Entertainment Music

Keith’s a long way from Caboolture, and country


Keith Urban, THE SPEED OF NOW Part 1

(Capitol) ***1/2

The urbanisation of Keith is complete. You can take the boy out of Caboolture, and it seems you can take the Caboolture out of the boy, at least temporarily. When you first hit play on his new album the only clues to his country roots are the distant strains of banjo beneath the pounding pop (Out the Cage with Nile Rodgers and Breland). The follow-up track, his new single with P!nk, seals the deal. From there, though, he seems to ease back into more familiar territory. Live With is a wish list of life’s simple pleasures, while he channels Train on Superman and Richard Marx on Change Your Mind. A descending guitar riff drives Forever, one of the more genuinely country rockers on the album along with the twanging Tumbleweed. Swaying ballad Ain’t It Like a Woman tames the wayward male, while David Gilmour-style guitar elevates Better Than I Am. At 16 tracks it’s generous for a first-parter!


Ace Frehley, Origins Vol.2

(eOne) ****

A generation of rockers were influenced by the original KISS lead guitarist, and he in turn was influenced by those who came before him. On his second set of covers (inevitable after he called the first Vol.1) he tackles the big two: I’m Down is a refreshing choice of Beatles classic, while Jumpin’ Jack Flash, with smokin’ vocals by Lita Ford, rivals 2000 Man as Frehley’s best Stones cover. The Kinks’ Lola has added resonance in this age of trans awareness, and Frehley supports the Left while leaning to the Right on Cream’s Politician (he recently stumped for Trump). Deep Purple’s Space Truckin’ is the first single and obligatory space song, while She is the token KISS tune. Guest artists also include Bruce Kulick, Robin Zander and John 5, but the album is still unequivocally Ace.


Marilyn Manson, WE ARE CHAOS

(Loma Vista) ***1/2

You know these here are crazy times when Marilyn Manson is the voice of reason. It was the case in Bowling For Columbine and it’s the case in this era of Trumpalism. The relatively melodic title track is an anthem for the modern “f—ed up” generation, and while there’s the usual industrial edge, this outing overall seems more… human. Epic sweeping ballad PAINT YOU WITH MY LOVE channels ’70s John Lennon or Elton John. “Just cos you’re famous doesn’t mean you’re worth anything… you’re dead longer than you’re alive,” he reminds us on INFINITE DARKNESS. “Am I Superman or am I superstitious?” he asks on the rolling PERFUME, which recalls his more recent material.


Vika & Linda, Sunday (The Gospel According to Iso)

(Bloodlines) ***

From the Antichrist Superstar to something less sacrilegious… The Bull sisters’ voices are divine no matter the genre, but when they’re applied to gospel tunes the result is a religious experience. In a year in which everyone needs a soul revival, this lockdown-inspired effort obliges with its selection of uplifting gospel tunes. Standouts include Ain’t No Grave (Gonna Hold My Body Down), In the Land Where We’ll Never Grow Old (with Paul Kelly, who provided the seed for the project) and Simon & Garfunkel’s Bridge Over Troubled Water. Shallow Grave is an original work penned by Kasey Chambers.

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