Eric Clapton, "Unplugged:Expanded and Remastered" (Reprise Records)-The original "Unplugged" first saw the light of day in 1992, and found the legendary guitarist working with a small band as he delivered stripped down versions of much loved oldies such as "Layla" and "Tears in Heaven" alongside some of the songs which had influenced him during his formative years,including Bo Diddley's "Before You Accuse Me" and Robert Johnson's "Malted Milk." This newly expanded package boasts six hitherto unreleased tracks from the live show,including early versions of two numbers which would later reappear on Clapton's "Pilgrim" album,"Circus" and "My Father's Eyes." Splendid stuff.
Patty Griffin,"Silver Bell" (Polydor Records)- Ms.Griffin's new Polydor album was actually recorded for A&M Records long long ago in 2000, but a change of ownership at the label meant that "Silver Bell" was quietly shelved. This beguiling collection has finally been granted a long overdue release by the powers that be at Universal Music more than a decade later,newly mixed by highly regarded producer Glyn Johns and blessed with some fine examples of Patty's emotionally direct songwriting style,including "Top of the World," "One More Girl" and "Truth#2."
Streetwalkers,"Rip It Up at the Rainbow/Rip It Up at the De Montfort" (Mystic MYSCD 211/212)-A tempting pair of live CDs aimed fairly and squarely at Streetwalkers' devotees of a certain vintage,capturing the grittily compelling content of two of their gigs in February 1977. The sudden onset of the punk phenomenon was making the work of outfits such as Streetwalkers less and less fashionable with each passing day but Roger Chapman,Charlie Whitney and their cohorts did soldier on for a while,although this British tour would prove to be their swansong ."Chilli-Con-Carne" and old Family favourites,"Burlesque" and "My Friend The Sun" are the pick of the two uncompromsing live sets.
"For This I Thank You" (Fantastic Voyage FVTD 182)- This richly rewarding 3 CD anthology showcases the early exploits of some of the vibrant young performers who gravitated towards the legendary Motown family of labels during the early sixties. The contents are a heady mixture of timeless soul classics and fascinating obscurities,with the former category well represented by tracks such as The Marvelettes' "Please Mr. Postman," Marvin Gaye's "Hitch Hike" and The Miracles' infectious "Shop Around" to name but a few.
Anne-Sophie Mutter/Berlin Philharmonic/Honeck,"Dvorak:Violin Concerto/Romance/Mazurek/Humoresque"(D.G.479 198 4)- This sparkling new CD/DVD package unites violin virtuoso Mutter and the Berlin Philharmonic on record for the first time since the twilight years of legendary conductor Herbert von Karajan. Their splendid Dvorak recital is dominated by a fine interpretation of the composer's "Violin Concerto," alongside three shorter but equally evocative vehicles for Mutter's dazzling instrumental artistry.