Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases. This week we take a look at Jethro Tull, Jah Wobble and James Carr.
Jethro Tull: Heavy Horses (Parlophone/Chrysalis 0190295757915)
Jethro Tull's 10th and final Top 20 album in the first decade of their career, Heavy Horses dates from 1978, and thus marks its 40th birthday and the band's 50th as a chart force via the release of this hefty 'New Shoes' edition, a box set which features the original album in a new Steven Wilson mix, additional associated studio recordings and live material spread across three CDs, and 2 DVDs loaded with 5.1 surround mixes and 96/24 PCM stereo upgrades. Heavy Horses was the second in a trilogy of albums released by Jethro Tull which blended their more usual prog. rock sound with the folk flavourings of their early years, and is thus more melodic and accessible than some of their work. It is also highly regarded by the band's faithful fan base, although it failed to generate any hit singles. Leader Iain Anderson wrote all the songs and is on top form both vocally and with his flute, especially on Moths - which is a little redolent of early Cat Stevens - the beguiling No Lullaby and the lengthy title track.
Jah Wobble: The 30 Hertz Albums (30 Hertz 30HZCD 45T)
Originally coming to fame as the bass player of Public Image Ltd, Jah Wobble has since put together an impressive body of work in his own right, largely experimental and alternative in style. This digipack set bundles his first three albums for his own 30 Hertz label - The Celtic Poets, Requiem and The Light Programme - in newly remastered versions with non-album bonus tracks and liner notes penned by Wobble himself. All originally released in a burst of creativity in 1997, they offer very different listening experiences. The Celtic Poets - actually credited to Jah Wobble's Invaders Of The Heart - is nothing if not eclectic with ambient, funky, jazzy, Eastern and Celtic flavours underpinning poetic narrations from The Dubliners' Ronnie Drew. Requiem consists of five lengthy and suitably spiritually-uplifting classical soundscapes performed largely on synths and strings with a choir. The Light Programme rings the changes again, consisting of trippy, ambient tracks on which Wobble's bass is considerably more conspicuous than the other two.
James Carr: The Best Of (Kent CDKENM 472)
Spoken of, by aficionados, as being one of soul music's finer singers, alongside Otis Redding, Sam Cooke, Jackie Wilson and their ilk, James Carr had considerably less commercial success than his peers but has seen his reputation grow in recent years, especially after his early death from cancer in 2001 at the age of 58. Long overdue, this 'best of' compilation takes its place alongside six other James Carr albums in the Kent catalogue, and features 20 of the finest recordings he made for the Goldwax label between 1964 and 1970, among them all 10 of the songs he placed on the pop and R&B charts. Although the excellent You've Got My Mind Messed Up was his highest charting hit, the one that is widely regarded as his signature song is The Dark End Of The Street, the 50th anniversary of which is the perfectly reasonable excuse for this album's release. Written by the estimable Dan Penn and Chips Moman it is a sublime example of southern soul, with dark lyrics describing an illicit affair as sinful, stolen and ill-fated. Other highlights include a sterling version of Otis Redding's These Arms Of Mine, the more propulsive A Losing Game - one of only two songs on the set on which Carr gets a writer's credit - and The Bee Gees' oft-recorded To Love Somebody, transformed into a stellar soul ballad.