Category Archives: Reviews

101 Great Albums. No.8: Tracy Chapman

Tracy Chapman emerged as a marketable artist in the late 1980’s, with the release of a self-titled album that sold in its millions.

Tracy Chapman was recorded over an eight-week period at Powertrax studio in Hollywood. As many as thirty different bass players and drummers were invited to come in to play with her.

Having performed acoustic sets for the past decade from the perspective of protest rather than marketability or eventual stardom, Chapman initially struggled to come to terms with the agglomeration of accompaniment – eventually settling on recording her sections separately, with the additional instrumentation added later on.

The exception to this rule is the stirring “Behind the Wall”, which remained A cappella with a subtle reverberation shift confirming its status as the LP’s most haunting sample.

Tracy Chapman album

The album opens with “Talkin’ Bout a Revolution,” a song that embodies the ethos of a performer who grew up surrounded by poverty in Ohio, awash with aspirations to affect change upon the world.

The running order of the other ten songs on Tracy Chapman was determined by writing titles out on three-by-five inch cards and shuffling them around in different sequences.

Single releases such as “Fast Car” and “Baby Can I Hold You?” have been relentlessly covered, re-interpreted, and karaoke-fied in recent years, but the original cuts retain an integrity that none of the newer versions come close to emulating (Sorry Boyzone!)

Although an almost inevitable midsection malaise succeeds those big hitters, the compelling opening sequence of penultimate track “If Not Now” leads into some of Chapman’s most exquisite vocal dexterity of the entire album, with the post-production adding a flourish as it tumbles towards a precise conclusion.

Having spent the best part of a decade performing the majority of these songs before the album’s release in 1988, it is perhaps unsurprising that Chapman was unable to scale such heady heights with future releases.

Tracy Chapman’s music remains defined by the raw, unaffected essence of her inaugural release, an album which retains its place at the apex of folk-rock storytelling, more than quarter of a century after setting her on the road to stardom. 

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Ashes Spotlight: Broad Walk Empire

And so it came to pass that less than two months after being mocked and written off, Alastair Cook and his troops regained the Ashes during a Test match that lasted a little over two days, as Australia were undone by world-class swing bowling and poor shot selection.

Stuart Broad took the headlines, deservedly so, for his sensational spell on the first morning. The absence through injury of usual pack-leader Jimmy Anderson necessitated one of his underlings stepping-up, and the Nottinghamshire seamer was happy to oblige.

8 wickets for 15 runs in 9.3 Overs obliterated an Australian line-up seemingly perplexed by cloud cover induced seam movement that saw a procession of dismissals, and a pitiful final total of just 60 all-out.

Root Gains

England were batting before lunch on day one, Joe Root (130) and Johnny Bairstow (74) consolidating a powerful position, and Moeen Ali’s rapid 39 nudging the lead up to a daunting 330 runs.

Australia batted better second time round, assisted by England’s decline in the field, but Ben Stokes backed up an incredible, one-handed first innings pouch with career best figures of 6-36 to see the home side through early on day three, the eventual margin a gargantuan innings and 77 runs.

Records Tumble

Stokes was England’s fourth different bowler to take six or more wickets in the past four Test innings, the first occurrence of this in the history of the game. Stuart Broad’s 8-15 was the best single innings Test bowling recorded at Trent Bridge, and he leapt to 308 career dismissals to go past the great Fred Trueman.

In addition, Joe Root climbed to number one in the  world rankings, the first time he’s achieved the feat in his career.

All in all it’s been a wonderful summer for English cricket. The Ashes Test series concludes at the Oval, with the match scheduled for a Thursday start.

England player ratings

Barmy Army

Alastair Cook (Captain)
43 & DNB

The calls for his demotion have long since faded away. Alastair Cook; a leader reborn, a previously rearguard, meek skipper transformed into a blood lusting tiger.

His score of 43 was well made until he played around a straight, full one from Mitchell Starc. Despite moderate contributions with the willow throughout the Ashes, Cook’s excellence at the helm has re-invigorated the squad.


Adam Lyth
14 & DNB

The one continual blemish on an otherwise excellent series for England, Lyth currently resembles a badly wounded deer waiting to be put out of his misery.

A couple of eye-catching cover drives were followed by a plodding forward defensive, a tickle of an edge caught behind, and a lonely walk back to the pavilion – a pattern in keeping with Lyth’s Ashes career thus far. Time to cut losses, promote Moeen and bring Rashid in as a front-line spinner.


Ian Bell
1 & DNB

The ecstasy of Edgbaston made way for the turbulence of Trent Bridge, with Bell failing to build on the success he enjoyed at his home ground.

Despite the blip, his experience at number three gives England’s line-up a credibility long lacking, and although the talented Gary Ballance shouldn’t be written off, it is Bell who remains the best option in this most vital of positions.


Joe Root
130 & DNB

Took his tally for the series to 442 runs at an average of almost 74 with a defiant 130 that once again set him apart from every other batsman in the match.

The only potential long-term negative was the exacerbation of a long-standing back problem, which noticeably bothered Root in the latter stages of his innings, hopefully it’s something that won’t hinder his continued ascendency, sitting as he does at the summit of the Test batting rankings for the first time.


Masked Wrestler Cricket

Johnny Bairstow
74 & DNB

Probably secured his selection, at least for the short-term, with an attacking half century amassed in difficult circumstances.

Bairstow and Root’s positive intent is hopefully a sign of things to come from England’s eminently gifted middle order, although the former continues to desperately seek his first Test hundred, having already gained 16 caps.


