Kevin Bryan returns with his weekly record review slot.
The Damned - Evil Spirits (Search and Destroy/Spinefarm Records). The Damned were always one of the most musically accomplished bands to emerge from the punk movement of the late 70s, and they return to the fray after a ten-year absence from the recording process with a splendid new album overseen by legendary producer Tony Visconti of David Bowie and T.Rex fame. This crowd-funded masterwork leans heavily on the creative contributions of founder members Dave Vanian and Captain
Sensible as The Damned unveil an eclectic package graced with memorable ditties such as Standing On The Edge of Tomorrow, Devil In Disguise and the sublimely Gothic Shadow Evocation for your listening pleasure.
Brian Auger and the Trinity & Julie Driscoll - Untold Tales of the Holy Trinity (Wienerworld). This historic showcase for the instrumental artistry of organ wizard Brian Auger draws on some seemingly long lost concert recordings from the golden year of 1968. The charismatic Julie Driscoll lends a hand on vocals as Auger and his gifted cohorts tackle covers of Aretha Franklin’s Save Me and The Beatles’ A Day in the Life, before he switches from Hammond B3 to piano to apply his distinctive musical imprint to Mose Allison’s If You Live, Donovan’s Season of the Witch and the era defining This Wheel’s On Fire.
Dickey Betts & Great Southern - Southern Jam New York 1978 (Wienerworld). Florida-born guitarist Dickey Betts is best remembered these days for his eloquent contributions to the Allman Brothers’ string of classic Southern Rock albums during the early 70s, but his subsequent solo output often seems to have slipped by largely unnoticed, despite the undoubted quality of efforts such as this. This live set was recorded for a New York radio station in 1978, blending freshly minted new songs with extended revamps of old Allmans favourites such as Jessica, In Memory of Elizabeth Reed and their upbeat 1973 hit, Ramblin’ Man.
John Prine - The Tree of Forgiveness (Oh Boy Records). The former Chicago mailman may be a senior citizen these days but he’s yet to lose the ability to conjure up a memorable turn of phrase which made his work so memorable during his creative heyday in the early 70s. None of the new songs featured here pack the searing emotional punch of timeless Prine creations such as Sam Stone or Angel From Montgomery, but the venerable singer-songwriter’s first album of original material since
2005’s Grammy Award winning Fair and Square remains a life enhancing gem of the highest order, liberally peppered with some quirkily memorable slices of social observation led by Lonesome Friends of Science and Caravan of Fools.