Here are Kevin Bryan’s latest record reviews.
Procol Harum, A Salty Dog (Esoteric / Cherry Red). These distinctive prog rock pioneers are often rather lazily dismissed as “one hit wonders” on the strength of their classic debut single, A Whiter Shade of Pale, which first saw the light of day in 1967 and went on to top the charts on both sides of the Atlantic.
This endlessly inventive outfit actually went on to assemble a fine body of work during the next decade or so, but it’s debatable whether they ever surpassed the quality of their third album, A Salty Dog. The eerily atmospheric title track is an obvious highpoint, but listeners should also try to lend an ear to Robin Trower’s gritty Juicy John Pink and organist Matthew Fisher’s two fine contributions, Wreck of the Hesperus and Pligrims Progress.
Canned Heat, Songs From The Road (Ruf Records). The latest audiovisual offering in Ruf’s splendid Songs From The Road series focusses attention on Canned Heat’s blistering performance at Bonn’s Harmonie club in March 2015. The current incarnation of the band features sixties stalwarts Larry Taylor and Fito De La Parra on bass and drums respectively, and this venerable duo provide the solid rhythmic backdrop for much loved old favourites such as Amphetamine Annie, Going Up The Country and Wilbert Harrison’s Let’s Work Together.
Slade, In Flame (Union Square Music). No less an authority than Radio 5 live film critic Mark
Kermode has hailed Slade in Flame as the “Citizen Kane of British pop movies,” and this oddly menacing creation is well worth 90 minutes or so of anyone’s time as it presents a warts and all portrait of band life in the early 70s. Union Square’s CD/DVD package couples a newly remastered version of the 1974 feature film with the soundtrack album in its original glorious mono, showcasing the rabble-rousing delights of archetypal Slade ditties such as How Does It Feel?, So Far So Good and the anthemic Far Far Away.
Johnny Winter. Live From Japan (MVD Audio). This compelling CD captures Johnny Winter’s show at Tokyo’s Zepp Music Hall in April 2011, which marked the legendary blues guitarist’s first ever appearance on a Japanese stage. The fiery committment which characterised much of Winter’s best work during the sixties and early seventies had largely dissipated by this stage in his career, but the veteran Texan musician was still able to summon up the energy to turn in gutsy performances of concert staples such as Good Morning Little Schoolgirl, Johnny B.Goode and Dylan’s Highway 61 Revisited.