The latest reviews from Kevin Bryan.
Todd Rundgren, "A Cappella / Nearly Human / 2nd Wind" (Edsel EDSD 2109)- Edsel's new 2 CD set brings together the three albums that this musical chameleon recorded for Warner Brothers between 1985 and 1991,including the charmingly gimmicky "A Cappella" which, as the title implies, features a multi-tracked Rundgren accompanied only by the sound of his own electronically manipulated voice and handclaps. The finished product wasn't a great commercial success but it remains one of Todd's most attractive offerings, boasting tuneful gems such as "Something To Fall Back On," "Pretending To Care" and "Honest Work" amongst its diverse array of delights. The equally excellent "Nearly Human" and "2nd Wind" were both recorded live in the studio with little or no overdubbing and represented Rundgren's final recordings for a major label, as this eccentric character's subsequent musical output has all been self-released.
Arrival,"The Complete Collection " (RPM Retro D 904)- This new RPM CD marks the first ever re-issue of the complete Decca and CBS recordings by short-lived Liverpudlian outfit Arrival. This soulful harmony group enjoyed a brief glimpse of the limelight during the early seventies via hits such as "Friends" and "I Will Survive," and these memorable ditties are the pick of a melodic anthology which also features Arrival's hitherto unreleased covers of Melanie's "Lay Down" and Leonard Cohen's "Hey,That's No Way To Say Goodbye."
Jo Jo Gunne, "Jo Jo Gunne / Bite Down Hard / Jumpin' The Gun / So...Where's The Show" (Edsel EDSD2114) - This Californian rock band were formed by bassist Mark Andes and keyboard ace Jay Ferguson after they left the legendary Spirit in 1971, and the future seemed rosy for Jo Jo Gunne when one of the tracks from their debut set, "Run Run Run," soared into the higher reaches of the charts on both sides of the Atlantic a year or so later. They singularly failed to capitalise on this slice of good fortune however, although the quartet did record four fine albums for David Geffen's Asylum label before they gave up the ghost in 1975. Their entire recorded output has now been shoehorned into this punchy 2CD package, giving a new generation of listeners an opportunity to enjoy the band's refreshingly direct and uncomplicated sound.
The Avison Ensemble, "Vivaldi: Il Cimento dell'armonia e dell'inventione Opus 8" (Linn CKD 365)- The Avison Ensemble add their name to the ever growing list of classical performers who've recorded Vivaldi's "Four Seasons" over the years as they unveil this thoughtfully crafted collection. The British period instrumentation specialists also tackle a further eight of the prolific Venetian's violin concertos as they breathe new life into the splendours of the Italian Baroque with all their familiar insight and attention to detail.
Harry Chapin, "Dance Band on the Titanic / Living Room Suite" (Edsel EDSD 2108)- Harry Chapin's unashamedly middlebrow musings on the human condition never really struck a responsive chord with British audiences,although the New York born singer-songwriter did enjoy a brief glimpse of chart success on this side of the Atlantic in 1974 with the plaintively memorable "W.O.L.D." This inexpensive re-issue couples two of the later albums that Harry recorded for Elektra before his untimely death in a car accident in 1981, capturing the essence of the well intentioned balladeer's grandiose approach to music-making via unwieldy epics such as "There Only Was One Choice" and "Dance Band on The Titanic" itself.