Kevin Bryan reviews the best new music releases.
Yardbirds: Making Tracks (Wienerworld WNRCD 5069)
The Yardbirds provided an invaluable performing outlet for some of rock’s finest guitar players during their commercial heyday in the mid-1960s, with the likes of Jeff Beck, Jimmy Page and Eric Clapton all polishing their techniques with the band before moving on to bigger and better things.
Founder members Chris Dreja and Jim McCarty were still performing under the Yardbirds banner when these tracks were recorded live at a variety of American venues recently, overseeing an enjoyable jaunt down memory lane liberally peppered with classic creations such as Shapes of Things, Train Kept Rollin’ and For Your Love.
Tim Grimm: The Turning Point (Cavalier Recordings)
The multi-talented Mr Grimm pursued a successful acting career for a few years during the 1990s, appearing in several American TV series as well as films such as Mercury Rising and Clear and Present Danger.
Music was always his first love, however, and Tim returned to Indiana in 1999 to immerse himself in the life of a hay farmer and record albums blessed with a spare immediacy that’s often reminiscent of classic Woody Guthrie or Nebraska-era Springsteen.
The Turning Point is the acoustic balladeer’s latest subtly memorable offering, blessed with fine songs such as The Lake and an affectionate tribute to his old friend Ramblin’ Jack Elliott entitled King of the Folksingers.
Andy Scott: The Solo Singles (Angel Air SJPCD 424)
Andy Scott is best remembered these days for his work with glam-rockers Sweet, but the singer and guitarist also enjoyed a good deal of solo success after his former outfit’s sad demise, although this appears to have been largely confined to Germany, Australia and South Africa.
This new Angel Air anthology gives British record-buyers an opportunity to discover just what they missed during this period, serving up a synth-laden selection of archetypally ‘80s pop ditties in the mould of Go West or Power Station.
Hem: Departure & Farewell (Waveland Records)
Fragile introspection is the order of the day as the distinctive indie band unveil the long-awaited follow up to 2009’s Twelfth Night.
They may be based in New York but much of Hem’s best work seems to be permeated by a longing for a simpler, more pastoral existence, and in Sally Ellyson the group are blessed with a vocalist whose golden tones could charm the proverbial birds down from the trees.
Seven Angels, Tourniquet and Walking Past The Graveyard capture the essence of the quartet’s emotionally resonant sound.
Barclay James Harvest: Live at the Town and Country Club (Wienerworld WNRD 2576)
The darkly atmospheric brand of prog-rock which became BJH’s trademark during the early 1970s gradually gave way to a much more bland and accessible form of music-making as the years wore on, and both aspects of the band’s repertoire are captured on this entertaining live DVD.
BJH’s 1992 show at the Town and Country Club coincided with the band’s 25th anniversary and found them regaling their highly receptive London audience with performances of such perennial crowd-pleasers as Hymn, Poor Man’s Moody Blues and the epic Mocking Bird.