Kevin Bryan reviews the best new music releases.
Crispian St Peters: The Pied Piper – The Complete Recordings 1965-1974 (RPM RETROD941)
The artist formerly known as Robin Peter Smith enjoyed a couple of sizeable hits during the mid-1960s in the shape of The Pied Piper and You Were On My Mind, the latter featuring Jimmy Page on rhythm guitar in his previous incarnation as an ambitious session musician.
St Peters found chart success much more elusive in later years but his charmingly dated back catalogue still repays closer investigation, and this two-CD anthology presents a comprehensive overview of the folk-pop balladeer’s musical career, including the entire contents of the two albums he recorded for Decca and the much more obscure Square label.
Paco Pena & Eliot Fisk: In Duo Recital (Nimbus NI 5914)
This interesting cross-cultural experiment brought together classical virtuoso Eliot Fisk and flamenco specialist Paco Pena in a unique celebration of the delights of the acoustic guitar.
The two men obviously enjoyed the experience immensely as they immersed themselves in works by the likes of Scarlatti, Bach and de Falla before closing with their distinctive version of the most famous piece in the entire classical guitar repertoire, Francisco Tarrega’s haunting tremolo study Recuderos de la Alhambra.
Pixies: Indie Cindy (Pixiesmusic)
The Pixies haven’t released any new material in album form since 1991’s Trompe le Monde, but they were finally tempted back into the studio in October 2012 to lay down the tracks which have now emerged as Indie Cindy.
Black Francis and his cohorts also overcame iconic bassist Kim Deal’s departure six days into the recording process as they joined forces with producer Gil Norton once again to unleash their distinctive ‘loudquietloud’ sound on compelling creations such as Silver Snail, Andro Queen and Indie Cindy itself.
Wihan Quartet: The Beatles Arranged by Lubos Krticka for String Quartet (Nimbus NI 6272)
The music of The Beatles has inspired countless adaptations and re-inventions over the years, and this 2000 recording from the Wihan Quartet transforms some of the Fab Four’s most tuneful compositions into contemporary chamber music.
The Beatles themselves had made use of a string quartet on their 1966 single Eleanor Rigby, and Czech composer Lubos Krticka has also crafted subtly inventive arrangements for classic Lennon and McCartney ditties such as Yesterday, Blackbird and The Fool on the Hill. Splendid stuff.
Kirsty MacColl: All I Ever Wanted (SALVOMDC037)
Quite a few Kirsty MacColl anthologies have appeared on the market since this witty performer’s untimely death 14 years ago and this wide-ranging two-CD set must rank as one of the most impressive collections I’ve come across to date.
The contents offer up an appetising blend of hits, album cuts, rare b-sides and live tracks, including the bittersweet Fairytale of New York and Kirsty’s impeccable covers of The Kinks’ Days and Billy Bragg’s A New England, the latter culled from a Radio 1 session featuring the songwriter himself on acoustic guitar and vocals.