THE wee's releases
RELEASE OF THE WEEK
COLIN MacINTYRE ****
Future Gods Recordings FGCD001, 11.99
Having wound up Mull Historical Society, the vehicle for his first three albums, would Colin MacIntyre continue to power his pop with the island whimsy which characterised those records? Or would he make a more gritty urban soundtrack?
Neither, as it happens, but after a horrible false start with the too eager 'You're A Star' and 'Be My Saviour' grinding out grimacing hook after hook, he hits his stride with the title track. A tough, acoustic-driven tune with the hint of a sea shanty, it flows into the cleverly questioning 'Can I Will', featuring MacIntyre's patented melodic sweeps and swirls, before getting deliciously acidic and scornful on 'Famous For Being Famous'. His dismantling of celebrity culture takes no prisoners yet does not resort to the crass cruelty associated with the subject.
'Camelot Revisited' is a nicely observed piece of romantic realism, well complemented by the reflective 'I Don't Have You To Ask', before reverting to starker social comment on the mock rock jolly of 'Stalker'.
"You have never seen the darkest side of me so don't limit what you think of me," sings far from cuddly Colin, as he sets a tougher agenda.
Having an iconic politician such as Tony Benn contribute the record's coup de grace with a mesmerising spoken element is an undoubted risk. But it pays off handsomely, more than redeeming that ropey start.
Download this: Pay Attention To The Humans, Future Gods And Past Kings
ROCK & POP
SHELBY LYNNE ****
Just A Little Lovin'
Lost Highway 0602517609181, 11.99
"Inspired by Dusty Springfield" it says on the cover, and these tasteful interpretations are unquestionably all about inspiration rather than perspiration.
Lynn gets in the groove established by the celebrated Dusty In Memphis album, and corrals her more brassy pop repertoire into that smoky circle.
Hence 'You Don't Have To Say You Love Me' kicks back into a jazzy blues song, while 'I Only Want To Be With You' is downscaled from chart belter to lounge classic.
Tony Joe White's 'Willie And Laura Mae Jones' adds some swampy colour.
Download this: Anyone Who Had A Heart, Wishin' And Hopin'
Echo ECHCD77, 11.99
Forsaking a fixed vocalist for a variety of guests ranging from forgotten Eighties pop siren Judie Tsuke to the even more obscure Scandinavian Thomas Dybdahl suits Morcheeba well. The latter's distinctive vocal lends an ethereal quality to the atmospheric 'Riverbed' and the drunken blues lurch of 'Sleep On It', while Judie sounds surprised by her reinvention as a dance diva on the rare to medium groove of 'Blue Chair'. A fascinating album and a reasonable return to form.
Download this: Enjoy The Ride, One Love Karma
JACK JOHNSON ***
Sleep Through The Static
Bushfire Records 756126, 12.99
Like a musical hammock, former surfer Johnson can be a little hard to get into, but a comfortable pleasure once you have.
Johnson caught the crest of the popular wave with his languid songwriting and performing style, but despite his latest effort proclaiming it was recorded with 100% solar energy, the record never catches fire.
Occasional flourishes from the piano on 'Monsoon' or the smouldering guitar on 'If I Had Eyes' slightly raise the temperature, but this is strictly post-surf.
Download this: They Do They Don't, Monsoon
ROSS AINSLIE AND JARLATH HENDERSON ****
Partners In Crime
Vertical Records VERTCD085, 11.99
A gentleman has been described as "someone who can play the bagpipes, but doesn't". Well, these guys are no gentlemen. Separated by the Irish Sea, their common crime is having long hair and playing brilliantly on the bellows pipes – Ainslie on the Scottish Border or Lowland instrument, Henderson on the Uilleann. Huge technique (also on low whistles), adventurous contemporary rhythm, most of the compositional credits and solid studio support from some of Scotland and Ireland's top instrumentalists makes this a benchmark for the new generation.
Download this: No More Cages/Get Yer Hair Cut/Good Drying, Jenna Drever Of Kirkwall
LAST TRAIN HOME ****
Last Good Kiss
CoraZong Records 255100, 12.99
Powerful, energising full-on roots-rock is par for the course from this mature Nashville-based band. It's here too, but this album has a laid-back absorbing sweet melancholy on many of the tracks. Rich vocal harmony plus accordion, trumpet and banjo join guitars, keys and percussion in an imaginatively textured, moody variety. An album filled with subtlety, musicianship and excellent writing.
Download this: Anywhere But Here, Last Good Kiss
RAY NOBLE ****
The Hot Sides
Retrieval RTR79052, 5.99
Before he was well known as the composer of such enduring jazz standards as 'The Very Thought of You' and 'Cherokee', Ray Noble was a top arranger and leader of British dance bands in the 1930s. This top-notch compilation comprises 24 tracks which showcase his more jazz-influenced recordings, with such hot players as trumpeters Nat Gonella and Sylvester Ahola and clarinettist Danny Polo.
Download this: Someone, Who Walks In When I Walk Out
BOB BARNARD AND JIM GALLOWAY ****
Sackville SKCD2-3066, 12.99
Recorded in 2002, this invigorating live set features two international soloists: Australian cornettist Bob Barnard, one of the finest horn players on the scene, and expat Scot saxophonist Jim Galloway (he plays alto, baritone and soprano). Accompanied by a trio headed by guitarist Reg Schwager, they power through an imaginative programme including the inspired choice of Scots-born Sandy Brown's 'Harlem Fats'.
Download this: Easter Parade, Harlem Fats
JONAS HALTIA, INGER-LISE ULSRUD ***
Pro Musica PPC9058
You might tend to worry about composers who get up in the morning and think that what they absolutely must do is compose a work for trumpet and church organ. But the creation of works for the two apparently disparate instruments has a long history, as this charming CD demonstrates.
Strikingly well performed by trumpeter Jonas Haltiaand organist Inger-Lise Ulsrud, he with only the slightest flicker of concern at the highest register, these works mix contemporary music with works from the 17th and 18th centuries, and all have a well-rounded feel that justifies what might otherwise seem a somewhat arbitrary album name.
Highly enjoyable listening, and surprisingly effective music-making.
Download this: Rolf Wallin, Elegi
MARIN ALSOP, BOURNEMOUTH SYMPHONY ORCHESTRA ****
Bart"k: Bluebeard's Castle
Naxos 8.660928, 5.99
The story behind Bla Bart"k's symbolist opera Bluebeard's Castle makes for uncomfortable reading, and stage performances always leave audiences asking as many questions as are answered. Not least is the question of Bluebeard's former wives, alive but imprisoned, and joined at the end of the opera by his latest, the over-inquisitive Judith. This concert staging, with Andrea Melath as the latest Mrs B and Gustov Belacek as the uncomforting bridegroom, still manages to thrill: the revelation of the different doors opened at Judith's request, each more disquieting than the former, is strikingly portrayed in this high quality performance.
Download this: This Is Bluebeard's Castle!
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