The latest reviews from Kevin Bryan.

Chris Isaak, "Beyond The Sun" (Wicked Game Records) - Californian singer and guitarist Chris Isaak's work has always seemed to resemble a particularly moody throwback to the golden era of rock'n'roll in the mid fifties, so it was perhaps inevitable that he would one day record this affectionate homage to the trailblazing musical output of the legendary Sun Records, the early home of a string of visionary artists such as Elvis Presley, Roy Orbison and Johnny Cash to name but a few. The contents of this genuine "labour of love" were recorded at the historic Sun Studios in Memphis itself , including covers of many of the songs which captured Isaak's heart during his formative years as a performer , led by gems such as "Ring Of Fire, " " Can't Help Falling In Love" and the under appreciated Carl Perkins' " Dixie Fried."

Sharks, "First Water / Jab It In Yore Eye" (Talking Elephant TECD 186/191)- This bluesy outfit was the brainchild of guitar ace Chris Spedding and former Free bassist Andy Fraser, who joined forces with drummer Marty Simon and charismatic vocalist Snips in 1973 to put together the excellent "First Water." The critical plaudits which were showered on this highly promising debut set were sadly never translated into solid record sales, and Fraser left the fold before the recording of the follow-up set,"Jab It In Yore Eye," to be replaced by another fine musician in the shape of Busta Cherry Jones. Sharks' splendidly stylish offerings have both been languishing in undeserved obscurity for far too long,and the good people at Talking Elephant should be congratulated for making them available once again in CD form.

Richard Lewis, "The Great Welsh Tenor" (Regis RRC 1375)- His name may not be familiar to too many casual classical listeners these days, but Manchester born tenor Richard Lewis was one of the leading lights of the British operatic scene throughout a career spanning more than four decades. This impressive archive collection brings together the contents of two vinyl LPs from Richard's creative heyday half a century ago , coupling a performance of Handel's tenor arias from 1958 with a recital of British folk songs which he recorded with conductor Sir Charles Mackerras just two years later, tackling timeless traditional ditties such as "I Will Give My Love An Apple, " "The Foggy,Foggy Dew" and "All Through The Night" in the process.

"Runaway: Hits of '61" (Retrospective RTR 4195)- The latest volume in this highly listenable series of anthologies brings together 32 original number one hits from the distant year of 1961, drawing on contributions from the likes of Elvis Presley, Ricky Nelson,The Shirelles and Bobby Vee, who chips in with the infectious "Take Good Care of My Baby." Compiler Ray Crick has also found space for much more dated period pieces such as Frankie Vaughan's "Tower of Strength" and The Temperance Seven's "You're Driving Me Crazy," reflecting the astonishing diversity which was such a feature of the British singles scene before The Beatles came along and changed the face of popular music forever.

Tamikrest, "Toumastin" (Glitterhouse GRCD 721)- This inventive African band hail from a remote desert region of Mali, and their second Glitterhouse album finds the talented Tuaregs working once again with American producer Chris Eckman of Walkabouts and Dirtmusic fame.The band's attempts to fuse traditional ritual drumming with the music of Jimi Hendrix and Bob Marley continue to yield richly rewarding results, as you'll discover for yourself if you lend an ear to adventurous creations such as "Tarhamanine Assinegh" or the mildly psychedelic "Tidit."