Rockin’ the blues

A trib­ute, a farewell and cool blues are this month’s picks

Owner Driver - - Road Sounds - Greg Bush

RE­VAMP Var­i­ous artists Vir­gin/EMI www.el­ton­john.com

Subti­tled “Reimag­in­ing the Songs of El­ton John and Bernie Taupin”, Re­vamp brings to­gether a host of pop, rock and hip-hop artists, putting their stamp on th­ese 13 clas­sics. John makes an ap­pear­ance on ‘Ben­nie and The Jets’, team­ing with Pink and rap­per Logic, be­fore Cold­play gets mel­low for ‘We All Fall In Love Some­times’. Cana­dian pop star Alessia Cara is pow­er­ful on ‘That’s Why They Call It The Blues’, and Mum­ford & Sons are right at home on ‘Some­one Saved My Life Tonight’. Las Ve­gas rock­ers The Killers re­strain them­selves on ‘Mona Lisas and Mad Hat­ters’, and Ed Sheeran de­liv­ers an acous­tic ver­sion of ‘Can­dle In The Wind’. But it’s hard to go past Lady Gaga’s ren­di­tion of ‘Your Song’ as the al­bum’s best. There’s also a coun­tri­fied al­bum avail­able, Restora­tion, fea­tur­ing another 13 John-Taupin tracks.

OVER AND OUT Rick Parfitt

Ear Mu­sic/Sony www.ear-mu­sic.net

Rick Parfitt, singer-gui­tarist with Sta­tus Quo since the late 1960s, passed away on Christ­mas Eve, 2016, but not be­fore record­ing the vo­cals and gui­tars parts for his first-ever solo al­bum, the prophet­i­cally ti­tled Over And Out. The record­ing ses­sions were com­pleted posthu­mously with pro­ducer Jo Webb, who also co-wrote six of the 10 tracks, and the likes of Brian May from Queen, Chris Wol­sten­holme from Muse and Parfitt’s for­mer band­mates Alan Lan­caster and John ‘Rhino’ Edwards. There are a few Quo re­minders present, no­tably ‘Lone­some Road’, one of the best mo­tor­ing tracks you’ll ever hear. ‘Ev­ery­body Knows How To Fly’ is another up­beat rocker, ‘Lock My­self Away’ is ’50s style rock ’n roll, and ‘Hal­loween’ fea­tures the long-time Sta­tus Quo pro­ducer dis­play­ing his ar­ray of gui­tar licks. Throw in a few bal­lads, and Over And Out is a wor­thy sig­noff.

SIX STRING AN­THOL­OGY Bruce Mathiske

MGM www.mathiske.com

Aus­tralian gui­tar mae­stro Bruce Mathiske was pre­sented with a chal­lenge for his new al­bum Six String An­thol­ogy, and that was to com­pose tracks based on the key of each gui­tar string. The ma­jor­ity of the al­bum has Mathiske go­ing solo, finger-pick­ing his way through the 12 in­stru­men­tals, although fel­low gui­tarists Steve Cow­ley and Michael Fitzger­ald help out on the brisk open­ing track ‘Are­quipa’. Adam Man­ning adds per­cus­sion to the Latin-styled ‘San­ti­ago’, and Mathiske’s sub­tle didgeri­doo ap­pears on the at­mo­spheric ‘Ze­phyr (Part II)’. The rest range from lively tracks like ‘String 5 – A Ma­jor’ to the mostly se­date ‘String 6 - E Mi­nor’. Yet there’s usu­ally a sur­prise in store as Mathiske switches the tempo mid­stream, no­tably on ‘String 3 – G Mi­nor’. Not a road al­bum, but one to be heard over a smooth late night port.

NO MERCY IN THIS LAND

Ben Harper & Char­lie Mus­sel­white Anti www.anti.com

US singer­song­writer Ben Harper and vet­eran har­mon­ica blues­man Char­lie Mus­sel­white had teamed up for the 2013 Gram­my­win­ning blues al­bum Get Up! That suc­cess, plus two years of tour­ing, was the cat­a­lyst for Harper and Mus­sel­white to record their sec­ond col­lab­o­ra­tion, No Mercy In This Land. There are per­sonal re­flec­tions amid the 10 tracks, no­tably the rock­ing blues of ‘The Bot­tle Wins Again’, re­call­ing mem­o­ries of Harper’s al­co­holic fa­ther. ‘Bad Habits’ con­tin­ues the soul-search­ing, and the pair get grungy on ‘Found The One’ with Mus­sel­white throw­ing in a trade­mark har­mon­ica solo. Mus­sel­white takes lead vo­cals on the emo­tive bal­lad ‘When Love Is Not Enough’, and there’s a laid-back feel to the tra­di­tional-styled ‘I Trust You To Dig My Grave’. The fi­nale, ‘Noth­ing At All’, is a slow, dra­matic piece, putting the ic­ing on the cake of a great al­bum.

GOIN’ BACK DOWN Dave Hole

Only Blues Mu­sic www.dav­e­hole.com

Well-trav­elled Aus­tralian blues gui­tarist Dave Hole left noth­ing to chance for his 10th al­bum Goin’ Back Down. The Eng­land-born, Perth-raised Hole spent the last three years hon­ing th­ese 11 tracks, eight of which are orig­i­nals. For the first time, he took over pro­duc­tion and en­gi­neer­ing. His earthy vo­cals and fa­mil­iar slide gui­tar are at their best on the blues-rock of ‘Th­ese Blues Are Here To Stay’, and he tones it down for the south­ern swampy sound of ‘Mea­sure Of A Man’. He lifts the tempo on the El­more James-penned ‘Shake Your Money Maker’, while there are zy­deco un­der­tones on the in­stru­men­tal ‘’Bobby’s Rock’, another James com­po­si­tion. Hole sur­prises on ‘Tears For No Rea­son’, pick­ing up his ny­lon string clas­si­cal gui­tar for the bal­lad, and in­tro­duces a mel­low ’60s pop sound to ‘Ar­rows In The Dark’.

ROXY: TONIGHT’S THE NIGHT LIVE Neil Young

Warner/Reprise www.neily­oun­garchives.com

Neil Young re­leased his sixth stu­dio al­bum Tonight’s The Night back in 1975. How­ever, two years be­fore, he gave the new tracks their first air­ing – at The Roxy in West Hol­ly­wood. Young’s back­ing band – The Santa Mon­ica Fly­ers – in­cluded Ralph Molina and Billy Tal­bot from Crazy Horse, as well as Nils Lof­gren who would later join Bruce Spring­steen’s E Street Band. At long last th­ese live record­ings, to­gether with on-stage ban­ter, have been un­earthed. There are two dis­tinct ver­sions of the ti­tle track, and the har­mony-ac­cen­tu­ated ‘New Mama’ is also a stand­out. Young’s trade­mark har­mon­ica fea­tures on ‘Mel­low My Mind’ and he adds a coun­try flavour to ‘Roll Another Num­ber (For The Road)’. There’s a long ver­sion of ‘Tired Eyes’, and the set fin­ishes with ‘Walk On’, which would go on to ap­pear on his 1974 al­bum On The Beach.

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