It is a fitting title: a high quality stylish collection featuring tracks taken from Paul’s albums of the last 15 years of his solo career. These 15 years have seen a constant artistic high, with each subsequent album release being heralded as ‘his best yet’. There are few artists with as many incarnations as Paul who can claim to have achieved such an ongoing renaissance, keeping each of their album releases sounding fresh and showered with plaudits.
This four-CD, 100-song set is the best representative body of work ever assembled (or ever likely to be assembled) of the R&B and soul releases from Henry "Juggy Murray" Jones' Sue Records. The range of sounds runs the gamut from ex-Drifter Bobby Hendricks' first hit for the company ("Itchy Twitchy Feeling") in 1959, through the string of hits by Ike & Tina Turner, to the company's last hits some seven years later. Not only is every chart single that the label ever had represented, but so are club hits from the mid-'60s and solo sides by uniquely New York-associated figures. The contents of the box are almost ideal, along with their arrangement – in contrast some other box sets, this one follows strict release order, which is a great way to follow the history of the label (though not ideal for anyone, apart from owners of multi-disc players, who simply wants to hear the label's best-known tracks in one sitting).
The Strypes don't say much in interviews, but one thing they articulate quite clearly is that they couldn't care less what anyone no longer a teenager thinks of them. Call them derivative – which they are, in a third-hand way, a rehash of the nostalgic 1970s pub-rock rehash of 1950s/60s R&B – and they will shrug and say rock'n'roll was ever thus. They're right, of course, but if anyone is going to choose to listen to their albums over Bo Diddley's they're going to have to learn something fundamental about R&B fast.
If the notion persists that Nigel Kennedy is the enfant terrible of classical music – too rebellious or facile to be taken seriously – then perhaps it is time to reconsider his categorization. Kennedy's varied interests certainly take him beyond the boundaries of the typical classical performer, and his performance style may be too flamboyant to suit some listeners' tastes. But East Meets East is far from shocking, if understood as an exploration of Eastern European music, presented in a fusion of popular styles without pandering to the classical audience with crossover concessions. Fans of world music and open-minded listeners of any stripe may find something to appreciate here. Appearing with the Polish folk band Kroke and surrounded by several guest artists of international reputation, Kennedy shows that his involvement with this ethnic music is honest, if not always inspired.
This collection of instrumentals offers a stark reminder of the sheer mind-boggling scope of David Bowie's sound and vision. Most of these 16 brooding soundscapes are plucked from Bowie's hugely influential 1977 albums, Low and Heroes. Taking his cue from Kraftwerk, Bowie enlisted ambient pioneer Brian Eno and decamped to Berlin. It's no exaggeration to say that the resulting albums were integral in defining the path of modern music. Throughout, there's a palpable sense of foreboding, perhaps best exemplified by "Sense of Doubt," a truly unsettling mesh of booming piano and spookily spiraling synths. That the Thin White Duke's Berlin material still dazzles is no surprise. However, it's the remarkable revelation–provided by a clutch of slightly more recent tracks–that he can still cut it that'll hearten disillusioned Bowie fans everywhere.