Here are this week’s record reviews, courtesy of Kevin Bryan.
Jeff Beck - Loud Hailer (Atco Records). Sixties guitar hero Jeff Beck has always shown a commendable disdain for the lure of fame and fortune during a career which has now spanned more than half a century, and the Surrey-born musician’s latest solo offering is a typically robust and uncompromising affair. The 72-year-old Beck has certainly not opted to grow old gracefully as he delivers his finest album in many a long year, joining forces with vocalist Rosie Bones to serve up visceral exercises in social commentary such as Scared For The Children, Live in Dark and The Revolution Will Be Televised.
Mark Harrison - Turpentine (Self released). Mark Harrison may be loosely pigeonholed as a British blues musician, but his songs often possess a contemporary relevance which is sadly lacking in the work of many of his contemporaries. The latest addition to his growing body of work is Turpentine, a lovingly crafted celebration of the roots music genre at its most vibrant and life enhancing. Selecting highlights is a pretty thankless task because this really is an album that deserves to be heard in its entirety, although if I was pressed I’d nominate The Treaty Of Dancing Rabbit Creek and Next Of Kin as particularly fine examples of Mark’s richly resonant approach to music-making.
Happy Together (Union Square Music). Anthologies such as this normally demonstrate precious little rhyme or reason in their track selections, but that shouldn’t be allowed to detract from the appeal of a splendid 3-CD set which revives 60 melodic gems from half a century or so ago. Otis Redding, The Beach Boys, Small Faces and The Lovin’ Spoonful all make telling contributions to the proceedings, and no celebration of sixties pop would be truly complete without the inclusion of The Kinks’ Waterloo Sunset or Procol Harum’s classically inspired A Whiter Shade of Pale.
Simply New Orleans (Union Square Music). This excellent showcase for the wealth of musical talent that’s emerged from the cultural melting pot of New Orleans since the early years of rock’n’roll draws on vibrant offerings from the likes of Allen Toussaint, Dr.John and the Dixie Cups to name but a few. Many of the tracks featured here are relatively obscure but they’re all blessed with the Crescent City’s unique brand of soulful dynamism, and the compilers have also found space for a few bona fide classics in the shape of Lee Dorsey’s Working In A Coal Mine, Fats Domino’s Blueberry Hill and Robert Parker’s effervescent 1966 hit, Barefootin’.