Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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It’s record review time once again, courtesy of our regular reviewer, Kevin Bryan.

Julian Sas -1996-2000 (Cavalier Music). This Dutch-born singer and guitarist enjoyed something of a musical epiphany at the age of 13 when he was first exposed to the sound of Muddy Waters and the rest, as the old cliche goes, is history. Julian Sas is now firmly established as one of Europe’s leading blues performers, and this splendid five-CD box set brings together all the recordings made by the first incarnation of his muscular and compelling band.

The vast majority of the tracks are self-penned vehicles for the electric blues at its most earthy and visceral, although Sas and his cohorts also serve up gritty revamps of Don Nix’s Goin’ Down and Elmore James’s much-covered Shake Your Money Maker for your listening pleasure.

Rock’n’Roll Radio - (Union Square. The good people at Union Square have rounded up most of the usual suspects in order to populate this celebration of the delights of 50s and early 60s rock and pop, attractively housed in a tin replica of a radio from that dim and distant era.

Luminaries such as Chuck Berry, Little Richard and Buddy Holly all make telling contributions to the proceedings, with the likes of Billy Fury, The Shadows and the excellent Johnny Kidd and the Pirates flying the flag on behalf of the fairly anodyne pop culture of pre-Beatles Britain.

Wiener Philharmoniker/Dudamel -Mussorgsky:Pictures At An Exhibition (Deutsche Grammophon). This impressive orchestral offering from the Vienna Philharmonic and their charismatic Venezuelan conductor Gustavo Dudamel explores two of Mussorgsky’s most expressive and evocative creations, Pictures At An Exhibition and his eerie tone poem Night On Bald Mountain. The former captured a whole new audience when it was reinvented by prog rockers ELP during the early 70s, but Ravel’s orchestration of this cycle of piano pieces inspired by paintings in a Saint Petersburg gallery remains the defintive version of this much loved work.

Manran - An Da La - The Two Days (Manran Records). Acclaimed Scottish folkies Manran took the title of their vibrant new album from a Gaelic expression for great change, and the linked themes of change and upheaval permeate many of the tracks here. The contents of An De La were recorded in Glasgow during a brief hiatus in Manran’s seemingly relentless touring schedule ,and the years that they’ve spent on the road since the release of their second album, The Test, in 2013 have obviously helped to forge the sextet into one of the most powerful roots music outfits that you could ever wish to hear.