Monday, 17 November 2008

LATER...with Jools Holland (Series 33, Show 9)

So the end of the current series and last Later until the famous Hootananny! at New Year. One thing I always criticise the show for is not being diverse enough - more often than not it is safe and predictable with the guests. When I saw that Stereophonics were on this week I thought 'oh no, another fading 90's band trying to peddle new material', but they don't have a new album as such. The band's new Greatest Hits compilation just gets a passing mention which is exactly what the band give us - something sadly missing from other so called 'big' artists. As for the rest of the line-up, with the exception of Jools himself with singer Ruby Turner, I must admit I don't know any of them. And I was pleasantly surprised.


Stereophonics - Dakota
Solange - Decided Pt 1
Ray Davies (Chat with JH)
Dengue Fever - Tiger Phone Land
Carolina Chocolate Drops - Don't Get Trouble In Your Mind
Jools Holland & Louise Marshall - I Went By
Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves - Take My Love With You
Stereophonics - Local Boy In The Photograph


Stereophonics - The Bartender And The Thief
Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves - Take My Love With You
Dengue Fever - Tiger Phone Land
Ray Davies (Chat with JH)
Solange - I Decided (Decided Pt 1?)
Jools Holland & Louise Marshall - Waterloo Bridge
Stereophonics - You're My Star
Carolina Chocolate Drops - Real Old Mountain Dew
Sanjeev Bhaskar (Chat with JH)
Eli "Paperboy" Reed & The True Loves - It's Easier
Dengue Fever - Seeing Hands
Jools Holland & Ruby Turner - St. Louis Blues (with the Carolina Chocolate Drops)
Solange - Sandcastle Disco
Stereophonics - Dakota

Starting with the 'big' name band Stereophonics - the band were supreme. They opened the Tuesday live show and closed Friday with the mighty Dakota, easily the best song from the band's later years. Kelly and the boys were on top form throughout and also performed the slow melodic You're My Star and the more rough and ready The Bartender And The Thief. But the big song was the best in their catalogue: Local Boy In The Photograph - and it took me right back to when I first head it, and was then told what it was about. I guessed immediately that the band were on the show to promote a new Best Of collection but this can be excused because they gave us exactly what was needed - good renditions of familiar popular songs, not just new weaker stuff from a new album, something which has plagued this series. No interview with the band and just a passing mention of the Greatest Hits record.

Where on earth do I start with the rest? Eclectic, diverse and just plain odd on the surface. Things did not start well with Solange who does a bad Diana Ross impression. The empty soul of Decided (credited with two different names on each show, confusingly) had a self-centred stupid intro that the song failed to live up to and the clumsy girl pop of Sandcastle Disco was terrible. After a quick chat with Ray Davies about his musical Come Dancing (he didn't perform, sadly) and some good advice - stay true to your heart and only write while disparate, we were treated to a very interesting band: Dengue Fever (named after an actual tropical disease) is one of those multi-cultural bands from different parts of the world. Cute singer Chhom Nimol has a very amateurish voice but such charm. That said, Tiger Phone Land was awful, worse on Tuesday after a bad start, but the Khmer vocals of Seeing Hands were much better, and the song has a great vibe. Ray Davies described the band as a cross between Blondie and Led Zeppelin. Hmm...not quite Ray.

From here things get much better. The wonderful Carolina Chocolate Drops are real musicians making real music - a frantic swing stomp from the buzzing Don't Get Trouble In Your Mind to the great Real Old Mountain Dew, in spite of two many wordless vocals. The violin and banjo were exchanged for the latter performance showing such diversity. Also good was Eli "Paperboy" Reed - far too showy on Take My Love With You but great on the slow bluesy It's Easier. He has a great voice, when he uses it properly, and a style more akin with BB King.

Jools had to finish the series with a bit of piano but the two performances were predictable JH and 'his big band' stuff - and why not? It is what he does well and it wouldn't be the same without him. Louise Marshall was great, as was Ruby Turner and thankfully we didn't have to endue the new single. Instead Carolina Chocolate Drops helped out on St. Louis Blues with steel guitars and kazoo. Yes really!

The second interview, oddly, was with comedian and now musical performer Sanjeev Bhaskar. He is currently in the Monty Python influenced show Spamalot.

All in all it was a subdued end to the series and much more of a 'party' atmosphere. Obviously all of the performances were not to my taste but that is life. But this was almost the perfect show - a great band with their best songs, a bit of JH and his piano, and loads of people I have never heard before. Excellent entertainment. If only every show was like this.

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