Kevin Bryan’s record review

In his latest weekly music review, Kevin Bryan gives us his thoughts on the latest album reviews.

Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, “Mojo: Tour Edition” (Reprise 9362 494953) - Tom and the boys will be visiting Britain this summer to play their first live dates since 1999,and Reprise Records have decided to mark this momentous event by releasing an expanded version of their current album,the critically acclaimed “Mojo.” This limited edition set features a live bonus disc recorded at assorted North American venues during the band’s 2010 tour , including fine versions of perennial crowd-pleasers such as “Refugee,” “I Won’t Back Down” and the classic “American Girl.”

Play Dead,”From The Promised Land” (Anagram CDM GOTH 27)- This doom laden outfit began life in Oxford in November 1980 and have always tended to be pigeonholed as gothic rockers, although they themselves were never too comfortable with this description. “From The Promised Land” first saw the light of day in 1984, capturing the essence of the band’s darkly malevolent sound via potent tracks such as “Weeping Blood” and “Walk Away.” The original contents of this long out of print album have also been fleshed out with the inclusion of no less than nine bonus tracks culled from the Play Dead archives.

Joan Sutherland, “A Portrait” (Regis RRC 3013)- This inexpensive three record set explores the artistic legacy bequeathed by the great Australian operatic soprano Joan Sutherland, showcasing her performances of works by Handel,Verdi and Bellini and some choice extracts from her best-selling 1960 album, “The Art Of the Prima Donna.” One of the highlights of an excellent anthology is Sutherland’s 1959 recording of Handel’s “Acis and Galatea,” which found her working alongside tenor Peter Pears as conductor Sir Adrian Boult guided the performers through an interpretation of rare sophistication and dramatic impact.

Mary Chapin Carpenter, “Ashes and Roses” (Rounder Records)- Each new Mary Chapin Carpenter album seems to be a little more nakedly confessional than its immediate predecessor,and the process continues with this excellent new set.. The past few years have been fairly traumatic ones for this subtly memorable singer-songwriter ,with divorce,the loss of a parent and her own life threatening illness following each other in rapid succession. These experiences have certainly informed Mary’s approach to music-making ,but a mood of optimism and renewal does still permeate stand-out tracks such as “New Year’s Day,” and “Don’t Need Much To Be Happy,” with the excellent James Taylor chipping in on vocals on her current single, “Soul Companion.”

George McCrae, “Rock Your Baby” (Cherry Red / BBR CDBBR 0167)- Florida born McCrae unwittingly helped to launch the disco boom in 1974 when he recorded “Rock Your Baby,” an hypnotic ditty which had originally been intended for KC and the Sunshine Band,who weren’t able to cope with the demands that it placed on their vocal technique and passed it on to George instead. His memorable treatment of the song went on to sell in excess of eleven million copies worldwide, topping the singles charts in over eighty countries. It’s also the highlight of this enjoyable soul package,sharing the limelight with appealing offerings such as “I Can’t Leave You Alone” and “You Can Have It All.”