Kevin Bryan reviews new music, compilations and re-released gems.
Dionne Warwick: The Very Best of Dionne Warwick
This easy on the ear two-CD set chronicles the cream of Dionne Warwick’s subtly memorable output from her creative heyday in the 1960s, when the New Jersey-born diva’s collaboration with the peerless songwriting duo of Bacharach and David yielded timeless gems such as Walk On By, I Say A Little Prayer and Do You Know The Way To San Jose?
The parting of the ways sadly came in 1970 and her musical career was never able to scale the same heights again, although Dionne did enjoy a US chart-topper five years later when she joined forces with The Detroit Spinners and producer Thom Bell to record Then Came You.
Bad Company: Live at Wembley
This splendid audio-visual package was recorded in high definition at Wembley Arena in April 2010, and found the reunited band taking an enjoyable jaunt down memory lane as they revisited the cream of their illustrious back catalogue, including perennial crowd-pleasers such as Can’t Get Enough, Shooting Star and Feel Like Making Love.
Paul Rodgers, Mick Ralphs and Simon Kirke also found space for some lesser known items in their energised set list, including Deal With The Preacher and a nifty cover of The Coasters’ 1957 hit, Young Blood.
Bill Nelson: After The Satellite Sings
Wakefield’s finest musical export is probably best remembered for his work with outfits such as BeBop Deluxe and Red Noise during the middle and late 1970s, but this increasingly reclusive character has maintained a remarkably prolific creative output since those days despite being largely shunned by the major record labels for the past three decades or so.
Esoteric Records has now embarked on a major Nelson re-issue programme spanning these lost years and this 1996 album emerges as a particularly fine piece of work, with a sublime blend of the spontaneous and the surreal underpinning excellent tracks such as Streamliner, Dreamster 2LR and Rocket To Damascus.
Axels & Sockets: The Jeffrey Lee Pierce Sessions Project
The third CD in this absorbing series paying tribute to the unique musical legacy of the former Gun Club frontman features telling contributions from many of Pierce’s old friends and admirers, including Nick Cave, Iggy Pop and Sonic Youth guitarist Thurston Moore.
The participants were entrusted with the task of putting some musical flesh on the bones of a relatively bare demo tape discovered in Pierce’s loft after his untimely death in 1996 and they’ve risen to the challenge admirably here, with Messrs Pop, Cave and Moore in particularly fine fettle on the opening track, Nobody’s City.
Various: The Last Shout – Twilight of the Blues Shouters 1954-1962
Music specialist Dave Penny’s latest foray into the R&B archives has yielded a rumbustious three-CD set which shines a welcome spotlight on some of the larger than life performers who strove manfully to maintain the jump blues tradition during the early years of rock’n’ roll,including Wynonie Harris, Big Joe Turner and Jimmy Witherspoon.
Their gloriously exuberant brand of music-making may have lost much of its popular appeal long long ago, but the robust delights of The Last Shout are well worth investigating nonetheless.