Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week's alternative CD releases.
Joan Baez, "The Complete Gold Castle Masters" (Proper Records)- This splendid CD re-issue from the good people at Proper Records brings together three albums which have been unjustly languishing in semi-obscurity since their release in the late eighties. Joan's enduring committment to social activism is reflected in the inclusion of classic songs of protest such as Peter Gabriel's "Biko," David Palmer's "Lebanon" and the civil rights anthem,"Oh Freedom." The recently remastered contents also feature duets with Jackson Browne and Paul Simon and some fine examples of her Spanish repertoire culled from her 1988 recording, "Diamonds and Rust in the Bullring."
Various Artists, "Folk Awards 2017" (Proper Records)- The release of these wide-ranging showcases for British folk talent is now firmly established as an annual event, giving listeners an opportunity to sample some of the exemplary roots music which has been created in these islands during the recent past. The musical content of this fine 2 CD set features performances from the artists who've been nominated for this year's awards, running the gamut from Irish outfit The Gloaming's heady jazz, classical and folk fusion to a moving extract from Shirley Collins' first album in more than thirty years , embellished with the evocative sound of bird song recorded near the octogenarian singer's cottage home.
Cormac O Caimh, "Shiny Silvery Things" (Self released)-This Cork singer-songwriter's previous musical exploits have prompted highly favourable comparisons with the likes of Lloyd Cole and Prefab Sprout's Paddy McAloon, and "Shiny Silvery Things" mines the same rich vein of indie inspired melodicism which always makes his work so richly rewarding. Selecting highlights would be a pointless exercise because every track really is a subtly crafted gem.
Bonnie Tyler, "The Collection" (Music Club Deluxe)- Bonnie Tyler's mid eighties collaboration with Meat Loaf's creative mainstay Jim Steinman brought the husky Welsh chanteuse a chart-topping album, "Faster Than The Speed of Night," and an injection of rock credibility which would scarcely have seemed conceivable to anyone who was acquainted with her earlier forays into the world of pop with amiable singalongs such as "Lost In France" and "It's A Heartache." This new 2 CD anthology is dominated by Bonnie's recordings from this period, including Steinman masterminded gems such as "Have You Ever Seen The Rain" and "Total Eclipse of the Heart."