Kevin Bryan reviews new music, compilations and re-released gems.
The Waterboys: Modern Blues
Waterboys frontman Mike Scott has proudly declared that people should always expect the unexpected from his endlessly eclectic outfit, and Modern Blues found him decamping to Nashville with fiddle-playing sidekick Steve Wickham to channel the spirit of classic southern soul in tandem with legendary Muscle Shoals bassist David Hood.
The finished product is a little on the uneven side but the creative highs far outweigh the relative lows, and devotees of Scott’s passionate approach to music-making should try to lend an ear to stand-out tracks such as November Tale, Destinies Entwined and the epic closing cut, Long Strange Golden Road.
Albert King: Live in the ‘70s
Live in the ‘70s captures electric bluesman Albert King in his natural element, revisiting the cream of his sizeable back catalogue in performances recorded at a variety of venues in the USA between 1971 and 1978.
Mainstream popularity came King’s way at a fairly advanced stage of his career, and this compelling live package showcases the Mississippi-born musician in sparkling form as he wields his trademark Gibson Flying V guitar on classic creations such as Crosscut Saw, I’ll Play The Blues For You and his best known song, the much-covered Born Under A Bad Sign.
Kate Rusby: Ghost
The Barnsley Nightingale’s first album of wholly original material since 2010’s Make The Light marks a subtle musical progression from its well-received predecessor, with electric guitarist Steve Iveson’s atmospheric contributions appearing for the first time alongside some fine work from bluegrass banjo ace Ron Block of Alison Krauss and Union Station fame.
The bulk of this understated set is dominated by Kate’s splendid interpretations of fine traditional ditties such as Three Jolly Fishermen and The Outlandish Knight, although After This and the haunting title track should help to remind listeners she’s an excellent songwriter in her own right too.
Various: Simply Rhythm & Blues
This richly rewarding four-CD set offers listeners an inexpensive introduction to all that’s best in R&B, drawing on classic archive recordings from the likes of Big Joe Turner, Bobby “Blue” Bland and legendary New Orleans singer and pianist Professor Longhair to name but a few.
The excellent Yardbirds are represented by three tracks, Got To Hurry, A Certain Girl and I’m A Man, and the compilers have also unearthed an early offering from Rod Stewart in the shape of The Steampackets’ cover of Marvin Gaye’s 1963 hit, Can I Get A Witness.