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Classical

Delius: Violin Sonatas. Tasmin Little/Piers Lane (Conifer Classics 75605 513152, CD). Delius has been unfashionable for long enough to have become a cause, mostly pursued by ageing bachelors and academics. But his latest champion has brought a touch of youth and glamour to the campaign trail; and if that sounds suspect, it comes with a commitment and seriousness of purpose that speaks through every note of the four profoundly off-repertoire sonatas on this disc. Tasmin Little plays them with a powerful, passionate musicality, firming up their sometimes shapeless lyricism with much-needed muscle. And Piers Lane makes an ideal partner: sensitive but strong, with an instinctive feel for the degree of indulgence, or otherwise, the piano parts demand. If you saw Little's recent Delius film on TV - a quest for the composer's love-child - and didn't believe a word of it, you'll find these wonderful performances far more convincing. Michael White

ROCK

John Lydon: Psycho's Path (Virgin, CD/tape). So, now the artist formerly known as Rotten is saying that the Sex Pistols' reunion wasn't actually about punk, but about raising enough filthy lucre to finish off this, his first solo album. And it is a solo album. Moby, the Chemical Brothers and some other people the kids will have heard of contribute remixes at the end, but otherwise the album is a DIY job: Lydon has even added yet another reason why rock musicians should never be allowed to paint their own album covers (John Squire is the exception that proves the rule). He isn't renowned for his musicality, so the unexpected thing about Psycho's Path is that he concocts some fine, interesting backing tracks and then spoils them with uncharacteristically weedy and prim vocals. He draws beats from Poland, the Amazon rainforest, and all points in between, and he sets pan-pipes, accordions and cardboard tubes alongside more conventional instruments. Sadly, he then starts to squawk off-key - and that's hard to confirm, given that his avowed hatred of melodies is in evidence - and to recite his clunking, prosaic lyrics. Looking at things from the opposite of Lydon's point of view, if it hadn't been for this record, we wouldn't have had the rather enjoyable Sex Pistols reunion. Nicholas Barber

JAZZ

Billie Holiday: The Complete Commodore Recordings (Commodore, 2xCD). A perfect complement to the earlier Columbia, and the later Verve recordings, dating from 1939- 1944, and featuring the first version of "Strange Fruit", which Metronome magazine predicted was "going to cause tremendous controversy" (sur- prisingly, it made it to number 16 on the Billboard chart in July 1939). The B-side of the great blues "Fine and Mellow" ("Love is just like a faucet, it turns off and on"), co-written by Holiday, sounds particularly superb, but so does almost everything else here, including the usually superfluous alternative takes. The backing is mainly by white bands containing fewer star soloists than in her work for other labels (though trumpeter Doc Cheatham provides a marvellous foil), and the main attraction is quite rightly Holiday's inimitable voice, which sounds just about as good as it gets. Phil Johnson

Arto Lindsay : Mundo Civilizado (Rykodisc, CD). Follow-up to last year's wonderful O Corpo Sutil, in which the New York art rocker guitarist continues his sensual tribute to the sand-between-the-toes popular music of Brazil, where he was brought up. This time out the backing is a tad more industrial, but the gorgeous lyrics and Lindsay's breathily sexy voice remain. The beautiful song "Title", co-written with Caetano Veloso and featuring a swoonable bass clarinet solo by Don Byron, is enough to make even an urban British summer langorously tropical. PJ

Tommy Smith: Azure (Linn, CD). The Scottish tenor saxophonist's best album so far. Dense, meditative but almost entirely successful, it's a no-frills acoustic quartet set featuring the great trumpeter Kenny Wheeler, and it echoes the international-style of Wheeler's work on ECM with the groups of Dave Holland, responsible for some of the best jazz of the last 20 years. PJ

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