Record reviews

Reviews by Kevin Bryan

Shawn Phillips, Spaced (Talking Elephant TECD229)- This maverick singer-songwriter was apparently once described as the best kept secret in the music business by legendary rock promoter Bill Graham,and the talented Texan certainly maintained a very low public profile during a lengthy career which saw him work with Donovan on several sixties albums as well as assembling a vastly impressive body of work in his own right,including this expertly crafted 1977 offering. Spaced provided an ideal vehicle for this inventive character’s prodigious vocal range as he alternated between wordily meandering ballads and enigmatic instrumental pieces,with Rant and The Light From Between Your Eyes emerging as the best of a beguiling bunch.

Nick Cave & The Bad Seeds, Live from KCRW(Bad Seed)-This majestic live set was recorded at Los Angeles’ Apogee Studio earlier this year.and finds the Antipodean rock balladeer tackling some classic oldies alongside four songs from his recent album,Push The Sky Away. Nick ‘s emotionally charged approach to the art of songwriting has informed a string of richly rewarding albums over the years, and the stripped down performances that noted producer Bob Clearmountain has captured here should certainly be required listening for Cave devotees everywhere.Higgs Boson Blues, Far From Me and The Mercy Seat” are particularly impressive efforts.

Methods of Dance- Electronica & Leftfield ‘73-’87 (Virgin Records)- Virgin continue the celebrations of their 40th anniversary with the release of another 3 CD anthology,this time focussing attention on some of the trailblazing performers who helped to champion the cause of electronic music during the seventies and eighties.The contents run the gamut from the fairly cerebral musings of krautrock pioneers such as Faust and Edgar Froese to the much more commercial output of Sparks,OMD and China Crisis,and the redoubtable Public Image inject an air of menace into the proceedings with their unlikely hit singles,Rise and This Is Not A Love Song.

Royal Southern Brotherhood, Songs From The Road (Ruf 1194)-This new CD/DVD package was recorded live in the former German capital of Bonn just over a year ago.as the Royal Southern Brotherhood’s appearance at the city’s Crossroads Festival was captured for the legendary Rockpalast TV show. The band’s bluesy sound has inevitably prompted comparisons with outfits from the heyday of southern rock in the early seventies such as the Allman Brothers,which is hardly surprising when you consider that Gregg Allman’s son Devon is a key member of the Brotherhood’s line-up alongside virtuoso slide guitarist Mike Zito. Sweet Jelly Donut and their visceral cover of the Stones’ Gimme Shelter are both well worth investigating.

Nick Lowe, Quality Street (Proper PRPCD 114)- This tongue-in-cheek celebration of the Christmas album’s tawdry charms finds veteran rock balladeer Lowe grappling with an appealing assortment of revamped hymns, long forgotten pop ditties and wittily crafted originals. A Dollar Short of Happy and the stunning I Was Born In Bethlehem fit firmly into the latter category,and listeners would also be well advised to lend an ear to Nick’s New Orleans flavoured treatment of Silent Night and his ska tinged revival of Wizzard’s 1973 chart-topper,I Wish It Could Be Christmas Every Day.