Ben Stokes
5 & 6-36

The young all-rounder has already gained a reputation as something of a maverick match-winner, albeit usually with bat in hand. This time it was his divine bowling that dragged England over the line.

An inspired spell doused what had threatened to be a decent Aussie comeback, with Stokes finding levels of consistency previously not evident. His wonder-catch remains the abiding snap-shot of this one-sided contest.


Jos Buttler (Wicket-Keeper)
12 & DNB

Another tidy display behind the timbers, although Buttler’s dearth of runs has seen his average drop from the mid 50’s to the high 30’s during this series.

The fact that his place is not under pressure owes much to the obvious impromptu genius he possesses, as well as the afore mentioned glove-work.


Moeen Ali
39 & 0-34

His quick-fire knock of 39 shouldn’t deserves more than to be glossed over, dragging as it did any lingering Mitchell Starc generated momentum away from Australia by the manner in which it was scored.

The conditions weren’t conducive to spin bowling, with Moeen’s six overs going at almost a run-a-ball. Could find himself promoted from number eight to opening if Adil Rashid is blooded next week.


Barmy Army

Mark Wood
28 & 4-82 (1-13/3-69)

Replaced the injured Jimmy Anderson, and had a memorable match. Supported the rampant Broad in the first innings, and bowled with channelled aggression in the second.

His bludgeoning knock of 28, having come in as night-watchman, demoralised an already downbeat opposition bowling attack. Likely to make way if Anderson is declared fit for the Oval, and would be very unfortunate if that’s the case.


*Stuart Broad*
24* & 9-47 (8-15/1-32)

His spell on the first morning virtually secured the Ashes, with the overcast conditions perfectly exploited by a bowler who has found his best rhythm once again this summer.

Likewise, Broad’s batting is on the rise, and he made another handy contribution at Trent Bridge. Only ill-fortune stopped him from picking up another “5-fer” second time around, with ball regularly defeating bat without reward.


Steven Finn
0* & 1-63 (1-21/0-42)

One of the heroes of Edgbaston, Finn was altogether lower-key here, although one glorious in-swinger castled the dangerous Peter Nevill – the only Australian not dismissed via a catch in their debacle of a first innings.

England’s unexpected abundance of in-form quick bowlers could put Finn under immediate pressure, but he deserves a run in the side having seemingly rediscovered his rhythm after several years of strife.


Following this embarrassing turnover, Australia captain Michael Clarke announced that he will retire after the series, with around half a dozen other Australian players speculated to follow suit.

In the space of less than a couple of months Australia’s cricket world has collapsed, while England have rarely looked in ruder health. The Oval promises an inevitable England victory, but let’s not get ahead of ourselves just yet!

A full review of England’s series will follow the Oval Test.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Ashes Watch: Finn-spirational England!

Win, loss, win, loss, win, loss, win… Not the start of a hastily penned poem, but England’s results in their past seven Test matches.

Steven Finn

Following a 405-run stuffing at Lord’s, England’s selectors refrained from any major amendments, instead tweaking the batting line-up by replacing the out-of-sorts Gary Ballance with his very in-form Yorkshire colleague Johnny Bairstow, and promoting Ian Bell and Joe Root one place in the order.

One enforced change meant that the weary Mark Wood was rested, with Steven Finn given the latest opportunity of his frustratingly sporadic international career.

Fantastic Finn

The latter proved to be the catalyst for a three-day victory, with a second innings Test best bowling analysis of 6-79 ensuring that the home side only had to chase 121 to regain the lead in this intriguing, albeit error-strewn, series.

Equally uplifting were the return to form of Ian Bell on his home patch, Moeen’s continued consistency and Jimmy Anderson’s mesmeric first innings spell that resulted in an Ashes best-bowling return of 6-47, although a side strain rules him out of the fourth Test, meaning that England will turn to Stuart Broad to lead the attack.

Other than the injury to Anderson, the continued malaise of Adam Lyth becomes increasingly prevalent with each meek dismissal, and Jos Buttler could use a knock of substance to accompany his pristine glove-work.

England third Test ratings

Alastair Cook (Captain)
34 & 7

Batted with sublime precision until unfortunately lodging a lusty pull-shot straight into the ample bread-basket of a cowering Adam Voges for one of the more peculiar dismissals of his career.

Smartly rotated his attack, using Finn in brief bursts and setting attacking fields that proved too tempting for most of the Australian batsmen. Another failure in the second innings was outweighed by the aura of Cook’s newly found comfort in the lead role.

6/10 (Batting: 4/10, Captaincy: 8/10)

Adam Lyth
10 & 12

Two more failures for a player who is threatening to earn the “passenger” tag if he doesn’t step up at Trent Bridge next week.

A worrying trend of collapsing towards leg-stump continues to undermine a player with the capacity to fill a role that has been an English weakness since Andrew Strauss retired in 2012. Will have to produce soon with Alex Hales waiting patiently in the wings.


Ian Bell
53 & 65*

Edgbaston Test was widely reported as a last chance saloon for Bell, whose rotten sequence of scores had placed him under the spotlight, with a gaggle of younger players touted as replacements.

Ian Bell

Thankfully the veteran excelled during cap number 113, providing the glue in both innings, to eventually see England over the line on day three in front of his home crowd. Looked instantly at ease occupying the tricky slot at number three.


Joe Root
63 & 38*/ 0-7

Another whose promotion was a success, Root is England’s go-to player these days, and the Vice-Captain once again stepped up on a tricky surface with two more valuable contributions.

