Kevin Bryan reviews the best new music releases.
Foreigner: Alive & Rockin’ (SALVO SVX020)
This entertaining two-disc package serves up audio and video versions of the Anglo-American oufit’s show at Germany’s Balingen festival eight years ago.
Their compelling brand of radio-friendly rock was delivered by the new Foreigner line-up which had been assembled by guitarist and founder member Mick Jones a couple of years earlier, including powerhouse drummer Jason Bonham and former Dokken bass player Jeff Pilson.
Juke Box Hero, Cold As Ice and Feels Like The First Time are the pick of this unchallenging jaunt down memory lane.
Peter Mulvey: Silver Ladder (Signature Sounds)
Milwaukee balladeer Peter Mulvey is the proud possessor of a hushed baritone voice which he employs to excellent effect on a batch of subtly understated songs which often put me in mind of similarly under-appreciated performers such as Bruce Cockburn and the splendid Tom Russell.
Mulvey recorded Silver Ladder in Los Angeles with a fine backing band assembled by producer and former Green On Red guitarist Chuck Prophet and a very good time was obviously had by all concerned, with tracks such as You Don’t Have To Tell Me, Sympathies and Back in the Wind capturing the essence of his refreshingly human approach to music-making.
Steve Miller Band: Number 5 (Edsel EDSA 5007)
Steve Miller was always something of a musical chameleon, and this uplifting 1970 offering found the singer-guitarist working in tandem with Nashville session supremos Area Code 615, whose harmonica-laden Stone Fox Chase provided the theme tune for the BBC’s late lamented Old Grey Whistle Test.
The finished product relied on the familar blend of tuneful bluesy rock and out and out experimentation which had served Miller so well in the past, including the crisply produced Good Morning, Going To The Country and Tokin’s.
Christina Skjolberg: Come and Get It (Ruf 1198)
Thomas Ruf’s admirable blues label has provided an invaluable outlet for many aspiring young European performers who might otherwise have found it difficult to locate a showcase for their talents, and Ruf’s latest batch of new releases includes this muscular debut set from Norway’s Christina Skjolberg.
She may have spent her formative years a world away from the gritty realities of everyday existence in urban Chicago or the Mississippi Delta, but Christina’s stinging guitar work certainly repays closer investigation, although she’s still some way short of the finished article as a singer and lyricist.
Eliot Fisk & Albert Fuller: Bach Trio Sonatas BWV 525-530 (Nimbus NI 2583)
This absorbing two-CD recital from Nimbus Records showcases the impeccable musical qualities of J S Bach’s Trio Sonatas.
These Baroque organ works were originally penned as practice pieces for Bach’s eldest son, Wilhelm Friedemann. but are now recognised as some of the composer’s finest creations.
Fisk and Fuller’s interesting new arrangements for guitar and harpsichord provide ideal vehicles for the virtuosity which so impressed Eliot’s legendary mentor Andres Segovia when the gifted Philadelphian became the Maestro’s final pupil some 40 years ago.