Recorded at various European performances from the spring of 1972, this is a substantial addition to the catalog of a band that only put out two studio albums. The sound is good, and the performances almost wholly instrumental art jazz-rock, not far removed from those heard in the early 1970s by the Soft Machine, drummer/singer Robert Wyatt's previous band. It's electric pianist Bill McRae who wrote most of the material. Wyatt goes off into some wordless scats at one point, but these aren't conventional rock-songs-with-lyrics at all. There is an admirable variety of textures with some distortion and buzzing, cooked up by McRae and guitarist Phil Miller, but it doesn't boast very accessible melodic ideas, preferring to furrow into angular and at times ominous progressions. The eerie, lectronically treated vocal scatting on Wyatt's mischievously titled "Instant Pussy" is a highlight. Five of the nine songs, incidentally, do not appear on the band's studio albums.Richie Unterberger
The Brodsky Quartet presents this second volume in its exploration of Brahms’s complete string quartets. The first, which also featured the Clarinet Quintet with Michael Collins, received numerous enthusiastic reviews, The Guardian praising the players for their ‘immaculate’ performance. The String Quartet, Op. 51 No. 1, featured here, was written alongside its contrasting companion, Op. 51 No. 2. Both were finally published in 1873 after having been held back for years by a typically self-doubting Brahms, until he had brought them to his own high standards of perfection.
Wilder Adkins’ songwriting gleans as much from the earthy poetry of Wendell Berry and Mary Oliver as it does from the works of folk luminaries Richard Thompson and Bruce Cockburn. He’s a true theosophical spirit, arrestingly taciturn, but possessed of startling guitar skills, a wit as dry as October leaves, and a tremulous, dented voice that cuts to the soul. His courtly-but-witty lyrics evoke a Deep South Shelley or Yeats, riding a joyful guitar dexterity.
The multitalented Kenny Neal offers up a real treat with Bayou Blood, which features mostly original songs seasoned with a very few covers. Neal's guitar work is excellent and his smoky voice is a pleasure, but it's his harp playing that really shines, especially on "Howling at the Moon" and "Big City Ways." There's plenty of variety, from the fast-paced shuffle of "Right Train, Wrong Track" to the slower, attitudinal "Gonna Put You out of My Misery" to the smooth "Smoke Signals." "That Knife Don't Cut No More," "Do I Have to Go That Far?" and the title track are especially memorable, and a tasty cover of "You Ain't Foolin' Me" closes this album with style.