Jeff Beck

The guitar world is reeling.

Jeff Beck was an early pioneer of the electric guitar, along with Hendrix, Clapton, Harrison and Page. But he was always a bit of an outlier in some regard.

He enjoyed the success of the Yardbirds but then veered into his own path and in doing so, created a individual voice on the guitar that is incomparable to anyone else.

I’ve studied Jeff Beck’s music and it feels like trying to play another instrument sometimes! First and foremost, he plays with his fingers, no pick! But it allows you to play the guitar with such a different feel! Then there’s the way he used his right hand to utilise the musical qualities of the volume pot and then the whammy bar on his strat, and the results are extraordinary!

The result is tracks like ‘Where were you?’ and ‘Cause we’ve ended as lovers’.

Jeff Beck could play fast but he knew when to play slow and let the notes soar and boy could he make them soar!

My guitar tutor Michael Caswell at ACM, an extraordinary guitar himself when he was alive, cited Jeff Beck as one of his favourites, and I remember the conversations we had about him and the two points Mike made about him were that Jeff was the only guitarist from the 60s who kept on getting better (I whole heartedly agree!) and that the thing that made him truly special was his ability to pick the right small selection of notes that made you go ‘What was that!?’ and make the hair stand on the back of your neck.

Jeff Beck kept evolving. He’s left us a wonderful catalogue of enriching, interesting and incredible music and amongst that catalogue his playing shines through whilst also including a multitude of high profile collaborations whilst also giving lesser known and younger people a platform. Not least the phenomenal Tal Wilkenfield.

Jeff Beck always appeared humble. It was never about him, unlike today’s toxic social media world which spends far too much time pedalling self image and fitting in. It was about making something truly unique and letting the magic of the electric guitar soar. That’s what I aspire to do and Jeff Beck’s influence is certainly embedded in me as it is for many others.

It’s sad he had to leave us so suddenly, and it’s sad that this generation of loved musicians are departing. In all honesty I think this will be a decade of mourning. In honour of such musicians and their legacy, I for one look forward to continue enjoying the music they leave behind and admire the dedication they committed to their work during their lifetime, and try and be as dedicated myself.

Thank you Jeff.

Kinky Wizzards Live Album – Out Today.

Our first ever live album is out.

This show was recorded in Cardiff back in September 2021. It was the first show we had done since the Pandemic.

I am delighted to have a record that showcases what we do live and captures our tracks in this format. There’s a frenetic energy to it that was really fun to work with when mixing it!

A big thank you to Andrew Bishop, who captured the recordings, Steffan Pringle for mastering the record, Dale Johnson for the unique artwork and Adam Prosser for the photos.

I hope you enjoy the record and here are the links:

Physical copies available over at: https://kinkywizzards.bandcamp.com/…/quirky-musings-the…

Spotify link: https://open.spotify.com/album/6VKTJpA07j8TXQEDDVUsH5…

Apple Music link:

https://music.apple.com/…/quirky-musings-the…/1656310261

My new record ‘Head Above Water’ is out.

I am pleased to announce the digital release of my new album ‘Head Above Water’.

1. Until the Stars Align

2. Take the Time (Feat. Lauren Kinsella)

3. Liability

4. Negative Partisan

5. Deep Waters

6. Resistance

Bandcamp link: https://ryanmarkelliott.bandcamp.com/album/head-above-water

This record was written between 2020 and 2021 and the album title came from the songs varying themes about hope and navigating our way through chaos of modern life, be it personal relationships, the political landscape or overcoming our own personal battles.

At half an hour in length, this is my most focused and best sounding work yet and I am so pleased to finally share it with you all.

Featuring Aled Lloyd on drums, Dan Nelson on bass, Andrew Bishop as co-producer, Charlie Jenkins on Sax, Emma Davidson on vocals, a vocal feature from Lauren Kinsella and artwork from Darlee Urbiztondo.

Thank you to everyone who has helped me along with the journey of making this record, and I hope you enjoy it!

Ryan

Take the Time (Feat. Lauren Kinsella)

It is called Take the Time and features the wonderful Lauren Kinsella on lead vocals.

