Record reviews

By Kevin Bryan

Madness, One Step Beyond 35th Anniversary Edition (Salvo SVX034)-This fascinating re-issue couples Madness’ effervescent 1979 debut album with a recently unearthed rehearsal tape from the same year featuring two hitherto unheard songs,Lost My Head and Sunshine Voice. The presence of these genuine rarities is bound to whet the appetites of diehard Madness devotees everywhere ,and as an added bonus the compilers have also included a DVD featuring the promo videos for One Step Beyond, Night Boat To Cairo, Bed and Breakfast Man and My Girl and a selection of recordings culled from the infectious North London band’s early appearances on the B.B.C. Splendid stuff.

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Drew Holcomb and the Neighbors, Medicine (Magnolia Music)- Memphis born and Nashville based Holcomb is a prime purveyor of Americana at its most soulful and expressive,blending classic singer-songwriter sensibilities with a fine line in simple,heartfelt rock. Holcomb’s 2013 offering ,Good Light was apparently his most successful offering to date and the excellent Medicine should maintain this upward trend, liberally peppered as it is with such choice examples of the tunesmith’s art as You’ll Always Be My Girl, I’ve Got You and the softly beguiling American Beauty.

Wild Smiles,Always Tomorrow (Sunday Best Recordings)- The debut album from energised Winchester trio Wild Smiles wears its impeccable musical influences proudly on its sleeve as lyricist Chris Peden expresses his disillusionment with modern life over a fiery soundtrack inspired by the likes of Nirvana, Dinosaur Jr. and The Ramones. The finished product is surprisingly uplifting despite the overwhelmingly negative subject matter,with I’m Gone, The Best Four Years and Never Wanted This emeging as the best of the bunch.

Stars of Country (Union Square Music)- The contents of this undemanding 3CD anthology are drawn from the American country music charts of half a century or more ago,including offerings from Nashville luminaries such as Marty Robbins,Slim Whitman, Eddy Arnold and Jim Reeves. Ricky Nelson also chips in with the uptempo rock of his 1959 hit,It’s Late, sharing the limelight with two classic contributions from the great Hank Williams, Your Cheatin’ Heart and the much recorded Jambalaya.