Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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Here is Kevin Bryan’s latest Record Review, looking at some of the new music releases

Jeff Lynne’s ELO - Wembley Or Bust (Sony Music). This live “greatest hits” package was recorded at ELO’s Wembley Stadium extravaganza a few months ago, when 60,000 adoring punters were regaled with the cream of the band’s illustrious back catalogue. ELO was originally the brainchild of The Move’s hirsute singer and guitarist Roy Wood, but when their creative driving force left the fold in 1972 Jeff Lynne took over the leadership of this trailblazing outfit and their instantly identifiable fusion of rock, pop and classical music has gone on to achieve worldwide record sales in excess of 50 million.

Their unashamedly commercial brand of symphonic pop is enjoying something of a renaissance these days, and there’s certainly no denying the enduring appeal of crowd-pleasing concoctions such as Livin’ Thing, Mr.Blue Sky and their 1975 hit Evil Woman.

Van Morrison - Versatile (Caroline International). Van Morrison may be well into his 70s now but his appetite for music-making shows little sign of diminishing, with his latest album following hot on the heels of September’s blues and r&b package, Roll With The Punches. Versatile finds Van returning to his jazz roots as he applies his own inimitable stamp to a selection of standards culled from the Great American Songbook, including Cole Porter’s I Get A Kick Out of You, George and Ira Gershwin’s They Can’t Take That Away From Me and Tony Bennett’s signature tune, I Left My Heart in San Francisco, with predictably excellent results.

Tom McGuinness - Playing For Time (Repertoire). This low key character first slipped unobtrusively into the public eye in the mid sixties as guitarist with serial hit-makers Manfred Mann and has since gone on to work with McGuinness Flint, and, for the past 30 years or so, the excellent Blues Band. Repertoire’s new 21-track compilation is dominated by the contents of the Wimbledon born musician’s two solo albums, Tom McGuinness and Double Take, capturing his lifelong passion for the warmth, directness and honesty of the blues via fine tracks such as Ain’t It A Drag, Standing By My Window and Long Hard Road.

Blood, Sweat & Tears - In Concert (Retroworld). In the late 60s Blood, Sweat and Tears and Chicago were the two bands at the forefront of the burgeoning brass rock movement, releasing a string of excellent albums which married solid bluesy rock with intricate, jazz-inflected horn work. Canadian vocalist David Clayton-Thomas left Blood, Sweat and Tears in 1972 to pursue a solo career but he had returned to their ranks by the time that this live collection was recorded three years later, and his charismatic presence certainly lends added appeal to much loved old favourites like Spinning Wheel, And When I Die and You’ve Made Me So Very Happy.