CD reviews: Bloody-minded brilliance

We review all the latest CD releases


Luke Haines: Outsider/In: The Collection

Music Club Deluxe, 
web only


THANK heaven for Luke Haines. Never the most musically proficient of artists, his career nevertheless stands as shining proof that persistence and often bloody-minded pessimism can allow an individualistic artist to flourish in Britain. This two-disc compilation features one disc devoted to his old band The Auteurs, including fondly-remembered early 1990s indie hits Showgirl and Lenny Valentino, and another which dips into his latter band Baader Meinhof, and his more recent solo career. Sadly there’s nothing from his other group, Black Box Recrder, but there are more than enough acerbic takes on Britain’s bitterly amusing underbelly here to serve as a lengthy introduction.


Twin Shadow: Confess

4AD, £11.99


THE second album from George Lewis Jr is all instrumental, which lends its not inconsiderable emotional impact even more weight. Written while Lewis, born in the Dominican Republic and raised in America, was recovering from a motorbike accident, it’s like the soundtrack album to an unmade Michael Mann film, a collection of dynamic, crystal clear synth lines and punching drum machine beats straight out of the 1980s, which inspire the postmodern ennui of an aerial tracking shot of LA by night on Patient and Be Mine Tonight. In the Caribbean-tinged The One, meanwhile, there’s just enough of a hint of John Hughes’ work to inspire a pang of nostalgia. What a find.

Newton Faulkner: 
Write It On Your Skin

RCA, £12.99


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Much loved by backpackers and coffee-table bohemians, dreadlocked Newton Faulkner has pressed on in the same vein as usual with his third album. Affirmative, sun-kissed and produced for maximum MOR radio friendliness, songs like the single Clouds, Pulling Teeth and the Jeff Buckley-lite Against the Grain are as personable as the man himself while being utterly unadventurous, although the Felt Mountain-era Goldfrapp sweep of In the Morning is a welcome diversion. The presence of The OC-soundtracking Phantom Planet’s bassist Sam Farrar proves a good indicator of the mass-target market here.



Richard Strauss: Elektra

LSO live, £17.99


GIVEN the rapturous critical reception that greeted Valery Gergiev’s live performances of this Elektra with the London Symphony Orchestra two years ago, it’s hardly surprising that the resulting recording, taken from the occasion, is every bit as powerful. Jeanne-Michèle Charbonnet’s monumental singing of the title role governs a cast heavily laden with female voices, but equally driven by such stirring male singing as Matthias Goerne’s Orest and Ian Storey’s Aegisth, among others. Gergiev grasps the Wagnerian intensity of the score, also capturing the Straussian extremist tendencies with thrilling impact. Thrusting playing by the LSO helps.



Ravi Coltrane: 
Spirit Fiction

Blue Note, £12.99


FORTY-FIVE years after his father, John Coltrane, recorded the classic Blue Train, saxophonist Ravi makes his own debut on Blue Note. Spirit Fiction isn’t likely to accrue the same enduring aura as its forebear, but it is a strong contemporary jazz outing from a player who has grown into a potentially problematic legacy in fine style. The disc features two different bands, his regular quartet with Luis Perdomo, Drew Gress and EJ Strickland, and a quintet with trumpeter Ralph Alessi, pianist Geri Allen, bassist James Genus and the scintillating drumming of Eric Harland. The alternation works well across the disc, adding variation without destroying the overall unity. Producer Joe Lovano also contributes his magisterial tenor saxophone on covers of Ornette Coleman’s Check Out Time and Paul Motian’s Fantasm, although the original material by Coltrane and Alessi doesn’t immediately stand out.



David Francey: 
Late Edition

Greentrax, £11.99