Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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Kevin Bryan gives his verdict on some of the new music releases.

Son House - Live at Oberlin College, April 15,1965(Wienerworld). Mississippi-born Son House had been inactive on the music-making front for more than 20 years when a new generation of record buyers picked up on the seminal tracks that he’d laid down for the Library of Congress during the early 40s and prompted this emotionally charged performer to resume his career as an entertainer. This informal recording captures the great Delta bluesman’s show at Oberlin College in Ohio during the American folk blues revival of the mid-60s, showcasing fine vehicles for his voice and slide guitar such as New York Central and Preachin’ The Blues, which the great man had originally recorded as a 78 rpm disc for Paramount Records in 1930.

The Humblebums - Please Sing A Song For Us (Talking Elephant). This excellent anthology focusses a welcome spotlight on the recordings that famed Glaswegian wit Billy Connolly made for the Transatlantic label during the far-off days when he still harboured dreams of making a name for himself as a singer and banjo ace. Connolly’s forays into folk-rock with bluegrass guitarist Tam Harvey and the late lamented Gerry Rafferty in The Humblebums may have slipped by largely unnoticed when they first saw the light of day half a century ago but Please Sing A Song For Us boasts more than its fair share of sprightly melodic gems nonetheless, including subtly memorable Rafferty creations such as Steamboat Row, Shoeshine Boy and the classic Her Father Didn’t Like Me Anyway.

Got The Blues (Universal Music On Demand). The good people at Universal Music have played rather fast and loose with their definition of what constitutes “the blues” here, but any collection which includes contributions from undisputed giants of the genre such as Muddy Waters, B.B.King, Little Walter and the legendary Robert Johnson is well worth a few hours of anyone’s time. The latter’s Sweet Home Chicago is one of the highlights of a splendid 4-CD set which also features the country soul of Ray Charles’s I Can’t Stop Loving You, harmonica wizard Little Walter’s My Babe and reclusive rocker J.J.Cale’s Cocaine to name but a few.

Scotland - The Music & The Song (Greentrax). This splendid anthology was first released to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Scottish folk label Greentrax Recordings in 2006, drawing on some choice extracts from the three hundred or so albums that they’d released by that stage. The contents feature contributions from many of the leading lights of the country’s acoustic music scene, including Dick Gaughan, Ceolbeg and expatriate singer-songwriter Eric Bogle, running the gamut from haunting traditional ballads to sprightly instrumental pieces in a wide-ranging celebration of all that’s best in Scottish folk.