Kevin Bryan has his latest perusal of the new music releases.
Prog Rock and Beyond (Union Square Music). This wide-ranging showcase for the delights of prog rock extends over two CDs and features contributions from some of the leading lights of the genre during the early 70s, including ELP, Caravan, Procol Harum and Van Der Graaf Generator. The contents also provide a welcome introduction to the work of many much more obscure acts who were arguably never even household names within their own households, with Fruup’s Olde Tyme Future and Jan Dukes De Grey’s Eldorado both well worth closer investigation.
Robert Earl Keen - Walking Distance & Picnic (Retroworld). Texan troubadour Keen’s bittersweet and literate creations have made him a name to be reckoned with on the alt country circuit for the past three decades or so, and this splendid new CD re-issue brings together the two albums that he recorded during his brief sojourn with Arista Records in the late 90s. Emotional directness is the order of the day as Keen regales listeners with finely crafted gems such as Down That Dusty Trail, Feelin’ Good Again and Then Come Lo Mein, the latter a touching duet with The Cowboy Junkies’ Margo Timmins.
Summer of Love - The Ultimate Collection (Union Square Music). The good people at Union Square have really excelled themselves with this 5 CD celebration of the music of what now seems like an increasingly bygone era. The eclectic anthology draws on 100 mostly classic creations from the late 60s and early 70s, highlighting fascinating obscurities such as the original Nirvana’s Rainbow Chaser and Richie Havens’ typically intense High Flyin’ Bird alongside bona-fide best sellers from the back catalogues of The Beach Boys, Manfred Mann, Canned Heat and Matthews Southern Comfort to name but a few.
Maurizio Pollini - Chopin:Late Works, Opp.59 - 64 (Deutsche Grammophon). Classical pianist Pollini’s unwavering love for the music of Chopin has fuelled an illustrious performing career which now extends back over more than half a century, and his latest D.G. recital finds the keyboard virtuoso exploring some of the composer’s most famous late works. The Barcarolle and Polonaise-Fantaisie are the crowning glories of a reflective and appealingly autumnal package.