LATEST ADDITIONS

Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
Like a pair of favourite slippers, a Livingston Taylor CD is a blue-chip cert if you want to relax. OK, so the audiophile equivalent of comfort food might not seem challenging, but his easy-going balladry is delicious – not least because Taylor called on members of Alison Krauss’ band Union Station to enhance it with a thread of bluegrass. As it was recorded in Tennessee, you can subtitle this his ‘Country Album’. Other guests include Steve Gadd, one of the greatest drummers in rock, country giant Vince Gill and Leland Sklar, bassist par excellence.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
After all these decades, the classic quintet lineup endures. Graduating from the Royal Welsh College of Music and Drama as a classical pianist in 2002, Stapleton based his own group on two luminaries of the same college, bassist Paula Gardiner and drummer Elliott Bennett, adding trumpeter Jonny Bruce, a 2006 graduate. Saxophonist is Ben Waghorn, who’s been heard with Kasabian and Goldfrapp as well as in his own quartet. Stapleton often seems to be taking a back seat, but what holds this complex, disciplined music together is his ability as a composer, creating extended pieces that can move from bombast to lyricism with real structure and purpose.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
After a brilliant start as a boy classical pianist, the teenage Cowley played in a Blues Brothers tribute band, then plunged into electronic pop with the Brand New Heavies and Zero 7 and his own group Fragile State. Returning to the piano, he formed the trio which recorded Displaced in 2006 and Loud Louder Stop in 2008. For their third album the trio are still together, or to be more accurate, more together than ever. They play as one.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
No matter how deeply it’s been mined before, the Blue Note vault is still a rich source of reissue gold. In what amounts to a relaunch of the XRCD audiophile format, Audio Wave has begun with a clutch of soul jazz classics. Soul Station has Mobley’s old Jazz Messengers boss Art Blakey on drums, with Paul Chambers on bass and bluesy pianist Wynton Kelly. This seemingly carefree album marked a turning-point for the light-toned tenor player, as 1961 would see him briefly and not very happily joining Miles Davis.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
Although you may have seen this ‘making of’ documentary on TV, as with all the DVDs from the Classic Albums series, this features substantial amounts of added material (a TV promo, detailed studies of the instruments’ sounds, and more). When the subject is one of rock’s most intelligent practitioners, a second viewing with extras is worth every second. This chronicles the band’s third release, from 1979, which cleared any lingering mislabelling from the punk era, ‘Refugee’ and ‘Here Comes My Girl’ being enough to establish Petty’s rep. This was their first release after Shelter Records folded, with Petty in recovery mode from the aggravation.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010
Some will recall the 17s 6d Supraphon LP of two of these grisly narrative poems – Czech PO/Chalabala, musically unsurpassed. Mackerras’s long association with Czech music virtually guarantees a recommendation here: Water Goblin and Noonday Witch (2008, live); Wild Dove (studio, 2009); and a reissued Golden Spinning Wheel (studio, 2001). Dvorak’s wind-swept allegros, rustic tunes and careful orchestrations fire the unique-sounding Czech Philharmonic much as Elgar’s or Walton’s music does the LSO. The one spectre at the feast is the skating-rink acoustic of the Prague Rudolfinum.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
Revisiting favourite old songs, the late great composer’s singer daughter has the luxury of Phil Ramone as producer, as well as some special guest stars. Stevie Wonder does a fabulous harmonica obbligato on ‘Blame It On The Sun’, while Brian Wilson and Take 6 vocalize amazingly behind her on ‘God Only Knows’. One of the best realisations, if not a jazzy one, is the opener ‘These Days’, with the unmistakeable liquid voice and soft guitar of composer Jackson Browne. This isn’t to be confused with the title track, the Billy Joel song, more wistful than ironic in Mancini’s hands.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
Of all the ‘lost’ rock films, this should never have landed in the vaults. A multi-artist concert from ’64, it may be the most important ‘rockumentary’ of the era, in the Top 5 of any rock-flick list. Viewed only in fragments for 46 years, it’s now available in clean 16:9 black & white, with a mono soundtrack. What you get are magical performances from (deep breath) the Barbarians, the Beach Boys, Chuck Berry, James Brown & the Famous Flames, Marvin Gaye, Gerry & The Pacemakers, Lesley Gore, Jan and Dean, Billy J.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
Practitioners of Zydeco – the black, bluesy, more rocking cousin to swampy Cajun music – serve a select audience, for the genre rarely produces crossover hits. But if you get bitten by the bug, it’s irresistible. Major Handy is one of Zydeco’s younger, more active performers, born in the heart of the Louisiana region that gave birth to the sound, and a veteran who played with Rockin’ Dopsie. Chad Kassem’s crew has captured the swing and the feel of the genre, while showcasing an instrument that’s key to Zydeco but hardly an audiophile staple: the accordion.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010
A stirring (although not properly level-matched) Kingdom Prelude prefaces a midpriced version of the Violin Concerto altogether superior to the recent Znaider/Sony [HFN June]. Sir Mark Elder is flexible in the introduction and exposes unfamiliar details; the Hallé reveals a natural affinity with Elgar’s writing escaping their Dresden rivals; and Thomas Zehetmair has a searching command of the solo part. Competition here for the earlier, less indulgent Kennedy recording! As fillers we have the Gerontius Prelude and, sung by mezzo Alice Coote, ‘The Angel’s Farewell’ in a 1900 arrangement without chorus. Sound Quality: 85% .

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