Nils Lofgren,”Mountains” (Wienerworld)- There was a period during the mid seventies when it seemed as if Nils Lofgren was about to establish himself as a major solo act but although his musical exploits did attract a good deal of critical acclaim during this period the all important commercial breakthrough sadly never came. The supremely gifted singer-guitarist has long since reverted to the role of a well respected sideman plying his trade on stage and on record for many years alongside rock luminaries such as Bruce Springsteen and Neil Young. Devotees of Lofgren’s distinctive brand of bittersweet rock balladry will be gratified to note that their hero does still record albums in his own right from time to time and his latest excellent offering,”Mountains,” also boasts guest appearances from the likes of the late David Crosby, Ringo Starr and Nils’ old friend Neil Young.

Ninebarrow,”The Colour of Night” (Self Released)- The fifth studio album from Dorset duo Ninebarrow provides an eloquent vehicle for the exquisitely crafted harmonies which have become their trademark and set them apart from most of their contemporaries in the folk field. Jon Whitley and Jay LaBouchardiere show impeccable musical taste in their choice of cover versions here, with Nick Drake’s “River Man” and the Christy Moore favourite “Ride On” nestlingly snugly alongside a delicate reimagining of the traditional “The Snows They Melt The Soonest .”Jay’s own compositions are also well worth investigating , and the two men’s enduring love affair with their home county informs “Among The Boughs,” their freshly miinted new adaptation of Dorset dialect poet William Barnes’ poem “The Blackbird.” The Ninebarrow band members, cellist Lee Mackenzie, double bassist John Parker and percussion ace Evan Carson also deserve a mention in dispatches for their excellent contributions to this subtle and beguiling set.

Freedom, “Born Again-The Complete Recordings 1967-1972” ( Grapefruit / Cherry Red)- The history of British rock during the late sixties and early seventies is littered with the biographies of bands who began life with the best of intentions but were never able to fulfil their early potential and sadly faded into obscurity. Freedom are a case in point, formed by guitarist Ray Royer and drummer Bobby Harrison in 1967 after their unceremonious departure from Procol Harum in the wake of the success of the classic “Whiter Shade of Pale.” The band opened their vinyl account in fine style with the soundtrack of an obscure Italian film, “Attraction/Black On White,” which blended choice elements of psychedelia and progressive rock. Harrison remained at the helm as a string of line-up changes followed and the band’s musical direction veered towards bluesy hard rock, all of it captured here in this excellent Cherry Red anthology.