The latest reviews from Kevin Bryan.
Aztec Camera, "High Land,Hard Rain" (Edsel EDSA 5011)- This tuneful debut set was first released by Rough Trade Records in April 1983, introducing perceptive punters to creative mainstay Robbie Frame's beguiling approach to music-making via stand-out tracks such as "Walk Out To Winter, " "Pillar To Post" and the indie chart topping "Oblivious." The teenage tunesmith went on to record a string of critically acclaimed albums with a variety of musicians during the subsequent debate, but it's debatable whether he ever improved on the multi-layered charms of "High Land, Hard Rain," which has been fleshed out here with the inclusion of seven bonus tracks.
Alfred Brendel & Walter Klein, "Brahms:Hungarian Dances, Dvorak:Slavonic Dances" (Regis RRC 1397)- Austrian classical pianists Brendel and Klein joined forces in the late fifties to record these stylish performances of the Brahms and Dvorak dance tunes, utilising the original two piano arrangements of these rousing musical creations. Dvorak apparently used Brahms' "Hungarian Dances" as the model for his own folksy and nationalistic "Slavonic Dances," and the two works complement each other perfectly here.
Kelly Joe Phelps, "Roll Away The Blues" (Nascente NSDCD029)- The compilers of this life affirming anthology have delved deeply into the Rykodisc archives to revive the best of the recordings that acoustic bluesman Kelly Joe Phelps captured for posterity during his decade long stay with the label. Phelps' unique improvised sound has always seemed to draw equal inspiration from free jazz and the elemental spirit of the Mississippi Delta blues, with tracks such as " River Rat Jimmy " and "See That My Grave Is Kept Clean" providing absorbing vehicles for his skills as a finger picker and lap slide guitarist.
Biffy Clyro,"Opposites"(14th Floor Records)- In an era sadly dominated by suffocatingly safe corporate rock nonentities it's always gratifying to come across an outfit with the no holds barred chutzpah of Scottish alternative rockers Biffy Clyro. They may indulge their growing passion for expansive stadium-rock a little more often these days,but Biffy Clyro's best work still possesses a quirky and heartfelt charm which sets the three musicians apart from most of their contemporaries in the field."Spanish Radio," "Trumpet or Tap" and "Black Chandelier" are the best of the bunch.
"Three Months To Kill - West Coast Rock'n'Roll" (Fantastic Voyage FVDD 113)- This richly rewarding offering from the good people at Fantastic Voyage focusses attention on some of the finest music which emanated from the golden state of California during the period between 1947 and 1960. Timeless rock'n'roll anthems from the likes of Ritchie Valens,Eddie Cochran and Ricky Nelson nestle snugly alongside a string of fascinating obscurities from the land of endless summer, including the fifteen year old Scott Walker's 1958 bid for pop stardom,"Good For Nothin'."