Plays with the freedom of an unburdened soul who relishes the heat of battle, as he continues to torment bowlers from all over the globe with his aesthetically alluring displays – none of whom have yet found a reliable solution.


Johnny Bairstow
5 & DNB

25 year-old’s recall arrived courtesy of majestic county form, where he’s been averaging more than 100 for Yorkshire this season, and can’t really be judged on this brief appearance.

A rip-snorter of a Mitchell Johnson bouncer did for the raven-haired middle order man, who had to be in good form just to nick it! Likely to be retained for the foreseeable future.


Ben Stokes
0 & DNB/ 1-28

Like Bairstow, Stokes received a brutal Johnson half-tracker that almost took his head off, so it’s difficult to be critical of that dismissal (it wasn’t like, say, jumping over the ball and being run-out!)

Ben Stokes

Only bowled 11 overs due to the excellence of the rest of England’s seam attack, but was on point and tidy throughout a prolonged spell that covered for Anderson’s absence on the third day.

4/10 (Batting: 1/10, Bowling: 7/10)

Jos Buttler (wicket-keeper)
9 & DNB

Took a couple of spectacular pouches behind the timbers, as his ‘keeping continues to excel in tricky circumstances.

That is fortunate in light of yet more uncertainty at the crease. A scratchy 38-ball knock of 9 can be partially justified by overcast conditions and a spicy track, but the cold hard facts are that Buttler has yet to contribute more than 27 in his five Ashes innings.

5/10 (Batting: 2/10, Wicket-Keeping: 8/10)

Moeen Ali
58 & 1-64

Time and again Moeen has frustrated his Aussie counterparts with quick-fire runs among the lower order, with some saying that his improvement against the short ball validates him as the best option to open alongside Cook.

His half-century propelled England’s lead from a reasonable 54 to a daunting 145, and he took the vital wicket of Mitchell Starc, who had threatened to make a match of it with a tail-end 50 of his own.

7/10 (Batting: 8/10, Bowling: 6/10)

Stuart Broad
31 & DNB /2-44 & 1-61

It’s a joy to see Broad batting well again, those handy contributions down the order had been sorely missed since breaking his nose in the summer of 2014, when India’s Varun Aaron squeezed a short ball betwixt helmet and grill.

As well as a responsibly compiled 31, Broad was the lesser of the trio of bowlers who tormented Australia in their first innings, and chipped in with another wicket second time round, although he’ll probably need to bowl even better in the absence of Anderson next week.

7/10 (Batting: 7/10, Bowling: 7/10)

*Steven Finn*
0* & DNB/ 2-38 & 6-79

What a recall! Finn could barely have wished for a more productive return to the Test fold. From the embryonic deliveries of an imposing first day burst, it was clear that the 6 foot 7 inch fast-bowler barely resembled the crest-fallen trundler who was sent home early from the 2013-14 series “down under”.

Then One-Day coach Ashley Giles had described him as “unselectable”, after this display he may be indispensable. At 26 years old the hope is that he has finally come of age, six years after he initially burst onto the international scene.


Jimmy Anderson
3 & DNB/ 6-47 & 1-15

Back to his very best, Anderson had the ball swinging both ways at close to 90mph, perplexing all of the Australian batsmen who became unsure whether to play or leave, resulting in the demise of half a dozen by the second morning.

Jimmy Anderson

The crowd relished this skilful exhibition from the king of swing, who also celebrated his 33rd birthday on day two of the match. The only downside was a side-strain that rules him out of the reckoning for Trent Bridge, although it’s hoped that he’ll recover in time for the climax at the Oval.


That’s more like it! England and Australia resume hostilities at Trent Bridge next week, but will we actually witness a match that makes it into the fifth day? As usual Kureen will be keeping an eye on the action!

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

July Playlist: Music Reviews

Jonathan O’Shea returns with a new monthly column reviewing the best music releases of the month. For July he’s selected a quartet of “must hear” tracks for Kureen subscribers to get their lug holes around.

Bodyline – Peaches

Ripe as ever, the pornographic priestess Peaches is back. Typically lascivious and with trademark urgency, ‘Bodyline’ is – somewhat disappointingly – not about the 1932/33 Ashes tour (ask your great-granddad). Instead, it’s more about her familiar themes of submitting to animalistic impulses and seeking personal freedom.

Implicit references to willies are fewer than usual, as the returning electro queen corrals the guitar skills of Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ Nick Zinner to augment her belligerent vocal style. Two-and-a-half minutes of insistent suggestiveness climaxes in wailing sirens on this interim single, released ahead of her forthcoming new album (released in September). As Peaches preaches: “Don’t knock it ‘til you try it”.

Go – The Chemical Brothers ft Q-Tip

Grand Old Dukes of electronica, The Chemical Brothers, are also back among the airwaves, re-uniting with rap royalty, Q-Tip (following up their impressive collaboration on 2008’s ‘Galvanize’). ‘Go’ begins amid frantic bongos and slashing light-sabres (honestly); and Q-Tip’s muscular rap provides the backbone for a familiar Daft Punk-style synth-a-thon.

This dancefloor-friendly slice is escorted by a characteristically oblique Michel Gondry video. Gondry, who has previously conjured magical moving images to accompany the sounds of (among others) the White Stripes, Metronomy and Paul McCartney, presents an alluring troupe of overgrown Oompa-Loompas practicing sailing drills/Morris dancing in a futuristic fortress. At least that’s my interpretation of it.

