Cooking Vinyl, £11.99
Everybody has the urge to do it, from David Bowie downwards. So the interest in Counting Crows’ stab at a covers record will naturally focus on the song selections, and whether the band succeed in putting a revelatory new spin on any of them. The Kasey Anderson song Like Teenage Gravity is one that catches the ear, being less gnarled and familiar than the classics from The Faces or Bob Dylan. The romp through Fairport Convention’s Meet On The Ledge positions it somewhere on side 2 of The Basement Tapes, fully absorbed in the Canadian popular music canon.
Download this: Like Teenage Gravity, Meet On The Ledge
Trembling Bells and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy
The Marble Down
Honest Jon’s Records, £12.99
I Made A Date With An Open Vein is a tumultuous song title which demands delivery of a tune to match, but Trembling Bells and Bonnie ‘Prince’ Billy never really get their fingers out. It’s all about traditional folk posturing rather than celebrating that genre. Every Time I Close My Eyes gets closest but smacks of scrubbed-up gospel, while My Husband’s Got No Courage In Him approaches parody, all contorted melody and lumpen lyrics. Even a splendid notion like Ferrari In A Demolition Derby is more “hey nonny no” than a simple “Oh Yes!”
Download this: Love Is A Velvet Noose
The Hut People
Fellside Recordings, FECD248, £12.99
This is a brilliantly unique sound from England – a duo of piano accordion and percussion defiantly unbounded by British traditions as they stride into world music. Though seemingly simple, the album bears a lot of listening – Gary Hammond travelled the world as percussionist in The Beautiful South before meeting up with accordionist Sam Pirt and discovering the welter of internal rhythm in folk music, to which he joyfully joins his 500-odd instruments.
Download this: Horseshoe Harbour
The Great Wee Band
Trio Records TR589, £12.99
The second CD by the modestly named Great Wee Band – a quartet featuring trumpeter/flugelhorn player Henry Lowther and Scots guitar whiz Jim Mullen – is a delightful affair. Lowther’s mellow, lyrical trumpet is beautifully offset by the piano-less format, and, on three tracks, by the tenor saxophone of Stan Sulzmann. Among the many highlights in this diverse selection are the seldom played I Wanna Be Loved and a couple of original compositions.
Download this: I Wanna Be Loved, For Heaven’s Sake
Unizarre SS001, £11.99
The guitarist Neil Smith has been performing solo guitar works for some 30 years and has established a sufficiently strong international reputation for him to give masterclasses in Spain. This album, one of two recent releases by this specialist label, focuses on classical works for the Spanish guitar, and even the better known works sound fresh in Smith’s performance.
Fernando Sor, Isaac Albéniz and Enrique Granados all feature, but works by less familiar composers are just as rewarding, including Francisco Tárrega, whose Capricho Árabe betrays Moorish influences on Spanish music, and Gaspar Sanz, whose published guitar tutorial of 1674 helped establish the guitar as a classical instrument across Europe.
The playing is finely wrought, full of variety in colour, tone and delicacy. Whether for the guitar enthusiast or aspiring performer, this is music well worth hearing.
Download this: Sevilla