Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases.
Ian Dury & The Blockheads
Ten More Turnips From The Tip (Edsel EDSL0018)
Retrospectively assembled in 2002, two years after Ian Dury succumbed to cancer, Ten More Turnips From The Tip's slightly self-deprecating title might lead to low expectations but the reality is that the album - which was painstakingly assembled from outtakes and demos dating from 1999 and 2000 with overdubs and revamps where necessary by Laurie Latham - is a minor triumph, giving Dury one last, poignant vehicle for his idiosyncratic stylings. Lyrically, the songs are right up there with Dury's best, so it is also a pleasure to find that their lyrics are included in the 24-page booklet which accompanies this release. Dury was too ill to record I Could Lie, but Blockhead Chas Jankel does a sterling job as stand-in and, surprisingly, Robbie Williams was a big Dury fan, and is vocalist on You're The Why, a touching little love song that closes the set.
Birds Of A Feather
The Page One Recordings (RPM RETRO 996)
Sisters Irene and Doreen Chanter - who had seven older brothers, many of whom also dabbled in music - were moderately successful as The Chanter Sisters and in-demand session singers later in their career. In 1970, however, they released their one and only album as Birds Of A Feather, which is now available on CD for the first time, digitally remastered alongside both sides of a 1969 single under the title The Page One Recordings. Their tenure at Larry Page's label was the result of a successful audition with music publishers Dick James Music, and explains why four of the songs on the album are by Elton John, who was Dick James' rising star at the time. Irene & Doreen imbue John's Take Me To The Pilot with a pleasing gospel feel which takes the track into what is natural territory for another of their John songs, The Border Song. They also perform an adequate version of Bad Side Of The Moon and complete their John quartet with a spirited Country Comfort.
Doreen Chanter was also a budding writer herself, and was responsible for a further six songs here, five solo and Sing My Song And Pray with Irene. The best of these is Baby Don't Bring Me Down, an uplifting but brief interlude that confirmed her promise. There are also covers of Sam Cooke, Booker T and The Rolling Stones - a rather below par recording of Gimme Shelter - and the terrific Jack Holmes song Blacksmith Blues. Previously recorded by the likes of Bing Crosby, Ella Mae Morse, Toots Thielemans and John Barry, it benefits from a big, brassy arrangement by Zack Laurence - aka Mr. Bloe - and attracted considerable airplay when released as a single, though it somehow failed to chart.
Help For My Brother: The Pre-Funk Singles 1963-68 (BGP CDBGPD 309)
Bobby Byrd had a symbiotic relationship with James Brown, securing his release from a reform school and giving him a place in his band. When Brown later launched his own solo career, Byrd was the leader of his band The Famous Flames, and his loyal lieutenant. Brown was already a major success and pursuing a punishing recording and touring schedule when he produced for Byrd the 24 R&B, soul and (despite the title) funk sides dating from 1963 to 1968 that make up this collection. Subtly different from Brown's own output - although he co-wrote many of them - they showcase Byrd's unique and eclectic output. Personal faves: I'm Lonely, a track whose direct and frank lyrics are deliciously at odds with its fast-paced, uplifting style; and I've Got A Girl, a sweetly-crooned bluesy number.