Bailey's first recorded solo performance in seven years is a splendid example of the guitarist at his finest. Two of the ten pieces are from a live concert, including an eerily attractive poetry recital by Bailey of Peter Riley's morbid "Dead She Dances." The other eight selections are short studio cuts. In all, this recording is what we have come to expect from Bailey: atonal swatches of sound, unique styling, changes in tempo, and astonishing creative splashes of acoustic guitar. Patterns emerge, dissolve, fade, and reappear, with the unexpected always the norm. Bailey's unique excursions might be compared to musical approximations of abstract expressionist art, with each number unfolding in unanticipated ways. While the highlight of this CD is Bailey's recital, in which he accompanies himself on guitar, there are plenty of wonderful moments on every track.
This latter period Chumbawamba collection benefits from the inclusion of "Give the Anarchist a Cigarette," "Ugh! Your Ugly Houses" (a sideswipe at the non-taste of the celebrities featured in Hello magazine), "Enough Is Enough" (originally recorded with Brit rappers Credit to the Nation) and the catchy/cloying "Timebomb." Most of the material is taken from Anarchy (1994) and Swingin' With Raymond (1996). "Mouthful of Shit," the highlight of Anarchy, makes a welcome return. 23 tracks is surely enough Chumbawamba for even the hardiest of die-hards, but if you don't have the studio albums, this is the best place to start.
Following his magnificent recording of J.S. Bach's Inventions and Sinfonias for BIS last year, the Japanese harpsichordist/organist/conductor Masaaki Suzuki here offers more revelatory performances of some of Bach's equally well known (as well as some lesser known) masterpieces. With this collection, simply titled Fantasias & Fugues, Suzuki provides a grand overview of Bach's lifelong sporadic exploration of the Fantasia genre.
Following abortive collaborations with David McAlmont and Richard Ashcroft, ex- Suede guitarist Bernard Butler finally heeded his wife's advice and took centre stage for his solo debut. Not surprisingly, wide-eyed positivism is the presiding sentiment here–so much so, that, at times, People Move On seems to be about little more than itself. Save for that melodically slight Top 10 hit "Stay" though, it's hard to raise much objection in the face of such sustained inspiration. Highlights? Well, "You Just Know" will be better known to football fans as the plaintively catchy riff used during the 1998-9 season on Match Of The Day. "Change Of Heart" crashes along some beautiful George Harrison-style playing. Best of all though are "Autograph" and "Woman I Know"–not least for the way their gothic grandeur exposes the limitations of Butler's old band.