CD LOWDOWN: music reviews

A LOOK at some of the new releases to hit the shelves — and download lists.

Soul Breakout ‘61’ (Fantastic Voyage FVDD 143)

Fantastic Voyage’s latest archive anthology features a stunning array of classic soul recordings which all found their way into the U.S. charts more than half a century ago. Sam Cooke’s ‘Cupid’, Ben E.King’s ‘Stand By Me’ and Timi Yuro’s ‘Hurt’ are all given an airing alongside early offerings from revered soul luminaries such as Gladys Knight, Aretha Franklin and The Miracles to create a richly-rewarding package which should be required listening for fans of the genre everywhere.

Hans Theessink and Terry Evans, ‘Delta Time’ (Blue Groove BG 2220)

Veteran Dutch blues guitarist Theessink joined forces with Ry Cooder’s old vocal sidekick Terry Evans in Los Angeles a few months ago to assemble this intimate collection, with Cooder himself adding his distinctive musical imprint to three of the stand-out tracks, ‘Shelter From The Storm’, The Delmore Brothers’ ‘Blues Stay Away From Me’ and Bobby Charles’ ‘How Come People Act Like That’, The gospel tinged vocal harmonies supplied by Evans, Willie Green Jr. and Arnold McCuller add the finishing touch to one of the finest acoustic blues sets that you’ll be likely to hear in this or any other year.

The Weather Prophets, ‘Blue Skies & Free Rides-The Best of 1986-1989’ (Cherry Red CDM RED 251)

The Weather Prophets’ unassuming brand of jangly, hook-laden indie pop never really received the attention that it deserved when the band were operating at the peak of their powers in the mid-eighties, and the musical highlights of the relatively meagre body of work that they recorded during their short time together have now been rescued from obscurity to form this subtly memorable new Cherry Red compilation. Criminally under-rated creative mainstay Pete Astor emerges from the proceedings as a rock frontman of uncommon grace and charm, re-interpreting blues legend Robert Johnson’s ‘Stones In My Passway’ and Dylan’s ‘Odds and Ends’ alongside self-penned gems such as ‘You’re My Ambulance’, ‘Almost Prayed’ and the quietly affecting ‘She Comes From The Rain’.

‘Bolero: The Best of Ravel’ (D.G. 479 0537)

Deutsche Grammophon’s new two-CD set ranges far and wide in its exploration of Maurice Ravel’s musical repertoire, drawing on violin sonatas, pieces for solo piano and grand orchestral works, including the inevitable ‘Bolero’. This climactic show-stopper receives the full treatment here in a powerful 1985 recording by Herbert von Karajan and the Berlin Philharmonic, and the compilers have also taken this opportunity to showcase the talents of other top notch classical performers such as Claudio Abbado and pianists Martha Argerich and Maria Joao Pires, who features in two stylish collaborations with violinst Augustin Dumay from the early nineties.

The Golden Earrings, ‘Winter Harvest’ (RPM Retro 853)

Golden Earring are best remembered these days for their one off 1973 hit, ‘Radar Love’, but the melodic Dutch rockers actually began life as The Golden Earrings in 1961, dropping the final ‘s’ from their title in 1969. ‘Winter Harvest’ first saw the light of day in 1967,and the contents of this interesting period piece have been fleshed out a little here with the inclusion of four bonus tracks from the previous year. Vocalist Frans Krassenburg was on the verge of leaving the fold to be replaced by the charismatic Barry Hay, but he was still in fine fettle here as the band delivered a batch of derivative but nonetheless entertaining pop-rock ditties led by ‘Dream’, ‘Lionel The Miser’ and the Kinks influenced ‘Daddy Buy Me A Girl’.