Tuesday, 31 July 2012

He's just a Gigolo... Crazy from the Heat - David Lee Roth (1984)

Bombastic, wild and outspoken, David Lee Roth was also a megastar of the hair metal scene and a darling of the then world- conquering MTV. Having build a solid and loyal fan base with the consistently impressive Van Halen (who had recently released their most successful single 'Jump' and and equally impressive album 1984). However, having achieved all he could with the band he decided to leave in 1985 in the wake of his first solo venture, the screwball and eccentric EP of standards Crazy From the Heat.

Truth be told this is definitely a summer album, however what with the weather becoming somewhat mild, it seemed like a good time to crack out some tunes with a sunny disposition. You cannot help but be won over the joyous and carefree nature of this collection of songs, and Roth personality and idiosyncratic vocals dominate the offering. The opener, 'Easy Street' (written by the late, legendary Dan Hartman) was a minor hit for the J Edgar Winter Group in the mid-70s. Roth add a harder edge with screeching guitars and dirty sax grooves whilst still keeping true to the seedy undertones of the original - you might remember it from the teenage John Cusack's vehicle One Crazy Summer (1986). He follows this with a medley of 'Just a Gigolo / I ain't got nobody' in which he a veritable workout and showcase of his vocal range switching between scat, shrieks and soulful sounds, again a killer saxophone solo in the middle jazzes up the tune and makes this a very danceable number.

It is only an ambitious man who attempts to cover the Beach Boys, some might say arrogant, and whilst this is not nearly as good as the original it is not a bad effort. As with 'Easy Street' Roth gives 'California Girls' a heavy edge which works on the whole without pushing too many boundaries, this is Beach Boys for the MTV generation! The final track on this EP, 'Coconut Grove' adopts a far mellower tone, the ideal number for sitting with a cool dark rum and pineapple by the shores on a quiet beach whilst the tide gently washes over the sand. The song had been originally performed by the loving spoonful, and their version sounds like a half-baked demo, with more sophisticated production techniques Roth makes his version sonically pleasing offering a pleasing aural experience.

All in all, whilst this album breaks no boundaries, it is a great listen and one which should feature on any upcoming summer playlist. It is soaked in the sunshine, much like the feel of the Californian coast which it obviously aims to evoke. It is a pleasing listen yet it is nothing new, that is why I will be giving this particular work a solid 7/10, not the greatest but nevertheless worth the purchase! 

Saturday, 21 July 2012

Welcome to the new power generation!

I'm back after another lengthy hiatus, and hope to be furnishing you with some fantastic posts in the coming weeks. so let me kick of with one about a rather impressive coffee shop i happened upon the other day on a trip I made to Moss Bros in Covent Garden to hire a morning suit...

24 New Row
Nestling very unobtrusively between on a pedestrianised track between St Martin’s Lane and Garrick Street, New Row Coffee is one of many artisan coffee shops that seem to be popping up around London as a number of people seek something a little different from the isipid and watery brew available from many of the mainstream coffee shops around the capital. 
I would be a dreadful hypocrite if I took too much of a snobbish attitude to the coffee giants because I do frequent them  quite a lot and the staff in the Starbucks on Horseferry Road don’t even have to ask me before they label the cup with my name. However, it is great to have something different every once in a while to break up the monotony. New Row Coffee offers a welcome change. 
Really not much more than a hole in the wall, New Row offer a couple of cramped tables and some stools directly in front of the bar. It is light and airy with a clean, trendy feel. The metal tables and chairs go well with the polished oak of the bar, half of which is filled with a delicious looking array of cakes, pastries and a small array of sandwiches. 
The coffee menu is surprisingly simple yet manages to capture all market favourites including the ever-so-trendy ‘flat white’ which seems to have become as popular in our fair country as it is in its true home down under. I am something of a purist however and would never sully my coffee with hot milk so it was going to be - as it always is - a cup of strong black coffee. 
The chap behind the counter was a bohemian American, with something of the ageing hippy about him adding to the superficial charm that had originally drawn me to the establishment. Rather than just go through the motions he drew my attention to the guest coffee that was on offer, an indonesian blend of some sort promising notes of cinnamon, toast and vanilla  - all of which was lost on me, but I admired his sales technique and gamely plumped for this taste of the Eastern tropics. 
The barista used a technique of drip filtration which is starting to grow in popularity in artisan coffee shops, a process by which hot water is poured manually over the ground coffee through a paper filter. The resultant brew is more delicate and the gradual filtration lets the flavour of the coffee permeate more evenly in the liquid. He informed me that this method would take 5 minutes, and having a short space of time to fill I thought I would inspect the sandwiches he had to offer. 
The white, springy roll filled with prosciutto, manchego cheese and fig confit was delicious with a generous filling in which the ingredients successfully complemented each other. Other combinations where less my cup of tea: turkey and brie and goats cheese with onion marmalade but I am sure they were delicious if you like that sort of thing.
But the real test should be in the coffee and I am pleased to say that I was not disappointed, rich and heavy it had none of the bitterness that I associate with much of the coffee that I buy from shops. The barista obviously knew what he was doing and his manual methods had saved the coffee from being scalded as it it so often is in one of those hulking steam machines behind the counter! 
It is well worth the visit and I would urge you to pop in if you find yourself in the area and in need of a high quality caffeine fix!