‘Spillin’ The Beans – Hmayra by Shubh Saran

A while ago, ‘Spillin’ The Beans reviewed a track by Shubh Saran called “It Was You” from his forthcoming album, “Hmayra“. Now, I have the opportunity to review the whole album.

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The press release says that “Shubh’s new album, Hmayra, is a melting pot of contemporary jazz, Indian music, neo-soul, and fusion that combines the spontaneity of live music with the finesse of post production. The compositions blend intricate harmony and rhythm presented in a groove oriented and digestible way. The album opens with “The Profane”, an ominous, percussion-heavy intro. As the album progresses, the songs become brighter and melody-driven concluding with “Ascent“, which makes it all sound pretty tasty to someone who likes a bit of jazz fusion.

So, is it as tasty as the blurb makes it sound? Well, yes, so long as you are a fan of the Mahavishnu Orchestra, Weather Report and other fusion acts. If not, it might not be the album for you, but, even so I urge you to listen, because there is much pleasure to be found in this music. Soundwise, this is clean and uncluttered music, and the playing is a joy. There are some very accomplished musicians at work here, I especially like the horns on “Blank Stare“, a track that builds in intensity as it goes along. Terrific stuff.

I always listen to these albums before finding out anything about the musicians, apart from what is in the press release. That way I come to the music with no preconceptions. To be honest, if I was hearing this without knowing who it was by, I’d definitely be thinking of names like John McLaughlin. Some of the guitar playing is sublime here. I recommend the longest track on the album, “Haze“, it really has some gorgeous delicate guitar, as well as more of fantastic horns. Another track I really liked a lot was “The Imposter“, the piano on this really pushes the track along.

The album is available to hear on Spotify, but I really think that it needs to be heard on a decent hi fi.

Shubh’s website is here, and he also has a channel on YouTube.

‘Spillin’ The Beans – “Daybreak” by The Divisionists

This week I am ‘Spillin’ The Beans on the new album by London band The Divisionists. The album is entitled “Daybreak” and is available here on Bandcamp.

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‘Spillin’ The Beans – To Chechnya With Love: A Benefit Compilation for Chechen LGBTQ+ (Vol 1)

This week, ‘Spillin’ The Beans is stepping sideways to some degree to listen to an album that is all about a particular cause, LGBTQ Rights in Chechnya.

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‘Spillin’ The Beans – The Big Drops

This week I am listening to some tracks by The Big Drops, a New Jersey-based act who seem to have beamed here direct from a hazy, psychedelic recreation of the 1960s, which is an entirely Good Thing as far as I am concerned.

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Covers better than the original – Discuss

There are lots of posts on here about cover versions.  Whether you are of the “it’s just bastardising a perfectly good piece of music” school or persuaded by the “all art is derivative and is there for others to build and improve on” argument, there’s no avoiding them.  Musicians are positively encouraged to perform their own versions of other artists songs.

There are the covers that have become so embedded in the listener psyche it has almost been forgotten they are covers (think Sinead O’Connor’s version of Prince’s Nothing Compares 2 U), there are those you hear and wonder why the band or artist thought it was a good idea to cover that track, they bring nothing new to the table, in fact they spoil the original (my opinion, but think Metallica’s cover of Thin Lizzy’s Whiskey in the Jar – why???).

There are the covers that are clever and polar opposite to the original and offer an alternative sound (try Daughter’s cover of Daft Punk’s Get Luck or Lissie’s version of Kid Cuddy’s Pursuit of Happiness).  There are the covers that are different enough and executed brilliantly in their own right to stand up to the original and be just as good (Tricky’s cover of Public Enemy).  And then, dear reader, there are those covers that raise the song to another level becoming better than the original.  I’m thinking of the Johnny Cash cover of Hurt by Nine Inch Nails or Jimi Hendrix’ version of Dylan’s All Along the Watchtower.  I love these two songs much more than their originals – in fact I never even listen to the originals because both these artists made these songs their own.

The other day I was listening to Bowie’s Station to Station.  The last track is the much covered Johnny Mathis song Wild is the Wind.   In fact I actually thought this was a Nina Simone track because she did a couple of versions of it; I stand corrected by Wiki.  In a step that may well annoy some of you jazz lovers out there I will admit to disliking every version I’ve heard of this song but Bowie’s.  I love it.  I mean, really adore it.  I love the guitars, I love the slightly bossa-nova beat.  His voice is so heartfelt and aching.  There’s a real honesty and desperation about his delivery.  So much better than the original.  It’s not the only Bowie cover I think is better than the original either…I’ll let you try to guess the other.

But this got me thinking, like these things always do – which other covers are better than the original?  Obviously, as is the case with most stuff related to music, this is an opinion thing, but I’d like to know your thoughts.

Yet again ‘Spillers I come to you to fill in the gaps in my musical knowledge. What can you tell me about all this and who else should I be tracking down?

 

‘Spillin’ The Beans – “Divination” by Emerald Suspension.

Emerald Suspension are definitely not going to be to everyone’s taste, but what they do is definitely going to appeal to people who like their music from somewhere Out There.

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