The latest reviews from Kevin Bryan.
Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers, "Hypnotic Eye" (Reprise Records)- Tom Petty could be excused for opting to take it easy and rest on his laurels at this advanced stage of his glittering recording career, but the eagerly awaited follow-up to 2010's "Mojo" actually represents a conscious return to the classic brand of focussed American rock which made his work so exhilarating during the late seventies. "Hypnotic Eye" finds Petty applying his distinctive Florida drawl to a compelling collection of refreshingly direct and uncluttered rock ditties led by "American Dream Plan B," "Burnt Out Town" and "Shadow People," eloquently underpinned as ever by the sterling contributions of guitarist Mike Campbell and keyboard ace Benmont Tench.
Wishbone Ash,"Bare Bones" (Talking Elephant TECD 254)- The incarnation of Wishbone Ash which laid down these "unplugged" tracks in 1999 bore little resemblance to the outfit whose distinctive twin lead guitar sound made such an impact on the rock fraternity during the early seventies. Founder member Andy Powell was the driving force behind an undemanding package which blended old and new material fairly seamlessly,and this deluxe 2CD re-issue also features live recordings of six of the album tracks and a lengthy interview with Powell himself.
"Soul City Philadelphia" (Fantastic Voyage FVDD198)- Compiler Clive Richardson's latest soul anthology focusses attention on some of the vibrant performers who emerged from America's fourth largest city during the early sixties,including luminaries such as Solomon Burke, Don Covay and singer-guitarist Bobby Parker of "Watch Your Step" fame. In later years the name of Philadelphia would become synonymous with the swirling strings and slick production values emanating from Gamble and Huff's Sigma Sound Studios as outfits such as The O'Jays and Three Degrees soared into the higher reaches of the singles charts on both sides of the Atlantic, but this 2 CD set presents a much more earthy and engaging brand of music-making for your listening pleasure. Splendid stuff.
Old Crow Medicine Show,"Remedy" (ATO Records)- Old Crow's joyous brand of old time American string band music is captured in all its quirkily memorable glory as the seven piece outfit unveil the impressive follow-up to 2012's "Carry Me Back." The multi-talented musicians present listeners with a nicely varied set which includes the poignant "Dearly Departed Friend" and a fine Dylan co-composition in the shape of "Sweet Amarillo" as well as "Doc's Day," their heartfelt tribute to Doc Watson, the legendary folk icon who first discovered the band when they were working as buskers in their native North Carolina.
Raphael Wallfisch / John York,"Schumann: Works for Cello" (Nimbus NI 5916)- This absorbing new recital explores the musical output of troubled composer Robert Schumann, drawing on his unusually structured "Cello Concerto" and a selection of the masterly miniatures which this leading light of German Romanticism penned during a remarkable burst of creativity in 1849. The bulk of these shorter pieces were originally conceived with other solo instruments in mind, but cellist Raphael Wallfisch breathes new life into these endlessly inventive works with the invaluable support of piano accompanist John York.