New albums from Myles Kennedy and Jimi Hendrix hit the mark
Year Of The Tiger (Napalm Records) *****
ALTER Bridge frontman Myles Kennedy has gone back to the drawing board to sketch out a delicate and graceful acoustic solo album. Its title is dedicated to the Chinese zodiac 1974, the year that he lost his Christian Scientist father to illness.
In fact, it’s a stark and brave autobiographical album on which the golden richness of Kennedy’s voice strongly shines through.
Myles Kennedy's solo debut is top class
His decision to sing in a lower register, compared to the helium lunged high range of his hard rock recordings, is a masterstroke revealing a deep country blues timbre.
From the cathartic opening title track onwards, the album takes the listener on a bluesy, country journey into Kennedy's psyche and soul.
Turning Stones and Mother contain laser guided emotional darts of bittersweet reflections.
As though created from the confessional booth of inward reflection and conveyed with brutal honesty, Kennedy gloriously rides the tiger across all the tracks with emotional and musical aplomb.
Decades (Nuclear Blast) *****
Pre-eminent pioneers of Symphonic Metal, Nightwish experienced a rapid rise of success as genre mavericks.
Led by Finnish songwriter Tuomas Holopainen this is no surprise given the fairytale finesse of their oeuvre. Collected here is twenty years of fire-proof, mind-bending, progressive music par excellence.
The epic grandeur of opening track The Greatest Show On Earth presents itself as the perfect entree to the feast of songs that follow. Grand in scale with an entrancing sound mix of ingredients, this Darwinian showstopper song takes instrumentation and graceful vocals to their outer limits.
Nightwish's latest release sees Floor Jansen shine again
The translucent beauty of Floor Jansen’s ethereal yet punchy voice also brings a sure touch of class on standout Celtic infused metal songs Élan and My Walden.
The medieval eastern inspired spiral of sounds accompanied by distinctive operatic female vocals on Carpenter demonstrates the band's unwavering attention to detail.
Similarly Elvenpath and a glorious The Poet And The Pendulum. Song titles that draw in the curious to their wondrous musical worlds within.
The spooling of the mighty melange of re-mastered symphonic metal collated here is an essential genre cornerstone for collector and novice alike.
Rory Gallagher is the guitarist's guitarist
Rightly regaled as the guitarists’ guitarist, Gallagher’s reputation continues to grow following his untimely death. This box set takes it to another level. Expertly compiled within is Rory’s entire remastered solo output of studio and live recordings and all made available for the first time on one record label.
Appearances can be very deceptive. Mostly seen on stage wearing the working man’s clothes of check shirt and jeans, Gallagher brought all of his unimpeachable fiery fingerwork styles to the fretboard of his Fender Strat. His full service of tasty blues rock is marinaded here in rugged Irish energy.
Gallagher's box-set is top class
In fact, he was quite literally born to rock in Rock Hospital Donegal, no less. And he created a continuing legend for himself in his 47 years as a virtuoso solo artist selling over 30 million albums, as this comprehensive release reveals in all of its glory.
To listen to the raw power of early track Tattoo'd Lady through to semi polished gem Shadow Play from the Photo-Finish album reminds of the musical integrity that still glows warm and bright.
However, plunging into the deep end of the incendiary live releases in this collection uniquely shows Rory Gallagher as the enduring real deal.
An incredible body of work presented in a lux box set from one of the most renowned and celebrated guitarists ever.
Both Sides of Sky is all killer no filler
Both Sides Of The Sky (Sony/Legacy) ****
This lovingly curated restoration of rare Hendrix studio session tracks lifts the lid on Jimi’s journey from the Experience to his Band Of Gypsy’s period. It features 13 studio recordings from 1968 - 1970, including ten unreleased tracks.
This is the third and final volume in a trilogy of record releases to showcase the most significant and essential recordings remaining in this legends vaults. And it’s all killer no filler.
To hear Jimi’s studio banter as he stretches his hands across the frets thereby creating that instant, inimitable trademark sound is to feel to be in the immediate presence of the great man himself.
Notable history in the making moments proliferates across this entire release. An uptempo version of Muddy Waters’ Mannish Boy finds Billy Cox on bass and Buddy Miles on drums, prior to their Band Of Gypsys incarnation.
A fascinating early recording of Joni Mitchell’s Woodstock finds Jimi reverting back to his previous sideman role as Stephen Stills leads on this searing, slightly funky session.
Cherokee Mist also provides an insightful moment into Hendrix’s willingness to explore and experiment with sound as he plays the sitar. Also, his fun side shines strongly through on a Band Of Gypsys 1969 take of Lover Man by skilfully interpolating the Batman theme into it.
With Jimi’s original engineer Eddie Kramer on-board mixing and co-producing with John McDermott and his sister Janie Hendrix who is the safe keeper of his estate, this final release thrills as it spills its remaining audio archive gems.
The Moody Blues are back with another great album
THE MOODY BLUES
Days Of Future Passed Live (earMUSIC) ****
Veteran British prog-rock band The Moody Blues celebrate their 50th anniversary with a sumptuous full orchestra live recording, superbly captured here on both audio and DVD.
Their seminal 1967 release Days Of Future Passed is performed with the orchestra in its entirety for the first time. The holy trinity of Justin Hayward, John Lodge and Graeme Edge play and sing their hearts out with swooning, sweeping orchestration bringing a lushness to these classic recordings.
Further delights include a definitive Nights In White Satin, the song that launched a thousand Mellotrons, and those big Sounds of The Sixties hits Question and Ride My See Saw.