Albums: Rick Parfitt's Over And Out a fitting memorial to late Status Quo rocker
Over And Out
THE late Status Quo star had been working on his solo album for some time and the guitar and vocal parts were already recorded, with further sessions booked to finalise things. When Parfitt died, other artists stepped in to help, among them Brian May and Chris Wolstenholme of Muse who, alongside Rick Parfitt Junior and producer Jo Webb, finished it off. Two versions of the album will be available: the full production version and the more raw 'band mix'. The songs themselves show clearly their heritage. Some, as might be expected, wouldn't be out of place on one of Quo's earlier albums, Everybody Knows How To Fly being a prime example. Others, such as ballads like When I Was Falling In Love and Without You, hark back even further with a flavour of the 1960s. This album stands as a memorial to one of rock music's icons. It accurately reflects his influences and his loves but deserves success on its own terms.
Courtney Marie Andrews
May Your Kindness Remain
THE grandiose American Dream is on its knees, whipped by a culture of "constantly chasing that bigger life". Courtney Marie Andrews reached that sobering conclusion while penning an album that addresses, through a deeply developed sense of empathy, what she considers the plight of her nation. Andrews was raised in Phoenix, Arizona, a fast-growing desert sprawl that sees almost 4,000 hours of sunshine each year, more than any other major city in the world. But the darkness of depression and sorrow pervades her world, and Andrews's gift for directing the daily struggle of life into song brings us to May Your Kindness Remain, the 27-year-old country singer's fourth album. Shot through with compassion, hymnal qualities and an innate understanding of the human condition, it brings to mind the likes of Carole King or Linda Ronstadt. The stories tell tenderly and soulfully of a yearning for happier times. The remarkable manner of their telling petitions the listener to never lose faith.
Staying At Tamara's
GEORGE Ezra's Budapest, the single that broke the Hertfordshire singer-songwriter in 2014, has already achieved the status of a classic, but perhaps overly worried about becoming a one-hit wonder he seems keen to distance himself from that song's downbeat charms. Instead, Staying At Tamara's is clearly intended as a party starter, with almost all of the songs based on bombastic choruses and driving basslines: Paradise (the chorus of which cheekily cribs from Budapest) even has crowd call and response vocals. Unfortunately, this doesn't entirely play to his strengths. Ezra most distinctive asset, his deep and rich voice, is better suited to romantic balladry than Coldplay-esque stadium fillers. Softer tunes such as the opener Pretty Shining People and the Paul McCartneyish Human stand out among the bangers which, all following a similar formula, are difficult to tell apart, and the album passes by pleasantly but indifferently.
The Moody Blues
Days Of Future Passed Live
THE original album was released in 1967 and the band performed the whole thing live in 2017 for the first time. For this, they were joined by a full orchestra, plus Jeremy Irons who took on the spoken word section. The recording was made in Toronto and it is released as a two LP gatefold set that includes Question and Ride My Seesaw as extra tracks. The sound is as lush as one would expect, with the orchestra giving full value in the instrumental sections. The material itself though, may not have worn too well. In particular the poetry comes across as a bit "sixth form" and, somehow, the orchestration makes all the music sound very 1960s. However, it is of its time and fans of the band, of which there are legion, probably won't complain. That's the thing though, this is album for the fans; it is unlikely that many others will bother.
Twentytwo In Blue
BURN It, the opening track of New York rock trio Sunflower Bean's second album, grabs you by the ears and the soul, rocking you in a way that can only come from the perfectly placed twang of guitars and singer Julia Cumming's country-esque, ethereal vocals. From there, this skilfully completed record is a satisfying journey that invokes feelings of heady summer days and driving with the top down to the tunes of Americana-laced pop rock. Think of Sunflower Bean as a little bit indie, a little bit psychedelic pop and a little bit classic rock'n'roll, with bluesy and progressive elements sewn in neatly. There is much to admire from this threesome, who are each 22 years old, hence the album name. At some points, particularly in the Blondie-sounding Crisis Fest and the 1970s-flavoured Puppet Strings, it's hard to believe Cumming and her bandmates Jacob Faber and Nick Kivlen were born in the mid-1990s. You'd be forgiven for thinking they are old souls reincarnated.