Kevin Bryan reviews new music, compilations and re-released gems.
Todd Rundgren: At The BBC 1972-1982
This wide-ranging anthology extends over three CDs and a DVD, drawing on all the radio and television recordings made by this multi-talented performer and his gifted cohorts which still remain in the BBC archives.
These include Rundgren and Utopia’s classic Radio One In Concert shows from 1975 and 1977 and the solo Todd’s complete Whistle Test special from 1982, showcasing everything from the pure pop of I Saw The Light and Hello It’s Me to prog-rock epics such as Singring and the Glass Guitar in the process.
Various: Favourite Scottish Songs
The latest offering in Greentrax’s Celtic Collections series was originally intended to provide a useful tool which Scotland’s music teachers could use to introduce their pupils to the rich delights of the country’s folk song heritage.
It was soon realised that Favourite Scottish Songs would have a much wider appeal than that, so the CD is now available on general release to discerning record buyers everywhere, boasting excellent contributions from folk luminaries such as Dick Gaughan, Karine Polwart and the late lamented Davy Steele to name but a few.
Gong: I See You
Gong frontman Daevid Allen continues to display a commendable disregard for the fickle demands of fad and fashion as he pursues his unique musical vision with I See You.
This splendid throwback to the group’s golden era in the mid-1070s captures the venerable Aussie eccentric in surprisingly sprightly form when you bear in mind the serious health issues which have dogged him recently, and newcomers to Gong’s alternative music universe would be well advised to lend an ear to stand-out tracks such as You See Me, The Eternal Wheel Spins or Thank You.
Various: American Music Library - The Hits of 1962
The latest CD retrospective in this excellent series takes inquisitive listeners on a voyage of discovery around the American singles charts of just over half a century ago.
Many of the participants made very little impact on the record-buying public on this side of the Atlantic but this tasty melange of pop, country and vibrant r&b is well worth investigating nonetheless, with Ben E King’s Don’t Play That Song, Clyde McPhatter’s Lover Please and the highly influential Booker T instrumental Green Onions emerging as the best of an eclectic bunch.
Devo: Miracle Witness Hour
This appealingly rough and ready live album captures Devo’s typically challenging performance at an obscure biker bar in Cleveland, Ohio, in 1977.
These hitherto unreleased recordings find the avant-garde rockers confounding the handful of presumably bemused punters at this rather less than salubrious establishment with embryonic versions of quirky band staples such as Jocko Hom and Mongoloid, pursuing their passion for musical risk-taking with the frantic energy of men possessed.