Here’s this week’s latest releases reviewed by our music columnist, Kevin Bryan.
Jackson Browne,”Standing in the Breach” (Inside Recordings)- Jackson Browne is in many ways the archetypal Californian singer-songwriter, and his eloquent musings on the human condition have graced a string of majestically crafted albums since his self- titled debut set first saw the light of day long long ago in 1972. He’s much less prolific these days but Jackson remains a prime purveyor of elegant and insightful mid-tempo rock and “Standing in the Breach” boasts more than its fair share of classic Browne creations,including “Walls And Doors,” “The Birds of St.Marks,” and “The Long Way Around,” all of them illuminated by the seemingly effortless interplay between guitarists Val McCallum and Greg Leisz.
“Right Now” (Fantastic Voyage FVTD205)- This eminently soulful 3CD set was compiled by Mojo contributor Lois Wilson and explores the musical output of Atlantic Records and its Atco subsidiary from the label’s formation in the late forties until 1962. Wilson decided to steer clear of many of Atlantic’s more obvious vinyl hits from this period,choosing instead to focus a welcome spotlight on the under-rated contributions of performers such as Jimmy Ricks, Johnny Jenkins and Richie Barrett alongside vibrant archive offerings from the likes of Solomon Burke,Ray Charles and larger than life blues shouter Big Joe Turner,whose 1956 b-side,”Boogie Woogie Country Girl” is one of the highlights of the entire package.
Hideko Udagawa/LSO/Mackerras,”Bruch & Brahms : Violin Concertos” (Nimbus NI 6270)- This absorbing showcase for Hideko Udagawa’s talents dates from 1989,and finds the Japanese classical violinist tackling two of the finest compositions in the entire 19th century repertoire. The Brahms and Bruch concertos represent German Romanticism at its most expressive and compelling, and Udagawa’s sterling efforts are expertly underpinned here by conductor Sir Charles Mackerras and the massed ranks of the London Symphony Orchestra.
Andy Fairweather Low & The Lowriders,”Zone-O-Tone” (Proper PRPCD110)-This mellow 2013 offering is being relaunched to tie in with Andy’s current British tour,and if you missed out on its amiable charms when “Zone-O-Tone” first appeared on the market last year now’s the time to atone for the error of your ways. The list of performers who’ve employed the services of the former Amen Corner heartthrob as a sideman over the years reads like a who’s who of rock royalty and the influence of his old friend Eric Clapton is never too far from the surface as the eclectic Welsh wizard applies his plaintive tones to gems such as “Dance On” and the gospelly “Uncloudy Day.”