‘Cause I’m a Man – Tame Impala

Australia’s Tame Impala have received an avalanche of positive acclaim for their third album, ‘Currents’, which apparently expands their repertoire from psych-rock to electro, disco and new romanticism. This dreamy, 80s-flavoured Prince-esque letter of apology for being ‘typically male’ (i.e. acting before thinking) is a good indicator of the new direction.

The band’s musical mastermind, Kevin Parker, has stated his aim to hear their latest creations emanating from dancefloors – presumably rather than the bedroom windows of stoned students. This stylish slow groove could fulfil that wish in a last-song-of-the-night kind of way.

Dreams – Beck

Not another Fleetwood Mac cover, mercifully. But pop is constantly chewing on itself and, here, alt-veteran Beck serves up an MGMT-flecked melange: the song’s eclectic feel shamelessly recalls their ‘Electric Feel’. It works brilliantly; even threatening to infiltrate the ‘mainstream’ by featuring in TV ads and various musical montages of late.

Reminiscent of his upbeat ‘Guero’-era danceable demi-anthems, this track – devoted to the restorative power of dreams – is thickly layered with catchy aural confections. Never outstaying its welcome at five minutes, it’s surely the funksome highpoint of Beck’s meandering later career.

Also recommended this month


Kings Never Die – Eminem ft Gwen Stefani.

Comeback rant featuring boxing legend Riddick Bowe (in the lyrics, sadly not rapping.)

What Went Down – Foals.

Lung-bursting, stock-in-trade anthem by the ascendant kings of UK guitar music.

Them Changes – Thundercat.

Soul-stirring stuff from bass boss Stephen Bruner.

Tune in again next month to see which tracks J O’S selects as August’s top tunes. Let us know your thoughts in the comment section below!

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.

Ashes Watch: Old wounds opened for England

England headed to Lord’s for the second Ashes Test match of the summer following an impressive 169-run victory in Cardiff, only to endure four days of turmoil at the hands of a vengeful Australian side.

Having won the coin toss Australia batted first on a docile track, racking up a score of 566 for 8 declared over the course of five destructive sessions, Steven Smith compiling a career best 215, and veteran Chris Rogers a Test high 173, the latter having been dropped early on by the hapless Adam Lyth.

Tough at the top

England’s response was almost immediately in tatters, four top order wickets tumbling in the face of some brutal fast bowling. Despite a decent recovery courtesy of captain Alastair Cook (96) and all-rounder Ben Stokes (87), England ended their innings more than 250 runs adrift.

Australia batted again, and once more the pitch seemed lifeless, England’s bowlers toiling under scoreboard pressure and against confident, skilled opponents.

Set a notional 512 to win, the home side were completely blown away this time, all out for a spineless 103, with Ben Stokes’ risible run-out (see video above) the nadir.


England’s selectors have retorted by ditching the out-of-sorts Gary Ballance and calling up the very in-form Johnny Bairstow to take his place.

In the past Bairstow has struggled to step up to the top table, but his County form, he averages more than 100 with the bat for Yorkshire this season, indicates that this is a young player very much in the ascendency.

For old hands like Ian Bell it’s probably now or never, with those in the know claiming that he must perform at his home ground of Edgbaston next week, or else face being discarded like a used tissue – the heat is on.

England second Test ratings

Alastair Cook (Captain)
96 & 11

One of the few home players to come out of the match with any credit. Cook showed plenty of fortitude to compile a painstaking 96 when all about him shouldered arms, the only pity is that he didn’t go on to make a deserved ton.

Alastair Cook

His captaincy wasn’t helped by a deliberately lifeless pitch which backfired spectacularly on England, failing to negate Australia’s quicker through the air attack, whilst blunting the likes of Mark Wood and Jimmy Anderson who rely predominantly on the pitch.

6.5/10 (7/10 batting, 6/10 captaincy)

Adam Lyth
0 & 7

In his most crippling nightmares Lyth wouldn’t have forecast anything this gloomy.

Not only did he drop two critical catches, he (briefly) batted without sense, appearing entirely out of his depth, like a toddler trying to negotiate Niagra Falls with the aid of a cheap float. Is fortunate to keep his place, probably saved by his century against New Zealand a couple of matches earlier.


Gary Ballance
23 & 14

After a golden inaugural year on the Test scene, Ballance has inevitably found life harder during his second summer of five-day cricket.

A weakness against the short ball has been remorselessly exposed by both New Zealand and Australia this summer, and whilst it may seem harsh for the Zimbabwe-born southpaw to be dropped ahead of Lyth or Bell, it could be a good idea to remove him from the firing line until he explores his technical flaws further.


Ian Bell
1 & 11

After 112 Test caps, Bell finds himself under arguably the most intense scrutiny of his career, and with good reason. Since amassing a belligerent 143 in the Caribbean,  the 33 year-old has managed just one score of more than 29 in a dozen innings.

Previous excellence has saved his bacon thus far, with a promotion to number three mooted for Edgbaston. Another failure could see the man famously dubbed “Sherminator” by Australia’s touring side a decade ago unceremoniously dumped back onto the county circuit.


Joe Root
1 & 17/2-55 & 0-32

Calls to promote Root to number three have so far fallen on deaf ears, but he was once again left to marshal the tail at the end of this match, trying to farm the strike in a vain attempt to delay the coffin being nailed shut.

Two failures with the bat for the in-form Vice-Captain, who had set Cardiff alight to strains of “Rooooot” a week earlier. His bowling continues to progress, but England will need him back to his best next week, with a promotion to number four on the cards.

