RECORD OF THE WEEK
WORD OF MOUTH
Domino WIGCD138, 10.99
This week, my favourite new band will be mostly The Blueskins. Retro in the right regard, The Yorkshire four-piece are an intergalactic garage band who have produced a rollicking good debut album. Songs like ‘Girl’ rock with rhythm, blues and a hint of soul, and Ryan Spendlove’s vocals prove to be rich, raw and amply versatile.
The band have more than a passing acquaintance with the Sixties trash rock ethic, and have the shambling, shuffling riff routine off pat. ‘Stupid Ones’ has the feel of a greatest hit, packing a punch like John Fogerty fronting the Swinging Blue Jeans, the decisive blow in a combination which opens with the jabbing urgency of ‘Bad Day’ and finishes off with the bottleneck stomping uppercut of ‘Change My Mind’. ‘Tell Me I’m Someone’ is a live anthem waiting to happen: laddishly hooky without getting loutish, and featuring some of the best woah-oh-woahing to be heard for some time.
Ocean Colour Scene must have dreamt about sounding like this. Sometimes the Blueskins are guilty of sounding too much like The White Stripes, but Jack White can scarcely claim to have invented the blues. The Blueskins embrace elements of every decent guitar group from the Sixties onwards, and have the potential to be one of the Noughties’ best. One of the most refreshing releases of the year to date.
Wave Of Mutilation
4AD CAD2406CD, 13.99
Hindsight, as they say, is a wonderful thing, and Frank Black must be wishing he had reformed his band earlier as a new age of Pixies worship eclipses anything from the band’s Eighties heyday, with shows selling out within hours. Old diehards will find it hard to quibble with this new retrospective, covering obvious bases like ‘Velouria’, ‘Monkey Gone to Heaven’ and ‘Gigantic’, although a fair few will probably bang on about the lack of ‘I’ve Been Tired’. But with B-sides and rare covers part of the package, that is somewhat churlish. Go crazy and buy the four original albums while you’re at it.
The Magentic Fields
Nonesuch 7559796382, 13.99
Being dubbed the Cole Porter of his generation makes Stephin Merritt believe he can get away with rhyming "in it" with "infinite", and you know, he just about does. The same song, ‘I Don’t Believe You’, the second of 14, opens with "So you quote love unquote me" and much of this follow-up to 69 Love Songs finds the artist brimming with a belief in his lyrical ability that brings a swagger to every composition. He insists calling the album i is of no significance, despite every song title starting with that letter, and if anything, this collection of chamber pop is probably more about amour than its predecessor.
THE GIRL IN THE OTHER ROOM
Verve 9862063, 12.99
If anyone was wondering whether marriage to musical maverick Elvis Costello would affect Krall’s output, this CD settles the matter conclusively: a resounding yes. This album, with its significant proportion of Krall-penned numbers featuring Costello lyrics, and other tracks by the likes of Joni Mitchell, is miles removed from the lush strings of her last CD or her Nat King Cole Trio-influenced early recordings. The intimacy of Krall’s sound - husky, low voice and funky, pared-down piano - works well with these more personal, introspective songs.
ORKNEY. LAND, SEA AND COMMUNITY
Scottish Tradition Series 21
Greentrax CDTRAX9021, 13.99
Latest in the series of commercially released recordings from the Edinburgh University-based School of Scottish Studies sound archive, this is the first devoted to the traditions of the various Orkney Islands. Recorded in the 60s and 70s, there are 34 separate tracks and a superb 40-page sleeve booklet with history, lyrics, narrative, written music and photographs. There is something of interest here for anyone with an Orkney connection - and where else would you find a recording of the legendary tin-whistler Peter Pratt playing his famous polka?
GLAZUNOV: SYMPHONIES 4 AND 8
Tadaaki Otaka, BBC National Orchestra of Wales
BIS CD-1378, 12.99
Alexander Glazunov was a child musical prodigy who Rimsky-Korsakov ceased teaching after only two years, when Glazunov was 16, saying that his pupil had become "a mature musician". Both the Fourth Symphony of 1893 and the Eighth Symphony, his last completed work, finished in 1905, are dramatically condensed works, here given rousing performances. There is always something happening in a Glazunov symphony, even if you do feel that he could do with resting a while and taking stock. A very worthwhile re-issue.
SCHUBERT: GOETHE LIEDER 3
Johannes Kalpers, Burkhard Kehring
Naxos 8.554667, 4.99
Although this is the 16th in Naxos’ collection of over 700 Schubert lieder, this CD stands on its own. In all, Schubert set the poetry of more than a hundred writers to music, but it was Goethe whose poems started the ball rolling. The collection here is mixed as far as style is concerned: some of the settings are conventionally strophic, in others there are sudden halts, while others are through-composed. All these songs are for male voice, ranging from the light-hearted ‘Love-gods for Sale’ to the tragic ‘The Erl King’. Well-sung, well-played: a definite good buy for Schubert fans.