Kevin Bryan’s record reviews

Review by Judi Moore
Review by Judi Moore

Gaz Coombes, “Matador” (Hot Fruit Recordings)­ Gaz Coombes’ songwriting has certainly grown in depth and maturity since he first entered the public’s consciousness twenty years ago as the bewhiskered frontman of infectious Britpop combo Supergrass. “Matador” is the second Coombes solo album to see the light of day since his former outfit’s sad demise in 2010 and this home produced effort is certainly an impressive piece of work, with the multi­talented musician creating the bulk of the instrumental backdrop for fine tracks such as “The Girl Who Fell To Earth,” “The English Ruse” and the epic “To The Wire.”

The Kennedys, “West” (­ These prime practitioners of the finest Americana first met in Texas during the early nineties when Pete Kennedy was playing lead guitar in Nanci Griffith’s Blue Moon Orchestra and future musical soulmate Maura was the creative driving force behind Austin roots rockers the Delta Rays. Their shared passion for the sound of the 12 string guitar and the collected works of Buddy Holly has carried this splendid duo through twenty years worth of exemplary music­ making and “West” provides an ideal introduction to their enchanting and evocative sound, dominated by subtly memorable self­penned ditties with the notable exception of the late great John Stewart’s classic “The Queen of Hollywood High.”

“Mod World” (Metro Select)­ This endlessly entertaining 2 CD anthology celebrates the unusually eclectic musical tastes which characterised the Mod movement during the early sixties. The contents draw on some splendid examples of Ska,Soul, Blues and Jazz from those far off days, including alto saxist Cannonball Adderley’s “Work Song,” The Isley Brothers’ “Shout” and legendary New Orleans piano player Professor Longhair’s infectious signature song,”Tipitina.”

Sky,”3” (Cherry Red / Esoteric)­ The third long­player from polished prog rockers Sky soared into the higher reaches of the British album charts when it first saw the light of day in 1981, and this skilfully crafted offering has now been expanded with the inclusion of a DVD recorded at the group’s Westminster Abbey show in February of the same year. This provides an ideal vehicle for the consumate artistry of guitarists Kevin Peek and John Williams, and the duo acknowledge the latter’s classical roots with a splendid version of Francisco Tarrega’s haunting tremolo study,“Recuderos de la Alhambra.”

B.B.King, “The Essential Collection” (Metro Sound & Vision)­ The latest offering in this excellent archive series couples a highly representative selection of B.B. King’s fifties recordings with alive DVD capturing the venerable bluesman’s appearance at the 1993 Montreux Jazz Festival.The Mississippi born singer and guitarist is in typically fine fettle as he regales his appreciative Swiss audience with the cream of his vast back catalogue, bringing his distinctively economicalplaying style to bear on trademark numbers such as “Ain’t Nobody Home” and “The Thrill Is Gone.”