Here are the latest recommendations from our incumbent musical maestro.
The Climax Blues Band, “Tightly Knit” (Esoteric ECLEC 2385)- They may have enjoyed a brief glimpse of British chart success when “Couldn’t Get It Right” inveigled its way into the higher reaches of the Top 10 in the mid seventies but this Stafford band were essentially a hard-working album orientated outfit, and “Tightly Knit” was one of their most impressive early offerings. The original 1971 long-player has been fleshed out a little here with the inclusion of three live bonus tracks,”Hey Mama,” “Spoonful” and “Shoot Her If She Runs,” and guitarist Peter Haycock and singing saxist Colin Cooper are in particularly fine fettle throughout this robust bluesy romp.
Ian Watt,”Britten,Walton,McLeod,Wilson,Dowland” (Nimbus NI 6226)- Watt’s second Nimbus recital serves up an attractive blend of the ancient and the relatively modern as the gifted young Scottish guitarist takes this opportunity to mark Benjamin Britten’s centenary and the 450th anniversary of Renaissance lutenist John Dowland’s birth. William Walton’s ingenious “Five Bagatelles” were penned for the great Julian Bream in 1971 and provide one of the highlights of an excellent set alongside Dowland’s five deliciously melancholy contributions,led by the exquisite “Semper Dowland semper dolens.”
“American Heartland” (Sony Music)- The 47 tracks showcased here may not quite live up to Sony’s rather grandiose claim that they “capture the spirit of America,” but devotees of country,pop and soft rock should find more than enough to keep them entertained in this easy on the ear 3 CD set. Many of these songs have been featured in hit U.S. TV shows and films, helping to ensure that edgy displays of individualism are kept to a bare minimum as the proceedings flow smoothly along with a finely honed tunefulness that’s best sampled in relatively small doses. Mary Chapin Carpenter’s “He Thinks He’ll Keep Her” and Sarah McLachlan’s poignant” Angel” are the pick of a fairly homogeneous package.
Jack Teagarden & Don Goldie, “A Portrait of Mr.T & Mr.G” (Retrospective RTR 4216)- This engaging jazz anthology celebrates the relatively short-lived partnership between trombonist Teagarden and trumpeter Goldie,drawing on recordings made for Roulette and Verve Records between 1959 and 1961. The natural empathy which existed between the two musicians informed many of their finest musical collaborations , including gentle countrified gems such as Willard Robison’s “Old Folks” and “Country Boy Blues” and a stylish re-vamp of Bix Beiderbecke’s “In The Dark.”
The Monochrome Set, “M-80” (Wienerworld WNRCD 5068)- This distinctly low fidelity live offering was recorded in Minneapolis in September 1979 ,where The Monochrome Set were treading the boards as part of a Rough Trade US/UK tour package. The contents capture the sardonic post-punk oufit at a fairly rudimentary stage of their musical development as laconic vocalist Bid and his cohorts serve up freshly minted versions of songs which would later become perennial crowd-pleasers such as “Alphaville,” “Lester Leaps In” and “Viva Death Row.”