In his latest weekly music review, Kevin Bryan gives us his thoughts on the latest album reviews
Procol Harum, “Secrets of the Hive” (Salvo SALVODCD206)- The unique but strangely unappreciated sound of Procol Harum is captured in all its classically orientated glory in this 2 CD retrospective from the good people at Salvo. The Southend band helped to usher in the golden era of progressive rock when their unforgettable debut single,”A Whiter Shade of Pale” soared into the higher reaches of the singles charts on both sides of the Atlantic,and this majestically surreal offering makes a welcome reappearance here alongside lyrically opaque gems such as “She Wandered Through The Garden Fence,” “Homburg” and “Pandora’s Box.”
Kirsty MacColl,”Kite” (Salvo SALVOMDCD29)- The wistfully memorable “Kite” marked Kirsty’s Virgin Records debut when it first saw the light of day in 1989, boasting instrumental contributions from rock luminaries such as Johnny Marr and Pink Floyd’s Dave Gilmour,who chipped in on a couple of tracks,”No Victims” and “You and Me Baby.” The infectious “Innocence” and a splendid cover of The Kinks’ “Days” are the pick of an affecting package which also rewards astute investors with a bonus disc contaning some interesting remixes and non-album b-sides.
“Brahms:Complete Chamber Music” (D.G. 479 0378)- Johannes Brahms apparently set himself such impossibly high standards that only a very small fraction of his vast chamber music output ever saw the light of day in published form. The material which does survive is of the highest possible quality however, and this fine 11 CD box set from Deutsche Grammophon showcases exemplary archive recordings of these 24 works from top notch classical performers such as the Amadeus Quartet,clarinettist Karl Leister and violin virtuosi Augustin Dumay and Christian Ferras.
Lau,”Race The Loser” (Reveal Records)- The innovative outfit which won the prestigious BBC Folk Awards for three consecutive years between 2008 and 2010 are constantly striving to expand their musical horizons, and “Race The Loser” finds them embracing the delights of electronica in a collaboration with REM and Gillian Welch producer Tucker Martine. The hypnotic interplay between fiddle,guitar and accordion continues to drive the proceedings along as Lau serve up a varied assortment of enigmatic self-penned gems led by “Save The Bees,” “Far From Portland” and “Saint Monday.”
Yeasayer, “Fragrant World” (Mute CDSTUMM 346)- Psychdelic pop merchants Yeasayer have followed up their critically acclaimed 2010 album,”Odd Blood,” with another hook laden selection of eclectic exercises in dance orientated experimentalism.The overall mood of the set is a little darker than the Brooklyn band’s previous output, but “Fragrant World” is still blessed with more than its fair share of oddly memorable musical creations,with “Reagan’s Skeleton” and “Devil and the Deed” emerging as two of the stand-out tracks.