Kevin Bryan gives his verdict on several CD releases this week.
“Grateful Dead (Skull & Roses)” (Rhino) – The Grateful Dead always seemed most comfortable operating in a live setting, and this great CD re-release captures the free-roaming rockers doing something that appeals to theirs brilliant best approaches. The original 1971 live album has been expanded to include ten previously unreleased tracks that were captured for posterity at the Dead’s final live show at San Francisco’s legendary Fillmore West venue. These new additions to the package were recorded a few months after the original album, with the excerpted “Good Lovin ‘” and the fine covers of Merle Haggard’s “Sing Me Back Home” and influential bluesman Jimmy Reed’s “Big Boss Man” being three of the musical ones Highlights.
Ashley Hutchings “Ninety-nine Impressions” (Talking Elephant) – This thought-provoking collection was developed by roots music luminary Ashley Hutchings, who took this opportunity to spoil his listeners with some of the most memorable poetry and prose he wrote had touched hearts over the years. Ashley’s son Blair Dunlop teams up with Jacob Stoney, Sid Peacock and violinist Ruth Angell to provide the impressive instrumental backdrop for a haunting spoken word performance with literary contributions by Graham Greene, William Blake, Thomas Hardy and Angela Carter, just to name a few.
Roland Roberts, “All About The Timing” (Happy Life Records) – The Memphis-born, Alaska-based singer-songwriting talent of Roland Roberts seems to have flourished since leaving for the frozen north, and made his deliciously eclectic debut- Set should appeal to anyone who has ever succumbed to the homely charm of the Americana genre in the past. Roland’s easy-going narrative style has already led to comparisons with luminaries like the late great John Prine, as he draws inspiration from folk, bluegrass and delta blues to effortlessly create memorable songs like “Sittin ‘in Nebraska”, “Picture on the Wall” and “Don’t say goodbye to me.”