4/10 (Batting: 2/10, Bowling 6/10)

Ben Stokes
87 & 0/0-77 & 0-20

After suffering a pasting with ball in hand, England’s all-rounder showcased his brutal batting ability, pummelling the three lions away from the ignominy of 30-4 on day two, as he and Cook combined for a fifth wicket stand of 145.

From there it was something of a match to forget, with Stokes’ comical second innings run-out (where he failed to ground his bat/anatomy despite being comfortably inside the crease) the enduring snap-shot of a lamentable collapse.

5/10 (Batting: 7/10, Bowling: 4/10, Daft run-out: -10/10)

Jos Buttler (Wicket-keeper)
13 & 11

Increasingly edgy at the crease, the effervescent Buttler of previous series has been replaced by a forlorn figure bereft of confidence, suffering a seemingly scrambled mindset every time he steps up to bat.

Buttler run out

Seemed unsure whether to attack or graft during England’s 2nd innings collapse, dismissed after a couple of unconvincing boundaries. The first real test of his international credentials. Did a decent job with the gloves.


Moeen Ali
39 & 0/ 1-138 & 2-78

The experiment of using Moeen, a batting all-rounder, as a front-line spinner who bats at number eight has thus far proven hit and miss. On one hand he continues to contribute useful runs from a lower order perspective, on the other he’s wasted amongst the tail and was comfortably out-bowled by opposing spinner Nathan Lyon.

An aesthetically pleasing 39 and the snaring of both Aussie wickets to fall in their second innings were positives, but Moeen went at almost 4.5 runs per over, lacking the control necessary in the context of the match.

5/10 (Batting: 5/10, Bowling: 5/10)

Stuart Broad
21 & 25/ 4-83 & 0-42

Broad, so often an Ashes pantomime villain in the past, actually has a decent record against Australia, and was one of only two touring players to leave the previous tour “down under” in credit.

This match was arguably a microcosm of that 2013-14 edition, with neat contributions throughout from the lofty Nottinghamshire paceman, including a defiant 25 which eked England beyond the 100 barrier as they toiled in the closing stages.

7/10 (Batting: 6/10, Bowling: 8/10)

Mark Wood
4 & 2*/ 1-92 & 0-39

The sparkle synonymous with the Durham seamer since his inclusion in the England side dimmed at Lord’s. Wood looked weary and uncertain, perhaps inevitable when considering the abundance of overs he’s slung down this summer.

The current recess arrived not a moment too soon for a bowler who leaves it all on the pitch every time he bowls. There’s no prospect of dropping a player destined to lead England’s attack in the future years, but nothing really went his way in a forgettable performance.


James Anderson
6* & 0/ 0-99 & 0-38

Not one of Jimmy’s finest matches, as England’s all-time leading wicket taker failed to add to his 406 Test scalps. In truth he never really looked a threat.

Jimmy Anderson

Will be desperate to find his lost rhythm before the teams line up at Edgbaston. Anderson is another whose position in the team is unlikely to come under immediate threat, but impotent displays in three of four summer Tests thus far have hinted that there might not be too much gas left in tank for a bowler who turns 33 on the opening day of next week’s encounter.


Can England bounce back next week after this humiliation? Share your thoughts in the comment section below. As usual we’ll give our ratings after the match.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

The Ashes 2015: 1st Test ratings/2nd Test preview


As usual Glenn McGrath was confident when predicting that Australia would see off their rivals with an unanswered quintet of Ashes Test wins.

Sadly for Glenn, this England team is far removed from the one that sunk “down under”, when Mitchell Johnson had opposing batsmen desecrating their whites as they tumbled like bowling pins in the face of 95mph deliveries aimed at their throats. It was a masterclass in intimidation.


The wait was worth it… so far

England have had to wait 18 months for their revenge, rebuilding a dispirited set-up in the process. Out have gone former blue-chippers Kevin Pietersen, Matt Prior, Jonathan Trott and Graeme Swann (who retired halfway through the whitewash.)

Instead England, replete with shiny new coaching staff, have taken a leaf from New Zealand’s book, placing emphasis on courageous youth to re-energise the group.

An emphatic 169-run victory in the first Test last week had almost all pundits rapidly re-evaluating the scene, Dom Kureen gives his ratings for each of the eleven who represented the Three Lions in Cardiff.


Player Ratings


Alastair Cook (Captain)
20 & 12

The intense pressure of leading his country has inevitably led to diminishing batting results from the 30 year-old, who was at one stage regarded as the premier opener in world cricket.

Another slightly disappointing batting display had attached to it the gargantuan caveat of Cook’s finest leadership to date. His inventive yet logical field placings and expert use of Moeen Ali were pivotal in the victory.

6.5/10 (4 for batting, 9 for captaincy.)

Adam Lyth
6 & 37

Yorkshireman looked at ease in his second innings knock of 37 before over embellishing to give his wicket away. 

Looks to have the technical ability and tenacity to eventually form an effective opening partnership with Cook, but needs to pick his spots rather than rely on adrenalin. Is learning how to cope at this level, but needs selectors to keep faith during what promises to be a steep curve.


Gary Ballance
61 & 0

Came into the series under media scrutiny for the first time in his embryonic Test career, his questionable technique against the short ball having been exposed by New Zealand earlier this summer.

A gritty, invaluable 61 was compiled despite the Zimbabwe born youngster’s patent lack of form, which is probably enough to keep him at number three for at least the next couple of matches.


