A LOOK at some of the new releases to hit the shelves.
Neil Young with Crazy Horse, ‘Americana’ (Reprise 9362-49508-5)
This raggedly memorable package reunites Neil Young with his old compadres Crazy Horse for the first time in nine years as the grizzled rock veterans serve up their inimitable versions of some classic American folk tunesas well as unexpected covers of The Silhouettes’ doo-wop hit, ‘Get A Job’ and ‘God Save the Queen’ (The British national anthem, as opposed to the Sex Pistols’ magnum opus). The whole affair has the feel of a loosely-structured jam session, with Young’s corrosive guitar work breathing new life into much-loved old ditties such as ‘Oh Susannah’, ‘Clementine’ and Woody Guthrie’s ‘This Land Is Your Land’ along the way.
Paul Brady, ‘Dancer in the Fire’ (Proper PRPCD101)
The Ulster-born singer-songwriter has been making music professionally for almost half a century now, indulging his passion for traditional folk with Planxty and The Johnstons before embarking on a solo career in the late 1970s. This two-CD set was compiled by the man himself, showcasing Brady’s personal favourites from the fifteen albums that he’s recorded since those days and excluding anything that appeared on the 1999 anthology, ‘Nobody Knows’. The finished product is eclectic and richly rewarding, including fine tracks such as ‘Hard Station’, the original single recording of ‘Crazy Dreams’ and a splendid new mix of ‘Paddy’s Green Shamrock Shore’ from the award-winning 1978 album, ‘Welcome Here Kind Stranger’.
Tom Jones, ‘Spirit in the Room’ (Island 370-188 4)
Jones’ musical renaissance continues with the release of ‘Spirit in the Room’, and producer Ethan Johns has obviously been a key factor in the success of this excellent album, guiding Tom through what must have often been fairly unfamiliar material just as Rick Rubin had done with Johnny Cash during his twilight years. Leonard Cohen’s self-deprecating ‘Tower of Song’ sets the ball rolling in fine style and the contents also include songs by Richard Thompson, Paul McCartney and Tom Waits, although the larger than life balladeer seems more comfortable when tackling much earthier ditties such as Odetta’s ‘Hit Or Miss’ and Blind Willie Johnson’s ‘Soul Of A Man’.
Bob Marley & The Wailers, ‘Marley — The Original Soundtrack’ (Island 2799776)
Kevin MacDonald’s painstakingly researched new documentary, ‘Marley’, chronicles the ultimately tragic life story of reggae’s one genuine superstar via an arresting blend of live footage and informative archive material. This equally compelling soundtrack album features many of the great man’s most impressive musical creations, including ‘Get Up Stand Up’, ‘Redemption Song’ and ‘No Woman No Cry’, plus a hitherto unreleased version of ‘Jammin’’ from the 1978 One Love Peace Concert in Jamaica, when Marley persuaded bitter rivals Michael Manley and Edward Seaga to join hands in a much-needed public display of political reconciliation.
‘The Old Grey Whistle Test Live’ (Rhino WMTV 193)
The late lamented ‘Whistle Test’ was the BBC’s flagship music show from 1971 to 1987, providing an outlet for an eclectic array of performers who wouldn’t otherwise have been allowed within shouting distance of a British television studio. This new anthology features a string of classic live performances from the programme’s heyday alongside a bonus disc of recordings from last year’s 40th anniversary Radio 2 show boasting offerings from the likes of Loudon Wainwright, Gang of Four and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull fame.