The latest reviews from Kevin Bryan.
Bap Kennedy,"Let's Start Again" (Proper prpcdx 117)- Martin "Bap" Kennedy first made an impact on the U.K. music scene as the frontman of guitar based rockers Energy Orchard during the early nineties,and the Belfast born singer-songwriter is now firmly established as a top notch solo performer,mining a rich vein of gently understated Americana with rare grace and charm. "Let's Start Again" finds Kennedy working with some of his native Ulster's finest musical talents as he serves up tuneful gems such as "Radio Waves," "Strange Kid" and "Heart Trouble" for your listening pleasure.
Belinda Carlisle,"Heaven on Earth" (Edsel EDSG 8025)- Belinda Carlisle is rarely tempted into the recording studio these days but this easy on the ear package captures the Californian pop icon at the peak of her performing powers. This expanded version of the former Go-Go's second solo album boasts a string of alternate edits and 12 inch mixes of anthemic pop ditties such as "Circle in the Sand," "I Get Weak" and the chart-topping title tune, and as an added bonus the good people at Edsel have also included a DVD containing six promo videos and a recording of her 1988 show at the Tower Theatre in Philadelphia,"Belinda Live!" Shinyribs,"Gulf Coast Museum" (Nine Mile NMR 0211)- The Texan city of Austin has supplied a welcoming bolthole for a whole host of musical mavericks over the years, and Kevin "Shinyribs" Russell's work epitomises the eclectic spirit of this unashamedly liberal metropolis. "Gulf Coast Museum" clocks in at a little over half an hour and finds Russell weaving together influences as diverse as Stevie Wonder and Woody Guthrie as he unveils a fine new batch of self-penned songs before closing with a touching, ukelele dominated cover of Harold Melvin's 1972 hit," If You Don't Know Me By Now."
Dunedin Consort / John Butt,"Bach:Six Brandenburg Concertos" (Linn CKD 430)-The first instrumental release from the Dunedin Consort finds them breathing new life into the perennially popular "Brandenburg Concertos." Bach presented these works to the Margrave of Brandenburg in 1721 but no-one can say for certain when they were actually written,as he was in the habit of recycling earlier creations when the occasion demanded it. Whatever its origins may be this consciously disparate collection has certainly lost little of its appeal with the passage of time,and Scotland's leading Baroque ensemble do full justice to the composer's musical vision here.
Johnny Ace, "Ace's Wild" (Fantastic Voyage FVDD 117)- This compelling 2 CD collection brings together all the recordings that this Memphis born R&B performer captured for posterity during a career which came to a tragic end in an accidental shooting incident on Christmas Day 1954. The contents showcase Ace's lengthy run of Top 10 hits as well as his session work with the likes of Bobby Bland and B.B.King and six of the heartfelt tribute songs which were released in response to his untimely death at the age of just 25.Splendid stuff.