Kevin Bryan’s record reviews

Gossip, “A Joyful Noise” (Columbia Records)- The latest album from larger than life vocalist Beth Ditto and her gifted musical cohorts finds the Washington trio working with producer Brian Higgins of Saturdays and Girls Aloud fame to create their most overtly commercial offering to date. “A Joyful Noise” has disappointed those Gossip fans who prefer the band’s earlier, slightly more confrontational approach to music-making but Ditto’s newly discovered pop sensibilities should help to ensure the success of a package boasting memorably anthemic ditties such as “Perfect World, “ “Horns” and “Melody Emergency.”

Budapest Festival Orch./Fischer, “Brahms : Hungarian Dances etc.” (Decca 478 4028)- This inexpensive CD features the work of two composers who adapted dance tunes from Central European folk music to create some of the most rousing orchestral works in the entire 19th century repertoire. A selection of Johannes Brahms’ “Hungarian Dances” sit snugly alongside the best of Dvorak’s “Slavonic Dances,” and this vibrant offering should provide an ideal introduction to the two men’s work for newcomers to the delights of classical music.

“R&B Spotlight ‘61 : 56 Rhythm & Blues Hits from the US charts of 1961” (Fantastic Voyage FVDD 144)- Fantastic Voyage’s latest anthology showcases some of the classic r&b recordings which would have influenced outfits such as The Beatles and Rolling Stones during their formative years, including gems from giants of the genre such as Bobby Bland, Jimmy Reed and guitarist Freddie King, who chips in with “I’m Tore Down” and two fine instrumentals, “Hideaway” and “San-Ho-Zay.” Many of the acts featured here also had great crossover appeal , and songs such as Chubby Checker’s “Let’s Twist Again,” Ray Charles’ “Hit The Road Jack” and Clarence “Frogman” Henry’s irresistible “But I Do” all soared into the higher reaches of the U.S.pop charts more than half a century ago.

Tedeschi Trucks Band, “Everybody’s Talkin’ “ (Sony 88691959832)-The husband and wife team of Susan Tedeschi and Derek Trucks formed this superior blues rock outfit in 2010 ,putting aside their solo careers for a while to embark on a project which has already spawned one Grammy Award winning album in the shape of last year’s “Revelator.” The contents of this live follow-up were recorded at a variety of venues during the past year or so, capturing the eleven piece band’s eclectic approach to music-making as they breathe new life into much loved old favourites such as Stevie Wonder’s “Uptight,” John Sebastian’s “Darling Be Home Soon” and Elmore James’ “Rollin’ and Tumblin’.”

“The Ballad of Jacques Brel” (Cherry Red / El ACMEM230CD)- The contents of Cherry Red’s latest Jacques Brel anthology span the years between 1958 and 1961, showcasing compelling creations such as “Marieke” and “Le Moribond,” a dying man’s farewell to his family and friends which Canadian poet would subsequently transform into Terry Jacks’ transatlantic chart-topper,”Seasons in the Sun.” The CD’s compilers have also found space for some interesting covers of the dramatic Belgian balladeer’s work from the same period, including contributions by Juliette Greco, Yves Montand and Sam Cooke.

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