Simple Minds: Celebrate – The Greatest Hits + (Virgin Records)
Simple Minds began life in the late ‘70s as prime purveyors of an enjoyably derivative sound influenced by Krautrock, the Velvet Underground and David Bowie.
But the lucrative lure of stadium rock seemed impossible to resist as the years wore on, and their popularity blossomed in the mid ‘80s just as their music lost much of its early allure.
This wide-ranging three-CD set does find space for some interesting offerings from their early days such as Changeling and I Travel, although the proceedings are understandably dominated by perennial crowd-pleasers such as Waterfront, Promised You A Miracle and Don’t You (Forget About Me).
Steven Wilson: The Raven That Refused To Sing (And Other Stories) (Kscope 242)
Porcupine Tree founder member and frontman Wilson has enlisted the services of famed producer Alan Parsons to engineer his third solo set, a mildly melancholy offering which harks back to the golden era of the concept album in the early ‘70s. The CD’s six epic tracks are loosely based on tales of the supernatural, embellished with the soaring guitar solos and unashamedly elaborate arrangements which have become such a feature of classic prog rock over the years. Drive Home, Luminol and the eerie title track are the best of an impressive bunch.
The Stranglers: On Stage On Screen (Wienerworld WNRD2544)
The veteran punk stalwarts were in particularly fine fettle when they recorded this energised live DVD at The Shepherds Bush Empire in December 2005, regaling their highly receptive London audience with a potent blend of old and new crowd-pleasers. No More Heroes, Duchess and Peaches are all given an airing alongside the band’s distinctive revamps of Walk On By and All Day And All of the Night, and the inclusion of a 29-minute acoustic set and Jean Jacques Burnel’s award-winning short film, Norfolk Coast, sets the seal on an excellent package.
Colin Blunstone: I Don’t Believe in Miracles (Talking Elephant TECD 205)
This subtly memorable collection first saw the light of day in 1979, bringing together the best of Blunstone’s solo output during the past decade. Colin’s unmistakable breathy tones were ornamented by the intricate sound of a string quartet on fine covers of Denny Laine’s Say You Don’t Mind and Tim Hardin’s Misty Roses, and the former Zombies frontman also enjoyed a brief run of chart success during the early ‘70s with exquisitely crafted hits such as How Could We Dare To Be Wrong the Russ Ballard penned title tune.
The Deviants: Ptooff! (Angel Air SJPCD414)
Mick Farren and his motley band of malcontents recorded this determinedly underground fusion of psychedelia and garage band rock for just £700 in 1967, and although sales were fairly minimal at the time the original vinyl version of Ptooff! has since gone on to become a highly sought-after collectors item, fetching eye-watering prices on internet auction sites around the world. This fascinating period piece is now available as a newly remastered Angel Air CD, complete with original sleeve notes by the late great John Peel, who was apparently mightily impressed by Farren’s mildly deranged musical outpourings at the time.