EVERYBODY POWWOW! REVIEW. FIREWORKS MAGAZINE. Issue 71
Concept albums can be a tricky thing to get right; when they’re good, they can be brilliant, when they aren’t, they can be a meandering, disjointed mess. ‘Everybody Powwow!’ is a huge, twenty-one track, double album telling the story of a young coal miner, who travels to America and falls in love with Rosie, a member of the Oglala Sioux tribe. He ends up being conscripted to the army, deserts, and winds up involved in the massacre at Wounded Knee in 1890.
I must admit, I wasn’t blown away by the idea and chanced my arm simply because the album featured the likes of ex-Bad Company singer Robert Hart, former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden and Manfred Mann’s drummer Jimmy Copley. The album is the brainchild of Simon Webb, a composer, keyboard player and former Musical Director for the ‘Tommy’ stage show at the Queen’s Theatre. What delighted me the most about the album is how he has not gone for the obvious beating tom-toms and wailing you think of when you first think of Native Americans – this is a Rock album first and foremost, performed by Rock musicians and bolstered by strings and horns.
I’m not going to talk about all twenty-one songs on offer, but suffice to say there isn’t one clunker amongst them. Despite offering nearly an hour and a half of music, the album never outstays its welcome. ‘Amerikaye’ lures you in with its breezy feel, the groovy ‘This Is The Life’ reminds me very much of the sort of thing Pete Townshend did with ‘Tommy’, while ‘Gold Fever’ with its fiddle intro has a Funky vibe. The closing track on the first disk features narration before morphing into one of the catchiest songs on the record.
Female vocalist Emma Pears shines with her clean, lilting voice providing an excellent foil for Hart’s masculine rasp. ‘Badlands’ has plenty of Rock bite while the title track is a gloriously upbeat effort with its keyboard stabs and guitar riffs. It must be noted that Hart handles the lion’s share of the lead vocals which, as a big fan of his, was a big plus for me. Frankly, I think it’s probably the finest performance of his long career.
I’ve enjoyed the album more every time I’ve played it, and I’ve not had to concentrate too hard on the story to do so. The record works perfectly as a whole, but the vast majority of the songs can easily be taken on their own merit and stand up by themselves. The album artwork may be utter pants, but the music contained within is fantastic and that’s what matters. Excellent! James Gaden
EVERYBODY POWWOW! REVIEW. THE EVEN GROUND – 17/7/15
The Powwow Rock Orchestra is a super-group comprised of members from some of the most notable bands from the last twenty years. The group consists of Robert Hart (Bad Company), Bernie Marsden (Whitesnake), Jimmy Copley (Tears For Fears) and Simon Edwards (Talk Talk). It’s an impressive line up to say the least. It goes without saying that the production is also stellar.
Their release entitled EVERYBODY POWWOW! is huge in every sense of the word. It’s a double album with a whopping twenty-one songs but it also contains an ample amount of instrumentation. Trumpets, French horns, keyboards, guitars and much more occupy the frequencies within the songs. The structure of the songs themselves sounds huge. A majority of the songs burst off the speakers and sometimes have religious and even patriotic overtones.
If you can take down this entire album in one sitting, more power to you, but I had to take a break around halfway through. When the music is this grandiose you can start to feel exhausted. The album starts with “Everybody Powwow!” which more or less sounds like the title. The vocalist sings about all races coming together for a powwow. There is a bit of irony here in that traditional powwow’s are usually a gathering of Native Americans. Regardless, the song is a good opener.
Any song that opens with the word “Amerikaye” has my attention. “Dream Overture” is more or less a mood piece revolving around ambient elements and amazing reverb effects (it would have sounded good in a movie like Avatar), which eventually leads into the song “Amerikaye.” ”Amerikaye” (while I’m not exactly sure what that song means) still feels patriotic when the vocalist sings it. “Shine On” continues with a patriotic sentiment that also has spiritual overtones. The vocalist sings “statue of liberty set me free” and “may your light shine on me.”
These songs are just the beginning of the album. As it progresses they were a number of tunes you won’t want to miss. I should mention that this album is more reminiscent of music from the ‘70s and ‘80s. I’m guessing when you looked at the cast members you might have figured that out.
EVERYBODY POWWOW! is an experience even if you aren’t crazy about some of the songs. The amount of effort put in the album like this is undeniable. The Powwow Rock Orchestra is a super-group comprised of members from some of the most notable bands from the last twenty years. It’s an impressive line up to say the least. It goes without saying that the production is also stellar. EVERYBODY POWWOW! is huge in every sense of the word tunes you won’t want to miss. Recommended.
REVIEW IN THE ROCKER – AUGUST 2015
THE POWWOW ROCK ORCHESTRA. Everybody Powwow! Spiderhawk Records.
Everybody Pow Wow! is a new concept album featuring the singing talents of Robert Hart and Emma Pears; and Bernie Marsden, Gary Grainger, Jay Stapley, and Wes McGhee on Guitar, Jimmy Copley on Drums, Simon Edwards on Bass and Percussion, Alan Stewart on Bass Clarinet and Sax, Simon Webb on keyboards and vocals, Steve Stapley, Stella Betton, Bernie Marsden and Kevin Williams on backing vocals, the Kick Horns and many others.
It tells the story of Thomas Christian, a miner from the north of England, who travels to America where he falls in love with Rosie, a native American from the Oglala Sioux tribe. Mr Webb is keen to highlight the plight of modern day Native Americans, with parallels drawn between then and now. Musically, it’s a mix of melodic prog, pop and musical theatre, and it’s the latter that this needs to be pitched at, with an excellent cast and story arc.
Former Bad Company vocalist Robert Hart is in excellent form, as are all the performers and with some strong songs like ‘Don’t Leave Me’, ‘Crazy Horse’, ‘Chase The Sun’ and ‘Amerikaye’, this is a recording that really needs to be heard. An excellent job that hopefully results in a West End producer putting in a call.
Review of EVERYBODY POWWOW! In GET READY TO ROCK.
This double CD is the work of composer and musical arranger Simon Webb. The story centres around Thomas Christian, a miner from the north of England, who travels to America where he falls in love with Rosie, a native American from the Oglala Sioux tribe. The songs follow their story and to help tell this tale there are some name guests including former Whitesnake guitarist Bernie Marsden, drummer Jimmy Copley (Paul Rodgers/Magnum) and the Kick Horns. Best of all is hearing vocalist Robert Hart again, he of The Distance, Bad Company and Manfred Mann’s Earth Band fame.
Aside from a possible 80′s sounding album title, Simon Webb certainly takes the subject of the native American Indians seriously and one of the most famous books, ‘Bury My Heart At Wounded Knee’ gets recognition in a song of the same title.
The music has some funk, soul and pop elements, like on ‘Gold Fever’ or ‘Crazy Horse’. Other songs recall Asia (the John Payne-fronted version) on ‘Chase The Sun’ and the single in waiting, ‘Amerikaye’.
Robert Hart still has his emotive vocals intact and Emma Pears sings the parts of Rosie with the passion required to lift a song out of the ordinary into the memorable as can be heard on ‘Don’t Leave Me’. Surprisingly for a concept album there is only one epic song, ‘Chase The Sun (Reprise)’ where the sax playing of Alan Stewart takes centre stage.
Those who enjoy a good story told through music, with that big production/West End feel this will be right up your street. For me, worth it just to hear Robert Hart’s vocals on an album again! **** Review by Jason Ritchie.
EVERYBODY POWWOW! Review in Classic Rock Magazine. Sept 2015