The Kinks - Sunny Afternoon: The Very Best Of (Sanctuary Records) This all-embracing two-CD retrospective has obviously been released to capitalise on the success of the award winning West End musical Sunny Afternoon, serving up a memorable celebration of Kinks frontman Ray Davies’s unique songwriting talent in the process. The contents were selected by Davies himself and include a blend of bona fide hits, intriguing album tracks and radio sessions and interview material culled from the BBC archives, including timeless gems such as Lola, Days and the peerless Waterloo Sunset.
Soul For Dancers (Fantastic Voyage). R&B specialist Lois Wilson’s latest foray into the vinyl archives has yielded a vibrant two-record set which explores the roots of northern soul via 61 highly danceable offerings from the illustrious back catalogues of Aretha Franklin, Don Covay, Bobby Bland and Sam Cooke to name but a few. As always with anthologies such as this, the real joy comes in discovering the delights of much more obscure gems such as the visceral Louis Jones’s showstopping Come On Home or former John Lee Hooker sideman Eddie “Guitar” Burns’s impressive 1961 boogie Hard Headed Woman, featuring a youthful Marvin Gaye on drums.
Steve Hackett - Access All Areas (Edsel Records). Former Genesis guitarist Hackett has followed a fairly esoteric career path since bidding a fond farewell to Phil Collins and company in 1977, and this fine concert recording showcases the cream of the gifted Londoner’s solo repertoire along with one track from his old band’s Wind and Wuthering longplayer, the self-penned In That Quiet Earth. The audience at Central TV’s Nottingham studios for this 1990 show were treated to a feast of pastoral progrock as Steve and his recently recruited band launched into perennial crowdpleasers such as Everyday and the title track of his excellent 1979 album, Spectral Mornings.
Barrence Whitfield & The Savages - Under A Savage Sky (Bloodshot Records). Barrence Whitfield’s swaggering brand of r’n’b has frequently prompted comparisons with the likes of Howlin’ Wolf, Wilson Pickett and Little Richard, and Under The Savage Sky captures this veteran performer’s raw and raucous sound at its most intense and compelling. The influence of sixties garage band rock also looms large as Whitfield and his like-minded cohorts deliver prime cuts such as Willow, I’m A Full Grown Man and Angry Hands.