The latest reviews from Kevin Bryan.
Roky Erickson and the Aliens, "Five Symbols" (Cherry Red MOJOCD 1003)- Cherry Red's newly launched "Buried Treasure" series gets off to a flying start with the release of this classic album from former 13th Floor Elevators' mainstay Erickson. Roky had made his name during the psychedelic rock boom of the late sixties,but his fairly fragile mental state meant that he was never destined to pursue a conventional career path ,and the Texan singer and guitarist was a largely forgotten figure by the time that this belated solo debut first saw the light of day in 1980. CBS had so little faith in the project that it was only ever released in Britain and The Netherlands, but Erickson's mildly malevolent marriage of no holds barred rock and arcane sci fi / horror imagery still repays closer investigation as he launches into compelling creations such as "The Wind And More," "Don't Shake Me Lucifer" and "Night of the Vampire."
Richie Havens, "My Own Way" (Douglas/Wienerworld WNRCD 5064)- Richie Havens' intense rendition of "Freedom" at 1969's Woodstock Festival was a genuine show-stopper, and this mesmeric performance provided one of the highlights of the record and film which chronicled this legendary event. The Brooklyn born singer-songwriter had made his first tentative steps as a recording artist a few years earlier, and "My Own Way" brings together the contents of the two Havens albums that were masterminded by producer Alan Douglas in the mid sixties. Douglas took a batch of acoustic demos and overdubbed an electric band onto the sessions much as Tom Wilson had done with Simon and Garfunkel's "Sounds of Silence," although the results were often much less successful. Richie's ' covers of Dylan's "Oxford Town" and "Boots of Spanish Leather" are the best of a patchy bunch.
Hal, "The Time The Hour" (Tritone HR 002)- Hal's second album finds the Dublin quartet building on the firm foundations laid down seven years ago by their very well received debut set. The band were left twiddling their collective thumbs for much of the interim as musical mainstay David Allen went missing on a visit to the U.S.of A., but they've now reconvened with their creative batteries fully re-charged, drawing inspiration from the skilfully harmonised brand of West Coast pop which was first popularised by outfits such as The Beach Boys as they serve up subtly memorable tracks such as "The Time The Hour," "Be With You" and the string laden "Rocking Chairs.
UFO, "Seven Deadly" (SPV309252 CD)- This venerable British rock institution have gone through quite a few line-up changes over the years but "Seven Deadly" features three band members from their heyday in the seventies in the shape of Paul Raymond, Andy Parker and vocalist Phil Mogg. The latter is in particularly fine fettle as UFO serve up their most accomplished album in years, emoting soulfully during stand-out tracks such as "Burn Your House Down" and "Angel Station," aided and abetted by a relative newcomer in the shape of American guitarist Vinnie Moore, whose playing is consistently robust,muscular and inventive.
Gryphon Trio, "Great Piano Trios" (Analekta AN 2 9510-8) - This weighty but very reasonably priced anthology extends over a grand total of 9 CDs, and showcases the Gryphon Trio's stylish interpretations of many of the finest pieces in the piano trio repertoire. The highly regarded Canadians explore some of the most memorable chamber music creations penned by composers such as Beethoven, Mozart and Schubert , with the former's "Archduke" and " Ghost" trios emerging as the highlights of a varied and richly rewarding package.