Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases.
Coming Around Again (Hot Shot HSRXD 018)
The album that brought Carly Simon back to prominence after a period of indifference, Coming Around Again turned 30 earlier this year, and is now the subject of this splendid 2 CD deluxe edition. Curated by the lady herself, it includes 17 bonus tracks - six of them hard to find studio recordings, the others from the HBO TV special Carly In Concert: Coming Around Again, featuring recordings from a gig at Martha's Vineyard in June 1987. A strong return to form, with Simon in fine fettle on both original songs and a handful of covers, Coming Around Again was a major success on both sides of the Atlantic, with multiple production credits helping it to avoid a samey feel. The title track, a powerful melodic anthem, was to become Simon's last Top 10 hit in the UK and her last Top 20 hit in The USA. Several other tracks - including the power ballad It Should Have Been Me (penned and produced by Bryan Adams); her own The Stuff That Dreams Are Made Of and a cute adaptation of Itsy Bitsy Spider - pass muster. The live tracks find Simon in genial and seemingly relaxed mood, performing not only cuts from the album but also reprising hits like You're So Vain, Anticipation and The Right Thing To Do while treading a fine line between being faithful to the original and injecting a unique flavour to familiar favourites.
Roy Orbison & The Royal Philharmonic Orchestrea
A Love So Beautiful (Legacy/Sony 0886446537979)
Fresh from a trio of successful albums adding new strings and appeal to the recordings of Elvis Presley, The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra now work their magic on the work of Roy Orbison. Still fondly remembered 19 years after his death, Orbison had a unique, melancholic voice that brought him enormous success in the fields of rock, country and pop music, and adapts perfectly to the smooth stylings of the RPO under the tutelage of producers Don Reedman and Nick Patrick, with additional instrumental flavourings from his sons, Wesley, Alex and Roy Jr. Although necessarily diluting their rock credentials, these adaptations are largely successful, adding new and interesting accents to old favourites. Among the best are the pulsating It's Over, whose already impressive crescendos are taken to another level; a beautifully embroidered alternate take of Pretty Paper (a waltz-time Christmas classic penned by Willie Nelson); and I Drove All Night. The latter cut - perhaps better known in a later version by Cyndi Lauper - was cut by Orbison a year before his death, and appears here in a considerably beefed-up, pacey and beautifully arranged version both by Orbison solo and as a virtual collaboration with Britain's leading country duo Ward Thomas. Overall, it's an impressive exercise - but if I had to choose, I'd probably still take the original versions of most tracks.
Copasetic! - The Mod Ska Sound (Trojan TJDCD 564)
As it says on the front sleeve of this, the latest in a series of worthy compilations from the revitalised Trojan label, Copasetic! comprises '56 ska & rock steady classics from the original mod era'. Thus reflecting the scene before 1967, when reggae and its variants went mainstream, it concerns itself with revisiting the first rock steady and later ska sounds that were manna to mods. As such, it is replete with enthralling early works from the likes of Tommy McCook & The Skatalites, Derrick Morgan, Desmond Dekker, Lord Tanamo and Dandy Livingstone, whose Rudy, A Message To You was later turned into a No.1 hit by The Specials. With tracks derived from independent Jamaican labels like Blue Beat and Doctor Bird, sound quality is variable but the pedigree is immense. A perfect primer for the period, it also includes a 16 page booklet, with rare photos and memorabilia and an intelligent essay on the scene from Record Collector scribe Mike Atherton.