Record Review with Kevin Bryan

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Here are this week’s record reviews, courtesy of Kevin Bryan.

Johnny Winter -I’m A Bluesman (Talking Elephant).­ Johnny Winter was a rather frail 60-year-old when I’m A Bluesman first saw the light of day in 2004, returning to the fray slightly tentatively after being debilitated for several years by a string of troubling health issues. The power and potency which had been such a feature of the veteran bluesman’s work in times past may have been sadly absent by this stage of his career, but his passion for the genre remained undimmed, and Winter devotees would be well advised to lend an ear to fine tracks such as Sugar Coated Love or the acoustic country blues of fellow Texan Hop Wilson’s That Wouldn’t Satisfy.

Colosseum - Live (Esoteric/Cherry Red).­ Drummer Jon Hiseman’s trailblazing jazz­rock outfit recorded the original Colosseum Live at Manchester University and the Big Apple in Brighton in March 1971, showcasing some of the genuinely progressive material which had made them such a force on the concert circuit during those far­off years. This CD re­issue expands on the original album with a bonus disc culled from the same 1971 shows, including alternative versions of gems such as Rope Ladder To The Moon and Skellington and an impressive rendition of the epic Valentyne Suite.

Skinny Lister - The Devil, The Heart & The Fight (Xtra Mile).­ This six-piece London-based band’s heady fusion of rock, folk and punk is captured in all its rabble rousing glory as Skinny Lister unveil their third studio album. This infectious package channels the spirit of admirable outfits such as The Pogues and The Clash via memorable ditties such as Hamburg Drunk and Wanted and Dexys soundalike Fair Winds & Following Seas is also well worth a few minutes of anyone’s time. Splendid stuff.

John McCusker - Hello, Goodbye (Under One Sky Records).­ Award-winning Scottish folkie McCusker celebrates his 25th anniversary as a professional musician with the release of this delightfully evocative package, which was penned during the quieter moments of his recent world tour with Mark Knopfler. The producer, composer and multi­instrumentalist has drawn on the services of some fine roots music performers to underpin his sterling efforts here, including two of the understated stars of the BBC’s excellent Transatlantic Sessions, accordionist Phil Cunningham and bluegrass mandolin ace.