Ellis; Steve: Best Of Days
Originally intended for release in 2004, Best Of Days from one-time Love Affair frontman Steve Ellis, eventually saw the light of day four years later. An album which featured contributions from Roger Daltrey and Paul Weller (as well as on the bonus track Steve Craddock from Ocean Colour Scene) surprising by being a serious slice of classy rock that in all fairness should have spawned a hit or two. Think Ellis and you think the song "Everlasting Love", hence it appears twice here, once as that bonus cut, closing the album out in a live setting with Ellis sitting in with Weller and Craddock, on a classy if inessential acoustic take of the Love Affair hit. While the album opens with a studio acoustic arrangement of the song that was inspired by the live cut. Again it's a sharp arrangement, but an exercise in illustrating that the best way to re-work a great track is to simply not.
So once this inauspicious start is left by the wayside, what comes after suddenly bursts into a cracking little beast, "Step Inside" (again featuring Weller) a groovy number that proves infectious. "Requiem For A Tyrant" pulling out a stunning acoustic guitar line and marrying it to eerie piano to allow Ellis's voice to shine in a surprisingly fragile manner. The two tracks featuring Daltrey don't disappoint either, "Nu Clear Blues" finding The Who frontman bringing his dirtiest harmonica licks to bare in fine style, while "Yellow Rose Of Texas" is a lovely throwaway moment that induces a little grin every time you hear its twenty-five seconds or so!
However, even with that guest power elsewhere, it's the beautifully arranged "El Doomo" which seduces in a most melancholic manner and the irresistible "As The Crow Flies" which could easily have been taken to the top of the charts if David Gray had deemed it fit to record (ironically it's not the same cut as the David Gray song of the same name). However with the album's title track and "Modesty" proving almost as alluring, there's much to enjoy here. One of the forgotten, classic voices the UK has produced over the years, there's much reason to rejoice in the music of Steve Ellis and the aptly titled Best Of Days, reissued here by Angel Air, is definitely one of them.
1. Everlasting Love
2. Brand New Start
3. As The Crow Flies
4. Step Inside featuring Paul Weller
5. Requiem For A Tyrant
6. Nu Clear Blues featuring Roger Daltrey
7. Little One
9. Yellow Rose Of Texas featuring Roger Daltrey
10. Turn To Stone
11. Heavens Word
12. El Doomo
13. Best Of Days
14. Everlasting Love (live) featuring Paul Weller
Added: November 22nd 2015
Reviewer: Steven Reid
Related Link: Best Of Days at Angel Air
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|Ellis; Steve: Best Of Days
Posted by Jon Neudorf, SoT Staff Writer on 2015-11-22 22:51:35
Steve Ellis is a British singer/songwriter who rose to fame in the '60s with his pop/soul band Love Affair. They only released a couple albums but it launched Ellis to a successful solo career as well as the formation of the Ellis and Widowmaker bands. It has been decades since Ellis had released a solo album but in 2008 Best Of Days saw the light of day after being in the works the previous four years. The album has been rereleased on Angel Air Records.
On the record Ellis has revisited the past with new versions of songs taken from his solo career and previous band efforts. The first tune "Everlasting Love" was originally recorded by Ellis' first band Love Affair in the late '60s. On this latest version the tempo is slowed featuring acoustic guitar and lovely strings. It's an emotional ballad with Ellis' voice, which is still in great shape, the focal point. "Brand New Start", penned by Paul Weller, is another poignant ballad dripping with Ellis' melancholic vocals. His blue eyed soul style crooning fits perfectly with the lovely piano accompaniment, acoustic strums and tasty organ embellishments. On the pop/rock of "As The Crow Flies" Ellis and his band are again in fine form weaving a rich tapestry of emotive vocals, tasty orchestrations and classy lead guitar. Paul Weller adds guitar and keyboards on the soul inspired "Step Inside", glistening with a pop like sheen and a nice vocal arrangement. The bass work is also outstanding. "Requiem For A Tyrant" is a bluesy mood laden ballad featuring excellent guitar work.
Roger Daltrey also appears on a couple tracks adding fiery harmonica licks to the bluesy mid-tempo rocker "Nu Clear Blues" and the English twee of "Yellow Rose Of Texas", which is less than a minute long.
The album ends with a live version of "Everlasting Love" featuring Paul Weller and recorded during his Wings Of Speed tour in 2001.
Best Of Days includes some really fine tunes, including a handful of ballads and a few bluesy rockers. I am normally not a fan of such ballad heavy material but Ellis' voice is so well suited for the job I really can't complain. If you dig slow to mid-tempo bluesy rock, pop and soul you best check this out.
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