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

The Strawbs, "The Ferryman's Curse" (Cherry Red / Esoteric Antenna)- Vocalist Dave Cousins' rasping tones have always tended to polarise listeners' reactions between love and loathing, but this distinctive performer continues to front The Strawbs with power and passion after more than half a century of largely exemplary music-making. "The Ferryman's Curse" finds the band returning to the fray with some freshly minted new material after an eight year creative hiatus and their collaboration with legendary rock producer Chris Tsangarides has yielded predictably excellent results, with guitarist Dave Lambert in particularly sparkling form on stand-outs such as "The Ten Commandments" and the epic, near nine minutes long title track.

"Rockabilly Legends" (Union Square)- This 2CD set focusses attention on the illustrious back catalogues of three of the leading lights of the rockabilly phenomenon, Carl Perkins, Wanda Jackson and Gene Vincent. The genre was at the peak of its popularity during the fifties, blending elements of country, western swing, boogie woogie and electric blues to create a heady musical hybrid which helped to pave the way for the later emergence of rock and roll. Vincent's 1956 hits, "Be-Bop-A-Lula," "Race With The Devil" and "Blue Jean Bop" are the pick of an infectiously memorable package.

Slade,"Alive!" (Union Square)- This rabble-rousing live album was recorded at London's Command Theatre Studio in October 1971, capturing Noddy Holder and company in their natural element as the Wolverhampton rockers launched into an energised set dominated by cover versions of songs made famous by the likes of Ten Years After, Steppenwolf and,rather incongruously, the Lovin' Spoonful's John Sebastian. The original vinyl release took up residence in the U.K. album charts for more than a year, and its raucous contents have lost little of their original appeal with the passage of time.

"Classic Rock-The Ultimate Collection" (Union Square)- The powers that be at Union Square Music have rounded up most of the usual suspects to populate their latest foray into the world of the rock anthology, and the 5CD set provides a compelling insight into the vivid and varied delights that the genre can offer to tempt the uninitiated listener. The contents showcase a string of iconic seventies recordings led by Lynyrd Skynyrd's "Freebird" and "Sweet Home Albama," Free's "All Right Now" and "Wishing Well" and the ill fated Atomic Rooster's two 1971 hits, "Devil's Answer" and "Tomorrow Night," alongside muscular archive gems from the likes of Nazareth, Motorhead, The Allman Brothers and Status Quo to name but a few.