Ian Bell
1 & 60

Another player who began the series under pressure, Bell was dismissed cheaply in the first innings, increasing the burden on the veteran’s shoulders as his strode out second time round earlier than he would have hoped.

A fluent 60 helped England to cruise from 22-2 to an eventual score of almost 300, effectively putting the match beyond Australia, and simultaneously re-emphasising Bell’s latterly found happy knack of chipping in when under fire.


*Joe Root*
134 & 60, 2-28

The undisputed man of the match and arguably the most exhilarating cricketing prospect on the planet. Root’s first innings century came at almost a run-a-ball, as England recovered from 43-3 to score 430. Aussie ‘keeper Brad Haddin stewing behind the stumps, having dropped the 24 year-old before he’d scored.

Joe RootA second innings half-century was followed up with two wickets at the tail-end of the fourth day. Root continues to leave a trail of dishevelled bowlers in his wake, while his spin bowling improves with each passing series.


Ben Stokes
52 & 42, 1-51 & 1-23

Batted with intent in both innings and bowled far better than his figures suggest. Stokes revels in playing Ashes cricket it seems, having stood out amid the chaos of England’s 5-0 reverse down under last time out.

Has certainly secured the number six spot for the foreseeable future; England’s faith in the Durham all-rounder justified after an extended sequence of imposing displays.


Jos Buttler (Wicket-Keeper)
27 & 7

England’s most innovative player kept wicket superbly throughout the match, placing opposite number Haddin firmly in the shade with his efficient, graceful glove work.

Buttler’s batting was disappointing, two cheap dismissals undermining his prodigious talent. As Geoffrey Boycott put it; “He’ll be very disappointed, he’s better than that!”

6/10 (4 for batting, 8 for wicket keeping)

Moeen Ali
77 & 15, 2-71 & 3-59

Targeted by more than one Australian bowler pre-series, Moeen batted formidably with the tail in the first innings in the face of some hostile pace rib-ticklers and bitter sledging.

His bowling was equally impressive, with an over-zealous baggy green middle order tempted, to their demise, by subtle variations in flight and pace. If Moeen lacked confidence beforehand he should be brimming with it heading to Lord’s after a top-notch all-round contribution.


Stuart Broad
18 & 4, 2-60 & 3-39

Prolonged rest, a result of England’s new one-day policy, seems to have given Broad time to find harmony in his bowling again, as he was almost 10 mph quicker here than during a fitful effort in the Caribbean earlier this year.

Stuart Broad

Charging in, Broad unsettled all of the Australian batsmen at one point or another, nipping five of them out in the process. His first innings partnership of 52 with Moeen helped England past 400, hopefully his previously handy lower-order batting continues to blossom as the series unfolds.


Mark Wood
7* & 32*, 2-66 & 2-53

A not so rough diamond, Wood was a bold selection during the New Zealand series, with his 90+ mph bowling and proficient tail-end batting an immediate hit with fans and team-mates alike.

That trend continued in Cardiff, with Wood expertly supporting the new ball pair of Broad and Anderson. His emphatic 32 not out from only 17 balls extracting the final gust of wind from Australia’s sails.


James Anderson
1 & 1, 3-43 & 0-33

England’s all-time leading wicket-taker made the new ball talk during a first innings opening burst that resulted in opposing bats being relentlessly beaten by late swing and lateral seam movement.

Used sporadically second time around, Jimmy filled in a tidy support role while Messrs Broad, Wood, Moeen and Root ripped through the Aussies like a lion tearing at the flesh of a narcoleptic kangaroo.


England line-up at Lord’s with an unchanged XI from the one that prevailed in Cardiff; will they be able to replicate last week’s dazzling display? Share your musings in the comment section below.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Bright Lights Come To Wight

Mr. B the Gentleman Rhymer, Too Many T’s and The Correspondents lit up Ryde venue Coburgs on Friday night, as organisers Galactic Ents once again provided a lively, unpredictable evening in stark contrast to much of the standard festive fare the Isle of Wight had on offer this season.

The Correspondents

A sell-out crowd of around 300 people paid between £14 and £16 to enter Coburgs’ hallowed dwelling, and experience a night of hip-hop, electro and drum and bass from a trio of prominent UK acts.

Embellishing those stellar entertainers on the bill were a host of DJs, including the maverick DJ Nipsy and dynamic Tom Headfunk, thus bequeathing ample scope for a lively audience to regain their composure between main sets.

Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer imparted idiosyncratic, banjo accompanied ‘chap-hop’ with his customary eloquent flair and periodic audience interaction, all whilst parading awe-inspiring facial furniture.

The staccato All Hail the Chap went down a treat and a handful of Christmas songs, including a Reggae interpretation of Band Aid’s increasingly abhorrent Do they Know it’s Christmas? and freestyles from the peanut gallery, were all pleasant enough,

The venue’s acoustics were a mite unstable at times, some diction fizzing beneath the radar due to a lack of clarity from the sound system, although it did little to derail the engaging Mr B, a riveting poet with an appealing USP.  His presence ushered the first pronounced spike in decibel levels across a now packed dance floor.

Leon Rhymes and Ross Standaloft, aka Too Many T’s, entered the fray with customary affable candour, and despite suffering again from sporadic doses of muffled modulation, the duo delivered a memorable production.

1992 Pt. II supplied a flavour of old school rap; a kind of amalgamation of The Pharcyde and Beastie Boys with additional pan pipes for good measure.

