Tuesday, 24 April 2018

"Moral Clarity" on Dandelion Radio's Rocker show...

Just listening to Rocker's as always excellent show on Dandelion Radio, and what do I hear? "Moral Clarity" from the new "Rattle The Asylum Bars"

Cheers, Rocker!

Monday, 23 April 2018

Listening to Beau with Alexa or Google Home...

Hmm, Top Tip for Tecchies!

If you use either the excellent Amazon Alexa or Google Home to play your music, say "Alexa (or Hey Google), play the album Rattle The Asylum Bars (or Creation, Fly The Bluebird or any of the others) by Beau B E A U"

It's important to spell out the name - saves the poor lambs from confusion! 

All this will I'm sure be sorted after Brexit.

Sunday, 22 April 2018

Brum Radio plays "The Rose"...

Many thanks to Mike Davies for playing "The Rose" on Brum Radio's Alternative Roots this lunchtime.

Greatly appreciated, Mike!

Saturday, 21 April 2018

"Rattle The Asylum Bars" on Brum Radio...

A little bird tells me discerning people listening to Mike Davies' "Alternative Roots" show at noon tomorrow on Brum Radio may well hear something from "Rattle Then Asylum Bars"

It's streamed as well, of course. 

Just something I've picked up on the grapevine...

"Rattle The Asylum Bars" lyrics now posted...

Over time, many people have asked for chord info on a whole number of album tracks. If you’re a guitar or keyboard player and need the chords for a particular tune, do feel free to message me individually. 

Many thanks…

Friday, 20 April 2018

"Rattle The Asylum Bars" #1...

"Rattle The Asylum Bars" has hit #1 in Amazon's Folk Chart! 

Many thanks to everyone for making it my second album in succession to make the top spot.

"Rattle The Asylum Bars" in FLAC...

Good news for audiophiles who prefer their downloads uncompressed! 

From this afternoon, all 7Digital sites worldwide are carrying "Rattle The Asylum Bars" in 16-bit FLAC


"Rattle The Asylum Bars" - climbing...

Great stuff!

"Rattle The Asylum Bars" is presently at #2 in the Amazon Folk Chart - and rising?

"Rattle The Asylum Bars" - RELEASE DAY!

It’s release day! My 2018 album, “Rattle The Asylum Bars”, became available at midnight. Thanks and well done to Cherry Red!

Major sites (including of course the Amazons and iTunes) are already carrying the new set, so please do feel free to check it out, rate and review. It really does make a big difference!

As always, my weapon of choice is “Big 12”, my trusted 1967 Harmony 12-string guitar; and as always, the fare is varied. Amongst the topics on the new album; the tragic events at Charlie Hebdo in 2015, modern-day radicalising, prohibition America, the shifting politics of lottery winners and more. Even Adolph Hitler’s mother gets a look in!

“Rattle The Asylum Bars” is also already streaming on Spotify, Deezer and all your other favourite streaming services. I hope you like it!


Thursday, 19 April 2018

Folking.com reviews "Rattle The Asylum Bars"...

On the eve of the release of my new album, "Rattle The Asylum Bars", (it's out at MIDNIGHT TONIGHT, folks!) comes this excellent and detailed review from Folking.com

Many thanks indeed to Mike Davies!

Here's what the man says...


BEAU – Rattle The Asylum Bars (Cherry Red BEAURTAB1)

Released almost forty-nine years to the day since his first-ever John Peel recording sessions, approaching 72, his latest release and his tenth studio album, Rattle The Asylum Bars, finds Christopher John Trevor Midgley at his politically sharpest on a collection of thirteen songs that underline why he’s been referred to as England’s answer to Phil Ochs.

Armed with just his trusty 12-string Harmony guitar, the album’s topics range from Prohibition and lottery winners to Charlie Hebdo, opening with ‘Road To Valhalla’, a fierce strummed meditation on the ascent of mankind from its early origins that touches on both the idea of shared community through song and the tendency to shun outsiders for “fear of being displaced.”

With its circling fingerpicked chords and echoes of John Prine, ‘The Rose’ concerns a more specific subject, the death of young student Rachel Whitear in 2000 from a drugs overdose, but here told from the perspective of a medic attending yet another such incident of “the barbed wire wrapped around the rose.” Inspired by hearing the late Ian Paisley holding forth in the Houses of Parliament, not to mention the sanctimoniousness of the likes of Tony Blair and George Bush, ‘Moral Clarity’ sets a driving Bo Diddley riff to a playful but pointed swipe at those so blindly convinced of their own rectitude they refuse to countenance any other views.

Taking the pace down to a fairground folksy waltz, ‘People Like Me’ continues along much the same lines, referencing climate change, freedom of speech and such issues with a refrain about how the ‘right-thinking people’ (and the emphasis is on the political right, I suspect) are those who agree with you. Probably not one for Daily Mail subscribers.

