Kevin Bryan

Latest articles from Kevin Bryan

CD reviews : Simon Stanley Ward, High Tide, Status Quo

Simon Stanley Ward & The Shadows of Doubt,”Rocket in the Desert” (Self Released)- A feast of literate and expertly executed English Americana from one of the country’s most richly rewarding songwriters, adding to the excellent body of work that he’s assembled during the past decade or so. Simon’s fine band The Shadows of Doubt also deserve a mention in dispatches for their eloquent contribution to one of the most impressive albums that you’ll be likely to hear in this or any other year, with stand-out tracks such as “When September Comes,” “Terpsichorean Footwear” and “Rocket in the Desert” itself supplying an ideal introduction to the supremely gifted Mr. Ward’s engaging brand of music making. The album also marked the final appearance on record of talented bass player Geoff Easeman, whose contributions were captured for posterity in an NHS hospice shortly before his untimely death last year.

CD reviews : Arthur Brown, Bernard Allison, Mitch Ryder

Arthur Brown,”Dance” (Cherry Red / Esoteric)-The “Fire” hitmaker has tended to be dismissed as a rather eccentric one-hit wonder during the decades that have slipped by since he enjoyed his sadly all too brief flirtation with fame and fortune in 1968, but the flamboyant artist who was once dubbed the “God of Hellfire” has actually assembled a very interesting body of work in the interim. “Dance” first saw the light of day in 1975, and although it isn’t the great man’s finest creation the newly remastered album does include a typically over the top revamp of The Animals’ “We’ve Gotta Get Out Of This Place”, and as an added bonus the good people at Cherry Red have seen fit to reward purchasers with six bonus tracks culled from Mr.Brown’s performance on BBC Radio One’s “In Concert Show” in April of the same year.

CD reviews : Vanessa Peters, Joe Jackson, Brinsley Schwarz

Vanessa Peters, “Flying On Instruments” (Idol Records)- This pleasing throwback to the golden era of singer-songwriter rock in the early seventies is the melodic brainchild of Dallas born Vanessa Peters, who originally attended Texas A&M University twenty years or so ago with the intention of pursuing a career as a novelist. The lure of music making eventually proved too strong however, and Vanessa now employs her undoubted narrative skills in penning some of the most thoughtful and genuinely affecting songs that you could ever wish to hear in this or any other year..”Flying On Instruments” is a much more stripped down and introspective affair than its immediate predecessor, 2021’s “Modern Age,” with pianist Matteo Patrone playing a much more central role in proceedings as Peters serves up expertly crafted creations such as “Halfway Through,” “Better” and “Pinball Heart” for your listening pleasure.

CD reviews : Tombstone Dunnery, Kate Rusby, Malcolm MacWatt

“The Blues of Tombstone Dunnery Vol.1” (Self released)- Cumbrian singer and guitarist Francis Dunnery is probably best remembered these days for his musical exploits with prog pop merchants It Bites during the latter half of the eighties, most notably their Top 10 singles success from 1986,”Calling All The Heroes.” This brief glimpse of fame and fortune wasn’t destined to last too long however, and the original incarnation of the band finally gave up the ghost in 1990. Dunnery has occupied himself since then by tackling a variety of interesting solo projects as well as working as a trusted sideman. with rock luminaries such as Robert Plant and Carlos Santana. This eclectic character’s latest album serves up his sublime celebration of the delights of the blues genre via twelve freshly minted tracks led by “Take My Joy Away,” “She Left Me With The Blues” and “Riding On The Blues Train.”

CD reviews : Bob Marley, Stackridge, Status Quo

Bob Marley and The Wailers,”Catch A Fire (50th Anniversary Edition) ” (Island Records)- This nicely packaged 3 CD set serves up an expanded version of the trailblazing 1972 album which helped to establish Bob Marley as a major creative talent and brought the distinctive delights of reggae to the attention of the mainstream rock fraternity for the very first time. The fascinating bonus tracks on offer here include extended versions of Wailers’ gems such as “Slave Driver” and “400 Years” and the first official release of the live recording of the group’s concert at London’s Paris Theatre in May 1973. Half a century later reggae seems to have slipped back into the shadows once again , but “Catch A Fire” remains one of the most vital and compelling collections that have been produced in this or any other genre.

