Record reviews with Kevin Bryan

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Here are the latest record reviews from Kevin Bryan.

Patty Griffin - Servant of Love (Thirty Tigers/PGM).­ Patty Griffin (pictured) is frequently hailed as one of the prime practitioners of Americana but this uniquely talented performer’s tenth album ranges much further and wider in its quest for musical inspiration, and has obviously been influenced by the time that she spent working with her former romantic partner Robert Plant in the Band of Joy.

Echoes of jazz and North African music permeate prime cuts such as Good And Gone and Noble Ground, and the finished product must rank as Patty’s most challenging and experimentaloffering to date.

Hatfield and the North - Access All Areas (Edsel Records).­ The short­lived outfit, which took its name, from a motorway road sign, emerged from the fertile Canterbury music scene of the late 60s and early 70s which also spawned luminaries such as Kevin Ayers, Soft Machine and Gong. The band recorded a couple of albums for the Virgin label before giving up the ghost in 1975 but they were tempted to re­form for this one-­off TV show in 1990, as founder members Phil Miller, Richard Sinclair and Pip Pyle joined forces with Pyle’s then girlfriend Sophia Domancich on keyboards for a feast of mildly cerebral improvisation which bore only a passing resemblance to the whimsical prog­rock sound of their creative heyday.

One the Juggler - Nearly A Sin (Angel Air Records). ­Angel Air’s latest CD re­issue revives the long unavailable 1984 debut album from South London rockers One the Juggler, newly remastered by the band themselves and boasting no less than nine highly sought after bonus tracks. The bulk of this deliciously dated set was penned by singer­guitarist Rokko Lee, including their minor hit single, Passion Killer and an assortment of moderately arresting ditties clearly influenced by the likes of The Velvet Underground, David Bowie and their much better known contemporaries the Psychedelic Furs.

Colin Blunstone - Planes & Never Even Thought (Cherry Red Records). ­Colin Blunstone’s plaintive and breathy vocals graced a string of critically acclaimed recordings by The Zombies during the late 60s, and the Hatfield-born singer was still in fairly fine fettle when these two sadly overlooked albums were captured for posterity a decade or so later. Planes was a particularly fine piece of work, with his old friend Rod Argent and a select coterie of top notch session men supplying the instrumental backdrop for some splendid exercises in melodic soft rock such as Kiki Dee’s Loving and Free and a newly minted version of The Zombies’ classic (Care Of) Cell 44.