Reviews roundup – AndersonPonty Band vs. Taste (Rory Gallagher) vs. Tina Refsnes

ANDERSONPONTY BAND Better Late Than NeverANDERSONPONTY BAND
Better Late Than Never
earMusic

It’s been a long time coming, as former Yes vocalist Jon Anderson and jazz / fusion violinist Jean Luc-Ponty first talked about collaborating several decades ago, but they’ve finally got round to it, and it’s all rather good.

As you would expect from an album with Jon Anderson singing, your first reaction is Yes.  Especially as there are a fair few Yes tunes dotted around this studio album, which was taken from a live performance, before all sorts of production trickery was thrown in.

But, as the backing is mainly the Jean-Luc Ponty band, you pick up on all the fusion influences which remind me of Pierre Moerlens Gong.  Which is a good thing.  The mix of Yes tunes such as ‘Owner Of A Lonely Heart’ and ‘Roundabout’ work well with the Jean Luc Ponty material, especially on album highlight ‘Infinite Mirage’. There is only one terrible mistake, and that’s ‘Wonderous Stories’, which has been rearranged like a car crash.

But it’s a minor defect on an otherwise engrossing release.  It’s a treat to hear Jon Anderson again, after the Yes soap opera twist, and the whole thing comes with a bonus DVD containing a live performance at the Wheeler Opera House in Aspen, Colorado as well as interview sequences. A must for Yes fans.

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TASTE What's Going On - Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970TASTE
What’s Going On – Live At The Isle Of Wight Festival 1970
Eagle

Taste didn’t last long before Rory Gallagher headed off on his solo career.  Two studio albums and a live album recorded at the Isle of Wight Festival.  Now 45 years on, the 16mm film has been restored and the sound remixed for this new version.

If you’re old enough you’ll have seen the footage before.  I saw it about two in the morning, thirty years back at the midnight music double bill at a mucky picture house in Edinburgh, which showed porn the rest of the week.  It’s probably my eyes and my memory, but this new version doesn’t seem much better visually.  However, it sounds great, which is a big thing.

There are also some bonus features which include three tracks from the German TV series Beat Club in the shape of ‘If The Day Was Any Longer’, ‘It’s Happened Before, It’ll Happen Again’ and ‘Morning Sun’.  I didn’t care much for the grandiosely title conceptual music videos,but they’ve got to pad out the running time somehow.

There is also an introductory feature with Rory Gallagher s brother Donal along with Brian May (Queen), The Edge (U2) and others pointing out just how good Rory Gallagher was.  Interesting rather than essential, it probably won’t replace my long worn vinyl.

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TINA REFSNES No One Knows That You're LostTINA REFSNES
No One Knows That You’re Lost
Vestkyst Records

A debut album from Norwegian nu-folk singer, Tina Refsnes, this is actually very good.  People have been comparing her to the likes of Laura Marling, but I much prefer what I’m hearing here.

She grew up in the small seaside town of Floro, she moved to Liverpool and studied and lived there for four years before coming to her senses and getting as far away as she could.

Eventually, her songwriting developed and we’ve now got this sparse and delicate release, which just aches with good songs.  For sure, there are odd moments of plink plonk, but when she wheels out something as good as ‘Upside Down Clouds’ or ‘Alaska’, you just sit back and enjoy.  Highly recommended.

http://www.tinarefsnes.com/

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