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Non-Prog CD Reviews

Mark Newman

Must Be A Pony

Review by Gary Hill

Fans of ‘70’s styled guitar rock rejoice – there’s a new hero in town and his name is Mark Newman. If you are a fan of such bands as Led Zeppelin, The Allman Brothers and Bad Company you really need to get your hands on this disc. Newman carries on the tradition with style. The man can rock and pull the blues out of his guitar. There isn’t a bad song on the disc and he varies the formula enough from track to track to keep it fresh. This is one of the best albums of the year for the genre. It seems so redundant to even mention the guitar work from song to song because this guy simply shreds (but tastefully so) on just about every song. Put this disc and the new Devon Allman, Cactus and Wild Turkey offerings in the stocking of the classic rock fan on your list – they’ll love you for it.

This review is available in book format (hardcover and paperback) in Music Street Journal: 2006 Volume 6 at

Track by Track Review
Dead Man's Shoes
Starting with a killer acoustic blues rock riff, this one carries on in that manner for great effect. This is a smoking jam that has elements of Led Zeppelin and other bluesy ‘70’s rock all over it. It features some nice slide guitar and a catchy hook. They explode it out into a more energized, melodic rocking segment later. This one is a killer and an excellent choice to lead off the disc.
What She Does To Me
Shakers lead this one off, then it launches out into a fast paced groove that still has lots of that blues sound. I hear some Allman Brothers and even a little Steve Miller band in this, but with tons of authentic blues packed into the arrangement. It’s another showstopper with catchy changes and a great texture. Once more we get some sweet slide work in the course of the track.
Must Be A Pony
The title track starts off in much more tentative and sedate ways. After the first line of vocals it moves out into a folky rocking sort of way. This one also oozes with that retro 70’s sound, but a lot less of the blues element. It’s also a strong cut, but not as solid as the two that preceded it. It does have a catchy, harder rocking chorus, though.
Hard In The Rain
Here we get a back porch Robert Johnson like pure blues jam. This one doesn’t wander far from its origins, but when you start off this strong, who cares?
Mean Season (Lucille, Lucille)
The rhythm section speaks first and carries the song for a few measures before they launch into this retro rock jam. It still has some blues in it, but is more of a 70’s hard rock (leaning on progressive rock) sound. I can hear some Bad Company in the textures of this piece. It’s another winner, but by this point we’ve come to expect no less from this disc. The chorus feels like you must have heard it before, but yet it’s an original – that’s how catchy it is.
God For Sale
This is a solid rock and roller. It’s not one of the highlights of the disc, but that’s more about the strength of the rest of the album than it is about this one. It’s an acoustic based number that is definitely soaked with the blues.
Mambo Dancing
A bouncy jam makes up the core of this cut. This is another that’s solid, but doesn’t really stand out above the rest. Still, the Grateful Dead/Allman Brothers like arrangement is cool.
Little One
I love the tentative acoustic ballad sound on this. It’s like a rock lullaby in a way. It has a gentle and pretty texture. As it moves forward it takes on more layers and sounds into the mix. It also includes some cool guitar soloing. This is definitely one that pulls itself up from the pack.
So, So Cynical
While maintaining the elements that make up the earlier modes of the album, this brings a Rolling Stones vibe to the game. It’s one of the best tracks of the whole outing.
New York Mining Disaster, 1941
The guitar arrangement on this one reminds me of something from Crosby Stills Nash and Young’s Déjà Vu album, and that’s a compliment of the highest order. This one is a very powerful, dramatic and evocative number and a great addition to the disc. Some of the guitar work on this is just about perfect. I’d have to say that this is my favorite number here.
A Love In Vain
Here we get another bluesy, Zeppelin, Bad Co sort of slow grind. It’s another that hits the mark really well. The chorus is more energized with a bit of that Allman Brothers sound.
This fast paced jam reminds me a lot of the Doobie Brothers. It’s another nice change up on a disc that has a lot of them. Is there any sound this guy can’t pull off? There are even some cool flamenco segments and a guitar solo that feels like something Carlos Santana might come up with. Without question this is another highlight. It rocks out as hard as anything else on the disc and really pulls a renewed energy into the whole affair.
Love Won't Ever Pass This Way Again
Love Won’t Ever Pass This Way Again” is a slower, melancholy ballad that is pretty and evocative. I hear echoes of the Allman Brothers on this one, too.
Going Underground
Newman closes the disc with a hoedown – or at least it starts off that way. Then it shifts to the fastest rocker on the whole disc. This is another scorcher and a great way to leave the listener ready to hit the “repeat” button.
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