Record reviews

Among the releases this week:

Diana Jones, Museum of Appalachia Recordings (Proper PRPCD 111)- Diana Jones has established herself as one of the leading lights of the Americana movement in recent years via unadormed gems such as Better Time Will Come and High Atmosphere, and the Nashville based singer-songwriter’s latest Proper album offers another object lesson in the timeless values of emotional directness and musical simplicity.The contents were recorded live in a cabin at the Museum of Appalachia in Clinton Tennessee over two days in December 2012 , channelling the spirit of early country music legends The Carter Family via tracks such as O Sinner,Satan and The Other Side.

Sweet,Live at the Marquee 1986 (Angel Air SJPCD 421)- This re-issued live offering provides a compelling showcase for the talents of the 1986 incarnation of Sweet,which featured original members Andy Scott and Mick Tucker alongside keyboardist Phil Lanzon,bassist Mal McNulty and original Iron Maiden frontman Paul Mario Day. The latter was apparently sacked by the heavy metal outfit because of his lack of stage charisma, but he’s in particularly fine fettle here as Scott and his cohorts power their way through a potent package boasting energised re-vamps of Sweet’s seventies hits such as Fox on the Run and Balloroom Blitz.

Pavarotti Sings Verdi (Decca 478 539 7)- The late great Italian tenor may no longer be with us but his illustrious back catalogue still provides a richly rewarding source of listening pleasure for opera devotees around the world. Decca’s latest 3 CD anthology features Pavarotti and assorted musical luminaries in performances of a selection of arias and extended scenes from eleven Verdi operas,including Aida,Rigoletto,La traviata and Il trovatore to name but a few. Splendid stuff.

Madison Violet,Come As You Are Live (True North TND 571)-The latest offering from this highly regarded Toronto duo was recorded live at their sold out show in Cologne in November 2011 and showcases the tuneful brand of Americana which has been enchanting audiences ever since they first began performing together a decade or so ago. Lisa MacIsaac and Brenley MacEacherm may not be household names just yet,but lend an ear to tracks such as The Ransom or No Fool For Trying and their exquisitely crafted harmonies could well capture your heart too.

It’s A Beautiful Day,Live at the Fillmore ‘68 (Wienerworld CMVO220) - It’s A Beautiful Day were one of the most interesting and eclectic Californian bands to emerge from 1967’s Summer of Love, drawing much of their appeal from the creativity and virtuoso musicianship of charismatic frontman David La Flamme. This fascinating historical aretfact captures the sextet’s show at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore venue a year or so later, including atmospheric gems such as Hot Summer Day,White Bird and Bombay Calling, whose haunting intro would later be appropriated by Deep Purple for their epic Child in Time.

Kevin Bryan