Wednesday, September 28, 2022

”You” by Claus Dencher

The Danish singer-songwriter Claus Dencher released his new album “You” in July 2022. The 57-year-old musician has been part of the Danish music scene for quite a while, first with his band “Tankens Bager”, and when they disbanded, he went solo in 2018. With “Tankens Bager” Dencher used so sing in Danish, but he switched to English for his solo career, and “You” is his first full album in English.

Backed by the competent musicians from The Farm Music, Claus Dencher has created an enjoyable Americana album with roots in folk rock, which it deals with the musician’s “midlife reflections” on adult life, crises, love and the future.


The album consists of eight tracks and opens with the smooth but melancholic “It Gets You”. One of my personally favourites, especially due to Claus Dencher’s pleasant voice and Peter Sund’s great guitar.

The next track is the quiet and beautiful “You” dedicated to Dencher’s granddaughter Astrid, followed by a look at childhood in “A Child’s Eye”, which is a bit of an earworm.

The last track on the A-side of the album is “Restless Fool”, a slow, melancholic but charming duet with Trine Lunau.

The B-side opens with another of my personal favourites, the folk/country rock song “My Relief”. It is the most upbeat track on the album with an efficient rhythm section consisting of Peter Dombernowsky und drums and Henrik Poulsen on bass and prominent Hammond organ by Palle Hjort. The Hammond organ plays a prominent part in the following “Loving You” as well, a calm, introspective love song,

As a contrast, the almost ominous “A piece of My Soul” follows, a very personal song about losing the happy, free spirit of childhood.

The album ends with “Formation Song”, an uplifting track with an almost pedestrian, Queen/I wanna break free-ish beat.


“You” is poetic and slow-paced album that leaves the listeners plenty of time to dwell on the music and its messages. It is, however, Claus Dencher’s calm and pleasant voice that carries the album and makes the songs stick in your mind. “You” is available digitally and as vinyl LP.

Monday, September 26, 2022

Slade-drummer Don Powell writes children’s book

The Adventures of Bibble Brick is the title of Don Powell’s children’s book that is now available from Amazon in both an e-book and a hardcover edition.

The 76 years old drummer who rose to fame with the seventies’ British glam rock band Slade, wrote the original manuscript in the sixties, but apart from the chapters being printed as a serial in the Slade fan magazine in the seventies, it has never been published. Not until now, where Don and I have teamed up. We have been friends for 17 years and the last time we worked together was on the 2018 updated version of Don’s official biography “Look Wot I Dun”, which I wrote back in 2013.

In the biography Don revealed that he was twenty-two when he wrote The Adventures of Bibble Brick. “I’d always had the idea, even when I was a teenager, to do something that appealed to both children and adults,” he explained. “Because when I was a young child, I used to sit with my father, watching cartoons, and I couldn’t understand why he was laughing at different things than the ones that I was laughing at. I was laughing at the obvious things, but Dad was laughing at something else, and I didn’t get it until I started to get older. Then I could see the humour, things that appealed to him, and that was really what inspired me to write it.”

Together Don and I have rewritten the story from the sixties to make it more up to date without it losing its original charm, humour, and quirkiness. It is beautifully illustrated by Mark Millicent, a US-based British illustrator. He was hand-picked for the job by Don and me in a competition held in 2021.

The Adventures of Bibble Brick tells the story of the pebble Bibble who leaves the beach to see for himself how it is to live on shore. Here he ends up in the entourage of a prize fighter, where he makes new friends and fights against the bad guys.

The story is still wonderfully inappropriate for younger children with its boxing theme, drunken night club scenes and a very sexy spider. It is not your ordinary bedtime story, but both young and old Slade fans are sure to love it, especially as the observant reader will be able to spot some points of similarity between the main characters and the members of the original Slade.


Sunday, September 11, 2022

Jack in The Box


Released on July 15th 2022 through Big Hit Music, Jack in The Box is j-hope’s first solo studio album. J-hope is without doubt mostly known as a rapper, singer, songwriter, producer and especially dance captain of the biggest group in the world these days, namely South Korean BTS.

Prior to his solo album, he released a solo mix tape in 2018 called Hope World, which reflected j-hope’s image within the group as a positive, hopeful and happy artist with only minor melancholic strokes in some of the lyrics, whereas Jack in The Box is a concept album that lets us see the whole picture, including the dark sides of the 28-year-old artist whose real name is Hoseok Jung. The album pays tribute to the 1990s hip hop that came to define j-hope as an artist, and it consists of 10 tracks:

The intro to the album is narrated by a female voice (belonging to the actress Rachanee Lumanayo) and tells the myth of Pandora’s Box in a slightly glorified version. Hope is here seen as something good and positive, or is it?

The myth can be interpreted in different ways, but as the box contained all evils and hope was in the box, hope must be evil, too. To quote Friedrich Nietzsche: “Hope, in reality, is the worst of all evils because it prolongs the torments of man.”

 The intro is in English, whereas the lyrics of the album consist of a mix of English and Korean that has become the trademark of not only BTS but j-hope as well.

2. Pandora’s Box
The opening of Pandora’s Box could be straight of horror movie soundtrack and when j-hope starts rapping, his voice sounds quite aggressive and disillusioned. The lyrics are about his background including his stage name j-hope, which derives from the Pandora’s Box myth. Once again it is stressed that hope is seen as a ray of light, but he also draws attention to the title of the album, Jack in The Box, where according to the jack-in-the-box myth, Jack is the devil, so is hope really the devil?

