Albums of the week - From Iggy Pop to Lana Del Rey
Lana Del Rey gives it her very best on her latest album, while new releases from Iggy Pop and new country group The Highwomen prove popular.
IGGY POP - FREE
After the release of Post Pop Depression in 2016, I didn't think there would be another album from Iggy Pop. Free, however, is a work of performance art.
The titular track, also the first single, is a short jazz-like piece with Pop pondering over the top. "I wanna be free" is both a longing phrase and a swift change from his last sound. There is a definite melancholy running through from beginning to end. At times an almost Bowie-esque tone runs into the Beatnik throng come lounge room croon that is the second single James Bond.
There is real emotion in Pop's wavering vocals on Page as he cries over humanity and places himself in the universe as we move so far away from where we used to be.
This is a cracking entry in a 59-year career.
MILES DAVIS - RUBBERBAND
This long-awaited recreation of Miles Davis' unreleased album Rubberband is a glorious example of "What if?" What if the legendary trumpeter and jazz hero had continued down this pop-oriented path? What if Rubberband hadn't been scrapped? What would the critics have thought of his adventures into funk, rock, calypso, Latin and soul?
Recorded in 1985, it was ditched by Warner Bros, and the tapes languished in the archives. They have finally been restored 28 years after his death with Lalah Hathaway and Ledisi taking the parts originally written for Chaka Khan and Al Jarreau.
Rubberband may not demand repeat listens but it unveils a side to Davis often forgotten in time.
SLADE - FEEL THE NOIZE: THE SINGLEZ BOX
Spanning Noddy Holder and Co's peak commercial years but wisely eschewing Merry Xmas Everybody, this box set brings together nine chart singles and their b-sides, on 7" vinyl in their original European sleeves, plus unreleased rocker Night Starvation - and shows more range than might be imagined.
Confession time: I didn't recognise Coz I Luv You, but in fact knew the song well and had always assumed it was by The Kinks. You live and learn.
Among the b-sides, Wonderin' Y boasts a proto-Oasis guitar hook while Kill 'Em At The Hot Club Tonite has almost a 1940s tea dance feel. The glam rock sound is present and correct in the likes of Take Me Bak 'Ome, Cum On Feel The Noize and Mama Weer All Crazee Now - and you can even pick out the point at which Holder learned to spell, from 1973's My Friend Stan onwards.
THE HIGHWOMEN - THE HIGHWOMEN
This is the eponymous debut album from all-female US country group The Highwomen. Consisting of Brandi Carlile, Natalie Hemby, Maren Morris and Amanda Shires, the name of the band is a play on the male country supergroup The Highwaymen which consisted of Johnny Cash, Willie Nelson, Kris Kristofferson and Waylon Jennings back in the '80s and '90s.
Overall this new group's debut album is a well produced piece of country, but it definitely has crossover appeal to fans of other genres.
You can certainly see The Highwomen getting even bigger and bolder with any future releases. In the meantime, enjoy and sing along with this one.
LANA DEL REY - NORMAN F***ING ROCKWELL
Lana Del Rey's new album is a vibe. Not only is she bold enough to include the f-word in its title, but she's also secure enough in herself to litter the record with swear words, in both the track names and throughout her lyrics.
But the amount of cussing does not detract from her shining example of a contemporary yet nonconformist piece of musical brilliance.
Years on from her breakthrough mega-hit Video Games, Del Rey now has the confidence to take a wide step away from the rest of her peers, and Norman F***ing Rockwell is a jaunt through hazy, classic rock-inspired, ethereal, majestic, hypnotic, anthemic folky-pop.
From the nearly 10-minute long mesmerising Venice Beach, to the melodic and retro-sounding The Greatest and the haunting Hope Is a Dangerous Thing for a Woman Like Me to Have - But I Have It, Del Rey has proved any detractors wrong.
She's one of the best artists we've got, no contest.