The latest reviews from Kevin Bryan.
Curved Air,"North Star" (Curved Air CRVE 002)- Only two members of the original Curved Air remain in their current line-up in the shape of vocalist Sonja Kristina and grandiosely named drummer Florian Pilkington-Miksa. but the band are still mining the same rich vein of quirkily compelling violin led prog-rock which impressed so many discerning pundits during the group's creative heyday in the early seventies.Their first new album since 1976's "Airborne" serves up an appealing blend of new material,re-worked oldies and covers of songs made famous by the likes of Snow Patrol and The Police before closing with a surprisingly effective re-vamp of John Lennon's "Across The Universe."
Al Kooper,"Soul of a Man:Live-Rekooperation" (Nimbus NI 2746)- This multi-talented New Yorker has worked with many of the rock greats over the years,including stints with influential sixties outfits such as Blues Project and Blood,Sweat and Tears and session work with everyone from B.B.King to Bob Dylan,where he conjured up the memorable organ riff on the classic "Like A Rolling Stone." This 3 CD collection draws on some of Al's recordings from the mid nineties,including a live package which re-unites him with many of his former colleagues as he breathes new life into golden oldies such as Eric Andersen's "Violets of Dawn," Randy Newman's "Just One Smile" and Donovan's "Season of the Witch."
"Voodoo Voodoo-Feisty Fifties Females" (Fantastic Voyage FVTD 195)- Fifties America continues to provide a rich source of subject matter for CD compilers around the world, and Fantastic Voyage's latest splendid offering draws on a grand total of ninety tracks from that increasingly dim and distant era. The contents showcase the talents of many female vocalists whose contributions to the early development of pop and r&b have long since been forgotten,including unjustly neglected performers such as Dolly Cooper, Camille Howard and soulful gospel contralto Marie Knight.
Robin George,"History" (Angel Air SJPCD 443)- Guitarist Robin George was working with former Uriah Heep frontman David Byron's band when he recorded these tracks at a studio called the Old Smithy in Worcester between 1979 and 1981,joining forces with rock luminaries such as Phil Lynott,Mel Collins and Judas Priest drummer Dave Holland to assemble a package which was quietly shelved at the time and has had to wait more than three decades for its first official release. "History" supplies a tuneful vehicle for the Wolverhampton born musicians's inventive brand of music-making, with "Heartline" and "Go Down Fighting" emerging as the cream of an undemanding crop.
The Secret Sisters,"Put Your Needle Down" (Decca/Republic Records)-Alabama duo Laura and Lydia Rogers finally unveil the eagerly anticipated follow-up to their critically acclaimed 2010 debut set, joining forces once again with iconic producer T Bone Burnett as they display their growing maturity and assurance as performers. The Rogers sisters are certainly blossoming as songwriters these days too, penning subtly memorable ditties such as "River Jordan" and their modern "murder ballad" "Iuka" as well as putting the finishing touches to an incomplete Dylan song entitled "Dirty Lie."