MUSIC: Kevin Bryan’s record reviews

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Our music columnist Kevin Bryan takes a look at the latest releases.

Dougie MacLean,”Till Tomorrow” (Linn CKD 465)- Highly regarded Scottish singer-songwriter Dougie MacLean makes his Linn Records debut by re-imagining the cream of his illustrious back catalogue in a fine collaboration with conductor John Logan and the massed ranks of the Royal Scottish National Orchestra. Their august presence lends an impressively symphonic dimension to Dougie’s settings of Burns’ poems such as “Ca’ The Yowes” and “Green Grow The Rashes,” and this hand-picked package closes with MacLean’s enduringly popular love song to Scotland,”Caledonia.”

George Thorogood and the Destroyers,”30th Anniversary Tour: Live” (Salvo SVX 033)- This gritty audio-visual package from Delaware blues-rocker Thorogood and his like-minded musical cohorts was recorded for posterity at Nottingham’s Royal Concert Hall in May 2004. The band’s visceral and refreshingly direct approach to their craft was captured in all its rabble-rousing glory as they delivered a selection of tracks from their then current album,”Ride ‘Til I Die” alongside early signature hits such as “Bad To The Bone,” “Move It On Over” and John Lee Hooker’s “One Scotch,One Bourbon,One Beer.”

“Soul City New Orleans” (Fantastic Voyage FVDD 203)-This vibrant 2 CD anthology showcases the work of some of the performers who populated New Orleans’ nascent soul scene half a century ago ,including much loved artists such as Ernie K-Doe, Huey Smith and the Clowns and former car mechanic Lee Dorsey of “Working in the Coal Mine” and “Holy Cow” fame. Compiler Clive Richardson has delved into the archives of some of the Crescent City’s most influential record labels to paint a vivid portrait of musical life in this unique cultural melting pot during the early sixties ,and the finished product should be an essential purchase for soul fans everywhere.

Chuck Prophet,”Night Surfer” (Yeproc Records)- Roots rocker extraordinaire Chuck Prophet first entered the public consciousness via his exploits with the tunefully psychedelic Green On Red during the second half of the eighties before embarking on a solo career in 1990. The Californian singer and guitarist has now completed a grand total of thirteen studio albums and “Night Surfer” must rank as one of his most compelling offerings to date. Rock luminaries such as Peter Buck lend a hand as Chuck unveils the memorably muscular “Ford Econoline” and “Tell Me Anything” and a colourful parade of his impeccable musical influences entitled “Countrified Inner City Technological Man.”

Claudia Brucken,”Where else...” (Cherry Red CDBRED 634)-The music that ex-Propaganda vocalist Claudia Brucken is making these days is certainly much more subdued and reflective than the epic synthpop creations which she became synonymous with during the inventive German outfit’s’ creative heyday three decades or so ago. It’s a measure of Claudia’s current approach to music-making that this beguiling album should feature a cover of the late great Nick Drake’s “Day is Done” alongside haunting self-penned gems such as “I Lay All Night,” “I Want You” and the exquisitely crafted “Walk Right In.”