David Bowie: Aladdin Sane (Parlophone DBAS 40)
The eagerly-awaited follow-up to Bowie’s groundbreaking Ziggy Stardust first saw the light of day in April 1973 and served up an urgent and compelling musical menu for his rapidly expanding army of glam-rock devotees.
The addition of pianist Mike Garson to the endlessly innovative performer’s backing band lent a little New York-inspired edginess to the proceedings.
Drive-In Saturday and The Jean Genie would both soar into the higher reaches of the UK singles charts, and they share the limelight here with self-penned gems such as Panic in Detroit, Cracked Actor and the wistfully dissonant title tune.
The Pirates: Land of the Blind (Angel Air SJPCD 418)
Mick Green joined The Pirates in 1962 and the demon guitarist was still doing his best to keep the band’s name alive when he assembled this patchy collection in 1996, recruiting a workmanlike but uninspired Swedish rhythm section to underpin his efforts.
Land of the Blind found Green sharing the vocal duties with bass player B J Anders on a string of largely underwhelming hard rock ditties, although the trio were able to inject a little more sound and fury into their covers of Allen Toussaint’s Fortune Teller and Billy Fury’s Wondrous Place.
Midge Ure: The Works (Music Club Deluxe MCDLX 184)
Midge Ure’s solo career tailed off rather alarmingly after his debut single If I Was topped the UK charts in 1985, and the former Ultravox frontman seems to be something of a forgotten figure these days.
So the appearance of this new two-CD anthology should help to remind listeners of his undoubted qualities as a writer and performer.
Ure’s post Ultravox output is captured in all its charmingly dated glory here, including synth-laden revamps of Bowie’s The Man Who Sold The World and Jethro Tull’s Living in the Past and a live version of Visage’s 1980 hit, Fade To Grey.
Il Giardino Armonico: Vivaldi: The Four Seasons etc (Warner 2564 64763 0)
Milan’s Il Giardino Armonico specialise in performances of 17th and 18th century music utilising period instrumentation, and this 1995 recording finds them lending an aura of authenticity to Vivaldi’s ever popular Four Seasons.
This evocative series of violin concertos had languished in total obscurity for a century or more after the composer’s death in 1741 but that certainly isn’t the case in 2013, although much of the prolific Venetian’s impressive body of work does still remain relatively under-exposed today.
100 Hits: Guitar Heroes (Demon DMG 100 112
This remarkably wide-ranging five-CD set brings together some very unlikely bedfellows in an inexpensive celebration of the diverse delights of the acoustic and electric guitars.
Bona-fide classics such as Deep Purple’s Smoke On The Water and Eddie Cochran’s Summertime Blues sit snugly alongside impressive archive offerings from Captain Beefheart, Richard Thompson, Magazine and a whole host of top-notch performers from the worlds of rock, pop, folk and blues.