Kevin Bryan’s record review, 21st August - including “Greatest Ever! - Prog Rock - The Definitive Collection”

In his latest weekly music review, Kevin Bryan gives us his thoughts on the latest album reviews.

West,Bruce & Laing, “Why Dontcha” (Esoteric ECLEC2334)- America’s Mountain were one of the early seventies’ most potent and compelling rock acts, and when the band broke up in 1972 guitarist Leslie West and drummer Corky Laing hit upon the bright idea of reviving the power trio format which had proved so successful for Cream a few years earlier. The two musicians joined forces with former Cream bassist Jack Bruce to form West,Bruce and Laing,and “Why Dontcha” represented the first fruits of their short lived musical alliance. A glaring shortage of really strong material meant that the album never really rose above the level of the workmanlike,although discerning rock fans would still be well advised to lend an ear to stand-out tracks such as “Third Degree,” “Pollution Woman” and “Love Is Worth The Blues.”

“Debussy Piano Edition” (Decca 478 3690)- A string of top notch classical performers have contributed to this extensive keyboard anthology,released to mark the 150th anniversary of Claude Debussy’s birth. Many of this inventive French composer’s finest creations are given an airing during the 6 CD set, with impressionistic pieces such as “Deux Arabesques,” “Suite Bergamesque” and “Prelude a l’apres-midi d’un faune” providing richly rewarding vehicles for the interpretative skills of virtuosos like Zoltan Kocsis and Jean-Yves Thibaudet.

Allan Yn Y Fan, “Pwnco” (Steam Pie SPCD1016S)-The latest studio set from Welsh folkies Allan Yn Y Fan divides fairly equally between evocative ballads and sprightly dance tunes, although the lyrical content of much of their material may be fairly incomprehensible to those of us who were born east of Offa’s Dyke . Lead vocalist and demon fiddler Meriel Field is in particularly fine fettle throughout,and an uplifting brass section insinuates itself into the proceedings on a couple of occasions before this highly listenable album draws to a close with G.C.Westcott’s captivating new setting of the familiar old lullaby,”Twinkle Twinkle (Little Star).”

“Honky Tonkin ‘- 87 Tracks from the Golden Years of Country Music” (Fantastic Voyage FVTD114)- The contents of this 3 CD package span the years between 1937 and 1960, showcasing some of the homespun ditties which would have been heard in the honky-tonks and bars of America’s southern states during that increasingly dim and distant era. Nashville legends such as Hank Williams,George Jones and Patsy Cline rub shoulders with some obscure performers who probably weren’t even household names in their own households in this enjoyable celebration of country music at its most direct and uncomplicated.

“Greatest Ever! - Prog Rock - The Definitive Collection” (Union Square GTSTCD067)- This 3CD set doesn’t quite deliver the definitive musical experience suggested by its rather overblown title, but Union Square’s trawl through the archives has yielded quite a few bona-fide gems nonetheless , including memorable offerings from the likes of Yes, Caravan, Curved Air and Steve Winwood’s Traffic. Blue Oyster Cult’s “(Don’t Fear) The Reaper” and Jefferson Airplane’s iconic “White Rabbit” may have very little in common with prog rock but they’re also given a welcome airing, and the compilers have also found space for Robert Wyatt’s “O Caroline,” the touchingly lovelorn highlight of the short-lived Matching Mole’s 1972 debut album