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๐—–๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ผ๐—น๐—น๐˜†โ€™๐˜€ ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฟ - this week: By My Side - Rich Allen

Welcome all to ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ผ๐—น๐—น๐˜†โ€™๐˜€ ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฟ, a series of weekly reviews by Charles Connollyย - an artist in his own right. Here, Charles delves into the greatest brand new singles brought to you by the best unsigned artists on our electrifying and eclectic set of ๐™‰๐™š๐™ฌ ๐˜ผ๐™ง๐™ฉ๐™ž๐™จ๐™ฉ ๐™Ž๐™ฅ๐™ค๐™ฉ๐™ก๐™ž๐™œ๐™๐™ฉ playlists.


๐˜ฝ๐™ฎ ๐™ˆ๐™ฎ ๐™Ž๐™ž๐™™๐™š - ๐™๐™ž๐™˜๐™ ๐˜ผ๐™ก๐™ก๐™š๐™ฃ


Charles has nothing but timeโ€ฆ


Last week I talked about not taking life too seriously. I also talked about work and how it can truly crush the spirit and make you a bit of a drone. Well, actually I didnโ€™t say that. But thatโ€™s what can happen with work. It can get the better of you and start to own your soul. We only get two chances at pure freedom. One, when weโ€™re too young to appreciate it, and the other when weโ€™re too ill to enjoy it. Both ends of the spectrum, and both ends of life, as we know it. In the middle we are in our prime. And yet, in the middle we are too busy and too stressed to even contemplate a bit of relaxation and fun. Typical! God plays these little games from time to time. Well, in between natural disasters, of course. Itโ€™s his own โ€œme-timeโ€. So yes, that middle of lifeโ€ฆ The majority of life. We toil and we worry. We fret about the future. And it all just seems so endless. Weekends are spoiled by the impending knowledge that another Monday is soon to be thrown on your desk. The sun is shining, and yet you cannot enjoy it becauseโ€ฆ EMAILS. There is little more depressing than a grey inbox. Have you noticed that despite your screen predominantly being white, it feels grey? Pale, dead, depressing, lifeless grey. And you think back to those days when you used to go out all the time, feel free, wear what you wanted, do what you wanted, and be who you wanted. You had great ambitions and the future was bright. Well, now you realise that the future is not orange but in fact grey. And oh so current. What happenedโ€ฆ?? Well, we mustnโ€™t dwell on what happened, but instead on what is happening. Life is happening. And you must simply get on with it. Why? Because there will be a time when you are NOT doing the mundane. When work will be a thing of the past. When you are once again free! There is a caveat, howeverโ€ฆ


No, I am not talking about death. That really would be quite a caveat. I speak of retirement. Rather sadly, there are many people in their forties and fifties who dream about retirement. Not because they are so exhausted, but because work is either cripplingly soul-crushing, or they are just too bored for words. There is this feeling of wasted life. Retirement is supposed to be seen as a treat for having worked so hard, for so long. But in fact, it is more like being discarded and thrown on the heap, because you are no longer fit for purpose. And the conveyor belt goes on - out with the old, in with the new. โ€œTheyโ€ donโ€™t want you to see it like this, of course. The joke is, once one reaches this grand old age, one is often not only unfit for the purpose of work, but unfit for the purpose of almost anything! Health, you see, is everything. Something most of us take for granted in younger years. But finally, here is your chance and legal right to enjoy yourself, and there you are, hobbling along lopsidedly, blind as a bat, deaf as a post, and shaking like a jitterbug. Yeah, thatโ€™s the caveat.


โ€œNow I can finally go on that cruise, where I can sit and feel seasick. Finally I can see all that beauty. If only all that beauty wasnโ€™t long gone, and my cataracts werenโ€™t obscuring it all. Having FELT old for quite a while, I am finally comfortable in actually BEING old. For it is official. Retirement equals old, no?โ€


These are the usual thoughts of someone recently retired. That and boredom. The thing is, it isnโ€™t always like this. More and more, we are seeing a rise in the health of older people. So of course, โ€œtheyโ€ keep upping the age of retirementโ€ฆ God and his box of tricks, againโ€ฆ There does however come a point where the common man wins. Where one hits retirement before the entire mind and body is completely kaput. The common man becomes uncommon. A trophy of a man, rather than atrophy of a man. Let me explain.


