record reviews may 2018


Above The Clouds: The Very Best Of (UMC)


A triple album box set (along with a fourth DVD disc) to celebrate the non-Eagles work of band’s late founding member, this is a pretty much a definitive solo career collection, embracing the major hits as well as album cuts, including from his standards album , After Hours. The hits are gathered together on the first disc, which is also available as a standalone release, kicking off with the Beverly Hills Cop smash The Heat Is On and including two from Miami Vice, Smuggler’s Blues and the sax-drenched ballad You Belong To The City, as well as lesser-known numbers like River of Dreams and The Allnighter. Disappointingly though, his first minor solo hit, the Eagles-like country track I Found Somebody, is absent, which would have been a far better choice than the half-hearted live in Dublin medley of Lyin’Eyes and Take It Easy tacke don at the end.

Disc Two dips into the non-singles solo albums material such as the softly sung soulful Let’s Go Home from The Allnighter, the equally soulful True Love off Soul Searchin’ and standards like For Sentimental Reasons, Caroline No and a jazzy arrangement of Route 66, the instrumental Rising Sun is unlikely to be on many people’s must have list.

The third disc predates the Eagles and features the entire self-titled Longbranch Pennywhistle album, recorded in 1969 as a duo with JD Souther. A pioneering country rock set with some funky colours, although remixed and remastered, it sounds understandably dated these days and is very much one for collectors and completists, although the ballad Rebecca and the Everlys-shaded Don’t Talk Now still stand up, though perhaps the less said about Star-Spangled Bus and Bring Back Funky Women the better. Mike Davies


World’s Strongest Man (Caroline)


The third solo album from the former Supergrass frontman offers up assorted meditations on masculinity and self-examination framed within a dance and experimental musical framework that requires either a certain degree of focus or a complete abandonment to the ambience to appreciate.

Opening with the swirly title track’s falsetto-sung vaguely occidental flavours, it spans a diversity of musical styles, from the Krautrock motoric beats of Deep Pockets and the Pixies-like abrasive jabbing guitars of Vanishing Act to the acoustic fingerpicked Oxygen Mask, the delicate piano ballad Slow Motion Life. Or then again the loping fractured dance rhythms of Wounded Egos, the Daft Punk haze of Shit (I’ve Done It Again) or the stuttering drum beats of The Oaks.

The days of Coombes making music for drunken festival mosh ups have long past, and it’s hard to imagine what those who came of age to Pumpin’ On Your Stereo and Caught By The Fuzz would make of this, but perhaps the more serious-minded older siblings will enlighten them. Mike Davies 2020