In any case, j-hope no longer wants to be confined to the box. Instead, he wants to face the disaster head on

This rap rock track is in my opinion the best of the album. It was an early release single that preceded the album, and many BTS fans as well as casual listeners were surprised at the rock theme highlighted by the heavy guitar riff and loud shouting, but this is the j-hope I have always know was there and whom I have been waiting for for years.

The track is cheeky, hard, playful and the “Inhale, inhale, exhale, exhale” lyrics are already a classic. Interestingly, the music video for the track is a homage to David Fincher’s 1999 Fight Club movie, from which scenes are recreated with j-hope in the lead as Fight Club’s protagonist Jack Moore (Jack in The Box and MORE, see?).

4. STOP (There Are No Bad People In The World)
A mesmerising repetitive and multi layered track, telling people to stop fighting as there are no bad people in the world, only bad environment, upbringing, education etc. Very j-hope.

5. = (Equal Sign)
Another homage to ’90 hip hop about respect, where j-hope tells his audience: “It costs you nothing to be kind / Hate’ll paralyze your mind / Gotta see the other side / Not so different you and I. Equality is you and me. A great song, but at 1.55 minutes, it is way too short!!

After the release of the album, I heard j-hope sing it with the Korean singer IU, and I honestly think she should have been the backing vocal on the track instead of the one used!

6. Music Box: Reflection
A short instrumental track, bridging the message-filled songs of the first part of the album with the introspective songs of the second part. Again: it sounds like something taken directly from a horror movie soundtrack, this time added j-hope’s heavy breathing. It is after all a breather between the two parts of the album.

7. What If…
This track samples Ol’ Dirty Bastards Shimmy Shimmy Ya as an homage to the hip hop genre. Here j-hope asks the question: am I really like that? Hope, positivity, always smiling face? He asks is he would be as positive if he had no hope, no dream, no passion or vision. He is living a privileged life, but what if he had no money, no house, no car, nothing. Could he be positive then?

8. Safety Zone
A soul/R&B track, slow with pedestrian beat and second vocal by Jaicko Lawrence. It has j-hope pondering that he has “Dedicated my entire twenties / Living up to this immeasurable life.” He then continues, “My life is becoming my enemy. It is getting lonesome.” and “I like animals better than people these days.”

It is quite heart breaking, especially as he admits that he feels self-destructive and that he is searching for a safe zone, a peaceful home, where he feels protected and finds relief.

9. Future
This track has a light, positive sound partly because it uses chimes and the Yeonum Children’s Choir. The message of the track is, that the future is scary, so we need courage, faith, and positivity to go with the flow and step into what is to come.

10. Arson
Arson was the main single off the album, a repetitive and hard hip-hop track, where both the beat and the rap are very typical j-hope. The song is building up in layers and hardness, while a disillusioned j-hope raps, “My dream done / success done / my part of the job, done / what else, none. Do I put out the fire or burn even brighter?

After the release of the album, j-hope went on to perform at the Lollapalooza Festival in Chicago on July 31 as the first Korean headliner ever, and here even people who had never been into BTS fell for his talent as he is born to be on stage. By making the album and doing the concert, he answered some of the questions that he had raised on the album as he now knows that he wants to burn brighter and continue his career and that the other BTS members along with his fans are the safety zone he has been looking for.

Jack in The Box is a concept album that shows a darker side of j-hope than we are used to see within BTS and that surprised some, but not hardcore fans like me, who remember him complaining about his name and image in the early years of BTS and that some of the other BTS members even thought that he should have been called j-sad back then as that would have been more fitting. Over the years j-hope has lived up to his name and image and acted as the happy sunshine of the group, thereby suppressing his darker side in public, but not anymore.

As Jack in The Box shows, j-hope has grown older and more mature both as a person and as an artist, and that suits him well and is also very fitting as the core fans of both him and BTS are adults of all genders, races and walks of life and not children or crazed teenage girls, which the press usually makes us out to be. Like Arson, the album burns down the old happy image of j-hope and have him rise from the ashes. This way the hope in Pandora’s Box really was jack, a devil who has burned down j-hope’s sunshine image so he could rise from the ashes like a phoenix as a new, multifaceted and intriguing artist.

There is only one bad thing that I have to say about the album and that is, that with 10 tracks it is way too short! I want MORE!!!

Jack in The Box is available as download and a limited edition vinyl LP.

Five out of five stars: *****

Saturday, June 18, 2022

Books I read in 2021


I read a little more in 2021 than in 2020, mainly Danish books and of course my own new English-language short story collection Mind Drops:

Albert, Jørn E. (ed.): “I denne søde juletid”

Barker, Pat: Union Street”

Danske Folkeeventyr 2” (from Svend Grundtvig’s collection)

Falkenberg, Lise Lyng: “Mind Drops”

Flor, Kai: “Musikkens mestre”

Fynbo, Vagn (ed.): “Børnenes lille julebog 1973”

Hall, Allan & Michael Leidig: “Girl in the Cellar: the Natascha Kampusch Story”

Jacobsen, Benjamin: “Midt i en klunketid”

Larsen, Erik Christian: “Alt om Hungergames”

Ramsland, Morten: “Sumobrødre”

Sohn, Wonpyung: “Almond”


How come that I, a fifty-five year old Danish woman, is completely mad with “Hope World” by a twenty-four year old Korean guy named j-...