Having proved his writing credentials with his debut album, Bill Wyman mixed his own compositions with outside material second time around. Issued in February 1976, Stone Alone was Bill Wyman's second solo album. As per usual Bill had worked with a star-studded session band, the contributions this time around including Van Morrison, Joe Walsh, Dr John, Ron Wood, Al Kooper, Nicky Hopkins, and Jim Keltner. Van Morrison added sax to a revival of Gary Bonds' A Quarter To Three, Ron Wood and Joe Walsh played guitar, and Bill Wyman steered his superstar band through a righteous set of bluesy rock'n'roll.
Last Straw hail from the Isle of Wight and began recording circa 1972. They released a single in 1978 and toured extensively. The early studio tracks on this CD show a brilliant progressive rock talent somewhere inbetween "Yes" and "Hawkwind". The period feel of "Terence", its nifty lyricisim and awesome climactic jam elevate it into classicdom. Later tracks veer into a guitar based wishbone ash territory.
The "free" in the title to Joss Stone's fourth album apparently refers to the neo-soul singer breaking free from the shackles of her major label, EMI, who apparently have not let Joss be Joss. That this constricting argument happens to be the exact same story line Stone used for 2007's Introducing Joss Stone, the splashy diva power trip meant to unveil the "real" singer, is conveniently forgotten, as is the modern R&B of that makeover, with Joss returning to all the retro-soul of her first two records. The one lingering element of Introducing is a propensity for melisma-laden oversinging, a tic that stands out greatly in the warmer, funkier settings of Colour Me Free!, helping Joss seem somewhat disconnected from the emotional thrust of her music. Still, her raw vocal skills remain impressive, as does her taste in soul, and even if this feels off-kilter, not quite achieving a balance between retro and modernity, it does beat with a messy human heart, one that was subdued on Introducing, so perhaps she did need to break free.
LP1 marks the third successive album from Joss Stone where she’s attempting to hit the restart button on her career, to usher in a new beginning for the neo-soul diva or, better yet, find the right setting for her considerable gifts. This journey began with 2007’s splashy modern R&B set Introducing Joss Stone, a makeover she rebelled against on her major-label kiss-off Colour Me Free, and now that she’s truly independent, she’s aligned with Eurythmics’ Dave Stewart for LP1, returning to the classicism of her earliest work. There is a difference. Stewart is naturally reluctant to present Stone in a strictly soul setting; R&B is the foundation, but he dabbles in tight funk, folk, blues, Euro-rock, and modernist pop, giving LP1 just enough elasticity so it breathes and just enough color so it doesn’t seem staid.
Paul McCartney's second classical work, following six years after his first, the Liverpool Oratorio, is a 75-minute "symphonic poem" which, along with an actual poem printed in the CD booklet, tries "to describe the way Celtic man might have wondered about the origins of life and the mystery of existence," as an explanatory note puts it…
After decades of recording for RCA Victor, Atkins switched labels; this 1985 effort is a summit meeting of sorts with young guitar hotshots like Larry Carlton, George Benson, Mark Knopfler, Steve Lukather, and Earl Klugh, plus session A-teamers like Boots Randolph, Larrie Londin, David Hungate, Mark O'Connor and others. Atkins' tone is, as usual, faultless, and his playing superb. If the "meetings" don't always come off, it's usually due to the overzealousness of the other guitar players (Lukather's over-the-top style screams '80s big hair, for instance), not Chet, whose playing always exercises the utmost in restraint in every situation. All in all, a good modern-day Chet Atkins album, but not the place to start a collection.
Stone Cold Queen: A Tribute features a number of hard rock performers covering some of Queen's best-known songs. Many of the featured performers are industry veterans: Billy Sheehan, Matt Sorum, Marty Friedman, Geoff Tate, Gunnar Nelson, Jake E. Lee, Richie Kotzen, Vinny Appice, Kip Winger, Carmine Appice, Tommy Shaw, Dweezil Zappa, and Bruce Kulick are just a few of the featured performers…