Our resident music expert brings you his latest recommendations.
John Lee Hooker,” Cook With The Hook” (SALVO SVX 030)- This absorbing audio-visual treat extends over three discs, serving up the cream of John Lee Hooker’s musical output between 1948 and 1961 alongside a DVD featuring the great man’s performance at a rather curious festival held in an active landfill site in Massachusetts in July 1974. Mississippi born Hooker’s intense and mesemeric approach to music-making influenced a whole host of aspiring young bluesmen on both sides of the Atlantic during their formative years and many of his finest creations are given an airing here,including “Boom Boom,” “Crawlin’ King Snake,” and his first hit single,”Boogie Chillen.”
The Pretty Things,”Live at the 100 Club” (LMS 001 LP)- This limited edition vinyl LP has been released to mark the 50th anniversary of the release of The Pretty Things’ uncompromising debut album. Founder members Dick Taylor and Phil May and their recently recruited sidekicks set up shop in London’s 100 Club four years ago to record a new live version of their first long-player, with their energised renditions of dusty old crowd-pleasers such as “Honey,I Need,” “13,Chester Street” and Bo Diddley’s”Pretty Thing” providing an object lesson in the art of growing old disgracefully.
Greenslade,”Large Afternoon” (Angel Air SJPCD 411)- Greenslade’s keyboard dominated brand of prog rock attracted a deluge of critical plaudits during the band’s creative heyday in the mid seventies,but a series of insoluble management problems finally prompted the band to give up the ghost in 1976. Dave Greenslade decided to reform the quartet almost a quarter of a century later,joining forces with his old friend Tony Reeves and new members John Young and Chris Cozens to record “Large Afternoon.” The finished product lacked some of the inventiveness and originality of their early work but is well worth investigating nonetheless,with “On Suite” and “Cakewalk” emerging as the best of the bunch.
Royal Southern Brotherhood,”Heartsoulblood” (Ruf 1204)-Royal Southern Brotherhood’s sublime blend of rock,blues and funk represents a glorious throwback to the golden era of Southern rockers such as Lynyrd Skynyrd and the Allman Brothers some forty years or so ago,and Gregg Allman’s guitar toting son Devon is coincidentally one of the driving forces behind the quintet’s muscular sound. The latter’s interplay with fellow guitarist Mike Zito is one of the most appealing features of this splendid set,and the dynamic duo are in particularly fine fettle on stand-out tracks such as “World Blues,” “Groove On” and “Rock and Roll.”
“Breezy Sugar-The Pure Essence of Chicago Rock & Roll” (Fantastic Voyage FVTD 197)-Rock historian Stuart Colman’s latest wide-ranging anthology focusses attention on some of the vibrant performers who ventured into Chicago’s recording studios during the late fifties and early sixties. The windy city’s contribution to the history of rock and roll has tended to be under-valued over the years but the 75 tracks on offer here certainly repay closer investigation,with familiar names such as Chuck Berry and Bo Diddley rubbing shoulders with some fascinating obscurities culled from the dusty archives of long forgotten labels like Fascination,Artistic and Falcon.