Kevin Bryan reviews the best new music releases.
Pete Seeger: Rainbow Race (Talking Elephant TECD 240)
Pete Seeger’s recent death at the grand old age of 94 put an end to a performing career which spanned more than 70 years, fuelled by an almost naive conviction that the lyrical content of contemporary folk music could change the world for the better.
This archetypal Seeger offering dates from 1971 and found the perennially optimistic acoustic balladeer addressing the familiar themes of political engagement and environmental concern via fine tracks such as The Clearwater, Last Train to Nuremberg and Sailing Down This Golden River.
Rodney Crowell: Tarpaper Sky (New West Records)
This highly regarded purveyor of country-tinged Americana won a Grammy Award earlier this year for Old Yellow Moon, his richly resonant reunion with musical soulmate Emmylou Harris.
His latest delightfully eclectic solo offering provides an ideal vehicle for Crowell’s often under-rated talents as a solo performer, running the gamut from the evocative cajun charms of Fever On The Bayou to the rampaging rock ‘n’ roll rhythms of Frankie Please via affecting and graceful ballads such as God, I’m Missing You and the poignant I Wouldn’t Be Me Without You.
Asia: Fantasia – Live in Tokyo (SALVO SVX021)
The year 2007 marked the 25th anniversary of the release of Asia’s phenomenally successful debut album, and the four original members of the band chose to mark this significant milestone by reuniting and setting off on a world tour.
This impressive audio-visual package was recorded on the Tokyo leg of this globe-trotting jaunt, drawing on material culled from Asia’s back catalogue and the individual musicians’ previous careers, including their polished revamps of such unlikely bedfellows as King Crimson’s In The Court of the Crimson King and Buggles’ curiously prescient Video Killed The Radio Star.
The Promised Land – A Rock & Roll Road Map (Fantastic Voyage FVDD 175)
Compiler Stuart Colman’s latest rock ‘n’ roll anthology features a grand total of 50 tracks drawn from the fabulous musical melting pot that was pre-Beatles America.
Each of the songs celebrates the delights of a particular geographical location, with timeless gems such as Rusty & Doug Kershaw’s Louisiana Man and Chuck Berry’s Memphis, Tennessee making an appearance alongside undeservedly obscure offerings from the likes of Bob Luman, Warren Storm and Hurricane Harry, who many pundits suspect was actually Screamin’ Jay Hawkins of I Put A Spell On You fame.
The Sutherland Brothers and Quiver: Dream Kid (Talking Elephant TECD 228)
Gavin and Iain Sutherland’s decision to join forces with the similarly under-appreciated Quiver in 1973 was intended to expand their sound and give a sizeable boost to both outfits’ flagging fortunes.
Dream Kid was the first complete album to appear under the Quiverlands banner and it was certainly a fine piece of work, with Tim Renwick’s eloquent guitar work embellishing spirited examples of snappily memorable adult rock such as I Hear Thunder and the compelling title track.