Album Review

The Bard of Brady Square Blows The Boat to Bolivia Out of the Water!

Martin Stephenson and The Daintees - Bayswater Road

I’m sure Martin G Stephenson, of this parish has some weird form of Musical Tourrettes; as the ideas just spring forth from his over active imagination and he can’t stop himself recording them. Over the past few years he has hardly finished recording one album when his is back in a studio recording something completely different, but just as relevant and of an equally high quality as when he was a young poppet singing on Top of the Pops.
Don’t let the next few paragraphs put you off buying this wonderful disc; as what I’m going to say doesn’t necessarily make sense when written down; but fans of Martin already know that in advance, don’t you?
BAYSWATER ROAD is a quintessential Martin Stephenson record, with a toe-tapping old school Rock n Roller called The Whisky opening proceedings; and Martin’s clever way with words not only extols the virtues of the amber nectar but as he so eloquently puts it;

“The Whisky, will surely beat you
Take away your heart and steal your home
Make you raise your voice to women and children

Turn you a Hydish creature left to roam

For the Whisky is a whore she’s a deep dark medicine”

Ain’t that the truth brothers and sisters?
The title track Bayswater Road; a love song to that once Bohemian centre of London Town follows in quirky pub sing-along style with John Trier providing some lovely barrel-house piano in the background.
As I alluded to earlier, music of all varieties must spin around in that head of his; how else could you explain the groovy Bossa Nova beat to High Sierra Snow? But Bossa Nova it undoubtedly is and somehow this head mix of Bert Kampfaert, The Surfaris and Cliff Richard couldn’t sound any-more up to date and Classic Daintees if it tried!!
Just as your head is coming to terms with that lovely song it leads into…….a Gospel Song; honestly and it’s wonderful. If I’m not mistaken Martin Stephenson has slipped in a sneaky subversive ‘political’ song of ‘hope’ in a way that will have us singing along and raising our arms to Heaven without realising what Lord Lead Us is actually about….or I could be wrong and it is just a glorious Sunday Morning song after all.
This in turn bleeds into Every Kind of Heaven which is pure 60’s Folk innocence and alongside the jingle-jangle guitars of Shoot are the only songs that sound like the original Daintees did way back when.
There have been a lot of strong women in Martin’s life and many are heralded in song; and in this case Elaine, the sadly departed wife of bass player Chris Mordey is beautifully celebrated in song and will not only stop you in your tracks but quite possibly stop you breathing for a moment or two when you hear it the first time. The story and intimate detail provided is pure dead brilliant; if I may say so.
Just like every other Martin Stephenson and/or The Daintees album I own there are surprises around every corner and each one is a delight; especially the poetic She Rides Horses which closes the record; but my ears keep being drawn back to two special ones over and over again.
So the title of ‘favourite’ is a tie between two lovely love songs; Secret Crush sweeps us back in time to the early to mid sixties with the band sounding uncommonly like the Shadows (take a bow Mr. Steel) and tonight………Martin is …..Billy Fury!
The other just might…..and I don’t say this lightly just might be one of the finest songs Martin has ever recorded. Thorn For a Rose is a beautiful, raw tearjerker of the highest quality; with harmonies and Neil Morrison’s bittersweet fiddle playing would bring a tear to a glass eye; even without the poignancy of the lyrics. 10/10 young man.
That gloriously perky and lived in voice of Martin Stephenson is more than complimented throughout by the rock solid bass playing of Christopher Mordey, sizzling guitar from John Steel esq. and tip-top drumming from the delightful Ms Kate Stephenson.

Released 28th July 2017

Originally posted on the Rocking Magpie website

Alan, if the new ND editor is focusing on rebuilding this website I’m hoping she reaches out to you because your reviews consistently give an efficiently written and entertaining rationale for your take on the material. Keep em coming!

Thanks Jack; I appreciate the sentiment; but I doubt they even know of my reviews. This one was a specfic request from the act; and has exceeded my expectations.

I'm with you Jack. 100%. It's ND's loss not having Alan's input on the site.

I'm convinced Alan, buying ...good to see your review here too...but there is Rocking Magpie so we don't have to just miss with Cara and Jack 11.0, always looked forward to your reviews here...

Hi; it's sort of good to be back......let's see if I can play nice with the new kids ;)

Please don't...I prefer the ascerbic Alan, even if it's directed at me...

I will Google 'ascerbic' and see if it's a compliment first ;)

I join the others in singing your praises and love seeing you back on ND if only briefly. Like Jim, I follow you on Rocking Magpie and my only "complaint" (if I can call it that) is that I've only heard of about a tenth of the artists you cover and I can't add that many new artists to my "need-to-get list." And when it comes to ascerbic, to us cynics it's definitely a compliment.

Jim - keep it up :)

Definitely Cara...Alan is a favorite reviewer of are you...hope you are doing well...

by the way, Alan is right...this is a great album...Martin is a terrific artist...

Damn. Just answered you but there was an error and things have gone blobby so I have to try again. I was saying you'd love Martin Stephenson live. He's funny and clever. Sharp commentary and warm understanding at the same time. The Daintees are natural ballast for him. I'm going to check to see if they ever tour the States. 

I'm gearing up rightly for the holidays over here. Big season's greetings to you and yours. It's hard to believe the year is nearly done. What's been your highlight gig and album?

Martin used to be a regular visitor to the Colonies (some amazing stuff on the YouTube) but stays closer to his home in Scotland for family and financial reasons these days. 

Next week he plays his annual Geordie Christmas Show with the Toe Rags; a more Western Swing approach to the songs.

I'm not sure about gig...I've been to several really good ones...I went to a house concert December 2nd...guy named Jim Hurst...fantastic...bluegrass, jazz, county, rock, blues, R&B Americana flatpicking, thumbpicking guitar God...he was unbelievable, and has a great singing voice someone's living room with 30 other people yet...Dale Watson and Asleep At the Wheel was a great show...Roger Clyne and the Peacemakers...I got sick with some flu type ailment and missed the show I was looking most forward to...Michael McDermott...another show I really enjoyed was some Nashville guys, Eric Brace, Peter Cooper, and Thomm Jutz...saw them twice actually...John Hiatt and Lyle Lovett was excellent too...Radney Foster was great too...

As far as records, a couple of late ones have really knocked me out...Martin's record being one and Justin Currie's latest "This is My Kingdom Now", which I've only been able to stream so far...CD copy should be coming soon, released sometime this week I think...let me think about it and let you know what else really knocked me out, there's been a couple, but I am spacing out here trying to come up with them right now, there was a Neil Finn/Paul Kelly live one that I really loved and a guy named Jeremy Nail...record was called "My Mountain" but I can't tell you for sure they actually came out this year...Radney Foster's "For You to See the Stars" ...haven't heard anything this year I liked as much as McDermott's "Willow Springs" from last year, or his side project from last year, The Westies "6 On the Out"...incredible records...2 in the same year...

Martin Stephenson and Justin Currie are both Scots now that I think about is the Hunter family, so maybe I am channelling the ancestors there saying those are my favorites...I've always loved Currie...Del Amitri's "Change Everything" (1992) is still one of the records I'd take to a desert island with me, and I saw them live numerous times, and they were always terrific...good guys too, had a beer with some of them once during the "Twisted" tour...there was a place around the corner from the gig that had McEwans, Skull Splitter, Orkney Ale, Samuel Smith, Old Peculier, etc...the venue had given them American beer and Corona to drink, so they were happy to find something better...

Happy Holidays to you and yours Cara, and to the Rocking Magpie as well...!!