Kevin Bryan record reviews

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Our resident rare groove enthusiast serves up his latest choice cuts.

The Albion Band, “Light Shining” (Sharrow SDA 1009)- The various incarnations of the Albion Band have added a wealth of fine material to the electric folk repertoire over the years and Ashley Hutchings and Dave Whetstone were responsible for penning the bulk of this excellent set,which first saw the light of day in 1982. Newly recruited vocalist Cathy Lesurf also chipped in with the atmospheric “The Green Mist”, and Hutchings’ love of historical narrative inspired impressive tracks such as “Wolfe” and “Swift Nick,” the latter exploring some of the myths and legends which sprang up around the life of notorious 17th century highwayman William Nevison.

Martin Simpson,”Vagrant Stanzas” (Topic TSCD 589)- Scunthorpe born Martin Simpson is widely acknowledged as one of the world’s finest acoustic and slide guitarists,and the veteran folk performer has chosen to mark his 60th birthday with the release of what is arguably his most intimate and compelling album to date. The solo and unadorned “Vagrant Stanzas” draws on material from both sides of the Atlantic,including Leonard Cohen’s “Stranger Song” and Leon Rosselson’s “Palaces of Gold,” relying mainly on first or second takes in an attempt to evoke the atmosphere of idyllic evenings spent swapping songs across the kitchen table.

“Va pensiero,sull’ali dorate-Verdi’s life told by Thomas Hampson” (Euroarts 2051048)- This attractive 2001 film by Felix Breisach explores the career of Giuseppe Verdi. who rose from his humble origins in the village of Le Roncole to find fame and fortune as Italy’s national composer and one of the richest men in the country. The DVD is presented by operatic baritone Thomas Hampson ,who guides viewers around a string of picturesque locations inextricably linked with Verdi’s life as well as lip synching his way through some choice extracts from the great man’s operas “I due Foscari,” “Il Trovatore,” “Macbeth,” and “La Traviata.”

David Lynch, “The Big Dream” (Sunday Best Recordings)- The creative driving force behind classic cult films such as “Eraserhead” and “Mulholland Drive” has now brought his unique world view to bear on the musical sphere, and the results are every bit as surreal and inventive as the veteran director’s cinematic exploits. Lynch describes the curiously elemental content of the follow up to his critically acclaimed 2011 album,”Crazy Clown Time” as “modern blues,” and his reverb drenched guitar and electronically doctored vocals lend an otherwordly quality to the dreamlike “Cold Wind Blowin’” and “Are You Sure” and a stunning re-invention of Dylan’s “The Ballad of Hollis Brown.”

Colosseum,”Those Who Are About To Die Salute You”(Talking Elephant TECD 222)- The progressive jazz rockers’ compelling debut set, “Those Who Are About To Die..,” was released by Fontana Records in 1969 and provided an intense vehicle for the talents of top notch performers such as drummer Jon Hiseman, organist Dave Greenslade and saxist Dick Heckstall-Smith.The original album has now been fleshed out a little with the inclusion of six bonus tracks culled from several BBC radio sessions of a similar vintage, and although Colosseum’s innovative sound may have acquired much more polish and control as the years wore on their early creative outpourings certainly repay closer investigation too.