Kevin Bryan reviews new music, compilations and re-released gems.
Various: Simply French Cool
French popular music represented the epitome of sophistication and style during its creative heyday half a century or so ago, although this quality was rarely translated into solid record sales on this side of the English Channel.
This nicely packaged three-CD anthology brings together 60 distinctively Gallic offerings from those far off days, drawing on contributions from the likes of Juliette Greco, Francoise Hardy and the charismatic Jacques Brel of Ne Me Quitte Pas fame.
Patrik Fitzgerald: Safety Pins, Secret Lives and the Paranoid Ward (The Best of 1977-1986)
This absorbing anthology traces the musical highpoints in the colourful career of London-born acoustic balladeer Patrik Fitzgerald, whose distinctive sound married the rough and ready ethos of punk with a particularly ironic and sarcastic take on the vagaries of the human condition.
This wasn’t a formula which was ever going to install Patrik as a regular fixture on Top of the Pops, but he bequeathed a fine body of work to posterity nonetheless, with tracks such as Safety Pin Stuck In My Heart, Irrelevant Battles and As Ugly As You capturing the essence of his uncompromsing approach to music-making.
Freddie King: Live & Loud 1968
Texan-born guitarist King was one of the foremost blues musicians of his generation, and his output during the late 1950s and early 60s certainly made a profound impact on aspiring young players such as Eric Clapton, Stevie Ray Vaughan and Chicken Shack’s Stan Webb.
This rather rough and ready recording of King’s gig at San Francisco’s Fillmore West in 1968 was obviously never intended for commercial release, but the distinctly low fidelity contents still provide a compelling showcase for perennial crowd-pleasers such as Have You Ever Loved A Woman, Going Down and Hideaway.
Dave Davies: Rippin’ Up Time
The musician whose punchy and distorted guitar work on early Kinks hits such as You Really Got Me was little less than revolutionary has had a pretty hard time of it since suffering a stroke a decade ago.
A few patchily memorable albums have appeared in the interim, and the latest Dave Davies offering to hit the record stores is this hastily assembled follow-up to 2013’s I Will Be Me.
Dave has never been any great shakes as a vocalist and he’s in typically erratic form here as he serves up autobiographical ditties such as Front Room and In The Old Days.