Tag: Word on the Street

Ramblings: On Allan Rayman, R’n’B and what’s coming up


Regular readers of the blog will know that one of the artists we’ve been most excited about in 2017 is Allan Rayman.

I discovered him slightly by accident. My Spotify Release Radar playlist told me that Jessie Reyez had a new song out (Repeat); but I was immediately blown away by the male voice on the track and wanted to know more. It was, of course, Allan Rayman.

He’s a man who I previously described as an international man of mystery. When I first googled him, the top hit was about how mysterious he was, how he didn’t give interviews or appear in videos or chat to the audience at gigs. He released 13, a stunningly good single that’s still in the A List after four weeks, and his album Roadhouse 01 came out recently.

As part of the promotion for the album he has given his first interview to Billboard, which you can read here. It’s a great read, and helps to get you a little closer to understanding his artistic vision. But – again – there’s enough distance, enough things unsaid, that leave a hefty layer of intrigue around him.

Last week I went to see him live (with Gig-Buddy Matt) at the St Pancras Old Church. In the pub beforehand I said I was looking forward to finding out if I knew more about Allan Rayman at the end of the evening, or if he remained an unsolvable problem.

The most important thing to say is that it was a stunning gig. He possesses one of the most impressive voices I’ve come across in a very long time; its unique in its range, power and style. I’d go as far as to say the recordings don’t actually do it justice.

The second observation is that he sits across a range of musical styles and genres in a very exciting way. Combining hip hop beats, guitar parts that could belong in prog, rock, funk or electro pop tracks, vocals that range between pure power and an R ‘n’ B style shimmer. Even within the same song, he can display a range that’s bafflingly good.

My final comment is that I’m not sure I do know anything more about Allan Rayman the man behind the music. He stood in a small church in North London, illuminated by red lights, and seemed to let his satanic demons take over – especially on the newer songs (for which he’s adopted a darker alter-ego). But, even though he spoke to the audience a lot more than I was expecting, he didn’t necessarily say anything that gives us any greater insight (perhaps my favourite between-song comment was: ‘I’m not much of a talker’).

But I am more than a little bit in love. With his art, with his voice, with his style. Every now and then an artist comes along who leaves you hooked; simply wanting to know more. Allan Rayman is the latest addition to that very special list.


Onto different matters now, and we’ve got a big week lined up on the Blog. Later today The Bonus List is coming up, and tomorrow morning the This Week Playlist will be live. I’m also hoping to get around to updating the Dream Festival, which is proving to be trickier than I thought.

Tam went to see White Lies at the Troxy last night, so I’m looking forward to reading his review of that. Similarly George is positively bursting at the seems with new albums to review, so expect one or two of those to drop this week.


Finally, speaking of George, if you didn’t see his monthly column on Saturday Word On The Street, I highly recommend you give it a read. Covering a mind-blowing number of genres with his passionate style, he brings you up to date on everything in the world of ‘urban’ – a term both he and I hate – music for February. It’s fab. Go read it.


Ramblings: new monthly column, Black Madonna intrigue, Kasabian and Cortes News


Yesterday we unveiled our new monthly column: Word on the Street. George has for many years been a passionate follower of beat-driven music (he hates the term ‘urban music’) and if you have an interest in grime, garage, dance, hip hop or r’n’b, then the column is going to be a ‘must read’. I think its a fantastic read and I’m very grateful to George for pulling it all together.

On Friday evening George sent me an intriguing Black Madonna-related link; you can find it here. What does it mean? a UK tour? a residency? an album? I guess we’ll find out on Tuesday, but any new Black Madonna news is welcome in my world.

Speaking of welcome news, there was a distinct whiff of 2002 about two of this week’s biggest new releases; new singles from Missy Elliott and Jamiroquai. The latter has also announced a gig at the Roundhouse in London. Both of these artists were huge influences on my music taste in my teens so I’m pretty chuffed that they’re back.

The Astral Penguins blog is growing in content and readership, and over the next couple of weeks we’ll be unveiling some new regular features. (at least) One of those features revolves heavily around the festivals coming up over the summer, and on a related note Kasabian were announced as the second of three headliners lined up for Leeds and Reading Festivals (the third is rumoured to be Eminem).

I confess I have a massive soft spot for Kasabian. I first saw them supporting the Black Rebel Motorcycle Club at the Leadmill in Sheffield many years ago, and it was obvious then that they were supremely talented. They’re one of the few British guitar-heavy bands to ascend to the top of festival line ups and stay there in the past decade, and with a new album on the way, this could be – yet another – big year for them.

Kasabian gigged day in and day out to hone their craft, and another British band who are following a similar approach is Cortes. I first saw them a couple of years ago as a support act and have seen then around five times since then. They posted two things on Facebook this week; (1) they’ve passed a million streams on Spotify – congrats! – and (2) they’ve been in the studio recording new music. Every now and then you see a band and think ‘these guys could – and should – be massive’; Cortes are one of those bands and I only hope Radio 1 and others continue to give them the support and air-time they need.

I’ll be back later on with the A List and tomorrow with the This Week Playlist. Until then…