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Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
It simply doesn’t get any better than this if you’re a Motown addict. This LP from ’67 contains a half-dozen gems, eg, ‘Bernadette’, that are forever associated with the ’Tops, plus a couple of covers they made their own: ‘Walk Away Renee’ and ‘If I Were A Carpenter’. With 20/20 hindsight, considering that The Monkees have been reassessed and found not to be the infra dig swill that snobs once deemed them to be, we learn here just how appealing was the material they chose: the ’Tops cover two of their hits, turning ‘Last Train To Clarksville’ and ‘I’m A Believer’ into almost-credible Motown stompers. Reach Out is the quintessence of the group’s and the label’s sound.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
As has been de rigueur of late, Swiss-born Beat Kaestli has joined Tony Bennett, Rod Stewart, Michael Bublé and others releasing ‘American Songbook’ sessions. Kaestli, though, has resisted the more obvious A-list songs and opted for ‘slightly-less-covered’ masterworks, including ‘My Romance’, ‘Day In Day Out’ and other tunes that are familiar rather than done to death. Backed by a superb quintet and recorded at St Peter’s Episcopal Church, NY, with David Chesky at the controls, it’s a perfect showcase for SACD surround, which seems to be enjoying a renaissance. Kaestli’s emphasis is jazzier than the norm, a refreshing break from Sinatra wannabees.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
Tia Fuller has toured and played to huge audiences as a sax soloist in Beyoncé’s all-female band, but she’s her own boss here for her second Mack Avenue album. This time she’s joined by sister Shamie Royston on piano, but as on 2007’s Healing Space it’s Miriam Sullivan on bass and Beyoncé bandmate Kim Thompson on drums, with Sean Jones guesting on trumpet. The only non-original is her Cannonball-influenced ‘Can’t Get Started’, a ballad feature also for her other guests, vibraphonist Warren Wolf and bassist Christian McBride, who injects incomparable swing into two other numbers. A feast, here, of great and often joyous playing.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010
After finally being allowed to come to the West in 1960, Richter soon made LPs for CBS, RCA, DG, EMI and Philips. Extraordinary! His UK debut with Kondrashin was at the Albert Hall in July ’61 in Chopin, Dvorak and Liszt; the two Liszt Concertos (which you can find ‘live’, with the Hungarian Fantasy and Andante Spianato and Grande Polonaise, on BBC Legends 4031-2) were then produced over three days at Walthamstow Assembly Hall, by a Mercury team. With more than nine hours of tape to hand, the pianist asked for a complete retake of the First Concerto, most of which was used for the edited master. The results subsequently have become the benchmark coupling.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
There’s no end to the astonishingly good albums that the psychedelic era produced, which were overshadowed by the genre’s giants. Although Fever Tree’s origins are Texan, the group sounds like it could have been part of Boston’s ‘Bosstown’ sound or from New York’s artier element, with its heavy orchestration and baroque touches. And while their eponymous debut from ’68 features fascinating originals, like the hit ‘San Francisco Girls (Return of the Native)’, what’s more intriguing are interpretations of the Beatles’ ‘Day Tripper/We can Work it Out’ and Neil Young’s ‘Nowadays Clancy Can’t Even Sing’. Another great find for hard-up collectors from Sundazed.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
A heartbreaker, as it’s the sole LP from one of the finest of the wave of mid-1960s US bands who wished they were the Beatles. Like the equally fragile Left Banke (yes, that’s how they spelled it) with their leader Michael Brown, this group boasted a song-writing genius in Emitt Rhodes, and gave off a whiff of ‘Sunny Afternoon’, Kinksian Englishness that permeated the whole LP. While ‘You’re A Very Lovely Woman’ is equally well remembered, their biggest hit – ‘Live’ – had the kind of catchiness that made songs like the La’s ‘There She Goes’ so memorable. Yes, it was that good.
Steve Harris  |  Dec 10, 2010
For his third ECM project as leader, the celebrated drummer put together a new group, but it’s a group of old friends. Bassist Pino Palladino is a collaborator of many years, while pianist Jason Rebello played with Katché in Sting’s band. Norwegian saxophonist Tore Brunberg, often sounding like a soft-focus Garbarek, is a long-term ECM labelmate. Guests are guitarist Jacob Young and trumpeter Kami Lyle, who adds lyrics to ‘Stay With You’ with her impossibly warbly yet captivating vocal.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010
Kubrick’s 2001 A Space Odyssey prompted a flourish of LPs excerpting the timpani and organ pedal opening of Also Sprach. . . One wonders how many non-Straussians would stomach the whole Nietzschean epic! In fact, Karajan’s Decca version was used for the film.
Ken Kessler  |  Dec 10, 2010
Humble Pie embodies a genre yet to find a name, the division of ‘stadium rock’ that seemed to consist entirely of ex-pat British bands who did better in the USA than they ever could back home. Amusingly, as Smokin’ – their biggest-seller – shows, they were simply feeding back to America what Yanks rockers invented: southern-fried HM boogie, only now with an Essex twang. But when the line-up included ex-Small Faces frontman Steve Marriott, one of the best hard-rock vocalists ever, the results were miles away from the pedestrian. Marriott’s mod roots are evident, with covers of ‘Road Runner’ and ‘C’mon Everybody’, but elevated to a tougher, harder level.
Christopher Breunig  |  Dec 10, 2010
A Festival Hall recording originally made by Tony Faulkner in Feb 1989, for what is now called Music Preserved, this was one of Klaus Tennstedt’s characteristic concert performances. And it is gratifying to see the transfer honouring Mahler’s wish for a break after (i), here spanning a considerable 25m. His highly individual response to the ‘Resurrection’ (some will say related to his awareness of mortality) is apparent from the beginning, and never diminishes, although the very deliberate second movt will not suit all tastes. The ‘Urlicht’ is beautifully sung and Yvonne Kenny’s later contribution no less considerable.

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