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Kat Men

Kat Men

Foot Tapping Records

With a balance of original compositions and cover versions, The Kat Men’s much sought after debut album is reissued on Foot Tapping Records with several added additions. As mentioned elsewhere, and kicking-off proceedings, ‘Domino’ sets the benchmark in the rockin’ stakes with its raw guitar assault and pulsating rhythmic beats providing serious competition for Roy Orbison’s original composition. With no time to come up for air, ‘Dark Haired Woman’ and ‘A Heartache I Can’t Bare’ continue in similar fashion, providing convincing evidence that Darrel Higham should really pen more of his own material because these songs, along with the gripping ‘That Sounds Like Fun’, stand up on their own merits.


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Dead Man’s Shoes

The Lucky Bullets

Grappa

As far as rockabilly revival bands go, The Lucky Bullets are actually worth the attention. Spanning not just rockabilly music but blending Western-style influences with added Mexican flavour, ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’ is littered with an assortment of hapless figures and chancers compellingly told by the charismatic Tank Harvey. Whether it’s the guitar twang and bubbling under the surface brass of title song ‘Dead Man’s Shoes’, evoking images of deserted towns and rolling tumbleweeds, to the leading bass tempo of love-struck ‘Bosses Daughter’ or the Johnny Cash inspired ‘Heavy Load’ , The Lucky Bullets possess a deft touch when it comes to songwriting. Defining moments, however, are left to the darkly comic film noir that is ‘Mrs B. Have’ and still essential ‘Fire Below’.


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Eight Classic Albums Plus Bonus Singles

Elvis Presley

Real Gone

Free of any pretence, Real Gone has put together a mammoth box set covering eight classic albums of Elvis Presley spanning from 1956 – 1960 with additional singles included for good measure over four CDs. With minor gripes being a lack of any detailed information regarding the recording sessions  during these years or about the man himself let alone a series of photographs to give the listener some inclination of the King’s inner sanctum, the sound quality and of course the rockin’ tracks more than compensate for any such grievances.


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The Complete 50s Masters

Elvis Presley

Sony

A nicely packaged and comprehensive examination of Elvis Presley’s Sun Records phase which takes the listener into the RCA sessions until the latter end of the 1950s. The compact set consists of five CDs and a reasonably detailed booklet detailing all of the recording sessions with added extras. If you are a fan of early period Elvis, then ‘The Complete ‘50s Masters’ is definitely a wise acquisition even if the songs contained within are more than familiar to even the most hardened Presley aficionados.


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Great Rockabilly Vol. 6

Various Artists

Smith & Co

Still going strong, the ‘Great Rockabilly’ series has now reached Volume 6 and there is still plenty to offer here from not only the usual suspects of Cochran, Burnette, Vincent et al but also some lesser-known cuts from the likes of Bobby Lollar, Leon and Carlos, Red Sovine, and John Hampton. Pick of the bunch however, is the wild and frantic ‘Love Me’ by The Phantom, which predates the raw intensity of punk music by some considerable years.


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Look To The Sky

James Iha

The End

Ex-Smashing Pumpkins guitarist James Iha finally dusts down the guitar to return with only his second solo offering after his debut back in 1998. That is not to say that Iha has not been a busy man during the intervening years due to various sound projects but it’s ‘Look To The Sky’ which really puts him back on the musical map. In fact, initial first impressions suggest that Iha has hardly been away, as guitars jangle and images of long-gone hazy summer days are projected (‘Summer Days’). Despite residing in a comfort zone of sorts, this does not diminish the qualities of ‘Look To The Sky’, as the sizable gap between first base and second has been long enough to give this sophomore release the gloss of a debut.


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Field Music Play

Field Music

Memphis Industries

The bandwagon of followers has steadily been gathering pace for the works of Field Music and it is not difficult to understand why. Spilling forth a selection of covers taking in the Pet Shop Boys, Roxy Music, Syd Barrett to name but a few, brothers Peter and David Brewis not only maintain a level of respect to the original compositions but add their own deft touches making this limited release something to savour.


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Generation Terrorists

Manic Street Preachers

Sony

On its first release, ‘Generation Terrorists’ was issued in a fanfare of slogans and rants concerning social, political and cultural issues, but more notably for the pronouncement that the band would disband after this debut album. Thankfully, the Manic Street Preachers decided to stay the course and the rest is history. This time around, ‘Generation Terrorists’ has arrived under a fanfare that is more attuned to pipe and slippers than the previous angry incarnation. However, for those who missed out on this timely release during the early nineties, then there is much to delight in here, whether it’s the rifftastic ‘Motorcycle Emptiness’ or the epic finale, ‘Condemned To Rock ‘n’ Roll’, ‘Generation Terrorists’ still manages to evoke levels of passion not found in many of the band’s contemporaries.


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5×5 Live

Simple Minds

Virgin

Simple Minds is going through a resurgence of some sorts after a staggeringly good 2012 that saw the band taking in various European destinations with their ‘5×5’ live set which has now transferred to this live album release. Covering the years 1979 – 1982, the first five albums was not only a fertile period for the band but also hugely creative as songs such as the instrumental ‘Theme For Great Cities’, ‘I Travel’, ‘Thirty Frames A Second’ and ‘Premonition’ sound just as current as the day they were first conceived. It will be intriguing to see where Simple Minds go from here after these mesmeric performances.


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Hats

The Blue Nile

Virgin

If I had to define melancholy, then I would have to say The Blue Nile’s ‘Hats’. Perfection exemplified in a variety of ways, ‘Hats’ was the long-awaited follow-up to ‘A Walk Across The Rooftops’, which is also receiving the reissue treatment, as the band truly delivered their masterpiece. As far as late-night albums go, ‘Hats’ is the only one you’ll ever need as it’s true, happiness can be found in sadness because despite the despondency often heard throughout this body of work (look no further than ‘Let’s Go Out Tonight’ or ‘From A Late Night Train’) there is something gorgeously wonderful about the downbeat tone being expressed here, rendering this release as simply essential.


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Let Me Tell You About The Blues New Orleans

Various Artists

Fantastic Voyage

Fantastic Voyage is proving to be a major player in the quality stakes when it comes to compiling not only rockabilly but also blues music. In this instance, ‘Let Me Tell You About The Blues New Orleans’ gets the quality control treatment in terms of blues music emanating from New Orleans. As with a lot of the Fantastic Voyage packages, it is not only the well-known artists represented but often more obscure oddities that really wet the listener’s appetite. With everyone from Ray Charles, Lloyd Price, Fats Domino, Big Joe Turner to the lesser known Falcon Trip, Boo Breeding and Snooks Eaglin, ‘Let Me Tell You About The Blues New Orleans’ clearly has something for all fans of blues music.


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Red

Taylor Swift

Mercury

The rise of Taylor Swift’s mercurial star continues to ascend and rightly so with this truly compelling release. ‘Red’ is the kind of album which throws out its pop (yes, pop) hooks from the off and instantaneously grabs the listener by the ears in a quite seductive spell. Despite some remnants of a country sound (‘All Too Well’ ‘I Knew You Were Trouble’), Taylor Swift has gambled with a (near complete) change in musical direction and it’s paying dividends as the opening indie-sounding ‘State Of Grace’ and radio-friendly ‘22’ testify. The supremely addictive ‘We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together’ solidifies further  this new found direction as does the intriguing choice of duet with Snow Patrol’s Gary Lightbody on ‘The Last Time’. Without wishing Taylor Swift to completely ditch her country roots, one cannot help but feel genuinely moved by this change in direction, whilst not entirely original, as ‘Red’ is proving many doubters wrong.



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