Lauren is an Irish vocalist and composer. Her current projects include the band Snowpoet, who released a wonderful record called ‘Wait for Me’ last year and ‘Skylla’ with Ruth Goller which is a fascinating listen.

I am so grateful she agreed to do this track and couldn’t have been happier with the outcome.

Thanks as ever to my team who gave this track absolutely everything.

Andrew Bishop – Sound Engineer – Co Producer, Recording and Mastering Engineer

Emma Davidson – Backing Vocals

Aled Peter Lloyd – Drums

Dan Nelson – Bass Guitar

Darlee Orcullo Urbiztondo – Artwork

The full lyric video by Drew Hamley comes out on Monday.

You can listen to the full track via the following links:

Apple: http://itunes.apple.com/album/id/1641440453

We hope you enjoy it!

A shame ridden resignation

Too bad that Boris Johnson is incapable of feeling any shame.

It was the same case for Donald Trump.

Are we past the phase of voting in populist leaders who are in the long run so damaging? I won’t hold my breathe, but when you reach a low as low as we’ve done here in the United Kingdom, you have to believe that there is some hope to hold on in terms of us going back up.

Then again, Johnson’s reluctance to resign with immediate effect has a shade of Putin about it.

And what makes me so frustrated is that not enough of the population is aware of the fact that their democracy has been trampled over.

I cannot even bring myself to have a little bit of respect for the ministers who have resigned. They could and should have resigned when Boris Johnson treated the British public with contempt when botching the protective measures needed for Covid 19 and Partygate. The only reason they have resigned is because they have finally realised the ship is sinking and they are making their moves to save themselves. It is all deeply cynical.

The handling of the pandemic from the government in my view is unforgivable. They had plenty of warning signs and ignored them. What’s more, you have a totally reckless push for a hard Brexit which has systemically screwed so many industries over and brought about a massive legal kerfuffle with the NI protocol. Less bureaucracy was the promise and we were given more, and our economic power has diminished. Furthermore, poverty has risen, including child poverty and it took a monumental effort from Marcus Rashford and Jack Monroe to hold the government to account when it came to free school meals and inflated food prices. The defamatory attacks on Monroe from Conservative mps has been especially disgusting. Then there’s Rwanda which was an outright racist and xenophobic move. The Tories are incapable of making policy decisions that are not cruel or squeezing the poor whilst filling the pockets of their over privileged cronies. This is all without mentioning the ignored sexual assault cases that eventually came to be Johnson’s downfall. They are an utter disgrace.

And yet people say it would be no different under another party. Give me a break and do the research. Labour MP Jess Phillips is fighting tremendously hard to bring solutions for domestic abuse whilst Caroline Lucas is a shining beacon for decency, honesty and integrity and whilst things policy wise aren’t that clear with Kier Starmer, there is no question that he is significantly more competent as a leader than any self serving member of the Tories.

So whilst I am somewhat relieved that Johnson will go and hopefully take the insufferable, culturally ignorant sycophant that is Nadine Dorris with her, I am nowhere near optimistic about the alternatives. The best they can offer in terms of an interim leader is Raab. Great: another pathological liar is just what we need.

Standards in the House of Commons are so low, and we need a drastic overhaul where we have a political culture that is more intelligent, compassionate and ultimately one that looks to the possibility that things can and should be better.

It comes down to us to make sure we engage with our democracy and do not take it for granted. We have our vote but we also have our say and Rashford and Monroe proved that you can make those changes happen. If you don’t put in that effort, you have no right to moan about it.

As I wrote in my track ‘Liability’, Johnson is a liability and his bubble was always gonna burst and now it has, we need it to be the first of many.

Head Above Water – Live

I am pleased to announce that I will be performing at Atmospheres Music Festival at the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama. 

‘Head Above Water’ is the title of my upcoming album and I shall be playing all 6 new tracks from the record, including the recently released singles ‘Until the Stars Align’ and ‘Liability’. 

This is the first time I will be presenting this music live and after rehearsing with Dan Nelson (Bass) and Aled Lloyd (drums) I am really forward to it. 

You can get your tickets via this link: https://www.rwcmd.ac.uk/events/2022-05/atmospheres-2022-head-above-water

What I don’t like about music today.

I have been thinking about this a lot recently.