I will be speaking not of an idea, but of a genuine person. A man who has beat the system. A man who has come out on top. He is not young, but he is far from old. Some might argue this fact, but what is age but a numberโ€ฆ? This man is as capable as any man of half his age. He has worked most of his life, as people do, but as of last May, was given the chance of freedom. Did he wonder if he might be bored? Would he perhaps miss the work and the colleagues? Well, while he might miss the people, there was no hesitation. He took this chance of a lifetime. Freedom at last! Please welcome Rich Allen, the man we all hope to be when we are that age. If you ARE that age or older, howโ€™s your back? I said, HOW'S YOUR BACK?? Oh never mind, Iโ€™m not waiting for you to ring up the company that replaces the battery in your hearing aid โ€œbecause itโ€™s just so gosh darned fiddlyโ€. Sorry, that was cruel humour at the expense of the oldies. The good news is, old people arenโ€™t nearly so easily offended as the young. They can take a joke. Hence being a big fan of older people. Theyโ€™re just more FUN!!! And hence the topic of Rich Allen. This man lives for fun. Let me take you down, โ€˜cause Iโ€™m going toโ€ฆ


Born on the cusp of the swinging sixties, before George Harrison could legally drink a beer, Richโ€™s sixties are still very much swinging. Far from being an old fart, he gives off the air of San Francisco in its hippy heyday. I am never sure whether to spell it โ€˜hippyโ€™ or โ€˜hippieโ€™ - whatโ€™s your preferred spelling? Either way, itโ€™s groovy. I think his way of being stems from his liberal views, his religion, and his manners. Basically, the boy were brung up good. It is very common to get a little more - how shall I put it - disgruntled, as one ages. A natural sheltering in life becomes a barrier, and then becomes a guarded wall with a spitting army at its peak. Views and opinions become facts. Youโ€™re right and everyone else is wrong. The old days were better and the new days are worse. But Rich is just SO the opposite. Nearly a year into retirement, and it is just positive after positive for him. Partly down to his innate ability to see the good in people, but also because of his health. Save a thin pair of glasses, he is basically in tip-top shape. THIS is how he beat the system. He is able to actually ENJOY his retirement. And it is perhaps this that has made him young again.


Rich is the opposite of discrimination. He treats everyone equally. But rather, he is human. He gives them an equal opportunity to show their worth, their kindness and their goodness. In being human though, if someone is nasty or bad, he is still able to say โ€œsod you, Iโ€™m not having anything to do with youโ€. And this is what I like so much about him. It isnโ€™t endless blind praise to all, like a robot in sheepโ€™s clothing. There is no sense in this. Also, this way, the bad people win. The good should always win, while the โ€œseemingly badโ€ should be given the opportunity to be good. It is quite easy to have this frame of mind, yet it is incredibly rare! Rich has it in spades. But thereโ€™s something else this man has in spadesโ€ฆ Musical talent.


Several nights a week, every single week, Rich is busy being young and able. Oh, er, that didnโ€™t quite come out as I intended. I meant music. Gigs. I am pretty damned sure that Rich plays more gigs than almost all the members of the New Artist Spotlight. This musically virile chap shows no signs of slowing down. He is living the life of Riley (if you know the phrase). This is not so much retirement as: Life, Part 3 - the fun bit. Take this weekend, for example. How did YOU spend yours? Iโ€™m guessing you didnโ€™t have a total of close to 3 hours on stage, singing your heart out, did youโ€ฆ? Well Rich did. He had a full-on 48 hour bingeful live music getaway. Aside from people approaching him, praising his performances, several people took it upon themselves to tell him he looked like Keith Richards. I mean, they actually thought he was Keith Richards!! His replyโ€ฆ โ€œDo I look THAT old??โ€ - The thing is, Keith Richards is around 15 years older than Rich. And Keith is not exactly known for having led a healthy lifestyle. Kelloggโ€™s Special H is not a healthy breakfastโ€ฆ Which should make Rich feel pretty much invincible! I mean, if Keith is still rolling after all that drug abuse, then Rich must surely live another hundred years! And no, Rich, you do NOT look that old. Neither do you have blubber lips, neither do you have a laugh that could be dubbed over the wicked witch of the west, and neither do you hang keys from your hair. I always imagined Keith Richards bent double, trying to unlock his front door: โ€œNope, not that oneโ€ฆโ€


Okay, so Rich Allen is the great Floridian gigger. But what about the people who arenโ€™t able to get to his hometown of Tampa Bay for a local gig? How are we to hear this chapโ€™s music? Well, due to the wonders of modern science, he has been able to record and release his songs to the masses via something called the internet. But unlike the ultra modern way of creating everything โ€œrealisticallyโ€ with a laptop in a bedroom, he has always done things the way he has always done them. In a proper studio with microphones recording real instruments played by talented musicians. Ahhhh. How comforted I suddenly feel. It does make sense, doesnโ€™t it. โ€œI want a duduk on this track. Now where can I find a very realistic virtual instrument plugin of a duduk?โ€ - Why BOTHER??! Just hire a duduk player! I think youโ€™ll find that pretty realistic, on account of it being real!! It just simplifies the matter. Hence why Rich opts for the old method. There is also the romance of it. When you KNOW everything youโ€™re hearing is played by people, it suddenly means more. It is more personal. It is closer and basically better. Of course, convenience (and price) can sway people the other way, but Rich now has the time! Yet he has something more important than time. Impotence. Sorry, impetus. The songs.


