RECORDS / The smug and the paranoid: Lindsey Buckingham - Out of the Cradle (Mercury 512 658-2); Glenn Frey - Strange Weather (MCA MCD10599)

WHEN the former creative mainsprings of mega-grossing West Coast harmony groups get round to releasing solo albums, the potential smugness quotient can reach toxic levels. At its worst, it's as if commercial success afforded a greater insight into world problems and higher consciousness than that of mere mortals. The situation is just about avoided here by Buckingham (Fleetwood Mac), but is vaulted into feet-first by Frey (The Eagles).

Other strange coincidences link the two: both, for instance, work with a sole collaborator; and both choose to preface some of their songs with little instrumental preludes which serve as plinths, the better to gaze upon the ensuing artwork. Both, too, claim their current albums showcase their guitar work more than previous outings. But from there, the two diverge, their musical differences signalled by their widely differing characters.

Frey is an outdoors kinda guy, an all-skiing, all-golfing, home- run-hitting sports nut whose obsession with games has run to caddying on the PGA tour and appearing on sports programmes as a trivia buff. The view from his Colorado home is reassuringly straightforward, comprising routine social griping like 'Love in the 21st Century' (impersonal sex); tired old sex-as-food metaphors like 'Delicious'; and escapist fantasies like 'River of Dreams'. At its most aware, a song like 'He Took Advantage (Blues for Ronald Reagan)' begins as a standard lament for love betrayed, and ends with a conclusion specifically aimed at ol' sleepyhead: 'And now he's walking away / He doesn't care what we say / We weren't too hard to deceive / We wanted so to believe'. At its least aware, 'I've Got Mine' is Frey's 'Another Day in Paradise', a scold for the rich in a world marked by poverty, another case of blasting away at one's own foot in the name of self- righteousness.

Buckingham, on the other hand, is a shy, reclusive type. Many of his songs deal with loneliness and paranoia, without making grand claims for themselves as lessons to set the world to rights. Musically, Out of the Cradle is more varied and interesting than Strange Weather (and the last Fleetwood Mac LP, come to that), ranging from the Chris Isaak- styled rock classicism of 'Street of Dreams' to the Latin pop of 'Soul Drifter', an almost too deliberate stab at a summer-holiday song. There's even a lighter re-run of Buckingham's 'Big Love' riff, for a song called 'Doing What I Can' - which is only fair do's, seeing as the original was a solo piece generously donated to keep the Mac's Tango in the Night afloat.

The dominant influence, though, is Brian Wilson, whose footprints are all over the album, from the aching ballad 'All My Sorrows' to the over-dubbed vocals of 'Say We'll Meet Again', from the preoccupation with introvert tendencies to the photos of Lindsey in situ in the studio, a lonely boy finding succour through his toys. This is Buckingham's Pet Sounds, and it very nearly lives up to it, too.

DR JOHN

Goin' Back to New Orleans

(Warner Bros 7599-26940-2)

AS THE title implies, Goin' Back to New Orleans is a belated sequel to Dr John's 1972 Gumbo album, on which he anthologised the New Orleans R&B sounds of the Fifties and Sixties. In fact, this is more of a prequel, dealing as it does with the Crescent City's jazz and blues roots, from a rollicking version of Leadbelly's 'Goodnight Irene' up to Fats Domino's 1957 hit 'Blue Monday'.

In between, a varied selection of great names from the city's musical heritage - Jelly Roll Morton, Dave Bartholomew, Joe Liggins, Huey 'Piano' Smith and, of course, the Doctor's piano mentor Professor Longhair - are covered with perhaps a little too much care and respect. The high spots come early on, in the Mardi Gras Indian tune 'My Indian Red', with its sinuously syncopated rumba rhythms, and in the opening 'Litanie des Saints', which co-opts the Neville Brothers on to a track inspired by the city's 19th-century composer Louis Moreau Gottschalk. An oddly lush, sophisticated blend of one of Gottschalk's melodies and some typical Indian gris-gris chants, it utilises both African and Catholic litanies, as befits the city's peculiar mix of religions.

JIMMY NAIL

Growing Up in Public

(eastwest 4509-90144-2)

HE'S doubtless a most diamond geezer, and talented screen personality to boot, but it has to be said that vocally a little goes a long way with Jimmy Nail. Not as little, admittedly, as with Dennis Waterman, that other singing street- thesp of cops'n'comedy fame; but beyond the fourth or fifth track, Growing Up in Public strains one's attention to breaking point.

