A LOOK at some of the latest CDs to hit the shelves with Kevin Bryan.
Woody Guthrie, ‘This Land Is Your Land’ (Retrospective RTR 4204)
The founding father of the protest song movement was born in the Oklahoma town of Okemah in 1912, and this anthology marks the centenary of his birth by bringing together many of the Dust Bowl balladeer’s finest creations. Guthrie spoke out on behalf of the poor and dispossessed masses of rural America via classic songs such as ‘Pretty Boy Floyd’, ‘Tom Joad’ and ‘Vigilante Man’, and although Woody’s musical career would later be curtailed by the debilitating effects of Huntington’s Disease these inspiring recordings from the forties would go on to influence a whole host of like-minded acoustic performers in the decades that followed.
‘The Art of Maurizio Pollini’ (D.G.477 9529)
The great Italian classical pianist Maurizio Pollini unveils some of his favourite recordings from the four decades that he’s spent with Deutsche Grammophon, lavishly packaged inside a 120-page hardcover book containing a whole host of photos and the great man’s complete discography. This singularly open-minded musician tackles works by everyone from Stravinsky and Webern to Chopin and Beethoven during the three-CD set, including a particularly fine 1978 rendition of the latter’s ‘Emperor’ concerto featuring Karl Boehm and the Vienna Philharmonic.
Jerry Lee Lewis, ‘A Whole Lotta’ (SALVOBX 410)
Salvo’s excellent new box set serves up no less than 106 tracks from the Jerry Lee Lewis archives, drawing on the cream of his recorded output from the fifties to the eighties. Classic rock’n’roll ditties such as ‘High School Confidential’ and ‘Great Balls of Fire’ capture ‘The Killer’ at his youthful peak, hammering the ivories with the power and precision which became his trademark. Jerry Lee’s approach to music-making grew much more restrained as the 1960s wore on, with the notorious hell-raiser applying his distinctive musical imprint to tuneful gems such as ‘What’s Made Milwaukee Famous’, ‘Detroit City’ and ‘Green Green Grass Of Home’ as he carved out a lucrative new career for himself as a mainstream country performer.
‘Spanish Guitar Encores’ (D.G.478 4224)
This entertaining anthology showcases many of the most appealing and evocative pieces in the classical guitar repertoire, drawing on recordings made between 1968 and 1998 by two of the leading lights of the genre in the shape of Narciso Yepes and Goran Soellscher. The vast majority of the tracks are rooted firmly in the Spanish tradition, including Gaspar Sanz’s Baroque ‘Suite Espanola’, Albeniz’s ‘Asturias’ and virtuoso guitarist Francisco Tarrega’s ever-popular tremolo study, ‘Recuderos de la Alhambra’.
Ann Peebles, ‘The Original Soul Sister’ (Music Club Deluxe MCDLX163)
This soulful singer and songwriter assembled a highly impressive body of work for Willie Mitchell’s Memphis-based Hi Records during the early 1970s, although the emergence of the disco phenomenon in the latter stages of the decade put paid to her hopes of continued chart success. This fine retrospective features the best of Ann’s stylishly arranged Hi ouput, including gems such as ‘I’ve Been There Before’, ‘Part Time Love’ and the classic ‘I Can’t Stand The Rain’, which no less a luminary than John Lennon hailed as “one of the greatest soul records of all time.”