JACK BRUCE – Live At Rockpalast 1980, 1983 & 1990

Jack Bruce is best known to most people as having been the bassist and vocalist with Cream, the sixties supergroup that imploded after just two and a half years. His solo works are often just as rewarding in listening terms and throughout the decade following Cream’s demise, Bruce released a string of albums that not only helped cement his legendary status, but also show how much broader his talents could be beyond the power trio format. 1969’s ‘Songs For A Tailor’ is a fantastic mix of rock, blues and jazz that belongs in any collection; 1970’s ‘Things We Like’ more than demonstrates Bruce’s affinity with harder jazz influences and 1977’s much overlooked ‘How’s Tricks’ offers a fine collection of rock-oriented songs teaming Jack with drummer Simon Phillips and keyboard player Tony Hymas – both important fixtures in Jeff Beck’s band during the following decade.

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THE FALL – The Fall Sound Archives, Vols 1 & 2: Live At The Witch Trials & Dragnet

Following Fall founder Mark E. Smith’s death in 2018, Cherry Red Records expanded and reissued the ‘50,000 Fall Fans…’ compilation, adding nineteen bonus tracks to bring it up to date, making it the most comprehensive Fall compilation ever. It was an ideal starting point for new listeners. News that there would be other Fall reissues in the future was met with keenness. The first of that reissue campaign – now dubbed “The Fall Sound” – goes right back to the beginning with expanded editions of 1978’s ‘Live At The Witch Trials’ and 1979’s ‘Dragnet’.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Strangers In The Room: A Journey Through The British Folk-Rock Scene 1967-73

A product of the late 60s freedoms and musical experimentation, British folk-rock gave the world a few classic albums in its formative years. Fairport Convention’s ‘What We Did On Our Holidays’ and ‘Leige & Leif’, both released in 1969, arguably took the musical fusion from being of cult status and into the more mainstream. Now considered indispensable by fans everywhere, these are albums without which Led Zeppelin’s third album might not exist in quite the same way…or even at all. Often taking a more trad direction in their early years, Steeleye Span captured the fingered-ear of folkies with 1970’s ‘Please To See The King’, whilst Lindisfarne also gained a great deal of commercial success with a slightly more raucous take on a rapidly growing genre, even if that success has been somewhat overlooked in the passing of time.

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REO SPEEDWAGON – The Classic Years: 1978-1990

In 2017, Hear No Evil Recordings released an excellent REO Speedwagon box set entitled ‘The Early Years’. The mid-priced release rounded up the band’s fist seven studio albums and 1977’s double live set ‘Live: You Get What You Play For’ in one handy package, making some of the albums available on CD in the UK for the first time in a long while…and in the case of the unedited version of the live disc, for the first time ever. Given the love that went into that set, it seemed inevitable a similar set covering the band’s next decade – the period that brought them the most commercial success and some massive hits – should follow. Such a box would be an essential release, especially since a few of the albums from that period have become equally hard to find despite selling in huge numbers.

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VARIOUS ARTISTS – Big Gold Dreams: A Story of Scottish Independent Music 1977-1989

A comprehensive five CD anthology telling the story of independent music from Scotland between 1977 and 1989, ‘Big Gold Dreams’ is an interesting box set. From the no-frills and DIY ethics of punk through to lavish alternative pop, Scotland had more than enough talent to make a huge mark upon music in the 70s and 80s and the country’s greatest bands were every bit as good – and better – than many of the hugely celebrated acts from Manchester and the south. The many independent labels had as much to give the world in terms of underground talent and beyond, so in lots of ways, ‘Big Gold Dreams’ isn’t so much a box set, an anthology or collection as a celebration.

For admirers of Cherry Red’s 2018 power pop and new wave anthology ‘Harmony In My Head’ and Edsel’s Gary Crowley curated box set of punk curios, the first two discs of this five disc set will alone be worth the purchase. Covering the period between 1977 and 1982, as you’d expect, these discs have more than a decent amount of punky fare and the nature of the source material means that various obscurities are released on CD for the very first time.

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