Kevin Bryan’s record reviews

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Medicine Head, “Heavy On The Drum” (Talking Elephant TECD 198)- “Heavy On The Drum” was the second album that John Fiddler and Peter Hope-Evans recorded for the late John Peel’s Dandelion label, appearing on the market in the dim and distant year of 1971. The duo were still finding their feet as writers and performers at this stage of their career, but this collaboration with former Yardbird Keith Relf captures their stripped down and hypnotic sound very effectively, with “There’s Always A Light” and “To Train Time” emerging as the cream of the crop.

“The Delius Collection” (Heritage HTGCD 700)- This impressive 7 CD set marks the 150th anniversary of Frederick Delius’ birth by reviving some of the definitive recordings of his work which were originally released by Unicorn Records three decades or so ago. The contents showcase conductor and pianistEric Fenby’s performances of pieces which Fenby himself had helped the Bradford born composer to complete during the late twenties and early thirties, when the by then blind and paralysed Delius was no longer able to finish the task alone. Several of this unjustly neglected musical figure’s earlier masterworks are given an airing too, including “The Song of the High Hills,” “The Walk To The Paradise Garden” and “Paris-The Song of a Great City.”

Spain, ”The Soul of Spain” (Glitterhouse GRCD 757)- Germany’s Glitterhouse Records provides an invaluable outlet for the creativity of a host of top notch American bands whose enigmatic approach to music-making sets them apart from many of their commercially orientated contemporaries, and Spain must rank right up there with the best that the label has to offer. The alternative rockers were formed in Los Angeles almost twenty years ago by Josh Haden (son of legendary jazz bassist Charlie), but Haden is the only member remaining from those early days as the outfit that he reformed in 2007 deliver a downbeat yet oddly compelling collection occupying a curious musical niche midway between lounge jazz and the likes of Spiritualized at their most glacial.

“Watch the Closing Doors-A History of New York’s Musical Melting Pot” (Year Zero)- The first volume in what should be a fascinating series exploring the vibrant musical culture of New York draws on recordings made between 1945 and 1959 by such unlikely bedfellows as The Drifters, Duke Ellington and avant-garde experimentalist John Cage. Compiler Kris Needs has also found space for some fine examples of folk,blues and doowop,and the latter category is particularly well represented by classics such as The Five Satins’ “In The Still of the Nite” and The Paragons’ 1958 hit, “Twilight.”

Katatonia, “Dead End Kings” (Peaceville CDVILEF 403)- Swedish metal practitioners Katatonia have been plying their trade since the early nineties, but the well of musical inspiration that they continue to draw from shows no sign of drying up just yet. “Dead End Kings” is the band’s ninth studio album and must rank as one of their most accomplished offerings to date,serving up eleven impeccably crafted tracks swathed in all the all enveloping Nordic gloom which has become a Katatonia trademark. “Dead Letters, “ “Ambitions “ and “The Racing Heart” are the best of an atmospheric bunch.




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