Flat out of choices only broken dreams…
There are times when an album jumps out at you purely on the basis of the names contributing to it. Case in point is Radio Babylon, a new album courtesy of music collective Last Of The Fallen Angels.
Conceived by Conrad McQueen (AXLS) the album brings together Peter Hook (New Order), Brinsley Forde (Aswad) and Rowetta (Happy Mondays) plus other singers and musicians from around the world (including London, Manchester, Sweden, Ireland, New Jersey and Newcastle) to raise money for Musicians Against Homelessness/CRISIS.
Originally launched as an initiative at the end of 2016, Musicians Against Homelessness was designed to pull in bands and artists to stage a series of gigs across the UK to highlight the shocking and rapidly growing problem of homelessness. It was also set up to raise funds to help people suffering. Thousands of acts have performed since then, raising over £200,000 in the process.
Previously, Last Of The Fallen Angels had released a single in 2020, the slow grooves of ‘Phase IV’, featuring the vocal talents of Victoria Owsnett (also of AXLS). But this new incarnation is clearly a more ambitious undertaking.
Radio Babylon certainly packs a lot in across the album’s eight tracks. Naturally, given the diversity of the musicians involved, the style and approach varies from track to track. Not in a way that’s particularly jarring, but in fact lends the album a more tangible richness and warmth.
Owsnett’s vocal talents bookend the album, starting with opening track ‘Press Play’ which is a lush, sweeping affair. ‘Kisses’, meanwhile, features the unmistakable bass of Peter Hook on a composition that’s a very downbeat, dreampop affair. Beccy Owen’s vocals have a deep emotive allure to them via lines such as “You took my pain away”.
Conversely, ‘Ivory Tower’ is a harsher, more aggressive outing care of Tara Tine’s freestyling vocal approach. Initially issued as a limited edition 7″ vinyl release prior to the album’s release, the raw, angular instrumentation here serves the song’s pointed political narrative well. It’s an energetic, angry outing with some dynamic guitar and percussion.
‘Change Has Gotta Come’ pulls in Brinsley Forde and Rowetta on a smoky, dub-filled outing whose lyrics drive straight to the point (“Sister can you help me/Get the homeless off the street?”). The additional brass elements also give the song an organic, weighty feel.
The evocative ‘Bowie In Berlin’, featuring Laura Rickenbacker & Jeff Black, is (as you might expect) a love letter to Bowie’s German period. Dominated by some strident piano tones, it’s a wonderfully engaging composition with a human heart to it.
Elsewhere, ‘Ocean’ dials it down a notch, a strings-infused number that showcases Renee Lobue’s earthy voice. ‘Orpheus’ (ft. Mark Dickinson) offers up a more brooding quality with its slow, moody guitars.
Radio Babylon boasts the production flourishes of Simon Ellis (Spice Girls, Westlife, S Club 7, Britney Spears), so delivers a polished and warm collection of songs. It’s also an album that carries a vital message which, as Christmas approaches, seems ever more important.
Radio Babylon is out now: https://radiobabylon.bigcartel.com/product/radio-babylon