One of the humblest masters of the six-string trade, Martin Barre has never tried to come from under the shadow of JETHRO TULL – not only because it would be impossible but also because his contribution to the band’s overall sound was so immense, and denying the guitarist’s past would be detrimental to his pride. That’s why Martin keeps on playing the classic tunes, tending to make less obvious choices while throwing in a few fan favorites when on stage. Of course, there’s much more to Barre, as last year’s "Road Less Travelled" brilliantly proved; only a concert recording from him was long overdue, as the veteran hasn’t issued any. Finally, April 5th will see the release of “Live At The Factory Underground” – a document of his October 2016 performance in a Norwalk, Connecticut studio.
GLENN HUGHES – The Official Bootleg Box Set – Volume Two
For what it’s worth, Glenn Hughes is well represented on a bootleg front, although it’ll take a true aficionado to sift through the veteran’s concert recordings to find the defining ones in terms of material. Fortunately, there are genuine connoisseurs who can do that – and do that, indeed. Last year saw the release of “The Official Bootleg Box Set” – subtitled “Volume One” to indicate there would be more (unavailable for review, it was detailed here), and its follow-up will appear on May 31st.
Spanning 1993-2013 and, thus, overlapping with its predecessor, this time the collection is to have six, not seven, discs, and while there’s also one previously issued item – “Incense And Peaches” saw the light of day on the artist’s own label in 2000, the CD stands apart from the rest of the series due to the inclusion of studio, rather than live, cuts. Yet if the 1993’s on-stage performances reflect Hughes’ typical repertoire, save for “The House Of The Rising Sun” – one a few covers he delivered through the years, a take on Ozzy Osbourne‘s “Goodbye To Romance” that was played on radio in 1992 is attached to Disc Five – numbers which were laid down in 1995 and 1996 seem quite interesting thanks to Glenn taking the material from the then-fresh “Feel” and “Addiction” to the audience. All in all, a nice addition to his catalogue, the sometimes raw sound notwithstanding.
Alternately hard-edged and erotic, 1971’s “Broken Barricades” may have provided a striking contrast to “Home” that preceded it, but PROCOL HARUM saw no logic in following their own templates, and without this sybaritic album there wouldn’t be “Grand Hotel” and other orchestral escapades the band embarked on at the time. Although some fans still find it strange, the record’s charm and significance is impossible to overestimate, so its new emergence in the Esoteric’s reissue programme on May 31st will be more than welcome. Given remastered sound and extra tracks which mostly didn’t see the light of day before, it’s also expanded with two concert documents – the NYC one being one of the last to feature Robin Trower in his first tenure in the ensemble – and a Beeb session to make the re-release definitive.
It’s been some time since we last heard of Manfred Mann whose last works were done in a solo mode and whose ensemble’s latest line-up didn’t issue a single studio album. Yet May 10th will see the release of “Radio Days” – four volumes, available on CD and vinyl not as a box set but separately, that cover the early period of the legendary player’s career, from 1964 to 1973: with two incarnations of MANFRED MANN – fronted by Paul Jones and Mike D’Abo, – with MANFRED MANN CHAPTER III and with the first vertion of MANFRED MANN’S EARTH BAND. Each of the discs is very extensive and bursting with rarities, especially the third one, containing snippets from the “Venus In Furs” soundtrack, although no less delightful must be cuts such as “Big Betty” which Mann’s first collective passed to his definitive one. A treasure trove, really, augmented with interviews for further immersion into the era.
Last year, Cherry Red Group acquired the catalogue of Witchwood Media, the label which belongs to STRAWBS; this meant it was only a matter of time before their classic records would be reissued in expanded form – and, of course, it would be on Esoteric who released the veterans’ latest discography entry, "The Ferryman's Curse", in 2017. Now that time is nigh: following the group’s 50th Anniversary concerts in April, a box set of “Deadlines” will see the light of day on May 31st. The ensemble’s final ’70s offering, the original LP remains one of a genuine aficionado’s favorites, while for occasional listener it’s mostly memorable thanks to the cover designed by Hipgnosis, yet there’s no denying the strength of songs such as “No Return” – and there’s a reason why the old albums’ new advent starts with this particular title. All four main players on the 1977 platter – Dave Cousins, Dave Lambert, Chas Cronk and Tony Fernandez (interviews with three of them are planned for later in the year) – are present in the band’s current line-up and still carry the banner.