The focus shifts to America for ‘The Angry Preacher’, a fingerpicked song about how the country’s noted philanthropists tend to be admired but rarely loved, based around a funeral and a wake and the cynical suspicion that such charity must hide some inner rot. We remain Stateside, slipping back several decades almost a century for ‘Bugs Moran’, another urgently delivered bluesy melody line and a delivery evocative of Jake Thackray that returns to the time of Prohibition for a narrative about the titular mobster, a rival to Al Capone who, having decided to sleep in (though the song has him watching from a coffee house), escaped being shot in the infamous St Valentine’s Day massacre.

It’s back to politics for the stately circular melody of ‘The Apathy Party’, a title that pretty much makes any comment on its lyrical content redundant, and from here to ‘The Hedgerows of England’, a shanty-like Swiftian commentary on how the unexpected acquisition of wealth via the lottery can shift political allegiance, the song couched in a member of the Establishment offering some advice on “oppressing the masses for profit and sport” to a new Country Member arrivee to the ranks.

One of the longer tracks, ‘The Hawk’ is another waltzer, an allegorical message to impetuous youth to fly responsibly on how not to embark on things you cannot conclude in the tale of a young bird learning to spread its wings, getting into difficulties and reminded that “take-off is optional, and landing is not.”

By way of departure from the other numbers, ‘The Ghost Train’ is a straightforward storysong about an old puppeteer and a bride and the forces of evil being abroad, set on All Hallows Eve. It’s back then to more serious concerns for the fingerpicked near seven-minute ‘The Only Soldier To Turn Up For The War’, a meditation on the possible reasons behind the Islamic radicalisation in prison of a young and troubled teenage Muslim girl, the victim of a dysfunctional family, drugs and abuse, turned into a suicide bomber. A song that seeks for explanations rather than simple condemnations, it’s a powerful, thought-provoking piece of work.

So too, in a different way is ‘Klara’, which, as historians may know, was the name of Adolf Hitler’s mother, the song referring to the premonition she’d had prior to his birth of the horrors he would bring and the claims that she’d wanted to terminate the pregnancy. As such, the song extends beyond historical record to address the whole Pro-Life/Pro-Choice debate and the division been moral absolutists and polemicists regarding balancing he life of one against the lives of the many.

Inspired by both the tragedy and the heroic defiance of the Charlie Hebdo shootings, it ends with the title track, a rhythmically choppy number set to a tune that echoes Tim Hardin’s ‘Black Sheep Boy’, about the right to freedom of the press to poke fun at sacred cows and how “we cannot in the world exempt Anything from out contempt. To do would betray…this liberty we value most.”

Beau may not have the contemporary cachet of a Billy Bragg or a Frank Turner, but his voice for change and awareness is as strong as any of them.

Mike Davies

Friday, 13 April 2018

Lyrics & stories behind "Rattle The Asylum Bars" published next Friday...

...and the good news is the lyrics to, and stories behind, all the songs on the new "Rattle The Asylum Bars" album will be published online next Friday (release day).

Stay tuned!

Wednesday, 11 April 2018

NEW! 12StringBeau playlist on Spotify...

Something to make life easier for existing or would-be Spotifiers! 

I've created a playlist bringing together all my Spotify-released material into one playlist - 12StringBeau. Feel free to Follow! 

I've done this so there'll be no more confusions with the recent proliferation of acts also using the name Beau - the New York drum 'n' bass guy, the female singing duo, the Thai chanteuse to name but three. 

All my full albums are there except "Edge Of The Dark" (Angel Air don't stream) and "Twelve Strings to the Beau" (vinyl only!). 

So, that's 131 songs and over seven hours of music now all in one place. Enjoy!

Monday, 9 April 2018

It's Psychedelic Baby reviews "Rattle The Asylum Bars"...

Another great review of the upcoming "Rattle The Asylum Bars" set; this time from It's Psychedelic Baby mag

Many thanks to Brian Banks.


Beau - “Rattle the Asylum Bars” (2018) review

Almost 49 years to the day after his first recording session for John Peel’s Dandelion label that brought 1917 Revolution to the west, Russia and a hit in Lebanon, comes a download album from Cherry Red entitled Rattle The Asylum Bars. This could also be a title for the recently prolific 12-string maestro’s entire work this century. Beau has developed and woven threads from his first two albums for Dandelion around 1970 into a rich tapestry that places him among the foremost musical commentators of English life and the world today.

