LAST AUTUMN’S DREAM — Jade Warrior — Vertigo 6360079
Last Autumn’s Dream is Jade Warrior’s third album to be released. And unlike the group’s last one Released, which used a large amount of brass work, this new album is a return to the area they were working in with their initial release, simply titled Jade Warrior. And as such it is a far more rewarding effort than their last record and the continuation of the ideas and strange rhythmic patterns developed on the first album, make for a most pleasingly successful venture.
Jade Warrior is a group that is a pain for reviewers, for the type of music they are producing is extremely difficult to label, let alone define. But make no mistake, what they are doing is composing and playing music that is on a very high level, for it is both inventive and progressive in the realms it is exploring. A basic feeling that runs through their sound is one of a Japanese/Chinese influence, joined by African rhythms from the drums, tabla and congas. But what completely foils any attempt at musical classification is the soaring, unconventionally tuned guitar work of Tony Duhig. This combined with Jon Field’s superb flute playing makes their music even more exciting. If I really wanted to give their style(s) a name though, I would call it ‘dream music’.
Jade Warrior are a very talented bunch of musicians, and it is groups such as this, unafraid of experimentation in rarely explored areas, that are the backbone of the vitality that makes the contemporary British music scene what it is.
THE ALL-TIME GREATEST HITS OF ROY ORBISON – Monument MNT 67290
Roy Orbison has had a long successful career and this specially priced two-record set will be a welcome release for his many fans and admirers.
At £2.99 the double album is extremely good value, for it contains twenty of the most popular songs he has recorded. All of them have been single hits, some of them even earning Gold records for over a million sales. Surprisingly, despite the age of some of the tracks, very few sound at all dated. Even Only The Lonely, his first smash hit, with the quaint “dum dum dum dumdowah” vocal backing, sounds as pleasing as it did when first released.
Apart from the track already mentioned, other golden oldies of his included are In Dreams, Crying, Dream Baby, Blue Angel, Running Scared and Oh, Pretty Woman. And these and all the rest really do live up to being The All-Time Greatest Hits Of Roy Orbison.
JERMAINE — Jermaine Jackson — Tamla Motown STML 11221
Following the example of Michael Jackson of recording a solo album, along comes Jermaine Jackson with his first solo outing. And a very fine record it turns out to be.
Whilst not containing single tracks as outstanding as Michael’s Got To Be There, Ain’t No Sunshine, or Rockin’ Robin, all of which became top twenty hits, Jermain’s album is more evenly balanced than his brother’s. The first track is That’s How Love Goes, which with its foot tapping infectious beat, proves to be a good opening number. And the other songs, although in different ways, are all as successful. A few Motown standards are included, such as I’m In A Different World, Take Me In Your Arms, and Ain’t That Peculiar. Jermaine also does a version of Paul Simon’s Homeward Bound.
All in all, a very excellent first album, well up to the level set by his brother’s earlier venture. In the States the record is a big seller, and I won’t be surprised to see it receiving the same sort of attention in this country.
Wonder which brother is going to be next for solo honours?
JOURNEY THROUGH THE PAST – Neil Young – Reprise K64015
Although Neil Young is a superstar high in the popularity stakes at present, I think that the soundtrack of his film Journey Through The Past is strictly for his most ardent fans only.
This double set retails at £3.49 which is really far too high a price to pay for the tracks included. There is only one new song as far as I can see, and that is Soldier. And that’s not a particularly memorable track. The majority of the cuts are ‘live’ versions of songs he has recorded on his solo albums, plus a few from his work with Crosby, Stills and Nash. The recording quality of most of them is rather poor, but the nearly sixteen minute version of Words is outstanding, reminding me of the excellence of his Neil Young With Crazy Horse album.
Also included are ‘live’ recordings of songs he recorded when still with The Buffalo Springfield, such as For What It’s Worth and Rock & Roll Women. But here again they don’t compare with the originals. They are no doubt historically interesting to devoted Young-ologists and to those who still remember how good the group was.
Side four contains rather freaky renderings of Handel’s Messiah and King Of Kings. Whilst the last track is Brian Wilson’s Let’s Go Away For A While, from the classic Beach Boy’s album Pet Sounds.
As a soundtrack to the film the music is probably fine, but when it appears on these two records, it is rather a disjointed collection of tracks. But as I said earlier, it is certain to be a must for Neil Young’s most fanatical followers. And that includes me. Really, he is about the only pop singer I’d become a groupie for.
