Kevin Bryan’s record review

Kathryn Roberts and Sean Lakeman,”Hidden People” (NAVIGATOR072)- In the mid nineties this husband and wife duo joined forces with the excellent Kate Rusby and Seth Lakeman to form folk “supergroup” Equation ,but they’ve kept a very low profile since then, with Kathryn opting for a life of blissful domesticity and Sean roaming the world as a member of brother Seth’s touring band. The couple have finally been tempted into the studio to record their long overdue debut album and the finished product is a gem of the highest order , boasting haunting self-penned narratives such as “Hang The Rowan,” “The White Hind” and “Huldra,” the latter inspired by a folk tale about a mythical being who lures unsuspecting Scandinavian men to their inevitable doom.

The English Concert / Trevor Pinnock, “Vivaldi Stravaganza : 55 Concertos” (Archiv 479 0135)- All embracing archive anthologies seem to be all the rage these days, and Archiv’s latest addition to the ever expanding pile of box sets is a 7CD offering featuring the complete collection of The English Concert’s Vivaldi recordings for the label. The period instrumentation specialists open the proceedings with the ever popular “Four Seasons,” and this carefully researched interpretation emerges as one of the highlights of an entertaining package which revives more than 50 splendidly Baroque creations from the vast repertoire of this prolific Venetian composer.

Sonny and Cher, “The Collection” (Music Club Deluxe MCDLX535)- There was a period during the mid-sixties when this unlikely couple could do no wrong as far as chart success was concerned, with memorable hits such as “Little Man,” “The Beat Goes On” and “I Got You Babe” imprinting themselves on the public’s consciousness on both sides of the Atlantic. This entertaining 2 CD set draws on the best of their output from this golden era, blending their best known material with easy on the ear covers of songs such as The Crystals’ “Then He Kissed Me” and Smokey Robinson’s “You’ve Really Got A Hold On Me.”

Caravan,”All Over You And You Too”(Talking Elephant TECD 201)- This subtly inventive prog-rock outfit were members of the highly influential Canterbury scene during the late sixties and the early seventies alongside the likes of Kevin Ayers, Robert Wyatt and Steve Hillage. Caravan’s tuneful and mildly esoteric doodlings were never particularly well appreciated by the British record-buying public but they soldiered on regardless, and these late Nineties offerings found the band returning to the scene of their former glories as they re-visited classic musical concoctions from their creative heyday such as “If I Could Do It All Over Again” and “In The Land of Grey and Pink.”

The Staple Singers, “The Staple Singers” (Soul Music / Cherry Red SMCR 5062)- This soulful musical institution recorded their final album, “The Staple Singers” ,for Epic Records in 1985,serving up a punchy version of Talking Heads’ “Life During Wartime” and also roping in the band’s frontman David Byrne to add his distinctive guitar work to “Back To The War.” The Staples’ potent fusion of soul,gospel and r&b had been delighting American audiences since the late forties, and the quartet remained in typically fine fettle here as they delivered their emotion drenched renditions of stand-out tracks such as “Are You Ready” and “Nobody Can Make It On Their O