CD reviews : Doug Dillard, Show of Hands, Crabby Appleton

The Doug Dillard Expedition, “Live at the Fremont Hotel, Las Vegas, 1970” (Floating World)-The name of Doug Dillard may not be too familiar to the average record buyers these days but readers with very long memories may possibly recall his pioneering work with The Dillards. This infectious combo’s musical exploits in the sixties helped to expose the delights of bluegrass to a new young audience via their TV appearances and college performances, and the group’s splendid Elektra albums should be required listening for Americana devotees everywhere. Floating World’s new collection shines a welcome spotlight on the banjo ace’s subsequent short lived creative collaboration with demon fiddler Byron Berline in the Doug Dillard Expedition as they charmed their Las Vegas audience with old favourites such as “Uncle Pen,” “Orange Blossom Special” and “Roll In My Sweet Baby’s Arms.”

CD reviews : Down Home Blues, Rod Picott, Clarence White

“Down Home Blues : Chicago Volume 3” (Wienerworld)- This beautifully annotated anthology from Wienerworld extends over 4 CDs as it delves deeply into the archives to present a vivid musical portrait of the blues scene in Chicago during its now long distant golden era. The list of participants includes giants of the genre such as Muddy Waters, Memphis Slim and legendary harmonica ace Little Walter, and compiler Peter Moody should also be congratulated for finding the space to showcase the talents of a whole host of lesser known performers who also deserve a long overdue glimpse of the limelight, most notably Robert Lockwood Junior, Johnny Temple and former Jimmy Reed sideman Eddie Taylor.

CD reviews : Afton Wolfe, Gordon Lightfoot, Stray

Afton Wolfe,"The Harvest" (Grandiflora Records)- This appealingly gruff Nashville performer may never become a household name but any artist who can happily claim to draw creative inspiration from such impeccable musical sources as Tom Waits, Elvis Costello and Leonard Cohen should certainly have much to offer to the discerning listener nonetheless. The former's influence looms large throughout "The Harvest," a splendid collection of grittily memorable songs penned by Afton Wolfe’s equally talented father-in-law, the veteran tunesmith L.H. Halliburton. "Mississippi" and the amiably melodic title track are the pick of an excellent bunch.

CD reviews : Kevin Ayers, Dave Mason, Richard Hawley

Kevin Ayers, "Falling Up" (Esoteric / Cherry Red)- The eighties weren't a particularly fruitful decade as far as the late Kevin Ayers was concerned, but this mildly dissolute character enjoyed a brief return to something approaching his brilliant best with the 1988 release of "Falling Up." Ayers celebrated the signing of a new contract with Virgin Records by decamping temporarily from his remote home in Mallorca to Madrid to assemble this typically quirky exercise in melodic prog rock. The finished product is now available once again in newly remastered form, with Ayers’ old friend Ollie Halsall chipping in eloquently on guitar alongside some newly recruited Spanish musicians as Kevin delighted his dedicated band of devotees with beguiling creations such as "That's What We Did (Today)," "Another Rolling Stone" and the enigmatic "Am I Really Marcel?"

CD reviews : Small Faces, Ward Knutur Townes, Shake That Thing

The Small Faces,"There Are But Four Small Faces" (Charly)-This newly remastered CD re-issue serves up mono and stereo versions of The Small Faces' classic 1968 album, which was released exclusively in the U.S.of A. in February of that year. The contents blend tracks from the group's 1967 album,"Small Faces," with a selection of recent hit singles showcasing the songwriting prowess of Steve Marriott and Ronnie Lane. "Itchycoo Park," " Here Comes The Nice" and "Tin Soldier" all slot neatly into the latter category and as an added bonus the compilers of this excellent 2 CD set have also included several rare bonus tracks for the benefit of Small Faces completists everywhere.