Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases, including Revolution – Underground Sounds Of 1968, R&B Anthems and Regina Belle…
Revolution – Underground Sounds Of 1968
(Eclectic ECLEC 32662)
Topped and tailed by And The Address and Mandrake Root – two tracks from Deep Purple’s introductory long player Shades Of Deep Purple – this 3 CD, 52 song, 218 minute collection delivers on its promise with a plethora of music from 1968, a year of great change and musical innovation all neatly contained within a clamshell case alongside an information-packed 48 page booklet. Despite its ‘underground’ tag, quite a lot of its tracks achieved considerable commercial success, including The Crazy World Of Arthur Brown’s chart-topper Fire!, The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band’s I’m The Urban Spaceman (produced by Paul McCartney), The Move’s Blackberry Way and Fleetwood Mac’s Black Magic Woman. Edinburgh acid-folk innovators The Incredible String Band had less luck with their weird and wonderful sitar-featuring The Half-Remarkable Question, while John Martyn’s jazz-influenced Dusty, with extensive use of flutes, double bass and a tape loop was compelling but ahead of its time; and Simon Dupree & The Big Sounds’ whimsical We Are The Moles, released under the moniker The Moles, was sufficiently Beatlesque to start rumours that it was actually by the Fab Four. Also worth a listen are Excerpt FromA Teenage Opera singer Keith West’s lightly psychedelic self-penned On A Saturday; early Status Quo effort Paradise Flat, a rather eerie, gloomy but terrifically atmospheric and atypical song penned by earlier era teen idol Marty Wilde; and Fly Tomorrow, a John Mayall corker that starts engagingly slowly and quietly with a laid-back groove decorated by tablas, before exploding into a pacey blues track then subsiding once more.
(DMG TV/Sony Music DMGTV 074)
The latest release on Demon’s high profile TV advertised range, is a generally sound compilation on which 60 bona fide hits are spread over three CDs. Core R&B artists like Aretha Franklin, Marvin Gaye and Luther Vandross anchor the set, which is not afraid to include more melodic rap classics like Summertime by DJ Jazzy Jeff & The Fresh Prince, Can I Kick It by A Tribe Called Quest and Insane In The Brain by Cypress Hill as well as tracks by controversial singers R. Kelly and Chris Brown. There’s also a good selection of hits by artists who burned brightly but briefly, including Brownstone with the delicious If You Love, Kandi’s assertive Don’t Think I’m Not and Tatyana Ali’s Boy You Knock Me Out. There’s a pleasing selection of dance records by singers with R&B chops, including Alison Limerick with Where Love Lives, M People with One Night In Heaven and C&C Music Factory’s Gonna Make You Sweat. However, I’m not entirely sure that Rita Ora’s How We Do (Party), Britney Spears’ I’m A Slave 4 U or the overbearing power balladry of Christina Aguilera’s Hurt fully meet the brief.
Show Me The Way: The Columbia Anthology
(SoulMusic SMCR 5181D)
Not an entirely comprehensive anthology, Show Me The Way cherry-picks its way through the four albums that Regina Belle cut during her eight year (1987-1995) tenure with Columbia, including among its 29 tracks all 13 of her US Hot 100/R&B chart hits from the period that were on the label. With a voice redolent of Anita Baker, Belle was – and probably still is – a class act, and top producers like Michael J. Powell, Narada Michael Walden and Keith Thomas ensured that her output was smooth and soulful. Among the best tracks on offer are Make It Like It Was, a stately Carvin (sic) Winans power ballad that crossed over to Adult Contemporary radio as well as topping the R&B chart; the achingly pretty Baby Come To Me (not the Patti Austin/James Ingram vehicle); and All I Want Is Forever, a typically well-constructed and melodic Diane Warren song that matches Belle’s voice smoothly with that of James ‘JT’ Taylor, erstwhile lead singer of Kool & The Gang. She also proves to be compatible with Johnny Mathis on the fairly mundane but beautifully sung (by both) Better Together.