Shawn Phillips, “Faces” (Talking Elephant TECD 268) Legendary rock promoter once described Shawn Phillips as “the best kept secret in the music business,” and the inventive Texan singer-songwriter certainly didn’t go out of his way to court fame and fortune during his creative heyday in the early seventies. This 1972 album was one of Shawn’s more successful offerings, scraping into the lower reaches of the American album charts with its elaborately arranged fusion of rock,pop and classical forms underpinned by guest appearances from the likes of Steve Winwood and Crusaders’ pianist Joe Sample. “Anello (Where Are You)” and the beguiling bonus track “A Christmas Song” are particularly fine efforts.
Michala Petri & Mahan Esfahani, “Corelli: La Follia” (Our Recordings 6.220610) Danish recorder virtuoso Michala Petri is in typically fluent and expressive form in this splendid recital of works by Italian Baroque composer Arcangelo Corelli. The recorder enjoyed a much higher public profile when these pieces were first transcribed in the eighteenth century, and Petri is aided and abetted in her efforts to restore some well deserved credibility to this often derided instrument by the invaluable support of harpsichord virtuoso Mahan Esfahani.
Chicken Shack,”O.K.Ken?” (Talking Elephant TECD274) Chicken Shack were one of the leading lights of the British blues boom and this quirky offering proved to be the band’s most successful album,soaring into the higher reaches of the charts on its release in 1969. Frontman Stan Webb’s stinging, Freddie King inspired guitar work and Christine Perfect’s plaintive vocals ensure that the musical content is little less than impeccable, but Webb’s spoken introductions to the tracks are jarring in the extreme as he indulges in unlikely impersonations of eveyone from Kenneth Williams to the late lamented John Peel, with the massed ranks of the Stan Webb Appreciation Society chortling sycophantically in the background.
The Moody Blues, “The Magnificent Moodies” (Esoteric Recordings) This interesting archive package showcases a remastered version of the Birmingham band’s 1965 debut album alongside 15 bonus tracks culled from their largely unsuccessful singles output during those far off days , including a hitherto unreleased version of the charttopping “Go Now!” This memorable Bessie Banks cover captured the essence of the original outfit’s muscular r&b influenced sound ,but they remained onehit wonders until Justin Hayward and John Lodge joined the fold and the Moodies reinvented themselves as progrock visionaries in 1967 with “Days of Future Passed.”