Posts Tagged ‘ Jeff Martin ’

Album of the Week 41-2018: The Tea Party – The Edges Of Twilight

Curiosity about world music is natural for every rock band inspired by Led Zeppelin’s latter days. Very few make the leap of actually learning to play indigenous instruments beyond some rudimentary percussion though. This is exactly what The Tea Party did to further emphasize their – mainly – Indian and North African influences on ‘The Edges Of Twilight’. It takes the idea of incorporating these sounds further than just adding some melodies that vaguely sound like the western idea of Arabic or Indian music. And quite surprisingly, the Canadian trio manages to still sound like a powerful rock band while doing so.

Ever the ambitious band, The Tea Party created a densely layered album, but in a way that can also be played with just three people. The arrangements on ‘The Edges Of Twilight’ are securely anchored within their trio line-up, after which bassist Stuart Chatwood and singer/guitarist Jeff Martin have added touches of traditional instruments. However, the world music is in Martin’s Gibsons almost as much as it is in the indigenous instruments through extensive use of twelve string guitars and Indian and Arabic minor scales. It all accounts for an immersive listening experience that is slightly dark, but never depressive.

Since the band’s earliest shows, they have been accused of copying Led Zeppelin and borrowing a string phrase from ‘Kashmir’ in opening track ‘Fire In The Head’ probably wasn’t very beneficial to dispelling that criticism, but the fact is that there is much more to the song than that. Martin’s deep voice sets the somewhat seductive tone of the tune immediately and the riff work is extremely powerful. Even more powerful is the following ‘The Bazaar’, on which a monumental guitar riff is doubled by Chatwood’s harmonium. The song is relatively simple in construction, but still manages to move through several moods.

Highlighting the album are undoubtedly the epics ‘Sister Awake’ and ‘Walk With Me’. The former starts out as a calm, folky tune, but quickly builds from an exciting percussive middle break to a monster of a dark rocker, while ‘Walk With Me’ manages to combine the gloomy atmosphere of most of the album with a begging, almost bluesy character. ‘Silence’ and ‘Drawing Down The Moon’ have a more traditional bluesy inclination, with the latter having a truly incredible climax. ‘Correspondences’ is a gorgeous, dynamic ballad, while ‘The Badger’, ‘Shadows On The Mountainside’ and ‘Inanna’ are calmer songs that draw on folk influences from all over the world.

Ultimately, my only criticism of this album would be that ‘Turn The Lamp Down Low’ feels a little out of place on the record by being straight blues with added percussion, but the song itself is really good. As a whole, ‘The Edges Of Twilight’ is a very exciting album that takes a lot of interesting turns, despite their only being three guys. Martin and Chatwood should be happy that they can depend on a solid power hitter like Jeff Burrows, but it also helps that all the songs are extremely well-written. As for the accusations of being a Led Zeppelin copy: I’d say they took one idea Zep had and developed it further with spectacular results.

Recommended tracks: ‘Sister Awake’, ‘The Bazaar’, ‘Drawing Down The Moon’, ‘Walk With Me’

Album of the Week 48-2012: The Tea Party – Live From Australia

Lots of big reunion things these days. It’s only been weeks since the recordings of Led Zeppelin’s 2007 reunion gig surfaced, now it’s The Tea Party’s turn. Last year, the Canadian trio reformed after half a decade of inactivity and as this document proves, they haven’t lost their touch even in the slightest bit. This collection of recordings made during this year’s Reformation Tour shows The Tea Party is still inspired, powerful and compelling. Also, singer and guitarist Jeff Martin, bassist and keyboard player Stuart Chatwood and drummer Jeff Burrows are incredibly well attuned to each other still.

For those unfamiliar with this brilliant band: imagine what Led Zeppelin would have sounded like if they further developed the direction they had taken on ‘Kashmir’ with Jim Morrison on vocals. That’s not completely fair to the band, I find Martin to sound a lot more passionate than Morrison and The Tea Party has really taken the Moroccan Folk influenced sound to a higher ground. It’s created a hypnotizing atmosphere within their music and on their first four albums in particular. And those are the albums that are represented with the most tracks on here; only ‘Lullaby’ from 2001’s ‘The Interzone Mantras’ was released later.

As soon as you get halfway through the opening ten minute rendition of ‘The River’, it’s already obvious that The Tea Party doesn’t shy away from stretching out. With two songs past the ten minute mark and only three tracks (and the short instrumental ‘Winter Solstice’, which is hidden before ‘Sister Awake’, but mentioned nowhere in the track listing) under five minutes, this is clearly a show of epic proportions. And that’s where experiencing this album comes out best. The intense acoustic Blues of ‘Sun Going Down’ opens with a rendition of the classic Gospel song ‘Nobody’s Fault But Mine’ and builds towards a goosebumps inducing closing two minutes. Absolutely beautiful. ‘Save Me’ – featuring Martin on esraj and violin bowed guitar – is of similar length and works towards a number of fantastic climaxes. Other highlights include a thrilling version of ‘Halcyon Days’ and the mind blowing experience that is closing track ‘Sister Awake’. Both of these songs are “only” around eight minutes long.

If you get the DVD or Blu-ray, the beautiful performance of only the Sydney show – the CD gives you a compilation of recordings of all the Australian shows – is presented to you in absolutely flawless, razor sharp images with an enormous dosage of blue light. It all adds to the hypnotizing experience. And seeing Burrows attack his drum kit is nothing short of inspiring. The only criticism I could have is that I sometimes miss the bass on the songs on which Chatwood plays keyboards, but that’s usually covered just fine. I guess it’s just that I like his bass playing so much.

Word on the street is that The Tea Party is currently writing music for a new album. That would be just amazing, as this live collection proves that these guys are still among the best bands in the world. Just let the music speak for itself; it is bound to take you on a journey. If you need help to chose between formats: I’d just get both the CD version and the video version of whatever video system you possess. They’re different recordings and just seeing these guys play is simply overwhelming. Let’s just hope it won’t take too long before their new album can be the album of that particular week.

Recommended tracks: ‘Sun Going Down’, ‘Sister Awake’, ‘Halcyon Days’, ‘Save Me’, ‘The River’