Echo & The Bunnymen, Do It Clean - An Anthology 1979-1987 (Union Square Music)- This enjoyable two-CD set brings together the cream of the Bunnymen’s musical output from their highly productive years with Ian McCulloch at the helm, including a generous selection of tracks from the effortlessly melodic Merseysiders’ finest creation, 1984’s Ocean Rain. Timeless gems such as Seven Seas, The Killing Moon and Bring On The Dancing Horses are all given an airing here, capturing the sublime melange of metaphysical musings and subdued psychedelia which made the band such an attractive proposition during their creative heyday thirty years or so ago.
Andreas Ottensamer, Brahms: The Hungarian Connection (Deutsche Grammophon)- Berlin Philharmonic clarinettist Ottensamer has taken this opportunity to explore the connections between Brahms’ folk inspired creations and the original source material, performing traditional Hungarian dances alongside some of the composer’s own compositions such as the memorable Clarinet Quartet. The finished product offers some revealing insights into Brahms’ creative processes, and should be required listening for anyone who enjoys the work of one of the leading lights of 19th Century musical culture.
It’s Jamaica Jump Blues Time! (Fantastic Voyage)- A fascinating new three-CD set from Fantastic Voyage, showcasing some of the vibrant American R&B recordings which would have delighted the audiences of Jamaica’s mobile sound systems from the late 40s to the dawn of the Ska era. Compiler Phil Etgart has delved deeply into the archives to unearth some highly influential ditties from the likes of Louis Jordan, Fats Domino, Smiley Lewis and legendary New Orleans pianist Professor Longhair, who chips in with his rumbustious 1957 offering, Baby, Let Me Hold Your Hand.
Asleep at the Wheel, Still The King (Proper Records)- Ray Benson and his gifted cohorts in Asleep at the Wheel have been championing the cause of Western Swing for over four decades now, and their latest Proper CD pays homage to the founding father of the genre,Texas born Bob Wills. Benson has roped in a whole host of country music luminaries to underpin his tight knit outfit’s sterling efforts here too, including Lyle Lovett, Willie Nelson, Merle Haggard and Tennessee roots revivalists Old Crow Medicine Show, whose spirited revamp of ‘Tiger Rag’ is one of the highlights of an excellent set.