Reviews of the latest music releases

Drink Up - Light Up ! ***

The latest offering in Fantastic Voyage's excellent series of archive anthologies features a selection of tracks extoling the dubious delights of drink and drugs performed by jazz luminaries such as Dinah Washington, Cab Calloway and Jimmy Witherspoon.

The charmingly evocative contents of this stylishly packaged 2 CD set span the years between 1932 and 1955 and conjure up a vivid portrait of high-seeking low-life as it was lived in America between the end of Prohibition and the start of the Korean War.

Out now (Fantastic Voyage FVDD 148 : £7.72)

Snafu, Situation Normal ***

This eclectic outfit operated in much the same sort of musical territory as the great Little Feat, blending rock, blues, country and r&b influences to create a muscular sound which sadly never really captured the attention of the masses during the band's creative heyday in the early 1970s.

Angel Air's admirable re-issue programme gives listeners another opportunity to enjoy Snafu's soulful second album, Situation Normal, first released in 1974 and most notable for the sublime slide guitar work of future Whitesnake mainstay Micky Moody on stand-out tracks such as the insistent Lock And Key.

Released on February 11th (Angel Air SJPCD 408 : £10.72)

Verden Allen's Soft Ground, Love You and Leave You ****

The familiar swirling sounds of the Hammond organ dominate the latest solo offering from veteran keyboards ace Verden Allen, who helped to found the excellent Mott the Hoople in the late 1960s but left the fold a few years later when he grew tired of Ian Hunter and company's reluctance to include his songs in the band's repertoire.

Love You and Leave You offers an appealing showcase for Allen's consumate skills as a traditional rock songwriter however,and Verden's pleasingly nasal vocals add the finishing touch to fine tracks such as Knocking On Those Old Back Doors, On The Rebound and Two Miles From Heaven.

Released on February 11th (Angel Air SJPCD 405 : £8.94)

Sam Lee, Ground Of Its Own ****

The endlessly inventive Mr Lee has been hailed as the rising star of traditional English folksong, and Ground Of Its Own is certainly an exceptional piece of work, serving up some highly original arrangements of a selection of ballads which he personally sourced from the oral traditions of Britain's Romany Gypsy and Traveller communities.

Sam's pioneering approach to music-making is unlikely to endear him to the folk purists, but surely only listeners with the proverbial hearts of stone could possibly remain totally unmoved by the dreamlike delights of timeless ditties such as Wild Wood Amber and On Yonder Hill.

Out now (The Nest Collective TNCR001 CD : £6.86)

Karl Kaiser/Ardinghello Ensemble, Danzi: Flute Quartets Op.56 ****

Germany's Ardinghello Ensemble specialise in the chamber music of the Romantic era, and their latest MDG CD finds the quartet joining forces with flautist Karl Kaiser to explore some of Franz Danzi's finest musical creations.

Danzi is best remembered these days for his splendid woodwind quartets but the composer had many other strings to his bow too, and the three witty and expressive flute quartets featured here are well worth an hour or so of anyone's time.

Out now (MDG 605 1791 2 : £14.25)

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