The latest reviews from Kevin Bryan.
Bangles,"Everything" (Cherry Red CRPOPD110)-"Everything" first saw the light of day in 1988,and found the all girl group working in close collaboration with an array of outside songwriters and top notch L.A. session men to create an album which spawned a couple of highly successful singles in the shape of "In Your Room" and the anthemic "Eternal Flame." This CD re-issue has been fleshed out a little with the inclusion of three bonus tracks and captures the Bangles at their most slick and radio-friendly, although the engaging quirkiness which made their earlier work so interesting had sadly dissipated with the passage of time.
Tommy Edwards, "It's All In The Game" ( Cherry Red/Shout D79)- Virginia born Edwards had been striving manfully to make a major impact on the American pop and r&b scene for more than a decade when he decided to re-record one of his earlier minor hits in 1958,and the rest,as the old cliche goes,is history. "It's All In The Game" went on to top the singles charts on both sides of the Atlantic, briefly reviving the fortunes of a performer who'd all too often been dismissed by pundits as a poor man's Nat King Cole in the past. This anthology draws on the four albums that Edwards recorded for MGM in the wake of this unexpected success,including his polished treatments of MOR standards such as "Stars Fell On Alabama," "Over The Rainbow" and "Always."
Avi Avital,"Bach" (D.G. 479 0092)-The mandolin is hardly the first instrument that springs to mind when the music of J.S.Bach is mentioned, but Israeli virtuoso Avi Avital obviously feels that considerable mileage can be extracted from these transcriptions of some of the great man's works for violin,harpsichord and flute. The fragile sound of the mandolin could be all too easily swamped by the other participants if this music was performed live,but no such problems beset this carefully balanced studio set,and Avital's playing radiates charm and musicality throughout.
Todd Rundgren,"Live at the Warfield" (Esoteric ECLEC 22352)-This excellent addition to Esoteric's extensive Rundgren archive series focusses attention on his memorable live show at San Francisco's Warfield Theatre in March 1990. The concert formed part of Todd's "Nearly Human" tour, and found the master musician regaling his audience with a blend of newly minted material and much loved oldies,including affectionate re-vamps of melodic gems such as "Real Man," "Hello It's Me" and "Can We Still Be Friends."
Strawbs,"Of A Time" (Witchwood WMCD 2054)- This charmingly dated period piece is dominated by the contents of the Strawbs' "lost" second album, which was recorded with producer Gus Dudgeon in 1968, but rather swiftly consigned to the dustbin of history. Strawbs' leader Dave Cousins has now assembled "Of A Time" from the original master tapes of this abandoned musical project and the finished product should certainly be required listening for all devotees of this unique folk-rock outfit's ' work .Early versions of "Ah Me,Ah My" and "The Man Who Called Himself Jesus" are given an airing as the trio dabble in the delights of everything from middle eastern music to big band jazz,aided and abetted by top notch session men such as pianist Nicky Hopkins and Led Zeppelin bassist John Paul Jones.