Album reviews: Jeff Lynne | Kiss | Charles Mingus | Lorraine McCauley & The Borderlands | Jules Massenet

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A round-up of this week’s latest album releases


Jeff Lynne

Long Wave

Frontiers, £10.99

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The former ELO leader and Traveling Wilbury offers a collection of period covers initially in the style of early Beatles. Charles Aznavour’s She and If I Loved You from hit musical Carousel are bathed in vintage Merseybeat, and even the Everly Brothers’ So Sad gets the same treatment. The best thing, improbably, is Jeff’s reworking of the Etta James classic At Last, but then that has become this year’s X Factor tune of choice. Lynne’s talent is that of a high-quality photocopier, reproducing the finest details without ever capturing the soul. Perhaps this is post-ironic irony, but the appeal is very elusive.


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UMC, £12.99

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Co-founders Gene Simmons and Paul Stanley remain at the helm for the 20th album by America’s premier rock behemoth. If they remain revered by contemporaries as the blueprint for the stadium brand, it’s because they do the simple things effectively. No surprise then that the band does not change, and the comic-book image lends itself very well to covering up the cracks with white make-up. Musically, Kiss have never been complicated, Hell Or Hallelujah being the band at its most straightforward. Long Way Down demonstrates an undiminished appetite for their craft. All For The Love Of Rock & Roll could be a Kiss philosophy, but money is clearly the top priority.


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Charles Mingus

The Complete Columbia & RCA Albums Collection

Sony Music 886979795921, £34.99

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This latest deluxe jazz box set from Sony is a ten-CD collection of albums recorded by the great bass player and composer Charles Mingus between 1957 and 1972. Among the albums included are Mingus Ah Um (1959), which features his homages to various jazz legends; Let My Children Hear Music (1971), an ambitious work involving 30-odd musicians (including six bassists). There’s also a CD of alternate takes.

Alison Kerr

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Lorraine McCauley & The Borderlands

Light In The Darkest Corners

Lorraine McCauley Music LMC12CD, £9.99

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This is an album of acoustic songs – a tad serious – with easy melodies, if slight dynamic structure, but odd interesting instrumental textures and thoughtful considered lyrics. Ms McCauley is accompanied by her own acoustic guitar and three male musician friends on piano accordion, fiddle and cello. It’s all carefully performed but perhaps could benefit from a shot of undiluted joie de vivre. The mainly sombre texts may determine this overall mood, but optimism does bubble through here and there.

Norman Chalmers

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Jules Massenet


Deutsche Grammophon, £22.99

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When Jules Massenet offered his latest work to the Opéra-Comique, it was rejected as “too dismal”. Five years later, without changing a note, the Vienna Opera was happy to take it on the back of 100 performances of Massenet’s Manon. Based on the German poet Goethe’s life (but without the tragic ending), it tells of a young poet – Werther – and the girl he loves: she marries another and Werther spends four acts failing to get over it. Mexican tenor Rolando Villazón has made Werther something of a signature role, and this Covent Garden performance received positive reviews when staged last year. It’s a beautifully sung ensemble performance: you just wish the hero was less of a wimp.

Alexander Bryce

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