It's not a particularly bad album as such, in that polite Brit-soul mode perfected by Paul Young. Nor indeed is Jimmy's voice that unpleasant, in a fragile, Blue Nile- esque manner, although it is considerably weaker than it seems on the current No 1 single, with its canny reliance on spoken verses and female vocals. When he actually gets round to singing whole songs, it becomes clear that Nail and his writing partners, Guy Pratt and Danny Schogger, are writing at the upper end of Jimmy's register, where he's straining to hold notes and thus unable to devote as much attention to expression. It gives the album an overly restrained feel, lacking in the excitement and abandon of authentic R&B and soul.

There are some nice songs here though, particularly 'Real Love', which sounds like a proper pop standard - Eltonic, even. But 'Only Love (Can Bring Us Home)' tries too hard to be anthemic, as if it's auditioning for a celebrity charity event. Of the celebs - Dave Gilmour, George Harrison, Gary Moore - lending helping hands, only Moore stamps his personality with any real force, the closing 'Absent Friends' acquiring a tougher blues spine from his guitar fills.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Arts and Entertainment

ebooksNow available in paperback
Arts and Entertainment

ebooks
Arts and Entertainment
Feeling all at sea: Barbara's 18-year-old son came under the influence of a Canadian libertarian preacher – and she had to fight to win him back
TV review
Arts and Entertainment
Living the high life: Anne Robinson enjoys some skip-surfed soup
TV review
Arts and Entertainment

Great British Bake Off
Arts and Entertainment
Doctor Who and Missy in the Doctor Who series 8 finale

TV
Arts and Entertainment

film
Arts and Entertainment
Chvrches lead singer Lauren Mayberry in the band's new video 'Leave a Trace'

music
Arts and Entertainment

music
Arts and Entertainment
Home on the raunch: George Bisset (Aneurin Barnard), Lady Seymour Worsley (Natalie Dormer) and Richard Worsley (Shaun Evans)

TV review
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Strictly Come Dancing was watched by 6.9m viewers

Strictly
Arts and Entertainment
NWA biopic Straight Outta Compton

film
Arts and Entertainment
Natalie Dormer as Margaery Tyrell and Lena Headey as Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones

Game of Thrones
Arts and Entertainment
New book 'The Rabbit Who Wants To Fall Asleep' by Carl-Johan Forssen Ehrlin

books
Arts and Entertainment
Calvi is not afraid of exploring the deep stuff: loneliness, anxiety, identity, reinvention
music
Arts and Entertainment
Edinburgh solo performers Neil James and Jessica Sherr
comedy
Arts and Entertainment
If a deal to buy tBeats, founded by hip-hop star Dr Dre (pictured) and music producer Jimmy Iovine went through, it would be Apple’s biggest ever acquisition

album review
Arts and Entertainment
Paloma Faith is joining The Voice as a new coach

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Dowton Abbey has been pulling in 'telly tourists', who are visiting Highclere House in Berkshire

TV
Arts and Entertainment

TV
Arts and Entertainment
Patriot games: Vic Reeves featured in ‘Very British Problems’
TV review
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
SPONSORED FEATURES

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    Isis profits from destruction of antiquities by selling relics to dealers - and then blowing up the buildings they come from to conceal the evidence of looting

    How Isis profits from destruction of antiquities

    Robert Fisk on the terrorist group's manipulation of the market to increase the price of artefacts
    King Arthur: Legendary figure was real and lived most of his life in Strathclyde, academic claims

    Academic claims King Arthur was real - and reveals where he lived

    Dr Andrew Breeze says the legendary figure did exist – but was a general, not a king
    10 best PS4 games

    10 best PS4 games

    Can’t wait for the new round of blockbusters due out this autumn? We played through last year’s offering
    Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

    ‘Can we really just turn away?’

    Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

    Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

    ... and not just because of Isis vandalism
    Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

    Girl on a Plane

    An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

    The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
    Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

    That's a bit rich

    The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
    Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

    Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
    Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

    Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

    Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
    A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

    Britain's Atlantis

    Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

    The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

    David Starkey's assessment
    Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

    'An enormous privilege and adventure'

    Oliver Sacks writing about his life
    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

    The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
    Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

    Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

    Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago