Roberta Flack, Let It Be Roberta - Roberta Flack Sings The Beatles (429 Records FTN 17852) - This venerable performer is best remembered these days for the work that she did in the early seventies, when her pensive interpretations of songs such as Ewan Mac Coll’s The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face and Janis Ian’s Jesse made a profound impact on audiences on both sides of the Atlantic. Roberta’s output grew increasingly bland and lifeless as the years wore on however, and she rarely ventures into the recording studio these days. Let It Be Roberta is the 75 year old Ms Flack’s long overdue follow up to 2003’s Holiday, and the contents find her taking considerable artistic liberties with the cream of the Beatles back catalogue as she re-invents much covered ditties such as Hey Jude, Let It Be and The Long and Winding Road with wildly varying degrees of success .
Maggie Boyle, Won’t You Come Away (Wild Goose WGS 390 CD)- This highly regarded performer’s distinctive voice and flute have graced a string of excellent folk CDs since she made her debut in 1987 with Reaching Out, although the vast majority of these recordings have been collaborations with luminaries such as Steve Tilston and John Renbourn. Won’t You Come Away is only the third solo set that Maggie has recorded during the past two and a half decades, and this splendidly eclectic offering showcases compelling trad ballads such as The Green Linnet alongside Vaughan Williams’ Linden Lea and some fine vehicles for her instrumental prowess led by Lament for John Doherty and Paddy Boyle’s Highland.
Myung-Whun Chung, Bizet - Carmen Suite”(D.G.478 4034) - Georges Bizet penned some of the 19th century’s most colourful and evocative orchestral creations, and this neat and well balanced 1991 recital from Korean conductor Chung and Paris’ Bastille Orchestra features his incidental music for the 1872 production of Daudet’s play L’Arlesienne alongside the composer’s Carmen Suite and the enchanting Jeux d’enfants. The latter work was originally conceived as a series of twelve miniatures for piano duet, but Bizet later orchestrated five of the most popular numbers from the set as the Petite Suite.
June Tabor & Oyster Band, Ragged Kingdom (Topic TSCD 585) - Ms Tabor’s previous collaboration with the Oyster Band, Freedom and Rain was released to universal acclaim in 1990, and these gifted folk luminaries have now finally been tempted back into the studio to record this very very belated follow-up. June’s rare ability to inhabit a song and make it her own personal property informs classic traditional ballads such as Bonny Bunch of Roses and Fountains Flowing and the melancholy chanteuse also duets affectingly with the Oyster Band’s John Jones on Joy Division’s Love Will Tear Us Apart and James Carr’s sixties soul gem The Dark End of the Street.
China Crisis, Ultimate Crisis (Music Club Deluxe MCDLX 152) - The unassuming Merseyside duo of Eddie Lundon and Gary Daly were the creative driving forces behind China Crisis, who enjoyed a moderate run of chart success during the early eighties via songs such as Black Man Ray, King In A Catholic Style and their infectious 1982 debut, African and White. This 34 track anthology explores much more of the band’s sensitive and well crafted musical output, including some choice extracts from the two albums that they recorded with Steely Dan’s Walter Becker, Flaunt The Imperfection and Diary of a Hollow Horse.