Kevin Bryan reviews the best new music releases.
Sheryl Crow: Feels Like Home (Warner Bros)
The multiple Grammy Award-winning Ms Crow makes her debut for Warner’s Nashville offshoot with an album which has prompted quite a few pundits to hail her re-birth as a country singer, although in truth the contents aren’t too far removed from the work she’s done in the past.
There are a few notable exceptions to this general rule however, with tracks such as Stay At Home Mother and the cringe-inducing Waterproof Mascara resembling nothing so much as thinly-disguised country parodies.
The gutsy opener Shotgun and Easy are the best of the rest.
Procol Harum: Live at the Union Chapel (SALVOSVX017)
This richly rewarding CD/DVD package focuses attention on Procol Harum’s gig at Islington’s Union Chapel in December 2003.
Quite a few musicians have passed through Procol’s ranks over the years but singer and pianist Gary Brooker has remained at the helm since their foundation in 1966, and he was joined here by another early recruit in the shape of organist Matthew Fisher as they promoted their then current album, The Well’s On Fire alongside some gems from their illustrious back catalogue.
Prog rock classics such as A Salty Dog and Homburg were given an airing before the band closed the show with their magnum opus, A Whiter Shade of Pale in its rarely heard three-verse version.
The Scottish Diaspora: The Music and the Song (Greentrax CDTRAX 380)
This eclectic showcase for the musical delights on offer on Scotland’s leading folk label ranges far and wide in its choice of subject matter, with the bulk of the tracks culled from Greentrax’s illustrious back catalogue alongside newly recorded ditties such as Dick Gaughan’s Connolly Was There.
Many of the most affecting contributions chronicle the experiences of the countless Scots who left their homeland to start new lives in far flung corners of the globe, including Brian McNeill’s Ewen and The Gold and former Runrig frontman Donnie Munro’s Dance Called America.
Gary Moore: Live in Concert at the 1990 Montreux Festival (SALVOSVX015)
Another fine CD/DVD collection from the good people at Salvo, this time capturing blues guitarist Gary Moore’s first performance at the prestigious Montreux Jazz Festival.
The gifted Ulsterman was performing at the peak of his powers at the time, having just released the superb Still Got The Blues album, which supplies nine of the numbers featured here.
Veteran axeman Albert Collins lends a hand on several tracks as Gary and his Midnight Blues Band regale their enthusiastic Swiss audience with choice offerings such as Too Tired, Cold Cold Feeling and Further On Up The Road.
Eric Church: The Outsiders (Decca Records)
Eric Church’s recordings may be loosely pigeonholed in the country category but in reality this audacious maverick draws as much inspiration from Zeppelin and the Stones as he ever would from the denizens of Nashville’s musical establishment.
The Outsiders is the North Carolina singer-songwriter’s fourth studio album, blending emotionally charged rockers such as That’s Damn Rock & Roll and the prog metal influenced title track with the much more understated charms of Talladega and Dark Side. Splendid stuff.