Record reviewer Kevin Bryan reviews a re-issued album by Marc Almond, new recordings from Atlanta Rhythm Section, and a Gerry Rafferty vinyl collection.

Marc Almond, Stranger Things (Cherry Red)

‘Stranger Things’ was Marc Almond’s eleventh solo album, first released in 2001 and pairing him for the first time with Icelandic producer Johann Johannsson, whose passion for dramatic, string-laden arrangements lent a distinctive cinematic quality to many of the finest creations showcased here.

‘Born To Cry’ and the opening cut ‘Glorious’ are the picks of this newly expanded three-CD re-issue, which rewards listeners with a generous assortment of demos, live tracks, rarities and remixes.

Atlanta Rhythm Section, Sound & Vision Anthology (Deadline Music)

Atlanta Rhythm Section first sprang into life in 1970 when a group of slick Georgia session men decided to step out of the shadows for a while and embark on a career as musicians in their own right.

The Southern Rock boom was in full swing at the time but commercial success didn’t really come their way until much later in the decade, when ARS finally made an impact on the US singles charts with hits such as ‘Doraville’, ‘So Into You’ and ‘Imaginary Lover’. 

This run of successes sadly wasn’t destined to last but various incarnations of the band have still soldiered on regardless, and this entertaining multimedia package delivers new recordings of some gems from their back catalogue alongside covers of  rock classics first popularised by Thin Lizzy, Bachman Turner Overdrive and ZZ Top to name but a few.

Gerry Rafferty, Rest in Blue (Parlophone)

This richly rewarding vinyl collection was the brainchild of the late Gerry Rafferty’s daughter Martha, who discovered a series of demo recordings which her father had been working on before his untimely death in 2011 and set about completing them in tandem with top notch sidemen such as Hugh Burns, Bryn Haworth and Dire Straits keyboards ace Alan Clark.

The finished product forms a surprisingly coherent whole as Rafferty’s distinctive vocals breathe new life into Ewan MacColl’s ‘Dirty Old Town’, folk club favourite ‘Wild Mountain Thyme’ and ‘Stuck in the Middle With You’, the worldwide hit that he penned with his old Stealers Wheel cohort Joe Egan in 1972.

Gerry’s reluctance to embrace the trappings of fame meant that he maintained a fairly low public profile throughout his lengthy career but his work always repays closer investigation, and ‘Rest in Blue’ is no exception.

By Kevin Bryan