OUR team of critics lend their ears to the latest releases.
Oui Oui Si Si Ja Ja Da Da
Lucky 7/Cooking Vinyl
Rating: * * * *
Like a favourite pair of slippers, Madness snuggle around the toes, twitching politely to their ska beats in their modern music hall style.
Mike Barson’s keyboard remains the musical glue that holds it all together, from Motown dance floors to fairground waltzers, atmospheric and affecting.
In contrast to the languid vocal stylings of Suggs, the instrumentation is crisp and dynamic.
Death Of A Rude Boy is the best thing on the album, a memorable melody with economic lyrics – “Man could drop a killer move/Never failed to bust a groove.”
My Girl 2 channels the Fine Young Cannibals through Tamla to hip-swinging effect, and Kitchen Floor is cold-hearted Eighties domestic erotica. By way of contrast, How Can I Tell You is close to a trembling knees-up, and La Luna a sort of Sarf London samba.
Misery is straight out of the grey-clouds-with-sparkly-linings school of Madness songwriting, Small World is jauntily claustrophobic and Never Knew Your Name contains classic snapshots of London social life. A real gem of a true pop record – and a timely reminder of what that needs to be.
Download this: Kitchen Floor, Death Of A Rude Boy
Rating: * * *
Being the go-to guy for dance hits raises some expectations and lowers others. This album certainly ticks all the commercial boxes, with slickly turned out pulsing pop and a stellar array of vocal talent.
Everything rides on the coat-tails of the monster Rihanna hit, We Found Love, but creatively Harris is a victim of that success, and collaborations with Ellie Goulding – I Need Your Love – and a very shouty Florence Welch on Sweet Nothing, peddle a familiar formula that takes little time to breed a degree of contempt.
Tunes with Example and Tinie Tempah are less mouldy and Bounce with Kelis has a sense of freedom that’s missing on the rest of the record.
Download this: Bounce, We’ll Be Coming Back
Neil Young and Crazy Horse
Warner Brothers, £15.99
Rating: * * * *
So Retro it needs the dust blown off it, this is Ol’ Shakey in wig-out jam mode with old buddies Crazy Horse. The tunes are layered with a delayed production technique that makes them sound like out-takes from Zuma. When it works, it works well, as on Born In Ontario’s concise, sub-four-minute Celtic-tinged rock, and on the nostalgic Twisted Road. She’s Always Dancing, meanwhile, summons the spirit of Cowgirl In The Sand with a splendid throttled guitar
solo and trembling vocal refrain.
Download this: Ramada Inn, Twisted Road
Alan Barnes Quartet
The Art Trip: The Music Of Art Pepper
Woodville Records WVCD137, £12.99
Rating: * * * *
The music of Art Pepper,
who made his name as one of the purveyors of the classic West Coast sound of the 1950s, is celebrated by a quartet headed by the exhaustingly versatile multi-instrumentalist Alan Barnes, here playing the alto – the sax of Pepper’s choice. As the very readable liner notes point out, this is not an attempt at recreating Pepper’s distinctive sound, which changed during his troubled life, but more a chance to relish playing his compositions and to bring them to new listeners. Pianist Craig Milverton dazzles alongside the always engaging Barnes.
Download this: Tin Tin Deo, Las Cuevas de Mario
Greentrax CDTRAX371, £11.99
Rating: * * * *
Tried and tested, the long-lasting Scottish dance band takes on the character of its players, and develops its own style. This is the Occasionals’ seventh recording and here Freeland Barbour’s piano accordion leads the splore with Kevin Macleod’s various “tuned-in-fifths” picked strings, Gus Millar’s drumming, and the late, much respected Ian Hardie’s solid fiddling in tunes as varied as Percy French Waltzes and a quartet of Appalachian reels.
Download this: The Westringing Set
Brahms: Symphony No 3; Elgar: Symphony No 1
ICA ICAC 5063, £11.99
Rating: * * * * *
These two live recordings from the BBC Proms may date from 1976 and 1977,
but Sir Adrian Boult’s conducting of Brahms’
Third Symphony and
Elgar’s First remains as
fresh and invigorating as any more recent recording – and even compares favourably with his own studio performances.
Sir Adrian’s sheer longevity adds another dimension:
not only are these recordings with the BBC Symphony Orchestra, an ensemble with which he had completed a near 20-year stint as chief conductor a quarter of a century earlier, but Sir Adrian was by then one of the few conductors who had been personally acquainted with Elgar.
His approach to both Brahms and Elgar remains individualistic, with strict adherence to tempi overridden by a broader vision of
how both works should evolve, yet remaining true to both composers’ intentions. Tremendous music-making throughout.
Download this: Brahms, Symphony No 3, Andante
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 25 May 2013
Temperature: 6 C to 17 C
Wind Speed: 13 mph
Wind direction: West
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 14 mph
Wind direction: South west