But they are also at times universal themes that, as the American mag Dagger Zine recently noted, ‘would make Phil Ochs or Robert Zimmerman proud’. Others like Harmonic Distortion wrote, ‘in a fairer world Beau would be a much-valued cultural treasure, up alongside Dylan, Mitchell, Cohen and the like’. Listening to his work would easily prove such statements are not mere hyperbole, simply happenstance combined with absent music corporations today no longer interested in great work but only dollar signs (if that’s the currency they trade in). Beau is as relevant today as bitcoins, whistleblowers, digital formats and the deep state…not overlooking the reasons behind why they exist. Out of this comes independent labels like Cherry Red devoted to class not crass, with singer-songwriters sharing their vision of contemporary times based on erudition not perdition. Hear the words and insights, Beau is a poet in song. 

Like the age, themes are a broad canvas as with all his career: from Charlie Hebdo in the tradition of European satirical magazines, modern radicalizing, apathy politics and lottery winners, to American prohibition, tragic death, even Hitler’s mother for those finding it hard to imagine the Austrian had one. Appropriately the opener Road To Valhalla is a far-reaching sketch about the ascent of man and woman from the cradle of Africa’s Great Rift Valley. (Careful, don’t tell racists that there began our origins!) The subject of The Rose is given an unforgettable poignant setting, almost orchestral in its guitar range combined with voice for atmosphere, for a sad lonely death of a girl in a sea-side bedsit in 2000 still with the needle in her arm. The parents bravely allowed the scene to be published, and the lament-like song is from the viewpoint of a medic attending the incident knowing it is one among many. It suggests to this listener something of Dylan’s pseudonymous song John Brown about a soldier’s return to his family, broken and unrecognizable, as must have been the scene for Rachel Whitear’s parents adding to their loss. The fact that it’s a new song shows the lasting impression of the harrowing event, especially for parents.

The tub-thumping percussive punch of Moral Clarity contrasts with the similar-themed The Apathy Party where the lilting guitar style is as sarcastic as the words, well-aimed at those politicians and press who seek to drown us with noise instead of content, with their asinine assumptions of what people want or think. English satire at its best, on a trend predicted as long ago as the 1930s by Karl Kraus regarding journalism bought and paid for. Elections too in a time of apathy when candidates will never assume it reflects on them. They are in The Hedgerows Of England, the singer nonplussed to read that lottery winners are most likely to reverse their political allegiance after their windfall. Amusement comes with the helpful hints by an Establishment member welcoming a new joiner, opposite to the Two Ronnies comedy sketch about a new villager among them. The Establishment are supping behind their hedgerows while exploiting everybody else for ‘profit and sport’. The stop-start approach of The Angry Preacher is most appropriate, noted justice isn’t aided by those like National Geographic enriching them for their programmes. Beau raises the question what does ‘right thinking’ mean today in songs such as People Like Me. 

Bugs Moran is a fast-paced treatment on American interwar prohibition that was initially aimed against crime and mafia. With both being more widely diverse today, could it happen again? The Only Soldier To Turn Up For The War is a timely song about radicalism when all seems out of control. Some lines highlight the hypocritical attitude to women from co-religionist males in the west; unmentioned is that they are happy to wear infidel-symbol clothes nevertheless and unlike long centuries ago, the fight is unequal because religion against no-religion. The Hawk is a beautiful five-minute allegory about growing up nowadays (‘taking off is optional but landing is not’), the creature’s name and life is only a human interpretation after all. Allegory or metaphor is continued with The Ghost Train in its fairground of light where darkness is all around, and the speed of its journey like life itself. Klara tells us about the alleged premonition of Hitler’s mother to terminate her pregnancy, which alas proved to be one of the worst ever decisions not made. It has current validity too with the pro-life debate.

The 13-song cycle, at just under an hour with three over five minutes each, is concluded all-too quickly with the title track Rattle The Asylum Bars discussing press freedom. Charlie Hebdo, in a long line of august European satirical magazines across Europe, is actually less ‘pure’ than the media would want us to believe (e.g. it sacked a journalist who had found dirt on then-President Sarkozy) but the bigger picture is the point of the song. “Je suis/I am Charlie Hebdo” to me simply showed the pernicious decline of the language into Americanisation but this reviewer risks being seen to miss the point. Beau rightly points the finger at those who have vested interests in keeping populations behind their asylum bars, in its myriad contemporary forms. Freedom of the press is another example in danger. His label is to be applauded for keeping such a unique voice among us today, as they did with Kevin Coyne in his day and numerous others like him seeing the modern world for what it is during their four decades. 

Fixed historical events glimpsed from today like his last album are (mostly) absent, this time the palette is broader but always prescient because Beau has a knack of touching the electrodes of what currently concerns us, be they positive or negative, micro or macro. A career this long without a single filler is some achievement. The press image of the singer-songwriter in mug-shot mode behind barbed wire (the Rose and politics too) is appropriate. These are songs for brain (not mind) expanding, soul-and-heart enriching, deserving to be much wider known because of their integrity, knowledge and musical beauty by a true poet of song and virtuoso of the 12-string. Get it while you can!

Brian R. Banks