Kevin Bryan’s record reviews
Doo Wop Revival-The R&B Vocal Group Sound 1961-1962 (Fantastic Voyage FVTD 190)-This fun packed 3 CD anthology focusses attention on no less than ninety peerless examples of vibrant rhythm and blues from the early sixties,including classic tracks from the likes of The Miracles, The Drifters and The Marcels of Blue Moon fame. America’s mainstream pop scene may have been in a fairly parlous state during this period but there’s certainly nothing bland or insipid about this soulful package,and soul devotees should be thrilled to discover a teenage Bobby Womack handling lead vocals on The Valentinos’ Lookin’ For A Love and a similarly youthful Wilson Pickett emoting his way through The Falcons’ 1962 hit, I Found A Love alongside the likes of The Contours’ Do You Love Me and The Isley Brothers’ exhilarating Twist and Shout.
Stone the Crows,Featuring Maggie Bell (Talking Elephant TECD 239)-Stone the Crows made quite an impact on the British music scene during the early seventies but the untimely death of guitarist and creative mainstay Les Harvey in a tragic accident in 1972 put paid to the Glaswegian blues rockers’ hopes of achieving lasting stardom, although they struggled on for a while with the similarly ill-fated Jimmy McCulloch as Harvey’s replacement. This griity retrospective concentrates on the band’s earlier recordings, including four tracks from their second and best album, Ode To John Law, led by Sad Mary and Mad Dogs and Englishmen.
Argent,In Deep (Talking Elephant TECD 241)-The latest CD re-issue from the good people at Talking Elephant revives the fourth Argent album,which was first released in 1973,hot on the heels of their major singles success with Hold Your Head Up. The band always seemed to represent a fairly uneasy compromise between singer-guitarist Russ Ballard’s pop sensibilities and keyboardist Rod Argent’s prog-rock pretensions and the musical fault lines were certainly evident here as they served up the highly commercial God Gave Rock and Roll To You and It’s Only Money alongside much more cerebral tracks such as Candles on the River.
Coco Montoya,Songs from the Road (Ruf 1203)- This gifted singer and guitarist has experienced quite a few highs and lows during the course of his long and chequered career,including stints working with veteran bluesmen Albert Collins and John Mayall and a singularly unproductive period working as a bartender in Los Angeles when the creative muse temporarily deserted him during the mid eighties. This enjoyable 2CD set in Ruf’s Songs from the Road series captures a Coco Montoya show at Seattle’s Triple Door venue which found him revisiting his impressive back catalogue for compelling tracks such as Gotta Mind To Travel and My Side of the Fence,aided and abetted by some splendid organ work from Brant Leeper.
Colin Cooper Project, From The Vaults (Repertoire REPUK 1199)-Former Climax Blues Band mainstay Cooper recorded this collection of much loved blues standards at his home studio in Stafford during the lengthy period between 1995 and his untimely death from cancer in 2008. The tracks were never really intended for commercial release but they’re well worth hearing nonetheless,with Cooper’s mellow vocals and fluent guitar work illuminating old favourites such as Rambling On My Mind, Key To the Highway and It Hurts Me Too.