satanic Majesties... > Read more

No Expectations

PAUL McCARTNEY: TUG OF WAR, CONSIDERED (1982): The Mac was back?

28 Jun 2018  |  4 min read

When Paul McCartney left Wings and the Seventies behind he delivered his still interesting McCartney II album of songs and electronic experiments. Danny Baker in the NME wasn't impressed in those heady post-punk days: “McCartney II isn't worth the plastic it's printed on,” he wrote. Then he put the boot in: “Neither is Paul, but he'll go on... > Read more