The other day I ran into local hero Scott Bradshaw with guitar in hand, and before I could finish asking, "Have you been working on any new songs lately?" he hit me with a freshly minted Scott B. disc called Home Movies (www.scottbsympathy.com). Evidently having grown weary of people like me bugging him about new material, Mr. Bradshaw recorded eight great songs stripped down and Sympathy-free, just like the uncut Scott B. you get when he's taking over an open-mic night with just his acoustic guitar and hair-raising voice. Even the Lou Reed tune Vicious Circle (from Rock And Roll Heart) thrown in for kicks sounds like he wrote it on the Queen streetcar home after the night shift. Who needs labels? This is the business.
When recounting Andrew Loog Oldham's most tragic career blunders, not securing a proper release for Billy Nicholls 's dazzling Faces-bent Britpop gem Would You Believe in 1968 should rank high up on the list (just below resigning as manager of the Rolling Stones in 67). Of course, Oldham had more pressing matters to deal with at the time, the financial woes of his Immediate label among them, but listening to Nicholls's well-crafted and thrillingly realized tunes like London Social Degree, Feeling Easy, Life Is Short and the title track, it's not hard to imagine him notching a few chart hits with just a light sprinkling of the old Loogular promotional fairy dust. Thankfully, Castle/Sanctuary realized the lasting charm of Would You Believe and re-released it with a second Snapshot disc of demos and outtakes, which adds a further 22 tracks to create the definitive version of this cult classic. Well worth discovering.
Free For All
Don't let the "Free" part in the Free Spirits, Vol. 1 (Kindred Spirits) compilation put you off. It's not free jazz in the aggressively skronky or twitchy minimalist vein, but, rather, free in the sense of a limitless expression of soulful power that verges on spiritual communion. When you hear the uplifting sound of Doug Hammond 's For Our Souls, Stanley Cowell 's 78 swing through Duke Ellington's Come Sunday, Brother Ah 's Motherless Child, Sarah Vaughan 's delightful homage to Pope John Paul The Mystery Of Man and Dwight Trible 's update of John Coltrane's A Love Supreme, you'll begin to feel the soul-stirring vibe governing this fabulous set. If only they'd had the sense to include the far superior 1972 version of Dr. Lloyd Miller 's Persian jazz jam Gol-E Gandom - but, hey, the 1968 release will do in a pinch. Nice.