Steve Earle & The Dukes, “Terraplane” (New West Records) Steve Earle may have been one of the founding fathers of the alternative country movement but this instinctively contrary character now feels that the time is right for him to explore the earthy delights of the blues. “Terraplane” is the result, and this darkly compelling set provides a rewarding outlet for Steve’s creative impulses as he examines the vagaries of the human condition via standout tracks such as“Better Off Alone” and the semispoken “The Tennessee Kid.
”Man, “ Reanimated Memories” (Esoteric EANTCD 1046)Freewheeling Welsh rockers Man haven’t been too active on the recording front in recent years, but their first new studio album since 2009’s “Kingdom of Noise” should be greeted like the proverbial manna from heaven by those discerning devotees who’ve kept the faith since the group’s creative heyday in the early seventies. Man’s current incarnation features a couple of members from those far off days in the shape of bassist Martin Ace and keyboards wizard Phil Ryan, and they’re joined here bylegendary pedal steel guitarist B.J.Cole for three of the better tracks on this amiablycountry tinged set, “The Ballad of Billy Lee,” “We Know” and “One More Ride on the Waltzers.”
“Greatest Ever Driving Songs” (Union Square Music) This inexpensive and musically diverse 3CD anthology has apparently been designed to help drivers while away those long and often tedious car journeys, drawing on some classic examples of rock, pop and soul from the past halfcentury or so. Gerry Rafferty, Lynyrd Skynyrd, The Waterboys and Free all make telling contributions to the proceedings alongside such unlikely bedfellows as Chicory Tip, Sandie Shaw and actor and calypso singer Harry Belafonte, who chips in with his infectious 1961 hit“Jump in the Line.
”Martin Jones, “75th Birthday Tribute” (Nimbus Records) Highly regarded classical pianist Martin Jones celebrates his 75th birthday this year, and Nimbus Records have decided to mark the event by assembling this wide ranging 4CD set, showcasing many of the finest recordings that he’s made for the label since his long association with them began long long ago in 1973. Jones’eclectic musical tastes inform a splendidly diverse and musicianly package which features works by Brahms and Mendelssohn as well as Gershwin’s “Somebody Loves Me” and “I Got Rhythm” and some evocative pieces from the pens of Spanish composers such as Albeniz, Granados and Federico Mompou.