Music is undoubtedly a topic of subjectivity and arbitrary viewpoints, tastes differ as do personalities and the more you can accept and respect other people’s tastes, the better.

That being said, it’s fun to spark a heated debate now and again and I’d like to touch upon something that I deeply think about when it comes to the music that I really dislike.

Music is hard to write and talk about without getting tangled in knots, but if I am able to express what I don’t like about certain music it puts me in a position to express my critique or opinion in a way that is informed and respectable.

I feel it’s important to do, because one of my biggest issues with music at the moment is the way it does not drive the culture anymore. I have found myself tuning out of so much music that is plugged my way and having to work hard to find music I like and I want to find out why that is.

Here are some general things I have managed to pinpoint that do not sit well with me.

Music being used as a means to tell music theory

This is a byproduct of the Youtube Musical star culture which I ignore because I get no joy whatsoever from using music as a means to fawn over music theory. I study music theory relentlessly and am fascinated by its use in music of all varieties but when the theory sounds like it supersedes the music itself, it makes me really uncomfortable. There is some music that labours on the theory side so much that it completely supersedes the music and I can’t help but find that problematic.

Music that is illiterate

I sometimes read pop lyrics and am sometimes taken aback by how bad some of the language is. Lyrics reduced to text speak, non-sensical metaphors or similes and things that are just grammatically wrong. Lyrics don’t have to reach the literary standards of Yeats or Keats but come on, the least you can do is make some actual sense with some degree of sophistication.

Innocuousness or Vapidness

This rife in modern day releases. Any artist who gains traction and picked up by labels or corporate sponsors is so afraid of speaking out against something that their music becomes reduced to something merely passive and with little meaning.

So much mainstream music that is released is completely and utterly vapid, designed to be here today and then gone tomorrow.

On the contrary a lot of my favourite music has a very focused viewpoint be it deeply personal yet empathetic or standing up for what you believe in. Kendrick Lamar is probably one of the best examples of artists who does this really well. He’s managed to become hugely successful without compromising himself with his solo work. In such an unfair and divided world, we need people to stand up to oppressors and not many musicians of today do this unfortunately.

Self above anyone else

We can thank the internet once again for amplifying this juggernaut of nonsense. Music appears to be used by some as a tool to elevate one’s ego or narcissism and not much else. The music becomes just a byproduct of celebrity culture where the idea is often sold that the most important thing is to be famous and seen as successful.

Negative Ideation

I sometimes check in with the charts and at one point was really worried about what it was that kids were exactly listening to. At one point, the charts were dominated by artists who were taking xanax and singing about it in their works; too many have lost their lives prematurely from messing with such things. I listen to some of the darkest music out there and love bands like Swans, NIN and Clipping. but there’s a difference between exploring horrifying topics in interesting ways and outright glorification of dangerous lifestyle choices.

Lazy or uninspired production choices

There is no barrier to producing music these days, but as a result the long tail of modern day music production is pretty mediocre. Over-reliance on sample libraries, loops, already sourced and preset sounds, triggers (give me some real drum kit sounds please!!!) are all things that turn off my ear because of the lack of originality. It is a long and significantly tougher road to go down to create your own sounds, hone in on the details and find your individual aesthetic, but it is much more worthwhile.

Lack of dynamics

The digital age brought the loudness wars and over-compression. Things did gradually get better but I would argue that there is still so much music that completely disregards dynamic quality to ensure the audio gets into your face in a rather obnoxious way.

Retromania

I’ve been reading Simon Reynold’s book and since the 2000s music has struggled to come up with its own identity and feel. Instead we have seen new artists openly wearing the influence of the latter 20th century decades on their sleeves. The result is music that doesn’t offer much new. Rock music has become the new classic music in many ways and new artists have sometimes deliberately just recycled the acts of the 70s or 80s and built their act entirely on that. The overbearing nostalgia in my opinion is a bit boring and I am keen to hear artists willing to try different things and embrace the future a bit more.

There are quite a few issues I have managed to raise that don’t sit well with me, there is a lot of music I absolutely love, and in another article, I’ll follow up with what it is I tend to like when it comes to music.

What are your thoughts. Do you agree or disagree with me? Feel free to leave a comment below because I love talking about this kind of stuff!

Thanks as always for reading.