Music columnist Kevin Bryan reviews new albums from Arthur Brown, Cowboy Junkies, and Mike Zito. 

Arthur Brown, Long Long Road (Magnetic Eye Records)

Veteran Fire hit-maker Arthur Brown may have slipped out of the public eye almost as quickly as he entered it in 1968, but this flamboyant character has never lost his passion for music-making and he celebrates his 80th birthday with the release of a new album, Long Long Road. 

The compelling contents find Arthur in typically vibrant form as he joins forces with multi-instrumentalist Rik Patten to serve up a heady fusion of prog rock, soul and blues which is exemplified by prime cuts such as ‘Once I Had Illusions’ and ‘Long Long Road’ itself.

Cowboy Junkies, Songs of the Recollection (Proper Records)

This absorbing follow up to 2018’s critically acclaimed All That Reckoning finds Margo Timmins and company applying their distinctive musical imprint to a selection of songs first recorded by everyone from The Cure to David Bowie and Neil Young.

All of them are given a thorough makeover in the process as the group explore their eclectic creative infuences with all their customary style and grace, breathing new life into timeless ditties such as The Stones’, ‘No Expectations’, Dylan’s recently penned ‘I’ve Made Up My Mind (To Give Myself To You)’ and their heartfelt tribute to late lamented Georgia singer-songwriter Vic Chesnutt, the darkly memorable ‘Marathon’.

Mike Zito, Blues for the Southside (Gulf Coast Records)

This gritty vehicle for the talents of award-winning blues singer and guitarist Mike Zito extends over two action-packed CDs as it captures the great man’s homecoming show at the Old Rock House in St. Louis, Missouri, in November 2021.

The crowd-pleasing set list  includes some choice extracts from Zito’s back catalogue alongside covers of songs made famous by the likes of Stevie Vaughan, Tampa Red and Jimi Hendrix, the latter an epic twelve minute version of ‘Voodoo Chile’ featuring a guest appearance from guitar wizard Eric Gales.

Mike Zito has striven manfully to keep the authentic spirit of the blues alive since co-founding Texas-based Gulf Coast Records in 2018, and Blues for the Southside is a fine addition to this richly rewarding label’s critically acclaimed artistic repertoire.

Try to lend it an ear if you possibly can.

Written by Kevin Bryan