The Lemonheads, “Laughing All The Way to the Cleaners / The Best Of” (Music Club Deluxe MCDLX 531)- This definitive 2 CD set delivers a very comprehensive overview of the contribution that Evan Dando and his various cohorts made to the alternative rock scene during their creative heyday in their early nineties. The bulk of the 47 tracks showcased here date from this highly productive period in Dando’s rather erratic career , including self-penned gems such as “It’s A Shame About Ray” and an eclectic assortment of cover versions led by Simon and Garfunkel’s “Mrs.Robinson,” Suzanne Vega’s “Luka” and the late great Kirsty MacColl’s “He’s On the Beach.”
Wissam Boustany, “Wandering Winds” (Nimbus NI 6169)- The gifted Lebanese flautist Wissam Boustany recorded this evocative and wide ranging recital in 1997, sympathetically underpinned by harp and piano as he tackled wistful works from such diverse sources as Ireland, Japan and South America. Boustany is an exceptionally fluent and expressive performer, and he’s obviously a musician with a well developed social conscience too, as he’s also decreed that some of the proceeds from sales of this CD will be winging their way to a humanitarian charity project in the Middle East.
“The Very Best of the Hollies” (Music Club Deluxe MCDLX 139)- An engaging ragbag of antiques and curios from The Hollies’ archives, boasting no less than 28 British chart singles alongside a varied assortment of album tracks, including several extracts from “Hollies Sing Dylan,” the rather incongruous musical project whose planning prompted the increasingly ill at ease Graham Nash to leave the fold in late 1968 and join forces with Messrs.Crosby and Stills in sunny California. The likeable Lancastrians had already ensured their place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame by this stage however, having already crafted a string of infectious ditties such as “Bus Stop, “ “Look Through Any Window” and “On A Carousel” with producer Ron Richards, who first discovered the band and signed them to the Parlophone label in 1963.
Dodgy, “Stand Upright In A Cool Place” (Strike Back Records SBR 200CD)- The three founder members of Dodgy, Nigel Clark, Andy Miller and Matthew Priest haven’t released a new album of original material since the platinum selling “Free Peace Sweet” appeared on the scene in 1996, and they’ve certainly matured and improved as songwriters in the interim. Dodgy’s approach to music-making may have grown a little more world-weary and introspective since the golden era of Britpop but they can still conjure haunting melodies out of the ether at will, and the trio are back to something approaching their best with “Tripped and Fell,” “Raggedstone Hill” and “Find A Place.”
Nine Below Zero, “Live in Europe 1992” (Floating World FLOATM 6109)- This vibrant live package was recorded on Nine Below Zero’s 1992 European tour, shortly after Dennis Greaves had reformed the band with harmonica ace Alan Glen and the Rory Gallagher rhythm section of bassist Gerry MacAvoy and drummer Brendan O’Neill. Greaves may have been the only survivor from the original line-up which had energised audiences a decade or so earlier, but his newly recruited musical sidekicks did a highly effective job in re-creating the familiar Nine Below Zero sound as they launched into old favourites such as “Don’t Point Your Finger,” “Homework” and “Pack Fair and Square.”