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What Kevin Heard: When Stone the Crows made their impact

Music reviewer Kevin Bryan recommends another helping of great music from yesteryear that readers make like to download for the first time or listen to again.

Stone the Crows pop group with Maggie Bell singer 1972

Stone the Crows,"Featuring Maggie Bell" (Talking Elephant TECD 239)­

Stone the Crows made quite an impact on the British music scene during the early seventies but the untimely death of guitarist and creative mainstay Les Harvey in a tragic accident in 1972 put paid to the Glaswegian blues rockers' hopes of achieving lasting stardom, although they struggled on for a while with the similarly ill­ fated Jimmy McCulloch as Harvey's replacement. This griity retrospective concentrates on the band's earlier recordings, including four tracks from their second and best album, "Ode To John Law," led by "Sad Mary" and "Mad Dogs and Englishmen."

Pete Molinari,"Theosophy" (Cherry Red CDBRED 620)­

Chatham born Pete Molinari was fascinated by the work of maverick balladeers such as Leadbelly,Woody Guthrie and Bob Dylan during his formative years,and their influence is never too far from the surface as he unveils the eagerly awaited follow up to 2010's critically acclaimed "A Train Bound For Glory." Pete's uninhibited approach to music­making was honed in the bars and cafes of New York's legendary Greenwich Village and "Theosophy" boasts a fine batch of songs steeped in the spirit of personal freedom and the seductive lure of the open road,with "I Got Mine" and "When Two Worlds Collide" emerging as the best of the bunch.

Neil innes & Fatso,"Farewell Posterity Tour" (Angel Air SJPCD 442)­

Effortlessly humourous songwriter Neil Innes has been delighting audiences with his whimsical ditties ever since his stint with noted eccentrics the Bonzo Dog Band in the late sixties,and a country tinged re­vamp of the Bonzos' infectious 1968 hit,"I'm The Urban Spaceman" provides one of the highlights of this easy on the ear live set. Innes and his cohorts also revive many of the affectionate Beatles pastiches that he penned for The Rutles a few years later alongside covers of everything from Poco's "Better Think Twice" and Jackie Wilson's "Reet Petite" to George Harrison's "Beware of Darkness," with former Rockpile guitarist Billy Bremner in sparkling form throughout.

Allan Clarke,"Sideshow:Solo Recordings" (Cherry Red/RPM RETROD 942)­

This easy on the ear anthology focusses attention on the largely unsuccessful solo career of Hollies' vocalist Clarke,drawing on the three albums that he recorded for EMI during the seventies, plus his 1975 single version of Bruce Springsteen's "Born To Run". Clarke was an early champion of the great man's work and the 2 CD set also showcases two other Springsteen numbers ,"If I Were The Priest" and "Blinded By The Light" alongside covers of songs made famous by everyone from Little Richard and Dobie Gray to the Sutherland Brothers.

Keith Emerson,"Changing States" (Esoteric ECLEC 2440)­

This wide ranging vehicle for the talents of prog rock keyboard wizard Keith Emerson was first released in 1995 but has been unavailable for many years now ,although it must rank as the ELP mainstay's most consistently impressive solo offering to date. The contents are often more reminiscent of Emerson's sixties exploits with The Nice than his later,much more bombastic work with ELP, and "Another Frontier," "Montagues and Capulets" and a striking re­invention of George Gershwin's "Summertime" capture this much maligned musician at something close to his brilliant best.

"Chicago Bound­Chess Blues,R&B and Rock'n'Roll" (Fantastic Voyage FVTD 193)­

Many of the leading lights of American urban blues and r&b found a sympathetic outlet for their talents at the legendary Chess label during the immediate post war era,and this excellent 3 CD anthology brings together the cream of their hugely influential output. The contents draw on recordings made between 1948 and 1962 by luminaries such as Muddy Waters, Howlin' Wolf and John Lee Hooker as well as some classic examples of early rock'n'roll led by Eddie Fontaine's "Nothin' Shakin'" and Dale Hawkins' 1957 hit "Susie Q."

"Doo Wop Revival­ - The R&B Vocal Group Sound 1961­1962" (Fantastic Voyage FVTD 190)­

This fun packed 3 CD anthology focuses attention on no less than 90 peerless examples of vibrant rhythm and blues from the early sixties,including classic tracks from the likes of The Miracles, The Drifters and The Marcels of "Blue Moon" fame. America's mainstream pop scene may have been in a fairly parlous state during this period but there's certainly nothing blandor insipid about this soulful package,and soul devotees should be thrilled to discover a teenage Bobby Womack handling lead vocals on The Valentinos' "Lookin' For A Love" and a similarly youthful Wilson Pickett emoting his way through The Falcons' 1962 hit,"I Found A Love"alongside the likes of The Contours' "Do You Love Me" and The Isley Brothers' exhilarating "Twist and Shout."

Argent,"In Deep"(Talking Elephant TECD 241)­

The latest CD re­issue from the good people at Talking Elephant revives the fourth Argent album,which was first released in 1973,hot on the heels of their major singles success with "Hold Your Head Up." The band always seemed to represent a fairly uneasy compromise between singer­guitarist Russ Ballard's pop sensibilities and keyboardist Rod Argent's prog­rock pretensions and the musical fault lines were certainly evident here as they served up the highly commercial "God Gave Rock and Roll To You" and "It's Only Money" alongside much more cerebral tracks such as "Candles on the River."

Coco Montoya,"Songs from the Road" (Ruf 1203)­

This gifted singer and guitarist has experienced quite a few highs and lows during the course of his long and chequered career,including stints working with veteran bluesmen Albert Collins and John Mayall and a singularly unproductive period working as a bartender in Los Angeles when the creative muse temporarily deserted him during the mid eighties. This enjoyable 2CD set in Ruf's "Songs from the Road" series captures a Coco Montoya show at Seattle's Triple Door venue which found him revisiting his impressive back catalogue for compelling tracks such as "Gotta Mind To Travel" and "My Side of the Fence,"aided and abetted by Brant Leeper's splendid organ work.

Colin Cooper Project,"From The Vaults" (Repertoire REPUK 1199)­

Former Climax Blues Band mainstay Cooper recorded this collection of much loved blues standards at his home studio in Stafford during the lengthy period between 1995 and his untimely death from cancer in 2008. The tracks were never really intended for commercial release but they're well worth hearing nonetheless,with Cooper's mellow vocals and fluent guitar work illuminating old favourites such as "Rambling On My Mind," " Key To the Highway" and "It Hurts Me Too."

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