Kevin Bryan has the lowdown on what's hot and what's not among the latest music releases.
Sandy Denny: 19 Rupert Street ***
SANDY'S untimely death in 1978 robbed the British folk scene of one of its most accomplished writers and performers and it was widely believed that all the material that she'd laid down on tape had now been released after the appearance last year of Universal's mammoth anthology, Sandy Denny.
This wasn't strictly true, however, as the Strawbs' frontman Dave Cousins has recently unearthed these delightfully intimate recordings from the summer of 1967, captured for posterity at the Glasgow home of fellow folkie Alex Campbell, who had invited Sandy to sing on his album, Alex Campbell and Friends earlier that year.
The contents offer a beguiling blend of the upbeat and the reflective, with Denny at her most captivating on Jackson C Frank's Milk and Honey and a very early version of the classic Who Knows Where The Time Goes.
Out now (Witchwood WMCD 2053: £8.99)
Feist: Metals ****
THE long awaited fourth album from Canadian singer-songwriter Leslie Feist is a world-weary yet curiously compelling affair, employing some quirky production touches to lend vivid colour to what could, in lesser hands, have been merely morose and monochrome musical meanderings.
Feist's inventive approach to the art of music-making has prompted comparisons with the likes of Kate Bush and P J Harvey and she's in particularly fine fettle here on stand-out tracks such as Bittersweet Melodies, The Bad in Each Other and Get It Wrong, Get It Right.
Out now (Polydor 277 912-2: £8.99)
The Cubical: It Ain't Human ****
THE primal spirit of the late lamented Captain Beefheart lives on in the shape of this gritty offering from Merseyside quintet The Cubical.
Their energised electric version of the swamp blues harks back to rock's golden era in the late 60s, serving up generous helpings of wailing harmonica and twanging guitar to underpin the distinctively gruff vocal delivery of malevolent frontman Dan Wilson.
It Ain't Human is an intoxicating piece of work, with The Cubical captured at their unrefined best on tracks such as Dirty Shame, Walking Around Like Jesus and the haunting Paper Walls.
Released on November 7 (Halfpenny Records: £7.93)
Roots of the Country Outlaws ***
THIS entertaining 2-CD set showcases recordings from a group of country performers who chose to plough their own musical furrows during the late 60s and early 70s, including Willie Nelson, Waylon Jennings and The Flatlanders, who deliver an affecting version of the classic Waiting For A Train featuring the inimitable Steve Wesson on musical saw.
The Sir Douglas Quintet of She's About A Mover and Mendocino fame were never really a country band but this eclectic outfit are also represented here by six live tracks, including a soulful cover of Procol Harum's A Whiter Shade of Pale.
Out now (Metro Select METRSL 028: £4.69)
Trevor Pinnock: Baroque Masterpieces for Harpsichord ****
PINNOCK has been one of the leading lights of the early music movement for more than three decades now, directing the critically acclaimed exploits of period performance specialists The English Concert from the harpsichord as they've tackled some of the finest works in the baroque and early classical repertoire.
This inexpensive solo offering finds Trevor applying his crisp and stylish technique to pieces by the likes of Scarlatti, Rameau and Handel, with predictably impressive results.
Out now (Regis RRC 1332: £7.75)