Kevin Bryan record reviews

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OUR resident musical anorak brings you his latest recommendations.

Duane Eddy,”Shazam! The Essential Collection” (Music Club Deluxe MCDLX 183)-This deliciously dated 2 CD set focusses attention on the collected works of Duane Eddy, the instantly identifiable guitarist whose unique sound made a profound impact on a whole host of aspiring young rock performers during their formative years.

New York born Eddy had taken up the guitar when he moved to Arizona as a teenager,joining forces with producer Lee Hazlewood to create a string of twangy,echo laden instrumentals which became a permanent fixture in the singles charts during the late fifties and early sixties. “Peter Gunn,” “Cannonball” and “Rebel Rouser” are the best of a raunchy bunch.

Ricky Ross, “Trouble Came Looking” (Demon ROSSCD001)- The Deacon Blue frontman wears his social conscience proudly on his sleeve as he unveils a spare and uncluttered solo package which is rather reminiscent of Bruce Springsteen’s equally bleak and austere “ Nebraska.”Echoes of the great Woody Guthrie are also conjured out of the ether as Ricky chronicles the tragic tale of the Chinese cockle-pickers on Morecambe Bay in “A Strange and Foreign Land” before transforming Craig Smillie’s “Sang O’ The Saracen Maid” into one of the most affecting folk ballads that you’ll be likely to hear in this or any other year.

Heath Common and the Thin Man,”Performance” (Platform 54)- This engagingly eccentric Yorkshire based duo continue to channel the spirits of American Beat writers such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg as they serve up their uncompromising blend of rootsy folk,rock and blues.

The two men have recorded and performed with everyone from Fat Boy Slim to Bill Nelson during the course of their long and colourful careers, and their steadfast refusal to conform to the commercial demands of the rock industry informs the quirkily memorable “Zorba The Beat,” “On The Road” and “The Gypsy and The Priest.”

Bella Hardy,”Battleplan” (Noe Records)-This impressive new album finds acoustic balladeer Bella Hardy giving a thorough going over to several classic folk songs as she re-imagines them from a distinctively female perspective.

Bella’s touring band The Midnight Watch supply the impeccable musical backdrop as she breathes new life into “The Outlandish Knight,” “Whisky You’re The Devil” and “The Raggle Taggle Gypsies,” and her own skills as a songwriter are also well represented by “Through Lonesome Woods” and the poignant “Maybe You Might.

Vladimir Feltsman,”Mussorgsky & Tchaikovsky” (Nimbus NI 6211)- The centrepiece of Vladimir Feltsman’s impressive new Nimbus recital is the Russian American pianist’s stunning performance of Mussorgsky’s “Pictures At An Exhbition.” This darkly atmospheric jaunt around an imaginary art gallery reached a whole new audience when it was given a typically overblown makeover by prog-rock behemoths ELP during the early seventies. Feltsman’s interpretation of this evocative musical suite is thankfully much more restrained ,and his equally fine renditions of Tchaikovsky’s “Album for the Young” and “Echo Rustique” set the seal on an excellent package.