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Music reviews

Kevin Bryan delivers his verdict on some of this week’s CD releases Open Road,”Windy Daze “(Cherry Red / Esoteric)-Open Road’s main claim to fame is arguably the brief stint that they spent as Donovan’s backing band live and on record during the far-off year of 1970. The parting of the ways followed a few months later, and in April 1971 they began work on their only album,”Windy Daze.”The original recording has now been re-mastered and greatly expanded by Cherry Red with the inclusion of their 1972 single,”Swamp Fever,” and the projected contents of the quartet’s hitherto unreleased second album. The finished product captures Open Road’s mildly psychedelic blend of folk and prog rock at its beguiling best, with their debut set’s closing cut,”Shimmers of Sound” emerging as one of the stand-out tracks.

I’m A Freak Baby 3” (Cherry Red / Grapefruit)- The latest addition to Cherry Red’s excellent series of rock retrospectives focusses attention on many of the most interesting denizens of the British Heavy Psych and Hard Rock Underground Scene during the period between 1968 and 1973. The musical content is a fine blend of the familiar and the deliciously obscure, with the likes of Mott the Hoople, Thin Lizzy, Procol Harum and Uriah Heep supplying a selection of compelling album tracks alongside some highly sought after archiive gems from the likes of May Blitz, Fuzzy Duck and Third World War to name but a few. The lavishly annotated 3CD set also boasts contributions from several performers who would later go on to find fame and fortune,including Motorhead’s Lemmy and Led Zep’s Jimmy Page, who chips in with a fiery live rendition of “Dazed and Confused” from his days with the Yardbirds.

The Bean Pickers Union,”Greatest Picks” (Self Released)- Chuck Melchin has been actively involved in music making for the past two decades or so,delighting audiences across America’s north eastern states with his work as a solo performer and the loose knit musical collective which he dubbed The Bean Pickers Union. This engaging anthology brings together the cream of the latter outfit’s recorded output, drawing on material from the three full length CDs and the four song EP which Chuck and his musical cohorts have captured for posterity since they made their debut in 2007 with “Potlatch.” This rootsy gem was described as a “masterclass in Americana music,” and subsequent offerings have been likened to “the aural equivalent of an Edward Hopper painting.” All this critical hyperbole seems to have been well justified on the evidence presented here by fine tracks such as “Reaper, “16 Pounds of Mary” and “Independence Day.”

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