Kevin Bryan reviews the best new music releases.
Kaiser Chiefs: Education, Education, Education & War (Caroline International)
The Kaiser Chiefs have had a fairly hard time of it in recent years, with steadily declining record sales and a general feeling of creative ennui eventually prompting founding drummer Nick Hodgson to leave the fold in late 2012.
Nick’s departure could all too easily have hammered the final nail into their collective coffin but the Leeds indie rockers have responded by unveiling their finest album since 2005’s Employment, with Ruffians On Parade, The Factory Gates and Misery Company emerging as the best of a rowdily compelling bunch.
Thorbjorn Risager & The Black Tornado: Too Many Roads (Ruf 1200)
Risager’s name may not be too familiar to British audiences but by all accounts the Danish bluesman and his finely honed band are a very hot property on the touring circuit in Scandinavia and the rest of northern Europe.
The soulful singer and guitarist fronts one of the tightest performing units you could ever wish to hear, with a powerful three-man horn section lending added impetus to grittily memorable tracks such as Rich Man, Backseat Driver and Too Many Roads itself.
Clem Clempson: In The Public Interest (Repertoire REPUK 1192)
Clempson may have won a whole host of critical plaudits over the years for his work with outfits such as Humble Pie and Colosseum, but In The Public Interest is actually the first solo album the veteran guitarist has recorded during a career which has spanned more than four decades.
Former Cream lyricist Pete Brown lent a hand in penning five of the tracks and Clem also enlisted the aid of vocalists Chris Farlowe and Maggie Bell to underpin his efforts as he served up stylish blues rock creations such as Think About Me and an impressive re-vamp of the old Humble Pie crowd-pleaser, I Don’t Need No Doctor.
Sally Oldfield: Natasha (Talking Elephant TECD 246)
Sally Oldfield made an immediate impact on the UK singles charts in 1978, when one of the winsome folk-pop ditties from her debut long-player Water Bearer found its way into the lower reaches of the Top 20.
She was sadly unable to capitalise on the success of Mirrors, however, and soon slipped back into semi-obscurity, with many of the singer-songwriter’s later albums never actually being granted a British release at all.
The otherwise unexceptional Natasha dates from 1990 and boasts a guest appearance on guitar on the opening track by Sally’s younger brother Mike of Tubular Bells fame.
Udagawa/Berezovsky, Khachaturian: Violin Sonata and Dances from Gayaneh & Spartacus (Nimbus NI 6269)
This varied recital of small-scale works by the Georgian composer Aram Khachaturian dates from 2000 and provides a splendid vehicle for the talents of violinist Hideko Udagawa and pianist Boris Berezovsky, showcasing no less than seven world premiere recordings.
Khachaturian’s early output is particularly well represented by affecting pieces such as Song-Poem and Dance No.1, and the duo also take the opportunity to breathe new life into his most famous creation, the rousing Sabre Dance.