Late Night Tales: Version Excursion (Late Night Tales)
Don Letts, the man who introduced the punks to dub reggae at the Roxy, manned the sampler in Mick Jones’ Big Audio Dynamite, and takes listeners on a cross-genre journey every Sunday night on 6 Music, steps up to take on the latest Late Night Tales release. And what sonic adventures await? A mix of 21 reggae covers of the likes of the Beach Boys, Jefferson Airplane, and Joy Division, that swings from ropey to alright.
Rude Boy’s version of Groove Armada’s Superstylin’ melding into Love Will Tear Us Apart is a highlight, as is the ever-excellent Wrongtom twisting The Clash around on Dub In The Supermarket. What’s absolutely not is a bloodless version of Uptown Top Ranking from arch indie-poppers Black Box Recorder. And yes, inevitably, there’s an Easy Star All-Stars track. But while it can veer into novelty, the mix is immaculate and is packed with exclusives. Bit of a shame it didn’t come out at the start of the summer really.
words SAM EASTERBROOK
One Way Out (BMG)
When early work from artists is unearthed, there’s possibly a reason why it was buried: the stuff is kinda crappy and doesn’t live up to potential, or – ka-ching! – it could be a motherload. Melissa Etheridge’s 16th studio album edges more to the latter. These are songs written from three decades or so ago – some even before she came out – that the award-winning singer-songwriter felt weren’t ready to be released.
One Way Out is kick-ass rock imbued with some bluesy harmonica that take you back to the musician and activist’s past – great sex and fun, but frustratingly bad relationships and mistakes too. Etheridge is in fine, gritty voice, and everyone burns things up with their sizzling musicianship. The anthem-ish tunes, single As Cool As You Try and Save Myself, championship confidence and feminist power, and a live version of Life Goes On is an MTV 80s blast. Overall, maybe a touch more distinctiveness though?
words RHONDA LEE REALI
Remember Her Name (UMG/Nashville)
Mickey Guyton has had enough roadblocks in her way to stop a line of 18-wheelers. Being put on the back burner by Nashville for a decade has shaped her and her songs, and this this full-length debut album is testament to her persistence and being true to herself.
The native Texan became the first solo black female artist to garner a Grammy nomination in the country category for her song about living with systemic racism, Black Like Me (included here). She co-penned all but one of the immensely personal 16 tracks that range from the most traditional (Smoke) to the rock-tinged Do You Really Wanna Know, a confessional where Guyton discloses a (now former) heavy drinking problem. On anthems Remember Her Name (dedicated to murdered Breonna Taylor) and All American, the singer/songwriter soars and with What Are You Gonna Tell Her? (she could be singing to a future daughter) goes from soothing to angry. A new star flourishes.
words RHONDA LEE REALI
For A Brief Moment We Could Smell The Flowers (Worm Discs)
The last decade has been a very exciting time for British jazz, and Run Logan Run have been at the forefront of Bristol’s contribution while drawing influence from the eclectic London jazz scene of Binker & Moses, Blue Lab Beats, and Melt Yourself Down. For A Brief Moment…, the duo’s third album, retains their experimental sound while focusing more tightly on the melodic aspects of their music.
The fundamentals of the band remain the same: Andrew Neil Hayes’ saxophone swathed in layers of warm, deep reverb and lush electronics, in conversation with the echoes of itself, undergirded and bounded by Matt Brown’s drums. Fusing jazz with dub and abstract electronic elements, the overall effect is of something nebulous or dreamlike contained within shifting boundaries; ethereal but concrete at the same time. Where live performances and previous records have featured long stretches of fiery abstraction, For A Brief Moment… is more controlled. Exploratory still, but with a more clearly defined destination in mind this time.
words DAVID GRIFFITHS
Juno To Jupiter (Decca)
Lovers of space and electronica are highly recommended to plug into this latest aural adventure from Vangelis. Sweeping, sonorous, and spectacular, it’s a space-themed set from the maestro inspired by NASA’s Juno mission, as well as the goddess Juno herself. Filmic in style, this album sounds like the score of a space opera, bringing visions of the cosmos to the listener.
I found the beginning and end of the album to be more experimental than the central songs, and more to my taste; in particular, I enjoyed the opening track, Atlas’ Push and final track, In Serenitatem. The middle of the album seemed a little more generic than this strong start/finish, but still, it’s a masterly work, and here I am only comparing Vangelis to Vangelis. Space is certainly brought to life in the music, and it admirably demonstrates why the Greek composer was awarded with a Public Service Medal by NASA. Starry stuff indeed.
words MAB JONES