Shangri-La, Mark Knopfler's fourth solo release and his first since breaking his collarbone, shoulder, and seven ribs in a motorcycle crash in March 2003, finds the eternally laid-back Dire Straits frontman in familiar territory. Instead of constructing a song cycle about his brush with mortality – the wry "Don't Crash the Ambulance" aside – he uses his warm baritone and effortless guitar work to ruminate on everything from the plight of the modern fisherman – the beautiful and rustic "Trawlerman's Song" – to the entrepreneurial skills of McDonald's founder Ray Kroc ("Boom, Like That")…
Scaled smaller than 2012's double-album Privateering, Tracker also feels suitably subtle, easing its way into being instead of announcing itself with a thunder. Such understatement is typical of Mark Knopfler, particularly in the third act of his career. When he left Dire Straits behind, he also left behind any semblance of playing for the cheap seats in an arena, but Tracker feels quieter than his new millennial norm. Some of this is due to the undercurrent of reflection tugging at the record's momentum. Knopfler isn't pining for the past but he is looking back, sometimes wistfully, sometimes with a resigned smile, and he appropriately draws upon sounds that he's long loved. Usually, this means some variation of pub rock – the languid ballad "River Towns," the lazy shuffle "Skydiver," the two-chord groove of "Broken Bones" – but this is merely the foundation from which Knopfler threads in a fair amount of olde British folk and other roots digressions. This delicate melancholy complements echoes of older Knopfler songs – significant stretches of the record are reminiscent of the moodier aspects of Brothers in Arms, while "Beryl" has just a bit of the "Sultans of Swing" bounce – and this skillful interweaving of Knopfler's personal past helps give Tracker a nicely gentle resonance.
By now, anyone who has heard one of Mark Lanegan's solo albums knows exactly what the others will sound like – Lanegan's weathered, smoky voice intones tales of quiet desperation over echoing electric guitar arpeggios, folky acoustic guitar work, and the occasional piano, organ, or violin embellishment. This approach has resulted in a compelling body of work, often possessed of remarkable depth, but it's also become something of a stylistic straitjacket over the course of several albums. And that's the only major knock against the otherwise brilliant I'll Take Care of You, Lanegan's fourth solo album, which marks the first time it hasn't taken him four years to deliver a follow-up. Perhaps that's because there's no original material here – I'll Take Care of You applies the drifting, elegiac qualities of its predecessors to a selection of well-chosen, mostly underexposed folk, country, and blues covers. It's a testament to Lanegan's interpretive skill that he's able to use his already well-established style so effectively yet again, as most of these versions range from stunning to merely excellent.
Recorded during Marc Bolan's U.S. visits during 1971 and 1972, Spaceball is the first full re-counting of four American radio sessions previously made partially available as a bonus LP within the Marc label's Till Dawn compilation in 1985. Eight songs, taped in L.A. in 1972, are reprised from that set; 11 more are collected here. The overall mood of the two CDs is sparse, but astonishingly dynamic, with the earliest session – taped for WBAI, New York, in June 1971 – especially remarkable. It opens with a pair of unaccompanied Bolan performances, previewing the as-yet-unreleased "Cosmic Dancer" and "Planet Queen." The guitar heavy "Elemental Child" follows, a surprising inclusion given the song's freak-out dynamics, but it's an effective piece, all the more so after bandmates Mickey Finn and bassist Steve Currie join in a few minutes into the song.
STONE THE CROWS with MAGGIE BELL on lead vocals ruled the live scene in both UK and Europe during a small but very important number of years- 1969-1972, the pivotal date was May 1972 when guitarist LESLIE HARVEY was tragically electrocuted on stage during a sound check at the Swanage Ballroom. All tracks feature Les except the last three on CD2 which were recorded after Les's death with JIMMY McCULLOUGH on guitar who left the band in 1973 when he got an offer to join WINGS. Following the bands disintegration in 1973 Maggie recorded a number of acclaimed solo albums, formed in the 80's MIDNIGHT FLYER as well as forming The BRITISH BLUES QUINTET recently. Maggie to this day is continually performing live either as a solo artist or as part if BBQ. Musicians:-Maggie Bell, Leslie Harvey, John McGuinnis, Jimmy Dewar, Colin Allen, Ronnie Leahy, Steve Thompson and Jimmy McCulloch.