A Very Cool Christmas volume 2 is the right follow-up to the first volume of the wonderful collection of some very cool Christmas songs. This volume consists of 32 Christmas tracks, recorded by some of the best musicians from the rock, soul, blues, folk, and country scene.
"This compact disc presents all the studio recordings that remain from a time when, as a twenty-five year old champion of the avant-garde, I had to seek for every possible occasion of playing the new works of our composers. In those days, they were hounded and ripped apart by ideological critics; now they are recognized as the masters of new music. Audiences today need to realize with how much excitement and trust people discovered and took over the new currents seeping in from Europe through the Iron Curtain. These works represent and symbolize a marvelous epoch of friendship, a time when we came to know new horizons and discovered ourselves in the Soviet Union's huge, heterogeneous spaces." (Alexei Lubimov. May 2003)
Oysterband's Trawler is a compilation of favorites from the group's previous seven albums, only newly recorded by the present lineup. Essentially, it's like a "covers" album of The Oysterband covering itself. Long one of Britain's prime synthesists of Celtic and rock, and a thorn in the side of purists everywhere, Trawler takes the group's material one step further away from tradition. Hal-An-Tow is a possessed whirligig of sounds; Oxford Girl reconfirms itself as the group's most memorable melody. One has to admit to slight unease with the "rewriting history" aspect of this re-recording, and a compilation of the original versions would have been far more comfortable.
Handel’s English oratorios, though unstaged, generally remain vividly theatrical. Samson is less operatic, opening with the hero already defeated, blinded and in chains, long after Dalila’s seduction and subsequent treachery.
The drama is of the mind rather than of action, with virtually no incidents in Act I, and Act II limited to two encounters, Dalila offering remorse and the giant Harapha mocking the captive.
Nicholas McGegan’s approach focuses on this depiction of states of mind and emotions. Tempos are reflective rather than animated, while instrumental expression and phrasing is strikingly subtle. Of his soloists, Thomas Cooley makes a tragic Samson, from his first soliloquy on his mental anguish, through a heart-rending ‘Total eclipse’ to his humility and returning strength in Act III.
Doves release their fifth long player The Universal Want on Virgin EMI. On lead track Prisoners Doves forces attention upon itself, not least with the poignancy of Goodwin’s repeated greeting to ‘old friends’, but as an unstoppable, driving tale of caution in a world of unending desire. Produced by Doves with Dan Austin and recorded at the band’s own Frank Bough Sound III studios in North West England, the high heat of its Northern Soul beat is fanned by wiry guitar breaks and cuts of ethereal noise contorting beneath layers of stacked vocals. A statuesque musical statement, Prisoners guides Doves’ second chapter to a peak now within touching distance, the lyrics contrasting to express unease with modern ills.
Engineer/producer Alan Parsons and his colleague, songwriter and lyricist Eric Woolfson, formed the Alan Parsons Project in 1975. Throughout their career, the Alan Parsons Project recorded concept albums (including adaptations of Poe and Asimov books) with a revolving cast of session musicians. Released in 1982, Eye in the Sky was their greatest success; the title track charted in the Top Ten on the pop charts and the album went platinum. Although they weren't able to repeat that success, the group maintained a devoted cult audience, even after they stopped recording following 1987's Gaudi.