Reviews from pop to classical

This week's CD releases feature a real mixture from Carole King live to punk poet Sean McGowan.

SING-ALONG: This week's reviews includes Carole King's Tapestry: Live in Hyde Park. Picture: LD Communications.

Carole King – Tapestry Live in Hyde Park: When Carole King performed her iconic album Tapestry in its entirety for the first time at British Summer Time Festival last year, it was a triumphant trip down memory lane. The concert has now fittingly been released on CD and DVD/Blu-ray and there are plenty of sing-along highlights, such as the energetic I Feel The Earth Move, starting off the set. The unforgettable You’ve Got a Friend is impossible to listen to without smiling, but nothing will get you reminiscing quite like Locomotion. A touching surprise comes in the form of a duet from King with her daughter Louise Goffin, on a reworked version of Where You Lead. It may have been a long time since King sang to British fans. it was her first concert here since 1989, but her emotive songwriting and stage presence is clearly timeless. Georgia Humphreys

Ricky Ross – Short Stories Vol 1: The Deacon Blue man comes out with a solo album of self-penned numbers, interspersed with a cover and songs originally recorded by his band. The opening track, I Thought I Saw You, sets the tone. It’s Ross, close miked, a piano and a lush string backing. These are clearly personal songs, sung with commitment if somewhat lacking in passion. The DB songs Raintown and Wages Day will be familiar to fans but the new arrangement brings a different perspective. The cover of Goin’ Back works well here too. No doubt Deacon Blue fans will take this to their hearts but whether it has a wider appeal is another matter. It’s classy pop, well-produced and performed, but it remains to be seen if it has what it takes to be a huge success. Steve Grantham

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Sean McGowan – Graft and Grief:This short EP from indie punk poet Sean McGowan opens, unusually, with a statement of intent encouraging the listener to remember that “there’s more to life than graft and grief”. If this sounds a little rich coming from someone who also admits to having only been born in 1993, he at least articulates his sentiments well over the subsequent five tracks. No Show and Clear Conscience in particular are bracing in their disgust at the modern rat race: the low-wage, zero-hour economy exploiting those at the bottom end and the dubious rewards waiting for the few that make it to the top. It’s no surprise Billy Bragg is a fan, although these vaguely political musing are very much anchored in the average young person’s fear of conformity in general. James Robinson

Anastacia – Evolution: Last year, Anastacia showed off her moves on Strictly Come Dancing, but this year she’s gone back to her music-making roots. Evolution, her first album of original music in three years, is packed with everything and there’s a good variety for fans from big ballads, to upbeat, sing-a-long tunes and then a few laid-back songs to tone it down. The singer, who has battled breast cancer twice, has not held back in both powerful, heartfelt lyrics that are matched perfectly with big notes to give them that extra bang. Caught in the Middle is upbeat and inspiring and easy to sing along to, but if you’re after a big ballad then you’re spoilt for choice with My Everything, Not Coming Down and Before. It would be no surprise if Stamina was topping singles charts soon. Lucy Mapstone

Rachmaninov – Symphony No 1: A new complete cycle of Rachmaninov’s three symphonies conducted by Vladimir Ashkenazy, all recorded in recent London concerts, is a very inviting prospect, his previous recordings being among the finest orchestral releases of the 1980’s. So it proves to be for much of a performance that is dark and smouldering first installment, though it is lacking in sheer red-blooded impact at the appropriate places, the first two movements needing more momentum. Certainly the playing of the Philharmonia is elegant in the more relaxed moments, and when Ashkenazy eventually sets them alight, the latter part of the finale is suitably thrilling. The monochrome quality of Signum’s sound engineering does not help on a poorly filled disc. David Denton