Angelo Palladino was born and raised in the Whitechapel district of East London in 1949. His early music experiences were influenced by performers such as Robert Johnson, Bob Dylan, Chuck Berry & Buddy Holly but he held a special affection for Elvis Presley, and remembers how the King “turned a black and white musical world into Technicolour.”
In a career in music spanning over 40 years, Angelo’s career hit a peak in the mid 90’s after the release of the album ‘Travelling Dark’. Under the management of Miles Copeland, he wrote music with the likes of Carole King, Ted Nugent & The Bangles and toured the UK, Europe & America supporting Squeeze, Jools Holland, Sheryl Crowe & Steeleye Span with gigs at both New York’s Madison Square Garden & The Royal Albert Hall in London with Sting. As well as the live success, Hollywood film ‘Leaving Las Vegas’ staring Nicholas Cage featured the track ‘(I won’t be) Going South for a while’ both in the film & on its soundtrack.
Angelo’s next offering ‘Blood, Blues & Bad Dreams‘ produced by New Model Army drummer Rob Heaton, also gained critical acclaim, especially State side being awarded 3.5 Stars in Rolling Stone. Fast forward to his latest album ‘Street Hawk Diaries Volume 1‘ backed by his new band ‘The Street Hawks‘ made up of Jacob Riley on drums & percussion, David Wilson on sax & Jake Miller on Bass.
If I told you that ‘Blood, Blues & Bad Dreams’ is in my top five of favourite albums and you asked me why, then I would tell you it contains some of the most original roots-based song writing in popular music. A very successful fusion of folk, R&B and blues. Very anguished at times but oozing originality and story telling finesse.
Now Angelo has teamed up with a new band and a new album, the aptly named ‘Street Hawk Diaries Volume 1‘. Whether it be the influence of the band, or just where Angelo found himself when putting musical pen to paper, this new album is a much more uplifting, toe tapping, foot stomping experience. For me, we’re in South Side Johnny territory some of the time, with more than a nod to the early days of R&B and the odd track which (if he had been lucky enough to find) would have fitted right in to the early days of Springsteen. There’s also a couple of tracks which move off towards some very nice jazz influences. Here I’m talking about the music! The lyrics are still rooted in Angelo’s unique story telling style. This is life, I’m just telling you how it is …
Track one, ‘Street Hawk Blues‘ is a real foot stomping opener, a classic Angelo guitar riff laying the foundations for a fairly frantic R&B with Jazz influences track. The saxes of David Wilson are classy and you can tell that these two really get along musically. Jacob Riley’s drums are hugely influential in moving the track along at pace and Jake Miller’s bass reminds me a lot of John Paul Johns in his ability to sit deep in the mix but still impact on the musicality and the vibe of the track. This is one hundred percent R&B with attitude!
Next up is ‘Walk With Me‘ which features a beautifully smokey sax intro in this really neat blues number. I mean no disrespect to say it would make a great movie track! Jake Miller plays a very effective and melodic walking bass line which really glues the track together and provides the space for Angelo’s vocals and David’s sax which follows the vocals and then launches into a nicely constructed raunchy break. If this track doesn’t make it into the movies then it will certainly fit nicely into your front room when you need some mood music!
‘Some Kind Of Country Music‘ is a high energy drink which, let’s just say, takes ‘country music’ on a very different journey. We’re in 12 bar blues with boogie territory and I immediately thought of a track from Zep’s ‘In Through The Out Door’ album where you hear the unusual sound of JPJ playing boogie/honkytonk piano. But this is Angelo, so instead we get some great driving rhythm guitar with lots of fret-board coverage! Another nice sax break and the drums, well they just keeping coming at you – right on the beat for this runaway train of a track. Lots of fun along with the classic vocal line, ‘Ain’t no way to live, Sure ain’t no way to die’, reminding you that life is for living!
And on to ‘In The Heat Of A Shanty Town‘ where I found the aforementioned Springsteen wishing he had written this track as it’s very commercial and hooky. This is due in no small part to Angelo’s strong vocal performance and his classic Telecaster sound. Add to that some very beautiful and evocative sax breaks from David Wilson and then … just when you think it’s all over, along comes a wonderful vocal harmony closing anthem. Paul Simon might have been singing backing vocals that day … they didn’t say … but it had me singing along!
‘On The Street‘ is back in mainstream rhythm and blues territory. Lots of feel good sax appeal, very in the city vibe. Some great vocal lines;
‘These days, you know the score – bad news, at every door’
‘You can see, what we’re heading for – a hard time on the killing floor’
‘On the street – you’d better watch your step’
‘You’d better pray to heaven above’
You want to rock and they want to roll you – sums up this rocking R&B dance track.
‘Just Across The River‘ took me back to the early ’60’s riff based music with a solid blues base. A little too clever for the Rolling Stones but it’s a great nod to that era brought right up to date with some teasing sax virtuosity by David Wilson. The drum and bass backing is right on the ticket. Very tight and again gives Angelo and David plenty of space to express themselves. For me the best track on the album and deserves some air play.
And finally to ‘White Trash‘. Very modern twist on some classic rock and roll, with hints of Robert Palmer both in rhythmic style and in vocal delivery. Churning and churning with some great guitar and sax side by side. The drumming of Jacob Riley and the driving bass line from Jake Miller keeps this song moving along at just the right pace. Another example of a track that puts a smile on your face no matter the weather!
Angelo’s guitar playing is incredibly fluid and alive: rhythmic and just very together. And anyone who has watched and listened to Angelo live will tell you just how much energy and feel he brings to his performance. Coming together with the Street Hawks has given Angelo the means to explore a whole range of R&B styles which he (and they) have done with sophistication and style. This is a feel good album. Pop it on in the car when you’re stuck in some commuting hell and you will get to work (or better home) with a big smile on your face.
In trying to place the album I’ve name dropped some ‘well known’ artists to try to give you an idea of where I think this album sits; but let’s be clear that Angelo’s style, both recorded and live, is all his own, earned through his many years of touring and recording. Roll on Volume 2!