Albums For Christmas

The albums and artists of the year have taken up so much room there is very little space to say much about the numerous albums which have been issued recently. Although it is unfair to comment on a record in only a few lines, I would like to say a little about what I consider to be the best of the new releases. Albums make ideal presents, and those mentioned here I strongly recommend as being excellent gifts, depending of course on the recipient’s musical tastes.

The most outstanding release is Lou Reed’s second solo album Transformer (RCA LSP 4807), which I cannot commend highly enough. One track. Walk On The Wild Side, also put out as a single, has to be heard to be believed, whilst the cut Make Up is the best Gay Lib song I have heard. Production is by David Bowie and his guitarist Mick Ronson, but whereas with Bowie’s involvement in the latest Mott the Hoople album that record came out just sounding like an extension of Bowie, his work on Transformer just adds to bringing out the explicitly stunning and original talents of Lou Reed.

Transformer is an essential record and is currently top of the Gay News hit parade. The record sleeve, especially the reverse side, is remarkable too.

Tamla Motown have brought out two excellent records in time for Christmas. One is the new Temptations album All Directions (STML 11218). It is well up to the standard of this group’s past work, with the 11 min 45 sec Papa Was A Rolling Stone being a monster success. The other album needs no introduction to recommend its guaranteed quality. It’s the latest in the Motown Chartbusters series, this one being Volume Seven (STML 11215). Included are sixteen of the best and most successful cuts the company have put out over the last few months. Amongst the artists contributing to the volume are The Supremes, The Temptations, Michael Jackson, Mary Welles, Diana Ross, and Stevie Wonder.

Bread are currently riding high in the charts with their single The Guitar Man. Now they have released an album with that cut as the title track. Guitar Man (Elektra K52004) contains twelve tracks, and is a first rate followup to their recently released Best of Bread disc. Bread fans will be delighted with this new effort, as will any new converts to the group.

Some of the raviest, rocking music produced over the last few years came from Delaney and Bonnie. This husband and wife team have now sadly parted and have gone their separate ways. But they can well be remembered with The Best of Delaney and Bonnie (Atlantic K 40429) which truly lives up to the album title. Just listen to Soul Shake to be convinced that Bonnie Bramlett delivers some of the best white blues/soul vocals ever.

The Moody Blues keep on bringing out one fine album after another, and Seventh Sojourn (Threshold THS7) is no exception. Moody fans will need no recommendation to know that this album is a must for them, whilst anyone new to the group’s work will find this release a good way to discover why they have such a large following. As usual the production is faultless, with the When You’re A Free Man track standing out as the most impressive.

Shirley Bassey devotees will find her new album And I Love You So (UAS 29385) a welcome release. Of the songs tackled by Miss Bassey on this record, the following are the most outstanding: Someday, The First Time I Ever Saw Your Face, Day By Day (from ‘Godspell’), Ballad Of The Sad Young Men, I Don’t Know How To Love Him (from ‘Jesus Christ Superstar’) and Don McLean’s And I Love You So.

The West Country group, Stackridge follow up their excellent first album with this new offering, Friendliness (MCA MKPS 2025). Stackridge have a sunny magical charm which comes over even stronger on this release than before, and is guaranteed to find them an even wider audience. Largely responsible for the musical inventiveness on this record and ultimately the group’s success is the playing of Mike Evans (violin and cello) and “Mutter” Slater (flute) whose contributions equal the guitar work of James Warren and Andy Davis’s keyboards. A happy, friendly record this, that will remove many worried frowns and long faces.