By Kevin Bryan
“The Road To Rock & Roll Vol.2: Dangerous Liasons” (Fantastic Voyage FVDD 181)- Stuart Colman’s latest carefully researched anthology focusses attention on some of the vibrant recordings which would have set the toes of American teenagers tapping during the early fifties as they paved the way for the rock’n’roll explosion which would engulf popular music later in the decade. The 2 CD set serves up a heady blend of hillbilly music,rhythm and blues and western swing, including potent performances from the likes of Hank Williams,T-Bone Walker,Fats Domino and Tiny Bradshaw,whose jump blues opus “The Train Kept A-Rollin’” was apparently the first song that Led Zeppelin played together when they started out as a band in 1968.
Beth Nielsen Chapman,”UnCovered” (BNC Records)- This interesting vehicle for the talents of Beth Nielsen Chapman finds the Nashville based singer-songwriter tackling some of the songs which she’s penned for other artists over the years but never actually recorded herself. Beth is aided and abetted by luminaries such as Duane Eddy,Vince Gill and Kim Carnes of “Bette Davis Eyes” fame as she applies her personal stamp to memorable ditties such as “Simple Things,” “Sweet Love Shine” and Willie Nelson’s 1989 country chart-topper,”Nothin’ I Can Do About It Now.”
Eric Clapton,”Crossroads Guitar Festival 2013” (Rhino Records)- This wide-ranging 2 CD set features some of the highlights of the two night guitar festival which was held at New York’s prestigious Madison Square Garden earlier this year. Clapton masterminds these star-studded charity events every three years to raise much needed funds for the Crossroads Centre in Antigua, and his latest package includes rousing performances from the likes of the Allman Brothers Band , Taj Mahal and Keith Richards,who shares the stage with Eric for “Key To The Highway” before the former Cream guitarist revisits his sixties heyday with the concert finale,”Sunshine of Your Love.”
Sweet, “The Answer” (Angel Air SJPCD 427)- The original incarnation of Sweet ceased to exist when the three remaining members of the seventies glam rockers’ line-up finally gave up the ghost in 1981,but guitarist Andy Scott still soldiers on with his own version of the band,and this highly sought after 1992 offering captures the tuneful rockers in particularly tight and punchy form. The hook laden contents offer diehard Sweet devotees an enjoyably derivative hour or so of listening pleasure,with “Do As I Say” and “Is It True” emerging as the best of the bunch.
Mark Anderson,”Von Bulow Volume 2” (Nimbus NI 5907)- Conductor,pianist and composer Hans von Bulow was one of the leading lights of the German musical firmament during the 19th century,but this notoriously difficult character’s keyboard creations are rarely heard these days. Fellow pianist Mark Anderson has set himself the task of reviving some of these technically taxing works for the benefit of a modern audience ,and the seven compositions showcased here capture the melodic fluency and harmonic invention which was such an integral feature of Bulow’s writing.