Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week’s CD releases Al Stewart,”Time Passages” (Cherry Red)- This splendid Cherry Red re-issue serves up an expanded version of the eighth studio album from distinctive singer-songwriter Al Stewart. Al had first found his feet as a performer during the British folk-rock boom in the mid-sixties but the major commercial breakthrough came when he began to explore a series of historical themes in his musical output a decade or so later, and “Time Passages” captures his eloquent approach to music-making at its most elegant and graceful. Alan Parsons’ masterly production work lends added charm to sublime Stewart creations such as “A Man For All Seasons,” “`Song on the Radio” and “Time Passages” itself.

Manfred Mann,” 5-4-3-2-1 The Greatest Hits” (Decca)- The Manfred Mann story divided in two distinct chapters after their formation by the South African keyboardist of the same name and drummer Mike Hugg in the dim and distant year of 1962. The first,Paul Jones fronted incarnation of the band drew their inspiration from the earthy delights of American r&b and jazz, but when Jones left the fold in July 1966 his replacement Mike D’Abo found himself supplying vocals for a string of unashamedly commercial pop hits as the decade wore on. This hugely enjoyable anthology captures both aspects of the Manfred Mann sound, reviving memorable ditties such as “Do Wah Diddy Diddy,” “Pretty Flamingo” and their chart-topping 1968 cover of Dylan’s “Mighty Quinn.” “The Lucky Ones” (Self Released)- Bluegrass is normally associated in most music lovers mind’s with the culture of the American South, but these prime practitioners of the genre actually hail from far far away in Canada’s Yukon territory. The location of the legendary Klondike Gold Rush a century or more ago is the home base for The Lucky Ones,whose self released debut album was recorded in the space of just five days, lending a refreshing air of spontaneity to a package which reflects the reverence for musical tradition which they share with similarly gifted performers such as Gillian Welch and Old Crow Medicine Show.