BUSTIN’ OUT — Pure Prairie League – RCA LSP 4769 (US import at UK price)
Of the many types of music I am particularly attracted to. it is modern country music that finds its way mostoften onto my turntable. By country music I don’t mean the somewhat limited range of the more traditional C&W artists such as Merle Haggard, Hank Williams Jr or Tammy Wynnette. Their music is fine, but with the younger country musicians one finds that they are unafraid of also incorporating contemporary folk and rock influences into their overall sound.
Such a band working in this area is a Canadian group called Pure Prairie League and their style is perfectly portrayed with their newly released first album titled Bustin’ Out.
Apart from the styles and attributes already mentioned, the group are not averse to using string arrangements to supplement their sound. And very tasteful they are too. But it is the vocals and the splendid harmonies that get me so excited about them. I really love good singers and singing and the tones the lead vocalists of this group come across with are as satisfying as I could wish for.
The sentiments and emotions expressed in the words of the songs also contribute strongly to this extremely successful initial outing.
On the strength of this first record, Pure Prairie League deserve to be discovered by a wide audience and I expect future recordings to be even more impressive. Hear them.
DARKNESS DARKNESS — Phillip Upchurch — Blue Thumb ILPS 9219
Phillip Upchurch’s mainclaim to fame up till now, apart from first rate sessionwork during the past few years, was his smash hit You Can’t Sit Down.
On this album, which, I believe, is his first solo venture for some time, he does five extended instrumental workouts on numbers such as Darkness, Darkness, Fire and Rain and Inner City Blues. (Don’t believe the cover which lists only four tracks.) His guitar playing is very different to his hit single days, but it certainly isn’t disappointing. Over the years Phillip (formerly Phil) has developed a mature relaxed style that explores every possibility within the existing framework of the songs he has chosen to record here. The backup musicians he uses also contribute much to making this a most enjoyable album, that is better suited for listening to than for dancing.
MILLIE JACKSON – Mojo 2918005
Mojo Records, marketed by Polydor is one of the finest small soul labels available in this country. They specialise in re-issuing past soul hits that have been difficult to obtain here, and also in releasing recordings by small American soul labels.
In 1971 they put out the classic Doris Duke album I’m a Loser and at the end of 1972 they issued what must be one of the best soul releases of the year, the first album of Millie Jackson (no relation to the Jackson Five clan).
And what a soulful record it is too. It is worth buying just for the incredible A Child Of God track, which was sadly ignored when released as a single. But all the other cuts are first rate uptown funk, making it one of the rare soul albums that is consistently good throughout both the sides of the disc.
Millie Jackson’s initial collection of songs is certainly a must for soul enthusiasts to hear and is likely to attract other ears if it is given the promotion it deserves.
EUROPE ’72 – Grateful Dead – Warner Bros K66019
After an enormously successful series of concerts throughout Europe last year, the Grateful Dead have released a three-record set to commemorate that tour. It is titled Europe ’72 and is priced at £4.99.
I have been a devoted Dead fan ever since their first album, released way back in the ‘flower power’ summer of 1967, and it has been a rewarding series of experiences, following this band, for with each new record or set of records issued they improve, develop and expand the accomplishments of their previous outings. I have usually found that their ‘live’ recordings are ultimately far more satisfying than their studio efforts, with the exception of one or two notable albums such as American Beauty or Workingman’s Dead. And the just over 109 minutes of music on this triple set is going to keep me happy and contented for some time to come.
A large amount of the record buying public are still unfamiliar with the Dead’s music. That’s a shame, for anyone interested in the immense advancements in rock music over the last few years would do well to listen to one of the instigators of what was once called psychedelic music. The Grateful Dead, and this set of albums particularly, are a perfect example of what is so exciting and significant about contemporary rock music.
FOR THE ROSES – Joni Mitchell – Asylum SYLA 8753
The exceptional talents possessed by Joni Mitchell finally gained the recognition and the attention of a wider audience which they richly deserve, with her last album, Blue. Joni’s new release For The Roses is nothing less than a further extention of this impressive level.
As usual the songs included are observations and comments about her experiences and the people she’s been involved with. And although the situations she sings about are often deeply personal, it in no way prevents the listener from relating to them, in whatever way he or she may want to. A remarkable achievement, when one considers how difficult communication generally is in our space age societies.
Joni Mitchell manages beautifully to express so many of the fears, hopes and joys we can all feel and know about, if we bother to take time out to experience them. This comes from her very obvious concern for humanity and its oblivious ways.
In conclusion, For The Roses is an extremely moving, very aware album that is far more than just another record to rave over.