Music Week's round-up of the latest album reissues and catalogue releases, including Goldie, American Tunes, She’s Girls
American Tunes – Songs By Paul Simon
(Ace CDCHD 1552)
Variously recorded between 1965 and 2015, these are eclectic recordings of Paul Simon’s most famous songs, both from the Simon & Garfunkel years and the solo years. The Hollies’ version of I Am A Rock and Cher’s interpretation of Homeward Bound open proceedings and, although pleasant enough, neither strays far from the original template. Much more edifying is Peaches & Herb’s surprisingly effective version of The Sound Of Silence, transformed into an uptempo, Motownesque and very soulful track, while Motown’s own Smokey Robinson & The Miracles just about get away with Cecilia. Dana Valery offers a robust version of You Don’t Know Where Your Interest Lies, while Annie Lennox’s sublime Something So Right features Simon himself on discreet backing vocals and guitar duty. The Intruders add a Philly sheen and subtract reggae from Mother & Child Reunion, while The Heptones add it to Richard Cory, as do The Tennors (sic) on The Only Living Boy In New York. We must, of course, mention Aretha Franklin’s towering Bridge Over Troubled Water, The Bangles’ Hazy Shade Of Winter, and Emmylou Harris’ The Boxer, all of which are deservedly well-known. An informative and heavily illustrated 20-page booklet complete an excellent package.
Shel’s Girls • From The Planet Records Vaults
(Ace CDCHD 1554)
Sister label Big Beat has recently released excellent beat and mod albums drawing on esteemed producer Shel Talmy’s Planet Records vaults, and this new Ace set concentrates on the label’s mid-60s British girls. Consisting of 24 recordings by 13 artists, none of whom ever had a hit, the recordings were made between 1961 and 1966, and include six that have not previously been released. That may not sound like a promising premise for an album, but there’s plenty to enjoy here, from beat to ballads, with an engaging cast taking turns to impress. Schoolgirl trio The Orchids channel The Ronettes for Oo-Chang-A-Lang, while Liz Shelley had her own distinctive style, and impresses on her four tracks here, particularly a strong version of Make Me Your Baby – a US hit for Barbara Lewis – and the oft-recorded Tar & Cement. Irish singer Perpetual Langley – really Mary Langley – is also worthy of attention with her own bossa-style song So Sad and a version of Ashford & Simpson’s Surrender, which is also here in a previously unreleased version by Plain & Fancy. Christine Holmes is excellent on Shoulder To Cry On – one of just four songs on the album penned by Talmy – while Dani Sheridan’s version of Brian Wilson’s Guess I’m Dumb passes muster too. Plenty of background information and rare memorabilia fill the 20 page booklet which, however, fails to uncover the identity of the ‘unknown beat girls’, who perform the equally obscure and uncredited but fun Grave Digger.
Goldie: Drum & Bass Life
(Universal Music On Demand 00600753870204)
Drum & bass pioneer and elder statesman Goldie has put his name to this new 4 CD/60 song compilation of the electronic music sub-genre that first became popular in the early 1990s, and continues to have a sizeable following today. Goldie himself is represented by Inner City Life, I Adore You and his highest-charting single, Digital. Most of the other giants of the genre are present and correct, with Andy C’s Roll On, Roni Size’s Brown Paper Bag, A Guy Called Gerald’s Like A Drug, 2 Bad Mice’s Bombscare, E-Z Rollers’ Weekend World, Photek’s Minotaur and High Contrast’s Everything’s Different all showing up. More seminal sounds of the breakneck genre, where 160bpm was de rigueur, include DJ Hazard’s Air Guitar, DJ Hype’s Roll The Beats, Alex Reece’s Pulp Friction and Doc Scott’s suitably frenetic Rage. Innovative and insidious, sometimes with subtle and sublime shading, the influence of these tracks and others like them is undeniable in shaping the musical soundscape of the era.