Butter Rug yielded the apex of their set, extending a snapshot into the youth of the rappers, by recounting them sneaking into sibling bedrooms to play music that their parents might not have approved of, with a welcome reference to the oft’ overlooked Scatman John (a one-hit wonder whose moustache at one time rivalled Mr. B’s.)

There’s a reason why a myriad of festival promoters are so keen to book and re-book Too Many T’s. Consummate pro’s, veering from a generation of hip-hop stereotypes (no Flava Flav indulgence needed to embellish their verbal skills) they were more than happy to mingle with an appreciative fan base post-set.

Headlining the event with customary wanderlust were The Correspondents, sharing tracks from their March, 2014 debut LP Puppets Loosely Strung, as well as hits from previous EP releases.

The undoubted highlight of the night, this was a master stroke of booking from head-promoter Oli Whitehurst, who was keen to dispel any lingering myths created by the salacious, distorted headlines his promotions’ 2013 Christmas gig received via an antiquated section of local media.

A cocktail of pure theatre, unbound melodies and breezy vocals ensured that the one hour set received unadulterated adoration from a now fervent auditorium.

Seminal track Washington Square went down a treat, the irksomely addictive Fear and Delight had starry-eyed spectators going berserk, while a stage dive from the band’s eminently charismatic and sweat sodden front man Ian Bruce went without a hitch.

A notable painter, Bruce is a virtual renaissance who left an indelible impression upon Glastonbury Festival audiences, organisers and fellow musicians during the summer of 2014.

This was a high-stakes triumph of endeavour for Galactic Ents, who were able to attract a trio of top tier talents to the Isle of Wight, perhaps even more notable was the sell-out status of the occasion, with festivities sustained long into the wee hours.


Mr. B The Gentleman Rhymer


Too Many T’s


The Correspondents

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Live Review: Katie Price

Katie Price cut the unlikely figure of leading lady at the 2014 Isle of Wight Literary Festival on Friday afternoon. Dom Kureen was there to witness the glamour model-cum-author’s one hour question and answer session, aimed to publicise the latest tome affiliated with brand Price, Make My Wish Come True.

Katie Price

Retrospectively the scheduling implied a tinge of anxiety from the event’s co-ordination collective – an oft salacious former Page Three model waxing lyrical about her latest contribution to the literary landscape, during a mid-afternoon sermon within the walls of St Mary’s church.

The unlikely setting, on the grounds of the awe-inspiring Northwood House in Cowes on the Isle of Wight, played host to a premeditated examination more pillow fight than hard hitting inquisition, with the artist formerly known as Jordan ‘premièring’ jet black locks to accompany a faux fur Gilet and knee-high boots. Not a follicle flicked out of place, an aesthetic triumph of unapologetically brimming lips and tangerine luminosity.

National paparazzi were in attendance and lapped it up, with their gaudy cameras and loose, overlapping physiques a rare treat for those south of the solent.

The Isle’s local media didn’t seem quite so enamoured with the arrival of a bona fide national celebrity; one journalist affiliated with a regional publication  stating to me their disillusionment at the decision to book this particular speaker, deciding instead to attend one of the many simultaneous events taking place.

Surprisingly diminutive in the flesh as she belatedly took her seat on the stage, Price looked every inch the star with her veneered teeth now gleaming under church light and her skin colour verging on radioactive as she sat cross legged across from her publicist for a cosy chin wag.

A section of the conversation poked at the contribution that warrants the tag ‘Katie Price’ adorning front covers, a process that sees her variously verbalising basic concepts into a Dictaphone and sharing vague outlines with professional writers, who then proceed to form a story (“I’m not very good at the writing part.”)

Forgiven, not forgotten: Katie Price's current beau, Kieran Hayler cheated on her earlier this year.
Forgiven, not forgotten: Katie Price’s current beau, Kieran Hayler cheated on her earlier this year.

Regular reference was made to Price’s slew of cosmetic surgeries, most notable among these mentions were a desire to continue augmenting her breasts into old age, and remarks centred around marriages and children – white noise to all but die hard fans. Happily, a brief narrative regarding her visually impaired son Harvey was refreshingly unrehearsed.

Jordan came across as affable and brutally honest about her claims to fame, suggesting that her emergence had been the result of a lot of luck accompanied by tireless endeavour and refusal to allow derisive journalists to derail her impressively lengthy tenure as a national A-lister.

The demi-stocked peanut gallery then received their opportunity to contribute to proceedings, with their inquiries possessing the collective venom of a meditating monk, although Ms Price did take an evasive tone when asked if she was a feminist and stated regret for getting those pesky veneers.

Katie Price 3

From there a book signing was abridged due to ferry scheduling, while shutterbugs were denied their money shot as Jordan refused to step out of her car to be snapped.

 Relatively likeable and aesthetically pristine, Katie Price doesn’t claim to be an author. There was nothing ground breaking here, a harmless and anticlimactic booking.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

EP Review – Ba Dow II

Fresh from their white-hot main stage set at the Bestival, the increasingly impressive Ba.Dow have released a new three track EP entitled Ba Dow II, Dom Kureen gives his feedback on the emerging blues-rockers’ latest output.



King of riffs Sam Morris’ influence is evident from the inaugural shred of Ba Dow II lead track Get Up, Get Up – undoubtedly the cleanest, least burdened composition of Ba.Dow’s embryonic career.

The guitarist’s captivating apéritif expertly blends with Jodie Amos’ velvety vocals and a chorus that is distinctively anthemic. Indeed, it is during the latter that there is a hint of homage to Queen’s We Will Rock You, with a thudding crescendo hurtling from the speakers courtesy of guitarist Morris and bassist Bradley McGinty’s (to date) lesser witnessed support articulations.

