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Album Reviews
Hank Williams Jr - It's About Time
It’s hard to resist the Southern swagger and charm of Hank Williams Jr, but he could have made a better album, with more care to the lyrics. Now 66, young Hank has enjoyed ten number one singles in his long career and his 21 albums have all attained at least gold status, so a nit-picky review is hardly gonna bother him. But he does tend to sing in one register most of the time. It's a kind of self-deprecating, insouciant snarl. And his lyrics are a bit rushed looking. Other than that, excellent band and you can't deny he's having fun. PK
Taste Live at the Isle of Wight
Few, if any of the 600,000 folks gathered on the Isle of Wight on that summer day in 1970 would have known Taste had already decided to split when Murray Lerner captured the band as they headed for the exit in a remarkably powerful performance. So, sit back and be wowed by those stirring opening chords to What’s Going On, which kicks off the Isle of Wight performance, now captured on this newly-released DVD. Sugar Mama, Morning Sun, Gambling Blues, Sinnerboy, Same Old Story and Catfish Blues - all cracking performances, alongside contributions from Brian May and Bob Geldof in the documentary element of what is a very fine, 163-minute film. P K
Larry Young in Paris
Organist Larry Young recorded with Jimi Hendrix and Carlos Santana, performed with Jack Bruce, and featured on Miles Davis’s seminal Bitches Brew album. These sparkling sessions, the ORTF Recordings, are drawn from his fruitful mid-1960s and mostly feature the musician, who died at 38, in 1978, as a member of the Nathan Davis Quartet. Excellent stuff. PK
David Bowie Blackstar
Blackstar, the 26th and final studio album – that we know of - from David Bowie is a characteristically baleful, but reflective record that packs one last punch in style.Blackstar is itself the title of the opening track, built around two core chords which are almost instantly identifiable with an Eastern, Arabic or Flamenco template. Through nine minutes 57 seconds it rumbles balefully on, a touch of Frippertronics in Ben Monder’s guitar, some wild flute here, a bit of sax there, a layered synth or keyboard bedding. There is too the merest echo of the spirit of Low on the first of these haunted corridors that are the tracks of Blackstar.In conclusion, Blackstar is not much about catchy melodies, as if the need for hit singles had gone at this stage. Ultimately, there will indeed be many who will listen attentively and many who will hang on every note and long for more from the Thin White Duke. A fine swansong. P K
Sokratis Sinopoulos Quartet
The Byzantine lyra, or lira, was a medieval bowed, pear shaped stringed instrument with three to five strings, held upright and played by stopping the strings from the side with fingernails. Sinopulous’s lyra is known as the Constaninople lyra and is presumably the same instrument, with perhaps some modern modifications.
Eight Winds is an utterly beautiful record, imagined into being with love by a stalwart enthusiast of his instrument. It is also a record in which the jazz quartet’s work does not detract from the sense of heritage and antiquity at play. In that regard it could be compared to the similarly sensitive jazz accompaniment on Anouar Brahem’s recent record Souvenance, another ECM release.
Paddy Kehoe

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