Marcus Malone, "Stand or Fall" (Redline Music)
Detroit born Malone has been making quite an impact on the European concert and festival circuit during the past few years and this earthy performer's sixth album is a gem of the highest order, boasting some compelling original material delivered by a finely honed band steeped in the spirit of the blues. The singer-guitarist's vocals may be eerily reminiscent of Paul Rodgers of Free and Bad Company fame on tracks such as "Living The Blues" and "Under Pressure" but he's a major talent in his own right too, and "Stand or Fall" should be an essential purchase for blues enthusiasts everywhere.
Simon Nicol,"Before Your Time / Consonant Please Carol" (Talking Elephant TECD 237 / 238)
Fairport Convention's reassuringly reliable singer and guitarist hasn't been too active on the solo recording front over the years but his work always repays closer attention, and 1987's "Before Your Time" is a particularly affecting piece of work. The contents include Linda Thompson's stunning vocal rendition of "I Live Not Where I Love" and two classic antiwar songs in the shape of "The Deserter" and Huw Williams' "Rosemary's Sister," with invaluable instrumental support supplied by fellow Fairporters such as Dave Pegg, Gerry Conway and fiddler Ric Sanders.
"The Very Best of the Everly Brothers" (Rhino Records)
The Everlys' trailblazing country pop sound is captured in all its exquisitely harmonised beauty by this memorable new anthology from Rhino Records. Many of the songs which influenced rock luminaries including Paul McCartney and Paul Simon during their formative years were penned by the husband and wife team of Felice and Boudleaux Bryant but the Kentucky duo were also excellent tunesmiths in their own right,bequeathing timeless gems such as "Cathy's Clown," "So Sad" and "When Will I Be Loved" to posterity.
Delbert & Glen,"Blind,Crippled and Crazy" (New West NW 6274)
Delbert McClinton has displayed an admirable disregard for the vagaries of fad and fashion throughout a musical career which now spans more than half a century,and "Blind,Crippled and Crazy" finds him reviving the partnership with fellow Texan Glen Clark which spawned two excellent albums during the early seventies. The duo's robust blend of blues,country and soul should be required listening for roots music devotees everywhere ,with "Been Around A Long Time," "World Of Hurt" and "Good As I Feel Today" emerging as the best of a gritty bunch.
Dunedin Consort / Butt, "Mozart : Requiem" (Linn CKD 449)
Scotland's Dunedin Consort have made their name with a series of carefully researched recordings of Baroque masterpieces such as Bach's " Brandenburg Concertos" and "St.John Passion," but this stunning new Linn CD finds them attempting to recreate the sound that the audience would have experienced at the first official performance of Mozart's "Requiem" in 1793. As an exercise in historical reconstruction it's well nigh impeccable, with director John Butt marshaling his resources superbly to create a richly detailed rendition of this much loved work.