Record Reviews with Kevin Bryan

Here are your latest Record Reviews, courtesy of Kevin Bryan.

The Best of Keef Hartley (Talking Elephant).­ Preston-born drummer and bandleader Keef Hartley recorded a string of excellent but criminally under­valued albums during the late sixties and early seventies, blending elements of jazz, blues and rock with uniformly excellent results.

Talking Elephant’s new two-CD anthology brings together the best of Hartley’s vinyl output from those far off days, drawing on contributions from top notch sidemen such as Henry Lowther, Miller Anderson, Pete Wingfield and Mick Weaver. Not Foolish, Not Wise, Roundabout and Believe In You are particularly fine efforts.

Tim Rose - The Musician/The Gambler (RPM/Cherry Red).­ This gruff singer­songwriter’s career reads like a lengthy saga of missed opportunities, with commercial success constantly eluding him despite the rare quality of his musical output. Cherry Red’s latest CD re­issue brings together two Tim Rose offerings from the mid­seventies, although The Gambler went unreleased at the time and didn’t actually see the light of day until 1991. The contents provide an ideal introduction to Tim’s soulful sound, including the classic Hey Joe and Morning Dew alongside fine covers of Tom Jans’s Loving Arms and Tim Moore’s Second Avenue, the latter tracks featuring future Police guitarist Andy Summers amongst a stellar array of backing musicians.

Madness - Madstock! (Union Square)­. Union Square’s latest audio­visual package captures Madness’s euphoric reunion concert at London’s Finsbury Park in August 1992. The ska/pop outfit had apparently given up the ghost for good six years earlier but they returned to the fray with renewed energy and enthusiasm, delighting their enthusiastic punters with a memorable jaunt down memory lane featuring golden oldies such as Our House, Night Boat To Cairo and Baggy Trousers to name but a few.

Magnum - The Essential Collection (Metro Select).­ This interesting showcase for the early work of grandiose prog­rock specialists Magnum focusses attention on their recorded output between 1978 and 1985, including some choice extracts from well received albums such as Kingdom of Madness and On A Storyteller’s Night. Examples of the Birmingham band’s subsequent Polydor output are conspicuous by their absence, but Magnum devotees should find it a very worthwhile

purchase nonetheless, with Just Like An Arrow, How Far Jerusalem and their live version of Les Morts Dansant emerging as musical highlights.