Willie Nelson: To All The Girls... (Sony Legacy)
Willie Nelson may have celebrated his 80th birthday recently but this venerable performer is still delivering albums of the highest quality with a regularity which is little less than remarkable.
The octogenarian balladeer’s latest offering is a collection of heartfelt duets featuring country music luminaries such as Dolly Parton, Loretta Lynn and Emmylou Harris, delivering an object lesson in the art of growing old gracefully with style and integrity.
The equally timeless Mavis Staples joins forces with Willie for a fine gospel tinged rendition of Bill Withers’ Grandma’s Hands, blessed with some of the supremly economical guitar work which has become another Nelson trademark.
Graham Parker & The Rumour: Three Chords Good (Proper Records)
The notoriously intense Mr Parker won a whole host of critical plaudits for his energised live exploits with musical soul-mates The Rumour during the late 1970s, but these rave reviews were never translated into solid record sales and the parting of the ways finally came in 1980, when Graham decided to embark on a new career as a solo performer.
The band’s excellent reunion album, Three Chords Good, first saw the light of day a couple of years ago and is now being re-promoted to tie in with their forthcoming UK tour, giving listeners an opportunity to savour the delights of acerbic gems such as Arlington’s Busy, Coathangers and Snake Oil Capital of the World.
Il Giardino Armonico: Musica Barocca (Teldec Records)
Italy’s Il Giardino Armonico are one of Europe’s leading early music ensembles, specialising in performances of 17th and 18th century compositions using authentic period instrumentation.
This pleasingly listenable collection finds them tackling some of the most memorable pieces in the entire Baroque repertoire, including Pachelbel’s Canon, Albinoni’s Adagio and Handel’s The Arrival of the Queen of Sheba to name but a few. Splendid stuff.
The Forgotten 45s 1957-1959: (Fantastic Voyage FVTD 158)
This fascinating new anthology from the good people at Fantastic Voyage focuses attention on no less than 90 tracks which were released as singles during the late 50s but failed to make any impact on the charts.
Classic recordings from the likes of Wilbert Harrison, Chuck Berry and The Silhouettes are all given an airing, and the compilers have also unearthed some interesting obscurities such as Rod Bernard’s This Should Go On Forever and a 1959 flop, Baby Talk from Tom and Jerry, who would later go on to find fame and fortune in the more familiar guise of Simon and Garfunkel.
Moby: Innocents (Little Idiot Records)
Moby’s 11th album is the electronic wizard’s most collaborative offering to date, with a string of guest vocalists delivering his mostly low-key musings on the vulnerability of the human condition.
Cold Specks, Mark Lanegan and The Flaming Lips’ Wayne Coyne all make telling contributions to the proceedings and the latter is in particularly fine fettle on The Perfect Life, a rousing singalong throwback to 90s pop and the undisputed highlight of what is otherwise a mildly underwhelming collection.