Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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Here is your latest batch of record reviews, courtesy of Kevin Bryan.

Simple Minds - Acoustic (Caroline International). Simple Minds’ name has become synonymous with an unashamedly expansive brand of stadium rock over the years, so the appearance of this invigorating package marks a fairly radical musical departure for Jim Kerr and company. This one-off studio set features pared down acoustic versions of the cream of the band’s illustrious back catalogue, including perennial crowd-pleasers such as their American chart-topper Don’t You (Forget About Me), Waterfront and Promised You A Miracle, the latter featuring guest vocals from fellow Scot KT Tunstall.

Silverhead - 16 and Savaged (Cherry Red / Purple). This 1973 offering was the second album from swaggering glam rockers Silverhead, who had been one of the first signings to Deep Purple’s record label when it set up operations a couple of years earlier. Larger than life vocalist Michael Des Barres fronted this short-lived outfit with a commendable lack of introspection or subtlety, and his sterling efforts were expertly underpinned by future Robert Plant guitarist Robbie Blunt as the band launched into no holds barred ditties such as Bright Light, Heavy Hammer and the sleazy More Than Your Mouth Can Hold.

Pentangle - Finale” (Topic Records). Pentangle’s subtle, jazz inflected brand of folk was all the rage for a few years during the late sixties and early seventies, but the original line-up hadn’t performed together for many a long year when they made the decision to reform and return to the road in 2008. This fine 2-CD set was recorded at various venues during Pentangle’s British tour that year, serving up an eclectic retrospective of tracks from the band’s golden era as it runs the gamut from timeless traditional ballads such as Cruel Sister and House Carpenter to their affectionate revamp of Charles Mingus’s Goodbye Pork Pie Hat.

Don McLean - Starry Starry Night (Wienerworld). The string of classic pop singles that Don McLean racked up during the early seventies have tended to overshadow all the good work that this supremely gifted singer-songwriter has done since then, and this concert DVD from 1999 seeks to redress the balance a little by serving up a finely judged blend of golden oldies and superior album tracks. The contents were recorded at the Paramount Theatre in Austin, Texas, with Nanci Griffith guesting on And I Love You So and Raining My Heart as McLean regales his highly receptive audience with the delights of Vincent, Castles In The Air and the singalong show-stopper, American Pie.