MUSIC REVIEW: Kevin Bryan

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Here are the latest music releases from resident columnist Kevin Bryan.

The Unthanks, “Mount The Air” (RabbleRouser Music)- Rachel and Becky Unthank may be loosely pigeonholed as folk performers but the Northumbrian duo’s work is blessed with a freshness and originality which should appeal to music lovers of all persuasions. “Mount The Air” was penned by Rachel’s husband, producer and pianist Adrian McNally, drawing inspiration from a book of traditional Dorset songs which sister Becky found in Cecil Sharp House. The epic and expansive title track is the crowning glory of a typically innovative set which also features beguiling gems such as “Died For Love,” “Magpie” and the strangely sinister “Flutter.”

Meat Puppets, “Out My Way” (Wienerworld MVD 5279A)- This heartfelt 1986 offering began life as an EP with an overall running time of just under half an hour, but the contents have now been expanded into a fully fledged Meat Puppets album with the inclusion of their classic version of “I Just Want to Make Love to You” and six hitherto unreleased recordings. The expanded package captures the Arizona’s bands free flowing fusion of punk, psychedlia and country at its most compelling, including manic covers of such unlikely bedfellows as Little Richard’s “Good Golly Miss Molly” and George Jones’ “Burn The Honky Tonk Down.”

“Great Songs Of The Heart From The Fifties & Sixties” (Fantastic Voyage FVTD 211)- This rather unwieldy title masks an undemanding 3 CD anthology featuring no less than ninety tuneful ditties from half a century and more ago linked by the presence of the word “heart” in their titles. The bulk of the set could be loosely pigeonholed as dated easy-listening although the compilers have extracted quite a few tasty musical morsels from the archives too, including Buddy Holly’s “Raining In My Heart,” Jerry Lee Lewis’ “Cold Cold Heart “ and Detroit r&b group The Royals’ 1953 doo-wop hit, “Every Beat of My Heart.”

Black Slate, “World Citizen” (Wienerworld U8R002)- Black Slate provided an excellent backing band for many of Jamaica’s top reggae acts when they toured Britain during the seventies, but their fortunes gradually waned as the years wore on and the group finally gave up the ghost in 1995. Original members Desmond Mahoney and Elroy Bailey decided to put together a new version of the band two years ago , and “World Citizen” is the second album from the revamped Black Slate line-up. “World Citizenship” and “Living in the Footsteps” are the pick of a polished and musicianly set.