Pet Shop Boys: Electric (x2 003)
The first Pet Shop Boys album to be released on the duo’s own x2 label features eight vibrant new Tennant/Lowe creations alongside a surprisingly sincere cover of Bruce Springsteen’s melancholy The Last to Die.
Electric also finds Neil and Chris working with British producer Stuart Price on a studio album for the very first time.
The three men excel themselves with rousing dance anthems such as Axis, Fluorescent and the delightfully titled Love Is A Bourgeois Construct.
Federal Charm: Federal Charm (Mystic MYSCD 213)
The muscular debut album from bluesy Manchester rockers Federal Charm provides an ideal showcase for the high octane sound which has been winning over audiences across the land as they’ve trodden the boards in the support slot on recent tours by the likes of Southside Johnny, Ian Hunter and Michael Schenker.
This supremely confident outfit draw much of their visceral appeal from Paul Bowe’s swaggering twin guitar work, and frontman Nick Bowden also deserves a mention in for his contribution to fine tracks such as Reaction and Lowell Fulson’s Reconsider Baby.
Justin Currie: Lower Reaches (Endless Shipwreck Records)
The gifted Mr Currie is best known as the creative mainstay of Del Amitri, who were never really able to fulfil their immense potential despite notching up four UK Top 10 albums during their 20 years or so together.
The Glaswegian singer and songwriter stepped out of his comfort zone to assemble this stylish new solo offering, decamping to Austin, Texas, to place his fate in the hands of producer Mike McCarthy and a bunch of local session musicians, as they underpinned his tuneful musings on the themes of love, mortality and music itself.
The results are uniformly excellent, peaking with “Into A Pearl,” “ On My Conscience” and “Every Song’s The Same.”
Jerry Naylor: The Rockabilly Legends (Palawan Productions)
Jerry Naylor’s name may not be too familiar to the average punter these days, but this venerable country singer once had the unenviable task of replacing Buddy Holly in the Crickets line-up as they attempted to keep the show on the road after the rock ‘n’ roll icon’s untimely death in an Iowa plane crash long long ago in 1959.
He may be in his mid-1970s now but Naylor has decided to mark the 50th anniversary of his stint with the band by re-recording some golden oldies from those far off days, including Don’t Ever Change, That’ll Be The Day and Real Wild Child. Good harmless fun.
The Flooers O’ The Forest: Songs & Music of Flodden (Greentrax CDTRAX1513)
The conflict at Flodden in Northumberland was the largest battle ever fought between Scotland and England, and this impressive anthology is dedicated to the memory of all those who fell on that distant day in September 1513.
The contents are divided equally between music and song and poetry and prose related to this tragic event, drawing on contributions from many of the leading lights of the Scottish folk scene including Karine Polwart, Archie Fisher and the great Dick Gaughan, who opens proceedings with his iconic version of the title song.