Here’s Kevin Bryan with his first Record Review round-up of 2018.
Born in Chicago: The Best of the Paul Butterfield Blues Band (Varese Sarabande). Chicago-born harmonica ace Butterfield formed his highly influential and innovative urban blues outfit in 1964, joining forces with fellow blues enthusiast Elvin Bishop and, a little later, guitarist Mike Bloomfield to create a string of excellent albums for the Elektra label whose compelling power still remains intact some half a century later. This fine anthology brings together the best of the Butterfield band’s output from those far off days, including their archetypally hard driving re-vamps of Sonny Boy Williamson’s Good Morning Little School Girl and Howlin’ Wolf’s Spoonful and an extended version of jazzman Nat Adderley’s
Work Song, which provided an impressive vehicle for some instrumental flights of fancy from Messrs Butterfield, Bishop and Bloomfield.
Bruce Foxton & Russell Hastings - From The Jam Live! (Basstone). For the past decade former Jam bassist Bruce Foxton has been delighting audiences with energised performances of the cream of his former outfit’s illustrious back catalogue, aided and abetted by the sterling contributions of singer and guitarist Russell Hastings. The dynamic duo have chosen to celebrate the tenth anniversary of their From The Jam project with the release of this exhilarating jaunt down memory lane, culled from performances recorded at a variety of venues around the UK during their recent tours. Butterfly Collector and Down in the Tube Station at Midnight are particularly fine efforts, vying for top billing with the fiery closing cut, The Eton Rifles.
Gary Wright - Greatest Hits (Varese Sarabande). Keyboard ace Gary Wright had already made quite a name for himself as an in demand session musician and the creative driving force behind the gifted but sadly unsuccessful Spooky Tooth when the title track from his third solo album, Dream Weaver was released as a single in 1976 and soared into the higher reaches of the charts in both America and Germany. This million selling ditty didn’t really serve as the springboard for future fame and fortune but Wright’s pioneering use of the synthesiser as a mainstream rock instrument continued to underpin much of his best work, and Varese Sarabande’s new anthology brings together the cream of his Warner Bros. back catalogue for your listening pleasure.
Jakob Lindberg - A Lute by Sixtus Rauwolf (Bis). This enchanting recital finds veteran lutenist Jakob Lindberg performing a selection of evocative Baroque pieces employing an instrument which was constructed by the master craftsman Sixtus Rauwolf in the German city of Augsburg in 1590. This is possibly the oldest lute in the world which is still in playing condition, and its use lends a pleasing aura of authenticity to the proceedings as Lindberg immerses himself in the delights of works penned by French and German composers such as Pachelbel, Dufault and Silvius Leopold Weiss.