Record reviews with Kevin Bryan

Here are this week’s set of record reviews, courtesy of Kevin Bryan.

Average White Band - Access All Areas (Edsel Records).­ This Dundee outfit’s heartfelt fusion of funk and soul was all the rage for a few years during the 70s, bringing them major chart success on both sides of the Atlantic with tracks such as Cut The Cake and Pick Up The Pieces.

The AWB’s fortunes were beginning to wane by the time that this audio­visual package was captured for posterity as part of the Rockstage series in 1980, but they were still a fairly potent force as a live act, and newcomers to their slick white soul sound would be well advised to lend an ear to the crowd­pleasing delights of Let’s Go Round Again or Atlantic Avenue.

Pete Townshend’s Classic Quadrophenia (Deutsche Grammophon)­. Pete Townshend’s second great rock opera has long seemed ripe for re­evaluation, and orchestrator Rachel Fuller has responded to the challenge brilliantly, enlisting the vocal talents of Alfie Boe, Billy Idol, Phil Daniels and Townshend himself to deliver the great man’s lyrics over the instrumental backdrop supplied by the massed ranks of the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra. The rough-hewn vigour of the original is obviously totally lacking, but this newly minted version lends a whole new dimension to epic creations such as 5:15, Helpless Dancer and Love Reign O’er Me, to name but a few.

David Courtney - Anthology (Angel Air Records).­ This shadowy figure began his musical career as Adam Faith’s drummer and later went on to discover Leo Sayer, masterminding many of the diminutive balladeer’s string of hits as well as writing and producing impressive recordings from the likes of Roger Daltrey, Maggie Bell and former Family frontman Roger Chapman during the late seventies. Angel Air’s new two-CD set brings together the best of these richly rewarding collaborations, including Sayer’s Long Tall Glasses and One Man Band, and Faith’s I Survived, the latter track featuring no less a luminary than Ritchie Blackmore of Deep Purple fame on lead guitar.

Baby It’s You! Girl Groups of the 50s & 60s (Union Square Music).­ Union Square’s latest 2CD anthology serves up the usual blend of hits and relative obscurities as it transports listeners back to the golden age of girl group pop more than half a century ago. Classic offerings from The Shirelles, The Marvelettes, The Chiffons and The Crystals dominate this easy on the ear showcase for the sizeable array of curiously anonymous female performers who were a seemingly permanent fixture in the singles charts during the late 50s and early 60s.