U.K Country - CD Review's

John McCane
Straight From The Heart
Holdin' Heaven, Couldn't Love Have Picked, Last Cheaters Waltz, Why Not Tonight, Touch Me With Your Tenderness, Kick Ass Country, Who's Gonna Hold Me, Louisiana Rain, Spread A Little Love Around, I Do But I Don't, The Lady, Second Time Around.
Third album from John and once again, along with band members, Peter McDonald(Keyboards) and John Cosgrove(Drummer) they made the trip across the water to Northern Ireland, to team up with top producer and musician, Stephen Smyth.

John has also stuck to his winning formulae of mixing rarely covered songs with his own originals, a mix that is always well received by his legion of fans. The 4 original tracks this time out, include a co-write with Keyboard player Pete McDonald, 2 penned by John himself, and the excellent "Who's Gonna Hold Me" a song written by Manchester and Nashville songwriter, Lorna Flowers. The latter song was released to radio stations around the world last year and did reasonably well in the "CHi Independent Charts", although I personally felt that the song deserved to do much better!

Staying with the original material, and personal favourite for me, is "Touch Me With Your Tenderness", a lovely ballad about making up after a relationship has gone bad. This is the type of song that John excels at and I think he could have a winner here with those who have a penchant for love songs with plenty of feeling. Lovers of big band and western swing will delight in "The Lady", a very catchy tune with some great pedal steel and wonderful Sax. The dancers will love this one if he incorporates it into his act!!

Once again, some careful thought has gone into the selection of cover songs as John likes to keep away from anything that others are doing on the circuit. I am pleased to see one of my own, all time favourite songs on here, "Last Cheaters Waltz". A great song from the pen of top Nashville songwriter Sonny Throckmorton, that was a number 1 hit for T.G. Sheppard in the late 70's. The song was later recorded by Emmylou Harris, although chartwise, she didn't manage to achieve the same success.

Another big favourite of mine, a much more recent one, is "Spread A Little Love Around", a song that caused a bit of a dispute between myself and John. John was adamant that the song was recorded by Daryll Worley, while I was equally so, that it was Ricky Skaggs, who had recorded it on a fairly recent album of his. After some checking up, it turned out that both of us were right! Ricky recorded the song on his album, "Brand New Strings", recorded in 2004, while Daryll recorded the song first, back in 2002 on his "I Miss My Friend" album. I guess I will have to give that one to John!! Grrr:

Another must listen song on here is, "Couldn't Love Have Picked A Better Place To Die". This is a powerful ballad that I first heard on a Billie Jo Spears album some years back, but the song was more recently recorded by Gene Watson, which is the version that John picked up on. John turns in a great performance of the song here.

I could go on more about this fine album, that I think is probably, the best work that John has done to date! Take a listen to some of the clips and see if they can convince you any more, to dig into your pocket and buy a copy. It will be money, very well spent!! Ray Grundy

Artist Website: www.john-mccane.co.uk.....E:mail For Info: john.mccane@ntlworld.com

Diggin' Up The Past, It's Back On The Road Again, Cold Comfort, Dark Brown Eyes Tight Blue Jeans, Saturdays and Holidays, Lord I Need A Rest, Your Mine, Broken Hearted Again, Hogtied, Hold Back The Tie.
BJ was bom in 1959 in West Kilbride, Ayrshire Scotland and he started performing at the tender age of 7 when he appeared on stage singing for a local charity. He enjoyed the experience so much he has never stopped singing and went on to learn to play the guitar at 14, progressing to Mandolin, Banjo & Bodhran.

After a successful career as a folk musician, and writing and singing his own material he soon discovered his true passion for Country Music which has now become his main musical interest. Having been involved in the country music scene for over 10 years in various formats, he toured Scotland extensively as a duo, and as a solo artist. He also made appearances at festivals in Scotland as BJ and the Bears. He then started to travel more extensively and now covers the length and breadth of the British Isles.

Having previously released 2 albums, "Bear and Bones" in 2002 which contained 12 cover tracks and "Saturdays and Holidays", released in 2003, which again contained 12 tracks, but this time he introduced some of his own original songs. His own material has proved so popular, that last year, he made the decision to release an album of totally original songs. The album, "Roots" was released on the 5th February 2005!

This is my first hearing of BJ, who'se voice, has a soft Celtic brogue-ness about it, that is so pleasing and gentle to the ear! I was looking forward to listening and reviewing this 3rd album from the man!

As I made my way through this album of 10, well constructed and varied country songs, ranging from the bouncy, Irish feel of the opening "Diggin' Up The Past", to the slow and plaintive "Cold Comfort", the out and out Rock & Roll of "Dark Brown Eye's, Tight Blue Jeans", plus a bit of Honky Tonk thrown in there with the previously successful single, "Hogtied", I was soon to learn that there is also a comical side to the man! It is this side that got to me the most as my favourite track on the album is, the wonderful, "Lord I Need A Rest"! I think there will be many a man who can identify with this one and I'm sure it goes down well in his LIVE shows! Excellent!!

As many of the U.K's artist's work on a shoestring, it often means working on a very tight budget when it comes to recording a cd, and that is plainly obvious here, with the heavy reliance on the keyboard synthesizer. That said, BJ has certainly got the best out of what he had available, and with a great voice and some very good songwriting, he has produced an album that is certain to sell well at his gigs!! Talking of gigs, I must look at his dates and see where I can catch up with him LIVE! Ray Grundy

Artist Website: www.bjlocklin.co.uk ..... E:mail For Info: bj.locklin@btinternet.com