For years, Rich has been releasing stunner after stunner. Listening to his back catalogue so far, is like listening to a great artistโ€™s โ€œBest Ofโ€. You know, when they collect together the good ones, and chuck the junk. But still there always manages to be a couple of duds near the end - their latter years. Well Richโ€™s latter years are his best. And there are no duds. Just none. I actually made a playlist of all his songs in chronological order, and itโ€™s just flawless! I play it regularly. This is pretty much unheard of, not just in the independent world, but even in the mainstream. There are always duds. But not for Rich! Those of you who are familiar with his music may have noticed that he hasnโ€™t released anything in quite a while. Was he too busy with his gigs? Was he slacking? Had he run outโ€ฆ? Donโ€™t be absurd. In his usual youthful spirit, he fancied a change. Over the past few months he has been putting together a series of stripped back acoustic recordings of brand new songs. Acoustic, I hear you cry!! Well, not quite. Rich is known for the beauty in his sound. A certain resplendence that is especially rare these days in music. He is not so dumb as to do away with everything we all love. Not dumb at all, in fact. This new series of songs is acoustic in the sense of having no drums, no electric guitars, no electric organ, and no electric bass. But by JOVE, it is luscious. The first of this series is his brand new single, By My Side, released just a few days ago. We all - hopefully - are familiar with the gorgeousness of his hit song, โ€œDid You Cry?โ€ - the one that won him the SSA Songwriter of the Year Award. Well this new song manages to capture that same eye-watering beauty and sadness, but all in a much more open, honest way. He is emptying his heart to you. The emphasis is on the strings, woodwind and mandolin. And with a lack of oomph from drums and gritty guitars, there is more focus on the voice. It somehow means more. Emily, his usual backing singer, is allowed to let it all out and cry with the man himself. Yet ultimately, this is a song of love, not of loss. In having no drums, Rich opted for percussion. He was fortunate enough in getting one of the world's leading percussionists to play on the record; Daniel Sadownick. While the name might not ring a bell, he has played for Steely Dan, Joe Bonamassa, and most recently Taylor Swift, among many others. How cool is THAT?? This really emphasises the professional quality in Rich's work. The song's arrangement is stunningly sensitive. It heaves and sighs in all the right places. And so, the flawless catalogue of songs continues. Rich Allen is back, fresher than ever.


To not bring attention to this piece and to Rich as a wonderful person, would be sacrilege and frankly downright silly. It was unavoidable. I really do consider Rich Allen a heavyweight of the independent music world. And to me, he doesnโ€™t look a bit like Keith Richards. Ronnie Wood, on the other handโ€ฆ Stoned either way.


Old aged pensionerโ€ฆ? O.A.P. actually stands for Original and Perfect. Either that or Old as Puck.


Listen to ๐˜ฝ๐™ฎ ๐™ˆ๐™ฎ ๐™Ž๐™ž๐™™๐™š on the ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ผ๐—น๐—น๐˜†โ€™๐˜€ ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฟ Spotify playlist HERE!

Listen to ๐˜ฝ๐™ฎ ๐™ˆ๐™ฎ ๐™Ž๐™ž๐™™๐™š on the ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ป๐—ป๐—ผ๐—น๐—น๐˜†โ€™๐˜€ ๐—–๐—ผ๐—ฟ๐—ป๐—ฒ๐—ฟ Apple Music playlist HERE!

Listen to ๐˜ฝ๐™ฎ ๐™ˆ๐™ฎ ๐™Ž๐™ž๐™™๐™š on YouTube HERE!


Follow ๐™๐™ž๐™˜๐™ ๐˜ผ๐™ก๐™ก๐™š๐™ฃ on Instagram HERE!

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156 Comments


u Down with OAP?! Yah u know me! Seriously what a gem of a track and I really like the emotional/darker side to Richโ€™s new song. Definitely a really rad change of pace & Connolly always delivers with the wit! Cannot effin wait to hear these acoustic tracks too

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In a word: rad.

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Thank you for doing a review of Rich's music! He is a very consistent and talented artist and deserves the attention!

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Fantastic job Charles keep up the great work brotha.

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ZOLEON
ZOLEON
Apr 21

Great review loved reading it would check out more keep up the awesome work ๐Ÿ’ฏ๐Ÿฅ‚

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Brillant review, loved it

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