Kevin Bryan reviews new music, re-released gems and compilations.
The Everly Brothers: Stories We Could Tell/Pass The Chicken & Listen
Don and Phil Everly may have enjoyed a notoriously fractious personal relationship but their heartfelt vocal harmonies graced a string of superb albums over the years, and these 1972 offerings must rank among their finest musical creations.
Stories We Could Tell was a particularly impressive effort, with rock luminaries such as Ry Cooder, Warren Zevon and Messrs Crosby and Nash underpinning the distinctive duo’s efforts as they tackled melodic gems such as Rod Stewart’s Mandolin Wind, Dennis Linde’s Ridin’ High and the self-penned Green River.
Steve Ellis: Riding on the Crest of a Slump
Steve Ellis hasn’t had a particularly easy time of it since making the momentous decision to quit as frontman of teen idols Love Affair in December 1969.
This interesting collaboration with maverick keyboardist Zoot Money was arguably his finest effort, produced by no less a luminary than The Who’s Roger Daltrey and first released in 1972, boasting a nicely diverse musical menu which ran the gamut from the infectious life-affirming pop of Good To Be Alive to the moodily memorable El Doomo.
The project sadly failed to capture the hearts of the rock fraternity however, and the soulful vocalist has rarely enjoyed a glimpse of the limelight since then.
Twin Atlantic: Great Divide
Glaswegian alternative rockers Twin Atlantic have capitalised on the success of their 2011 debut album, Free, by assembling this expansive and compelling follow-up set, regaling listeners with a string of stadium-friendly anthems led by Fall Into The Party and Hold On.
The band’s rare ability to concoct naggingly memorable melodic hooks should ensure healthy sales for a package which finds them working once again with producer Gil Norton of Pixies and Foo Fighters fame to deliver classic singles material such as Heart and Soul and Brothers and Sisters.
Various: It Takes Two
This unassuming new three-CD anthology celebrates the work of a diverse array of musical duos from the 1950s and the early 1960s.
The contents are nothing if not eclectic. drawing on archive recordings from such unlikely bedfellows as The Everly Brothers, Ike and Tina Turner and Scottish folkies Robin Hall and Jimmie MacGregor of Football Crazy fame.
Simon and Garfunkel also make an appearance in their brief teenage incarnation as Tom and Jerry, invoking the charmingly naive spirit of the finest pre Beatles pop with their Everlys’ influenced 1957 hit, Hey, Schoolgirl.
Devon Allman: Ragged & Dirty
This highly-regarded singer and guitarist may be the son of Southern rock legend Gregg Allman but Devon’s parents divorced when he was still an infant, and he didn’t actually meet his father until he was 15 years old.
The two men seem to share a natural affinity for the blues, however, and this excellent offering represents a worthwhile addition to the Allman family’s impressive musical legacy, recorded in Chicago with a crack local band and blessed with splendidly soulful creations such as Back To You and a heartfelt revamp of the Detroit Spinners’ I’ll Be Around.
Various: American Music Library – The Hits of 1961
This interesting new series of anthologies focuses attention on tracks which were sizeable hits in the USA but failed to make any impression at all commercially on this side of the Atlantic.
1961 seems to have been a notable year for inexplicable flops, as witnessed by the presence here of timeless gems such as The Shirelles’ Dedicated To The One I Love, Ben E King’s Spanish Harlem and The Marvelettes’ Please Mr Postman to name but a few.
The three-CD set indulges in a feast of unashamed nostalgia as it serves up a charmingly dated assortment of pop, country and R&B hits for your entertainment, including everything from bluesman Freddy King’s classic instrumental Hideaway to country legend Patsy Cline’s Crazy and I Fall To Pieces.
John Martyn: Well Kept Secret
This uncharacteristically hard-edged and aggressive offering wasn’t universally well received by the critical fraternity when it first saw the light of day in 1982, and the contents were certainly a far cry from the elusive and experimental sound that Martyn had perfected a decade or so earlier via albums such as Solid Air and Inside Out.
Open-minded listeners should find much to savour and enjoy here, however, including the radio-friendly Hung Up and Could’ve Been Me and a sublime cover of the late great Johnny Ace’s R&B classic Never Let Me Go featuring jazzman Ronnie Scott on eloquent sax.
Luke Daniels: What’s Here What’s Gone
Glasgow-based folk performer Luke Daniels is best known for his skills as a melodeon player, having worked as a soloist on the film soundtracks of Peter Jackson’s Tolkien epics and as a regular member of the Cara Dillon Band.
He’s now decided to reveal his hitherto hidden talents as a singer-songwriter via this immaculately crafted new CD, skilfully interweaving elements of folk, blues and gospel as he sets out his highly personal musical manifesto via fine tracks such as In Our Hearts, What She Means and All My Dreams.