Lyrically the track ostensibly divulges a narrative of lost love and resentment from the perspective of the party responsible for terminating romantic liaisons; an impenitent aura of ‘fuck you, get over it’ granting a veneer of unbridled authenticity to proceedings.

Extending that theme, Help Myself fixates upon a moribund relationship in need of resuscitation, or perhaps more pertinently to be put out of its misery.

Although not quite in the ‘instant classic’ bracket of the EP’s opener, an addictive melody makes this another toe-tapper that should keep hardcore fans satiated without drifting too far from the bands’ archived material.

IOW Festival 2014 Ba.Dow

Concluding cut Realise allows Amos to further exhibit her range, adroitly unfurling a husky resonance in her voice, assisted by an unpredictably arranged landscape that eases towards a simple, buoyant bridge.

Culminating with a glorious string of “la-la’s”, the sanguine nature of the final piece extends an apt metaphor for a band that seem to be gathering momentum rather rapidly at the moment, and while critics may infatuate upon a dearth of lyrical acuity, advocates will counter that this is one of the charms of their early work, which steadfastly refuses to accommodate cliché.

Certainly this is an EP that will leave fans salivating at the prospect of Ba.Dow’s first full length album, having sampled an Hors d’Oeuvres that provides a more than palatable taster to be going on with.

One magnificent track and two notable ones make Ba Dow II a recommended purchase for Kureen readers.

Click —-> here <—- to purchase Ba.Dow II and —-> here <—- to listen to Ba.Dow’s SoundCloud.

Written by Dom Kureen

As a young rapscallion stranded on an Island, my time is split between writing, performing spoken word, wrestling alligators and delivering uplifting pep talks to hairdressers before they prune me. I meditate and wash daily when possible.

Three Track Playlist: New Singles Reviews

After an extended sabbatical, Jonathan O’Shea returns with a trio of single reviews for your consumption. This time the spotlight shines upon Azealia Banks, Gruff Rhys and Laetitia Sadier.

Azealia Banks 2
Azealia Banks: Creative potty mouth.

‘Heavy Metal and Reflective’ – Azealia Banks

Queen of the c-word, f-bomber supreme, attention-seeking “slore” (combination of slut and whore, apparently) according to rival rapper Jim Jones – there are many monikers you could attach to potty-mouthed princess Azealia Banks. The Harlem-born rapper has garnered almost as much interest for her innumerable Twitter feuds as for her white-hot debut single ‘212’.

Since the release of the filthiest/funniest track of 2012 there has been little but a dribble of musical content from the controversial starlet; with her first LP, ‘Broke With Expensive Taste’ still stalled on the production line nearly three years later and a lucrative contract with Interscope now expired. As such, it’ll be a relief for Banks’ fans to hear this tune, which will be released on her own label.

On the face of it, there doesn’t seem to be an immediately apparent correlation between heavy metal, as a genre, and reflection, but our Azealia seems to have spotted one. In the space of a prodigiously pounding two-and-a-half minutes, she almost certainly references the (thankfully) long-forgotten Japanese pseudo-pet, the Tamagotchi, amid frenzied Prodigy-esque beats and with her trademark intimidating delivery. Female rap is a crowded field these days, but this blistering new track again evidences that Miss Banks has something incendiary about her which burns brightly – and possibly briefly. 


Liberty (Is Where We’ll Be)’ – Gruff Rhys

Gruff Rhys

While not characteristically playful, Gruff Rhys’ new single is typically melodic – and a fair representation of what to expect from his fine fourth solo album ‘American Interior’, which also spawned a feature-film travelogue and an app. An accompanying tour commences (in Shetland!) early next month.

The whole multimedia project focuses on fellow Welshman John Evans’ trek across America in the late-18th century in search of a lost tribe of Welsh-speaking Native Americans. Coming from a man who once released a whole album inspired by the DeLorean car which featured in the ‘Back to the Future’ franchise, this unconventional subject matter should come as no surprise.

On ‘Liberty…’, soaring strings, glorious pedal steel guitar and longing lyrics about Evans’ voyage of discovery through America mark a new high in the erstwhile Super Furry Animal’s solo output. He manages to cram several too many syllables into one line mid-song, which elicits a wry grin, as much of the bearded maestro’s canon often does, but otherwise plays it straight. The urgent outro, with Rhys ‘doo-doo-do-do’-ing his way to a climax, caps a delightful summer-time ‘tune with a tale’. 


Then, I Will Love You Again’ – Laetitia Sadier

Laetitia Sadier

Similarly melodic and stirring, but with a pleasingly Gallic twist, is the ex-Stereolab singer’s elegy to the intrinsic difficulties of long-distance relationships. This single was initially made available exclusively to an apple-related musical monolith (aka eyeChoons) back in April, but now thankfully enjoys a wider audience with a full release.

Wistful strings, picked bass and restrained brass backing underscore the anxious nature of her regretful lyrics, delivered in her inimitable style. ‘Where to settle?’ she repeatedly pleas, as if hoping to find some answers to the unanswerable in the music. Thought-provoking, yet suitably catchy enough to secure more success for this surviving veteran of the early-1990s indie scene. 

Written by Jonathan O'Shea

A keen student of sport, music and life. Can generally be found educating small people, bitterly damning Aston Villa's latest attempts at football, or writing nonsense about ephemera.