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Reviews of the latest music releases
Gene Vincent, Race With The Devil ***
Leather clad rocker Vincent made an immediate impact on the public consciousness when his self-penned debut single, Be-Bop-A Lula soared into the higher reaches of the US singles charts in 1956.
Gene would sadly never enjoy the same level of commercial success again, but he did bequeath a fine body of work to posterity, and this anthology wisely concentrates on the Virginia born singer's hugely influential fifties output, with reluctant rock'n'roller Cliff Gallup's stinging guitar solos illuminating prime cuts such as Blue Jean Bop, Race With The Devil and Who Slapped John before this unassuming character slipped out of the limelight and took up a rather more prosaic new life as a school maintenance man.
Out now (Metro Select METRSL039 : £4.77)
Pepe Romero, Spanish Nights ****
Pepe Romero may have been based in America since his family fled from Franco's culturally stifling regime in 1957, but the vision of an idealised Spain still colours many of his fondest childhood memories, and Spanish Nights represents Pepe's musical homage to that vanished world of his youth.
The veteran classical guitarist's first solo album for Deutsche Grammophon finds Romero immersing himself in the musical culture of his homeland as he serves up exquisite performances of some highly evocative works by composers such as Rodrigo, Torroba and Joaquin Turina.
Out now (D.G. 479 0073 : £11.99)
Johnny Cash, The Essential Collection ***
Anthologies of Johnny Cash's late 1950s output have found their way onto the market with monontonous regularity in recent years, but what lifts this new three disc set above the level of the mundane is the inclusion of a live DVD recorded at the 1994 Montreux Jazz Festival.
The Man In Black marked his only appearance at this prestigious musical event by delivering a compelling set showcasing some choice extracts from his American Recordings album alongside well worn old favourites like Folsom Prison Blues, San Quentin and I Walk The Line, with his wife June Carter Cash chipping in on vocals on two more stand-out tracks, Will The Circle Be Unbroken and Jackson.
Out now (Metro METRSV002 : £10.99)
Suzanne Vega, Close-Up Vol.4,Songs of Family ****
This highly regarded singer/songwriter has spent the past few years exploring the bulk of her back catalogue in the critically acclaimed Close-Up series, turning in stripped down and intimate versions of many of her finest songs in the process.
This new Cooking Vinyl CD completes the process in fine style, reviving and re-imaging material relating to Suzanne's family and close personal friends, including one of her earliest creations, The Silver Lady, which the gifted New Yorker penned at the tender age of 14.
Released on September 24th (Cooking Vinyl COOKCD524 : £9.00)
Paul Weller, Sonik Kicks ****
On the evidence presented by Weller's latest Island album there appears to be very little likelihood of this determined character reaching for his comfiest slippers and settling for a life of middle-aged mediocrity any time soon.
Sonik Kicks is a typically hectic and forward looking offering from the former Jam frontman, boasting guest appearances from Britpop luminaries such as Graham Coxon and Noel Gallagher as it draws on elements of everything from krautrock to psychedelia, reggae and jazz.
The finished product reflects Weller's restless refusal to ever take the soft option in his approach to music-making, with That Dangerous Age, When Your Garden's Overgrown and the abrasive Green emerging as three of the stand-out tracks.
Out now (Island 278 980 5 : £7.15)