Kevin Bryan reviews the best new music releases.
Willie Nelson: Band of Brothers
The venerable country balladeer may be well into his 80s now but he seems to be enjoying a whole new lease of life as a songwriter on the evidence presented by the excellent Band of Brothers.
The contents showcase his first major batch of freshly minted songs since 1996’s Spirit, and fine tracks such as The Wall, Used To Her and Wives and Girlfriends are delivered with the distinctive lightness of touch and easy going melodic charm which has been Willie’s trademark ever since he joined forces with the great Waylon Jennings to launch the outlaw country movement some 40 years or so ago.
Richard Thompson: Acoustic Classics
Richard Thompson been rightly acclaimed as one of the top 20 guitarists of all time, and Acoustic Classics finds this supremely gifted folk-rock musician applying his peerless instrumental technique to pared down versions of some classic creations from his illustrious back catalogue.
The earliest of these arresting narratives were penned more than 40 years ago and it’s a testament to the longevity of Richard’s songwriting skills that they’ve lost none of their compelling quality with the passage of time.
Down Where The Drunkards Roll and 1952 Vincent Black Lightning capture this intense performer at his brilliant best.
Ronnie Lane Memorial Concert
This splendid live DVD was recorded at London’s prestigious Royal Albert Hall in April 2004, where a string of British rock luminaries joined forces in an affectionate celebration of the former Faces and Small Faces’ bass player’s impressive musical legacy.
Ronnie Wood, Pete Townshend, Paul Weller and 1960s icons Steve Ellis and Chris Farlowe all played their part in the success of a lengthy set as they helped to breathe new life into memorable Lane creations such as Itchycoo Park, How Come and the beguilingly bucolic The Poacher.
Mark Germino: Caught in the Act of Being Ourselves / London Moon and Barnyard Remedies
This engaging CD re-issue couples the two albums that Nashville-based singer-songwriter Germino recorded in Surrey during the mid-1980s with assorted members of Fairport Convention and producer Paul Samwell-Smith. The venture wasn’t a great commercial success but it did yield one minor masterwork in the shape of Rex Bob Lowenstein, a massive airplay hit at the time which recounted the sad tale of a renegade radio DJ who refused to compromise his principles and lost his job as a result.
Robin Trower: Compendium 1987-2013
Guitarist Robin Trower personally selected the contents of this new two-CD anthology, drawing on the finest recordings he’s made since severing his ties with Chrysalis Records in 1983.
Trower’s spacey and atmospheric approach to music-making has often prompted comparisons with the work of Jimi Hendrix and the former Procol Harum man is certainly a performer of rare power and invention, as you’ll discover for yourself if you lend an ear to prime cuts such as The Thrill Is Gone, Seven Moons and The Last Door, the latter tracks featuring Jack Bruce of Cream fame on bass and typically expressive vocals.