Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week’s alternative CD releases
Renaissance - Prologue (Esoteric/Cherry Red) This richly rewarding CD re-issue focusses attention on the third studio album from the British prog rockers, which was released in 1972 and found the radically re-shaped Renaissance line-up coming to terms with a batch of songs penned by previous members of the band Jim McCarty and Michael Dunford, who would later rejoin their ranks after the departure of guitarist Rob Hendry. This unusual creative arrangement yielded what was certainly Renaissance’s most compelling offering to date, with the familiar classical influences which would later become such a feature of their sound beginning to make their presence felt on fine tracks such as Kiev and Prologue itself.
Mott - Drive On (Retro World). The departure of vocalist and creative mainstay Ian Hunter from Mott the Hoople’s ranks in 1975 dealt a body blow to the band’s future prospects from which they never really recovered, although the re-shaped line-up did soldier on for a while under the shortened monicker of Mott. Newly recruited vocalist Nigel Benjamin filled the Hunter role very creditably on their first album together, Drive On, with the entire set penned by bassist Pete “Overend” Watts. The record-buying public were sadly unresponsive to their sterling efforts however, although Mott did soldier manfully on for a year or so, bequeathing this fine effort and its equally unsuccessful follow up, Shouting and
Pointing to posterity before they finally gave up the ghost and joined forces with Medicine Head’s John Fiddler in 1977 to form the equally short-lived British Lions.
Michael Bloomfield - Living In The Fast Lane (Angel Air). The contents of this engaging ragbag of Mike Bloomfield recordings were probably never intended for commercial release, but devotees of the late great guitarist’s work with seminal rock outfits such as The Electric Flag and Paul Butterfield Blues Band should find it well nigh indispensable. The contents span a broad time period from the early 70s to Bloomfield’s untimely death in 1981, serving up an eclectic selection of tracks which run the gamut from from the jaunty acoustic charms of Watkin’s Rag to the gospel tinged soulfulness of When I Get Home.
Alice Sara Ott - Nightfall (Deutsche Grammophon) Alice Sara Ott’s latest keyboard recital finds the German-Japanese classical pianist immersing herself in the softly impressionistic delights of works by Debussy, Ravel and noted French eccentric Erik Satie. These crepuscular creations are handled with rare grace and sensitivity and Ott closes the proceedings in some style with stunning performances of two Ravel masterworks, Gaspard de la Nuit and the much-loved Pavane Pour Une Infante Defunte.