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

Jack the Lad, "Rough Diamonds" (Talking Elephant)- This welcome CD re-issue from the good people at Talking Elephant focusses attention on the third album from Jack the Lad, the jaunty folk-rock formed in 1973 by three former members of Lindisfarne. Simon Nicol of Fairport Convention fame handled the production duties as the band served up an eclectic gem whose quirky delights have languished in semi-obscurity for far too long. Billy Mitchell's "One For The Boy" and the joyous "Gentleman Soldier" are the pick of a tuneful bunch, the latter having been hailed by the late great John Peel as one of his favourite singles of 1975, although it sadly failed to make any impact on the Top 40 at the time.

"An Introduction to Dick Gaughan" (Topic Records)- This vibrant introduction Dick Gaughan's passionate brand of music-making is dominated by material from the three Topic albums that the gritty Glaswegian recorded for Topic between 1977 and 1981. The contents strike an appealing balance between evocative self-penned ditties such as "The Snows They Melt The Soonest" and "Both Sides The Tweed," and Gaughan's compelling re-vamps of everything from Leon Rosselson's protest anthem, "The World Turned Upside Down" to the classic Scottish ballad, "Willie O'Winsbury."

The Slocan Ramblers, "Queen City Jubilee" (Self released)- Canadian bluegrass practitioners The Slocan Ramblers draw their musical inspiration from giants of the genre such as Bill Monroe and the Stanley Brothers, and "Queen City Jubilee" provides an eloquent insight into the Toronto outfit's refreshingly traditional sound. The Slocans' third CD leans much more heavily on freshly minted new material than its two highly regarded predecessors, with "First Train in the Morning," "Mighty Hard Road" and the powerfully harmonised "Just To Know" capturing the essence of their infectious sound.

Luke Winslow-King, "Blue Mesa"(Bloodshot Records)- Michigan born singer, songwriter and slide guitarist Luke Winslow-King approaches his work rather like a 21st century version of Ry Cooder, absorbing influences as diverse as Delta Blues, jazz, ragtime and folk to create a heady musical hybrid which provides a refreshing antidote to the uninspired corporate fare which tends to dominate the musical landscape these days. Luke's latest Bloodshot CD ,"Blue Mesa," was captured for posterity at a small studio in the Tuscan fortress village of Lari and should be required listening for roots music devotees everywhere.