Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week’s CD releases.

“Grateful Dead (Skull & Roses)” (Rhino)- The Grateful Dead always seemed to be at their most comfortable when operating within a live environment, and this splendid CD re-issue captures the freewheeling rockers at something approaching their brilliant best. The original 1971 live album has been greatly expanded with the inclusion of ten hithero unreleased tracks which were captured for posterity at the Dead’s final live show ar San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore West venue. These new additions to the package were recorded a few months after the original album, with the exrended “Good Lovin’” and fine covers of Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” and influential bluesman Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man” emerging as three of the musical highlights.

Ashley Hutchings,”Ninety-nine Impressions” (Talking Elephant)- This thought-provoking collection was the brainchild of roots music luminary Ashley Hutchings, who embraced this opportunity to regale his listeners with some of the most memorable poetry and prose which had touched his heart over the years. Ashley’s son Blair Dunlop joins forces with Jacob Stoney,Sid Peacock and fiddler Ruth Angell to supply the evocative instrumental backdrop for a haunting spoken word performance featuring literary contributions from the likes of Graham Greene,William Blake,Thomas Hardy and Angela Carter to name but a few.

Roland Roberts,”All About The Timing” (Happy Life Records)- Memphis born but Alaska based Roland Roberts’ singer-songwriting talents seems to have flourished since he decamped to the frozen north, and his deliciously eclectic debut set should appeal to anyone who’s ever succumbed to the homespun charms of the Americana genre in the past. Roland’s easy going narrative style has already prompted comparisons with luminaries such as the late great John Prine as he draws inspiration from folk,bluegrass and Delta blues to create effortlessly memorable ditties such as “Sittin’ in Nebraska,” “Picture on the Wall” and “Don’t Tell Me Goodbye.”