The latest reviews from Kevin Bryan.
Wynonie Harris, "Jump Mr.Blues-The Definitive Collection" (Fantastic Voyage FVDD115)- This fine 2 CD set chronicles most of the musical highpoints in the colourful career of Omaha born blues shouter and rhythm and blues singer Wynonie Harris, drawing on recordings made between 1944 and 1960, when fame and fortune had long since deserted this larger than life character. The earlier offerings pack by far the greater punch,showcasing the ebullient performing style which made such an impact on youthful rock'n'rollers such as Elvis Presley during their formative years, with "Good Rockin' Tonight," "Wynonie's Blues" and "All She Wants To Do Is Rock" emerging as the pick of the 50 tracks gathered together here.
Bonnie Raitt, "Slipstream" (Proper PRPCD 097)- The release of a new Bonnie Raitt album is becoming a sadly all too rare event these days, but this belated follow up to 2005's "Souls Alike" amply rewards the veteran singer and slide guitarist's devoted coterie of admirers for their patience. The contents follow the familiar pattern which Bonnie first established with excellent seventies albums such as "Give It Up" and "Streetlights",interspersing fiery blues, yearning world-weary ballads and inspired covers of songs such as Dylan's "Standing In The Doorway" and the late Gerry Rafferty's "Right Down The Line," the latter skilfully re-invented as a light slice of gently chugging Californian reggae.
Loudon Wainwright III, "Older Than My Old Man Now" (Proper PRPCD 098)- This venerable singer-songwriter has elevated self obsession to the level of a peculiarly sardonic artform, and his new Proper album features the great man's wry musings on the superficially less than cheery subject of death and decay. Wainwright has roped in a motley assortment of relatives and old friends to underpin his efforts, including Ramblin' Jack Elliott, Ulster folkie Robin Morton and his own gifted offspring Martha and Rufus. The latter duets mournfully with his father on the affecting "The Days That We Die," and other musical highpoints emerge in the shape of "All in a Family" and the jazzy opener, "The Here & the Now."
The Wedding Present, "Valentina" (Scopitones TONE CD 037)- Creative mainstay David Gedge has remained the only permanent presence in the Wedding Present line-up as they've succumbed to a seemingly endless stream of personnel changes over the years, and "Valentina" finds him fronting the latest incarnation of the band as they unveil their first album since 2008's "El Rey." The finished product won't spring too many surprises on long-term Wedding Present devotees, but Gedge remains one of the most refreshingly original lyricists in the eclectic world of indie rock, and co-writer Graeme Ramsay's frenetic guitar work lends added appeal to prime cuts such as "Back A Bit...Stop," "You're Dead" and "The Girl From The DDR."
The Cranberries, "Roses" ( Cooking Vinyl COOKCD552)- The deluxe edition of the Cranberries' eagerly anticipated comeback album comes complete with a bonus live CD recorded in Madrid in 2010, featuring their energised re-vamps of a string of perennial crowd pleasers led by "Ridiculous Thoughts," "Zombie" and "Ode To My Family." The newly penned contents of "Roses" pale a little by comparison with those much loved old favourites , although the band and their longterm friend and collaborator Stephen Street have certainly assembled a beguiling musical backdrop for Dolores O' Riordan's distinctive Irish lilt on stand-out tracks such as "Conduct," "Tomorrow" and the ethereal title tune.