The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world

The Rock Pit - Hard rock, Metal and Blues Interviews, news & reviews from Australia and around the world







Some countries revere their heroes and sing their praises to the skies but poor old Blighty has always been a little slow in giving true respect to its greatest artists in whatever field. I think there is just something about the English character that is quite happy to revere someone when they are dead and gone but perversely ignore them when they are still very much alive and kicking. I can't think of too many countries where a talent like Tyla J Pallas would be summarily overlooked. Wait until I'm Dead? Maybe...


Earlier in the year when I heard Tyla's reinterpretation of one of his finest youthful moments - the reworking of the Dogs D'Amour classic 'Dynamite Jet Saloon' I thought that it would take some topping as my album of the year even though we were way back in March at the time. What I really didn't expect was that a solo album would come along before the year was out that would be up there with that release vying for the same honours.


The word 'Quinquaginta' is a bastardisation of the Italian, Latin, Greek, French or even Sanscrit word for ‘Fifty’ so without really wondering too much about it and not even knowing for sure I'm assuming that the great man is 50 years of age this year. It's a milestone worthy of an album like this which seeks to and succeeds in distilling a rich musical legacy.


Its therefore hard to review an album like this when the temptation is always to reference past glories in a world where how we both buy and listen to music has changed so much over the years. I'm acutely aware of my youth where I sought out the latest Dogs D'Amour picture discs and 12" vinyl records, poured lovingly over beautifully packaged music with unique and beautiful artist-supplied artwork and longed for each new B-side but I realise that probably more than half of you won't have experienced that particular pleasure. In truth it doesn't really matter as what you get within these grooves both echoes that legacy and stands on its own in 2011.


The album itself it a bit of a mixture - a number of new songs with some reworkings of recent Tyla fare albeit now recorded with a full band, where they had there genesis in a more basic acoustic format. Almost to a song the reworks are better and the new songs particularly strong.


There’s not a lot not to love here: from opener 'Untouchable' with its heartfelt lyrics and up-tempo latter day Dogs stylings. It’s 'Story Of My Life' though, which follows though that really grabs the attention – with it’s honey on cigarettes vocals it is a much more refined version of the kernel that made the 'Supreme Demos' release and another example of how Tyla as an artist has always been able to improve on a good thing where so many other artists overdo things with reinvention.


'Just Another Love Song' is a definite highlight and is the most likely track here to gain any sort of commercial attention, if of course the music industry still cared about beautifully crafted songs, there’s a definite Stones-like swagger and the song itself is pretty hard to go past.   


'In The Name' the acoustic track on the 'Bloody Hell Fire' album here gets the works thrown at it and again benefits from the rethink, whilst ‘Hang ‘Em High’ again from 'Supreme Demos', is a revelation shifting a good song to another plane entirely.  


In the long established Tyla tradition of songs that take English characters as their subject matter 'Archie Leach From Bristol' shines as brightly as either 'Errol Flynn', ‘Golden Boot Boy’ or even 'Johnny Silvers' and it’s a song that has a lot about what I love about Tyla in its DNA. A song that is a real joy to listen to, both lyrically and musically; and something that you know will stay with you for a long time, beautiful, simple and emotive.  It’s for me at least the very essence of the man and the songwriter.


'Bess' the ‘Tyla and The Dogs’ single and track from 'Bloody Hell Fire' is just one of those simple songs that first time round almost had it but reworked absolutely nails it.  Simple, succinct and sublime, it was one of my favourites of recent years but this version is just better.


'Armada of Hearts' is simply sublime; laid back and reflective it seems to resonate with me as much as anything here and echoes some of the great songs Tyla has given birth to over the years. I find myself drifting away with this album; it’s not quite what I expected or had hoped for but turns out to be so much more. A mood piece that sucks up the years and paints them in different colours, an album that you can easily see people citing in years to come as a great piece of art if only enough could hear it.


Tyla to me is that very rare artist that just resonates with your soul, takes you on that journey and puts together a song like so very few are capable of doing. Part poet, part vagrant, part magician, part thief: there are very few people like Tyla making music like this. And for all the great songwriters: from Dylan, Davies, Toussaint, Taylor, Stevens, Waits and Buckley for me at least there’s a Pallas up there with them. All you need to do is hear the man.


So many great painters died destitute.  When I was young I used to say that you will probably never hear the best band in the world, and I cherish every day I hear something new and exciting, some of us are just lucky we heard this gentleman years ago, for you it just might be an experience worth waiting for. And the thing that makes this so exciting is the thought that maybe the best is yet to come?


Sometimes you never get to hear your favouite band, sometimes you do...



Buy it.



Mark Diggins