Kevin Bryan record reviews

Our resident music expert brings you his latest recommendations

Jerry Lee Lewis, “Rock & Roll Time” (Vanguard Records)- Most of Jerry Lee Lewis’ contemporaries from the golden era of rock’n’roll fell by the wayside long long ago, but this irascible character is still pounding the ivories with the vigour of a man half his age. Producer Jim Keltner oversees a star-studded backing line-up featuring the likes of Neil Young, Keith Richard,Ron Wood and The Band’s Robbie Robertson as they underpin the venerable performer’s contributions on the warm and rootsy “Rock & Roll Time.” Jerry Lee may have surrounded himself with rock luminaries but he remains the the real star of the show , and his slightly wheezy vocals breathe new life into much loved old favourites such as Jimmy Reed’s “Bright Lights,Big City” and Chuck Berry’s “Little Queenie” and “Promised Land.”

Strawbs,”Hero & Heroine In Ascencia” (Witchwood WMCD 2050)- The original version of “Hero & Heroine” captured the dramatic essence of The Strawbs’ highly distinctive prog-rock sound when it first saw the light of day in 1974, leaning heavily on the creative contributions of singer Dave Cousins and lead guitarist Dave Lambert. The two men made the rather unusual decision to re-record the entire album almost four decades later,and this mildly redundant album is the result. Souped-up instrumentation and arrangements lend added impetus to fine tracks such as “Shine On Silver Sun” and “Hero & Heroine” itself but Cousins’ always rather pained vocals have withstood the passage of time much less happily,and the entire package suffers a little as a result.

“Latest & Greatest Driving Rock Anthems” (Union Square Music)-Union Square’s latest 3CD set serves up a deliciously varied menu of rock and pop gems designed to help those long and tedious car journeys to slip by a little more painlessly . The musical content of this remarkably inexpensive anthology is certainly nothing if not eclectic, with a grand total of sixty tracks including contributions from such unlikely bedfellows as Lynyrd Skynyrd, Madness, Patti Smith and sixties hit-makers The Nashville Teens of “Tobacco Road” fame to name but a few .

Graham Parker & The Figgs, “Live at the FTC” (Wienerworld WNRD 2586)- Graham Parker may seem to have slipped out of the public eye since relocating to the U.S.of A. in the early nineties , but this intense performer has actually turned out a string of excellent albums since making the momentous move. This fine live set was captured for posterity in 2010 as he hit the road to promote his latest album,”Imaginary Television,” and found Parker regaling his audience in Fairfield, Connecticut with a typically gritty and heart-warming show featuring a blend of new material and tried and tested crowd pleasers such as “White Honey,” “Life Gets Better” and the vitriolic “Mercury Poisoning.”