Album reviews: Blondie | Haddo | Beethoven

POPBlondieGhosts Of DownloadEleven Seven Music, £18.99 ***Subject to delays over the past year, this tenth studio album by Debbie Harry and her band of sometime punk-era outsiders has finally been revealed as the second part of the Blondie 4(0) Ever package, a celebration of the band’s ruby anniversary that also features a disc of rerecorded greatest hits. This selection can only suffer by comparison, and none of it grabs the attention with so unfiltered a pop rush, but there’s an intriguing selection of influences at work all the same, in the Beth Ditto-abetted synth-pop of A Rose By Any Name, the oom-pahing brass stomp of Euphoria and the ghostly Frankie Goes To Hollywood cover Relax. DP Download: A Rose By Any Name, I Screwed Up

Blondie's Deborah Harry Picture: Reuters
Blondie's Deborah Harry Picture: Reuters

The Sunshine Underground

The Sunshine Underground

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Lovers/Absolute, £13.99


An established group with two well-received albums behind them going down the self-funded route would usually suggest atrophying interest from major labels and the onset of commercial death throes. Yet for Leeds also-rans of the New Rave scene, the Sunshine Underground, the decision has revealed a record which is fresh, entertaining and deserving of an audience, surfing in on the classic house dynamics of Start and softening into the lo-fi synth-disco of Nightlife and The Same Old Ghosts. Its foregrounding of Craig Wellington’s accented vocal also adds more than a sense of Heaven 17 or early Human League. DP

Download: Start, Nothing to Fear


The Bucky Pizzarelli Trio

Three For All

Chesky JD362, £14.99


Bucky Pizzarelli – the American guitarist who, at one point, called Benny Goodman “boss” – may be 88 years old, but on the evidence of this new CD (he seems to be becoming more prolific recordings-wise as he whizzes through his 80s), he is as nimble-fingered and inventive as ever. Accompanied by fellow guitarists John Pizzarelli (his son) and Ed Laub, Pizzarelli plays a selection of songs culled from his 70-year career – from Goodman-associated numbers to one of the rarely played Bix Beiderbecke compositions which he has long championed. And in these six capable hands, even the oldest warhorses sound fresh and new. Alison Kerr

Download: Body and Soul




Lulubug Records LULUBUG002, £13.99


Haddo are one of the most admired folk duos from south of the Border. Will Pound’s spectacular harmonica here takes second place to his swinging melodeon, while his wife Nicky’s fiddle, piano and vocals add a whiff of Scottishness to the dozen tracks. This, their second album, marries Will’s fiery melodeon chops with her delicate, accurate bowmanship, amid a powerful sweep through UK tradition, taking in the ballad Two Sisters, jigs from the Cotswolds, a Duncan Chisholm fiddle air, old Morris dance tunes and finally exploding in Shetland’s famous Spootiskerry. Norman Chalmers

Download: Ampleforth


Beethoven, Schumann

Emperor Concerto, Fantasy in C major

Deutsche Grammophon 481 0710, £14.99


Having previously recorded three of Beethoven’s best-known sonatas, the Pathétique, Appassionata and Moonlight, the Chinese pianist Yundi Li has now crafted a performance of Beethoven’s Emperor concerto for piano and orchestra that is full of attack and punch. This is very much a contemporary take on Beethoven, with a big, fulsome sound from the Berlin Philharmonic under Daniel Harding, which appears to take the line that this is what Beethoven would have sounded like had he had the resources.

Li’s solo recording of Schumann’s Fantasy in C major is a much softer, more considered affair.

It’s a matter of taste, of course, whether Beethoven’s work is better suited to the football stadium than the concert salon, and this is definitely a recording that appears aimed at the former. But it’s hard not to be impressed. Alexander Bryce

Download: Emperor Concerto, Adagio un poco mosso – attacca